"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
December 13, 2017
There is a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that says, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
During the Christmas holiday we often think of buying and giving gifts. Kids will make out their Christmas wish list for Santa -- AKA mom and dad. What am I saying?! I make out my wish list for Jon!
I love everything about Christmas! I love remembering the reason behind why we celebrate, and thinking about Jesus coming, and what that must have been like for Mary and Joseph and all the people who knew Him. I love Christmas trees and decorations, the lights, songs, sappy movies, and giving and receiving gifts. It is probably my very favorite holiday of the year and I thoroughly enjoy the anticipation and excitement associated with it. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
I enjoy buying presents and doing things for family. I'm sure Jon thinks that I often go overboard, but I do try to restrain myself and limit how much I spend. To me, that's just part of the fun of celebrating Christmas.
For many years, Daddy and June bought for all of their kids and grandkids. There were five of us girls, then June had five kids. With most of the kids married and having their own families, that made for a whole lot of people for them to buy gifts for. June often sewed for all the girls, and she also made things for the kids several times; but that was still a lot of presents for them to come up with. I remember one year my sisters and I telling Daddy that they didn't have to get us anything anymore, because we felt like it was too much for them. His response was, "But it doesn't feel like Christmas if we can't give gifts!" It was something that they enjoyed. They didn't have a lot of money, but they enjoyed coming up with ideas for everyone and seeing their kids and grandkids open up what they had got for them. It gave them joy! They did eventually stop when their grandkids began getting married and starting their own families.
Really, should the giving of gifts be confined to Christmas... or birthdays? Can gifts only be limited to what can be bought with money?
I believe that God desires for us to have giving hearts all year round. Sometimes we may feel prompted to buy something for someone that costs us money. There are many other gifts that we can give that can't be bought, but it does cost us something; time, effort, ability.
Luke 6:38 (NLT) says, "Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full -- pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."
This isn't speaking about finances; although this scripture is often used when talking about tithe and offering. But the scripture right before this says, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Those are the things that the scripture about giving is referencing. We can love others and not ever judge or condemn them; then we will not be judged or condemned. We can offer the gift of forgiveness; then when we need forgiveness, we will receive it.
Proverbs 19:17 tells us, "One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord. And He will repay him for his good deed."
Perhaps our gift to a poor man may be a bottle of water or a warm scarf or a flashlight or your lunch. Often we think, "I can't help everyone!" That's true, but we can help and make a difference in the one person that we see standing beside the street begging or the one who has lost their job and struggling or the one who lost their home due to fire or the one who is overwhelmed with medical expenses. We can help one person at a time and make a difference in their life! What we do may seem small and insignificant, but it can be the boost or encouragement that that person needs right at that moment.
There is a particular intersection that we often use where a panhandler is almost always standing there. Sometimes it's the same person that we recognize as often being there or around town; then other times it's someone new that we've never seen. There have been times when we've been nudged to hand them money, and other times not.
A while back traffic was backed up at that stop light. There was a truck, pulling a trailer loaded with mowing and landscaping tools, a couple vehicles ahead of me. I saw the man roll down his window and hand a bundle to the homeless man standing there panhandling. When traffic began moving and I was able to move forward, I saw that the man in the truck had handled the homeless man his lunch. There were a couple of thick sandwiches wrapped up. Right down the street is a QuikTrip and when I passed by, the truck and trailer had pulled in and he was getting out; to buy himself some lunch, was my guess. For some reason, that act of kindness touched my heart so much that it made me emotional.
We have several homeless that live nearby our church. Our pastor recently preached a sermon on giving the gift of light to someone who is in darkness; and urged us to pray about what that means to us and listen to what the Holy Spirit would lead us to do. She felt impressed to buy 3 small flashlights and give to three of those men. They were very grateful.
A few years ago I was grocery shopping and a lady stopped me and asked if I would happen to have an extra pen she could have so that she could mark items off her grocery list. She had a long list and couldn't find a pen in her purse. That was a very small thing; but at that moment, it was her need.
Several years ago my sister, Janie, and I were driving back from visiting our dad in Arkansas and had stopped to put gas in her vehicle. An older lady was parked on the opposite side of the pump we were using. She asked Janie if she could please show her what to do. Her husband had always put gas in their vehicles, and he had just recently passed away. Her kids had told her that they would do it for her, but she wanted to learn how to do it herself. She was so appreciative. Over the years, I've had a couple of older women ask for my help figuring out gas pumps. It may not seem like much to anyone else, but at that moment, it meant a lot to them because that is what they needed most right then.
There are so many, many different ways that we can give to others! Be aware of what is going on around us and what the needs are, then be willing to respond; whether it be something big or small.
So back to the quote by Theodore Roosevelt: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Not only during this Christmas season, but all year round, imprint those words onto your heart and make it your mantra.
Galatians 6:10 says, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
When we pray for opportunities to do good to all people, God will answer. He will give us those nudges and promptings and show us who we can give to; whether it be a monetary or tangible gift, our time, our prayers, words of encouragement, a card or phone call, showing someone how to do something that they don't know how to do, etc. I believe that each and every day God can show us how we can do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are.
Acts 3:6 says, "Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'"
Even if you don't have the gift of healing, and even if you don't have anything to give, you can still pray for others. You can tell them, "God bless you." (My opinion on that, though, is that "God bless you" is a prayer that shouldn't be said thoughtlessly, or casually.) You can ask them if they need any specific prayer. Or you can tell them about Jesus, if they don't already know Him.
Million Dollar Fudge
4-1/2 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 stick butter
1 pint Marshmallow Cream
2 cups nuts, chopped
2 large (4.5 oz) Hershey bars
2 packages chocolate chips
Mix sugar, milk, and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Place candy bars and chocolate chips in a large bowl and pour the boiling mixture over the top. Beat well. Add marshmallow cream and nuts (nuts are optional). Beat until cool. Pour into prepared buttered pans. Let completely cool before cutting into pieces.
I was babysitting my great-niece, Jovie, recently and she found a small bottle of bubbles and asked me if I would open them for her. I asked if her mama let her blow bubbles inside the house (I already knew that Janee' did not let her kids blow bubbles inside the house). Her response was, "Uh... yes." I told her that I would call her mama and ask. Jovie said, "No! Don't do that! She will get grumpy with you!!" Hmm... I don't think it would be me that Mama would get grumpy with!
Never forget: Your God is good, your God does good,
and even when it does not feel good, He's still good. - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon