I first posted this 6 years ago. This Christmas as we face gatherings that may be smaller than usual, family and friends we will miss seeing as Covid has restricted travel, it could be easy to get depressed or start complaining. I just want to encourage everyone to remember while our table may not be as loaded with food as usual, we are still much better off than many. Reach out and help someone this year. I saw a quote on FB that says it so well. “This may not be the year to get everything we want, but the year to appreciate what we have.”
What a great feast we had at Thanksgiving! Turkey, dressing, scalloped potatoes, corn, sugared carrots, salad, homemade bread, and of course, pumpkin pie.
After our Thanksgiving meal we had so much turkey left over, we cut it up and made soup with noodles and chicken broth. It was delicious and we used up our left over homemade bread with lots of butter!
Now it’s time to shop for the Christmas meal.
So many choices.
Shall we do turkey again or ham? Maybe some Cornish hens? Scalloped potatoes or mashed? Maybe some sweet potatoes? Same salad or a different one? Homemade bread again or shall we do dinner rolls? And dessert? Pecan pie, apple pie, banana pudding, peach cobbler?
So many choices.
That’s the story for most of us in the USA this year. However, in many homes across the USA – and certainly in the rest…
As my husband and I age, we find we are no longer able to be as active as we once were. For years my husband was a pastor and I worked alongside him teaching Bible classes, playing for worship and all the many tasks that come with serving a community of Christians.
This year I celebrated 72 years of life and my husband celebrated 80. While most people that meet us do not think we are as old as that and we do remain alert and active, we find our bodies do not always want to keep up with our thoughts and desires to be productive. Many days the afternoon hours call for us to take a nap.
Still, because we have both experienced true miracles in times of serious medical problems, we desire to still give and help others. (I share these stories in these posts)
Since my husband loves to paint he recently painted a beautiful rainbow scene he called “Hope in the Storm.”
The rainbow to Christians is a reminder of God’s promise to Noah after the flood. To us when we see the rainbow after a storm, we are reminded of the hope we have that God is faithful.
After receiving several compliments on the painting and its message my husband decided to paint smaller versions of this rainbow and send to those we know who are battling a health issue. He has send ones to young people fighting leukemia, to a young woman fighting a heart disease and to several others with different ailments. It has been a joy to hear from them that the painting and the message it gives of “hope in the storm” is an encouragement to them.
It blesses me to see the joy my husband has received as many have told him how much his painting has meant to them.
It is so true that when you give to others, it comes back to you.
Can I say I’m proud of my husband that at 80 he still is thinking of ways to bless others?
If you would like to see more of his paintings, check it out at PWL Art Gallery.
When Jesus was on earth He seemed to assume that as His followers there were things we would naturally do. Not to try to earn a place in heaven. Not to rack up points on the “goodness” scale. Not to “prove” we were His followers.
No. Things we would do because as a committed follower of Jesus it would be as natural as breathing in and out. We don’t stop and consciously think “I need to breath now.” When we walk we do not think “I need to lift my right foot up, move it forward and put it down.” These are just natural reactions to being alive.
So Jesus states that there are actions we will take – perhaps not even consciously but just as a natural response to His love and forgiveness to us.
Sadly we often seem to think the things He mentioned are suggestions, not actual outcomes of following Him.
Jesus told us:
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.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
That last one is a bit hard, isn’t it? But if we are to be like Jesus, we need to rejoice when we are put down for our beliefs. Rejoice, not complain. Not get mad. Rejoice.
As our culture seems to be going further and further from Christian principles, we need to remember that one.
But even with society becoming more hostile to Christian standards, we in the USA know nothing about real persecution.
The following is a list taken from the 2019 World Watch List by Open Doors. This is a mission organization that supports persecuted believers in more than 60 countries.
North Korea – Afghanistan – Somalia – Libya – Pakistan – Sudan – Eritrea
Yemen – Iran – India – Syria – Nigeria – Iraq – Maldives – Saudi Arabia
Egypt – Uzbekistan – Myanmar – Laos – Vietnam – Central African Republic
Algeria – Turkmenistan – Mali – Mauritania – Turkey – China – Ethiopia
Tajikistan – Indonesia – Jordan – Nepal – Bhutan – Kazakhstan – Morocco
Brunei – Tunisia – Qatar – Mexico – Kenya – Russian Federation – Malaysia
Kuwait – Oman – United Arab Emirates – Sri Lanka – Colombia – Bangladesh
Palestinian Territories – Azerbaijan
For more detailed information on these countries and suggestions on how to pray for each particular nation, check out this website.
In the Gospel of Mark Jesus pointed out to His disciples a widow woman who placed two little coins in the offering box in the Temple. Compared to the much larger amounts they had seen others give earlier, her offering seemed like nothing. Yet Jesus pointed out that they had given of their abundance while her offering consisted of all she had – a much greater sacrifice and gift.
Jesus explained that the rich people had given “what they can easily afford” while she had given “her whole living.”
This has me thinking – do I only give what I can afford or do I give my all?
When we talk about giving in relationship to God, we usually think of money and in this instance it was money that was being discussed. And certainly I have to admit when it comes to financial giving, I certainly use a lot of my income on myself. As I look at my checkbook, I have to ask myself if I am only giving what I can easily afford to the work of God.
Giving financially to God is more than just giving to my local church, although it does include that. But there are so many other areas where I need to share my abundance with others:
helping teachers and schools with supplies
buying shoes for children from families who are struggling financially
buying a meal for a homeless person
taking food to the local food pantry
many non-profit organizations like American Cancer Society, St Jude’s Hospital for Children, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the list goes on and on
My first thought is I do not have an abundance financially. But I have to ask myself if I am only giving what I can easily afford. Am I really making any personal sacrifices giving up things I don’t really need, only want, to help others whose finances are much less than mine.
But giving to God is much more than just giving of my finances. There is my time and my talent.
How much of my time do I spend doing things I want to do, things which will help me or my family? How much of my time do I spend reaching out to others.
This was really brought home to me this past month. We just moved to a new state. Just a couple of days after moving in with boxes still everywhere our doorbell rang. It was a neighbor coming over to say welcome. My first thought was “how nice!” I invited her in and we began getting acquainted. After 30 minutes had passed and she showed no sign of leaving, I must confess I so wanted her to leave. After all, I had boxes to unpack and a long, long list of things that must be taken care of when you move from one state to another: new car title and license, new driver’s license, new car insurance, and my list went on and on.
Finally she left and I told my husband I was worried that she would be a nuisance. She was elderly and clearly lonely. She also repeated herself several times. I dreaded the time she might take up coming over to visit.
Then, I remembered what Jesus said and I felt the Spirit’s conviction as I realized I have an abundance of time. My husband and I are both retired, we only have one daughter and her family living close by. We have lots of time to enjoy.
So – will I be willing to give up some of my time – my abundance of time – to spend time with this neighbor – listening to the same story and showing interest as if it was the first time I had heard it? Do I really need to spend all my time just doing what I like to do, just enjoying myself or do I need to give my all as Jesus would have me do?
So I have determined to visit this woman every week, to take an hour or two to sit and listen to her stories, to make her feel important to me. To give out of my abundance.