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lent devotional booklet

lent devotional booklet

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12/29/2012

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Sections

  • Begin. Just Begin! by Max Lucado
  • Learning to Trust the Master by Max Lucado
  • He Can Do The Impossible by Max Lucado
  • Water for Your Soul by Max Lucado
  • When You Speak, God Hears by Max Lucado
  • Untangling Life's Knots by Max Lucado
  • I Will Speak to You in Your Language by Max Lucado
  • The Touch of God by Max Lucado
  • Guilt and Grace by Max Lucado
  • “Treat Me As I Treat My Neighbor.” by Max Lucado
  • Take Every Thought Captive by Max Lucado
  • They Don’t Know What They Are Doing by Max Lucado
  • Hard Hearted by Max Lucado
  • Practicing the Presence by Max Lucado
  • Second Chance by Max Lucado
  • He Wants to Comfort You by Max Lucado
  • Gratitude for Ungrateful Days by Max Lucado
  • Perfect Love by Max Lucado
  • “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.” by Max Lucado
  • Anvil Time by Max Lucado
  • The Blacksmith's Shop by Max Lucado
  • Changing Our Nature by Max Lucado
  • Is This All There Is? by Max Lucado
  • Laws of the Lighthouse by Max Lucado
  • Hand Delivered Bouquets by Max Lucado
  • On The Anvil by Max Lucado
  • Thump-Thud, Thump-Thud by Max Lucado
  • Honor God in Your Work by Max Lucado
  • See What Happens by Max Lucado
  • The Common Life by Max Lucado
  • The Desires of Your Heart by Max Lucado
  • Believe and Receive by Max Lucado
  • Heaven's "Whoever" Policy by Max Lucado
  • He's Been There by Max Lucado
  • Believe in Him by Max Lucado
  • Choosing the Uncommon Life by Max Lucado
  • Just a Moment by Max Lucado
  • Every Knee Shall Bow by Max Lucado
  • God Believes in You by Max Lucado
  • Serve One Another by Max Lucado

Lent

Begin. Just Begin! by Max Lucado
What difference will my work make? God’s answer: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zech. 4:10). Begin. Just Begin! What seems small to you might be huge to someone else. Just ask Bohn Fawkes. During World War II, he piloted a B-17. On one mission he sustained flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. Even though his gas tanks were hit, the plane did not explode, and Fawkes was able to land the plane. On the morning following the raid, Fawkes asked his crew chief for the German shell. He wanted to keep a souvenir of his incredible good fortune. The crew chief explained that not just one but eleven shells had been found in the gas tanks, none of which exploded. Technicians opened the missiles and found them void of explosive charge. They were clean and harmless and with one exception, empty. The exception contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it a message had been scrawled in the Czech language. Translated, the note read: “This is all we can do for you now.” A courageous assembly-line worker was disarming bombs and scribbled the note. He couldn’t end the war, but he could save one plane. He couldn’t do everything, but he could do something. So he did it. God does big things with small deeds.
From Cure for the Common Life Copyright 2005, Max Lucado

Learning to Trust the Master by Max Lucado
A man and his dog are in the same car. The dog howls bright-moon-in-themiddle-of-the-night caterwauling howls. The man pleads, promising a daily delivery of dog biscuit bouquets if only the hound will hush. After all, it’s only a car wash. Never occurred to him—ahem, to me—that the car wash would scare my dog. But it did. Placing myself in her paws, I can see why. A huge, noisy machine presses toward us, pounding our window with water, banging against the door with brushes. Duck! We’re under attack. “Don’t panic. The car wash was my idea.” “I’ve done this before.” “It’s for our own

good.” Ever tried to explain a car wash to a canine? Dog dictionaries are minus the words brush and detail job. My words fell on fallen flaps. Nothing helped. She just did what dogs do; she wailed. Actually, she did what we do. Don’t we howl? Not at car washes perhaps but at hospital stays and job transfers. Let the economy go south or the kids move north, and we have a wail of a time. And when our Master explains what’s happening, we react as if he’s speaking Yalunka. We don’t understand a word he says. Is your world wet and wild? God’s greatest blessings often come costumed as disasters. Any doubters need to do nothing more than ascend the hill of Calvary. Jerusalem’s collective opinion that Friday was this: Jesus is finished. Such is the view of the disciples, the opinion of the friends, and the outlook of the enemies. Label it the dog-in-the-passenger-seat view. The Master who sits behind the wheel thinks differently. God is not surprised. His plan is right on schedule. Even in—especially in—death, Christ is still the king, the king over his own crucifixion. Can’t he do the same for you? Can’t he turn your Friday into a Sunday? Some of you doubt it. How can God use cancer or death or divorce? Simple. He’s smarter than we are. He is to you what I was to four-year-old Amy. I met her at a bookstore. She asked me if I would sign her children’s book. When I asked her name, she watched as I began to write, “To Amy …” She stopped me right there. With wide eyes and open mouth, she asked, “How did you know how to spell my name?” She was awed. You aren’t. You know the difference between the knowledge of a child and an adult. Can you imagine the difference between the wisdom of a human and the wisdom of God? What is impossible to us is like spelling “Amy” to him. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). I keep taking Molly to the car wash. She’s howling less. I don’t think she understands the machinery. She’s just learning to trust her master. Maybe we’ll learn the same.
From Next Door Savior © (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) Max Lucado

He Can Do The Impossible by Max Lucado
The kingdom of heaven. Its citizens are drunk on wonder. Consider the case of Sarai. She is in her golden years, but God promises her a son. She gets excited. She visits the maternity shop and buys a few dresses. She plans her shower and remodels her tent … but no son. She eats a few birthday cakes and blows out a lot of candles … still no son. She goes through a decade of wall calendars … still no son. So Sarai decides to take matters into her own hands. (“Maybe God needs me to take care of this one.”) She convinces Abram that time is running out. (“Face it, Abe, you ain’t getting any younger, either.”) She commands her maid, Hagar, to go into Abram’s tent and see if he needs anything. (“And I mean ‘anything’!”) Hagar goes in a maid. She comes out a mom. And the problems begin. Hagar is haughty. Sarai is jealous. Abram is dizzy from the dilemma. And God calls the baby boy a “wild donkey”—an appropriate name for one born out of stubbornness and destined to kick his way into history. It isn’t the cozy family Sarai expected. And it isn’t a topic Abram and Sarai bring up very often at dinner. Finally, fourteen years later, when Abram is pushing a century of years and Sarai ninety … when Abram has stopped listening to Sarai’s advice, and Sarai has stopped giving it … when the wallpaper in the nursery is faded and the baby furniture is several seasons out of date … when the topic of the promised child brings sighs and tears and long looks into a silent sky … God pays them a visit and tells them they had better select a name for their new son. Abram and Sarai have the same response: laughter. They laugh partly because it is too good to happen and partly because it might. They laugh because they have given up hope, and hope born anew is always funny before it is real. They laugh at the lunacy of it all. They laugh because that is what you do when someone says he can do the impossible. They laugh a little at God, and a lot with God—for God is laughing, too. Then, with the smile still on his face, he gets busy doing what he does best— the unbelievable.

He changes a few things—beginning with their names. Abram, the father of one, will now be Abraham, the father of a multitude. Sarai, the barren one, will now be Sarah, the mother. But their names aren’t the only things God changes. He changes their minds. He changes their faith. He changes the number of their tax deductions. He changes the way they define the word impossible.
From The Applause of Heaven © (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999) Max Lucado

Water for Your Soul by Max Lucado
Where do you find water for the soul? Jesus gave an answer one October day in Jerusalem. People had packed the streets for the annual reenactment of the rockgiving-water miracle of Moses. Each morning a priest filled a golden pitcher with water from the Gihon spring and carried it down a people-lined path to the temple. He did this every day, once a day, for seven days. “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:37–38). He “stood and shouted” (NLT). The traditional rabbinic teaching posture was sitting and speaking. But Jesus stood up and shouted out. Forget a kind clearing of the throat. God was pounding his gavel on heaven’s bench. Christ demanded attention. He shouted because his time was short. The sand in the neck of his hourglass was down to measurable grains. In six months he’d be dragging a cross through these streets. And the people? The people thirsted. They needed water, not for their throats, but for their hearts. So Jesus invited: Are your insides starting to shrivel? Drink me. Internalize him. Ingest him. Welcome him into the inner workings of your life. Let Christ be the water of your soul. Toward this end, I give you this tool: a prayer for the thirsty heart. Carry it just as a cyclist carries a water bottle. The prayer outlines four essential fluids for soul hydration: God’s work, God’s energy, his lordship, and his love. You’ll find the prayer easy to remember. Just think of the word W-E-L-L. Lord, I come thirsty. I come to drink, to receive. I receive your work on the cross and in your resurrection. My sins are pardoned, and my death is defeated. I receive your energy. Empowered by your Holy Spirit, I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. I receive your lordship. I belong to you. Nothing comes to me that hasn’t passed through you. And I receive your love.

unfailing love. John the apostle would agree. Someone carried the request. His friend was sick. does not depend on the one who makes the prayer but on the one who hears the prayer. Each role was crucial. John writes: “So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus. When he told Jesus of the illness. Each person was helpful. the prayers of saints are a valued commodity. You don’t have to live with a dehydrated heart. He went to Jesus on behalf of a friend. And because someone went. but because of what he did. His name is not important. the energy of his Spirit. Receive Christ’s work on the cross. For the most part we don’t even know their names. Some brought food. And out of you will flow rivers of living water. demanding trips. long drives. 2004) Max Lucado When You Speak. Someone walked the trail. Many times a day I step to the underground spring of God and receive anew his work for my sin and death. emphasis mine). Drink deeply and often. God Hears by Max Lucado Those who pray keep alive the watch fires of faith. character-testing decisions. Don’t you need regular sips from God’s reservoir? I do. and Jesus could help. Others cared for the sick man in other ways. he said.” The power of the prayer. ‘Lord. He is important not because of who he was. others provided treatment. Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. Such is the case of someone who prayed on a day long ago. the one you love is sick’” (John 11:3. Jesus responded. “The one you love is sick. I’ve offered this prayer in countless situations: stressful meetings. in other words. so someone went. He wrote the story of Lazarus and was careful to show the sequence: The healing began when the request was made. the energy of his Spirit. . Drink with me from his bottomless well. his lordship. his unending. his lordship over your life. In the economy of heaven. From Come Thirsty © (Thomas Nelson Publishers.Nothing can separate me from your love. still others comforted the family. The phrase the friend of Lazarus used is worth noting. but no one was more vital than the one who went to Jesus. and someone needed to go to Jesus. dull days. and his love.

