You are on page 1of 21



Inspirational Applications for

Living Your Faith

Your are
Exper ien c e t h i s Ch r i s t mas
se a so n l i ke ne v e r b e f or e wi t h
this si x- week d e v ot i on a l f r om
Max Lucado
Let one of America’s most-loved pastors guide you
on a memorable journey to the manger. Sit beside
the babe. Know what it was like. Be inspired to live
out your faith for Him.
Day 1: Cultivating Soft Hearts

Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world:

"Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Surely your salvation is coming;

behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.'"

Isaiah 62:11

Situation in Isaiah 62:1—64:12

Isaiah prophesied that God would one day be proud of His people—a day to long

for, prepare for, and pray for. Recollecting God’s past favors and faithfulness, Isaiah

passionately pleaded for God’s compassion and mercy and asked that Israel’s enemies be



When Jesus Christ came and provided a way for salvation, God would exalt His

people. God would see his children as people without sin because Jesus paid the penalty

for their sin.


With the constant demands and crazy bustle and overpacked schedules that often

harass us during this festive time of year, it's easy to let the real "reason for the season"

slip away. And as it does, the soft heart that God longs for us to enjoy too often turns into
a hard heart—which ruins, not only our own time of celebration, but also that of our

family members.

My executive assistant, Karen Hill, saw the result of such stubbornness in a

pasture. A cow stuck her nose into a paint can and couldn’t shake it off. Can-nosed cows

can’t breathe well, and they can’t drink or eat at all. Both the cow and her calf were in

danger. A serious bovine bind.

Karen’s family set out to help. But when the cow saw the rescuers coming, she set

out for pasture. They pursued, but the cow escaped. They chased that cow for three days!

Each time the posse drew near, the cow ran. Finally, using pickup trucks and ropes, they

cornered and decanned the cow.

Seen any can-nosed people lately? Malnourished souls? De-hydrated hearts?

People who can’t take a deep breath? All because they stuck their noses where they

shouldn’t, and when God came to help, they ran away.

When billions of us imitate the cow, chaos erupts. Nations of bull-headed people

ducking God and bumping into each other. We scamper, starve, and struggle.

Can-nosed craziness. Isn’t this the world we see? This is the world God sees.

Yet, this is the world God loves. “For God so loved the world that he gave . . .”

This hard-hearted, stiff-necked world. We bow before gold-plated cows; still, he loves us.

We stick our noses where we shouldn’t; still, he pursues us. We run from the very one

who can help, but he doesn’t give up. He loves. He pursues. He persists. And, every so

often, a heart starts to soften. Let yours be one of them.

(Adapted from 3:16 by Max Lucado)


If you feel a hard heart coming on (and even if you don't), take a few moments to

do something to help soften it. How can you spread Christmas cheer, rather than

Christmas overload?


Holiness—Exodus 20:8–11; Leviticus 11:44, 45; Psalm 93:5; Isaiah 4:2–4; Hebrews

10:14; 1 Peter 1:14–16.

Day 2: It All Belongs to Him

"The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine," says the LORD of hosts.
Haggai 2:8

Situation in Haggai 1:1—2:23

Twenty years had passed since Israel’s return from Babylon. But the people

quickly forgot the lessons exile had taught them. They worked hard, but their crops

failed. They earned money, but it was never enough.


Sometimes having much can make people lose track of what is most important.


We all know that Christmas is a season of giving. But sometimes, if we don't

prepare our hearts for it, an abundance of possessions has a way of eclipsing God—no

matter how meager those possessions may be.

There is a predictable progression from poverty to pride. The poor man prays and

works; God hears and blesses. The humble man becomes rich and forgets God. The

faithful, poor man becomes the proud, rich man. As God said through Hosea, “When they

had pasture, they were filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they

forgot Me” (Hosea 13:6). The proud, rich man falls under God’s judgment. How can we

avoid this? How can a person survive prosperity, especially as Christmas approaches?

Do not be haughty. Do not think for a moment that you had anything to do with

your accumulation. Scripture makes one thing clear. Your stocks, cash, and 401(k)? They

are not yours.

“Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the

earth with all that is in it” (Deuteronomy 10:14).

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the

majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,

and You are exalted as head over all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).

“‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:8).

(Adapted from Fearless by Max Lucado)


Is all the “stuff” surrounding the Christmas season getting in the way of you

focusing on God? If so, shift and sort your priorities until your schedule reflects His



Priorities—2 Chronicles 1:11, 12; Malachi 2:1, 2; Matthew 6:33; 8:21, 22;

Revelation 3:17.

Day 3: Listen for God's Voice

Get up, sanctify the people, and say,

"Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the LORD God of Israel:
'There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies
until you take away the accursed thing from among you.'"
Joshua 7:13

Situation in Joshua 7:1–26

After dreaming of a homeland for forty years and tasting victory in Jericho, Israel

suffered a stunning defeat at Ai. One man, Achan, stole plunder from Jericho and brought

God’s judgment on all the people. God helped Israel conquer Ai after the sinful man and

his family were destroyed.


