Tag Archives: Upwords

Denison Forum – “Woman awakes to a hole in her roof and a space rock on her pillow”

Ruth Hamilton was asleep in her bed when she was awakened by the sound of a crash through her ceiling and the sensation of debris on her face. “I just jumped up and turned on the light, I couldn’t figure out what the heck had happened,” she said.

The British Columbia resident called 911. A police officer arrived; after exploring their options and examining the hole in her ceiling and a black rock on her pillow, the two decided that a meteorite had come through her roof.

Others in the area had seen a bright light in the sky that exploded and caused some booms. Ruth, however, experienced personally what others only observed. She says her experience has given her a new perspective: “Life is precious and it could be gone at any moment, even when you think you are safe and secure in your bed.

“I hope I never take it for granted again.”

Why is Squid Game so popular?

There are many “meteors” in today’s news, from a bow-and-arrow rampage in Norway now being treated as an apparent terrorist attack, to a high-rise fire in Taiwan that left at least forty-six dead and dozens injured, to reports that US drug overdose deaths reached a new high in the twelve-month period concluding in March 2021.

It is therefore unsurprising that a survival drama called Squid Game is now Netflix’s biggest hit ever. Associated Press explains that the show is “about desperate adults competing in deadly children’s games for a chance to escape severe debt.” The drama’s enormous popularity is clearly a sign of the times.

On a planet where Satan is “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31), and “the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), we can expect to face tribulation (John 16:33), trials (1 Peter 4:12), and temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13). This week we’ve discussed Satan’s nefarious strategies and the urgency of turning our temptations and challenges immediately into prayers for God’s strength and victory.

Today, let’s focus on the paradoxical fact that the more initiative we take in attacking the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18), the more empowered against the enemy we become.

What St. Francis never said

You are undoubtedly familiar with the “spiritual armor” Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10–18: the “belt of truth,” the “breastplate of righteousness,” “shoes for your feet” composed of the “gospel of peace,” the “shield of faith,” the “helmet of salvation,” and the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Notice that this “armor” covers the front of warriors as they go into battle. If they flee from the conflict, there is no protection for the back.

You and I will experience the power of God to the degree that we fulfill the purpose of God (cf. Acts 1:8). When Jesus’ seventy-two disciples went on an evangelistic mission, they “returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’” (Luke 10:17). He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (v. 18).

Here we discover a clear reason why more Christians are not more empowered to stand boldly for Christ in an anti-Christian culture. If we step into the river, our faith positions us to experience God’s miraculous provision (Joshua 3:14–17). If we march around Jericho, God will bring down its walls (Joshua 6). If we stand boldly for our Lord, we will be filled with his Spirit (Acts 4:8).

Ours is a day of declining commitment to evangelism, fueled in part by a growing belief that sharing the gospel is wrong in a culture that elevates tolerance above all other values. But the “passive congeniality” that is unwilling to speak of Jesus in everyday conversation is not enough.

We often hear the advice, “Preach the gospel at all times—when necessary, use words” attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. In fact, he never spoke these words and usually did the opposite. His first biographer, writing just three years after his death, reported that Francis “sometimes preached in up to five villages a day, often outdoors. In the country, Francis often spoke from a bale of straw or a granary doorway. In town, he would climb on a box or up steps in a public building. He preached to . . . any who gathered to hear the strange but fiery little preacher from Assisi.”

Why a teenager is running for the school board

A teenager in Florida is running for his local school board “to give a voice to the voiceless.” An eighteen-year-old cookbook author is donating all of her author proceeds to a non-profit fighting childhood hunger; if her first print run sells out, she hopes to provide kids with about seven hundred thousand meals.

When last did you take a risk to serve your Lord? Here’s how:

  1. Agree to do anything your Father calls you to do (Luke 6:46).
  2. Ask him for your kingdom assignment today: the people you are to influence and the work you are to do for his glory and our good (Romans 12:2).
  3. Submit to the power of his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
  4. Step out in obedient faith (Hebrews 11:1).
  5. Trust the results to God’s sovereignty and eternal purpose (Psalm 37:5Philippians 1:6).

My mentor when I pastored in Atlanta taught me this life motto: “Attempt something so great for God, it’s doomed to failure unless God be in it.”

What will you attempt for God today?

