Category: <span>thoughts by Max Lucado</span>

By Max Lucado
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“. . . shall not perish but have eternal life . . .� John 3:16

On a trip to China, I rode past Tiananmen Square in a bus full of Westerners. We tried to recollect the causes and consequences of the revolt. Our knowledge of history was embarrassing. One gave one date; another gave a different one. One person remembered a certain death toll; someone else disagreed. All this time our translator remained silent.

Finally one of us asked her, “Do you remember anything about the Tiananmen Square revolt?�

Her answer was solemn. “Yes, I was a part of it.�

We quickly grew quiet as she gave firsthand recollections of the bloodshed and oppression. We listened, because she’d been there.

We who follow Christ do so for the same reason. He’s been there . . .
He’s been to Bethlehem, wearing barn rags and hearing sheep crunch. Suckling milk and shivering against the cold. All of divinity content to cocoon itself in an eight-pound body and to sleep on a cow’s supper. Millions who face the chill of empty pockets or the fears of sudden change turn to Christ. Why?

Because he’s been there.

He’s been to Nazareth, where he made deadlines and paid bills; to Galilee, where he recruited direct reports and separated fighters; to Jerusalem, where he stared down critics and stood up against cynics.

We have our Nazareths’ as well—demands and due dates. Jesus wasn’t the last to build a team; accusers didn’t disappear with Jerusalem’s temple. Why seek Jesus’ help with your challenges? Because he’s been there. To Nazareth, to Galilee, to Jerusalem.

But most of all, he’s been to the grave. Not as a visitor, but as a corpse. Buried amidst the cadavers. Numbered among the dead. Heart silent and lungs vacant. Body wrapped and grave sealed. The cemetery. He’s been buried there.

You haven’t yet. But you will be. And since you will, don’t you need someone who knows the way out?

You can comment on this devotional online at:
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2008/04/20/ml_been-there

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Max LucadoFrom:  3:16, The Numbers of Hope
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2007) Max Lucado
Used by permission:

To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at:
http://www.maxlucado.com/about/

Thoughts by All thoughts by Max Lucado Thoughts by Men

by Max Lucado
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“. . . whoever believes in him shall not perish . . ”
John 3:16

How could a loving God send sinners to hell? He doesn’t. They volunteer.

Once there, they don’t want to leave. The hearts of damned fools never soften; their minds never change. Men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. (Revelations 16:9 NKJV). Contrary to the idea that hell prompts remorse, it doesn’t. It intensifies blasphemy.

Remember the rich man in torment? He could see heaven but didn’t request a transfer. He wanted Lazarus to descend to him. Why not ask if he could join Lazarus? The rich man complained of thirst, not of injustice. He wanted water for the body, not water for the soul. Even the longing for God is a gift from God, and where there is no more of God’s goodness, there is no longing for him. Though every knee shall bow before God and every tongue confess his preeminence (Romans 14:11), the hard-hearted will do so stubbornly and without worship. There will be no atheists in hell (Philippians 2:10-11), but there will be no God-seekers either.

But still we wonder, is the punishment fair? Such a penalty seems inconsistent with a God of love, overkill. A sinner’s rebellion doesn’t warrant an eternity of suffering, does it?

Isn’t God overreacting?

Who are we to challenge God?

Only he knows the full story, the number of invitations the stubborn-hearted have refused and the slander they’ve spewed.

Accuse God of unfairness? He has wrapped caution tape on hell’s porch and posted a million and one red flags outside the entrance. To descend its stairs, you’d have to cover your ears, blindfold your eyes, and, most of all, ignore the epic sacrifice of history: Christ, in God’s hell on humanity’s cross, crying out to the blackened sky, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

The supreme surprise of hell is this: Christ went there so you won’t have to.

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2008/04/09/ml_knee-shall-bow/

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Max Lucado
From: 3:16, The Numbers of Hope Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2007) Max Lucado  Used by permission
To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at:
http://www.maxlucado.com/about/
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Max Lucado Thoughts by Men

by Max Lucado
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“. . . whoever believes in him shall not perish . . .� (John 3:16)

The phrase “believes in him� doesn’t digest well in our day of self-sufficient spiritual food. “Believe in yourself � is the common menu selection of our day. Try harder. Work longer. Dig deeper. Self-reliance is our goal.

And tolerance is our virtue. “In him� smacks of exclusion. Don’t all paths lead to heaven? Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and humanism? Salvation comes in many forms, right? Christ walks upriver on this topic. Salvation is found, not in self or in them, but in him.

Some historians clump Christ with Moses, Muhammad, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders. But Jesus refuses to share the page. He declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me� (John 14:6 RSV). He could have scored more points in political correctness had he said, “I know the way,� or “I show the way.� Yet he speaks not of what he does but of who he is: I am the way.

