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12/13/19 12:36 A

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Do You See Him? - UpWords - December 12

by Max Lucado

It's Christmas Night. The house is quiet. Even the crackle is gone from the fireplace. The last of the carolers appeared on the ten o’clock news. The last of the apple pie was eaten by my brother-in-law. And the last of the Christmas albums have been stored away having dutifully performed their annual rendition of chestnuts, white Christmases, and red-nosed reindeers.

It’s Christmas night.

The midnight hour has chimed and I should be asleep, but I’m awake. I’m kept awake by one stunning thought. The world was different this week. It was temporarily transformed.

The magical dust of Christmas glittered on the cheeks of humanity ever so briefly, reminding us of what is worth having and what we were intended to be. We forgot our compulsion with winning, wooing, and warring. We put away our ladders and ledgers, we hung up our stopwatches and weapons. We stepped off our race tracks and roller coasters and looked outward toward the star of Bethlehem.

It’s the season to be jolly because, more than at any other time, we think of him. More than in any other season, his name is on our lips.

And the result?

For a few precious hours, he is beheld. Christ the Lord. Those who pass the year without seeing him, suddenly see him. People who have been accustomed to using his name in vain, pause to use it in praise. Eyes, now free of the blinders of self, marvel at his majesty.

All of a sudden he’s everywhere.

In the grin of the policeman as he drives the paddy wagon full of presents to the orphanage.

In the twinkle in the eyes of the Taiwanese waiter as he tells of his upcoming Christmas trip to see his children.

In the emotion of the father who is too thankful to finish the dinner table prayer.

He’s in the tears of the mother as she welcomes home her son from overseas.

He’s in the heart of the man who spent Christmas morning on skid row giving away cold baloney sandwiches and warm wishes.

And he’s in the solemn silence of the crowd of shopping mall shoppers as the elementary school chorus sings “Away in a Manger.”

Emmanuel. He is with us. God came near.

It’s Christmas night. In a few hours the cleanup will begin—lights will come down, trees will be thrown out. Size 36 will be exchanged for size 40, eggnog will be on sale for half price. Soon life will be normal again. December’s generosity will become January’s payments and the magic will begin to fade.

But for the moment, the magic is still in the air. Maybe that’s why I’m still awake. I want to savor the spirit just a bit more. I want to pray that those who beheld him today will look for him next August. And I can’t help but linger on one fanciful thought: If he can do so much with such timid prayers lamely offered in December, how much more could he do if we thought of him every day?

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12/7/19 3:51 A

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The Key to Spiritual Growth - UpWords - December 7

By Max Lucado

Key to Spiritual Growth

by Max Lucado

The key to spiritual growth isn’t increased church attendance or involvement in spiritual activities. People don’t grow in Christ because they’re busy at church. They grow in Christ when they read and trust their Bibles.

Desire some “Glory Days?” Engage with the Bible. Think and re-think God’s Word. Let it be your guide. Set your sights on the unchanging principles of God. Let God’s Word be the authoritative word in your world.

To begin, join me in our Scripture Memory Challenge. It’s an adventure to hide God’s Word deep in our hearts. This week let’s memorize Joshua 1:9, God’s promise of power. “Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go!”

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12/5/19 5:12 A

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God Is in the Crisis - UpWords - December 5

by Max Lucado

Do you recite your woes more naturally than you do heaven’s strength? No wonder life’s tough. You’re assuming God isn’t in this crisis.

Isabel spent her first three and a half years in a Nicaraguan orphanage. As with all orphans, her odds of adoption diminished with time. And then the door slammed on her finger! Why would God permit this innocent girl to feel even more pain? Might He be calling the attention of Ryan Schnoke sitting in the playroom nearby? He and his wife had been trying to adopt a child for months! Ryan walked over, picked her up, and comforted her. Several months later, Ryan and Christina were close to giving up, and Ryan remembered Isabel. Little Isabel is now growing up in a happy, healthy home.

A finger in the door? God doesn’t manufacture pain, but He certainly puts it to use! Your crisis? You’ll get through this!

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12/5/19 4:02 A

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God Came Near - UpWords - December 4

by Max Lucado

It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. God became a man!

Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. Jesus came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter.

The hands that first held him were un-manicured, calloused, and dirty. For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. Weak and weary; and afraid of failure. His feelings got hurt.

To think of Jesus in such a light seems almost irreverent. There’s something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant and predictable. But don’t do it!

For heaven’s sake, don’t! Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out!

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12/3/19 2:32 A

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Let God Define Good - UpWords - December 2

by Max Lucado

Nothing in the Bible would cause us to call a famine good or a heart attack good or a terrorist attack good. These are terrible calamities, born out of a fallen earth. Yet every message in the Bible compels us to believe that God will mix them with other ingredients, and bring good out of them. But we must let God define good.

Our definition includes health, comfort, and recognition. His definition? In the case of His Son, Jesus Christ, the good life consisted of struggles, storms, and death. But God worked it all together for the greatest of good: His glory and our salvation.

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

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12/2/19 1:32 A

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Unresolved Guilt - UpWords - December 1

By Max Lucado

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

Unresolved guilt will turn you into a miserable, weary, angry, fretful mess. In a psalm David probably wrote after his affair with Bathsheba, the king said...

“When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat” (Psalms 32:3-4 NLT).

As the apostle Paul told Titus...

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

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11/30/19 6:14 A

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Rejoice in the Lord's Sovereignty - UpWords - November 30

by Max Lucado

The next time you fear the future, rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty.

Rejoice in what he has accomplished.

Rejoice that he is able to do what you cannot do.

Fill your mind with thoughts of God.

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

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

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

He is king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, and overlord of all history. An arch of his eyebrow and a million angels will pivot and salute!

Every throne is a footstool to his. Every crown is papier-mache next to his. He consults no advisers. He needs no congress. He reports to no one. He is in charge.

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

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11/28/19 7:05 A

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The Symbol of Christianity - UpWords - November 28

By Max Lucado

The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. An odd choice, don’t you think? Strange that a tool of torture would come to embody a movement of hope. Its design couldn’t be simpler.

One beam horizontal—the other vertical. One reaches out like God’s love. The other reaches up, as does God’s holiness. One represents the width of His love; the other the height of His holiness. The cross is the intersection. The cross is where God forgave His children without lowering His standards. God treated His Son as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God. Why would He do it?

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world.” Aren’t you glad the verse doesn’t read: For God so loved the rich?. . .the famous? Or the sober or successful?

No, it simply reads: “For God so loved the world!”

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11/21/19 1:38 P

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He Loves to Be with the Ones He Loves - UpWords - November 21

by Max Lucado

Holiday travel. It isn’t easy. Then why do we do it? Why cram the trunks and endure the airports? You know the answer. We love to be with the ones we love.

