Every Monday, I text Bible verses to some of my friends. I don’t have a “SEND ALL” option and I don’t send them to everybody. So, at the beginning of each week, I ponder different verses and ask God to show me which one I need to send. I love texting good strong words of encouragement like Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is with you”, or Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” Throughout the day I get responses like “Wow! I really needed that!” or “This was for me today!” It just how God’s Word works! It’s alive and active like Hebrews 4:12 says.
Occasionally, I feel compelled to send a verse that might not be the usual. Several months ago, one Monday’s verse was Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building other us…” Unwholesome doesn’t necessarily mean swearing, it can also be negativity or being unkind. (I didn’t write the Bible, I’m just the messenger sometimes.) It’s a good Scripture to remember, no matter who you are.
Even though it takes me a while to get them out, I always pray for the recipients before I hit SEND. I really am thankful for technology, especially on Monday’s. I thank the Lord for my phone and the people at Appalachian Wireless who make it all possible! (I sometimes picture Simon Peter-on of the disciples-saying “I really could’ve used that!)
This week’s verse is not the norm, either. Psalms 119:36-37: “Turn my heart to Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.” When it came to me on Sunday, I was a little puzzled. “Turn my eyes away from worthless things”? Holy smokes! What would everybody think? I have no clue who is pursuing “selfish gain” and I don’t know what they’re thinking about or have their eyes on! I sure hoped nobody thought I was judging them!
The verse came to me Sunday morning and I pondered it. Later on in the day, I went for a walk. I was already planning through November and December for our preschoolers, a newsletter we send out and the holidays in general. I contemplated putting up our new family Christmas tree and some red curtains I saw in a magazine. It’s less than two months away! Christmas would be here before I knew it and though we don’t typically buy presents, I want it to be a wonderful time and beautifully decorated, of course. My mind spinned as quickly as my feet moved.
Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks. The verse from Psalms 119 came back to me. I pulled out my phone to read it again. “Turn my eyes away from worthless things…” Holy smokes! That was for me! Going into the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I need to make sure I keep the main things the main things. So many people get caught up in the shopping and gift-giving, ending up overspent and overwhelmed. Yep, this was the verse to send this week!
I did get one “I needed that today!” response. If it didn’t apply now, it surely will at some point! Now, I’m wondering about you…have you too survived Halloween and plunged quickly into the turkey dinner planning while already decorating for the Christmas season? I know I have!
As we approach the holidays, let’s try to keep our eyes away from worthless things (a.k.a. stuff that really doesn’t matter). Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Thanksgiving is about being thankful. And Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.
I broke up with everybody on my shopping list several years ago. It was hard but changed our Christmas season forever in a good way. We were consumed with getting perfect presents for people who didn’t need anything. And we spent money we didn’t have! It was so stressful, we didn’t even get to enjoy the holiday season!
I’m not the boss of you, but if you need to stop the gift-giving frenzy, here’s what you do-ASAP: With a serious face, you say, “This year, we are not going to be buying gifts for everybody. We’re going to focus on the real meaning of Christmas,” and then don’t say anything for a minute. Nod your head in confirmation of what you just said and wait. (Or tell them your friend Dawn said you had to break up with everybody this year!) What could they say?! Then invite them over for grilled cheese, soup and a Christmas movie! It’ll be fun!
Or…this year, if you LOVE giving presents, give a gift that can really make a difference. Pick a child’s name from an angel tree. Get your family together and look at a charitable organization’s options to help needy around the world. Samaritan’s Purse is my favorite, but there are lots more! (I purchase chicks in my children’s helpers’ names each Christmas. With a dozen chicks, when they grow, there will be eggs to feed a whole family and some to sell.) A few years ago, my Sunday School class purchased a goat in my name at Christmastime! How cool is that?!
“Turn my eyes away from worthless things…” I don’t know if I’ve ever read that before but it’s worth remembering!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.