Southside's Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

FOLKS LIKE US - Max Lucado

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV). Does Jesus still use simple folks like us to change the world? You know, we suffer from such ordinariness. But God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

“So don’t let Satan convince you otherwise. He will tell you that God has an IQ requirement or an entry fee. And when Satan whispers such lies, dismiss him with this truth: God stampeded the first-century society with swaybacks, not thoroughbreds. There is no evidence that Jesus chose the disciples because they were smarter or nicer than the guy next door. The one thing they had going for them was a willingness to take a step when Jesus said, “Follow me.” God changes the world with folks like you.”

From Mike: Have you ever doubted that God has qualified you for any duty? It’s often used as an excuse for not serving Him. Satan is more than willing to help you develop a good-sounding one. At least it sounds good to you. He’ll feed you that lie as often as it takes to keep you from taking a step to follow Jesus. The longer you use it, the more you believe it. Do you think Jesus is going to swallow that lie and say, “That’s ok!”? Not likely!

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From Max Lucado

GOD’S WAITING ROOM

Are you in God’s waiting room? Perhaps you are between jobs or in search of health, help, a house, or a spouse. If so, here is what you need to know: while you wait, God works. God never twiddles his thumbs. He never stops. He takes no vacations. “Be still and know that I am God” reads the sign on God’s waiting room wall. You can be glad because God is good. You can be still because he is active. You can rest because he is busy.

To wait, biblically speaking, is not to assume the worst, worry, fret, make demands, or take control. Nor is waiting inactivity. Waiting is a sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and belief. To wait is to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7 NASB).

REMEMBER GOD’S BLESSINGS

Jesus performed two bread-multiplying miracles: in one he fed 5,000 people, in the other 4,000. Still, his disciples, who witnessed both feasts, worried about empty pantries. A frustrated Jesus rebuked them. “Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all?” (Mark 8:17-18 NLT).

Short memories harden the heart. Make careful note of God’s blessings. Declare with David: “[I will] daily add praise to praise. I’ll write the book on your righteousness, talk up your salvation the livelong day, never run out of good things to write or say” (Psalm 71:14-15 MSG).

Catalog God’s goodness. Meditate on his work. Remember what God has done for you.

From Mike: These Max Lucado devotionals are tied together because they provide good encouragement for me. Being a Christian is often not easy. It takes TRUST, FAITH, and the determination to be PATIENT and to REMEMBER His goodness. For some people, it’s more effort than they care to expend. My relationship with God is more a promise of the future than of right now. I wouldn’t say I like spending time in God’s waiting room. RIGHT NOW is better! My experience with the corporations I’ve worked for is, “Mike, what have you done for me today?” At times, I’ve treated God the same way.

I must focus on the song, “Heaven will surely be worth it all!”  It will be!

Thanks!  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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FUEL YOUR FAITH - Max Lucado

Trying to control all the details of your world is exhausting. Only God has the power to see and know everything, but we forget.  And before long, we’re back at it—running too fast, working too many hours, and trying to control everyone and everything around us. What do you do when you run out of gas?

To avoid suffering from a fuel-less faith, you need to fill yourself with some high-test fuel. Try some Philippians. Like chapter 1 in verse 6: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” And then, in chapter 4 in verse 13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Fill your tank with verses like these, and remember: God is able to do what you can’t.

 

From Mike: There are times when we need encouragement to replenish our spiritual reserves. We need the uplifting words of others. Our elders and Tim are always ready and eager to provide you with that support. If you pay attention to Tim's remarks during the invitation, he encourages you to express your needs not only at that moment but also to arrange a private meeting if that better fits your needs. Talk to them!

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SPEAK WORDS OF LIFE - Max Lucado

Nathaniel Hawthorne came home heartbroken. He had just been fired from his job in the customhouse. His wife, rather than responding with anxiety, surprised him with joy. “Now you can write your book!” He wasn’t so positive. “And what shall we live on while I’m writing it?” To his amazement she opened a drawer and revealed a wad of money she’d saved out of her housekeeping budget. “I always knew you were a man of genius,” she told him. “I always knew you’d write a masterpiece”

She believed in her husband. And because she did, he wrote. And because he wrote, every library in America has a copy of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” You have the power to change someone’s life simply by the words you speak.

