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6/25/19 4:45 A

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God Is Love - UpWords - June 25

by Max Lucado

This is what real love is: it is not our love for God; it is Gods 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. Dont 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 whove encouraged you to do what is right and applauded when you did. And isnt it good to know that even when we dont 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

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6/24/19 12:55 P

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Filling Our Minds With God's Love - UpWords - June 24

By Max Lucado

What happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of Gods love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others?

Its not enough to keep the bad stuff out. Weve got to let the good stuff in. Its not enough to keep no list of wrongs. We need to cultivate a list of blessings. Paul says 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.

Thinking conveys the idea of pondering, studying, and focusing allowing what is viewed to have an impact on us. You want to make a list? Then list his mercies. List the times God has forgiven you. Rather than store up the sour, store up the sweet!

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6/24/19 2:28 A

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Welcome Home - UpWords - June 23

by Max Lucado

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

Shed slipped out unnoticed. The search began immediately. Within an hour we knew that she was far, far from home. Now, if you dont like pets, what Im about to say is going to sound strange. If you do like pets, you will understand.

Youll understand why we walked up and down the street, calling her name. Youll understand why I drove around the neighborhood at 10:30 P.M. Youll understand why I put up a poster in the convenience store and convened the family for a prayer. (Honestly, I did.) Youll understand why I sent e-mails to the staff, asking for prayers, and to her breeder, asking for advice. And youll 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. Thats something else you have in common with Mollya 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 hell wipe every tear from your eye. And you will dwell in the house of your Lordforever.

From Traveling Light

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6/21/19 9:19 A

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An Uncommon Call to an Uncommon Life - UpWords - June 21

by Max Lucado

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is. 1 Corinthians 12:7 MSG

Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa. Beethoven composed one Fifth Symphony. And God made one version of you. He custom designed you for a one-of-a-kind assignment. Mine like a gold digger the unique-to-you nuggets from your life.

When I was six years old, my father built us a house. Architectural Digest didnt notice, but my mom sure did. Dad constructed it, board by board, every day after work. My youth didnt deter him from giving me a job. He tied an empty nail apron around my waist, placed a magnet in my hands, and sent me on daily patrols around the building site, carrying my magnet only inches off the ground.

One look at my tools and you could guess my job. Stray-nail collector.

One look at yours and the same can be said. Brick by brick, life by life, God is creating a kingdom, a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5 CEV). He entrusted you with a key task in the project.

Examine your tools and discover it. Your ability unveils your destiny. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 4:11). When God gives an assignment, he also gives the skill. Study your skills, then, to reveal your assignment.

Look at you. Your uncanny ease with numbers. Your quenchless curiosity about chemistry.

Others stare at blueprints and yawn; you read them and drool. I was made to do this, you say.
Heed that inner music. No one else hears it the way you do.

What about you? Our Maker gives assignments to people, to each according to each ones unique ability (Matt. 25:15). As he calls, he equips. Look back over your life. What have you consistently done well? What have you loved to do? Stand at the intersection of your affections and successes and find your uniqueness.

You have one. A divine spark. An uncommon call to an uncommon life. The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others (1 Cor. 12:7 CEV). So much for the excuse I dont have anything to offer. Did the apostle Paul say, The Spirit has given some of us ? Or, The Spirit has given a few of us ? No. The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. Enough of this self-deprecating I cant do anything.

And enough of its arrogant opposite: I have to do everything. No, you dont! Youre not Gods solution to society, but a solution in society. Imitate Paul, who said, Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of Gods plan for us (2 Cor. 10:13 NLT). Clarify your contribution.

Dont worry about skills you dont have. Dont covet strengths others do have. Just extract your uniqueness. Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you (2 Tim. 1:6 NASB).

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

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6/20/19 7:49 A

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Nevertheless - UpWords - June 20

by Max Lucado

And the king and his men spoke to David, saying, You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you, Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). - 2 Samuel 5:6-9

Did you see it? Most hurry past it. Lets not. Pull out a pen and underline this twelve-letter masterpiece.

Nevertheless.

Nevertheless David took the stronghold

Wouldnt you love God to write a nevertheless in your biography? Born to alcoholics, nevertheless she led a sober life. Never went to college, nevertheless he mastered a trade.

Didnt read the Bible until retirement age, nevertheless he came to a deep and abiding faith.

We all need a nevertheless. And God has plenty to go around. Strongholds mean nothing to him. Remember Pauls words? We use Gods mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devils strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4 NLT).

You and I fight with toothpicks; God comes with battering rams and cannons. What he did for David, he can do for us. The question is, will we do what David did? The king models much here.

Two types of thoughts continually vie for your attention. One proclaims Gods strengths; the other lists your failures. One longs to build you up; the other seeks to tear you down. And heres the great news: you select the voice you hear. Why listen to the mockers? Why heed their voices? Why give ear to pea-brains and scoffers when you can, with the same ear, listen to the voice of God?

Do what David did.

Turn a deaf ear to the old voices.

Open a wide eye to the new choices.

Who knows, you may be a prayer away from a nevertheless. God loves to give them.

Peter stuck his foot in his mouth.
Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt.

The Samaritan woman had been married five times.

Jesus was dead in the grave

Nevertheless, Peter preached, Joseph ruled, the woman shared, Jesus rose and you?

You fill in the blank. Your nevertheless awaits you.

