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Traveling Light - UpWords - July 1

by Max Lucado

I fell asleep in the Louvre.

The most famous museum in the world. The best-known building in Paris. Tourists are oohing and aahing, and that’s me, nodding and snoring. Seated on a bench. Back to the wall. Chin to my chest. Conked out.

The crown jewels are down the hall. Rembrandt is on the wall. Van Gogh is one floor up. The Venus de Milo is one floor down. I should have been star struck and wide eyed.

Denalyn was. You’d have thought she was at Foley’s Red Apple sale. If there was a tour, she took it. If there was a button to push, she pushed it. If there was a brochure to read, she read it.

She didn’t even want to stop to eat.

But me? I gave the Mona Lisa five minutes.

Shameful, I know.

But it wasn’t my fault. I like seventeenth-century art as much as the next guy … well, maybe not that much. But at least I can usually stay awake.

But not that day. Why did I fall asleep at the Louvre?

Blame it on the bags, baby; blame it on the bags. I was worn out from lugging the family luggage. We checked more suitcases than the road show of the Phantom of the Opera.

I can’t fault my wife and daughters. They learned it from me. Remember, I’m the one who travels prepared for an underwater wedding and a bowling tournament. It’s bad enough for one person to travel like that, but five? It’ll wear you out.

You think I’ll ever learn to travel light?

I tell you what. Let’s make a pact. I’ll reduce the leather bags, and we’ll both reduce the emotional ones. After all, it’s one thing to sleep through the Louvre but quite another to sleep through life.

We can, you know. Do we not dwell in the gallery of our God? Isn’t the sky his canvas and humanity his magnum opus? Are we not encircled by artistry? Sunsets burning. Waves billowing.

And isn’t the soul his studio? The birthing of love, the bequeathing of grace. All around us miracles pop like fireflies—souls are touched, hearts are changed, and…

Yawn. We miss it. We sleep through it. We can’t help it. It’s hard work carrying yesterday’s guilt around.

It’s also enough to make you miss the magic of life.

Then let’s get rid of the bags! Once and for all, let’s give our luggage to him. Let’s take him at his word! “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28 NLT).

From Traveling Light

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6/26/20 5:19 P

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Fearlessly Facing Eternity - UpWords - June 26

by Max Lucado

Joe Allbright is a fair and fearless West Texas rancher, a square-jawed, rawboned man with a neck by Rawlings. In Andrews County, where I was raised, everyone knew him.

One of Joe’s sons, James, and I were best friends in high school. We played football together. (More honest, he played while I guarded the team bench.) One Friday night after an out-of-town game, James invited me to stay at his house. By the time we reached his property, the hour was way past midnight, and he hadn’t told his father he was bringing anyone home.

Mr. Allbright didn’t know me or my vehicle, so when I stepped out of the car in front of his house, he popped on a floodlight and aimed it right at my face. Through the glare I saw this block of a man (I think he was in his underwear), and I heard his deep voice. “Who are you?”

I gulped. My mind moved at the speed of cold honey. I started to say my name but didn’t. Mr. Allbright doesn’t know me. My only hope was that James would speak up.

A glacier could have melted before he did so. Finally he interceded. “It’s okay, Dad. That’s my friend Max. He’s with me.” The light went off, and Mr. Allbright threw open the door. “Come on in, boys. Food is in the kitchen.”

What changed? What made Mr. Allbright flip off the light? One fact. I had aligned myself with his son. My sudden safety had nothing to do with my accomplishments or offerings. I knew his son. Period.

For the same reason, you need never fear God’s judgment. Not today. Not on Judgment Day. Jesus, in the light of God’s glory, is speaking on your behalf. “That’s my friend,” he says. And when he does, the door of heaven opens.

Trust God’s love. His perfect love. Don’t fear he will discover your past. He already has. Don’t fear disappointing him in the future. He can show you the chapter in which you will. With perfect knowledge of the past and perfect vision of the future, he loves you perfectly in spite of both.

Perfect love can handle your fear of judgment.

From Come Thirsty

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God Is Love - UpWords - June 25

By Max Lucado

“This is what real love is: it is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10).

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

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

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

From A Love Worth Giving

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6/24/20 7:59 A

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

By Max Lucado

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

It’s not enough to keep the bad stuff out. We’ve got to let the good stuff in. It’s not enough to keep no list of wrongs. We need to cultivate a list of blessings. Paul says in Philippians 4:8,

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

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

From A Love Worth Giving

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6/22/20 1:50 P

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You Are Not a Victim of Your Thoughts - UpWords - June 22

By Max Lucado

Life has a way of unloading her rubbish on our doorstep! Your husband works too much. Your wife gripes too much. Your boss expects too much. Your kids whine too much. The result?

Trash. Loads of pessimism, guilt, anxiety—it all piles up. And what about the Pharisees? They killed Christ in their hearts before they killed him on the cross.

Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. Could that be why Paul writes, “Love…keeps no record of wrongs?” (1 Corinthians 13:5). We do have a choice. Paul says we do when he writes, “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Selfishness, step back! Envy…get lost! You are not a victim of your thoughts. If today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions, what happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God’s love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others? Absolutely!

From A Love Worth Giving

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 6/22/2020 (13:50)
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6/21/20 4:41 A

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

by Max Lucado

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

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

When I was six years old, my father built us a house. Architectural Digest didn’t notice, but my mom sure did. Dad constructed it, board by board, every day after work. My youth didn’t deter him from giving me a job. He tied an empty nail apron around my waist, placed a magnet in my hands, and sent me on daily patrols around the building site, carrying my magnet only inches off the ground.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You have one. A divine spark. An uncommon call to an uncommon life. “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others” (1 Cor. 12:7 CEV).

So much for the excuse “I don’t have anything to offer.” Did the apostle Paul say, “The Spirit has given some of us …”? Or, “The Spirit has given a few of us …”? No. “The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.” Enough of this self-deprecating “I can’t do anything.”

And enough of its arrogant opposite: “I have to do everything.” No, you don’t! You’re not God’s solution to society, but a solution in society. Imitate Paul, who said, “Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us” (2 Cor. 10:13 NLT). Clarify your contribution.

Don’t worry about skills you don’t have. Don’t covet strengths others do have. Just extract your uniqueness. “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6 NASB).

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

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 6/21/2020 (05:11)
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6/20/20 9:23 A

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Nevertheless… - UpWords - June 20

by Max Lucado

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

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

Nevertheless.

“Nevertheless David took the stronghold…”

Wouldn’t you love God to write a nevertheless in your biography? Born to alcoholics, nevertheless she led a sober life. Never went to college, nevertheless he mastered a trade.

Didn’t read the Bible until retirement age, nevertheless he came to a deep and abiding faith.

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

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

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

Do what David did.

Turn a deaf ear to the old voices.

Open a wide eye to the new choices.

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

Peter stuck his foot in his mouth.

Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt.

The Samaritan woman had been married five times.

Jesus was dead in the grave …

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

You fill in the blank. Your nevertheless awaits you.

From Facing Your Giants

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6/17/20 2:56 P

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Quiet Heroes - UpWords - June 17

by Max Lucado

Quiet heroes dot the landscape of our society. They don’t wear ribbons or kiss trophies; they wear spit-up and kiss boo-boos. They don’t make the headlines, but they do sew the hemlines and check the outlines and stand on the sidelines. You won’t find their names on the Nobel

Prize short list, but you will find their names on the homeroom, carpool, and Bible teacher lists.

They are parents, both by blood and deed, name and calendar. Heroes. News programs don’t call them. But that’s okay. Because their kids do … They call them Mom. They call them Dad.

And these moms and dads, more valuable than all the executives and lawmakers west of the Mississippi, quietly hold the world together.

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

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

Don’t pay the price David paid. Look ahead to his final hours. To see the ultimate cost of a neglected family, look at the way our hero dies.

David is hours from the grave. A chill has set in that blankets can’t remove. Servants decide he needs a person to warm him, someone to hold him tight as he takes his final breaths.

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

I suspect that David would have traded all his conquered crowns for the tender arms of a wife.

But it was too late. He died in the care of a stranger, because he made strangers out of his family.

But it’s not too late for you.

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

And cherish the children who share your name.

Succeed at home first.

From Facing Your Giants

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6/15/20 9:39 A

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No Pecking Orders with Jesus - UpWords - June 15

By Max Lucado

Love does not boast, it is not proud (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV).

Jesus has no room for pecking orders. His solution to man-made caste systems? A change of direction. In a world of upward mobility, choose downward servility.

“Regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 NASB). Jesus flip-flopped the pecking order.

Would you do what Jesus did? He swapped a spotless castle for a grimy stable. He exchanged the worship of angels for the company of killers. If you knew that only a few could care that you came, would you still come?

If you knew that those you loved would laugh in your face, would you still care? The palm that held the universe took the nail of a soldier. Why?

Because that’s what love does! He loves you that much! Drink deeply of God’s love for you—and ask him to fill your heart with a love worth giving!

From A Love Worth Giving

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6/12/20 3:26 A

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Stunned by His Grace - UpWords - June 12

by Max Lucado

I was mulling over a recent conversation I had with a disenchanted Christian brother. He was upset with me. So upset that he was considering rescinding his invitation for me to speak to his group.

Seems 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.”

Later I had a great thought. A why-didn’t-I-think-to-say-that? insight.

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.
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.

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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Angels Watching Over You - UpWords - June 11

by Max Lucado

One of my friends recently took a heart-stopping mission trip to Vietnam. He and two companions set out to smuggle Bibles and money to Christians there. Upon landing, however, he was separated from the other two.

He spoke no Vietnamese and had never traveled in Hanoi. Imagine his thoughts, then, as he stood in front of the airport, holding a bag of Bibles, wearing a belt of cash, and knowing nothing more than the name of his hotel.

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

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

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

Billy Graham reminds us, “If you are a believer, expect powerful angels to accompany you in your life experience.” But what if you are not a believer? Do angels offer equal surveillance to God’s enemies? No, they don’t.

The promise of angelic protection is limited to those who trust God. Refuse God at the risk of an unguarded back. But receive his lordship, and be assured that many mighty angels will guard you in all your ways.

God sends his best troops to oversee your life. Imagine the president assigning his Secret Service to protect you, telling his agents to motorcade your car through traffic and safeguard you through crowds.

How would you sleep if you knew D.C.’s finest guarded your door? How will you sleep knowing heaven’s finest are doing just that? You are not alone. Receive God’s lordship over your life. Heaven’s many, mighty angels watch over you.

From Come Thirsty

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Doubtstorms - UpWords - June 10

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

But others of you wonder...

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

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

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

The light came for the disciples. A figure came to them walking on the water. It wasn’t what they expected. Perhaps they were looking for angels to descend or heaven to open. Maybe they were listening for a divine proclamation to still the storm.

We don’t know what they were looking for. But one thing is for sure, they weren’t looking for
Jesus to come walking on the water.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From In the Eye of the Storm

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Facing Your Grief - UpWords - June 9

by Max Lucado

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

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

Give yourself some. Face your grief with tears, time, and—one more—face your grief with truth.

Paul urged the Thessalonians to grieve, but he didn’t want the Christians to “carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word.” (I Thess. 4:13 MSG).

God has the last word on death. And, if you listen, he will tell you the truth about your loved ones. They’ve been dismissed from the hospital called Earth. You and I still roam the halls, smell the medicines, and eat green beans and Jell-O off plastic trays.

They, meanwhile, enjoy picnics, inhale springtime, and run through knee-high flowers. You miss them like crazy, but can you deny the truth? They have no pain, doubt, or struggle. They really are happier in heaven.

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

When you drop your kids off at school, do you weep as though you’ll never see them again?

When you drop your spouse at the store and park the car, do you bid a final forever farewell?

No. When you say, “I’ll see you soon,” you mean it. When you stand in the cemetery and stare down at the soft, freshly turned earth and promise, “I’ll see you soon,” you speak the truth. Reunion is a splinter of an eternal moment away.

So go ahead, face your grief. Give yourself time. Permit yourself tears. God understands.

He knows the sorrow of a grave. He buried his son. But he also knows the joy of resurrection.

And, by his power, you will too.

From Facing Your Giants

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The Kindness Quotient - UpWords - June 8, 2020

By Max Lucado

I’ve attended my share of seminars on strategizing and team building. But I can’t say I’ve ever attended or even heard of one lecture on kindness. Jesus, however, would take issue with our priorities.

“Go and learn what this means,” he commands. “I want kindness more than I want animal sacrifices” (Matthew 9:13).

How kind are you? Which person is the most overlooked or avoided? A shy student? A grumpy employee? And here’s a challenge—what about your enemies?

How kind are you to those who want what you want or take what you have? How about the boss who fired you or the wife who left you. Mercy is the deepest gesture of kindness.

The Apostle Paul said, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you!” (Ephesians 4:32).

From A Love Worth Giving

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Our God Is a Good God - UpWords - June 6, 2020

by Max Lucado

“You are good, LORD. The LORD is good and right” (Ps. 25:7–8).

“Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8 NIV).

God is a good God. We must begin here. Though we don’t understand his actions, we can trust his heart.

God does only what is good. But how can death be good? Some mourners don’t ask this question. When the quantity of years has outstripped the quality of years, we don’t ask how death can be good.

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

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

And—this is important—though you and I may wish a longer life for our loved ones, they don’t. Ironically, the first to accept God’s decision of death is the one who dies.

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

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

How do we know he didn’t?

Who among us is privy to a person’s final thoughts? Who among us knows what transpires in those final moments? Are you sure no prayer was offered? Eternity can bend the proudest knees.

Could a person stare into the yawning canyon of death without whispering a plea for mercy? And could our God, who is partial to the humble, resist it?

He couldn’t on Calvary. The confession of the thief on the cross was both a first and final one. But Christ heard it. Christ received it. Maybe you never heard your loved one confess Christ, but who’s to say Christ didn’t?

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

From Traveling Light

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Uncluttered Faith - UpWords - June 4, 2020

by Max Lucado

One of my favorite stories concerns a bishop who was traveling by ship to visit a church across the ocean. While en route, the ship stopped at an island for a day. He went for a walk on a beach. He came upon three fishermen mending their nets.

Curious about their trade he asked them some questions. Curious about his ecclesiastical robes, they asked him some questions. When they found out he was a Christian leader, they got excited. “We Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.

The bishop was impressed but cautious. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it.

“What do you say, then, when you pray?”

“We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”

The bishop was appalled at the primitive nature of the prayer. “That will not do.” So he spent the day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor but willing learners. And before the bishop sailed away the next day, they could recite the prayer with no mistakes.

The bishop was proud.

On the return trip the bishop’s ship drew near the island again. When the island came into view the bishop came to the deck and recalled with pleasure the men he had taught and resolved to go see them again.

