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Looking for the Messiah, Part 2 September 7

by Max Lucado

Some missed him.

Some miss him still.

We expect God to speak through peace, but sometimes he speaks through pain.
We think God talks through the church, but he also talks through the lost.
We look for the answer among the Protestants, but he's been known to speak through the Catholics.

We listen for him among the Catholics but find him among the Quakers.
We think we hear him in the sunrise, but he is also heard in the darkness.
We listen for him in triumph, but he speaks even more distinctly through tragedy.

We must let God define himself.

When we do, when we let God define himself, a whole new world opens before us. How, you ask? Let me explain with a story.

Once there was a man whose life was one of misery. The days were cloudy, and the nights were long. Henry didn't want to be unhappy, but he was. With the passing of the years, his life had changed. His children were grown. The neighborhood was different. The city seemed harsher.

He was unhappy. He decided to ask his minister what was wrong.

"Am I unhappy for some sin I have committed?"

"Yes," the wise pastor replied. "You have sinned."

"And what might that sin be?"

"Ignorance," came the reply. "The sin of ignorance. One of your neighbors is the Messiah in disguise, and you have not seen him."

The old man left the office stunned. "The Messiah is one of my neighbors?" He began to think who it might be.

Tom the butcher? No, he's too lazy. Mary, my cousin down the street? No, too much pride. Aaron the paperboy? No, too indulgent. The man was confounded. Every person he knew had defects. But one was the Messiah. He began to look for Him.

He began to notice things he hadn't seen. The grocer often carried sacks to the cars of older ladies. Maybe he is the Messiah. The officer at the corner always had a smile for the kids. Could it be? And the young couple who'd moved next door. How kind they are to their cat. Maybe one of them …

With time he saw things in people he'd never seen. And with time his outlook began to change. The bounce returned to his step. His eyes took on a friendly sparkle. When others spoke he listened. After all, he might be listening to the Messiah. When anyone asked for help, he responded; after all this might be the Messiah needing assistance.

The change of attitude was so significant that someone asked him why he was so happy. "I don't know," he answered. "All I know is that things changed when I started looking for God."

Now, that's curious. The old man saw Jesus because he didn't know what he looked like. The people in Jesus' day missed him because they thought they did.

How are things looking in your neighborhood?

From A Gentle Thunder

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Looking for the Messiah, Part 1 September 4

by Max Lucado

SUPPOSE JESUS CAME to your church. I don't mean symbolically. I mean visibly. Physically. Actually. Suppose he came to your church.

Would you recognize him? It might be difficult. Jesus didn't wear religious clothes in his day. Doubtful that he would wear them in ours. If he came today to your church, he'd wear regular clothes. Nothing fancy, just a jacket and shoes and a tie. Maybe a tie … maybe not.

He would have a common name. "Jesus" was common. I suppose he might go by Joe or Bob or Terry or Elliot.
Elliot … I like that. Suppose Elliot, the Son of God, came to your church.

Of course, he wouldn't be from Nazareth or Israel. He'd hail from some small spot down the road like Hollow Point or Chester City or Mt. Pleasant.

And he'd be a laborer. He was a carpenter in his day. No reason to think he'd change, but let's say he did. Let's say that this time around he was a plumber. Elliot, the plumber from Mt. Pleasant.

God, a plumber?

Rumor has it that he fed a football field full of people near the lake. Others say he healed a senator's son from Biloxi. Some say he's the Son of God. Others say he's the joke of the year. You don't know what to think.
And then, one Sunday, he shows up.

About midway through the service he appears in the back of the auditorium and takes a seat. After a few songs he moves closer to the front. After yet another song he steps up on the platform and announces, "You are singing about me. I am the Son of God." He holds a Communion tray. "This bread is my body. This wine is my blood. When you celebrate this, you celebrate me!"

What would you think?

Would you be offended? The audacity of it all. How irreverent, a guy named Elliot as the Son of God!

Would you be interested? Wait a minute, how could he be the Son of God? He never went to seminary, never studied at a college. But there is something about him …

Would you believe? I can't deny it's crazy. But I can't deny what he has done.
It's easy to criticize contemporaries of Jesus for not believing in him. But when you realize how he came, you can understand their skepticism.

Jesus didn't fit their concept of a Messiah. Wrong background. Wrong pedigree. Wrong hometown. No Messiah would come from Nazareth. Small, hick, one-stoplight town. He didn't fit the Jews' notion of a Messiah, and so, rather than change their notion, they dismissed him.

He came as one of them. He was Jesus from Nazareth. Elliot from Mt. Pleasant. He fed the masses with calloused hands. He raised the dead wearing bib overalls and a John Deere Tractor cap.

They expected lights and kings and chariots from heaven. What they got was sandals and sermons and a Galilean accent.
And so, some missed him.
And so, some miss him still.

From A Gentle Thunder

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Jesus Is Praying for You - UpWords - 1

Jesus Is Praying for You
by Max Lucado

Have you ever have anyone stand up for you? The answer is yes. Jesus stands at this very moment, offering intercession on your behalf! Jesus says to you what he said to Peter. Knowing the apostle was about to be severely tested by Satan, Jesus assured him, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” (Luke 22:32).

Jesus promises to pray and stand up for you. When we forget to pray, he remembers to pray. When we are full of doubt, he is full of faith. Where we are unworthy to be heard, he is ever worthy to be heard. We’d prefer to have every question answered, but Jesus has instead chosen to tell us this much: “I will pray you through the storm.” Are the prayers of Jesus answered? Of course they are! And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

From Unshakable Hope


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8/31/18 12:29 A

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Behind the Shower Curtain - UpWords - August 28

by Max Lucado

I'm going to have to install a computer in my shower. That's where I have my best thoughts.

I had a great one today.

I was mulling over a recent conversation I had with a disenchanted Christian brother. He was upset with me. So upset that he was considering rescinding his invitation for me to speak to his group. Seems he'd heard I was pretty open about who I have fellowship with. He'd read the words I wrote: "If God calls a person his child, shouldn't I call him my brother?" And, "If God accepts others with their errors and misinterpretations, shouldn't we?"

He didn't like that. "Carrying it a bit too far," he told me. "Fences are necessary," he explained. "Scriptures are clear on such matters." He read me a few and then urged me to be careful to whom I give grace.

"I don't give it," I assured. "I only spotlight where God already has."

Didn't seem to satisfy him. I offered to bow out of the engagement (the break would be nice), but he softened and told me to come after all.

That's where I'm going today. That's why I was thinking about him in the shower. And that's why I need a waterproof computer. I had a great thought. A why-didn't-I-think-to-say-that? insight.

I hope to see him today. If the subject resurfaces, I'll say it. But in case it doesn't, I'll say it to you. (It's too good to waste.) Just one sentence:

I've never been surprised by God's judgment, but I'm still stunned by his grace.

God's judgment has never been a problem for me. In fact, it always seemed right. Lightning bolts on Sodom. Fire on Gomorrah. Good job, God. Egyptians swallowed in the Red Sea. They had it coming. Forty years of wandering to loosen the stiff necks of the Israelites? Would've done it myself. Ananias and Sapphira? You bet.

Discipline is easy for me to swallow. Logical to assimilate. Manageable and appropriate.

But God's grace? Anything but.

Examples? How much time do you have?

David the psalmist becomes David the voyeur, but by God's grace becomes David the psalmist again.

Peter denied Christ before he preached Christ.

Zacchaeus, the crook. The cleanest part of his life was the money he'd laundered. But Jesus still had time for him.

The thief on the cross: hellbent and hung-out-to-die one minute, heaven-bound and smiling the next.

Story after story. Prayer after prayer. Surprise after surprise.

Seems that God is looking more for ways to get us home than for ways to keep us out. I challenge you to find one soul who came to God seeking grace and did not find it. Search the pages. Read the stories. Envision the encounters. Find one person who came seeking a second chance and left with a stern lecture. I dare you. Search.

You won't find it.

You will find a strayed sheep on the other side of the creek. He's lost. He knows it. He's stuck and embarrassed. What will the other sheep say? What will the shepherd say?

You will find a shepherd who finds him. (Luke 15:3-7)

Oh boy. Duck down. Put hooves over the eyes. The belt is about to fly. But the belt is never felt. Just hands. Large, open hands reaching under his body and lifting the sheep up, up, up until he's placed upon the shepherd's shoulders. He's carried back to the flock and given a party! "Cut the grass and comb the wool," he announces. "We are going to have a celebration!"

