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10/6/20 12:34 A

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A Little Over a Lifetime - UpWords - October 5

by Max Lucado

Will I learn what God intends? If I listen, I will. A little girl returned from her first day at school.

Her mom asked, “Did you learn anything?” “I guess not,” the girl responded. “I have to go back tomorrow and the next day and the next day...”

Such is the case with learning. And such is the case with Bible study.

Understanding comes a little at a time over a lifetime. James said: “The man who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of doing so is not the man who hears and forgets. He puts that law into practice and wins true happiness.” (James 1:25).

The Bible is not a newspaper to be skimmed but rather a mine to be quarried. Proverbs 2:4 says to “search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure.”

And we need to do it today, and the next day, and the next…

From Just Like Jesus

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10/4/20 2:34 P

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God Chats in the Closet - UpWords - October 4

by Max Lucado

Religious leaders loved to make theater out of their prayers. The show nauseated Jesus.

In Matthew 6:6 He said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who cannot be seen. Your Father can see what is done in secret, and He will reward you.”

The words surely stunned Jesus’ audience. The people were simple farmers and stonemasons.

They couldn’t enter the temple. But they could enter their closets. The point? He is low on fancy, high on accessibility. You need not woo him with location! Or wow him with eloquence. It’s the power of a simple prayer.

From Before Amen

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10/3/20 11:22 P

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Bring Your Children to Jesus - UpWords - October 3

by Max Lucado

Lamentations 2:19 says, “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.”

Dads– we can be loyal advocates, stubborn intercessors. We can take our parenting fears to Christ. In fact, if we don’t, we’ll take our fears out on our kids. Fear turns some parents into paranoid prison guards.

On the other hand, fear can also create permissive parents. High on hugs and low on discipline. Permissive parents. Paranoid parents. How can we avoid the extremes? We pray. Prayer is the saucer into which parental fears are poured to cool.

When you send them off for the day, do so with a blessing. When you tell them good night, cover them in prayer. Pray that your children have a profound sense of place in this world and a heavenly place in the next.

From Dad Time UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace

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10/2/20 6:29 A

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You Are His - UpWords - October 2

by Max Lucado

God’s grace defines you!

Society labels you like a can on an assembly line. Stupid. Unproductive. Slow learner. Fast talker. Quitter. But as grace infiltrates, criticism disintegrates. You know you aren’t who they say you are.

You are who God says you are: “spiritually alive.” Heavenly positioned, “seated with him in the heavenly realms.” “One with Jesus Christ.”

Of course, not all labels are negative. Some people regard you as clever, successful. But it doesn’t compare with being “seated with him in the heavenly realms!” God creates the Christian’s resume!

Grace defines who you are. The parent you can’t please is as mistaken as the doting uncle you can’t disappoint.

Listen, God wrote your story. He cast you in his drama. You hang as God’s work of art, a testimony in his gallery of grace.

According to Him, you are His. Period.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6

From UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace

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9/30/20 12:23 P

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God’s Workshop - UpWords - September 30

by Max Lucado

I remember knowing kids whose fathers were quite successful. One was a judge. The other a prominent physician. I attended church with the son of the mayor. “My father has an office at the courthouse,” he could claim. Guess what you can claim?

“My Father rules the universe!”” Scripture says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies announce what his hands have made.” (Psalms 19:1)

Nature is God’s workshop. The sky is his resume. You want to know who God is? See what he has done. You want to know his power? Take a look at his creation.

How vital that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven. Pray with any lesser conviction and your prayers are timid, shallow, and hollow. But spend some time walking in the workshop of the heavens. Seeing what God has done—seeing what your Father has done and watch how your prayers are energized!

From UpWords with Max Lucado

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9/28/20 3:36 P

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The Blacksmith's Shop - UpWords - September 28

by Max Lucado

In the shop of a blacksmith, there are three types of tools. There are tools on the junk pile:
outdated, broken, dull, rusty.

They sit in the cobwebbed corner, useless to their master, oblivious to their calling.

There are tools on the anvil: melted down, molten hot, moldable, changeable.

They lie on the anvil, being shaped by their master, accepting their calling.

There are tools of usefulness: sharpened, primed, defined, mobile.

They lie ready in the blacksmith’s tool chest, available to their master, fulfilling their calling.

Some people lie useless: lives broken, talents wasting, fires quenched, dreams dashed.

They are tossed in with the scrap iron, in desperate need of repair, with no notion of purpose.

Others lie on the anvil: hearts open, hungry to change, wounds healing, visions clearing.

They welcome the painful pounding of the blacksmith’s hammer, longing to be rebuilt, begging to be called.

Others lie in their Master’s hands:
well tuned, uncompromising, polished, productive.

They respond to their Master’s forearm, demanding nothing, surrendering all.

We are all somewhere in the blacksmith’s shop. We are either on the scrap pile, in the Master’s hands on the anvil, or in the tool chest. (Some of us have been in all three.)

From the shelves to the workbench, from the water to the fire…I’m sure that somewhere you will see yourself.

Paul spoke of becoming “an instrument for noble purposes.” And what a becoming it is! The rubbish pile of broken tools, the anvil of recasting, the hands of the Master- it’s a simultaneously joyful and painful voyage.

And for you who make the journey—who leave the heap and enter the fire, dare to be pounded on God’s anvil, and doggedly seek to discover your own purpose—take courage, for you await the privilege of being called “God’s chosen instruments.”

From On the Anvil: Stories On Being Shaped Into God’s Image

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9/27/20 4:19 P

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The Bandit of Joy - UpWords - September 27

by Max Lucado

The bandit of joy is Fear. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of God, and fear of tomorrow. His arsenal is vast. His goal? To create cowardly, joyless souls.

We try unsuccessfully to face our fears with power, possessions, or popularity. Only inward character creates courage. And it is those inward convictions Jesus is building in the Beatitudes.

The result of this process is courage—“they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). No longer shall the earth and its fears dominate us, for we follow the one who dominates the earth.

If you are in Christ, you are guaranteed that your sins will be filtered through, hidden in, and screened out by the sacrifice of Jesus. That means failure is not a concern for you. Your victory is secure. How could you not be courageous?

From Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado

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9/25/20 4:54 P

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Jesus Honors You - UpWords - September 25

By Max Lucado

You are valuable just because you exist! Remember that the next time some trickster tries to hang a bargain basement price tag on your self-worth.

Just think about the way Jesus honors you—and smile! I do. I smile because I know I don’t deserve a love like that. None of us do.

When you get right down to it, any contribution any of us makes is pretty puny. All of us, even the purest of us, deserve heaven about as much as that crook on the cross did.

It makes me smile to think there’s a grinning thief walking the golden streets of heaven who knows more about grace than a thousand theologians.

No one else would have given the thief on the cross a prayer. But in the end that is all he had. And in the end, that is all it took!

No wonder they call Jesus the Savior.

From UpWords at OnePlace.com

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9/23/20 1:30 A

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A Godly Touch - UpWords - September 23

By Max Lucado

The power of a godly touch. Have you known it? The doctor who treated you, or the teacher who dried your tears? Was there a hand holding yours at a funeral?

Haven’t we known the power of a godly touch? Can’t we offer the same?

Some of you use your hands to pray for the sick. If you aren’t touching them personally, you’re writing notes, calling, baking pies. You’ve learned the power of a touch.

But others tend to forget. Our hearts are good; it’s just that our memories are bad. We forget how significant one touch can be.

We fear saying the wrong thing, or using the wrong tone or acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, we do nothing at all.

Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t make the same mistake? Matthew 8:1-4. Will you do the same?

From OnePlace.com at Max Lucado

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9/21/20 10:46 A

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Thump-Thud, Thump-Thud - UpWords - September 21

By Max Lucado

When a potter bakes a pot, he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the oven and thumping it. If it “sings,” it’s ready. If it “thuds,” it’s placed back in the oven.

The character of a person is also checked by thumping. Been thumped lately?

Late-night phone calls. Grouchy teacher. Grumpy moms. Burnt meals. Flat tires. You’ve-got-to-be-kidding deadlines. Those are thumps. Thumps are those irritating inconveniences that trigger the worst in us. They catch us off guard. Flat-footed. They aren’t big enough to be crises, but if you get enough of them, watch out! Traffic jams. Long lines. Empty mailboxes.

Dirty clothes on the floor. Even as I write this, I’m being thumped. Because of interruptions, it has taken me almost two hours to write these two paragraphs. Thump. Thump. Thump.

How do I respond? Do I sing? Or do I thud?

Jesus said that out of the nature of the heart a man speaks (Luke 6:45). There’s nothing like a good thump to reveal the nature of a heart. The true character of a person is seen not in momentary heroics but in the thump-packed humdrum of day-to-day living.

If you have a tendency to thud more than you sing, take heart.

The true character of a person is seen not in momentary heroics but in the thump-packed humdrum of day-to day living.

There is hope for us “thudders”:

1. Begin by thanking God for thumps. I don’t mean a half-hearted thank-you. I mean a rejoicing, jumping-for-joy thank-you from the bottom of your heart (James 1:2). Chances are that God is doing the thumping. And he’s doing it for your own good. So every thump is a reminder that God is molding you (Heb. 12:5–8).

2. Learn from each thump. Face up to the fact that you are not “thump-proof.” You are going to be tested from now on. You might as well learn from the thumps—you can’t avoid them. Look upon each inconvenience as an opportunity to develop patience and persistence. Each thump will help you or hurt you, depending on how you use it.

3. Be aware of “thump-slump” times. Know your pressure periods. For me Mondays are infamous for causing thump-slumps. Fridays can be just as bad. For all of us, there are times during the week when we can anticipate an unusual amount of thumping. The best way to handle thump-slump times? Head on. Bolster yourself with extra prayer, and don’t give up.
Remember, no thump is disastrous. All thumps work for good if we are loving and obeying God.

From On the Anvil

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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9/19/20 5:45 P

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When Grace Goes Deep - UpWords - September 19

by Max Lucado

The prodigal son trudges up the path. His pig stink makes passersby walk wide circles around him, but he doesn't notice. With eyes on the ground, he rehearses his speech: "Father"—his voice barely audible—"I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy to be called your son." He rehashes the phrases, wondering if he should say more, less, or make a U-turn to the barnyard. After all, he cashed in the trust fund and trashed the family name. Over the last year, he'd awakened with more parched throats, headaches, women, and tattoos than a rock star. How could his father forgive him?Maybe I could offer to pay off the credit cards.

He's so focused on penance planning that he fails to hear the sound of his father…running!

The dad embraces the mud-layered boy as if he were a returning war hero. He commands the servants to bring a robe, ring, and sandals, as if to say, "No boy of mine is going to look like a pigpen peasant. Fire up the grill. Bring on the drinks. It's time for a party!"

Big brother meanwhile stands on the porch and sulks. "No one ever gave me a party," he mumbles, arms crossed.

The father tries to explain, but the jealous son won't listen. He huffs and shrugs and grumbles something about cheap grace, saddles his high horse, and rides off. But you knew that. You've read the parable of the gracious father and the hostile brother (see Luke 15:11-32).