As he was thinking a light appeared on the horizon near the island. It seemed to be getting nearer. As the bishop gazed in wonder he realized the three fishermen were walking toward him on the water. Soon all the passengers and crew were on the deck to see the sight.

When they were within speaking distance, the fisherman cried out, “Bishop, we come hurry to meet you.”

“What is it you want?” asked the stunned bishop.

“We are so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name …’ and then we forget. Please tell us prayer again.”

The bishop was humbled. “Go back to your homes, my friends, and when you pray say, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”

From And the Angels Were Silent

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Uncluttered Faith - UpWords - June 4, 2020

by Max Lucado

One of my favorite stories concerns a bishop who was traveling by ship to visit a church across the ocean. While en route, the ship stopped at an island for a day. He went for a walk on a beach. He came upon three fishermen mending their nets.

Curious about their trade he asked them some questions. Curious about his ecclesiastical robes, they asked him some questions. When they found out he was a Christian leader, they got excited. “We Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.

The bishop was impressed but cautious. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it.

“What do you say, then, when you pray?”

“We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”

The bishop was appalled at the primitive nature of the prayer. “That will not do.” So he spent the day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor but willing learners. And before the bishop sailed away the next day, they could recite the prayer with no mistakes.

The bishop was proud.

On the return trip the bishop’s ship drew near the island again. When the island came into view the bishop came to the deck and recalled with pleasure the men he had taught and resolved to go see them again.

As he was thinking a light appeared on the horizon near the island. It seemed to be getting nearer. As the bishop gazed in wonder he realized the three fishermen were walking toward him on the water. Soon all the passengers and crew were on the deck to see the sight.

When they were within speaking distance, the fisherman cried out, “Bishop, we come hurry to meet you.”

“What is it you want?” asked the stunned bishop.

“We are so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name …’ and then we forget. Please tell us prayer again.”

The bishop was humbled. “Go back to your homes, my friends, and when you pray say, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”

From And the Angels Were Silent

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"I wish above all that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" 3 John 1:2


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Living Loved - UpWords - June 1

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

From A Love Worth Giving

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Remarkable - UpWords - May 31

by Max Lucado

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

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

If I don’t understand what he says, he doesn’t call me a dummy.

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

At the end of the day when I walk through the house, I step into the bedrooms of three little girls. And one by one, I bend over and kiss the foreheads of the angels God has loaned me.

Then I stand in the doorway and wonder why in the world he would entrust a stumbling, fumbling fellow like me with the task of loving and leading such treasures. Remarkable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From In the Eye of the Storm

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Our Group - UpWords - May 27

by Max Lucado

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

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

This man was casting out demons (the very act the disciples had trouble doing in Mark 9:20).

He was changing lives. And, what’s more, the man was giving the credit to God. He was doing it in the name of Christ.

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

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

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

I’ve asked that question. I am deeply appreciative of my heritage. It was through a small, West Texas Church of Christ that I came to know the Nazarene, the cross, and the Word. The congregation wasn’t large, maybe two hundred on a good Sunday.

Most of the families were like mine, blue-collar oil-field workers. But it was a loving church. When our family was sick, the members visited us. When we were absent, they called. And when this prodigal returned, they embraced me.

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

A Brazilian Pentecostal taught me about prayer. A British Anglican by the name of C.S. Lewis put muscle in my faith. A Southern Baptist helped me understand grace.

One Presbyterian, Steve Brown, taught me about God’s sovereignty while another, Frederick Buechner, taught me about God’s passion. A Catholic, Brennan Manning, convinced me that Jesus is relentlessly tender. I’m a better husband because I read James Dobson and a better preacher because I listened to Chuck Swindoll and Bill Hybels.

And only when I get home will I learn the name of a radio preacher whose message steered me back to Christ. I was a graduate student who’d lost his bearings. Needing some money over Christmas break, I took a job driving an oil-field delivery truck. The radio only picked up one station.

A preacher was preaching. On a cold December day in 1978 I heard him describe the cross. I don’t know his name. I don’t know his heritage. He could have been a Quaker or an angel or both for all I know. But something about what he said caused me to pull the pickup onto the side of the road and rededicate my life to Christ.

From In the Grip of Grace

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5/26/20 5:15 A

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The Desires of Your Heart, UpWords, May 26

by Max Lucado

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalms 37:4

I recently met a twenty-year-old, just discharged from the military, and pondering his future. He bore a square jaw, a forearm tattoo, and a common question. He didn’t know what to do with the rest of his life. As we shared a flight, he told me about his uncle, a New England priest.

“What a great man,” the ex-soldier sighed. “He helps kids and feeds the hungry. I’d love to make a difference like that.”

So I asked him the question of this chapter. “What were some occasions when you did something you love to do and did it quite well?”

He dismissed me at first. “Aw, what I love to do is stupid.”

“Try me,” I invited.

“Well, I love to rebuild stuff.”

“What do you mean?”

He spoke of an old coffee table he had found in a garage. Seeing its potential, he shaved off the paint, fixed the broken legs, and restored it. With great pride, he presented it to his mom.

“Tell me another time,” I prompted.

“This one is really dumb,” he discounted. “But when I worked at a butcher shop, I used to find meat on the bones others threw out. My boss loved me! I could find several pounds of product just by giving the bone a second try.”

As the plane was nosing down, I tested a possibility with him. “You love to salvage stuff. You salvage furniture, salvage meat. God gave you the ability to find a treasure in someone else’s trash.”

My idea surprised him. “God? God did that?”

“Yes, God. Your ability to restore a table is every bit as holy as your uncle’s ability to restore a life.” You would have thought he’d just been handed a newborn baby. As my words sank in, the tough soldier teared up.

See your desires as gifts to heed rather than longings to suppress, and you’ll feel the same joy.

Reflect on your life. What have you always done well and loved to do?

From Cure for the Common Life

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5/24/20 3:58 A

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The Weight of Glory - UpWords - May 24

by Max Lucado

“Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  (2 Corinthians 4:17)

The words “weight of glory” conjure up images of the ancient pan scale.  Remember the blindfolded lady of justice?  She holds a pan scale- two pans, one on either side of the needle.  The weight of a purchase would be determined by placing weights on one side and the purchase on the other.

God does the same with your struggles. On one side he stacks all your burdens.  Famines.  Firings.  Parents who forgot you.  Bosses who ignored you.  Bad breaks, bad health, bad days.  Stack them up, and watch one side of the pan scale plummet.

Now witness God’s response.  Does he remove them?  Eliminate the burdens?  No, rather than take them, he offsets them.  He places an eternal weight of glory on the other side.  Endless joy.  Measureless peace.  An eternity of him.  Watch what happens as he sets eternity on your scale.

Everything changes!  The burdens lift.  The heavy becomes light when weighed against eternity.  If life is “just a moment,” can’t we endure any challenge for a moment?

We can be sick for just a moment.
We can be lonely for just a moment.
We can be persecuted for just a moment.
We can struggle for just a moment.

Can’t we?

Can’t we wait for our peace?  

It’s not about us anyway.  And it’s certainly now about now.

From It’s Not About Me

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5/21/20 11:23 A

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The Touch of God - UpWords - May 21

by Max Lucado

In Scripture Matthew 8:2 is symbolic of the ultimate outcast: infected by a condition he did not seek, rejected by those he knew, avoided by people he did not know, condemned to a future he could not bear. And in the memory of each outcast must have been the day he was forced to face the truth: life would never be the same.

The banishing of a leper seems harsh, unnecessary. The Ancient East hasn’t been the only culture to isolate their wounded, however. We may not build colonies or cover our mouths in their presence, but we certainly build walls and duck our eyes. And a person needn’t have leprosy to feel quarantined.

The divorced know this feeling. So do the handicapped. The unemployed have felt it, as have the less educated. Some shun unmarried moms. We keep our distance from the depressed and avoid the terminally ill. We have neighborhoods for immigrants, convalescent homes for the elderly, schools for the simple, centers for the addicted, and prisons for the criminals.

The rest simply try to get away from it all. Only God knows how many individuals are living quiet, lonely lives infected by their fear of rejection and their memories of the last time they tried. They choose not to be touched at all rather than risk being hurt again.

Just Like JesusSome of you have the master touch of the Physician himself. You use your hands to pray over the sick and minister to the weak. If you aren’t touching them personally, your hands are writing letters, dialing phones, baking pies. You have learned the power of a touch.

But others of us 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? If your fear of doing the wrong thing prevents you from doing anything, keep in mind the perspective of the lepers of the world. They aren’t picky. They aren’t finicky. They’re just lonely. They are yearning for a godly touch.

Jesus touched the untouchables of the world. Will you do the same?

From Just Like Jesus

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The Winsomeness of Holiness - UpWords - Ma
by Max Lucado

John the Baptist would never get hired today. No church would touch him. He was a public relations disaster. He “wore clothes made from camel’s hair, had a leather belt around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6). Who would want to look at a guy like that every Sunday?

No, John would never get hired today. His tactics lacked tact. His style wasn’t smooth. He made few friends and lots of enemies, but what do you know? He made hundreds of converts.

“All the people from Judea and Jerusalem were going out to him. They confessed their sins and were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Mark 1:5).

Look at that. “All the people of Judea and Jerusalem.… ” How do we explain such a response? It certainly wasn’t his charisma or clothing. Nor was it his money or position, for he had neither.

Then what did he have? One word. Holiness.

John the Baptist set himself apart for one task, to be a voice of Christ. Everything about John centered on his purpose. His dress. His diet. His actions. His demands.

He reminded his hearers of Elijah. And he reminds us of this truth: “There is winsomeness in holiness.” You don’t have to be like the world to have an impact on the world. You don’t have to be like the crowd to change the crowd. You don’t have to lower yourself down to their level to lift them up to your level.

Nor do you have to be weird. You don’t need to wear camel’s-hair clothing or eat insects.

Holiness doesn’t seek to be odd. Holiness seeks to be like God.

You want to make a difference in your world? Live a holy life:

Be faithful to your spouse.

Be the one at the office who refuses to cheat.

Be the neighbor who acts neighborly.

Be the employee who does the work and doesn’t complain.

Pay your bills.

Do your part and enjoy life.

Don’t speak one message and live another.

Note the last line of Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:11–12.

Do all you can to lead a peaceful life. Take care of your own business, and do your own work as we have already told you. If you do, then people who are not believers will respect you.

From A Gentle Thunder

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5/17/20 10:28 P

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The Beggar and the Bread - UpWords - May 17

by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

The beggar didn’t speak. I understood his silence. With my arm around his shoulder, I whispered, “It overwhelms me as well.”

I then leaped to the podium and struck my favorite pose behind the lectern. “People come from miles to hear me speak. Once a week my workers gather, and I read to them the recipe from the cookbook of life.”

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

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

“How wise you are,” I replied. And I led him to the front door of the bakery. “What I have to say next is very important,” I told him as we stood outside. “Up and down this street you will find many bakeries. But take heed; they don’t serve the true bread.

I know of one who adds two spoons of salt rather than one. I know of another whose oven is three degrees too hot. They may call it bread,” I warned, “but it’s not according to the book.”

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

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

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

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

From A Gentle Thunder

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When Fishermen Don't Fish- UpWords- May 12

by Max Lucado

Bread is eaten daily. Some fruits are available only in season. Some drinks are made only at holidays. Not so with bread. And not so with Jesus. He should be brought to our table every day. We let him nourish our hearts, not just in certain months or on special events, but daily.

Bread can meet many needs. So can Jesus. He has a word for the lonely as well as for the popular. He has help for the physically ill and the emotionally ill. If your vision is clear, he can help you. If your vision is cloudy, he can help you. Jesus can meet each need.

Can you see why Jesus called himself the Bread of Life?

I can think of one other similarity. Consider how bread is made. Think about the process.

Wheat grows in the field, then it is cut down, winnowed, and ground into flour. It passes through the fire of the oven and is then distributed around the world. Only by this process does bread become bread. Each step is essential.

Jesus grew up as a "small plant before the LORD" (Isa. 53:2). One of thousands in Israel. Indistinguishable from the person down the street or the child in the next chair.

Had you seen him as a youngster, you wouldn't have thought he was the Son of God. He was just a boy. One of hundreds. Like a staff of wheat in the wheat field.

But like wheat, he was cut down. Like chaff he was pounded and beaten. "He was wounded for the wrong we did; he was crushed for the evil we did" (Isa. 53:5). And like bread he passed through the fire.

On the cross he passed though the fire of God's anger, not because of his sin, but because of ours. "The LORD has put on him the punishment for all the evil we have done" (Isa. 53:6).

Jesus experienced each part of the process of making bread: the growing, the pounding, the firing. And just as each is necessary for bread, each was also necessary for Christ to become the bread of life. "The Christ must suffer these things before he enters his glory" (Luke 24:26).

The next part of the process, the distribution, Christ leaves with us. We are the distributors. We can't force people to eat the bread, but we can make sure they have it.

"I am the bread that gives life." John 6:35

From A Gentle Thunder, Copyright 1995 Max Lucado

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Confess and Believe- UpWords- April 26

by Max Lucado

Can we know we are truly saved?

The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Confess and believe…and you will have salvation.

Catch what the verse does not say: live perfectly, be nice to everyone, don’t mess up, always smile—and you will be saved. Can’t do it. Impossible. Just confess and believe. Salvation will follow. It’s so easy. . .yet so hard.

God wants us to know we are saved, for saved people are dangerous people, willing to face off with the world, unafraid of the consequences since we know that, whatever happens, we will have eternal life.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV).

Watch out, world!

From Max on Life

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The Shadow of a Doubt - UpWords - April 25

by Max Lucado

Sunday mornings. I awake early, long before the family stirs, the sunrise flickers, or the paper plops on the driveway. Let the rest of the world sleep in. I don’t. Sunday’s my big day, the day I stand before a congregation of people who are willing to swap thirty minutes of their time for some conviction and hope.

Most weeks I have ample to go around. But occasionally I don’t. (Does it bother you to know this?) Sometimes in the dawn-tinted, pre-pulpit hours, the seeming absurdity of what I believe hits me. The fear that God isn’t. The fear that “why?” has no answer. The valley of the shadow of doubt.

To one degree or another we all venture into the valley. In the final pages of Luke’s gospel, the physician-turned-historian dedicated his last chapter to answering one question: how does Christ respond when we doubt him?

For both the dejected Emmaus bound disciples (Luke 24:13-35) and the frightened upper room disciples (Luke 24:36-49): A meal is served, the Bible is taught, the disciples find courage, and we find two practical answers to the critical question, what would Christ have us do with our doubts?

His answer? Touch my body and ponder my story. We still can, you know. We can still touch the body of Christ. We’d love to touch his physical wounds and feel the flesh of the Nazarene.