The other sheep shake their heads in disbelief. Just like we will. At our party. When we get home. When we watch the Shepherd shoulder into our midst one unlikely soul after another.

Seems to me God gives a lot more grace than we'd ever imagine.

We could do the same.

I'm not for watering down the truth or compromising the gospel. But if a fellow with a pure heart calls God Father, can't I call that same man Brother? If God doesn't make doctrinal perfection a requirement for family membership, should I?

And if we never agree, can't we agree to disagree? If God can tolerate my mistakes, can't I tolerate the mistakes of others? If God can overlook my errors, can't I overlook the errors of others? If God allows me with my foibles and failures to call him Father, shouldn't I extend the same grace to others?

One thing's for sure. When we get to heaven, we'll be surprised at some of the folks we see. And some of them will be surprised to see us.

From When God Whispers Your Name

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8/27/18 10:05 A

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The Woodcutter's Wisdom August 27

by Max Lucado

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. "This horse is not a horse to me," he would tell them. "It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?" The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. "You old fool," they scoffed, "we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you've been cursed with misfortune."

The old man responded, "Don't speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I've been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?"

The people contested, "Don't make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse."

The old man spoke again. "All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don't know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can't say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?"

The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn't, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn't been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. "Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us."

The man responded, "Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don't judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?

"Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don't say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don't."

"Maybe the old man is right," they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

"You were right," they said. "You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever."

The old man spoke again. "You people are obsessed with judging. Don't go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments."

It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

"You were right, old man," they wept. "God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son's accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever."

The old man spoke again. "It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows."

The old man was right. We only have a fragment. Life's mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgment on life's storms until we know the whole story.

I don't know where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from another woodcutter in Galilee. For it was the Carpenter who said it best:

"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." (Mt. 6:34)

He should know. He is the Author of our story. And he has already written the final chapter.

From In the Eye of the Storm

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8/26/18 5:59 A

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The Cave People August 26

by Max Lucado

He came to the world that was his own, but his own people did not accept him. John 1:11

LONG AGO, OR maybe not so long ago, there was a tribe in a dark, cold cavern.

The cave dwellers would huddle together and cry against the chill. Loud and long they wailed. It was all they did. It was all they knew to do. The sounds in the cave were mournful, but the people didn't know it, for they had never known joy. The spirit in the cave was death, but the people didn't know it, for they had never known life.

But then, one day, they heard a different voice. "I have heard your cries," it announced. "I have felt your chill and seen your darkness. I have come to help."

The cave people grew quiet. They had never heard this voice. Hope sounded strange to their ears. "How can we know you have come to help?"

"Trust me," he answered. "I have what you need."

The cave people peered through the darkness at the figure of the stranger. He was stacking something, then stooping and stacking more.

"What are you doing?" one cried, nervous.

The stranger didn't answer.

"What are you making?" one shouted even louder.

Still no response.

"Tell us!" demanded a third.

The visitor stood and spoke in the direction of the voices. "I have what you need." With that he turned to the pile at his feet and lit it. Wood ignited, flames erupted, and light filled the cavern.

The cave people turned away in fear. "Put it out!" they cried. "It hurts to see it."

"Light always hurts before it helps," he answered. "Step closer. The pain will soon pass."

"Not I," declared a voice.

"Nor I," agreed a second.

"Only a fool would risk exposing his eyes to such light."

The stranger stood next to the fire. "Would you prefer the darkness? Would you prefer the cold? Don't consult your fears. Take a step of faith."

For a long time no one spoke. The people hovered in groups covering their eyes. The fire builder stood next to the fire. "It's warm here," he invited.

"He's right," one from behind him announced. "It's warmer." The stranger turned and saw a figure slowly stepping toward the fire. "I can open my eyes now," she proclaimed. "I can see."

"Come closer," invited the fire builder.

She did. She stepped into the ring of light. "It's so warm!" She extended her hands and sighed as her chill began to pass.

"Come, everyone! Feel the warmth," she invited.

"Silence, woman!" cried one of the cave dwellers. "Dare you lead us into your folly? Leave us. Leave us and take your light with you."

She turned to the stranger. "Why won't they come?"

"They choose the chill, for though it's cold, it's what they know. They'd rather be cold than change."

"And live in the dark?"

"And live in the dark."

The now-warm woman stood silent. Looking first at the dark, then at the man.

"Will you leave the fire?" he asked.

She paused, then answered, "I cannot. I cannot bear the cold." Then she spoke again. "But nor can I bear the thought of my people in darkness."

"You don't have to," he responded, reaching into the fire and removing a stick. "Carry this to your people. Tell them the light is here, and the light is warm. Tell them the light is for all who desire it."

And so she took the small flame and stepped into the shadows.

From A Gentle Thunder

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The Bad News Preacher August 21

by Max Lucado

I didn't like the preacher I sat by on the plane. I know, I know. You're supposed to like everyone, but this fellow ...The plane was crowded. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I was tired from Sunday-morning services. I was speaking that evening in Atlanta and had planned on taking a nap on the flight.

But this fellow had other ideas. Though he had been assigned another seat, he took the one next to me since it was closer to the front. And when he took it, he took every inch of it--and then some. Knowing I couldn't sleep, I figured I'd review my thoughts for the evening lesson, so I opened my Bible.

"What ya' studying there, buddy?"

I told him, but he never heard.

"The church is lost," he declared. "Hellbound and heartsick."

Turns out he is an evangelist. He speaks in a different church every weekend. "I wake 'em up," he growled. "Christians are asleep. They don't pray. They don't love. They don't care."

With that pronouncement, he took on his preaching tone and cadence and started listing all the woes and weaknesses of the church, "Too lazy-uh, too rich-uh, too spoiled-uh, too fat-uh ..."

The folks around were beginning to listen, and my face was beginning to redden. I shouldn't have let it bug me, but it did. I'm one of those fellows who never knows what to say at the time but then spends the next week thinking, I wish I'd thought to say that.

Well, I've spent the last few days thinking about it, and here is what I wish I'd said to the bad news preacher: God's faithfulness has never depended on the faithfulness of his children. He is faithful even when we aren't. When we lack courage, he doesn't. He has made a history out of using people in spite of people.

Need an example? The feeding of the five thousand.

One would be hard pressed to find much faith on the hill that day.

Philip was cynical.

Andrew was doubtful.

The other disciples were negative.

The preacher I met on the flight would've felt right at home with these guys. Look at them: They aren't praying, they aren't believing, they aren't even seeking a solution. If they are doing anything, they are telling Christ what to do! "Send the people away" (Mark 6:36). A bit bossy, don't you think?

Looks like the disciples are "hellbound and heartsick." Looks like they are "too lazy-uh, too rich-uh, too spoiled-uh, too fat-uh." Let me be clear. I agree with the preacher that the church is weak. When he bemoans the condition of the saints, I could sing the second verse. When he laments the health of many churches, I don't argue.

But when he proclaims that we are going to hell in a handbasket, I do! I simply think God is greater than our weakness. In fact, I think it is our weakness that reveals how great God is. The feeding of the five thousand is an ideal example. The scene answers the question, What does God do when his children are weak?

When the disciples didn't pray, Jesus prayed. When the disciples didn't see God, Jesus sought God. When the disciples were weak, Jesus was strong. When the disciples had no faith, Jesus had faith. He thanked God.

Look what he does next. "Jesus divided the bread and gave it to his followers, who gave it to the people" (Matt. 14:19).

Rather than punish the disciples, he employs them. There they go, passing out the bread they didn't request, enjoying the answer to the prayer they didn't even pray. If Jesus would have acted according to the faith of his disciples, the multitudes would have gone unfed. But he didn't, and he doesn't. God is true to us even when we forget him.

Why is that important to know? So you won't get cynical. Look around you. Aren't there more mouths than bread? Aren't there more wounds than physicians? Aren't there more who need the truth than those who tell it? Aren't there more churches asleep than churches afire?

So what do we do? Throw up our hands and walk away? Tell the world we can't help them? That's what the disciples wanted to do. Should we just give up on the church? That seemed to be the approach of the preacher I met on the plane.

No, we don't give up. We look up. We trust. We believe. And our optimism is not hollow. Christ has proven worthy. He has shown that he never fails, though there is nothing but failure in us.

I'll probably never see that proclaimer of pessimism again, but maybe you will. If you do, will you give him a message for me?

