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Chapters 7 & 8 Facing Your Giants

Chapter 7

Max relates the story of Ernest Gordon who was a prisoner of war in World War II. Ernest was held in the Death House of Chungkai, Burma is known for the extreme cruelty of the Japanese guards.  Life was “every man for himself” amongst the Allied prisoners. They stole food from one another, robbed the dying men and generally acted like barbarians.

Max states: “Selfishness, hatred, and pride-you don’t have to go to a POW camp to find them.  A dormitory will do just fine. As will the boardroom of a corporation or the bedroom of a marriage or the backwoods of a country.  The code of the jungle is alive and well. Every man for himself. Get all you can and can all you get. Survival of the fittest.”

David had the same experience with Nabal, an extremely wealthy man, who lived in the desert of Maon where David had lead his people. Nabal was a complete jerk and never had a thought of sharing with anyone. Max says of David and Nabal: “They cohabitated the territory with the harmony of two bulls in the same pasture. Both strong-headed. It was just a matter of time before they collided.”

David and his men provided protection for Nabal’s crops and flocks of sheep from the Bedouins and other robbers. At harvest and shearing time Nabal threw a huge party and David felt that his men deserved to attend. When David sent ten of his men to make his expectations known, Nabal acted as though he did not know any David. Of course, this infuriates David, so he takes four hundred of his men to enforce his will. Before he can arrive, Abigail, the very beautiful wife of Nabal intercepts David carrying meat and bread for his men. She agrees that Nabal is a jerk and asked David to leave Nabal’s fate to God. David agrees to her request and returns to his camp.

Abigail returns to Nabal to let him know how she saved his life from David’s anger. Upon hearing this, Nabal has a heart attack and dies ten days later. When David learned of Nabal’s death he could not forget how beautiful Abigail was and marries her. Max analyzes the story of David and Nabal: “Meekness saved the day that day. Abigail’s gentleness reversed a river of anger. Humility has such power. Apologies can disarm arguments. Contrition can defuse rage. Olive branches do more good than battle-axes ever will.”  Soft speech can crush strong opposition. Proverbs 25:15

 Max continues: “Abigail teaches so much. The contagious power of kindness. The strength of a gentle heart.  Her greatest lesson, however, is taking our eyes from her beauty and set them on someone else’s. She lifts our thoughts from a rural trail to a Jerusalem cross. Abigail never knew Jesus. She lived a thousand years before his sacrifice. Nevertheless, her story prefigures his life.”

“Abigail placed herself between David and Nabal. Jesus placed himself between God and us.  Abigail volunteered to be punished for Nabal’s sins. Jesus allowed heaven to punish him for yours and mine. Abigail turned away the anger of David. Didn’t Christ shield you from God’s?”

Jesus is our mediator, the one who stands between God and us. Max points out: “And what did Christ do but stand between God’s anger and our punishment? Christ intercepted the wrath of heaven.” God has piled all our sins, everything we have done wrong, on him, on him,” Isaiah 53:6 MSG

 Max finishes this chapter: “Do you find your Nabal world hard to stomach? Then do what David did: stop staring at Nabal. Shift your gaze to Christ. Look more at the Mediator and less at the troublemakers.”

Chapter 8

 Max opens this chapter by describing what he calls a “slump gun”. “It fires, not bullets, but sadness.  It takes, not lives, but smiles. It inflicts, not flesh wounds, but faith wounds.” Nothing seems to go right.  For every step forward, you take at least two back.

David feels as though Saul is using a “slump gun” on him. David is constantly on the run hiding from Saul in the hills, sleeping in caves and trying to care for six hundred men and their families. David says: “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.” I Samuel 27:1 NIV   

Max’s comment: “Confused? David talked to God. Challenged? He talked to God. Afraid? He talked to God…. most of the time. But not this time. On this occasion, he talks to himself. He doesn’t even seek the counsel of his advisors. When Saul first lashed out, David turned to Samuel. As the attacks continued, David asked Jonathan for advice. When weaponless and breadless, he took refuge among the priests of Nob. In this case, however, David consults David.”