The four-year-old running up the sidewalk into the arms of Grandpa.

The cup of coffee with Mom before the rest of the house awakes.

That moment when, for a moment, everyone is quiet as we hold hands around the table and thank God for family and friends and pumpkin pie.

We love to be with the ones we love.

May I remind you? So does God. He loves to be with the ones he loves. How else do you explain what he did? Between him and us there was a distance—a great span. And he couldn’t bear it. He couldn’t stand it. So he did something about it.

Before coming to the earth, “Christ himself was like God in every-thing.… But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant” (Phil. 2:6–7 NCV).

Why? Why did Jesus travel so far?

I was asking myself that question when I spotted the squirrels outside my window. A family of black-tailed squirrels has made its home amid the roots of the tree north of my office. We’ve been neighbors for three years now. They watch me peck the keyboard. I watch them store their nuts and climb the trunk. We’re mutually amused. I could watch them all day. Sometimes I do.

But I’ve never considered becoming one of them. The squirrel world holds no appeal to me.

Who wants to sleep next to a hairy rodent with beady eyes? (No comments from you wives who feel you already do.) Give up the Rocky Mountains, bass fishing, weddings, and laughter for a hole in the ground and a diet of dirty nuts? Count me out.

But count Jesus in. What a world he left. Our classiest mansion would be a tree trunk to him.

Earth’s finest cuisine would be walnuts on heaven’s table. And the idea of becoming a squirrel with claws and tiny teeth and a furry tail? It’s nothing compared to God becoming a one-celled embryo and entering the womb of Mary.

But he did. The God of the universe kicked against the wall of a womb, was born into the poverty of a peasant, and spent his first night in the feed trough of a cow. “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14 NRSV). The God of the universe left the glory of heaven and moved into the neighborhood. Our neighborhood! Who could have imagined he would do such a thing.

Why? He loves to be with the ones he loves.

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11/18/19 5:02 A

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Spill Your Heart Before God - UpWords - November 18

By Max Lucado

As a member of God’s family, come to Him— not as a stranger, but as an heir. Earnestly make your requests known to him; not because of what you have achieved, but because of what Christ has done! Jesus spilled his blood for you. You can spill your heart before God.

Jesus said if you have faith, you can tell a mountain to go and jump into the sea (Mark 11:23).

What is your mountain? What is the challenge of your life? Call out to God for help! Will he do what you want? I cannot say, but this I can say, “He will do what is best.” That includes any force that is seeking to drive you out of the Promised Land. “Ask and it will be given to you,”

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7. It is a battle, but you do not fight in vain. Call on God for great things!

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11/18/19 12:18 A

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A Big View of God - UpWords - November 17

by Max Lucado

Exactly what is worship? I like King David’s definition in Psalm 34:3, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Worship is the act of magnifying God, enlarging our vision of him, and observing how he works.

Of course his size doesn’t change, but our perception of him does. As we draw nearer, he seems larger. Isn’t that what we need? A big view of God? Don’t we have big problems, big worries, and big questions? Of course we do. Hence, we need a big view of God. Worship offers that. How can we sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” and not have our vision expanded? How can we sing these words and not have our countenance illuminated? A vibrant, shining face is the mark of one who has stood in God’s presence. God is in the business of changing the face of the world! Let him begin with yours!

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11/14/19 3:58 A

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Dealing with Difficult Relatives - UpWords - November 14

by Max Lucado

Does Jesus have anything to say about dealing with difficult relatives? Is there an example of Jesus bringing peace to a painful family? Yes, there is.

His own.

It may surprise you to know that Jesus had a difficult family. If your family doesn't appreciate you, take heart, neither did Jesus'.

"His family … went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind" (Mark 3:21).
Jesus' siblings thought their brother was a lunatic. They weren't proud—they were embarrassed!

It's worth noting that he didn't try to control his family's behavior, nor did he let their behavior control his. He didn't demand that they agree with him. He didn't sulk when they insulted him.

He didn't make it his mission to try to please them.

Each of us has a fantasy that our family will be like the Waltons, an expectation that our dearest friends will be our next of kin. Jesus didn't have that expectation. Look how he defined his family: "My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants" (Mark 3:35).

When Jesus' brothers didn't share his convictions, he didn't try to force them. He recognized that his spiritual family could provide what his physical family didn't. If Jesus himself couldn't force his family to share his convictions, what makes you think you can force yours?

Having your family's approval is desirable but not necessary for happiness and not always possible. Jesus did not let the difficult dynamic of his family overshadow his call from God. And because he didn't, this chapter has a happy ending.

What happened to Jesus' family?

Mine with me a golden nugget hidden in a vein of the Book of Acts. "Then [the disciples] went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.… They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus' brothers" (Acts 1:12, 14, emphasis added).

What a change! The ones who mocked him now worship him. The ones who pitied him now pray for him. What if Jesus had disowned them? Or worse still, what if he'd suffocated his family with his demand for change?

He didn't. He instead gave them space, time, and grace. And because he did, they changed.

How much did they change? One brother became an apostle (Gal. 1:19) and others became missionaries (1 Cor. 9:5).

So don't lose heart. God still changes families.

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11/12/19 5:27 P

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A Forever Home - UpWords - November 12

by Max Lucado

For the last twenty years, I’ve wanted a dog. A big dog. But there were always problems. The apartment was too small. The budget was too tight. The girls were too young. But most of all, Denalyn was unenthusiastic. Her logic? She’d already married one slobbering, shedding beast, why put up with a second? So we compromised and got a small dog.

I like Salty, but small dogs aren’t really dogs. They don’t bark; they yelp. They don’t eat; they nibble. They don’t lick you; they sniff you. I like Salty, but I wanted a real dog. A man’s-best-friend type of dog. A fat-pawed, big-eating, slurp-you-on-the-face type of dog you could saddle or wrestle or both.

I was alone in my passion until Sara was born. She loves dogs. And the two of us were able to sway the household vote. Denalyn gave in, and Sara and I began the search. We discovered a woman in South Carolina who breeds golden retrievers in a Christian environment. From birth the dogs are surrounded by inspirational music and prayers. (No, I don’t know if they tithe with dog biscuits.) When the trainer told me that she had read my books, I got on board. A woman with such good taste is bound to be a good breeder, right?

So we ordered a pup. We mailed the check, selected the name Molly, and cleared a corner for her dog pillow. The dog hadn’t even been born, and she was named, claimed, and given a place in the house.

Can’t the same be said about you? Long before your first whimper, your Master claimed you, named you, and hung a reserved sign on your room. You and Molly have more in common than odor and eating habits. (Just teasing.)

