Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, December 10, 2011


It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35b (TLB)

      As the Apostle Paul prepared to leave the town of Ephesus for the last time in Acts 20 he told the people there in verse 35 that Jesus had said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” At Christmas time we often get that verse mixed up like Mindy and Stella did.

      It was a few weeks before Christmas and Randy Smith was putting together a list of songs to sing for Sunday School Since it was almost Christmas he wanted to include several Christmas songs. As he sat in his office thinking about which ones to use, Mindy and Stella came bursting through his office door all excited about a song they wanted to sing.

      “Randy, Randy.” they hollered, “We have a new Christmas song we wrote and we want to sing it this Sunday. Can we? Please, Please, Please.” “Maybe,” Randy told them, “What is it?” He went on to ask them. “It’s called Christmas Time in My Heart, and you sing it to the tune of “It Is Summer Time In My Heart.”

      “That sounds like a great song.” Randy told them, “What are the words? “They’re real easy to learn,” Stella told him and than Mindy proceeded to sing it for him. “It is Christmas time in my heart, I want everything in the shopping cart, Every toy and every game, Just for me yes just for me yes just for me.” And when she was done singing Stella piped up and said “That goes double for me.” And than together, with big smiles on their faces, they asked Randy “Please!?”

      Upon hearing their song, Randy just shook his head “That’s not a good Christmas song,” he said, “It’s a selfish, greedy song, and no, I’m not going to sing it.” “But..” Mindy said, “That’s what Christmas is all about.” “Yeah,” Stella added, “It’s Christmas and why wouldn’t you want everything in the shopping cart, I know I do.” “So do I!” Mindy added, “I’ve already got my Christmas list up to 37 pages.”

      “At Christmas time we should be focused more on giving and sharing than on getting.” Randy told the girls. “But who do we share with?” the girls asked in return. “How about you sister, Cindy?” He asked Mindy “I don’t have a sister.” Stella injected, “All I have is.” she started to say and than she got a big grin on her face and turned to Mindy and asked her “Do you want to trade?”

      “No way!” Mindy told her, “ Nobody in their right mind would want to have Harold for a brother. Sorry, but you’re stuck with him.” “That figures.” Stella responded. “Maybe,” she continued, “Maybe.” and than she ran out of the office yelling at the top of her longs “MOM!!, CAN I HAVE A BABY SISTER FOR CHRISTMAS?” All Randy could do was stand there and shake his head.

      How many of you have parents that act like Mindy and Stella wanting everything at Christmas? More often than naught – Parents want to give, I know I do. For a long time now I've enjoyed giving gifts to my children at Christmas and before that my siblings and other people's children. When it comes to giving and Christmas we are often reminded of some wise men. Even though there story takes place sometime after Jesus was born, it is connected with His birth. We find the story in Matthew 2 where we read...

      Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: " 'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.' " Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV)

      When we think of these wise men we might note that they payed attention to prophesy and recognized the sign of Jesus' birth
      They went out of there way to see Jesus and it wasn't just a trip to the other side of town they traveled to a foreign country.
      The gifts they gave had great value and meaning but that's another story.

      There are those who think that the giving of gifts by the wise men inspired the modern day giving at Christmas but giving to other goes beyond Christmas. And, while giving is good for others it is good for us.
  • Psalms 41:1-3 Happy is the person who thinks about the poor. When trouble comes, the Lord will save him. The Lord will protect him and spare his life and will bless him in the land. He will not let his enemies take him. The Lord will give him strength when he is sick, and he will make him well again. (NCV)
  • Psalms 112:5-9 It is good to be merciful and generous. Those who are fair in their business will never be defeated. Good people will always be remembered. They won’t be afraid of bad news; their hearts are steady because they trust the Lord. They are confident and will not be afraid; they will look down on their enemies. They give freely to the poor. The things they do are right and will continue forever. They will be given great honor. (NCV)
  • Proverbs 19:17 When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord, and the Lord will pay you back. (TEV)
  • Hebrews 13:16 Don't forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God. (NLT)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • How much of what you get will truly make you happy?
  • How often do you bless yourself by giving?

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