From Mike:  James 3:3-12

 "When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

"7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

"9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

 Focus on Max's closing statement and then read James. Hawthorne's wife used words of encourage. We should also!

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GUARD YOUR THOUGHTS - Max Lucado

Life has a way of unloading its rubbish on us. Your boss expects too much. Your kids whine too much. Trash. Load after load of anger, guilt, pessimism, bitterness, anxiety. It all piles up. As a result, we must guard our thoughts. Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. Today’s jealousy is tomorrow’s hate crime.

Could that be why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV), “Love keeps no record of wrongs”? Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NCV) that we have a choice: “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.” Selfishness, step back! Envy, get lost! Rather than store up the sour thoughts, store up the sweet ones. Make a list of God’s mercies—the many times that he’s blessed you, the many times that he’s forgiven you—and you will find your thoughts resulting in happy days.

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On the Anvil

Max Lucado’s first book was On the Anvil. In it, he considers us God’s tools and compares us to a blacksmith's tools.  “ In the shop of a blacksmith, there are three types of tools. There are tools on the junk pile: outdated, broken, dull, and rusty. There are tools on the anvil: melted down, molten hot, moldable and changeable. There are tools of usefulness: sharpened, primed, defined, and mobile.”

“We are all somewhere in the blacksmith’s shop. We are either on the scrap pile, on the anvil, in the Master’s hands or in the tool chest. Some of us have been in all three.”

Max describes his book as taking a tour of God’s shop. “For you who make the journey who leave the heap and enter the fire, dare to be pounded on God’s anvil, and doggedly seek to discover your own purpose, take courage, for you await the privilege of being called “God’s chosen instruments.”

Max writes that there is no question as to what a tool is for. ”One look at the tool and you instantly know its function. You pick up a hammer and you know it was made to hit nails. As a human emerges from the anvil of God, the same should be true. Being tested by God reminds us that our function and task is to be about His business.”

“In a world of confused identity, in a world of wavering commitments and foggy futures, let us be firm in our role. Society is in dire need of a quorum of people whose task is clear and whose determination is unquenchable.” The book was first published in 1985, 39 years ago. Max’s description of the world in 1985 was accurate for 2024 only I believe the world has moved further away from God.

I will be 74 years old soon. It would be nice to think that there is no more “anvil time” for me, but God still needs every one of us. Where are you in God’s blacksmith shop?

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On the Anvil – Max Lucado – 1985 – Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

 

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ACCEPT GOD’S OFFER - Max Lucado

A person can be religious and yet lost. Attending church won’t make you God’s child. You must accept his offer. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1st Peter 3:18).

It makes no sense to seek your God-given strength until you trust in his. “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for” (Ephesians 1:11 MSG).

Take a few moments and talk to God. Whether you are making a decision or reaffirming an earlier one, talk to your Maker about your eternal life. You might find this prayer helpful: Immanuel, you are with me. You became a person and took on flesh. You became my Savior and took on my sin. I accept your gift. I receive you as my Lord, Savior, and friend. And because of you, I’ll never be alone again.

From Mike: I believe Max's opening paragraph describes a number of people in this world. Our greatest need is to build and cultivate a relationship with God. Attending church is only one facet of a relationship. Have a very honest talk with Him. He already knows what's on your heart but He wants us to open up in prayer to Him. You'll never regret opening up to God!

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MADE FOR THE PART - Max Lucado

Listen to the way God described the builder Bezalel. “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence and skill in all kinds of crafts” (Exodus 31:3 NLT). Can you hear the pleasure in God’s voice?

You know, when you do the most what you do the best, you pop the pride buttons on the vest of God. In the movie Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell defended his devotion to running by telling his sister, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” When do you feel God’s pleasure? When do you look up into the heavens and say, “I was made to do this”?

When it comes to being you, you were made for the part. So speak your lines with confidence.

From Mike: Sometimes, we want to excel in what we want, not what God wants. My brother-in-law wanted to be a preacher. After his Navy service, he went to Freed Hardeman, determined to become a preacher. His experience there and the staff convinced him that was not what he was made for. Now, 30+ years later, he does excellent personal work in the church.  I believe he is popping God's buttons!

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Our Hearts

God wants our hearts! He wants them voluntarily. He will not force us, deceive us, or trick us. Unfortunately, Satan wants them too. He doesn’t care how he gets them. He’s willing to deceive or mislead us in any way he can. Which of these two relationships describes the relationship you want to live in?