From Facing Your Giants

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6/19/19 9:56 A

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Headed Homeward - UpWords - June 19

by Max Lucado

Aging is Gods idea. Its one of the ways he keeps us headed homeward. We cant change the process, but we can change our attitude. Here is a thought. What if we looked at the aging body as we look at the growth of a tulip?

Do you ever see anyone mourning over the passing of the tulip bulb? Do gardeners weep as the bulb begins to weaken? Of course not. We dont purchase tulip girdles or petal wrinkle cream or consult plastic-leaf surgeons. We dont mourn the passing of the bulb; we celebrate it.

Tulip lovers rejoice the minute the bulb weakens. Watch that one, they say. Its about to blossom.

Could it be heaven does the same? The angels point to our bodies. The more frail we become, the more excited they become. Watch that lady in the hospital, they say. Shes about to blossom. Keep an eye on the fellow with the bad heart. Hell be coming home soon.

We are waiting for God to finish making us his own children, which means our bodies will be made free (Romans 8:23).

Are our bodies now free? No. Paul describes them as our earthy bodies (Phil. 3:21 MSG). Or as other translations state:

our lowly body (NKJV)

the body of our humble state (NASB)

these weak mortal bodies (NLT)

our vile body (KJV)

our simple bodies (NCV)

You could add your own adjective, couldnt you? Which word describes your body? My cancerous body? My arthritic body? My deformed body? My crippled body? My addicted body?

My ever-expanding body? The word may be different, but the message is the same: These bodies are weak. They began decaying the minute we began breathing.

And, according to God, thats a part of the plan. Every wrinkle and every needle take us one step closer to the last step when Jesus will change our simple bodies into forever bodies. No pain. No depression. No sickness. No end.

This is not our forever house. It will serve for the time being. But there is nothing like the moment we enter his door.

From Traveling Light


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6/17/19 2:11 P

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Quiet Heroes - UpWords - June 17

by Max Lucado

Quiet heroes dot the landscape of our society. They dont wear ribbons or kiss trophies; they wear spit-up and kiss boo-boos. They dont make the headlines, but they do sew the hemlines and check the outlines and stand on the sidelines. You wont find their names on the Nobel Prize short list, but you will find their names on the homeroom, carpool, and Bible teacher lists.

They are parents, both by blood and deed, name and calendar. Heroes. News programs dont call them. But thats okay. Because their kids do They call them Mom. They call them Dad. And these moms and dads, more valuable than all the executives and lawmakers west of the Mississippi, quietly hold the world together.

Be numbered among them. Read books to your kids. Play ball while you can and they want you to. Make it your aim to watch every game they play, read every story they write, hear every recital in which they perform.

Children spell love with four letters: T-I-M-E. Not just quality time, but hang time, downtime, anytime, all the time. Your children are not your hobby; they are your calling.

Your spouse is not your trophy but your treasure.

Dont pay the price David paid. Look ahead to his final hours. To see the ultimate cost of a neglected family, look at the way our hero dies.

David is hours from the grave. A chill has set in that blankets cant remove. Servants decide he needs a person to warm him, someone to hold him tight as he takes his final breaths.

Do they turn to one of his wives? No. Do they call on one of his children? No. They seek for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel and she cared for the king, and served him; but the king did not know her (1 Kings 1:3-4).

I suspect that David would have traded all his conquered crowns for the tender arms of a wife. But it was too late. He died in the care of a stranger, because he made strangers out of his family.

But its not too late for you.

Make your wife the object of your highest devotion. Make your husband the recipient of your deepest passion. Love the one who wears your ring.

And cherish the children who share your name.

Succeed at home first.

From Facing Your Giants

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6/16/19 5:37 A

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God's Translator - UpWords - June 16

by Max Lucado

There were a few occasions in Brazil when I served as a translator for an English speaker. He stood before the audience, complete with the message. I stood at his side, equipped with the language. My job was to convey his story to the listeners. I did my best to allow his words to come through me. I was not at liberty to embellish or subtract. When the speaker gestured, I gestured. As his volume increased, so did mine. When he got quiet, I did, too.

When he walked this earth, Jesus was translating God all the time. When God got louder, Jesus got louder. When God gestured, Jesus gestured. He was so in sync with the Father that he could declare, I am in the Father and the Father is in me (John 14:11NRSV). It was as if he heard a voice others were missing.

I witnessed something similar to this on an airplane once. I kept hearing outbursts of laughter. The flight was turbulent and bumpy, hardly a reason for humor. But some fellow behind me was cracking up. No one else, just him. Finally I turned to see what was so funny. He was wearing headphones and apparently listening to a comedian. Because he could hear what I couldnt, he acted differently than I did.

Just Like Jesus The same was true with Jesus. Because he could hear what others couldnt, he acted differently than they did. Remember when everyone was troubled about the man born blind? Jesus wasnt. Somehow he knew that the blindness would reveal Gods power (John 9:3). Remember when everyone was distraught about Lazaruss illness? Jesus wasnt. Rather than hurry to his friends bedside, he said, This sickness will not end in death. It is for the glory of God, to bring glory to the son of God (John 11:4). It was as if Jesus could hear what no one else could. How could a relationship be more intimate? Jesus had unbroken communion with his father.

Do you suppose the Father desires the same for us? Absolutely. Paul says we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29 NRSV). Let me remind you: God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus. God desires the same abiding intimacy with you that he had with his son.

