Live Loved

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.

[Psalm 19:1]

Loved by God the Creator

Venture away from the city lights on a clear night, and look up at the sky. That fuzzy band of white light is our galaxy, the Milky Way. One hundred billion stars. Our galaxy is one of billions of others! Who can conceive of such a universe, let alone infinite numbers of universes?

No one can. But let’s try anyway. Suppose you attempt to drive to the sun. A car dealer offers you a sweet deal on a space vehicle (no doubt solar powered) that averages 150 miles per hour. You hop in, open the moonroof, and blast off. You drive nonstop, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. Any guess as to the length of your trip? Try seventy years! Suppose, after stretching your legs and catching a bit of sun, you fuel up and rocket off to Alpha Centauri, the next closest star system. Best pack a lunch and clear your calendar. You’ll need 15 million years to make the trip.

Don’t like to drive, you say? Board a jet, and zip through our solar system at a blistering six hundred miles per hour. In 16.5 days you’ll reach the moon, in seventeen years you’ll pass the sun, and in 690 years you can enjoy dinner on Pluto. After seven centuries you haven’t even left our solar system, much less our galaxy.

Our universe is God’s preeminent missionary. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1 niv). A house implies a builder; a painting suggests a painter. Don’t stars suggest a star maker? Doesn’t creation imply a creator? “The heavens declare His righteousness” (Psalm 97:6). Look above you…

If God can make a billion galaxies, can’t he make good out of our bad and sense out of our faltering lives? Of course he can. He is God.

[3:16: The Numbers of Hope]

Heavenly Father,

Your creative powers are mind-boggling. The universe you have created is beyond comprehension. You created everything by your mighty power, and you sustain everything by that same power. How comforting to know that you can create galaxies and yet you care about every detail in my life. What a privilege to trust in your loving power no matter what comes my way,

Amen.

You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain.

[Hebrews 1:10-11]

Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

[Psalm 40:5]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

[2 Timothy 3:12]

Strength and Courage

“Now when [the accusers] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Peter and John had been with Jesus. The resurrected Jesus. In the Upper Room when he walked through the wall. Standing next to Thomas when the disciple touched the wounds. On the beach when Jesus cooked the fish. Sitting at Jesus’ feet for forty days as he explained the ways of the kingdom.

They had lingered long and delightfully in the presence of the resurrected King. Awakening with him, walking with him. And because they had, silence was no longer an option. “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (v. 20).

Could you use some high-octane boldness? If you want to outlive your life, you could. As long as you are stationary, no one will complain. Dogs don’t bark at parked cars. But as soon as you accelerate—once you step out of drunkenness into sobriety, dishonesty into integrity, or lethargy into compassion—expect the yapping to begin. Expect to be criticized. Expect to be mocked. Expect to be persecuted.

So how can we prepare ourselves? Simple. Imitate the disciples. Linger long and often in the presence of Christ. Meditate on his grace. Ponder his love. Memorize his words. Gaze into his face. Talk to him. Courage comes as we live with Jesus.

Peter said it this way. “Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy” (1 Peter 3:14–15 msg).

As we meditate on Christ’s life, we find strength for our own.

[Outlive Your Life]

Father,

Help us to be bold for you like Peter and John. May our lives count for your kingdom. Outfit us with courage to overcome tests and trials. We will meditate on your grace and ponder your love. You, Lord, are the center of our lives,

Amen.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear!”
 

Isaiah 35:4

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

[Colossians 3:16]

“Your Servant is Listening”

Has any other book ever been described in this fashion: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 niv)?

“Living and active.” The words of the Bible have life! Nouns with pulse rates. Muscular adjectives. Verbs darting back and forth across the page. God works though these words. The Bible is to God what a surgical glove is to the surgeon. He reaches through them to touch deep within you.

Haven’t you felt his touch?

In a late, lonely hour, you read the words “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5 nlt). The sentences comfort like a hand on your shoulder.

When anxiety termites away at your peace, someone shares this passage: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6 niv). The words stir a sigh from your soul.

Put them to use. “Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other” (Colossians 3:16 nlt).

Don’t make a decision, whether large or small, without sitting before God with open Bible, open heart, open ears, imitating the prayer of Samuel: “Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10 nlt).

[Facing Your Giants]

Precious Lord,

Your Word is an awesome treasure. It is filled with words to guide, to instruct, and to comfort us. Your holy Word is powerful and as true today as when it was written. Thank you for this truly amazing gift. May we never let one day pass without reading the Bible. Please open our hearts and minds to hear what you want to say through your Word. We are listening, Lord,

Amen.

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.

[Proverbs 16:20]

Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.

[Psalm 119:165]

Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
 

[Psalm 119:73]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

[2 Corinthians 9:8]

God Already Has a Plan

If your father were Bill Gates and your computer broke, where would you turn? If Stradivari were your dad and your violin string snapped, to whom would you go? If your father is God and you have a problem on your hands, what do you do?

Scripture tells us what to do:

• Is your problem too large? “God … is able … to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 nlt).

• Is your need too great? “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance” (2 Corinthians 9:8 rsv).

• Is your temptation too severe? “[God] is able to help us when we are being tested” (Hebrews 2:18 nlt).

• Are your sins too numerous? “He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25 nlt).

• Is your future too frightening? “God … is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault” (Jude 24 nlt).

• Is your enemy too strong? “[God] is able even to subdue all things to Himself ” (Philippians 3:21).

Make these verses a part of your daily diet. God is able to accomplish, provide, help, save, keep, subdue… He is able to do what you can’t. He already has a plan.

God’s not bewildered. Go to him.