Many recoil at such definitiveness. John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 sound primitive in this era of broadbands and broad minds. The world is shrinking, cultures are blending, borders are bending; this is the day of inclusion. All roads lead to heaven, right? But can they?

The sentence makes good talk-show fodder, but is it accurate? Can all approaches to God be correct? Every path does not lead to God.

Jesus blazed a stand-alone trail void of self-salvation. He cleared a one-of-a-kind passageway uncluttered by human effort. Christ came, not for the strong, but for the weak; not for the righteous, but for the sinner. We enter his way upon confession of our need, not completion of our deeds. He offers a unique-to-him invitation in which he works and we trust, he dies and we live, he invites and we believe.

We believe in him. “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent� (John 6:29 NCV). This union is publicly dramatized in baptism, for to be baptized, as Paul wrote, is to be baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

Believe in yourself? No. Believe in him.

Believe in them? No. Believe in him.

And those who do, those who believe “in him shall not perish but have eternal life� (John 3:16).

You can comment on this devotional online at: 
https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2008/04/04/ml_believe-in-him/

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From: 3:16, The Numbers of Hope
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2007)
Max Lucado
Used by permission

To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at:
http://www.maxlucado.com/about/

Thoughts by All thoughts by Max Lucado Thoughts by Men

by Max Lucado
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Christ rose first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will become alive again.”
1 Corinthians 15:23 (TLB)

Let’ss go to the tomb, for Jesus lies in the tomb.

Still. Cold. Stiff. Death has claimed its greatest trophy. He is not asleep in the tomb or resting in the tomb or comatose in the tomb; he is dead in the tomb. No air in his lungs. No thoughts in his brain. No feeling in his limbs. His body is as lifeless as the stone slab upon which he has been laid.

The executioners made sure of it. When Pilate learned that Jesus was dead, he asked the soldiers if they were certain. They were. Had they seen the Nazarene twitch, had they heard even one moan, they would have broken his legs to speed his end. But there was no need. The thrust of a spear removed all doubt. The Romans knew their job. And their job was finished. They pried loose the nails, lowered his body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus.

Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus the Pharisee. Jesus had answered the prayer of their hearts, the prayer for the Messiah. As much as the soldiers wanted him dead, even more these men wanted him alive.

As they sponged the blood from his beard, don’t you know they listened for his breath? As they wrapped the cloth around his hands, don’t you know they hoped for a pulse? Don’t you know they searched for life?

But they didn’t find it.

So they do with him what they were expected to do with a dead man. They wrap his body in clean linen and place it in a tomb. Joseph’s tomb. Roman guards are stationed to guard the corpse. And a Roman seal is set on the rock of the tomb. For three days, no one gets close to the grave.

But then, Sunday arrives. And with Sunday comes light – a light within the tomb. A bright light? A soft light? Flashing? Hovering? We don’t know. But there was a light. For he is the light. And with the light came life. Just as the darkness was banished, now the decay is reversed. Heaven blows and Jesus breathes. His chest expands. Waxy lips open. Wooden fingers lift. Heart valves swish and hinged joints bend.

And, as we envision the moment, we stand in awe.

We stand in awe not just because of what we see, but because of what we know. We know that we, too, will die. We know that we, too, will be buried. Our lungs, like his, will empty. Our hands, like his, will stiffen. But the rising of his body and the rolling of the stone give birth to a mighty belief: “What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end.

“Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us.” (Romans 6:5:9 MSG).

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From: When Christ Comes
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1999) Max Lucado

Used by permission
To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at:
http://www.maxlucado.com/about/

Thoughts by All thoughts by Max Lucado Thoughts by Men

by Max Lucado
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“Then the soldiers bowed before Jesus and made fun of him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!� They spat on Jesus.� (Matthew  27:26–31)

The soldiers’ assignment was simple: Take the Nazarene to the hill and kill him. But they had another idea. They wanted to have some fun first. Strong, rested, armed soldiers encircled an exhausted, nearly dead, Galilean carpenter and beat up on him. The scourging was commanded. The crucifixion was ordered. But who would draw pleasure out of spitting on a half-dead man?

Spitting isn’t intended to hurt the body—it can’t. Spitting is intended to degrade the soul, and it does. What were the soldiers doing? Were they not elevating themselves at the expense of another? They felt big by making Christ look small.

Ever done that? Maybe you’ve never spit on anyone, but have you gossiped? Slandered? Have you ever raised your hand in anger or rolled your eyes in arrogance? Have you ever blasted your high beams in someone’s rearview mirror? Ever made someone feel bad so you would feel good?

