Live Loved

By humility and fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.

[Proverbs 22:4]

Pursue Humility

The story of David and Bathsheba is less a story of lust and more a story of power. A story of a man who rose too high for his own good. A man who needed to hear these words: “Come down before you fall.”

“First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall” (Proverbs 16:18 msg).

This must be why God hates arrogance. He hates to see his children fall. He hates to see his Davids seduce and his Bathshebas be victimized. God hates what pride does to his children. He doesn’t dislike arrogance. He hates it. Could he state it any clearer than Proverbs 8:13: “I hate pride and arrogance” (niv)? And then a few chapters later: “God can’t stomach arrogance or pretense; believe me, he’ll put those upstarts in their place” (16:5 msg).

You don’t want God to do that… ’Tis far wiser to descend the mountain than fall from it.

Pursue humility. Humility doesn’t mean you think less of yourself but that you think of yourself less. “Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you” (Romans 12:3 Phillips)…

Resist the place of celebrity. “Go sit in a seat that is not important. When the host comes to you, he may say, ‘Friend, move up here to a more important place.’ Then all the other guests will respect you” (Luke 14:10 ncv).

Wouldn’t you rather be invited up than put down?

[Facing Your Giants]

Heavenly Father,

You have taught us in your Word that you hate pride but you honor humility. We live in a culture that feeds the natural desire to put ourselves first and to inflate our egos. It is far easier for us to be selfish than to be selfless. We need your help to live humbly in a way that pleases you. Remind us of the self-giving example of your Son, Jesus Christ. Like him, may we learn to think less of ourselves and more of others,

Amen.

Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

[Proverbs 16:19]

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.

[Proverbs 22:4]

With all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love.

[Ephesians 4:2]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

[Luke 9:23]

Your God-Designed Task

The phrase “take up your cross” has not fared well through the generations. Ask for a definition, and you’ll hear answers like “My cross is my mother-in-law, my job, my bad marriage, my cranky boss, or the dull preacher.” The cross, we assume, is any besetting affliction or personal hassle. My thesaurus agrees. It lists the following synonyms for cross: frustration, trying situation, snag, hitch, and drawback. To take up the cross is to put up with a personal challenge. God, we think, passes out crosses the way a warden hands out shovels to the chain gang. No one wants one. Each one gets one. Everybody has a cross to bear, and we might as well get used to it.

But really. Is Jesus reducing the cross to hassles and headaches? Calling us to quit complaining about the fly in the ointment or the pain in the neck? The cross means so much more. It is God’s tool of redemption, instrument of salvation— proof of his love for people. To take up the cross, then, is to take up Christ’s burden for the people of the world. Though our crosses are similar, none are identical. “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me” (Luke 9:23 cev).

We each have our own cross to carry—our individual callings… It’s a … sweet day when you discover your God-designed task. It fits. It matches your passions and enlists your gifts and talents. Want to blow the cloud cover off your gray day? Accept God’s direction.

[Every Day Deserves a Chance]

Lord,

You have called us to take up our crosses and follow you. You challenge us to take up your burden for the people of the world. Open our eyes to see the need and open our hearts to accept our God-designed task. May our hands be willing to serve you. May we gladly give our gifts and talents to help the hurting, to feed the hungry, and to share your love with those who are lost. May we willingly forget about ourselves and find our calling in you,

Amen.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

[Philippians 1:6]

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

[1 Corinthians 15:58]

None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy.
 

[Acts 20:24]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

[Romans 11:33]

Loved with a Wise Love

God’s omniscience governs his omnipotence. Infinite knowledge rules infinite strength. “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength” (Job 9:4 kjv). “With him is wisdom and strength” (12:13 kjv). “He is mighty in strength and wisdom” (36:5 kjv).

His power is not capricious or careless. Quite the contrary. His wisdom manages and equals his strength. Paul announced, “Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33 niv).

His knowledge about you is as complete as his knowledge about the universe. “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether… Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:4, 16 esv).

The veils that block your vision and mine do not block God’s. Unspoken words are as if uttered. Unrevealed thoughts are as if proclaimed. Unoccurred moments are as if they were history. He knows the future, the past, the hidden, and the untold. Nothing is concealed from God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present.

[It’s Not About Me]

Heavenly Father,

Your mighty wisdom is mind-boggling. Your knowledge is complete. Nothing stumps you or perplexes you. Your wisdom is ruled by your infinite strength. You know everything about the past and the future. Nothing is hidden from you. Your mighty strength and wisdom are a firm foundation for all who believe in you. We can rely on you, as our faithful Father, to guide us, to teach us, to help us,

Amen.

You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.

[Psalm 139:5-6]

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.

[Psalm 138:8]

The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us.

[Psalm 115:12]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”


[Luke 9:23]

Fill Your Day with G-O-D

My friend and I went on an extended hill-country trek. A few minutes into the trip I began to tire. Within a half hour my thighs ached and my lungs heaved like a beached whale. I could scarcely pump the pedals. I’m no Tour de France contender, but neither am I a newcomer, yet I felt like one. After forty-five minutes I had to dismount and catch my breath. That’s when my partner spotted the problem. Both rear brakes were rubbing my back tire! Rubber grips contested every pedal stroke. The ride was destined to be a tough one.

Don’t we do the same? Guilt presses on one side. Dread drags the other. No wonder we weary so. We sabotage our day, wiring it for disaster, lugging along yesterday’s troubles, downloading tomorrow’s struggles. Remorse over the past, anxiety over the future. We aren’t giving the day a chance.