God insists on obedience to His commands, no matter how small or strict they

may seem. Only then can we enjoy His blessing.


One of the best ways you can prepare yourself for a great Christmas is to listen for

God's voice. What might he want to say to you as December 25 draws near? Consider

several tools for listening to God that I have found helpful.

A regular time and place. Select a slot on your schedule and a corner of your

world, and claim it for God. For some it may be the best to do this in the morning; others

prefer the evening. Choose what works for you.

An open Bible. God speaks to us through his Word. The first step in reading the

Bible is to ask God to help you understand it. Don’t go to the Scripture looking for your

own idea; go searching for God’s.

A listening heart. If you want to be just like Jesus, then let God have you. Spend

time listening for his voice, and when he gives you your lesson for the day, apply it.

(Adapted from Just Like Jesus, by Max Lucado)


As Christmas approaches, noise levels tend to rise, along with busyness, and it

gets harder and harder to hear the "still, small voice" of the Lord. How will you listen for

his voice during this joyful season? What will you do differently than normal?


Obedience—Genesis 3:11–13; 17:1; 22:3; 2 Kings 23:4–8, 25; John 14:23, 24; 2

John 1:6.

Day 4: Illustrate the Christ

"And the temple which I build will be great,

for our God is greater than all gods."
2 Chronicles 2:5

Situation in 2 Chronicles 2:1—5:1

Solomon prepared to build a temple in Jerusalem according to the plans his father,

David, had given him. Only the best wood and precious metals were used for God’s



God deserves the best we can give. God deserves our finest possessions, our most

valuable time, and our precious money.


Tucked away in the cedar chest of my memory is the image of a robust and rather

rotund children’s Bible class teacher in a small West Texas church. She wore black

eyeglasses that peaked on the corners like a masquerade mask. Silver streaked through

her black hair like a vein on the wall of a mine. She smelled like my mom’s makeup and

smiled like a kid on Christmas when she saw us coming to her class. Low-heeled shoes

contained her thick ankles, but nothing contained her great passion. Hugs as we entered

and hugs as we left. She knew all six of us by name and made class so fun we’d rather

miss the ice-cream truck than Sunday school.

Here is why I tell you about her. She enjoyed giving us each a can of crayons and

a sketch of Jesus torn from a coloring book. We each had our own can, mind you,

reassigned from cupboard duty to classroom. What had held peaches or spinach now held

a dozen or so Crayolas. “Take the crayons I gave you,” she would instruct, “and color

Jesus.” And so we would.

We didn’t illustrate pictures of ourselves; we colored the Son of God. We didn’t

pirate crayons from other cans; we used what she gave us. This was the fun of it. “Do the

best you can with the can you get.” No blue for the sky? Make it purple. If Jesus’ hair is

blond instead of brown, the teacher won’t mind. She loaded the can.

She taught us to paint Jesus with our own colors.

God made you to do likewise. He loaded your can. He made you unique. But

knowing what he gave you is not enough. You need to understand why He gave it: so you

could illustrate Christ.

This Christmas season, make a big deal out of him. Beautify his face; adorn his

image. . . . color Christ with the crayons God gave you. Don’t waste the next few weeks

embellishing your own image. No disrespect, but who needs to see your face? Who

doesn’t need to see God’s?

(Adapted from Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado)


This Christmas season, how can you show others the face of God? What can you

do, specific to yourself, to help both others and you prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth?


Preparations—Proverbs 15:22; 20:18; Luke 14:28–32; 2 Corinthians 1:17.

Day 5: Come and See

He said, "I am 'The voice of one cyring in the wilderness:

"Make straight the way of the LORD,'"
as the prophet Isaiah said."
John 1:23

Situation in John 1:1–51

The Greeks and the Jews were familiar with the concept of "the word." For the

Jews it was an expression of God’s wisdom, and for the Greeks it meant reason and



Leaving His heavenly home, Jesus put on human flesh to bring us God’s Good



For John and Andrew, it wasn’t enough to listen to John the Baptist, the world’s

most famous evangelist. God had tasked John with preparing the way for the Messiah, the

Savior of the world. Most men would have been content to serve in the prophet's shadow.

Could there be a better teacher?

Only one. And when John and Andrew saw him, they left John the Baptist and

followed Jesus. Note the request they made.

“Rabbi,” they asked, “where are You staying?” (John 1:38). Pretty bold request.

They didn’t ask Jesus to give them a minute or an opinion or a message or a miracle.

They asked for his address. They wanted to hang out with him. They wanted to know

him. They wanted to know what caused his head to turn and his heart to burn and his soul

to yearn. They wanted to study his eyes and follow his steps. They wanted to see him.

