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9/14/19 10:40 P

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

By Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 9/14/2019 (23:22)
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9/12/19 1:21 P

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Unfailing Love - UpWords - September 12

by Max Lucado

"Love," Paul says, "never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV).

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

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

Love "will last forever" (NLT).

It "never dies" (MSG).

It "never ends" (RSV).

Love "is eternal" (TEV).

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

Love never fails.

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

How could God have a love like this? No one has unfailing love. No person can love with perfection. You're right. No person can. But God is not a person. Unlike our love, his never fails. His love is immensely different from ours.

Our love depends on the receiver of the love. Let a thousand people pass before us, and we will not feel the same about each. Our love will be regulated by their appearance, by their personalities. Even when we find a few people we like, our feelings will fluctuate. How they treat us will affect how we love them. The receiver regulates our love.

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

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

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

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

Doesn't this thought comfort you? God's love does not hinge on yours. The abundance of your love does not increase his. The lack of your love does not diminish his. Your goodness does not enhance his love, nor does your weakness dilute it. What Moses said to Israel is what God says to us:

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

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

He loves you when you don't feel lovely.

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

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

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

From A Love Worth Giving

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9/10/19 10:32 A

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Read Your Life Backward - UpWords - September 10

by Max Lucado

God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him.
Philippians 2:13 NCV

What God said about Jeremiah, he said about you: "Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work" (Jer. 1:5 NCV).

Set apart for a special work.

God shaped you according to yours. How else can you explain yourself? Your ability to diagnose an engine problem by the noise it makes, to bake a cake without a recipe. You knew the Civil War better than your American history teacher. You know the name of every child in the orphanage. How do you explain such quirks of skill?

God. He knew young Israel would need a code, so he gave Moses a love for the law. He knew the doctrine of grace would need a fiery advocate, so he set Paul ablaze. And in your case, he knew what your generation would need and gave it. He designed you. And his design defines your destiny. Remember Peter's admonition? "If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies" (1 Pet. 4:11).

I encountered walking proof of this truth on a trip to Central America. Dave, a fellow American, was celebrating his sixty-first birthday with friends at the language school where my daughter was studying Spanish. My question—"What brings you here?"—opened a biographical floodgate. Drugs, sex, divorce, jail—Dave's first four decades read like a gangster's diary. But then God called him. Just as God called Moses, Paul, and millions, God called Dave.

His explanation went something like this. "I've always been able to fix things. All my life when stuff broke, people called me. A friend told me about poor children in Central America, so I came up with an idea. I find homes with no fathers and no plumbing. I install sinks and toilets and love kids. That's what I do. That's what I was made to do."

Sounds like Dave has found the cure for the common life. He's living in his sweet spot. What about you? What have you always done well? And what have you always loved to do?

That last question trips up a lot of well-meaning folks. God wouldn't let me do what I like to do—would he? According to Paul, he would. "God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him" (Phil. 2:13 NCV). Your Designer couples the "want to" with the "be able to." Desire shares the driver's seat with ability. "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4 NIV). Your Father is too gracious to assign you to a life of misery. As Thomas Aquinas wrote, "Human life would seem to consist in that in which each man most delights, that for which he especially strives, and that which he particularly wishes to share with his friends."

So go ahead; reflect on your life. What have you always done well and loved to do?

Some find such a question too simple. Don't we need to measure something? Aptitude or temperament? We consult teachers and tea leaves, read manuals and horoscopes. We inventory spiritual gifts and ancestors. While some of these strategies might aid us, a simpler answer lies before us. Or, better stated, lies within us.

The oak indwells the acorn. Read your life backward and check your supplies. Rerelish your moments of success and satisfaction. For in the merger of the two, you find your uniqueness.

From Cure for the Common Life

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9/8/19 2:47 P

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Your Kindness Quotient - UpWords - September 8

by Max Lucado

How kind are you? What is your kindness quotient? When was the last time you did something kind for someone in your family—e.g., got a blanket, cleaned off the table, prepared the coffee—without being asked?

Think about your school or workplace. Which person is the most overlooked or avoided? A shy student? A grumpy employee? Maybe he doesn't speak the language. Maybe she doesn't fit in. Are you kind to this person?

Kind hearts are quietly kind. They let the car cut into traffic and the young mom with three kids move up in the checkout line. They pick up the neighbor's trash can that rolled into the street.

And they are especially kind at church. They understand that perhaps the neediest person they'll meet all week is the one standing in the foyer or sitting on the row behind them in worship. Paul writes: "When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers" (Galatians 6:10).

And, here is a challenge—what about your enemies? With the boss who fired you or the wife who left you. Suppose you surprised them with kindness? Not easy? No, it's not. But mercy is the deepest gesture of kindness. Paul equates the two. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph. 4:32 NKJV). Jesus said:

Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you.… If you love only the people who love you, what praise should you get? … [L]ove your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy. (Luke 6:27-28, 32, 35-36)

Kindness at home. Kindness in public. Kindness at church and kindness with your enemies. Pretty well covers the gamut, don't you think? Almost. Someone else needs your kindness.

Who could that be? You.

Since he is so kind to us, can't we be a little kinder to ourselves? Oh, but you don't know me,

Max. You don't know my faults and my thoughts. You don't know the gripes I grumble and the complaints I mumble. No, I don't, but he does. He knows everything about you, yet he doesn't hold back his kindness toward you. Has he, knowing all your secrets, retracted one promise or reclaimed one gift?

No, he is kind to you. Why don't you be kind to yourself? He forgives your faults. Why don't you do the same? He thinks tomorrow is worth living. Why don't you agree? He believes in you enough to call you his ambassador, his follower, even his child. Why not take his cue and believe in yourself?

Be kind to yourself. God thinks you're worth his kindness. And he's a good judge of character.

From A Love Worth Giving

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9/7/19 11:01 A

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He Can Do the Impossible - UpWords - September 7

by Max Lucado

The kingdom of heaven. Its citizens are drunk on wonder.

Consider the case of Sarai. She is in her golden years, but God promises her a son. She gets excited. She visits the maternity shop and buys a few dresses. She plans her shower and remodels her tent … but no son. She eats a few birthday cakes and blows out a lot of candles

… still no son. She goes through a decade of wall calendars … still no son.

So Sarai decides to take matters into her own hands. (“Maybe God needs me to take care of this one.”)

She convinces Abram that time is running out. (“Face it, Abe, you ain’t getting any younger, either.”) She commands her maid, Hagar, to go into Abram’s tent and see if he needs anything. (“And I mean ‘anything’!”) Hagar goes in a maid. She comes out a mom. And the problems begin.

Hagar is haughty. Sarai is jealous. Abram is dizzy from the dilemma. And God calls the baby boy a “wild donkey”—an appropriate name for one born out of stubbornness and destined to kick his way into history.

It isn’t the cozy family Sarai expected. And it isn’t a topic Abram and Sarai bring up very often at dinner.

Finally, fourteen years later, when Abram is pushing a century of years and Sarai ninety … when Abram has stopped listening to Sarai’s advice, and Sarai has stopped giving it … when the wallpaper in the nursery is faded and the baby furniture is several seasons out of date … when the topic of the promised child brings sighs and tears and long looks into a silent sky …

God pays them a visit and tells them they had better select a name for their new son.

Abram and Sarai have the same response: laughter. They laugh partly because it is too good to happen and partly because it might. They laugh because they have given up hope, and hope born anew is always funny before it is real.

They laugh at the lunacy of it all.

