Kind

Last year, a friend visited me for several days. 

While we were out shopping, she bought two house plants for me as a gift. 

I am happy to report that both plants are still living and doing well. 

One plant seems to have grown and thrived very well, with big green leaves. 

Like those plants, friendships can grow. 

We are to be kind to one another. 

Isn’t kindness what you hope to receive from others?

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

—Ephesians 4:32

Sacrifices

Don’t forget to do good things for others and to share what you have with them. These are the kinds of sacrifices that please God.
—Hebrews 13:16

My heart is full tonight.

Quite unexpectedly, I was given a gift as an expression of love. 

The gift was selfless and caring, and I knew that it took many, many hours of work to earn its purchase. 

So, what did I do when I received it? 

I cried. 

I hugged. 

I said, “I love you!”

The passage above from the book of Hebrews tells us to do good things for others and to share what we have with them. 

It also states that these are the kinds of sacrifices that please God. 

God Himself continues to do good things for us every day. 

He shares all of His creation with us. 

He gives us unconditional love and offers us forgiveness. 

He sent His Son, Jesus, to die as a sacrifice for our sins, so that all who believe could spend eternity with Him. 

Since God has done so much for me, I want to please Him and show my gratefulness and gratitude. 

I was shown love tonight. 

I think God was pleased with that act of love. 

God wants me to show love to others. 

This is just one way that I can please Him. 

Giving a Gift

Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people!

—Proverbs 18:16

When I read the scripture above, I believe that I understand its meaning.

Everyone likes gifts.

If you want to visit an important person that you do not know personally, buying a gift for them might be the answer.

Most people would be ready to see someone who was bringing a gift to them.

There’s something else about this verse that comes to my mind, though.

What exactly are gifts?

In the context above, I would imagine monetary gifts or material gifts.

I also imagine some really important person.

A king.

An official, perhaps.

In my way of thinking, there are other gifts and other people that apply to this verse, as well.

Is your smile a gift?

Your time?

Your respectfulness?

How about a kind word?

A listening ear?

If you bring any one of these “gifts” to someone, wouldn’t they usually want to receive it?

If you would like to make a new friend or develop a friendship further, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear or a respectful attitude might just open the door.

Would you turn away a sincere gift?

 

 

 

gift

 

 

Out Do

Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:10
When I came home the other day, I had a gift waiting from a friend, along with a card. 

It was a small briefcase, printed with a photo of old world bottles and jars. 

She has often encouraged me with cards or gifts through the years, picking just the right times to bring a smile to my day. 

I have seen her thoughtfulness displayed in the lives of others, as well. 

Romans 12:10 tells us to:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.”

With each day that goes by, I want to remember that I have the power to help and encourage others just by greeting them with a smile, a kind word or doing a thoughtful deed.  

 

God’s Way

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There is an orange grove just across the street from my home.

Where I live, the oranges will be ripe in a couple of months or so.

Steadily they grow, getting sweeter each day.

God has been at work in my life, changing me and growing me since the time that I became a Christian years ago.

I have known that He was with me, guiding me and protecting me.

I want to live God’s way.

How about you?

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But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

—Galatians 5:22-23 

The Message

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gifts

Let Us Love

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I received three gifts this week from my sons.

They were gifts of love, and I will cherish that love, because my heart is filled with love for them.

In thinking about these recent gifts, something deep inside of me realizes that the gifts were not just from them.

God was loving me through my sons and their thoughfulness.

When I think of the love shown to me this week, my heart will smile.

God loves me…

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1 John 4:7-8

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

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At the Heart

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Last year, we purchased an unusual looking plant with curly, maroon leaves.

We planted it near a small rock fountain near our front door.

As the weather became colder, we covered it on nights when frost might’ve damaged it.

Now, as spring is upon us, we realize that our little purple-red plant is here for another year.

Recently, however, we noticed a change.

When we purchased the plant, it was a “low to the ground” kind of thing.

Maybe two inches tall.

So, what was the change?

Delicate, pink flowers were sprouting up from it!

What’s this?

We had no idea that they would appear.

God knew, however.

He knew what was hidden that would eventually come forth.

In the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, we read that God had instructed Samuel to anoint the man He would indicate as the new king.

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’  Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

–1 Samuel 16:1-7

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Samuel was making a judgment at first by what he could see.

God explained that He looks at our hearts.

As the chapter unfolds, we find that David, son of Jesse, was who God had selected to be king.

God knew David’s heart.

God knew what would come forth from this young man, although others could not.

What will you become?

God knows your heart.

There may be incredible gifts placed inside you, ready to bloom in God’s timing.

Who knows what beauty is about to bloom from within you?