David forgets that God has been his strength during this whole ordeal, and he seeks comfort with the enemy. This only brings about temporary relief from Saul. Max’s observation: “Stop resisting alcohol, and you’ll laugh---for a while. Move out on your spouse, and you’ll relax---for a time. Indulge in porn, and you’ll be entertained---for a season.”  He offers Proverbs 14:12-13 MSG: “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again-it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.”

The Philistines decide to attack Saul and David leads them to believe he is on their side. He and his men turn and fight the Philistines.  When David’s warriors return with him to their village, they find that everything has been burned and the Philistines have kidnapped their families. David’s men turn on him with threats of stoning him to death. The “slump gun” has hit David again.

Max offers this: “How we handle our tough times stays with us for a long time.  How do you handle yours? 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?”

If these things are not the solution, then what is? Prayer!  Max says: “Be quick to pray, seek healthy counsel, and don’t give up. God is never downcast, never tires of your down days!”

Max closes with I Samuel 30:6 NIV - David found strength in the Lord his God.

Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Thomas Nelson Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fruit of Sin by Max Lucado

 The 04/06/2021 edition:

 
 
 What is the fruit of sin? Step into the briar patch of humanity and feel a few thistles. Shame. Fear. Disgrace. Discouragement. Anxiety. Haven’t our hearts been caught in these brambles? The heart of Jesus, however, had not. He had never been cut by the thorns of sin. Anxiety? He never worried. Guilt? He was never guilty. Fear? He never left the presence God. He never knew the fruits of sin until he became sin for us.

And when He did, He felt anxious, guilty, and alone. Can’t you hear the emotion in His prayer? “My God, my God, why have you rejected me?” These are not the words of a saint; this is the cry of a sinner. And these are words that we should say, but these are words we don’t have to say because Jesus said them for us. He took on the fruit of sin so that we could enjoy the fruit of eternal life.

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God’s Suffering

Some have the picture of God as stoic with no emotions except anger. God and Christ are one in the same and John 11:35 tells us that Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. God made us in his own image, so he has emotions especially as he watched his Son suffer.

As I pray each day, I am very thankful for Christ’s suffering for me. As a father myself, I believe God was suffering along with his son. I don’t believe he could watch and hear Christ’s suffering without being distressed.

Think about your emotions as you witnessed and heard the following if it was your own son:

  • Your son falls to the ground and cries and pleads for you to deliver him from the crucifixion three times but thankfully he requests your will be done not his;
  • Watch as he is beaten until his face was disfigured and a made a bloody pulp;
  • Watch as he is flogged with a whip made with bone and stone in the tips;
  • Hear them curse and mock him;
  • Watch as they spit in his face;
  • Watch him wince as they push the crown of thorns down on his head;
  • Watch him struggle to drag about 180-pound cross through a crowd of people cursing and laughing at him;
  • Watch the pain in his face as they drive the nails into his hands and feet;
  • See the anguish in his face as the cross bangs around while settling in the hole ripping his flesh;
  • Watch as he tries to push his torso up so his lungs can get some air;
  • Hear him ask for something to drink and see him take a sip of vinegar;
  • Watch and hear the total disrespect for your son;
  • Then finally hear him ask you why you had forsaken him! This would be the final straw that would break my heart!

Some do not understand why we take communion every Sunday. They think that every Sunday causes communion to become mundane. How could it become mundane when you genuinely think about what God/Christ suffered for you. Would it be mundane if it were your son?

Most of the Christian world will celebrate Easter this Sunday. The focus will be on Christ’s crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection that gives us hope!

Concentrate on the suffering and be grateful because it’s the only hope you have!

Thanks

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

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AN EASTER HALLELUJAH

The original Hallelujah song was written by Leonard Cohen in 1984.The Easter version words are credited to Kelley Mooney to Cohen’s music. To listen to a beautiful version push control and click on the website below, The lyrics are posted below that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j3NZEdHQaI

A crown of thorns placed on His head

He knew that He would soon be dead

He said, "Did you forget me, Father did you?"

