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Category: Gratitude

Billions In Unused Gift Cards Stashed In Drawers

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Topic: Stewardship
Scripture: Philippians 4:19; Colossians 4:5
Source: “Unused gift cards total $44B since 2008: study” By Gregory Bresiger, posted NEW YORK POST, January 26, 2014
Author: Illustration Exchange

Have you ever been given a gift that you’ve simply failed to use? Millions have—every day!

“People are letting cash slip away that they could be using,” says John Kiernan, a senior analyst with CardHub:

Kiernan, citing CardHub numbers, estimates that some $44 billion in unredeemed gift-card value has been accumulating since 2008.

“I’m not surprised by that number at all,” adds Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards. “People get these cards and often put them away in a drawer and then forget about them. And that’s too bad.”

Application:

As God’s children, we have been given many invaluable gifts. God’s love has been deposited in our lives in a salvation that brings us forgiveness and healing. We have also been enriched with spiritual gifts that enable us to share God’s love in specific ways, so that others might also know the power of God’s love and healing.

Yet, every day, we fail to annex these gifts or make full use of their great value. We have the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven at our disposal, and the calling of God to use them to impact our world. But like so many consumers, we put the gifts and callings of God away in a drawer and forget about them.

Pull them out! Redeem them! Experience the riches of your new life in Christ!

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NLT).

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5, NLT).

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Police Dole Out Gifts Not Tickets

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Topic: Christmas
Scripture: Isaiah 9:6
Source: “These Drivers Thought They Were Getting Tickets. Instead, Police Gave Them Christmas Gifts” by Kate Abbey-Lambertz, posted HUFFINGTON POST, 12/12/14
Author: Kate Abbey-Lambertz / Illustration Exchange

“Getting pulled over by a police officer can make a good day bad and a bad day worse. Unless, of course, he helps you with your Christmas shopping instead of writing you a ticket,” reports the HUFFINGTON POST:

In a video released Tuesday, the police department in Lowell, Michigan, did just that.* Over two days in November, Officer Scot VanSolkema stopped unsuspecting drivers for minor infractions, like illegally tinted windows, that the department might normally let slide, according to Today.

After he pulled them over, VanSolkema made small talk and sneakily asked drivers what they or their kids wanted for Christmas. Meanwhile, a group of helpers were standing by at a nearby store. As soon as they heard a driver’s Christmas wish, they’d race to find, buy, wrap and deliver it to VanSolkema.

Instead of tickets, the officer handed over gifts, like a new TV and an electric scooter. Drivers had reactions that turned from irritation into confusion before melting into joy, and, in some cases, hugs.

*Click link to source above to view the video.

Application:

Isn’t it sad that those who have been tasked with the job of “keeping the peace” usually evoke such a sense of fear and dread within us? There’s no doubt that those Lowell, Michigan, citizens were convinced that the officer approaching their car was there to drop the hammer and nail them on one infraction or another.

Some of that stems from our own sense of guilt and shame. We’re just sure that we must have done something wrong! And some of it stems from an expectation that those who are charged with keeping the law take some sort of perverted delight in catching us when we break it.

But on this day, all expectations were shattered. It’s important to note that the officer pulled over the drivers for legitimate reasons (illegal tinting or a burned out turn signal). Yet he chose to look right past the driver’s guilt to the driver’s need for those yet unfulfilled gifts on their Christmas lists.

This is exactly the way our gracious God chooses to deal with us each and every day!

While many of us see Him as the great “law keeper” in the sky, just waiting to nail us on one thing or another, the reality is exactly the opposite. He’s the great keeper of the peace Who has Himself already satisfied all the requirements of the Law, so that He can look right past our guilt to our need. And the best part is HE is our gift!

It shatters our expectations. It’s confusing. But let the reality sink in, then just melt into the joy!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

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There’s Always Room At His Table

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Topic: Thanksgiving
Scripture: Luke 14:23
Source: By Dave Isay from “Ties That Bind.” Also published in Reader’s Digest Magazine November 2013
Author: Illustration Exchange

In 1985, Scott Macaulay was 24 years old. His parents had just gotten a divorce. The adjustment was hard enough in and of itself, but it became more pronounced as Thanksgiving rolled around. “What’s going to happen at Thanksgiving? … I just did not like the thought of being home alone—or anywhere alone—on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not about gifts or fireworks or hoopla. It’s a meal around a table where you give thanks for the blessings you have, and you really can’t do that by yourself and have much fun.”