You’re both being groomed for a trip. We prefer the terms maturation and sanctification to weaning and training, but it’s all the same. You’re being prepared for your Master’s house. You don’t know the departure date or flight number, but you can bet your puppy chow that you’ll be seeing your Owner someday. Isn’t this the concluding promise of David?

“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6 nkjv).

Where will you live forever? In the house of the Lord. If his house is your “forever house,” what does that make this earthly house? You got it! Short-term housing. This is not our home. “Our homeland is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).

We, like Molly, are being prepared for another house.

Don’t quench, but rather, stir this longing for heaven.

God’s home is a forever home. “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6 nkjv).

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11/11/19 12:45 P

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Holiness - UpWords - November 11

by Max Lucado

John the Baptist would never get hired today. No church would touch him. He was a public relations disaster.

Mark 1:6 says he wore clothes of camels hair and ate locusts and wild honey.

His message was as rough as his dress. A no-nonsense, bare-fisted challenge to repent because God was on His way. No, Johns style wasn’t smooth. He made few friends and lots of enemies, but what do you know? He made hundreds of converts. How do you explain it? It certainly wasn’t his charisma, nor his money or position he had neither. Then what did he have? One word: Holiness.

Holiness seeks to be like God. You want to make a difference in your world? Live a holy life. Be faithful to your spouse. Pay your bills. Be the employee who does the work and doesn’t complain. Don’t speak one message and live another! Just be God in your world.

as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy. (I Peter 1:15-16)

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11/11/19 2:11 A

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Greed Has Many Faces - UpWords - November 10

by Max Lucado

Our obsession with stuff carries a hefty price tag. We spend 110 percent of our disposable income trying to manage debt. Who can keep up? No one can!

Jesus warns in Luke 12:15, “Be on your guard against every form of greed.” Greed comes in many forms. Greed for approval. Greed for applause. Greed for status. Greed has many faces but speaks one language: the language of more. Wise was the one who wrote, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”

The only way to feel full is to feel fulfilled. The only way to feel fulfilled is to understand that everything we have comes from God—and he gives us exactly what we need. All of it is on loan! And, someday we’ll have to give it all back, checking it at heaven’s door!

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11/9/19 5:51 A

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The Grace of Christ - UpWords - November 9

By Max Lucado

Guilt sucks the life out of our souls. Grace restores it. No one had more reason to feel the burden of guilt than did the apostle Paul. He had orchestrated the deaths of Christians—an ancient version of a terrorist.

Yet, Paul gave his guilt to Jesus, period. He surrendered it to Jesus! As a result he could write,

“I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing:

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us” (Philippians 3:13-14 TLB).

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

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11/8/19 12:47 P

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Give Up Your Bag of Burdens - Upwords - November 8

By Max Lucado

Worry is the burlap bag of burdens. It’s overflowing with “whaddifs” and “howells.” Whaddif after all my dieting, I find that lettuce is fattening and chocolate isn’t? Howell we pay our baby’s tuition?” Whaddifs and howells…the burlap bag of worry. Cumbersome. Chunky. Unattractive. Scratchy. Irritating to carry and impossible to give away!

No one wants your worries. The truth is, you don’t want them either. No one has to remind you of the high cost of anxiety, but I will anyway. Worry divides the mind. It splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s problems. The result is half-minded living!

Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “boldly approach the throne of our gracious God, where we may receive mercy and, in His grace, find timely help.” God’s help is timely! God will do the right thing at the right time. And what a difference that makes!

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11/6/19 2:09 A

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The Parable of the Sandwich Sign - UpWords - November 5

by Max Lucado

I am the voice of the one calling out in the desert: "Make the road straight for the Lord."
John 1:23

The faces of the three men were solemn as the mayor informed them of the catastrophe. "The rains have washed away the bridge. During the night many cars drove over the edge and into the river."

"What can we do?" asked one.

"You must stand on the side of the road and warn the drivers not to make the left turn. Tell them to take the one-lane road that follows the side of the river."

"But they drive so fast! How can we warn them?"

"By wearing these sandwich signs," the mayor explained, producing three wooden double-signs, hinged together to hang from one's shoulders. "Stand at the crossroads so drivers can see these signs until I can get someone out there to fix the bridge."

And so the men hurried out to the dangerous curve and put the signs over their shoulders.

"The drivers should see me first," spoke one. The others agreed. His sign warned, "Bridge Out!" He walked several hundred yards before the turn and took his post.

"Perhaps I should be second, so the drivers will slow down," spoke the one whose sign declared, "Reduce Speed."

"Good idea," agreed the third. "I'll stand here at the curve so people will get off the wide road and onto the narrow." His sign read simply "Take Right Road" and had a finger pointing toward the safe route.

And so the three men stood with their three signs ready to warn the travelers of the washed-out bridge. As the cars approached, the first man would stand up straight so the drivers could read, "Bridge Out."

Then the next would gesture to his sign, telling the cars to "Reduce Speed."

And as the motorists complied, they would then see the third sign, "Right Road Only." And though the road was narrow, the cars complied and were safe. Hundreds of lives were saved by the three sign holders. Because they did their job, many people were kept from peril.

But after a few hours they grew lax in their task.

The first man got sleepy. "I'll sit where people can read my sign as I sleep," he decided. So he took his sign off his shoulders and propped it up against a boulder. He leaned against it and fell asleep. As he slept his arm slid over the sign, blocking one of the two words. So rather than read "Bridge Out," his sign simply stated "Bridge."

The second didn't grow tired, but he did grow conceited. The longer he stood warning the people the more important he felt. A few even pulled off to the side of the road to thank him for the job well done.

"We might have died had you not told us to slow down," they applauded.

"You're so right," he thought to himself. "How many people would be lost were it not for me?"

Presently he came to think that he was just as important as his sign. So he took it off, set it up on the ground, and stood beside it. As he did, he was unaware that he, too, was blocking one word of his warning. He was standing in front of the word "Speed." All the drivers could read was the word "Reduce." Most thought he was advertising a diet plan.

The third man was not tired like the first, nor self-consumed like the second. But he was concerned about the message of his sign. "Right Road Only," it read.

It troubled him that his message was so narrow, so dogmatic. "People should be given a choice in the matter. Who am I to tell them which is the right road and which is the wrong road?"

So he decided to alter the wording of the sign. He marked out the word "Only" and changed it to "Preferred."

"Hmm," he thought, "that's still too strident. One is best not to moralize. So he marked out the word "Preferred" and wrote "Suggested."

That still didn't seem right, "Might offend people if they think I'm suggesting I know something they don't."

So he thought and thought and finally marked through the word "Suggested" and replaced it with a more neutral phrase.

"Ahh, just right," he said to himself as he backed off and read the words:

"Right Road—One of Two Equally Valid Alternatives."

