Acts of kindness create oxytocin and also promote wellness in the body, mind and spirit. The bible explains, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” Proverbs 11:24–25 ESV. Seek ways to show kindness this Christmas season and beyond. You’ll find you simply cannot out give the Lord.
Shout It From The Housetops!
Share the message of Jesus Christ at Christmastime by helping others set up nativity displays, decorations and Christmas trees. Ask a disabled neighbor, a busy family or the leader at a retirement home, hospital or your church if you can help decorate. Be bold and honor Jesus—he showed the greatest act of kindness, dying on a cross so we could have everlasting life. Public displays magnify his name and offer a message of hope to the hopeless.
“What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!”
–Matthew 10:27 NLT
Becoming homeless can happen to anyone. While some people living on the street or in temporary housing may suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness or extreme poverty, others may simply be down on their luck. Possibly, they lost a job, suffered a house fire or experienced a natural disaster such as the recent hurricanes and floods. According to Bankrate, 60 percent of Americans have less than $500 in savings. It’s easy to see how everyday people can lose everything. Remember these people with practical gifts such as blankets, coats, boots, gloves and hats. Include an encouraging note pinned to each item as an added benefit. Contact a local church or homeless ministry to find out where to deliver your donation.
The Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the law?” He replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “and who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” –Luke 10:25–37 NIV
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15:1 NIV
Christmas inspires us to give to others as God has given to us. We share the joy of the Lord and cheerfully spread goodwill. We hope in some small way our seasonal giving will change the world for the better. But what if we resolve to show holiday kindness to others throughout the year? Resolve to give your love away daily, however you are called. The need is great.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”—Romans 13:8 NIV
Help For The Heart
Juan, a 13-year-old boy from Bolivia, and Sandrine, a young girl from Rwanda, live over 5,000 miles apart, but they shared life-threatening heart problems. Both kids were helped through donations made to compassion international’s Christmas gift catalog. Paulina, Juan’s mother, says, “I was very worried and couldn’t understand that he, being so young, had that illness. I was afraid he was going to die.” Sandrine’s prognosis required immediate hospitalization and surgery to repair holes in her heart. “My husband and I would not have been able to afford even two percent of the bill for Sandrine’s surgery and treatment,” says her mother, Jacqueline. “I give God the glory. I will always thank God for compassion international because my Sandrine is
–content courtesy of compassion.com
Patricia and Dunford pudenda of rural Zambia were hard workers. He forged hoes and axes on a worn blacksmith forge and sewed clothing on a broken-down sewing machine; she dug for wild roots and walked hours to gather water. “We were being forced to borrow,” says Dunford, and that was just to have any food. The debt kept them enslaved in poverty, he says. Hunger had kept Dunford from finishing school and now his son, Justine, had given up. Poverty had beaten them down. “When you become poor, even your thoughts become poor. You fail to differentiate between where you are and where you need to be,” says Patricia. But then, they were chosen by world vision to receive five goats. Dunford says, “When I received the goats, I told myself, here comes the freedom ... this is the end of the suffering that my family has been going through.”
–excerpt reprinted with permission from world visionmagazine,winter 2016.
Feed My People
Worldwide, 925 million people, or more than the combined populations of north and south America, go hungry every day. Lack of food beyond hunger pangs can lead to acute or chronic malnutrition. Even if we don’t see bloated bellies, food shortages impact every age of people in the U.S.—babies, the elderly and even college students.
–food and agriculture organization of the united nations
Feed The Flock On Your Block
Who’s hungry in your neighborhood? The answer may surprise you. Get to know the people on your block or in your building so they will be comfortable sharing if they or someone else needs food. Then drop off a bag or two of groceries at their door. Or purchase a grocery store gift card and give it anonymously. Another great way to donate food is through churches or organizations with food pantries. Call beforehand to find out what they accept and if they have special needs. “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor” Proverbs 22:9 NIV.
Ready, Set, Bake
Build connections with the next generation by offering to bake with kids. Young or old, toddlers or teens, kids love to bake and taste the results! Offer to watch the neighbor’s or a friend’s kids for an afternoon while the parents shop or prepare for the holidays. The kids learn baking skills and you’ll all enjoy engaging with each other.
Compassion International is a Christian child development organization dedicated to releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. The ministry offers a variety of ways to get involved, from sponsoring a child to giving a one-time gift to a specific fund helping children. The ministry works through local churches to provide holistic child development programs that deliver children from economic, physical, social and spiritual poverty, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. The organization also speaks out for children in poverty—informing, motivating and equipping others to become advocates for children. In 2016, 82.4 percent of donations went directly to help children in need.
After sharing the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” That is the mission of Samaritan’s purse—to follow the example of Christ by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope of the gospel. Samaritan’s purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through his son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the church worldwide to promote the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
World vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the kingdom of God. In 2016, 85 percent of world vision’s total operating expenses were used for programs that benefit children, families and communities in need.
Hands of God
Most days 100-year-old Eva wakes up between 3 and 4 a.m. and heads for her sewing machine. She’s a woman on a mission with no time to waste. At the end of last year, Eva’s pastor asked her to make about 180 girls’ items to be packed into Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Eva didn’t have to think long before she knew what she’d sew.
“At first it took me a day and a half to make a dress. Now, I can get three done in a day,” says Eva, who lives in Zionville, North Carolina. Eva works hard but says she doesn’t mind, because she’s grateful. “I love it. The Lord gave me hands with no arthritis. I’m doing what the Lord has asked me to do.”
Eva’s mother and father raised her in church and taught her about God. At age 13, Eva prayed to receive Jesus as her savior.
Widowed at age 36, Eva worked as a police officer, grocery cashier and in other jobs as her children grew up. She’s also been a Sunday school teacher, church choir member, mission’s supporter and now dressmaker.
Accustomed to working hard, Eva seeks to bring God’s glory in everything she does. “Every day needs to be lived serving the Lord,” she says. “When I get up in the morning, I read God’s word. I try to be a witness where I can.”
Eva prays the dresses will bring girls across the world much joy. She encourages Christians, no matter their age, to do whatever God has called them to do. “I don’t think you’re too old to learn a job,” she says. “Every day needs to be lived serving the Lord.”
Eva says she plans to serve God until He calls her to heaven. “I can’t even imagine how wonderful [heaven] will be,” she says. “I’m not afraid of dying, not one bit. When Jesus says, ‘Eva, come on home,’ I’ll go. I know Jesus will be there.”
Learn how to pack a shoebox, view gift suggestions, get your follow your box label, and find your nearest drop-off location at samaritanspurse.org/occ. National collection week is Nov. 13-20.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16
Give What You Already Have
“What should we do then?” The crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Luke 3:10–11 NIV
See themhurting people live among us. They are our neighbors: the high school dropout looking for a job, the single mother at the grocery store paying the bill with her last coins, the old widower sitting by himself in the park. “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” Matthew 25:44–45 NIV.
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:33-34 NIV
Love Without End
Make or buy an evergreen wreath for someone in need and deliver it to their door. Nothing beats the fragrance of fresh-cut evergreen sprigs. Look for someone who can’t afford the time to shop or the expense of a fresh wreath, and surprise them with this wonderful gift of Christmas that will last several weeks. Include a message explaining the meaning of the advent wreath: the circular shape of the wreath has no beginning or end, symbolizing God’s complete and unending love for us as shown by the redemption He gave us through His son Jesus Christ.
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