Encouragement for Today - November 28, 2011


LeAnn Rice

November 28, 2011

Meaningful Gifts
LeAnn Rice

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.'" Luke 2:10 (NAS)

It's the week after Thanksgiving, which means it's time to pull out our Christmas gift lists. Can I be honest? There are aspects of Christmas gift-giving I don't enjoy.

Before you think I'm Scrooge, please let me explain. I'm not fond of the "I'm just checking you off my list" mentality that can make giving seem commercial and insincere. And I don't care for the pressure I sometimes feel to spend more than I can afford at the holidays.

But I do love to give meaningful gifts. And I especially find joy in giving gifts that reflect the reason we celebrate Christmas. The tradition of gift-giving is a reminder of the greatest gift, Jesus Christ. He is "good news of great joy" (Luke 2:10). His birth shouts to each of us, you are loved by the Lord of lords and King of kings!

It seems people are more open to this good news at Christmastime, so I look for ways to share God's love through meaningful gifts. Sometimes I'll drop off a grocery gift card and a pretty basket of homemade goodies on the doorstep of a family in need. With it, I'll include an anonymous gift tag that reads, "Merry Christmas! Love, Jesus."

Another thing I love to do is carry candy canes to give to those I interact with, such as cashiers or waitresses. I usually tie a ribbon around them with a card that includes the Christmas story from the Bible.

Gifts can also be meaningful when what we give reflects God's love for the recipient. Thoughtful gifts communicate to the special people in our lives: God sees you, loves you and knows what you delight in.

One holiday season a friend battling a lingering illness didn't have energy to dive into holiday festivities. Since I love to cook and beautify, I unpacked her Christmas boxes and decorated her house. At the end of the day her family and I admired their festive home and enjoyed the chicken soup I'd set up in the crock pot earlier. It lifted her spirits and mine!

This week, as we transition our focus from Thanksgiving to Christmas, let's remember the gifts we buy don't have to be expensive or complicated to send the message of God's love and ours.

Let's take time to pray, asking God for creativity and thoughtfulness so that we not only give gifts that are meaningful, but gifts that reflect His "good news of great joy" this Christmas.

Dear Lord, thank You that You chose to come to earth, so we could know You and know how much You love us. Help me think of ways to love others for You through the gifts I give this Christmas. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit www.UntanglingChristmas.com for great ideas on reaching out, helpful organizing tips, decorating and menu ideas, and seeking Christ in the holiday hustle and bustle. Also find information on downloading the new e-book, Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice.

Application Steps:
LeAnn's She Cooks website provides instructions and tools to make her all-time favorite gift: the Blessing Box. A template with 100 personalized scriptures is provided. Simply do a "find and replace" to insert a name and you will have 100 of God's promises, personalized for the recipient!

As you shop, prepare and wrap gifts for others, pray specifically for the recipient to come to know Jesus or have a closer relationship with Him in the coming year.

Gifts of service are the least expensive and often the most meaningful. Who in my life is so busy a home-cooked meal would make her day? Maybe an elderly or ill friend would appreciate my help shopping, wrapping and mailing their gifts. Who needs my time more than a material gift?

Power Verses:
Matthew 2:11, "After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (NAS)

Acts 20:35, "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (NIV)

© 2011 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

Originally published Monday, 28 November 2011.