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Wrapped in Winter

WRAPPED IN WINTER – October 1, 2021

Winters are a part of life—some personal, some global—but all are powerful. Try as we might to bundle up and lean into the wind, the heartiest among us can fall. Nights are too long, and the question is all too common: Will this winter ever pass?

God has a six-letter word of encouragement: E-S-T-H-E-R. The book of Esther was written to be read in wintertime for the person who feels outnumbered by foes, outmaneuvered by fate, and outdone by fear. It’s as if God, in his kind providence, heard all the prayers of all the souls who have ever been stuck in an arctic February. And to every person who has longed to see a green sprig on a barren branch, he says, “Follow me. I want you to see what I can do.”

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Upwords; Max Lucado –God’s Abounding Grace

GOD’S ABOUNDING GRACE – September 30, 2021

Scripture says in Romans 5:20 that “the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace.” To abound is to have a surplus, an abundance, an extravagant portion. Should the fish in the Pacific worry that it will run out of ocean? No. Why?  The ocean abounds with water. Need the lark be anxious about finding room in the sky to fly? No, the sky abounds with space.

So should the Christian worry that the cup of mercy will run empty? He may. For he may not be aware of God’s abounding grace. Are you? Are you aware that the cup God gives you overflows with mercy? Or are you afraid your cup will run dry? Or your mistakes are too great for God’s grace? God is not a miser with his grace. Your cup may be low on cash or clout, but it is overflowing with mercy.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

IT’S NOT OVER UNTIL IT’S OVER – September 29, 2021

In Jeremiah 32:27 God says, “I am the Lord, the God of every person on the earth, nothing is impossible for me.” We need to hear that God is still in control. We need to hear that it’s not over until he says so. We need to hear that life’s mishaps and tragedies are not a reason to bail out.

Corrie ten Boom used to say, “When the train goes through a tunnel and the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not. You sit still and trust the engineer to get you through.” The way to deal with discouragement? The cure for disappointment? Go back and read the story of God. Read it again and again. Be reminded that you aren’t the first person to weep. You aren’t the first person to be helped. Read the story, and remember the story is yours.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Jesus Values You

JESUS VALUES YOU – September 28, 2021

Jesus’ love does not depend upon what we do for him. Not at all. In the eyes of the King, you have value simply because you are. You don’t have to look nice or perform well. Your value is inborn. Period.

Think about that for just a minute. You’re valuable just because you exist. Not because of what you’ve done, but simply because you are. Remember that the next time you are left bobbing in the wake of someone’s steamboat ambition. Or some trickster tries to hang a bargain basement price tag on your self-worth. Remember that the next time someone tries to pass you off as a cheap buy.

Just think about the way Jesus honors you, and smile. I do. Because I know I don’t deserve love like that—none of us do.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –An Eternal Body

AN ETERNAL BODY – September 24, 2021

As you discover your place in God’s plan, you make this wonderful discovery: you will graduate from this life into heaven. Jesus’ plan is to “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). “All things” includes your body. God will reunite your body with your soul and create something unlike anything you have seen—an eternal body.

You will finally be healthy. You never have been. Even on the days you felt fine, you weren’t. You were a sitting duck for disease, infections, airborne bacteria, and microbes. And what about your worst days? Don’t you hate disease? So does Christ.

When Christ appears, Scripture tells us, “we shall be like him.” You’ll have a spiritual body, with all members cooperating toward one end. So we’re not giving up. As God’s story becomes our story the best is yet to be.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –God Works in All Things

GOD WORKS IN ALL THINGS – September 23, 2021

There are so many things we don’t know. We don’t know if the economy will dip or if our team will win. We don’t know what our spouse is thinking or how our kids will turn out. And Scripture reminds us we don’t even know “what we ought to pray for” (Romans 8:26).

But according to Paul’s words in Romans 8:28, we can be absolutely certain about four things. We know: God works; he is ceaseless and tireless. God works for our ultimate good. God works for the good of those who love him. And God works in all things. Not a few things, in all things.

Puppet in the hands of fortune or fate? Not you. You are in the hands of a living, loving God. Your life: a crafted narrative written by a good God who’s working for your supreme good.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –The Spirit Led Life

THE SPIRIT LED LIFE – September 22, 2021

You don’t have to hurry or scurry. The Spirit-led life does not panic; it trusts. In Ephesians 1:19 and 20 the apostle Paul reminds us that, “God’s power is very great for us who believe. That power is the same as the great strength God used to raise Christ from the dead and put him at his right side in the heavenly world.”

