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5 Family Conversation Starters about Gratitude and Generosity

4 days ago By Bill High

In the upcoming holidays, many of us have intentions to create an atmosphere of gratitude—and often, asking questions about gratitude can quickly start a family conversation about generosity. However, starting authentic family conversation during the busyness of the season is not always easy. Here are a few gratitude and generosity conversation starters to use at your family’s Thanksgiving table. Create space The first step is simply to create space for the conversation. As hard as it can be, make it a point to gather your family and share your desire and expectation to talk through topics like gratitude and generosity. Setting clear intentions for this conversation can develop a strong foundation for your family to build from, even in the midst of a fast-paced, always-wanting-more culture. As you navigate the differences in generational communication, be clear that in a family conversation, all are welcome to contribute. Invite ideas and big dreams, and even express your willingness to hear about hurts or needs that should be met. When your family gathers around a common purpose like family generosity and gratitude, it builds unity. We all want to make a difference, and it feels even better to do it in community. Start the conversation After you start the family’s conversation, be prepared to guide the discussion with additional thoughts and questions about gratitude and generosity. Here are a few easy thankfulness conversation starters that may help launch you into further discussion: Can you remember a time you received something that you didn’t deserve? How did that make you feel? Who is the most generous person you know? What makes them that way? “To give is to receive”. What does this quote mean to you? Do you think it’s true? If you could write the last check needed to solve a problem in the world, what would you solve? Why is that important to you? Do you typically think you have more than you need, less than you need, or exactly what you need? These are just a few examples of ways you can generate organic conversation about gratitude and generosity. Generosity and gratitude are often caught, not taught. By sharing your own experiences and modeling a generous lifestyle to your children, you invite your family into a legacy of generosity. Being aware of these small acts can leave a lasting legacy for your entire family to pass down for generations. Don’t let the conversation end there. Make sure to end these conversations with the next step you all want to take together. Whether you need to dig further into the common values you want to pursue, or maybe you want to create a generosity plan together, set a plan for how you will follow through. The Signatry has a guide to build a generosity plan as a family that will provide resources to create that plan together. This post was originally published on November 16, 2018.

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Family

What is Transformational Generosity?

2 weeks ago By The Signatry

What does generosity mean, really? It is often equated with financial giving, but it clearly goes beyond the number of dollars given away. In Scripture, we read how God intends generosity to be transformational. Biblical generosity means changing the way we think about all of our resources, not just money, in order to uplift others, strengthen relationships, and glorify God. So how can we embrace this transformational definition of generosity and shift how we give? It begins by unpacking a few major characteristics of generosity in Scripture.