God is faithful even when his children are not.

That's what makes God, God.

From A Gentle Thunder

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8/20/18 6:11 A

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Dashed Hopes August 20

by Max Lucado

"I had intended …"

David had wanted to build a temple. And who better than he to do so? Hadn't he, literally, written the book on worship? Didn't he rescue the ark of the covenant? The temple would have been his swan song, his signature deed. David had expected to dedicate his final years to building a shrine to God.

At least, that had been his intention. "I had intended to build a permanent home for the ark of the covenant of the LORD and for the footstool of our God. So I had made preparations to build it" (1 Chron. 28:2 NASB).

Intentions. Preparations. But no temple. Why? Did David grow discouraged? No. He stood willing. Were the people resistant? Hardly. They gave generously. Then what happened?

A conjunction happened.

Conjunctions operate as the signal lights of sentences. Some, such asand, are green. Others, such as however, are yellow. A few are red. Sledgehammer red. They stop you. David got a red light.

I had made preparations to build it. But God said to me, "You shall not build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.… Your son Solomon is the one who shall build My house and My courts." (1 Chron. 28:2-3, 6 NASB, emphasis mine)

David's bloodthirsty temperament cost him the temple privilege. All he could do was say:

I had intended …
I had made preparations …
But God …

I'm thinking of some people who have uttered similar words. God had different plans than they did.

One man waited until his midthirties to marry. Resolved to select the right spouse, he prayerfully took his time. When he found her, they moved westward, bought a ranch, and began their life together. After three short years, she was killed in an accident.

I had intended …
I had made preparations …
But God …

A young couple turned a room into a nursery. They papered walls, refinished a baby crib, but then the wife miscarried.

I had intended …
I had made preparations …
But God …

What do you do with the "but God" moments in life? When God interrupts your good plans, how do you respond?

The man who lost his wife has not responded well. At this writing he indwells a fog bank of anger and bitterness. The young couple is coping better. They stay active in church and prayerful about a child. And what about David? When God changed David's plans, how did he reply? (You'll like this.)

He followed the "but God" with a "yet God."

"Yet, the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever. For He has chosen Judah to be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father's house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel." (1 Chron. 28:4 NASB)

Reduce the paragraph to a phrase, and it reads, "Who am I to complain? David had gone from runt to royalty, from herding sheep to leading armies, from sleeping in the pasture to living in the palace. When you are given an ice cream sundae, you don't complain over a missing cherry.

David faced the behemoth of disappointment with "yet God." David trusted.

His "but God" became a "yet God."

Who's to say yours won't become the same?

From Facing Your Giants

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Death: Because of Christ, You Can Face It.

by Max Lucado

As heart surgeries go, mine was far from the riskiest. But any procedure that requires four hours of probes inside your heart is enough to warrant an added prayer. So on the eve of my surgery, Denalyn, I, and some kind friends offered our share. We were staying at a hotel adjacent to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. We asked God to bless the doctors and watch over the nurses. After we chatted a few minutes, they wished me well and said good-bye. I needed to go to bed early. But before I could sleep, I wanted to offer one more prayer... alone.

I took the elevator down to the lobby and found a quiet corner and began to think. What if the surgery goes awry? What if this is my final night on earth? Is there anyone with whom I should make my peace? Do I need to phone any person and make amends? I couldn't think of anyone. (So if you are thinking I should have called you, sorry. Perhaps we should talk.)

Next I wrote letters to my wife and daughters, each beginning with the sentence "If you are reading this, something went wrong in the surgery."

Then God and I had the most honest of talks. We began with a good review of my first half century. The details would bore you, but they entertained us. I thanked him for grace beyond measure and for a wife who descended from the angels. My tabulation of blessings could have gone on all night and threatened to do just that. So I stopped and offered this prayer: I'm in good hands, Lord. The doctors are prepared; the staff is experienced. But even with the best of care, things happen. This could be my final night in this version of life, and I'd like you to know, if that's the case, I'm okay.

And I went to bed. And slept like a baby. As things turned out, I recovered from the surgery, and here I am, strong as ever, still pounding away at the computer keyboard. One thing is different, though. This matter of dying bravely?

I think I will.

May you do the same.

Visit the following link for more from Max Lucado....

www.oneplace.com/ministries/
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Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 8/19/2018 (11:48)
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Tender Words to the Tired Heart August 17

by Max Lucado

Brook Besor. Don't feel bad if you've never heard of the place. Most haven't, but more need to. The Brook Besor narrative deserves shelf space in the library of the worn-out. It speaks tender words to the tired heart.

The story emerges from the ruins of Ziklag. David and his six hundred soldiers return from the Philistine war front to find utter devastation. A raiding band of Amalekites had swept down on the village, looted it, and taken the women and children hostage. The sorrow of the men mutates into anger, not against the Amalekites, but against David. After all, hadn't he led them into battle? Hadn't he left the women and children unprotected? Isn't he to blame? Then he needs to die. So they start grabbing stones.

This could be his worst hour.

But he makes it one of his best.

David redirects the men's anger toward the enemy. They set out in pursuit of the Amalekites. Keep the men's weariness in mind. They still bear the trail dust of a long campaign and haven't entirely extinguished their anger at David. They don't know the Amalekites' hideout, and, if not for the sake of their loved ones, they might give up.

Indeed, two hundred do. The army reaches a brook called Besor, and they dismount. Soldiers wade in the creek and splash water on their faces, sink tired toes in cool mud, and stretch out on the grass. Hearing the command to move on, two hundred choose to rest. "You go on without us," they say.

How tired does a person have to be to abandon the hunt for his own family?

The church has its quorum of such folks. Good people. Godly people. Only hours or years ago they marched with deep resolve. But now fatigue consumes them. They're exhausted. So beat-up and worn down that they can't summon the strength to save their own flesh and blood. Old age has sucked their oxygen. Or maybe it was a deflating string of defeats. Divorce can leave you at the brook. Addiction can as well. Whatever the reason, the church has its share of people who just sit and rest.

And the church must decide. What do we do with the Brook Besor people? Berate them? Shame them? Give them a rest but measure the minutes? Or do we do what David did? David let them stay.

He and the remaining four hundred fighters resume the chase.

David and his men swoop down upon the enemy like hawks on rats. Every Israelite woman and child is rescued. Every Amalekite either bites the dust or hits the trail, leaving precious plunder behind. David goes from scapegoat to hero, and the whooping and hollering begin.

And what about the two hundred men who had rested?

You might feel the way some of David's men felt: "Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man's wife and children" (1 Sam. 30:22).

A Molotov cocktail of emotions is stirred, lit, and handed to David. Here's how he defuses it: "Don't do that after what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and given us the enemy who attacked us. Who will listen to what you say? The share will be the same for the one who stayed with the supplies as for the one who went into battle. All will share alike." (1 Samuel 30:23-24)

Note David's words: they "stayed with the supplies," as if this had been their job. They hadn't asked to guard supplies; they wanted to rest. But David dignifies their decision to stay.

David did many mighty deeds in his life. He did many foolish deeds in his life. But perhaps the noblest was this rarely discussed deed: he honored the tired soldiers at Brook Besor.

Someday somebody will read what David did and name their church the Congregation at Brook Besor. Isn't that what the church is intended to be? A place for soldiers to recover their strength?

If you are listed among them, here is what you need to know: it's okay to rest. Jesus is your David. He fights when you cannot. He goes where you cannot. He's not angry if you sit. Did he not invite, "Come off by yourselves; let's take a break and get a little rest" (Mark 6:31 MSG)?

Brook Besor blesses rest.

Brook Besor also cautions against arrogance. David knew the victory was a gift. Let's remember the same. Salvation comes like the Egyptian in the desert, a delightful surprise on the path. Unearned. Undeserved. Who are the strong to criticize the tired?

Are you weary? Catch your breath. We need your strength.

Are you strong? Reserve passing judgment on the tired. Odds are, you'll need to plop down yourself. And when you do, Brook Besor is a good story to know.

From Facing Your Giants

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Directions for the Road Ahead; August 16

by Max Lucado

The key question in life is not “How strong am I?” but rather “How strong is God?”

Focus on his strength, not yours. Occupy yourself with the nature of God, not the size of your biceps.

That’s what God told Moses to do. Remember the conversation at the burning bush? The tone was set in the first sentence. “Take off your sandals because you are standing on holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). With these eleven words Moses is enrolled in a class on God. Immediately the roles are defined. God is holy. Approaching him on even a quarter-inch of leather is too pompous...No time is spent convincing Moses what Moses can do, but much time is spent explaining to Moses what God can do.