The same hand that pushed the rock from the tomb can shove away your doubt. The same power that stirred the still heart of Christ can stir your flagging faith. The same strength that put Satan on his heels can, and will, defeat Satan in your life. Just keep the power supply open. Who knows, you may soon hear people asking, “What’s gotten into you?” You see, as God’s story becomes our story, his power becomes our power.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Wait Expectantly

WAIT EXPECTANTLY – September 21, 2021

Wait on the Spirit. If Peter and the apostles needed his help, don’t we? They walked with Jesus for three years, heard his preaching, and saw his miracles. They saw the body of Christ buried in the grave and raised from the dead. They witnessed his upper room appearance and heard his instruction. Had they not received the best possible training? Weren’t they ready? Yet Jesus told them to wait on the Spirit. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).

Learn to wait, to be silent, to listen for his voice. Cherish stillness; sensitize yourself to his touch. And just think—you don’t need a thing. You’ve got it all. All God’s gifts right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Respond to God’s Promptings

RESPOND TO GOD’S PROMPTINGS – September 20, 2021

To walk in the Spirit, respond to the promptings God gives you. Don’t sense any nudging? Just be patient and wait.

Jesus told the disciples, “Wait for the gift my Father promised—the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). Abraham waited for the promised son. Moses waited forty years in the wilderness. Jesus waited thirty years before he began his ministry. God instills seasons of silence in his plan. Winter is needed for the soil to bear fruit. Time is needed for the development of a crop. And disciples wait for the move of God.

Wait for him to move, nudge, and direct you. This beautiful promise in Isaiah 30, verse 21 where God says, “This is the way; walk in it.” It’s nice to be led by a master. Won’t you let your Master lead you?

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Upwords; Max Lucado –In Step with the Spirit

IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT – September 17, 2021

Is there anything in your life that needs to be removed? Any impediment to the impression of God’s Spirit? We can grieve the Spirit with our angry words and resist the Spirit in our disobedience. We can test or conspire against the Spirit in our plottings. We can even quench the Spirit by having no regard for God’s teachings.

But here’s something that helps us stay in step with the Spirit. It’s in Galatians 5:22: “We know that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These are indicators on our spiritual dashboards. So whenever we sense them, we know we are walking in the Spirit. Whenever we lack them, we know we are out of step with the Spirit. Keep in step with the Spirit.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Plug in to God’s Power

PLUG IN TO GOD’S POWER – September 16, 2021

I believe we make the mistake the Welsh woman made. She lived many years ago in a remote valley and felt it worth the cost and trouble to have electricity installed in her home. Several weeks after installation, the power company noticed she’d barely used electricity. A meter reader went to see her. “Is there a problem?” he asked. “Oh no, we’re quite satisfied. Every night we turn on the electric lights to see how to light our lamps.”

We’re prone to do likewise. Depend on God’s Spirit to save us but not sustain us. We turn to him to get us started and then continue in our own strength. Scripture urges us “keep in step with the Spirit.” He directs and leads, we obey and follow. Plug in to his power, and leave the switch turned on.

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Upwords; Max Lucado – His Power Becomes Our Power

HIS POWER BECOMES OUR POWER – September 15, 2021

We look at other believers and ask, “Why is her life so fruitful and mine so barren? Why is his life so powerful and mine so weak?Aren’t we saved by the same Christ? The answer may be found in the first chapter of the book of Acts, where Jesus told Peter and the other followers, “Wait here to receive the promise from the Father. John baptized people with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

During Jesus’ earthly ministry Jesus lived near the disciples. The Holy Spirit, however, would live in the disciples. Jesus taught. The Spirit teaches through us. Jesus comforted. The Spirit comforts through us. The Holy Spirit is a year-round resident in the hearts of God’s children. As God’s story becomes our story, his power becomes our power.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Death Is Not the Final Chapter

DEATH IS NOT THE FINAL CHAPTER – September 14, 2021

Death is not the final chapter in your story. John 11:25 and 26 assure us that in death we will step into the arms of the One who declared: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

Winston Churchill believed this. The prime minister planned his own funeral. Two buglers were positioned in the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. At the conclusion of the service, the first played—the signal of a day completed; the second played reveille—the song of a day begun.