And so as the first man slept and the second stood and the third altered the message, one car after another plunged into the river.

From A Gentle Thunder


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11/5/19 12:18 A

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Second Chances - UpWords - November 4

by Max Lucado

It was small enough to overlook. Only two words. I know I’d read that passage a hundred times. But I’d never seen it.

But I won’t miss it again. It’s highlighted in yellow and underlined in red. You might want to do the same. Look in Mark, chapter 16. Get your pencil ready and enjoy this jewel in the seventh verse (here it comes). The verse reads like this: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.

Did you see it? Read it again. (This time I italicized the words.)

“But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.”

Now tell me if that’s not a hidden treasure.

If I might paraphrase the words, “Don’t stay here, go tell the disciples,” a pause, then a smile, “and especially tell Peter, that he is going before you to Galilee.”

What a line. It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall—and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again. “Be sure and tell Peter that he’s not left out. Tell him that one failure doesn’t make a flop.”

Whew!

No wonder they call it the gospel of the second chance.

Those who know these types of things say that the Gospel of Mark is really the transcribed notes and dictated thoughts of Peter. If this is true, then it was Peter himself who included these two words! And if these really are his words, I can’t help but imagine that the old fisherman had to brush away a tear and swallow a lump when he got to this point in the story.

It’s not every day that you get a second chance. Peter must have known that. The next time he saw Jesus, he got so excited that he barely got his britches on before he jumped into the cold water of the Sea of Galilee. It was also enough, so they say, to cause this backwoods Galilean to carry the gospel of the second chance all the way to Rome where they killed him. If you’ve ever wondered what would cause a man to be willing to be crucified upside down, maybe now you know.

It’s not every day that you find someone who will give you a second chance—much less someone who will give you a second chance every day.

But in Jesus, Peter found both.

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10/27/19 9:22 A

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My Crazy Thought - UpWords - October 27

by Max Lucado

My family consisted of me, two sisters and a brother. We were siblings because we came from the same family. I’m sure there have been times when they did not want to call me their brother, but they didn’t have that choice.

Nor do we. When I see someone calling God Father and Jesus Savior, I meet a brother or a sister—regardless of the name of their church or denomination.

What would happen—I know this is a crazy thought—but what would happen if all the churches agreed, on a given day, to change their names to simply church? What if reference to any denomination were removed and we were all just Christians?

Then we Christians would not be known for what divides us; instead we would be known for what unites us—our common Father.

Is it a crazy idea? Perhaps. But I think God would like it. It was his to begin with.

“Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other, which will bring glory to God” (Romans 15:7).

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10/27/19 12:52 A

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Hidden in His Love - UpWords - October 26

by Max Lucado

Do you ever think… If people only knew–if my secrets were ever made public, I’m not sure what I’d do! Or maybe I do….!

It is time to let God’s love cover all things in your life. All the secrets. The hurts. The mornings you woke up in the bed of a stranger? His love will cover that. The years you peddled prejudice and pride? His love will cover that. Every promise broken, drug taken, and penny stolen. Every cross word, cuss word, and harsh word. His love covers all things! Let it!

Discover with the psalmist, “He loads me with love and mercy.” Picture a giant dump truck full of love. There you are behind it; and God lifts the bed until the love starts to slide until you’re hidden, buried, and covered in His love!

“Hey, where are you?” someone asks. You say, “In here—covered in love!”

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10/25/19 11:41 A

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The Names of God - UpWords - October 25

by Max Lucado

In the three years as I came to know my wife, Denalyn, our relationship evolved. And with each change came a new name. She went from acquaintance to friend to eye-popping beauty to date to fiancée and wife. Now she is confidante, mother of my children, life-long partner. The more I know her the more names I give her.

And the more God’s people came to know him, the more names they gave him. Elohim, strong one or creator. Jehovah-raah, a caring shepherd. Jehovah-jireh, the Lord who provides. These are just a few of the names of God which describe his character. Study them, for in a given day, you may need each one of them.

God, the shepherd who leads, the Lord who provides, the voice who brings peace in the storm, the physician who heals the sick, the banner that guides. And most of all… He Is!

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10/24/19 5:31 P

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Galilean Grace Part 2: When You Let God Down - UpWords - October 24

by Max Lucado

This wasn't the first night that Peter had spent on the Sea of Galilee. After all, he was a fisherman. He, like the others, worked at night. He knew the fish would feed near the surface during the cool of the night and return to the deep during the day. No, this wasn't the first night

Peter had spent on the Sea of Galilee. Nor was it the first night he had caught nothing.

There was that time years before …

Most mornings Peter and his partners would sell their fish, repair their nets, and head home to rest with a bag of money and a feeling of satisfaction. This particular morning there was no money. There was no satisfaction. They had worked all through the night but had nothing to show for it except weary backs and worn nets.

And, what's worse, everyone knew it. Every morning the shore would become a market as the villagers came to buy their fish, but that day there were no fish.

Jesus was there that morning, teaching. As the people pressed there was little room for him to stand, so he asked Peter if his boat could be a platform. Peter agreed, maybe thinking the boat might as well be put to some good use.

Peter listens as Jesus teaches. It's good to hear something other than the slapping of waves.

When Jesus finishes with the crowd, he turns to Peter. He has another request. He wants to go fishing. "Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish" (Luke 5:4).

Peter groans. The last thing he wants to do is fish. The boat is clean. The nets are ready to dry.

The sun is up and he is tired. It's time to go home. Besides, everyone is watching. They've already seen him come back empty-handed once. And, what's more, what does Jesus know about fishing?

So Peter speaks, "Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish" (v. 5).

Mark the weariness in the words.

"We worked hard." Scraping the hull. Carrying the nets. Pulling the oars. Throwing the nets high into the moonlit sky. Listening as they slap on the surface of the water.

"All night." The sky had gone from burnt orange to midnight black to morning gold. The hours had passed as slowly as the fleets of clouds before the moon. The fishermen's conversation had stilled and their shoulders ached. While the village slept, the men worked. All … night … long.

"Trying to catch fish." The night's events had been rhythmic: net swung and tossed high till it spread itself against the sky. Then wait. Let it sink. Pull it in. Do it again. Throw. Pull. Throw.

Pull. Throw. Pull. Every toss had been a prayer. But every drag of the empty net had come back unanswered. Even the net sighed as the men pulled it out and prepared to throw it again.

For twelve hours they'd fished. And now … now Jesus is wanting to fish some more? And not just off the shore, but in the deep?

Peter sees his friends shrug their shoulders. He looks at the people on the beach watching him. He doesn't know what to do. Jesus may know a lot about a lot, but Peter knows about fishing. Peter knows when to work and when to quit. He knows there is a time to go on and a time to get out.

