The Best Gift

This time of year can be so hectic. We often tell ourselves at the beginning of the Christmas season, that this year we will slow down and take the time to enjoy it. At least I know I do.  Maybe you do too.   I say I will take time to reflect on what Christmas really means.  Then, oftentimes my best intentions get lost in the busyness of the season, and before you know it Christmas is over.  

I don’t know what happens to the time and how it all rushes past so quickly.  Each year it seems to go faster and faster.   I love to listen to  the lyrics of the song “I Need A Silent Night” by Amy Grant.  It really speaks to all the busyness and craziness that goes on.  It seems like each year gets a little more over the top.  Decorating, shopping, expectations etc.  If we’re not aware, we can start to feel like we need to do more, buy more, and be more, or it simply won’t be good enough.  

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to do all those things we do for Christmas.  I love presents as much as the next person.  I love to give presents, and I like to get presents too.  What’s not to like?  But how did that become the main focus of the season? And what have we done with Jesus?

Lets hit the rewind button and go back a couple thousand years to talk about a truly, crazy busy time.  Mary and Joseph were betrothed, and Mary was pregnant with Jesus.  The Bible doesn’t really tell us what they were doing at this time in their lives. I’m assuming like couples today that are expecting, they prepare things for the new baby.  Then boom! Out of the blue an order comes  from Caesar Augustus that he wants a census. Mary and Joseph are required to go to Bethlehem because Joseph is of the house of David.  

Imagine their thoughts.  From what I have read it was probably anywhere from 70 to 90 miles.  With Mary pregnant.  On the back of a donkey.  If you have ever been pregnant you know how uncomfortable it can be just to sit anywhere at the end of your pregnancy. Never mind days on the back of a donkey, being bounced up and down like a sack of flour. 

It’s really not something you would choose to do.  I wonder what Joseph’s thoughts were about taking his highly pregnant betrothed on a journey such as this.  Did they bring baby things in case the baby was born while they were gone?  Diapers?  Baby clothes?  We don’t know.  We do know there were no hospitals or Urgent Care’s along the way where she could have stopped to give birth.  

Then they finally reach their destination, only to find there are no rooms to be had. No way to check online for local hotels with vacancies either. Like most of us, I was always taught that Jesus was born in a stable.  I have also heard it was a cave or a barn. Another thought I read recently, is that it was likely a downstairs room of a private house, where animals were often brought in at night.  We just don’t know for sure.  We do know it wasn’t a Hilton. Or a birthing room, where you can take a hot shower after delivering. There was likely not a lot of privacy and surely no room service. No ice chips to suck on, or nurses tending to your needs.   That must have been a crazy time.  

In comparison, it puts all our running around in a different perspective.  I imagine that if you were to research when gift giving started as a celebration of Christmas,  gifts were likely given to represent the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus.  He did not receive an Xbox or a stuffed animal, or in fact any kind of toy or baby item.  Gold, frankincense and myrrh.  There’s another whole story involved in theories on why those particular gifts.  Check it out for yourself.  

So how did it turn into the craziness that we have today?  With Black Friday, stores being open 24 hours, people getting run over in the rush to be first in line to get the deals.  Grown ups fighting for toys so their child will get the latest gadget.  Craziness.

Meanwhile, in towns and cities and schools across the nation there are those who try and erase all mention of Jesus, and the whole reason we celebrate Christmas to begin with.   Christ-mas.  He was born as a gift to us.  The best gift we could ever hope to receive.  Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” 

Of all the presents that will be exchanged this year, not one of them will last forever.  By next year we probably won’t remember most of them.  But the gift of Jesus being born is still being talked about more than 2,000 years after the fact.  And it will be talked about through all of eternity.  

In these next couple of weeks as we celebrate, may we make time to slow down, and remember what we are really celebrating.  Maybe take time to read in Luke 2 the story of Jesus’s birth.  Give thanks to God for the gift of Jesus and for all the other blessings in our lives.  Let go of some things that you think you “have” to do that stress you out. Enjoy the company of friends and loved ones.  Celebrate the season before it’s gone.

I pray you all Have a a blessed and Merry Christ-mas!

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Searching For The Christmas Spirit

Spoiler alert! For those of you who have been reading my blog since last year this blog may sound familiar to you. I have made a few revisions but I think it’s just as true this year as it was last year. 

