Live Loved

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

[Ecclesiastes 3:1]

Facing the Future with God

What person passes through life surprise free? If you don’t want change, go to a soda machine; that’s the only place you won’t find any. Remember the summary of Solomon? “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) …

God dispenses life the way he manages his cosmos: through seasons. When it comes to the earth, we understand God’s management strategy. Nature needs winter to rest and spring to awaken. We don’t dash into underground shelters at the sight of spring’s tree buds. Autumn colors don’t prompt warning sirens. Earthly seasons don’t upset us. But unexpected personal ones certainly do…

Are you on the eve of change? Do you find yourself looking into a new chapter? Is the foliage of your world showing signs of a new season? Heaven’s message for you is clear: when everything else changes, God’s presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit, who “will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you” (John 14:26).

So make friends with whatever’s next.

Embrace it. Accept it. Don’t resist it. Change is not only a part of life; change is a necessary part of God’s strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments. Gideon: from farmer to general; Mary: from peasant girl to the mother of Christ; Paul: from local rabbi to world evangelist. God transitioned Joseph from a baby brother to an Egyptian prince. He changed David from a shepherd to a king. Peter wanted to fish the Sea of Galilee. God called him to lead the first church. God makes reassignments.

But he wants you to know: you’ll never face the future without his help.

[Fearless]

Father God,

You know how frightening the future can be, with unexpected twists and turns in the road of life. Help us remember that you ordain the days of our lives. You assign each stage of the journey, but you walk the path with us,

Amen.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.

[Psalm 37:23-24]

The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.

[Proverbs 5:21]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.
[Psalm 102:27]

Loved by an Eternal God

Life … is a cache of moments: measurable and countable increments, like change in a pocket or buttons in a can. Your pocket may be full of decades, my pocket may be down to a few years, but everyone has a certain number of moments.

Everyone, that is, except God. As we list the mind-stretching claims of Christ, let’s include this one near the top. “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58 nasb).

Scripture broadcasts this attribute in surround sound. God is “from everlasting” (Psalm 93:2) and the “everlasting King” (Jeremiah 10:10)… You’ll more quickly measure the salt of the ocean than measure the existence of God because “the number of His years is unsearchable” (Job 36:26).

Trace the tree back to a seed. Trace the dress back to a factory. Trace the baby back to a mommy. Trace God back to … to … to …

No one. Not even God made God. “From eternity I am He” (Isaiah 43:13 nasb).

He is eternal. He does not live sequential moments, laid out on a time line, one following the other. His world is one moment, or better stated, momentless. He doesn’t view history as a progression of centuries but as a single photo. He captures your life, your entire life, in one glance. He sees your birth and burial in one frame. He knows your beginning and your end because he has neither.

[It’s Not About Me]

Dear God,

You are our eternal Father. You have always been and will always be. When unexpected events occur, may we remember that nothing surprises you. You know the beginning of all things to the end. And our lives are in your care,

Amen.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

[1 Timothy 1:17]

The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints for is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.

[Isaiah 40:28]

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

[Psalm 100:5]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

[John 14:3]

It's Not an Empty Promise

This is the promise of Christ: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home… If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:1–3)…

He promised not just an afterlife, but a better life.

“There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you.” We Westerners might miss the wedding images, but … Jesus’ listeners didn’t. This was a groom-to-bride promise. Upon receiving the permission of both families, the groom returned to the home of his father and built a home for his bride. He “prepared a place.”

By promising to do the same for us, Jesus elevates funerals to the same hope level as weddings. From his perspective the trip to the cemetery and the walk down the aisle warrant identical excitement…

Both celebrate a new era, name, and home. In both, the groom walks the bride away on his arm. Jesus is your coming groom. “I will come and get you…” He will meet you at the altar. Your final glimpse of life will trigger your first glimpse of him.

But how can we be sure he will keep this pledge? Do we have any guarantee that his words are more than empty poetry or vain superstition? Dare we set our hope and hearts in the hands of a small-town Jewish carpenter? The answer rests in the Jerusalem graveyard. If Jesus’ tomb is empty, then his promise is not.

[Fearless]

Father,

You have given us so many precious promises. One of the most blessed is the promise that you are preparing a heavenly home for your children. When we face our final days on earth, we can rest assured that you will keep your pledge to take us home. We set our hopes and hearts on you, Lord. It will be not just an afterlife, but a better life,

Amen.

And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

[Matthew 24:30-31]


~ Max Lucado ~

 

Live Loved

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

[John 3:5]

God Restores the Beauty

Born again. Birth, by definition, is a passive act. The enwombed child contributes nothing to the delivery. Postpartum celebrations applaud the work of the mother. No one lionizes the infant. (“Great work there, little one.”) No, give the tyke a pacifier not a medal. Mom deserves the gold. She exerts the effort. She pushes, agonizes, and delivers.

When my niece bore her first child, she invited her brother and mother to stand in the delivery room. After witnessing three hours of pushing, when the baby finally crowned, my nephew turned to his mom and said, “I’m sorry for every time I talked back to you.”

The mother pays the price of birth. She doesn’t enlist the child’s assistance or solicit his or her advice. Why would she? The baby can’t even take a breath without umbilical help, much less navigate a path into new life. Nor, Jesus is saying, can we. Spiritual rebirthing requires a capable parent, not an able infant.

Who is this parent? …

He who did it first must do it again. The original creator re-creates his creation. This is the act Jesus describes.

Born: God exerts the effort.

Again: God restores the beauty.