God knows.

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outward

Share What You Have

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It was a very lovely gathering in the outer foyer of the vintage theater.

Tables were decorated and food was prepared.

Soft background music floated through the air, adorning the laughter and conversation between family and friends.

A young lady was being honored at the event and several gifts for her had been placed on one side of the room.

The offerings from each guest were varied in size and shape.

At least one gift was hand made.

When we share with others, we show love.

When we give of what we have been given, we show love.

The writer of Hebrews tells us,

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

—Hebrews 13:16

God notices when we give to others.

When we do good things.

When we share.

These things are pleasing to Him.

If I take a moment to think—

What gifts have been given to me lately?

What gifts of time, material items or service has God blessed me with through other people?

And finally, what gifts have I given lately?

What about you?

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pleasing

Humble and Repentant

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While I was driving home today, I was listening to music.

Even though it’s not Christmas anymore, I still listen to Christmas music sometimes.

“The Little Drummer Boy” came on.

The story is of a little boy who was orphaned when robbers came and broke into his home at night, taking the lives of his parents.

He alone escaped, along with some dear animals, one of which was a lamb.

Shortly before the intruders’ attack, the boy had been given a drum by his parents for his birthday.

He had that with him, as well.

Wandering the dessert and finding himself angry and bitter about his parents’ fate, he began to feel hatred toward all people.

Toward the end of the story, he finds himself in Bethlehem, with crowds everywhere, due to the census that had been proclaimed.

A speeding wagon accidentally hits his little lamb.

He is heartbroken, once again.

People are gathering around a certain place, looking at a mother and her newborn baby.

Gifts are being brought to the child.

The boy approaches, having nothing to give.

Quietly, he takes out his drum and begins to play.

His talent and his heart are all he has to give.

As he plays, the baby Jesus smiles at him.

Then, one of the three wise men who had also come bringing a gift, speaks to the boy.

He tells him that Jesus must have liked the boy’s gift best of all.

Hearing this, he sees that his little injured lamb is completely well.

At this point, so is the boy’s heart.

The song lyrics state,

“I have no gift to bring, pa rum pa pum pum
That’s fit to give our King…”

What gift does our King desire today?

What do you have to bring to Jesus?

If your talents and your heart are all you have to give, isn’t that what will make Him smile?

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My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God;
    you will not reject a humble and repentant heart.

—Psalm 51:17

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repentant heart

Good and Perfect Comes to Us

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I had only visited the quaint, little town perhaps twice before.

Consisting of only a half square mile, the atmosphere seemed calm and peaceful, leaving hurry behind.

Walking along and looking at the houses as I passed, I was met with quite the surprise.

Not one–but two, brightly colored peacocks were just browsing a small dirt road entrance between homes.

My presence was probably noted, yet dismissed as being of any sensible interest.

Putting my camera to very good use, I snapped a few photos of this odd, but wonderful sight.

There are many birds that populate the cities and towns where I live, but this was probably the first time that I had ever seen peacocks out strolling in a residential area.

I didn’t expect to see them, but I was delighted.

I consider occasions like this to be gifts from God.

Other gifts from Him happen unexpectedly, as well, sometimes.

We may not be praying about it.

We may not have even thought about wanting it or needing it.

Yet, suddenly, right there in front of you, is a wonderful blessing from God.

A gift from Him.

It could be a material item or something like—-

A phone call from a friend.

A hug.

An apology.

A note of encouragement.

A job offer.

The words, “I love you.”

Sometimes, when you least expect it, a peacock walks by….

 But whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God, the Creator of all light, and he shines forever without change or shadow.

—James 1:17

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perfect

All Things

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Last night, a friend gave me a gift.

She had just recently gone on a trip out of the country.

Having found some beautiful wooden key chains, she bought several and allowed friends to choose their favorite.

Strangely, she had brought back one made of purple wood.

She explained that this was the wood’s natural color.

Each of the wooden key chains had a dragonfly delicately carved into it.

I chose one of the darker brown woods to keep as my own.

Just a few moments ago, I ventured outside to get some photographs of a bird in my driveway.

While I was standing there, a dragonfly came along and sat on a fallen branch near me.

Not just any dragonfly.

A type of dragonfly that I don’t remember ever seeing before.

A purple dragonfly.

With a swift and graceful take off, he left his perch and flew around in front of me.

God allowed me to see the image of a dragonfly carved into purple wood that He had made.

Next, He blessed me by allowing me to see a purple dragonfly that He had made sitting on a brown branch that He had made.

With words I don’t quite remember now, I thanked God for the beauty I was allowed to see.

 

 

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

–John 1:3

 

 

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all things