I can’t believe it’s getting so close to Christmas.  Talk about time flying.  Usually, its somewhere around this time of year that I, and probably some of you, start to think; hey it doesn’t seem much like Christmas.  Often, I don’t think we even know what it is that we are looking for.  Or, exactly what it is, that we feel we are missing.

If I were to ask a bunch of people what they think the Christmas spirit feels like, we would all have different answers.  I think some might depend on when and where we grew up. Or how we celebrated Christmas as a child. Maybe what we enjoyed about Christmas or happy memories we might have of times past.

If you grew up where there was snow you might think; it doesn’t feel like Christmas if there is no snow on the ground.  Or,  maybe we think we just need to get the tree, and put up the lights. Or listen to carols, make cookies, drink hot chocolate, see Santa, or go to the mall. Sometimes we think it’s all those things we have to do,  for it to feel like Christmas.  Sometimes, even when we have all those things, it still feels like something is missing.  

I don’t have all the answers.  Often I think we are trying to recreate something that can never be re-created. We have changed.  Circumstances have changed. We can’t go back in time to what we remember.  

I think the Christmas spirit is more a heart thing.  I don’t have a lot of vivid Christmas memories from when I was young.  And I know that all our Christmas’s were not perfect.  There was stress on my parents back then, just like there is stress on all of us now.  

When I do think about Christmas, and the feeling of Christmas when I was growing up, there are a few memories that stand out.  My dad reading The Night Before Christmas to us on Christmas Eve.  Relatives coming to Christmas dinner.  Walking to the drugstore one dark snowy night to get a Christmas gift for my parents. The crunching snow, the feel and smell of the air.  Visiting with family and friends.  Standing outside my grandmother’s house one cold snowy Christmas eve.  Looking at her lights and the stars and just sensing the presence of God-though I doubt I even knew what it was at that time in my life.  

We were not wealthy.  We didn’t receive huge amounts of gifts. Some toys,  some clothes, and a stocking of course.  It wasn’t the gifts, or the amount of money that was spent. And we surely didn’t go all out decorating like Chevy Chase on Christmas Vacation.  In fact,  I don’t recall ever even using outdoor lights.  It wasn’t extravagant parties.  It was family and friends taking time to spend time together.  It seemed like a much simpler time.  Easier to find that Christmas spirit.  Maybe we just remember things that way.  Maybe my parents if I could ask them, would disagree and say it was too busy of a time for them too.  

All these things that we work so hard to get done, gifts that we buy and wrap and send, are all so fleeting.  We likely won’t even remember most of it next year.  Maybe we could just take some time to slow down, and just pay attention to what’s around us.  Give someone a hug.  Take a long walk.  Do something for someone in need.  Play with a child.  Put away our watch and our cell phones and tablets and just….live.  Seek God.  Thank Him daily and often.  Sing carols at the top of our lungs just because we can. Look at Christmas through the eyes of a child.  With wonder, and excitement.

Maybe, just maybe, if we do that,  when we aren’t looking, we might find ourselves enjoying this time and truly celebrating Christmas.  No matter whether it fits our preconceived ideas of how it should be, or not.  

Ask your parents, or your grandparents, if you are blessed enough to still have them with you, or you could ask your older children what their favorite Christmas memories are.  Though some of it may be special gifts that they received, chances are many of them will say the same things I did.  Special times with those we hold dear.  

 There’s really only one thing we need to remember to have joy at Christmas.  Luke 2: 10-12: “ Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

If you have any special thing you or your family do to get in the Christmas spirit please feel free to leave a comment! 

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Hidden Things

Recently, my friend had surgery to remove a growth in her lung. (Not cancerous, Praise God). Afterwards, we were talking about how it seems so odd, to have something like that growing inside you, and you don’t even realize it’s there. We talked about other people we knew, or had heard of, that had had growths removed that were even larger. Some, grapefruit size or bigger. Many times the person had no idea it was even there. Some were told these things could have been growing inside them for years.

We take such care of the outside of our bodies, and pay a lot of attention to how we look, or how we dress. But, when you think about it, what we see on the outside is a small fraction of our makeup. There’s so much more going on in the inside of us, that we can’t see, and usually don’t even think about all that much. 

 For instance, we don’t see our inner organs or how they work. We don’t see our heart pumping, or our stomach digesting. We can’t see our blood flowing, or our cell’s regenerating. Needless to say, although these things are not visible from the outside, they are a huge, important part of us. 

Another thing that we may not always be aware of,  are things that may be hidden in our souls. Some of those things may also have been lurking inside of us for years or even decades. In some cases, maybe even a good part of our lives. 

