Hebrews 4:16

Let us then come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What is in a gift?

It is close to Christmas, we are filling our lives and our calendars with the process of being busy. Making plans to meet with friends, bake cookies, plan parties, shop for the perfect gift and then the wrapping. It ends in a flurried hurry on December 25th ( or perhaps whenever your family decides to celebrate) with at times a contented sigh, or maybe a humph?, or sometimes just nothing. All that planning.... all the looking for the perfect gift.... all that waiting to see if someone would be blessed by what we thought would be a blessing..... All that~And what?

What is in a gift to you?
What does that mean?
What does it say about your priorities or your feeling about the occasion?

I have been thinking lately over the depth of the word gift. In the Webster's dictionary it is defined as:
- A present; any thing given or bestowed; anything, the property of which is voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation; a donation.
Gift comes from the word give, which originates in the Old English from the word gifan. It is also found in Chaucer's Middle English Glossary as yeve.

Let's look at the definition, specifically the portion where it is defined as anything which is voluntarily transferred by one person to another w/o compensation. Is that the focus at Christmas time for you? Do you give for the sheer joy of giving? Do you enjoy the process or do you dread the necessary motions that you have to go through to procure that perfect gift?

I love to give gifts. It is such a treat to see something that you know someone else will enjoy and you can provide a bit of light in their lives by your generosity. I love to look for deals though I can't say I am really good at it. It would be awesome not to have a budget, but I know we are called to be good stewards. It isn't about how much I spend, but what is often hard is to limit myself. I am learning better.

I have a dear friend who has taught me so much about being thrifty and frugal. She has a unique "gift" of frugality , look at this in the light of the definition above ~ bestowed.. God has given her a gift of frugality... she is really good at it! I know that she would love to not have to be frugal, but I also know that she would be frugal whether or not she had to. At any rate, she can find the most amazing deals and steals I have ever heard of. She has trusted that God will provide for her in every way and especially in her giving. It blesses me so much when I listen to her share that, though I find I am not as persistent as she is when it comes to scouting out the deals. I need to spend more time watching her, I think. :)

What I wonder is at what point does the process of the meaning of the gift translate to the process of how to get the gift and then it steals from us the joy of giving. We can give the most elaborate and beautiful "thing" yet if we have no joy in it because it cost us time, money and effort, how are we giving w/o expecting compensation?

I love to watch people and listen to the traditions they share for how they celebrate the holidays. I enjoy hearing their stories of things they have made, recipes they only make during Christmas, and seeing their face light up at the memories.
That is a gift.

The gift of receiving some one's joy with their memories. Thinking back to Christmas' past with my parents, brother, and extended family ~my most cherished gifts are those of laughter and time with those I love.

I want to give that gift to my children. I want to let them see that now is the time of joy because the true gift, that of our precious Savior, is the reason for our giving. You see, I don't think that how we limit our celebrations by traditions or rules is required of us to be living a life of obedience and submission to the Lord. I believe it is the spirit with which we give that brings honor to His gift. He gave His best, shouldn't we? Does that mean spend money we don't have or teach our children to have a poor attitude about receiving gifts, or that it is about how much we get or how little we can spend? Absolutely not. I think even in our traditions we can have an attitude that we are not supposed to ask for more than we need. Doesn't God tell us that He will fill our storehouses to overflowing? Go to the Book of Deuteronomy chapter 28 and remind yourselves of the blessings He will give to those who diligently listen to His voice and do His commandments..
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

He is the chief giver;we can't out give God. His is the first to give and has initiated the purpose of giving. We are made in His image, to reflect the various facets of Him to a world who needs to know love. He teaches us to give out of his goodness, and out of His substance. (Gen. 1:27)

I have pondered,recently, what am I really teaching my children about Christmas. Wondering... am I training them to be ungrateful. Do we give too much? Do we take the true spirit of His Gift and alter it so much that there is none of Him left in it? Do I set boundaries and make rules that limit what I do, or not? I keep coming back to this scripture in 2 Corinthians 9:7:

" Let each one give as he has purposed in his heart, not reluctantly, or sorrowfully, or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

The amplified translation says - God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful( joyous, "prompt to do it") giver {whose heart is in his giving}

Proverbs 22:9 says He that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed for he gives his bread to the poor.

My point is this: Though this season looks to have lost it's focus on what is the importance of this most special holiday, I want to encourage you that there is also a focus on giving and that reminds me of the Lord. People are out and about searching for a gift to give and though He is not asking to focus on the amount we spend, we should focus on the intent behind the gifts. He gave His most precious gift, He teaches us to give with our heart and to not hold back.

Each year looks a little different for us, some years there is little to give with but my attitude doesn't need to show that. I want to be a witness of His love in all I do and that extends into this precious time when people are willing to receive the Gospel, and if the door is opened because of a gift that I may give, Praise God for it.

I recently read a good article about giving by Jill from Living On A Dime. You can read it here: http://www.livingonadime.com/newsletterblog/ scroll down to the entry titled " The Gift". It reminds me that no matter what I give it is in the act of my giving not the need to fill a list.

We are called to give all to Him. To surrender every aspect of our life. I want to see His joy radiated in the faces of those in my life this Christmas because I can imitate His act of love in my giving, whether my gift was $1 or $100. It is a good reminder to me to all that joy back into my life in the area of giving gifts.

Ironically, I think of how His gift was received and by a people who didn't appreciate the preciousness of that sacrifice. He alone is the giver of all good things. It is because of His love that we have the capacity to Give. It is through His grace that we receive. Be receptive of His grace and mercy today and seek his heart in your giving.

Lastly, pray over your gifts to those you are blessing. Your prayers transcend time and boundaries no physical gift ever would. That is a gift that never stops giving. A gift that is plenteous and full. His Word is our gift of life to take on a daily basis. Giving the gift of His Word and His wisdom is indispensable. To give we must be able to receive, spend time in His Word and prayer and listen to what He has for you this Christmas. You are His emissary to the world and it is our special gift to share.

He is the reason we celebrate. Every day, not just on Christmas. However, at Christmas there is a softening of hearts and a willingness to hear the Good News. Don't let the stress of feeling like His message is not being shared because so many are being swept up in the material side of Christmas steal your ability to give, or receive. This is a time when God gives us a special grace to bless others and see His gift of life change lives, though we live in the world we are not of the world. The beauty is His message will last, His Words stands secure, He is still seated on the throne and sovereign God of all creation. He is still in control though our world seems chaotic.

Embrace giving. Embrace his Love and the flurry of Christmas will not burden your heart with things you have to do.

Many Blessings to each one of you this Christmas. May His light shine upon you. I leave you with Numbers chapter 6 verses 24-26

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Praising God for His amazing gift today!

Some scriptures that are beautiful about giving:

He Asks us to He gives us
Give our heart ( Prov 23:26) A new heart (Ez 36:26)
Delight in Him ( Psalm 37:4) The desires of our heart ( Psalm 37:4)
Our heart ( Duet 15:10) Bless all your days ( Duet 15:10)
His peace - John 14:27
Eternal life - John 3:16

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