Teach Your Children to Give this Season


What do you want for Christmas?  What is Santa bringing you?  What am I getting?  These are all questions young children are asked by others or they are asking themselves.  Christmas is a wonderful time and it is good to give and receive gifts.  (Look at the wonderful Gift God gave us.)
How do we keep our focus on Christ and not only the celebration of His birth, but of His entire Story.  How do we lead our children to find more joy in giving than in receiving?  As parents, I encourage you to seek out ways that are age appropriate to keep Christ in Christmas, to celebrate Him as His redeemed ones, and to teach your children in the process.
Here are a few suggestions, some of which we did with our children.  God will give you other ideas.
1.  Celebrate Advent with devotions and a simple wreath with candles.  We or the kids read Scriptures prophesying the coming of Christ and culminating in the birth of Christ. There are advent books that you may use so see what fits your family. (Blowing out the candles was a fun part.)
2.  Encourage giving within your family.  At the first of December we would all draw names.  Each person would plan to make or buy a gift for that person, but he also had to perform secret acts of kindness for that person throughout December.  The reveal was on Christmas Day of who had been so kind to you during the month.
3.  Find a child or a family to adopt for Christmas and let your child pick out gifts to give them.  They could possibly receive fewer gifts themselves so these without could receive something for Christmas.
4.  Bake cookies and take to an elderly neighbor or to one in the nursing home.
5.  Wrap presents containing words that express the gifts Jesus gives us; like SALVATION, PEACE,  MERCY,  LOVE,  GRACE, and STRENGTH.  As you open these gifts discuss these words and open the last gift on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  This gift would be JESUS, the greatest gift ever.
These are just a few suggestions.  There can be many others.  Just remember to encourage your children to focus on the Christ of Christmas and giving rather than just receiving.  God will show you and God will bless……

 

In Everything

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         During the Thanksgiving season, our thoughts are drawn to count our blessings; to be reminded of God’s great goodness to us daily; to ponder His great extravagant gift to us in His Son, Jesus Christ.  We recount His grace, His provision, and His sufficiency to us and are truly grateful.
But, in the back corner of our minds; in that small closet in the recesses of our hearts, there may lie that one thing for which we are not thankful.  We have not been able to thank Him for that hard place, that difficult situation or person in our lives. Maybe it is that pain that plagues us or that thorn that besets us.  We each know what that thing is.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are told to thank God in all things, in all circumstances; in everything; no matter what the circumstances, and no matter what happens. How in the world do we really do this?  It is easy to thank Him for the blessings, the things we see as “good”.  The scripture goes on to say, “for this is the will of God for you (who are) in Christ Jesus.”  To be in His will, to be obedient to our Lord, is to thank Him for that thing.
So, as we examine ourselves, as we recognize that thing we have not thanked Him for, let’s bring it before Him.  May we bring it out from the place where it is hiding and into God’s Light and make a will choice to thank Him for it.  May we simply obey and say those words.  Our emotions probably will not join us in this decision, not at first anyway.  However, this will be an act that will open up the gates of His abundant grace for that thing.  This choice will make way for  His strength so we may persevere  and release the joy in the midst of it.
This Thanksgiving, let us give thanks in everything…..

Newer and Newer

The fact is that each day we live we become older. The 20 year old is no longer a teenager. The 40 year old is “over the hill”. The 60 year old may be the “new 50” but may not feel like it! Dealing with becoming older is universal and I think women struggle with this more than men. The world puts great value on physical beauty and youthfulness and if you no longer possess these, your value tumbles…
The truth is; for those of us who profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can have an entirely different perspective and I would like to share that with you. We have the blessed opportunity and possibility of becoming newer as we become older. Come with me as we glean from the Bible all the “new” things God has for us.

First of all, when we are in Christ we are a new creation. “Therefore if any person is in Christ she is a new creation; the old has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 Imagine that! Let it really sink in. We are not just patched up, or have cosmetic surgery but rather become a new creation. Everything about me is new.

God also tells me, that He “will give me a new heart and He will put a new spirit within me…to give me a heart sensitive and responsive to God.” Ezekiel 11:19 Wow! Everything about me is new. I have a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind, a new strength, a new path and a new purpose!