She’s been taking a nap.” you’d volunteered. You don’t need to. But this much is clear: Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. but Aunt Bertha is nowhere to be seen. lonely. This anonymous courier was heard by God. 2006) Max Lucado Untangling Life's Knots by Max Lucado It’s your best friend’s wedding. Carefully. When you enter his presence. Your prayer on earth activates God’s power in heaven. the attendants turn to you to hear your voice. He silences heaven so he won’t miss a word. No need to fear that you will be ignored.We can and must repeat the phrase in manifold ways. “The one you love is tired. sad.” The words of the prayer vary. You are the someone of God’s kingdom. Even if you stammer or stumble. You sneak over to the pay phone and dial her number. Jesus hears. Jesus stopped whatever he was doing and took note of the man’s words. You may not understand the mystery of prayer. Now the band is playing and the guests are milling. What an amazing thought! When you speak. even if what you have to say impresses no one. and asked your Aunt Bertha to bake the cake. Your words do not stop until they reach the very throne of God. the words rise in a delightful fragrance to our Lord. the world is changed. All because someone prayed. “The smoke from the incense went up from the angel’s hand to God” (Rev. it impresses God—and he listens. catered the meal. Incredible. From For These Tough Times: Reaching Toward Heaven for Hope and Healing © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. hungry. Your voice matters in heaven. The Savior hears the prayer. rented the hall. but the response never changes. fearful. Intently. Your prayers move God to change the world. You can talk to God because God listens. You hired the band. You planned the best party possible. He takes you very seriously. And when Jesus hears. The prayers are honored as precious jewels. Everything is here but the cake. 8:4). Purified and empowered. The Master heard the request. decorated the room. “I’ll take care of the reception. One call and heaven’s fleet appears. depressed. John’s message is critical. She thought the wedding was next .

A friend told me about a tense deacons’ meeting he attended. Jesus. The waves rocking our lives are not life threatening yet. Apparently there was more agitation than agreement. someone suggested. “Why don’t we pray about it?” to which another questioned. We leave something at the office. A poor response to a simple problem can light a fuse.” “When all the wine was gone Jesus’ mother said to him. What Mary faced was a social problem. Mary. “Has it come to that?” What causes us to think of prayer as the last option rather than the first? From A Gentle Thunder Copyright (W Publishing Group. “I’ve got one here I can’t untie. But they can be. John 19:19 The framer of our destiny is familiar with our denseness. was facing. Mail gets lost. 2006) Max Lucado I Will Speak to You in Your Language by Max Lucado Pilate wrote a sign and put it on the cross. She didn’t go ballistic. When you think about it. most of the problems we face are of the same caliber. either. assessed it. Traffic gets snarled. That’s all she said. Oh boy! Now what do you do? Talk about a problem! Everything is here but the cake … Sound familiar? It might. We’re late for a meeting. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH. She simply assessed the problem and gave it to Christ. She simply looked at the knot. Back then. For that reason you might want to note how Mary reacted. and took it to the right person. ‘They have no more wine’” (John 2:3).” she told Jesus (John 2:3). and after a lengthy discussion. That’s it. Please note. God knows we . Her solution poses a practical plan for untangling life’s knots. but no way to sweep the embarrassment under the rug. wine was to a wedding what cake is to a wedding today. No need to call 911.week. THE KING OF THE JEWS. It’s so easy to focus on everything but the solution. A coworker forgets a report. It’s exactly the dilemma Jesus’ mother. she took the problem to Jesus before she took it to anyone else. Mary didn’t do that. “They have no more wine.

you know. the message would be in the tongues of all people. and Greek the language of Greece. The rainbow after the flood signifies God's covenant. But you and I both know how clearly God speaks in hospital hallways and sickbeds. From He Chose the Nails Copyright (W Publishing Group. God speaks all languages—including yours. the language of religion. "I will . What language is he speaking to you? I'm not referring to an idiom or dialect but to the day-to-day drama of your life. but the languages were different. or Greek—the three great languages of the ancient world. we see signs in the New Testament church. He speaks to us in whatever language we will understand." Is your tummy full? Are your bills paid? Got a little jingle in your pocket? Don't be so proud of what you have that you miss what you need to hear. Since Jesus was a king for all people." God had a message for each. the language of law and government.sometimes miss the signs. Each of these signs symbolizes a greater spiritual truth.. ask him if you might be missing any signs he is sending your way. God does speak. Communion is a sign of his death. Maybe that's why he has given us so many. was found on the cross. for every passerby could read Hebrew. Which leads us to a delightful question. A trilingual.. Every passerby could read the sign. Roman-commissioned sign. however. teach you in the way you should go" (Ps. 2001) Max Lucado . There is no language God will not speak. Circumcision identifies God's chosen. "Christ is king. Has he not said. Latin. There are times he speaks the "language of abundance. Even today. and baptism is a sign of our spiritual birth. Are you hearing the "language of need"? Or how about the "language of affliction"? Talk about an idiom we avoid. 32:8 NIV)? Are we not urged to "receive instruction from His mouth" (Job 22:22 NASB)? What language is God speaking to you? And aren't you glad he is speaking? Aren't you grateful that he cares enough to talk? Isn't it good to know that "the LORD tells his secrets to those who respect him" (Ps. handpainted." The message was the same. and the stars portray the size of his family. Christ was declared king in them all. The most poignant sign. 25:14)? Think a word of thanks to him would be appropriate? And while you're at it. "Hebrew was the language of Israel. the language of culture. Latin the language of the Romans.

. the woman who giggled at God. the king who knew too much. but in God’s proverbially open arms. No wagging fingers. And what they may lack in perfection. but his repentant spirit was unquestionable. Just when he got to the top of the hill. Moses. and Jonah. not in their performance. But even the whale couldn’t stomach this missionary for too long. just look at those he has already used and take heart. who’d been waiting at the gate. Jesus later summarized God’s stubborn love with a parable. dug his hands deep into his empty pockets. When he had had just about as much of the pig’s life as he could take. his father. David. No.God took what was good and forgave what was bad and used “old forked tongue” to start a nation. The same open arms welcomed him that had welcomed Abraham. And the boy’s weary body fell into his father’s opened arms. He told about a teenager who decided that life at the farm was too slow for his tastes. No “I told you so!” slaps or “Where have you been?” interrogations. creeps. The reassuring lesson is clear.Open Arms by Max Lucado If you ever wonder how in the world God could use you to change the world. he swallowed his pride. Jonah. fair-weather friends. look at the people God used to change history. and began the long walk home. God used (and uses!) people to change the world. He never used it. the prophet who pouted.God put him in a whale’s belly to bring him back to his senses. Sarah. and liars—he uses them all. God makes up for in love.his track record left little to be desired. saw him. So with pockets full of inheritance money. Gomer. What he found instead were hangovers. On and on the stories go: Elijah. No clenched fists. Moses. Look at the forgiveness found in those open arms and take courage. One story after another of God using man’s best and overcoming man’s worst. but people.would you call upon a fugitive to carry the Ten Commandments? God did. A ragbag of ne’er-do-wells and hasbeens who found hope. the prostitute. and long unemployment lines. all the while rehearsing a speech that he planned to give to his father. If you ever wonder how God can use you to make a difference in your world. open arms. No black eyes or fat lips. Only sweet. No crossed arms. People! Not saints or superhumans or geniuses. Crooks. Jacob. the wheeler-dealer. David. lovers. The boy’s words of apology were quickly muffled by the father’s words of forgiveness. Solomon. Abraham. he set out to find the big time.

Run a thumb over your knuckles. seducing for pleasure. preparing a meal. The same hand can help or hurt. then a closeup of a tiny hand wrapped around mommy’s finger. A hen gathering her chicks. A redeemer redeeming the world. Were you to show the documentary to your friends. 1998. 2001) Max Lucado . abusive fists. But manage them and our hands become instruments of grace—not just tools in the hands of God. however. No wonder they call him the Savior. 2004) Max Lucado The Touch of God by Max Lucado May I ask you to look at your hand for a moment? Look at the back. Surrender them and these five-fingered appendages become the hands of heaven. or folding in prayer. stroking daddy’s face or petting a puppy. Hands taking more often than giving. wounding rather than loving. Oh. And then there are other scenes. From No Wonder They Call Him the Savior © (W Publishing Group. extend or clench. It does. but God’s very hands. have one scene after another of people longing for his compassionate touch: parents carrying their children. then the palm. And each one touched was changed. Then what? Holding on to a chair as you learned to walk? Handling a spoon as you learned to eat? We aren’t too long into the feature before we see your hand being affectionate. lift someone up or shove someone down. the film would begin with an infant’s fist. strangling for survival.And. What if someone were to film a documentary on your hands? What if a producer were to tell your story based on the life of your hands? What would we see? As with all of us. Reacquaint yourself with your fingers. One arm extending back into history and the other reaching into the future. A father receiving his own. the sinful shouldering their sorrow. Our Savior completely surrendered his hands to God. An embrace of forgiveness offered for anyone who’ll come. Shots of accusing fingers. the poor bringing their fears. placing a ring on another’s finger. doctoring a wound. All of us learned early that the hand is suited for more than survival—it’s a tool of emotional expression. demanding instead of offering. Leave them unmanaged and they become weapons: clawing for power. the power of our hands. From Just Like Jesus Copyright (W Publishing Group. you’d be proud of certain moments: your hand extending with a gift. never were those arms opened so wide as they were on the Roman cross. The documentary of his hands has no scenes of greedy grabbing or unfounded finger pointing. Nor is it too long before we see your hand acting aggressively: pushing big brother or yanking back a toy. 1986. And each who came was touched. by the way. That’s what Jesus did.

