Tag Archives: Max Lucado

Mission begins with creation

given on Sunday, February 14, 2016–first Sunday of Lent and Valentine’s Day

From Lent’s lectionary: Romans 10:8b-13

In fact, it says,

“The message is very close at hand;
it is on your lips and in your heart.”[a]

And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”[b] 12 Jew and Gentile[c] are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[d]

Scripture base for “Mission begins with creation”

  • Genesis 1:1-2:3 – creation of earth and inhabitants

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[a] The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. . . .

Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” . . .

Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. . . .

14 Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. . . .

.20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” ,,,

24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. . . .

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[b] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[c] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings[d] in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. . . .

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!   . . .

2 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[e] from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

Lent’s 1st Reflection: Mission begins with Creation

Not one day begins or ends without knowing the value of God’s creation. We are blessed to live in his world filled with all the glory of the sunrises, birds singing, breezes blowing, and even the sunsets while the moon and stars begin appearing. Each time we look around our world and take in the awesomeness of God’s creation we need to remember that our mission begins with His creation.

In our corner of the world, talking about the wonder of creation may seem out of sync with the seasons. The calendar places us in the midst of winter (here in the Northern Hemisphere, in the middle of North America, even the middle of the continental United States) when the snow typically is mounded up and turning black from weeks of ice, salts and cinders, melting and then refreezing. Winter when the sun shines but we shiver in the artic blasts just does not fill our thoughts with the awesomeness of Gods’ creation as recorded in Genesis.

Yet, creation begins everything; and whether it is in the dead of winter’s most intense artic blast or whether the sun heats up the parched land in the middle of a heat wave, God created this massive world that needs our care. God created us to be the caretakers; God assigned a mission when he created us and we need to make sure we fulfill that mission.

How does mission connect to Lent? Lent is a time for reflecting on faith and while many are giving up on religion and living lives centered on themselves, God continues providing us all that we need. Are we doing all that we need to do as God’s missionaries in his creation?

The Word is a record of God’s creation and includes all the instructions needed for us, his children. Do we know The Word well enough to do God’s work? Do we know history well enough not to repeat the same mistakes over and over?

A couple of weeks ago I presented a challenge: over Lent, fast by adding daily scripture reading, studying, journaling and/or discussing the Word with others. Our mission to be caretakers of the earth is assigned in the earliest chapters of the Bible:

15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

God created us with a clear mission to care for the earth—not just the land, the flora, and the fauna, but everything and that includes each other. Are we carrying out our mission or not? Lent is a time to reflect on the job we do as Christians fulfilling God’s mission, and that means knowing The Word.

According to a new format of the story, Max Lucado and Randy Frazee want to make sure that The Word is shared with everybody in a reader-friendly manner. [Share the Lucado/Frazee book The Word as a visual example] The first chapter begins with the very same words from the Bible included in our worship today:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

            And God said, “Let there be light,” . . .


The Story does not change. The mission does not change. The concern and the reason for a season of reflection is that we change. Adam and Eve represent all of humanity, and throughout history we humans have failed to fulfill the mission.

What began with creation, regardless of when or even how that happened, continues. The Story continues. In Lucado’s and Frazee’s welcome to the new format of the Bible, we are invited to reconnect with God:

This book (or any version of the Bible) tells the grandest, most compelling story of all time: the story of a true God who loves his children, who established for them a way of salvation and provided a route to eternity. Each story in these 31 chapters (an abridged format of the Bible) reveals the God of grace—the God who speaks; the God who acts; the God who listens; the God whose love for his people culminated in his sacrifice of Jesus, his only Son to atone for the sins of humanity.

What’s more: this same God is alive and active today—still listening, still acting, still pouring out his grace on us. His grace extends to our daily foibles; our ups, downs, and in-betweens; our moments of questions and fears; and most important, our response to his call on our lives (our mission). . . .


