Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

February 2024 Issue

Standing Strong

From the December 2023 Issue

From the Worst to the Best

Online Exclusive: From This Point Forward

From the Worst to the Best

Napoleon Hill told of a fellow named R. U. Darby, who got caught up in gold fever in the 1800s. His uncle, who had staked claim to a mine out West, persuaded him to raise money and join him. Darby raised funds among his friends and relatives for the needed machinery, then joined his uncle in the West. The two men had initial success, but then the mine dried up. They drilled deeper, but to their intense disappointment, they found nothing but rock and dirt. They finally decided the vein of gold had been inconsequential.

Darby and his uncle sold their equipment as junk and took the train back home, where they had to work hard to repay their creditors. But the man who bought the drilling rig decided to give it another try. He called in a mining engineer to advise him, and the drills went back to work. Only three feet from where the Darbys had stopped drilling, the new owners found one of the richest deposits of gold ever discovered in that area.

I want to encourage you to keep drilling into the Scripture.

R. U. Darby was understandably frustrated at his lost potential, but he took the lesson to heart. Pursuing a career in the insurance industry, he said, “I stopped three feet from gold, but I will never stop because men say ‘no’ when I ask them to buy insurance.” He learned to persevere, and he became one of the most successful insurance executives of his generation.

During this Christmas season as you wrap gifts with gold foil and hang your golden ornaments on the tree, perhaps you feel your mine has dried up. Maybe you’re discouraged. Not everything that glitters at Christmas is gold. Sometimes it’s the glistening of tears, because, as Jesus said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34, NIV).

Christine Hammond, author of The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook, lists ten reasons depression often worsens during the holidays, and she calls her first reason “humbuggery,” a word made famous by Charles Dickens’ story, A Christmas Carol. “During this time of year,” explained Hammond, “the gap between the happy (whether faked or real) and the sad seems to be amplified. This trickery gives the illusion that depression is worse because of the comparison to the cheerful.”

We ask ourselves, “If this is the happiest time of the year, what’s wrong with me?” But I want to encourage you to keep drilling into the Scripture—even into the simple chapters about the birth of Christ—because if you don’t give up, soon you’ll find some golden promises to sustain your spirits all month long.

Let me show you some of them from Luke 1 and 2.

The Promise of Joy and Gladness

God has provided a King for the ages of time.

One of the first promises in the Christmas story is found when the angel Gabriel told aged Zacharias, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:13-14).

The promise of joy and gladness was not for Zacharias only but for all of us who are blessed by the unfolding events that brought Jesus and His forerunner, John, into the world.

Zacharias and Elizabeth had battled sadness for years, longing and praying for a child. When it seemed too late, just then, in the fullness of time, God answered their prayers and gave them a son to pave the way for the Messiah. Those events bring joy and gladness to everyone who receives the Gospel.

Why don’t you put your name in that verse?

Hear the Lord say to you this season: “You will have joy and gladness.” If you’ll persevere and keep drilling, you will find blessings on the other side of hardship.

The Promise of Jesus

The angel Gabriel traveled to Nazareth, where he encountered the virgin Mary and gave her the promise of a Son who would inherit the ancient throne of David and become the eternal King of Israel. Luke 1:32-33 says of Jesus: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

God has provided a King for the ages of time, and He can reign and rule over all we commit into His care and keeping. Jesus is great! He is the Son of the Highest. He is King of Israel, King of the Jews, King of kings—an eternal King whose reign will never end.

The Promise of Great Things

In pondering Gabriel’s message to her, Mary exclaimed, “He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Luke 1:49). I want you to think about those words—great things.

What great things has the Lord done for you? What great things is He doing now? If you don’t see any great things in your life, may I suggest you take time to check out these verses (emphasis added on great things).

  • Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.  1 Samuel 12:24
  • To God, I would commit my cause—who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. Job 5:8-9
  • He does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number. Job 9:10
  • He does great things which we cannot comprehend. Job 37:5
  • Your righteousness, O God, is very high. You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? Psalm 71:19
  • The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. Psalm 126:3
  • Jesus…said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you.” Mark 5:19
  • He went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39

The Lord has done great things for you too. Can you think of them? Can you list some of them? I believe Mary, who evidently knew her Old Testament very well, had noticed this prominent phrase and claimed it for herself in prayer. Perhaps you feel you have great burdens this time of year. Well, our Lord can bear your burdens and provide blessings without number.

The Promise of Good News

As we continue reading Luke’s version of the Christmas story, we’re reminded of the song of the angels over shepherds’ fields in Bethlehem—the promise of Good News: “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” (Luke 2:10-11).

In his book The Comeback, Louie Giglio told the story of Dana, a young man who had grown up with amazing parents who loved him unconditionally. But from early in life, Dana ran from God and was led astray. In middle school, he got into vandalism, fighting, and stealing. In high school, he turned to drugs and alcohol. As a young adult, he couldn’t keep a job. He overdosed on cocaine. He overdosed on heroin. He was in and out of jail, and he came to the place where despair overwhelmed him. He lost his hope for the future and began searching for something greater.

“During the 2009 Christmas season,” wrote Giglio, “Dana was at the bottom of the bottom. He partied through the holidays in some of the worst hotels, doing some of the worst things imaginable. It was a Christmas without hope.”

But Dana didn’t give up. More accurately, Jesus didn’t give up on him. On December 29, 2009, Dana had lunch with a pastor and gave his life to Christ. He laid down his alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and everything, and he did it all at once. “He got saved and sober, and his life since then has been on fire for Christ.”[1]

What if Dana had stopped searching for help on December 28?

If this is a difficult Christmas for you, remember—life wasn’t all that easy for Zacharias, Mary, the shepherds, or Dana. But don’t give up. Sometimes in our lives the season of blessing is right around the corner, just beyond the most difficult hardships.

So keep drilling!

We travel from the worst to the best whenever we open His Book and mine for its promises, which are richer than gold.

Sources:

1Louie Giglio, The Comeback (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2015), 72.

This Month's Magazine Resource

The Mediterranean Sea Rules

In The Mediterranean Sea Rules, author Robert J. Morgan traces every detail of the voyage and shipwreck of the apostle Paul, drawing out ten lessons that will equip you to come out of stormy weather stronger than ever. Atmospheric disturbances come to us all. But the Lord pilots His people over rough waters, imparting the nautical skills necessary for spiritual buoyancy. He will do that for you!

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