They laugh because that is what you do when someone says he can do the impossible. They laugh a little at God, and a lot with God—for God is laughing, too. Then, with the smile still on his face, he gets busy doing what he does best—the unbelievable.

He changes a few things—beginning with their names. Abram, the father of one, will now be Abraham, the father of a multitude. Sarai, the barren one, will now be Sarah, the mother.

But their names aren’t the only things God changes. He changes their minds. He changes their faith. He changes the number of their tax deductions. He changes the way they define the word impossible.

From The Applause of Heaven

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9/5/19 9:08 A

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Today I am posting 2 Parts of this Devotional: Looking for the Messiah:

Here is Part 1

Looking for the Messiah, Part 1 - UpWords - 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

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 9/5/2019 (09:52)
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Looking for the Messiah, Part 2 - UpWords - September 5

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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9/3/19 12:33 P

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Fear of What's Next - UpWords - September 3

by Max Lucado

"I am going away" ( John 14:28).

Imagine their shock when they heard Jesus say those words. He spoke them on the night of the Passover celebration, Thursday evening, in the Upper Room. Christ and his friends had just enjoyed a calm dinner in the midst of a chaotic week. They had reason for optimism: Jesus' popularity was soaring. Opportunities were increasing. In three short years the crowds had lifted Christ to their shoulders . . . he was the hope of the common man.

And now this? Jesus said, "I am going away." The announcement stunned them. When Jesus explained, "You know the way to where I am going," Thomas, with no small dose of exasperation, replied, "No, we don't know, Lord. We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?" ( John 14:4-5 NLT).

On the eve of his death, Jesus gave his followers this promise: "When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid" (John 14:26-27 NLT).

As a departing teacher might introduce the classroom to her replacement, so Jesus introduces us to the Holy Spirit. And what a ringing endorsement he gives. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit his "representative."

The Spirit comes in the name of Christ, with equal authority and identical power. Earlier in the evening Jesus had said, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever" (John 14:16 NIV).

Jesus' promise: allos—"another one just like the first one." And who is the first one? Jesus himself. Hence, the assurance Jesus gives to the disciples is this: "I am going away. You are entering a new season, a different chapter. Much will be different, but one thing remains constant: my presence. You will enjoy the presence of ‘another Counselor.' "

Can you see how the disciples needed this encouragement? It's Thursday night before the crucifixion. By Friday's sunrise they will abandon Jesus. The breakfast hour will find them hiding in corners and crevices. At 9 a.m. Roman soldiers will nail Christ to a cross. By this time tomorrow he will be dead and buried. Their world is about to be flipped on its head. And Jesus wants them to know: they'll never face the future without his help.

Nor will you. You have a travel companion. When you place your faith in Christ, Christ places his Spirit before, behind, and within you. Not a strange spirit, but the same Spirit: the parakletos. Everything Jesus did for his followers, his Spirit does for you. Jesus taught; the Spirit teaches. Jesus healed; the Spirit heals. Jesus comforted; his Spirit comforts. As Jesus sends you into new seasons, he sends his Counselor to go with you.

God treats you the way one mother treated her young son, Timmy. She didn't like the thought of Timmy walking to his first-grade class unaccompanied. But he was too grown-up to be seen with his mother. "Besides," he explained, "I can walk with a friend." So she did her best to stay calm, quoting the Twenty-third Psalm to him every morning: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life . . . "

One day she came up with an idea. She asked a neighbor to follow Timmy to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, lest he notice her. The neighbor was happy to oblige. She took her toddler on morning walks anyway.

After several days Timmy's little friend noticed the lady and the child.
"Do you know who that woman is who follows us to school?"
"Sure," Timmy answered. "That's Shirley Goodnest and her daughter Marcy."
"Who?"
"My mom reads about them every day in the Twenty-third Psalm. She says, ‘Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life.' Guess I'll have to get used to them."

You will too. God never sends you out alone. Are you on the eve of change? Do you find yourself looking into a new chapter? Is the foliage of your world showing signs of a new season? Heaven's message for you is clear: when everything else changes, God's presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit, who "will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you" (John 14:26 NLT).

From Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear

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Jesus Is Praying for You - UpWords - September 1

by Max Lucado

Have you ever have anyone stand up for you? The answer is yes. Jesus stands at this very moment, offering intercession on your behalf! Jesus says to you what he said to Peter.

Knowing the apostle was about to be severely tested by Satan, Jesus assured him, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” (Luke 22:32).

Jesus promises to pray and stand up for you. When we forget to pray, he remembers to pray.

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

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When You are Low on Hope - UpWords - August 31

by Max Lucado

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

He sent a raven on a scouting mission; it never returned. He sent a dove. It came back shivering and spent, having found no place to roost. Then, just this morning, he tried again. With a prayer he let it go and watched until the bird was no bigger than a speck on a window.

All day he looked for the dove’s return.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you received yours? Don’t think your ark is too isolated. Don’t think your flood is too wide. Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it. Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it.

What do you suppose Noah did with his? What do you think he did with the leaf? Did he throw it overboard and forget about it? Do you suppose he stuck it in his pocket and saved it for a scrapbook? Or do you think he let out a whoop and assembled the troops and passed it around like the Hope Diamond it was?

Certainly he whooped. That’s what you do with hope. What do you do with olive leaves? You pass them around. You don’t stick them in your pocket. You give them to the ones you love. Love always hopes. “Love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4–7 NKJV, emphasis mine).

Love has hope in you.

The aspiring young author was in need of hope. More than one person had told him to give up. “Getting published is impossible,” one mentor said. “Unless you are a national celebrity, publishers won’t talk to you.” Another warned, “Writing takes too much time. Besides, you don’t want all your thoughts on paper.”

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

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

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

So out it went. Mailed to fifteen different publishers. While the couple waited, he wrote. While he wrote, she stitched. Neither expecting much, both hoping everything. Responses began to fill the mailbox. “I’m sorry, but we don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.” “We must return your work. Best of luck.” “Our catalog doesn’t have room for unpublished authors.”

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

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

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

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

You can say those words. You are a flood survivor. By God’s grace you have found your way to dry land. You know what it’s like to see the waters subside. And since you do, since you passed through a flood and lived to tell about it, you are qualified to give hope to someone else.

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

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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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Hand Delivered Bouquets - UpWords - August 27

by Max Lucado

Through Christ, God has accepted you. Think about what this means. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you.

Rejections are like speed bumps on the road. They come with the journey. You’re going to get cut, dished, dropped, and kicked around. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you. How? By letting his acceptance compensate for their rejection.

Think of it this way. Suppose you dwell in a high-rise apartment. On the window sill of your room is a solitary daisy. This morning you picked the daisy and pinned it on your lapel. Since you have only one plant, this is a big event and a special daisy.

But as soon as you’re out the door, people start picking petals off your daisy. Someone snags your subway seat. Petal picked. You’re blamed for the bad report of a coworker. Three petals. The promotion is given to someone with less experience but USC water polo looks. More petals. By the end of the day, you’re down to one. Woe be to the soul who dares to draw near it. You’re only one petal-snatching away from a blowup.

What if the scenario was altered slightly? Let’s add one character. The kind man in the apartment next door runs a flower shop on the corner. Every night on the way home he stops at your place with a fresh, undeserved, yet irresistible bouquet. These are not leftover flowers. They are top-of-the-line arrangements. You don’t know why he thinks so highly of you, but you aren’t complaining. Because of him, your apartment has a sweet fragrance, and your step has a happy bounce. Let someone mess with your flower, and you’ve got a basketful to replace it!