Yet when we brush up against the church, we do just that. “The church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself ” (Eph. 1:23 NLT).

Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many.

When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries . . . When we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.

The adhesiveness of the disciples instructs us. They stuck together. Even with ransacked hopes, they clustered in conversant community. They kept “going over all these things that had happened” (Luke 24:14 MSG).

Isn’t this a picture of the church—sharing notes, exchanging ideas, mulling over possibilities, lifting spirits?

And as they did, Jesus showed up to teach them, proving “when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matt. 18:20 MSG).

From Fearless

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He Can Heal the Hurt- UpWords- April 23

by Max Lucado

Grudge is one of those words that defines itself. Its very sound betrays its meaning.

Say it slowly: “Grr-uuuud-ge.”

It starts with a growl. “Grr …” Like a bear with bad breath coming out of hibernation or a mangy mongrel defending his bone in an alley. “Grrr …”

Remove a GR from the word grudge and replace it with SL and you have the junk that grudge bearers trudge through. Sludge. Black, thick, ankle-deep resentment that steals the bounce from the step. No joyful skips through the meadows. No healthy hikes up the mountain. Just day after day of walking into the storm, shoulders bent against the wind, and feet dragging through all the muck life has delivered.

Is this the way you are coping with your hurts? Are you allowing your hurts to turn into hates? If so, ask yourself: Is it working? Has your hatred done you any good? Has your resentment brought you any relief, any peace? Has it granted you any joy?

Let’s say you get even. Let’s say you get him back. Let’s say she gets what she deserves. Let’s say your fantasy of fury runs its ferocious course and you return all your pain with interest.

Imagine yourself standing over the corpse of the one you have hated. Will you now be free?

The writer of the following letter thought she would be. She thought her revenge would bring release. But she learned otherwise.

I caught my husband making love to another woman. He swore it would never happen again.

He begged me to forgive him, but I could not—would not. I was so bitter and so incapable of swallowing my pride that I could think of nothing but revenge. I was going to make him pay and pay dearly. I’d have my pound of flesh.

I filed for divorce, even though my children begged me not to.

Even after the divorce, my husband tried for two years to win me back. I refused to have anything to do with him. He had struck first; now I was striking back. All I wanted was to make him pay.

Finally he gave up and married a lovely young widow with a couple of small children. He began rebuilding his life—without me.

I see them occasionally, and he looks so happy. They all do. And here I am—a lonely, old, miserable woman who allowed her selfish pride and foolish stubbornness to ruin her life.

Unfaithfulness is wrong. Revenge is bad. But the worst part of all is that, without forgiveness, bitterness is all that is left.

The state of your heart dictates whether you harbor a grudge or give grace, seek self-pity or seek Christ, drink human misery or taste God’s mercy.

No wonder, then, the wise man begs, “Above all else, guard your heart.”

David’s prayer should be ours: “Create in me a pure heart, O God.”

From The Applause of Heaven

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Daily Deeds of Kindness - UpWords - April 20

By Max Lucado

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven .”Matthew 5:16

In the final days of Jesus’ life, he shared a meal with his friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Within the week he would feel the sting of the Roman whip, the point of the thorny crown, and the iron of the executioner’s nail. But on this evening, he felt the love of three friends.

For Mary, however, giving the dinner was not enough. “Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house” (John 12:3). . . .

Judas criticized the deed as wasteful. Not Jesus. He received the gesture as an extravagant demonstration of love, a friend surrendering her most treasured gift. As Jesus hung on the cross, we wonder, Did he detect the fragrance on his skin?

Follow Mary’s example.

There is an elderly man in your community who just lost his wife. An hour of your time would mean the world to him.

Some kids in your city have no dad. No father takes them to movies or baseball games. Maybe you can. They can’t pay you back. They can’t even afford the popcorn or sodas. But they’ll smile like a cantaloupe slice at your kindness.

Or how about this one? Down the hall from your bedroom is a person who shares your last name. Shock that person with kindness. Something outlandish. Your homework done with no complaints. Coffee served before he awakens. A love letter written to her for no special reason. Alabaster poured, just because.

Daily do a deed for which you cannot be repaid.
—from Great Day Every Day

Precious Savior, we pass people every day who need a demonstration of your love. May we search for ways to show extravagant gestures of gracious love, and outlandish acts of kindness. Make us people who set a goal of doing daily deeds for which we cannot be repaid.

Set our hearts on fire for people who do not know you. Consume us with compassion for the desperate and downtrodden. Let us pour our lives out in love . . . just because, amen.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart… I Peter 1:22

From From Live Loved: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life

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Come Away My Beloved: Frances J Roberts



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Simon Carries Jesus' Cross - UpWords - April 19

by Max Lucado

“A man named Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was coming from the fields to the city. The soldiers forced Simon to carry the cross for Jesus” (Mk. 15:21)

Simon grumbles beneath his breath. His patience is as scarce as space on the Jerusalem streets. He’d hoped for a peaceful Passover. The city is anything but quiet. Simon prefers his open fields. And now, to top it off, the Roman guards are clearing the path for some who-knows-which-dignitary who’ll march his soldiers and strut his stallion past the people.

“There he is!”

Simon’s head and dozens of others turn. In an instant they know. This is no dignitary.

“It’s a crucifixion,” he hears someone whisper. Four soldiers. One criminal. Four spears. One cross. The inside corner of the cross saddles the convict’s shoulders. Its base drags in the dirt. Its top teeters in the air. The condemned man steadies the cross the best he can, but stumbles beneath its weight. He pushes himself to his feet and lurches forward before falling again.

Simon can’t see the man’s face, only a head wreathed with thorny branches.

The sour-faced centurion grows more agitated with each diminishing step. He curses the criminal and the crowd.

“Hurry up!”

“Little hope of that,” Simon says to himself.

The cross-bearer stops in front of Simon and heaves for air. Simon winces at what he sees.

The beam rubbing against an already raw back. Rivulets of crimson streaking the man’s face.

His mouth hangs open, both out of pain and out of breath.

“His name is Jesus,” someone speaks softly.

“Move on!” commands the executioner.

But Jesus can’t. His body leans and feet try, but he can’t move. The beam begins to sway.

Jesus tries to steady it, but can’t. Like a just-cut tree, the cross begins to topple toward the crowd. Everyone steps back, except the farmer. Simon instinctively extends his strong hands and catches the cross.

Jesus falls face-first in the dirt and stays there. Simon pushes the cross back on its side. The centurion looks at the exhausted Christ and the bulky bystander and needs only an instant to make the decision. He presses the flat of his spear on Simon’s shoulders.

“You! Take the cross!”

Simon dares to object, “Sir, I don’t even know the man!”

“I don’t care. Take up the cross.”

Simon growls, balances the timber against his shoulder, and steps out of the crowd onto the street, out of anonymity into history, and becomes the first in a line of millions who will take up the cross and follow Christ.

He did literally what God calls us to do figuratively: take up the cross and follow Jesus. “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me” (Lk. 9:23 CEV).

From His Name is Jesus

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Many Gifts of the Cross- UpWords- April 16

by Max Lucado

Much has been said about Jesus’ “gift of the Cross.” But what of the other gifts? What of the nails, the crown of thorns? The garments taken by the soldiers? Have you taken time to open these gifts? He didn’t have to give us these gifts, you know. The only required act for our salvation was the shedding of blood, yet He did much more. So much more.

Search the scene of the Cross—and what do you find? A wine-soaked sponge. A sign. Two crosses beside Christ. Divine gifts intended to stir that moment, that split second when your face will brighten, your eyes will widen, and God will hear you whisper, “You did this for me?” Dare we think such thoughts? Let’s unwrap these gifts of grace– as if for the first time. Pause and listen. Perchance you will hear Him whisper, “I did it just for you!”

From He Chose the Nails

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Life is Not Fair - UpWords- April 15

by Max Lucado

May I gently but firmly remind you of something you know but may have forgotten? Life is not fair. That’s not pessimism, it’s a fact. It’s not a complaint, it’s just the way things are.

I don’t like it. Neither do you. Ever since the kid down the block got a bike and we didn’t, we’ve been saying the same thing, “That’s not fair!”

At some point someone needs to say to us, “Who ever told you life was going to be fair?” God didn’t. In James 1:2, he didn’t say, “If you have many kinds of troubles,” he said, “When you have many kinds of troubles.” Troubles are part of the package.

Jesus said, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. My kingdom is from another place (John 18:36).”

When all of earth turns against you, all of heaven turns toward you. To keep your balance in this crooked world, think of home!

From And the Angels Were Silent

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They Saw Jesus - UpWords- April 14

by Max Lucado

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews. John 20:19



Picture the scene. Peter, John, James. They came back. Banking on some zany possibility that the well of forgiveness still had a few drops, they came back. Daring to dream that the master had left them some word, some plan, some direction, they came back.

But little did they know their wildest dream wasn’t wild enough. Just as someone mumbles, “It’s no use,” they hear a noise. They hear a voice.

“Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

Every head lifted. Every eye turned. Every mouth dropped open. Someone looked at the door.

It was still locked.

It was a moment the apostles would never forget, a story they would never cease to tell. The stone of the tomb was not enough to keep him in. The walls of the room were not enough to keep him out.

The one betrayed sought his betrayers. What did he say to them? Not “What a bunch of flops!” Not “I told you so.” No “Where-were-you-when-I-needed-you?” speeches.

But simply one phrase, “Peace be with you.” The very thing they didn’t have was the very thing he offered: peace.

It was too good to be true! So amazing was the appearance that some were saying, “Pinch me, I’m dreaming” even at the ascension. No wonder they returned to Jerusalem with great joy! No wonder they were always in the temple praising God!

A transformed group stood beside a transformed Peter as he announced some weeks later:

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:56)

No timidity in his words. No reluctance. About three thousand people believed his message.

The apostles sparked a movement. The people became followers of the death-conqueror. They couldn’t hear enough or say enough about him. People began to call them “Christ-ians.” Christ was their model, their message. They preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” not for the lack of another topic, but because they couldn’t exhaust this one.

What unlocked the doors of the apostles’ hearts?

Simple. They saw Jesus. They encountered the Christ. Their sins collided with their Savior and their Savior won! What lit the boiler of the apostles was a red-hot conviction that the very one who should have sent them to hell, went to hell for them and came back to tell about it.

From Six Hours One Friday

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Triumph in Tragedy - UpWords - March 25

by Max Lucado

What do you say we have a chat about graveclothes? Sound like fun? Sound like a cheery topic? Hardly. Make a list of depressing subjects, and burial garments is somewhere between IRS audits and long-term dental care.

No one likes graveclothes. No one discusses graveclothes. Have you ever spiced up dinner-table chat with the question, “What are you planning to wear in your casket?”

Most folks don’t discuss graveclothes.

The apostle John, however, was an exception. Ask him, and he’ll tell you how he came to see burial garments as a symbol of triumph. He didn’t always see them that way.

A tangible reminder of the death of his best friend, Jesus, they used to seem like a symbol of tragedy. But on the first Easter Sunday, God took clothing of death and made it a symbol of life.

Could he do the same for you?

Could he take what today is a token of tragedy and turn it into a symbol of triumph?

We all face tragedy. What’s more, we’ve all received the symbols of tragedy. Yours might be a telegram from the war department, an ID bracelet from the hospital, a scar, or a court subpoena.

We don’t like these symbols, nor do we want these symbols. Like wrecked cars in a junkyard, they clutter up our hearts with memories of bad days.

But could God use such things for something good? How far can we go with verses like Romans 8:28 that says, “In everything God works for the good of those who love him”?

Does “everything” include tumors and tests and tempers and terminations?

John would answer yes.

John would tell you that God can turn any tragedy into a triumph, if only you will wait and watch.

Could I challenge you with a little exercise? Remove the word everything from Romans 8:28 and replace it with the symbol of your own tragedy. For the apostle John, the verse would read:

“In burial clothing God works for the good of those who love him.” How would Romans 8:28 read in your life?

In hospital stays God works for the good.

In divorce papers God works for the good.

In a prison term God works for the good.

If God can change John’s life through a tragedy, could it be he will use a tragedy to change yours?

From He Chose the Nails

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A Crazy Hunch and a High Hope - UpWords - March 23

by Max Lucado

We don’t know her name, but we know her situation. According to the 5th chapter of Mark, she “had been bleeding for twelve years. She suffered very much from many doctors and had spent all the money she had; but instead of improving she was getting worse.” She was physically exhausted and socially ostracized.

She extended her arm through the crowd thinking, If only I can touch him. When her dilemma met His dedication, a miracle occurred. With that small, courageous gesture, she experienced Jesus’ tender power.

God’s help is near and always available, but it is only given to those who seek it. Do something that demonstrates faith—radical, risk-taking faith. God will respond. He has never rejected a genuine gesture of faith. Never.

From He Still Moves Stones

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God in a Real World - UpWords - March 22

by Max Lucado

God calls us in a real world. He doesn’t communicate by performing tricks. He’s not a genie, a magician, a good luck charm, or the man upstairs. He is the Creator of the universe who is right here in the thick of our day-to-day world.

And God speaks in our world. We just have to learn to hear him. Listen for him amidst the ordinary. Do you need affirmation of his care? Let the daily sunrise proclaim his loyalty. Could you use an example of his power? Spend an evening reading how your body works. Are you wondering if his Word is reliable? Make a list of the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible and promises in your life.

Don’t they say only two things in life are certain: death and taxes? Knowing God, he may speak through something as common as the second to give you the answer for the first!

From And the Angels Were Silent

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Simplify Your Faith - UpWords - March 21

by Max Lucado

How do you simplify your faith? How do you get rid of the clutter? How do you discover a joy worth waking up to? Simple. Get rid of the middleman. There are some who suggest the only way to God is through them. There’s the great teacher who has the final word on Bible teaching. There’s the father who must bless your acts. There’s the spiritual master who’ll tell you what God wants you to do.

Jesus’ message for complicated religion is to remove these middlemen. He’s not saying you don’t need teachers, elders, or counselors. He is saying, however, that we are all brothers and sisters with equal access to the Father. Seek God for yourself. No elaborate channels of command or levels of access.

You have a Bible? You can study. You have a heart? You can pray. You have a mind? You can think!

From And the Angels Were Silent

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Succeed at Home First, UpWords, March 20

by Max Lucado

Quiet heroes dot the landscape of our society. They don’t make the headlines, but they do sew the hemlines and check the outlines and stand on the sidelines. You won’t find their names on the Nobel Prize short list, but you’ll find their names on the carpool, and Bible teacher lists.

They are parents! Heroes! Their kids call them mom. Dad. And these moms and dads, more valuable than all the executives and lawmakers, quietly hold the world together.