They nailed Him to a wooden cross

Soon all the world would feel the loss

Of Christ the King before His Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

He hung His head and prepared to die

Then lifted His face up to the sky

Said, "I am coming home now Father, to you"

A reed which held His final sip

Was gently lifted to his lips

He drank His last and gave His soul to glory

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The soldier who had used his sword

To pierce the body of our Lord

Said, "Truly, this was Jesus Christ our Savior"

He looked with fear upon his sword

Then turned to face his Christ and Lord

Fell to his knees crying Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Took from his head the thorny crown

And wrapped him in a linen gown

Then laid him down to rest inside the tomb

The holes in his hands, his feet and side

Now in our hearts we know he died

To save us from ourselves, oh Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Three days went by, again they came

To move the stone, to bless the slain

With oil and spice anointing Hallelujah

But as they went to move the stone

They saw that they were not alone

For Jesus Christ has risen, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

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The Dwelling Place of God by Max Lucado

'Do-it-yourself Christianity isn’t much encouragement to the done-in and worn-out. “Try a little harder” is little encouragement for the abused. At some point we need more than good advice; we need help. Somewhere on this journey we realize that the fifty-fifty proposition is too little. We need help from the inside out. The kind of help Jesus promised. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But know him, because he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).'

'Note the dwelling place of God: in you. Not near us, above us. But in us. In the hidden recesses of our beings dwells not an angel, not a philosophy, not a genie, but God. Imagine that."

Mike: This one hits home beause of my work with CASA children who are abused and/or abondoned. The young ones are confused. One 8 year old ask his mother why she gave him away. The older ones are angry. They need to understand Max's lesson. These children are all over Bedford County. Please pray for the children of our county!

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Chapeters 5 & 6 of Facing Your Giants

 Chapter 5

Max describes David’s status as: “No place in court. No position in the army. No wife, no priest, no friend. Nothing to do but run. Wilderness begins with disconnections. It continues in deceit.”  David’s wilderness is having no one he can go to or count on for support in his time of need.

All David can see is wilderness, he can’t see God, so he decides to take matters in his own hands.  He goes to Gath, the hometown of Goliath, hoping to be accepted. He continues to deceive people. David pretends to be insane and feigns epilepsy. The Gittites fear epilepsy so they threw him out of the city.

David is all alone but with nowhere to turn He remembers he is not alone.  He prays:

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!

For my soul trusts in You;

And in the shadow of Your wings, I will make my refuge!”

Max continues: “Make God your refuge. Not your job, not your spouse, your reputation, or your retirement account. Make God your refuge. Let him encircle you.”

Max shares a story of a man, Whit, raised in a Christian home.  He was married with a good family and became a leader in his church. He was sucked into gambling where he lost much more than he won. His wilderness became gambling, so his escape was to embezzle from the bank that employed him.  After an audit, the bank called Whit in for a meeting. He knew he was caught, and his planned escape was suicide. The police caught up to Whit before he could pull the trigger. He turned back to his faith while in prison and returned to church work after his release. After a period of a few years, a congregation asked Whit to serve as their senior minister.

Max encourages: “Are you in the wilderness? Crawl into God the way a fugitive would a cave. Find refuge in God’s presence.  Find comfort is his people. Cast your hat in a congregation of folks who are one gift of grace removed from tragedy, addiction, and disaster.  Seek community in God’s church.  Refuge in God’s presence. Comfort in God’s people. Your keys for wilderness survival.”

Let’s close with this thought from Max: “You’ll never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”

Chapter 6

The saga of David versus Saul continues with David on the run. David has amassed several hundred people who are loyal to him. With Saul right on his heels, David and his followers seek refuge in a cave. Saul and his men decide to take a rest stop just outside the cave.

Saul enters the mouth of the cave and Max writes: “David and his men were hiding far back in the cave. With eyes dulled from the desert sun, the king fails to notice the silent figures who line the walls.  But don’t you know they see him. Their minds race, and hands reach for daggers. One thrust of the blade will bring Saul’s tyranny and their running to an end. But David signals for his men to hold back. He edges along the wall, unsheathes his knife, and cuts not the flesh but the robe of Saul.  David then creeps back into the recesses of the cave.”