The difference is huge. And the interpretation is obvious.

God will load your world with flowers. He hand-delivers a bouquet to your door every day. Open it! Take them! Then, when rejections come, you won’t be left short-petaled.

God can help you get rid of your anger. He made galaxies no one has ever seen and dug canyons we have yet to find. “The LORD … heals all your diseases” (Ps. 103:2–3 NIV). Do you think among those diseases might be the affliction of anger?

Do you think God could heal your angry heart?

Do you want him to? This is not a trick question. He asks the same question of you that he asked of the invalid: “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6). Not everyone does. 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, he can change your identity. Do you want him to do so?

Do you have a better option? Like moving to a rejection-free zone? If so, enjoy your life on your desert island.

Take the flowers. Receive from him so you can love or at least put up with others.

From A Love Worth Giving

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8/25/19 4:06 P

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You Have Clout with God - UpWords - August 25

by Max Lucado

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

You want to quit. Could I ask you to memorize this promise and ask God to bring it to mind? Write it where you’ll find it. Tattoo it, if not on your skin at least on your heart:

“When a believing person prays, great things happen” (James 5:16).

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

Prayer is just the first step. God has power you’ve never seen, strength you’ve never known. He delights in answering prayer! And because his promises are unbreakable, our hope is unshakable!

From Unshakable Hope

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8/24/19 7:57 A

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Taking Out the Trash - UpWords - August 24

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

From Great Day Every Day

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8/22/19 4:32 A

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In God We (Nearly) Trust - UpWords - August 22

By Max Lucado

A few days before our wedding, Denalyn and I enjoyed and endured a sailing voyage. Milt, a Miami church friend, had invited Denalyn, her mom, and me to join him and a few others on a leisurely cruise along the Florida coast.

Initially it was just that. Leisure. We stretched out on cushions, hung feet over the side, caught some zzz’s and rays. Nice.

But then came the storm. The sky darkened, the rain started, and the flat ocean humped like a dragon’s neck. Sudden waves of water tilted the vessel up until we saw nothing but sky and then downward until we saw nothing but blue. I learned this about sailing: there is nothing swell about a swell. Tanning stopped. Napping ceased. Eyes turned first to the thunderclouds, then to the captain. We looked to Milt.

He was deliberate and decisive. He told some people where to sit, others what to do, and all of us to hang on. And we did what he said. Why? We knew he knew best. No one else knew the difference between starboard and stern. Only Milt did. We trusted him. We knew he knew.

And we knew we didn’t. Prior to the winds, we might have boasted about Boy Scout merit badges in sailing or bass-boat excursions. But once the storm hit, we shut up. (Except for Denalyn, who threw up.)

We had no choice but to trust Milt. He knew what we didn’t—and he cared. The vessel was captained, not by a hireling or a stranger, but by a pal. Our safety mattered to him. So we trusted him.

Oh, that the choice were equally easy in life. Need I remind you about your westerly winds?

With the speed of lightning and the force of a thunderclap, williwaws anger tranquil waters.

Victims of sudden storms populate unemployment lines and ICU wards. You know the winds.

You’ve felt the waves. Good-bye, smooth sailing. Hello, rough waters.

Such typhoons test our trust in the Captain. Does God know what he is doing? Can he get us out? Why did he allow the storm?

Can you say about God what I said about Milt?

I know God knows what’s best.

I know I don’t.

I know he cares.

Such words come easily when the water is calm. But when you’re looking at a wrecked car or a suspicious-looking mole, when war breaks out or thieves break in, do you trust him?

To embrace God’s sovereignty is to drink from the well of his lordship and make a sailboat-in-the-storm decision. Not in regard to Milt and the sea, but in regard to God and life. You look toward the Captain and resolve: he knows what’s best.

From Come Thirsty

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8/21/19 5:14 A

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The Bad News Preacher - UpWords - 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.

Yes "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 Thunde

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8/20/19 4:25 A

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Dashed Hopes - UpWords - August 20

by Max Lucado

"I had intended …"

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

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

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

A conjunction happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Facing Your Giants

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8/19/19 10:34 P

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Death: Because of Christ, You Can Face It – UpWords – August 19

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

And I went to bed. And slept like a baby. As things turned out, I recovered from the surgery, and here I am, strong as ever, still pounding away at the computer keyboard.

One thing is different, though. This matter of dying bravely?

I think I will.

May you do the same.

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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Tender Words to the Tired Heart - UpWords - August 17

by Max Lucado

Brook Besor. Don't feel bad if you've never heard of the place. Most haven't, but more need to.

The Brook Besor narrative deserves shelf space in the library of the worn-out. It speaks tender words to the tired heart.

The story emerges from the ruins of Ziklag. David and his six hundred soldiers return from the Philistine war front to find utter devastation. A raiding band of Amalekites had swept down on the village, looted it, and taken the women and children hostage.

The sorrow of the men mutates into anger, not against the Amalekites, but against David. After all, hadn't he led them into battle? Hadn't he left the women and children unprotected?

Isn't he to blame? Then he needs to die. So they start grabbing stones.

This could be his worst hour.

But he makes it one of his best.

David redirects the men's anger toward the enemy. They set out in pursuit of the Amalekites.

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

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

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

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

And the church must decide. What do we do with the Brook Besor people? Berate them?

Shame them? Give them a rest but measure the minutes? Or do we do what David did? David let them stay.

He and the remaining four hundred fighters resume the chase.

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

And what about the two hundred men who had rested?

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

A Molotov cocktail of emotions is stirred, lit, and handed to David. Here's how he defuses it:

"Don't do that after what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and given us the enemy who attacked us. Who will listen to what you say? The share will be the same for the one who stayed with the supplies as for the one who went into battle. All will share alike." (1 Samuel 30:23-24)

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

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

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

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

Brook Besor blesses rest.

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

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

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

From Facing Your Giants


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Directions for the Road Ahead - UpWords - August 16

by Max Lucado

The key question in life is not “How strong am I?” but rather “How strong is God?”
Focus on his strength, not yours. Occupy yourself with the nature of God, not the size of your biceps.

That’s what God told Moses to do. Remember the conversation at the burning bush? The tone was set in the first sentence. “Take off your sandals because you are standing on holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

With these eleven words Moses is enrolled in a class on God. Immediately the roles are defined. God is holy. Approaching him on even a quarter-inch of leather is too pompous…No time is spent convincing Moses what Moses can do, but much time is spent explaining to Moses what God can do.

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

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

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

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He Did it Just for You - UpWords - August 15

by Max Lucado

When God entered time and became a man, he who was boundless became bound. Imprisoned in flesh. Restricted by weary-prone muscles and eyelids. For more than three decades, his once limitless reach would be limited to the stretch of an arm, his speed checked to the pace of human feet.

I wonder, was he ever tempted to reclaim his boundlessness? In the middle of a long trip, did he ever consider transporting himself to the next city? When the rain chilled his bones, was he tempted to change the weather? When the heat parched his lips, did he give thought to popping over to the Caribbean for some refreshment?

If ever he entertained such thoughts, he never gave in to them. Not once. Stop and think about this. Not once did Christ use his supernatural powers for personal comfort. With one word he could’ve transformed the hard earth into a soft bed, but he didn’t. With a wave of his hand, he could’ve boomeranged the spit of his accusers back into their faces, but he didn’t. With an arch of his brow, he could’ve paralyzed the hand of the soldier as he braided the crown of thorns. But he didn’t.

Want to know the coolest thing about the coming?

