Today’s Truth

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

Friend to Friend

Every year, I make a Christmas list comprised of every person for whom I am buying a gift. Beside each name, I write a dollar amount – a limit for how much money I will spend on that gift – and whole-heartedly declare not to spend one penny more.

Somehow, the amount I actually spend rarely coincides with the amount I intended to spend, but I digress.

With every purchase, I then draw a beautiful red line through that name.


I carry that list everywhere I go because evil people are lurking in my home who will go to any lengths to find that list. Why? Because I am the Queen of Christmas Surprise! I have to guard the Secret Santa List with my life to keep my “Queen-ship” status secure.

The Secret Santa list is hidden in unusual places such as a random file on my computer, in the pocket of an old purse, in my sock drawer – you get the picture.

I know where that Christmas list is at all times because it is my gift-giving plan for the holidays.

I wish I were just as concerned about my God List. I know I need to seek God and His plan for my life through the Word, but there are days when I don’t spend enough time reading and studying the Bible to discern that plan. But Jeremiah says it is a good plan!

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

I know I need to pray like crazy to make it through every day. Instead, I plead for escape routes from the problems staring me in the face.

I want to carry His life plan for me in my heart and mind, constantly making choices and decisions in light of that list, guarding it like the treasure map of eternity that it truly is.

But I have come to realize that just knowing God’s plan for my life does not guarantee success.

I must do the plan. That is where obedience comes in. An obedient heart is a “fixed” heart – the only gift God wants from us this holiday season.

“Oh God, my heart is fixed;” (Psalm 108:112 KJV).

A “fixed” heart is a determined heart, a steadfast heart that is rightly focused on God and His plan instead of insisting on clinging to our agenda. So then, when we choose to follow God’s plan, the desires of our heart will line up in obedience to that plan, and we will do what we were created to do.

It sounds so simple. It isn’t.

We must be deliberate in our obedience. Every choice we make, every word we say, every thought we think demands radical obedience to the standards of God.

Life is so daily. And just about the time we think we have it all figured out; God arranges a reality check to remind us that without Him – we will fail.

Failure is not final. It is inevitable. We are frail human beings. We are mortal.

But there is good news! Our most incredible opportunities to grow are often packaged in the ruins of failure. The fact that we are frail humans makes us desperate for God. Our greatest hope is fulfilled by the fact that Jesus came, lived, and died to make it possible for us to know Him.

Knowing God changes absolutely everything.

Maybe today is a good time to stop, go back over the list, and review those life lessons we have learned, checking to see where we are in our walk with God.

Maybe today is the perfect time to revisit the manger and truly celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by giving Him the gift of obedience.

Let’s Pray

Father, I love You. Please forgive me for the times I have chosen to follow my plan instead of Yours. Teach me how to fix my heart on You and give me the strength to do what You created me to do. Today, I choose to live each day in radical obedience to You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Have you ever been afraid of God’s plan for your life? Why?
Memorize Jeremiah 29:11, so you can remember and celebrate the plan God has for you.

More from the Girlfriends

Need help with that Christmas list? Check out Mary’s MP3s about How to Have a Merry Christmas and How to Give the Perfect Gift.

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© 2021 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.

5 Responses to “The Secret Santa List”

  1. Carol says:

    Bless you, Mary
    Obedience. A word that I struggle with, always have. My folks, would have said,
    “She’s stubborn”.
    As I walk with Jesus, I pray most of the time, for guidance and repeat “may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, Oh Lord…”(Psalm 19:14) The Jeremiah reference will have to become part of my daily mantra.
    My stubborn heart is a stumbling block and thank you for your line, “failure is not final. It’s inevitable. We are frail human beings. We are mortal.” Don’t I know it, all too well!
    I’m just so thankful the God looks down on me with a grin, and knows “Here she goes again”. I’m so thankful that He knows the intentions of my heart. He knows too, I will strive to be mindful and intentional in trying to be a lantern bearer for His goodness and love.
    Blessings to you, for giving a blessing to me.
    Have a joy filled Christmas!

  2. Thank you for your note of encouragement. Obedience is a constant choice, a submission to His plan for our lives. I am so glad the Father knows my heart. God bless you as you continue to seek Him.

  3. Hope says:

    Thank you for your perspective, Mary. Wise men brought gifts so what can I bring to the manger, to the King who has everything…and yet desires my heart?

    May I walk humbly and share His love gently with others.

  4. Our heart committed to Him is what Jesus desires most. We tr to make it complicated but it is so simple. I pray you have a blessed Christmas!

  5. Tired lady says:

    May I walk where all my favorites first walked first. Thankful Wednesday! Alright Mary on 2/9/22. Yippie!!!!

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8