“David’s men can’t believe what their leader has done. Neither can David. Yet his feelings don’t reflect theirs. They think he has done too little; he thinks he has done too much. Rather than gloat, he regrets:”

“Later David felt guilty because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, May the Lord keep me from doing such a thing to my master! Saul is the Lord’s appointed king. I should not do anything against him, because he is the Lord’s appointed king.” I Samuel 24:19

                                                                                                   

After Saul exits the cave, David holds up the piece of cloth and shouts to Saul, “I could have killed you, but I didn’t.”  Saul’s stunned response is “If a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely?” This is not the last time David gives Saul grace.

Saul continues his hunt for David. While Saul and his army are camped, David and one of his soldiers sneak into Saul’s tent and take his spear and water jug. The soldier begs him to kill Saul but David refuses. David retreats to a safe distance and shouts to Saul: “God put your life in my hands today, but I wasn’t willing to lift a finger against God’s anointed.” Once again David grants Saul grace.

Max goes on: “Once again, we think about the purveyors of pain in our own lives. It’s one thing to give grace to friends, but to give grace to those that give us grief? Could you? Given a few uninterrupted moments with Darth Vader of your days, could you imitate David?”

Maybe you can because we seem able to overlook the small stuff most of the time. But those who commit that grievous wrong and are repeat offenders? “The Sauls who take our youth, retirement, or health? Could you forgive the scum who hurt you?”

Max writes: “Vengeance fixes your attention at life’s ugliest moments. Score- settling freezes your stare at cruel events of your past. Is this where you want to look? Will rehearsing and reliving your hurts make you a better person? By no means. It will destroy you.”

David did not look at Saul as an attacker but saw him as a child of God. Max explains: “Your enemies still figure into God’s plan. Their pulse is proof: God hasn’t given up on them. They may be out of God’s will, but not out of his reach. You honor God when you see them, not as his failures, but as his projects.” YOU ARE ALSO GOD’S PROJECT!!

 Seeking revenge on those who have harmed you is no way to spend your life. Jesus did not: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to who judges justly.”  I Peter 2:23 NIV

Max advises: “God dispenses perfect judgments. Vengeance is his job. Leave your enemies in his hands. You are not endorsing their misbehavior when you do. You can hate what someone did without letting hatred consume you.  Forgiveness is not excusing.”

“To forgive is to move on, not to think about the offense anymore. You don’t excuse him, endorse her, or embrace them. You just route thoughts about them through heaven. You see your enemies as God’s child and revenge as God’s job.”

“Forgiveness is choosing to see your offender with different eyes. We give grace because we’ve been given grace.”

 

Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 -Thomas Nelson Publisher

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The Song He Longs to Hear

 

 

"In his later years Beethoven spent hours playing a broken harpsichord. The instrument was worthless. Keys were missing, strings stretched. It was out of tune, harsh on the ears. Nonetheless, the great pianist would play till tears came down his cheeks. You’d think he was hearing the sublime, and he was. He was deaf. Beethoven was hearing the sound the instrument should make, not the one it did make."

"Maybe you feel like Beethoven’s harpsichord. Out of tune, inadequate. Your service ill-timed, insignificant. Ever wonder what God does when the instrument is broken? How does the Master respond when the keys don’t work? Does he demand a replacement? Or does he patiently tune until he hears the song he longs to hear? I want you to know that the Master Musician fixes what we can’t and hears music when we don’t. And he loves to hear the music that comes from your life."

Mike: God does know our worth because He knows our heart but like the old saying, "if you keep doing the same thing, why expect a different outcome?" Pray, then don't fight Him but let the Master take control. He's given us the Spirit to guide us so make use of Him!

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The Price Is Too High

 
 

In the days when I was a missionary in Brazil I once went to visit one of our church leaders. We hadn’t seen him for several Sundays. Friends told me he had inherited three hundred dollars, and he was constructing, by hand, a one-room house. When he gave me a tour of the project, it took about twenty seconds. I told him we’d missed him, that the church needed him back. He grew quiet and turned and looked at his house. His eyes were moist. “You’re right, Max,” he confessed. “I guess I got just too greedy.”

