God Is Who He Says He Is | By Stephanie Cain

Last year was the hardest year of my life. 

First of all, my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.

I left a job for a new job, but I was eventually laid off from that new job. The day after I started my second new job of the year, my husband broke his collarbone in two places requiring surgery.

My son had a minor procedure done, and at the end of the year, my father lost a foot to disease. 

One high point(Praise God!) was when my mom was declared cancer free. 

Clearly, 2019 was a year of battle, but it was the year that I truly learned about trusting in the Lord.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart” is so easy to say and can so easily be an empty, Christian catchphrase.

However, as each of these big changes would happen in my life, I would hear a simple question in my spirit – “Do you trust the Lord?” 

This may have changed a little with each battle. 

When I lost my job it was, “Do you trust the Lord? Is He your Provider?” 

When my mom and dad both had major, life threatening illnesses it was, “Do you trust the Lord? Does He have a plan for their future? Does He have a plan for your future? Is He the Creator and the Healer?”

But what it really boiled down to was this:

  1. Is the Lord who He says He is?
  2. Does He do what He says He will do?
  3. Do you trust Him for it?

Because if God is who He says He is (Provider, Savior, Creator, Father, Healer, Lover of our Souls, Victor) and does what He says He will do (Provide, Heal, Love, Forgive, Never Leave, Work for Good, Has a Future for Us, Redeem), then why would we not trust Him?!

I recently had a management change at my job with a new regional manager. She came in like a wrecking ball and had everyone afraid to lose their job. She even had me going for a minute, but then a moment of clarity hit. Who gave me that job? Who really controls whether I have that job or not? Who really is my provision? It is not the person that I interviewed with. It is not the person that signs my paycheck, and it is not that new management. 

It is the LORD! The Lord holds my present and my future. There is so much freedom and peace that comes with knowing that all you need to do is show up, do your best as unto the Lord, and love people. The rest of it the Lord will take care of faithfully. You CAN trust him for it!

So you may be thinking like I would have been if I was reading this post a few months ago: that’s nice and all, but how?? How do I trust the Lord for such big things? This is my house note we are talking about! Or this is my mom and my son’s grandma we are talking about! 

Here is what I did; I reminded myself of times when God had been faithful to do what He said He would in the past- big or small- and I told myself “If He was faithful then, He will be faithful now.”

And maybe you do not have a time you can think of- that is ok. There are plenty of testimonies in the Bible of healings, provision, guidance, redemption, and restoration. Find one and stand on that! If God could heal the man with a withered hand, He can heal my mom. If the Lord provided food for 5,000+ people out of two fish and some bread, He can provide for my family of three. When the enemy brings anxiety, fear, and doubt because you cannot see the solution yourself, remind yourself that God is who He says He is, that He does what He says He will do, and that you can trust Him for it.

Slow Down| By Zuzana Niedelova

Have you ever thought about the incredible creativity of Jesus? Only very few of His teachings are not accompanied by an illustrative story, analogy or a metaphor each of which is so fitting and relevant. He was able to capture people’s attention, captivate them, interrupt their lives and point to a better alternative they can have in God. He offered tangible and familiar pictures to help people understand the Kingdom. 

In our busy lives, surrounded by technology and unceasingly working on our tasks, there is no time to observe wild flowers and birds so no wonder we cannot use them as an analogy! We do not stop and contemplate on how people work; Jesus did and it enabled him to see the parallel between a sower and God which later helped people understand the Kingdom of God.

Taking time to notice our surroundings and reflect on it is crucial for our personal life and ministry alike. If we want our words to be relatable for people who do nott know Jesus, if we want to be quick to hear God’s voice and notice his work in this world, we must take time to to see these things first. 

It is alright to slow down. Take time to appreciate the little things and bring them to God – ask Him what they speak about Him. Put your phone away for a few minutes and look around; find one thing that catches your attention: a huge tree, a homeless man, an unfamiliar smell, warm wind or the sound of the crowd. Slow down and really see it, feel it, hear it – be really present with all your senses and then think, what is God saying to you through it? You won’t believe what amazing things He will reveal to you! He has so many things to show us and to get excited about with us if we just give him the attention.

Slow down, observe, contemplate and talk to God. It is that simple. Be truly present in everything you do and expect God to speak to you because there is nothing better in this world than seeing the world through our Father’s eyes.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

There is Room at the Table| By Brooke Juneau

As I walked into the house for life group, my favorite person ever came to greet me. His name is Ford (or I call him Fordie). He’s 4-years-old and has the cutest smile and the biggest imagination. He knew we were making waffles for everyone, which are his favorite, so he wanted to be a part of the whole process!