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

Children spell love with four letters: T-I-M-E. Not just quality time, but hang time, downtime, anytime, all the time! Cherish the children who share your name. Succeed at home first!

From Dad Time

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Jesus Takes Away the Sin - UpWords - March 18

by Max Lucado

Some people feel so saved they never serve. Some serve at the hope of being saved. Does one of these sentences describe you?

Do you feel so saved that you never serve? So content in what God has done that you do nothing? The fact is, we’re here to glorify God in our service.

Or is your tendency the opposite? Perhaps you always serve for fear of not being saved.

You’re worried there is a secret card that exists with your score written on it; and your score is not enough. Is that you? If so, know this: The blood of Jesus is enough to save you. John 1:29 announces that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

The blood of Christ doesn’t cover your sins, conceal your sins, postpone or diminish your sins. It takes away your sins, once and for all! So…since you are saved, you can serve!

From He Chose the Nails

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Why Did He Do It? - UpWords - March 16

by Max Lucado

Why did Jesus live on the earth as long as He did? To take on our sins is one thing; to experience death, yes, but to put up with long roads and long days? Why did He do it?

Because He wants you to trust Him. Even His final act on earth was intended to win your trust.

Mark 15:22.says, “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha where they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

And they crucified Him.” Why? Why did He endure all this suffering—all these feelings?

Because He knew you’d be weary, disturbed, and angry. He knew you’d be grief-stricken, and hungry, that you’d face pain.

A pauper knows better than to beg from another pauper. He knows he needs someone who’s stronger than he is. Jesus’ message from the Cross is this: I am that Person. Trust Me.

From He Chose the Nails

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God Wants Your List - UpWords - March 15

by Max Lucado

God not only wants the mistakes we have made—He wants the ones we are making. Are you drinking too much? Are you cheating at work or cheating at marriage? Mismanaging your life?

Don’t pretend nothing’s wrong. The first step after a stumble must be in the direction of the cross.

1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins to God, He can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.”

Start with your bad moments. And while you’re there, give God your “mad” moments. There’s a story about a man bitten by a dog. When he learned the dog had rabies, he began a list. The doctor said, “there’s no need to make a will—you’ll be fine.” “Oh I’m not making a will,” he said,

“I’m making a list of all the people I want to bite!” God wants your list! He wants you to leave it at the cross.

From He Chose the Nails

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3/13/20 5:41 A

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Eyewitnesses of His Majesty - UpWords - March 13

by Max Lucado

Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing Jesus.

Christian service, in its purest form, is nothing more than imitating Him who we see.

To see His Majesty and to imitate Him,that is the sum of Christianity.

FOR FIFTY-ONE YEARS BOB EDENS WAS BLIND. He couldn't see a thing. His world was a black hall of sounds and smells. He felt his way through five decades of darkness.
And then, he could see.

A skilled surgeon performed a complicated operation and, for the first time, Bob Edens had sight. He found it overwhelming. "I never would have dreamed that yellow is so yellow," he exclaimed. "I don't have the words. I am amazed by yellow. But red is my favorite color. I just can't believe red.

"I can see the shape of the moon and I like nothing better than seeing a jet plane flying across the sky leaving a vapor trail. And of course, sunrises and sunsets. And at night I look at the stars in the sky and the flashing light. You could never know how wonderful everything is."

He's right. Those of us who have lived a lifetime with vision can't know how wonderful it must be to be given sight.

But Bob Edens isn't the only one who has spent a lifetime near something without seeing it.

Few are the people who don't suffer from some form of blindness. Amazing, isn't it? We can live next to something for a lifetime, but unless we take time to focus on it, it doesn't become a part of our life. Unless we somehow have our blindness lifted, our world is but a black cave.

Think about it. Just because one has witnessed a thousand rainbows doesn't mean he's seen the grandeur of one. One can live near a garden and fail to focus on the splendor of the flower.

A man can spend a lifetime with a woman and never pause to look into her soul.
And a person can be all that goodness calls him to be and still never see the Author of life.

Being honest or moral or even religious doesn't necessarily mean we will see him. No. We may see what others see in him. Or we may hear what some say he said. But until we see him for ourselves, until our own sight is given, we may think we see him, having in reality seen only a hazy form in the gray semidarkness.

Have you seen him?

Have you caught a glimpse of His Majesty? A word is placed in a receptive crevice of your heart that causes you, ever so briefly, to see his face. You hear a verse read in a tone you'd never heard, or explained in a way you'd never thought and one more piece of the puzzle falls into place. Someone touches your painful spirit as only one sent from him could do and there he is.

Jesus.

The man. The bronzed Galilean who spoke with such thunderous authority and loved with such childlike humility.

The God. The one who claimed to be older than time and greater than death.
Gone is the pomp of religion; dissipated is the fog of theology. Momentarily lifted is the opaque curtain of controversy and opinion. Erased are our own blinding errors and egotism. And there he stands.

Jesus.

Have you seen him?

Those who first did were never the same.

"My Lord and my God!" cried Thomas.

"I have seen the Lord," exclaimed Mary Magdalene.

"We have seen his glory," declared John.

"Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked?" rejoiced the two Emmaus-bound disciples.

But Peter said it best. "We were eyewitnesses of his majesty."

His Majesty. The emperor of Judah. The soaring eagle of eternity. The noble admiral of the Kingdom. All the splendor of heaven revealed in a human body.

For a period ever so brief, the doors to the throne room were open and God came near. His Majesty was seen. Heaven touched the earth and, as a result, earth can know heaven. In astounding tandem a human body housed divinity. Holiness and earthliness intertwined.

Has it been a while since you have seen him? If your prayers seem stale, it probably has. If your faith seems to be trembling, perhaps your vision of him has blurred. If you can't find power to face your problems, perhaps it is time to face him.

One warning. Something happens to a person who has witnessed His Majesty.

He becomes addicted. One glimpse of the King and you are consumed by a desire to see more of him and say more about him.

Pew-warming is no longer an option. Junk religion will no longer suffice. Sensation-seeking is needless. Once you have seen his face you will forever long to see it again.

My prayer for this book without apologies is that the Divine Surgeon will use it as a delicate surgical tool to restore sight. That blurriness will be focused and darkness dispersed. And, that we will whisper the secret of the universe, "We were eyewitnesses of his majesty."

From God Came Near: Deluxe Edition

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 3/13/2020 (14:03)
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Thought Prevention, Upwords, March 12, 2020

By Max Lucado

We are not a victim of our thoughts. We have a vote. We have a voice. We can exercise thought prevention!

“Don’t talk to me,” we say. “I’m in a bad mood.” As if a mood were a place to which we were assigned, rather than an emotion we permit. Or we say, “Don’t mess with her. She has a bad disposition.” Is a bad disposition something we have like a cold or the flu? Or do we have a choice? Paul says we do. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 he says, “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.”

Capture every thought—you get the impression we’re the soldiers and the thoughts are our enemies. The minute they appear we go into action. Selfishness, step back! Envy, get lost! Find another home, Anger…you aren’t allowed on this turf!

Capturing thoughts is serious business! But, you can do it!

From Max on Life

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Hidden Heroes - UpWords - March 10

By Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look! Look! Look!”

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

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

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

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

But we’d do well to keep our eyes open. Tomorrow’s Spurgeon might be mowing your lawn.

And the hero who inspires him might be nearer than you think.
He might be in your mirror.

From When God Whispers Your Name


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The Beginning of Joy - UpWords - March 7

by Max Lucado

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and I will give you rest.”

You’ve been there. You’re turned your back on the noise and sought his voice. You’ve stepped away from the masses and followed the Master as he led you up the winding path to the summit.

His summit. Clean air. Clear view. Crisp breeze. The roar of the marketplace is down there, and the perspective of the peak is up here. Gently he invited you to sit on the rock and look out with him at the ancient peaks that will never erode.

Just remember, he says, you’ll go nowhere tomorrow that I haven’t already been. Truth will still triumph. Death will still die. The victory is still yours. And delight is one decision away—seize it!

Joy begins by breathing deep up there before you go crazy down here!

From The Applause of Heaven

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No Child Ever Leaves God's Sight - UpWords - March 6

By Max Lucado

We taught our kids the Bible, but they have left God. What happened? We thought if we trained them in God’s Word, they would not depart from him. Isn’t that what the Bible says?

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6 NKJV)

Be careful with this verse. Don’t interpret it to mean “If I put my kids on the right path, they’ll never leave it. If I fill them full of Scripture and Bible lessons and sermons, they may rebel, but they’ll eventually return.”

The proverb makes no such promise. Salvation is a work of God. Godly parents can prepare the soil and sow the seed, but God gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:6).

Moms and dads soften hearts but can’t control them.

Show them the path? Yes.

Force them to take it? No.

At moments in my own life I stood at the crossroads of the path and even took a few steps down the wrong one. One thing always brought me back—that inner compass shown to me by my Christ-loving parents.

No child ever leaves God’s sight. A child may turn his back on God or try to hide from his sight. But leave God’s view? Impossible. God has his eye on every child of his.

The Holy Spirit will follow your child down every back road, every dark alley, every dead end and always remind him of the foundation of belief you showed him—the road back home.

My wife shares this verse with the parents of prodigals. It is a good one for you:

“The Lord says, ‘This is my agreement with these people:

My Spirit and my words that I give you will never leave you or your children or your grandchildren, now and forever’” (Is. 59:21 NCV).

From Max on Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions

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The Mark of a Disciple - UpWords - March 5

By Max Lucado

The mark of a disciple is his or her ability to hear the Master’s voice! The world rams at your door, but Jesus taps. Voices scream for your allegiance, but Jesus softly and tenderly requests it. Which voice do you hear? There is never a time during which Jesus is not speaking. Never.

There is never a place in which Jesus is not present. Ever. There is never a time when He is not tapping gently on the doors of our hearts—waiting to be invited in.

Few hear His voice. Fewer still open the door. But never interpret our numbness as His absence. For amidst the fleeting promises of pleasure is the timeless promise of His presence.

“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

There is no chorus so loud that the voice of God cannot be heard. . .if we will but listen!

From In the Eye of the Storm

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Relying On God's Power - UpWords - March 3

By Max Lucado

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Our Lord's prayer has given us a blueprint for the Great House of God. From the living room of our Father to the family room with our friends, we are learning why David longed to "live in the house of the LORD forever" (Ps. 23:6).

In God's house we have everything we need: a solid foundation, an abundant table, sturdy walls, and an impenetrable roof of grace.

And now, having seen every room and explored each corner, we have one final stop. Not to a new room, but to one we have visited earlier. We return to the chapel. We return to the room of worship.

The chapel, remember, is where we stand before God and confess, "Hallowed be thy name."

The chapel is the only room in the house of God we visit twice. It's not hard to see why. It does us twice as much good to think about God as it does to think about anyone or anything else.

God wants us to begin and end our prayers thinking of him. Jesus is urging us to look at the peak more than we look at the trail. The more we focus up there, the more inspired we are down here.

Some years ago a sociologist accompanied a group of mountain climbers on an expedition. Among other things, he observed a distinct correlation between cloud cover and contentment.

When there was no cloud cover and the peak was in view, the climbers were energetic and cooperative. When the gray clouds eclipsed the view of the mountaintop, though, the climbers were sullen and selfish.

The same thing happens to us. As long as our eyes are on his majesty there is a bounce in our step. But let our eyes focus on the dirt beneath us and we will grumble about every rock and crevice we have to cross.

For this reason Paul urged, "Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to the things going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective" (Col 3:1-2 MSG).

Paul challenges you to "be alert to the things going on around Christ." The Psalmist reminds you to do the same, only he uses a different phrase. "O magnify the LORD with me and let us exalt his name together" (Ps. 34:3).

Magnify. What a wonderful verb to describe what we do in the chapel. When you magnify an object, you enlarge it so that you can understand it. When we magnify God, we do the same.

We enlarge our awareness of him so we can understand him more. This is exactly what happens in the chapel of worship—we take our mind off ourselves and set it on God. The emphasis is on him. "Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever."

And this is exactly the purpose of this final phrase in the Lord's prayer. These words magnify the character of God.

I love the way this phrase is translated in The Message:

You're in charge!

You can do anything you want!

You're ablaze in beauty!

Yes! Yes! Yes!

From The Great House of God


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When We Love Them, We Love Him - UpWords - March 1, 2020

By Max Lucado

Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me. Matthew 25:40 (MSG)

There are many reasons to help people in need.

"Benevolence is good for the world."

"We all float on the same ocean. When the tide rises, it benefits everyone."

"To deliver someone from poverty is to unleash that person's potential as a researcher, educator, or doctor."

"As we reduce poverty and disease, we reduce war and atrocities. Healthy, happy people don't hurt each other."

Compassion has a dozen advocates.

But for the Christian, none is higher than this: when we love those in need, we are loving Jesus. It is a mystery beyond science, a truth beyond statistics. But it is a message that Jesus made crystal clear: when we love them, we love him.

This is the theme of his final sermon. The message he saved until last. He must want this point imprinted on our conscience. He depicted the final judgment scene. The last day, the great Day of Judgment.

On that day Jesus will issue an irresistible command. All will come. From sunken ships and forgotten cemeteries, they will come. From royal tombs and grassy battlefields, they will come.

From Abel, the first to die, to the person being buried at the moment Jesus calls, every human in history will be present.

All the angels will be present. The whole heavenly universe will witness the event. A staggering denouement. Jesus at some point will "separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats" (Matt. 25:32).

Shepherds do this. They walk among the flock and, one by one, with the use of a staff direct goats in one direction and sheep in the other. Graphic, this thought of the Good Shepherd stepping through the flock of humanity. You. Me. Our parents and kids. "Max, go this way." "Ronaldo, over there." "Maria, this side."

How can one envision this moment without the sudden appearance of this urgent question:

What determines his choice? How does Jesus separate the people?

Jesus gives the answer. Those on the right, the sheep, will be those who fed him when he was hungry, brought him water when he was thirsty, gave him lodging when he was lonely, clothing when he was naked, and comfort when he was sick or imprisoned. The sign of the saved is their concern for those in need. Compassion does not save them—or us. Salvation is the work of Christ. Compassion is the consequence of salvation.

The sheep will react with a sincere question: when? When did we feed, visit, clothe, or comfort you (vv. 34-39)?

Jesus will recount, one by one, all the acts of kindness. Every deed done to improve the lot of another person. Even the small ones. In fact, they all seem small. Giving water. Offering food.

Sharing clothing. The works of mercy are simple deeds. And yet, in these simple deeds we serve Jesus. Astounding this truth: we serve Christ by serving needy people.

