What to Do When It’s Not Really the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Lonely holidays are the times to draw close to God.

The songs play it. The movies portray it. Even our church services have their part to play. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yeah, well what if it isn’t? For many people, holidays bring up painful memories.

(Photo by Photodune)

Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.

During one of the most desperate times of King David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2).

David felt very alone.

His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.

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An Amazing Truth: We Worship What We Think We Need

Are people elbowing God out of your life?

Some people can make us feel good. They attract us. Like a sunflower in a sunny field, we long to face the source that keeps us satisfied and meets our needs.

We Worship What We Think We Need

But we tend to worship what we think we need—whether it’s God, money, or even people. And whom we worship, we will also obey.

That’s why worshipping people—or using them to get what we think we need—can leave us enslaved to them.

God offers a better alternative.

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Ein Harod —How to Move from Fear to Faith

Sometimes what we see seems more compelling than what God says.

Too often, fear keeps us from enjoying what God has promised. We want so badly to have faith in what the Lord says. But fear of what we see seems more compelling than mere words. Gideon knew that.

Ein Harod —How to Move from Fear to Faith

(Photo: Ein Harod (Gideon’s Spring). Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Gideon longed to believe God. But the enemy army before him was enormous. What he saw seemed far more compelling than what God had promised him.

We face the same odds today. And the solution is the same.

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Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

How Jesus' decision in Gethsemane is the only path to peace.

I have discovered that the most difficult battles in life simply mirror Jesus’ struggle in Gethsemane. His words to the Father remain the most challenging words we could utter:

Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. —Luke 22:42

Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus surrendered His will. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Surrendering your will to God in difficult times is often harder than the trial itself.

Our greatest challenges come not from those circumstances that press in upon us, but from the internal struggle to surrender our will to God. We enter Gethsemane daily and have to drag my will to the Father in prayer.

Here’s how.

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3 Truths You May Have Missed about Struggle in the Christian Life

How to release the life you want for the one God wants to give you

We had no idea what following Jesus would require. Oh, we thought we knew. We had great ideas. The disciples had the same hopes one day in Capernaum. It didn’t include struggle in the Christian life.

3 Truths You May Have Missed About Struggle in the Christian Life

(Photo: Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

That day in Capernaum, Jesus set straight some people who intended to make Him king by force, and He spoke some hard words. Afterwards, many no longer followed Him.

Jesus then turned to His disciples with a question.

It’s also a question for us. 

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How to Struggle with God and Win

Jacob's brawl at the Jabbok River gives a model of how to do it.

What does it take for God to change you? In the Bible, when the Lord changed Jacob, it took a brawl. Isn’t it often the same with us? But that’s actually good news. 

Jabbok River at Peniel

(Photo: Jabbok River at Peniel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

These times we struggle with the Father represent His grace. It’s never easy, and it often seems rigged in God’s favor.

But Jacob shows us how to win the struggle.

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Kadesh Barnea — How to Push Your Faith Past the Border of Fear

Two essential decisions will help you move forward.

We come to the line every day. It’s a border. Fear keeps us from stepping over it. What we see feels more compelling than what God has said. Kadesh Barnea was such a place.

Kadesh Barnea — How to Push Your Faith Past the Border of Fear

(Photo: Kadesh Barnea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Two decisions at Kadesh Barnea determined the future. Twice God’s people stood on the edge of their future. The first time, the Hebrews made the decision; the second time, Moses did. Nobody made an announcement of what would happen at Kadesh.

No one knew how significant the transition would be.

As you face the day before you, you have the same two decisions to make.

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How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

The will of God also includes the presence of God, and thus, His comfort.

Sometimes it seems the Lord leads us into a life that can’t possibly be His will. What started with such promise has become such a challenge. It’s tough to know what to do next.

How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

(Photo by Photodune)

What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life God has given you?

God had promised a son to Sarai and her husband, Abram. Yet at the same time, God prevented conception. This is the will of God? 

What God said is a lesson we need to hear.

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4 Blessings from God that May Surprise You

God May Want to Give You More than Relief

Sometimes it seems no one understands what we’re going through. When people fail us, or forget us, or even betray us, we’re left alone in the ashes of a reality we never expected or wanted.

God May Want to Give You More than Relief

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In those intense moments of loneliness, confusion, and pain, we ask God for one thing more than anything else. Relief from suffering.

But when relief is denied, we begin the difficult journey of resisting the notion that God is a cruel sovereign who toys with our lives. After all, He could stop it all in moment. After everything else but God gets stripped away from our lives, we begin realize that the Lord may want to give us something more—and much greater—than relief.

In those moments, God becomes more real to us than we ever would have known any other way.

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself in Making the Right Decision

We need to remember that our spiritual life IS our life.

How many times have we made what we thought was the best decision—but it turned out to be the worst? Lessons learned from such blunders we remember and regret all of our lives.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself in Making the Right Decision

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We make knee-jerk decisions that we think will benefit us financially, or relationally, or vocationally, or physically.

But what about spiritually? Lot failed to ask that question, and he lived with the regret.

But we don’t have to be like that if we’ll ask ourselves 3 questions.

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