[Every Day Deserves a Chance]

Father God,

You are a strong and kind father to your children. You are concerned about the smallest detail of our lives. You have numbered the hairs of our heads. You are all-knowing and all-powerful. There is nothing too hard for you. May we never forget that you are always present with us and always ready to hear the cries of our hearts. No problem we face is unimportant to you. No facet of our lives is too big or too small to bring to you. We praise you for being our faithful, loving heavenly Father,

Amen.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

[Jeremiah 29:11]

He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

[Hebrews 7:25]

We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
 

[Hebrews 4:15]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?


[Proverbs 5:20]

The Protective Fence of Fidelity

Casual sex, intimacy outside of marriage, pulls the Corinthian ploy. It pretends we can give the body and not affect the soul. We can’t. We humans are so intricately psychosomatic that whatever touches the soma impacts the psyche as well. The me-centered phrase “as long as no one gets hurt” sounds noble, but the truth is, we don’t know who gets hurt. God-centered thinking rescues us from the sex we thought would make us happy. You may think your dalliances are harmless, and years may pass before the x-rays reveal the internal damage, but don’t be fooled. Casual sex is a diet of chocolate—it tastes good for a while, but the imbalance can ruin you. Sex apart from God’s plan wounds the soul.

Sex according to God’s plan nourishes the soul. Consider his plan. Two children of God make a covenant with each other. They disable the ejection seats. They burn the bridge back to Momma’s house. They fall into each other’s arms beneath the canopy of God’s blessing, encircled by the tall fence of fidelity. Both know the other will be there in the morning. Both know the other will stay even as skin wrinkles and vigor fades. Each gives the other exclusive for-your-eyes only privileges. Gone is the guilt. Gone the undisciplined lust. What remains is a celebration of permanence, a tender moment in which the body continues what the mind and the soul have already begun. A time in which “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).

Such sex honors God. And such sex satisfies God’s children.

[It’s Not About Me]


Heavenly Father,

You created marriage and gave us guidelines for that relationship. Because of your great love, you gave us these guidelines for our own well-being. You want to protect us from heartbreak and remorse. Help us to heed your words, Father, and to be obedient to your commands about sex. May every act of our lives, whether physical or spiritual, bring honor and glory to you,

Amen.

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul.

[Proverbs 6:32]

Rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.


[Proverbs 5:18-19]

 

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

[Matthew 14:27]

God’s Call to Courage

God’s call to courage is not a call to naïveté or ignorance. We aren’t to be oblivious to the overwhelming challenges that life brings. We’re to counterbalance them with long looks at God’s accomplishments. “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1 nasb). Do whatever it takes to keep your gaze on Jesus.

When a friend of mine spent several days in the hospital at the bedside of her husband, she relied on hymns to keep her spirits up. Every few minutes, she stepped into the restroom and sang a few verses of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Do likewise! Memorize scripture. Read biographies of great lives. Ponder the testimonies of faithful Christians. Make the deliberate decision to set your hope on him. Courage is always a possibility…

As followers of God, you and I have a huge asset. We know everything is going to turn out all right. Christ hasn’t budged from his throne, and Romans 8:28 hasn’t evaporated from the Bible. Our problems have always been his possibilities. The kidnapping of Joseph resulted in the preservation of his family. The persecution of Daniel led to a cabinet position. Christ entered the world by a surprise pregnancy and redeemed it through his unjust murder. Dare we believe what the Bible teaches? That no disaster is ultimately fatal?

Feed your fears, and your faith will starve.

Feed your faith, and your fears will.

[Fearless]

Holy Father,

You call us to courage. Your Word assures that nothing comes our way that you have not allowed. The Bible teaches that our problems are your possibilities. Help us remember to feed our faith by reading your Word. We set our hope on you,

Amen.

“Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Amen.

[Matthew 28:20]

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
[Romans 8:38-39]
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
[1 John 3:18]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.


[Matthew 6:32-33]

A Gift of Twenty-Four Hours

An hour is too short, a year too long. Days are the bite-size portions of life, the God-designed segments of life management.

Eighty-four thousand heartbeats.

One thousand four hundred and forty minutes.

A complete rotation of the earth…

Both a sunrise and a sunset.

A brand-spanking-new, unsoiled, untouched, uncharted, and unused day!

A gift of twenty-four unlived, unexplored hours.

And if you can stack one good day on another and another, you will link together a good life.

But here’s what you need to keep in mind.

You no longer have yesterday. It slipped away as you slept. It is gone. You’ll more easily retrieve a puff of smoke. You can’t change, alter, or improve it. Sorry, no mulligans allowed. Hourglass sand won’t flow upward. The second hand of the clock refuses to tick backward. The monthly calendar reads left to right, not right to left. You no longer have yesterday.

You do not yet have tomorrow. Unless you accelerate the orbit of the earth or convince the sun to rise twice before it sets once, you can’t live tomorrow today. You can’t spend tomorrow’s money, celebrate tomorrow’s achievements, or resolve tomorrow’s riddles. You have only today. This is the day the Lord has made.

Live in it. You must be present to win. Don’t heavy today with yesterday’s regrets or acidize it with tomorrow’s troubles.

[Every Day Deserves a Chance]


Father,

You give life to us in daily portions. In your wisdom you know that twenty-four hours are sufficient for us to manage. Yet it is so easy for us to fret and fuss about what happened yesterday or to worry and fear what might happen tomorrow. You don’t want us to live with guilt for failures of the past or with dread for the future. Teach us to live in the present. Remind us that you give us the wisdom and strength to live one day at a time,

Amen.


He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.


[Isaiah 2:3]

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.


[Philippians 1:21]

A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand His own way?


[Proverbs 20:24]

 

~ Max Lucado ~