Category: thoughts by Max Lucado

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“Many people received God’s gift of life by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:15 (NCV)

We take our free gift of salvation and try to earn it or diagnose it or pay for it instead of simply saying “thank you” and accepting it.

Ironic as it may appear, one of the hardest things to do is to be saved by grace.  There’s something in us that reacts to God’s free gift.  We have some weird compulsion to create laws, systems, and regulations that will make us “worthy” of our gift.

Why do we do that?  The only reason I can figure is pride.  To accept grace means to accept its necessity and most folks don’t like to do that.  To accept grace also means that one realizes his despair, and most people aren’t too keen on doing that either.

By Max Lucado
Used by permission

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Voices in our head whisper,

“You aren’t good enough!” 

“You’ll never improve.” 

“You failed—again!”  

Voices in our world.

Voices in our head.

Who is this morality patrolman who issues a citation at every stumble?  Does he ever shut up? No. Because Satan never shuts up!  Revelation 12:9-10 says,

For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth, the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night.”

Satan is relentless, tireless.  The Accuser makes a career out of accusing.  But he will not have the last word.

Jesus has acted on our behalf.  He stooped.  Low enough to be spat upon, nailed, and speared.  Low…low enough to be buried.

And then he stood…he stood up!  Romans 8:34 promises He is in the presence of God at this very moment standing up for us.  We have a clean record.  Grace!

By Max Lucado
From:  GRACE

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Matthew 5:7 tells us: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Jesus says the merciful are shown mercy. Forgiving others allows us to see how God has forgiven us. The dynamic of giving grace is the key to understanding grace. For it is when we forgive others, that we begin to feel what God feels.

Those who taste God’s grace but refuse to share it. Are tortured by anger. Chocked by bitterness. Consumed by revenge.

But for the one who tastes God’s grace and gives it to others, the reward is a blessed liberation. The prison door is thrown open. And the prisoner is set free, is yourself. Find the face of God who forgave you in the face of your enemy. Then set your enemy and yourself free.

By Max Lucado
Used by Permission

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It’s easy to forget who is the servant and who is to be served.

The tool of distortion is one of Satan’s slyest.  When the focus is on yourself, you worry that your co-workers won’t appreciate you or your leaders will overwork you.  With time, your agenda becomes more important than God’s. You’re more concerned with presenting self than pleasing Him.  You may even find yourself doubting God’s judgment.

Remember Martha criticizing her sister Mary, “Lord don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work?  Tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40). What had Mary chosen?  She’d chosen to sit at the feet of Christ. God is more pleased with the quiet attention of a sincere servant than the noisy service of a sour one!

Guard your attitude. If you concern yourself with your neighbour’s talents, you’ll neglect your own. But if you concern yourself with yours, you could inspire both!

By Max Lucado
From: He Still Moves Stones
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“We are your people, the sheep of your flock”.  Psalm 79:13

Sheep aren’t smart.  They tend to wander into running creeks for water, then their wool
grows heavy and they drown.  They need a shepherd to lead them to “calm water
(Psalm 23:2).  They have no natural defence – no claws, no horns, no fangs.  They are
helpless.  Sheep need a shepherd with a ‘rod and shepherd’s staff” (Psalm 23:4) to protect them.  They have no sense of direction.  They need someone to lead them “on paths that are right” (Psalm 23:3).

So do we. We, too, tend to be swept away by waters we should have avoided.  We have no
defence against the evil lion who prowls about seeking whom he might devour.  We, too, get lost.

We need a shepherd. We need a shepherd to care for us and to guide us. And we have one.
ONE who knows us by name.

by Max Lucado
Used by permission
From: A Gentle Thunder

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How does Jesus receive us? 

I know how he treated me.  I was a twenty-year-old troublemaker on a downhill path.  Though I’d made a commitment to Christ a decade earlier, you wouldn’t have known it by the way I lived.

Finally I came to Jesus, and he welcomed me back.  Please note– he did not accept my behavior but he accepted me, his wayward child.  He said, “Come back.  I’ll clean you up.”  He was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  Not just grace, but also truth.  Not just truth, but also grace.

Grace and truth. Grace told the adulterous woman, “I do not condemn you.” Truth told her, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).  Jesus shared truth but graciously.  Jesus offered grace but truthfully.  Grace and truth.  Acceptance seeks to offer both.

