What I've been through myself, on my way back to you”
When we are in the midst of the problem, it’s difficult to see a way out. When we have limited resources, it’s difficult to imagine being able to work with what we have. But God already knows how he will solve your problem, my friend. And God has infinite resources. You are the human; he is the divine being. Let Him help you. Let him intervene.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of the one who is standing next to you. What bewilders you does not bewilder him. When you present your needs to him, he never, ever turns to the angels and says, “Well, it finally happened. I’ve been handed a code I cannot crack. The demand is too great, even for me.”
You may feel outnumbered, but he does not. Give him what you have, offer thanks, and watch him go to work.
Read more God Will Help You
From Mike: As I thought about Max's message, it brought to mind my relationship with God. From a young age I've always believed in God. The problem was that belief alone was not enough and belief alone is not a real relationship. It takes much more. The relationship relies on my desire, prayer, study of the Scriptures, and obedience as major parts of the relationship.
As I've worked with CASA familes, I've found two things in common with them all: drug abuse and no relationship with God. These things have destroyed the family. If only they would grow their relationship with God, they could take to heart Max's message.
Think about your relationship as you read Max's message! God wants the relationship! Go to Him!
Max: We can calmly take our concerns to God because he is as near as our next breath. This was the reassuring message from the miracle of the bread and fish. In an event crafted to speak to the anxious heart, Jesus told his disciples to do the impossible: feed five thousand people.
You aren’t facing five thousand hungry bellies, but you are facing a deadline in two days, a loved one in need of a cure. On one hand you have a problem. On the other you have a limited quantity of wisdom, patience, or time.
Typically, you’d get anxious. You’d tell God, “You’ve given me too much to handle.” This time, instead of starting with what you don’t have, start with Jesus. Start with his wealth, his resources, and his strength. And before you lash out in fear, look up in faith. Turn to your heavenly father for help.
Remember that as you read Max's devotion that gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians. It will improve not just your life but the lives of those around you. If gentleness does not come naturally, then work at it and pray.
How many disasters have been averted because one person refused to buckle under the strain? It’s this kind of composure Paul is summoning when he says: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:5-6 NIV).
The Greek word translated here as “gentleness” describes a temperament that’s seasoned and mature. It envisions an attitude fitting to the occasion, levelheaded and tempered. This gentleness is “evident to all.” Family members take note. Your friends sense a difference. Coworkers benefit from it.
The gentle person is sober minded and clear thinking. The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others God is in control. Pursue this gentleness. The Lord is near. You are not alone. You may feel alone, you may think you’re alone, but there is never a moment in which you face life without help.
God is near—be anxious for nothing!
Max tells the story of Rogers Cadenhead who registered the domain site www.BenedictXVI before the new pope was named. As a Catholic, he did not want the money from selling the domain to the Catholic church, but he did want three things from the church when they needed the domain: 1. one of those hats; 2. a free stay at the Vatican hotel; 3. complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987.
Max goes on: “Makes you wonder what happened that week, doesn’t it? It may remind you of a week of your own. Most of us have one, or more. Do you have a season in which you indulged, imbibed, or inhaled?”
“King David did. Could a collapse be more colossal than his? He seduces and impregnates Bathsheba, murders her husband, and deceives his generals and soldiers. Then he marries her. She bears his child.”
At first, David believes all is well, but the feelings of guilt are still simmering. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up: all the juices of my life dried up. Psalms 32:3-4 MSG.
Max invites us to underline II Samuel 11:27: The thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” God has been silent all through David’s sins but now he will be silent no more.
God sends Nathan, a prophet, to David. Nathan tells David a story about a rich man with flocks of sheep who took the only sheep of a poor man and slaughtered it for a feast. David is incensed and says the rich man should die and restore the poor mans sheep fourfold. Nathan then tells David that he is the rich man. David no defense because he knew it was true.
Through Nathan, God tells David that he had provided for him and blessed him, yet he had through his actions treated God with contempt. God is hurt by David’s actions. Max writes: “David had soiled God’s reputation, blemished God’s honor. And God, who jealously guards his glory, punishes David’s public sin in a public fashion.” David loses his wives to other men for all people to see and the child of his adultery dies.
Numbers 32:23 ……. you can be sure that your sins will track you down. Colossal collapses will not leave us alone. They keep coming back to haunt us. Max says: “Unconfessed sin sits on our hearts like festering boils, poisoning, expanding. God takes your sleep, your rest. Want to know why? Because he wants to take away your sin. He will not rest until we do what David did: confess our fault.”
