by Max Lucado
“The LORD loves you.” Deuteronomy 7:8 NLT God loves you simply because he has chosen to do so. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. Always. No matter what.
This is his sentiment: “I’ll call the nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved” (Rom. 9:25 MSG).
This is his promise: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jer. 31:3 NLT).
Do you know what else that means? You have a deep aquifer of love from which to draw. When you find it hard to love, then you need a drink! Drink deeply! Drink daily!
by Max Lucado
“You must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Bedtime is a bad time for kids. No child understands the logic of going to bed while there is energy left in the body or hours left in the day.
My children are no exception. A few years ago, after many objections and countless groans, the girls were finally in their gowns, in their beds, and on their pillows. I slipped into the room to give them a final kiss. Andrea, the five-year-old, was still awake, just barely, but awake. After I kissed her, she lifted her eyelids one final time and said, “I can’t wait until I wake up.”
Oh, for the attitude of a five-year-old! That simple uncluttered passion for living that can’t wait for tomorrow. A philosophy of life that reads, “Play hard, laugh hard, and leave the worries to your father.” A bottomless well of optimism flooded by a perpetual spring of faith. Is it any wonder Jesus said we must have the heart of a child before we can enter the kingdom of heaven?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
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One of my fondest memories of growing up is my father’s garden. It seemed my dad grew everything in his garden. In fact, he always grew enough to feed the entire neighborhood. Whenever people would stop by our home for a visit, they’d usually leave with a sack full of fresh vegetables and luscious fruit.
The kind of fruit my father grew is just one kind of fruit – natural fruit. There is also biological fruit, the offspring of animals and the children of people.
Then there is spiritual fruit, and that’s what God is talking about in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (NIV)
The question is: How do we develop these character qualities? Obviously, God doesn’t just zap us one day and suddenly these qualities materialize in our lives. He uses a process that involves a partnership with us and also the time to grow.
It requires partnership. The apostle Paul describes this partnership in Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV), where he says “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” but then he also says, “for it is God who works in you ….”
It’s important to note that Paul doesn’t say, “Work for your salvation.” The Bible clearly teaches we don’t have to work for our salvation. It is a free gift of God’s grace.
In a sense, Paul is talking about a spiritual workout, just like when you physically work out to develop or tone muscles. We’re to make the most of what we’ve been given. God provides the power for our spiritual growth, but we must flip the switch.
It requires time. It takes time for fruit to ripen, and in the same way, there’s no such thing as instant spiritual maturity. When you try to rush fruit, it doesn’t taste as good. If you’ve ever eaten tomatoes that have been artificially ripened to speed up the process, then you know there’s no comparing them to the wonderful taste of naturally, vine-ripened tomatoes. It takes time for fruit to ripen, and it takes time for spiritual fruit to ripen in your life.
You can begin by telling God right now that you want to be a productive, fruitful disciple, one who cooperates with his plan.
Ask God to use his Word to change the way you think. Invite the Holy Spirit to have free rein in your life. Don’t hold anything back. Ask God to help you respond to difficult people and unpleasant situations just as Jesus would. God wants to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life, so partner with God on your spiritual growth and watch what develops over time.
by Max Lucado
Homesickness is one of the burdens God doesn’t mind if we carry. God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” (Eccles. 3:11 NIV). Down deep you know you are not home yet.
This is not our forever house. It will serve for the time being. But there is nothing like the moment we enter his door.
Molly can tell you. After a month in our house she ran away. I came home one night to find the place unusually quiet. Molly was gone.
She’d slipped out unnoticed. The search began immediately. Within an hour we knew that she was far, far from home. Now, if you don’t like pets, what I’m about to say is going to sound strange. If you do like pets, you will understand.
You’ll understand why we walked up and down the street, calling her name. You’ll understand why I drove around the neighborhood at 10:30 P.M. You’ll understand why I put up a poster in the convenience store and convened the family for a prayer. (Honestly, I did.) You’ll understand why I sent e-mails to the staff, asking for prayers, and to her breeder, asking for advice. And you’ll understand why we were ready to toss the confetti and party when she showed up.
Here is what happened. The next morning Denalyn was on her way home from taking the girls to school when she saw the trash truck. She asked the workers to keep an eye out for Molly and then hurried home to host a moms’ prayer group. Soon after the ladies arrived, the trash truck pulled into our driveway, a worker opened the door, and out bounded our dog. She had been found.
When Denalyn called to tell me the news, I could barely hear her voice. It was Mardi Gras in the kitchen. The ladies were celebrating the return of Molly.
This story pops with symbolism. The master leaving his house, searching for the lost. Victories in the midst of prayer. Great things coming out of trash. But most of all: the celebration at the coming home. That’s something else you have in common with Molly—a party at your homecoming.
Those you love will shout. Those you know will applaud. But all the noise will cease when the Father cups your chin and says, “Welcome home.” And with scarred hand he’ll wipe every tear from your eye. And you will dwell in the house of your Lord—forever.
For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, “Go,” and he goes; and that one, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it. Matthew 8:9 (NIV)
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Jesus noted the centurion in the Gospels was a man of extraordinary faith. The Roman officer’s servant was sick, and with Jesus on the way to his home, the centurion sent a message telling him there was no need to come.
He said, in essence, “I know all you have to do is give the word, and my servant will be healed.” His faith didn’t require the physical presence of Jesus, not to mention the bells and whistles of signs and wonders.
But the centurion’s faith also reveals the foundation of biblical humility. Instead of emphasizing his high rank, the solider first established his position under authority. And that’s really all humility is: recognizing, confessing, and acting according to your position under authority.
Because he was a man under authority, faithful to execute the order of those in authority over him, the centurion had an expectation that those under his authority would do the same.
And so he believed, in faith forged through experience, that Jesus was a man under the authority of God, and, therefore, when Jesus gave a command, it would be carried out.
The centurion’s authority came because he was under authority and that is the very thing that gave him the authority to issue orders.
Humility simply means we hold an accurate and unbiased assessment of our strengths and weaknesses. We understand our shape and our gifts, and we’re aware of, but not fretting over, our limitations. We see everything we have as a gift from God, and we know that without him we have nothing.