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Inspirational Applications for

Living Your Faith

Witn Five
His to
Exper ien c e t h i s Ch r i s t mas
se a so n l i ke ne v e r b e f or e wi t h
this si x- week d e v ot i on a l f r om
Max Lucado
Let one of America’s most-loved pastors guide you
on a memorable journey to the manger. Sit beside
the babe. Know what it was like. Be inspired to live
out your faith for Him.
Week Five: Witness to His Glory

Day 1: Dancing Among the Common

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven,
that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing
that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us."
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Luke 2:15-16

Situation in Luke 2:1–52

Luke gave an account of the birth of Jesus and His early life. In His culture, boys

were considered responsible adults around the age of twelve. It was not, therefore,

irresponsible of Joseph and Mary to accidentally leave Jesus behind. They must have

thought He was traveling with another part of the group.


God’s Son became a person and lived with us for a while. During His life he was

sad, happy, excited, and disappointed. God knows what life on earth is like.


There is one word that describes the night he came—ordinary.

The sky was ordinary. An occasional gust stirred the leaves and chilled the air.

The stars were diamonds sparkling on black velvet.

The sheep were ordinary. Some fat. Some scrawny. Common animals. No history

makers. No blue-ribbon winners.

And the shepherds. Peasants they were. Probably wearing all the clothes they

owned. Smelling like sheep and looking just as woolly.

An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And were it not

for a God who loves to hook an “extra” on the front of the ordinary, the night would have

gone unnoticed. The sheep would have been forgotten, and the shepherds would have

slept the night away.

But God dances amidst the common. And that night He did a waltz.

The black sky exploded with brightness. Trees that had been shadows jumped into

clarity. Sheep that had been silent became a chorus of curiosity. One minute the shepherd

was dead asleep; the next he was rubbing his eyes and staring into the face of an alien.

The night was ordinary no more.

The announcement went first to the shepherds. Had the angel gone to the

theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite,

they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching.

So He went to the shepherds. Men who didn’t know enough to tell God that

angels don’t sing to sheep and that messiahs aren’t found wrapped in rags and sleeping in

a feed trough. He went to the ordinary to declare the extraordinary and to invite them to

drink in its beauty. He still does.

(Adapted from 3:16 by Max Lucado)


Take a moment and reflect on what “Immanuel—God with us” means to you this

yuletide season. Make it a point to seek God Himself, even in the mundane tasks of life.


God with Us—Exodus 33:20–23; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; John 14:18–21; Acts

17:28; 2 Corinthians 6:16.

Day 2: Chase the Fat Rabbit

Keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes,
His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies,
as it is written in the Law of Moses,
that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.
1 Kings 2:3

Situation in 1 Kings 2:1–46

David gave final instructions to Solomon that would ensure his son's success. At

David’s death, Solomon consolidated his power and administration.


At his death, the great King David exhorted his son: obey God, follow Him, and

be kind to others.


How is it that we have managed to take a holiday created to celebrate a God who

lovingly took on human flesh in order to rescue us from destruction, and instead have

made it all about us? Our presents. Our parties. Our happiness. Our joy.

Self-promotion. Self-preservation. Self-centeredness. It’s all about me!

They all tell us it is, don’t they? Aren’t we urged to look out for number one?

Find our place in the sun? Enjoy ourselves? Make our gift preferences known? We

thought self-celebration would make us happy.

But what chaos this philosophy creates. What if a symphony orchestra followed

such an approach? Imagine an orchestra with an “It’s all about me” outlook, trying to

play "Joy to the World." Each artist clamoring for self-expression. Tubas blasting

nonstop. Percussionists pounding to get attention. The cellist shoving the flutist out of the

center-stage chair. The trumpeter standing atop the conductor’s stool tooting his horn.

Sheet music disregarded. Conductor ignored. What do you have but an endless tune-up


Harmony? Hardly.

Happiness? Are the musicians happy to be in the group? Not at all. Who enjoys

contributing to a cacophony?

You don’t. We don’t. We were not made to live this way. But aren’t we guilty of

doing just that?