God created a world that was to meet all the needs humanity as long as we fulfilled our mission. Therefore:

  • Read The Word and determine the mission of God’s creation.
  • Read The Word to see how God struggled to teach us how to live.
  • Read The Word to learn from the mistakes of others.
  • Read The Word to find the secrets to a joy-filled life.
  • Read The Word to understand how God loved us so much that he “[sacrified] his only Son to atone for the sins of humanity.”
  • Read The Word to find the promise of eternal life.


Read The Word and reflect throughout the season of Lent. Make it a mission to know The Story and how your life reflects God’s love.

Closing prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Creator of our world,

Thank you for all the beauty that surrounds us,

even the changes of the seasons.

Thank you for entrusting each one of us,

past, present and future, with your creation.

Help us to remain faithful to the mission

of caring for the world and its inhabitants.

Help us to live confidently knowing you love us

even when we fail the mission.

Thank you, too, for the time and space to reflect

on how we live to fulfill the mission.

Thank you for The Word and the Christian family

surrounding us, supporting us, and working together

to fulfill the mission creation began. –Amen


[Lucado, Max & Frazee, Randy. The Story: the Bible as one continuing story of God and his people in NIV.   Zondervan; 2005. Available at CBD.com for $5.00.]

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A Daily Dose of Devotion

given on Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Daily Dose of Devotion


Days are so packed.  We wake up in the dark right now, rush around to get out the door, and end up at work already feeling overwhelmed.  Or, we wake up, stop to consider what the day will bring, begin the coffee/tea and wish we felt a bit more perky.  The business of living gets in the way of our relationship with God.

Jesus tells us that we need to spend time with God.  How else are we to talk with God, how do we hear God talking to us, either?  How do we clear our head and let go of all the old garbage running around in our brains?  The solution is a daily devotional.

Certainly that seems simple enough, but at the same time we all end up asking how do we ever put in the time for a daily devotional.  Our time is already packed full.  Add in something else!  Preposterous.  But establishing a new routine that includes some form of devotion provides benefits to our faith’s health that then influences other areas of our health—mental and physical.

How do we add in this extra?  First, find a comfortable source.  To begin with do not try to add in a 30-60 minute devotional time.  This is a new step in your life and you want to make it work the first time.  Start with a smaller devotion first.

Many of you do have a devotion you use.  The Upper Room, Guideposts, or Our Daily Word are all common devotionals that provide a great introduction to the daily routine.  These simple devotions take only a very few minutes to read, including a small Bible reference.  A second step would be to go to the Bible and read the recommended scriptures to add further understanding.

Where do you find these small devotional readings?  The Upper Room is often found right in church, but it is also available through the internet.  If you google the title, you can sign up for the devotional to be delivered directly to your inbox.

Consider one of this week’s Upper Room devotions (accessed on Friday, October 27, 2012)God Is Here 

Read John 16:4-7

Jesus said to the disciples, “Remember, I am with you always,

to the end of the    age.”  – Matthew 28:20 (NRSV)


It was my son’s first day in kindergarten. Before this his dad and mum had always been near, but now he was suddenly left in a noisy room with people he did not know at all. Children were crying and shouting. The teachers were trying to shout louder than all the little ones. After leaving him in the kindergarten, I immediately wanted to run back and stay with him. He was frightened and lonely, and he needed comfort. At that moment, I realized that our heavenly Father longs to be with us in a fearsome world even more than I wanted to be with my son. The most joyful news is that God is with us through the Holy Spirit, our comforter. We are not left alone in this dangerous world. Every second, with each of God’s children on earth, the Spirit is present. Having calmed down myself, I prayed that my son might also be comforted in knowing that God was beside him, even if his father and mother could not be.

The Author:  Pavel Serdukov (Moscow, Russia)

Thought for the Day:  Stop. Turn around. God is close.

Prayer:  Dear Holy Spirit, our Comforter, bring us words of love, hope, encouragement, and comfort, especially when we feel alone and powerless. Amen.

