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Gifts With Purpose

3 Ideas for giving Christmas gifts with spiritual purpose
Many folks have their minds on Christmas gifts today and I want to encourage you to think about gift giving with this proverb in mind:

"Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding." Proverbs 23:23 NASB

3 gifts you might want to give or receive this year:

1. Bible study materials
A new Bible version, devotional book,  journal, special pens or highlighters - anything that makes Bible study more fun and purposeful. These need not be expensive.

2. A date with Jesus
When I wrote about having a coffee date with Jesus, many of my readers loved the idea. Why not buy a gift card for this purpose and tuck in some babysitting money, if needed.

3. A Christian book* or magazine subscription
The more we fill our minds with good Christian content, the more we grow. 

And don't forget to recommend free subscriptions to 1-Minute Bible Love Notes or Bite Size Bible Study.

Now I'd like to hear your ideas for gifts that enhance spiritual growth (not product names or links to ads, but general ideas). Please leave them in a comment so everyone can benefit.
* Missionary biographies are especially faith-building



15 Benefits of Being Thankful

1 Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:6, Gratitude, Thanksgiving
Any way you slice it, gratefulness is good for us.

Studies show that grateful people:

1. Make friends more easily and have better relationships.
2. Have better physical health.
3. Have better psychological health. 
4. Are more compassionate and generous.
5. Are less resentful, jealous, and aggressive.
6. More easily overcome trauma and loss.
7. Are less stressed and sleep better.

8. Have better immune systems and healthier hearts.
9. Do better in their careers and are better team players.
10. Are less materialistic. 
11. Are more optimistic.
12. Are less self-centered.
13. Have higher energy levels and are more productive.
14. Feel more joyful and content.
15. Are more relaxed.

No wonder God says:
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6

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Resources for this devotion:
ForbesWebMD, Happier Human, Huffington Posts,  Greater Good


No Pain, No Gain

Hebrews 12, Growth through hardship
Hebrews Chapter 12 could be titled: "No Pain, No Gain." 

It tells us that pain is often a vehicle for spiritual growth.

That's why we should:

1. See it as training, not wasted sorrow.
"Endure hardship as discipline* ... No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (v.7,11)

2. Believe we can do it.
We're surrounded by "a great cloud of witnesses" who have gone before us and been victorious. (v.1)

3. Focus on Jesus, not the pain.
Focusing on Jesus "the pioneer and perfecter of faith" keeps us from growing weary. (v.2-3)

4. Remember God is a Perfect parent.
He "disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (v. 6) 

Perhaps an even better title for Hebrews 12 might be "Endure Pain, Insure Gain" (v. 11). What do you think?

* Discipline can be a part of constructive punishment, but it can also be training without punishment involved. That's why this passage applies to all difficulties that God allows in our lives.

Hebrews 12, Hardship produces perseverance


5 Kernels of Corn

Their first winter in Plymouth, half of the Pilgrims died from disease and inadequate supplies. Things were so bad that they had to ration their supply of corn to five kernels per person per day. 

Several years later when crops were abundant, the Pilgrims started their Thanksgiving celebration by serving each person five kernels of corn, highlighting this truth: 

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” (Philippians 4:12,13, NLT)

Whether we’re struggling through lean times or enjoying abundance, we can trust God’s strength to get us through. 

Before our Thanksgiving meal, I serve five kernels of corn to remember our pilgrim heritage and God’s faithfulness. Why not make this your tradition too?
first published on Bible Love Notes in 2011

Resource: David Manuel and Peter Marshall, The Light and the Glory (Fleming Revell, NJ, 1977).

When I started 1-Minute Bible Love Notes in 2011, I asked some of my readers (including family and friends) to send me their photo and favorite recipe. If you'd like to read this post and discover my favorite recipe, you'll find it HERE
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All Scripture references NIV unless otherwise noted.