He stuck beside me the whole time to make sure it got done- grabbing eggs, pouring oil, and even checking the temperature of the waffles to ensure they were cool enough. At one point he even tried to refrain from using the bathroom for fear that I would make the waffles without him.

He thought that he was going to miss out- that there would be none leftover for him. What he did not know is that I had already come prepared with enough to make him as many waffles as he wanted, but it was hard for him to trust that was true if he could not see it in front of him.

In the end, as I watched him stuffing the waffles in his mouth, all I could see was myself.

All of my life I have felt like I was going to miss out on my calling. That I was going to wake up one day and God would throw his hands in the air like, “Sorry, you didn’t get here fast enough. All of the spots are filled.”

If you have ever felt this way before, I don’t blame you. We live in a world that has always said that there’s not enough. If you want it, you better start pushing your way to the top and speeding up the process because the spots at the table of dreams are filling up and they’re filling up fast. I’ve even heard the saying “If you don’t do it, then God will find someone who will.”

This created a fear in me that my calling is first come first serve, and if I don’t get to movin’ then someone will replace me. That God won’t want me anymore. That my calling will go stale, I’ll miss out on purpose, and I’ll have to watch someone else take that place.

Having this mindset made me skeptical about God, so I began to assist God in the process. I would step ahead of him- trying to pour oil in areas that didn’t need any, stir up things that weren’t ready yet, and try to cook things that were still missing ingredients.

I have read in his word a million and one times that he has a plan and a purpose for me. I have read that he calls, and he equips. That he works everything out for the good of those who love him. But I was still unwilling to leave for a bathroom break for fear that while I was gone someone would steal my waffle, or I was unwilling to step back and let God work his magic for fear that if I didn’t step in it would never get done.

This kind of fear makes you paranoid. Every time someone around you has a success, it makes you feel like a failure. Every time someone takes on the same passion as you of writing, photography, painting, speaking, leading, etc. It makes you feel as if you’re playing musical chairs with the seat at the table God has set and they are your competition for the last one.

There’s a passage in Luke 9 all about Jesus feeding the 5 thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Somehow these loaves and fish keep getting multiplied and distributed to ALL 5 thousand people and when all have eaten and were SATISFIED, there were leftovers.

I am a God of leftovers”.

God does not just give what we need, he gives even more. There is always room, there is always enough. His table is never filled and the chair he has for you has your name written on it. He won’t ALLOW anyone else to take it. You do not have to fight for it, you don’t have to compete for it. It is yours. It’s been yours since you were created in the womb.

Now, if you never step up to the plate of your calling, it doesn’t mean that someone else is going to replace you. It just means that the world misses out. They miss out on the piece of Jesus that God has called YOU to give. God may use someone else to reach the same people, but it won’t be with the same effectiveness. Only YOU can unlock the calling God has for you. 

There is no plan B. There is you. So, find freedom in celebrating others and celebrating yourself. 

Made in His Image| By Gabby Jones

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7 NIV

When God speaks, stars burn bright, trees grow up, and animals begin to form; but when God uses His hands, something special is about to happen.

With all the wonder we have in our minds about this world and how someone so small could move just a spec of what God created, we have to remember that He created us too. 

He did not just speak about your existence, He formed you in His own hands and breathed His breath into you. 

We have all studied science and know many facts about the world, universe, and the body, and a majority of the time, we feel small compared to what is out there. We start questioning who we are and the impact we could have in this world, and it can be a bit overwhelming. Even as young women, some of us still don’t know who we are and what we could possibly do in this world. 

Why were we made and how could we possibly have any effect on anyone or anything in this vast space?

When following the beginning of Genesis, you start to notice that God spoke when creating the skies, animals, and seas. He spoke everything into existence with each little detail we see today, but when we get to how God formed man, He decided to get down and dirty. You see, when God created you and me, He didn’t just say a name and move on, He rolled up His sleeves and decided to use His hands to form His greatest creation. He does not just know your name, He knows your heart because it first beat in His hands. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13 NIV

For a long time, I didn’t feel worthy enough to be compared to the beauties of this world. It was hard enough to compete with people, how could I stand to be this small person within something so big. But God. He reminded me that out of the things he created, I was His favorite. He carved out my left dimple, twirled my curly hair, and perfected my wheezy laugh. He smiles when I find the beauty in myself because he personally made me. He smiles when you see the beauty in yourself because He personally made you and you are His favorite. 