” his grandma said. “I plead guilty. “Forgiveness.) He’d been pardoned. sometimes for his sin.” Sally’d whisper when he objected.” you mumble.” Satan is suddenly silent. The stone hit. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Diabolos. and arrogance. You have no defense. only to look up and see his sister watching. You realize that Satan cannot accuse you. For this one died with Christ. but he thought he was guilty. but the charges glance off like arrows hitting a shield. 86. 1983. His charges are fair. anger. No more dirty dishwater. He could never hit his target. so he confessed to killing the duck. You have been accused of dishonesty. Every moment of your life.” (Steven Cole. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave out of you. You have stood before the judge and heard him declare. means “slanderer. Why? He had listened to the words of his accuser. giving him a hug. On impulse he took aim and let fly. So weary of the chore. 1996) Max Lucado . I forgave you. Sally responded. Johnny. “Not guilty. he spied her pet duck. After lunch that day. And you are suddenly jubilant. You’ve been accused of greed. “Remember the duck!” So.Guilt and Grace by Max Lucado Sometime ago I read a story of a youngster who was shooting rocks with a slingshot. Even his name. You’ve been accused of immorality. and the duck was dead. Sometimes for his duty.” From In the Grip of Grace Copyright (W Publishing Group. you hang your head. “The wages of sin is death. No more nagging sisters. What choice did he have? For the next several weeks he was at the sink often. “The sentence?” Satan asks. No more penance. The boy panicked and hid the bird in the woodpile. Grandma told Sally to help with the dishes. “Remember the duck. “I know.” Leadership Magazine. your honor. As he returned to Grandma’s backyard. Didn’t you Johnny?” And she whispered to him. “but in this case the death has already occurred.” explains the judge. Johnny did the dishes. your accuser is filing charges against you. Because I love you.” Who is he? The devil. he decided that any punishment would be better than washing more dishes. You have been accused as well. “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. No one can accuse you! Fingers may point and voices may demand. As he speaks.

Could this principle explain the difference? Could it be that they are experiencing the same joy they have given their offenders? One says. “Have a good dinner. You make a final stop in the day-old bread section and pick up a crusty loaf with green spots on the edge. Suppose your neighbor’s trash blows into your yard. They’ve accepted Christ and are seeking him. You’re just about to walk across the lawn to have a talk when God reminds you. “I forgive you. good-for-nothing neighbor. Your pantry is full of what you gave your enemy.” And you walk away. It’s as if God sends you to the market to purchase your neighbor’s groceries saying. All you have to eat is exactly what you just bought. One is grateful. Your diet ain’t gonna change until you change. but their balloon has no helium. “Time to go to the market and buy your neighbor’s groceries. you drive back to the house and drop the sack in the lap of your lazy.“Treat Me As I Treat My Neighbor.” Let’s take this a step further. Some of you have been eating sardines for a long time. so you go to your refrigerator to fix a sandwich. God will treat you the way you treat others. the other is grumpy. Both are saved. You look around at other Christians. The other says.” by Max Lucado Are you aware that this is what you are saying to your Father? Give me what I give them. Both are heaven bound. “I’ll get even with the old bum. Chuckling. You mention the mess to him. All your brilliant scheming left you hungry. For whatever you give him is what you receive. But one sees the rainbow and the other sees the rain.” and feels forgiven. Let me enjoy the same tolerance I offer. Then you make a beeline to the anchovies and sardines. “Whatever you get your neighbor. get also for yourself. “I’m ticked off. and then it hits you.” So you grumble and mumble your way to the store. You march right past the double-chocolate ice cream and head toward the okra and rice. Grant me the same peace I grant others. but guess what you find.” You go straight to the skim milk. and he says he’ll get to it sometime next week. that the garbage fertilizes your garden. and you’re stuck with okra and .” and lives ticked off at the world. 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. We get what we give. 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 aren’t as sour as you are. They’re enjoying the delicacies of God.

… Jesus said to Peter. We’ve got to let the . You can also exercise thought permission. See the decisiveness of Jesus? What if you did that? What if you took every thought captive? What if you took the counsel of Solomon: “Be careful what you think. Remember the thoughts that came his way courtesy of the mouth of Peter? Jesus had just prophesied his death. because your thoughts run your life” (Prov. 16:22–23). Satan! You are not helping me! You don’t care about the things of God.” “make it give up” and “obey Christ”? You get the impression that we are the soldiers and the thoughts are the enemies. Today’s greed is tomorrow’s embezzlement. Do you hear some battlefield jargon in that passage—“capture every thought. Today’s anger is tomorrow’s abuse. Today’s guilt is tomorrow’s fear. 4:23). Change the thoughts. Could that be why Paul writes. Paul says we do: “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” (2 Cor. Today’s lust is tomorrow’s adultery. “Love … keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor. but only about the things people think are important’” (Matt. It was for Jesus. 13:5 NIV)? Some folks don’t know we have an option.anchovies on moldy bread. Maybe now you know. 2001) Max Lucado Take Every Thought Captive by Max Lucado Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. 10:5). You’ve always wondered why they look so happy and you feel so cranky. Today’s jealousy is tomorrow’s temper tantrum. You have a vote. and you change the person. and resurrection. “Peter took Jesus aside and told him not to talk like that. If today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. You are not a victim of your thoughts. burial. Today’s bigotry is tomorrow’s hate crime. but Peter couldn’t bear the thought of it. You have a voice. what happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God’s love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others? Paul says absolutely! It’s not enough to keep the bad stuff out. ‘Go away from me. Could it be God is giving you exactly what you’re giving someone else? From The Great House of God © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. You can exercise thought prevention.

It’s as if he saw in their faces not hatred but confusion. neither do we. whatever is lovely. could explode. Yet.’” Look carefully. They were a stir-crazy mob. We are still. get enough of these seemingly innocent drops of anger and before long you’ve got a bucket full of rage. Jesus speaks about the mob that killed him. Drip. They hadn’t the faintest idea what they were doing. It begins as a drop of water. It’s a peculiar yet predictable emotion. Thinking conveys the idea of pondering—studying and focusing. The toast burns. Yet. A waitress is slow and you are in a hurry. A frustration. as he put it. We trust no one and bare our teeth at anyone who gets near. whatever is gracious. Here. An irritant. Drip. It’s as if he regarded them not as a militant mob but. as much as we hate to admit it. “‘Father forgive them. given just the right tension and fear. of all people. Blind bitterness. It’s not enough to keep no list of wrongs. think about these things” (RSV). It’s as if Jesus considered this bloodthirsty. if there is anything worthy of praise.” And when you think about it. whatever is pure. We can’t answer our own questions about love and hurt.good stuff in. All we know is that we were born out of one eternity and are frighteningly close to another. mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on. Walking revenge. just an aggravation. We can’t solve the riddle of aging. death-hungry crowd not as murderers. whatever is honorable. 2004) Max Lucado They Don’t Know What They Are Doing by Max Lucado Anger. From A Love Worth Giving © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. We have to cultivate a list of blessings. allowing what is viewed to have an impact on us. God. as “sheep without a shepherd. But they didn’t know what they were doing. Someone pulls in front of you on the freeway. Drip. We don’t know how to heal our own bodies or get along with our . We become walking time bombs that. for they do not know what they are doing. How do we harness it? A good option is found in Luke 23:34.” “They don’t know what they are doing. Drip. if there is any excellence. but as victims. what do we do? We can’t deny that our anger exists. Unharnessed hatred. store up the sweet. shepherdless sheep. whatever is just. We play tag with the fuzzy realities of death and pain. And for the most part. The same verb Paul uses for keeps in the phrase “keeps no list of wrongs” is used for think in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true. Someone gets your parking place. they didn’t. Rather than store up the sour. Nothing big. Drops of water.

A cow stuck her nose into a paint can and couldn’t shake it off. the cow ran. they ran away. but the lives of your family members. using pickup trucks and ropes. Cannosed cows can’t breathe very well. 1986. but sympathetic understanding will. (Eph. saw the result of such stubbornness in a pasture. 4:17-19) A hard heart ruins. and they can’t drink or eat at all. author’s paraphrase. But it was not this way from the beginning. Once we understand ourselves we begin to operate not from a posture of anger but of compassion and concern. We realize that the lights are out and a lot of people are stumbling in the darkness. When asked about divorce. I know that doesn’t justify anything. Once we see the world and ourselves for what we are. 2004) Max Lucado Hard Hearted by Max Lucado Hardhearted people are hopelessly confused. A serious bovine bind. We can’t even keep ourselves fed. That doesn’t justify hit-and-run drivers or kiddie-porn peddlers or heroin dealers. They chased that cow for three days! Each time the posse drew near. Jesus said. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But it does help explain why they do the miserable things they do. But when the cow saw the rescuers coming. As an example. Karen’s family set out to help. she set out for pasture. Jesus identified the hard heart as the wrecking ball of a marriage. we can help. They pursued. but the cow escaped. Both the cow and her calf were in danger. They have no sense of shame. Finally. From No Wonder They Call Him the Savior © (W Publishing Group. We look at the world not with bitter frowns but with extended hands. . 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. Their minds are full of darkness. 19:8) When one or both people in a marriage stop trusting God to save it. they cornered and de-canned the cow. “I do not know what I am doing. So we light candles.” (Romans 7:15. Paul spoke for humanity when he confessed. My executive assistant.) Now. My point is this: Uncontrolled anger won’t better our world. no only your life. Karen Hill. We can’t keep ourselves out of war. they sign its death certificate.own mates. “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because our hearts were hard.” (Matt. they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. and when God came to help. They reject the very one who can help them.

it may not even be intelligible. From 3:16. And. “Be still. How can you and I grow familiar with the voice of God? Here are a few ideas: Give God your waking thoughts. and struggle. Is your heart hard? Take it to your Father. Spend time with him in silence. I belong to you today. stiff-necked world. When my daughters were small. Isn’t this the world we see? This is the world God sees. He loves. Often it’s nothing more than “Thank you for a night’s rest. every so often. We scamper. 2007) Max Lucado Practicing the Presence by Max Lucado How do I live in God’s presence? How do I detect his unseen hand on my shoulder and his inaudible voice in my ear? A sheep grows familiar with the voice of the shepherd. We stick our noses where we shouldn’t. Try being silent with God. You’re only a prayer away from tenderness. starve. He pursues. I offer God the first seconds of my day. Give God your whispering thoughts. Personally. “For God so loved the world…” This hardhearted. they brought it to me. and know that I am God” (Ps. If they forgot to place the lid on the can. step into his presence. I have a friend who makes it a habit to roll out of his bed onto his knees and begin his day in prayer. Awareness of God is a fruit of stillness before God. but you don’t have to live with a hard heart. chaos erupts. They formed figures out of the soft clay. I don’t get that far. prayers that can be whispered . Let yours be one of them. My fingers stronger. With my head still on the pillow and my eyes still closed. this is the world God loves. My hand were bigger. When it did. Before you face the day. The prayer is not lengthy and far from formal. Yet. Through the centuries Christians have learned the value of brief sentence prayers.” Give God your waiting thoughts. still. I could mold the stony stuff into putty. We run from the very one who can help. You live in a hard world. 46:10 niv). the substance hardened. Nations of bull-headed people ducking God and bumping into each other. but he doesn’t give up. The mature married couple has learned the treasure of shared silence. Just being together is sufficient. Can-nosed craziness. they liked to play with Play-Doh. they don’t need to fill the air with constant chatter. Before you step out of bed.When billions of us imitate the cow. a heart starts to soften. He persists. face the Father. Depending on how much sleep I got. The Numbers of Hope Copyright (W Publishing Group. he pursues us.