Some of them live in your neighborhood; others live in jungles you can't find and have names you can't pronounce. Some of them play in cardboard slums or sell sex on a busy street. Some of them walk three hours for water or wait all day for a shot of penicillin. Some of them brought their woes on themselves, and others inherited the mess from their parents.

None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone. And when we help them, we serve Jesus. Who would want to miss a chance to do that?

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me." (Matthew 25:34-36 NLT)

O Lord, where did I see you yesterday... and didn't recognize you? Where will I encounter you today... and fail to identify you properly? O my Father, give me eyes to see, a heart to respond, and hands and feet to serve you wherever you encounter me! Transform me, Lord, by your Spirit into a servant of Christ, who delights to meet the needs of those around me.

Make me a billboard of your grace, a living advertisement for the riches of your compassion. I long to hear you say to me one day, "Well done, good and faithful servant." And I pray that today I would be that faithful servant who does well at doing good. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

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

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You Are Included - UpWords - February 29,2020

By Max Lucado

It’s nice to be included. You aren’t always. Universities exclude you if you aren’t smart enough. Businesses exclude you if you aren’t qualified enough, and sadly, some churches exclude you if you aren’t good enough.

But though they may exclude you, Christ includes you. When asked to describe the width of His love, He stretched one hand to the right and the other hand to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know He died loving you.

Surely there has to be a limit to this love. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But David, the adulterer, never found it. Paul, the murderer, never found it. Peter, the liar, never found it. When it came to life they hit bottom. But when it came to God’s love they never did.

How wide is God’s love? Wide enough for the whole world. And you are included!

From He Chose the Nails

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He Wants to Comfort You - UpWords - February 25, 2020

by Max Lucado

My child’s feelings are hurt. I tell her she’s special. My child is injured. I do whatever it takes to make her feel better.

My child is afraid. I won’t go to sleep until she is secure.
I’m not a hero. I’m not a superstar. I’m not unusual. I’m a parent. When a child hurts, a parent does what comes naturally. He helps.

And after I help, I don’t charge a fee. I don’t ask for a favor in return. When my child cries, I don’t tell her to buck up, act tough, and keep a stiff upper lip. Nor do I consult a list and ask her why she is still scraping the same elbow or waking me up again.

I’m not a prophet, nor the son of one, but something tells me that in the whole scheme of things the tender moments described above are infinitely more valuable than anything I do in front of a computer screen or congregation. Something tells me that the moments of comfort I give my child are a small price to pay for the joy of someday seeing my daughter do for her daughter what her dad did for her.

Moments of comfort from a parent. As a father, I can tell you they are the sweetest moments in my day. They come naturally. They come willingly. They come joyfully.

If all of that is true, if I know that one of the privileges of fatherhood is to comfort a child, then why am I so reluctant to let my heavenly Father comfort me?

Why do I think he wouldn’t want to hear about my problems? (“They are puny compared to people starving in India.”)

Why do I think he is too busy for me? (“He’s got a whole universe to worry about.”)

Why do I think he’s tired of hearing the same old stuff?

Why do I think he groans when he sees me coming?

Why do I think he consults his list when I ask for forgiveness and asks, “Don’t you think you’re going to the well a few too many times on this one?”

Why do I think I have to speak a holy language around him that I don’t speak with anyone else?

Why do I not take him seriously when he questions, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

Why don’t I let my Father do for me what I am more than willing to do for my own children?

I’m learning, though. Being a parent is better than a course on theology. Being a father is teaching me that when I am criticized, injured, or afraid, there is a Father who is ready to comfort me. There is a Father who will hold me until I’m better, help me until I can live with the hurt, and who won’t go to sleep when I’m afraid of waking up and seeing the dark.

Ever. And that’s enough.

From The Applause of Heaven

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Problems Have a Purpose - UpWords - February 24

By Max Lucado

Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.
Psalm 50:15 NLT

God will use whatever he wants to display his glory. Heavens and stars. History and nations.

People and problems. My dying dad in West Texas.

The last three years of his life were scarred by ALS. The disease took him from a healthy mechanic to a bedbound paralytic. He lost his voice and his muscles, but he never lost his faith. Visitors noticed. Not so much in what he said but more in what he didn’t say. Never outwardly angry or bitter, Jack Lucado suffered stately.

His faith led one man to seek a like faith. After the funeral this man sought me out and told me.

Because of my dad’s example, he became a Jesus follower.

Did God orchestrate my father’s illness for that very reason? Knowing the value he places on one soul, I wouldn’t be surprised. And imagining the splendor of heaven, I know my father’s not complaining.

A season of suffering is a small assignment when compared to the reward.

Rather than begrudge your problem, explore it. Ponder it. And most of all, use it. Use it to the glory of God. . . .

Your pain has a purpose. Your problems, struggles, heartaches, and hassles cooperate toward one end—the glory of God. —from It’s Not About Me

Heavenly Father, when problems and pain come my way, help me to remember that nothing comes into my life without your approval. Rather than complain and cry about the challenges I face, help me consider them as opportunities to bring glory to you. Give me the strength and patience to bear my burdens in a way that will honor you. I will lift my eyes off the trials and keep them fixed firmly on you, amen.

Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us. Daniel 3:17

Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass. Joshua 21:45

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

From Lived Loved: Experiencing God’s Presence in Every Day Life

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God's Loving Pursuit - UpWords - February 23

God's Loving Pursuit

by Max Lucado

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

Dare we envision a God who follows us? Who pursues us? Who chases us? Who tracks us down and wins us over? Who follows us with "goodness and mercy" all the days of our lives?
Isn't this the kind of God described in the Bible? A God who follows us?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Through the kindness of a stranger. The majesty of a sunset. The mystery of romance.

Through the question of a child or the commitment of a spouse. Through a word well spoken or a touch well timed, have you sensed his presence?

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

From "Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended
to Bear"

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Pasture of the Soul - Upwords - February 21

by Max Lucado

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

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

From Traveling Light

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A Hope-Filled Heart - UpWords - February 15

by Max Lucado

You and I live in a trashy world. Unwanted garbage comes our way on a regular basis. Haven’t you been handed a trash sack of mishaps and heartaches? Sure you have. May I ask, what are you going to do with it? You could hide it. Pretend it isn’t there. But sooner or later it will start to stink. So what will you do?

If you follow the example of Christ, you’ll learn to see tough times differently. God wants you to have a hope-filled heart. . .just like Jesus. Wouldn’t you want that? Jesus saw his Father’s presence in the problem. Sure, Max, but Jesus was God. I can’t see the way he saw. Not yet, maybe. But don’t underestimate God’s power. He can change the way you look at life.

From The Lucado Inspirational Reader

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Let's Major in God, UpWords, February 14

by Max Lucado

David just showed up this morning. He clocked out of sheep watching to deliver bread and cheese to his brothers on the battle-front. That’s where David hears Goliath defying God...

Read the words he spoke, not just in the battle, but in the Bible: “David asked the men standing near him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’” (1 Sam. 17:26 niv).

David shows up discussing God. The soldiers mentioned nothing about him, the brothers never spoke his name, but David takes one step onto the stage and raises the subject of the living God...

No one else discusses God. David discusses no one else but God...

David sees what others don’t and refuses to see what others do. All eyes, except David’s, fall on the brutal, hate-breathing hulk... The people know his taunts, demands, size, and strut.

They have majored in Goliath.

David majors in God. He sees the giant, mind you; he just sees God more so. Look carefully at

David’s battle cry: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Sam. 17:45).

— originally printed in Facing Your Giants

Lord God, train us to walk on your path. Teach us to see you in situations that are dangerous and difficult. Like David, when we are surrounded by overwhelming challenges may our thoughts and words turn first to you. Rather than discuss the problem, remind us to discuss you. May our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night be centered on you.

Rather than worry about the impossibilities, let us major in your mighty power. When we am tempted to look at the giants in our lives, we will choose to look at you, amen.

Let the God of my salvation be exalted!
Psalm 18:46

We walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7

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Find Your True Home- UpWords- February 12, 2020

by Max Lucado

The journey home is nice, but the journey is not the goal. I prepared part of this message on an airplane. As I looked around at fellow passengers, I saw content people. Thanks to books, pillows, and crossword puzzles, they passed the time quite nicely. But suppose this announcement were heard:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this flight is your final destination. We will never land. Your home is this plane, so enjoy the journey.”

Passengers would become mutineers. We’d take over the cockpit and seek a landing strip. We wouldn’t settle for such an idea. The journey is not the destination. The vessel is not the goal. Those who are content with nothing more than joy in the journey are settling for too little satisfaction. Our hearts tell us there is more to this life than this life. We, like E.T., lift bent fingers to the sky. We may not know where to point, but we know not to call this airplane our home.

In God’s narrative, life on earth is but the beginning: the first letter of the first sentence in the first chapter of the great story God is writing with your life.

Do you feel as if your best years have passed you by? Hogwash. You will do your best work in heaven.

Do you regret wasting seasons of life on foolish pursuits? So do I. But we can stop our laments. We have an eternity to make up for lost time. Are you puzzled by the challenges of your days? Then see yourself as an uncut jewel and God as a lapidary. He is polishing you for your place in his kingdom.

Your biggest moments lie ahead, on the other side of the grave.

So “seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1 NKJV). Scripture uses a starchy verb here. Zeteo (“seek”) is to “covet earnestly, strive after, to inquire, desire, even require.”

Seek heaven the way a sailor seeks the coast or a pilot seeks the landing strip or a missile seeks heat. Head for home the way a pigeon wings to the nest or the prodigal strode to his papa. “Think only about” it (3:2 NCV). “Keep your mind” on it (3:2 GWT). “Set your sights on the realities of heaven” (3:1 NLT). “Pursue the things over which Christ presides” (3:1 MSG). Obsess yourself with heaven!

From God’s Story, Your Story

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Do You Trust Him? - UpWords - February 10

by Max Lucado

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?

Scripture, from Old Testament to New, from prophets to poets to preachers, renders one unanimous chorus: God directs the affairs of humanity. No leaf falls without God's knowledge.

No dolphin gives birth without his permission. No wave crashes on the shore apart from his calculation. God has never been surprised. Not once.

I am the one who creates the light and makes the darkness. I am the one who sends good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. (Isa. 45:7)

Some find the thought impossible to accept. One dear woman did. After I shared these ideas in a public setting, she asked to speak with me. Husband at her side, she related the story of her horrible childhood. First abused, then abandoned by her father.

Unimaginable and undeserved hurts scar her early memories. Through tear-filled eyes she asked, "Do you mean to tell me God was watching the whole time?"

The question vibrated in the room. I shifted in my chair and answered, "Yes, he was. I don't know why he allowed your abuse, but I do know this. He loves you and hurts with you." She didn't like the answer. But dare we say anything else? Dare we suggest that God dozed off?

Abandoned his post? That heaven sees but can't act? That our Father is kind but not strong, or strong but doesn't care?

I wish she could have spoken to Joseph. His brothers abused him, selling him into slavery. Was God watching?

Yes. And our sovereign God used their rebellious hearts to save a nation from famine and the family of the Messiah from extinction.

As Joseph told them, "God turned into good what you meant for evil" (Gen. 50:20).

Best of all would have been a conversation with Jesus himself. He begged God for a different itinerary: a crossless death. From Gethsemane's garden Christ pleaded for a Plan B. Redemption with no nails.

" ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.' Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him" (Luke 22:42-43).

Did God hear the prayer of his Son? Enough to send an angel. Did God spare his Son from death? No.

The glory of God outranked the comfort of Christ. So Christ suffered, and God's grace was displayed and deployed.

Are you called to endure a Gethsemane season? Have you "been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Phil. 1:29 NASB)?

If so, then come thirsty and drink deeply from his lordship. He authors all itineraries. He knows what is best. No struggle will come your way apart from his purpose, presence, and permission.

What encouragement this brings! You are never the victim of nature or the prey of fate. Chance is eliminated. You are more than a weather vane whipped about by the winds of fortune.

Would God truly abandon you to the whims of drug-crazed thieves, greedy corporate raiders, or evil leaders? Perish the thought!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God.
(Isa. 43:2-3 NASB)

We live beneath the protective palm of a sovereign King who superintends every circumstance of our lives and delights in doing us good.
Nothing comes your way that has not first passed through the filter of his love.

Learn well the song of sovereignty: I know God knows what's best.Pray humbly the prayer of trust: "I trust your lordship. I belong to you. Nothing comes to me that hasn't passed through you."

A word of caution: the doctrine of sovereignty challenges us. Study it gradually. Don't share it capriciously. When someone you love faces adversity, don't insensitively declare, "God is in control." A cavalier tone can eclipse the right truth. Be careful.

And be encouraged. God's ways are always right. They may not make sense to us. They may be mysterious, inexplicable, difficult, and even painful. But they are right.

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" (Rom. 8:28).

From Come Thirsty


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Believe in Him - UpWords - February 9

by Max Lucado

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

The phrase “believes in him” doesn’t digest well in our day of self-sufficient spiritual food.

“Believe in yourself ” is the common menu selection of our day. Try harder. Work longer. Dig deeper. Self-reliance is our goal.

And tolerance is our virtue. “In him” smacks of exclusion. Don’t all paths lead to heaven?

Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and humanism?

Salvation comes in many forms, right? Christ walks upriver on this topic. Salvation is found, not in self or in them, but in him.

Some historians clump Christ with Moses, Muhammad, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders.

But Jesus refuses to share the page. He declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6 RSV). He could have scored more points in political correctness had he said, “I know the way,” or “I show the way.” Yet he speaks not of what he does but of who he is: I am the way.

Many recoil at such definitiveness. John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 sound primitive in this era of broadbands and broad minds. The world is shrinking, cultures are blending, borders are bending; this is the day of inclusion. All roads lead to heaven, right? But can they?

The sentence makes good talk-show fodder, but is it accurate? Can all approaches to God be correct? Every path does not lead to God.

Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation. He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort. Christ came, not for the strong, but for the weak; not for the righteous, but for the sinner. We enter his way upon confession of our need, not completion of our deeds. He offers a unique-to-him invitation in which he works and we trust, he dies and we live, he invites and we believe.

We believe in him. “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent” (John 6:29 NCV).

This union is publicly dramatized in baptism, for to be baptized, as Paul wrote, is to be baptized into Christ. (Gal. 3:27)

Believe in yourself? No. Believe in him.

Believe in them? No. Believe in him.

And those who do, those who believe “in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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The Gift of Hope - UpWords - February 7

by Max Lucado

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.

Thank 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 for you.”

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.

What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.

And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.
(2 Cor. 1:3–4 TLB)

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

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The Cure for Disappointment - UpWords - February 6

by Max Lucado

Don’t ask God to do what you want. Ask God to do what is right.