You were not just created to be a void in this world, you were created to show the world who God made you to be.

You may not know that right now, but as you continue to press into God, He will show you why He took the time to carve you into who you are. You have so many qualities that overwhelm and impact THIS WORLD. You aren’t just another name or word, you are His CREATION. 

To be more encouraged about who you are, read Psalm 139. You are His.

You Are Not Your Circumstances| By Zuzana Niedelova

A few months ago I met a boy. He was a 9-year-old as any other – going to school, playing with his friends, telling silly jokes and all the other things boys his age do. I met him in his school; I was asked to come to help him during his classes as he needed the extra support. At first, I did not think much of it; it was my job to go to various schools to support kids with special educational needs or to help with problematic behavior.

But this day was very different from all the others, mainly because this boy was blind, in a public school and I was not expecting nor was I trained for working with physically disabled children. It was just natural for me to start analyzing his possible thought processes and insecurities before I even met him.

I thought, surely he would be shy and quiet because he is different from all his classmates. Or that he would not want to join in with learning because it was more difficult for him. I even thought of a possibility that he would be rude and self-consumed because power so often serves as an easy coping mechanism.

I had all these thoughts in my head, trying to pick a strategy for working with this problematic boy who was about to walk through the door any minute.

Since the moment he came in to the end of the day he kept surprising me and wrecking my presumptions about him. He was not shy or quiet, but rather one of the loudest in the room.  He was not scared of any challenge and was so eager to learn I could not keep up with all of his questions. On top of it all, he was by far one of the kindest, sweetest kids I have ever worked with. He was full of joy, energy, and yearning for all the good life has to offer.

His favorite activity was to read, the most exciting part of it being long new words, learning how to spell them, count their letters and find the middle one – all using a Brillo machine and his fingers. At the end of this sequence there would be a happy exclamation: “this word is so big! It has 11 letters with a ‘t’ in the middle!” his excitement was contagious. He had his special book that must have been hilarious because he could not stop laughing and his kind heart could not keep the jokes to himself so he always translated it for me so we could laugh together. 

What I saw in this boy at first was everything that was destroyed and stolen from him. But he knew that was not what defined him. We all have our ‘blindness’, that thing or situation which has a potential to drain our energy, to be too hard, to leave us wondering that maybe that is all there is to life. But it is only a potential and if we grant it the power to take over, it will take it.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

Jesus came that we may have life in all its fullness. We are not bound to what happened to us, we are not slaves to whatever the enemy tries to kill, steal and destroy in our lives. We are freed, given new life, forgiven, and loved.

Every day is a new beginning with Jesus – every minute if you need it, Jesus does not count it; with Him it is always as if it was the first time. We don’t have to just know He is giving the new life to us; we can accept it and own it.

This boy is 9-years-old and after only one day he managed to inspire me for months. He might not know Jesus but he certainly knows that there is more to life than bullies, constantly bumping into things, being different in such a hard way, not ever seeing his parents, or even having to get through his whole life with by far not as much support and resources as people with sight.

There is always more to life than what you have to face today, tomorrow or even in a year. No matter how difficult your situation is, Jesus is offering comfort, joy, love, unity, peace, purpose, forgiveness, new life and so much more. He is offering you a life in all its fullness so take it and own it. 

Do not let the enemy kill, steal and destroy what you have; rather see yourself as a child of God, fearfully and wonderfully made, blessed with all the heavenly blessings and with the Holy Spirit as your helper. 

Rejoice for he has given you a new life – life in all its fullness.

Unplug to Recharge| By T’eoria Murray

In today’s society we move a mile a minute and I am no exception to this rule. With my phone in hand, hours can pass by in the blink of an eye. Even while having devotional time, my phone is within arm’s reach. From the moment we wake up in the morning we are flooded with sensory stimulation- phone alarms, music, news, social media. We interact with people and ideas almost 24/7.

Informatics professor Dr. Gloria Marks stated in an interview that the average person checks their email 74 times a day and switches tasks on their computer 566 times a day. 90 percent of young adults in the US actively use social media and 50 percent of people use social media while driving. With high speed internet literally at our fingertips, it is no wonder that many of us have lost the art of solitude and silence. 