Conclude the day as you began it: talking to God. O Lord. 2001) Max Lucado Second Chance by Max Lucado I know I’d read that passage a hundred times. 121:4 niv). tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. Jesus” can turn a commute into a pilgrimage. 1998. Thank him for the good parts.) “But go. Give God your whispering thoughts. And last. Get your pencil ready and enjoy this jewel in the seventh verse (here it comes). Seek his strength. Then feast on that beautiful phrase spoken by the angel. The verse reads like this: “But go. give God your waning thoughts. What a line. the common becomes uncommon.” but don’t pause for too long. Tell him that one failure doesn’t make a flop. Let the kitchen become a cathedral or the classroom a chapel. At the end of the day. Just pray where you are. chapter 16. If you fall asleep as you pray. Read the first five verses about the women’s surprise when they find the stone moved to the side. he is risen. But I’d never seen it. Did you see it? Read it again. let your mind settle on him. It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall—and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again. tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.” “You are my resting place. Go a bit further. Question him about the hard parts. But I won’t miss it again. Seek his mercy. Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God. You might want to do the same. “Be sure and tell Peter that he’s not left out.anywhere. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father. Father. From Just Like Jesus Copyright (W Publishing Group. don’t worry. By giving God your whispering thoughts.” Whew! . Simple phrases such as “Thank you. You needn’t leave your office or kneel in your kitchen. (This time I italicized the words. Look in Mark. “He is not here. take assurance in the promise: “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Ps. It’s highlighted in yellow and underlined in red. And as you close your eyes.” “Be sovereign in this hour. in any setting. Maybe I’d passed over it in the excitement of the resurrection.” Now tell me if that’s not a hidden treasure.

” “Not much room at the top. so they say. From No Wonder They Call Him the Savior © (W Publishing Group. Just ask Peter. My child is injured.” “It’s a dog-eat-dog world!” Jesus has a simple answer to our masochistic mania. “It’s now or never. Not many second chances exist in the world today. “Be sure and tell Peter that he gets to bat again. I’m a parent. I don’t charge a fee. Just ask the kid who didn’t make the little league team or the fellow who got the pink slip or the mother of three who got dumped for a “pretty little thing. a parent does what comes naturally. It was also enough. Peter must have known that. I do whatever it takes to make her feel better. But in Jesus.” Not many second chances. I won’t go to sleep until she is secure. The message came loud and clear from the celestial Throne Room through the divine courier. Peter found both.” “Around here we don’t tolerate incompetence. maybe now you know. I’m not a hero. I’m not a superstar. “Then don’t live with the dogs.No wonder they call it the gospel of the second chance. 2004) Max Lucado He Wants to Comfort You by Max Lucado My child’s feelings are hurt.” It’s not every day that you get a second chance. If you’ve ever wondered what would cause a man to be willing to be crucified upside down. He helps. And after I help. When my .” That makes sense doesn’t it? Why let a bunch of other failures tell you how much of a failure you are? Sure you can have a second chance. I’m not unusual. I tell her she’s special. I don’t ask for a favor in return. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world?” he would say. to cause this backwoods Galilean to carry the gospel of the second chance all the way to Rome where they killed him. 1986. It’s not every day that you find someone who will give you a second chance— much less someone who will give you a second chance every day.” “Three strikes and you’re out. When a child hurts. My child is afraid. The next time he saw Jesus. he got so excited that he barely got his britches on before he jumped into the cold water of the Sea of Galilee. Nowadays it’s more like.

“If you. “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. I don’t tell her to buck up. Moments of comfort from a parent. though. From The Applause of Heaven © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. help me until I can live with the hurt. They come joyfully. or afraid. Nor do I consult a list and ask her why she is still scraping the same elbow or waking me up again. nor the son of one.child cries. I can tell you they are the sweetest moments in my day. They come naturally. 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. 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. Being a parent is better than a course on theology. Being a father is teaching me that when I am criticized. Ever. If all of that is true. There is a Father who will hold me until I’m better. 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.”) 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. and who won’t go to sleep when I’m afraid of waking up and seeing the dark. I’m not a prophet. if I know that one of the privileges of fatherhood is to comfort a child.”) Why do I think he is too busy for me? (“He’s got a whole universe to worry about. then. there is a Father who is ready to comfort me. 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. 1999) Max Lucado . though you are evil. and keep a stiff upper lip. They come willingly. And that’s enough. act tough. As a father. know how to give good gifts to your children. injured.

The arena staff tried to solve the problem by using narrow chairs. you say? How do you know? How do you know until you give every day a chance? From Every Day Deserves a Chance Copyright (Thomas Nelson. if she could calm the crowd. Pray continually. told me about one particular weekend in which a shortage of space tested everyone’s patience. This great organization fills arenas with women. When her brand-new bicycle was stolen. Inc. she called her dad with the bad news. He expected his daughter to be upset. they took mine. Joni was perfectly qualified to do so. but everyone was crowded. Mary Graham. Is any situation so dire that gratitude is eliminated? Some of the ladies at the Women of Faith Conference thought it was. Impossible.” The grumbling ceased. 2007) Max Lucado . The president. Need spice in your day? Thank God for every problem that comes down the pike. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NCV). and give thanks whatever happens.” she boasted. But Sidney wasn’t crying. Give thanks whatever happens. Learn a lesson from Sidney Connell. She was honored. and Joni addressed the unhappy crowd. and you’ll find yourself giving thanks for the problems of life. Complaints contaminated like feedlot fragrance. Pray continually.Gratitude for Ungrateful Days by Max Lucado “Always be joyful.” Make gratitude your default emotion. “Dad. and women with hope. Yours can too. Look at the totality of those terms. every woman had a place to sit. “I understand some of you don’t like the chair in which you are sitting. Always be joyful. But I have about a thousand handicapped friends who would gladly trade places with you in an instant.. The attendants rolled her onto the platform. A childhood diving accident has left her wheelchair-bound. Neither do I. Mary asked Joni Eareckson Tada. a speaker for the evening. “out of all the bikes they could have taken. The floor had 150 fewer seats than needed. As a result.

He has never done wrong. Jonathan and Samuel were David’s friends. Well. 63:3.Perfect Love by Max Lucado Isn’t it good to know that even when we don’t love with a perfect love. Ask the same God who raised the dead to resurrect the embers of your love. When it comes to love: Be careful. as David discovered. or rejoiced when anyone did wrong. So where does this leave us? Perhaps with a trio of reminders.… My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. What if it’s too late? Specifically. 5 NIV). but they couldn’t follow him into the wilderness. He always applauds what is right. There are seasons when God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his love. Your church leaders. Your family. “God has given us the Holy Spirit. pray for and. led one person to do wrong. David wrote these words in a desert: “Because your love is better than life. who fills our hearts with his love” (Rom. 2004) Max Lucado . Be grateful for those who have encouraged you to do what is right and applauded when you did. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Ask everyone you know to pray for you. Alone with God. he does? God always nourishes what is right. he drafted it. For he is love. Ask God to help you love as he loves. Your friends. And. he should. Be grateful for those who love you. But if it is. if possible. most of all. betrayed him. And be grateful for your Father in heaven. take at least a thousand others first. but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. Until love is stirred. That may be the step you take. let God’s love be enough for you. my lips will glorify you. what if you’re married to someone you don’t love—or who doesn’t love you? Many choose to leave. God was enough. Be grateful for them. 5:5 CEV). his wife. and love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness. with your spouse. God passes the test of 1 Corinthians 13:6. Get your name on every prayer list available. you are doubly blessed. Michal. Do you have people like that in your world? If so. Be grateful. 13:6 NASB). Betrayal and circumstances left David alone. And. Be prayerful. And bathe every one of those steps in prayer. From A Love Worth Giving © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. Didn’t he do this with David? Saul turned on him.

I called my daughters to the table and set a plate in front of each. God keeps bringing out more food and we keep loosening our belt. And with God’s help. 26:39). Sometimes our plate has nothing but vegetables—twenty-four hours of celery. remember who prepared the meal. A privilege. What kind of plate do you most enjoy?” The answer was easy. 2001) Max Lucado . and though the portion may be hard to swallow. All are important and all are from God. he did. This verse was on my mind last night during family devotions. And then there are those days when. “if it is possible may this cup be taken from me. A gift. amazed at God’s kindness. Sara put three cookies on her plate. A friendship. A lifetime of grace. aren’t they? Some days are “three cookie days. some raw vegetables and some Oreo cookies. isn’t it for our own good? Most days. Even Jesus was given a portion he found hard to swallow. But with God’s help. which are healthy but dull. so vile. have a bit of it all. There are times when we literally push ourselves back from the table. and squash. A promotion.” I explained. which tastes better and we enjoy. From The Great House of God © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. talk to God about it.“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread. Some days are like that. “God prepares for us a plate of experiences. An eternity of joy. but a lot for our attitude. Fruit. Some days the plate runs over. when we have to eat our broccoli. that Jesus handed it back to heaven. And the next time your plate has a portion you find hard to swallow. Our daily bread could be tears or sorrow or discipline. Apparently God knows we need some strength. Vegetables. You revive my drooping head. In the center of the table I placed a collection of food: some fruit. Our portion may include adversity as well as opportunity. Yet not as I will. which does little for our nutrition. And even an Oreo. but as you will” (Matt. my cup fills with blessing” (Ps. you can too. well. “You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.” by Max Lucado What a statement of trust! Whatever you want me to have is all I want.” he prayed. however. carrots.” Many are not. 23:5 MSG). “Every day. In the garden of Gethsemane his Father handed him a cup of suffering so sour. The next time your plate has more broccoli than apple pie. “My Father. Jesus did.