When God doesn’t do what we want, it’s not easy. Never has been. Never will be. But faith is the conviction that God knows more than we do about this life and he will get us through it.

Disappointment is cured by revamped expectations.

I like that story about the fellow who went to the pet store in search of a singing parakeet. Seems he was a bachelor and his house was too quiet. The store owner had just the bird for him, so the man bought it. The next day the bachelor came home from work to a house full of music. He went to the cage to feed the bird and noticed for the first time that the parakeet had only one leg.

He felt cheated that he’d been sold a one-legged bird, so he called and complained.

“What do you want,” the store owner responded, “a bird who can sing or a bird who can dance?”

Good question for times of disappointment.

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

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God Listens - UpWords - February 2

by Max Lucado

You can talk to God because God listens. Your voice matters in heaven. He takes you very seriously. When you enter his presence, the attendants turn to you to hear your voice. No need to fear that you will be ignored. Even if you stammer or stumble, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God—and he listens.

He listens to the painful plea of the elderly in the rest home. He listens to the gruff confession of the death-row inmate. When the alcoholic begs for mercy, when the spouse seeks guidance, when the businessman steps off the street into the chapel, God listens.

Intently. Carefully.

The prayers are honored as precious jewels. Purified and empowered, the words rise in a delightful fragrance to our Lord. “The smoke from the incense went up from the angel’s hand to God.” Incredible. Your words do not stop until they reach the very throne of God.

Then, the angel “filled the incense pan with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth” (Rev. 8:5). One call and Heaven’s fleet appears. Your prayer on earth activates God’s power in heaven, and “God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.”

You are the someone of God’s kingdom. You have access to God’s furnace. Your prayers move God to change the world. You may not understand the mystery of prayer. You don’t need to.

But this much is clear: Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. What an amazing thought!

When you speak, Jesus hears.

And when Jesus hears, thunder falls.

And when thunder falls, the world is changed.

All because someone prayed.

From Lucado Inspirational Reader

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Overtime - UpWords - February 1

by Max Lucado

My job requires lots of overtime, so I can’t attend many of my kids’ school activities. My wife worries about this a lot. Could this have a negative effect on our kids? Or on my relationship with them?

As a father of three girls, I struggled with the same issues. As God blessed my ministry, more and more calls came in from all over the world, wanting me to speak at churches, conferences, and grand openings of supermarkets. It was hard to say no at first. I felt every opportunity was from God.

Finally I realized that every time I said yes to something, I had to say no to something else. It’s called Max’s Yes Law of Inverse Dynamics. Look it up! It says this: with every yes in your schedule, there is an equal and opposite no reaction. When I said yes to another speaking engagement, I said no to another family dinner. When I said yes to another meeting, I said no to my girls’ volleyball game. When I said yes to another book tour, I said no to taking a walk with my wife.

So how do we show people that we love and believe in them? There are many ways to express those feelings—verbal affirmations, love letters, phone calls, even a quick text message saying, “I’m thinking of you.” They’re all good, but there’s one that’s the best.

I talked about it in my book A Love Worth Giving:

Do you believe in your kids? Then show up. Show up at their games. Show up at their plays. Show up at their recitals. It may not be possible to make each one, but it’s sure worth the effort

. . . You want to bring out the best in someone? Then show up.

Now that my girls are all grown up, believe me, I’m glad I made that decision to show up before it was too late. Now (cue “Cat’s in the Cradle” in the background) I miss those Meet the Teacher Nights and seeing their papier-mâché volcano at the science fair and sitting in the stands at the big volleyball meet, even if they were on the bench the whole time.

When it comes to kids and family, it is a lot easier to make money than to make up lost time.

MAX ON LIFE: Answers and Insights to your Most Important Questions

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Peace for Anxious Days - UpWords - January 30

by Max Lucado

When my daughters were single-digit ages—two, five, and seven—I wowed them with a miracle. I told them the story of Moses and the manna and invited them to follow me on a wilderness trek through the house.

“Who knows,” I suggested, “manna may fall from the sky again.”

We dressed in sheets and sandals and did our best Bedouin hike through the bedrooms. The girls, on my instruction, complained to me, Moses, of hunger and demanded I take them back to Egypt, or at least to the kitchen. When we entered the den, I urged them to play up their parts: groan, moan, and beg for food.

“Look up,” I urged. “Manna might fall any minute.”

Two-year-old Sara obliged with no questions, but Jenna and Andrea had their doubts. How can manna fall from a ceiling?

Just like the Hebrews. “How can God feed us in the wilderness?”

Just like you? You look at tomorrow’s demands, next week’s bills, next month’s silent calendar. Your future looks as barren as the Sinai Desert. “How can I face my future?” God tells you what I told my daughters: “Look up.”

When my daughters did, manna fell! Well, not manna, but vanilla wafers dropped from the ceiling and landed on the carpet. Sara squealed with delight and started munching. Jenna and Andrea were old enough to request an explanation.

My answer was simple. I knew the itinerary. I knew we would enter this room. Vanilla wafers fit safely on the topside of the ceiling-fan blades. I had placed them there in advance. When they groaned and moaned, I turned on the switch.

God’s answer to the Hebrews was similar. Did he know their itinerary? Did he know they would grow hungry? Yes and yes. And at the right time, he tilted the manna basket toward earth.

And what about you? God know what you need and where you’ll be. Any chance he has some vanilla wafers on tomorrow’s ceiling fans? Trust him. “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matthew 6:33-34).

From Every Day Deserves a Chance

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1/27/20 6:04 P

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Healing Prayer - UpWords - January 27

by Max Lucado

In my med-school class we discussed the place of prayer in the hospital. As you can imagine, we heard strong opinions on both sides. What are your thoughts? What is the purpose of healing prayer?

We tend toward one of two extremes on this subject: fanaticism or cynicism. Fanatics see the healing of the body as the aim of God and the measure of faith. Cynics consider any connection between prayer and healing as coincidental at best and misleading at worst. A fanatic might seek prayer at the exclusion of medicine; a cynic might seek medicine at the exclusion of prayer.

A healthy balance can be found. The physician is the friend of God. Prayer is the friend of the physician.

The example of Jesus is important.

Great crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, those who could not speak, and many others. They put them at Jesus’ feet, and he healed them. The crowd was amazed when they saw that people who could not speak before were now able to speak. The crippled were made strong. The lame could walk, and the blind could see. And they praised the God of Israel for this. (Matt. 15:30–31 NCV)

What did the people do with the sick? They put them at Jesus’ feet. This is the purpose of praying for the ill. We place the sick at the feet of the Physician and request his touch. This passage also gives us the result of healing prayer. “They praised the God of Israel for this.” The ultimate aim of healing is not just a healthy body but a greater kingdom.

If God’s aim is to grant perfect health to all his children, he has failed, because no one enjoys perfect health, and everyone dies. But if God’s aim is to expand the boundaries of his kingdom, then he has succeeded. For every time he heals, a thousand sermons are preached.

Speaking of sermons, did you notice what is missing from this text? Preaching. Jesus stayed with these four thousand people for three days and, as far as we know, never preached a sermon. Not one time did he say, “May I have your attention?” But thousands of times he asked, “May I help you?” What compassion he had for them. Can you imagine the line of people? On crutches, wearing blindfolds, carried by friends, cradled by parents.

For seventy-two hours Jesus stared into face after hurting face, and then he said, “I feel sorry for these people” (v. 32 NCV). The inexhaustible compassion of Jesus. Mark it down. Pain on earth causes pain in heaven. And he will stand and receive the ill as long as the ill come in faith to him.

And he will do what is right every time. “God will always give what is right to his people who cry to him night and day, and he will not be slow to answer them” (Luke 18:7 NCV).

Healing prayer begs God to do what is right. My friend Dennis, a chaplain, offers this prayer over patients: “God, would you put on the surgical gloves first?”

I like that.

MAX ON LIFE: Answers and Insights to your Most Important Questions

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1/25/20 4:39 A

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What if Things Only Get Worse? - UpWords - January 25

by Max Lucado

Christ tells us that they will. He predicts spiritual bailouts, ecological turmoil, and worldwide persecution. Yet in the midst of it all, he contends bravery is still an option. (Matthew 24:4-14)

Things are going to get bad, really bad, before they get better. And when conditions worsen,
"See to it that you are not alarmed" (Matt. 24:6 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."

"See to it…" Bosses and teachers are known to use that phrase. "See to it that you fill out the reports." Or "Your essay is due tomorrow. See to it that you finish your work." The words call for additional attention, special focus, extra resolve.

Isn't this what Christ is asking of us? In this dangerous day, on this Faberge'-fragile globe, with financial collapse on the news and terrorists on the loose, we have every reason to retreat into bunkers of dread and woe.

But Christ says to us, "See to it that you are not alarmed." (NIV)

"Keep your head and don't panic" (MSG).

"See that you are not troubled" (NKJV).

And remember: "All these [challenging times] are the beginning of birth pains" (Matt. 24:8 NIV), and birth pangs aren't all bad. (Easy for me to say.) Birth pains signal the onset of the final push. The pediatrician assures the mom-to-be, "It's going to hurt for a time, but it's going to get better."

Jesus assures us of the same. Global conflicts indicate our date on the maternity calendar. We are in the final hours, just a few pushes from delivery, a few brief ticks of eternity's clock from the great crowning of creation. A whole new world is coming!

From Fearless

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1/21/20 6:59 A

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Jesus Heals a Blind Man - UpWords - January 21

by Max Lucado

“As [Jesus] passed by, He saw a man blind from birth”
(John 9:1).

This man has never seen a sunrise. Can’t tell purple from pink. The disciples fault the family tree. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (v. 2).

Neither, the God-man replies. Trace this condition back to heaven. The reason the man was born sightless? So “the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3).

Talk about a thankless role. Selected to suffer. Some sing to God’s glory. Others teach to God’s glory. Who wants to be blind for God’s glory? Which is tougher—the condition or discovering it was God’s idea?

The cure proves to be as surprising as the cause. “[Jesus] spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes” (v. 6).

The world abounds with paintings of the God-man: in the arms of Mary, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the Upper Room, in the darkened tomb. Jesus touching. Jesus weeping, laughing, teaching … but I’ve never seen a painting of Jesus spitting.

Christ smacking his lips a time or two, gathering a mouth of saliva, working up a blob of drool, and letting it go. Down in the dirt. (Kids, next time your mother tells you not to spit, show her this passage.) Then he squats, stirs up a puddle of … I don’t know, what would you call it?

Holy putty? Spit therapy? Saliva solution? Whatever the name, he places a fingerful in his palm, and then, as calmly as a painter spackles a hole in the wall, Jesus streaks mud-miracle on the blind man’s eyes. “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (v. 7).

The beggar feels his way to the pool, splashes water on his mud-streaked face, and rubs away the clay. The result is the first chapter of Genesis, just for him. Light where there was darkness.

Virgin eyes focus, fuzzy figures become human beings, and John receives the Understatement of the Bible Award when he writes: “He … came back seeing” (v. 7).

Come on, John! Running short of verbs? How about “he raced back seeing”? “He danced back seeing”? “He roared back whooping and hollering.”

From His Name is Jesus

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1/20/20 5:25 A

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Who Is God? - UpWords - January 20

by Max Lucado

So who is God? Can I trust Him to take care of me? How much time do you have?

The weather changes—but God is UN-changing! Fashion changes. Even change changes. But Hebrews 6:17 says God is always the same—yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So can we trust God? Is He powerful enough? You and I are limited—I think that goes without saying! One sneeze in my direction, and I’m contaminated, sick with a cold and out for a week.

No one can soil or stain God. No sin contaminates Him.

We’re limited by brain capacity, time, relationship overload, and responsibilities—you can only be at one soccer game at a time after all! And patience! But God? He has no limit to his time, power, knowledge and love.

Check it out for yourself in Psalms 147:4-5
He counts the stars
and names each one.

Our Lord is great and very powerful.
There is no limit to what he knows.
So—can God take care of you? I’ll let you answer that!

From Max on Life

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1/18/20 6:57 A

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Loved with a Steadfast Love - UpWords - January 18

by Max Lucado

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22–23 RSV

Jeremiah was depressed, as gloomy as a giraffe with a neck ache. Jerusalem was under siege, his nation under duress. His world collapsed like a sand castle in a typhoon. He faulted God for his horrible emotional distress. He also blamed God for his physical ailments. “He [God] has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones” (Lam. 3:4 RSV).
His body ached. His heart was sick. His faith was puny. . . .

He realized how fast he was sinking, so he shifted his gaze. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’ ” (vv. 21–24 RSV).

“But this I call to mind...” Depressed, Jeremiah altered his thoughts, shifted his attention. He turned his eyes away from his stormy world and looked into the wonder of God. He quickly recited a quintet of promises. (I can envision him tapping these out on the five fingers of his hand.)

1. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
2. His mercies never come to an end.
3. They are new every morning.
4. Great is thy faithfulness.
5. The Lord is my portion.

The storm didn’t cease, but his discouragement did.
—Fearless

Thank you precious Savior, that your love is steadfast. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning. Thank you for your great faithfulness, not only to me but to all your people from the first day of creation. When I am tempted to become depressed and distressed, may I choose to gaze on you. May I remember that you are my portion. May I hope in your unceasing love, amen.

Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord (You are great, and Your name is great in might).
Jeremiah 10:6

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:9

He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end.
Daniel 6:26

From Lived Loved: Experiencing God’s Presence in Every Day Life

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1/16/20 2:42 P

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No One Compares to Him - UpWords - January 16

by Max Lucado

Psalm 89:6 asks the question: “Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord?”

And the answer is, any pursuit of God’s counterpart is vain. No one and nothing compares to him. No one advises him. No one helps him. You and I may have power. But God IS power.

Unlike the potter who takes something and reshapes it, God took nothing and created something. God created everything that exists by divine fiat. John said in Revelation, “You, God created all things, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created. Revelation 4:11″

Even God asks, “To whom will you compare me?” As if his question needed an answer, he gives one: “I am God–I alone. I am God. There is no one else like me! Isaiah 46:4-9″

We’re blessed to be his children. We can only stand humbly before him and praise his glorious name!

From Live Loved

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1/14/20 1:07 P

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Make Friends with Whatever's Next - UpWords - January 14

by Max Lucado

Embrace it. Accept it. Don't resist it. Change is not only a part of life; change is a necessary part of God's strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments. Gideon: from farmer to general; Mary: from peasant girl to the mother of Christ; Paul: from local rabbi to world evangelist.

God transitioned Joseph from a baby brother to an Egyptian prince. He changed David from a a shepherd to a king. Peter wanted to fish the Sea of Galilee. God called him to lead the first church. God makes reassignments.

But, someone might ask, what about the tragic changes God permits? Some seasons make no sense…do such moments serve a purpose?