Prayer focus:  Parents of kindergartners

Another smaller devotional is the Daily Word.  The reflection is available along with one simple verse.  Still the internet has the devotional available any time or any where,

Listen to this example of Our Daily Word from the same day as The Upper Room’s.  The prayer focus is basically the same and I find that is eerie:  (accessed on Friday, October 26, 2012)

Pray for Children

I pray for children, giving thanks for God’s healing power.

As I watch children play, I enjoy their carefree energy and enthusiasm. It’s easy to see their spirit shining. If a child is experiencing a health challenge, it may be sad to see their energy dampened. But the spirit of God within each child is greater than any illness. Rather than keeping sadness and worry in mind when a child is afflicted, I follow Jesus’ example and pray.

Through affirmative prayer, I visualize things rightly. No disease or disorder has any power over a child of God. In prayer, I see the healing light and love of God flowing through all children. Spirit, mind and body respond readily to the power of the Divine. With gratitude, I see every child as healthy and whole.

Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray.  —Matthew 19:13

Even BibleGateway.com provides a mini-devotional by including a Bible verse to consider:

Verse of the Day

“But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

All three of these devotionals were pulled from the internet within 30 minutes of each other.  The internet is immediate, offers variety, and additional in-depth studies if you decide to pursue more about the devotional.

         The Upper Room, Our Daily Word and BibleGateway are not the only internet devotional services available.  Max Lucado has a website which allows you to customize your devotions.  He offers a daily one or a weekly one.  You can look at his various ministries and find other sources of devotions to use.  You might even find a book he has written that speaks to you.

Very quickly one sees that the options are easily accessible and provide all types of variety.  (On the bulletin cover I have listed four different sources to access on the internet.  My favorite for a more in-depth study is The Message//Remix:Solo because it moves to the next level and incorporates the Lectio Divina style study.)  And as you begin looking at Christmas gifts this year and calendars for 2013, you might like looking at all the options which incorporate a demotion for each day or try the devotional Bibles in your favorite translation.

Sometimes a small devotional sitting at your elbows can be good.  For instance, this week I knew I needed a little boost at the end of the work day.  I had found a small devotional titled Time-Out for Teachers.  I randomly opened it up to day 239:


To-Do List

Before you leave work in the evening,

take time to write a to-do list for the next day.

Writing down items while they’re fresh in your mind

will help you have a better tomorrow.

I had to smile because I had started doing that this last couple of months and it did make a difference.  So I looked to the other side of the page and noticed the other one, a prayer:

An Escape

O Lord, sometimes we just need to escape.

In the midst of a hectic day, we can hide in You.

You are a safe place to which we can always run,

even when we cannot leave our classrooms.

–Denise Shumway

What better way to end a crazy workday!  Encouraged and relaxed, it was so much easier to walk away and follow the words in that small devotional—taking only about one minute to read and to absorb.  A daily dose of devotion is such a positive way to improve your relationship with God.

Maybe it will be a faith-based song, or a quote about God or your faith, whatever you use to add a dose of devotion, do it.  We all need it, we all need to practice this one more discipline even John Wesley has preached to his followers and yet today, in the 21st century when finding a devotion is so much easier, inexpensive, and flexible.

Most importantly, a dose of daily devotion will keep your relationship to God a priority.  God may not be walking on the surface of the earth with us or we may not know when he will return.  The fact is that we are all too often nonchalant about keeping an open conversation, a full relationship with God.  A dose of daily devotion is the solution.


Dear Father and Counselor,

Too many times we ache for your care

   and we fail to open our hearts and minds

   to share with you and to listen for you.

Today we hear the prescription for the ache

   a daily dose of devotion.

Guide us in finding the materials

   to reconnect us with you in ways that we hear.

Strengthen our resolve to spend some time

   reading your holy scripture,

   sharing in other’s experiences,

   and praying to release our concerns to you

   as well as to hear your counsel.  –Amen

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