“Greedy?” I wanted to say, “You’re building a hut in a swamp and you call it greed?” But he was right. Greed is relative. Greed is not defined by what something costs; it is measured by what it costs you. If anything costs you your family, or your faith, the price is too high.

Read more When God Whispers Your Name

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What’s Your Price?

Listen to Today's Devotion by Max Lucado

“Some years ago, I read a study of what most Americans would do in exchange for ten million dollars. Among the options were abandon their family, abandon their church, give up their citizenship, leave their spouse or their children. It’s not surprising to me what someone would do for ten million dollars. What’s surprising is that most would do something. What would you do? Or better, what are you doing?:

“Get real, Max,” you’re saying, “I’ve never had a shot at ten million.” The amount may not have been the same, but the choices are. And some people are willing to give up their family, faith, or morals for far less than ten million dollars. Jesus had a word for that: greed. He called it the practice of measuring life by possessions (Luke 12:15). Jesus cautioned against “all kinds of greed.” What’s your price?”

Max asks a very valid question. Too many people can be bought cheaply. Satan is behind every thought and idea urging us to take his deals. His “Price is Right” game is not a game we want to play. The ultimate reward of playing his game is an eternity separated from God who loves you.  Satan does not love you and never will so ask the Holy Spirit to help you fight off greed and remain true to God!

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Chapter 3 & 4 of Facing Your Giants

Chapter 3

 Saul explodes in anger when he learns that David was to be anointed, King. He orders his servants and his son, Jonathan, to kill David but they refuse.  Saul tries himself to murder David with a spear but misses so he sends his men to kill him and once again David escapes.

David asks Jonathan, “What have I done?  What is my iniquity, and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” I Samuel 20:1 Jonathan has no explanation for David and has every right to wish David dead because he was in line to be king when Saul dies. Jonathan remains a true friend and protects David.  “Who can justify the rage of Saul?” Max asked.

There are Sauls in our life.  Max writes: “Who knows why a father torments a child, a wife belittles her husband, a boss pits employees against each other? But they do.”  “How does God respond in such cases? Nuke the nemesis? We may want him to. How will he treat yours; I can’t say.  But how will he treat you, I can.  He will send you a Jonathan.”

“Major in your evil emperor if you chose. Paint horns on his picture. Throw darts at her portrait. Make and memorize a list of everything the Spam-brain took: your childhood, career, marriage, health. Live a Saul saturated life. Wallow in the sludge of pain. You’ll feel better, won’t you?” Or will you? Linger too long in the stench of your hurt and you’ll smell like the toxin you despise.”

“Oh, to have a friend like Jonathan. A soul mate who protects you, who seeks nothing but your interest, wants nothing but your happiness.  You feel safe with that person. God gave David such a friend.  He gave you one as well.  You can find that friend in Jesus Christ. Among Jesus final words: “I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20)

 

Max concludes this chapter: “Your Saul took much, but Jesus Christ gave you more. Let Jesus be your friend. Talk to him. Spare no detail. Disclose your fear and describe your dread.  Will your Saul disappear? Who knows? And in a sense, does it matter?  You just found a friend for life. What could be better than that?”

Chapter 4

Max begins: “The desperate man sits in the corner of the church assembly. Dry mouth, moist palms. He scarcely moves. He feels out of place in a room of disciples, but where else can he go? He just violated every belief he cherished. Hurt every person he loves. Spent a night doing what he swore he he’d never do. And now on Sunday, he sits and stares. He doesn’t speak.  If these people knew what I did…”

“Scared, guilty and alone. He could be an addict, a thief, a child-beater, a wife-cheater. He could be she-single, pregnant, confused. He could be any number of people, for any number of people come to God’s people in his condition-hopeless, hapless, helpless.”

“How will the congregation react?  Criticism or compassion? Rejection or acceptance? Raised eyebrows or extended hands?”