Not that he, in an instant, went from needing nothing to needing air, food, a tub of hot water and salts for his tired feet, and, more than anything, needing somebody—anybody—who was more concerned about where he would spend eternity than where he would spend Friday’s paycheck.

Not that he kept his cool while the dozen best friends he ever had felt the heat and got out of the kitchen. Or that he gave no command to the angels who begged, “Just give the nod, Lord. One word and these demons will be deviled eggs.”

Not that he refused to defend himself when blamed for every sin since Adam. Or that he stood silent as a million guilty verdicts echoed in the tribunal of heaven and the giver of light was left in the chill of a sinner’s night.

Not even that after three days in a dark hole he stepped into the Easter sunrise with a smile and a swagger and a question for lowly Lucifer—“Is that your best punch?”

That was cool, incredibly cool.

But want to know the coolest thing about the One who gave up the crown of heaven for a crown of thorns?

He did it for you. Just for you.

From His Name is Jesus

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 8/15/2019 (11:31)
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Count to Eight (Woe, Be Gone) - UpWords - August 13

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standing next to the disciples was the solution to their problems…but they didn’t go to him. They stopped their count at seven and worried.

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

Here are eight worry stoppers to expand your tally:

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

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

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

Compile a worry list. Over a period of days record your anxious thoughts. Then review them. How many of them turned into a reality?

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

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

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

Let God be enough. “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matt. 6:32-33 NLT).

Eight steps. Pray, first. Easy, now. Act on it. Compile a worry list.

Evaluate your worry categories. Focus on today. Unleash a worry army. Let God be enough.

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

From Fearless

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My Success Is about Him - UpWords - August 10

by Max Lucado

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

They were kings of Israel. They ascended to the throne… but something about the throne brought them down. Their legacies are stained with blood spilling and idol worship. They failed at success. They forgot both the source and purpose of their success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are you good at what you do? For your comfort? For your retirement? For your self-esteem? No. Deem these as bonuses, not as the reason. Why are you good at what you do? For God’s sake. Your success is not about what you do. It’s all about him—his present and future glory.

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

by Max Lucado

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

I had a date with a twirler.

I learned to paint white shoe polish on school buses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, what I saw two decades ago in the band, I see today in the church. We need each other. Not all of us play the same instrument. Some believers are lofty, and others are solid.

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

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

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

Now, what I saw two decades ago in the band, I see today in the church. We need each other. Not all of us play the same instrument. Some believers are lofty, and others are solid.

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

Some play the drums (like Martha).

Some play the flute (like Mary).

And others sound the trumpet (like Lazarus).

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

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

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

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

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Perfect Love - UpWords - August 3

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

Until love is stirred, let God’s love be enough for you. There are seasons when God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his love. Didn’t he do this with David? Saul turned on him. Michal, his wife, betrayed him. Jonathan and Samuel were

David’s friends, but they couldn’t follow him into the wilderness. Betrayal and circumstances left

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

Be prayerful.

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

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

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

Be grateful.

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

From A Love Worth Giving

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Marthas - UpWords - July 27

by Max Lucado

Every church needs a Martha. Change that. Every church needs a hundred Marthas. Sleeves rolled and ready, they keep the pace for the church. Because of Marthas, the church budget gets balanced, the church babies get bounced, and the church building gets built. You don’t appreciate Marthas until a Martha is missing, and then all the Marys and Lazaruses are scrambling around looking for the keys and the thermostats and the overhead projectors.

Marthas are the Energizer bunnies of the church. They keep going and going and going. They store strength like a camel stores water. Since they don’t seek the spotlight, they don’t live off the applause. That’s not to say they don’t need it. They just aren’t addicted to it.

Marthas have a mission. In fact, if Marthas have a weakness, it is their tendency to elevate the mission over the Master. Remember when Martha did that? A younger Martha invites a younger Jesus to come for dinner. Jesus accepts and brings his disciples.

The scene Luke describes has Mary seated and Martha fuming. Martha is angry because Mary is, horror of horrors, sitting at the feet of Jesus. How impractical! How irrelevant! How unnecessary! I mean, who has time to sit and listen when there is bread to be baked, tables to be set, and souls to be saved? So Martha complained, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40).

All of a sudden Martha has gone from serving Jesus to making demands of Jesus. The room falls silent. The disciples duck their eyes. Mary flushes red. And Jesus speaks.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
Apparently Martha got the point, for later we find her serving again.

“Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:2–3 NIV).

Is Mary in the kitchen? No she is worshiping, for that is what she loves to do. But this time Martha doesn’t object. She has learned that there is a place for praise and worship, and that is what Mary is doing. And what is Mary’s part in the dinner? She brings a pint of very expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus’ feet, then wipes his feet with her hair. The smell of the perfume fills the house, just like the sound of praise can fill a church.

An earlier Martha would have objected. Such an act was too lavish, too extravagant, too generous. But this mature Martha has learned that just as there is a place in the kingdom of God for sacrificial service, there is also a place for extravagant praise.

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Marys - UpWords - July 26

by Max Lucado

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

Marys have one foot in heaven and the other on a cloud. It’s not easy for them to come to earth, but sometimes they need to. Sometimes they need to be reminded that there are bills to be paid and classes to be taught. But don’t remind them too harshly. Flutes are fragile. Marys are precious souls with tender hearts. If they have found a place at the foot of Jesus, don’t ask them to leave. Much better to ask them to pray for you.

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

Every church desperately needs some Marys.

We need them to pray for our children.

We need them to put passion in our worship.

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

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

We need them because we tend to forget how much God loves worship. Marys don’t forget. They know that God wants to be known as a father. They know that a father likes nothing more than to have his children sit as his feet and spend time with him.

Marys are good at that.

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

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

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Love Always Protects - UpWords - July 25

by Max Lucado

Genesis 3:21 has been called the first gospel sermon. Preached not by preachers, but by God himself. Not with words, but with symbol and action.

“The LORD God made clothes from animal skins for the man and his wife and dressed them” (Gen. 3:21).

God covers them. He protects them.

Love always protects.

Hasn’t he done the same for us? We eat our share of forbidden fruit. We say what we shouldn’t say. Go where we shouldn’t go. Pluck fruit from trees we shouldn’t touch.

So what does God do? Exactly what he did for our parents in the garden. He sheds innocent blood. He offers the life of his Son. And from the scene of the sacrifice the Father takes a robe—not the skin of an animal—but the robe of righteousness. And does he throw it in our direction and tell us to shape up? No, he dresses us himself. He dresses us with himself. “You were all baptized into Christ, and so you were all clothed with Christ” (Gal. 3:26–27).

God has clothed us. He protects us with a cloak of love. Can you look back over your life and see instances of God’s protection? I can too. My junior year in college I was fascinated by a movement of Christians several thousand miles from my campus. Some of my friends decided to spend the summer at the movement’s largest church and be discipled. When I tried to do the same, every door closed. Problem after problem with finances, logistics, and travel.

A second opportunity surfaced: spending a summer in Brazil. In this case, every door I knocked on swung open. Two and one half decades later I see how God protected me. The movement has become a cult—dangerous and oppressive. Time in Brazil introduced me to grace—freeing and joyful. Did God protect me? Does God protect us?

And you? Did he keep you from a bad relationship? Protect you from the wrong job? Insulate you from _______________ (you fill in the blank)?

“Like hovering birds, so will [the LORD Almighty] protect Jerusalem” (Isa. 31:5 JB).

“He will strengthen and protect you” (2 Thess. 3:3 NIV).

“He will command his angels … to guard you” (Ps. 91:11 NIV).