But have you heard what happened next? Have you read the second chapter? It's a page-turner. The older brother resolves to rain on the forgiveness parade. If Dad won't exact justice on the boy, I will.

"Nice robe there, little brother," he tells him one day. "Better keep it clean. One spot and Dad will send you to the cleaners with it."

The younger waves him away, but the next time he sees his father, he quickly checks his robe for stains.

A few days later big brother warns about the ring. "Quite a piece of jewelry Dad gave you. He prefers that you wear it on the thumb."

"The thumb? He didn't tell me that."

"Some things we're just supposed to know."

"But it won't fit my thumb."

"What's your goal—pleasing our father or your own personal comfort?" the spirituality monitor gibes, walking away.

Big brother isn't finished. With the pleasantness of a dyspeptic IRS auditor, he taunts, "If Dad sees you with loose laces, he'll take the sandals back."

"He will not. They were a gift. He wouldn't…would he?" The ex-prodigal then leans over to snug the strings. As he does, he spots a smudge on his robe. Trying to rub it off, he realizes the ring is on a finger, not his thumb. That's when he hears his father's voice. "Hello, Son."

There the boy sits, wearing a spotted robe, loose laces, and a misplaced ring. Overcome with fear, he reacts with a "Sorry, Dad" and turns and runs.

Too many tasks. Keeping the robe spotless, the ring positioned, the sandals snug—who could meet such standards? Gift preservation begins to wear on the young man. He avoids the father he feels he can't please. He quits wearing the gifts he can't maintain. And he even begins longing for the simpler days of the pigpen. "No one hounded me there."

That's the rest of the story. Wondering where I found it? On page 1,892 of my Bible, in the book of Galatians. Thanks to some legalistic big brothers, Paul's readers had gone from grace receiving to law keeping.

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.… (Galatians 1:6-7)

Joy snatchers infiltrated the Roman church as well. Paul had to remind them, "But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work" (Rom. 4:5).
Philippian Christians heard the same foolishness. Big brothers weren't telling them to wear a ring on their thumb, but they were insisting "you must be circumcised to be saved" (Phil. 3:2).

Even the Jerusalem church, the flagship congregation, heard the solemn monotones of the Quality Control Board. Non-Jewish believers were being told, "You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised as Moses taught us" (Acts 15:1 NCV)

The churches suffered from the same malady: grace blockage. The Father might let you in the gate, but you have to earn your place at the table. God makes the down payment on your redemption, but you pay the monthly installments. Heaven gives the boat, but you have to row it if you ever want to see the other shore.

Your deeds don't save you. And your deeds don't keep you saved. Grace does. The next time big brother starts dispensing more snarls than twin Dobermans, loosen your sandals, set your ring on your finger, and quote the apostle of grace who said, "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10 NKJV)

From Come Thirsty

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9/19/20 12:13 A

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Open Your Door, Open Your Heart - UpWords - September 18

by Max Lucado

Long before the church had pulpits and baptisteries, she had kitchens and dinner tables. "The believers met together in the Temple every day. They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts" (Acts 2:46 NCV).

"Every day in the Temple and in people's homes they continued teaching the people and telling the Good News—that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 5:42 NCV).

Even a casual reading of the New Testament unveils the house as the primary tool of the church. "To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer . . . and to the church in your house" (Philem. vv. 1-2). "Greet Priscilla and Aquila . . . the church that is in their house" (Rom. 16:3, 5). "Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house" (Col. 4:15).

It's no wonder that the elders were to be "given to hospitality" (1 Tim. 3:2 KJV). The primary gathering place of the church was the home. Consider the genius of God's plan. The first generation of Christians was a tinderbox of contrasting cultures and backgrounds. At least fifteen different nationalities heard Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost.

Jews stood next to Gentiles. Men worshipped with women. Slaves and masters alike sought after Christ. Can people of such varied backgrounds and cultures get along with each other?

We wonder the same thing today. Can Hispanics live in peace with Anglos? Can Democrats find common ground with Republicans? Can a Christian family carry on a civil friendship with the Muslim couple down the street? Can divergent people get along?

The early church did—without the aid of sanctuaries, church buildings, clergy, or seminaries.

They did so through the clearest of messages (the Cross) and the simplest of tools (the home).

Not everyone can serve in a foreign land, lead a relief effort, or volunteer at the downtown soup kitchen. But who can't be hospitable? Do you have a front door? A table? Chairs? Bread and meat for sandwiches? Congratulations! You just qualified to serve in the most ancient of ministries: hospitality. You can join the ranks of people such as . . .

Abraham. He fed, not just angels, but the Lord of angels (Gen. 18).

Rahab, the harlot. She received and protected the spies. Thanks to her kindness, her kindred survived, and her name is remembered (Josh. 6:22-23; Matt. 1:5).

Martha and Mary. They opened their home for Jesus. He, in turn, opened the grave of Lazarus for them (John 11:1-45; Luke 10:38-42).

He welcomed Jesus to his table. And Jesus left salvation as a thank-you gift (Luke 19:1-10).

And what about the greatest example of all—the "certain man" of Matthew 26:18? On the day before his death, Jesus told his followers, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: The chosen time is near. I will have the Passover with my followers at your house'"
(NCV).

How would you have liked to be the one who opened his home for Jesus? You can be. "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matt. 25:40 NIV). As you welcome strangers to your table, you are welcoming God himself.

Something holy happens around a dinner table that will never happen in a sanctuary. In a church auditorium you see the backs of heads. Around the table you see the expressions on faces. In the auditorium one person speaks; around the table everyone has a voice. Church services are on the clock. Around the table there is time to talk.

Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It's no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: "You matter to me and to God." You may think you are saying, "Come over for a visit." But what your guest hears is, "I'm worth the effort."

Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
(1 Peter 4:9-10 NLT)

Heavenly Father, you have given me so much—every breath I take is a gift from your hand. Even so, I confess that sometimes my own hand remains tightly closed when I encounter the needs of others. Please open both my hand and my heart that I might learn to delight in taking advantage of the daily opportunities for hospitality that you present to me. Help me remember, Lord, that when I show your love in tangible ways to "the least of these," I am ministering directly to you. As you help me open my heart and hand, O Lord, I ask that you also prompt me to open my door to those who need a taste of your love and bounty. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

From Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference

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Take Goliath Down - UpWords - September 17

by Max Lucado

Goliath's still roam our world. Debt. Disaster. Dialysis. Danger. Deceit. Disease. Depression.

Super-size challenges still swagger and strut, still pilfer sleep and embezzle peace and liposuction joy. But they can't dominate you. You know how to deal with them. You face giants by facing God first.

Focus on giants—you stumble.

Focus on God—your giants tumble.

You know what David knew, and you do what David did. You pick up five stones, and you make five decisions. Ever wonder why David took five stones into battle? Why not two or twenty?

Rereading his story reveals five answers. Use your five fingers to remind you of the five stones you need to face down your Goliath. Let your thumb remind you of …

1. THE STONE OF THE PAST
Goliath jogged David's memory. Elah was a déjà vu. While everyone else quivered, David remembered. God had given him strength to wrestle a lion and strong-arm a bear. Wouldn't he do the same with the giant? A good memory makes heroes.

"Remember His marvelous works which He has done" (1 Chronicles 16:12). Catalog God's successes. Keep a list of his world records. Has he not walked you through high waters?

Proven to be faithful? Have you not known his provision? How many nights have you gone to bed hungry? Mornings awakened in the cold? He has made roadkill out of your enemies. Write today's worries in sand. Chisel yesterday's victories in stone. Pick up the stone of the past.

Then select …

2. THE STONE OF PRAYER
Note the valley between your thumb and finger. To pass from one to the next you must go through it. Let it remind you of David's descent. Before going high, David went low; before ascending to fight, David descended to prepare. Don't face your giant without first doing the same. Dedicate time to prayer. Paul, the apostle, wrote, "Prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long" (Eph. 6:18 MSG).

Prayer spawned David's successes. His Brook Besor wisdom grew out of the moment he "strengthened himself in the Lord his God" (1 Sam. 30:6). When Saul's soldiers tried to capture him, David turned toward God: "You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble" (Ps. 59:16).
Invite God's help. Pick up the stone of prayer. And don't neglect …

3. THE STONE OF PRIORITY
Let your tallest finger remind you of your highest priority: God's reputation. David jealously guarded it. No one was going to defame his Lord. David fought so that "all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's" (1 Sam. 17:46-47).

David saw Goliath as a chance for God to show off! Did David know he would exit the battle alive? No. But he was willing to give his life for the reputation of God.

What if you saw your giant in the same manner? Rather than begrudge him, welcome him. Your cancer is God's chance to flex his healing muscles. Your sin is God's opportunity to showcase grace. Your struggling marriage can billboard God's power. See your struggle as God's canvas. On it he will paint his multicolored supremacy. Announce God's name and then reach for …

4. THE STONE OF PASSION
David ran, not away from, but toward his giant. On one side of the battlefield, Saul and his cowardly army gulped. On the other, Goliath and his skull-splitters scoffed. In the middle, the shepherd boy ran on his spindly legs. Who bet on David? Who put money on the kid from Bethlehem? Not the Philistines. Not the Hebrews. Not David's siblings or David's king. But God did.

And since God did, and since David knew God did, the skinny runt became a blur of pumping knees and a swirling sling. He ran toward his giant.
Do the same!
Let your ring finger remind you to take up the stone of passion.
One more stone, and finger, remains:

5. THE STONE OF PERSISTENCE
David didn't think one rock would do. He knew Goliath had four behemoth relatives. For all David knew, they'd come running over the hill to defend their kin. David was ready to empty the chamber if that's what it took.

Imitate him. Never give up. One prayer might not be enough. One apology might not do it. One day or month of resolve might not suffice. You may get knocked down a time or two … but don't quit. Keep loading the rocks. Keep swinging the sling.

David took five stones. He made five decisions. Do likewise. Past. Prayer. Priority. Passion. And persistence.

Next time Goliath wakes you up, reach for a stone. Odds are, he'll be out of the room before you can load your sling.

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Through the Valley of Death - UpWords - September 16

by Max Lucado

It seems most people think death is to be avoided or postponed and ignored. But God promises that death will be swallowed up in victory! (1 Corinthians15:54). Jesus rose from the dead, not just to show us his power, but also to lead us through the valley of death.

Recently I discovered it’s possible to record a message for my tombstone. And if I do, this may be what you’ll hear:

Thanks for coming by. Sorry you missed me, but I’m not here. I’m home. Finally home! At some point my King will call, and this grave will be shown for the temporary tomb it is. You might want to step to the side in case that happens while you are here. Hope you’ve made plans for your own departure. All the best, Max.

Yeah, I know it needs some work! But while the wording might change, the promise never will.

“Death has been swallowed up in victory!”

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A Call to Common Courtesy - UpWords - September 15

by Max Lucado

Perhaps you've never placed the word courteous next to Christ. I hadn't until I wrote this chapter.