Undone. Desire is distant. But I’m still hurting. It means he thinks you’re still worth reshaping. Melted down. To escape it could be to escape God. pound. It’s a spiritual slump. The fire goes out. God sees our life from beginning to end. it does go through the mountain. going prayerless. I hope you’re not on the anvil. going broke. and so do we. A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape. Although the tunnel is dark. Elijah and the “still. I’ve been on it. a famine. So does God. David after Bathsheba. An instrument is useful only if it’s in the right shape. a breakup. Peter with a tear-streaked face. Jesus in the garden.” Paul. blind in Damascus. wondering…. Downward into the foggy valley of question.) Discipline? (A good father disciplines. The light switch is flipped off and the room darkens. We shouldn’t try to escape it. small voice.) Anvil time is not to be avoided. Perhaps you’ve been there. It can be caused by a death. it soon disappears. Brought face to face with God out of the utter realization that we have nowhere else to go. He may lead us through a storm at age thirty so we can endure a hurricane at age sixty. the misty lowland of discouragement. It’s rough.) Testing? (But why so hard?) I know. and if so. We drift downward. Formless. Passion? It slips out the door. be thankful.Anvil Time by Max Lucado On God’s anvil. Responsibilities are depressing. pound. Enthusiasm? Are you kidding? Anvil time. Motivation wanes. Although the fire may flame for a moment. “All the thoughtful words of help and hope have all been nicely said. Should God place you on his anvil. A dull ax or bent screwdriver needs attention. From On the Anvil: Stories On Being Shaped Into God’s Image tyndale house 2008 . I hope you are. it’s to be experienced.” On the anvil. (Unless you need to be.. Anvil time reminds us of who we are and who God is. Placed on the anvil for…reshaping? (A few rough edges too many. Pound.

We are all somewhere in the blacksmith’s shop. polished.” And what a . dreams dashed. uncompromising. hungry to change. longing to be rebuilt. available to their master. They welcome the painful pounding of the blacksmith’s hammer. surrendering all. wounds healing. Some people lie useless: lives broken. being shaped by their master. Paul spoke of becoming “an instrument for noble purposes. there are three types of tools. Others lie in their Master’s hands: well tuned. oblivious to their calling. broken. in desperate need of repair. talents wasting. They are tossed in with the scrap iron. They lie on the anvil. productive. Others lie on the anvil: hearts open. accepting their calling.) From the shelves to the workbench. They sit in the cobwebbed corner. defined. from the water to the fire…I’m sure that somewhere you will see yourself. There are tools on the anvil: melted down. mobile. in the Master’s hands on the anvil. demanding nothing.The Blacksmith's Shop by Max Lucado In the shop of a blacksmith. primed. rusty. There are tools on the junk pile: outdated. fires quenched. fulfilling their calling. visions clearing. changeable. or in the tool chest. useless to their master. They respond to their Master’s forearm. (Some of us have been in all three. dull. molten hot. begging to be called. We are either on the scrap pile. They lie ready in the blacksmith’s tool chest. moldable. There are tools of usefulness: sharpened. with no notion of purpose.

you reply. You think the plan is crazy? Then take it up with God. potty slurping. and dish licking. Here is my idea: a me-to-her transfusion. And it is her nature that I wish to change. chews on her paw. Eating scraps out of the trash. Now what kind of behavior is that? Dog behavior. .” From On the Anvil: Stories On Being Shaped Into God’s Image © (Tyndale House. So right. dare to be pounded on God’s anvil. but a change of essence. The problem is not her personality. The idea is his. We would witness. Molly has a dog problem. and. and doggedly seek to discover your own purpose— take courage. Shameful! Molly rolls in the grass. sharing my disgust for trash snacking. In time Molly would be less like Molly and more like me. I want to go deeper. The deposit of a Max seed in Molly. I want to change who she is. the hands of the Master. mind you. She would have a new nature. A sweeter mutt you will not find. Denalyn might even let her eat at the table. She sees every person as a friend and every day as a holiday. and her dog nature would diminish. A canine obedience school can change what she does. Licking dirty plates in the dishwasher. Molly’s problem is not a Molly problem. Why. It is a dog’s nature to do such things. the anvil of recasting. does her business in the wrong places. You are right. Not just her behavior. Dropping dead birds on our sidewalk and stealing bones from the neighbor’s dog. 2008) Max Lucado Changing Our Nature by Max Lucado My dog Molly and I aren’t getting along. I have a problem with her habits.it’s a simultaneously joyful and painful voyage. would she not change? Her human nature would develop. As it grew. I’m embarrassed to admit. not just a change of habits. for you await the privilege of being called “God’s chosen instruments.becoming it is! The rubbish pile of broken tools. I want to give her a kernel of human character. 1985. quenches her thirst in the toilet. I have no problem with Molly’s attitude. And for you who make the journey—who leave the heap and enter the fire.

you will change. Kids. It went around and around and around . our lives chug in long ovals. . . power plays. God will do with you what I only dream of doing with Molly.” . Nursery beds. From Next Door Savior © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. God does with us. . We connect with a career. Grandkids. . As it grows. Is there anything else? Our dissatisfaction mates with disappointment and gives birth to some unruly children: drunkenness. and I will give you obedient hearts of flesh. . Trust him! “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. When he is finished. 36:26–27 NCV. .What I would like to do with Molly. 2006) Max Lucado Is This All There Is? by Max Lucado Something is awry—we feel disconnected. . We long to restore what Adam lost. Temptation will pester you. Forget training. First job.). “The man who knocks on the door of a brothel is seeking God. . It’s not that sin has no more presence in your life. 1:6 NIV. I placed the locomotive on the tracks and watched in sheer glee as three pounds of pure steel wound its way across my bedroom floor. he’ll even let you sit at his table. Do you understand what God has done? He has deposited a Christ seed in you. eighty-hour workweeks. what else did you get me for Christmas?” Similarly. “Mom. Promotion. but temptation will not master you. Change you from the inside out. 1964. Around and around . complete with battery-powered engine and flashing crossing lights. I assembled a nineyear-old’s dream gift: a genuine Santa Fe Railroad miniature train set. Around and around and around and . one lap after another. As someone once said. He changes our nature from the inside out! “I will put a new way of thinking inside you. What hope this brings! It’s not up to you! Within you abides a budding power. I will put my Spirit inside you and help you live by my rules and carefully obey my laws” (Ezek. find meaning in family. he gives transplants. Wedding day.). After some time I picked it up and turned it the other direction. We feel the frustration I felt on Christmas morning. he sends us to the hospital to be given a new heart. . . but rather that sin has no more power over your life. and around . I will take out the stubborn hearts of stone from your bodies. yet long for something more. nosedives into sexual perversions—all nothing more than poorly disguised longings for Eden. God doesn’t send us to obedience school to learn new habits. around .

Where and when the brothel fails. But everybody likes lists. There are lists of the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus steps forth with a reconnection invitation. Observe them and enjoy secure passage. No more running or hiding. inward miracle triggered by belief. They are God-given. Others hate football.) But the greatest day of lists is still New Year’s Day.” (John 1:13. we can be transparent and unafraid. The Laws of the Lighthouse contain more than good ideas. we can too. are the lights I look for and the signals I heed: – Love God more than you fear hell. bowl games. including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!” (1 Pet. The Numbers of Hope Copyright (W Publishing Group. Smart move. Herewith. A wise person does the same. 2:1) and separated from the life of God (Eph. Moses brought one down from the mountain. let a child take you on a . They were naked and unashamed. Reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God. we now do! The flagship family walked with God. personal preferences. then. 1:3–4 MSG). (If you smiled at that. Some don’t eat black-eyed peas. time-tested truths that define the way you should navigate your life. and lists. 2007) Max Lucado Laws of the Lighthouse by Max Lucado The first of the year is known for three things: black-eyed peas. Lists of salutations and greetings. Though we be “dead in [our] transgressions and sins (Eph. From 3:16. we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for. What Adam and Eve did. Lists of good fruit and bad. and honest opinions. so can we. The wise captain shifts the direction of his craft according to the signal of the lighthouse. God reinstates us to Garden-of-Eden status. They heard his voice. “Because Jesus was raised from the dead. The Bible certainly has its share of lists. Even the disciples’ boat got into the action as it listed in the stormy Sea of Galilee.) Don’t miss the invisible. Ignore them and crash against the ragged rocks of reality. 4:18). whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (I John 5:1). – Once a week. And the number one list is the list I call the Laws of the Lighthouse. then I’ve got a list of puns you’d enjoy.

you’re down to one. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. On the window sill of your room is a solitary daisy. They come with the journey. How? By letting his acceptance compensate for their rejection. But you can keep rejections from enraging you. Think of it this way. dished. Every night on the way home he stops at your place with a fresh. More petals. people start picking petals off your daisy. – Toot your own horn and the notes will be flat. God has accepted you. and kicked around. – When no one is watching. You’re going to get cut. Explore the vessel. – Make major decisions in a cemetery. undeserved. They are top-of-the-line arrangements. Enjoy the view. – Never let the important be the victim of the trivial. To sum it all up: Approach life like a voyage on a schooner. your apartment has a sweet fragrance. You’re blamed for the bad report of a coworker. What if the scenario was altered slightly? Let’s add one character. Make friends with the captain. and your step has a happy . But you can keep rejections from enraging you. You’re only one petalsnatching away from a blowup. The kind man in the apartment next door runs a flower shop on the corner. – Live your liturgy. – ‘Tis wiser to err on the side of generosity than on the side of scrutiny. You cannot keep people from rejecting you. – Only harbor a grudge when God does. – Succeed at home first. – Listen twice as much as you speak. dropped. you’d be wise to do the same. Rejections are like speed bumps on the road. Petal picked. yet irresistible bouquet. Fish a little. This morning you picked the daisy and pinned it on your lapel. But as soon as you’re out the door. live as if someone is. – Don’t feel guilty for God’s goodness. Because of him. Three petals. From In the Eye of the Storm © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. By the end of the day. so know your page number. – The book of life is lived in chapters. The promotion is given to someone with less experience but USC water polo looks. – Don’t spend tomorrow’s money today. Think about what this means. – When you can’t trace God’s hand. These are not leftover flowers. – Pray twice as much as you fret. – Never outgrow your love of sunsets. but you aren’t complaining. Woe be to the soul who dares to draw near it. – God has forgiven you.walk. Someone snags your subway seat. You don’t know why he thinks so highly of you. Suppose you dwell in a high-rise apartment. Since you have only one plant. – Treat people like angels. trust his heart. you will meet some and help make some. this is a big event and a special daisy. And then get off when you get home. 2006) Max Lucado Hand Delivered Bouquets by Max Lucado Through Christ.