Who you give your heart to is not a one-time decision but one we make moment by moment each day.  Paul gives an accurate description of my life in Romans.

Romans 7:19-25:

 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

I continue to believe that I’m in a war with Satan over my soul! Each temptation is a battle in the war. It’s my choice! It’s also yours! Choose to give your heart to God!

Thanks

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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WHEN GOD GIVES AN ASSIGNMENT - Max Lucado

The Bible says that “each person is given something to do that shows who God is” (1 Corinthians 12:7 MSG).

When God gives an assignment, he also gives the skill. Look at your life. What do you consistently do well? What do you love to do?  And what do others love for you to do? So much for the excuse, “I don’t have anything to offer. I can’t do anything.” And enough of its arrogant opposite, “I have to do everything.”

Imitate the apostle Paul who said, “Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us” (2 Corinthians 10:13 NLT). So extract your uniqueness. “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you” (2 Timothy 1:6 NASB). And do so to make a big deal out of God.

From Mike:To say that He gave you NO gift would be calling Him a liar. If you have not tried to discover the gift then you must make an effort. He will guide you. Sometimes it just comes down to common sense. He did not give me the gift of leading the singing. I know that and you would to if I tried. 

James 4:17 - So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

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LORD OF HEAVEN - Max Lucado

When tragedy strikes, whether personal, national, or global, people wonder how God could allow such things to happen. Is God really in control? Can we trust him to run the universe if he would allow this?

It is important to recognize that God dwells in a different realm. God said to Isaiah, “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NCV).

How vital, then, that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven. And he has chosen to bend near toward earth to see our sorrow and hear our prayers. Though we may not be able to see his purpose or his plan, the Lord of heaven is on his throne and in firm control of the universe and our lives.

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Ms. Nellie

I’m an early riser. I have my coffee and work on crossword puzzles and other computer games to get my mind working. Some days that takes a long time. Then, I turn the lights off in my study, stare into the darkness, and talk to God. Doing it this way keeps my attention deficit down.

For some reason, this morning, my mind turned to Ms. Nellie Shoemaker. Unfortunately, I didn’t really know her. This past summer, I saw her in Walmart. Because of my speech, I don’t often speak to folks who don’t really know me. On this occasion, I got up the courage to say hello. I could not remember her name, so I told her we go to church together. I had to tell her twice because she was guarded. It dawned on her who I was.  She smiled really big, “You’re that man that sends me that letter every month.” I said, “Yes, mam”. After all, she was only a few years younger than my Mom would have been. She told me that she kept the letters with her Bible to reread. We chatted for a few more minutes about her lifestyle, and she moved on to her car to drive home. It's incredible that at 90+ years old, she was capable of so much memory and freedom.

Most of us complicate life well beyond what we need to. Ms. Nellie’s life seemed so uncomplicated. She had a deep and abiding love for God. She knew He was in charge and was very comfortable with that fact. For just a brief encounter, she made such an impression on me. It’s easy to picture her in the arms of Jesus.

Thanks, Ms. Nellie, for sharing your Godly thoughts with me! Hopefully, I will pass your spirit on!

Mike                                

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God’s Peace

Peace is a state of tranquility or quiet, serene or calm – the absence of war. The Hebrew word is shalom (both adjective and substantive), meaning primarily "soundness" "health," but also coming to signify "prosperity," well-being in general, all good in relation to both man and God.

What brings you peace in your life? You might say everything is right in my world! We are all healthy, jobs are going fine, the kids are doing well, and we have no appreciable debt.

You should be at peace in this case, but how long will this last? I’m not a pessimist, but we all realize that life can take a turn quickly.

Over a year, you learn that your 18-year-old daughter, who just graduated from high school, is pregnant. Your brother-in-law has committed suicide. The company you manage is running out of money. The Board votes not to raise more capital and to cease operations. After the company’s dissolution is settled, a friend invites you to join his company as a partner. Within days, you field calls from the business’s creditors who want their money.  Investigation shows that his daughter has been embezzling money to blow at the casinos. This company goes under within four months of joining it. During all this, you, your wife, and son are negotiating to buy a retail business for them to manage.

