It’s hard not to know that Christmas is right around the corner on Black Friday. By now you have heard countless commercials on television, read the ads and maybe stood in line in the wee hours of the night to get the best deals the stores have to offer. When I was a kid we didn’t have the mega Toys”R”Us catalog to notify us that the season was upon us; we only had the fall JC Penney catalog.
So how did I know Christmas was near when I was a child?
My Grandfather’s Grocery Store
My grandfather owned a grocery store and the holiday season was kicked off when people ordered fruit baskets to give as gifts. In his small grocery store they made hundreds of fruit baskets. Fresh fruit and nuts were creatively stacked, put in paper-wrapped boxes then wrapped in red or green cellophane with a bow. Fruit baskets originated from the concept that hunters and gatherers went out, gathered fruit and brought it back to their village to share with everyone. The cellophane packaging was added around the 1950s.
I remember our family receiving fruit baskets when I was a kid. I always claimed the grapefruit if there was one. What fun it was to receive a surprise fruit basket. Who doesn’t like opening the door to a fresh fruity basket of goodness in the dead of winter? More than the benefit of a healthy snack was the concept that someone made a choice to select you to do something nice for in the spirit of the Christmas season.
We are called in Philippians 2:3-4 to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
It is easy to get locked on to our own interests during the holidays when we really want that new iPhone 7 and allow the serving of others to be an afterthought.
I challenge you to give your first fruits to God by making your “serving and giving to the others who need it list” before your personal Christmas lists this year.
Be bold, be generous and have fun.
There are so many ways to help others.
Maybe you will ring bells for the Salvation Army, deliver Christmas food boxes for a local pantry or buy gifts for an adopted family.
My recommendation is to pray first about where your blessings should go then write down your budget and giving goals.
What if every year you try exceed what you gave last year, even if just by a little? Whatever you do, put a plan in action and set a date to accomplish it.
Nothing is worse than having a case of the “I should haves” this holiday season, harboring guilt over not getting it done. There is no room for guilt during the holidays or ever because:
Romans 8:1 says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When you believe that Jesus is your Savior and repent of your sins, all of the guilt is taken away. No gift is better (even than a fruit basket delivered at your door during the holidays) than the gift of the Holy Spirit, but guess what? When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit comes bearing a BONUS FRUIT BASKET, the nine fruits of the spirit that we are called to live out.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Fruits that are designed to be taken back to your village and shared. Yes, you should ring the bells or adopt a family, but if your family doesn’t have the resources to give physical items, you still have plenty to offer others this holiday season. What if all of us shared our spiritual fruit basket abundantly, practicing patience in the crowded lines at stores, kindness in the airport by giving someone our seat, self-control with our coworkers or gentleness at our Christmas gatherings this year?
I can’t think of any better gift for the world’s immune system this giving season than a shot of God’s own natural vitamin C.
Please share your favorite way to serve others during the holidays in the comment section.
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
We’ll pause tomorrow to give thanks for the multitude of blessings God has bestowed on us throughout the year. No matter what our trials, we can always find the blessings. We’re thankful for family, jobs, health, and (more…)
The joy of giving! This is a loaded phrase that until the past year of my life I never understood. I used to hold on to my time, money, and self with a tight grip. I didn’t want to tithe because I made such little money at my part-time jobs that I felt I needed those few extra dollars to make it through till the next paycheck. I wasn’t willing to go out of my way to help someone else or do something I didn’t want to do. (more…)
What do we want most of all for our children? Do we want them to be successful and prosper? Do we want them to be happy?
Sure, we want all of these things for our children and their children. But we also want more than that for them.
I have been raising children for 26 years and I am so super blessed by the adults my kids have become. But I can honestly say it hasn’t always (more…)
Fall comes slowly here in the South, but that never stopped me from wanting happy little pansies to begin taking root as soon as September came around. There is something wonderful about cultivating the soil in anticipation of growing something beautiful. Except I don’t have a green thumb and my visions of gardening have always been overcome by my reality of forgetting to water and tend to the flowers I plant. Nevertheless, I had spent time planting my favorite colors in the flower bed just outside our front door one day while the boys were at school.
Evergreen Street was a kid-filled street and our house seemed to be in the middle of all of the activity. Bicycles, balls, and boys go together like peanut butter and jelly and we had both on overflow most days. I have always loved being a mom to three boys and my heart is as happy as the pansies I planted that day when I remember all the crazy moments spent sorting socks, shoes, and sand from their pockets.
One specific afternoon comes to mind when I think back to our days living at 119 Evergreen; it was warm, sunny and the yard was filled with the voices of laughter, talk, and noise of little boys. I was making dinner or something inside while listening through the open door to the boys play outside. The doorbell rang and rang and rang. I knew who it was. Our youngest loved to ring the doorbell to let me know he was “home” and I would have spoken to him for ringing the door for the hundredth time in an afternoon, except this time was different.
Looking out the glass door as I approached, I could tell something was different; he had that look in his eye and I knew he was up to something. He was holding something behind him. I hoped it was not some kind of critter from the woods out back. But as I approached and opened the door, his hand presented to me in the most elegant fashion a fistful of happy pansies! With a smile as big as the sky and sunshine flushing his chubby cheeks, he announced, “I picked you purdy flowers!” He was so pleased to give me a gift. “I know you like flowers, Mommy!” And I do! But in that moment, I loved him more!
It didn’t matter that the entire root system and ball of potting soil was still attached to his gift. He was absolutely delighted to give his gift! It didn’t matter that I had bought the flowers, they belonged to me, I had planted them where I wanted them; he had seen them and thought of me and wanted to delight me with a gift. His heart was in the gift and I received it, dirt and all, with love, delight, and joy.
He helped me trim off the roots and dirt and we filled a clear vase with water to display these little beauties for as long as they would last. Then he skipped off to play with his brothers and friends and my heart was tender before the Lord as I considered what giving means.
These little pansies that were given back to me that day are what I envision when I think of the joy of giving. When giving our gifts to God, He is delighted when we do so with a cheerful heart.
When we stop to notice something beautiful, to acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes to us from God the Father, when we give back to Him what is already His and we do it with gladness, He takes great delight in us! Even when our gifts are messy and dirty or in need of work before being placed on display before others, He delights in our giving not because the gift itself is special, but because we are special to Him.
Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose]
just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly
or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
[and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift].
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 AMP
When you consider giving to God a gift of praise, thanksgiving, your time, talent or tithe, how do you feel?
Do you feel excited, joyful, and blessed, or do you feel resentment?
Please feel free to share in the comments below. We want to hear your stories of giving and thankfulness!
Just released by DeAnna Morris:
Simply Life; Live in Faith Every Day