“It’s time for you to put your third week of March 1987 to rest. Assemble a meeting of three parties: you, God and your memory. Place the mistake before the judgment seat of God. Let him condemn it, let him pardon it, and let him put it away.”
David is well over sixty years old and his age beginning to show. Nathan told David after his affair with Bathsheba that “The sword shall never depart from this house.” 2 Samuel 2:10. Nathan knew that David’s house would always be troubled because of David’s sin. David’s children are not a blessing to him. Amon, David’s son, raped his half-sister, Tamar, then discarded her. She was desolate and moved in the home of David’s son Absalom. David was very angry with Amnon but did not confront him or punish him.
Max writes: “It was time for David to step up. Display his Goliath-killing courage, Saul-pardoning mercy, Brook-Besor leadership. David’s family needed to see the best of David. But they saw none of David. He didn’t intervene or respond. He wept. But wept in solitude.”
Because of David’s inaction, Absalom fled to Jerusalem to live with his grandfather for three years and David never tried to see his son. Absalom returned to Jerusalem and for two years David avoided him. In fact, David neglected all his children. Another son, Adonijah, staged a coup against his father and David did nothing.
Max writes about David: “David did so much well. He unified the twelve tribes into one nation. He masterminded military conquests. He founded the capital city and elevated God as the Lord of the people, bringing the ark to Jerusalem and paving the way for the temple. He wrote poetry we still read and psalms we still sing. But when it comes to his family, David blew it.”
David prayed about many things, but it seems he was too busy to pray about his family. He did not treat his family with the sense of priority he should have. Max says: “Your home is your giant-size privilege, your towering priority. Children spell love with four letters: T I M E.”
When David’s final hours were evident, he needed for someone to nurse him but there was no wife or children to serve and comfort him. A young woman was brought in to care for David, a woman he did not know! Max’s thought: “He died in the care of a stranger because he made strangers out of his family.”
Max’s closing thought of this chapter: “Succeed at home first.”
Facing Your Giants - Max Lucado - 2006 - Thomas Nelson Publishing - Used with permission
Never forget, what you embrace defines you and sends messages that influence all who observe your conduct. Do not be deceived - your words and deeds speak from who and what you “Really” are.
by John Gray
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So each worshipper (Tuned to Christ) is following the same compass that will direct them to God.
From Mike: Paul writes in Romans 7 the following verses which describes my life:
16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
These verses also decribe the war I'm in with Satan. When I resist him, he may flee temporarily but he also waits around the corner to tempt me again causing guilt because of my failure to resist. If they also describe your life. we can take hope in Max Lucado's words that follow:
Guilt sucks the life out of our souls. Grace restores it.
No one had more reason to feel the burden of guilt than did the apostle Paul. He had orchestrated the deaths of Christians—an ancient version of a terrorist. Yet, Paul gave his guilt to Jesus. Period. He surrendered it to Jesus. As a result he could write, “I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us” (Philippians 3:13-14 TLB).
What would the apostle say to the guilt-ridden? Simply this: “Rejoice in the Lord’s mercy. Trust in his ability to forgive. Cast yourself upon the grace of Christ and Christ alone!”
Everyone is looking for something in life. Generally, we look for multiple things which is to be expected. Hopefully, a relationship with God is the priority. My relationship with God has not always been number one. Now that I am older I better understand that NOTHING is more important than improving that relationship, I spend a lot more time in prayer and reading in an effort to improve the bond.
A significant function of that bond is my service to Him. In my younger years personal evangelism was a stressed in the congregation we attended. There was a fair amount of guilt because it was not a talent I felt I had. A true confession: there is still some guilt but there are other ways that God can be served. One of those ways is using authors’ thoughts and encouragement on this blog for the readers. Hopefully, God finds it acceptable.
When I visit a nursery to buy plants the first thing I tell them is that I have a black thumb. Sell me something that does not take a lot of care. The following was a posting on Facebook recently that struck home:
We cannot force someone to hear a message they are
not ready to receive. But we must never under estimate the
power of planting a seed.
If I can plant a seed with someone concerning their relationship with God, then he will take over the growth of that seed. Praying about that seed is then important. Down deep many people are looking for more!
This morning I planted a seed by emailing the following from Max Lucado:
“HE IS ABLE TO DO WHAT YOU CANNOT - July 8, 2021
What will happen if your job disappears? Or your health diminishes? Or the economy takes a nosedive? Does God have a message for his people when calamity strikes? He certainly had a word for Isaiah. The prophet wrote:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).