Death is no pit, but a passageway, a corner turn. Isaiah wrote, “Your dead will live…all you dead and buried, wake up! Sing!…the earth is bursting with life, giving birth to the dead” (Isaiah 26:19). So play on bugler. Play on!

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Dressed in a New Wardrobe

DRESSED IN A NEW WARDROBE – September 13, 2021

The Apostle Paul says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27). When you make God’s story yours, he covers you in Christ. You wear him like a vest. Old labels no longer apply.

How about these new labels: Royal priest. Free from condemnation. Secure. God’s coworker. God’s temple. God’s workmanship. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe.

Psalm 103:12 reminds us not to mess with the old clothes any longer. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” When God sends your sins to the east and you to the west, you can be sure of this: he sees his Son and not your sin. In fact, Isaiah 43:25 says, “He remembers your sins no more!” How do you like that outfit?

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Upwords; Max Lucado –At the Right Moment

AT THE RIGHT MOMENT – September 9, 2021

Satan tried to write his own story in which he was the hero and God was an afterthought. He admitted as much: “I will ascend to the heavens…I will make myself like the Most High” as quoted in Isaiah 14:13 and 14.

Satan wanted to take God’s place, but God wasn’t—and isn’t—moving. Satan wants to win you to his side, but God will never let you go. You have his word. Even more, you have his help. Scripture says: “For our high priest (Jesus) is able to understand our weaknesses…he was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us then…come before God’s throne where there is grace…to help us when we need it” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

You don’t have to face Satan alone! We shout, and God runs—at the right moment.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –God’s Book Is Enough

GOD’S BOOK IS ENOUGH – September 8, 2021

Where do you feel empty? Are you hungry for attention, craving success, longing for intimacy? Be aware of your weaknesses. Bring them to God before Satan brings them to you!

Satan will tell you, as he did in tempting Jesus, to turn stones into bread. In other words, to take matters into your own hands. If Satan convinces us to trust our works over God’s Word, he has us dangling from a broken limb. Do what Jesus did. In Satan’s temptation of Jesus, three times Jesus repeated, “It is written…”  “It also is written…” “It is written.” God’s book was enough.

Jesus overcame temptation, not with special voices or supernatural signs, but by remembering and quoting Scripture. Do the same. Let God’s words silence Satan’s lies, and see what happens.

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Upwords; Max Lucado –Satan’s Tool Kit

SATAN’S TOOL KIT – September 7, 2021

​How do we explain our stubborn hearts and conniving ways? How do we explain Auschwitz, human trafficking, abuse? If I were the devil, I’d want you to feel attacked by an indefinable force. If I were the devil, I’d keep my name out of it. But God doesn’t let the devil get away with this. He tells us his name: splitter, a divider, a wedge driver.

Don’t fault the plunging economy or a raging dictator for your anxiety. They’re simply tools in Satan’s tool kit. We can’t understand God’s narrative without understanding Satan’s strategy. Scripture says, “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

God calls the devil by name and promises to defeat him. Be alert to the devil, and be assured his days are numbered.

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Upwords; Max Lucado – Bold Prayers

BOLD PRAYERS – September 6, 2021

How bold are your prayers?

As John Wesley crossed the Atlantic, he was reading in his cabin and became aware of heavy winds knocking the ship off course. He responded in prayer. A colleague wrote it down: “Almighty and everlasting God…Thou holdest the winds in thy fists and sittest upon the water floods…command those winds and these waves that they obey Thee. Take us speedily and safely to the haven whither we would go.”

Having offered the prayer, Wesley took up his book and continued reading. On deck his colleague found calm winds and the ship on course. Wesley made no mention of the answered prayer. His friend wrote, “So fully did he expect to be heard that he took it for granted he was heard.”

How bold are your prayers?

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Upwords; Max Lucado –A Modern-Day Christmas Story

A MODERN-DAY CHRISTMAS STORY – September 3, 2021

You have bills to pay, beds to make, and grass to cut. Your face won’t grace any magazine covers, and you aren’t expecting a call from the White House. Congratulations—you qualify for a modern-day Christmas story!

Step into the stable, cradle in your arms the infant Jesus. Listen as one who knew him well puts lyrics to the event. What no theologian conceived, what no rabbi dared to dream, God did. John 1:14 proclaims: “The Word became flesh.”

Christ in Mary. God in Christ. The Word of God entered the world with the cry of a baby. God writes his story with ordinary people like Joseph, like Mary…people like you. Like me.

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