December 22, 2004
Encouragement for Today
How to Have a Joy-Filled Christmas - Part 3
Mary Southerland - Director of Development, Speaker, Author
"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38 (NIV)
Winston Churchill said, "We make a living through what we get, but we make a life through what we give." The world would like us to believe that the success of Christmas depends upon how much we spend, how many presents we give or receive. While Christmas is about giving, budgets do not determine the success of our Christmas giving.
Giving is not dependent on the condition of your checkbook. Giving is dependent on the condition of your heart. Let me share some creative ways to give gifts that are straight from the heart.
A homemade gift
Giving something you make represents time and effort invested on the recipient's behalf. Each year, we make hot chocolate for our neighbors, scoop it into decorated mason jars and deliver it to their doorstep. The best part is ringing the doorbell and the running like crazy! Our neighbors love it and it has become a prized family tradition.
Give something you already have, something that is of special value to you. Not your junk, but your treasure. Don't ask the question, "What can I buy for Sally?" Ask the question, "What do I have that would mean a lot to Sally?" My pastor husband once mentioned in a sermon that he collects old Bibles. The next Christmas, one of our church members gave him an old and cherished family Bible. It is still one of Dan's most precious gifts.
Gift of time
Time is a valuable gift because when we give thirty minutes of time, we are giving thirty minutes of life. When Dan was in seminary, we were always short on time and money. When Christmas came, one of our friends handed us a Christmas card with his gift inside, a coupon good for one afternoon of babysitting each week for the whole year. To this day, I still remember how thrilled I was when Scott handed us that card. Give a gift of time spent in prayer for a friend or an afternoon of errands run for an older friend. Time is a precious gift.
Gift of encouragement.
Tell someone what they mean to you. Write it down so they can read your encouraging words several times. Writing it down can help you say it better and requires more time and thought. You can also make a cassette tape of encouraging words and thoughts for those who can't see well or for that hurried mom who spends much of her life in a car. In my bible, I have several notes tucked as bookmarks for special verses; notes of encouragement that have keep me on my feet during difficult times.
A blind gift
Give a gift to someone you don't even know; a gift that is given in Jesus' name, just because you love Him. I recently read an article about a millionaire who sets aside large sums of money at Christmas. Dressed in a disguise, he then walks the streets, pressing $100 bills into the hands of the needy. "It makes my whole year," he says.
Give a gift to someone you know without them knowing who gave it. Give with no hidden motive and with no possible benefit to yourself. Like most newlyweds, Dan and I were on an extremely tight budget during the first years of marriage. At one point, we had no money for groceries, a fact we shared with no one but God. We wanted to see what He would do. Returning from church one Sunday night, we started up the steps to our mobile home. There, on the sidewalk, was a brown package. We hurriedly ripped off the paper to find a brick with two $100 bills taped to each side. We still don't know who gave us that gift, but every time I think of them, I ask God to bless them for their secret gift.
This year, make this Christmas your best Christmas by receiving His gift of Love, by giving yourself to Him and by sharing His love with others. Search for Him in every face. Watch for Him throughout each day and may this be a joy-filled Christmas and the beginning of a joy-filled year!
My prayer for today:
May "God grant 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; the all of Christmas, which is Christ." Amen.
Choose two of the creative gifts listed above and give them this holiday season.
Think back over past Christmases. What "creative gifts" have you received? What "creative gifts" have you given? What truths did you gain from receiving and giving these gifts? What changes do you plan to make in the way you give and receive gifts this year?
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already be cause he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18 (NIV)
Christmas Conference Tape Set
The Sweetest Story Ever Told by Lysa Terkeurst
Message of the Month Club (see the Proverbs 31 web site)
Originally published Wednesday, 22 December 2004.