God protects you with a cloak of love....

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Changed from the Inside Out - UpWords - July 24

by Max Lucado

When you believe in Christ, Christ works a miracle in you. You are permanently purified and empowered by God himself. The message of Jesus to the religious person is simple: It’s not what you do. It’s what I do. I have moved in.

And in time you can say with Paul, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).

If I’m born again, why do I fall so often?

Why did you fall so often after your first birth? Did you exit the womb wearing cross-trainers?

Did you do the two-step on the day of your delivery? Of course not. And when you started to walk, you fell more than you stood. Should we expect anything different from our spiritual walk?

But I fall so often, I question my salvation. Again, we return to your first birth. Didn’t you stumble as you were learning to walk? And when you stumbled, did you question the validity of your physical birth? Did you, as a one-year-old fresh flopped on the floor, shake your head and think, I have fallen again. I must not be human?

Of course not. The stumbles of a toddler do not invalidate the act of birth. And the stumbles of a Christian do not annul his spiritual birth.

Do you understand what God has done? He has deposited a Christ seed in you. As it grows, you will change. It’s not that sin has no more presence in your life, but rather that sin has no more power over your life. Temptation will pester you, but temptation will not master you. What hope this brings!

Hear this. It’s not up to you! Within you abides a budding power. Trust him!

Think of it this way. Suppose you, for most of your life, have had a heart condition. Your frail pumper restricts your activities. Each morning at work when the healthy employees take the stairs, you wait for the elevator.

But then comes the transplant. A healthy heart is placed within you. After recovery, you return to work and encounter the flight of stairs—the same flight of stairs you earlier avoided. By habit, you start for the elevator. But then you remember. You aren’t the same person. You have a new heart. Within you dwells a new power.

Do you live like the old person or the new? Do you count yourself as having a new heart or old? You have a choice to make.

You might say, “I can’t climb stairs; I’m too weak.” Does your choice negate the presence of a new heart? Dismiss the work of the surgeon? No. Choosing the elevator would suggest only one fact—you haven’t learned to trust your new power.

It takes time. But at some point you’ve got to try those stairs. You’ve got to test the new ticker. You’ve got to experiment with the new you. For if you don’t, you will run out of steam.

Religious rule keeping can sap your strength. It’s endless. There is always another class to attend, Sabbath to obey, Ramadan to observe. No prison is as endless as the prison of perfection. Her inmates find work but never find peace. How could they? They never know when they are finished.

Christ, however, gifts you with a finished work. He fulfilled the law for you. Bid farewell to the burden of religion. Gone is the fear that having done everything, you might not have done enough. You climb the stairs, not by your strength, but his. God pledges to help those who stop trying to help themselves.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6.) God will change you from the inside out.

From Next Door Savior...

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Is This All There Is? - UpWords - July 22

by Max Lucado

Something is awry—we feel disconnected. We connect with a career, find meaning in family, yet long for something more.

We feel the frustration I felt on Christmas morning, 1964. I assembled a nine-year-old’s dream gift: a genuine Santa Fe Railroad miniature train set, complete with battery-powered engine and flashing crossing lights. I placed the locomotive on the tracks and watched in sheer glee as three pounds of pure steel wound its way across my bedroom floor. Around and around and around and . . . around . . . and around . . . After some time I picked it up and turned it the other direction. It went around and around and around . . .

“Mom, what else did you get me for Christmas?”

Similarly, our lives chug in long ovals, one lap after another.

First job. Promotion. Wedding day. Nursery beds. Kids. Grandkids. Around and around . . . Is there anything else?

Our dissatisfaction mates with disappointment and gives birth to some unruly children: drunkenness, power plays, eighty-hour workweeks, nosedives into sexual perversions—all nothing more than poorly disguised longings for Eden. We long to restore what Adam lost. As someone once said, “The man who knocks on the door of a brothel is seeking God.”

Where and when the brothel fails, Jesus steps forth with a reconnection invitation. Though we be “dead in [our] transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1) and separated from the life of God (Eph. 4:18), whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (I John 5:1). Reborn!

This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God.” (John 1:13.)

Don’t miss the invisible, inward miracle triggered by belief. God reinstates us to Garden-of-Eden status. What Adam and Eve did, we now do! The flagship family walked with God; we can too. They heard his voice; so can we. They were naked and unashamed; we can be transparent and unafraid. No more running or hiding.

“Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!” (1 Pet. 1:3–4 MSG).

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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To Hear the Applause of Heaven - UpWords - July 21

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

Each step you take brings you closer to home. Before you know it, you’ll enter the City. You’ll hear your name spoken by those who love you. And maybe, just maybe—in the back, behind the crowds—the One who would rather die than live without you will remove his pierced hands from his heavenly robe and… applaud.

From Applause of Heaven


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Our Work Can Be Worship - UpWords - July 20

By Max Lucado

Many people dread their work. If you’re one of them, try changing your attitude toward your work! God’s eyes fall on the work of our hands. One stay-at-home-mom keeps this sign over her sink: “Divine tasks performed here, daily.” Indeed, work can be worship.

Peter wrote, “You are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God.” (1 Peter 2:9). So, let every detail in your life—your words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus. (Colossians 3:17).

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

From Cure for the Common Life

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Heaven's "Whoever" Policy - UpWords - July 18

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

No visitors. Maybe tomorrow.

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

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

His eyes, for the first time, popped open. Saucer wide. His head lifted. Doubt laced his response: “I think I am.”

“Do you want to be sure?”
“Oh yes.”

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

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

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

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

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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When Death Becomes Birth - UpWords - July 16

by Max Lucado

You live one final breath from your own funeral.

Which, from God’s perspective, is nothing to grieve. He responds to these grave facts with this great news: “The day you die is better than the day you are born” (Eccles. 7:1). Now there is a twist. Heaven enjoys a maternity-ward reaction to funerals. Angels watch body burials the same way grandparents monitor delivery-room doors. “He’ll be coming through any minute!”

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

Oh, but many of us weep at the thought of death. Do you? Do you dread your death? And is your dread of death robbing your joy of life?
Jesus came to “deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Heb. 2:15).

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

Dread of death ends when you know heaven is your true home. In all my air travels I’ve never seen one passenger weep when the plane landed. Never. No one clings to the armrests and begs, “Don’t make me leave. Don’t make me leave. Let me stay and eat more peanuts.” We’re willing to exit because the plane has no permanent mailing address. Nor does this world. “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior” (Phil. 3:20).

Why don’t you do this: give God your death. Imagine your last breath, envision your final minutes, and offer them to him. Deliberately. Regularly. “Lord, I receive your work on the cross and in your resurrection. I entrust you with my departure from earth.” With Christ as your friend and heaven as your home, the day of death becomes sweeter than the day of birth.

From Come Thirsty

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Water for Your Soul - UpWords - July 15

by Max Lucado

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

People had packed the streets for the annual reenactment of the rock-giving-water miracle of Moses. Each morning a priest filled a golden pitcher with water from the Gihon spring and carried it down a people-lined path to the temple. He did this every day, once a day, for seven days. “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:37-38).

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

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

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Serve One Another - UpWords - July 13

by Max Lucado

Jesus “set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion” (Phil. 2:7–8 MSG).

Let’s follow his example. Let’s “put on the apron of humility, to serve one another” (1 Pet. 5:5 TEV). Jesus entered the world to serve. We can enter our jobs, our homes, our churches.