We don’t try again. We need not the muscle of self, but a miracle of God.

[3:16: The Numbers of Hope]

Almighty God,

Your gift of salvation is a miraculous gift, the death of your Son, Jesus Christ. There is nothing we could do to deserve this amazing gift. Thank you for giving it freely to all who will accept it. We praise you for providing the path to a new life for your children. How blessed are those who have you living in their hearts,

Amen.

And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

[Joel 2:32]

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence.

[Ephesians 1:7-8]

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.

[Daniel 9:9]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.

[Psalm 115:1]

God Can Rescue Us

God has one goal: God. “I have my reputation to keep up” (Isaiah 48:11).

Surprised? Isn’t such an attitude, dare we ask, self-centered? Don’t we deem this behavior “self-promotion”? Why does God broadcast himself?

For the same reason the pilot of the lifeboat does. Think of it this way. You’re floundering neck-deep in a dark, cold sea. Ship sinking. Life jacket deflating. Strength waning. Through the inky night comes the voice of a lifeboat pilot. But you cannot see him. What do you want the driver of the lifeboat to do?

Be quiet? Say nothing? Stealth his way through the drowning passengers? By no means! You need volume! Amp it up, buddy! In biblical jargon, you want him to show his glory. You need to hear him say, “I am here. I am strong. I have room for you. I can save you!” Drowning passengers want the pilot to reveal his preeminence.

Don’t we want God to do the same? Look around. People thrash about in seas of guilt, anger, despair. Life isn’t working. We are going down fast. But God can rescue us. And only one message matters. His! We need to see God’s glory.

Make no mistake. God has no ego problem. He does not reveal his glory for his good. We need to witness it for ours. We need a strong hand to pull us into a safe boat. And once aboard, what becomes our priority?

Simple. Promote God. We declare his preeminence. “Hey! Strong boat over here! Able pilot! He can pull you out!”

It’s Not About Me]

Father God,

We gladly choose to make you the priority in our lives. We want to make you and your message preeminent. We are grateful that you reached out through the fog of life with your saving message and gave us the opportunity to let you pull us to safety. The salvation you offer is the safety net of life and we gladly accept your offer. May we be eager to tell others of your saving love. May we promote your glory so others will find safety in you,

Amen.

I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.

[Psalm 37:25]

As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.

[Psalm 103:13]

I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid?

[Isaiah 51:12]

~ Max Lucado ~

 

Live Loved

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

[2 Corinthians 5:21]

The Bread of Life

Would you consider the offer of Jesus? “I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again” (John 6:35 nlt).

The grain-to-bread process is a demanding one. The seed must be planted before it can grow. When the grain is ripe, it must be cut down and ground into flour. Before it can become bread, it must pass through the oven. Bread is the end result of planting, harvesting, and heating.

Jesus endured an identical process. He was born into this world. He was cut down, bruised, and beaten on the threshing floor of Calvary. He passed through the fire of God’s wrath, for our sake. He “suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18 msg).

Bread of Life? Jesus lived up to the title. But an unopened loaf does a person no good. Have you received the bread? Have you received God’s forgiveness? …

God does not give us what we deserve. He has drenched his world in grace. It has no end. It knows no limits. It empowers this life and enables us to live the next. God offers second chances, like a soup kitchen offers meals to everyone who asks.

And that includes you. Make sure you receive the bread.

[Outlive Your Life]

Dear Lord,

Thank you for being the bread of life. You offer to us the sustenance we need for our spiritual lives. As bread feeds our physical bodies, so your Word and your wisdom provide food for our spirits. Your gift of salvation brings us to God and enables us to live for him. You offer this gift freely to all who will accept it. We gladly receive this bread of life, and we praise you for drenching this world in grace and giving us what we did not deserve,

Amen.

“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off?”

[Jeremiah 23:23]

With God nothing will be impossible.

[Luke 1:37]

God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend.

[Job 37:5]

~ Max Lucado ~

 

Live Loved

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.

[1 Peter 3:12]

Let's Talk to Jesus

What do you do when you run out of gas? You don’t exhaust your petroleum perhaps, but all of us run out of something. You need kindness, but the gauge is on empty. You need hope, but the needle is in the red. You want five gallons of solutions but can only muster a few drops. When you run out of steam before you run out of day, what do you do? Stare at the gauge? Blame your upbringing? Deny the problem?

No. Pity won’t start the car. Complaints don’t fuel an engine. Denial doesn’t bump the needle. In the case of an empty tank, we’ve learned: get the car to a gas pump ASAP.

My first thought when I run out of fuel is, How can I get this car to a gas pump? Your first thought when you have a problem should be, How can I get this problem to Jesus?

Let’s get practical. You and your spouse are about to battle it out again. The thunderstorm looms on the horizon. The temperature is dropping, and lightning bolts are flashing. Both of you need patience, but both tanks are empty. What if one of you calls, “Time-out”? What if one of you says, “Let’s talk to Jesus before we talk to each other. In fact, let’s talk to Jesus until we can talk to each other”? Couldn’t hurt. After all, he broke down the walls of Jericho. Perhaps he could do the same for yours.

[Every Day Deserves a Chance]

Lord,

You are the answer to our questions and the solution to our problems. We don’t have the wisdom to work through the storms of life, but you do. In your presence we find help and hope and healing,

Amen.

Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears.”

[Isaiah 38:5]

I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications.

[Psalm 116:1]

They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.

[Psalm 107:19]

~ Max Lucado ~