A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Lucinda says it all here in her poem, doesn’t she?  Before we knew God’s way of living, we all dressed in dingy duds with holes in weird places.  We were unaware of anything better until we met Christ.  He stood us up, dusted us off, set us straight on the right path.  The clothes we wore before weren’t even good enough to give to charity – they had to be burned.

We have a brand new wardrobe, thanks to the mercy and love of the Lord.  He teaches us every day about His ways and His will for us.  He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us way too much to leave us there.  It’s His desire that we grow in our faith and discover all the opportunities He sets before us – and yes, some of those are very scary – but once you give it to God and trust Him for the outcome, it gets less frightening.

Remember when God told Moses to speak to the people and Moses said, “You got to be kidding, Lord – I stutter!”  It may be paraphrased – okay – it’s definitely paraphrased heavily…  but basically – isn’t that what he was saying?  He said there’s no way he could take that on because he was disabled.  Can a dyslexic person write a blog?  You wouldn’t think so…  but God has other ideas sometimes.

Once we burn those old duds and put on the ones God wants us to wear…  weird stuff happens – weird in a good way.  Miracles happen that you would not believe – except you do believe it because you know how good God really is.

As you take on the attributes that God wants you to have, you don’t look at what is best for you, but what is best for someone else.  How can I help?  What can I pray for on your behalf?  When do you need my help?  Who can I tell about Jesus today?  Where can I share my faith?  The answer to God goes from “I can’t do that” to “With Your help, I can do anything if it’s Your will for my life.”  🙂

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NATIONAL DAY OF GIVING #GivingTuesday

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In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  – Acts 20:35

All you have to do is watch television…  any channel – choose one, to see the faces and hear the voices of people in need.  Charities are taking to the airwaves like never before, keeping their cause near and dear to our thoughts and hearts.  These days it’s not just human beings, but animals too.  I love animals (and humans most of the time), but how do we know which charities are best to contribute to?

Charitable giving is what this day is all about.  On the heels of Thanksgiving, when we are thankful for our many blessings – and on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when we save a ton of money on things, the idea is to give back today.  That savings you realized, you could choose to bless someone, whether 2-legged or 4-legged, with the money you saved.

We all tend to support the causes that are closest to our hearts – and that’s only natural.  I support causes in my mother’s honor and ones that she would find important.  I can’t tell you what charities to support any more than you can tell me – but if you are in doubt about whether your dollars are being used wisely, I have a suggestion.  Pray about it.  I believe if we ask God what is best, He will guide us.

Also, click on this link:

https://www.charities.org/charities?gclid=Cj0KEQiAperBBRDfuMf72sr56fIBEiQAPFXszTdIkCQTJGxbaV3p1f3WjCcA6Q1oQNDcE96jHDn4D9MaAoLB8P8HAQ

This is a charity search engine that will let you know if an organization is legitimate.  A generous soul does not have to be a blind one – or a dumb one.  It’s sad to think there may be bogus charities out there, but they do exist.  People do desperate things to get money!

Maybe today you would rather take the opportunity to give on a more personal level.  Do you know someone who could use a visit, phone call or card?  Has God brought someone to mind that you need to tend to?  Before you get too busy – stop what you’re doing and make that visit, phone call or send that card!  God will bless you for making the effort.

What sort of gifts could you consider giving?

  • Does somebody need to be warm?  Give the gift of a coat, mittens or a scarf.
  • Does somebody need food in their pantry?  Give the gift of a fruit basket, box of nuts or a gift card for the local grocery store.
  • Does somebody need gas in their car to get to work?  Give the gift of a prepaid card for that.
  • Does somebody need to be heard?  Give the gift of a listening ear with a closed mouth.
  • Does somebody need help paying for medication?  Give the gift of support by going with them to the pharmacy and helping them pay for it.  Some medication is literally life-saving.
  • Does somebody need a hug?  Give the gift of a hug – at least 3 seconds.  I read somewhere that a hug has to be at least 3 seconds long to be effective.
  • Does somebody need God’s Word?  Give the gift of a new Bible – or even a gently used one.  At one time a local antique store in our city sold Bibles for a dollar.  They looked brand new.  That’s where I got award Bibles for Sunday School promotions.  Our local Dollar General has Precious Moments children’s Bibles for less than $10.
  • Does somebody need prayed for?  Well, isn’t that a silly question?  We ALL need prayers.  If we can’t afford anything monetarily, we can sure afford to send up some prayers for those who cross our path and those God lays on our heart to pray for.  And don’t forget to tell the person you’re praying for them.  It always encourages my spirit to know when someone lifts me up in prayer.

#GivingTuesday

Is it silly to pray for those people and animals in advertisements for charities?  No, I don’t think it’s silly.  Even though they don’t have a clue who I am, I know they have a need, and I know that God can meet that need.  So I pray for the 2-legged and the 4-legged ones who need help.  give

I can’t give money to every one of them, but my prayers are certainly with them.  I would add; however, that prayers are not tax-deductible.  Not yet.  🙂

 

 

 

PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

TL 12-1 PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORDDo you have a neighbor that doesn’t receive many visitors this time of year?  Loneliness is at epidemic proportions during the Christmas season.  It’s sad that some folks are overly busy while others are just seemingly forgotten.  😦

Most of our neighbors are surrounded by family – and often!  Our little circle drive is crammed full of cars almost every weekend – and that is a good thing!  We see the signs of life all around us in our neighborhood – everyone is alive and well around here.