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Family

Estate Plans, Life Insurance, and Donor Advised Funds

3 weeks ago By The Signatry

As you think through estate planning, here are some ways that you can continue your legacy of generosity through your life insurance and charitable beneficiaries. Donor advised funds are tools not only for today’s generosity but also for a legacy that endures even after your passing. Donors can maximize the power of their donor advised fund by naming their fund as the beneficiary of life insurance, retirement accounts, and other similar assets. Learn more about how to integrate lasting generosity through your estate planning by using these creative donor advised fund options. Life Insurance There are a couple of different estate planning strategies that can expand your generosity by including a donor advised fund as a life insurance beneficiary: Name your donor advised fund at The Signatry as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. By doing this, the proceeds of the policy will be placed in your donor advised fund and can be granted to charities you have recommended. While there is no income tax deduction in this strategy, this option still allows for incredible generosity to flow from the proceeds of the life insurance policy when the policy owner passes away. Gift your current policy. By donating a life insurance policy, The Signatry becomes the owner of the policy, which would include responsibility for paying any unpaid premiums. The donor may receive a charitable income tax deduction, and when the donor eventually passes away, the proceeds from the policy will go to his/her donor advised fund and can be granted to recommended charities. We encourage you to connect with our team to learn more about how your scenario matches a specific estate planning strategy. Charitable Beneficiaries We typically think of naming children as beneficiaries within estate plans. What about including charities? Naming a charitable beneficiary is one great way to prioritize generosity in your estate plan. Here are just a couple ways a donor advised fund could serve as that charitable beneficiary: Name your donor advised fund as a beneficiary in your will. There are multiple types of bequests that you could use to designate how your estate will be distributed. You could specify set dollar amounts to be contributed to a donor advised fund when the estate is distributed. Alternatively, you could allocate a portion of the estate to be contributed to the fund. We encourage you to discuss options with your professional advisor and see how a donor advised fund works best for the generosity you wish to see carried on after your passing. Name your donor advised fund as a beneficiary of your charitable remainder trust. Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) are often used in estate planning, but they present a challenge: beneficiaries must be named when the trust is first established. If your wishes change later, it can be expensive to modify the CRT. One way to add more flexibility is to name your donor advised fund as the charitable beneficiary of the trust. In this scenario, the CRT must be distributed to one or more charitable organizations, but which charities will be supported can change even after the trust is established. Within the donor advised fund, the donor and his or her family can modify the recommended beneficiaries. An added benefit is that, if the donor wishes, his or her financial advisor can manage the assets in the donor advised fund. — These ideas are just a handful of the myriad of ways you can include generosity in your estate plans. We encourage you to discuss these and other options with your professional advisor. Through life insurance policies, charitable beneficiaries, and more, you can create a unique path that supports your estate planning goals, both financially and spiritually, all through your donor advised fund. This ultimately is the heart of The Signatry—we want to both inspire and to facilitate incredible generosity.

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Family

Generosity that Lasts for Generations

3 weeks ago By Vyne Legacy

We all want our families to carry out our values and spirit of generosity, but how can you translate the desire for a strong family legacy into something truly attainable? At Vyne Legacy, an educational ministry of The Signatry, we are focused on equipping families to bear fruit for generations, so today we want to share a few steps that we teach to build lasting family values and generosity. Over the years while working with families, we noticed a common theme. Families who are sure of their values tend to be more connected and to live more generously. When a family knows what it stands for and has its circle to stand with, that clarity and community usually leads to impactful, meaningful action. That’s it—one of the simplest keys to generosity that will last and transform your family: Communicate your values. If you want to begin developing your family values and growing your family’s generosity, you can start with a few steps: 1. Invest your time and behaviors in what you care about. You must be the first one to exemplify the values you want your family to share. Whether you have young children or are an empty nester, how you act and where you put your time and energy speaks clearly about your values. Your financial giving can’t be disconnected from the way you live or the attitudes you hold. Children, even from a young age, will pick up on those behaviors. Remember, your actions are a form of communication. 2. Connect the dots between actions and family values. One common mistake we see families make is to assume their values are clear. While your actions or the charities you support might be evident, have you truly connected the dots to articulate exactly what the driving value is? Do you continue to repeat that theme? True, lasting, transformational generosity starts when your family is clear on why they give. We encourage families to identify 3-5 values and create short statements to describe these. Your family can’t practice what they haven’t been taught; family values statements give you a tool to solidify and reinforce what and why you support these causes. (If you want to learn more about how to develop your own values, vision, and mission as a family, click here for more about our course for families.) 3. Open up family leadership opportunities. As you live with intentionality, repeating your core values and engaging with your family, look for ways to pass the baton. Create opportunities for other family members to lead during each step of the giving process. Being able to take the practice from start to finish—identifying the value, choosing a cause and organization, and deciding how to engage in generosity—teaches each family member how to engage in a generous life as they grow. Even for young kids, early chances to learn to make decisions will help reinforce values and teach them exactly how to engage in the process. Sharing these responsibilities will also look different in different seasons of life, so giving everyone the opportunity to participate will deepen connection even through the various seasons. Family values lead to family legacy. We always say that generosity is the great equalizer because, even with differing opinions in the family or in conversations about wealth, generosity becomes a place of equal participation. You all have a common goal to work toward together—to create meaningful, positive change in the world—and there are few things which can so easily unify a family. We hope this is an encouraging way to think about the basics of your family generosity. No giving plan or list of charities will fully connect with your family until you all are clear on your purpose and values together. That’s where it gets good! Solidifying your family’s values opens up the door to clarity on what matters, to deep connections, and to exciting, transformational generosity. Better yet, those clearly articulated and embodied values provide a simple pathway for future generations to understand and follow themselves. Let’s live generously for generations just as God intended.