So Scott found a creative way to fill his home and his life with gratitude. “I decided to put an ad in the local paper: If people thought they would find themselves alone, they could give me a call, and I would make a Thanksgiving dinner.”

That first year, only a few people showed up. But Macaulay was committed to the thanksgathering. “I’ve held the dinner every year since. Last Thanksgiving, 84 people showed up.” This year (2014) he celebrates his 29th Thanksgiving meal.

For Macaulay, says writer Dave Isay, “There’s always room at his table.”

Application:

The Lord longs to gather everyone to His table of thanksgiving, so He sends us out to invite the whole world to come, not for a day, but for an eternity. There is always room at HIS table!

“So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full’” (Luke 14:23, NLT).

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Inoculate Yourself With Gratitude

Printer Friendly Topic: Gratitude
Author: John Henry Jowett / Illustration Exchange
Scripture: Philippians 4:8; Proverbs 17:22
Source: Illustration Exchange

“Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.”

— John Henry Jowett
[John Henry Jowett (1864-1922) was an English pastor and teacher who shepherded prominent churches in both England and America. Renown for his depth of Bible knowledge, his motto was, “I have had but one passion, and I have lived for it-the absorbingly arduous yet glorious work of proclaiming the grace and love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”]

Application:

Gratitude is a vaccine … by focusing on that which is praiseworthy, gratitude inoculates us against the disease of bitterness and resentment.

Gratitude is an antitoxin … by focusing on that which is praiseworthy we counteract the poisonous lie of the Evil One that says trials are proof that God has abandoned us.

Gratitude is an antiseptic … by focusing on that which is praiseworthy we sterilize our thoughts of all that would breed the germ of discontent.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

“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” (Philippians 4:8).

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No Expiration Date On Gratitude

Printer FriendlyTopic: Gratitude
Author: Barnett Gushin
Scripture: Luke 7:47; Ephesians 5:20
Source: Illustration Exchange

While eating and working at a local fast food restaurant, I excused myself to use the restroom. Upon entering the stall, I found a Xerox copy of a hand written note neatly displayed, resting in the leaves of a fake plant. Some of the words were traced with black marker for emphasis. It read exactly as printed below:

I, Susan, Drug Testimony

I was rich, beautiful, sun tanned and a jet-setter for 10 years. But I was A DRUG ADDICT (10 YEARS!) 14-24. My drug of choice was pharamecutical [sic] cocaine. I snorted 1-3 grams/day, took mescaline, peyote, Phenobarbital, seconals [sic], tuinals [sic], dalmane, sopeer 714s (methaqualone), methamphedamine [sic], 50 hits of L.S.D, plus I drank a six pack (or 2) of Heinekins daily. I was a garbage pail drug addict. Give me 50 pills I swallowed them without asking. I was high for 10 years of my life. I never came down, NOT ONCE!!!

I decided to have a baby. (Someone to love me) but I couldn’t quit. I went to N.A. (narcotics ananyous  [sic] AA (Alcoholics Anamyous [sic], psychiatrists. (That was smart, he put me on valium, and I became addicted to that).

I had a drug baby born critically ill with Diabetes, Malabsorption syndrome +2 congenital heart defects. I was SO SAD, I WANTED HER TO LIVE MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

I LOOKED UP ONE DAY AND SAID “IF THERE BE A God, remove this from me. HE DID!!! I Never Took A Drug Again (30+ years). He healed my body. He healed my baby.

Application:

Written inside a small heart at the bottom of the page were the words “Just Jesus.”

I borrowed the note, bringing it back to my table, just long enough to type it up on my laptop. Then I returned it to its place of display in the restroom. As I left the restaurant, I noticed she had placed one on the windshield of every car in the parking lot as well.

Two things impressed me about this public testimony:

First, she didn’t ruin the testimony by defacing the bathroom by writing on the wall or stall door.

Second, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, it’s been 30 years (30 years!) and she is still taking opportunity to broadcast far and wide her gratitude for Jesus and all He’s done for her. Time had not cooled her zeal, her love, her gratitude. I wondered how many other restrooms and windshields had been used as a platform to share her message of redemption over the years.

Thirty years later, Susan wants everyone to know there is hope, and that that hope is in Jesus. I guess there is no expiration date on hope and no expiration date on gratitude.

“I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love” (Luke 7:47, NLT).

“…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

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