Have you ever been stuck between a bad place and an even worse place? During this time have you wondered what God is doing and why He hasn’t intervened in the situation? When He doesn’t act as we expect, it’s tempting to lose hope, to give up, and start down the path of distrust. We often forget that God’s timing is different than ours. To experience the gift of hope, we must embrace it and the situations that God allows in our life. The beautiful gift-wrapped present of hope is right in front of you. Have you taken the ribbon off, torn away the paper and opened it? Let’s look at what this gift means, and how The Salvation Army offers it to the community.
Ask the women to bring shoe boxes and a small gift to be placed in the boxes. This could be hand lotion (fragrance free), box of nice chocolates, a gift card to Wal-Mart or the local grocery store. These decorated boxes can be handed out to the women who come to the corps for assistance this Christmas.
The Box of Hope
Supplies needed: shoe boxes of any size, acrylic paints, ribbons, plastic table covers, paper plates, small cups, paper towels, medium-sized paint brushes, artificial flowers, hot glue, blank cards, and crystal clear acrylic coating.
Paint the outside including the top and bottom of the shoe box with white paint and let dry. Add color and other decorations—silk flowers, ribbon, buttons. Spray the box with crystal clear acrylic coating and let dry. Place the gift inside along with an encouraging note, including appropriate Scripture verses. Some suggested verses: Ps.33:20, Ps. 33:22, Ps. 42:5, Ps. 62:5, Romans 12:12, Romans 15:13. Tie the box with a ribbon.
Gift of Hope for the World
Take one of the gift boxes and use it to collect monetary donations for World Services or the Child Sponsorship program. Share with the women how even the smallest amount of money can bring hope to those in great need. Contact your DHQ or THQ for information on these programs.
Cover tables with red or green tablecloths. Invite the women to bring their favorite ornament to share. These could be placed inside clear vases and used centerpieces. Or place pinecones and small round ornaments inside the vases.
Gift Christmas Poppers (Kid-Friendly)
This fun craft could also be handed out at the Christmas social service office. The women could also take them home to share with their grandchildren or those children who come to the corps for Sunday School or an after school program.
Supplies needed: wrapping paper, clear cellophane wrap, ribbons, recycled cardboard (center of a paper towel), mini M&M bags, printed M&M Christmas story, paper and scissors.
Cut the cardboard tube into three pieces. Cut pieces of wrapping paper large enough to fit around the cardboard. Cover the tubes with the paper. Print the M&M Christmas story on 3×5 pieces of paper that will fit inside the cardboard tube. Place a mini bag of M&Ms inside the tube. Cut the clear cellophane and wrap it around the tube leaving extra room on both ends. Tie the cellophane with ribbon.
Check the following website for the M&M Christmas story: https://www.scrapbook.com/poems/doc/7528.html
His Indescribable Gift
In the last verse of 2 Corinthians 9 Paul declares, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” In the earlier verses in this chapter Paul appeals to the Corinthians to go beyond supplying the basic needs of the people so that their actions and deeds would be an overflowing expression of thanks to God. It is certainly important to thank God for the abundance He has given us. Our giving graciously leads others to also praise God. Second Corinthians 9:12–15, MSG reads, “Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, His gift. No language can praise it enough!”
Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians and to us are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and spread the gospel through word and deed. With Christmas before us, God did just that for His creation. He gave generously, He gave cheerfully, He gave His son Jesus Christ to all who would accept Him.
In Mathew 2:1-12, we read about the Magi who came from the East to visit Jesus. When they met Him, they fell down and worshipped Him, acknowledging His lordship and kingship. Thus, they presented to all those around the gift of testimony. They also brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These treasures were significant as they testified of the hope that was before them that day. Gold, which is symbolic of Christ’s kingship and deity, frankincense, representing His purity as Priest, and myrrh, which points to His atoning work as a prophecy of His death, and resurrection, the culmination of this gift of hope.
This ties in with The Salvation Army’s mission. As the wise men gave of their treasures, talent, and time, we Salvationists believe we should give these same things to a world that feels hopeless. The Salvation Army believes that through our actions, we give others the gift of testimony of who Jesus is. We bring them the gift of hope by showing them His love and faithfulness. When we testify of His holiness and faithfulness and all He has done for us, we speak hope in unspeakable situations. We too become wise men. Let us give the gift of hope this season and spread it cheerfully and generously.
- Why is it important that those who confess Christ as Lord and Savior continually give the gift of testimony?
- How can we share the gift of hope to those we encounter on a daily basis in a way that shares God’s deity/kingship, purity as Priest, and sacrifice (through His death and resurrection)?
- Share moments in your life when you gave generously of your time, talents, and/or money. What happened?
- Why does Christian generosity so clearly reflect our Savior?