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Thankful at Christmas

Ronnie Isley

“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you”
1 Chronicles 29:14

It’s Christmas time, like Thanksgiving when we should be thankful every day, we should give every day not just Christmas day. In 1st Chronicles 29:14 everything we have is because of the birth and death of Jesus Christ. I wonder sometimes about my giving. I am reminded by my wife giving is not just money sometimes, I like most people, think we have no talents to give. Our tithe can be a kind word to someone troubled. Sometimes just listening or just being there is a great gift. I think I don’t give enough but when I see grown-ups or children smile because of what I taught them on or about horses they are happy so I guess that’s a gift and a talent.

As we are getting ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth why don’t we think of forgiveness as a great gift to give and receive. A perfect way to honor God‘s greatest gift, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas to all and God bless.

Grace Unopened

Geoff LaLone

“As we work together with him, we urge you not to accept the grace of God in vain”
2 Corinthians 6:1

I recently attended a Christmas luncheon held for the staff members of a large church in town. The lead pastor, knowing I am on my own, graciously invited me to be a part of the celebration. At the conclusion of the meal, each person received a “grace gift,” an envelope containing a $50 bill, and very explicit instructions; they were to go immediately and spend every single penny on themselves.

It’s a very thought provoking exercise, and, for a variety of reasons, is harder to complete than you might imagine. Even though this is the fourth year I have participated, it’s always interesting to observe what the difficulty of completing the task reveals about our struggle to receive grace. But something else that occurred to me this year is that receiving the benefits of this “grace” begins with opening the envelope. If this does not happen, the grace cannot truly be experienced.

In one of his letters to the Christians in Corinth, Paul urges them to “not accept the grace of God in vain.” That Paul has this concern suggests to us that we have something to do with whether or not God’s grace has its intended effect in our lives. God’s grace, by definition, is freely given. But we most open it up in order to receive its benefits.

The Advent Season provides us with an excellent opportunity to reflect upon the amazing gift of grace that God has given us in his Son. May we also be encouraged to consider whether we are opening up ourselves to experiencing his grace at work in our lives.