That’s what the soldiers did to Jesus. When you and I do the same, we do it to Jesus too. “I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!� (Matthew 25:40 NLT). How we treat others is how we treat Jesus.

“Oh, Max, I don’t like to hear that,� you protest. Believe me, I don’t like to say it. But we must face the fact that there is something beastly within each and every one of us.

Something beastly that makes us do things that surprise even us. Haven’t you surprised yourself? Haven’t you reflected on an act and wondered, “What got into me?�

The Bible has a three-letter answer for that question: S-I-N.

Allow the spit of the soldiers to symbolize the filth in our hearts. And then observe what Jesus does with our filth. He carries it to the cross.

Through the prophet he said, “I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting� (Isaiah 50:6 NIV). Mingled with his blood and sweat was the essence of our sin.

God could have deemed otherwise. In God’s plan, Jesus was offered wine for his throat, so why not a towel for his face? Simon carried the cross of Jesus, but he didn’t mop the cheek of Jesus. Angels were a prayer away. Couldn’t they have taken the spittle away?

They could have, but Jesus never commanded them to. For some reason, the One who chose the nails also chose the saliva. Along with the spear and the sponge of man, he bore the spit of man.

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From: He Choose the Nails
Copyright [W Publishing 1998, 2001] Max Lucado

Used by permission
To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at:
http://www.maxlucado.com/about/

Thoughts by All thoughts by Max Lucado Thoughts by Men

by Max Lucado
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Bill Tucker was sixteen years old when his dad suffered a health crisis and consequently had to leave his business. Even after Mr. Tucker regained his health, the Tucker family struggled financially, barely getting by.

Mr. Tucker, an entrepreneurial sort, came up with an idea. He won the bid to reupholster the chairs at the local movie theater. This stunned his family. He had never stitched a seat. He didn’t even own a sewing apparatus. Still, he found someone to teach him the skill and located an industrial-strength machine. The family scraped together every cent they had to buy it. They drained savings accounts and dug coins out of the sofa. Finally, they had enough.

It was a fine day when Bill road with his dad to pick up the equipment. Bill remembers a jovial, hour-long trip discussing the bright horizons this new opportunity afforded them.  They loaded the machine in the back of their truck and secured it right behind the cab.  Mr. Tucker then invited his son to drive home. I’ll let Bill tell you what happened next:

“As we were driving along, we were excited, and I, like any sixteen-year-old driver, was probably not paying enough attention to my speed. Just as we were turning on the clover leaf to get on the expressway, I will never ever, ever forget watching that sewing machine, which was already top-heavy, begin to tip. I slammed on the brakes, but it was too late. I saw it go over the side. I jumped out and ran around the back of the truck. As I rounded the corner, I saw our hope and our dream lying on its side in pieces. And then I saw my dad just looking. All of his risk and all of his endeavor and all of his struggling and all of his dream, all of his hope to take care of his family was lying there, shattered.”

You know what comes next don’t you? “Stupid, punk kid driving too fast, not paying attention, ruined the family by taking away our livelihood.” But that’s not what he said. He looked right at me. “Oh, Bill, I am so sorry.”  And he walked over, put his arms around me, and said, “Son, this is going to be okay.”

God is whispering the same to you. Those are his arms you feel. Trust him. That is his voice you hear. Believe him. Allow the only decision maker in the universe to comfort you. Life at times appears to fall to pieces, seem irreparable. But it’s going to be okay. How can you know? Because God so loved the world. If God can make a billion galaxies, can’t he make good out of our bad and sense out of our faltering lives? Of course he can.  He is God.

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From: 3:16, The Numbers of Hope
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 2007) Max Lucado

Used by permission
To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at:
http://www.maxlucado.com/about/

Thoughts by All thoughts by Max Lucado Thoughts by Men

by Max Lucado

Perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18 (NKJV)

Have you ever gone to the grocery on an empty stomach? You’re a sitting duck. You buy everything you don’t need. Doesn’t matter if it is good for you, you just want to fill your tummy. When you’re lonely, you do the same in life, pulling stuff off the shelf, not because you need it, but because you are hungry for love.

Why do we do it? Because we fear facing life alone. For fear of not fitting in, we take the drugs. For fear of standing out, we wear the clothes. For fear of appearing small, we go into debt and buy the house. For fear of going unnoticed, we dress to impress. For fear of not being loved, we search for love in all the wrong places.

But all that changes when we discover God’s perfect love.  And “perfect love casts out fear.”

From: Traveling Light by Max Lucado
Copyright [W Publishing 1998, 2001]
Used by permission
To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at : http://www.maxlucado.com/about/

Thoughts by All thoughts by Max Lucado Thoughts by Men