No wonder our homes are so noisy, businesses so stress-filled, shoppers so

cutthroat, and harmony so rare. If you think it’s all about you, and I think it’s all about

me, we have no hope for a melody. We’ve chased so many skinny rabbits that we’ve

missed the fat one: the God-centered life.

Jesus really is the reason for the season. So let's make sure we keep Him as the


(Adapted from It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado)


If your Christmas celebrating has begun to feel a little harried, step back for a

moment and see whether something other than Jesus has taken center stage. Determine to

make Him the focus of everything, and ask God to show you what a "successful" holiday

season would look like for you. Then, rest easy in God’s peace and His plans.


Success—Joshua 1:6–8; 2 Samuel 5:12; 1 Chronicles 18:13; Proverbs 3:6; 16:3;

Matthew 6:33, 34.

Day 3: Crazy About You

He delivered me because He delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

Situation in Psalm 18:1–50

King David cried out to God in great distress. He recognized that God would save

him through His mighty power.


In this beautiful praise song to the Lord, David acknowledged that help and

deliverance come only from God. David also included the many reasons that God saves

and helps His people.


May I share with you a favorite verse of mine? I like it so much I wrote it on the

first page of my Bible.

“He delivered me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19).

And you thought He saved you because of your decency. You thought He saved

you because of your good works or good attitude or good looks. Sorry. If that were the

case, your salvation would be lost when your voice went south or your works got weak.

There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to Himself, to appease His justice,

to demonstrate His sovereignty. But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is

because He is fond of you. He likes having you around. He thinks you are the best thing

to come down the pike in quite awhile. “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so

shall your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5).

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your

photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.

Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and He

chose your heart. And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem? Face it, friend. He’s

crazy about you.

(From A Gentle Thunder by Max Lucado)


When you feel overwhelmed and weary by all the activity in your life, remember

David’s song. God is your rock and your protector. He is able and willing to save you

because He delights in you. He sent you Jesus, didn't He?


God’s Delight in Us—Psalm 37:23; Isaiah 65:19; Zephaniah 3:17.

Day 4: A Heart Full of Thanks

Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let such as love Your salvation say continually, "The LORD be magnified!"
Psalm 40:16

Situation in Psalms 40:1—41:13

David fled from Saul prior to replacing him as king.


God delivers us from trouble. The wait may be difficult, but we can be thankful

for the outcome and can tell others about it.


An old man walks down a Florida beach. The sun sets like an orange ball on the

horizon. The waves slap the sand. The smell of saltwater stings the air. The beach is

vacant. No sun to entice the sunbathers. Not enough light for the fishermen. So, aside

from a few joggers and strollers, the gentleman is alone.

He carries a bucket in his bony hand. A bucket of shrimp. It’s not for him. It’s not

for the fish. It’s for the sea gulls.

He walks to an isolated pier cast in gold by the setting sun. He steps out to the end

of the pier. The time has come for the weekly ritual.

He stands and waits.

Soon the sky becomes a mass of dancing dots. The evening silence gives way to

the screeching of birds. They fill the sky and then cover the moorings. They are on a

pilgrimage to meet the old man.

For a half hour or so, the bushy-browed, shoulder-bent gentleman will stand on

the pier, surrounded by the birds of the sea, until his bucket is empty.

But even after the food is gone, his feathered friends still linger. They linger as if

they’re attracted to more than just food. They perch on his hat. They walk on the pier.

And they all share a moment together. . . .

The old man on the pier couldn’t go a week without saying “thank you.”

His name was Eddie Rickenbacker. If you were alive in October 1943, you

probably remember the day that he was reported missing at sea.

He had been sent on a mission to deliver a message to Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

With a handpicked crew in a bomber known as a “Flying Fortress,” he set off across the

South Pacific. Somewhere the crew became lost, their fuel ran out, and the plane went


All eight crew members escaped into the life rafts. They battled the weather, the

water, the sharks, and the sun. But most of all, they battled the hunger. After eight days,

their rations were gone. They ran out of options. It would take a miracle for them to


And a miracle occurred.