From Just Like Jesus

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6/15/19 6:00 A

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No Pecking Orders with Jesus - UpWords - June 15

by Max Lucado

Love does not boast, it is not proud (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV). Jesus has no room for pecking orders. His solution to man-made caste systems? A change of direction. In a world of upward mobility, choose downward servility. Regard one another as more important than yourselves (Philippians 2:3 NASB). Jesus flip-flopped the pecking order.

Would you do what Jesus did? He swapped a spotless castle for a grimy stable. He exchanged the worship of angels for the company of killers. If you knew that only a few could care that you came, would you still come? If you knew that those you loved would laugh in your face, would you still care? The palm that held the universe took the nail of a soldier. Why? Because thats what love does! He loves you that much! Drink deeply of Gods love for youand ask him to fill your heart with a love worth giving!

From A Love Worth Giving

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6/14/19 6:25 A

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The God of Great Grace - UpWords - June 14

by Max Lucado

He doesnt speak. He removes his robe and takes the servants 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.

Its not right.

Isnt 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 Pilates 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.

Dont wash their feet, Jesus. Tell them to wash yours.

Thats what we want to say. Why? Because of the injustice? Because we dont 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 dont want to see God washing feet?

Or do we object because we dont 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

Or do we object because we dont 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 Judass feet would guide the Roman guard to Jesus. But at this moment they are caressed by Christ.

Thats not to say it was easy for Jesus.

Thats not to say it is easy for you.

That is to say that God will never call you to do what he hasnt already done.

From A Gentle Thunder

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6/13/19 5:46 A

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Praying the Lord's Prayer - UpWords - June 13

by Max Lucado

Heres an example of how the Lords Prayer can guide your prayers:

Our Father

Thank you for adopting me into your family.

who is

Thank you, my Lord,
for being a God of the present tense:
my Jehovah-jireh (the God who provides),
my Jehovah-raah (the caring Shepherd),
my Jehovah-shalom (the Lord is peace),
my Jehovah-rophe (the God who heals),
and my Jehovah-nissi (Lord, my banner).

in heaven,

Your workshop of creation reminds me: If you can make the skies, you can make sense out of my struggles.

Hallowed be thy name.

Be holy in my heart.
You are a cut above all else.
Enable me to set my sights on you.

Thy kingdom come,

Come kingdom!
Be present, Lord Jesus!
Have free reign in every corner of my life.

Thy will be done,

Reveal your heart to me, dear Father.
Show me my role in your passion.
Grant me guidance in the following decisions

On earth as it is in heaven.

Thank you that you silence heaven to hear my prayer.
On my heart are the ones you love.
I pray for

Give us this day our daily bread.

I accept your portion for my life today.
I surrender the following concerns
regarding my well-being

Forgive us our debts,

I thank you for the roof of grace over my head,
bound together with the timbers and nails of Calvary. There is nothing I can do to earn or add to your mercy.
I confess my sins to you

As we also have forgiven our debtors;

Treat me, Father, as I treat others.
Have mercy on the following friends
who have wounded me

Lead us not into temptation,

Let my small hand be engulfed in yours.
Hold me, lest I fall.
I ask for special strength regarding

Our Father give us forgive us lead us

Let your kindness be on all your church.
I pray especially for ministers near
and missionaries far away.

Thinenot mineis the kingdom,

I lay my plans at your feet.

Thinenot mineis the power,

I come to you for strength.

Thinenot mineis the glory,

I give you all the credit.

Forever. Amen.

Thinenot mineis the power. Amen.

From The Great House of God

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6/12/19 12:42 P

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Stunned by His Grace - UpWords - June 12

by Max Lucado

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 hed heard I was pretty open about who I have fellowship with. Hed read the words I wrote: If God calls a person his child, shouldnt I call him my brother? And, If God accepts others with their errors and misinterpretations, shouldnt we?"

He didnt 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 dont give it, I assured. I only spotlight where God already has.

Later I had a great thought. A why-didnt-I-think-to-say-that? insight.

If the subject resurfaces, Ill say it. But in case it doesnt, Ill say it to you. (Its too good to waste.) Just one sentence:

Ive never been surprised by Gods judgment, but Im still stunned by his grace.

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 wont find it.

Seems to me God gives a lot more grace than wed ever imagine.

We could do the same.

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

And if we never agree, cant we agree to disagree? If God can tolerate my mistakes, cant I tolerate the mistakes of others? If God can overlook my errors, cant I overlook the errors of others? If God allows me with my foibles and failures to call him Father, shouldnt I extend the same grace to others?

One things for sure. When we get to heaven, well 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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6/11/19 5:51 A

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Angels Watching Over You - UpWords - June 11

by Max Lucado

One of my friends recently took a heart-stopping mission trip to Vietnam. He and two companions set out to smuggle Bibles and money to Christians there. Upon landing, however, he was separated from the other two. He spoke no Vietnamese and had never traveled in Hanoi. Imagine his thoughts, then, as he stood in front of the airport, holding a bag of Bibles, wearing a belt of cash, and knowing nothing more than the name of his hotel.

Taxi driver after taxi driver offered his services, but he waited and prayed. Finally, knowing he needed to do something, he climbed into a taxi and spoke the name of the hotel. After an hour and a thousand turns, he found himself deposited at the designated place. He paid his drivers, and they went on their way.