God calmed the fears of Isaiah, not by removing the problem, but by revealing his divine power and presence. Rejoice that God is able to do what you cannot do! Your anxiety decreases as your understanding of your heavenly father increases.
Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World
Read more Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World”
I know nothing about your relationship with Him nor how you may serve Him but here is a thought. Use a Bible passage or your favorite spiritual writer to drop someone a note or email. Now pray for God to grow that seed!
Hopefully, as you read Max's thoughts below you will find comfort in them. Notice that he uses the word "Let this love happen". God is not going to force His love on you. Open your heart with prayer so He can come in. As the saying goes: "if you keep doing the same things" don't expect change. Work at this to gain more happiness!
The reason God loves you is that he has chosen to love you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. These are his words: “I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved” (Romans 9:25 THE MESSAGE).
Let this love happen in your life, and prepare yourself for a new day. As God has his way with you, he will not let you live with your old hatred and prejudices. You’ll begin to see people in a different way. The neighbor down the street? He’s not a person who forgets to mow his lawn; he’s made in the image of God. God loves a diverse creation, and God’s love finds beauty in the collage of humanity. Life will become less a chore and more a stroll through God’s art gallery. This is how happiness happens.
David’s life is now greatly changed Max says: “He has never been higher. The wave of his success crests at age fifty. Israel is expanding. The country is prospering. In two decades on the throne, he has distinguished himself as a warrior, musician, statesman, and king. His cabinet is strong, and his boundaries stretch for sixty square miles. No defeats on the battle field. No blemishes on his administration. Loved by the people. Served by the soldiers. Followed by the crowds. David is at an all-time high.”
While David’s army is out fighting battles, he stays at home on his balcony looking out over Jerusalem. He should be leading his men but from his balcony, he sees Bathsheba in her bathing place. He likes what he sees and inquires about her with one of his servants. To warn David away, the servant tells him who her father and husband, Uriah, are but David orders her to be brought to him. David and Bathsheba had sexual relations.
David sends for Bathsheba to come to him many times to have sex with her. She becomes pregnant, so he eventually sends Uriah to the front of the battle where is sure to be killed. Now, David believes he has covered his tracks and marries Bathsheba. His arrogance leads him to think he’s alright with God and the world.
Maxis comments: “Who among us could ever ascend as high as David? We don’t have that can of clot.” But! “Haven’t you felt a bit superior to someone? A parking lot attendant. The clerk at the grocery store. And we’ve done what David did. We lost our sight and hearing.”
Max tells a story about losing patience with a flight attendant and grumbling to himself because of poor service. She asked him: “Are you the one who writes Christian books? Christian books, yes. Christian thoughts----that’s another matter, I said to myself, descending the stairs.”
She detailed her story about divorce papers arriving that morning and asked him to pray for her. Max: “I did. But both God and I knew she was not the only one needing prayer. Perhaps you could use a prayer too? How is your hearing? Do you hear the servants whom God sends? Do you hear the conscience that God stirs?”
David’s was suffering from too much pride and arrogance. God hates arrogance: I hate pride and arrogance! Proverbs 8:13 NIV. Max offers: “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 you. Romans 12:3 Phillips
Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission
I believe that many times our attitude is afix blame and try to make our offender pay for it. Max says to tell the offender "the way it makes you fell" not assign blame. His advice below is very good but not always easy to do. Try to remember that you have also have offended and to work on your attitude towards forgiving!
The question is not “Did you get hurt?” The question is “Are you going to let the hurt harden you?” Wouldn’t you prefer to be “tenderhearted, forgiving one another”? Try these steps:
Decide what you need to forgive. Be specific. Narrow it down to the identifiable offense.
Ask yourself why it hurts. Why does this offense sting? What about it leaves you wounded?
Take it to Jesus. Talk to Jesus about the offense until the anger subsides. And when it returns, talk to Jesus again.
Tell your offender. If it feels safe, simply explain the offense and the way it makes you feel.
Pray for your offender. You cannot force reconciliation, but you can offer intercession.
Conduct a funeral. Bury the offense in the cemetery known as “Moving on with Life.”
This is how happiness happens.
David’s life could not be better. He is no king, he’s through running from Saul and the ark is finally in its place. David is reflecting on his past when he remembers a promise: Is there still anyone in the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? 2 Samuel 9
Why should David care because is there is no one to remind him of his promise but his conscience causes him to remember the promise and the circumstances. When Saul was chasing David to kill him, Jonathan saved David and he made this request of David: If I make it through this alive, continue to be my covenant friend. And if I die, keep the covenant friendship with my family forever.