They do if we see them from an eternal perspective. What makes no sense in this life will make perfect sense in the next. I have proof: you in the womb.

I know you don't remember this prenatal season, so let me remind you what happened during it. Every gestation day equipped you for your earthly life. Your bones solidified, your eyes developed, the umbilical cord transported nutrients into your growing frame…for what reason?

So you might remain enwombed? Quite the contrary. Womb time equipped you for earth time, suited you up for your postpartum existence.

Some prenatal features went unused before birth. You grew a nose but didn't breathe. Eyes developed, but could you see? Your tongue, toenails, and crop of hair served no function in your mother's belly. But aren't you glad you have them now?

Certain chapters in this life seem so unnecessary, like nostrils on the preborn. Suffering. Loneliness. Disease. Holocausts. Martyrdom. Monsoons. If we assume this world exists just for pregrave happiness, these atrocities disqualify it from doing so.

But what if this earth is the womb? Might these challenges, severe as they may be, serve to prepare us, equip us for the world to come? As Paul wrote, "These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing" (2 Corinthians 4:17 CEV).

From Fearless

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1/7/20 4:44 A

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Set Your Compass in the Right Direction - UpWords - January 7

by Max Lucado

The problem is not that God hasn’t spoken but that we haven’t listened.

Imagine your reaction if I were to take a telephone book, open it up, and proclaim, I have found a list of everyone who’s on welfare!Or what if I said, Here is a list of college graduates! Or, This book will tell us who has a red car. You’d probably say, “Now wait a minute—that’s not the purpose of that book. You’re holding a telephone book. Its purpose is simply to reveal the name and number of residents of a city during a certain time frame.”

Only by understanding its purpose can I accurately use the telephone book. Only by understanding its purpose can I accurately use the Bible…

The purpose of the Bible is simply to proclaim God’s plan to save his children. It asserts that man is lost and needs to be saved. And it communicates the message that Jesus is the God in the flesh sent to save his children.

Though the Bible was written over sixteen centuries by at least forty authors, it has one central theme—salvation through faith in Christ. Begun by Moses in the lonely desert of Arabia and finished by John on the lonely Isle of Patmos, it is held together by a strong thread: God’s passion and God’s plan to save his children.

What a vital truth! Understanding the purpose of the Bible is like setting the compass in the right direction. Calibrate it correctly and you’ll journey safely. But fail to set it, and who knows where you’ll end up.

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

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1/6/20 6:30 A

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The Choice - UpWords - January 6

by Max Lucado

IT'S QUIET. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.

In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day's demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose.

I choose love . . .

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love

God and what God loves.

I choose joy . . .

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical . . . the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I choose peace . . .

I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose patience . . .


I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose kindness . . .

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose goodness . . .

I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose faithfulness . . .

Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.

I choose gentleness ..

Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I choose self-control . . .

I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

From When God Whispers Your Name

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1/5/20 5:37 A

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Treat Me As I Treat My Neighbor” - UpWords - January 5

by Max Lucado

Are you aware that this is what you are saying to your Father? Give me what I give them. Grant me the same peace I grant others. Let me enjoy the same tolerance I offer. God will treat you the way you treat others.

In any given Christian community there are two groups: those who are contagious in their joy and those who are cranky in their faith. They’ve accepted Christ and are seeking him, but their balloon has no helium. One is grateful, the other is grumpy. Both are saved. Both are heaven bound. But one sees the rainbow and the other sees the rain.

Could this principle explain the difference? Could it be that they are experiencing the same joy they have given their offenders? One says, “I forgive you,” and feels forgiven. The other says, “I’m ticked off,” and lives ticked off at the world.

It’s as if God sends you to the market to purchase your neighbor’s groceries saying, “Whatever you get your neighbor, get also for yourself. For whatever you give him is what you receive.”

Let’s take this a step further. Suppose your neighbor’s trash blows into your yard. You mention the mess to him, and he says he’ll get to it sometime next week. You inform him that you’ve got company coming and couldn’t he get out of that chair and do some work?

He tells you not to be so picky, that the garbage fertilizes your garden. You’re just about to walk across the lawn to have a talk when God reminds you, “Time to go to the market and buy your neighbor’s groceries.” So you grumble and mumble your way to the store, and then it hits you, “I’ll get even with the old bum.” You go straight to the skim milk.

Then you make a beeline to the anchovies and sardines. You march right past the double-chocolate ice cream and head toward the okra and rice. You make a final stop in the day-old bread section and pick up a crusty loaf with green spots on the edge.

Chuckling, you drive back to the house and drop the sack in the lap of your lazy, good-for-nothing neighbor. “Have a good dinner.” And you walk away.

All your brilliant scheming left you hungry, so you go to your refrigerator to fix a sandwich, but guess what you find. Your pantry is full of what you gave your enemy. All you have to eat is exactly what you just bought. We get what we give.

Some of you have been eating sardines for a long time. Your diet ain’t gonna change until you change. You look around at other Christians. They aren’t as sour as you are. They’re enjoying the delicacies of God, and you’re stuck with okra and anchovies on moldy bread. You’ve always wondered why they look so happy and you feel so cranky. Maybe now you know. Could it be God is giving you exactly what you’re giving someone else?

From The Great House of God

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When God Whispers Your Name - UpWords - January 4

by Max Lucado

The sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
—John 10:3

WHEN I SEE a flock of sheep I see exactly that, a flock. A rabble of wool. A herd of hooves. I don't see a sheep. I see sheep. All alike. None different. That's what I see.

But not so with the shepherd. To him every sheep is different. Every face is special. Every face has a story. And every sheep has a name.The one with the sad eyes, that's Droopy. And the fellow with one ear up and the other down, I call him Oscar. And the small one with the black patch on his leg, he's an orphan with no brothers. I call him Joseph.

The shepherd knows his sheep. He calls them by name.

When we see a crowd, we see exactly that, a crowd. Filling a stadium or flooding a mall. When we see a crowd, we see people, not persons, but people. A herd of humans. A flock of faces.

That's what we see.

But not so with the Shepherd. To him every face is different. Every face is a story. Every face is a child. Every child has a name. The one with the sad eyes, that's Sally. The old fellow with one eyebrow up and the other down, Harry's his name. And the young one with the limp? He's an orphan with no brothers. I call him Joey.

The Shepherd knows his sheep. He knows each one by name. The Shepherd knows you. He knows your name. And he will never forget it. I have written your name on my hand (Isa. 49:16).

Quite a thought, isn't it? Your name on God's hand. Your name on God's lips. Maybe you've seen your name in some special places. On an award or diploma or walnut door. Or maybe you've heard your name from some important people—a coach, a celebrity, a teacher. But to think that your name is on God's hand and on God's lips . . . my, could it be?

Or perhaps you've never seen your name honored. And you can't remember when you heard it spoken with kindness. If so, it may be more difficult for you to believe that God knows your name.

But he does. Written on his hand. Spoken by his mouth. Whispered by his lips. Your name. And not only the name you now have, but the name he has in store for you. A new name he will give you . . .

When God Whispers Your Name is a book of hope. A book whose sole aim is to encourage.

I've harvested thoughts from a landscape of fields. And though their size and flavors are varied, their purpose is singular: to provide you, the reader, with a word of hope. I thought you could use it.

You've been on my mind as I've been writing. I've thought of you often. I honestly have. Over the years I've gotten to know some of you folks well. I've read your letters, shaken your hands, and watched your eyes. I think I know you.

You're busy. Time passes before your tasks are finished. And if you get a chance to read, it's a slim chance indeed.

You're anxious. Bad news outpaces the good. Problems outnumber solutions. And you are concerned. What future do your children have on this earth? What future do you have?

You're cautious. You don't trust as easily as you once did.

Politicians lied. The system failed. The minister compromised. Your spouse cheated. It's not easy to trust. It's not that you don't want to. It's just that you want to be careful.

There is one other thing. You've made some mistakes. I met one of you at a bookstore in Michigan. A businessman, you seldom came out of your office at all and never to meet an author. But then you did. You were regretting the many hours at work and the few hours at home and wanted to talk.

And the single mom in Chicago. One kid was tugging, the other crying, but juggling them both, you made your point. "I made mistakes," you explained, "but I really want to try again."

And there was that night in Fresno. The musician sang and I spoke and you came. You almost didn't. You almost stayed home. Just that day you'd found the note from your wife. She was leaving you. But you came anyway. Hoping I'd have something for the pain. Hoping I'd have an answer. Where is God at a time like this?

And so as I wrote, I thought about you. All of you. You aren't malicious. You aren't evil. You aren't hardhearted, (hardheaded occasionally, but not hardhearted). You really want to do what is right. But sometimes life turns south. Occasionally we need a reminder.

Not a sermon.

A reminder.

A reminder that God knows your name.

From When God Whispers Your Name

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When God Sighed - UpWords - January 3

by Max Lucado

Two days ago I read a word in the Bible that has since taken up residence in my heart.

To be honest, I didn't quite know what to do with it. It's only one word, and not a very big one at that. When I ran across the word, (which, by the way, is exactly what happened; I was running through the passage and this word came out of nowhere and bounced me like a speed bump) I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't have any hook to hang it on or category to file it under.

It was an enigmatic word in an enigmatic passage. But now, forty-eight hours later, I have found a place for it, a place all its own. My, what a word it is. Don't read it unless you don't mind changing your mind, because this little word might move your spiritual furniture around a bit.

Look at the passage with me.

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought a man to him who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him,"Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!"). At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. (Mark 7:31-35)

Quite a passage, isn't it?

Jesus is presented with a man who is deaf and has a speech impediment. Perhaps he stammered. Maybe he spoke with a lisp. Perhaps, because of his deafness, he never learned to articulate words properly.

Jesus, refusing to exploit the situation, took the man aside. He looked him in the face. Knowing it would be useless to talk, he explained what he was about to do through gestures. He spat and touched the man's tongue, telling him that whatever restricted his speech was about to be removed. He touched his ears. They, for the first time, were about to hear.

But before the man said a word or heard a sound, Jesus did something I never would have anticipated.

He sighed.

I might have expected a clap or a song or a prayer. Even a "Hallelujah!" or a brief lesson might have been appropriate. But the Son of God did none of these. Instead, he paused, looked into heaven, and sighed. From the depths of his being came a rush of emotion that said more than words.

Sigh. The word seemed out of place.

I'd never thought of God as one who sighs. I'd thought of God as one who commands. I'd thought of God as one who weeps. I'd thought of God as one who called forth the dead with a command or created the universe with a word … but a God who sighs?

Perhaps this phrase caught my eye because I do my share of sighing.

I sighed yesterday when I visited a lady whose invalid husband had deteriorated so much he didn't recognize me. He thought I was trying to sell him something.

I sighed when the dirty-faced, scantily dressed, six-year-old girl in the grocery store asked me for some change.

And I sighed today listening to a husband tell how his wife won't forgive him.
No doubt you've done your share of sighing.

If you have teenagers, you've probably sighed. If you've tried to resist temptation, you've probably sighed. If you've had your motives questioned or your best acts of love rejected, you have been forced to take a deep breath and let escape a painful sigh.

I realize there exists a sigh of relief, a sigh of expectancy, and even a sigh of joy. But that isn't the sigh described in Mark 7. The sigh described is a hybrid of frustration and sadness. It lies somewhere between a fit of anger and a burst of tears.

The apostle Paul spoke of this sighing. Twice he said that Christians will sigh as long as we are on earth and long for heaven. The creation sighs as if she were giving birth. Even the Spirit sighs as he interprets our prayers. (Romans 8:22-27)

All these sighs come from the same anxiety; a recognition of pain that was never intended, or of hope deferred.

Man was not created to be separated from his creator; hence he sighs, longing for home. The creation was never intended to be inhabited by evil; hence she sighs, yearning for the Garden.

And conversations with God were never intended to depend on a translator; hence the Spirit groans on our behalf, looking to a day when humans will see God face to face.

And when Jesus looked into the eyes of Satan's victim, the only appropriate thing to do was sigh. "It was never intended to be this way," the sigh said. "Your ears weren't made to be deaf, your tongue wasn't made to stumble." The imbalance of it all caused the Master to languish.

So, I found a place for the word. You might think it strange, but I placed it beside the word comfort, for in an indirect way, God's pain is our comfort.

And in the agony of Jesus lies our hope. Had he not sighed, had he not felt the burden for what was not intended, we would be in a pitiful condition. Had he simply chalked it all up to the inevitable or washed his hands of the whole stinking mess, what hope would we have?

But he didn't. That holy sigh assures us that God still groans for his people. He groans for the day when all sighs will cease, when what was intended to be will be.

From God Came Near: Chronicles of the Christ

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The Love Test - UpWords - January 2

by Max Lucado

Have you ever made decisions about your relationships based on your feelings instead of the facts? When it comes to love, feelings rule the day. Emotions guide the ship. Goose bumps call the shots. But should they? Can feelings be trusted? Can a relationship feel right but be wrong?

Feelings can fool you. Yesterday I spoke with a teenage girl who is puzzled by the lack of feelings she has for a guy. Before they started dating, she was wild about him. The minute he showed interest in her, however, she lost interest.

I'm thinking also of a young mom. Being a parent isn't as romantic as she anticipated. Diapers and midnight feedings aren't any fun, and she's feeling guilty because they aren't. Am I low on love? she wonders.

How do you answer such questions? Ever wish you had a way to assess the quality of your affection? A DNA test for love? Paul offers us one: "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6 NIV). In this verse lies a test for love.

Want to separate the fake from the factual, the counterfeit from the real thing? Want to know if what you feel is genuine love? Ask yourself this:

Do I encourage this person to do what is right? For true love "takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6 JB).
If you find yourself prompting evil in others, heed the alarm. This is not love. And if others prompt evil in you, be alert.

Here's an example. A classic one. A young couple are on a date. His affection goes beyond her comfort zone. She resists. But he tries to persuade her with the oldest line in the book: "But I love you. I just want to be near you. If you loved me …"

That siren you hear? It's the phony-love detector. This guy doesn't love her. He may love having sex with her. He may love her body. He may love boasting to his buddies about his conquest. But he doesn't love her. True love will never ask the "beloved" to do what he or she thinks is wrong.

Love doesn't tear down the convictions of others. Quite the contrary.
"Love builds up" (1 Cor. 8:1).

"Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light and will not cause anyone to stumble" (1 John 2:10).

"You are sinning against Christ when you sin against other Christians by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong" (1 Cor. 8:12 NLT).

Do you want to know if your love for someone is true? If your friendship is genuine? Ask yourself: Do I influence this person to do what is right?

