It’s that holiday time of year when we gather with family and friends around a table of delicious food to celebrate a Thanksgiving feast. The early pilgrims shared the blessings of harvest, as the Israelites do during the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s a time we show our thankfulness to God, for His faithfulness to provide for us. How wonderful it would be to have a thankful heart all year! Do you agree? However, life happens. We busy ourselves with work or having fun. Sometimes loss, suffering or hard times cloud our thankful spirits.
I’d like to tell you a story from the Bible. When Jesus entered a city, ten lepers met him. They cried from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” You see, their skin disease was very contagious and made them outcasts. They could not live in town, in their own homes, or with their families. They could not hug or be hugged. Jesus said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As the lepers went towards the temple, they were cleansed. Only one man came back to say, “Thank you.” He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and praised Him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give thanks but this foreigner?” Then He said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19).
THINK ABOUT IT
Have you ever given a gift that didn’t seem appreciated? You spent precious time searching for just the right thing, something you thought would be perfect. Maybe you spent a little extra money on it. Yet, it didn’t get the approval or “thank you” you expected. It happens too often. How much better it would be if we, like the cleansed leper, showed a thankful heart. It would bless the giver as we’ll as the receiver.
PRAY ABOUT IT
Holy Lord, teach us to be more thoughtful, more giving, more thankful. Teach us to be more like Jesus, and to forgive people who seem less than thankful for our gifts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“God loved the world so much that He gave His only son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Yes, God loves us so much He gives and keeps on giving. In Him we have hope and peace and joy and love. Those who have a relationship with God know that He gives new mercies every day. What an amazing God!
In response to God’s amazing love, we love Him and others and follow His example by giving. Christmas is a time we like to give. I wonder what it would be like if we kept the spirit of giving all year. It seems to me that the world might be a better place. We wouldn’t have to give expensive gifts to each other and maybe not every time we see each other. But what would it be like if we thought of others all year? And as we thought of others, we could share dinner or cookies or something we made. Maybe the gift of our time. We really don’t have to wait til Christmas to give, do we?
THINK ABOUT IT
Have you ever tried to out-give God? I have a friend that gave 50% of his income to the Lord one year instead of the usual 10%. He called it hilarious giving, because the more he gave, the more God gave him to give. It’s a hard thing to understand, but I have found it to be true too. During financially hard times, I have kept my commitment to tithe and never suffered but have been blessed beyond my dreams. I discovered it’s more than a spirit of giving; it’s a spirit of loving. God loved the world so much He gave! When we love, giving is part of what we do.
PRAY ABOUT IT
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for Jesus! Your gifts of love and forgiveness melt hearts and change lives. Empower us to follow your example of loving and giving. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Do you like to give to others? I like it a lot. Giving makes me feel good. I think it makes everyone feel good. Some people like it so much they talk about it, which sounds a lot like boasting. Jesus has something to say about doing good and giving. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father inheaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 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” (Matthew 6:1-4).
I recommend a habit of giving, but let the good feelings be your reward, just between you and God. We live in a selfish, self-centered generation where people seek satisfaction and instant gratification, but we can rise a step above the rest to be compassionate as Jesus is compassionate, whether we give gifts of flowers, smiles, money or time.
THINK ABOUT IT
Giving is a stumbling block to many people. Yet when we resist the temptation to selfishly hold on to things and reach out to others instead, the results are amazing. We can actually avert depression and despair when we think of someone else besides ourselves and our problems. Let this verse be key in your giving: “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). Look for opportunities to help someone today by giving of your time, talent, ability or blessings.
PRAY ABOUT IT
Thank you, Lord, for all the ways you bless us. Help us to respond by loving you and others. Teach us ways to show compassion as Jesus shows compassion. Empower us to step out of our comfort zones to bless another person today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.