Servanthood requires no unique skill or seminary degree. Regardless of your strengths, training, or church tenure, you can …

Love the overlooked. Jesus sits in your classroom, wearing the thick glasses, outdated clothing, and a sad face. You’ve seen him. He’s Jesus.

Jesus works in your office. Pregnant again, she shows up to work late and tired. No one knows the father. According to water-cooler rumors, even she doesn’t know the father. You’ve seen her. She’s Jesus.

When you talk to the lonely student, befriend the weary mom, you love Jesus. He dresses in the garb of the overlooked and ignored. “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40 MSG).

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Returning from the East - UpWords - July 12

by Max Lucado

Somewhere Oswald Chambers wrote: “Christians must occasionally travel under sealed orders.” Such was the case for a group of us who traveled to China in August. Though we think we know the purpose of the trip, I’m confident that the real orders were seen only by spiritual forces.

Our groups consisted of ministers, representatives of two Christian colleges, a representative of Focus on the Family, a publishing delegate, a lawyer, and John Bentley, the trip facilitator and director of an orphanage in China. Our goal was simple: extend the hand of Christian friendship to high-ranking government officials in China. By his grace we were granted audiences with

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

Each meeting lasted 45 minutes to an hour. The first three meetings began with prepared speeches from the official explaining China's position on a variety of matters, but especially religion. The meetings were gracious and hospitable. In each case, our message to them was simple and identical...we extend the hand of goodwill and hope that we can enhance our relationship. We told them that we come more in the name of Jesus than in the name of a country and would like the chance to display the love of Christ through good works in China.

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

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

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

- Estimates as high as 100 million Christians.

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

- While the country is known for its Communist regime or exploding economy, fastest in the history of the world, it should be known for its delightful people. The people are so quick to smile and happy to serve. They are, indeed, a special nation… worthy of every effort to tell them about Christ.

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Prayerful Waiting - UpWords - July 11

by Max Lucado

“They all met together continually for prayer.” Mark uses the same Greek word here translated “continually” to describe a boat floating in the water, waiting on Jesus. The Master, speaking on the beach of Galilee, told the disciples to have a boat ready and waiting (Mark 3:9). The boat was “continually” in the presence of Christ. So are the Upper Room disciples. One day passes. Then two. Then a week. For all they know a hundred more will come and go. But they aren’t leaving. They persist in the presence of Christ.

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

We’re so reluctant to do what they did. Who has time to wait? We groan at such a thought. But waiting doesn’t mean inactivity—rather inHIMactivity. Waiting means watching for him. If you are waiting on a bus, you are watching for the bus. If you are waiting on God, you are watching for God, searching for God, hoping in God. Great promises come to those who do. “But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).

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

Desire power for your life?

It will come as you pray. For ten days the disciples prayed. Ten days of prayer plus a few minutes of preaching led to three thousand saved souls. Perhaps we invert the numbers. We’re prone to pray for a few minutes and preach for ten days. Not the apostles. Like the boat waiting for Christ, they lingered in his presence. They never left the place of prayer.

From Come Thirsty

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An Unearthly Love - UpWords - July 10

by Max Lucado

Your goodness can’t win God’s love. Nor can your badness lose it. But you can resist it. We tend to do so honestly. Having been rejected so often, we fear God may reject us as well. Rejections have left us skittish and jumpy. Like my dog Salty. He sleeps next to me on the couch as I write. He’s a cranky cuss, but I like him. We’ve aged together over the last fifteen years, and he seems worse for the wear. He’s a wiry canine by nature; shave his salt-and-pepper mop, and he’d pass for a bulimic Chihuahua. He didn’t have much to start with; now the seasons have taken his energy, teeth, hearing, and all but eighteen inches’ worth of eyesight.

Toss him a dog treat, and he just stares at the floor through cloudy cataracts. (Or, in his case, dogaracts?) He’s nervous and edgy, quick to growl and slow to trust. As I reach out to pet him, he yanks back. Still, I pet the old coot. I know he can’t see, and I can only wonder how dark his world has become.

We are a lot like Salty. I have a feeling that most people who defy and deny God do so more out of fear than conviction. For all our chest pumping and braggadocio, we are anxious folk—can’t see a step into the future, can’t hear the one who owns us. No wonder we try to gum the hand that feeds us.

3:16But God reaches and touches. He speaks through the immensity of the Russian plain and the density of the Amazon rain forest. Through a physician’s touch in Africa, a bowl of rice in India. Through a Japanese bow or a South American abraço. He’s even been known to touch people through paragraphs like the ones you are reading. If he is touching you, let him.

Mark it down: God loves you with an unearthly love. You can’t win it by being winsome. You can’t lose it by being a loser. But you can be blind enough to resist it.

Don’t. For heaven’s sake, don’t. For your sake, don’t.

“Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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Learning to Listen - UpWords - July 9

by Max Lucado

Equipped with the right tools, we can learn to listen to God. What are those tools? Here are the ones I have found helpful.

A regular time and place. Select a slot on your schedule and a corner of your world, and claim it for God. For some it may be best to do this in the morning. Others prefer the evening Others prefer many encounters during the day.

Some sit under a tree, others in the kitchen. Maybe your commute to work or your lunch break would be appropriate. Find a time and place that seems right for you.

How much time should you take? As much as you need. Value quality over length. Your time with God should last long enough for you to say what you want and for God to say what he wants. Which leads us to a second tool you need—an open Bible.

God speaks to us through his Word. The first step in reading the Bible is to ask God to help you understand it.

Before reading the Bible, pray. Don’t go to Scripture looking for your own idea; go searching for God’s. Read the Bible prayerfully. Also, read the Bible carefully.

Here is a practical point. Study the Bible a little at a time. God seems to send messages as he did his manna: one day’s portion at a time. Choose depth over quantity. Read until a verse “hits” you, then stop and meditate on it. Copy the verse onto a sheet of paper, or write it in your journal, and reflect on it several times.

Will I learn what God intends? If I listen, I will.

Understanding comes a little at a time over a lifetime.

There is a third tool for having a productive time with God. Not only do we need a regular time and an open Bible, we also need a listening heart. Don’t forget the admonition from James: “The man who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who hears and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness” (James 1:25 PHILLIPS).

We know we are listening to God when what we read in the Bible is what others see in our lives.

Paul urged his readers to put into practice what they had learned from him. “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do” (Philippians 4:9).

If you want to be just like Jesus, let God have you. Spend time listening for him until you receive your lesson for the day—then apply it.

From Just Like Jesus

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The Footprints of Satan - UpWords - July 8

by Max Lucado

Once he was approached by a leper, who knelt before him begging his help. “If only you will,” said the man, “you can cleanse me.” In warm indignation Jesus stretched out his hand, [and] touched him.
Mark 1:40–41, NEB

I was in an emergency room late one night last week.

Victims of Satan filled the halls. A child—puffy, swollen eyes. Beaten by her father. A woman—bruised cheeks, bloody nose. “My boyfriend got drunk and hit me,” she said, weeping. An old man—unconscious and drunk on a stretcher. He drooled blood in his sleep.

Jesus saw the victims of Satan, too.

He saw a leper one day … fingers gnarled … skin ulcerated … face disfigured.

And he got indignant … angry.

Not a selfish, violent anger. A holy anger…

a controlled frustration …

a compassionate disgust. And it moved him. It moved him to action.

I’m convinced that the same Satan stalks today, causing the hunger in Somalia … the confusion in the Mideast … the egotism on the movie screen … the apathy in Christ’s church.

And Satan giggles among the dying.

Dear Father,

May we never grow so “holy,” may we never be so “mature,” may we never become so “religious” that we can see the footprints of Satan and stay calm.