Those things that are hidden in our souls can also be quite dangerous to us. Because some of those things can affect our lives, or our relationships with others, and even our relationship with God. 

From the outside, we can’t see those hidden roots, whose tendrils may have kept us a prisoner of sorts all these years. Roots of things like perhaps bitterness, or resentment. Fear or rejection. Roots of anger or pride. Roots of unbelief or shame. We often don’t recognize how those things may have had a part in shaping who we are today, or how they may have influenced decisions we’ve made in our lives. 

 Those types of things may be so ingrained in our thinking patterns that they have become a real stronghold in our minds. Sometimes keeping us from moving forward with God’s plan for our life. Unfortunately, we can’t use X-rays or CAT scans to find those types of  hidden things. But praise God! There is help. The Word of God gives us all the instructions and hope that we need, so that we can be set free from these hidden things once and for all. 

When we focus on the Word of God, it shines a light on areas that may be an issue for us. Hebrews 4:12 says “ For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Anyone who watches any of those fixer upper type shows, knows that it’s not always what you see on the outside, that causes the biggest problems. It’s when they start pulling apart those walls and floors that we can see what’s been going on out of sight. Perhaps it’s mold, or rot, plumbing issues or pest problems. We do know that if there’s an issue behind a wall or under a floor, that just slapping a coat of paint on it doesn’t fix it. The root of the problem needs to be addressed and fixed first.

Of course on the flip side of hidden things, there are also good things that are hidden. This time of year we hide gifts from loved ones so they don’t find them before Christmas. We have gold and minerals and natural resources hidden in the earth.  Or buried treasure. We also have many strengths and gifts hidden within each of us. 

I found a hidden treasure the other day as I was cleaning in my garage. I was going through a box of old papers, and I came across a Mother’s Day card, with a letter, that my Mom had written to me 30 years ago.  I had completely forgotten I even had that letter. My Mom has been gone many years now so that made it a treasure of great worth to me.

The greatest treasures we could ever find, are hidden in the Word of God. Yet, just as we sometimes have to mine gold and search for it, we have to spend time in the Word to discover its greatest treasures. The Lord has hidden things in His Word for us, not from us. We just need to seek to find them.

Luke 8:17 tells us “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” If we are hiding something that we don’t want known by others, that could be a frightening scripture. Personally, I find it to be rather comforting. 

As I quoted above from Hebrews, the Word shows us the thoughts and intents of the heart. I’m so grateful for that. My desire is that every ungodly thought and intent of my heart and every dangerous root would be revealed and rooted out of my life. Often we can’t see these things on our own. Proverbs 21:2 tells us “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.”

We generally don’t see ourselves, or our faults, as those around may, but nothing is hidden from the Lord. As for me, I would rather have Lord reveal these things rather than to perhaps have them revealed by others, in a way that might not be fun. The Lord is kind and gentle. When He reveals a thing to us, it is for our own good, so that we might change and become more like Jesus. When the world reveals our faults and character flaws it is usually done in a judgmental way and more to cause harm than good.

It can be comforting when we think of “hidden things being known and coming to light”, when we think about it in regards to the gifts and callings in our lives that we may not know about yet. Sometimes the Lord waits for us to be ready before He reveals them to us. Let those hidden things come to light!

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23-24

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“Free”

Last week I listed an item in the free section of our local Craigslist group. I thought, we’ll just give it away free, be a blessing to someone else. Easy peasy right? Not so much. On the first day several people were interested, so I contacted the first person who had responded. She said great, yes, I want it! So I wait all day. No show. Day two different person, much the same thing. Rather frustrating.

Mind you, I’m giving you the Reader’s Digest Condensed version. Suffice it to say there were multiple texts to multiple people, before someone finally showed up to take it on Day 3. I thought to myself, it shouldn’t be this hard! It’s not like we’re asking for money or anything else. We are just looking to give something away free to whosoever will come and get it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always have a lot of patience when people say they want something, and then don’t come and get it or even call. I mean really! It was free!

Then it occurred to me. Can we not be like this with the Lord sometimes? Jesus died on the cross for us, so that we could have the free gift of salvation, which includes eternal life with Him. Yet how many times a day, does He stand knocking at the door of millions or even billions of peoples hearts, only to have them not be willing to receive their free gift? There’s no cost to us, Jesus already paid the price.  But still He waits, patiently knocking. We don’t have to be the first one to answer an ad. His offer is for everyone, and available to anyone that chooses to accept it.