Given the choice of stimulation or being left to our own thoughts, it is a no-brainer. A study was published in the July 2014 edition of Science in which students surrendered all their belongings, including their smartphones and spent 6 to 15 minutes alone in a room with nothing to do but think. Not surprisingly, more than half of the participants reported the task was difficult. What surprised researchers was that when instructed to occupy themselves with their thoughts and given the option of administering themselves a mild electric shock if they wished, 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women voluntarily gave themselves at least one shock during the thinking time. The baffled scientists recorded, “Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.”

It’s easy to become addicted to stimulation without even realizing it. Noise is the new normal and boredom is to be avoided at all costs, but what are we missing out on when we are constantly plugged in?

Austin Phelps, a 19th century pastor, noted, “It has been said that no great work in literature or in science was ever wrought by a man who did not love solitude. We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often long alone with God.”

This principle is illustrated in the scriptures several times. Perhaps the most memorable illustration was in the life of Elijah. After facing off with the pagan priests at Mount Carmel, then running for his life from wicked Queen Jezebel, Elijah was physically and emotionally spent. After meeting his physical needs, God taught him an important lesson. There was a mighty windstorm tearing rocks loose from their places, then an earthquake, then a fire, but God was not in these things. He was in the gentle whisper that followed them.

God can speak in the noise, but He often chooses the silence. In His life on earth, Christ was often alone with His Father (Luke 5:16). He would spend whole nights in prayer (Luke 6:12). Silence and solitude was His place of strength. So what happens when we step away from the notifications and viral videos for a while?

  1. It reminds us that life will go on without us.
  2. It clears the clutter from our minds to allow for wise decision making and planning.
  3. It creates inner space to hear the voice of God.
  4. It allows us to disconnect from the world and deeply connect with our soul. We can get to know ourselves without the voices of friends, family, television, podcasts, books, technology, work and everything else that vies for our attention.
  5. It helps us with other spiritual disciplines such as Bible study, prayer and fasting.
  6. It boosts creativity.
  7. It creates increased appreciation for our relationships.

Finding time to escape alone and experience solitude and silence can feel almost impossible in our busy world, but it can be done if we are intentional.

If you’re a mom, this may mean waking up an hour earlier or staying up an hour after the kids are asleep. Spend your lunch break alone. Go on a retreat. Have a social media fast for a set period of time. Just a few minutes of purposeful quiet each day can benefit us more than we could imagine.  It may be difficult at first but hang in there. God wants you to have the blessing of silence.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)

Jesus and Therapy| By Jessica Carpenter

In 2016, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It was relieving to receive an official diagnosis because it put a name to all of the chaos in my brain. However, it was also terrifying because affirmed the lies I already believed about myself.

One of the most disheartening things that I struggle with is the balance of trying to cling to Jesus while the church either tells me to “try harder” or  completely dismisses the topic of mental health altogether.

I have made it my mission to tear down every stigma that says I do not love Jesus just because I cannot fix my brain.

I could sum up my journey of living with a mental illness as a big “EVEN IF”

Even if depression tells me I am worthless, His redemption is irreversible 

Even if I feel damaged and disposable, He still calls me friend 

Even if I choose to isolate, His hand still reaches

Even if it gets hard to breathe, He is always near

Dear friend, 

When it seems hard to cling to Jesus (even when you know it is the very thing you need), it is okay. When scripture memory is out of the question because the simplest task of getting out of bed feels impossible, you are not alone. When your days go from the absolute best to feeling like it cannot get any worse, keep fighting to see more of those good days. They will come.

My scores on the GAD scale fluctuated for two years between severe and moderate-severe. In December, I finally scored mild. I cried the entire way home. I cannot tell you that it was not hard, but I will tell you that it was all worth it. Again, fight for those good days. This is nor to say that I will never be above the mild range again, but I am confident in the tools I have to keep me grounded. Open those blinds and windows. Meal prep for those rough weeks. Have a friend ask those hard, but necessary questions. 

Dear church,

Learn to know more than just the faces you see on Sunday mornings. From the pulpit to the back row, there are people suffering from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, PTSD, panic disorders, and so much more.

“Just seek help!” 

I agree; however, it is not as easy as it sounds. It takes courage to reach out and ask for help, but to also remain committed to the work of seeing healing take place. From personal experience, **trauma counseling gave me nightmares and made me sensitive to certain topics and situations. There were times where my depression and anxiety both spiked at the same time. So yes, I did seek help, but it did not excuse me from the realities of the healing journey.