But you know how you never notice double-cab red trucks until your friend says he wants one—then you see a dozen of them? I had never thought much about the courtesy of Christ before, but as I began looking, I realized that Jesus makes Emily Post look like Archie Bunker.

He always knocks before entering. He doesn't have to. He owns your heart. If anyone has the right to barge in, Christ does. But he doesn't. That gentle tap you hear? It's Christ. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" (Rev. 3:20 NASB). And when you answer, he awaits your invitation to cross the threshold.

And when he enters, he always brings a gift. Some bring Chianti and daisies. Christ brings "the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). And, as he stays, he serves. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45 NIV).

If you're missing your apron, you'll find it on him. He's serving the guests as they sit (John 13:4-5). He won't eat until he's offered thanks, and he won't leave until the leftovers are put away (Matt. 14:19-20).

He is courteous enough to tell you his name (Exod. 3:15) and to call you by yours (John 10:3).

And when you talk, he never interrupts. He listens.

He is even on time. Never late. Never early. If you're checking your watch, it's because you're on a different itinerary. "There is a time for everything" (Eccles. 3:1). And Christ stays on schedule.

He even opens doors for you. Paul could preach at Troas because "the Lord had opened a door" (2 Cor. 2:12 NIV). When I asked my dad why men should open doors for women, his answer was one word: "respect." Christ must have abundant respect for you.

He knocks before he enters. He always brings a gift. Food is served. The table is cleared. Thanks are offered. He knows your name and tells you his, and here is one more.

He pulls out the chair for you. "He raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with him in the heavens" (Eph. 2:6).

My wife has a heart for single moms. She loves to include a widow or divorcée at the table when we go to a restaurant. Through the years I've noticed a common appreciation from them.

They love it when I pull out their chair. More than once they have specifically thanked me. One mom in particular comes to mind. "My," she blushed, brushing the sudden moisture from her eye, "it's been a while since anyone did that."

Has it been a while for you as well? People can be so rude. We snatch parking places. We forget names. We interrupt. We fail to show up. Could you use some courtesy? Has it been a while since someone pulled out your chair?

Then let Jesus. Don't hurry through this thought. Receive the courtesy of Christ. He's your groom. Does not the groom cherish the bride? Respect the bride? Honor the bride? Let Christ do what he longs to do.

For as you receive his love, you'll find it easier to give yours. As you reflect on his courtesy to you, you'll be likely to offer the same.

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God Does Big Things with Small Deeds - UpWords - September 14

by Max Lucado

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin" (Zech. 4:10 NLT).

Begin. Just begin! What seems small to you might be huge to someone else. Just ask Bohn Fawkes. During World War II, he piloted a B-17. On one mission he sustained flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. Even though his gas tanks were hit, the plane did not explode, and Fawkes was able to land the plane.

On the morning following the raid, Fawkes asked his crew chief for the German shell. He wanted to keep a souvenir of his incredible good fortune. The crew chief explained that not just one but eleven shells had been found in the gas tanks, none of which had exploded.

Technicians opened the missiles and found them void of explosive charge. They were clean and harmless and with one exception, empty. The exception contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it a message had been scrawled in the Czech language. Translated, the note read: "This is all we can do for you now."

A courageous assembly-line worker was disarming bombs and scribbled the note. He couldn't end the war, but he could save one plane. He couldn't do everything, but he could do something. So he did it.

God does big things with small deeds.

Against a towering giant, a brook pebble seems futile. But God used it to topple Goliath.

Compared to the tithes of the wealthy, a widow's coins seem puny. But Jesus used them to inspire us. And in contrast with sophisticated priests and powerful Roman rulers, a cross-suspended carpenter seemed nothing but a waste of life. Few Jewish leaders mourned his death. Only a handful of friends buried his body. The people turned their attention back to the temple. Why not?

What power does a buried rabbi have? We know the answer. Mustard-seed and leaven-lump power. Power to tear away death rags and push away death rocks. Power to change history. In the hands of God, small seeds grow into sheltering trees. Tiny leaven expands into nourishing loaves.

Small deeds can change the world. Sow the mustard seed. Bury the leaven lump. Make the call. Write the check. Organize the committee.

Moses had a staff.
David had a sling.
Samson had a jawbone.
Rahab had a string.
Mary had some ointment.
Aaron had a rod.
Dorcas had a needle.
All were used by God.
What do you have?

God inhabits the tiny seed, empowers the tiny deed. He cures the common life by giving no common life, by offering no common gifts. Don't discount the smallness of your deeds.

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Pursue the Virtue of Contentment - UpWords - September 13

by Max Lucado

A businessman bought popcorn from an old street vendor each day after lunch. He once arrived to find the peddler closing up his stand at noon. "Is something wrong?" he asked.

A smile wrinkled the seller's leathery face. "By no means. All is well."

"Then why are you closing your popcorn stand?"

"So I can go to my house, sit on my porch, and sip tea with my wife."

The man of commerce objected. "But the day is still young. You can still sell."

"No need to," the stand owner replied. "I've made enough money for today."

"Enough? Absurd. You should keep working."

The spry old man stopped and stared at his well-dressed visitor. "And why should I keep working?"

"To sell more popcorn."

"And why sell more popcorn?"

"Because the more popcorn you sell, the more money you make. The more money you make, the richer you are. The richer you are, the more popcorn stands you can buy.

The more popcorn stands you buy, the more peddlers sell your product, and the richer you become. And when you have enough, you can stop working, sell your popcorn stands, stay home, and sit on the porch with your wife and drink tea."

The popcorn man smiled. "I can do that today. I guess I have enough."

Wise was the one who wrote, "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income" (Eccles. 5:10 NIV).

Don't heed greed.

Greed makes a poor job counselor.

Greed has a growling stomach. Feed it, and you risk more than budget-busting debt. You risk losing purpose. Greed can seduce you out of your sweet spot.

Before you change your job title, examine your perspective toward life. Success is not defined by position or pay scale but by this: doing the most what you do the best.

Parents, give that counsel to your kids. Tell them to do what they love to do so well that someone pays them to do it.

Spouses, urge your mate to choose satisfaction over salary. Better to be married to a happy person who has a thin wallet than a miserable person with a thick one. Besides, "a pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life" (Prov. 13:7 MSG).

Pursue the virtue of contentment. "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6 NIV).

When choosing or changing jobs, be careful. Consult your design. Consult your Designer. But never consult your greed.

From Cure for the Common Life

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Unfailing Love - UpWords - September 12

by Max Lucado

The verb Paul uses for the word fail is used elsewhere to describe the demise of a flower as it falls to the ground, withers, and decays. It carries the meaning of death and abolishment.

God's love, says the apostle, will never fall to the ground, wither, and decay. By its nature, it is permanent. It is never abolished.

Love "will last forever" (NLT).
It "never dies" (MSG).
It "never ends" (RSV).
Love "is eternal" (TEV).

God's love "will never come to an end" (NEB).

Love never fails.

Governments will fail, but God's love will last. Crowns are temporary, but love is eternal. Your money will run out, but his love never will.

How could God have a love like this? No one has unfailing love. No person can love with perfection. You're right. No person can. But God is not a person.

Unlike our love, his never fails. His love is immensely different from ours.

Our love depends on the receiver of the love. Let a thousand people pass before us, and we will not feel the same about each. Our love will be regulated by their appearance, by their personalities.

Even when we find a few people we like, our feelings will fluctuate. How they treat us will affect how we love them. The receiver regulates our love.

Not so with the love of God. We have no thermostatic impact on his love for us. The love of

God is born from within him, not from what he finds in us. His love is uncaused and spontaneous.

Does he love us because of our goodness? Because of our kindness? Because of our great faith? No, he loves us because of his goodness, kindness, and great faith. John says it like this:

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us" (1 John 4:10 NIV).

Doesn't this thought comfort you? God's love does not hinge on yours. The abundance of your love does not increase his. The lack of your love does not diminish his.

Your goodness does not enhance his love, nor does your weakness dilute it. What Moses said to Israel is what God says to us:

The LORD did not choose you and lavish his love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! It was simply because the LORD loves you. (Deut. 7:7-8 NLT)

God loves you simply because he has chosen to do so.

He loves you when you don't feel lovely.

He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. Always. No matter what.

This is his sentiment: "I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I'll call the unloved and make them beloved" (Rom. 9:25 MSG).

This is his promise. "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself" (Jer. 31:3 NLT).

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A Prayer for Troubled Times - UpWords - September 11

by Max Lucado

DEAR LORD,

We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.

But we won’t, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream, and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest; a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor, and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn’t.

And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request; we implore. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories, and now we plead, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again.”

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies.

Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven’s sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, O Lord. You did not waver. After your Son lay three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us a September Easter.

We thank you, dear Father, for those hours of unity. Disaster did what discussions could not.

Doctrinal fences fell. Republicans stood with Democrats. Skin colors were covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for those hours of unity.

And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.

Let your mercy be upon our president, vice president, and their families. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years you've used her to heal a hurting world.

Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Through Christ, amen.

Written by Max Lucado for America Prays, a national prayer vigil on September 15, 2001.

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The God of Great Grace - UpWords - September 10

by Max Lucado

He doesn’t speak. He removes his robe and takes the servant’s wrap off of the wall. Taking the pitcher, he pours the water into the basin.

He kneels before them with the basin and sponge and begins to wash. The towel that covers his waist is also the towel that dries their feet.

It’s not right.

Isn’t it enough that these hands will be pierced in the morning? Must they scrub grime tonight? And the disciples … do they deserve to have their feet washed? Their affections have waned; their loyalties have wavered.

Look around the table, Jesus. Out of the twelve, how many will stand with you in Pilate’s court? How many will share with you the Roman whip? And when you fall under the weight of the cross, which disciple will be close enough to spring to your side and carry your burden?

None of them will. Not one. A stranger will be called because no disciple will be near.

Don’t wash their feet, Jesus. Tell them to wash yours.

That’s what we want to say. Why? Because of the injustice? Because we don’t want to see our King behaving as a servant? God on his hands and knees, his hair hanging around his face?

Do we object because we don’t want to see God washing feet?

Or do we object because we don’t want to do the same?

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? Good. Keep that image.
John 13:12 says, “When he had finished washing their feet …”

Please note, he finished washing their feet. That means he left no one out. Why is that important? Because that also means he washed the feet of Judas. Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer. He gave his traitor equal attention. In just a few hours Judas’s feet would guide the Roman guard to Jesus. But at this moment they are caressed by Christ.

That’s not to say it was easy for Jesus.

That’s not to say it is easy for you.

That is to say that God will never call you to do what he hasn’t already done.

From A Gentle Thunder


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The Gift God Has Given You - UpWords - September 9

by Max Lucado

A cynic asked an elderly woman about the security of her salvation. He said, “How can you be so sure that after all these years God won’t let you sink into hell?” Her answer: “He would lose more than I would. All I would lose would be my own soul, but He would lose his good name.”

What a gift God has given to you! You’ve won the greatest lottery in the history of humanity, and you didn’t even pay for the ticket. Your soul is secure, your salvation guaranteed. Your name is written in the only book that matters.