I want to interject a thought here. Sometimes we Christians can get self- righteous.  My sins are NOT as bad as his or hers.  Romans 3:23 tells us: “for we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.  I Corinthians 13 illustrates love: “it is not self-seeking; it keeps no record of wrongs.”

David goes on the run after Saul tries six times to have him killed. He runs to the small town of Nob seeking sanctuary and lies to Ahimelech the priest of that town. David begins a series of lies by telling the priest he’s on a secret mission for Saul. He tells the priest that is ok for him and his men to eat the holy bread. He lies again when he tells the priest he has no weapon to defend himself and takes the very sword with which he killed Goliath. “David has lost his God focus.”

Max continues: “Where can the desperate go? They can go to a sanctuary. God’s church. They can look for an Ahimelech, a church leader with a heart for desperate souls.”

The church is NOT the building on the corner, but it is the group of people who seek refuge and to worship there.

“Bread and blades. Food and equipment. The church exists to provide both. Does she succeed in doing so? Not always. People-helping is never a tidy trade because people who need help don’t lead tidy lives. They enter the church as fugitives, seeking shelter from angry Sauls in some cases, bad decisions in others.”

“David teaches the desperate to seek help amidst God’s people. David stumbles in this story. Desperate souls always do. But at least he stumbles into the right place—into God’s sanctuary, where God meets and ministers to hopeless hearts.”

If you need sanctuary go and find that church to help you.  If you are part of that church, be willing to help God administer his love.

Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Thomas Nelson Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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God Is Doing a Good Work

 
 
Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

Changing direction in life is not tragic, but losing passion in life is. Something happens along the way. Convictions to change the world downgrade to commitments to pay the bills. Rather than make a difference, we make a salary. Rather than look outward, we look inward. And we don’t like what we see.

But God is not finished with you yet. Oh you may think he is. You may think you’ve peaked. You may think he’s got someone else to do the job. If so, think again! The Bible says that “God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again” (Philippians 1:6). Did you see what God is doing? A good work in you. Did you see when he’ll be finished? When Jesus Christ comes again. May I spell out the message? God ain’t finished with you yet!

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Grace Delivered Us from Fear

 

Daily Devotional by Max Lucado

God’s grace delivered us from fear, but how quickly we return. Grace told us we didn’t have to spend our lives looking over our shoulders, but look at us glancing backward. Look at us with guilt on our consciences.

Why are we so quick to revert back to our old ways? Or as Paul candidly wrote, “What a miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death?” (Romans 7:24). Simply stated: we are helpless to battle sin alone. Aren’t we glad Paul answered his own question? “I thank God for saving me through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25).

The same one who saved us first is there to save us still. Such is the message of grace. You are saved, not because of what you do, but because of what Christ did! And you are special because of whose you are.

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God’s Grace Is Sufficient

 
 

You wonder why God doesn’t remove temptation from your life? You know, if he did, you might lean on your strength instead of his grace. A few stumbles might be what you need to convince you his grace is sufficient for your sin. You wonder why God doesn’t remove the enemies in your life? Perhaps because he wants you to love like he loves. Anyone can love a friend, but only a few can love an enemy. You wonder why God doesn’t heal you? Oh, he has healed you. If you are in Christ, you have a perfected soul and will have a perfected body. His grace is sufficient for gratitude.

We can be sure of this: God would prefer we have an occasional limp than a perpetual strut. God has every right to say no to us. We have every reason to say thanks to him. His grace is sufficient.

Read more In the Grip of Grace: Your Father Always Caught You, He Still Does

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Make Christ’s Love Your Home

 
 

To abide in the love of Christ is to make his love your home.  You rest in him.  His fireplace warms you from the winters of life.  You abandon the old house of false love and move into his home of real love.

Adapting to this new home takes time.  You’ve lived a life in a house of imperfect love.  You think God is going to abandon you as your father did, or judge you as false religion did, or curse you as your friend did.  He won’t, but it takes time to be convinced.

For that reason abide in him.  Hang on to Christ the same way a branch clutches the vine.  According to Jesus:  “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).