But I have to ask myself – who is my neighbor?  Is it just the family on my immediate block?  We all know the answer to that question – of course it isn’t.  Our neighbors are everyone around us.  There is a senior living complex less than five miles from my house and it’s fun to go there to sing Christmas Carols.  Seniors are often alone and it means so much to them to be remembered.

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As we prepare our hearts and minds for the birthday of Christ, we will obviously remember the youth in our lives with gifts and good deeds.  Shouldn’t we also remember the aged among us just as much?  Yes, Christmas is for children – but it’s also for the elderly.  It’s for everyone!

A CHRISTMAS EMBRACERemember the story of Simeon?  All he wanted to do was see the world’s Salvation before he died.  He got to hold the Christ Child – and he said that he saw Him and could die in peace.  Let’s show the seniors around us the ways of Christ – His joy, love, mercy and peace.  Let’s show them the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  – Galatians 5:22-23

As we prepare our hearts and minds for the birthday of Christ the King, let’s include all of our neighbors of every stage of life in our celebration.  God loves us all so very much – that’s why Christ was born!  🙂

PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

TL 12-1 PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

God gave His very BEST to us and for us…  this truly is the season of giving…  how many ways can we give this year?  Does it take a large budget to give?  No – not a large budget – just a creative mind and an intent of heart that bends toward giving.

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We just enjoyed a lovely celebration of Advent at church and are feeling the true meaning of Christmas – and the Spirit that comes with it.  I have an idea…  since today is Monday and a bit of an anti-climax of sorts, to put it mildly…  why not take snacks to work without being asked???

One of the perks of being part of the workforce is the Monday morning you walk in and there are homemade goodies setting on the conference room table for anyone to indulge in.  Oh yeah – it’s like a big score to begin the week!

COOKIES AND CAROLS

You don’t have to spend hours making these goodies either – and you don’t have to hire a professional baker or pay a high price at the bakery.  There are tons of quick and easy recipes that turn out great every time and will be sure to please your co-workers.  Whether you sing Christmas Carols as you serve them…  well, that’s up to you!  😉

Here’s one of my favorites:

ALMOND-CHOCOLATE-CHERRY COOKIES

Makes 24 cookies

11 g. carbohydrates per cookies / 81 calories / 6 g. sugar

INGREDIENTS:

6 Tbs. butter, softened

3/4 c. Splenda

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted & cooled slightly

1 1/3 c. flour

1/2 c. dried cherries

1/3 c. sliced almonds

1 recipe Chocolate-Almond Glaze

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a medium bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, about 2 minutes or until smooth.  Add Splenda, beating until creamy.  Beat in egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined.  Stir in melted chocolate.  Stir in flour.  Fold in dried cherries and almonds.  Cover and chill dough for one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.  Shape dough into one inch balls.  Place balls about one inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until centers are set.  Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.
  3. Drizzle Chocolate-Almond Glaze over cooled cookies.  Let stand until glaze is set.  To store, layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.  Cover.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

CHOCOLATE-ALMOND GLAZE

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

1 1/2 tsp. butter

1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 Tbs. fat-free milk

Dash almond extract

DIRECTIONS:

In small saucepan, combine chocolate and butter.  Heat and stir over low heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in powdered sugar, milk and almond extract until smooth.

As cookies go, these are the most healthy and tasty ones I’ve had.  I can actually eat a couple of these without causing my blood glucose to raise too high.  So, while everyone else is bringing in goodies that you know you need to stay away from – you can bake these up and know that everyone will enjoy them – and not wreck their health.  Wink!  😉

ROMANS 8:16 ON 8/16

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 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  – Romans 8:16

ABBA DADDY

We hear so much about self-esteem in our world today, don’t we?  Buy this new product and it will make you so beautiful and boost your self-image.  Sound familiar?  Some commercials really hit us where we live, don’t they?  The advertisement that hits me where I live is when Marie Osmond comes on and talks about Nutri-System.  Sometimes it airs so often, I finally say, “Oh Marie, get off my TV!” 

We think that if we lose weight or change the color of our hair or paint our toenails it will make us feel better about ourselves.  Those are not bad goals, but they don’t produce a lasting peace or joy within.  These fixes are temporal to say the least.

What brings a lasting peace and joy to our hearts and lives?  I’ll answer for myself.  When God’s Holy Spirit testifies (gives evidence) with my spirit that I am God’s child – it’s amazing!  I call it “God-esteem”!  It’s all about Him and nothing about me.  He did all the giving and praise God, He asks me to receive – and I have.

