Why Do We Give Gifts?
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God is a giver of good and precious gifts. When we live generously and give from our heart, we are reflecting our Father. What can we give? Forgiveness, love, kindness, hope, a smile, an encouraging word, a listening ear – to name a few. Allow His generous spirit of love to pour through you as you live a giving life, especially during this time of the year.

I’ve listed a few of the wonderful gifts God has given us as believers in Christ. I encourage you to read one of these scriptures each day during the month of December and reflect on your giving Heavenly Father.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,
how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32

 Jesus – 2 Corinthians 9:15
 His Spirit- 1 John 4:13
 Grace – Ephesians 2:8
 Hope –- Romans 15:13
 Adoption – Romans 8:15
 Forgiveness – Psalm 103:3
 Healing – Psalm 103:3
 Redemption – Ephesians 1:7
 Peace – John 14:27
 Love – I John 3:1
 Joy – Galatians 5:22
 Wisdom- James 1:5
 Salvation – John 3:16
 Kindness – Luke 6:35
 Power – 2 Corinthians 4:7
 Refuge – Psalm 62:8
 Provision – Philippians 4:19
 Life – Genesis 2:7
 Eternal Life – I John 5:11
 Strength – Isaiah 40:29
 Listening Ear – Psalm 34:15
 Comfort – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.
James 1:17

Teaching our Kids to Be Thankful for God
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As we continue to look at God’s attributes, we pause to celebrate Thanksgiving. What could makes us more thankful than to look at our Faithful and True God. This week as we celebrate His blessings, let us also celebrate the blessing of Him. Read this devotional to your kids and talk about the beauty of God’s faithfulness and what that means in your life.

He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations.
Deuteronomy 7:9

Faithful, and loyal; our Lord God keeps his promises to His people throughout the generations. He can be trusted. Perhaps you have felt the pain of a disloyal friend or unfaithful spouse or back-stabbing co-worker. The pain can run deep when you feel as though you have been betrayed. Our hearts long for someone we can believe in, someone we can trust, and someone who will be faithful through thick or thin. The Lord your God is that faithful One. We can place our lives into His hands for He will never abandon us or leave us. We are His beloved and His faithfulness is sure.
He keeps His promises. He does not promise a perfect life or that your pathway will be challenge-free, but He does promise to be with you and be your strength through those rough times. As His beloved follower, He will never leave you or forsake you. Take a moment right now to thank Him for His great faithfulness and dwell on His faithful love throughout the day today.

Preparing for Thanksgiving
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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

The apostle Paul, while being held prisoner for preaching the gospel, gave the early Christians a charge which powerfully applies to our lives today. Don’t be anxious, but instead pray about everything. Then did you notice he added “with thanksgiving?” Now hold on! I can easily be filled with thanksgiving when I’m praying for those I love and when I’m experiencing less stress in my life. But Paul is saying in the midst of anxiety, give your cares to God, and while you are at it – thank Him! What can we thank Him for in the middle of our stress? We can begin by thanking Him for His love for us and His presence in our lives. We can continue to thank Him for His Son Jesus. We can thank Him for His help and comfort in time of need. We can thank Him for His power to redeem and bring something good out of any situation.

Let’s practice what Paul preaches this week. As we prepare for a festive week of Thanksgiving, worry and anxiety may try to creep in at times. Questions swirl in our heads. How will I keep the kids occupied? How will I get all the shopping and baking done? How will I be kind and loving to everyone? How will I get the house clean? Let’s take each of our personal worries to the Lord and then let’s go the extra mile and thank Him.

Paul tells us that a peace that transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. It’s amazing when we take our minds off of our worries and turn our focus on that which we can be thankful, a peace fills our heart. Paul went on to say, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Each morning as you wake up this week, lay there in bed for just a moment (if you can) and give your cares to God, thanking Him for His help and blessings. Then each night as you tuck the kids in bed, pray with your kids and help them learn this daily practice of thanking God as you give Him your worries. May you overflow this week with the thoughts of thankfulness as you recognize God’s care in your life.

And as you celebrate, here’s one of our favorite Ladd recipes:
Corn Spoon Bread
1 stick butter (or margarine)
1 pkg Jiffy Cornbread
1 egg
8 oz. sour cream
1 16 oz can kernel corn, drained.
Melt butter. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Pour into 8 by 8 baking dish. Bake at 350 30 – 40 minutes until set and lightly browned on top.

Created Us In His Image
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God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”
Genesis 1:27

After God created all the birds and fish and every kind of animal according to their own kind, there was still one creature He had in mind. This one would be different from the others. This creature would bear the image of God. Obviously humans are not created exactly like God, for an image is simply a reflection, not an exact replica of the model. We reflect certain characteristics about God which separate us from plants, animals, birds and fish. What are those characteristics? We demonstrate His nature in our ability to reason, in our creativity and imagination and in our speech. His character is reflected in our capacity to love, forgive, show patience and kindness toward one another. Just as He is an eternal being, He has given us an eternal soul which will carry on when our bodies have long since decayed.

There is dignity and worth in every human, because each human is created in God’s image. Let us recognize the value of every life including our own, for we reflect the image of our Creator.

Question for your kids: When we recognize that everyone is a creation of God, how does it change the way we treat other people?

Knowing you are a creation of God, how does that make you feel about yourself?

He Spoke…And there Was
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God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”
Genesis 1:3

What power, what authority! God spoke and it happened. It’s nearly impossible to comprehend that from nothing came something. Every molecule in creation fell in line at the sound of His voice. He spoke and there was light. He spoke and there was a great expanse between the waters. He spoke and dry ground appeared. He spoke and there was the sun, moon and stars. He spoke and there were birds and fish and animals.

Everything came into being by Him and for Him. He is before all things and by Him all things exist. Creation was not simply a random event. God deliberately orchestrated it. He is both the composer and conductor of the great symphony of life, written in His divine wisdom and carried out by His voice. His voice is immeasurably powerful in creation, and yet lovingly gentle as He speaks to our hearts. Are you listening to His voice?

This is an excerpt from my devotional, Pursuing God in the Quiet Places. Kindle edition

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