You and I tend to do the opposite. We would explain to Moses how he is ideally suited to return to Egypt... Then we’d remind Moses how perfect he is for wilderness travel...We’d spend time reviewing with Moses his résumé and strengths.

But God doesn’t. The strength of Moses is never considered. No pep talk is given, no pats on the backs are offered. Not one word is spoken to recruit Moses. But many words are used to reveal God. The strength of Moses is not the issue; the strength of God is.

From Let the Journey Begin: God’s Roadmap for New Beginnings


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June 9-10

Facing Your Grief

by Max Lucado

“David sang this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan, and gave orders that everyone in Judah learn it by heart.” (II Samuel 1:17-18 MSG)

David called the nation to mourning. He rendered weeping a public policy. He refused to gloss over or soft-pedal death. He faced it, fought it, challenged it. But he didn’t deny it. As his son Solomon explained, “There is...a time to mourn” (Eccles. 3:1, 4 NIV).

Give yourself some. Face your grief with tears, time, and--one more--face your grief with truth. Paul urged the Thessalonians to grieve, but he didn’t want the Christians to “carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word.” (I Thess. 4:13 MSG).

God has the last word on death. And, if you listen, he will tell you the truth about your loved ones. They’ve been dismissed from the hospital called Earth. You and I still roam the halls, smell the medicines, and eat green beans and Jell-O off plastic trays. They, meanwhile, enjoy picnics, inhale springtime, and run through knee-high flowers. You miss them like crazy, but can you deny the truth? They have no pain, doubt, or struggle. They really are happier in heaven.

And won’t you see them soon? Life blisters by at mach speed. “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Ps. 39:5 NIV).

When you drop your kids off at school, do you weep as though you’ll never see them again? When you drop your spouse at the store and park the car, do you bid a final forever farewell? No. When you say, “I’ll see you soon,” you mean it. When you stand in the cemetery and stare down at the soft, freshly turned earth and promise, “I’ll see you soon,” you speak the truth. Reunion is a splinter of an eternal moment away.

So go ahead, face your grief. Give yourself time. Permit yourself tears. God understands. He knows the sorrow of a grave. He buried his son. But he also knows the joy of resurrection. And, by his power, you will too.

From Facing Your Giants

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June 2

Thin "Air-ogance"

by Max Lucado

You can climb too high for your own good. The story of David and Bathsheba is less a story of lust and more a story of power. A story of a man who rose too high for his won good. A man who needed to hear these words: “Come down before you fall.”

“First pride, then the crash- the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 MSG)

This must be why God hates arrogance. He hates to see his children fall. He hates to see his David's seduce and his Bathsheba's be victimized. God hates what pride does to his children. He doesn’t dislike arrogance. He hates it. Could he state it any clearer than Proverbs 8:13: “I hate pride and arrogance.” (NIV)? And then a few chapters later: “God can’t stomach arrogance or pretense; believe me, he’ll put those upstarts in their place” (16:5 MSG).

You don’t want God to do that. Just ask David. He never quite recovered from his bout with this giant. Don’t make his mistake. ‘Tis far wiser to descend the mountain than fall from it.

Pursue humility. Humility doesn’t mean you think less of yourself but that you think of yourself less. “Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you” (Romans 12:3 Phillips).

Embrace your poverty. We’re all equally broke and blessed. “People come into this world with nothing, and when they die they leave with nothing” (Eccles. 5:15 NCV)

Resist the place of celebrity. “Go sit in a seat that is not important. When the host comes to you, he may say, ‘Friend, move up here to a more important place.’ Then all the other guests will respect you” (Luke 14:10 NCV).

Wouldn’t you rather be invited up than put down?

God has a cure for the high and mighty: come down from the mountain. You’ll be amazed what you hear and who you see. And you’ll breathe a whole lot easier.

From Facing Your Giants

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June 1

Living Loved

by Max Lucado

The secret to loving is living loved. It’s the forgotten first step in relationships. Remember Paul’s prayer? “May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love” (Ephesians 3:17 NLT).

Many people tell us to love. Only God gives us the power to do so. We know what God wants us to do. “This is what God commands. . .that we love each other.” (1 John 3:23). But how can we? How can we be kind to those who are unkind to us? How can we love as God loves? By being loved. By following the principle: receive first and love second. God loves you personally...powerfully...passionately! He loves you with an unfailing love. Others have promised and failed. But God has promised and succeeded!

Read more A Love Worth Giving

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May 31

Remarkable

by Max Lucado

Every day I have the honor of sitting down with a book that contains the words of the One who created me. Every day I have the opportunity to let him give me a thought or two on how to live.

If I don’t do what he says, he doesn’t burn the book or cancel my subscription. If I disagree with what he says, lightning doesn’t split my swivel chair or an angel doesn’t mark my name off the holy list. If I don’t understand what he says, he doesn’t call me a dummy.

In fact, he calls me “Son,” and on a different page explains what I don’t understand.

Remarkable.

At the end of the day when I walk through the house, I step into the bedrooms of three little girls. And one by one, I bend over and kiss the foreheads of the angels God has loaned me. Then I stand in the doorway and wonder why in the world he would entrust a stumbling, fumbling fellow like me with the task of loving and leading such treasures.

Remarkable.

Then I go and crawl into bed with a woman far wiser than I ... a woman who deserves a man much better looking than I ... but a woman who would argue that fact and tell me from the bottom of her heart that I’m the best thing to come down her pike.

After I think about the wife I have, and when I think that I get to be with her for a lifetime, I shake my head and thank the God of grace for grace and think, Remarkable.

I’m learning not to take these everyday miracles for granted.

I’m discovering many things: traffic jams eventually clear up, sunsets are for free, Little League is a work of art, and most planes take off and arrive on time. I’m learning that most folks are good folks who are just as timid as I am about starting a conversation.

I’m meeting people who love their country and their God and their church and would die for any of the three.

I’m learning that if I look ... if I open my eyes and observe ... there are many reasons to take off my hat, look at the Source of it all, and just say thanks.

From In the Eye of the Storm


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May 30, 2018

Hidden Heroes

by Max Lucado

A revival can begin with one sermon. History proves it. John Egglen had never preached a sermon in his life. Never.

Wasn’t that he didn’t want to, just never needed to. But then one morning he did. The snow left his town of Colchester, England, buried in white. When he awoke on that January Sunday in 1850, he thought of staying home. Who would go to church in such weather?

But he reconsidered. He was, after all, a deacon. And if the deacons didn’t go, who would? So he put on his boots, hat, and coat and walked the six miles to the Methodist Church.

He wasn’t the only member who considered staying home. In fact, he was one of the few who came. Twelve members and one visitor. Even the minister was snowed in. Someone suggested they go home. Egglen would hear none of that. They’d come this far; they would have a service. Besides, they had a visitor. A thirteen-year-old boy.

But who would preach? Egglen was the only deacon. It fell to him.

And so he did. His sermon lasted only ten minutes. It drifted and wandered and made no point in an effort to make several. But at the end, an uncharacteristic courage settled upon the man. He lifted his eyes and looked straight at the boy and challenged: “Young man, look to Jesus. Look! Look! Look!”

Did the challenge make a difference? Let the boy, now a man, answer. “I did look, and then and there the cloud on my heart lifted, the darkness rolled away, and at that moment I saw the sun.”

The boy’s name? Charles Haddon Spurgeon. England’s prince of preachers.

Did Egglen know what he’d done? No. Do heroes know when they are heroic? Rarely. Are historic moments acknowledged when they happen?

You know the answer to that one. (If not, a visit to the manger will remind you.) We seldom see history in the making, and we seldom recognize heroes.

But we’d do well to keep our eyes open. Tomorrow’s Spurgeon might be mowing your lawn. And the hero who inspires him might be nearer than you think.

He might be in your mirror.

From When God Whispers Your Name

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The Beggar and the Bread - UpWords - Week of May 18-24

by Max Lucado

A beggar came and sat before me. “I want bread,” he said.

“How wise you are,” I assured him. “Bread is what you need. And you have come to the right bakery.” So I pulled my cookbook down from my shelf and began to tell him all I knew about bread.

I spoke of flour and wheat, of grain and barley. My knowledge impressed even me as I cited the measurements and recipe. When I looked up, I was surprised to see he wasn’t smiling. “I just want bread,” he said.

