Family Radio CHRI


Gifts That Matter

giftsThis past week I receiveived a devotion from Girlfriends in God about gifts & giving.  How often do we overlook these devotionals?  We feel we have heard them time and time again.  But I stopped & I read & the author gave some great ideas & examples on ways to give meaningful presents this Christmas.  I really wanted to share her suggestions with you!  Click read more for her ideas.


A homemade gift

In 1 Corinthians 4:12, Paul teaches that we should "work hard with our own hands." This principle can easily be applied to Christmas gifts. Giving a homemade gift represents time, thought and is a part of you. When our children were small, one of our favorite Christmas traditions was to create and deliver a homemade hot chocolate mix in decorated mason jars to our neighbors. We placed the jars just to the left of each neighbor's front door, rang their doorbell and ran like crazy! I am not certain who enjoyed it the most ... our neighbors or us. But every year, we were amazed by how much the neighbors enjoyed our homemade gift. (By the way, the recipe posted on my website if you want to carry on this tradition.)

A possession gift
In Matthew 6:40, Jesus spoke about giving away the shirt and coat on our backs. Giving something we already own can be a wonderful Christmas gift if it is something of special value to us. In other words, it is not the idea of getting rid of junk but sharing our treasure. Do not ask the question, "What can I buy for Sally?" Ask the question, "What do I have that would mean a lot to Sally?" My husband is a pastor. During a message, Dan mentioned he collects old Bibles. The next Christmas, one of our church members gave him a family Bible that had been passed down through several generations of family members. It was and still is one of Dan's most precious possessions.

A gift of time
Time is a valuable gift, a precious commodity. The apostle Paul wrote, "Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV). When we give someone 30 minutes of our time, we are giving them 30 minutes of our lives. While Dan was in seminary, we rarely had a spare minute or extra dollar between school, jobs and babies. A close friend who knew our schedule gave us a precious gift of time. "I have no money but wanted to give you a gift for Christmas," he said, handing us a card. Inside was a coupon for free childcare one afternoon each week for the spring semester. That was over twenty-five years ago, and I still remember that wonderful gift of time.

A gift of prayer
The greatest gift we can give someone is the commitment to pray for them consistently. James writes, "Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results" (James 5:16, NLT). Following our traditional Christmas Eve service, an elderly lady approached Dan and said, "I don't have anything to give you, Pastor. But I want you to know that I will pray for you, Mary and the kids every morning this year at 6:00 a.m." And she did! What a priceless gift! Every time she saw us, this sweet lady asked what we needed and how she should pray. Only Heaven knows all that God accomplished in our lives through the prayers of this godly woman.

A gift of encouragement
As the writer of Proverbs says, encouragement is a powerful gift. "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up" (Proverbs 12:25, NIV). We assume the people in our lives know how much they mean to us. They rarely do. This Christmas, write a letter to someone you love and appreciate, telling them how important they are to you. Be specific. A written note or letter requires time, careful thought and allows that person to read your words of encouragement again and again. One of my most prized possessions is a blue wooden box our son built and gave me one year for Christmas. In that box, I store notes, letters and cards of affirmation so on my "blue" days, I can pull out a dose of encouragement. One year, I wrote a letter of encouragement to my husband and to each child. The letters were placed in decorated envelopes, tied to branches of the Christmas tree and opened first on Christmas morning.

A gift of care
Galatians 6:2 (RSV) "Bear one another's burdens."
Christmas is a time of empty hopes and fierce loneliness for many people. In fact, the holidays can be nothing more than a season riddled with pain. 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 for someone who is hurting:
  • Invite them over for a meal.
  • Listen to them.
  • Meet one need in their life.
  • Include them in your celebration.
  • Take them shopping with you.

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
Matthew 6:3-4 (TLB) "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Give a gift to someone you know in secret without them knowing who it is from and with no hidden motive and no apparent benefit to you. 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 10 days of life to go before the next pay day 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 and started in the front (and only) door. There on the top step 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 their gift of encouragement.

A gift of forgiveness
Colossians 3:13 (NCV) "Get along with each other, and forgive each other."
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 the only person being hurt in the deal was me. The next time I bought groceries I walked up to the man and said, "I hope the car is working well for you. Dan and I have decided to just give you the car 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
Romans 12:7 (NLT) "If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well."
What skill, ability or talent has God given you? Each one is from His hand, meant 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. May this be a Christmas filled with the joy of the Lord as you celebrate His birth and life.

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