There is not much peace!!!  Where do we go from here? Satan loves these opportunities. He’ll tell you God doesn’t care about you, so why should you be loyal to Him? He will help you wallow in your self-pity. Well, you don’t blame God and turn away from Him. You run to His arms and ask for a comforting hug.

The following are quotes from Allen Jackson:

Thankfully, there is no fear that cannot be overcome with the peace that Jesus gives us. His life was filled with situations that would cause real fear in the bravest of us, but He was never afraid. His life was marked by criticism and rejection, but He demonstrated a calm assurance that God was always with Him. If Jesus said we don’t have to be afraid, we don’t have to be. If Jesus gives me His peace, that’s good enough for me.

Allen’s prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that in this troubled world You provide peace, security, and abundant life through the cross of Jesus Christ. May your Holy Spirit counsel me daily in Your peace. When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In Jesus’ name, amen

From Chris Lawrence:

Here are seven things to know about the peace of God:

This peace is a gift. You must look outside yourself for this peace. You will not find this peace by looking deep inside your own heart, but by looking outside of yourself, to another power and a person. And this person is God.

As God has said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. John 14:27  He offers this gift with no strings attached. It is a blessing for us to enjoy. But it is something you must ask for in order to receive. Psalm 29:11

The peace that God offers is not something we can fully understand. We are relying upon God after all. As the Bible says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding…  Philippians 4:6-7 The great thing is that we don’t have to fully understand it to experience it!

This peace will give you strength. The feeling of calm and confidence, even while the wind blows and thunder rolls, is a powerful weapon against the storms of cancer, coronavirus or whatever challenges you face. Those that experience it will find a new kind of strength. God has promised to increase the power of the weak, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:29-31

This peace will guard your heart. Especially in the face of suffering and threats, your heart is a fragile thing. This peace builds a fortress around your heart and protects you from the surrounding dangers and fears.

This peace will help you sleep. So often, our anxiety rears its head the most when we try to sleep. If we begin experiencing a calm and tranquility about our future, better sleep is a natural outcome. God promises it to us. “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

You must ask for this peace. We can’t assume that this peace will automatically arrive on our doorstep. We have to ask God for it. He is relational and does not intrude on people. You must invite him into your life, and into your journey. As God says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20

There is a gift of peace you can experience, no matter where you are at on your journey.  Are you ready to ask for it?

God knows what we need, even better than we know it ourselves. Is that settled in your heart? Does your life reflect that?

We are all in need of peace. This article was spurred primarily by the weather in Middle Tennessee this past weekend.  Six tornadoes, as of this writing, six deaths, and one of those was a child. Many injured. An unknown number of homes were destroyed. Christmas presents are scattered for miles around the countryside.

But then, Evelyn needs additional neurological surgery. A significant amount of peace is required when your child faces any surgery but brain surgery.

I’m sure that Allen’s writings come from many years in ministry to those who need and are in search of peace. Chris’s article comes from his ministry to help cancer patients find peace.

In addition to your search for peace, do you help others in the search?

God is waiting for you to come for a hug. His arms are open wide. Go ahead ! They feel good!

God Bless!

Mike    Mikeclement5772@gmail,com

Standing Firm – Allen Jackson – 2018 – Intend Publishing

Hope Has Arrived - The Gift of Peace - From the Internet – Chris Lawrence

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SEARCHING THE NIGHT - Max Lucado

On the night when Jesus was born, I wonder if Joseph prayed, “Father, this all seems so…bizarre. The angel you sent? Any chance you could send another?”

You’ve stood where Joseph stood. Each of us knows what it’s like to search the night for a light. Not outside a stable, but perhaps outside an emergency room or the manicured grass of a cemetery. We’ve asked our questions. We’ve wondered why God does what he does. If you’re asking what Joseph asked, let me urge you to do what Joseph did: obey. He didn’t let his confusion disrupt his obedience.

What about you? You have a choice: to obey or disobey. Because Joseph obeyed, God used him to change the world. Can he do the same with you? Will you be that kind of person? Will you serve…even when you don’t understand?

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THE HOUSE OF GOD - Max Lucado

When it came time for bed, it’s what our young daughter’s guest wanted more than anything else—to go home! I can’t blame her. When I travel, the hardest part of the trip is going to sleep. When it comes to resting, there is no house like your own.