This is the message of God, the promise of grace. The Bible says “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1).

This is a promise from God. And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

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Perfect Love - UpWords - September 8

by Max Lucado

Isn’t it good to know that even when we don’t love with a perfect love, he does? God always nourishes what is right. He always applauds what is right. He has never done wrong, led one person to do wrong, or rejoiced when anyone did wrong.

For he is love, and love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6 NASB).

God passes the test of 1 Corinthians 13:6. Well, he should; he drafted it.

So where does this leave us? Perhaps with a trio of reminders. When it comes to love:
Be careful.

Until love is stirred, let God’s love be enough for you. There are seasons when God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his love. Didn’t he do this with David? Saul turned on him. Michal, his wife, betrayed him. Jonathan and Samuel were David’s friends, but they couldn’t follow him into the wilderness. Betrayal and circumstances left David alone. Alone with God. And, as David discovered, God was enough.

David wrote these words in a desert: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.… My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:3, 5 NIV).

Be prayerful.

What if it’s too late? Specifically, what if you’re married to someone you don’t love—or who doesn’t love you? Many choose to leave. That may be the step you take. But if it is, take at least a thousand others first. And bathe every one of those steps in prayer.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to help you love as he loves. “God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love” (Rom. 5:5 CEV). Ask everyone you know to pray for you. Your friends.

Your family. Your church leaders. Get your name on every prayer list available. And, most of all, pray for and, if possible, with your spouse. Ask the same God who raised the dead to resurrect the embers of your love.

Be grateful.

Be grateful for those who love you. Be grateful for those who have encouraged you to do what is right and applauded when you did. Do you have people like that in your world? If so, you are doubly blessed. Be grateful for them. And be grateful for your Father in heaven.

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Welcome Home - UpWords - September 6

by Max Lucado

I came home one night to find the place unusually quiet. Molly was gone.

She’d slipped out unnoticed. The search began immediately. Within an hour we knew that she was far, far from home. Now, if you don’t like pets, what I’m about to say is going to sound strange. If you do like pets, you will understand.

You’ll understand why we walked up and down the street, calling her name. You’ll understand why I drove around the neighborhood at 10:30 P.M. You’ll understand why I put up a poster in the convenience store and convened the family for a prayer. (Honestly, I did.)

You’ll understand why I sent e-mails to the staff, asking for prayers, and to her breeder, asking for advice. And you’ll understand why we were ready to toss the confetti and party when she showed up.

Here is what happened. The next morning Denalyn was on her way home from taking the girls to school when she saw the trash truck. She asked the workers to keep an eye out for Molly and then hurried home to host a moms’ prayer group.

Soon after the ladies arrived, the trash truck pulled into our driveway, a worker opened the door, and out bounded our dog. She had been found.

When Denalyn called to tell me the news, I could barely hear her voice. It was Mardi Gras in the kitchen. The ladies were celebrating the return of Molly.

This story pops with symbolism. The master leaving his house, searching for the lost. Victories in the midst of prayer. Great things coming out of trash. But most of all: the celebration at the coming home. That’s something else you have in common with Molly—a party at your homecoming.

Those you love will shout. Those you know will applaud. But all the noise will cease when he cups your chin and says, “Welcome home.” And with scarred hand he’ll wipe every tear from your eye. And you will dwell in the house of your Lord—forever.

From Traveling Light

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God Is Love - UpWords - September 4

“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).

When it comes to love, be careful. Take a good look around. Don’t force what is wrong to be right. Be prayerful. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to help you love as he loves. “God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5).

Be grateful for those who’ve encouraged you to do what is right and applauded when you did.

And isn’t it good to know that even when we don’t love with a perfect love, he does? God always nourishes what is right. He has never done wrong, led one person to do wrong, or rejoiced when anyone did wrong. For he IS love!

From A Love Worth Giving

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 9/4/2020 (09:36)
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Every Knee Shall Bow - UpWords - September 3

by Max Lucado

“. . . whoever believes in him shall not perish . . .”

How could a loving God send sinners to hell? He doesn’t. They volunteer.

Once there, they don’t want to leave. The hearts of damned fools never soften; their minds never change. “Men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory” (Rev. 16:9 NKJV). Contrary to the idea that hell prompts remorse, it doesn’t. It intensifies blasphemy.

Remember the rich man in torment? He could see heaven but didn’t request a transfer. He wanted Lazarus to descend to him. Why not ask if he could join Lazarus? The rich man complained of thirst, not of injustice. He wanted water for the body, not water for the soul.

Even the longing for God is a gift from God, and where there is no more of God’s goodness, there is no longing for him. Though every knee shall bow before God and every tongue confess his preeminence (Rom. 14:11), the hard-hearted will do so stubbornly and without worship.

There will be no atheists in hell (Phil. 2:10–11), but there will be no God-seekers either.

But still we wonder, is the punishment fair? Such a penalty seems inconsistent with a God of love—overkill. A sinner’s rebellion doesn’t warrant an eternity of suffering, does it? Isn’t God overreacting?

Who are we to challenge God? Only he knows the full story, the number of invitations the stubborn-hearted have refused and the slander they’ve spewed.

Accuse God of unfairness? He has wrapped caution tape on hell’s porch and posted a million and one red flags outside the entrance. To descend its stairs, you’d have to cover your ears, blindfold your eyes, and, most of all, ignore the epic sacrifice of history: Christ, in God’s hell on humanity’s cross, crying out to the blackened sky, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). The supreme surprise of hell is this: Christ went there so you won’t have to.


From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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Jesus Is Praying for You - UpWords - September 1

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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When You are Low on Hope - UpWords - August 31

by Max Lucado

Water. All Noah can see is water. The evening sun sinks into it. The clouds are reflected in it. His boat is surrounded by it. Water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the west. Water.

He sent a raven on a scouting mission; it never returned. He sent a dove. It came back shivering and spent, having found no place to roost. Then, just this morning, he tried again.

With a prayer he let it go and watched until the bird was no bigger than a speck on a window.
All day he looked for the dove’s return.

Now the sun is setting, and the sky is darkening, and he has come to look one final time, but all he sees is water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the …

You know the feeling. You have stood where Noah stood. You’ve known your share of floods.

Flooded by sorrow at the cemetery, stress at the office, anger at the disability in your body or the inability of your spouse. You’ve seen the floodwater rise, and you’ve likely seen the sun set on your hopes as well. You’ve been on Noah’s boat.

And you’ve needed what Noah needed; you’ve needed some hope. You’re not asking for a helicopter rescue, but the sound of one would be nice. Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one. Sometimes all we need is a little hope.

That’s all Noah needed. And that’s all Noah received.

Here is how the Bible describes the moment: “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!” (Genesis 8:11).

An olive leaf. Noah would have been happy to have the bird but to have the leaf! This leaf was more than foliage; this was promise. The bird brought more than a piece of a tree; it brought hope. For isn’t that what hope is? Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after a flood.

Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.

To all the Noahs of the world, to all who search the horizon for a fleck of hope, Jesus proclaims, “Yes!” And he comes. He comes as a dove. He comes bearing fruit from a distant land, from our future home. He comes with a leaf of hope.

Have you received yours? Don’t think your ark is too isolated. Don’t think your flood is too wide.

Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it.

Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it.

What do you suppose Noah did with his? What do you think he did with the leaf? Did he throw it overboard and forget about it?

Do you suppose he stuck it in his pocket and saved it for a scrapbook? Or do you think he let out a whoop and assembled the troops and passed it around like the Hope Diamond it was?

Certainly he whooped. That’s what you do with hope. What do you do with olive leaves? You pass them around. You don’t stick them in your pocket. You give them to the ones you love.

Love always hopes. “Love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4–7 NKJV, emphasis mine). Love has hope in you.

The aspiring young author was in need of hope. More than one person had told him to give up.

“Getting published is impossible,” one mentor said. “Unless you are a national celebrity, publishers won’t talk to you.” Another warned, “Writing takes too much time. Besides, you don’t want all your thoughts on paper.”

Initially he listened. He agreed that writing was a waste of effort and turned his attention to other projects. But somehow the pen and pad were bourbon and Coke to the wordaholic. He’d rather write than read.

So he wrote. How many nights did he pass on that couch in the corner of the apartment reshuffling his deck of verbs and nouns? And how many hours did his wife sit with him? He wordsmithing. She cross-stitching. Finally a manuscript was finished. Crude and laden with mistakes but finished.

She gave him the shove. “Send it out. What’s the harm?”

So out it went. Mailed to fifteen different publishers. While the couple waited, he wrote. While he wrote, she stitched. Neither expecting much, both hoping everything. Responses began to fill the mailbox. “

"I’m sorry, but we don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.” “We must return your work. Best of luck.” “Our catalog doesn’t have room for unpublished authors.”

I still have those letters. Somewhere in a file. Finding them would take some time.

Finding Denalyn's cross-stitch, however, would take none. To see it, all I do is lift my eyes from this monitor and look on the wall. “Of all those arts in which the wise excel, nature’s chief masterpiece is writing well.”

She gave it to me about the time the fifteenth letter arrived. A publisher had said yes. That letter is also framed. Which of the two is more meaningful? The gift from my wife or the letter from the publisher? The gift, hands down. For in giving the gift, Denalyn gave hope.

Love does that. Love extends an olive leaf to the loved one and says, “I have hope in you.”

Love is just as quick to say, “I have hope foryou.”

You can say those words. You are a flood survivor. By God’s grace you have found your way to dry land. You know what it’s like to see the waters subside.

And since you do, since you passed through a flood and lived to tell about it, you are qualified to give hope to someone else.

From A Love Worth Giving: Living in the Overflow of God’s Love

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To Hear the Applause of Heaven - UpWords - August 30

By Max Lucado

The Beatitudes end with this compelling promise— “Great is your reward in heaven!” (Matthew 5:12).

The Book of Revelation could be called the Book of Homecoming.

In Revelation 21 verse 2, John describes heaven as a “bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Verse 4 says “there will be no more death.”

The most hopeful words are in verse 5 , “I am making everything new.” The Master Builder will pull out the original plan and restore the vigor, the energy, the hope, and the soul.

Each step you take brings you closer to home. Before you know it, you’ll enter the City. You’ll hear your name spoken by those who love you.

And maybe, just maybe—in the back, behind the crowds—the One who would rather die than live without you will remove his pierced hands from his heavenly robe and… applaud.

From Applause of Heaven

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
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8/29/20 9:46 A

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God Believes in You - UpWords - August 29

by Max Lucado

The tale involves a wealthy father and a willful son. The boy prematurely takes his inheritance and moves to Las Vegas and there wastes the money on slot machines and call girls. As fast as you can say “blackjack,” he is broke.

Too proud to go home, he gets a job sweeping horse stables at the racetrack. When he finds himself tasting some of their oats and thinking, H’m, a dash of salt and this wouldn’t be too bad, he realizes enough is enough. It’s time to go home.

The gardener at his father’s house does better than this. So off he goes, rehearsing his repentance speech every step of the way.