If that is not enough, that newness is continuous for…”just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, so we too might (habitually) live and behave in newness of life.” Romans 6:4

As I daily walk in this newness I am also “constantly renewed in the spirit of my mind(having a fresh mental
and spiritual attitude) and am putting on the new nature created in God’s image, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:23-24

Mull over these words. As I awaken each and every morning…
I put on my new self which is being renewed after the image of it’s creator. Colossians 3:10
I awaken with His mercies which are new for that day. Lamentations 3:23
I have a new song in my mouth. Psalm 40:3
I serve in a new way. Romans 7:6

And as for my future, “according to His promise we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth.” 2 Peter 3:13

So you see there is a vast array of new things that are available to us. Do I make these new truths mine or do I cling to the old ways? What a gift from our Lord to live daily in newness of life in every way. What unspeakable joy to walk in His newness. So remember that as you grow older you can become newer in the very best of ways….

Gifts to Give Your Husband on Father’s Day

   
    Your husband was not born knowing how to be a good Dad.  Even if he had a good role model in his own Dad or knows God as his perfect Father, he still must find his way.  His responsibility is great!  In the final analysis much is on his shoulders.  So what can you , as his wife, do to help him be the best Dad ever?  Consider these suggestions:

    1.  Encourage him, encourage him often and in everything.  Let him hold that new born, tell him he can do the things he feels awkward doing… having a tea party, or listening to the piano recital….
     2.  Support him in his decisions in parenting. ( Discuss your differences away from the kids and come to agreement)
     3.  Show how much you respect him before your children and do not let them disrespect him.
    
4.  Join him in a united front.  Stand together and do not let your children drive that wedge between you.
    5.  Pray, pray, pray for him and let him know you are doing so.
    6.  Allow him to do what only a Dad can do.  We mothers often hover and hold on too long and too much.  A Dad can do the things that call you children to maturity. 
         Whether your husband has been a Dad for two months or twenty years, be his greatest cheerleader.  Express your gratitude often to him and again remember to pray that God will do the work in him that only God can do. 

The Lost Art of Contentment

    
     In our times of grabbing, gaining, climbing, collecting and even hoarding,
the art of contentment seems lost. The desire for more, better, new and improved moves us to the place of never being content.  Contentment may even be seen as apathy or complacency by the world.
     Paul says to Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6). To connect Godliness with contentment tells me this is an important attribute for me to have.  What is contentment and why is it so illusive?  Why is it important to have? 
     Contentment has a settled, peaceful heart in whatever circumstance it’s  in. It is not wanting more, better or a different place in life. Paul also writes, “Whatever circumstance I am in I have learned to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) Paul says this from a life in which he experienced many extremely difficult circumstances yet he stayed in the place of contentment whether he had “much or little”.
     Contentment can only come when my eyes are focused on my Provider, my Protector, my Strength; in other words in my Father God.  It says, no matter what, in whatever place I am in, He will meet me there and He will be enough.
      And why is it so illusive?  Why does it often slip through my soul and become displaced by dissatisfaction, stress, unrest, or contentiousness?  I think the answer may be because we do not give the effort or practice needed to learn contentment.  Remember Paul said, ” I have learned to be content…”  He had made the effort to take each circumstance and bring his heart to the place of acceptance in the midst of it and trust in His Sovereign Lord for the eternal purpose that it was meant to serve! 
     I think we need to preach these truths to ourselves, (I know I do). We need to be  reminded of what we probably already know and just settle our heads down in the pillow of contentment (as Jesus did during the storm). 
     Why is it important for believers to be characterized as content?  I think when our contentment is evident in our lives the world around us sees that our Father is not only enough for us in our life situations, but more than enough. The testimony of contentment speaks volumes of the care and power of our God.
      Contentment produces thanksgiving and thanksgiving gives way to contentment.  Praise follows close behind and our God gets the glory.  As John Piper says, “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied.”  So Godly contentment is really deep satisfaction with our Father God… Are you content today right where you live????

Singing in the Dark

  
    I awoke at 3 am this morning, like I am prone to do occasionally.  I walked outside on the deck and was greeted by the vibrant song of one bird.  Day was not breaking yet so here was this bird singing his little heart out in the dark.  This caused  me to ask myself…. Would I still sing before the light of dawn?  Would I be so trusting in the goodness of my Lord for all I needed for the next day that I would sing rather than lay worrying in my bed?  Micah 7:8b says to me, ” When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” He is always with me. Darkness is light to Him. He knows my life and His plans and He wants me to trust when I can not see.  More than this, I think it pleases Him when I sing in the darkness.  After all, Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that He sings over me and rejoices over me with gladness….
     Come what may, may I sing a trusting praise before the dawn. May I sing it loudly and with abandonment, like this one bird did. And may I sing before the dawn, before I have light for that difficult circumstance, for that heavy burden, for that unknown answer to a dilemma that keeps me awake.  Instead of tossing and turning may my heart choose to sing….
 
      “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free for His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me!”