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Your Daily Advent Devotional
December 16, 2013


It’s a Wonderful Life

George Bailey is usually seen as the archetypal good guy, but, on closer inspection, he is rather like one of those cartoon characters with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.

Growing up in Bedford Falls, he learns Christian charity from his father and sees selfish evil in "Old Man" Potter. He follows his dad's good example, stands up for the little guy, and always puts others before himself, but the devil on his shoulder keeps tempting him with dreams of a better life in foreign places.

Eventually, when it seems none of those dreams will ever come true, that voice of failure and despair takes George to a bridge and convinces him to end it all. That's when Clarence, an angel in training, shows him the difference his life made to his hometown. If he'd gone travelling, as the devil kept telling him to, Mr. Potter would have ruined Bedford Falls and countless lives.

Realizing his sacrifices have been worthwhile, George asks God for a second chance. All the ingredients for a happy ending are in place--except one. It's Christmas Eve and he's about to lose his home!

Hearing that George and his family are in trouble, the townspeople gather all the cash they can spare and present it to him. For the first time George Bailey allows himself to be helped. For the moviegoers this is the point where the happy tears well up.

"Love thy neighbor." It's straightforward enough. "Give, and it shall be given unto you." We've heard it so often. But we have to allow our neighbor to love us as well. That's why the movie isn't complete until George Bailey, the man who spent his life helping others, is helped. When we finally understand that loving each other is why we are here, and we allow them to love us in return, that's when it truly does become a wonderful life!

Those Little Extras

•Philip Van Doren Stern wrote It's a Wonderful Life in 1939--after it came to him in a dream.
•The story was originally called "The Greatest Gift."
•The 1946 movie by Frank Capra was nominated for five Oscars. Amazingly, it won none!
•James Stewart played George Bailey; Donna Reed played his ever-supportive wife; Henry Travers was Clarence, the angel in training; and Lionel Barrymore played George Bailey's nemesis, Henry F. Potter.

To the Gift Giver

Lord, Your plans are bigger and better than my dreams. Help me see that. And help me see that my joy in doing Your work is not complete unless I can receive Your love as well as give it. May I share that joy with and through those who have much and those with nothing more than a smile to offer. Let me allow them what You allow me--the blessing of being able to give.

From the Gift Giver

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24

Other Wonderful Thoughts...

For it is in giving that we receive.
Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Franciscan Order

When you give of yourself,
you receive more than you give.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery,
French poet and Aviator

All of us, at certain moments of our lives, need to take
advice and receive help from other people.
Alexis Carrel,
French Nobel Prize Winner

All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the
heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what
they have asked and desired.
Martin Luther,
Leading figure in the Protestant Reformation


Excerpted from:

Excerpted from It’s a Wonderful Life © 2013, by Barbour Publishing, Inc., used by special permission granted solely for the use of


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