Thats right, they drove off. The front seat of his taxi had been occupied by two men. Only later did the uniqueness of this fact strike him. He saw hundreds of taxis during his days in Vietnam, but not another one of them had two drivers.

Angels minister to Gods people. [God] has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go (Ps. 91:11 NCV).

Billy Graham reminds us, If you are a believer, expect powerful angels to accompany you in your life experience. But what if you are not a believer? Do angels offer equal surveillance to Gods enemies? No, they dont. The promise of angelic protection is limited to those who trust God. Refuse God at the risk of an unguarded back. But receive his lordship, and be assured that many mighty angels will guard you in all your ways.

God sends his best troops to oversee your life. Imagine the president assigning his Secret Service to protect you, telling his agents to motorcade your car through traffic and safeguard you through crowds. How would you sleep if you knew D.C.s finest guarded your door? How will you sleep knowing heavens finest are doing just that? You are not alone. Receive Gods lordship over your life. Heavens many, mighty angels watch over you.

From Come Thirsty

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6/10/19 10:34 A

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Doubtstorms - UpWords - June 10

By Max Lucado

The following is excerpted from Chapter 13 of In the Eye of the Storm.

On Sundays I stand before a church with a three-point outline in my hand, thirty minutes on the clock, and a prayer on my lips. I do my best to say something that will convince a stranger that an unseen God still hears.

And I sometimes wonder why so many hearts have to hurt.

Do you ever get doubtstorms? Some of you don’t, I know. I’ve talked to you.

I think you are gifted. You are gifted with faith. You can see the rainbow before the clouds part. If you have this gift, then I won’t say anything you need to hear.

But others of you wonder...

You wonder if it is a blessing or a curse to have a mind that never rests. But you would rather be a cynic than a hypocrite, so you continue to pray with one eye open and wonder:

- about starving children
- about the power of prayer
- about the depths of grace
- about Christians in cancer wards
- about who you are to ask such questions anyway.

Tough questions. Throw-in-the-towel questions. Questions the disciples must have asked in the storm.

The light came for the disciples. A figure came to them walking on the water. It wasn’t what they expected. Perhaps they were looking for angels to descend or heaven to open. Maybe they were listening for a divine proclamation to still the storm. We don’t know what they were looking for. But one thing is for sure, they weren’t looking for
Jesus to come walking on the water.

“‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).

And since Jesus came in a way they didn’t expect, they almost missed seeing the answer to their prayers.

And unless we look and listen closely, we risk making the same mistake. God’s lights in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them.

When the disciples saw Jesus in the middle of their stormy night, they called him a ghost. A phantom. A hallucination. To them, the glow was anything but God.

When we see gentle lights on the horizon, we often have the same reaction. We dismiss occasional kindness as apparitions, accidents, or anomalies. Anything but God.

“When Jesus comes,” the disciples in the boat may have thought, “he’ll split the sky. The sea will be calm. The clouds will disperse.”

“When God comes,” we doubters think, “all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain.”

And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper.

From In the Eye of the Storm

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Facing Your Grief - UpWords - June 9

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Facing Your Giants

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The Kindness Quotient - UpWords - June 8

by Max Lucado

Ive attended my share of seminars on strategizing and team building. But I cant say Ive ever attended or even heard of one lecture on kindness. Jesus, however, would take issue with our priorities. Go and learn what this means, he commands. I want kindness more than I want animal sacrifices (Matthew 9:13).

How kind are you? Which person is the most overlooked or avoided? A shy student? A grumpy employee? And heres a challengewhat about your enemies? How kind are you to those who want what you want or take what you have? How about the boss who fired you or the wife who left you. Mercy is the deepest gesture of kindness. The Apostle Paul said, Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you! (Ephesians 4:32).

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The Observatory - UpWords - June 7

by Max Lucado

A few mornings back I was jogging through my neighborhood, and even I could not miss the significance of that day. It was the first day of school.

It was no surprise to me, then, to see a pretty little girl step out of her house wearing new clothes and a backpack. Have a great first day of school, I greeted as I jogged past.

She stopped and looked at me as if Id pulled a rabbit out of a hat. How did you know?!

She was stunned. Somehow I had miraculously discerned why she was up so early and where she was going. And she was impressed.

Oh, I just know those kind of things, I shouted back to her. (No need to burst her bubble.)

You, on the other hand, are not so easily impressed. You understand the difference between a child and a grownup. Take the difference between the girl and me, amplify it a million times over, and we begin to see the contrast between us and our Father.

We ask for grace, only to find forgiveness already offered. (How did you know I would sin?)

We ask for food, only to find provision already made. (How did you know I would be hungry?)

We ask for guidance, only to find answers in Gods ancient story. (How did you know what I would ask?)

God dwells in a different realm. The foolishness of God is higher than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength (1 Cor. 1:25). He occupies another dimension. My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isa. 55:89).

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Our God Is a Good God - UpWords - June 6

by Max Lucado

You are good, LORD. The LORD is good and right (Ps. 25:78).
Taste and see that the LORD is good (Ps. 34:8 NIV).

God is a good God. We must begin here. Though we dont understand his actions, we can trust his heart.

God does only what is good. But how can death be good? Some mourners dont ask this question. When the quantity of years has outstripped the quality of years, we dont ask how death can be good.

But the father of the dead teenager does. The thirty-year-old widow does. How could death be good?

In Gods plan every life is long enough and every death is timely. And though you and I might wish for a longer life, God knows better.