He made galaxies no one has ever seen and dug canyons we have yet to find. He knows the strength. when rejections come. Take the flowers. he can change your identity. From A Love Worth Giving © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. He asks the same question of you that he asked of the invalid: “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6). His keen eye examines the glowing piece. The smith knows the type of instrument he wants. the air fills . you won’t be left short-petaled. Do you want him to do so? Do you have a better option? Like moving to a rejection-free zone? If so. and places it on the anvil. God will load your world with flowers. With a clear picture in his mind. He hand-delivers a bouquet to your door every day.bounce. Do you think among those diseases might be the affliction of anger? Do you think God could heal your angry heart? Do you want him to? This is not a trick question. The shop rings with the noise. You may be a rage junkie. the smoldering iron is remolded. his right hand slams the two-pound sledge upon the moldable metal. He knows the shape. He knows the size. Whang! Whang! The hammer slams. God can help you get rid of your anger. But if you want him to. Not everyone does. the apron-clad blacksmith puts his tongs into the fire. wider. Anger may be part of your identity. You may be addicted to anger. enjoy your life on your desert island. grasps the heated metal. Let someone mess with your flower. On the solid anvil. Receive from him so you can love or at least put up with others. And the interpretation is obvious. longer. He sees what the tool is now and envisions what he wants it to be— sharper. “The LORD … heals all your diseases” (Ps. and you’ve got a basketful to replace it! The difference is huge. he begins to pound. flatter. Open it! Take them! Then. 103:2–3 NIV). 2004) Max Lucado On The Anvil by Max Lucado With a strong forearm. His left hand still clutching the hot mass with the tongs.

The character of a person is also checked by thumping. he lifts the tongs until the freshly molded metal is at eye level. Grumpy moms. If it “sings. They catch us off guard. Then the blacksmith stops. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold. With a strong left arm. allowing the toolmaker to remove the scars. Flat tires. But the response doesn’t come easily. and the pliable. Thump-Thud by Max Lucado When a potter bakes a pot. “For a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. soft mineral becomes an unbending useful tool. he examines the smoking tool. 1985. and purge the impurities. With a hiss and a rush of steam. If it “thuds. glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Those are thumps. It doesn’t come without discomfort. Thumps are those irritating inconveniences that trigger the worst in us. Grouchy teacher. To melt down the old and recast it as new is a disrupting process. repair the cracks. what was weak becomes strong. and the softened metal responds. © (Tyndale House. The incandescent implement is rotated and examined for any mars or cracks. Been thumped lately? Late-night phone calls. You’ve-got-to-be-kidding deadlines. refill the voids.” (I Peter 1:6-7) From On the Anvil: Stories On Being Shaped Into God’s Image . There are none. Burnt meals. In the still silence. Now the smith enters the final stage of his task. . what was crooked becomes straight. the metal immediately begins to harden. 2008) Max Lucado Thump-Thud. which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise. And with time. a change occurs: What was dull becomes sharpened.” it’s ready. The heat surrenders to the onslaught of cool water. Yet the metal remains on the anvil.with smoke. He ceases his pounding and sets down his hammer.” it’s placed back in the oven. and what was useless becomes valuable. He plunges the smoldering instrument into a nearby bucket of water. he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the oven and thumping it.

Flat-footed. it has taken me almost two hours to write these two paragraphs. there are times during the week when we can anticipate an unusual amount of thumping. take heart. Long lines. Chances are that God is doing the thumping. There is hope for us “thudders”: Begin by thanking God for thumps. Even as I write this. For me. And he’s doing it for your own good. How do I respond? Do I sing. There’s nothing like a good thump to reveal the nature of a heart. The true character of a person is seen not in momentary heroics but in the thump-packed humdrum of day-to-day living. You might as well learn from the thumps— you can’t avoid them. Thump. Remember no thump is disastrous. Dirty clothes on the floor. Thump. I don’t mean a half-hearted thank-you. From On the Anvil: Stories On Being Shaped Into God’s Image . Bolster yourself with extra prayer. Each thump will help you or hurt you. Empty mailboxes. The best way to handle thump-slump times? Head on. I mean a rejoicing.” You are going to be tested from now on. Because of interruptions. Know your pressure periods. Thump. All thumps work for good if we are loving and obeying God. If you have a tendency to thud more than you sing. Fridays can be just as bad. Be aware of “thump-slump” times. 2008) Max Lucado . or do I thud? Jesus said that out of the nature of the heart a man speaks (Luke 6:45). Face up to the fact that you are not “thump-proof. depending on how you use it. So every thump is a reminder that God is molding you (Hebrews 12:5-8). 1985. For all of us. Learn from each thump. © (Tyndale House. but if you get enough of them. watch out! Traffic jams. jumping-for-joy thank-you from the bottom of your heart (James 1:2). Mondays are infamous for causing thump-slumps. I’m being thumped. Look upon each inconvenience as an opportunity to develop patience and persistence. They aren’t big enough to be crises. and don’t give up.

you imitate God. Workdays? Yes. characterized the first family. even before he gave Adam britches. From Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. Shouldn’t it broadcast God? Don’t those forty to sixty hours a week belong to him as well? The Bible never promotes workaholism or an addiction to employment as pain medication. “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Gen. God gave Adam a job. Stoplights break. you’ll find the cure for the common life: your sweet spot. “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good” (Eccles. and manage the kids who raise Cain. and nine-to-five workdays into spiritual adventures. He uncommons the common by turning kitchen sinks into shrines. Nations need soldiers. He ordained your work as something good. Someone has to raise kids. Before he gave Adam a wife or a child. We need you! Cities need plumbers. So honor God in your work. Innocence. Here is the big idea: Use your uniqueness (what you do) to make a big deal out of God (why you do it) every day of your life (where you do it). He conducts holy business at all hours and in all places. “My Father never stops working. At the convergence of all three. not indolence. Bones break. 2005) Max Lucado . your work matters to God. too” (John 5:17 NCV). We like the second half of that verse. and so I keep working. Whether you log on or lace up for the day. Jesus said. 2:15 NASB). raise cane. workdays. And your work matters to society. but on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exod.Honor God in Your Work by Max Lucado Heaven’s calendar has seven Sundays a week. But God unilaterally calls all the physically able to till the gardens he gives. God sanctifies each day. 34:21 NASB). But emphasis on the day of rest might cause us to miss the command to work: “You shall work six days. God views work worthy of its own engraved commandment: “You shall work six days. cafés into convents. Jehovah himself worked for the first six days of creation. 2:24 NASB). God honors work.” Whether you work at home or in the marketplace. We need people to repair the first and set the second. Your career consumes half of your lifetime.

Hidden Heroes by Max Lucado A revival can begin with one sermon. now a man. an uncharacteristic courage settled upon the man. he was one of the few who came. But then one morning he did. He lifted his eyes and looked straight at the boy and challenged: “Young man. Someone suggested they go home. A thirteen-year-old boy. a visit to the manger will remind you. they had a visitor. just never needed to. look to Jesus. England’s prince of preachers. “I did look. But we’d do well to keep our eyes open. History proves it. hat. who would? So he put on his boots. Egglen would hear none of that. And so he did. Even the minister was snowed in. (If not. Besides. His sermon lasted only ten minutes. The snow left his town of Colchester. a deacon. Look! Look! Look!” Did the challenge make a difference? Let the boy. Max Lucado . the darkness rolled away. And the hero who inspires him might be nearer than you think. answer. Twelve members and one visitor. and at that moment I saw the sun. and we seldom recognize heroes. When he awoke on that January Sunday in 1850. John Egglen had never preached a sermon in his life. He wasn’t the only member who considered staying home. Never. From When God Whispers Your Name Copyright 1994. But who would preach? Egglen was the only deacon. It drifted and wandered and made no point in an effort to make several. He was. England. In fact. Who would go to church in such weather? But he reconsidered. It fell to him. But at the end.) We seldom see history in the making. they would have a service. he thought of staying home. He might be in your mirror. and then and there the cloud on my heart lifted.” The boy’s name? Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Wasn’t that he didn’t want to. Are historic moments acknowledged when they happen? You know the answer to that one. after all. They’d come this far. And if the deacons didn’t go. Did Egglen know what he’d done? No. and coat and walked the six miles to the Methodist Church. Tomorrow’s Spurgeon might be mowing your lawn. Do heroes know when they are heroic? Rarely. buried in white.

See What Happens by Max Lucado God does uncommon works through common deeds. Jesus took his . Need a plow repaired? Christ could do it. After an hour on the building. and he will give you a fair price. One recently impacted by God. Max Lucado The Common Life by Max Lucado “Is not this the carpenter?” (Mark 6:3). Nor do you. hugged it. A friend of mine saw proof of this truth as he cared for victims of Hurricane Katrina.” The job may have been common. “We are on holy ground. They had no idea how God would use the work of their hands. “My grandfather and grandmother helped build this church!” Do you think those grandparents ever imagined God would use their work to save their granddaughter? They surely prayed for God to use that building to save souls…but they couldn’t have imagined he would use it to save their grandchild from a hurricane. As the water rose around his house. Soon a small circle of people huddled together on what would be their home for three days until they were rescued. he gave his time and talent to treat some of the 12. but his diligence was not. One survivor told him a riveting story. Jesus’ neighbors spoke those words. crawled over to the steeple. Amazed at his latter-life popularity. She looked around at the area. The divine spark within is beginning to flame. Other people joined him on the roof.” His news jogged the memory of another roof dweller. “Just do something and see what happens. and proclaimed. they asked. the man realized he was on a church. these words were never said. He patted the rooftop and announced to the others. What difference do selfless deeds make? Do you wonder if your work makes a difference? I’m envisioning a reader at the crossroads. With two children clinging to his back. this New Orleanian swam out a window. Hucksters move from city to city to survive. Should you douse it or fan it? Dare you dream that you can make a difference? God’s answer would be. In need of a new yoke? “My neighbor is a carpenter. Being a physician. “Is this the same guy who fixed my roof?” Note what his neighbors did not say: “Is not this the carpenter who owes me money?” “Is not this the carpenter who swindled my father?” “Is not this the carpenter who never finished my table?” No. the man found safe refuge atop the tallest building in the neighborhood. The lazy have a hard time hiding in a small town.500 New Orleans evacuees who ended up in San Antonio.” From Cure for the Common Life Copyright 2005. Jesus didn’t need to.

right? You can’t be criticized for what you don’t try. and stay warm and dry and safe. lose it all. Pelicans winging their way along the streams of Kishon to the Sea of Galilee. Max Lucado Forever Young by Max Lucado "Whoever tries to keep his life safe will lose it. Thyme-besprinkled turf at his feet. Jesus’ obedience began in a small town carpentry shop. play it. Fields and fig trees in the distance. give it now. The one who brushed his share of sawdust from his eyes would say. The giggle of a baby on a crowded plane. He remembered the red sky at morning (Matt. give it. “My yoke is easy” (Matt. 13:31–32). 16:2) and the lightning in the eastern sky (Matt. And the town may have been common. Do you suppose moments here inspired these words later? “Observe how the lilies of the field grow” (Matt. Silent snow in April. The wisest are not the ones with the most years in their lives. Are these not personal epistles? Can’t God speak through a Monday commute or a midnight diaper change? Take notes on your life.” What Annie Dillard says about writing in The Writing Life is true about life: “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all. every time." LUKE 17:33 (PHILLIPS) “There are two ways to view life. but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt. You can build a fire in the hearth. Your goal is not to live long. it’s to live.” Jesus is saying. The words of Jesus the rabbi were born in the thoughts of Jesus the boy. 11:30). Are you listening to yours? Rain pattering against the window. You can’t get hurt if you never get out. right? You can’t fall if you don’t take a stand. Don’t listen to the whines of those who have settled for a second-rate life and want you to do the same so they won’t feel guilty. but the most life in their years. Pursue it. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book. He saw how a seed on the path took no root (Luke 8:5) and how a mustard seed produced a great tree (Matt. Sell out to get it. right? You can’t lose your balance if . Next time your life feels ordinary. Hunt for it. Pay attention to your work and your world. take your cue from Christ. His uncommon approach to his common life groomed him for his uncommon call. or for another book. Jesus listened to his common life. stay inside.work seriously. “those who protect it or those who pursue it. On one side there is the voice of safety. The maker of yokes later explained. 24:27). Seeing a sunrise while the world sleeps.” There is a rawness and a wonder to life. Cool sunsets. From Next Door Savior Copyright 2003. 7:3). 6:26). but his attention to it was not. 6:28) or “Look at the birds of the air” (Matt. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye. and the man who is prepared to lose his life will preserve it. give it all. right away. Jesus says the options are clear. Mountain flowers in the spring.

