Archive for the ‘Salvation Army’ Category

In the run up to Christmas each year millions of pounds are spent on gifts. So in the last few weeks I, like many of you will have started to think about what gifts to buy my family and friends for Christmas this year. So out of curiosity I wondered how much on average we spend on Christmas presents each year, in the UK. It turns out that the figure varies dramatically depending on who you ask or where you look, but the average seems to range from between £350 to just under £1000!

Whether we are planning on spending anything like those amounts of money on gifts this year, or our budget is much less, the gifts we buy can still be fantastic and memorable for the receiver.

The most meaningful presents we receive might not come wrapped in shiny paper or frilly ribbons. They are often the ones that lift your spirit, brighten your day or trigger your imagination or memories. So I wonder what was the most memorable or best gift you have ever received for Christmas?

I decided to ask some of friends what was the best gift they ever received for Christmas. Here’s some of the answers I got.

  1. I would say for me it has to be between the laptop I got last year or the ps4 I got two years ago.
  2. I was given a gift bag filled with little stuff (a cd, stud earrings, a little book etc) that probably wasn’t worth much to anyone else. But each gift had a little post it note explaining why they’d brought that or what it was about the thing that had made them think of me. It was so thoughtful and made me feel special.
  3. A Levi red tab denim jacket I got when I was 12.  We didn’t buy or wear “things that had labels”. I remember sleeping in it in case my parents decided to return it. We also didn’t have masses of money and I had an idea that it must have been quite expensive. Honestly, best present ever – I still have it and I’m now 40! My nieces now fight over who gets to wear it as it’s now ‘vintage’.
  4. The huge big teddy bear I got when I was 7 – it was almost bigger than me – I still have him.
  5. A few years ago in my last job I had a really tough year because of a serious health problem but carried on working when I could. When I was in the office some of the guys would put bits of paper on my desk with positive quotes, and I loved that. Then that Christmas, one of them sent me a Happy Box – It’s a box containing lots of bits of paper with lots of positive quotes. So now whenever I am feeling low, I just open the box and take out one of the. And yes, it’s not solving my health problems but at least I always end up with a smile on my face.

Have you thought of the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

The real message of Christmas is not the gifts that we give to each other. Instead it is a reminder of the gift that God has given to each of us, the gift of Jesus. There is one final ‘best gift’ story from a friends that I want to share with you

  • My mother-in-law gave my family a stocking with the name “JESUS” written across it. Each year on Christmas morning my family writes a letter to Jesus and puts it into the stocking.
  • This is a tradition my husband and his family have been doing since he was little. They have yet to open and read any of these letters, but they are a constant reminder each year as we begin to decorate our tree and wrap our presents, that the greatest gift we have is Jesus.
  • This gift has guaranteed my family will take time to focus on the Lord during the festive season.

I was really touched this – the way they start each festive season by focusing on Jesus is such a great way to ensure they never forget the reason we celebrate Christmas.

2 Corinthians 9:15 (TPT)

Praise God for his astonishing gift, which is far too great for words!

The best Christmas gift we will ever receive isn’t a gift someone placed under a Christmas tree for us, but was a gift of great sacrifice, the best gift from God, of His Son, Jesus Christ, who came into this world in the simplest and humblest of surroundings.

Romans 6:23 (NIV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 5:11 (NIV)

This is the true testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life has its source in his Son.

This year as we look forward to opening the gifts we’ve received from our friends and family on Christmas morning, remember that no matter how great or meaningful those gifts may be, they will never be comparable to the best gift we can ever receive – God’s gift to us of his Son. So next time you’re asked what the greatest gift you’ve ever received is, I hope like me your answer is

‘Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory;
at his feet, we humbly fall,
crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Praying our way through the day is equally as important as devoting set-apart time to prayer. I believe God wants us to offer up acknowledgments of Him, make requests, and offer thanksgivings throughout each day. Learn to let prayer be as comfortable as breathing!

~ Joyce Meyer Ministries

Praying shouldn’t be a chore, in fact it should be the complete opposite – It should be something we do naturally because we want to, rather than something we do just when we can fit it in to our busy lives.

Just as we always want to talk to our friends and family, so we should want to talk to God whenever we can. So pray each day about everything and anything, whenever and wherever you are. God hear every one of your prayers.

Christmas!

Having got to the start of December and feeling as if it couldn’t possibly be less than four weeks until Christmas, I am now beginning to feel as if Christmas isn’t too far away!

As many of you will know I’m a member of the Salvation Army – I attend the Bellshill Salvation Army and am a member of the band. So now we’re into December our Christmas carolling and other Christmas engagements are now in full swing.

So guess who has now got Christmas carols, and arrangements of band Christmas pieces going round their head every day now? Yes, that’ll be me!

There’s a couple of pieces in particular that I keep thinking about, but it’s Mary Did you Know? that has  particularly touched me this year. Here’s Pentatonix singing this beautiful song.