“How wise you are.” I applauded his choice. “Follow me, and I’ll show you our bakery.” Down the hallowed halls I guided him, pausing to point out the rooms where the dough is prepared and the ovens where the bread is baked.

“No one has such facilities. We have bread for every need. But here is the best part,” I proclaimed as I pushed open two swinging doors. “This is our room of inspiration.” I knew he was moved as we stepped into the auditorium full of stained-glass windows.

The beggar didn’t speak. I understood his silence. With my arm around his shoulder, I whispered, “It overwhelms me as well.” I then leaped to the podium and struck my favorite pose behind the lectern. “People come from miles to hear me speak. Once a week my workers gather, and I read to them the recipe from the cookbook of life.”

By now the beggar had taken a seat on the front row. I knew what he wanted. “Would you like to hear me?”

“No,” he said, “but I would like some bread.”

“How wise you are,” I replied. And I led him to the front door of the bakery. “What I have to say next is very important,” I told him as we stood outside. “Up and down this street you will find many bakeries. But take heed; they don’t serve the true bread. I know of one who adds two spoons of salt rather than one. I know of another whose oven is three degrees too hot. They may call it bread,” I warned, “but it’s not according to the book.”

The beggar turned and began walking away. “Don’t you want bread?” I asked him.

He stopped, looked back at me, and shrugged, “I guess I lost my appetite.”

I shook my head and returned to my office. “What a shame,” I said to myself. “The world just isn’t hungry for true bread anymore.”

I don’t know what is more incredible: that God packages the bread of life in the wrapper of a country carpenter or that he gives us the keys to the delivery truck. Both moves seem pretty risky. The carpenter did his part, however. And who knows -- we may just learn to do ours.

From A Gentle Thunder

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God's Loving Pursuit - UpWords - May 5

by Max Lucado

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." ~~ Psalm 23:6

Dare we envision a God who follows us? Who pursues us? Who chases us? Who tracks us down and wins us over? Who follows us with "goodness and mercy" all the days of our lives?

Isn't this the kind of God described in the Bible? A God who follows us?

Moses can tell you about it. He was forty years in the desert when he looked over his shoulder and saw a bush blazing. God had followed him into the wilderness.

Jonah can tell you about it. He was a fugitive on a boat when he looked over his shoulder and saw clouds brewing. God had followed him onto the ocean.

The disciples of Jesus knew the feeling of being followed by God. They were rain soaked and shivering when they looked over their shoulders and saw Jesus walking toward them. God had followed them into the storm.

John the Apostle was banished on Patmos when he looked over his shoulder and saw the skies begin to open. God had followed him into his exile.

Lazarus was three days dead in a sealed tomb when he heard a voice, lifted his head, and looked over his shoulder and saw Jesus standing. God had followed him into death.

Peter had denied his Lord and gone back to fishing when he heard his name and looked over his shoulder and saw Jesus cooking breakfast. God had followed him in spite of his failure.

God is the God who follows. I wonder... have you sensed him following you? We often miss him.

Through the kindness of a stranger. The majesty of a sunset. The mystery of romance. Through the question of a child or the commitment of a spouse. Through a word well spoken or a touch well timed, have you sensed his presence?

His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.

From "Traveling Light:

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A Greenhouse of Prayer - Upwords - Week of May 4-10, 2018

by Max Lucado

All people are God’s people--including the small people who sit at our tables. Wise are the parents who regularly give their children back to God.

Parents, we can do this. We can take our parenting fears to Christ. In fact, if we don’t, we’ll take our fears out on our kids! A family with no breathing room suffocates a child. Fear can also create permissive parents who are high on hugs and low on discipline.

How can we avoid the two extremes? We pray. Jesus makes no comments about spanking, sibling rivalry, or schooling. Yet his actions speak volumes about prayer. Each time a parent prays, Christ responds. His message to moms and dads? Bring your children to me. Raise them in a greenhouse of prayer.

Taken from Fearless

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Stop Being Uneasy about Your Life - Upwords - Week of April 27 - May 3, 2018

by Max Lucado

Worry has more questions than answers, more work than energy, and thinks often about giving up. There’s not enough time, luck, credit, wisdom, or intelligence. We’re running out of everything it seems, and so we worry. But worry doesn’t work. You can dedicate a decade of anxious thoughts to the brevity of life, and not extend it by one minute. Worry accomplishes nothing.

God doesn’t condemn legitimate concern for responsibilities but rather the continuous mind-set that dismisses God’s presence. Destructive anxiety subtracts God from the future and tallies up the challenges of the day without entering God into the equation. Jesus gives us this challenge: “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously; and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:32-33).

From Fearless

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Let Him Fix It - Upwords - Week of April 20-26, 2018

by Max Lucado

I’m sure you’ve had an appliance you may have tried to fix, but with no success. So you took it to the specialist. You explained the problem and then...offered to stay and help fix it? or hovered at the workbench asking questions about the progress? How about threw a sleeping bag on the floor so you could watch the repairman at work? If you did any of these things, you don’t understand the relationship between client and repairman. The arrangement is uncomplicated. Leave it with him to fix it!

Our protocol with God is equally simple. Leave your problem with him. God doesn’t need our help, counsel, or assistance. Please repeat this phrase: I hereby resign as ruler of the universe. When God is ready for us to re-engage, he will let us know. Until then, replace anxious thoughts with grateful ones. God takes thanksgiving seriously!

From Anxious for Nothing

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A Time Claimed for God - Upwords - Week of April 13-19, 2018

by Max Lucado

A friend described to me her daily ninety-minute commute. “Ninety minutes,” I commiserated. “Don’t feel sorry for me,” she smiled, “I use the trip to think about God.” She went on to describe how she fills the hour listening to entire books of the Bible. She recites prayers. By the time she reaches her place of employment, she’s ready for the day. She says, “I turn my commute into my chapel.”

Is there a block of time you can claim for God? Perhaps turning off the network news and opening your Bible. Set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier. Rather than watch TV as you fall asleep, listen to an audio version of the Bible or a Christian book. Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV).

From Anxious for Nothing

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There's a Better Way - Upwords - Week of April 6-12, 2018

by Max Lucado

Anxiety weighs down the human heart (Proverbs 12:25 NRSV). But there’s a better way. Invite God to speak to the problem. “Capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV).

Slap handcuffs on the culprit, and march it before the One who has all authority! Jesus says, “Get away from here, Satan!” And as the discerning, sober-minded air traffic controller of your mind, you refuse to let the thought have the time of day.

Lay claim to every biblical promise you can remember, and set out to learn a few more. Give Satan no quarter. Give his lies no welcome. Resist the urge to exaggerate, overstate, or simplify. Focus on the facts. For all you know, God may want you to be a poster child for growth. What you can do is pray and trust!

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A Tabulated List of Grace - Upwords - Week of March 30 - April 5, 2018

by Max Lucado

A couple who resorted to do-it-yourself marriage counseling resolved to list each others’ faults and then read them aloud. The wife gave her list and he read: You snore; you eat in bed; the list continued. When the husband gave her his list, she smiled. He’d written his grievances, but next to each he’d written– I forgive this. The result was a tabulated list of grace.

Imagine you are before the judgment seat of Christ. The book is opened and the reading begins--each sin, each deceit, and each occasion of greed. But as soon as the infraction is read, grace is proclaimed. Jesus says, I forgive this. Registered forgiveness! No humiliation! No shame! Because in heaven you will be in your sinless state--happy to let God do in heaven what he did on earth. He will be honored in your weakness!

From When Christ Comes

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Prayers Don't Get Graded - Upwords - Week of March 23-29, 2018

by Max Lucado

Jesus downplayed the importance of words in prayers. We tend to do the opposite. The more words the better! We emphasize the appropriate prayer language, the latest prayer trend, the holiest prayer terminology. Against all this emphasis on syllables and rituals, Jesus says in Matthew 6:7, “Don’t ramble like heathens who talk a lot.” There’s no panel of angelic judges with numbered cards.

Wow, Lucado, that prayer was a ten. God will certainly hear you! or
Oh, Lucado, you scored a two this morning. Go home and practice!

Prayers aren’t graded according to style. If prayer depends on how I pray, I’m sunk. But if the power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer, then I have hope.