I Samuel 20:14-15 MSG
Jonathan does die, and David has many reasons to forget the covenant. Max writes: “The two were young and idealistic. Who keeps the promises of youth? Saul was cruel and relentless. Who honors the children of a nemesis? David has a nation to rule and an army to lead. What king has time for small matters? But, to David, a covenant is no small matter.”
“Promises. We never escape their shadow. David, it seems, didn’t attempt to.”
He has integrity!!
David’s search for a member Jonathan’s family was not an easy task. A servant of Saul’s, Ziba, knows that Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is alive. There is, however, a complication, the boy is a cripple. After Saul and Jonathan are killed, members of the household flee the Philistines. Mephibosheth is five years old as his nurse grabs him and runs. She drops him breaking both of his ankles leaving him incurably lame. Jonathan’s family hides in fear of the Philistines as well as David.
Max continues: “Collect the sad details of Mephibosheth’s life: born rightful heir to the throne, victimized by a fall, left with halting feet in a foreign land where he lived under the threat of death. Victimized. Ostracized. Disabled. Uncultured.”
David orders the boy to be brought to his palace. Max goes on: “The boy assumes the worst. He enters the presence of David with the enthusiasm of a death-row inmate entering the lethal injection room. The boy bows low and asks, Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me? David told Ziba: Everything that belonged to Saul and his family, I’ve handed over to your master’s grandson… from now on he will take all his meals at my table. II Samuel 9:8-10 MSG
Max’s comment: “A promise prompted by David. The king is kind, not because the boy is deserving, but because the promise is enduring.” Much like God’s promise to us through the sacrifice of Jesus.
The story continues fifteen years later with the rebellion of Absalom against David. David flees Jerusalem with a few friends including Ziba but not Mephibosheth. Ziba claims Mephibosheth has sided with the enemy. Upon David’s return to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth tells him that he had not turned against him but that Ziba refused to put him on a horse, so he could flee with David. David does not investigate which one is lying but remains loyal to Mephibosheth. He does not break his promise.
Max compares David’s loyalty to God’s: “God makes and never breaks his promise. The Hebrew word for covenant, beriyth, means a solemn agreement with binding force.’ God has made covenants throughout the Bible: He made a covenant with Noah to never destroy the world again through a flood; God promised Abraham to give his descendants the land and God’s covenant with us to provide Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins, so we can have eternal life in Heaven.
God, who never lies, promised this eternal life before the world began. Titus 1:2 God’s Word
Max asks: “Shouldn’t God’s promise-keeping inspire you? Heaven knows you could use some inspiration. People can exhaust you. And there are times when all we can do is not enough. You’re tired. You’re angry. You’re disappointed.”
Keep on loving these people. Max tells why: “So you can understand the depth of God’s love. When you love the unloving, you get a glimpse of what God does for you. When you do what is right even though you have been done wrong when you love the weak and the sick, you do what God does every single moment. Covenant-keeping enrolls you in the post-graduate school of God’s love.”
“When you love liars, cheaters, heartbreakers, are you not doing what God has done for us? Pay attention to and take notes on your struggles. God invites you to understand his love.”
Max ends this chapter with a challenge for you: “Embrace God’s love. Who knows? Someone may tell your story of loyalty to illustrate the loyalty of God.”
Facing Your Giants – Max Lucado – 2006 – Thomas Nelson Publishing – Used by Permission
The catchphrase “hate the sin and love the sinner” fits nicely on a bumper sticker, but how do we embed the principle in our hearts? Maybe these ideas will help.
Reserve judgment. Let every person you meet be a new person in your mind. None of this labeling or preconceived notions. Listening is a healing balm for raw emotions. Happiness happens not by fixing people, but by accepting people and entrusting them into the care of God. Jesus did this.
Another idea: Resist the urge to shout. You know, it’s better to keep quiet and keep a friend than to be loud and lose one. Besides, “They are God’s servants, not yours. They are responsible to him, not to you…” (Romans 14:4 TLB). Let’s reason together. Let’s work together. And if discussion fails, let love succeed—this is how happiness happens.
By Mike: I'm a fixer and manager by my personality. I've read this one three times this morning because I need it! I probably need to read this several times every day.