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Family

Use a Donor Advised Fund to Engage Your Family at Year-End

4 weeks ago By The Signatry

As the end of the year approaches, consider this question in your year-end conversations: how can I engage my family in building a strategy for year-end charitable contributions? Nearly a third of annual giving occurs in December, with 12% happening in the last three days of the year. While it is important to support nonprofits year-round, chances are you will make some charitable contributions sometime during the final two months of this year—what better time to engage the entire family and practice generosity together?  A donor advised fund (DAF) at The Signatry is an excellent tool that can serve as a home base for your family’s generosity while also minimizing your tax burden. Here are just a few of the reasons to include your whole family in a year-end conversation through a DAF at The Signatry this year.  A DAF allows everyone to contribute. By having your whole family on a donor advised fund, you can encourage all family members to make their own charitable contributions and see them show up within the platform. Whether $5 or $5,000, make every family member’s act of generosity play a part in one final, year-end grant recommendation to impact a favorite charity you chose together.  A DAF sets up your family for generations. Come together as a family to write a fund name and mission statement, then add it to your online DAF profile. This unique option in The Signatry’s platform exists to help you communicate to your family the intent behind the grants you recommend to ministries around the globe.  While you are writing a mission statement together, you can recommend your future generations as successors to the DAF. This creates a space to explain the importance of inheriting the fund and its mission and the value of carrying out these acts of generosity for years to come.  A DAF allows you to teach creative generosity. You can get creative with a DAF through both contributions and grant recommendations. If you have the ability, show your family members how to contribute gifts of stock or business interest. When it is time to recommend grants, The Signatry’s platform has a charity search tool that allows you to compare charities in similar fields and see the work they are doing. If your family decides to support multiple charities, it is easy to submit new recommendations in one place rather than giving on multiple different websites.  A DAF provides a track record. With your grant history recorded in one place, you can refine your family’s giving decisions based on how you have given in the past. It can be difficult to remember how much you gave last year and to where. With a DAF, you can look to see if you want to invest in the same ministries as last year, with the same amount, or spread out your acts of generosity.  A DAF invites everyone to participate.  Your family DAF does not have to hold a lot in order to teach family generosity. A DAF with The Signatry has no minimum balance requirement and no monthly minimum charges. The minimum amount for a one-time grant out to a nonprofit is $100. Supporting nonprofits with even this amount is a great opportunity to build the habits of generosity with younger family members. God is honored when we choose to trust Him, and these acts of generosity draw our families closer together around His love.  As you engage your family in year-end conversations and discuss using a donor advised fund to grow your generosity, visit our Start a Fund page to start your generosity journey today. 