It’s what David asked. He longed to live in the house of God. He asked for his own room, permanently. He longed to retire there in a lifelong residence. When David says in Psalm 23, “I will live in the house of the Lord forever,” he’s saying simply that he never wants to step away from God. Make it your aim never to leave God’s house.

And when you find yourself in another house, do what my daughter’s friend did – just call home. He won’t mind, he’ll be waiting.

 

From Mike: Very comforting!!

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HERE BY GRACE - Max Lucado


When I realized my daughter and I weren’t seated together, I asked the fellow sitting next to her to swap seats with me. Surely he’ll understand, I thought. But he didn’t.

And so I was left separated for a long, transatlantic flight from my daughter. I began to plot how I’d trip him if he dared walk to the restroom during the flight. I turned to intimidate him with a snarl and saw, much to my surprise, Jenna offering him a pretzel. What? My daughter fraternizing the enemy! As if the pretzel were an olive branch, he accepted her gift and they both leaned their seats back and dozed off.

I learned the lesson God had used my daughter to teach me. All of us are here by grace and, at some point, all of us have to share some grace. So the next time you find yourself next to a questionable character, don’t give him a hard time—give him a pretzel!

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WE ARE ALL BEGGARS - Max Lucado

We are all beggars in need of bread. “Give us this day our daily bread,” we pray. You may prefer, “We are all hungry, in need of bread.” Such a phrase certainly has more dignity than the word beggar. Who wants to be called a beggar? After all, didn’t you create the ground in which the seed was sown? No? Well at least you made the seed, right? You didn’t? What about the sun? Did you provide the heat during the day? Or the rain – did you send the clouds? No? Then exactly what did you do?

You harvested food you didn’t make from an earth you didn’t create. Let me see if I have this straight. Had God not done his part, you would have no food. Hmmm…perhaps we best return to the word beggar. We are all beggars, in need of bread.

 

From Mike: This is for all of us and especially for those that don't believe they need to say "Thank you" to God!

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ABBA FATHER - Max Lucado

When my daughter Jenna was twelve, I took her to Jerusalem. As we were exiting the Jaffa gate, an orthodox Jewish family was in front of us—a father and his three small girls. One of the daughters fell a few steps behind and couldn’t see her father. “Abba!” she called to him. “Abba!” she called again. He spotted her and immediately extended his hand.

As they continued, I wanted to see the actions of an abba. He held her hand tightly in his. When he stopped at a busy street, she stepped off the curb and he pulled her back. When the signal changed, he carried her and led her sisters through the intersection.

Isn’t that what we all need? An abba who will hear when we call? An abba who will swing us up into his arms and carry us home? Don’t we all need an Abba Father?

 

From Mike: As we observe this special day, let's give special thanks to Abba!

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TRUST YOUR WOUNDS TO JESUS - Max Lucado

"Resentment is a prison. When you put someone in your jail cell of hatred, you’re stuck guarding the door. If you’re out to settle a score, you’re never going to rest. How can you? For one thing, your enemy may never pay up. And as much as you think you deserve an apology, your debtor may not agree. The racist may never repent; the chauvinist may never change. As justified as you are in your quest for vengeance, you may never get a penny’s worth of justice. And if you do, will it be enough?"

"You see, resentment is a prison. Jesus doesn’t question the reality of your wounds, he just doubts whether resentment is going to heal them. What are you going to do? Are you going to spend your life guarding the jail cell, or are you going to trust your wounds to Jesus?"

From Mike: Max you don't understand. Jesus may not exact all the vengeance that I believe is necessary! Folks, if that's your attitude then you will continue your prison sentence of dealing with resentment. Just remember that you sentenced yourself!

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THE ROOF OF GOD’S GRACE - Max Lucado


“Insufficient funds” – what an ominous phrase! In the great gallery of famous phrases, “insufficient funds” hangs in the same hallway with “the IRS will audit your account,” “a root canal is necessary,” and “let’s stop dating and just be friends.”

You’re overdrawn. You gave more than you had to give. You spent more than you had to spend. And guess who has to cough up some cash? What do you do if you don’t have any money? What do you do if you have nothing to deposit but an honest apology and good intentions? You pray that some wealthy soul will make a huge deposit in your account.

If you’re talking about your financial debt, that’s not likely to happen. But if you’re talking about your spiritual debt, it already has. Your heavenly Father has covered your shortfall. In God’s house you’re covered by the roof of his grace!

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