Read more: Before Amen (Max Lucado Paper Back Book)

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Use a Portable Prayer - Upwords - Week of March 9-15, 2018

by Max Lucado

Some people excel in prayer. They are the SEAL Team 6 of intercession. They would rather pray than sleep. Why is it I sleep when I pray? It’s not that we don’t pray at all. We all pray some. Surveys indicate one in five unbelievers prays daily. Just in case, perhaps? When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them a prayer...a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Could you use the same?

Father, You are good.
I need help. Heal me and forgive me.
They need help. Thank you.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

Here is my challenge for you: Every day for 4 weeks, pray 4 minutes. Then get ready to connect with God like never before!

Read more Before Amen (Max Lucado Paper Back Book)



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Trust Your Perfect Guide - Upwords - Week of March 2-8, 2018

by Max Lucado

The story is told of a man on an African safari deep in the jungle. The guide had a machete and was whacking away the tall weeds and thick underbrush. The traveler, wearied and hot, asked in frustration, “Where are we? Do you know where you’re taking me? Where is the path?” The seasoned guide stopped and looked back at the man and replied, “I am the path.”

We ask the same questions, don’t we? We ask God, “Where are you taking me? Where’s the path? Oh, He may give us a hint or two, but that’s all. If he did give us more, would we understand? No, like the traveler, we are unacquainted with this jungle. So rather than give us an answer, He gives us a far greater gift...Jesus gives us Himself. He says in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always to the very end of the age.” We need that reminder!

From Traveling Light

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But God Can - UpWords - Week of February 23-March 1, 2018

by Max Lucado

When you feel helpless, where can you turn? I suggest you turn to one of Jesus’ most intriguing teachings about prayer!

Luke tells the story of a persistent neighbor looking to borrow bread at midnight. Imagine it’s you ringing the doorbell. The door opens. “What are you doing here?” he asks. You answer, “A friend of mine has arrived for a visit, and I’ve nothing for him to eat.”

Finally he takes you to his pantry. And, as a result, your surprise guest doesn’t have to go to bed hungry. All because you spoke up on behalf of someone else. This is intercessory prayer at its purest. This prayer gets God’s attention. If your cranky and disgruntled neighbor will help you out, how much more will God do?

From God is With You Every Day

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A Pasture for the Soul - Upwords - Week of February 16-22, 2018

by Max Lucado

When God gave the Ten Commandments and it came to Sabbath rest, His message was clear: If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do! You know we need to rest. For a field to bear fruit, it must occasionally lie fallow. And for you to be healthy, you must rest. When David says in the 23rdPsalm, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures,” he’s saying, “My shepherd makes me lie down in his finished work.”

With His own pierced hands, Jesus created a pasture for the soul. He pried loose the huge boulders of sin. In their place He planted seeds of grace and dug ponds of mercy. Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of the shepherd when the work is completed and he sees his sheep rest in the tender grass? Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of God when we do the same?

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Sleeping Trouble - Upwords - Week of February 9-15, 2018

by Max Lucado

Millions of Americans have trouble sleeping! You may be one of them. Only one other living creature has as much trouble resting as we do. They are woolly, simpleminded, and slow...sheep. Sheep can’t sleep! For sheep to sleep, everything must be just right. No predators. No tension in the flock. Sheep need help. They need a shepherd to lead them and help them lie down in green pastures. Without a shepherd, they cannot rest.

Without a shepherd, neither can we! Psalm 23:2 says, “He, (the Shepherd) makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” Who’s the active one? Who’s in charge? The Shepherd! With our eyes on the Shepherd, we’ll get some sleep. Isaiah 26:3 reminds us of the promise, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.”

From Traveling Light

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Secret of Forgiveness - Upwords - Week of February 2-8, 2018

by Max Lucado

You will never forgive anyone more than God has already forgiven you. Is it still hard to consider the thought of forgiving the one who hurt you? If so, go one more time to the room. Watch Jesus as he goes from disciple to disciple. Can you see him? Can you hear the water splash? Can you hear him shuffle on the floor to the next person? Keep that image.

John 13:12 says, “When he had finished washing their feet. . .” Please note; Jesus finished washing their feet. That means he left no one out. Why is that important? Because that means he washed the feet of Judas. Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer. That’s not to say it was easy for Jesus. That’s not to say it’s easy for you. But that is to say, God will never call you to do what he hasn’t already done!

From Inspirational Reader

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Pasture of the Soul - Upwords - Week of January 26-February 1, 2018

by Max Lucado

When God gave the Ten Commandments and it came to Sabbath rest, His message was clear: If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do! You know we need to rest. For a field to bear fruit, it must occasionally lie fallow. And for you to be healthy, you must rest. When David says in the 23rdPsalm, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures,” he’s saying, “My shepherd makes me lie down in his finished work.”

With His own pierced hands, Jesus created a pasture for the soul. He pried loose the huge boulders of sin. In their place He planted seeds of grace and dug ponds of mercy. Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of the shepherd when the work is completed and he sees his sheep rest in the tender grass? Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of God when we do the same?

From Traveling Light

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Pray the Particulars - Upwords - Week of January 19-25, 2018

by Max Lucado

A father was teaching his three-year-old daughter the Lord’s Prayer. She would repeat the lines after him. Finally she decided to go solo. She carefully enunciated each word, right up to the end of the prayer. “Lead us not into temptation,” she prayed, “but deliver us from e-mail.” Not a bad prayer!

God calls us to pray about everything! We tell God exactly what we want. We pray the particulars. When the wedding ran low on wine, Mary wasn’t content to say, “Help us, Jesus.” She was specific. She said, “They have no more wine” (John 2:3 NIV). A specific prayer is a serious prayer. If I say to you, “Do you mind if I come by your house sometime?” you may not take me seriously. But if I say, “Can I come over this Friday night? I really need your advice.” Then you know my petition is sincere. When we offer specific requests, God knows the same. So, offer yours!

From Anxious for Nothing

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God Has a Plan - Upwords - Week of January 12-18, 2018

by Max Lucado

In the famous lace shops of Brussels, Belgium, certain rooms are dedicated to the spinning of the finest lace with the most delicate of patterns. These rooms are completely dark except for a shaft of natural light from a solitary window. Only one spinner sits in the room and the light falls on the pattern while the worker remains in the dark.

Has God permitted a time of darkness in your world? You look but you cannot see him. You see only the fabric of circumstances woven and interlaced. You might question the purpose behind this thread or that. But be assured, God has a pattern. He has a plan. The Bible says in Romans 8:28, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He is not finished. But when he is, the lace will be beautiful!

From Anxious for Nothing: Max Lucado

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God's Higher Purpose - Upwords - Week of January 5-11, 2018

by Max Lucado

No moment, event, or detail falls outside of God’s supervision. God is the one who “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45 NIV). He isn’t making up this plan as he goes along. Daniel 5:21 says, “The most High God rules the kingdom of men, and sets over it whom he will.”

So, if God is in charge, why does he permit challenges to come our way? Wouldn’t an almighty God prevent them? Not if they serve his higher purpose. The ultimate example is the death of Christ on the cross! Everyone thought the life of Jesus was over. Jesus was dead and buried, but God raised him from the dead. God took the crucifixion of Friday and turned it into the celebration of Sunday. Can he not do a reversal for you?

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It Happened in a Moment - Upwords - Week of December 22-28, 2017

by Max Lucado

It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. God became a man! Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. Jesus came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that first held him were un-manicured, calloused, and dirty. For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt...weak; weary; and afraid of failure. His feelings got hurt.

To think of Jesus in such a light seems almost irreverent. There’s something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant and predictable. But don’t do it! For heaven’s sake, don’t! Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out!

From In the Manger

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A Lesson in Trust - UpWords - Week of December 15-21, 2017

by Max Lucado

In one of Henri Nouwen’s books, he tells about the lesson of trust he learned from a great trapeze artist. The acrobat said, “The flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. I have simply to reach out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron. The flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.”

In the great trapeze act of salvation, God is the catcher, and we are the flyers. We trust. Period. We rely solely upon God’s ability to catch us. As we do trust Him, a wonderful thing happens– we fly! Your Father has never dropped anyone. He will not drop you. His grip is sturdy and his hands are open. Place yourself entirely in his care. As you do, you will find it is possible--yes, possible--to be anxious for nothing.

From Anxious for Nothing

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God is Good - UpWords - Week of December 8-14, 2017

by Max Lucado

There’s a reason the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror. Your future matters more than your past!