But the father has other ideas. He “had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”

We don’t expect such a response. We expect crossed arms and a furrowed brow. At best a guarded handshake. At least a stern lecture. But the father gives none of these. Instead he gives gifts. “Bring out the best robe … a ring … sandals.… And bring the fatted calf … and let us eat and be merry” (Luke 15:11–23 NKJV). Robe, sandals, calf, and … Did you see it? A ring.

Before the boy has a chance to wash his hands, he has a ring to put on his finger. In Christ’s day rings were more than gifts; they were symbols of delegated sovereignty. The bearer of the ring could speak on behalf of the giver. It was used to press a seal into soft wax to validate a transaction. The one who wore the ring conducted business in the name of the one who gave it.

Would you have done this? Would you have given this prodigal son power-of-attorney privileges over your affairs? Would you have entrusted him with a credit card? Would you have given him this ring?

Before you start questioning the wisdom of the father, remember, in this story you are the boy.

When you came home to God, you were given authority to conduct business in your heavenly Father’s name.

When you speak truth, you are God’s ambassador.
As you steward the money he gives, you are his business manager.

When you declare forgiveness, you are his priest.

As you stir the healing of the body or the soul, you are his physician.

And when you pray, he listens to you as a father listens to a son. You have a voice in the household of God. He has given you his ring.

God believes in you. And, I wonder, could you take some of the belief that he has in you and share it with someone else?

You and I have the privilege to do for others what God does for us. How do we show people that we believe in them?

Do not withhold encouragement from the discouraged. Do not keep affirmation from the beaten down! Speak words that make people stronger. Believe in them as God has believed in you.

From A Love Worth Giving


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8/28/20 6:25 P

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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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8/26/20 10:52 A

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To Hear the Applause of Heaven - UpWords - August 26

by Max Lucado

The Beatitudes end with this compelling promise—

“Great is your reward in heaven!” (Matthew 5:12).

The Book of Revelation could be called the Book of Homecoming. In Revelation 21 verse 2, John describes heaven as a “bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Verse 4 says “there will be no more death.” The most hopeful words are in verse 5 , “I am making everything new.”

The Master Builder will pull out the original plan and restore the vigor, the energy, the hope, and the soul.

Each step you take brings you closer to home. Before you know it, you’ll enter the City. You’ll hear your name spoken by those who love you.

And maybe, just maybe—in the back, behind the crowds—the One who would rather die than live without you will remove his pierced hands from his heavenly robe and… applaud.

From Applause of Heaven

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
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8/25/20 8:51 A

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You Have Clout with God - UpWords - August 25

by Max Lucado

You may find yourself in an impossible situation. You feel outnumbered and outmaneuvered.

You want to quit. Could I ask you to memorize this promise and ask God to bring it to mind?

Write it where you’ll find it. Tattoo it, if not on your skin at least on your heart: “When a believing person prays, great things happen” (James 5:16).

If you’ve taken on the name of Christ, you have clout with the most powerful being in the universe. When you speak, God listens. Jesus said, “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action” (Matthew 18:19).

Prayer is just the first step. God has power you’ve never seen, strength you’ve never known.

He delights in answering prayer! And because his promises are unbreakable, our hope in unshakable!

From Unshakable Hope

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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8/24/20 9:34 A

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Taking Out the Trash - UpWords - August 24

By Max Lucado

Who wants to live with yesterday’s rubble? Who wants to hoard the trash of the past? You don’t, do you? Or do you?

I’m not talking about the trash in your house, but in your heart. Not the junk of papers and boxes but the remnants of anger and hurt. Do you rat-pack your pain? Amass offenses? Record slights?

A tour of your heart might be telling. A pile of rejections. Accumulated insults. No one can blame you. They’re innocence takers, promise breakers, and wound makers. They’re everywhere and you’ve had your share.

Jesus answered Peter’s question in Matthew 18:21-22 when he asked: “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus said. “Seventy times seven!”

Do you want to give every day a chance? Jesus says to get rid of the trash. Give the grace you’ve been given!

From Great Day Every Day

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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8/20/20 9:29 A

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Dashed Hopes - UpWords - 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 as and, 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 …
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


Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
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Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
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8/18/20 2:44 P

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Heirs of God, Co-Heirs with Christ - UpWords - August 18

by Max Lucado

After spending the better part of an hour reciting the woes of my life to my wife, Denalyn interrupted me with a question. “Is God in this anywhere?” I hate it when she does that.

What had happened to me? I was focusing on my resources. I wasn’t consulting God. I had limited my world to my strength, my wisdom, and my power. No wonder I was in a tailspin. For such moments God gives this promise: “We are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17).

The cronies of dismay, gloom and rejection have no answer for the promise of inheritance. Tell them, the gauge may be bouncing on empty, but I will not run out of fuel. “I am a child of the living and loving God, and he will help me!” And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

From Unshakable Hope

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
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8/17/20 7:10 A

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Tender Words to the Tired Heart - UpWords - 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

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Team Leader Christians Walking in Faith


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8/16/20 2:49 P

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Directions for the Road Ahead - UpWords - 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

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
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Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
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8/14/20 1:44 A

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Count to Eight (Woe, Be Gone) - UpWords - August 13

by Max Lucado

“We have here only five loaves and two fish.” (Matt. 14:17)

How do you suppose Jesus felt about the basket inventory? Any chance he might have wanted them to include the rest of the possibilities? Involve all the options? Do you think he was hoping someone might count to eight?

“Well, let’s see. We have five loaves, two fish…and Jesus!” Jesus Christ. The same Jesus who told us:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Luke 11:19 NIV)

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7 NIV)

What ever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24 NIV)

Standing next to the disciples was the solution to their problems…but they didn’t go to him.

They stopped their count at seven and worried.

What about you? Are you counting to seven, or to eight?

Here are eight worry stoppers to expand your tally:

Pray, first. “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him…(I Peter 5:7 AMP)

Easy now. Slow down. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him (Ps. 37:7).

Act on it. The moment a concern surfaces, deal with it. Don’t dwell on it. Head off worries before they get the best of you. Be a doer, not a stewer.

Compile a worry list. Over a period of days record your anxious thoughts. Then review them.

How many of them turned into a reality?

Evaluate your worry categories. Detect recurring areas of preoccupation that may become obsessions. Pray specifically about them.

Focus on today. God meets daily needs daily. He will give you what you need when it is needed.

Unleash a worry army. Share your feelings with a few loved ones. Ask them to pray with and for you.

Let God be enough. “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.” (Matt. 6:32-33 NLT).

Eight steps. Pray, first. Easy, now. Act on it. Compile a worry list.Evaluate your worry categories. Focus on today. Unleash a worry army. Let God be enough.

P-E-A-C-E-F-U-L

From Fearless

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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8/11/20 11:36 A

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Seeking the Savior - UpWords - August 11

by Max Lucado

Simeon said, “Can I stay alive until I see him?”

The Magi said, “Saddle up the camels. We aren’t stopping until we find him.”

The shepherds said, “Let’s go…. Let’s see.”

They wanted the Savior. They wanted to see Jesus.

They were earnest in their search. One translation renders Hebrews 11:6: “God … rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV, italics mine).

Another reads: “God rewards those who search for him” (PHILLIPS, italics mine).

And another: “God … rewards those who sincerely look for him” (TLB, italics mine).

I like the King James translation: “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (italics mine).

Diligently—what a great word. Be diligent in your search. Be hungry in your quest, relentless in your pilgrimage. Let this book be but one of dozens you read about Jesus and this hour be but one of hundreds in which you seek him. Step away from the puny pursuits of possessions and positions, and seek your king.

Just Like JesusDon’t be satisfied with angels. Don’t be content with stars in the sky. Seek him out as the shepherds did. Long for him as Simeon did. Worship him as the wise men did. Do as John and Andrew did: ask for his address. Do as Matthew: invite Jesus into your house. Imitate Zacchaeus. Risk whatever it takes to see Christ.

God rewards those who seek him. Not those who seek doctrine or religion or systems or creeds. Many settle for these lesser passions, but the reward goes to those who settle for nothing less than Jesus himself. And what is the reward? What awaits those who seek Jesus?

Nothing short of the heart of Jesus. “And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Cor. 3:18 TLB).

Can you think of a greater gift than to be like Jesus? Christ felt no guilt; God wants to banish yours. Jesus had no bad habits; God wants to remove yours. Jesus had no fear of death; God wants you to be fearless. Jesus had kindness for the diseased and mercy for the rebellious and courage for the challenges. God wants you to have the same.

He loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.

From Just Like Jesus

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My Success Is about Him - UpWords - August 10

by Max Lucado

With success comes a problem. Just ask Nadab, Elah, and Omri. Or interview Ahab, Ahaziah, or Jehoram. Ask these men to describe the problem of success. I would, you might be thinking, if I knew who they were.

My point, exactly. These are men we should know. They were kings of Israel. They ascended to the throne… but something about the throne brought them down.

Their legacies are stained with blood spilling and idol worship. They failed at success. They forgot both the source and purpose of their success.

You won’t be offered a throne, but you might be offered a corner office, a scholarship, an award, a new contract, a pay raise. You won’t be given a kingdom to oversee, but you might be given a home or employees or students or money or resources. You will, to one degree or another, succeed.

And when you do, you might be tempted to forget who helped you do so. Success sabotages the memories of the successful. Kings of the mountain forget who carried them up the trail.

The man who begged for help in medical school ten years ago is too busy to worship today.

Back when the family struggled to make ends meet, they leaned on God for daily bread. Now that there is an extra car in the garage and a jingle in the pocket, they haven’t spoken to him in a while. In the early days of the church, the founding members spent hours in prayer. Today the church is large, well attended, well funded. Who needs to pray?

Success begets amnesia. Doesn’t have to, however. God offers spiritual ginseng to help your memory. His prescription is simply, “Know the purpose of success.” Why did God help you succeed? So you can make him known.

Why are you good at what you do? For your comfort? For your retirement? For your self-esteem? No. Deem these as bonuses, not as the reason. Why are you good at what you do?

For God’s sake. Your success is not about what you do. It’s all about him—his present and future glory.

From It's Not About Me

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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8/9/20 10:33 P

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My Message Is about Him - UpWords - August 9

by Max Lucado

The request came when I was twenty. “Can you address our church youth group?” We aren’t talking citywide crusade here. Think more in terms of a dozen kids around a West Texas campfire.

I was new to the faith, hence new to the power of the faith. I told my story, and, lo and behold, they listened! One even approached me afterward and said something like, “That moved me, Max.” My chest lifted, and my feet shifted just a step in the direction of the spotlight.

God has been nudging me back ever since.

Some of you don’t relate. The limelight never woos you. You and John the Baptist sing the same tune: “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30 NLT).

God bless you. You might pray for the rest of us. We applause-aholics have done it all: dropped names, sung loudly, dressed up to look classy, dressed down to look cool, quoted authors we’ve never read, spouted Greek we’ve never studied. For the life of me, I believe Satan trains battalions of demons to whisper one question in our ears: “What are people thinking of you?”