Common sense said it was time to get out. Logic said cut your losses and go home.

Experience said pack it up and get some rest. But Jesus said, "We can try again if you want."

The most difficult journey is back to the place where you failed.

Jesus knows that. That's why he volunteers to go along. "The first outing was solo; this time I'll be with you. Try it again, this time with me on board."

And Peter reluctantly agrees to try again. "But you say to put the nets in the water, so I will"

(Luke 5:5). It didn't make any sense, but he'd been around this Nazarene enough to know that his presence made a difference.

That wedding in Cana? That sick child of the royal ruler? It's as if Jesus carried his own deck to the table.

So the oars dip again and the boat goes out. The anchor is set and the nets fly once more.

Peter watches as the net sinks, and he waits. He waits until the net spreads as far as his rope allows. The fishermen are quiet. Peter is quiet. Jesus is quiet. Suddenly the rope yanks. The net, heavy with fish, almost pulls Peter overboard.

"John, James!" he yells. "Come quick!"

Soon the boats are so full of fish that the port side rim dips close to the surface. Peter, ankle deep in flopping silver, turns to look at Jesus, only to find that Jesus is looking at him.

That's when he realizes who Jesus is.

What an odd place to meet God—on a fishing boat on a small sea in a remote country! But such is the practice of the God who comes into our world. Such is the encounter experienced by those who are willing to try again … with him.

Peter's life was never again the same after that catch.

From He Still Moves Stones: Everyone Needs a Miracle

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10/23/19 11:30 A

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Galilean Grace Part 1: When You Let God Down - UpWords - October 23

by Max Lucado

The Sun was in the water before Peter noticed it—a wavy circle of gold on the surface of the sea. A fisherman is usually the first to spot the sun rising over the crest of the hills. It means his night of labor is finally over.

But not for this fisherman. Though the light reflected on the lake, the darkness lingered in Peter's heart. The wind chilled, but he didn't feel it. His friends slept soundly, but he didn't care.

The nets at his feet were empty, the sea had been a miser, but Peter wasn't thinking about that.

His thoughts were far from the Sea of Galilee. His mind was in Jerusalem, reliving an anguished night. As the boat rocked, his memories raced:
the clanking of the Roman guard,
the flash of a sword and the duck of a head,
a touch for Malchus, a rebuke for Peter,
soldiers leading Jesus away.

"What was I thinking?" Peter mumbled to himself as he stared at the bottom of the boat. Why did I run?

Peter had run; he had turned his back on his dearest friend and run. We don't know where.

Peter may not have known where. He found a hole, a hut, an abandoned shed—he found a place to hide and he hid.

He had bragged, "Everyone else may stumble … but I will not" (Matt. 26:33). Yet he did. Peter did what he swore he wouldn't do. He had tumbled face first into the pit of his own fears. And there he sat. All he could hear was his hollow promise. Everyone else may stumble … but I will not. Everyone else … I will not. I will not. I will not. A war raged within the fisherman.

At that moment the instinct to survive collided with his allegiance to Christ, and for just a moment allegiance won. Peter stood and stepped out of hiding and followed the noise till he saw the torch-lit jury in the courtyard of Caiaphas.

He stopped near a fire and warmed his hands. The fire sparked with irony. The night had been cold. The fire was hot. But Peter was neither. He was lukewarm.

"Peter followed at a distance," Luke described (22:54 NIV).
He was loyal … from a distance. That night he went close enough to see, but not close enough to be seen. The problem was, Peter was seen. Other people near the fire recognized him. "You were with him," they had challenged. "You were with the Nazarene." Three times people said it, and each time Peter denied it. And each time Jesus heard it.

Please understand that the main character in this drama of denial is not Peter, but Jesus.

Jesus, who knows the hearts of all people, knew the denial of his friend. Three times the salt of Peter's betrayal stung the wounds of the Messiah.

How do I know Jesus knew? Because of what he did. Then "the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter" (Luke 22:61 NIV). When the rooster crowed, Jesus turned. His eyes searched for Peter and they found him. At that moment there were no soldiers, no accusers, no priests.

At that predawn moment in Jerusalem there were only two people—Jesus and Peter.

Peter would never forget that look. Though Jesus' face was already bloody and bruised, his eyes were firm and focused. They were a scalpel, laying bare Peter's heart. Though the look had lasted only a moment, it lasted forever.

And now, days later on the Sea of Galilee, the look still seared. It wasn't the resurrection that occupied his thoughts. It wasn't the empty tomb. It wasn't the defeat of death. It was the eyes of Jesus seeing his failure. Peter knew them well. He'd seen them before. In fact he'd seen them on this very lake. (Continued next week)

From He Still Moves Stones: Everyone Needs a Miracle

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10/22/19 2:52 P

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Do Good Quietly - UpWords - October 22

by Max Lucado

"They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men" (Matt. 6:5).

This is the working definition of hypocrisy: "to be seen by men." The Greek word for hypocrite, hypokrit?s, originally meant "actor." First-century actors wore masks. A hypocrite, then, is one who puts on a mask, a false face.

Jesus did not say, "Do not do good works." Nor did he instruct, "Do not let your works be seen." We must do good works, and some works, such as benevolence or teaching, must be seen in order to have an impact. So let's be clear. To do a good thing is a good thing. To do good to be seen is not. In fact, to do good to be seen is a serious offense. Here's why.

Hypocrisy turns people away from God. When God-hungry souls walk into a congregation of wannabe superstars, what happens? When God seekers see singers strut like Las Vegas entertainers . . . When they hear the preacher—a man of slick words, dress, and hair—play to the crowd and exclude God . . . When other attendees dress to be seen and make much to-do over their gifts and offerings . . . When people enter a church to see God yet can't see God because of the church, don't think for a second that God doesn't react. "Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding" (Matt. 6:1 MSG).

Hypocrisy turns people against God. So God has a no-tolerance policy. Let the cold, lifeless bodies of the embezzling couple issue their intended warning. Let's take hypocrisy as seriously as God does. How can we?

1. Expect no credit for good deeds. None. If no one notices, you aren't disappointed. If someone does, you give the credit to God. Ask yourself this question: If no one knew of the good I do, would I still do it? If not, you're doing it to be seen by people.

2. Give financial gifts in secret. Money stirs the phony within us. We like to be seen earning it. And we like to be seen giving it. So "when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" (Matt. 6:3 NLT).

3. Don't fake spirituality. When you go to church, don't select a seat just to be seen or sing just to be heard. If you raise your hands in worship, raise holy ones, not showy ones. When you talk, don't doctor your vocabulary with trendy religious terms. Nothing nauseates more than a fake "Praise the Lord" or a shallow "Hallelujah" or an insincere "Glory be to God."

