December 5, 2013
Gifts That Matter
If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you (Luke 6:38, NLT).
Friend to Friend
Have you discovered the truth that we simply cannot "out-give" God? The more we give, the more we receive. And that truth does not just apply to financial giving. It is really all about the attitude behind the gift. Do you remember the Christmas gifts you received last year? How about the Christmas gifts you gave? What about the gift you gave Jesus? In my last devotions, we talked about several meaningful gifts you can give. Here are a few more for you to consider.
A gift of care
Christmas is a painful time of empty hopes and fierce loneliness for many people. Every loss is magnified. Every wound is deepened. Pray that the Father will give you His eyes to see the broken lambs, crying out for help. This year, do something real for someone who is hurting:
Christmas is always hard for me because it is a time when I especially miss my mother who died many years ago. I don't openly broadcast that fact, but one Christmas, a precious older lady at our church somehow sensed that I was struggling and decided to meet a need in my life. Cards filled my mailbox. Every time I saw her, Miss Marion would hug me and tell me how much she loved me. She invited our children over to bake Christmas cookies and in doing so, became their adopted grandmother. Miss Marion died a few years ago, but her loving care and investment in my life lives on.
A secret gift
Give a gift to someone you know in secret. Dan and I had been married for three years when we first discovered the joy that a "secret gift" can bring. Dan was in seminary, I was teaching elementary school, and we were both serving at a local church. It seemed as if we were always running, always tired, and always broke. At one point, the financial picture was especially bleak. We had ten days of life to go before the next payday - and not a cent to our name. We told no one but God -- and waited. One Sunday night, we pulled up to the mobile home where we were living. In front of the door to our home was a small but heavy package wrapped in brown paper. It was a brick. Taped to each side of the brick was a hundred dollar bill. God had provided for our needs through a truly generous heart, someone who had chosen to give a secret gift. To this day, we still have no idea who "bricked" us, but we often think of them and ask God to bless them for their secret gift.
A gift of forgiveness
The Christmas holidays have a way of resurrecting past hurts. The greatest gift we can give ourselves for Christmas is the gift of forgiveness, because in choosing to forgive someone else, we set ourselves free. Every 60 seconds of anger displaces 60 seconds of joy. Let go of the hurts. Forgive the wrongs and find healing.
Dan sold one of our old cars to a man who worked in the church maintenance department. A payment plan was created, the title was transferred, and the man drove away, never to pay a cent. For months, I was furious, thinking of the man who had stolen our car. To make matters worse, the man then left the church to work at the grocery store -- my grocery store. Every time I bought groceries, he was there and he was smiling. Just the sight of him drove my blood pressure higher as my stomach knotted up with anger. Dan finally decided to give him the car. I decided not to give him the car until I realized that I was the only person being hurt in the deal. The next time I bought groceries, I walked up to the man and said, "I hope you like the car. Dan and I have decided to just give it to you as a gift." I walked away, a free woman, while he stood, open-mouthed and in shock, now holding his own guilt in his hands.
A gift of teaching
What skill, ability or talent has God given you? Each one is from His hand - to be given away in service to others. Is there a young believer in your life you can mentor? What better time to share your gifts and abilities than at Christmas? You may be able to sew or play the piano, cook gourmet meals or beautifully decorate your home. Each talent and ability is a potential gift. In high school, my choral director gave me a free voice lesson each week. Consequently, I attended college on an academic and music scholarship because one woman chose to share her gift with me.
Get creative! Give a gift from the heart this year. And may this be a Christmas filled with the joy of the Lord as you celebrate His birth and life.
May God grant you the light in Christmas which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth and the all of Christmas, which is Christ.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Grab your Christmas list and set aside some time to pray for each person on that list this week. Do you need to rethink some of the gifts you are giving this year? It is not too late! Ask God how you can best honor His birth by the gifts you give to others.
More from the Girlfriends
No matter what your circumstances may be, you can celebrate the Christmas holidays because God is with you, girlfriend.
Looking for a Bible Study to start the New Year? Check out Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. Don't miss the new study, How to Tame the Tongue, beginning January 20, 2014. Enroll before December 15 and have access to all 2013 lessons.
Do you want to revolutionize your prayer life? Check out Chair Time, a new E-Book written by Mary's husband, Dan. It not only will teach you how to hear from God – it will change your life! And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
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