How can we? What can we do? Here’s my proposal: consult Jesus. The Ancient of Days has something to say about our days. He doesn’t use the term day very often in Scripture. But the few times he does use it provide a delightful formula for upgrading each of ours to blue-ribbon status.

Saturate your day in his grace.

“I tell you in solemn truth,” replied Jesus, “that this very day you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43 wey).

Entrust your day to his oversight.

“Give us day by day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).

Accept his direction.

“If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me” (Luke 9:23 cev).

Grace. Oversight. Direction. G-O-D

Fill your day with God. Give the day a chance.

[Every Day Deserves a Chance]

Father God,

We want to fill our days with you. Help us saturate our days with your grace. We entrust our days to your oversight and accept your direction. You have promised to give us exactly what we need for each day, and we thank you for that provision. And you have promised to be the light we need on the path. You are the way and the truth for our path,

Amen.

But the Lord has been my defense and my God the rock of my refuge.

 

[Psalm 94:22]

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

 

[James 1:5]

 

 

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

[Luke 12:32]

Living Without Fear

It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state, and drains us dry of contentment. We become abandoned barns, rickety and tilting from the winds, a place where humanity used to eat, thrive, and find warmth. No longer. When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life. Can the safety lover do anything great? Can the risk-averse accomplish noble deeds? For God? For others? No. The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. They cannot give to the poor. Benevolence has no guarantee of return. The fear-filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear.

His most common command emerges from the “fear not” genre. The gospels list some 125 Christ-issued imperatives. Of these, twenty-one urge us to “not be afraid” or “not fear” or “have courage” or “take heart” or “be of good cheer.” The second most common command, to love God and neighbor, appears on only eight occasions. If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously. The one statement he made more than any other was this: don’t be afraid.

[Fearless]

O Lord,

You are constantly calling us to be courageous and to trust completely in you. But too often fear gets the upper hand. Give us your peace when we edge toward panic. May we focus on you when our faith is fragile. Help us to remember that you want our lives to be filled with hope and gladness. Remind us of your loving care and compassion that covers every detail of our lives,

Amen.

The Lord, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.

[Deuteronomy 31:8]

In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.

[Isaiah 54:14]

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

[Psalm 31:24]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

[Matthew 11:28]

The Solution for Slumps

Slumps: the petri dish for bad decisions, the incubator for wrong turns, the assembly line of regretful moves. How we handle our tough times stays with us for a long time.

How do you handle yours? When hope takes the last train and joy is nothing but the name of the girl down the street … when you are tired of trying, tired of forgiving, tired of hard weeks or hardheaded people … how do you manage your dark days?

With a bottle of pills or scotch? With an hour at the bar, a day at the spa, or a week at the coast? Many opt for such treatments. So many, in fact, that we assume they reenergize the sad life. But do they? No one denies that they help for a while, but over the long haul? They numb the pain, but do they remove it?

Or are we like the sheep on the Turkish cliff ? Who knows why the first one jumped over the edge. Even more bizarre are the fifteen hundred others who followed, each leaping off the same overhang.

The first 450 animals died. The thousand that followed survived only because the pile of corpses cushioned their fall. We, like sheep, follow each other over the edge, falling headlong into bars and binges and beds…

Is there a solution? Indeed there is: …be quick to pray. Stop talking to yourself. Talk to Christ, who invites. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest” (Matthew 11:28 msg).

God, who is never downcast, never tires of your down days.

[Facing Your Giants]

 Father,

When we find ourselves sinking from the weight of earthly distractions, you have promised to help us find a solution. When days are dark, you long to bring light to our lives. Thank you for never getting tired of lifting us up on down days. Teach us to turn to you in prayer when we’re overwhelmed with discouraging thoughts. Guide us in your word when we feel lost and alone. In your presence we will find joy,

Amen.

Let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

[Philippians 4:6-7]

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him.

[Psalm 43:5]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.

[Exodus 33:11]

Loved by a Glorious God

Moses makes a request of God. “Show me your glory”

[Exodus 33:18]

“Show me your radiance,” Moses is praying. “Flex your biceps. Let me see the S on your chest. Your preeminence. Your heart-stopping, ground-shaking extraspectacularness. Forget the money and the power. Bypass the youth. I can live with an aging body, but I can’t live without you. I want more God, please. I’d like to see more of your glory.”

Why did Moses want to see God’s greatness?

Ask yourself a similar question. Why do you stare at sunsets and ponder the summer night sky? Why do you search for a rainbow in the mist or gaze at the Grand Canyon? Why do you allow the Pacific surf to mesmerize and Niagara to hypnotize? How do we explain our fascination with such sights?

Beauty? Yes. But doesn’t the beauty point to a beautiful Someone? Doesn’t the immensity of the ocean suggest an immense Creator? Doesn’t the rhythm of migrating cranes and beluga whales hint of a brilliant mind? And isn’t that what we desire? A beautiful Maker? An immense Creator? A God so mighty that he can commission the birds and command the fish?

“Show me your glory, God,” Moses begs…

We cross a line when we make such a request. When our deepest desire is not the things of God, or a favor from God, but God himself, we cross a threshold. Less self-focus, more God-focus. Less about me, more about him.

[It’s Not About Me]

Gracious Lord,

Like Moses of old we long to see your greatness and your glory. When we see the wonders of your creation, our hearts are filled with praise for your mighty power. You care for even the smallest detail of creation. Your vast universe is spectacular beyond imagining. We want to know you better, Lord,

Amen.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth.

[Psalm 108:5]

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful.

[Psalm 116:5]

Unto You I lift my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens.

[Psalm 123:1]

 

~ Max Lucado ~