A Rough Christmas

Christmas has been a little rough for me for the past several years.

I’m not sure, but I think it started with the loss of my oldest sister. She loved Christmas, although she got anxious about gift giving. She made the most delicious fudge, and we spent days together making goodies.

Another reason it was rough is because my kids grew up and lost the “magic” of Christmas, so it became like routine to me. Just going through the motions of celebrating.

A few years ago, we lost my brother-in-law way too soon and again, Christmas changed. We always looked forward to being with him and all the sudden, he wasn’t there…

Christmas had become a time of grief. My heart ached each year, and I began to buy gifts because I had to. There was no joy in it. people-walking-in-the-street-2009905

This year has been much the same. Little money to buy gifts. The busyness of the season and always being gone. Never getting to spend quality time with family because each one is somewhere different.

I have a dear friend battling cancer and she is fighting for her life.

This year, we also have the added grief of divorce in our family and my grandchildren will have to leave on Christmas afternoon to spend time with their Dad. Again, I had lost the joy of it all.

This past Wednesday, I had the privilege of watching my oldest granddaughter and her friends perform various Christmas songs for us. Each song mentioned Jesus and the real imagesreason for the season. As I watched her sing, watched her face light up as she recited scripture of the Christmas story, listened as she loudly and proudly sang, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” at the top of her lungs, hearing them sing away in a manger and resting their sweet heads on their hands,… my heart began to melt. The joy began to return.

Why? Not because of a 3-year-old, but because of the God who used that 3-year-old to proclaim his message to me once again. “Perhaps Christmas you see, doesn’t come from a store. Perhaps Christmas means so much more.”

Today, if you are searching for that Christmas Joy, just remember the savior born in Bethlehem and the Joy he brings to the world and to your heart.

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Don’t Look Back

(Photo by Roman Bintang on Unsplash)

Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:14-17, 23-26

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Lot’s wife. I’ve been trying to imagine myself in the midst of all the sin she was surrounded by and the feelings of anxiousness I might feel. I would want out, and fast. I would want my family protected from all of that.

God, with his amazing mercy, allowed them to leave the land before he destroyed it. This was it! This was her chance to flee, to take her family to a better place. What relief. She was given one command, “Don’t look back.”  Seems easy enough, right? I mean it was horrible there, I’m free to leave and rescue my family, so why in the world would I look back?

Yet, as she was leaving the land, human nature was more than she could bear. She turned and looked back.

Why? I have several assumptions… We can never really know, because she was turned into a pillar of salt, so no one can get her thoughts. There was no interview to be had because, well, she wasn’t able to speak. My mind could only imagine a few reasons why she may have looked back.

Maybe she was afraid of the unknown. What she was living in was horrible, yet she knew it. She knew what to expect, and she may have gotten comfortable with the sin around her.

woman-looking-away-1493398138zofMaybe she was afraid for the people left there.

Maybe she made relationships and she didn’t want harm to come to them.

Maybe she was hoping God would change his mind and give them one more chance.

Maybe Satan said to her, much as he did to Jesus, “Did God really say he would destroy them?”

Whatever the reason was, I’ve often thought about how many times in this life I’ve looked back.

There are times in my life when I’ve wondered if I made right decisions, questioned myself when I knew I had heard God, looked back and wondered why I took that new position or why I moved to a certain place. Was it me making those decisions? If God spoke to me and told me to do these things, would I have trials? Would it be this hard?

Friend, we have to make the decision today to stop looking back. He never said everything would be easy if we followed him. In fact, he said we would encounter trials along the way, but to consider that Joy because our faith would be stronger. Whatever you hear the Lord telling you to do today, do it. Don’t look back. Even when you are tempted to question, keep your eyes focused on Christ and the prize laid before you. Don’t be a pillar of salt, be salt and light to the world. Keep moving forward with Christ in the lead.

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Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

God, Where Are You?!

by Guest writer Beth Rogers

An amazing Christian family is under attack and loses custody of their child, a 19-year-old with her whole life ahead of her is killed in a car crash, a young teacher with 2 young children loses her life, your teenage girl is unwed and pregnant, another woman struggles with infertility and miscarriages, your child leaves home and doesn’t have any contact with you. Our world seems to be crumbling. In these times, it is so easy for Satan to deceive us and make us think God has left us. The enemy twists things around in our head and makes us think that God has just forgotten us, and that something we did caused all of this to happen. He must be mad at us. He must think we are not worthy of good things. He’s given up on us. There are times when we shake our fists and ask God why He let this happen or we scream and ask, “God, where are you?” The enemy would also have us to believe that we are the only ones this has ever happened to and that somehow, we are failures.

The enemy would also have us to believe that we are the only ones this has ever happened to and that somehow, we are failures.

I want you to remember what scripture says about our enemy. John 10:10 says, “The Thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.” First Peter 5:8 says, “Your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” John 8:44 says, “He [Satan] is a liar and the father of lies.”

Go back with me to a time when there was this couple who had it all. Life was perfect and glorious. Adam and Eve only had one rule to obey. God told them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had everything else at their disposal. Everything. Satan came along and twisted things around and asked, “Did God really say?” How many times has that crazy enemy whispered that same thing in your head? “Did God really say he loves you?” “Who do you think you are? Do you really think God would do that for you?” Adam and Eve allowed Satan to twist their thoughts and they were lured to sin. They felt ashamed and tried to hide from God, BUT GOD went searching for them.

Go with me to a time when God gave the enemy permission to oppress his faithful servant Job. He was stricken with the devastating loss of his family, his wealth, his livelihood and his health. His wife asked him to curse God and die, yet Job remained faithful to God.

monks-path-sunset-landscapeGo with me to a time when a father’s son asked for his inheritance and left home. He wasted everything he had. He ate with pigs. His father never heard from him. One day the son went back home. The father had every right to turn this child away but instead, he ran to his child and threw a welcome home party!

My dear friends, God is not going to leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) He says to us to count it all joy when we encounter trials and tribulations (James 1:2) for when our faith is tested, we will come forth shining as gold.

Satan would have you give up, throw your hands up and surrender. God wants you to surrender everything you have to Him, to trust Him with the tiniest of details, to say, “no matter what, even if He slay me, yet will I serve him.” (Job 13:15)

Where is God you ask? He’s as close as the mention of His name, my friend. Say the name of Jesus today and allow him to calm your fears and dry your tears and wipe away your pain.

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