Bottom line: don't make a theater production out of your faith. "Watch me! Watch me!" is a call used on the playground, not in God's kingdom. Silence the trumpets. Cancel the parade. Enough with the name-dropping. If accolades come, politely deflect them before you believe them. Slay the desire to be noticed. Stir the desire to serve God.

Heed the counsel of Christ: "First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too" (Matt. 23:26 NLT). Focus on the inside, and the outside will take care of itself. Lay your motives before God daily, hourly. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life" (Ps. 139:23-24 NLT).

Do good things. Just don't do them to be noticed. You can be too good for your own good, you know.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:3-4 NIV)

Lord, you make it plain in your Word that you hate hypocrisy, especially because it turns others away from you. So, Father, I pray that you would blunt my natural inclination to seek personal recognition for whatever good things you allow me to do. I don't want to be a phony, but neither do I want to be a glory hound. Fill me with your Spirit, and teach me to follow his example in gladly giving all glory to your Son. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

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

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10/21/19 9:10 A

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Every Gift Is Needed - UpWords - October 21

by Max Lucado

Two of my teenage years were spent carrying a tuba in my high school marching band. Not necessarily what you’d describe as a call from God, but it wasn’t a wasted experience eituher.

I learned some facts about harmony that I’ll pass on to you. Would you attend a concert of a hundred tubas? Probably not.

But what band would be a band without a tuba? Or a flute? Or a trumpet? Or a steady drum? Get the idea?

The operative word is need. They need each other. By themselves they make music. But together, they make magic.

What I saw decades ago in the marching band, I see today in the church. We need each other.

Not all of us play the same instrument. Not all of us make the same sound. Some are soft, and others are loud. Some convert the lost. Others encourage the saved. And some keep the movement in step. But all are needed!

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).

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10/20/19 5:17 A

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Pray First, Pray Most - UpWords - October 20

by Max Lucado

One of our Brazilian church leaders taught me something about earnest prayer. He met Christ during a yearlong stay in a drug-rehab center. His therapy included three one-hour sessions of prayer a day. Patients weren't required to pray, but they were required to attend the prayer meeting. Dozens of recovering drug addicts spent sixty uninterrupted minutes on their knees.

I expressed amazement and confessed that my prayers were short and formal. He invited (dared?) me to meet him for prayer. I did the next day. We knelt on the concrete floor of our small church auditorium and began to talk to God. Change that. I talked; he cried, wailed, begged, cajoled, and pleaded. He pounded his fists on the floor, shook a fist toward heaven, confessed, and reconfessed every sin. He recited every promise in the Bible as if God needed a reminder. He prayed like Moses.

When God determined to destroy the Israelites for their golden calf stunt, "Moses begged the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord, don't let your anger destroy your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with your great power and strength. Don't let the people of Egypt say, "The Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt for an evil purpose." ...

Remember the men who served you—Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. You promised with an oath to them'" (Ex. 32:11-13 NCV).

Moses on Mount Sinai is not calm and quiet, with folded hands and a serene expression. He's on his face one minute, in God's the next. He's on his knees, pointing his finger, lifting his hands. Shedding tears. Shredding his cloak. Wrestling like Jacob at Jabbok for the lives of his people. And God heard him! "So the Lord changed his mind and did not destroy the people as he had said he might" (v.14 NCV).

Our passionate prayers move the heart of God. "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). Prayer does not change God's nature; who he is will never be altered. Prayer does, however, impact the flow of history. God has wired his world for power, but he calls on us to flip the switch.

Most of us struggle with prayer. We forget to pray, and when we remember, we hurry through prayers with hollow words. Our minds drift; our thoughts scatter like a covey of quail. Why is this? Prayer requires minimal effort. No location is prescribed. No particular clothing is required. No title or office is stipulated. Yet you'd think we were wrestling a greased pig.
Speaking of pigs, Satan seeks to interrupt our prayers. Our battle with prayer is not entirely our fault. The devil knows the stories; he witnessed the angel in Peter's cell and the revival in Jerusalem.

He knows what happens when we pray. "Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy's strong places" (2 Cor. 10:4 NCV).

Satan is not troubled when Max writes books or prepares sermons, but his knobby knees tremble when Max prays. Satan does not stutter or stumble when you walk through church doors or attend committee meetings. Demons aren't flustered when you read this book. But the walls of hell shake when one person with an honest heart and faithful confession says, "Oh, God, how great thou art."

Satan keeps you and me from prayer. He tries to position himself between us and God. But he scampers like a spooked dog when we move forward. So let's do.

Let's pray, first. Traveling to help the hungry? Be sure to bathe your mission in prayer. Working to disentangle the knots of injustice? Pray. Weary with a world of racism and division? So is God. And he would love to talk to you about it.

Let's pray, most. Did God call us to preach without ceasing? Or teach without ceasing? Or have committee meetings without ceasing? Or sing without ceasing? No, but he did call us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17).

Did Jesus declare: My house shall be called a house of study? Fellowship? Music? A house of exposition? A house of activities? No, but he did say, "My house will be called a house of prayer" (Mark 11:17 NIV).

No other spiritual activity is guaranteed such results. "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" (Matt. 18:19 MSG). He is moved by the humble, prayerful heart.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. Colossians 4:2-3 NLT

Outlive Your Life book; God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you created all that exists, and you keep it running through your infinite wisdom and boundless power. Yet you invite me to come to you in prayer, boldly and with the expectation that you will hear me and answer me. Teach me, Lord, to take full advantage of this amazing privilege, especially in regard to reaching others with your love. Give me a heart for those who have yet to experience the fullness of your grace, and prompt me to pray for them and for their welfare, both in this world and in eternity. Lord, bring me to the front lines of this battle. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

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

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 10/20/2019 (05:20)
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God Is Doing What's Best for Us - UpWords - October 19

By Max Lucado

God is at work in each of us whether we know it or not, whether we want it or not.

Lamentations 3:33 says, “He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.”

He doesn’t delight in our sufferings, but He delights in our development.

It’s what Paul pointed out in Philippians 1:6 when he wrote, “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure He will continue until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again.”

Don’t see your struggle as an interruption to life but as preparation for life. No one said the road would be easy or painless. But God will use this mess for something good. This trouble you are in isn’t punishment, it’s training.

It is the normal experience of children. God is doing what’s best for us, training us to live God’s holy best!

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A Reminder of Who is in Charge - UpWords - October 18

by Max Lucado

Prayer reminds us of who is in charge. You don’t take your requests to someone with less authority. You take them to someone who outranks you in the solutions department.