God’s grace is greater than your sin. You thought the problem was your calendar, your marriage, or your job. In reality, it may be unresolved guilt. Don’t indulge it! Don’t drown in the bilge of your own condemnation. What you did was not good. But your God is good and He will forgive you. He is ready to write a new chapter in your life. Say with Paul, “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us” (Philippians 3:13-14 TLB).

Your salvation has nothing to do with your work and everything to do with the finished work of Christ on the cross. Rejoice in the Lord’s mercy!

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A Great Grace - UpWords - Week of November 24-30, 2017

by Max Lucado

I can bear witness to the power of God’s grace! I could take you to the church, to the section of seats in the church auditorium. I might be able to find the very seat in which I was sitting when this grace found me. I was a twenty-year-old college sophomore, living with a concrete block of guilt that had made a mess of my life.

But then I heard a preacher describe the divine grace that is greater than sin. At the end of the message he asked if anyone would like to come forward and receive this grace. Iron chains couldn’t have held me back. Truth be told, chains had held me back. But mercy snapped the guilt chains and set me free.

I know this truth firsthand: Guilt frenzies the soul but grace calms it! The benefit of being a great sinner is dependence upon a great grace!

From Anxious for Nothing


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Unresolved Guilt - UpWords - Week of November 17-23, 2017

by Max Lucado

What kind of person does unresolved guilt create? An anxious one, forever hiding, running, denying, or pretending. As one man admitted, “I was always living a lie for fear someone might see me for who I really was and think less of me. I hid behind my super spirituality but this lie was exhausting and anxiety producing.”

Unresolved guilt will turn you into a miserable, weary, angry, fretful mess. In a psalm David probably wrote after his affair with Bathsheba, the king said, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat” (Psalms 32:3-4 NLT).

As the apostle Paul told Titus, God’s grace is the fertile soil out of which courage sprouts! “God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation is available for everyone!” (Titus 2:11,15 MSG).

From Anxious for Nothing

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The Grace of Christ - UpWords - Week of November 10-16, 2017

by Max Lucado

Guilt sucks the life out of our souls. Grace restores it. No one had more reason to feel the burden of guilt than did the apostle Paul. He had orchestrated the deaths of Christians--an ancient version of a terrorist. Yet, Paul gave his guilt to Jesus, period. He surrendered it to Jesus! As a result he could write, “I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us” (Philippians 3:13-14 TLB).

What would the apostle say to the guilt-ridden? Simply this: Rejoice in the Lord’s mercy. Trust in his ability to forgive. Cast yourself upon the grace of Christ and Christ alone!

From Anxious for Nothing.

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Rejoice in the Lord's Sovereignty - UpWords - Week of October 20-26, 2017

by Max Lucado

The next time you fear the future, rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty. Rejoice in what he has accomplished. Rejoice that he is able to do what you cannot do. Fill your mind with thoughts of God.

“He is the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Romans 1:25).

“He is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

“His years will never end” (Psalm 102:27 NIV).

He is king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, and overlord of all history. An arch of his eyebrow and a million angels will pivot and salute! Every throne is a footstool to his. Every crown is papier-mache next to his. He consults no advisers. He needs no congress. He reports to no one. He is in charge.

Sovereignty gives the saint the inside track to peace. Others see the problems of the world and wring their hands. We see the problems of the world and bend our knees!

From Anxious for Nothing

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God is Able - UpWords - Week of October 13-19, 2017

by Max Lucado

What will happen if your job disappears? Or your health diminishes? Or the economy takes a nosedive? Does God have a message for his people when calamity strikes?

He certainly had a word for Isaiah. The prophet wrote, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. . .above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

God calmed the fears of Isaiah, not by removing the problem, but by revealing his divine power and presence. Rejoice that God is able to do what you cannot do! Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your heavenly father increases!

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God Oversees Your World - UpWords - Week of October 6-12, 2017

by Max Lucado

It is not God’s will that you face every day with dread and trepidation! I have a childhood memory that I cherish. My father loved corn bread and buttermilk. About ten o’clock each night he would meander into the kitchen and crumble a piece of corn bread into a glass of buttermilk, stand at the counter and drink it. Then he would make the rounds to the front and back doors, checking the locks. Once everything was secure, he would step into the bedroom I shared with my brother and say something like “Everything is secure, boys. You can go to sleep now.”

I have no inclination to believe that God loves corn bread and buttermilk, but I do believe he loves his children. He keeps everything secure and oversees your world! By his power you will “be anxious for nothing” and discover the “peace...that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:4-8 RSV).

From Anxious for Nothing

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A New Chapter for Your Life - UpWords - Week of September 29-October 5, 2017

by Max Lucado

The anxious heart says, “There’s trouble out there!” So you don’t sleep well. You don’t laugh often. Misfortune lurks... it’s just a matter of time. As a result you’re anxious. You’re not alone. Our society is crippled by anxiety. How can this be? Our cars are safer than ever. We regulate food and water and electricity. Yet if worry were an Olympic event, we’d win the gold medal!

Keep in mind that anxiety is not a sin but an emotion. It can, however, lead to sinful behavior. When we numb our fears with six-packs or food binges, when we peddle our fears to anyone who’ll buy them, we’re sinning. Jesus gave this word: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighted down with. . .the anxieties of life” (Luke 21:34 NIV).

God made you for more than a life of angst and mind-splitting worry. He has a new chapter for your life. And he is ready to write it!

From Anxious for Nothing


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Anxiety Ain't Fun - UpWords - Week of September 22-28, 2017

by Max Lucado

Anxiety is a meteor shower of what-ifs. The sky is falling, and it’s falling disproportionately on you. Anxiety ain’t fun! One would think Christians would be exempt from worry but we are not. It’s enough to make us wonder if the apostle Paul was out of touch with reality when he wrote in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing.”

Is that what he meant? Not exactly. He wrote the phrase in the present active tense—implying an ongoing state. “Don’t let anything in life leave you perpetually breathless and in angst.” The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional. Could you use some calm? Of course you could. We all could! We all could use a word of comfort and God is ready to give it.

From Anxious for Nothing

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A Small Price to Pay - UpWords - Week of September 15-21, 2017

by Max Lucado

When you recognize God as Creator, you will admire Him. When you recognize His wisdom, you will learn from Him. When you discover His strength, you will rely on Him. But only when He saves you, will you worship Him.

Before your rescue, you could easily keep God at a distance. Comfortably dismissed and neatly shelved. Sure, He was important, but so was your career...your status. Then came the storm and the ripped moorings. Turn to your career for help? Only if you want to hide from the storm--not escape it. Lean on your status for strength? A storm isn’t impressed with your title.

And from that moment on, He is not just a deity to admire or a teacher to observe--He is the Savior. The Savior to be worshiped. A season of suffering is a small price to pay for a clear view of God!

From In the Eye of the Storm

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The Mark of a Disciple - UpWords - Week of September 8-14, 2017

by Max Lucado

The mark of a disciple is his or her ability to hear the Master’s voice! The world rams at your door, but Jesus taps. Voices scream for your allegiance, but Jesus softly and tenderly requests it. Which voice do you hear? There is never a time during which Jesus is not speaking. Never. There is never a place in which Jesus is not present. Ever. There is never a time when He is not tapping gently on the doors of our hearts--waiting to be invited in.

Few hear His voice. Fewer still open the door. But never interpret our numbness as His absence. For amidst the fleeting promises of pleasure is the timeless promise of His presence. “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). There is no chorus so loud that the voice of God cannot be heard. . .if we will but listen!

From Eye of the Storm

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God's Far-Reaching Grace - UpWords - Week of September 1-7, 2017

by Max Lucado

Seems to me God gives a lot more grace than we’d ever imagine. We could do the same. I’m not for watering down the truth or compromising the Gospel. But if a fellow with a pure heart calls God Father, can’t I call that same man Brother? If God doesn’t make doctrinal perfection a requirement for family membership, should I?

If God can tolerate my mistakes, can’t I tolerate the mistakes of others? If God can overlook my errors, can’t I overlook the errors of others? If God allows me with my foibles and failures to call him Father, shouldn’t I extend that same grace to others?

One thing is for sure. When we get to heaven, we’ll be surprised at some of the folks we see. And some of them will be surprised when they see us!