A deadly query. What they think of us matters not. What they think of God matters all. God will not share his glory with another (Isaiah 42:8). Next time you need a nudge away from the spotlight, remember: You are simply one link in a chain, an unimportant link at that.

Remember the other messengers God has used?
A donkey to speak to Balaam (Numbers 22:28).
A staff-turned-snake to stir Pharaoh (Exodus 7:10).

He used stubborn oxen to make a point about reverence and a big fish to make a point about reluctant preachers (I Samuel 6:1-12; Jonah 1:1-17)

God doesn’t need you and me to do his work. We are expedient messengers, ambassadors by his kindness, not by our cleverness.

It’s not about us, and it angers him when we think it is.

We who are entrusted with the gospel dare not seek applause but best deflect applause. For our message is about Someone else.

From It's Not About Me

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
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8/8/20 11:19 A

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My Body Is about Him - UpWords - August 8

by Max Lucado

"Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you?" (1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT).

Paul wrote these words to counter the Corinthian sex obsession. "Run away from sexual sin!" reads the prior sentence. "No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.

For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body." (v.18 NLT).

What a salmon scripture! No message swims more up-stream than this one. You know the sexual anthem of our day: "I'll do what I want. It's my body." God's firm response? "No, it's not. It's mine."

Be quick to understand, God is not antisex. Dismiss any notion that God is antiaffection and anti-intercourse. After all, he developed the whole package. Sex was his idea. From his perspective, sex is nothing short of holy.

He views sexual intimacy the way I view our family Bible. Passed down from my father's side, the volume is one hundred years old and twelve inches thick. Replete with lithographs, scribblings, and a family tree, it is, in my estimation, beyond value. Hence, I use it carefully.

When I need a stepstool, I don't reach for the Bible. If the foot of my bed breaks, I don't use the family Bible as a prop. When we need old paper for wrapping, we don't rip a sheet out of this book. We reserve the heirloom for special times and keep it in a chosen place.

Regard sex the same way—as a holy gift to be opened in a special place at special times. The special place is marriage, and the time is with your spouse.

Casual sex, intimacy outside of marriage, pulls the Corinthian ploy. It pretends we can give the body and not affect the soul. We can't. We humans are so intricately psychosomatic that whatever touches the soma impacts the phyche as well.

The me-centered phrase "as long as no one gets hurt" sounds noble, but the truth is, we don't know who gets hurt. God-centered thinking rescues us from the sex we thought would make us happy. You may think your dalliances are harmless, and years may pass before the x-rays reveal the internal damage, but don't be fooled. Casual sex is a diet of chocolate—it tastes good for a while, but the imbalance can ruin you. Sex apart from God's plan wounds the soul.

Your body, God's temple. Respect it.

From It's Not About Me

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Team Leader Christians Walking in Faith


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8/6/20 4:18 P

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My Salvation Is about Him - UpWords - August 6

by Max Lucado

Who would look at the cross of Christ and say, “Great work, Jesus. Sorry you couldn’t finish it, but I’ll take up the slack.”?

Dare we question the crowning work of God? Dare we think heaven needs our help in saving us? Legalism discounts God and in the process makes a mess out of us.

To anyone attempting to earn heaven, Paul asks, “How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? ….What has happened to all your joy?” (Galatians 4:19, 15 NIV).

Legalism is joyless because legalism is endless. There is always another class to attend, person to teach, mouth to feed. Inmates incarcerated in self-salvation find work but never joy.

How could they? They never know when they are finished. Legalism leaches joy.

Grace, however, dispenses peace. The Christian trusts a finished work.

Grace offers rest. Legalism never does. Then why do we embrace it? “Those who trust in themselves are foolish” (Proverbs 28:26 NCV). Why do we trust in ourselves? Why do we add to God’s finished work?

But the truth is, we don’t. If we think we do, we have missed the message. “What is left for us to brag about?” Paul wonders (Romans 3:27 CEV). What is there indeed? What have you contributed? Aside from your admission of utter decadence, I can’t think of a thing. “By his doing you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Salvation glorifies the Savior, not the saved.

Your salvation showcases God’s mercy. It makes nothing of your effort but everything of his. “I—yes, I alone—am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again” (Isaiah, 43:25, emphasis mine).

Can you add anything to this salvation? No. The work is finished.

Can you earn this salvation? No. Don’t dishonor God by trying.

Dare we boast about this salvation? By no means. The giver of bread, not the beggar, deserves praise. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

It’s not about what we do; it’s all about what he does.

From It's Not About Me

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Team Leader Christians Walking in Faith


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Your Place in God's Band - UpWords - August 5

by Max Lucado

Two of my teenage years were spent carrying a tuba in my high school marching band. My mom wanted me to learn to read music, and the choir was full while the band was a tuba-tooter short, so I signed up. Not necessarily what you would describe as a call from God, but it wasn’t a wasted experience either.

I had a date with a twirler.

I learned to paint white shoe polish on school buses.

And I learned some facts about harmony that I’ll pass on to you.

I marched next to the bass-drum player. What a great sound. Boom. Boom. Boom. Deep, cavernous, thundering.

And at the end of my flank marched the flute section. Oh, how their music soared. Whispering, lifting, rising into the clouds.

Ahead of me, at the front of my line, was our first-chair trumpet. He could raise the spirit. He could raise the flag. He could have raised the roof on the stadium if we’d had one.

The soft flute
needs
the brash trumpet
needs
the steady drum
needs
the soft flute
needs
the brash trumpet.

Get the idea? The operative word is need. They need each other.

By themselves they make music. But together, they make magic.

Now, what I saw two decades ago in the band, I see today in the church. We need each other.

Not all of us play the same instrument. Some believers are lofty, and others are solid. Some keep the pace while others lead the band. Not all of us make the same sound. Some are soft, and others are loud. And not all of us have the same ability. But each of us has a place.

Some play the drums (like Martha).

Some play the flute (like Mary).

And others sound the trumpet (like Lazarus).

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were like family to Jesus. After the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, they decided to give a dinner for Jesus. They decided to honor him by having a party on his behalf (see John 12:2).

They didn’t argue over the best seat. They didn’t resent each other’s abilities. They didn’t try to outdo each other. All three worked together with one purpose. But each one fulfilled that purpose in his or her unique manner.

Martha served; she always kept everyone in step. Mary worshiped; she anointed her Lord with an extravagant gift, and its aroma filled the air. Lazarus had a story to tell, and he was ready to tell it.

Three people, each one with a different skill, a different ability. But each one of equal value.

From Cast of Characters

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Team Leader Christians Walking in Faith


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8/4/20 11:43 A

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God Is Cheering for You - UpWords - August 4

by Max Lucado

If your God is Mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that He is mighty enough to light your path?

God is for you. Not “may be,” not “has been,” not “was,” not “would be,” but “God is!” He is for you. Today. At this hour. At this minute. As you read this sentence. No need to wait in line or come back tomorrow.

He is with you. He could not be closer than he is at this second. His loyalty won’t increase if you are better nor lessen if you are worse. He is for you.

God is for you. Turn to the sidelines; that’s God cheering your run. Look past the finish line; that’s God applauding your steps. Listen for him in the bleachers, shouting your name. Too tired to continue? He’ll carry you. Too discouraged to fight? He’s picking you up. God is for you.

God is for you. Had he a calendar, your birthday would be circled. If he drove a car, your name would be on his bumper. If there’s a tree in heaven, he’s carved your name in the bark. We know he has a tattoo, and we know what it says. “I have written your name on my hand,” he declares (Isaiah 49:16).

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

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Team Leader Christians Walking in Faith


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8/3/20 1:24 A

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Take Every Thought Captive - UpWords - August 2

by Max Lucado

Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions.
Today’s jealousy is tomorrow’s temper tantrum.
Today’s bigotry is tomorrow’s hate crime.
Today’s anger is tomorrow’s abuse.
Today’s lust is tomorrow’s adultery.
Today’s greed is tomorrow’s embezzlement.
Today’s guilt is tomorrow’s fear.

Could that be why Paul writes, “Love … keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. 13:5 NIV)?

Some folks don’t know we have an option.

Paul says we do: “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Do you hear some battlefield jargon in that passage—“capture every thought,” “make it give up” and “obey Christ”? You get the impression that we are the soldiers and the thoughts are the enemies.

It was for Jesus. Remember the thoughts that came his way courtesy of the mouth of Peter?

Jesus had just prophesied his death, burial, and resurrection, but Peter couldn’t bear the thought of it. “Peter took Jesus aside and told him not to talk like that.…

Jesus said to Peter, ‘Go away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don’t care about the things of God, but only about the things people think are important’” (Matt. 16:22–23).

See the decisiveness of Jesus?

What if you did that? What if you took every thought captive? What if you took the counsel of Solomon: “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Prov. 4:23).

TYou are not a victim of your thoughts. You have a vote. You have a voice. You can exercise thought prevention. You can also exercise thought permission.

Change the thoughts, and you change the person. If today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions, what happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God’s love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others?

Paul says absolutely! It’s not enough to keep the bad stuff out. We’ve got to let the good stuff in. It’s not enough to keep no list of wrongs. We have to cultivate a list of blessings. The same verb Paul uses for keeps in the phrase “keeps no list of wrongs” is used for think in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (RSV).

Thinking conveys the idea of pondering—studying and focusing, allowing what is viewed to have an impact on us.

Rather than store up the sour, store up the sweet.

From A Love Worth Giving

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Team Leader Christians Walking in Faith


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His Wing Shelters You - UpWords - August 1

by Max Lucado

“He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers.”
(Psalm 91:4)

My college friends and I barely escaped a West Texas storm before it pummeled the park where we were spending a Saturday afternoon. As we were leaving, my buddy brought the car to a sudden stop and gestured to a tender sight on the ground.

A mother bird sat exposed to the rain, her wing extended over her baby who had fallen out of the nest. The fierce storm prohibited her from returning to the tree, so she covered her child until the wind passed.

From how many winds is God protecting you? His wing, at this moment, shields you. A slanderous critic heading toward your desk is interrupted by a phone call. A burglar en route to your house has a flat tire. A drunk driver runs out of gas before your car passes his. God, your guardian, protects you from:

“every trap” (Ps. 91:3);

“the fatal plague” (Ps. 91:3);

“the plague that stalks in darkness” (Ps. 91:6);

“the terrors of the night…the dangers of the day” (Ps. 91:5).

One translation boldly promises: “Nothing bad will happen to you” (Ps. 91:10 NCV).

“Then why does it?” someone erupts. “Explain my job transfer. Or the bum who called himself my dad. Or the death of our child.” If God is our guardian, why do bad things happen to us?

Have they? Have bad things really happened to you? You and God may have different definitions for the word bad.

God views your life the way you view a movie after you’ve read the book. When something bad happens, you feel the air sucked out of the theater. Everyone else gasps at the crisis on the screen. Not you. Why? You’ve read the book. You know how the good guy gets out of the tight spot.

God views your life with the same confidence. He’s not only read your story…he wrote it.

His perspective is different, and his purpose is clear.