From A Love Worth Giving

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Laws of the Lighthouse - UpWords - January 1

by Max Lucado

The first of the year is known for three things: black-eyed peas, bowl games, and lists. Some don’t eat black-eyed peas. Others hate football. But everybody likes lists.

The Bible certainly has its share of lists. Moses brought one down from the mountain.

There are lists of the gifts of the Spirit. Lists of good fruit and bad. Lists of salutations and greetings. Even the disciples’ boat got into the action as it listed in the stormy Sea of Galilee. (If you smiled at that, then I’ve got a list of puns you’d enjoy.)

But the greatest day of lists is still New Year’s Day. And the number one list is the list I call the Laws of the Lighthouse.

The Laws of the Lighthouse contain more than good ideas, personal preferences, and honest opinions. They are God-given, time-tested truths that define the way you should navigate your life. Observe them and enjoy secure passage. Ignore them and crash against the ragged rocks of reality.

Smart move. The wise captain shifts the direction of his craft according to the signal of the lighthouse. A wise person does the same.

Herewith, then, are the lights I look for and the signals I heed:

– Love God more than you fear hell.

– Once a week, let a child take you on a walk.

– Make major decisions in a cemetery.

– When no one is watching, live as if someone is.

– Succeed at home first.

– Don’t spend tomorrow’s money today.

– Pray twice as much as you fret.

– Listen twice as much as you speak.

– Only harbor a grudge when God does.

– Never outgrow your love of sunsets.

– Treat people like angels; you will meet some and help make some.

– ‘Tis wiser to err on the side of generosity than on the side of scrutiny.

– God has forgiven you; you’d be wise to do the same.

– When you can’t trace God’s hand, trust his heart.

– Toot your own horn and the notes will be flat.

– Don’t feel guilty for God’s goodness.

– The book of life is lived in chapters, so know your page number.

– Never let the important be the victim of the trivial.

– Live your liturgy.

To sum it all up:

Approach life like a voyage on a schooner. Enjoy the view. Explore the vessel. Make friends with the captain. Fish a little. And then get off when you get home.

From In the Eye of the Storm

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Hard Hearted - UpWords - December 30

by Max Lucado

Hardhearted people are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. (Eph. 4:17-19)

A hard heart ruins not only your life, but the lives of your family members. As an example, Jesus identified the hard heart as the wrecking ball of a marriage. When asked about divorce, Jesus said, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because our hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” (Matt. 19:8) When one or both people in a marriage stop trusting God to save it, they sign its death certificate. They reject the very one who can help them.

My executive assistant, Karen Hill, saw the result of such stubbornness in a pasture. A cow stuck her nose into a paint can and couldn’t shake it off. Can-nosed cows can’t breathe very well, and they can’t drink or eat at all. Both the cow and her calf were in danger. A serious bovine bind.

Karen’s family set out to help. But when the cow saw the rescuers coming, she set out for pasture. They pursued, but the cow escaped. They chased that cow for three days! Each time the posse drew near, the cow ran. Finally, using pickup trucks and ropes, they cornered and de-canned the cow.

Seen any can-nosed people lately? Malnourished souls? Dehydrated hearts? People who can’t take a deep breath? All because they stuck their noses where they shouldn’t, and when God came to help, they ran away.

When billions of us imitate the cow, chaos erupts. Nations of bull-headed people ducking God and bumping into each other. We scamper, starve, and struggle.

Can-nosed craziness. Isn’t this the world we see? This is the world God sees.

Yet, this is the world God loves. “For God so loved the world…” This hard-hearted, stiff-necked world. We stick our noses where we shouldn’t; still, he pursues us. We run from the very one who can help, but he doesn’t give up. He loves. He pursues. He persists. And, every so often, a heart starts to soften.

Let yours be one of them.

When my daughters were small, they liked to play with Play-Doh. They formed figures out of the soft clay. If they forgot to place the lid on the can, the substance hardened. When it did, they brought it to me. My hand were bigger. My fingers stronger. I could mold the stony stuff into putty.

Is your heart hard? Take it to your Father. You’re only a prayer away from tenderness. You live in a hard world, but you don’t have to live with a hard heart.

From 3:16, The Numbers of Hope

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The Brand New You - UpWords - December 28

by Max Lucado

What'all this talk about a new body? Do we change bodies? Is the new one different than this one? Will I recognize anyone? Will anyone recognize me?

"He will take these dying bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own" (Phil. 3:21 TLB).

Your body will be changed. You will not receive a different body; you will receive a renewed body. Just as God can make an oak out of a kernel or a tulip out of a bulb, he makes a "new" body out of the old one. A body without corruption. A body without weakness. A body without dishonor. A body identical to the body of Jesus.

Would you like a sneak preview of your new body? We have one by looking at the resurrected body of our Lord. After his resurrection, Jesus spent forty days in the presence of people. The resurrected Christ was not in a disembodied, purely spiritual state. On the contrary, he had a body—a touchable, visible body.

Jesus didn't come as a mist or a wind or a ghostly specter. He came in a body. A body that maintained a substantial connection with the body he originally had. A body that had flesh and bones.

Real enough to walk on the road to Emmaus, real enough to appear in the form of a gardener, real enough to eat breakfast with the disciples at Galilee. Jesus had a real body. (Luke 24:13-35; John 20:10-18; John 21:12-14.)

At the same time, this body was not a clone of his earthly body. Mark tells us that Jesus "appeared in another form" (Mark 16:12 RSV). While he was the same, he was different. So different that Mary Magdalene, his disciples on the sea, and his disciples on the path to Emmaus did not recognize him. Though he invited Thomas to touch his body, he passed through a closed door to be in Thomas's presence. (John 20:14; John 21:1-4; Luke 24:16; John 20:26)

So what do we know about the resurrected body of Jesus? It was unlike any the world had ever seen.

What do we know about our resurrected bodies? They will be unlike any we have ever imagined.

Will we look so different that we aren't instantly recognized? Perhaps. (We may need nametags.) Will we be walking through walls? Chances are we'll be doing much more.

Will we still bear the scars from the pain of life? The marks of war. The disfigurements of disease. The wounds of violence. Will these remain on our bodies? That is a very good question. Jesus, at least for forty days, kept his. Will we keep ours? On this issue, we have only opinions, but my opinion is that we won't. Peter tells us that "by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Pet. 2:24 NIV). In heaven's accounting, only one wound is worthy to be remembered. And that is the wound of Jesus. Our wounds will be no more.

God is going to renew your body and make it like his. What difference should this make in the way you live?

Your body, in some form, will last forever. Respect it.

You will live forever in this body. It will be different, mind you. What is now crooked will be straightened. What is now faulty will be fixed. Your body will be different, but you won't have a different body. You will have this one. Does that change the view you have of it? I hope so.

Your pain will NOT last forever. Believe it.

Are your joints arthritic? They won't be in heaven.

Is your heart weak? It will be strong in heaven.

Has cancer corrupted your system? There is no cancer in heaven.

Are your thoughts disjointed? Your memory failing? Your new body will have a new mind.

Does this body seem closer to death than ever before? It should. It is. And unless Christ comes first, your body will be buried. Like a seed is placed in the ground, so your body will be placed in a tomb. And for a season, your soul will be in heaven while your body is in the grave. But the seed buried in the earth will blossom in heaven. Your soul and body will reunite, and you will be like Jesus.

From When Christ Comes: The Beginning of the Very Best

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God's Higher Purpose - Upwords - December 27

By Max Lucado

No moment, event, or detail falls outside of God’s supervision. God is the one who “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45 NIV).

He isn’t making up this plan as he goes along. Daniel 5:21 says, “The most High God rules the kingdom of men, and sets over it whom he will.”

So, if God is in charge, why does he permit challenges to come our way? Wouldn’t an almighty

God prevent them? Not if they serve his higher purpose. The ultimate example is the death of Christ on the cross! Everyone thought the life of Jesus was over. Jesus was dead and buried, but God raised him from the dead. God took the crucifixion of Friday and turned it into the celebration of Sunday. Can he not do a reversal for you?

From Anxious for Nothing

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Unceasing Prayer - UpWords - December 26

by Max Lucado

Unceasing prayer may sound complicated, but it needn’t be that way. Do this. Think of prayer less as an activity for God and more as an awareness of God. Seek to live in uninterrupted awareness. As you stand in line to register your car, think, “Thank you, Lord, for being here.” In the grocery store as you shop, think, “Your presence, my King, I welcome.” As you wash the dishes, worship your Maker.

Brother Lawrence called himself the “lord of all pots and pans.” He wrote, “The time of busy-ness does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon knees at the blessed sacrament.”

So talk to God, always. Besides, it makes more sense to talk to God than mumble to yourself!

From Max on Life

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This is a wonderful message! Thank you for sharing!!


Plan:
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Eat my freggies (2 to 4 svgs per day)
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Waiting Forwardly: A Day to Anticipate - UpWords - December 25

By Max Lucado

"Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel's comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him"
(Luke 2:25 TKB, emphasis mine).

Let's take a look at Simeon, the man who knew how to wait for the arrival of Christ. The way he waited for the first coming is a model for how we should wait for the Second Coming.

"The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen him—God's anointed King" (v. 26 TLB).

You've got to wonder what a message like that would do to a person. What does it do to you if you know you will someday see God? We know what it did to Simeon.

He was "constantly expecting the Messiah" (v. 25 TLB).

He was "living in expectation of the salvation of Israel" (v. 25 PHILLIPS).
He "watched and waited for the restoration of Israel" (v. 25 NEB).
Simeon is a man on tiptoe, wide-eyed and watching for the one who will come to save Israel.

Studying each passing face. Staring into the eyes of strangers. He's looking for someone. He was waitingforwardly. Patiently vigilant. Calmly expectant. Eyes open. Arms extended. Searching the crowd for the right face, and hoping the face appears today.

Such was the lifestyle of Simeon, and such can be ours. Haven't we, like Simeon, been told of the coming Christ? Aren't we, like Simeon, heirs of a promise? Are we not prompted by the same Spirit? Are we not longing to see the same face?

First, we must wait. Paul says "we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently" (Rom. 8:25). Simeon is our model. He was not so consumed with the "not yet" that he ignored the "right now." Luke says Simeon was a "good man and godly" (2:25). Peter urges us to follow suit. Hope of the future is not a license for irresponsibility in the present. Let us wait forwardly, but let us wait.

But for most of us, waiting is not our problem. Or, maybe I should state, waiting is our problem.

We are so good at waiting that we don't wait forwardly. We forget to look. We are so patient that we become complacent. We are too content. We seldom search the skies. We rarely run to the temple. We seldom, if ever, allow the Holy Spirit to interrupt our plans and lead us to worship so that we might see Jesus.

It is to those of us who are strong in waiting and weak in watching that our Lord was speaking when he said, "No one knows when that day or time will be, not the angels in heaven, not even the Son. Only the Father knows. . . . So always be ready, because you don't know the day your Lord will come. . . . The Son of Man will come at a time you don't expect him" (Matt. 24:36, 42, 44).

Simeon reminds us to "wait forwardly." Patiently vigilant. But not so patient that we lose our vigilance. Nor so vigilant that we lose our patience.

In the end, the prayer of Simeon was answered. "Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God; ‘Now, Lord, you can let me, your servant, die in peace, as you said'" (Luke 2:28-29).

One look into the face of Jesus, and Simeon knew it was time to go home. And one look into the face of our Savior, and we will know the same.

From When Christ Comes: The Beginning of the Very Best

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We Didn't Design the Hour - UpWords - December 22

By Max Lucado

Hollywood would recast the Christmas story! Joseph’s collar is way too blue. Mary is green from inexperience. The couple’s star power doesn’t match the bill. Too obscure. Too simple.

The story warrants some headliners. And what about the shepherds? Do they sing? A good public relations firm would move the birth to a big city. The Son of God deserves a royal entry.

Less peasant, more pizzaz.

But we didn’t design the hour. God did. And God was content to enter the world in the presence of sleepy sheep and a wide-eyed carpenter. No spotlights, just candlelight. No crowns, just cows chewing cud. If God was willing to wrap himself in rags, then all questions about his love for you are off the table. When Christ was born, so was our hope. That’s why I love Christmas!

From Because of Bethlehem

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Resentment - UpWords - December 20

By Max Lucado

Resentment is a prison. When you’ve put someone in your jail cell of hatred, you are stuck guarding the door. If you’re out to settle a score, you are never going to rest. How can you? For one thing, your enemy may never pay up.

As much as you think you deserve an apology, your debtor may not agree. The racist may never repent. The chauvinist may never change. As justified as you are in your quest for vengeance, you may never get a penny’s worth of justice. And if you do, will it be enough?

You see, resentment is a prison. Jesus doesn’t question the reality of your wounds. He just doubts whether resentment is going to heal you. What are you going to do? Spend your life guarding the prison jail cell? Or entrust your wounds to Jesus?

From The Great House of God

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The Arrival - UpWords - December 19

By Max Lucado

God had entered the world as a baby.

Yet, were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold.

The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor.

A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor; perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.

Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions.

What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes he remembers the name the angel told him to use … Jesus. “We will call him Jesus.”

Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. “His kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:33)

He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.

Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.

She touches the face of the infant-God. How long was your journey!

This baby had overlooked the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen. And worshiping angels had been replaced with kind but bewildered shepherds.

Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.

Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking.
Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?

From God Came Near

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12/17/19 5:41 A

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Christ Does a Work in You - UpWords - December 17

by Max Lucado

Jesus not only did a work for us; he does a work in us! Colossians 1:27 tells us, “The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you.” He commands our hands and feet, requisitions our minds and tongues. As Romans 8:29 declares, “He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.”

We’ll never be sinless, but we will sin less. And when we do sin, we have assurance that the grace that saved us also preserves us. We may lose our tempers, our perspective, and our self-control. But we never lose our hope. Scripture promises, “He is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy"!

From Because of Bethlehem

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12/16/19 1:21 P

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A Heavenly Affirmation - UpWords - December 16

by Max Lucado

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?

We can’t control the way our family responds to us. When it comes to the behavior of others toward us, our hands are tied. We have to move beyond the naive expectation that if we do good, people will treat us right. The fact is they may and they may not—we cannot control how people respond to us.

I can’t assure you that your family will ever give you the blessing you seek, but I know God will. Let God give you what your family doesn’t. If your earthly father doesn’t affirm you, then let your heavenly Father take his place.

God has proven himself as a faithful father. Now it falls to us to be trusting children. Let God give you what your family doesn’t. Let him fill the void others have left. Rely upon him for your affirmation and encouragement. Look at Paul’s words: “You are God’s child, and God will give you the blessing he promised, because you are his child” (Gal. 4:7, emphasis added).

And] don’t lose heart. God still changes families.

From He Still Moves Stones

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12/13/19 2:49 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?

From God Came Near

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