Get Ready. Here Comes 2010.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 5:16-18


Christmas 2009 is history. Can you believe it? The beautifully wrapped gifts have disappeared from under the tree, big bags of holiday trash are at the curb waiting for pickup, and there's leftover ham in the fridge (not to mention leftover everything else). How quickly we've put Christmas behind us. In a few days we'll leave 2009 to our memories and take the leap into 2010. And you know what that means: RESOLUTIONS -- the year-end tradition of promising one's self to accomplish something, often meaning to change a behavior (or two or three).



Do you make resolutions? I don't. I grew weary of failing. Every year on New Year's Eve, I would make a list and vow that by the new year's end I would be a changed person. After a few weeks, or if I was lucky a few months, procrastination set in. I'm the exception to the rule that says it takes 30 to 45 days to change a habit. I always seem to slip back to my old ways. Maybe I'm just lazy, or maybe I don't succeed because I'm diffident; I don't like change, and that keeps me wandering around in circles.



It's true, I really don't like change. I'm skeptical of it. This last decade has been a challenging one for me. My life has changed in ways that I wasn't prepared for and in ways that I don't like. The one constant in these changes is that I had no control over them. The changes didn't happen because of anything that I did -- they just happened. As hard as I tried, I couldn't take charge of them. I wondered if God was trying to tell me something. As I prayed and asked for His guidance, I came to realize that God has me just where He wants me right now. I need to be open to unexpected change -- the one thing that I fear the most. I need to keep moving forward knowing that God has gone on ahead of me. He has the compass, and He is the orienteer. He knows exactly where I'm headed, and it's my job to be obedient and to follow Him with blind faith believing that He knows what He's doing.



It's hard to have blind faith, especially when the changes in our lives aren't positive, at least not in the way that we see them. Remember Job? He had it all, and then it was all taken from him. He was left sitting in sackcloth and ashes, sick, wishing he were dead. Still, he refused to curse God and die. He held onto his faith, and eventually God picked him up and gave him back his life. And remember the Israelites and their trek to the Promised Land? A journey that should have taken less than two weeks took forty years. Every step led to some sort of setback, and those setbacks often came when the Israelites' faith wore thin. Even their leader, Moses, grew weary and lost faith. The Israelites constantly complained about their circumstances, and Moses became angry with God and was disobedient to Him. Still, after years of suffering, God brought His people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. He took the most challenging of circumstances and worked them out for good.



Do you wander in circles instead of following the footsteps of God? I do. I sometimes forget that Jesus always walked forward in faith believing that his Heavenly Father was leading him. Even in the darkest of circumstances, he held to his faith. When he imagined the horrors of His crucifixion, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will." (Matthew 26:39 NIV) Not as I will, but as you will. Christ suffered through arduous changes, but he didn't lose faith. He didn't get what He asked for, but God took all of His suffering and changed it into something wonderful, not just for him but for all of us. Jesus is our example. His faith shows us how God wants us to approach the unplanned changes in our lives.


What are you asking God for in 2010? What resolutions are you making? None of us know what the Lord has in store for us. We hope for something wonderful, but we can't be assured of it happening, at least not "wonderful" in our perception of the word. When we face unpleasant changes outside of our control, it's easy to lose our faith that God is working everything out for good.



In truth, each trial we face is a step toward goodness. How do we know? Because Romans 8:28 says that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."



Believing that as God's promise to us requires blind faith.



Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." Add the words of St. Francis of Assisi: "Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." What is necessary this week is stepping into 2010 with blind faith in your Heavenly Father. After that, pray that He will guide you to do what is possible. And, finally, leave the impossible up to Him. Allow God to change you and to make you into whatever He wants you to be.



Dear God,

We pray asking for your blessings in this new year. We promise to follow you by faith remembering the words of Isaiah 64:8: But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of they hand. Amen.


The Secret to a Stress-Free Christmas

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2: 9-14 KJV


I’ve been thinking a lot this month about the birth of Christ. Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem was long and hard. They weren’t greeted there with joyful anticipation of the eminent arrival of the Messiah. Instead, they were turned away from the inn and sent to a stable or cave. There, in plainness among the animals, Christ was born. There was no grand celebration. In fact, it would be many years before His birth was celebrated around the world as a holiday. The birth of Christ was simple.



The second chapter of Luke presents not an earthly celebration, but a heavenly one. An angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds and describes Christ’s birth as “good news of great joy for all people.” Then suddenly, a crowd of angels appears praising God.



Praising God. Those two words in Luke 2:13 teach us how to celebrate Christmas. We are to praise God for His gift to us – the gift of eternal life through the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.



This is the busiest week of the year. Our lives are filled with holiday preparations: planning, shopping, baking, wrapping gifts, sending cards, decorating and cleaning our houses; the list is endless. Yet, God requires none of these things from us. He wants us to celebrate the birth of Christ simply by praising Him, by offering thanksgiving to Him for the gift of Jesus.



The birth of Christ was simple, and so is the secret to a joyful Christmas: Praise God.





This Christmas I wish you, my readers, a simple stress-free holiday spent remembering the birth of Christ and giving praise to God.
NEW FROM THOMAS NELSON

CLICK ON THE BOOK TO PREVIEW. VIEW THE BOOK TRAILER BELOW.
FROM BARBOUR BOOKS
I'm proud to be a contributing author to the following series of humorous devotionals.
And check out my "Kid's Bible Dictionary" and pre-teen mysteries, also from Barbour.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.
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I am the author of these books, but I have not been compensated for mentioning them on this blog or linking them to the seller's website. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

By Max Lucado, Published by Thomas Nelson
Max Lucado has a unique way with words, and his children's book Hermie A Common Caterpillar is no exception. With simple text and bright, watercolor illustrations, the story of Hermie unfolds.

Hermie wonders why he looks and feels so common. Whenever he asks God why, God simply answers, "I'm not finished with you yet." Then, one day, Hermie feels very tired. He gets into his cozy, leafy bed, and he sleeps. And while Hermie sleeps a transformation takes place. When he wakes up, Hermie discovers that God has done something grand. You can guess what it is. Every caterpillar that lives to adulthood knows the end of the story.

Parents, please share this book and its powerful message with your children. We are all special because God loves us, and He has a unique purpose for our lives. Whenever we slump into feeling ordinary, we know that we have hope because . . .God isn't finished with us yet!


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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