This is how happiness happens.

By Max Lucado
Used by Permission

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“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Matthew 6:14

The question is not, Did you get hurt?

The question is, Are you going to let the hurt harden you? 

Wouldn’t you prefer to be “tenderhearted, forgiving one another”?

Try these steps.

Decide what you need to forgive.  Be specific.  Narrow it down to the identifiable offense.

Ask yourself why it hurts Why does this offense sting?  What about it leaves you wounded?

Take it to Jesus.  Talk to Jesus about the offense until the anger subsides.  And when it returns, talk to Jesus again.

Tell your offender.  If it feels safe, simply explain the offense and the way it makes you feel.

Pray for your offender.  You cannot force reconciliation, but you can offer intercession.

Conduct a funeral Bury the offense in the cemetery known as “Moving On with Life.”

This is how happiness happens.

By Max Lucado
Used by Permission

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Satan’s condemnation brings no repentance or resolve…just regret!  

Satan has come to steal, kill, and destroy.  To steal your peace, to kill your dreams, to destroy your future.  Satan has deputized people to peddle his poison.  Friends dredge up your past.  Preachers proclaim all guilt and no grace.  And parents, “Why can’t you grow up?” they say.  “When are you going to make me proud?” they say.  But your accusers will not have the last word.

Jesus has acted on your behalf.  Jesus has risen to your defence.  Hebrews 10:22 says,

“…let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience.”

Not just for our past mistakes but also for our future ones.  Behold the fruit of grace: saved by God, raised by God, seated with God!  Gifted, equipped, and commissioned

By Max Lucado
From: Grace
Used by Permission

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One day it dawned on me.  I had become the very thing I hate–  a hypocrite.  

A pretender.  Two-faced. I’d written sermons about people like me. Christians who care more about their appearance than integrity.

I knew what I needed to do.  I’d written sermons about that too!  1 John 1:8-9 says,

“If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins because we can trust God to do what is right.

I needed to confess. What is confession?  Well confession is not complaining.  If I merely recite my problems and rehash my woes, I’m whining. Confession is a radical reliance upon grace.

Maybe you need to do what I’ve done in the last few days.  You just need to confess.  God will hear your confession.  And in your confession you will find a wonder of God’s grace.  You see grace creates an honest confession.  And then his great grace, receives it.

By Max Lucado
used by permission

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Jesusset aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death, and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion” (Philippians 2:7-8 MSG).

Let’s follow his example. Let’s “put on the apron of humility, to serve one another
(1 Peter 5:5 TEV). Jesus entered the world to serve. We can enter our jobs, our homes, our churches. Servant-hood requires no unique skill or seminary degree. Regardless of your strengths, training, or church tenure, you can.

Love the overlooked. Jesus sits in your classroom, wearing the thick glasses, outdated clothing, and a sad face. You’ve seen him. He’s Jesus.

Jesus works in your office. Pregnant again, she shows up to work late and tired. No one knows the father. According to water-cooler rumors, even she doesn’t know the father. You’ve seen her. She’s just like Jesus.

When you talk to the lonely student, befriend the weary mom, you love Jesus. He dresses in the garb of the overlooked and ignored. “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was Me you did it to” (Matthew 25:40 MSG).

You can do that. Even if your sweet spot has nothing to do with encouraging others, the cure for the common life involves loving the overlooked. You can also.

Wave a white flag. We fight so much. “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from” asks the brother of Jesus. “Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves” (James 4:1 MSG). Serve someone by swallowing your pride. One more aspect of servanthood…

Every day do something you don’t want to do. Pick up someone else’s trash. Surrender your parking place. Call the long-winded relative. Carry the cooler. Doesn’t have to be a big thing. Helen Keller once told the Tennessee legislature that when she was young, she had longed to do great things and could not, so she decided to do small things in a great way. Don’t be too big to do something small. “Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort
(1 Corinthians 15:58 MSG).

A good action not only brings good fortune, it brings God’s attention. He notices the actions of servants. He sent his Son to be one.

When you and I crest Mount Zion and hear the applause of saints, we’ll realize this: hands pushed us up the mountain too. The pierced hands of Jesus Christ, the greatest servant who ever lived.