**Please note this is not the case for all people!**

Know that there are people who may not show up consistently each week to Sunday Service or small group for these exact reasons. Rather than assuming Sunday mornings and small groups are the answer for all of life’s difficulties, learn to lean in and ask questions. 

Reach out with a simple, “hey, we missed seeing you last week. If you’re willing, I’d love to catch up with you and talk or listen!”

 Follow through. Then, do it again and again and again.

I have no doubt that Jesus would go through hell and high water for those who cannot do it for themselves. My hope is to see the church begin to rise up and do the same for all who suffer in silence. 

Psalm 42 (ESV)

“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,

for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,

as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.”

All He Says I Am| By Jasmine Beard

Who are you?

I recently had the opportunity to share with some high school students, and we chatted about identity.

There are two questions that people young and old ask themselves at sometime in their life.

1.) Who am I?

And

2.) Why am I here?

When I asked the students the first question…

One student  cheerfully and confidentially responded, “I’m a football player.”

I responded, “Well, what if you get injured really badly, and you’re never able to play football again? Then who are you?”

I didn’t say that to stump him or to belittle his answer, but to simply get him thinking.

We are not what we do.

As people, we like to identify ourselves with everything except God, whether it be in what we do for a living, in our past, what has happened to us, or in what others have to say about us!

 “But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world.” 1 Peter 2:9 (TPT)

What lies are you believing about who you are today?!

“Worthless.”

“Ugly.”

“Won’t amount to anything.”

“Trash.”

“Rejected.”

“Abandoned.”

“Forgotten.”

“Not special.”

It would be impossible to walk throughout life without having someone say something hurtful to you!

Sometimes things can be said so often to us that instead of rejecting those words we accept them and begin to wear them as our identity.

As we accept those words as our identity, we go throughout life trying to prove those words wrong or by self-medicating to numb the pain, overcompensating with makeup, numbing with alcohol, or hopping from relationship to relationship.

But all these things are only a cover up – a cover up to a truly broken and hurting heart!

Today, I want you to break-up with those word curses and refuse to speak them to yourself or agree with them again!

YOU ARE NOT WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOU!

You are a daughter or son of the most High God!

And He calls you:

“Beautiful.”

“Worthy.”

“Forgiven.”

“Free.”

“Bold.”

“New.”

Think on these things instead because what God says about you is TRUE!

The Bible tells us that we are made in the very image of God. Meaning our looks, characteristics, and personality all derive from Him!

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NLT)

So today, if you are questioning “who you are?” and “why you are here?”, look no further than to the One who created you in His likeness.

Once we know Whose we are, we will have a better understanding of who we are and what we were created to do.

When our identity is solidified in The One who is identity we no longer have to waiver or fret in the question of who we are because we find out who we are only in Him. 

From Broken Places| By Patience Daigle

Have you ever gotten to the gate to board a plane only to realize the flight had been delayed for hours? 

On a recent trip, my flight got delayed 3.5 hours because of maintenance on the aircraft. Those in charge with the airline did not feel confident in the broken mechanisms so they advised us passengers to wait and put us on the next plane going to our destination. Exhausted from the wait and scrambling through the line to retrieve my boarding pass to enter the newly assigned plane, I could not locate where my seat number was.

I showed my pass and asked the flight attendant, “Ma’am, can you tell me what my seat number is?” 

She graciously replied, “Oh! Someone has sat in your seat. Go to row 4. I’m going to put you in first class.” 

I could not help but soak in the awesomeness of the blessing I had just received. I mean, leg room, personal blanket, and snack of my choice that did not include pretzels or peanuts. I was eating it up and bragging to my friends about what I had just experienced. However, as I sat waiting for the plane to take off, the Holy Spirit overcame me so sweetly. 

All I could hear in my spirit was, “He wants to take you from broken places.” 

Earlier that morning, James chapter 1 had been on my mind, particularly verses 2-4. 

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4 (KJV)

To be honest, when these verses first came to my mind, I immediately cringed. The fact is that sometimes the trial is long and seemingly unbearable. Often dark and bleak, but God never intends for the outcome to be fruitless. 

I believe that as you have read this blog, your places of brokenness have been apparent in your mind. Do not hold back from God. Surrender those pieces of your heart. Believe that your Savior endured the Cross to give you life and allowance for the Holy Spirit to transform the fragments. 

