SURPRISE!!!! Some of us like surprises & some of us, not so much. It’s also true that our response to surprises can depend on what the surprise is.
With Jesus’ birth, there were lots of associated surprises:
angels appearing to shepherds at night in the field,
Gabriel’s announcements to Zacharias & Mary about the upcoming supernatural births,
wisemen showing up to give kingly gifts to a seemingly common baby,
Joseph getting the surprise announcement that his fiancé was pregnant.
Let’s consider that surprises can be incredibly good, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He loves us & is working in all things, even surprises, to work together for our Good, Romans 8:28-29.
I like the sizzle. This means that stuff that’s fun, exciting, zingy & zesty catch my attention. I would suspect that possibly on occasion, you’ve also been attracted to stuff that sizzles. But it’s often true that sizzle stuff doesn’t always endure.
Regardless of the presence of absence of sizzle, what’s important is to stay the course & endure! Sizzles fizzle, but endurance wins the prize. I say this based on Mathew 25:23 where Jesus says, “Well done, My good & faithful servant.” Let’s remain faithful & steady regardless of the presence or absence of any sizzle!
” . . . . and the Lord brought about a great victory.” 2Samuel 23:12
I read this morning about some dude, Shammah, defending a field of lentils. Initially, a lentil field doesn’t sound like something to get really upset about, let alone turn into a major military engagement. But alas, Shammah picked the lentil field & that was his “line in the sand.” This verse also says that Shammah took his stand in the field, defended it & struck down the Philistines. After Shammah’s three actions, taking his stand, defending the field & striking the Philistines, God gave him a great victory.
It seems like we often want to know that God will give us a great victory before we make the commitment to a lentil field or put out the effort to fight for something.
Sometimes I think that God waits for us to be fully engaged & committed before giving us a great victory.
Might there be a few areas in your life to which you could increase your commitment so that God would provide a great victory? This is something worth considering today!
“I know I’m supposed to be the King.” I think David thought this innumerable times in the 10+ years he ran from Saul. He was anointed by Samuel to be king & even Saul’s son Jonathan told David that he would be king. But the years kept passing & David kept running, just to stay alive. At one point, it looks like David gives up on the king thing when he moves to Philistine territory & begins serving that king. And it gets worse when David & his men return to their town, Ziklag, having been rejected by the Philistine leaders, to find their town burned & everyone carried away. Even Davids men talked of killing him, at this point. But David encouraged himself in the Lord, 1 Sam 30:6.
Through a quick series of events after this extremely low point, David was firmly on the path to becoming the King of Judah & ultimately Israel.
Sometimes when we know something from God in our hearts:
We can get impatient to make it happen.
We can get frustrated with the delays.
We may even want to quit, move away & change our name, a little bit like David.
But let’s keep walking the path that God sets in front of us, in faithful obedience & yielding to the process that will transform us in the ways we desperately need but frequently fight.
It seems to me that we can sometimes struggle when there’s uncertainty in our lives. Having travelled a fair amount, I’ve seen a wide spectrum of uncertainty, from war ravaged uncertainty (clean water, reliable food, etc) to the uncertainty of getting to work on time because of unexpected traffic challenges. It seems to me that our human existence will always have varying degrees of uncertainty – so maybe the issue for us isn’t about escaping uncertainty but rather how to effectively deal with it.
Here are a few helpful ideas:
be stable on the inside regardless of what happens externally – the peace of Jesus guarding our hearts & minds sounds about right (Phil 4:7)
chose wisely what you allow your mind to focus on – instability breeds instability (Phil 4:6)
remember that our Heavenly Father is changeless, faithful & stable, more than the rising sun every day 🙂
One of my kids is very steady & generally unflappable. They don’t freak out easily & I love that they are so level. The other side is that they can also be stubborn & resistant to change. I’ll totally give you that not all change is good. But being hostile to change can prevent a person from growing, learning & maturation.
Let’s be people who get the good stuff out of being faithful & steady. But let’s also be people who can learn, adapt & grow! Seems to me that we become moribund & zombie-ish when we refuse to learn & change. If we are perpetually changing, however, we risk the danger of not being committed, the lack of roots & absence of fruit 🙂
This is my daughters cell phone. We bought it for her about 16months ago & it has survived the following calamities: being dropped down an elevator shaft, dropped in a street intersection, going through an entire cycle in the washing machine & other minor traumas. Surprisingly, it still works & she continues to happily text & talk on it even though it’s been kind of roughed up.
