Live Loved

Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [PHILIPPIANS 3:13–14]

Stay in the Race

In 1952, Florence Chadwick attempted to swim the chilly ocean waters between Catalina Island and the California shore. She swam through foggy weather and choppy seas for fifteen hours. Her muscles began to cramp, and her resolve weakened. She begged to be taken out of the water, but her mother, riding in a boat alongside, urged her not to give up. She kept trying but grew exhausted and stopped swimming. Aides lifted her out of the water and into the boat. They paddled a few more minutes, the mist broke, and she discovered that the shore was less than a half mile away. “All I could see was the fog,” she explained at a news conference. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.

Take a long look at the shore that awaits you. Don’t be fooled by the fog of the slump. The finish may be only strokes away. God may be, at this moment, lifting his hand to signal Gabriel to grab the trumpet. Angels may be assembling, saints gathering, demons trembling. Stay at it! Stay in the water. Stay in the race. Stay in the fight.

Give grace, one more time. Be generous, one more time. Teach one more class, encourage one more soul, swim one more stroke.

[FACING YOUR GIANTS]

Father, you created us and you know everything there is to know about us. You know how discouraged we get at times and how we want to give up the struggles we face. Sometimes it seems as if we have more struggles than strength. We are tempted to quit. When that happens, Lord, remind us to endure for one more day, to be patient one more time, to serve without reward for one more season, 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]

I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

[ISAIAH 46:4]

He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

[PROVERBS 30:5]

Live Loved

“Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

Give to him who asks you, and from him

who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”

[MATTHEW 5:41–42]

The Society of the Second Mile

Jesus created what we might deem the Society of the Second Mile. He presented a new option. Serve the ones who hate you; forgive the ones who hurt you. Take the lowest place, not the highest; seek to serve, not to be served. Retaliate, not in kind, but in kindness.”

“Roman soldiers could legally coerce Jewish citizens into carrying their load for one mile.1 With nothing more than a command, they could requisition a farmer out of his field or a merchant out of his shop.

In such a case, Jesus said, “Give more than requested.” Go two. At the end of one mile, keep going. Surprise the sandals off the soldier by saying, “I haven’t done enough for you. I’m going a second mile.” Do more than demanded. And do so with joy and grace!”

“The Society of the Second Mile still exists. . . . We have a second-mile servant in our church. By profession he is an architect. By passion, a servant. He arrives an hour or so prior to each worship service and makes his rounds through the men’s restrooms. He wipes the sinks, cleans the mirrors, checks the toilets, and picks up paper off the floor. No one asked him to do the work; very few people are aware he does the work. He tells no one and requests nothing in return. He belongs to the Society of the Second Mile.”

[EVERY DAY DESERVES A CHANCE]

Lord Jesus, I want to live each day in a way that will please you. I know you are calling me to have a servant attitude: to take the lowest place and to seek to serve. When I am faced with a choice, may I choose to go the second mile no matter how difficult. And may I do so with joy and grace and a glad heart. Teach me to live a God-centered life that will bring honor to your name, amen.

Blessed are those who keep justice,

and he who does righteousness at all times!

PSALM 106:3

The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

JAMES 3:18

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, b

and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.

PROVERBS 16:20”

Live Loved

Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.

[PSALM 50:15 NLT]

Problems Have a Purpose

God will use whatever he wants to display his glory. Heavens and stars. History and nations. People and problems. My dying dad in West Texas.

The last three years of his life were scarred by ALS. The disease took him from a healthy mechanic to a bedbound paralytic. He lost his voice and his muscles, but he never lost his faith. Visitors noticed. Not so much in what he said but more in what he didn’t say. Never outwardly angry or bitter, Jack Lucado suffered stately. His faith led one man to seek a like faith. After the funeral this man sought me out and told me. Because of my dad’s example, he became a Jesus follower.

Did God orchestrate my father’s illness for that very reason? Knowing the value he places on one soul, I wouldn’t be surprised. And imagining the splendor of heaven, I know my father’s not complaining. A season of suffering is a small assignment when compared to the reward.

Rather than begrudge your problem, explore it. Ponder it. And most of all, use it. Use it to the glory of God. . . . Your pain has a purpose. Your problems, struggles, heartaches, and hassles cooperate toward one end—the glory of God.

[IT’S NOT ABOUT ME]

Heavenly Father,

 

When problems and pain come my way, help me to remember that nothing comes into my life without your approval. Rather than complain and cry about the challenges I face, help me consider them as opportunities to bring glory to you. Give me the strength and patience to bear my burdens in a way that will honor you. I will lift my eyes off the trials and keep them fixed firmly on you,

 

Amen.

Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us.

[DANIEL 3:17]

Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

[JOSHUA 21:45]

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

[PSALM 34:19]

Live Loved

Loved with a Steadfast Love

Jeremiah was depressed, as gloomy as a giraffe with a neck ache. Jerusalem was under siege, his nation under duress. His world collapsed like a sand castle in a typhoon. He faulted God for his horrible emotional distress. He also blamed God for his physical ailments. “He [God] has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones” (Lamentations 3:4 RSV). His body ached. His heart was sick. His faith was puny. . . . He realized how fast he was sinking, so he shifted his gaze. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’ ” (vv. 21–24 RSV). “But this I call to mind . . . ” Depressed, Jeremiah altered his thoughts, shifted his attention. He turned his eyes away from his stormy world and looked into the wonder of God. He quickly recited a quintet of promises. (I can envision him tapping these out on the five fingers of his hand.)

1. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. 2. His mercies never come to an end. 3. They are new every morning. 4. Great is thy faithfulness. 5. The Lord is my portion. The storm didn’t cease, but his discouragement did.

[Fearless]

Thank you, precious Savior, that your love is steadfast. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning. Thank you for your great faithfulness, not only to me but to all your people from the first day of creation. When I am tempted to become depressed and distressed, may I choose to gaze on you. May I remember that you are my portion. May I hope in your unceasing love, amen.

Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD (You are great, and Your name is great in might).

[JEREMIAH 10:6]

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

[1 CORINTHIANS 1:9]

Live Loved

“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

[1 Corinthians 10:31]

Poclaim God's Glory

Whatever? Whatever. Let your message reflect his glory. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 niv).

Let your salvation reflect God’s glory. “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13–14).

Let your body reflect God’s glory. “You are not your own… Glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

Your struggles. “These sufferings of ours are for your benefit. And the more of you who are won to Christ, the more there are to thank him for his great kindness, and the more the Lord is glorified” (2 Corinthians 4:15 tlb; see also John 11:4).

Your success honors God. “Honor the Lord with your wealth” (Proberbs 3:9 niv). “Riches and honor come from you” (1 Chronicles 29:12 ncv). “God… is giving you power to make wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18 nasb).

Your message, your salvation, your body, your struggles, your success—all proclaim God’s glory.

[It’s Not About Me]

Gracious Father,

We pray that every facet of our lives would bring glory to you. We want to honor you with every struggle we face as well as every success. May our words and actions uplift your name. May the testimony of our own salvation draw others to you. May our lives be consistent proclamations of your glory. You deserve all the honor and praise,

Amen.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

[Colossians 3:17]

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

[Galatians 5:16]

If you life according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

[Romans 8:13]

 

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.

[Lamentations 2:19]

Praying Parents

Parents, we can do this. We can be loyal advocates, stubborn intercessors. We can take our parenting fears to Christ. In fact, if we don’t, we’ll take our fears out on our kids. Fear turns some parents into paranoid prison guards who monitor every minute, check the background of every friend. They stifle growth and communicate distrust. A family with no breathing room suffocates a child.

On the other hand, fear can also create permissive parents. For fear that their child will feel too confined or fenced in, they lower all boundaries. High on hugs and low on discipline. They don’t realize that appropriate discipline is an expression of love. Permissive parents. Paranoid parents. How can we avoid the extremes? We pray.

Prayer is the saucer into which parental fears are poured to cool. Jesus says so little about parenting, makes no comments about spanking, breast-feeding, sibling rivalry, or schooling. Yet his actions speak volumes about prayer. Each time a parent prays, Christ responds. His big message to moms and dads? Bring your children to me. Raise them in a greenhouse of prayer.

[Fearless]

Lord Jesus,

When you were here on earth, you showed tender love for children. You protected them and defended them. May we be as dedicated and devoted to our own children. When we begin to worry and be anxious for them, teach us to talk to you about our fears. Lord, you love our children even more than we do. You want what is best for them even more than we do. We can trust you to take care of our children and to guide us as we seek to be godly parents,

Amen.

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.
[Isaiah 54:13]

 

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers.
[1 Peter 3:12]

 

The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.
[Proverbs 20:7]

~ Max Lucado ~

Live Loved

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

[1 Thessalonians 5:16-18]

A Greatful Heart

God notices the grateful heart. Why? Does he have an ego problem? No. But we do. Gratitude lifts our eyes off the things we lack so we might see the blessings we possess. Nothing blows the winter out of the day like the Caribbean breeze of thankfulness. Need some trade winds?

Major in the grace of God. When Paul sent Timothy off to spiritual university, he told him to major in the grace of God: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). Do the same. Focus on the cross of Christ. Grow fluent in the language of redemption. Linger long at the foot of the cross. Immerse yourself in the curriculum of grace. And…

Measure the gifts of God. Collect your blessings. Catalog his kindnesses. Assemble your reasons for gratitude and recite them. “Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 ncv). Look at the totality of those terms. Always be joyful. Pray continually. Give thanks whatever happens.

[Every Day Deserves a Chance]

Heavenly Father,

Too often we concentrate on the weeds in life even when we live in the garden of your grace. Help us remember that gratitude is always an option. Whatever comes our way, may we choose to give thanks to you. When we forget, remind us of the innumerable blessings you have poured into our lives. When we remember your gifts to us, we can’t help but be filled with gratitude and joy. Teach us to rejoice in all things,

Amen.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.

[Colossians 4:2]

Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

[Hebrews 13:15]

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

[1 Thessalonians 5:18]

~ Max Lucado ~