God uses struggles to toughen our spiritual skin.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2–4)

"Trust him. “But when I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Ps. 56:3). Join with Isaiah, who resolved, “I will trust in him and not be afraid” (Isa. 12:2).

God is directing your steps and delighting in every detail of your life (Ps. 37:23–24). In fact, that’s his car pulling over to the side of the road. That’s God opening the door. And that’s you climbing into the passenger seat.

There now, don’t you feel safer knowing he is in control?

From Come Thirsty


Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
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Focus on the Task at Hand - UpWords - July 31

by Max Lucado

Life is tough enough as it is. It’s even tougher when we’re headed in the wrong direction.

One of the incredible abilities of Jesus was to stay on target. His life never got off track. Not once do we find him walking down the wrong side of the fairway. He had no money, no computers, no jets, no administrative assistants or staff; yet Jesus did what many of us fail to do. He kept his life on course.

As Jesus looked across the horizon of his future, he could see many targets. Many flags were flapping in the wind, each of which he could have pursued. He could have been a political revolutionary. He could have been a national leader. He could have been content to be a teacher and educate minds or to be a physician and heal bodies. But in the end he chose to be a Savior and save souls.

Anyone near Christ for any length of time heard it from Jesus himself. “The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them” (Luke 19:10). “The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people” (Mark 10:45).

The heart of Christ was relentlessly focused on one task. The day he left the carpentry shop of Nazareth he had one ultimate aim—the cross of Calvary. He was so focused that his final words were, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

How could Jesus say he was finished? There were still the hungry to feed, the sick to heal, the untaught to instruct, and the unloved to love. How could he say he was finished? Simple. He had completed his designated task. His commission was fulfilled. The painter could set aside his brush, the sculptor lay down his chisel, the writer put away his pen. The job was done.

Wouldn’t you love to be able to say the same? Wouldn’t you love to look back on your life and know you had done what you were called to do?

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

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
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Focus on the Task at Hand - UpWords - July 31

by Max Lucado

Life is tough enough as it is. It’s even tougher when we’re headed in the wrong direction.

One of the incredible abilities of Jesus was to stay on target. His life never got off track. Not once do we find him walking down the wrong side of the fairway. He had no money, no computers, no jets, no administrative assistants or staff; yet Jesus did what many of us fail to do. He kept his life on course.

As Jesus looked across the horizon of his future, he could see many targets. Many flags were flapping in the wind, each of which he could have pursued. He could have been a political revolutionary. He could have been a national leader. He could have been content to be a teacher and educate minds or to be a physician and heal bodies. But in the end he chose to be a Savior and save souls.

Anyone near Christ for any length of time heard it from Jesus himself. “The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them” (Luke 19:10). “The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people” (Mark 10:45).

The heart of Christ was relentlessly focused on one task. The day he left the carpentry shop of Nazareth he had one ultimate aim—the cross of Calvary. He was so focused that his final words were, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

How could Jesus say he was finished? There were still the hungry to feed, the sick to heal, the untaught to instruct, and the unloved to love. How could he say he was finished? Simple. He had completed his designated task. His commission was fulfilled. The painter could set aside his brush, the sculptor lay down his chisel, the writer put away his pen. The job was done.

Wouldn’t you love to be able to say the same? Wouldn’t you love to look back on your life and know you had done what you were called to do?

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

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Honor God in Your Work - UpWords - July 30

by Max Lucado

Heaven’s calendar has seven Sundays a week. God sanctifies each day. He conducts holy business at all hours and in all places. He uncommons the common by turning kitchen sinks into shrines, cafés into convents, and nine-to-five workdays into spiritual adventures.

Workdays? Yes, workdays. He ordained your work as something good. Before he gave Adam a wife or a child, even before he gave Adam britches, God gave Adam a job. “Then the LORD

God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15 NASB). Innocence, not indolence, characterized the first family.

God views work worthy of its own engraved commandment: “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exod. 34:21 NASB). We like the second half of that verse. But emphasis on the day of rest might cause us to miss the command to work: “You shall work six days.” Whether you work at home or in the marketplace, your work matters to God.

And your work matters to society. We need you! Cities need plumbers. Nations need soldiers.

Stoplights break. Bones break. We need people to repair the first and set the second.

Someone has to raise kids, raise cane, and manage the kids who raise Cain.

Whether you log on or lace up for the day, you imitate God. Jehovah himself worked for the first six days of creation. Jesus said, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too” (John 5:17 NCV). Your career consumes half of your lifetime. Shouldn’t it broadcast God? Don’t those forty to sixty hours a week belong to him as well?

The Bible never promotes workaholism or an addiction to employment as pain medication. But

God unilaterally calls all the physically able to till the gardens he gives. God honors work. So honor God in your work. “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good” (Eccles. 2:24 NASB).

Here is the big idea:

Use your uniqueness (what you do)
to make a big deal out of God (why you do it)
every day of your life (where you do it).

At the convergence of all three, you’ll find the cure for the common life: your sweet spot.

From Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot

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Too Good to Be True - UpWords - July 29

by Max Lucado

“Free Flight: Rio de Janeiro to Miami, Florida.”

I wasn’t the only person to hear about the offer but one of the few to phone and request details.

The courier service offered an airline ticket to anyone willing to carry a bag of mail to the States.

No company makes such offers anymore. But this was 1985 - years before intense airport security. My dad was dying of ALS, and airline tickets were expensive. Free tickets? The offer sounded too good to be true.

So I walked away from it.

Many do the same with John 3:16. Millions read the verse. Only a handful trust it. Wary of a catch perhaps? Not needy enough maybe? Cautioned by guarded friends?

I was. Other Rio residents saw the same offer. Some read it and smelled a rat. “Don’t risk it,” one warned me. “Better to buy your own ticket.”

But I couldn’t afford one. Each call home to Mom brought worse news. “The doctor says it’s time to call hospice.”

So I revisited the flyer. Desperation heightened my interest. Doesn’t it always?

When desperation typhoons into your world, God’s offer of a free flight home demands a second look. John 3:16 morphs from a nice verse into a life vest.

Some of you are wearing it. You can recount the day you put it on. These words have kept you company through multiple windswept winters. I pray they warm you through the ones that remain.

Others of you are still studying the flyer. Still pondering the possibility, wrestling with the promise. One day wondering what kind of fool offer this is, the next wondering what kind of fool would turn it down.

I urge you not to. Don’t walk away from this one. Who else can get you home? Take Jesus’ offer. Get on board. You don’t want to miss the chance to see your Father.

Thanks to the courier folks, I was present at my father’s death. Thanks to God, he’ll be present at yours. He cares too much not to be.

Believe in him and you

will...

not...

perish.

You will have life, eternal life, forever.

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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Prepare the Soil and Sow the Seed - UpWords - July 28

by Max Lucado

Who has a greater chance of helping our children live in their sweet spots than we do? But will we? God’s Word urges us to do so. Listen closely to this reminder, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Don’t interpret this verse to mean, If I fill them with Scripture and Bible lessons, they may rebel but eventually they’ll return. The proverb makes no such promise. Godly parents can prepare the soil and sow the seed, but God gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). Show them the path?

Yes. Force them to take it? No. To train up means to awaken thirst—to develop thirst. One translation (ASB) margins this verse with the phrase according to his way. So, the greatest gift you can give your children is not your riches, but revealing to them their own.

From Cure for the Common Life

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Marys - UpWords - July 26

by Max Lucado

Marys are gifted with praise. They don’t just sing; they worship. They don’t simply attend church; they go to offer praise. They don’t just talk about Christ; they radiate Christ.

Marys have one foot in heaven and the other on a cloud. It’s not easy for them to come to earth, but sometimes they need to.

Sometimes they need to be reminded that there are bills to be paid and classes to be taught.

But don’t remind them too harshly. Flutes are fragile. Marys are precious souls with tender hearts. If they have found a place at the foot of Jesus, don’t ask them to leave. Much better to ask them to pray for you.

That’s what I do. When I find a Mary (or a Michael), I’m quick to ask, “How do I get on your prayer list?”

Every church desperately needs some Marys.

We need them to pray for our children.

We need them to put passion in our worship.

We need them to write songs of praise and sing songs of glory.

We need them to kneel and weep and lift their hands and pray.

We need them because we tend to forget how much God loves worship. Marys don’t forget.

They know that God wants to be known as a father. They know that a father likes nothing more than to have his children sit as his feet and spend time with him.

Marys are good at that.

They, too, must be careful. They must meditate often on Luke 6:46. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do what I say?” Marys need to remember that service is also worship.

If God has called you to be a Mary, then worship! Remind the rest of us that we don’t have to be busy to be holy. Urge us with your example to put down our clipboards and megaphones and be quiet in worship.

From Cast of Characters

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What Makes Heaven Heavenly - UpWords - July 23

by Max Lucado

You will be you at your best forever. Even now you have your good moments. Occasional glimpses of your heavenly self. When you change your baby’s diaper, forgive your boss’s temper, tolerate your spouse’s moodiness, you display traces of saintliness.

It’s the other moments that sour life. Tongue, sharp as a razor. Moods as unpredictable as Mount Saint Helens. This part wearies you.

Just think what Satan has taken from you, even in the last few hours. You worried about a decision and envied someone’s success, dreaded a conversation and resented an interruption. He’s been prowling your environs all day, pickpocketing peace, joy, belly laughs, and honest love. Rotten freebooter.

But his days are numbered. Unlike he did in the Garden of Eden, Satan will not lurk in heaven’s gardens. “There shall be no more curse” (22:3 NKJV). He will not tempt; hence, you will not stumble. You will be you at your best forever!

Christ will have completed his redemptive work. All gossip excised and jealousy extracted. He will suction the last drop of orneriness from the most remote corners of our souls. You’ll love the result.

No one will doubt your word, question your motives, or speak evil behind your back. God’s sin purging discontinues all strife.

No sin means no thieves, divorce, heartbreak, and no boredom. You won’t be bored in heaven, because you won’t be the same you in heaven. Boredom emerges from soils that heaven disallows.

The soil of weariness: our eyes tire. Mental limitations: information overload dulls us. Self-centeredness: we grow disinterested when the spotlight shifts to others. Tedium: meaningless activity siphons vigor.

But Satan will take these weedy soils to hell with him, leaving you with a keen mind, endless focus, and God-honoring assignments.

We might serve in the capacity we serve now. Couldn’t earthly assignments hint at heavenly ones? Architects of Moscow might draw blueprints in the new Liverpool. We will feast in heaven; you may be a cook on Saturn.

God filled his first garden with plants and animals. He’ll surely do the same in heaven. If so, he may entrust you with the care and feeding of an Africa or two.

One thing is for sure: you’ll love it. Never weary, selfish, or defeated. Clear mind, tireless muscles, unhindered joy. Heaven is a perfect place of perfected people with our perfect Lord.

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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Our Work Can Be Worship - UpWords - July 20

By Max Lucado

Many people dread their work. If you’re one of them, try changing your attitude toward your work! God’s eyes fall on the work of our hands.