I’m so thankful that He doesn’t just lose patience with us, give up, and walk away. Aren’t you? I wonder how many times He knocked on the door of my heart, before I opened it and received Him and His gift? How many times did He knock on yours? Is He still knocking and waiting for you to allow Him to come in? If so, what are you waiting for? None of us are promised tomorrow, and I assure you there is nothing or no one else in this world that can compare.

 Salvation is the most wonderful gift we could ever receive. And along with that gift we get so much more.

We get to have a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. Someone who loves us unconditionally all the time. Someone we can talk to 24/7, 365 days a year. We become a new creature in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

All the promises in the Word are now ours. Everything that the Lord says about us in the Bible, or anything it says is ours, we are free to claim as our own.

When we receive Jesus we become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We become children of God and joint heirs with Jesus. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. We’re the head and not the tail. We’re the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Ambassadors for Christ. We have the mind of Christ, and redemption through His Blood. We are accepted in the beloved and more than conquerors through Him who loved us.         

There’s so much more! Jesus came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. He gave us His whole armor that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the enemy. We are redeemed from the curse of the law because Jesus became a curse for us. We are called of God and He has a plan for our lives.

I could keep on going and going but there’s not enough space to cover everything. When have you ever been offered anything so wonderful? Jesus came to earth as a baby so that He could later die as a sinless man to reconcile us to God, thus making the way for us to receive His ultimate gift. The Lord loves us so much He does not want anyone to be lost.  2 Peter 3:9 tells us “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 

We do not have to get our lives in order and be perfect before we turn to Jesus. Romans 5:8 states “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were still sinners. Not while we were already perfect. Our part is just to be willing to turn to Jesus as our Savior and be willing to let Him be the Lord of our lives.

There is only one path to God and that is through Jesus. When Jesus was speaking in John 14:6, He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

If we choose not to take things like my free Craigslist item, or the multiple “free” things we may be offered online everyday, it’s not a big deal. We may not get the free item but it doesn’t affect our eternal lives. If we choose not to receive Jesus there are eternal consequences. Heaven is real but so is Hell. The Lord loves us so much He doesn’t want anyone to go there. 

There are multiple scriptures in the Bible that talk of Hell. Matthew 13: 49-50 is just one example.  So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”Hell is not a place where anyone would willingly want to be. 

The Lord is a gentleman. He will not force His way into your life. He gave us free will, it’s up to us to choose. God does not send anyone to Hell. Those who exercise their free will by deciding not to accept Jesus will spend eternity separated from Him in Hell. It’s our choice where we will spend eternity.

Choose wisely. Your life depends on it.

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A Runaway Train

Have you ever had times when it seemed your emotions were like a runaway train? They get started down that track, and try as you might, you feel helpless to stop them. How does that happen? Where does it come from? Sometimes it all starts with a thought.

You know if you were to ask yourself where the thought came from, if it’s a negative thought, it’s not from the Lord. Yet sometimes, instead of refusing to believe that thought, we think it, maybe even meditate on it. Perhaps we even start to believe it. Then come the emotions.

The roots of some of these negative emotions can go back even to our earliest memories. They are nothing new in the world. These roots and emotions have been around almost since time began. 

Have you found the more you think on those kinds of thoughts, the worse you feel? They can lead you to emotions like sadness, rejection, jealousy, bitterness, fear, worry, or the feeling of being unworthy, unwanted or unloved. Or any number of other unhealthy emotions. The problem is, once you start allowing any of those negative emotions to rule you, they do become like that train. If we don’t consciously do something to stop them, they just keep rolling along. 

Sometimes if we are aware of those thoughts in our minds, and we are vigilant, we are smart enough not to board that train. Other times, perhaps we may be overtired, or our guard is down, or we are feeling vulnerable and before we know it we are thinking those thoughts. That’s when the trouble can begin. 

In my experience I have found when we start having those troubling thoughts and emotions there can be two major culprits behind them. Fear and/or unbelief and doubt. All of which are from the enemy.

We begin to think things like, I can’t do it. I’m afraid. I’m not good enough. People don’t like me. I don’t have what I need. I need more. I don’t pray enough. I should do more. I should do less. Or, if we allow worry to set in the what if’s begin to chime in. What if I can’t meet my needs? What if I lose my job? My friends, my house, my dog. What if I’m not smart enough, or thin enough, or just enough? You get the drift. Or here’s one. What if God is tired of me and the way I am and the things I do?