Seems to me that sometimes our relationship with God gets some similar treatment. Sometimes we neglect God, accidentally drop God from our lives & put God through the wringer, so to speak. Nevertheless, God remains faithful, steady, loyal & devoted, all rich ingredients & descriptions of genuine love. Furthermore, God is continuously communicating extravagant love to us throughout each day, even when we might feel a little roughed up from life. You are very important to & deeply loved by God 🙂
Palm Sunday is possibly my favorite Sunday on the calendar. It’s the day when we celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week. It’s the day when Jerusalem turned out to hail with great exuberance Jesus’ arrival. Everyone was shouting “Hosanna in the highest!” (rejoice, hail to the Savior, celebrate, honor & revere), throwing down coats. cloaks and palm leaves on the road Jesus was traveling. Boatloads of celebration, excitement, anticipation and eager jubilation were the order of the day when Jesus came into Jerusalem. These are some possibilities that were going on that day:
some people thought Jesus would set the Jews free from Roman oppression
some people thought Jesus would upend the religious leaders who preyed on their already overcome countrymen
some people thought that Jesus would do His cool miracle stuff with free food, healings and cool special effects
It seems to me that everyone on Palm Sunday isn’t that much different than many of us today who expect Jesus to conform to our narrow needs & viewpoints. Nevertheless, Jesus knew that despite this great outpouring of celebration & honor that human depravity would murder Him with barbaric savagery in a few short days.
Palm Sunday is when we see the greatest contrast between our ever faithful Jesus & the ever fickle humanity. Hosanna in the highest, our God is consistent, loving and ever faithful!!
I read an interesting selection from Gift From the Seaby Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She had some great insights about relationships and how they can sometimes be like the ocean, with both high & low tides. In her writing, she talks about how we often want to cling to a relationship & how it felt in the past or how we sometimes look forward to the future of a relationship – both engaging activities. If we aren’t careful, however, we can let the past or the future sabotage the now in any relationship, including our walk with God. With that being said, sometimes we don’t like the now because it could be kind of like a “low tide” season, but Mrs Lindbergh helps me to see & appreciate that all the stages in a relationship are valid & valuable – high tide, medium tide & low tide. In my mind, the most important thing of all is to remain faithful to God no matter what’s happening or not in our various human relationships 🙂
Have you ever struggled to pray because of various distractions? This morning happened to be one of those times for me & that can be really frustrating because if you’re like me, you really want to pray! So perhaps I can give you a few ideas that could be helpful:
tell God that you’re having a hard time praying because of the various distractions. I say something like this, “God, I really want to pray right now, but I’m having a hard time because I find myself to be distracted with all kinds of things, some things important & some things not so much.”
sometimes I will write down what those distractions are – maybe making a to-do list, or briefly writing out the various things about which I’m concerned
take a pause and listen / wait – often after I do the first 2 things above, it gets easier for me to pray, listen and to be more present with God than the various distractions
don’t get way frustrated with yourself – commit to have some prayer time in your life everyday so that on those few days that seem to filled with distractions, you can be certain that there will also be some totally amazing times with God that will be nothing short of glorious – all realtionships can have some ups & downs
sometimes it helps me to review a verse or passage from the Bible that has seemed to really capture my attention & thoughts – in these times, I give myself to exploring this verse or passage with God & I find these times to be particularly rich with God’s presence
As I was helping a friend yesterday, she really encouraged me with a few things that could also be helpful to you, particularly if you’re in a rough season. One of the 1st things she said to me asked me about was the beautiful day that we were having – this immediately adjusted my focus because I had been stressed out about a few things. Because she asked me this question, I had to shift my focus away from my frustrations & answer her question to me. This was a great interruption that helped me to immediately get some better focus. Additionally, even though we were in a potentially dangerous situation, she was super calm, reassuring & stable. Frankly, I don’t think she knew that I was upset or rattled. Nevertheless, she was very soothing & seemed to diffuse some of my anxities. Finally, as I walked away from her she was graceful & encouraged me to have a great evening.
I don’t think that this lady has any idea that God used her to help settle my nerves, but its interesting how just some small exchanges with various people can make big differences in our outlooks & behaviors. Here are a few concluding happy thoughts:
look around for some good things – God always has something good to find when we look for it
it seems to me that when you encourage & say nice things to others that you will invariably be blessed as well
look up – David in Psalms always encouraged himself with the directive to put his trust in God, Who is indeed trustworthy :)n