The Holy Spirit’s voice is a deeper voice than mine.  It’s a still small voice.  Some think it’s like a tornado, fire or earthquake – but no, the voice of God speaks to my heart and my consciousness, telling me that I am His child.

My reply is to cry, Abba…  Daddy! 

How do people cope with this crazy life without the Lord?  I don’t understand why anyone would not welcome Him into their hearts and lives.  Imagine having a loving heavenly Father who wants to keep you safe and constantly converse with you Spirit to spirit.  I welcome His Holy Spirit in my life every day.

We have many lovely conversations.  🙂

 

 

BOXING DAY

TL 12-26 BOXING DAY

12-26 BOXING DAY EVERY DAYBoxing Day last year:

Today in England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other former British commonwealth countries, they are celebrating a legal holiday known as BOXING DAY!  It’s also known as St. Stephan’s Day because churches opened their collection boxes to the poor.   The holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas day, but took the following day off. As servants prepared to leave to visit their families, their employers would present them with gift boxes.

 During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. “Absolutely,” the professor said. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.   – JoAnn C. Jones, Guideposts, January 1996

In the Middle Ages, members of the merchant class would take boxes and fill them with food and fruits to give to servants, tradespeople and the less fortunate.  Servants worked on Christmas Day, so the day after Christmas they would be given a day off to celebrate.

 Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.  – Seneca

Today Boxing Day is celebrated by filling boxes with food and clothing for the needy and doing volunteer work.  Monetary donations to various organized charities are also common.

If Christmas falls on a Friday or Saturday, Boxing Day is celebrated the next Monday.

We are told in the Bible that the poor will always be with us.

  For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.  – Mark 14:7

Sometimes people use this verse as an excuse to withhold charitable contributions because they argue that it will do no good – the poor will be with us always.  I think the actual point Christ was making was that He would not always be amongst man on earth in human form.  Yes, the poor will be here, just as the rich people will be here.  Whether we are rich or poor, we have choices to make.  We as individuals will be held accountable for the choices we make.  It all comes down to what we believe is the right thing to do and what we are taught is the right thing to do.

God smiles on His children who share.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.  –  2 Corinthians 9:7

We give in secret.  Give quietly and shhh…  don’t tell.

 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.  –  Matthew 6:4

THE FAMILY ACROSS THE WAY

While I believe alms refers to the tithes  and offerings given to the church, the same application should be made to charitable giving.  Here in the U.S.A. we don’t celebrate Boxing Day, but we still need to keep in mind that not every family had a Merry Christmas!  We (and I’m pointing to myself too) need to try to find those who are struggling and help them if we possibly can.  Wouldn’t it be a great idea to make Boxing Day a day of giving to those less fortunate?

I give because it’s the only concrete way I have of saying that I’m glad to be alive and that I can earn my daily bread doing what I love.  Giving… puts our focus back where it belongs – on the lives we lead, the families we raise, the communities which nurture us.  – Stephen King

People have all sorts of motives for giving (tax breaks, bragging rights, getting on someone’s good side), but remember God knows the heart and the motive.  I have a personal belief that once you are praised by people or receive any payment or compensation, you lose your reward from God.  Humility has to be a key element of real giving – be humble and quiet.  God knows and His reward is sufficient for your life and His blessings will sustain you.  He gives the best rewards, doesn’t He?  To my friends celebrating Boxing Day – have a wonderful day!  🙂

 

I like the idea that God has a box packed with everything I will ever need – don’t you?

It’s not too late to order your copy of Lucinda Berry Hill’s new devotional book!  Everybody needs a new devotional book to begin this new year, right?

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Click on the link below to get your copy!

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-000952694/A-Second-Cup-with-Jesus.aspx 

 

 

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

TL MERRY CHRISTMAS

Didn’t Bob Hope teach us all how to live? With humor, trusting that God will take care of us. He gave selflessly and was a blessing to all around him.

No matter how much I give – God gives back to me ten-fold. Now, let me stop right there. By “give” I do not necessarily mean money. I do not mean that if I give a chunk of change to a charity that God will reimburse me. That is NOT what I’m saying. I am not telling you that you will prosper financially. I am, however, telling you that my soul feels greatly prospered when I give of my time, talents and maybe some treasure. My soul is richer for giving. And God gives to me in a number of different ways. He rewards the good work we do.

I’m also not encouraging anyone to give and give to others and ignore your own needs. I don’t believe God would have us do that at all. We do need to take care of ourselves and our families. God has entrusted us with a precious charge when He allows us to be in a family. It is imperative that you first take care of your family. But we do need to be aware of the needs surrounding us outside our own family as well.

The Bible tells us that the poor will always be among us and that’s why being involved in charity work is such a rewarding opportunity. It’s a chance to do for others and lay your own “needs” (which are sometimes actually “wants”) aside to help someone else.

It’s true, you really can not out-give God. This season of giving could be a great opportunity to share what God has blessed you with. Do you have time to give to a lonely neighbor? Do you have a God-given talent for something that you could do for someone? Do you have a little extra treasure you could share with someone else? I’ll bet if you prayed and asked God, He would put someone on your heart that you could help this Christmas season. ❤