Andthis is importantthough you and I may wish a longer life for our loved ones, they dont. Ironically, the first to accept Gods decision of death is the one who dies.

While we are shaking heads in disbelief, they are lifting hands in worship. While we are mourning at a grave, they are marveling at heaven. While we are questioning God, they are praising God.

But, Max, what of those who die with no faith? My husband never prayed. My grandpa never worshiped. My mother never opened a Bible, much less her heart. What about the one who never believed?

How do we know he didnt?

Who among us is privy to a persons final thoughts? Who among us knows what transpires in those final moments? Are you sure no prayer was offered? Eternity can bend the proudest knees. Could a person stare into the yawning canyon of death without whispering a plea for mercy? And could our God, who is partial to the humble, resist it?

He couldnt on Calvary. The confession of the thief on the cross was both a first and final one. But Christ heard it. Christ received it. Maybe you never heard your loved one confess Christ, but whos to say Christ didnt?

We dont know the final thoughts of a dying soul, but we know this. We know our God is a good God. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9 NKJV). He wants your loved one in heaven more than you do. And he usually gets what he wants.

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Take This Quiz - UpWords - June 5

by Max Lucado

Name the ten wealthiest men in the world.

Name the last ten Heisman trophy winners.

Name the last ten winners of the Miss America contest.

Name eight people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

How about the last ten Academy Award winners for best picture or the last decades worth of World Series winners?

How did you do? I didnt do well either. With the exception of you trivia hounds, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday too well. Surprising how quickly we forget, isnt it? And what Ive mentioned above are no second-rate achievements. These are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Heres another quiz. See how you do on this one.

Think of three people you enjoy spending time with.

Name ten people who have taught you something worthwhile.

Name five friends who have helped you in a difficult time.

List a few teachers who have aided your journey through school.

Name half-a-dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier? It was for me, too. The lesson? The people who make a difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern.

From And the Angels Were Silent

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The Lord Heals All Diseases - UpWords - June 2

By Max Lucado

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

Do you want him to? This isnt a trick question. You may be addicted to anger. You may be a rage junkie. Anger may be part of your identity. But if you want him to, God can change your identity.

Do you have a better option? Like moving to a rejection-free zone? If so, enjoy your life on the deserted island. When others reject you, let God accept you.

Leave your anger at the tree of Calvary. He is not frowning. He is not mad. He sings over you. Take a long drink from his limitless love, and cool down!

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Living Loved - UpWords - June 1

By Max Lucado

The secret to loving is living loved. Its the forgotten first step in relationships.

Remember Pauls prayer?

May your roots go down deep into the soil of Gods marvelous love (Ephesians 3:17 NLT).

Many people tell us to love. Only God gives us the power to do so. We know what God wants us to do. This is what God commands. . .that we love each other. (1 John 3:23). But how can we? How can we be kind to those who are unkind to us? How can we love as God loves? By being loved.

By following the principle: receive first and love second. God loves you personallypowerfullypassionately! He loves you with an unfailing love. Others have promised and failed. But God has promised and succeeded!

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Remarkable - UpWords - May 31

by Max Lucado

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

If I dont do what he says, he doesnt burn the book or cancel my subscription. If I disagree with what he says, lightning doesnt split my swivel chair or an angel doesnt mark my name off the holy list. If I dont understand what he says, he doesnt call me a dummy.

In fact, he calls me Son, and on a different page explains what I dont understand.

Remarkable.

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

Remarkable.

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

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

Im learning not to take these everyday miracles for granted.

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

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

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

From In the Eye of the Storm

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God Is Still Sovereign - UpWords - May 30

By Max Lucado

Paul urges us to rejoice in the Lord always! (Philippians 4:4). Not just on paydays, good days, or birthdays. But rejoice in the Lord always.

Rejoice in the Lord always? Yeah, right, mumbles the person from the hospital bed. How? sighs the unemployed dad. Always? questions the mother of the baby born with a disability.

Its one thing to rejoice in the Lord when life is good, but when the odds are against you? Its not easy, but it is possible. Lay claim to the promise of God in Colossians 1:17: He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Rejoice in the sovereignty of God. His throne is still occupied. His will is still perfect. Rejoice in the Lordalways. God uses everything to accomplish his will.

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The Lord Looks at the Heart - UpWords - May 29

by Max Lucado

God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart. 2 Samuel 16:7

Seven sons pass. Seven sons fail. The procession comes to a halt.

Samuel counts the siblings: one-two-three-four-five-six-seven. Jesse, dont you have eight sons? A similar question caused Cinderellas stepmother to squirm. Jesse likely did the same. I still have the youngest son. He is out taking care of the sheep. (v. 11)

The Hebrew name for youngest son is haqqaton. It implies more than age, it suggests rank. The haqqaton was more that the youngest brother- the runt, the hobbit, the bay-ay-ay-by.

Sheep watching fits the family haqqaton. Put the boy where he cant cause trouble. Leave him with woolly heads and open skies.

What caused God to pick him? We want to know. We really want to know.

The Lord does not see as a man sees: for the man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (v.7)

Those words were written for the haqqatons of society, for misfits and castouts. God uses them all.

Moses ran from justice, but God used him.

Jonah ran from God, but God used him.

Rahab ran a brothel, Samson ran to the wrong woman, Jacob ran in circles, Ruth ran to a distant land, Elijah ran into the mountains, Sarah ran out of hope, Lot ran with the wrong crowd, but God used them all.