The uncomfortable, sometimes excruciating, afflictions are inevitable. Maybe you have been waiting a long time. Maybe you have experienced unthinkable tragedy. Maybe you have let doubt and fear cloud your faith. Maybe there is unrelenting sin in your life. Whatever it is, God wants to take you from those broken places. To move from them, you must walk in faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to transform you through each trial. Look to Him, and you will see how He brings you through each time. Spiritual endurance will build in your heart as the image of the King sharpens until that glorious day you behold Him in completion. Perfect and entire, wanting nothing but Him. 

Count it all joy! Along the journey, you will turn around and see the faithfulness of God gleaming. You may even buy an economy ticket one day and end up in priority seating just so He can use the experience as an opportunity to reveal more of Himself. Nevertheless, allow Him to fix the broken mechanisms in your heart so you can ride first class into the next season of life.

A Generous Spirit| By T’eoria Murray

One day after school when I was about 6-years-old, my mom told me that we would be making a stop at the toy store on the way home. 

“Tee, I need to get a Christmas gift for your god-sister. I want your honest opinion because she’s about your age,” she told me. “Pick something that you would want for yourself.” 

I remember sticking my chest out with pride at the prospect of giving her my input. However, once we were inside the store I could only think about all the things I wanted for myself. My mom tried to coax an opinion out of me a few times. 

“Do you think she would like this? What do you think about this doll?” I would offer a half-hearted “Sure” or shrug indifferently. I didn’t want to pick a toy for another girl after seeing half a dozen things I wanted for myself. 

Finally, I picked the nearest baby doll and assured my mom it would be fine. She paid and I reluctantly followed her out of the store. I forgot all about this incident until weeks later when Christmas rolled around. Amid my myriad gifts, I was surprised to find the very doll I had chosen without thought! My mom watched my face closely and said she had wanted to give me the chance to pick my own gift without ruining the surprise. I tried to look pleased, but I was stunned and more than a little disappointed with myself. If I had given real thought to her request and embraced the opportunity to give another child a gift, the blessing would have come back to me.

Yourdictionary.com defines generosity as “readiness or willingness to give; the quality of being willing to share.” 

If you are like me, when you think about having a generous spirit, the first thing that comes to mind is money, but there is so much more to giving than that. The principle of generosity is weaved in and out of scripture. God Himself is portrayed as the embodiment of generosity in giving His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. In His life on Earth, Jesus made it plain that generosity isn’t about isolated acts, but rather a lifestyle that is others-focused. He was constantly giving of Himself- His wisdom, His time, His kindness and encouragement. By His unselfish example He demonstrated that we all have something to give. 

So how can we practice generosity in our daily lives?

  1. Generosity with our time

We all have 24 hours in a day, but somehow it never seems like enough. We live in a fast-paced world that never stops and time is a precious commodity. Is there someone in your life that you can invest in? Is there a child who needs mentoring? A friend who needs a listening ear? An elderly neighbor who could use help around the house? Time given to uplift others is time well-spent.

“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” Hebrews 13:16 (NLT)

  1. Generosity with our abilities

Do you love to sing or play an instrument? Do you have a practical skill like plumbing or electrical work? Maybe you have the gift of teaching or are good with finances. Whatever your talent or skill, ask God to show you opportunities to use it to help others. Bring the joy of music into a dreary place. Help with the repairs at a place that desperately needs the work done but can’t afford it. Tutor those young people who have stopped believing in themselves. Our talents and gifts were given to brighten the lives around us. 

  1. Generosity with our belongings

When it comes to the things that I own, I often face a dilemma you may be familiar with.  When I need something to wear it seems I don’t have much at all, but when I have to pack or reorganize my stuff I suddenly have far more than I need! Are there extra clothes, shoes, books, electronics or other things around your house that you’re saving for a just-in-case or a rainy day? Occasionally, it’s a good idea to prayerfully look through the things we own for ways to bless others who may need something more than we do. Our apparent clutter could be their answered prayer.

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)

  1. Generosity with our money

The idea of giving can be daunting because what we have to offer may look small in comparison to the great need that surrounds us. The old saying goes “little is much when God is in it.” It’s safe to say your donation won’t solve world hunger, but God cares more about the heart of the giver than the quantity of the gift. You may know a teacher who needs supplies, a young mother who needs baby clothes, or a family who could use groceries. What creative ways can you find to bless others? 

Christian author Randy Alcorn wrote, “The single greatest deterrent to giving and to living more simply is the illusion that this world is our home.” 

As we ask God to open our eyes and change our priorities, we will realize that we are only stewards of our time, abilities, possessions, and money. He will show us how to use them all for the greatest good- His glory. 

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)