” As the plane was nosing down. My boss loved me! I could find several pounds of product just by giving the bone a second try. “What were some occasions when you did something you love to do and did it quite well?” He dismissed me at first.” Psalm 37:4 NIV I recently met a twenty-year-old.” I prompted. As we shared a flight. Change careers. I’d love to make a difference like that.” From He Still Moves Stones Copyright 1995. Seeing its potential. “What a great man. don’t try it. he told me about his uncle. Take the safe route. “Whoever tries to keep his life safe will lose it.” “Try me. a forearm tattoo. Move overseas. Instead of building a fire in your hearth.” he discounted. a New England priest. I tested a possibility with him. He bore a square jaw.” So I asked him the question of this chapter. just discharged from the military.” “What do you mean?” He spoke of an old coffee table he had found in a garage. “But when I worked at a butcher shop. and a common question. Or you can hear the voice of adventure—God’s adventure. he presented it to his mom. and pondering his future. With great pride. but what is? You think staying inside out of the cold is safe? Jesus disagrees. Teach the class. He didn’t know what to do with the rest of his life. Sure it isn’t safe. Years may wrinkle the skin. “He helps kids and feeds the hungry.” I like the words of General Douglas MacArthur when he was seventy-eight: “Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years.you never climb. build a fire in your heart. but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. right? So.” I invited. “This one is really dumb. and restored it. I love to rebuild stuff. Adopt the child. “Well. Run for office.” the ex-soldier sighed. he shaved off the paint. fixed the broken legs. “Tell me another time. Follow God’s impulses. I used to find meat on the bones others threw out. what I love to do is stupid. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Max Lucado The Desires of Your Heart by Max Lucado “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Make a difference. “Aw. “You love to .

” Satisfy fits nicely. You believe water will hydrate you. You regularly trust power you cannot see to do a work you cannot accomplish.” By the way. to have to conjure up a remedy for our sin. God. Some mercy seekers have donned hair shirts. Others of us have written our own Bible verse: “God helps those who help themselves” (Popular Opinion 1:1).” Can I really trust that “whoever believes in him shall not perish”? Jesus’s invitation seems too simple. What have you always done well and loved to do? From Cure for the Common Life Copyright 2006. . See your desires as gifts to heed rather than longings to suppress. We’ll find salvation the old-fashioned way: we’ll earn it. or traversed hot rocks on bare feet. so you flip it. thank you. God gave you the ability to find a treasure in someone else’s trash. Work has a better ring to it.” My idea surprised him.salvage stuff. Jesus invites you to do the same with him. so you turn it. so you swallow it. . whoever believes in him shall not perish . We’ll fix ourselves. “God? God did that?” “Yes. in contrast. Your ability to restore a table is every bit as holy as your uncle’s ability to restore a life. you take similar steps of trust daily. We’ll make up for our mistakes with contributions. Christ. the tough soldier teared up. We expect a more proactive assignment. and you’ll feel the same joy. “Whoever works for him will be saved. You believe the chair will support you. Max Lucado Believe and Receive by Max Lucado “. You trust the work of the light switch. Reflect on your life. so you set your weight on it. . .” But believe? Shouldn’t I do more? The simplicity troubles many people. our guilt with busyness. We’ll overcome failures with hard work. climbed cathedral steps on their knees. Trust me to do what you can’t. says to us: “Your part is to trust. As my words sank in. salvage meat. We gravitate to other verbs. You salvage furniture.” You would have thought he’d just been handed a newborn baby. “Whoever satisfies him will be saved. You have faith the doorknob will work. even hourly. .

. . whoever believes in him shall not perish . Good enough to come home.Just him. 2007) Max Lucado Heaven's "Whoever" Policy by Max Lucado “. ruddy as a leather basketball. . They shared the same West Texas roots. He recognized me yet dozed as I chatted with his wife and friends. People came and went. . he did. He felt better the next day. Saucer wide. two shuttles. The recliner entombed his body. popped open. I went to see him. The Numbers of Hope Copyright (W Publishing Group. So after several planes. are you ready to go to heaven?” His eyes. From 3:16. So the landowner. He scarcely opened his eyes. Some struggle with such a thought. Not Moses or any other leader. and a rental-car road trip. Doubt laced his response: “I think I am. explained the prerogative of . and God. I wanted to show it to my Uncle Billy. took his skin-taut hand. “Bill. Look to Jesus . A last-minute confessor receives the same grace as a lifetime servant? Doesn’t seem fair. Cancer had taken its toll and his strength. The workers in the parable complained too. for the first time. penchant for cigars. No visitors. Not even you. You can’t fix you. . Maybe tomorrow. My uncle reminded me much of my father: squared like a blast furnace. and I began to wonder if I would have the chance to ask the question. He’d been scheduled to visit my home.” and I soon left. Finally the guests stepped out onto the lawn and left me alone with my uncle. His head lifted. and wasted no words. I reached Uncle Billy’s house only to learn he was back in the hospital. but bone cancer had thwarted his plans.” Our brief talk ended with a prayer for grace. . Uncle Billy died within days. We both said “amen. and believe. and blue-collar work ethic.” Some years ago I took a copy of God’s “whoever” policy to California.” “Do you want to be sure?” “Oh yes. Did he wake up in heaven? According to the parable of the eleventh hour workers. But I wasn’t sure if they shared the same faith. I slid my chair next to his.

wearing barn rags and hearing sheep crunch. . I was a part of it.” Wherever you are. From 3:16. Suckling milk and shivering against the cold. 20:15 RSV). . Millions who face the chill of empty pockets or the fears of sudden change turn to Christ. We tried to recollect the causes and consequences of the revolt. He’s been to Nazareth.ownership: “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” (v. . To Nazareth. He’s been to Bethlehem. another gave a different one. where he stared down critics and stood up against cynics. We who follow Christ do so for the same reason. you’re not too far to come home. 2007) Max Lucado He's Been There by Max Lucado “. Matt. We listened.” On a trip to China. One person remembered a certain death toll. Jesus wasn’t the last to build a team.” We quickly grew quiet as she gave firsthand recollections of the bloodshed and oppression. The Numbers of Hope Copyright (W Publishing Group. Finally one of us asked her. someone else disagreed. Why seek Jesus’s help with your challenges? Because he’s been there. accusers didn’t disappear with Jerusalem’s temple. I rode past Tiananmen Square in a bus full of Westerners. to Galilee. . shall not perish but have eternal life . to Jerusalem. to Jerusalem. Request grace with your dying breath. We have our Nazareths as well—demands and due dates. . . Why? Because he’s been there. All this time our translator remained silent. Whoever means “whenever. . He’s been there . One gave one date. where he recruited direct reports and separated fighters. All of divinity content to cocoon itself in an eight-pound body and to sleep on a cow’s supper. because she’d been there.” And one more: whoever means “wherever. “Do you remember anything about the Tiananmen Square revolt?” Her answer was solemn. Our knowledge of history was embarrassing. where he made deadlines and paid bills. and God hears your prayer. “Yes. to Galilee.

borders are bending. right? But can they? The sentence makes good talk-show fodder. All roads lead to heaven. Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation. but is it accurate? Can all approaches to God be correct? Every path does not lead to God. and the life. “I know the way. and the truth. and humanism? Salvation comes in many forms. Dig deeper. not for the strong. not in self or in them. We enter his way upon confession of our need. not for the righteous. Some historians clump Christ with Moses. He offers a unique-to-him invitation in which he works and we trust. Buddhism. but for the sinner. this is the day of inclusion. but in him. John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 sound primitive in this era of broadbands and broad minds. he’s been to the grave.” The phrase “believes in him” doesn’t digest well in our day of self-sufficient spiritual food. Heart silent and lungs vacant. “In him” smacks of exclusion. not completion of our deeds. Not as a visitor. but for the weak. whoever believes in him shall not perish . But Jesus refuses to share the page. Inc. Confucius. Don’t all paths lead to heaven? Islam. . Self-reliance is our goal. . . Work longer. Hinduism. Salvation is found. Try harder. but as a corpse. Body wrapped and grave sealed. Many recoil at such definitiveness. And since you will. The cemetery. The Numbers of Hope Copyright (Thomas Nelson. And tolerance is our virtue. and other spiritual leaders.” or “I show the way. He’s been buried there. You haven’t yet. Christ came. “I am the way. he dies and we live. right? Christ walks upriver on this topic. he invites and we believe. He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort. cultures are blending. no one comes to the Father. Buried amidst the cadavers. Numbered among the dead.But most of all. . The world is shrinking. He could have scored more points in political correctness had he said. But you will be. . He declares. but by me” (John 14:6 RSV). 2007) Max Lucado Believe in Him by Max Lucado “. “Believe in yourself ” is the common menu selection of our day.” Yet he speaks not of what he does but of who he is: I am the way. Muhammad. don’t you need someone who knows the way out? From 3:16.

