Just as Gideon made a difference, you
can make a difference in the lives of others -- in
your family, school, church, community, and world!
The world needs you -- your ideas, your compassion,
and your spiritual outlook. And, it's never too late
to start contributing. The best gifts are those from
Background information on Gideon
After Joshua died, the Israelites wavered in their
trust in God. When they started following other gods,
one of which was Baal, they had to struggle to maintain
their freedom, and eventually ended up oppressed by
the Midianites. For seven years, the Israelites hid
out in caves and dens in the mountains because the
Midianites attacked, destroyed their crops, and took
their livestock (Judges 6:1-10).
Along came Gideon, a member of the weakest clan of
the twelve tribes of Israel, Manassah, and the youngest
of his father's family. In fact, when God sent an
angel to tell Gideon that he would free his people,
Gideon didn't really think he could do it (Judges
6:11-16). So, Gideon tested God a few times. God,
patient with Gideon, answered each request he made
(Judges 6:17-25, 36-39).
But God wanted His people to understand that His
power was what would truly save them, not weapons,
military might, human strength, or their "own
hand" (Judges 6:2). God had already had Gideon
destroy the altar of Baal. And now, God shaved Gideon's
army down from approximately 32,000 to 300 men. With
those 300 men, Gideon defeated the Midianites.
Whenever it seems that we are outnumbered, it helps
to remember, "One on God's side is a majority."
Be like Gideon and
help free others from the oppression of fear, loneliness,
loss, or lack. You can do this yourself or with a
small group. Thanksgiving is a great time to make
- There are some people who are alone. This may
be the first Thanksgiving without their spouses.
Their families may be gone or may not be able to
be with them at the holidays. Others are unable
to travel anywhere for Thanksgiving. Some are afraid
of being alone. Decide to help these people, even
if you don't know them very well.
- Invite them over to your house for Thanksgiving.
- If they can't get to your house, ask them
what they'd like to do for Thanksgiving. You
could bring them a turkey dinner. Or you could
cook it there. You could even bring your family
over there for Thanksgiving.
- Other people are even less fortunate: they are
at shelters; they have no money; etc.
- Visit the shelters and take food and clothes.
- Help out at a soup kitchen.
- Join or start a food drive.
- If there's someone in your neighborhood who
is less fortunate, buy groceries (you could
even buy them a whole Thanksgiving dinner and
put it in a cooler) and leave them on their
doorstep (when you know they're coming home).
It's sometimes best to do this anonymously so
they don't feel in your debt.
Make sure you ask your parents for their input about
how you can best help others, and check with them
about putting these ideas into practice. And remember,
these gifts can be given all year long.
You can also make a difference
by giving yourselves and others the gift of gratitude:
- Write down a gratitude list. Make it as comprehensive
as possible. Don't forget to include:
- What easily comes to thought;
- The things you take for granted;
- People, ideas that have influenced you for
- Animals, things, countries you appreciate;
- God and all He has done for you.
- Share your gratitude with others:
- Decide with whom you want to share -- family
members, friends, teachers, mentors.
- Tell them you're grateful for them. Thank
them for something they have done for you.
- Be specific.
- Be sincere.
- Notice the response -- how you feel, how you've
made them feel, how your gratitude affects your
relationship with them.
- Make this gratitude sharing a habit.
- Read "The
Power of Gratitude" to explore the positive
effects of gratitude.
Enjoy helping others (and yourself) feel a sense
of freedom by giving -- giving them whatever will
help meet their needs.