And David? God saw a teenage boy, serving him in the backwoods of Bethlehem, at the intersection of boredom and anonymity, and through the voice of a brother, God called, David! Come in. Someone wants to see you.

God saw what no one else saw: a God-seeking heart. Others measure your waist size or wallet. Not God. He examines hearts. When he finds one set on him, he calls it and claims it.

From Facing Your Giants

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Our Group - UpWords - May 27

by Max Lucado

Teacher, we saw someone using your name to force demons out of a person. We told him to stop, because he does not belong to our group.
- Mark 9:38

John has a dilemma. He and the other disciples ran into someone who was doing great work.

This man was casting out demons (the very act the disciples had trouble doing in Mark 9:20). He was changing lives. And, whats more, the man was giving the credit to God. He was doing it in the name of Christ.

Everything about him was so right. Right results. Right heart. But there was one problem. He was from the wrong group.

So the disciples did what any able-bodied religious person would do with someone from the wrong group. We told him to stop, because he does not belong to our group (v. 38).

John wants to know if they did the right thing. Johns not cocky; hes confused. So are many people today. What do you do about good things done in another group? What do you do when you like the fruit but not the orchard?

Ive asked that question. I am deeply appreciative of my heritage. It was through a small, West Texas Church of Christ that I came to know the Nazarene, the cross, and the Word.

The congregation wasnt large, maybe two hundred on a good Sunday. Most of the families were like mine, blue-collar oil-field workers. But it was a loving church. When our family was sick, the members visited us. When we were absent, they called. And when this prodigal returned, they embraced me.

I deeply appreciate my heritage. But through the years, my faith has been supplemented by people of other groups.

A Brazilian Pentecostal taught me about prayer. A British Anglican by the name of C.S. Lewis put muscle in my faith. A Southern Baptist helped me understand grace.
One Presbyterian, Steve Brown, taught me about Gods sovereignty while another, Frederick Buechner, taught me about Gods passion. A Catholic, Brennan Manning, convinced me that Jesus is relentlessly tender. Im a better husband because I read James Dobson and a better preacher because I listened to Chuck Swindoll and Bill Hybels.

And only when I get home will I learn the name of a radio preacher whose message steered me back to Christ. I was a graduate student whod lost his bearings. Needing some money over Christmas break, I took a job driving an oil-field delivery truck. The radio only picked up one station. A preacher was preaching. On a cold December day in 1978 I heard him describe the cross. I dont know his name. I dont know his heritage. He could have been a Quaker or an angel or both for all I know. But something about what he said caused me to pull the pickup onto the side of the road and rededicate my life to Christ.

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When Everything Changes - UpWords - May 26

by Max Lucado

Are you on the eve of change? A new chapter? A new season? Heavens message for you is clear: when everything else changes, Gods presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit, who will teach you everything and will remind you of everything he has told you (John 14:26 NLT). So, make friends with whatevers next.

Change is a part of life, and a necessary part of Gods strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments. But, someone might ask, what about the tragic changes God permits? Some seasons make no sense. They do, however, if we see them from an eternal perspective. What makes no sense in this life will make perfect sense in the next.

As Paul wrote, These troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing (2 Corinthians 4:17 CEV).


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The Dungeon of Doubt - UpWords - May 23

by Max Lucado

Some time ago, I took my family to the bicycle store to purchase a bike for 5-year-old Jenna. She picked out a shiny "Starlett" with a banana seat and training wheels. And Andrea, age three, decided she wanted one as well.

I explained to Andrea that she was too young. I told her she was still having trouble with a tricycle and was too small for a two-wheeler. No luck; she still wanted a bike. I explained to her that when she was a bit older, she would get a bike, too. She just stared at me. I tried to tell her that a big bike would bring her more pain than pleasure, more scrapes than thrills. She turned her head and said nothing.

Finally I sighed and said this time her daddy knew best. Her response? She screamed it loud enough for everyone in the store to hear: "Then I want a new daddy!"

Though the words were from a child's mouth, they carried an adult's sentiments.

Disappointment demands a change in command. When we don't agree with the One who calls the shots, our reaction is often the same as Andrea's-the same as John the Baptist's. "Is he the right one for this job?" Or, as John put it, "Are you the one? Should we look for another?"

Andrea, with her three-year-old reasoning powers, couldn't believe that a new bike would be anything less than ideal for her. From her vantage point, it would be the source of eternal bliss.

And from her vantage point, the one who could grant that bliss was "sitting on his hands."

I can't believe that God would sit in silence while a missionary is kicked out of a foreign country or a Christian loses a promotion because of his beliefs or a faithful wife is abused by an unbelieving husband. These are just three of many items that have made their way onto my prayer list-all prayers that seem to have gone unanswered.

Rule of thumb: Clouds of doubt are created when the warm, moist air of our expectations meets the cold air of God's silence.

If you've heard the silence of God, if you've been left standing in the dungeon of doubt... you may learn, as John did, that the problem is not as much in God's silence as it is in your ability to hear.

From The Applause of Heaven

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 5/23/2019 (03:46)
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You Have Captured God's Heart - UpWords - May 22

by Max Lucado

Just look at the gifts he has given you: He has sent his angels to care for you, his Holy Spirit to dwell in you, his church to encourage you, and his word to guide you. You have privileges only a fiance could have. Anytime you speak, he listens; make a request and he responds. He will never let you be tempted too much or stumble too far. Let a tear appear on your cheek, and he is there to wipe it. Let a love sonnet appear on your lips, and he is there to hear it. As much as you want to see him, he wants to see you more.

