Cindy's title

fireplaceI love this time of year when we celebrate two holidays that reflect the essence of Christianity. The first, Thanksgiving, is a time of reflection and acknowledgment of all that is good nationally and personally. To recognize all the blessings we have as a nation and individually is to cultivate a grateful heart. To look for and focus on the positives in life is a foundation for happiness (Philippians 4:7, 8) and a relationship to God (Psalm 103:2). Expressing thankfulness to God (Ephesians 5:20) is recognizing that He is the source of all that is good (1 Timothy 4:4) and all that is love (1 John 4:8). Expressing gratitude for and to others is a way to strengthen relationships (2 Thessalonians 1:3). A grateful heart helps us cope when life gets difficult. Life is full of challenges and struggles, and if we allow them to consume us, we lose perspective. Being ungrateful is a sin (2 Timothy 3:2) because it shows a lack of recognition and appreciation for the good in our lives. Cultivating a heart of gratitude and developing the habit of being thankful and expressing it, is good for life now, and eternally.

presentChristmas is characterized by giving gifts because God gave us the greatest gift of all — salvation (Ephesians 2:8) and eternal life through His Son Jesus. Giving demonstrates love. God loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, into our world (1 John 4:9) to show us who He is (John 1:18) and how to have a relationship with Him (John 14:6). Not only did Jesus show us and teach us about God, and ourselves, but He willingly and literally died for all of us (Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 3:18). He was the only human never to have sinned (Hebrews 4:15), so He was the only One who could die for our sins and not His (Hebrews 7:26, 27). By paying the price for our sins (Isaiah 53:5), He opened the way for us to be forgiven by God (Acts 2:38) and have eternal life with God (1 John 5:11, 12).

God and Jesus gave to us sacrificially even when we did not deserve it (Romans 5:6 – 8). They set an example for us to follow (1 John 3:16). How generous we are with our finances, our time, our energy, and especially ourselves indicates where our heart is (Matthew 6:21; 2 Corinthians 8:5) and how much we love (John 3:16). When we give, we are reflecting the very nature of God.
— Cynthia Clayton
Pictures in this article: Art Explosion by Nova Development Corporation, © 1997– 2001.

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