Did you notice one thing in common on all those statements? I. Me. My. When our thoughts and emotions spiral in that downward direction all we can think about is ourselves. 

Emotions themselves are not bad. They can be wondrous things. Love, joy, peace, happiness, contentment etc.  The Lord gave us emotions to help us and to use, not to harm us or to harm others. We are to rule our emotions they are not to rule us.

Sometimes we may not even know why we are feeling so down. Have you ever asked yourself something similar to what the Psalmist asked in Psalm 43:5 “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me”  When we do wonder why we feel that way, we can remember the second part of that phrase. “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” Verse 6.

Praising God is one place we always find the answer for those runaway thoughts and emotions. When we purposefully focus on praising Him and thanking Him, for all that He is, and all that He does, there is no room in our minds for those negative thoughts.

It may not be easy. There are times it may be a battle to focus on praise. You may have to keep forcing your mind to go in the direction you want it to go. Left to it’s own devices the mind goes places we don’t want it to go. Sometimes it truly is a sacrifice of praise.

We can also ask the Lord to help us manage our emotions in a healthy way so that they don’t manage us. Jesus walked this earth as a human and He understands our struggles. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us “ For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

I don’t know about you but this type of runaway train is one I have been on all too often in my life. I would like to stay off that train and never climb back on.

The next time your thoughts go in that direction there is no better advice than Hebrews 4:16. “ Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” All we need to do is ask.

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Seasons

Do you look forward to the start of a new season? I’m talking about in the natural. Weather changing, calendar types of seasons. I know I sure do. After a long cold winter who doesn’t look for those first signs of spring? Or, after a long hot summer I love it when we can turn off the a/c and throw the windows open. And it’s even better when we have to close them at night because it’s getting chilly! Ahhh. I so love the fall!

Here in parts of the southeast we have been waiting for that elusive fall weather to settle in to stay.  I have to say, we have had some gorgeous fall-like days. But then, interspersed between them, we have also gone back to that, are you sure it’s not July, cause its mid to high 80’s, and way too hot and sticky for October kind of weather! It’s on days like those that we can especially long for the change in season, and wonder when will ever it come.  

Our seasons of life with the Lord can be like that sometimes too. We have those seasons in our lives where everything is going along really well. We tend to like it that way and would love for everything to stay just the way it is. Or we can have those seasons where nothing seems to go right, you just can’t seem to hear from God where He wants you to go from here, and you are so ready for a new season.

Both types of seasons have something in common. They both will eventually change. Like one country song says “life’s about changes, nothing ever stays the same”. And really, that’s a good thing. As much as there can be times we think we would like things to stay the same, if they did it would get really boring. If things were always the same we wouldn’t change, and we wouldn’t grow. We’d become stagnant. Perhaps we would even spend less time with the Lord, thinking we didn’t need Him right then. No matter what season we are in, every season of our lives has something to teach us if we are willing to learn.

James 5:7 says “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.” Farmers know that when they plant the seed in the soil, they won’t be able to see what’s going on underground. They have to patiently wait for it to grow and poke up out of the dirt.  So too, the Lord has planted things in us that will appear in due season. It may be that in those hard seasons where we think nothing is happening, that is when the Lord is using our circumstances to work out those things in our lives to perfection.

Each season has its appointed time, and as Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us there is “a time for every purpose under heaven”. In our natural selves, we would love for each season to be good. Everyone happy, no strife, no stress, always knowing where we are headed next in life, all’s right with the world kind of things. Yet as long as we are in these earthly bodies that is not the way life goes in this world. 

Ecclesiastes does not tell us there is a time to laugh and only laugh, or a time to dance and only dance. No, along with the laughing and dancing are also times we may have to weep or to mourn. Matthew 5:45 tells us the Lord sends rain on the just and the unjust. Just because we may be Christians doesn’t mean we totally escape from pain or sorrow.

After saying all that, here’s the good news. In John 16:33 Jesus tells us “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Yes, we may have troubles but we can have peace through Jesus. He’s already overcome everything we may go through. In John 15:11 Jesus tells us His joy can remain in us.  “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” We can have His joy even in the midst of our troubles. 

If you are in one of those seasons that seems to be never-ending, take heart! It will change. You never know the exact day everything can turn around for you. Your victory may be right around the corner! A couple days ago when I started this blog it was hot and humid, and honestly I was wondering if it would ever end. The a/c was on, the windows and the blinds were closed and it still felt hot. Then, within a day or two the humidity was down, the temps were down, the windows were open and I even comfortably wore long pants! Suddenly, the season changed! Maybe when you least expect it, yours will too!