From Shaped by God

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Practicing the Presence - UpWords - July 7

by Max Lucado

How do I live in God’s presence? How do I detect his unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear? A sheep grows familiar with the voice of the shepherd. How can you and I grow familiar with the voice of God? Here are a few ideas:

Give God your waking thoughts. Before you face the day, face the Father. Before you step out of bed, step into his presence. I have a friend who makes it a habit to roll out of his bed onto his knees and begin his day in prayer. Personally, I don’t get that far. With my head still on the pillow and my eyes still closed, I offer God the first seconds of my day. The prayer is not lengthy and far from formal. Depending on how much sleep I got, it may not even be intelligible. Often it’s nothing more than “Thank you for a night’s rest. I belong to you today.”

Give God your waiting thoughts. Spend time with him in silence. The mature married couple has learned the treasure of shared silence; they don’t need to fill the air with constant chatter. Just being together is sufficient. Try being silent with God. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10 niv). Awareness of God is a fruit of stillness before God.

Give God your whispering thoughts. Through the centuries Christians have learned the value of brief sentence prayers, prayers that can be whispered anywhere, in any setting.

Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God. By giving God your whispering thoughts, the common becomes uncommon. Simple phrases such as “Thank you, Father,” “Be sovereign in this hour, O Lord,” “You are my resting place, Jesus” can turn a commute into a pilgrimage. You needn’t leave your office or kneel in your kitchen. Just pray where you are. Let the kitchen become a cathedral or the classroom a chapel. Give God your whispering thoughts.

And last, give God your waning thoughts. At the end of the day, let your mind settle on him. Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God. Thank him for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his mercy. Seek his strength. And as you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise: “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. 121:4 niv). If you fall asleep as you pray, don’t worry. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father.

From Just Like Jesus

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Untangling Life's Knots - UpWords - July 6

by Max Lucado

It’s your best friend’s wedding. “I’ll take care of the reception,” you’d volunteered. You planned the best party possible. You hired the band, rented the hall, catered the meal, decorated the room, and asked your Aunt Bertha to bake the cake.

Now the band is playing and the guests are milling, but Aunt Bertha is nowhere to be seen. Everything is here but the cake. You sneak over to the pay phone and dial her number. She’s been taking a nap. She thought the wedding was next week.

Oh boy! Now what do you do? Talk about a problem! Everything is here but the cake …

Sound familiar?

It might. It’s exactly the dilemma Jesus’ mother, Mary, was facing. Back then, wine was to a wedding what cake is to a wedding today.

What Mary faced was a social problem. No need to call 911, but no way to sweep the embarrassment under the rug, either.

When you think about it, most of the problems we face are of the same caliber. We’re late for a meeting. We leave something at the office. A coworker forgets a report. Mail gets lost. Traffic gets snarled. The waves rocking our lives are not life threatening yet. But they can be. A poor response to a simple problem can light a fuse.

For that reason you might want to note how Mary reacted. Her solution poses a practical plan for untangling life’s knots. “They have no more wine,” she told Jesus (John 2:3). That’s it. That’s all she said. She didn’t go ballistic. She simply assessed the problem and gave it to Christ.

It’s so easy to focus on everything but the solution. Mary didn’t do that. She simply looked at the knot, assessed it, and took it to the right person. “I’ve got one here I can’t untie, Jesus.”

“When all the wine was gone Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine’” (John 2:3).

Please note, she took the problem to Jesus before she took it to anyone else. A friend told me about a tense deacons’ meeting he attended. Apparently there was more agitation than agreement, and after a lengthy discussion, someone suggested, “Why don’t we pray about it?” to which another questioned, “Has it come to that?”

What causes us to think of prayer as the last option rather than the first?

From A Gentle Thunder

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They Don’t Know What They Are Doing - UpWords - July 5

by Max Lucado

Anger. It’s a peculiar yet predictable emotion. It begins as a drop of water. An irritant. A frustration. Nothing big, just an aggravation. Someone gets your parking place. Someone pulls in front of you on the freeway. A waitress is slow and you are in a hurry. The toast burns. Drops of water. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Yet, get enough of these seemingly innocent drops of anger and before long you’ve got a bucket full of rage. Walking revenge. Blind bitterness. Unharnessed hatred. We trust no one and bare our teeth at anyone who gets near. We become walking time bombs that, given just the right tension and fear, could explode.

Yet, what do we do? We can’t deny that our anger exists. How do we harness it? A good option is found in Luke 23:34. Here, Jesus speaks about the mob that killed him. “‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’”

Look carefully. It’s as if Jesus considered this bloodthirsty, death-hungry crowd not as murderers, but as victims. It’s as if he saw in their faces not hatred but confusion. It’s as if he regarded them not as a militant mob but, as he put it, as “sheep without a shepherd.”

“They don’t know what they are doing.”

And when you think about it, they didn’t. They hadn’t the faintest idea what they were doing. They were a stir-crazy mob, mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on, of all people, God. But they didn’t know what they were doing.

And for the most part, neither do we. We are still, as much as we hate to admit it, shepherdless sheep. All we know is that we were born out of one eternity and are frighteningly close to another. We play tag with the fuzzy realities of death and pain. We can’t answer our own questions about love and hurt. We can’t solve the riddle of aging. We don’t know how to heal our own bodies or get along with our own mates. We can’t keep ourselves out of war. We can’t even keep ourselves fed.

Paul spoke for humanity when he confessed, “I do not know what I am doing.” (Romans 7:15, author’s paraphrase.)

Now, I know that doesn’t justify anything. That doesn’t justify hit-and-run drivers or kiddie-porn peddlers or heroin dealers. But it does help explain why they do the miserable things they do.

My point is this: Uncontrolled anger won’t better our world, but sympathetic understanding will. Once we see the world and ourselves for what we are, we can help. Once we understand ourselves we begin to operate not from a posture of anger but of compassion and concern. We look at the world not with bitter frowns but with extended hands. We realize that the lights are out and a lot of people are stumbling in the darkness. So we light candles.

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America, You Exist by My Power - UpWords - July 4

by Max Lucado

Every national privilege can be traced back to the hand of God. If we have liberty, we can thank the One who came to “proclaim liberty to the captives… to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NKJV). If we enjoy a robust economy or a high tide of justice, we don’t limit our thanks to senators or the Supreme Court; we thank God.

Tally this up. God makes the boundaries. He determines the leaders. He dispenses the blessings. And America exists by the power of God. Can we afford to forget this—can we afford to sever this single, silver strand that supports the whole framework of our republic?

Only at terrible risk.

“If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed” (Deut. 8:19, NLT).

“America,” God says, “you exist by My power.” That’s the first reminder. But God doesn’t stop there. A second reminder commands our attention.

America, you exist for My glory.

Recall what God said through the prophet, “I will demonstrate my glory among the nations” (Ezekiel 39:21, NLT).

God does not need the United States in order to advance His cause. He lobbies no country and depends on no government. “No, for all the nations of the world are nothing in comparison with him. They are but a drop in the bucket, dust on the scales. He picks up the islands as though they had no weight at all. The nations of the world are as nothing to him. In his eyes they are less than nothing—mere emptiness and froth” (Isaiah 40:15, 17 NLT).

Suppose—just suppose—God’s glory became America’s prayer and priority: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory” (Psalm 115:1). Suppose our elected officials daily asked. How can we honor God in our decisions? How can this school introduce students to God? How can this army promote the name of God?

