GIVING GOOD GIFTS

By Sarah Langness

Our son loves tractors. Well, to be honest, he loves trucks and cars and machines with a motor of any kind. But tractors are definitely on the top five list of coolest things he’s ever seen. So the other day, when I was flipping through the Shopko ad and came to the “TOY SALE: Buy one Get one Half Off!” page, it was no surprise when Ezekiel instantly spotted the “green tractor!”. There were many other toys sprawled across these two pages of magazine, but Zeke only had eyes for that tractor.

And to be honest, I really wanted to buy it for him. Because I know how much he loves tractors. And how that tractor (which was pulling a trailer!) would bring him joy.

But I didn’t. Because we have plenty of other tractors, trucks and cars in our house. Because I don’t want our son to think that he can have everything he wants and/or sees. Because Christmas is a little over two weeks away and I am confident there are a couple of Grandma’s who probably bought our little man some new trucks. So Zeke kept the magazine for a couple of days, looked at the tractor, and when we went to Shopko to get gifts for the Angel Tree, we made a mad dash through that toy aisle.

As I thought about this desire I had to buy Ezekiel that new tractor, I couldn’t help but think of these words from Jesus:

“‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him?'” – Matthew 7:7-11, NASB (emphasis mine)

Our God is good. We need look no further than a manger in Bethlehem and a cross on Calvary and an empty tomb to remember that.

He knows our needs. He knows the desires of our heart. And He knows what is best for us. Just because He withholds does not mean He is absent, deaf, or unloving. Our Father is simply doing what is best for us.

Teaching us as we wait upon Him. Learning to be content with what we have. Leaning upon Him for strength. Looking to Him to provide grace for the moment. Trusting Him to meet our needs.

“Every good thing and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” – James 1:17, NASB (emphasis mine)

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What Do You Really, Really Want?

By Velma Amundson

I’ve walked through the malls starting in October, and all the Christmas stuff is out. They’re all nicely displayed and designed to make you want things. The stores are saying they’re not even waiting for “Black Friday” to start holiday sales. The commercials on TV are designed to appeal to our vanities, and get us to want what they have. I even term those “infomercials” for things like Genie Bras, etc as “gotta have it” commercials. I’ll confess I’ve already begun to go Christmas Shopping. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we want. I could want a new computer, a tablet, a new sewing machine, new clothes, etc. And there is nothing wrong with wanting things…..except.

Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” We need to put things in order. The Bible tells us the most important thing is to seek God. We need to seek His will, follow him, store up “treasure in Heaven”. We do that, not by seeking the “treasures” of this world, the material things that pass away, but by sharing the Good News of Christ’s resurrection and gift of salvation. We do that by putting others before ourselves and seeking their good. We study the Bible and bury its treasures in our hearts so that no matter what we go through, we can lean upon God to get us through.

After reflecting on these things, I’ve decided what I really, really want. I want, when I stand before Christ on his judgment throne, to hear the words of Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” I hope you want that too.