After an afternoon devotional service, the men said a prayer and tried to rest. As

Rickenbacker was dozing with his hat over his eyes, something landed on his head. He

would later say that he knew it was a sea gull. He didn’t know how he knew; he just

knew. That gull meant food . . . if he could catch it. And he did.

The flesh was eaten. The intestines were used as fish bait. And the crew survived.

What was a sea gull doing hundreds of miles away from land?

Only God knows.

But whatever the reason, Rickenbacker was thankful. As a result, every Friday

evening this old captain walked to the pier, his bucket full of shrimp and his heart full of


We’d be wise to do the same. We’ve much in common with Rickenbacker. We,

too, were saved by a Sacrificial Visitor.

We, too, were rescued by One who journeyed far from only God knows where.

And we, like the captain, have every reason to look into the sky . . . and worship.

(From In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado)


In these days of tinsel, silver bells, jolly elves and magical snowmen, don't forget

to give thanks to the Lord who left heaven to become your Savior. Pray through Psalm 40

when you feel Christmas cheer slipping away. Let God know your feelings, and tell Him

your frustrations. And most of all, give thanks for Jesus, the greatest Gift of all.


Waiting—Psalm 5:3; 27:14; 130:5, 6; Isaiah 30:18; Micah 7:7; Luke 12:35–40;

James 5:7, 8.

Day 5: A Shepherd of Our Own

You led Your people like a flock

By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Psalm 77:20

Situation in Psalm 77:1–20

Asaph reviewed God’s past miracles and mighty works on behalf of the Israelites

when they went to the Promised Land. Asaph needed courage during a time of personal



Remembering and meditating upon God’s previous works can provide believers

with courage during difficult times of struggle and trial.


Maybe one reason why the angels first appeared to shepherds in order to

announce the birth of the Messiah is that their Boss delights in identifying Himself as a

shepherd (Genesis 48:15). It seems we have a lot in common with the little beasts, and He

has a lot in common with those who care for them.

I once rode on horseback with a shepherdess through the Black Mountains of

Wales. The green valleys were cotton-puffed with heads of sheep. We came upon one

member of the flock that had gotten herself into quite a fix. She was stuck on her back in

the rut of a dirt road and couldn’t stand up.

When the shepherdess saw her, she dismounted from her horse, looked at me, and

chuckled. “They aren’t the brightest of beasts.” She righted the animal, and off it ran.

We aren’t the brightest of beasts, either. Yet we have a Shepherd who will get us

back on our feet. Like a good shepherd, He will not let us go unclothed or unfed. “I have

been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his

descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). What a welcome reminder! When homes

foreclose or pensions evaporate—or even when holiday schedules explode with too

much, too many, and too merry—we need a shepherd. In Christ we have one.

(From Fearless by Max Lucado)


Does stress this holiday season keep you from sleeping? Next time, when you find

yourself awake and fretting, remember God’s faithfulness to you and to others. Praise

Him as your Shepherd for what He already has done for you.


Miracles—Deuteronomy 34:10–12; 1 Kings 18:36–39; Psalm 105:4, 5; John

10:37, 38; 14:11; Hebrews 2:2–4.

Day 6: Everything You Need

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

Situation in Psalms 23:1—24:10

David portrayed God as a caring shepherd who protected His sheep from harm.


Although we will face stressful situations, God leads us safely through as a

shepherd would guide his sheep.


Many years ago Prison Fellowship began its Angel Tree program, designed to

"deliver love" at Christmas time to the children of prisoners. With at least one parent in

jail, each year huge numbers of children go without any presents at Christmas, and Angel

Tree was conceived as a way to bring some yuletide joy into their difficult lives. This

year, the program hopes to bring some Christmas spirit—along with the gospel—into the

homes of some 1.7 million children of prisoners.

Their plight reminds me that Christmas can bring its own challenges. What

happens when a season of peace and joy instead turns into a time of worry and even

depression? Too many of us, perhaps, hope that a change in our circumstances will bring

a change in our attitude. Are you counting on such a change? If so, you are in prison, and

you need to learn a secret of traveling light.