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A Fountain of Love That Won’t Run Dry

 
 

You don’t influence God’s love. You can’t affect the love of God. If your actions altered his devotion, then God would not be love; instead, he would be a human, for this is human love. Don’t you need a fountain of love that won’t run dry? You’ll find one on a stone-cropped hill outside Jerusalem’s walls where Jesus hangs, cross-nailed and thorn-crowned.

When you feel unloved, ascend this mount and meditate long and hard on heaven’s love for you. Both eyes beaten shut, shoulders as raw as ground beef, lips bloody and split. Fists of hair yanked from his beard. Gasps of air escaping his lungs. As you peer into the crimsoned face of heaven’s only Son, remember this: “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT).

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Facing Your Giants

A former CASA young man three plus years ago was arrested for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and three other felonies. JD and his friends went to Murfreesboro to buy drugs from dealers. JD’s version is the dealers pulled guns to rob them then his crew pulled guns. Everybody started shooting and as a result  one dealer was dead and the other one wounded. His public defender believed if convicted he was looking at fifty years in prison. To add to JD’s troubles he was also approached for sex and the family of the dead man promised to have him killed as soon as he hit the state prison system.  JD was seventeen at the time and had never faced a “giant” like the one he was now facing. After knowing him for eighteen months, I knew JD was capable of getting himself in trouble because of his history but never dreamed he was capable of murder. It’s now been determined that JD’s gun did not kill the man but the charges are unchanged.

JD needed encouragement and Max Lucado’s book Facing Your Giants seemed appropriate. The book was written about David’s life. Mr. Lucado granted permission to write a synopsis of his book. Once the document was completed, I attempted to deliver it to the jail to find out that’s not the way the jail mail works. It had to arrive via U.S. mail and the inmate does not receive the actual document. All correspondence is reviewed then scanned into a computer system and JD would read it on a kiosk. The jailer suggested the likelihood of the office scanning a 28-page document was somewhere around ZERO! The new plan was to mail one chapter per week to JD.

After several weeks of mailing chapters, I made a visit to JD. Yes, he had received the letter, but I could tell he really had no idea who David was and showed little interest in learning about him. After analyzing the situation, I realized a mistake, JD believed in God but had spent no time in church nor studying the Bible. He really had no understanding of why he needed a relationship with God. JD needed someone who could talk about the life of David. I’m still trying to work with JD. My hope is that Max Lucado’s book can help you to face your giants.

The following is the paraphrase. I’ll publish 2-3 chapters per week.

FACING YOUR GIANTS

BY MAX LUCADO

Max is the author of several books on spirituality and our personal relationship with God. He has both a unique and excellent way of expressing how to think about what the Bible has to say.

This book relates to the experiences in the life of David to our lives.  We face many of the same challenges as David.  Although we may not literally face a human giant, some of the events we encounter in our lives feel like a Goliath.

All scripture quotations are from the New King James version unless noted.

Chapter 1

In 1st Samuel 17, God’s people, the Israelites, are facing war with the Philistines. The Philistines’ champion was a giant over nine feet tall named Goliath.  For forty days Goliath challenged the Israelites to send their champion to do battle.  All the Israelites were afraid and refused to face the giant until David, a mere boy, volunteered to go. 

Goliath was equipped with a helmet, body armor weighing 125 pounds and a spear with a 15-pound head.  David wore no armor but simply ran toward this GIANT carrying his shepherd’s staff and a slingshot with 5 stones.  Your impression might be that David was poorly equipped, but he had something Goliath did not, God. 

Max writes: “Your Goliath doesn’t carry sword or shield; he brandishes blades of unemployment, abandonment, sexual abuse, or depression. Your giant doesn’t parade up and down the hills; he prances through your office, your bedroom, your classroom.  He brings bills you can’t pay, grades you can’t make, people you can’t please, whiskey you can’t resist, pornography you can’t refuse, a career you can’t escape, a past you can’t shake and a future you can’t face.”

“First thought of the morning, last worry of the night – your Goliath dominates your day and infiltrates your joy. You’ve seen your Godzilla.  The question is, is he all you see?”  When taunted by Goliath, David’s response is, “I come against you in the name of the Lord God Almighty”.  When faced with his GIANT, David’s relationship and faith in God helped him win the battle.