By Max Lucado
used by permission

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He brought them out of the gloom and darkness and broke their chains.   Let them give thanks to the Lord.”  Psalm 107:14-15

Worship is when you’re aware that what you’ve been given is far greater than what you can give.  Worship is the awareness that were it not for His touch, you’d still be hobbling and hurting, bitter and broken.  Worship is the half-glazed expression on
the parched face of a desert pilgrim as he discovers that the oasis is not a mirage.

Worship is the “thank you” that refuses to be silenced.

We have tried to make a science out of worship.  We can’t do that. We can’t do that anymore than we can “sell love” or “negotiate peace”.

Worship is a voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, and by the delivered to the Deliverer.

By Max Lucado
Used by permission

From: In the Eye of the Storm

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A grateful heart sees each day as a gift.

Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges they have. I attended a banquet recently in which a wounded soldier was presented with the gift of a free house. He nearly fell over with gratitude. He bounded onto the stage with his one good leg and threw both arms around the presenter. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” He hugged the guitar player in the band and the big woman on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers, and then the presenter again. Before the night was over, he thanked me! And I didn’t do anything.

Shouldn’t we be equally grateful? Jesus is building a house for us (John 14:2). Our deed of ownership is every bit as certain as that of the soldier. What’s more, Jesus cured our leprosy. Sin cankered our souls and benumbed our senses. Yet the Man on the path told us we were healed, and, lo and behold, we were!

The grateful heart is like a magnet sweeping over the day, collecting reasons for gratitude. A zillion diamonds sparkle against the velvet of your sky every night. Thank you, God. A miracle of muscles enables your eyes to read these words and your brain to process them. Thank you, God. Your lungs inhale and exhale eleven thousand liters of air every day. Your heart will beat about three billion times in your lifetime. Your brain is a veritable electric generator of power. Thank you, God.

For the jam on our toast and the milk on our cereal. For the blanket that calms us and the joke that delights us and the warm sun that reminds us of God’s love. For the thousands of planes that did not crash today. For the men who didn’t cheat on their wives, and the wives who didn’t turn from their men, and the kids who, in spite of unspeakable pressure to dishonor their parents, decided not to do so. Thank you, Lord.

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover his heart. To discover his heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up.

Join the ranks of the 10 percent who give God a standing ovation. “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Ephesians 5:20 (NLT).

By Max Lucado
Used by permission

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1 Samuel 16:7 says,. . .man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Those words were written for misfits and outcasts. God uses them all. Moses ran from justice, but God used him. Jonah ran from God, but God used him. Rahab ran a brothel. Sarah ran out of hope, Lot ran with the wrong crowd, but God used them all. And David? Human eyes saw a gangly teenager, smelling like sheep. Yet the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is the one!” (1 Samuel 16:12).

God saw what no one else saw– a God-seeking heart. David took after God’s heart, because he stayed after God’s heart. In the end, that is all God wants or needs. Others measure your waist size or wallet. Not God. He examines hearts. When he finds one set on Him, He calls it and claims it.

By Max Lucado
Used by permission

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In Romans chapter 8,  Paul asks five life-changing questions:

  1. Won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?”  

God won’t leave us to fend for ourselves.

  1. If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”  

God’s presence tilts the scales of security forever in our direction.

  1. Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own?”  

Once God accepts you, what other opinion matters?

  1. Who then will condemn us?  Will Christ Jesus?”  

The answer is NO!  Christ sits next to God as our divine defence attorney who mutes the voices of our accusers.

  1. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?”  

Paul’s “Eureka!” conclusion:  Nothing and no one can drive a wedge between you and God’s love!

By Max Lucado
From:  Come Thirsty

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When Christ rose from the dead, he never reminded the disciples of their betrayal and desertion.  They outran the guards, but they couldn’t outrun the love of Christ.

Desert God—he’ll still love you.  Deny God—he’ll still love you.  Doubt God—he’ll still love you.  You have never lived a loveless day.  Not one!  You never leave God’s mind, escape his sight, or flee his thoughts.  He knows you better than you know you, and he loves you still.

The greatest discovery in the universe is the greatest love in the universe—and that is God’s love.  Remember Paul’s words in Romans 8:38,  “Nothing can separate us from his love.”  Step to the well of God’s love and drink up.  Once filled by his love, you’ll never be the same.

By Max Lucado
From: Come Thirsty
Used by Permission

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