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Featured

Five Principles of Inheritance in the Bible

1 month ago By Bill High

What does the Bible say about leaving an inheritance? Although the Bible is clear that a good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22), the Bible doesn’t prescribe what that inheritance should be or how much the inheritance should be. It’s one of the most common questions I get asked: “How much should I leave my children?”  There are at least 5 principles of inheritance in the Bible that deserve attention.  Principle One: It’s Your Responsibility to Provide Order. Sometimes in a planning conversation, I will hear a parent say, “Well, what do I care? I’ll be gone. My kids can figure it out.” When King David was nearing his last days, his kingdom was not in order. His successor to the throne was not clearly in place, and in absence of that clarity, his son Adonijah seized the throne. His wife Bathsheba was forced to go to King David and make clear that Solomon was to be king. She stated boldly, “And now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him” (I Kings 1:20). As a parent, it was David’s role to designate who would come after him. Similarly, it’s our responsibility to provide a clear plan for our children’s inheritance based on these biblical principles.  Principle Two: God Desires Generations. Our western culture has taught us to raise our children to independence—for our children to go on and live their own lives. That notion of independence has sometimes led to separation, and even encouraged a departure from values. But God desires for families and their values to continue for generations. Consider God’s command to Abraham as a guideline for inheritance in the Bible: “And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations’” (Genesis 17:9). As we consider leaving an inheritance, it should be with the notion that we want our family to continue for generations in an ongoing covenant.  Principle Three: Pass on Values Through Your Family Story. One of the most powerful forms of biblical inheritance is the family story. Can your children and even grandchildren tell how you met, your struggles, your growth—the stories that make your family unique? In the Old Testament as part of the annual Passover celebration, God prescribed that the celebration should always start with the youngest child asking a question: What do you mean by this service? (Exodus 12:25-27). This question was the impetus to start the storytelling, the remembrance of what God had done for them.  Principle Four: Love Equally but Treat According to Responsibility. While we should endeavor to love our children equally, it doesn’t mean that we should give them an equal inheritance. We see biblical inheritance played out when Israel blessed his 12 sons in Genesis 49. The oldest son, Reuben, should have received a double inheritance, but he was unfaithful, so he didn’t get the share. Similarly, sons 2 & 3, Simeon and Levi, had fierce anger, so they were disqualified. It was the fourth son, Judah, who got the double portion. As a practical matter, the larger the estate and the larger the responsibility, the more likely that there may be a need for unequal inheritance.  Principle Five: Inheritance as Mission. While there’s little doubt that leaving an inheritance is a great gift, in Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously, David Green states that the first inheritance should be a set of values, virtues and work ethic. When it comes to financial wealth—particularly when larger amounts are involved—David points out that he would rather not have wealth if it meant losing one of his children or grandchildren for eternity. The more a family is aligned around a vision, a mission and a set of values, there’s a greater reason to keep family wealth together as biblical inheritances teaches.  There’s little doubt that I’ve only skimmed the surface on the biblical principles of inheritance. More of these thoughts and ideas can be found in David Green’s book noted above. However, I invite your thoughts and views. Email me at [email protected] 

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Family

Choosing Charities: Six Questions Before You Give

10 months ago By The Signatry

As a donor, you want your generosity to have an impact. You may have a special cause that you are passionate about or see a unique need and an opportunity to make a difference in the moment. When it comes to giving your time, talents, or treasures, you want to know you are supporting an organization or movement that is effective, efficient, and eternal-minded. In this article, we will cover some of the technical requirements that donors should consider when choosing a charity, as well as key questions to ask when vetting an organization’s capability to achieve its mission with your support.

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Family

Challenging the Law: The Influence of Five Women

1 year ago By Carole Urbas

The Bible gives clear examples of how a woman’s influence is felt throughout the generations. Women influenced society in a variety of ways: through their households, religious life, economics, hospitality, service, and their overall generous nature. From Esther’s path to queen, to the determination of Mary Magdalene, generational change was affected by multiple women. There are several instances of this seen in the Old Testament, including the story of the five daughters of Zelophehad and their quest for an estate. These five vulnerable women came before their community and challenged the law of inheritance. Where a man’s property was to be inherited by his sons, the five daughters of Zelophehad were unwed and had no brothers upon their father’s passing. What happens in this case? The women made a plea for further explanation and terms in their desire to maintain their father’s legacy. They did not act in a hierarchical manner but presented their case by saying “let not our father’s name be lost.” Moses took the issue before the Lord who responded in support of the sisters’ plea. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘The plea of Zelophehad’s daughters is just: you should give them a hereditary holding… Further, speak to the Israelite people as follows: If a man dies without leaving a son, you shall transfer his property to his daughter.’” Numbers 27: 6—8 The daughters would inherit the land and their case would become precedent for other families in which there were no sons. The boldness of the daughters of Zelophehad provides an example for women today who desire to leave a legacy. Their zeal for bonding the family and carrying on resources is an important model for many women tasked with this today. Not only are women influential in day-to-day life, women now hold a major stake in financial influence. For example, intergenerational wealth set to be inherited by women is $28.7 trillion over the next 40 years. Women also control 51% of all personal wealth in the United States and now hold the majority (52%) of management, professional, and related positions. Financial blessings coupled with the life-giving nature of women is a recipe for impact in families, churches, and charities serving the Kingdom on a global level. — At The Signatry, we strive to help women recognize and live out this God-given design to influence humanity for generations to come. Several unique opportunities we offer for personal growth with women and their families include:

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Family

The Importance of Genealogies in the Bible

1 year ago By The Signatry

Have you ever wondered why entire pages of your Bible are dedicated to listing prior generations of a prominent biblical person? In fact, there are important sections of genealogy listed in 14 books of the Bible, most notably and the largest being 1 Chronicles 1-9. These sections of biblical text are frequently skipped over in the everyday reading of the Scripture, but what value can we gain from their existence? The genealogies of the Bible provide important records of historical succession, continuity, and legitimacy, but these genealogies of the Bible also provide unique insights for our families. Diversity and Impact When we look at the genealogy of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, it is not a list of pure royalty or perfect character. The prostitute Rahab is mentioned as a direct ancestor, as well as many other non-Jewish individuals, like Ruth. Kings and rulers ridden with evil pasts like Uzziah and Manasseh are a part of His genealogy. The genealogies were important to the ancient Israelites as they were a record of how their family lineages served God and continued to carry the mission of their forefathers in being laborers for the Lord, in moving God’s people, and overcoming trials to prepare the way for their future generations. Through family lineage, God exemplifies how He uses everyone to fulfill His purpose. The impact on society and shaping of future prominent individuals is the reason we see the names of controversial people, both with a positive and negative track record, mentioned in every list. The same can apply to our own families. Each story and each generation points back to how God can work through us. Importance of Family The mere existence of so many lists of families with ties to high priests, frequent traces to David, Abraham, and Noah, and network of relationships outlined in the Bible are a testament to the importance of family. These lineages demonstrate the detailed nature of God and His interest in the people of His creation. God does not view His Kingdom as some vague group of people. He knows each by name, with specificity and precision for their purpose. God’s blessings to the families of the Bible are not as clear without the genealogies in the Bible.

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Family

Stories of Motherhood

3 years ago By The Signatry

The stories of motherhood leave a legacy imprinted on our hearts. Sometimes, they are stories of quiet, gentle, sacrifice recognized years later. Sometimes, they are those humorous stories of family lore. Sometimes, they are stories of great sorrow and loss, wounds that God is healing. So today, we celebrate and honor them all. The women of The Signatry are celebrating the moms who inspire them so that as women we are speaking life to one another. Join and share your own stories that inspire you from motherhood. The Sacrifice of a Single Mom On this Mother’s Day, as we look to those women in our lives that have inspired us, for me, it is my mother. Growing up in a single-family home, her sacrifice to support my sister and I was evident in that she was willing to work 3rd shift at General Motors to make sure we were taken care of. It meant my sister taking care of me the best that she could after school each day. It included cooking dinner for the both of us and attempting to help me with homework. As an adult, I have seen those years of support move to that of a mother who truly is a prayer warrior. Instead of nights spent up with me as a child, they are now in fervent prayer for our family. She truly inspires me to be a mother of prayer and strength. -Rhiannon K.

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Family

The Difference in Living Generously

3 months ago By The Signatry

When we think of someone living generously, we don’t often focus on the checks they write or the tax breaks they receive. Most often, when we observe someone living a generous life, we notice how they spend their time, the work they do for the common good, and the character behind their acts of generosity. When we live generously, it goes beyond charitable donations. It involves a willingness to give of your time, energy, and God-given gifts. Here are three questions to ask if you desire to expand your generosity:   Who/how can I serve today? Being generous requires intentionality. By setting your mind to seek out daily opportunities to live generously, your heart will be motivated to give in a deeper way. Thinking intentionally about generosity will position you towards situational generosity, where you can meet needs that exist within your community.   What can I give besides money? There is a common belief that says you cannot live generous if you don’t have money. However, living generously goes beyond giving financially. Acts of generosity like volunteering and serving require time and energy. These gifts are often more valuable to the recipients than money. Leave a lasting and priceless legacy by using your unique abilities and passions to meet the needs in your community.   How does living generously impact your legacy? Giving generously frees you. It loosens the grasp of material possessions and self-involvement. Living generously has a profound impact on your personal character and is a key training ground for younger generations. Making generosity a part of your lifestyle allows you to model and teach biblical values to those around you.   A generous lifestyle is an invitation to be a good steward of what God entrusted to you: your time, talents, and treasure. By embracing the generous life, you will leave a lasting impact on your community, family, and eternity. This post was originally published on March 8, 2019.

