Christmas is the season of giving. The gift doesn’t have to be extravagant to be appreciated. It is the spirit in which it is given that is the most important thing.
A couple of days before Christmas someone was telling me that he had cut his budget for gifts in half this year. This person was upset that the gifts he received last year didn’t cost as much as gifts he had given. For this reason, he would not spend as much on his friends this year. Somewhere in all of this the spirit of giving had been lost.
There was a time when I felt the same way. I couldn’t wait to see what people had purchased for me. I still appreciate receiving gifts, but my focus is no longer only on myself. Now, the true pleasure for me is picking out something special for someone and seeing their excitement when they receive the gift.
Sometimes the value of a gift cannot be measured in dollars. Acts of service may cost me nothing but my time, yet may be priceless to someone else. When I cheerfully give my time or attention to another, I am honoring not only them, but God. My life has been blessed by God so that I may pass some of these blessings along to others. This is a gift that is not just for Christmas, but can be shared on a daily basis throughout the year.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV
I have a bouquet of beautiful red roses on my table. They are lovely to look at, have a sweet but subtle fragrance and velvety soft petals. Roses seem like the perfect flower until you stab your finger on one of the thorns. We know that thorns come along with roses but they still sometimes surprise us.
In my life, it is when I focus on the thorns and not the roses that things take a downward spiral. I have discovered that if I’m not careful, the thorns in my life seem to multiply and soon take over my thoughts. What I need to focus on is the beauty that surrounds me, the fragrance of new adventures and the gentle softness of loving family and friends.
God has provided many things to bless my life and the occasional thorn to keep me humble. I thank him for the roses and the thorns.
Other seed fell among the thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Luke 8:7 NLT
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me. 2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV
Be inspired this week!
The calendar tells us that it is Thanksgiving, and once again I reflect on the meaning behind this holiday. For some it is merely a paid day off or a day to enjoy a turkey dinner with loved ones. For others, it is as the name suggests, a day to give thanks.
If it truly is a day to give thanks, what is it that I’m thankful for? Although I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy a turkey dinner with loved ones, there is more to it than that. I need to dig much deeper. While I’m at it, I need to realize that being thankful is something to practice consistently through each and every day. A wise friend told me once that there is no such thing as an entirely bad day. There is always something to be thankful for. Many in the world would be overjoyed to have some of the things that I tend to take for granted. A comfortable home with electricity and running water come to mind. My nightly habit is to pick up my gratitude journal and write down 5 things that I was grateful for that day. Looking for and focusing on the positive has changed my life.
Part of this is not just giving thanks, but who I am giving thanks to. God has blessed me, not just with material things, but with his loving presence. Even during the trying times, he is there leading and guiding me. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for the wrongs I have done. Now I can look forward to everlasting life with him. Now that is something to give thanks for.
.. always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
Last week I received one of the most valuable gifts I have ever been given. It came in the form of a written letter. This letter was from someone who wanted to let me know how much I was appreciated. My friend had verbally expressed appreciation for me before, but wanted to put it in writing. Reading the words had a profound effect on me. The fact that I can read them again at any time is priceless.
A few days ago I was one of many volunteers at a community event. Standing in the pouring rain, taking my shift as a crossing guard, I was happy and smiling at the people who went by. One of the main reasons for this was the appreciation that was expressed. The majority of people thanked me for serving in this way. Many offered kind words and one even offered to give me his umbrella! That evening I received an email expressing appreciation for my help during the event.
These experiences have reminded me the importance of showing appreciation. Even a difficult situation can be made better when appreciation is shown. I do my best to let people serving me know that I appreciate what they are doing. How often, though, do I make a point of letting loved ones know how much I appreciate them? It doesn’t always need to be for what they have done; maybe I need to let them know that I appreciate them for who they are. How will they know if I never tell them?
One that deserves my constant appreciation is Jesus. His love is faithful and he is always there to lead and guide me. He provides me with much more than I could ever deserve and I need to show my appreciation by thanking him every day.
Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. (Proverbs 16:24 NLT)
My mouth is filled with your praise, with your glory all day long. (Psalm 71:8 GWT)
Be inspired this week!
If you are looking for shells, I have discovered that a great place to search is in the shallow waters of a fishing area. There are an abundance of them. Some are scattered and easy to spot as they sit on their own. Most, however, are in large deposits, sometimes in a few close groupings and other times in trails that stretch across the sand. The more I pay attention and look for them, the more I find.
They remind me of the blessings in my life. I am aware of a few scattered here and there, but when I stop and really look, I can see them everywhere. There are clusters of them and trails that stretch throughout my life. The sheer abundance of them is staggering. So much so, that it is easy to take them for granted.
Every day I want to take the time to stop and appreciate my blessings and to thank God for the gifts that he has given to me.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. Ephesians 1:3 God’s Word Translation
Be inspired this week.