is to be baptized into Christ. Legally and matrimonially bound. promote two reputations. He does much. A small-town carpenter who never said a Scripture-worthy word. as Paul wrote. This union is publicly dramatized in baptism. 2007) Max Lucado Choosing the Uncommon Life by Max Lucado One can’t. The law says. Now what? His fiancée is pregnant. he has his love. From 3:16. 19 NASB). for to be baptized. tainted … he is righteous. Joseph never speaks in the New Testament. On one hand. marries a pregnant girl. And those who do. was minded to put her away secretly” (Matt. Joseph is caught in the middle. by this point. Promote God’s and forget yours. godly. (Gal. But Joseph is a kind man. Mary belongs to Joseph. But for a time. he has the law. [he] planned to send her away secretly” (v.We believe in him. How long would it stay quiet? Likely not long. this was the solution. 1:19). “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent” (John 6:29 NCV). being a just man. and not wanting to make her a public example. have signed a contract and sealed it with a dowry. . He does much. blemished. Matthew describes Jesus’s earthly father as a craftsman (Matt. Mary’s parents. The Numbers of Hope Copyright (W Publishing Group. stone her. 3:27) Believe in yourself? No. Believe in him. On the other. A quiet divorce. but says nothing. He sees an angel. forgive her. Love says. We must choose. and leads his family to Bethlehem and Egypt. Is Joseph the right choice? Doesn’t God have better options? An eloquent priest from Jerusalem or a scholar from the Pharisees? Why Joseph? A major part of the answer lies in his reputation: he gives it up for Jesus. 13:55). “Then Joseph [Mary’s] husband. Or promote yours and forget God’s. Believe in them? No. He lives in Nazareth: a single-camel map dot on the edge of boredom. Joseph belongs to Mary. “Not wanting to disgrace her. those who believe “in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). at once. Believe in him. Joseph did.

but reason to rejoice. He placed God’s plan ahead of his own. “we understand that Mary is with child. Would you forfeit your reputation to see Jesus born into your world? From Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. “While he thought about these things. saying. for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit’ ” (v. 20).” the angel announces. As moments go.” He nods. behold. Would you be willing to do the same? God grants us an uncommon life to the degree we surrender our common one. “If you try to keep your life for yourself. a most remarkable moment. do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife. 2005) Max Lucado Just a Moment by Max Lucado It all happened in a moment. A bead of sweat forms beneath Joseph’s beard. If you could somehow pick it up off the timeline and examine it.” they say. son of David. Joseph tanked his reputation. He faces a dilemma. you will find true life” (Matt. And he called His name JESUS” (Matt. Mary’s growing belly gives no cause for concern. 1:24–25). “Joseph. He makes his decision. But who would believe it? Who would buy this tale? Envision Joseph being questioned by the city leaders.Then comes the angel. “Do you know how she became pregnant?” Gulp. you will lose it. 16:25 NLT). “Joseph … took to him his wife. that one appeared no different than any other. it would look exactly like the ones that have passed while you have read these words. an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph. But if you give up your life for me. He swapped his reputation for a pregnant fiancée and an illegitimate son and made the big decision of discipleship. It . and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. “Is the child yours?” He shakes his head. “She carries the Son of God in her womb. It came and it went.

His feet got tired. made himself breakable. He was afraid of failure. packaged. calloused. He who had been spirit became pierceable. burped. The creator of life being created. Holiness sleeping in a womb. But in reality. Divinity arrived. doesn’t it? It’s not something we like to do. It was one of the countless moments that have marked time since eternity became measurable. For heaven’s sake. For through that segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. The Word became flesh. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb. God had come near. and dirty. predictable. His feelings got hurt. He got colds. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. it’s uncomfortable. He came. don’t. and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother. For only if we let him in can he pull us out. it seems almost irreverent. in one instant. Clean the manure from around the manger. While the creatures of earth walked unaware. There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant. not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror. God became a man. The omnipotent. He’s easier to stomach that way. elbows. God was given eyebrows. He grew weary. but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. Let him be as human as he intended to be. that particular moment was like none other. In one moment … a most remarkable moment. To think of Jesus in such a light is—well. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. It all happened in a moment. The hands that first held him were unmanicured. God as a fetus. He was susceptible to wooing women. For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. and had body odor.was preceded and succeeded by others just like it. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. But don’t do it. Pretend he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer. And his head ached. . two kidneys. He felt weak. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo.

ignore the epic sacrifice of history: Christ. … ” remember that’s all the time it will take to change this world. in the twinkling of an eye. The hearts of damned fools never soften. 14:11). the number of invitations the stubborn-hearted have refused and the slander they’ve spewed. there is no longing for him. God made it possible for man to see God. They volunteer. He wanted Lazarus to descend to him. 2:10–11). But still we wonder. There will be no atheists in hell (Phil. From God Came Near © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. and they did not repent and give Him glory” (Rev. . crying out to the blackened sky. “My God. He wanted water for the body. most of all. . A sinner’s rebellion doesn’t warrant an eternity of suffering. in becoming man.There will be another. their minds never change. As a result. To descend its stairs. When Jesus went home he left the back door open. and where there is no more of God’s goodness. Contrary to the idea that hell prompts remorse. Even the longing for God is a gift from God. whoever believes in him shall not perish . they don’t want to leave. 27:46). the hard-hearted will do so stubbornly and without worship. blindfold your eyes. “we will all be changed—in a moment. It intensifies blasphemy. But you can bet your sweet September that the second one won’t. why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. . 16:9 NKJV). and. it doesn’t. is the punishment fair? Such a penalty seems inconsistent with a God of love—overkill. Why not ask if he could join Lazarus? The rich man complained of thirst. “Men were scorched with great heat. not of injustice. Once there.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52) The first moment of transformation went unnoticed by the world. in God’s hell on humanity’s cross. you’d have to cover your ears. my God. The next time you use the phrase “just a moment.” How could a loving God send sinners to hell? He doesn’t. Accuse God of unfairness? He has wrapped caution tape on hell’s porch and posted a million and one red flags outside the entrance. The world will see another instantaneous transformation. . . 2006) Max Lucado Every Knee Shall Bow by Max Lucado “. does it? Isn’t God overreacting? Who are we to challenge God? Only he knows the full story. but there will be no God-seekers either. Though every knee shall bow before God and every tongue confess his preeminence (Rom. Remember the rich man in torment? He could see heaven but didn’t request a transfer. not water for the soul. You see. and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues.

Before the boy has a chance to wash his hands. and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. and … Did you see it? A ring. Instead he gives gifts. H’m. As you steward the money he gives. . you are his priest. The bearer of the ring could speak on behalf of the giver. sandals. The boy prematurely takes his inheritance and moves to Las Vegas and there wastes the money on slot machines and call girls.… And bring the fatted calf … and let us eat and be merry” (Luke 15:11–23 NKJV). In Christ’s day rings were more than gifts. The one who wore the ring conducted business in the name of the one who gave it. The Numbers of Hope Copyright (Thomas Nelson. The gardener at his father’s house does better than this. rehearsing his repentance speech every step of the way. you are his business manager. But the father gives none of these. in this story you are the boy. We expect crossed arms and a furrowed brow. At least a stern lecture. When you came home to God. “Bring out the best robe … a ring … sandals. Robe. he has a ring to put on his finger. he realizes enough is enough. calf. When you speak truth. they were symbols of delegated sovereignty. But the father has other ideas. Inc. When he finds himself tasting some of their oats and thinking. remember. From 3:16. you were given authority to conduct business in your heavenly Father’s name. a dash of salt and this wouldn’t be too bad.” he is broke. He “had compassion.The supreme surprise of hell is this: Christ went there so you won’t have to. Would you have done this? Would you have given this prodigal son power-ofattorney privileges over your affairs? Would you have entrusted him with a credit card? Would you have given him this ring? Before you start questioning the wisdom of the father. Too proud to go home. It was used to press a seal into soft wax to validate a transaction. When you declare forgiveness. At best a guarded handshake. 2007) Max Lucado God Believes in You by Max Lucado The tale involves a wealthy father and a willful son. It’s time to go home. you are God’s ambassador. he gets a job sweeping horse stables at the racetrack. So off he goes.” We don’t expect such a response. As fast as you can say “blackjack.

2004) Max Lucado Serve One Another by Max Lucado Jesus “set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave. You’ve seen him. Do not keep affirmation from the beaten down! Speak words that make people stronger. could you take some of the belief that he has in you and share it with someone else? You and I have the privilege to do for others what God does for us. Pregnant again. our homes. even she doesn’t know the father. God believes in you. I wonder. “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored. obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion” (Phil. befriend the weary mom. you love Jesus. Jesus sits in your classroom. When you talk to the lonely student. How do we show people that we believe in them? Do not withhold encouragement from the discouraged. you can … Love the overlooked. and a sad face. Jesus entered the world to serve. She’s Jesus. From A Love Worth Giving © (Thomas Nelson Publishers. 5:5 TEV). outdated clothing. And. that was me—you did it to me” (Matt. We can enter our jobs. obedient life and then died a selfless. You can also . Let’s follow his example. he stayed human. 2:7–8 MSG). Believe in them as God has believed in you. to serve one another” (1 Pet. our churches. 25:40 MSG). Jesus works in your office. Regardless of your strengths. wearing the thick glasses. training. Even if your sweet spot has nothing to do with encouraging others. He didn’t claim special privileges. He dresses in the garb of the overlooked and ignored. He’s Jesus. the cure for the common life involves loving the overlooked.As you stir the healing of the body or the soul. You have a voice in the household of God. you are his physician. Servanthood requires no unique skill or seminary degree. He has given you his ring. or church tenure. You can do that. Instead. became human! Having become human. Let’s “put on the apron of humility. he listens to you as a father listens to a son. According to water-cooler rumors. he lived a selfless. You’ve seen her. No one knows the father. It was an incredibly humbling process. she shows up to work late and tired. And when you pray.

The pierced hands of Jesus Christ. we’ll realize this: hands pushed us up the mountain too. He sent his Son to be one. Serve someone by swallowing your pride. Pick up someone else’s trash. the greatest servant who ever lived. so she decided to do small things in a great way. Helen Keller once told the Tennessee legislature that when she was young. We fight so much. “Throw yourselves into the work of the Master. He notices the actions of servants. Surrender your parking place. They come about because you want your own way. Call the long-winded relative. she had longed to do great things and could not. When you and I crest Mount Zion and hear the applause of saints. “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from?” asks the brother of Jesus. 2005) Max Lucado . A good action not only brings good fortune. “Do you think they just happen? Think again. 15:58 MSG). From Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot © (Thomas Nelson Publishers.… Wave a white flag. Every day do something you don’t want to do. One more aspect of servanthood…. Don’t be too big to do something small. confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort” (1 Cor. it brings God’s attention. Carry the cooler. Doesn’t have to be a big thing. and fight for it deep inside yourselves” (James 4:1 MSG)..

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