From God Whispers Your Name

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When God Whispers Your Name - UpWords - Week of August 25-31, 2017

by Max Lucado

I’ve never been surprised by God’s judgment—but I’m still stunned by his grace! David the psalmist becomes David the voyeur, but by God’s grace becomes David the psalmist again. Peter denied Christ before he preached Christ. Zaccaeus, the crook… the cleanest part of his life was the money he’d laundered, but Jesus still had time for him. The thief on the cross…hell bent and hung-out-to die one minute, but heaven-bound and smiling the next.

Story after story. Surprise after surprise. It seems that God is looking more for ways to get us home than for ways to keep us out. I challenge you to find one soul who came to God seeking grace and did not find it. Search the pages. Read the stories. Find one person who came seeking a second chance and left with a stern lecture. I dare you! You won’t find it!

From When God Whispers Your Name

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What God is Doing - UpWords - Week of August 18-24, 2017

By Max Lucado

Changing direction in life is not tragic--but losing passion in life is! Something happens along the way. Convictions to change the world downgrade to commitments to pay the bills. Rather than make a difference, we make a salary. Rather than look outward, we look inward. And we don’t like what we see!

But God is not finished with you yet. Oh you may think he is. You may think you’ve peaked. You may think he’s got someone else to do the job. If so, think again! The Bible says, “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again” (Philippians 1:6 NCV).

Did you see what God is doing? A good work in you! Did you see when he will be finished? When Jesus Christ comes again. May I spell out the message? God ain’t finished with you yet!

From When God Whispers Your Name


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8/11/17 3:50 P

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Your Name on God's Hand - UpWords - Week of August 11-17, 2017

by Max Lucado

When I see a flock of sheep I see exactly that--a flock. A rabble of wool...all alike. But not so with the shepherd. To him every sheep is different. Every face is special. Every sheep has a name, and that includes you! The Shepherd you! He knows your name and he will never forget it.

He says in Isaiah 49:16, “I have written your name on my hand.” Your name is on God’s hand. Your name is on God’s lips. Perhaps you’ve never seen your name honored, or heard it spoken with kindness. If so, it may be more difficult for you to believe that God knows your name. But he does! Written on his hand. Spoken by his mouth. Your name! Keep listening...be sure to hear when God whispers yourname.

From When God Whispers Your Name


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Let God Define Good - UpWords - Week of July 28-August 3, 2017

by Max Lucado

Nothing in the Bible would cause us to call a famine good or a heart attack good or a terrorist attack good. These are terrible calamities, born out of a fallen earth. Yet every message in the Bible compels us to believe that God will mix them with other ingredients, and bring good out of them. But we must let God define good. Our definition includes health, comfort, and recognition. His definition? In the case of His Son, Jesus Christ, the good life consisted of struggles, storms, and death. But God worked it all together for the greatest of good: His glory and our salvation.

At some point we all stand at this intersection. Is God good when the outcome is not? Do you want to know heaven’s clearest answer to the question of suffering? Take a look at Jesus!

From You’ll Get Through This



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Keep Waiting–God is at Work - UpWords - Week of July 21-27, 2017

by Max Lucado

I’m convinced the Sabbath was created for frantic souls like me, people who need a weekly reminder that the world will not stop if I do. In one of the most dramatic examples of waiting in the Bible, Daniel prays for people who’d been oppressed for seventy years. He abstained from food and drink for twenty-one days, as he labored in prayer, persisted, pleaded, and agonized. No response. On the twenty-second day an angel of God appeared. He revealed to Daniel that his prayer had been heard on the first day. From an earthly perspective, nothing was happening. But from a heavenly perspective a battle was raging in the heavens. God was working.

What if Daniel had given up? Lost faith? Walked away from God? Better questions: What if you give up? Lose faith? Walk away? Don’t! God is at work. Keep waiting!

From You’ll Get Through This

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God is Doing What's Best for Us - UpWords - Week of July 7-13, 2017

by Max Lucado

God is at work in each of us whether we know it or not, whether we want it or not. Lamentations 3:33 says, “He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.” He doesn’t delight in our sufferings, but He delights in our development. It’s what Paul pointed out in Philippians 1:6 when he wrote, “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure He will continue until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.”

Don’t see your struggle as an interruption to life but as preparation for life. No one said the road would be easy or painless. But God will use this mess for something good. This trouble you are in isn’t punishment, it’s training. It is the normal experience of children. God is doing what’s best for us, training us to live God’s holy best!

From You’ll Get Through This

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Show Up - UpWords - Week of June 30-July 6, 2017

by Max Lucado

God believes in you! And I wonder if you could take some of the belief he has in you and share it with someone else? Could you believe in someone? One German poet said, “Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.”

How do we show people that we believe in them? Show up! Nothing takes the place of your presence. Do you believe in your kids? Then show up...at their games...and at their plays. It may not be possible to make each one, but it’s worth the effort. Do you believe in your friends? Show up at their graduations and weddings. Spend time with them. You want to bring out the best in someone? Then show up. And let God’s word be the authoritative word in your world.

From A Love Worth Giving

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A Cloak of Love - UpWords - Week of June 23-29, 2017

by Max Lucado

Do you know anyone who is wounded and afraid? Do you know anyone who is guilty and embarrassed? Do you know anyone who needs a cloak of love? “Love covers a multitude of sins,” the scripture says in 1 Peter 4:8. Love doesn’t expose. It doesn’t gossip. If love says anything, love speaks words of defense. Words of kindness. Words of protection.

Do you know anyone who could use some protection? Of course you do. Then give some. Pay a gas bill for a struggling elderly couple. Promise your kids that, God being your helper, they’ll never know a hungry day or a homeless night. Tell your husband that you’d do it all over again and invite him on a honeymoon. Make sure your divorced friends are invited to your parties. Do you know anyone who needs a cloak of love? Then, give it.

From A Love Worth Giving

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Real Love Changes People - UpWords - Week of June 16-22, 2017

by Max Lucado

Paul writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 NASB). Do you want to plumb the depths of your love for someone? How do you feel when that person succeeds? Do you rejoice or are you jealous? And when he or she stumbles or falls into misfortune? Are you really sorry? Or are you secretly pleased?

Love never celebrates misfortune. Never! Real love changes people. Didn’t God’s love change you? You know your love is real when you weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Do you want to know what love is? “This is what real love is– It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10).

God passes the test! And well he should --he drafted it! He rejoices with you; may you rejoice with others.

From A Love Worth Giving

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Check Your Garbage - UpWords - Week of June 9-15, 2017

by Max Lucado

Life has a way of unloading its rubbish on our doorstep! Your husband works too much. Your wife gripes too much. Your kids whine too much. The result? Trash! Load after load of bitterness, anxiety, deceit, and distrust. It all piles up. Now, mark it down. Today’s anger is tomorrow’s abuse. Today’s lust is tomorrow’s adultery. Today’s guilt is tomorrow’s fear. Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. So, deal with the trash!

Could that be why Paul says, “Love. . .keeps no record of wrongs?” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). Let trash pile up and people are going to smell it. Are we victims of the emotional bacteria of the season? Or do we have a choice? Paul says we have an option. “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We have a choice. You might want to check your garbage.

From A Love Worth Giving

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The Lord Heals All Diseases - UpWords - Week of June 2-8, 2017

By Max Lucado

The psalmist says, “The Lord heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2-3 NIV). Do you think among those diseases might be the affliction of anger? God can help you get rid of your anger.

Do you want him to? This isn’t a trick question. You may be addicted to anger. You may be a rage junkie. Anger may be part of your identity. But if you want him to, God can change your identity.

Do you have a better option? Like moving to a rejection-free zone? If so, enjoy your life on the deserted island. When others reject you, let God accept you. Leave your anger at the tree of Calvary. He is not frowning. He is not mad. He sings over you. Take a long drink from his limitless love, and cool down!

From A Love Worth Giving

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A Deposit of Power - UpWords - Week of May 26-June 1, 2017

by Max Lucado

Many Christians view their conversion something like a car wash. You go in a filthy clunker, and you come out with your sins washed away--a cleansed clunker. But conversion is more than a removal of sin. It is a deposit of power! It is as if a brand-new Ferrari engine was mounted in your frame. God removed the old motor that was caked, cracked, and broken with rebellion and evil; and he replaced it with a humming, roaring version of himself.

The Apostle Paul described it as being “a new creation, old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are fully equipped. Do you need more energy? You have it. More kindness? It’s yours. Hebrews 13:21 promises that God will equip you with all you need for doing His will. Just press the gas pedal. God has given you everything you need for living a godly life!

From Glory Days

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