Max encourages: “Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn’t David did.”

“Giants. We must face them.  Yet we need not face them alone.  Focus on giants-you stumble.  Focus on God-your giants tumble.”

Chapter 2

Max talks about disappointments we face in our youth: failing to make the baseball team, soccer team, or no call from that someone special, etc. He describes the rejections as “You know the pain of no call. We all do”!

Samuel, God’s chosen priest for the Israelites, anointed Saul as their king when the Israelites asked for one.  Overtime Saul’s characteristics become tiresome and God rejects him as king.  God sends Samuel to Bethlehem because he has chosen a new king, David.

David had seven older brothers who Samuel thought were perfect fits to be king, but God rejected them.  God told Samuel in Samuel 16:7, “God does not see the way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Max says this verse was offered because: “We are weary of society’s surface level system, of being graded according to the inches of our waist, the square footage of our house, the color of our skin, the make of our car, the label of our clothes, the size of our office, the presence of diplomas, the absence of pimples.  Don’t we weary of such games?”

Max closes this chapter with these thoughts: “God examines hearts.  When he finds one set on him, he calls it and claims it.  The story of young David assures us of this: your Father knows your heart, and because he does, he has a place reserved just for you.”

Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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God’s Marvelous Love

 
 

In his letter to Ephesians Paul urged, “May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves,…” (Ephesians 3:17-18).

Let God love you. Let Him love you dearly, let Him love you daily, let Him love you deeply. Grab hold of His love and never let go. “God is love” (1 John 4:16). One word into the passage reveals the supreme surprise of God’s love—it has nothing to do with you. Some people love you because of you. Not God – He loves you because He is He. He loves you because he decides to. Self-generated, uncaused, spontaneous. His constant-level love depends on his choice to give it.

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The Holy Spirit Speaks for You

 
 

Romans 8:26–27 says, “The Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

The impoverished orphan of Russia, the distraught widow of the battlefield, the aging saint in the convalescent home. They may think they have no voice, no clout, no influence, but they have a friend. They have a counselor, a comforter—the blessed Spirit of God, who speaks the language of heaven in heaven.

None of us pray as much as we should, but all of us pray more than we think because the Holy Spirit turns our sighs into petitions and tears into entreaties. He speaks for you and he protects you. And he makes sure you are heard, he makes sure you get home.

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Doused with the Love of God by Max Lucado

 
 Max's Daily Devotional

There are moments when the Spirit enchants us with sweet rhapsody. You belong to the Father. Signed, sealed, and soon-to-be delivered. Been a while since you heard him whisper words of assurance? Then tell him. He’s listening to you, and he’s speaking for you. Romans 8:26 says, “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness” Weak bodies, weak wills, weakened resolves. Whether we are feeble of the soul or body or both, how good to know it’s not up to us. Verse 26 of Romans 8 says, “The Spirit himself is pleading for us.”

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Two of Max Lucado's Recent Devotionals

The God Who Follows

 

Not easy to trust, you say? Try these ideas: Trust your faith and not your feelings. Your feelings have no impact on God’s presence. Measure your value through God’s eyes, not your own. God loves you, you are family, and he will follow you all the days of your life. See the big picture, not the small. It’s never too late to begin again. Perhaps your home and health have been threatened. The immediate result might be pain, but the long-term result might be finding a Father you never knew—a Father who will follow you all the days of your life.

 

God Gives Us Himself

 

God has followed us on our journey but, we’re quick to turn away. God is slow to anger; he’s determined to stay. Sometimes we don’t accept God’s gifts, but God still gives them. He gives us angels, not just pinned on a lapel, but placed on our path.

And most of all, God gives us himself. Even when we choose our hovel over his house and our trash over his grace, still he follows. Never forcing us, never leaving us. Patiently persistent, faithfully present. Using all of his power to convince us that he is who he is and that he can be trusted to give us new beginnings throughout our journey and, in the end, lead us home. Trust your new beginning to him, won’t you? Follow the God who follows you all the days of your life.

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