He is building a house for you. And with every swing of the hammer and cut of the saw, hes dreaming of the day he carries you over the threshold. There are many rooms in my Fathers house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am (John 14:23).

You have been chosen by Christ. You are released from your old life in your old house, and he has claimed you as his beloved. Then where is he? you might ask. Why hasnt he come?

There is only one answer. His bride is not ready. She is still being prepared.

Engaged people are obsessed with preparation. The right dress. The right weight. The right hair and the right tux. They want everything to be right. Why? So their fiance will marry them? No. Just the opposite. They want to look their best because their fiance is marrying them.

The same is true for us. We want to look our best for Christ. We want our hearts to be pure and our thoughts to be clean. We want our faces to shine with grace and our eyes to sparkle with love. We want to be prepared.

Why? In hopes that he will love us? No. Just the opposite. Because he already does.

You are spoken for. You are engaged, set apart, called out, a holy bride. Forbidden waters hold nothing for you. You have been chosen for his castle. Dont settle for one-night stands in the arms of a stranger.

Be obsessed with your wedding date. Guard against forgetfulness. Be intolerant of memory lapses. Write yourself notes. Memorize verses. Do whatever you need to do to remember. Aim at what is in heaven . . . Think only about the things in heaven (Col. 3:12). You are engaged to royalty, and your Prince is coming to take you home.

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Looking for the Messiah, Part 2 September 7

by Max Lucado

Some missed him.

Some miss him still.

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

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

We must let God define himself.

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

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

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

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

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

"And what might that sin be?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How are things looking in your neighborhood?

From A Gentle Thunder

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Looking for the Messiah, Part 1 September 4

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

God, a plumber?

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

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

What would you think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

From A Gentle Thunder

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Jesus Is Praying for You - UpWords - 1

Jesus Is Praying for You
by Max Lucado

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

Jesus promises to pray and stand up for you. When we forget to pray, he remembers to pray. When we are full of doubt, he is full of faith. Where we are unworthy to be heard, he is ever worthy to be heard. Wed 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 Gods promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

From Unshakable Hope

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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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The Woodcutter's Wisdom August 27

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From In the Eye of the Storm

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The Cave People August 26

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The stranger didn't answer.

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

Still no response.

"Tell us!" demanded a third.

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

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

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

"Not I," declared a voice.

"Nor I," agreed a second.

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

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

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

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

"Come closer," invited the fire builder.

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

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

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

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

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

"And live in the dark?"

"And live in the dark."

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

"Will you leave the fire?" he asked.

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

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

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

From A Gentle Thunder

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The Bad News Preacher August 21

by Max Lucado

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

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

"What ya' studying there, buddy?"

I told him, but he never heard.

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

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

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

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

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

Need an example? The feeding of the five thousand.

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

Philip was cynical.

Andrew was doubtful.

The other disciples were negative.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is faithful even when his children are not.

That's what makes God, God.

From A Gentle Thunder

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Dashed Hopes August 20

by Max Lucado

"I had intended "

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

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

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

A conjunction happened.

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

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

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

I had intended
I had made preparations
But God

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

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

I had intended
I had made preparations
But God

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

I had intended
I had made preparations
But God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Facing Your Giants

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Tender Words to the Tired Heart August 17

by Max Lucado

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

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

This could be his worst hour.

But he makes it one of his best.

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

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

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

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

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

He and the remaining four hundred fighters resume the chase.

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

And what about the two hundred men who had rested?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brook Besor blesses rest.

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

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

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

From Facing Your Giants

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Directions for the Road Ahead; August 16

by Max Lucado

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

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

Thats 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 wed remind Moses how perfect he is for wilderness travel...Wed spend time reviewing with Moses his rsum and strengths.

But God doesnt. 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: Gods Roadmap for New Beginnings


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June 9-10

Facing Your Grief

by Max Lucado

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

David called the nation to mourning. He rendered weeping a public policy. He refused to gloss over or soft-pedal death. He faced it, fought it, challenged it. But he didnt deny it. As his son Solomon explained, There is...a time to mourn (Eccles. 3:1, 4 NIV).

Give yourself some. Face your grief with tears, time, and--one more--face your grief with truth. Paul urged the Thessalonians to grieve, but he didnt want the Christians to carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. (I Thess. 4:13 MSG).

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

And wont you see them soon? Life blisters by at mach speed. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each mans life is but a breath (Ps. 39:5 NIV).

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

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

From Facing Your Giants

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June 2

Thin "Air-ogance"

by Max Lucado

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

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

This must be why God hates arrogance. He hates to see his children fall. He hates to see his David's seduce and his Bathsheba's be victimized. God hates what pride does to his children. He doesnt dislike arrogance. He hates it. Could he state it any clearer than Proverbs 8:13: I hate pride and arrogance. (NIV)? And then a few chapters later: God cant stomach arrogance or pretense; believe me, hell put those upstarts in their place (16:5 MSG).

You dont want God to do that. Just ask David. He never quite recovered from his bout with this giant. Dont make his mistake. Tis far wiser to descend the mountain than fall from it.