The same is true in prayer. You don’t pray just to let God know what’s going on. He’s way ahead of you on that one. You pray to transfer “my will be done” to “God’s will be done.” And, since he’s in charge, he knows the best solution.

Prayer transfers the burden to God and He lightens your load. Prayer pushes us through life’s slumps, propels us over the humps, and pulls us out of the dumps. Prayer is the oomph we need to get the answers we seek. So, pray…today!

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A Prayer of Confession - UpWords - October 17

by Max Lucado

Confession isn’t a punishment for sin; it’s an isolation of sin so it can be exposed and extracted. Exactly what is it that you need forgiveness for? For being a bad person? That’s too general. For losing your patience in the business meeting and calling your coworker a creep? There, you can confess that.

Be firm in a prayer of confession. Satan traffics in guilt and will not give up an addict without a fight. Exercise your authority as a child of God. Tell guilt where to get off. “I left you at the cross, you evil spirit. Stay there!”

Then for heaven’s sake, stop tormenting yourself. Jesus is strong enough to carry your sin. Psalm 103:12 says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

Before you say amen—comes the power of a simple prayer.

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God Hates Arrogance - UpWords - October 15

by Max Lucado

Proverbs 16:18 reminds us as humility goes before honor, “pride goes before a fall.”

Ever wonder why churches are powerful in one generation but empty the next? The Bible says, the Lord will tear down the house of the proud. God hates arrogance. He hates it because we haven’t done anything to be arrogant about. Is there a Pulitzer for ink? Can you imagine a scalpel growing smug after a successful heart transplant? Of course not. They are only tools.

So are we. We may be the canvas, the paper, or the scalpel, but we are not the one who deserve the applause.

David declares who does in Psalm 23, “He makes me, He leads me, He restores my soul… for His name's sake." For His name's sake! No other name. This is all done for God’s glory. He takes the credit, not because He needs it, but because He knows we cannot handle it!

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10/13/19 12:41 P

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We Need a Good Shepherd - UpWords - October 13

by Max Lucado

Sheep aren’t smart. They tend to wander into running creeks for water, then their wool grows heavy and they drown. They have no sense of direction.

They need a shepherd to lead them to calm water. So do we!

We, like sheep, tend to be swept away by waters we should have avoided. We have no defense against the evil lion who prowls about seeking whom he might devour.

Isaiah 53:6 reminds us, “We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way.” We need a shepherd to care for us and to guide us. And Jesus is that Good Shepherd.

The Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. The Shepherd who protects, provides, and possesses his sheep. The Psalmist says: The Lord is my shepherd! (Psalm 23).

The imagery is carried over to the New Testament as Jesus is called the good shepherd of the sheep. (John 10:14-15).

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A Vision of the Reward - UpWords - October 10

by Max Lucado

Paul said in II Corinthians 4:16-18, “We do not lose heart. . .for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.”

Hear what Paul called “light and momentary”—not what I’d have called them, and I think you’ll agree. Imprisoned. Beaten. Stoned. Shipwrecked three times. In constant danger. Hungry and thirsty. Light and momentary troubles? How could Paul describe endless trials with that phrase? He tells us. He could see “an eternal glory that far out-weighs them all.”

And you–you want to go on, but some days the road seems so long. Let me encourage you with this: God never said the journey would be easy, but he did say that the arrival would be worth it!

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Who Is in Charge? - UpWords- October 9

by Max Lucado

A day transporting a family from one city to another is closely akin to God transporting us from our home to his. And some of life’s stormiest hours occur when the passenger and the driver disagree on what takes place during the trip! Can you imagine the chaos if a parent indulged every child’s wishes? Can you imagine the chaos if God indulged each of ours?

I Thessalonians 5:9 says “God has destined us to the full attainment of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God’s overarching desire is that you reach that destiny. His itinerary includes stops that encourage your journey. He frowns on stops that deter you. When his sovereign plan and your earthly plan collide, a decision must be made.

Who is in charge of this journey?

If God must choose between your earthly satisfaction and your heavenly salvation, which do you hope he chooses? Me, too!

From In the Eye of the Storm

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 10/9/2019 (05:28)
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Look at What You Have - UpWords - October 7

By Max Lucado

Linger too long in the stench of your hurt, and you’ll smell like the toxin you despise. I spent too much of a summer sludging through sludge. Oil field work is dirty at best. But the dirtiest job of all? Shoveling silt out of empty oil tanks. The foreman saved such jobs for the summer help. Thanks boss! My mom burned my work clothes. The stink stuck!

Your hurts can do the same. The better option? Look at what you have. Your hurts and pain took much, but Christ gave you more! Catalog His kindnesses. Everything from sunsets to salvation—look at what you have.

Let Jesus be the friend you need. Talk to Him. Spare no detail. Disclose your fear and describe your dread. Will your hurt disappear? Who knows? And in a sense, does it matter? You have a friend for life. What could be better than that?

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An Anchor for the Soul - UpWords - October 6

By Max Lucado

Sometimes we just run out of hope. When we do, where can we turn? Hebrews 6:19-20 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.”

The anchor has one purpose—to steady the boat. You and I need a good anchor. Why?

Because you have a valuable vessel—your soul.

When God breathed into Adam, he gave him more than oxygen, he gave him a soul. The anchor for the soul is set, not on a boat or person or possession, but it is set in the inner sanctuary behind the curtain where Jesus has entered on our behalf.

In other words, our anchor is set in the very throne room of God. Death, failure, betrayal, sickness, or disappointment—they cannot take your hope, because they cannot take your Jesus.

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10/4/19 3:36 A

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God Chats in the Closet - UpWords - October 4

by Max Lucado

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

In Matthew 6:6 He said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who cannot be seen.

Your Father can see what is done in secret, and He will reward you.”

The words surely stunned Jesus’ audience.

The people were simple farmers and stonemasons.

They couldn’t enter the temple.

But they could enter their closets. The point?

He is low on fancy, high on accessibility.

You need not woo him with location!

Or wow him with eloquence.

It’s the power of a simple prayer.

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You Are His - UpWords - October 2

by Max Lucado

God’s grace defines you!

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

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

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

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

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

According to Him, you are His. Period.

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

From UpWords with Max Lucado

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God’s Workshop - UpWords - September 30

by Max Lucado

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

Scripture says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies announce what his hands have made.” (Psalms 19:1) Nature is God’s workshop. The sky is his resume. You want to know who God is? See what he has done. You want to know his power? Take a look at his creation.

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

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Heaven's Tribunal - UpWords - September 29

by Max Lucado

Some people will stand before God on the judgement day who didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. They spent a lifetime dishonoring God and hurting his people. They mocked his name and made life miserable for their neighbors.