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Family

Stewarding Your Family in the Business Sale Process

4 years ago By The Signatry

Selling a business involves careful planning, but we often don’t take into consideration how it will impact our family. What does it look like to steward your family through this process in a way that will not only protect but allow them to thrive generations from now? When faced with these issues, there are a few important questions to consider: What should I give to my children? 70% of wealthy families lose their fortune by the second generation, and by the third generation, 90% have squandered their money. Clearly, passing on money is not enough to solve problems in our families. We often forget that there is more than financial capital to pass on; we need to consider the intangible aspects of wealth- social, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional capital. Your children will be more equipped to handle financial wealth when it is preceded with the knowledge and family values imparted. How are my children equipped to handle wealth? How do you ensure your children are ready to steward the wealth you plan to pass on to them? Thriving individuals are more likely to handle inheritance properly. Are they responsible with their finances? Do they have a good work ethic? Considering whether the inheritance is most likely to contribute or cripple their life, is important.  Sometimes the most loving action is saying “no” and setting boundaries that encourage your children to grow. By passing on biblical values and placing a priority on the intangible assets, we cultivate healthy families and provide a means for long term success. What is God calling me to do in the next season? Transitioning out of your business can be an exciting time to pursue God’s calling for the next season of your life. Consider how you can use this next season to continue to cultivate family relationships and build upon your legacy. Think about the causes you and your family are passionate about. You can make memories with younger generations by giving back, supporting, and volunteering with ministries as a multigenerational family. The heart of generosity goes far beyond the money we are willing to give. It permeates everyday decisions and determines the legacy we will leave. Cultivating a lasting family through the sale process will require honest communication. A healthy family will practice transparency. If the challenges seem too great, it is ok to invite outside help. In the same way, a business sale requires advisors, you may want to invite someone you trust to help advise your family as you deal with difficult topics and proactive planning. Wealth does not have to break apart our families. By bringing a better balance to our families as we learn to pass on intangible capital as well—emotional, spiritual, mental—we set the stage for long term success.

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Family

The Promise Within a Name

4 years ago By The Signatry

Between the closing of the Old Testament, with the book of Malachi and the opening of the New Testament there is a 400-year prophetical silence.  After Malachi pens his letter to the Israelites, we do not hear God speak for another four centuries when the angel of the Lord appears to Mary and Joseph, separately. Joseph, a Jewish carpenter from the lineage of David and a man of honor, finds himself in a dilemma.  Mary, his bride to be, tells him she is miraculously pregnant. Undoubtedly, his friends and family are whispering in his ear to leave the woman he loves, because the baby certainly isn’t his. If he follows through with the marriage his reputation will certainly be tarnished, his status in the Jewish community will be impacted, and his livelihood will be hindered. Joseph surely felt alone and torn, as he pondered one of the most difficult decisions of his life. Then, amongst the other voices and Joseph’s own doubt, God breaks the prophetic silence. In Matthew 1:20-21 the Lord says, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” He goes on to remind Joseph of a prophesy written over 700 years earlier in verses 22-23, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). In the midst of his doubt and confusion, Joseph is told to not be afraid, and the promise wrapped in the name “Immanuel” unlocks hope for his future and all of creation’s future. Think back to a time when you were facing a tough decision and felt alone. Were you afraid? Did you ask why you could not hear the voice of God?  Notice, it was not until after Joseph had made up his mind to quietly divorce Mary, that God speaks. The phrase “Do not be afraid” occurs 366 times in the Bible and is always accompanied by the idea that God is with us.  Immanuel is more than just a name, it is an enduring promise and prophesy, that God is and will always be right beside us.  During this Christmas season, we not only celebrate the birth of our savior, but we also rejoice in the promise that was given us through His name, “Immanuel.”        

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