This Christmas, learn the truth that what you have in your Shepherd is greater

than what you don’t have in life.

May I meddle for a moment? What is the one thing separating you from joy? How

do you fill in this blank: “I will be happy when ________________”? When I am healed.

When I am promoted. When I am married. When I am single. When I am rich. How

would you finish that statement?

Now, with your answer firmly in mind, answer this. If your ship never comes in,

if your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, could you be happy? If

not, then you are sleeping in the cold cell of discontent. You are in prison. And you need

to know what you have in your Shepherd.

You have a God who hears you, the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit

within you, and all of heaven ahead of you. If you have the Shepherd, you have grace for

every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner, and an anchor for every

storm. You have everything you need.

And who can take it from you? Can leukemia infect your salvation? Can

bankruptcy impoverish your prayers? A tornado might take your earthly house, but will it

touch your heavenly home?

Try saying it slowly. “The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need”

[Psalm 23:1 NCV].

Again, “The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.”

Again, “The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.”

Shhhhhhh. Did you hear something? I think I did. I’m not sure . . . but I think I

heard the opening of a jail door.

(Adapted from Traveling Light by Max Lucado)


If you are in a position to help the child of a prisoner this Christmas, consider

sponsoring a boy or girl through Angel Tree. And if you're hoping that a change in

circumstances will bring some missing joy into your own holiday celebration, go to your

Good Shepherd and ask Him to open your eyes to all you already have in Him.


Shepherd—Psalm 78:71, 72; Mark 6:34; John 10:26–29.

Day 7: The Shepherd Who Knows Your Name

"I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own."
John 10:14

Situation in John 10:1–42

The analogy of the Good Shepherd describes Jesus’ role perfectly. Unlike a hired

worker, Jesus, through love and affection, offered to lay down His life for His flock.

Believers trust and know Him.


Christ is our faithful shepherd. Put your trust in Him. He wants to give you life to

the fullest!


When I see a flock of sheep, I see exactly that, a flock. A rabble of wool. A herd

of hooves. I don’t see a sheep. I see sheep. All alike. None different. That’s what I see.

But not so with the shepherd. To him, every sheep is different. Every face is

special. Every face has a story. And every sheep has a name. The one with the sad eyes,

that’s Droopy. And the fellow with one ear up and the other down, I call him Oscar. And

the small one with the black patch on his leg, he’s an orphan with no brothers. I call him


The shepherd knows his sheep. He calls them by name.

When we see a crowd, we see exactly that, a crowd. Filling a stadium or flooding

a mall. When we see a crowd, we see people, not persons, but people. A herd of humans.

A flock of faces. That’s what we see.

But not so with the Shepherd. To Him, every face is different. Every face is a

story. Every face is a child. Every child has a name. The one with the sad eyes, that’s

Sally. The old fellow with one eyebrow up and the other down, Harry’s his name. And the

young one with the limp? He’s an orphan with no brothers. I call him Joey.

The Shepherd knows His sheep. He knows each one by name. The Shepherd

knows you. He knows your name. And He will never forget it. I have written your name

on my hand (Isaiah 49:16).

Quite a thought, isn’t it? Your name on God’s hand. Your name on God’s lips.

Maybe you’ve seen your name in some special places. On an award or diploma or walnut

door. Or maybe you’ve heard your name from some important people—a coach, a

celebrity, a teacher. But to think that your name is on God’s hand, on God’s lips . . . my,

could it be?

Christmas answers, "It not only could be. It's true!"

(Adapted from When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado)


Jesus came to give you a life of joy, peace, and fulfillment. Meditate on the fact

that He knows you by name, and that you are unique and special to Him.


Shepherd—Genesis 48:15; 49:24; Isaiah 40:11; Hebrews 13:20; Revelation 7:17.

Exper ien c e t h i s Ch r i s t mas
se a so n l i ke ne v e r b e f or e wi t h
this si x- week d e v ot i on a l f r om
Max Lucado
Let one of America’s most-loved pastors guide you
on a memorable journey to the manger. Sit beside
the babe. Know what it was like. Be inspired to live
out your faith for Him.

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