Pursue humility. Humility doesnt mean you think less of yourself but that you think of yourself less. Dont cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you (Romans 12:3 Phillips).

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

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

Wouldnt you rather be invited up than put down?

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

From Facing Your Giants

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May 31

Remarkable

by Max Lucado

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

If I dont do what he says, he doesnt burn the book or cancel my subscription. If I disagree with what he says, lightning doesnt split my swivel chair or an angel doesnt mark my name off the holy list. If I dont understand what he says, he doesnt call me a dummy.

In fact, he calls me Son, and on a different page explains what I dont understand.

Remarkable.

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

Remarkable.

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

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

Im learning not to take these everyday miracles for granted.

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

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

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

From In the Eye of the Storm

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May 30, 2018

Hidden Heroes

by Max Lucado

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

Wasnt that he didnt want to, just never needed to. But then one morning he did. The snow left his town of Colchester, England, buried in white. When he awoke on that January Sunday in 1850, he thought of staying home. Who would go to church in such weather?

But he reconsidered. He was, after all, a deacon. And if the deacons didnt go, who would? So he put on his boots, hat, and coat and walked the six miles to the Methodist Church.

He wasnt the only member who considered staying home. In fact, he was one of the few who came. Twelve members and one visitor. Even the minister was snowed in. Someone suggested they go home. Egglen would hear none of that. Theyd come this far; they would have a service. Besides, they had a visitor. A thirteen-year-old boy.

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

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

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

The boys name? Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Englands prince of preachers.

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

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

But wed do well to keep our eyes open. Tomorrows Spurgeon might be mowing your lawn. And the hero who inspires him might be nearer than you think.

He might be in your mirror.

From When God Whispers Your Name

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May 30, 2018

Hidden Heroes

by Max Lucado

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

Wasnt that he didnt want to, just never needed to. But then one morning he did. The snow left his town of Colchester, England, buried in white. When he awoke on that January Sunday in 1850, he thought of staying home. Who would go to church in such weather?

But he reconsidered. He was, after all, a deacon. And if the deacons didnt go, who would? So he put on his boots, hat, and coat and walked the six miles to the Methodist Church.

He wasnt the only member who considered staying home. In fact, he was one of the few who came. Twelve members and one visitor. Even the minister was snowed in. Someone suggested they go home. Egglen would hear none of that. Theyd come this far; they would have a service. Besides, they had a visitor. A thirteen-year-old boy.

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

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

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

The boys name? Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Englands prince of preachers.

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

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

But wed do well to keep our eyes open. Tomorrows Spurgeon might be mowing your lawn. And the hero who inspires him might be nearer than you think.

He might be in your mirror.

From When God Whispers Your Name

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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5/19/18 12:32 A

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

by Max Lucado

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

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

I spoke of flour and wheat, of grain and barley. My knowledge impressed even me as I cited the measurements and recipe. When I looked up, I was surprised to see he wasnt smiling. I just want bread, he said.

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

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

The beggar didnt speak. I understood his silence. With my arm around his shoulder, I whispered, It overwhelms me as well. I then leaped to the podium and struck my favorite pose behind the lectern. People come from miles to hear me speak. Once a week my workers gather, and I read to them the recipe from the cookbook of life.

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

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

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

The beggar turned and began walking away. Dont you want bread? I asked him.

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

I shook my head and returned to my office. What a shame, I said to myself. The world just isnt hungry for true bread anymore.

I dont know what is more incredible: that God packages the bread of life in the wrapper of a country carpenter or that he gives us the keys to the delivery truck. Both moves seem pretty risky. The carpenter did his part, however. And who knows -- we may just learn to do ours.

From A Gentle Thunder

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God's Loving Pursuit - UpWords - May 5

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From "Traveling Light:

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

by Max Lucado

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

Parents, we can do this. We can take our parenting fears to Christ. In fact, if we dont, well take our fears out on our kids! A family with no breathing room suffocates a child. Fear can also create permissive parents who are high on hugs and low on discipline.

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

Taken from Fearless

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

by Max Lucado

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

God doesnt condemn legitimate concern for responsibilities but rather the continuous mind-set that dismisses Gods presence. Destructive anxiety subtracts God from the future and tallies up the challenges of the day without entering God into the equation. Jesus gives us this challenge: Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously; and he will give you everything you need (Matthew 6:32-33).

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

by Max Lucado

Im sure youve had an appliance you may have tried to fix, but with no success. So you took it to the specialist. You explained the problem and then...offered to stay and help fix it? or hovered at the workbench asking questions about the progress? How about threw a sleeping bag on the floor so you could watch the repairman at work? If you did any of these things, you dont understand the relationship between client and repairman. The arrangement is uncomplicated. Leave it with him to fix it!

Our protocol with God is equally simple. Leave your problem with him. God doesnt need our help, counsel, or assistance. Please repeat this phrase: I hereby resign as ruler of the universe. When God is ready for us to re-engage, he will let us know. Until then, replace anxious thoughts with grateful ones. God takes thanksgiving seriously!

From Anxious for Nothing

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

by Max Lucado

A friend described to me her daily ninety-minute commute. Ninety minutes, I commiserated. Dont feel sorry for me, she smiled, I use the trip to think about God. She went on to describe how she fills the hour listening to entire books of the Bible. She recites prayers. By the time she reaches her place of employment, shes ready for the day. She says, I turn my commute into my chapel.

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

From Anxious for Nothing


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

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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