One stay-at-home-mom keeps this sign over her sink: “Divine tasks performed here, daily.” Indeed, work can be worship.

Peter wrote, “You are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.

This is so you can show others the goodness of God.” (1 Peter 2:9). So, let every detail in your life—your words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus. (Colossians 3:17).

You don’t drive to an office, you drive to a sanctuary. You don’t attend a school, you attend a temple. You may not wear a clerical collar, but you could, because your work is God’s pulpit!

From Cure for the Common Life

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 7/20/2020 (15:54)
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Heaven's "Whoever" Policy - UpWords - July 18

by Max Lucado “. . .

"whoever believes in him shall not perish . . .”

Some years ago I took a copy of God’s “whoever” policy to California. I wanted to show it to my Uncle Billy. He’d been scheduled to visit my home, but bone cancer had thwarted his plans.

My uncle reminded me much of my father: squared like a blast furnace, ruddy as a leather basketball. They shared the same West Texas roots, penchant for cigars, and blue-collar work ethic. But I wasn’t sure if they shared the same faith. So after several planes, two shuttles, and a rental-car road trip, I reached Uncle Billy’s house only to learn he was back in the hospital.

No visitors. Maybe tomorrow.

He felt better the next day. Good enough to come home. I went to see him. Cancer had taken its toll and his strength. The recliner entombed his body. He recognized me yet dozed as I chatted with his wife and friends. He scarcely opened his eyes. People came and went, and I began to wonder if I would have the chance to ask the question.

Finally the guests stepped out onto the lawn and left me alone with my uncle. I slid my chair next to his, took his skin-taut hand, and wasted no words. “Bill, are you ready to go to heaven?”

His eyes, for the first time, popped open. Saucer wide. His head lifted. Doubt laced his response: “I think I am.”
“Do you want to be sure?”
“Oh yes.”

Our brief talk ended with a prayer for grace. We both said “amen,” and I soon left. Uncle Billy died within days. Did he wake up in heaven? According to the parable of the eleventh hour workers, he did.

Some struggle with such a thought. A last-minute confessor receives the same grace as a lifetime servant? Doesn’t seem fair. The workers in the parable complained too. So the landowner, and God, explained the prerogative of ownership: “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” (v. Matt. 20:15 RSV).

Request grace with your dying breath, and God hears your prayer. Whoever means “whenever.”

And one more: whoever means “wherever.” Wherever you are, you’re not too far to come home.

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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The Only One and Only - UpWords - July 17

by Max Lucado

Two of our three daughters were born in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We lived in the North Zone, separated from our doctor’s office and hospital by a tunnel-pierced mountain range. During Denalyn’s many months of pregnancy, we made the drive often.

We didn’t complain. Signs of life do a samba on every street corner. Copacabana and her bathers. Ipanema and her coffee bars. Gavea and her glamour. We never begrudged the South Zone forays. But they sure did bewilder me.

I kept getting lost. I’m directionally challenged anyway, prone to take a wrong turn between the bedroom and the bathroom. Complicate my disorientation with randomly mapped three-hundred-year-old streets, and I don’t stand a chance.

I had one salvation. Jesus. Literally, Jesus. The Christ the Redeemer statue. The figure stands guard over the city, one hundred twenty-five feet tall with an arm span of nearly a hundred feet.

More than a thousand tons of reinforced steel. The head alone measures ten feet from chin to scalp. Perched a mile and a half above sea level on Corcovado Mountain, the elevated Jesus is always visible.

Especially to those who are looking for it. Since I was often lost, I was often looking. As a sailor seeks land, I searched for the statue, peering between the phone lines and rooftops for the familiar face. Find him and find my bearings.

John 3:16 offers you an identical promise. The verse elevates Christ to thin-air loftiness, crowning him with the most regal of titles: “One and Only Son.”

Do what I did in Rio. Seek him out. Lift up your eyes, and set your sights on Jesus. No passing glances or occasional glimpses. Enroll in his school. Make him your polestar, your point of reference. Search the crowded streets and shadow-casting roofs until you spot his face, and then set your sights on him.

You’ll find more than a hospital.
You’ll find the Only One and Only.

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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When Death Becomes Birth - UpWords - July 16

by Max Lucado

You live one final breath from your own funeral.

Which, from God’s perspective, is nothing to grieve. He responds to these grave facts with this great news: “The day you die is better than the day you are born” (Eccles. 7:1).

Now there is a twist. Heaven enjoys a maternity-ward reaction to funerals. Angels watch body burials the same way grandparents monitor delivery-room doors. “He’ll be coming through any minute!”

They can’t wait to see the new arrival. While we’re driving hearses and wearing black, they’re hanging pink and blue streamers and passing out cigars. We don’t grieve when babies enter the world. The hosts of heaven don’t weep when we leave it.

Oh, but many of us weep at the thought of death. Do you? Do you dread your death? And is your dread of death robbing your joy of life?

Jesus came to “deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Heb. 2:15).

Your death may surprise you and sadden others, but heaven knows no untimely death: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Ps. 139:16).

Dread of death ends when you know heaven is your true home. In all my air travels I’ve never seen one passenger weep when the plane landed. Never. No one clings to the armrests and begs, “Don’t make me leave. Don’t make me leave.

Let me stay and eat more peanuts.” We’re willing to exit because the plane has no permanent mailing address. Nor does this world. “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior” (Phil. 3:20).

Why don’t you do this: give God your death. Imagine your last breath, envision your final minutes, and offer them to him. Deliberately. Regularly. “Lord, I receive your work on the cross and in your resurrection.

I entrust you with my departure from earth.” With Christ as your friend and heaven as your home, the day of death becomes sweeter than the day of birth.

From Come Thirsty

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Water for Your Soul - UpWords - July 15

by Max Lucado

Where do you find water for the soul? Jesus gave an answer one October day in Jerusalem.

People had packed the streets for the annual reenactment of the rock-giving-water miracle of Moses. Each morning a priest filled a golden pitcher with water from the Gihon spring and carried it down a people-lined path to the temple.

He did this every day, once a day, for seven days. “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying,

‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:37-38).

He “stood and shouted” (NLT). The traditional rabbinic teaching posture was sitting and speaking. But Jesus stood up and shouted out. Forget a kind clearing of the throat. God was pounding his gavel on heaven’s bench. Christ demanded attention.

He shouted because his time was short. The sand in the neck of his hourglass was down to measurable grains. In six months he'd be dragging a cross through these streets. And the people? The people thirsted. They needed water, not for their throats, but for their hearts. So Jesus invited: Are your insides starting to shrivel? Drink me.

Internalize him. Ingest him. Welcome him into the inner workings of your life. Let Christ be the water of your soul.

Toward this end, I give you this tool: a prayer for the thirsty heart. Carry it just as a cyclist carries a water bottle. The prayer outlines four essential fluids for soul hydration: God’s work, God’s energy, his lordship, and his love. You’ll find the prayer easy to remember. Just think of the word W-E-L-L.

Lord, I come thirsty. I come to drink, to receive. I receive your work on the cross and in your resurrection. My sins are pardoned, and my death is defeated. I receive your energy.

Empowered by your Holy Spirit, I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. I receive your lordship. I belong to you. Nothing comes to me that hasn’t passed through you. And I receive your love. Nothing can separate me from your love.

Don’t you need regular sips from God’s reservoir? I do. I’ve offered this prayer in countless situations: stressful meetings, dull days, long drives, demanding trips, character-testing decisions.

Many times a day I step to the underground spring of God and receive anew his work for my sin and death, the energy of his Spirit, his lordship, and his love.

Drink with me from his bottomless well. You don’t have to live with a dehydrated heart.

Receive Christ’s work on the cross, the energy of his Spirit, his lordship over your life, his unending, unfailing love.

Drink deeply and often. And out of you will flow rivers of living water.

From Come Thirsty

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Returning from the East - UpWords - July 12

by Max Lucado

Somewhere Oswald Chambers wrote: “Christians must occasionally travel under sealed orders.” Such was the case for a group of us who traveled to China in August.

Though we think we know the purpose of the trip, I’m confident that the real orders were seen only by spiritual forces.

Our groups consisted of ministers, representatives of two Christian colleges, a representative of Focus on the Family, a publishing delegate, a lawyer, and John Bentley, the trip facilitator and director of an orphanage in China.

Our goal was simple: extend the hand of Christian friendship to high-ranking government officials in China. By his grace we were granted audiences with

- The China Social Service Commission
- The State Department
- The Department of Religion
- The Communist Party Department of International Understanding

Each meeting lasted 45 minutes to an hour. The first three meetings began with prepared speeches from the official explaining China's position on a variety of matters, but especially religion.

The meetings were gracious and hospitable. In each case, our message to them was simple and identical...we extend the hand of goodwill and hope that we can enhance our relationship.

We told them that we come more in the name of Jesus than in the name of a country and would like the chance to display the love of Christ through good works in China.

It was no small moment when one of the communist leaders made the statement: “We receive you as ambassadors of the love of Jesus.”

Let me also mention how cooperative the US Embassy has been. Thanks to their intervention, the meetings we feared had fallen through were held. They hosted our delegation at the embassy and encouraged us to keep up this mission.

I learned so much about the work of God in China:

- Estimates as high as 100 million Christians.

- Persecution in many cases is lessening as the country becomes more open in its understanding. It’s no longer necessary to smuggle Bibles; indeed we visited a Christian book store near the university district of Beijing.

- While the country is known for its Communist regime or exploding economy, fastest in the history of the world, it should be known for its delightful people.

The people are so quick to smile and happy to serve. They are, indeed, a special nation… worthy of every effort to tell them about Christ.

Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at Oneplace.com

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Prayerful Waiting - UpWords - July 11

by Max Lucado

“They all met together continually for prayer.” Mark uses the same Greek word here translated “continually” to describe a boat floating in the water, waiting on Jesus. The Master, speaking on the beach of Galilee, told the disciples to have a boat ready and waiting (Mark 3:9).

The boat was “continually” in the presence of Christ. So are the Upper Room disciples. One day passes.

Then two. Then a week. For all they know a hundred more will come and go. But they aren’t leaving. They persist in the presence of Christ.

The followers were willing to do one thing: wait in the right place for power.

We’re so reluctant to do what they did. Who has time to wait? We groan at such a thought. But waiting doesn’t mean inactivity—rather inHIMactivity.

Waiting means watching for him. If you are waiting on a bus, you are watching for the bus. If you are waiting on God, you are watching for God, searching for God, hoping in God.

Great promises come to those who do. “But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).

To those who still struggle, God says, “Wait on me.” And wait in the right place. Jesus doesn’t tell us to stay in Jerusalem, but he does tell us to stay honest, stay faithful, stay true.

Desire power for your life?

It will come as you pray. For ten days the disciples prayed. Ten days of prayer plus a few minutes of preaching led to three thousand saved souls. Perhaps we invert the numbers. We’re prone to pray for a few minutes and preach for ten days.

Not the apostles. Like the boat waiting for Christ, they lingered in his presence. They never left the place of prayer.

From Come Thirsty

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