A couple of weeks ago in Clear Out, I spoke about how we’d been clearing out desks and cupboards in our office. Well last week we moved from one floor in our building to another, all so the floor we were on could get a lick of paint and a new carpet.

Even the day before we had to be empty the floor we were on, we were still uncovering more papers/documents/items which no-one had claimed or gone through. We even came across some documents down the back of a cabinet from someone we didn’t know, who must have previously used the cupboard – we discovered the documents must have been there for a when one of my colleagues told us that she knew the person named in the document had left the organisation a number of years ago.

Once again this reminded me that sometimes, even when we say we’ve ‘cleared out’ all our troubles, all our concerns by giving them all to God, there is often still a few deep seated things that we hang onto and take with us.

Just as we sometimes have to dig deep into cupboards to clear out everything in them, so we have to dig deep into our lives and our hearts, and truly let go of all things which cause of pain or trouble us by giving them all to God.

Light is used to symbolise God, faith or holiness throughout scripture.

Restore us, O God, and cause Your face to shine upon us, that we may be saved.

Psalm 80:3

Shine on us

Lord, let Your light
Light of Your face
Shine on us (repeat)

That we may be saved
That we may have life
To find our way
In the darkest night
Let your light shine on us

Lord, let your grace
Grace from Your hand
Come over us (repeat)

That we may be saved
That we may have life
To find our way
In the darkest night
Let Your grace come over us

Lord, let Your love
Love with no end
Come over us (repeat)

That we may be saved
That we may have life
To find our way
In the darkest night
Let Your love come over us
Let your grace fall on us
Let Your light shine on us

Shine on us, O Lord

When we’re lost, a light can be all we need to guide us to safety. When we’ve lost all hope, a light can be all we need to reassure us that there is hope for us.

Let God shine on us, today and every future day.

Light is used to symbolise God, faith or holiness throughout scripture.

For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

Psalm 18:28 (KJV)

A burning candle can light even the darkest of rooms. It can not just light a darkened room but can show those in the room what is around them, and can guide them to a place of safety and security.

God’s love is just like that – His love can brighten even the darkest of times. And if we trust him, he will guide us through those times to a place of safety in his loving arms.

When we trust someone, we believe in them. We believe they won’t let us down, and will always be there for us.

Sadly, when we put our trust in others, they often let us down. They turn out not to be the reliable, faithful friend we thought they were.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Passion Translation)

Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make. Become intimate with him in whatever you do, and he will lead you wherever you go.

As we’re told in Proverbs, God is the one we should be putting our trust in. He can always rely on Him, because He’s always by our side.

Trust in Him, always.

Let’s be honest, it can be really difficult at times to believe God is still listening to your prayers. And even more difficult to believe he will answer them when he doesn’t answer them when or how you want.

When we go through difficult times in our life, that’s when we trust God more than ever. However because we are human, we do doubt him, and doubt his plans for us.

I love the song Don’t Doubt Him Now, not just the beautiful melody, but also because I can really relate the words. The message is clear, don’t doubt him now, instead trust in God’s love and turn your care to gladness.

Don’t doubt Him now
Don’t lift your heart to sorrow
Though all around seems in such disarray
God’s love is sure, sustaining through tomorrow
Dispelling doubt that only brings despair
Don’t doubt Him now, don’t doubt Him now.

Trust in God’s love to turn your care to gladness
Prove for yourself the merits of His grace
Find in His strength the will to shake off sadness
Discover too the warmth of His embrace
Trust in God’s love, don’t doubt Him now.

Your faith in Him will gladden every morning
The days ahead will more His goodness show
Your heart with trust fulfils the Father’s longings
And in return His love He will bestow
Have faith in Him, don’t doubt Him now.

Time to do what?

Do you feel like time flies past of does every second seem to tick by so very slowly?

I guess the answer to both these questions depends on many factors, here’s some examples

  • whether you’re at school, or college, working or retired
  • whether you have lots to keep you busy all day, maybe even too many things
  • if you’re looking forward to something in the near future, the time always seems to go very slowly
  • if you’re facing something you’re not looking forward to, that time comes so very quickly

Time is strong isn’t it, as you can be sitting beside the same person for a whole day doing the same job, but they might think the day has flown by, but you feel it has dragged.

Whether your day and week have flown by or dragged, I hope you made time for God each day.

Here’s the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army playing Take Time…

In yesterday’s blog post (New world), I spoke about how God has our future under control, because He’s already planned our future.

But how to reach that new world, that future place? If we trust God, he will direct and guide us along the path he has planned for us. As we follow God’s plan for our lives, we need to share God’s message of love and hope for tomorrow, with those we come into contact with. If we each do that, more people will hear and see God’s message in action, and hopefully feel God’s presence in their lives. The more who accept God as Lord, the better place this world will become.

So help God make this world a new and better world to live in, by sharing your story, and sharing your faith with others.