Remember, who manages the hearts of rulers? Who prompts the decisions of kings? God does. God can change a nation.

For that reason, we must pray—pray with all our hearts—that America would turn back to God.

“Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake” (Psalm 79:9).

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Guilt and Grace - UpWords - July 2

by Max Lucado

Sometime ago I read a story of a youngster who was shooting rocks with a slingshot. He could never hit his target. As he returned to Grandma’s backyard, he spied her pet duck. On impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck was dead. The boy panicked and hid the bird in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching.

After lunch that day, Grandma told Sally to help with the dishes. Sally responded, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck!” So, Johnny did the dishes.

What choice did he have? For the next several weeks he was at the sink often. Sometimes for his duty, sometimes for his sin. “Remember the duck,” Sally’d whisper when he objected.

So weary of the chore, he decided that any punishment would be better than washing more dishes, so he confessed to killing the duck. “I know, Johnny,” his grandma said, giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave out of you.” (Steven Cole, “Forgiveness,” Leadership Magazine, 1983, 86.)

He’d been pardoned, but he thought he was guilty. Why? He had listened to the words of his accuser.

You have been accused as well. You have been accused of dishonesty. You’ve been accused of immorality. You’ve been accused of greed, anger, and arrogance.

Every moment of your life, your accuser is filing charges against you. Even his name, Diabolos, means “slanderer.” Who is he? The devil.

As he speaks, you hang your head. You have no defense. His charges are fair. “I plead guilty, your honor,” you mumble.

“The sentence?” Satan asks.

“The wages of sin is death,” explains the judge, “but in this case the death has already occurred. For this one died with Christ.”

Satan is suddenly silent. And you are suddenly jubilant. You realize that Satan cannot accuse you. No one can accuse you! Fingers may point and voices may demand, but the charges glance off like arrows hitting a shield. No more dirty dishwater. No more penance. No more nagging sisters. You have stood before the judge and heard him declare, “Not guilty.”

From In the Grip of Grace

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That's How Much I Love You - UpWords - June 29

By Max Lucado

Untethered by time, [God] sees us all. From the backwoods of Virginia to the business district of London; from the Vikings to the astronauts, from the cave-dwellers to the kings, from the hut-builders to the finger-pointers to the rock-stackers, he sees us. Vagabonds and ragamuffins all, he saw us before we were born.

And he loves what he sees. Flooded by emotion. Overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, “You are my child. I love you dearly. I’m aware that someday you’ll turn from me and walk away. But I want you to know, I’ve already provided you a way back.”
And to prove it, he did something extraordinary.

Stepping from the throne, he removed his robe of light and wrapped himself in skin: pigmented, human skin. The light of the universe entered a dark, wet womb. He who angels worship nestled himself in the placenta of a peasant, was birthed into the cold night, and then slept on cow’s hay.

Mary didn’t know whether to give him milk or give him praise, but she gave him both since he was, as near as she could figure, hungry and holy.

Joseph didn’t know whether to call him Junior or Father. But in the end called him Jesus, since that’s what the angel said and since he didn’t have the faintest idea what to name a God he could cradle in his arms.

Neither Mary nor Joseph said it as bluntly as my Sara, but don’t you think their heads tilted and their minds wondered, “What in the world are you doing, God?” Or, better phrased, “God, what are you doing in the world?”

“Can anything make me stop loving you?” God asks. “Watch me speak your language, sleep on your earth, and feel your hurts. Behold the maker of sight and sound as he sneezes, coughs, and blows his nose. You wonder if I understand how you feel? Look into the dancing eyes of the kid in Nazareth; that’s God walking to school. Ponder the toddler at Mary’s table; that’s God spilling his milk.

“You wonder how long my love will last? Find your answer on a splintered cross, on a craggy hill. That’s me you see up there, your maker, your God, nail-stabbed and bleeding. Covered in spit and sin-soaked. That’s your sin I’m feeling. That’s your death I’m dying. That’s your resurrection I’m living. That’s how much I love you.”

From In the Grip of Grace

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Oops posted 2x same devotional, look above for June 29th Devotion for Today...

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 6/29/2019 (06:55)
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6/28/19 11:48 A

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Because He Chooses To - UpWords - June 28

by Max Lucado

Love. We’ve all but worn out the word. This morning I used love to describe my feelings toward my wife and toward peanut butter. Far from identical emotions. I’ve never proposed to a jar of peanut butter (though I have let one sit on my lap during a television show). Overuse has defused the word, leaving it with the punch of a butterfly wing.

Biblical options still retain their starch. Scripture employs an artillery of terms for love, each one calibrated to reach a different target. Consider the one Moses used with his followers: “The LORD chose your ancestors as the objects of his love” (Deuteronomy 10:15).

This passage warms our hearts. But it shook the Hebrews’ world. They heard this: “The Lord binds [hasaq] himself to his people.” Hasaq speaks of a tethered love, a love attached to something or someone. I’m picturing a mom connected by a child harness to her rambunctious five-year-old as the two of them walk through the market. (I once thought the leashes were cruel; then I became a dad.) The strap serves two functions, yanking and claiming. You yank your kid out of trouble and in doing so proclaim, “Yes, he is as wild as a banshee. But he’s mine.”

In this case, God chained himself to Israel. Because the people were lovable? No. “GOD wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors” (Deut. 7:7–8 MSG). God loves Israel and the rest of us because he chooses to.

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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6/27/19 2:46 P

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I Will Speak to You in Your Language - UpWords - June 27

By Max Lucado

Pilate wrote a sign and put it on the cross.

It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. John 19:19

The framer of our destiny is familiar with our denseness. God knows we sometimes miss the signs. Maybe that's why he has given us so many. The rainbow after the flood signifies God's covenant. Circumcision identifies God's chosen, and the stars portray the size of his family.

Even today, we see signs in the New Testament church. Communion is a sign of his death, and baptism is a sign of our spiritual birth. Each of these signs symbolizes a greater spiritual truth.

The most poignant sign, however, was found on the cross. A trilingual, hand-painted, Roman-commissioned sign.

Every passerby could read the sign, for every passerby could read Hebrew, Latin, or Greek—the three great languages of the ancient world. "Hebrew was the language of Israel, the language of religion; Latin the language of the Romans, the language of law and government; and Greek the language of Greece, the language of culture. Christ was declared king in them all." God had a message for each. "Christ is king." The message was the same, but the languages were different. Since Jesus was a king for all people, the message would be in the tongues of all people.

There is no language God will not speak. Which leads us to a delightful question. What language is he speaking to you? I'm not referring to an idiom or dialect but to the day-to-day drama of your life. God does speak, you know. He speaks to us in whatever language we will understand.

There are times he speaks the "language of abundance." Is your tummy full? Are your bills paid? Got a little jingle in your pocket? Don't be so proud of what you have that you miss what you need to hear.

Are you hearing the "language of need"? Or how about the "language of affliction"? Talk about an idiom we avoid. But you and I both know how clearly God speaks in hospital hallways and sickbeds.

God speaks all languages—including yours. Has he not said, "I will ... teach you in the way you should go" (Ps. 32:8 NIV)? Are we not urged to "receive instruction from His mouth" (Job 22:22 NASB)? What language is God speaking to you?

And aren't you glad he is speaking? Aren't you grateful that he cares enough to talk? Isn't it good to know that "the LORD tells his secrets to those who respect him" (Ps. 25:14)?

Think a word of thanks to him would be appropriate? And while you're at it, ask him if you might be missing any signs he is sending your way.

From He Chose the Nails

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