They wanted to know what made him laugh and if he ever got tired.

And most of all, they wanted to know, Could Jesus be who John said he was—

and if he is, what on earth is God doing on the earth? You can’t answer such a question

by talking to his cousin; you’ve got to talk to the man himself.

Jesus’ answer to the disciples? “Come and see” (v. 39). He didn’t say, “Come and

glance” or “Come and peek.” He said, “Come and see.” Bring your bifocals and

binoculars. There is no time for side-glances or occasional peeks. “Let us fix our eyes on

Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).

A true disciple fixes his eyes on the Savior.

(Adapted from 3:16 by Max Lucado)


John prepared the way for Jesus. He let the people know that if they wanted to

know what God is like, they should look at Jesus. In a similar way, if people today want

to know what Jesus is like, they should be able to look at His followers. How do people

see Christ in you?


The Word Is Born—John 14:6, 7; 1 Corinthians 8:5, 6; Galatians 4:4; Philippians

2:7, 8; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 1:1, 2; 4:2.

Day 6: Come to the Party

"I have come that they may have life,

and that they may have it more abundantly."
John 10:10

Situation in John 10:1–42

The parable of the Good Shepherd described Jesus’ role perfectly. Unlike a hired

worker, Jesus, through love and affection, offered to lay down his life for His flock.

Believers trust and know Him.


Christ is our faithful shepherd. Put your trust in Him. He wants to give you life to

the fullest!


Heaven never exports monotony. So Christ once announced: “I have come that

they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Nor does God author

loneliness. Among our Maker’s first recorded words were these: “It is not good that man

should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

He gets no argument from us. We may relish moments of solitude—but a lifetime

of it? No way. Many of us, however, are too fluent in the language of loneliness,

especially in this season of silver bells and twinkling lights.

No one knows me, we think. People know my name, but not my heart. They know

my face, but not my feelings. I have a Social Security number, but not a soul mate. No one

really knows me. And . . .

No one’s near me. We hunger for physical contact. Ever since Eve emerged from

the bone of Adam, we’ve been reaching out to touch one another. We need to make a

connection. And we need to make a difference.

The anthem of the lonely heart has a third verse: No one needs me. The kids used

to need me . . . The business once needed me . . . My spouse never needs me . . . Lonely

people fight feelings of insignificance.

What do you do with such thoughts? How do you cope with such cries for


Some stay busy; others stay drunk. Some buy pets; others buy lovers. Some seek

therapy. And a few seek God.

This Christmas season, He invites us all to the party. God’s treatment for

insignificance won’t lead you to a bar or dating service, a spouse or social club. God’s

ultimate cure for the common life takes you to a manger.

(Adapted from Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado)


Jesus left heaven and came to earth to give you a life of joy, peace, and

fulfillment. Are you experiencing it? Unto you a Son has been given. How will you

welcome him into your life today?


Shepherd—Genesis 48:15; Psalm 23.

Day 7: Remember Jesus

And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him,

And said, "here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God
Is My brother and My sister and mother."
Mark 1:34, 35

Situation in Mark 3:1–35

Mark affirmed the spiritual authority and power of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus properly

interpreted the Mosaic law. His power was greater than evil spirits. This passage also

revealed Jesus’ ministry to call His spiritual brothers and sisters to do the will of God.


Jesus demonstrated remarkable patience. Though many questioned His authority,

He patiently refuted them. When His immediate family thought that Jesus was a lunatic,

He expanded the concept of His family to include the kinship of people who love God.


Can you still remember? Are you still in love with Him? This holiday season,

remember Jesus. Before you remember anything, remember Him. If you forget anything,

don’t forget Him.

Oh, but how quickly we forget. So much happens through the year. So many

changes within; so many alterations without. And, somewhere, back there, we leave Him.

We don’t exactly turn away from Him . . . we just don’t take Him with us. Assignments

come. Promotions come. Budgets are made. Kids are born, and the Christ . . . the Christ is


Has it been a while since you stared at the heavens in speechless amazement? Has

it been a while since you realized God’s divinity and your carnality?

If it has, then you need to know something. He is still there. He hasn’t left. Under

all those papers and books and reports and years. In the midst of all those voices and

faces and memories and pictures and presents and tinsel and carols . . . He is still there.

(Adapted from Six Hours One Friday by Max Lucado)


How can you make sure that you don't "forget" Jesus this Christmas season? Let

Christ renew your love for Him and let it flow freely again, as it once did.


Spiritual Family—Isaiah 63:16; John 1:12; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:19;

Hebrews 2:11.

Exper ien c e t h i s Ch r i s t mas
se a so n l i ke ne v e r b e f or e wi t h
this si x- week d e v ot i on a l f r om
Max Lucado
Let one of America’s most-loved pastors guide you
on a memorable journey to the manger. Sit beside
the babe. Know what it was like. Be inspired to live
out your faith for Him.