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The “Suddenlies” Of Life.

Life has a way of throwing suddenlies at us does it not? By their very nature suddenlies come when we least expect them. Sometimes, they can be the very things we have been looking forward to. Suddenly, all our household was saved. Suddenly, we have the finances to pay all our bills. Suddenly, we meet that person we’ve been waiting for. Suddenly, we are offered that job we have been praying for, for a long, time. 

There is one thing about suddenlies that we may not always realize. Suddenlies can change our lives in an instant. Even those good suddenlies that we’ve been praying for, may require us to change our lives, or to look at things in a completely new way.

Perhaps you’ve been waiting for the Lord to open a door of ministry for you, or to show you where that job is that you’ve been praying for.  Then suddenly, there’s an open door. But along with that open door, you may find you have to move to a new place leaving behind all that is comfortable and familiar to you. Your answer comes, and with it comes change. 

If it can be a challenge to be prepared, even when those good things occur, then how much more of a challenge it can be to try and be prepared for those things we never hoped to see. 

Suddenly, the storm came and created havoc. Suddenly, you lose a job or a relationship or a loved one. Suddenly, you are faced with a health issue you weren’t expecting. Suddenly, your life or your kids seem out of control. What do we do in those times? Do we have what we need to help us through?

It’s in those times of crisis, that having a solid foundation in God’s Word is so important. It’s good to know those promises, when we need them to stand on. And to know who we are putting our faith in. Even though it may seem that our life is like shifting sand beneath our feet. When we know down deep that the Lord is with us, and that our lives are planted firmly on the solid rock of God’s Word, then we can know that with His help, we will somehow get through whatever lies ahead. 

I desire to always be at that place where even if a suddenly happens, my first reaction is faith. Faith that with God everything will be OK. Is that your first reaction? If so, that’s wonderful! I would love to say that that has always been my go to reaction. However, if I were to be honest, there have been times when my first reaction was fear, or panic. Yet, it helps to know that when we know the promises of the Lord, once we get over our initial reaction, we will know where we can run to, to get the help we need.  

 I am so thankful for the promises God has put in His Word, and for the comfort those promises can give, no matter what situation we may find ourselves in. When we keep our minds and our thoughts focused on those promises things can be so much less stressful.

When we are waiting for those good suddenlies to happen in our lives,we may think we are waiting for the Lord to bring them to pass. Sometimes it’s quite the opposite. He may be waiting for us to make the changes needed in our lives before we start something new. He’s so patient with us. He just waits till He knows we are ready.

There’s something else that I’ve noticed about suddenlies, recently in particular. I have two friends going through completely different situations in their lives right now. In both cases the situation happened suddenly. The situations were not from God, yet you can see His hand moving in their lives and situations. Roman’s 8:28 tells us “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” 

Neither one of them wants to be in the situation that they are in, yet they have no choice but to keep walking through it. One thing that is clear to see while observing them, is that they are not walking through this alone. God is indeed working all things together for their good. In both cases He is putting exactly the people, situations and places in front of them that they need, when they need it. Their faith is increasing as they see the Lord meeting their need. The Lord is also bringing out new strengths and gifts in each of them that perhaps they didn’t even realize were there.

They are also both very aware that when they have walked through their hard time, they will have a testimony to the goodness of God. And both desire for the Lord to use them and their testimony to help others who may be going through similar situations. Though it wasn’t what they would have chosen, they will come out stronger on the other end of their struggle, and God will get all the glory. 

Are you walking through a situation or a challenge in your life? God is so good that He has given us scriptures we can stand on no matter what our need may be. His will is not for us to carry the burden of our cares. He wants to carry them for us. Psalm 55:22 tells us to “Cast your burden on the LordAnd He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. Or Matthew 11:28 “ Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

He will give us wisdom if we ask, James 1:5. He comforts the brokenhearted, Psalm 34:18. He is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows, Psalm 68:5. He will never leave us nor forsake us, Deuteronomy 31:6. And no matter what valley we may be walking through, He is with us. Psalm 23:4. 

Whether it’s healing, provision, comfort or direction you may need, there are scriptures for you to stand on. Need a friend? Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and He will never disappoint you or cause you harm.

The next time we find ourselves walking through a hard time, or even one of those happy suddenlies that may require adjustment on our part, maybe we can take some advice from the Psalmist.

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