I wish you could meet my friend Vanessa! She’s the perfect example of the gospel bound in tennis shoes. When she began attending our Bible study, she was a single mom to three teenagers and, believe me, she’d had her share of “makings and breakings.” Maybe that’s why she had that special something, a contagious happiness, sparkly eyes, and a quick laugh—especially about jokes on herself.
Embrace new opportunities to give. Try to find something to give every day—whether a smile, a compliment, your time, a listening ear, a good meal, an item you don’t need, or a kind word. There is always something you can share or give to others.
Never be content with what you gave from your heart yesterday. Imagine each day as a fresh new opportunity to give as much as you can.
When the apostle Paul was writing about living a godly life, he listed what he called the “works of the flesh,” which included things like enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, and envy.1 He then followed up with “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”2 The fruit of the Spirit is the working of the Holy Spirit within us, which causes us to grow in godliness and Christlikeness.
A well-known story tells of a man who was walking along a beach at sunset and noticed a young boy in the distance who kept bending down, picking something up, and throwing it into the water.
As the man approached, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and was throwing them back into the water. The man asked the boy what he was doing.
One Friday evening a few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to set out some lounge chairs in our driveway and let our neighbors know we would be out there with drinks and snacks. I raided my fridge and found some chips and salsa, carrots and hummus, a tiny wedge of cheese, and some leftover M&Ms.
On the night of Jesus’ birth, angels appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks. “Glory to God in the highest,” they proclaimed, “and on earth peace, good will toward men!” These days, many of us may think of peace and good will as rather abstract virtues. Nevertheless, they are the secret ingredient that give Christmas traditions their meaning.
When the life of a follower of Jesus is lived as Jesus intended it to be, it becomes a thing of beauty. Being a Christian and having a relationship with God should be something that permeates our daily experiences, is integrated into our decisions, and brings color to our perceptions of ourselves, others, and this life.
Today, while visiting a small town, I learned yet again that when God says “Jump,” I should ask, “How high?” He always knows best.
I walked past a shipping depot and almost bumped into a man struggling to load a large tire into his 4x4 truck. I chuckled and said, “Looks like you’re getting tired!” (Yes, I have a propensity for joking with puns, forgive me.) He laughed back, and I continued walking.
Oddly enough, whenever I’m at the dentist’s office, there always seems to be one of those home makeover shows playing on the TV in the waiting room. The sound is muted, but you can follow along in the closed captioning if you’re interested—not that the dialogue is particularly exciting.
I was standing in the checkout line at one of our local stores and noticed the lady ahead of me was wearing a brightly colored T-shirt with a Bible verse on it. Then when she thanked the cashier, she said, “Dear, I hope you know Jesus loves you!”