Even our judicial system forces no defense on the accused. The defendant is offered an advocate, but if he chooses to stand before the judge alone, the system permits it. So does God. He offers his Son as an advocate. At the judgment Jesus will stand at the side of every person except those who refuse him. When their deeds are read, heaven’s tribunal will hear nothing—but silence! It’s a sobering truth in Acts 17:31, “The day is coming when God will judge the world.”

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The Bandit of Joy - UpWords - September 27

by Max Lucado

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

We try unsuccessfully to face our fears with power, possessions, or popularity. Only inward character creates courage. And it is those inward convictions Jesus is building in the Beatitudes. The result of this process is courage—“they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). No longer shall the earth and its fears dominate us, for we follow the one who dominates the earth.

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

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Jesus Honors You - UpWords - September 25

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

No wonder they call Jesus the Savior.

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Prayer Is a Habit Worth Having - UpWords - September 24

by Max Lucado

Do you want to know how to deepen your prayer life? At the risk of sounding like a preacher—which I am—may I make a suggestion? Why don’t you check your habits?

In Romans 12:12, Paul says, “When trials come endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.”

Prayer is a habit worth having. Don’t prepare to pray. Just pray. Don’t read about prayer. Just pray. Don’t attend a lecture on prayer or engage in discussion about prayer. Just pray.

Posture, tone, and place are personal matters. Select the form that works for you. But don’t think about it too much. Don’t be so concerned about wrapping the gift that you never give it.

Better to pray awkwardly than not at all. And if you feel you should only pray when inspired, that’s okay. Just see to it that you are inspired every day.

From When God Whispers Your Name

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A Godly Touch - UpWords - September 23

By Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

We fear saying the wrong thing, or using the wrong tone or acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, we do nothing at all.
Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t make the same mistake? Matthew 8:1-4. Will you do the same?

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Oops posted wrong Blog

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 9/23/2019 (05:58)
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Fear of Global Calamity - UpWords - September 20

by Max Lucado

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:4-8 NIV)

Things are going to get bad, really bad, before they get better. And when conditions worsen, “See to it that you are not alarmed” (v. 6 NIV). Jesus chose a stout term for alarmed that he used on no other occasion. It means “to wail, to cry aloud,” as if Jesus counseled the disciples, “Don’t freak out when bad stuff happens.”

Jesus equipped his followers with farsighted courage. He listed the typhoons of life and then pointed them “to the end.” Trust in ultimate victory gives ultimate courage. Author Jim Collins makes reference to this outlook in his book Good to Great. Collins tells the story of Admiral James Stockdale, who was a prisoner of war for eight years during the Vietnam War. After Stockdale’s release Collins asked him how in the world he survived eight years in a prisoner-of-war camp.

He replied, “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

Collins then asked, “Who didn’t make it out?” Admiral Stockdale replied, “Oh, that’s easy. The optimists. . . . they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Yes, life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.”

Though the church is winnowed down like Gideon’s army, though God’s earth is buffeted by climate changes and bloodied by misfortune, though creation itself seems stranded on the Arctic seas, don’t overreact. “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes” (Ps. 37:7 NLT).

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When Grace Goes Deep - UpWords - September19

by Max Lucado

The prodigal son trudges up the path. His pig stink makes passersby walk wide circles around him, but he doesn't notice. With eyes on the ground, he rehearses his speech: "Father"—his voice barely audible—"I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not worthy to be called your son." He rehashes the phrases, wondering if he should say more, less, or make a U-turn to the barnyard.

After all, he cashed in the trust fund and trashed the family name. Over the last year, he'd awakened with more parched throats, headaches, women, and tattoos than a rock star. How could his father forgive him?Maybe I could offer to pay off the credit cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"But it won't fit my thumb."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Come Thirsty

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9/17/19 11:30 A

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Take Goliath Down - UpWords - September 17

by Max Lucado

Goliaths still roam our world. Debt. Disaster. Dialysis. Danger. Deceit. Disease. Depression.

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

Focus on giants—you stumble.

Focus on God—your giants tumble.

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

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

1. THE STONE OF THE PAST

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

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

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

Then select …

2. THE STONE OF PRAYER

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

Prayer spawned David's successes. His Brook Besor wisdom grew out of the moment he "strengthened himself in the Lord his God" (1 Sam. 30:6). When Saul's soldiers tried to capture him, David turned toward God: "You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble" (Ps. 59:16).

Invite God's help. Pick up the stone of prayer. And don't neglect …

3. THE STONE OF PRIORITY

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

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

What if you saw your giant in the same manner? Rather than begrudge him, welcome him.

Your cancer is God's chance to flex his healing muscles. Your sin is God's opportunity to showcase grace. Your struggling marriage can billboard God's power. See your struggle as God's canvas. On it he will paint his multicolored supremacy. Announce God's name and then reach for …

4. THE STONE OF PASSION

David ran, not away from, but toward his giant. On one side of the battlefield, Saul and his cowardly army gulped. On the other, Goliath and his skull-splitters scoffed. In the middle, the shepherd boy ran on his spindly legs. Who bet on David? Who put money on the kid from

Bethlehem? Not the Philistines. Not the Hebrews. Not David's siblings or David's king. But God did.

And since God did, and since David knew God did, the skinny runt became a blur of pumping knees and a swirling sling. He ran toward his giant.

Do the same!

Let your ring finger remind you to take up the stone of passion.

One more stone, and finger, remains:

5. THE STONE OF PERSISTENCE

David didn't think one rock would do. He knew Goliath had four behemoth relatives. For all David knew, they'd come running over the hill to defend their kin. David was ready to empty the chImitate him. Never give up. One prayer might not be enough. One apology might not do it.

One day or month of resolve might not suffice. You may get knocked down a time or two … but don't quit. Keep loading the rocks. Keep swinging the sling.

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

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

From Facing Your Giants

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 9/17/2019 (11:31)
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9/16/19 11:43 A

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Through the Valley of Death - UpWords - September 16

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

“Death has been swallowed up in victory!”

From Unshakable Hope

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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9/15/19 9:46 A

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A Call to Common Courtesy - UpWords - September 15

By Max Lucado

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

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

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

And when he enters, he always brings a gift. Some bring Chianti and daisies. Christ brings "the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). And, as he stays, he serves. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45 NIV). If you're missing your apron, you'll find it on him. He's serving the guests as they sit (John 13:4-5). He won't eat until he's offered thanks, and he won't leave until the leftovers are put away (Matt. 14:19-20).

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

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

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

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

He knocks before he enters. He always brings a gift. Food is served. The table is cleared.

Thanks are offered. He knows your name and tells you his, and here is one more.
He pulls out the chair for you. "He raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with him in the heavens" (Eph. 2:6).

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

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

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

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

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

From A Love Worth Giving


Team Leader Shining for Jesus
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