The Posture of Prayer by Max Lucado
“We have the opportunity to offer heartfelt prayers for every person we see: the attendant at the grocery store, the nurse in the doctor’s office. You don’t have to tell them of your intercessory prayer. When we seek to bless others through prayer, we are blessed. Studies draw causal links between prayer and faith and health and happiness. The act of praying for others has a boomerang effect. It allows us to shift the burden we carry for others to the shoulders of God.”
“Don’t grow angry at the church’s condition, pray for her. Don’t fret about the future of your family, pray for them. Assume the posture of prayer. Is there a crisis in your world? Are you called to give hope where hope cannot be found? Is prayer all that you have? That’s okay—prayer is all you need. This is how happiness happens.”
Mike: The bold emphasis is mine because I believe his words. Our faith should accept these words with no doubts.
Priority Conversations by Allen Jackson
Allen notices others on their cell phones as he goes about his business shopping and traveling. He writes: “I can tell from their earnest facial expressions and urgent tone of voice that weighty matters are being discussed. For there to be that much conversation required of that many people, we are clearly engaged in solving issues of great importance. Yet if someone suggests we should make conversation with the Lord a priority, the response is often, ‘Sorry. Not me. I don’t have the time, and I’m not much of a talker.’ I would challenge you to make talking with the Lord a priority in your day. There are matters of great importance to discuss.”
Mike: Again the bold emphasis is mine. God considers our prayers to be very important! It does seem that we all are ready to communicate with others while God comes as a second thought. God should always be first in our communication life.
Intentional Prayer by Allen Jackson
Allen writes about Jesus going off alone to pray before He chose the twelve. “He went off alone and spent an entire night in prayer. ‘But this was Jesus, we think, God’s Son, who had experienced His Father’s Kingdom in its fullness. This was the Messiah who had turned water into wine, brought the dead to life, and quieted the wind and the waves. Still, He felt the need to spend several hours seeking His Father’s will in the matter. If God’s own Son relied on prayer so deeply and gave so much attention to His prayer life, I think we should follow His example. Let’s give the Lord more than our last fading thoughts of the day; let’s make prayer a priority in our lives.”
Mike: The bold emphasis is mine. Most of us can’t fathom praying for several hours bug we can make prayer a priority.
The Hunt by F. LaGard Smith
Mr. Smith writes about chasing materialism. He writes: “Isn’t it strange? In chasing after all the style and excitement this world has to offer, we end up being victimized by our own pursuits! It’s as if the rabbit turned on the fox, or the fox turned on the horses and their riders”
“There is a way out of the vicious circle. It comes by seeking, not chasing. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged us to ‘seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ If we spend our time seeking God, we will never be disappointed. We will never be empty, or searching, or discontent. There will be no reason to chase after illusive happiness, for in Christ, true happiness is within our grasp!”
Mike: Once again the bold emphasis is mine. This seeking begins with prayer! Think about the thoughts these gentlemen have written about then pray.
Max Lucado’s Daily Devotional – May 2021 – Used with permission
Priority Conversations and Intentional Prayer by Allen Jackson – From: Standing Firm – Allen Jackson – 2018 Intend Publishing - Used with permission
Taken from: Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGrard Smith – Copyright 1992 - Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 97408 – www.harvesthousepublishers.com
"Someone you know is under attack. Your neighbor is depressed, your sibling is off track, your child is facing an uphill challenge. You may not know what to say. You may not have resources to help. But you have this: you have prayer. According to this promise, your prayers prompt the response of God in the lives of those you love. James 5:16: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
"When we pray for one another we enter God’s workshop, we pick up a hammer, and we help him accomplish his purposes. Our prayers unlock the storehouses of heaven. The link between God’s goodness and your friends is your prayers. When you pray, when you speak for the ones who need help to the One who can give it, something wonderful happens—this is how happiness happens."
Think about what Max is telling us. Some believe that God did not grant them talents. You may not be a leader, a public speaker or do well with personal evangelism but Romans 12:6 - "We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us." Your talent may be praying for others. Use your gift of prayer. He is looking for a righteous person not a perfect person. God is not looking for flowery words nor lenghty prayers but he is looking for an caring and honest heart. Serve God and others through your prayers. Mike
Might there be a bit of Martha within us? What begins as a desire to serve Christ metastasizes into an act of impressing people. And gifted Marthas become miserable mumblers. Yet that Martha within is not easily silenced. Mark it down. When ministry becomes vain ambition, nothing good happens, and Jesus does not get served. No wonder the apostle Paul was so insistent and he said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition” (Philippians 2:3). Because this is how happiness happens.