This time of year, if your community is still blessed, and atheists have not tried to stop it, one of the best Christian charities around and their familiar bell ringers, are in front of some stores such as Wal Mart, ringing their familiar bells and taking donations up in their familiar red kettles. I admire the ones who have to stand out in very cold places up north, such as in my recent trip to the windy city, Chicago, and one enthusiastic ringer had two bells really going at it probably to stay warm.
I look forward to seeing Salvation Army out there and being able to give to them. Some places in recent years banned them, which indeed is sad. This organization does one of the most worthy things during Christmas and year round.
Speaking of bells, I am the unfortunate sufferer of noise in my ears otherwise know as tinnitus. It can really drive me nuts if I let it. Sometimes it is a buzzing, a humming, a roar, sometimes it sounds like crickets but this past week, oddly enough, it has reminded me of Salvaton Army bells. I found this humorous in a way. I am very thankful to God that I can hear this buzzing and ringing as if I were totally deaf there would be no sound at all. On the particular day I heard that rhythmic bell ringing in my head it just made me smile. I said, 'do I dare use this in a devotion or will someone send men in little white suits to come pick me up and take me away?' It is a good illustration of the gifts of God to us and being able to help others so I said, 'why not!'
Do you like to give or do you just do it out of obligation? Giving should be a fun thing and not because we feel at Christmas we "have to do it" or what if I give and it makes someone feel bad since they did not give back to me. The point is, we give because we love and some people have the gift of giving. If you receive a gift from someone and do not have something for them, do not despair. That person, in the spirit of Christmas, wanted to bless you so leave it at that. It is a joy to give but equally a joy to be a cheerful receiver. Do not feel bad if you are empty handed.
Enjoy this Christmas season but try to let the spirit of Christmas go on throughout the year. Find ways to be kind to people and bless them. It does not have to cost you any money. Give a smile. Open a door for someone. Do little act of kindness. Be polite. Be creative. Do not let Christmas stress you out because that was never Jesus' intent do you get so frazzled that you hate to see this day roll around each year. Be thankful for family, friends and what God haas given to you. All that we have is from God anyway.
Luke 6:38(NIV) says 'Give and it shall be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over,will be put in your lap. And the measure you use it will be measured back to you.' I heard a story on the radio recently about a young 7 year old boy who when asked what he wanted for Christmas simply said for his family to give the money to missionaries instead of buying him gifts. Now that indeed is an unselfish giving spirit. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?
PRAYER: Lord I thank you for all your gifts to me. I thank you for Christmas as it is a reminder of our giving to you and to others. Forgive me if I let the worlds' way of celebrating take away from the real meaning of this special day. In Jesus' name. Amen.