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UpWords with Max Lucado

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Untangling Life's Knots
by Max Lucado

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

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

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From A Gentle Thunder
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2006) Max Lucado

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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. How can you and I grow familiar with the voice of God? Here are a few ideas:

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

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

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

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

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

From Just Like Jesus
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1998, 2001) Max Lucado

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

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

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

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. Nothing can separate me from your love.

Don’t you need regular sips from God’s reservoir? I do. I’ve offered this prayer in countless situations: stressful meetings, dull days, long drives, demanding trips, character-testing decisions. Many times a day I step to the underground spring of God and receive anew his work for my sin and death, the energy of his Spirit, his lordship, and his love.

Drink with me from his bottomless well. You don’t have to live with a dehydrated heart.

Receive Christ’s work on the cross,
the energy of his Spirit,
his lordship over your life,
his unending, unfailing love.

Drink deeply and often. And out of you will flow rivers of living water.

From Come Thirsty
(c) (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004) Max
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Many people dread their work. If you’re one of them, try changing your attitude toward your work! God’s eyes fall on the work of our hands. One stay-at-home-mom keeps this sign over her sink: “Divine tasks performed here, daily.” Indeed, work can be worship.

Peter wrote, “You are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God.” (1 Peter 2:9). So, let every detail in your life--your words, actions, whatever--be done in the name of the Master, Jesus. (Colossians 3:17). You don’t drive to an office, you drive to a sanctuary. You don’t attend a school, you attend a temple. You may not wear a clerical collar, but you could, because your work is God’s pulpit!

Read more Cure for the Common Life


Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace.com and find resources at
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Working as a grade 1 laboror in the steel mill, the older workers told me "A task doesn't degrade a man; but a man can degrade a job".  I still remember that.
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Focus on the Task at Hand 
by Max Lucado

Life is tough enough as it is. It’s even tougher when we’re headed in the wrong direction.

One of the incredible abilities of Jesus was to stay on target. His life never got off track. Not once do we find him walking down the wrong side of the fairway. He had no money, no computers, no jets, no administrative assistants or staff; yet Jesus did what many of us fail to do. He kept his life on course.

As Jesus looked across the horizon of his future, he could see many targets. Many flags were flapping in the wind, each of which he could have pursued. He could have been a political revolutionary. He could have been a national leader. He could have been content to be a teacher and educate minds or to be a physician and heal bodies. But in the end he chose to be a Savior and save souls.

Anyone near Christ for any length of time heard it from Jesus himself. “The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them” (Luke 19:10). “The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people” (Mark 10:45).

The heart of Christ was relentlessly focused on one task. The day he left the carpentry shop of Nazareth he had one ultimate aim--the cross of Calvary. He was so focused that his final words were, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

How could Jesus say he was finished? There were still the hungry to feed, the sick to heal, the untaught to instruct, and the unloved to love. How could he say he was finished? Simple. He had completed his designated task. His commission was fulfilled. The painter could set aside his brush, the sculptor lay down his chisel, the writer put away his pen. The job was done.

Wouldn’t you love to be able to say the same? Wouldn’t you love to look back on your life and know you had done what you were called to do?

From Let the Journey Begin: God’s Roadmap for New Beginnings
(c) (J Countryman 2009) Max Lucado

Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace.com and find resources at MaxLucado.com

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Honor God in Your Work 
by Max Lucado

Heaven’s calendar has seven Sundays a week. God sanctifies each day. He conducts holy business at all hours and in all places. He uncommons the common by turning kitchen sinks into shrines, cafés into convents, and nine-to-five workdays into spiritual adventures.

Workdays? Yes, workdays. He ordained your work as something good. Before he gave Adam a wife or a child, even before he gave Adam britches, God gave Adam a job. “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15 NASB). Innocence, not indolence, characterized the first family.

God views work worthy of its own engraved commandment: “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exod. 34:21 NASB). We like the second half of that verse. But emphasis on the day of rest might cause us to miss the command to work: “You shall work six days.” Whether you work at home or in the marketplace, your work matters to God.

And your work matters to society. We need you! Cities need plumbers. Nations need soldiers. Stoplights break. Bones break. We need people to repair the first and set the second. Someone has to raise kids, raise cane, and manage the kids who raise Cain.

Whether you log on or lace up for the day, you imitate God. Jehovah himself worked for the first six days of creation. Jesus said, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too” (John 5:17 NCV). Your career consumes half of your lifetime. 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. But God unilaterally calls all the physically able to till the gardens he gives. God honors work. So honor God in your work. “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good” (Eccles. 2:24 NASB).

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).

At the convergence of all three, you’ll find the cure for the common life: your sweet spot.

From Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot
(c) (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005) Max Lucado

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My Salvation is About Him
by Max Lucado

Who would look at the cross of Christ and say, “Great work, Jesus. Sorry you couldn’t finish it, but I’ll take up the slack.”?

Dare we question the crowning work of God? Dare we think heaven needs our help in saving us? Legalism discounts God and in the process makes a mess out of us.

To anyone attempting to earn heaven, Paul asks, “How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? ....What has happened to all your joy?” (Galatians 4:19, 15 NIV).

Legalism is joyless because legalism is endless. There is always another class to attend, person to teach, mouth to feed. Inmates incarcerated in self-salvation find work but never joy. How could they? They never know when they are finished. Legalism leaches joy.

Grace, however, dispenses peace. The Christian trusts a finished work.

Grace offers rest. Legalism never does. Then why do we embrace it? “Those who trust in themselves are foolish” (Proverbs 28:26 NCV). Why do we trust in ourselves? Why do we add to God’s finished work?

But the truth is, we don’t. If we think we do, we have missed the message. “What is left for us to brag about?” Paul wonders (Romans 3:27 CEV). What is there indeed? What have you contributed? Aside from your admission of utter decadence, I can’t think of a thing. “By his doing you are in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Salvation glorifies the Savior, not the saved.

Your salvation showcases God’s mercy. It makes nothing of your effort but everything of his. “I--yes, I alone--am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again” (Isaiah, 43:25, emphasis mine).

Can you add anything to this salvation? No. The work is finished.

Can you earn this salvation? No. Don’t dishonor God by trying.

Dare we boast about this salvation? By no means. The giver of bread, not the beggar, deserves praise. “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

It’s not about what we do; it’s all about what he does.

From It's Not About Me
(c) (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Max Lucado
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When You Speak, God Hears
by Max Lucado

Those who pray keep alive the watch fires of faith. For the most part we don’t even know their names. Such is the case of someone who prayed on a day long ago. His name is not important. He is important not because of who he was, but because of what he did.

He went to Jesus on behalf of a friend. His friend was sick, and Jesus could help, and someone needed to go to Jesus, so someone went. Others cared for the sick man in other ways. Some brought food; others provided treatment; still others comforted the family. Each role was crucial. Each person was helpful, but no one was more vital than the one who went to Jesus.

John writes: “So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick’” (John 11:3, emphasis mine).

Someone carried the request. Someone walked the trail. Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. And because someone went, Jesus responded.

In the economy of heaven, the prayers of saints are a valued commodity. John the apostle would agree. He wrote the story of Lazarus and was careful to show the sequence: The healing began when the request was made.

The phrase the friend of Lazarus used is worth noting. When he told Jesus of the illness, he said, “The one you love is sick.” The power of the prayer, in other words, does not depend on the one who makes the prayer but on the one who hears the prayer.

We can and must repeat the phrase in manifold ways. “The one you love is tired, sad, hungry, lonely, fearful, depressed.” The words of the prayer vary, but the response never changes. The Savior hears the prayer. He silences heaven so he won’t miss a word. The Master heard the request. Jesus stopped whatever he was doing and took note of the man’s words. This anonymous courier was heard by God.

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

Intently. Carefully. The prayers are honored as precious jewels. Purified and empowered, the words rise in a delightful fragrance to our Lord. “The smoke from the incense went up from the angel’s hand to God” (Rev. 8:4). Incredible. Your words do not stop until they reach the very throne of God.

One call and heaven’s fleet appears. Your prayer on earth activates God’s power in heaven.

You are the someone of God’s kingdom. Your prayers move God to change the world. You may not understand the mystery of prayer. You don’t need to. But this much is clear: Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. What an amazing thought!

When you speak, Jesus hears.

And when Jesus hears, the world is changed.

All because someone prayed.

From For These Tough Times: Reaching Toward Heaven fo
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Death: Because of Christ, You Can Face It.
by Max Lucado

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

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

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

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

And I went to bed. And slept like a baby. As things turned out, I recovered from the surgery, and here I am, strong as ever, still pounding away at the computer keyboard. One thing is different, though. This matter of dying bravely?

I think I will.

May you do the same.


Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace.com and find resources at MaxLucado.com
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BEAR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 August 2018 at 11:20
Been there once...similiar thoughts going in.  I'm not a Christian but talked to my maker.  Comfortable now, I know I don't fear death.
 
Death is the ultimate unkown.  So many religions teach fear and uncertain judgement; no wonder many people on death's doorstep are in panic.

"One thing is different, though. This matter of dying bravely?  I think I will."

May we all do the same.
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