Embrace His Grace



                     Max Lucado


About Max
    With more than 28 million books in print, Max Lucado has touched millions with his signature storytelling writing style. Awards and accolades follow Max with each book he writes. Max is the first author to win the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year three times—1999 for Just Like Jesus, 1997 for In the Grip of Grace and 1995 for When God Whispers Your Name.
    In 1994, he became the only author to have 11 of his twelve books in print simultaneously appear on paperback, hardcover and children's CBA bestseller lists. Lucado set a new industry record by concurrently placing seven different Word titles on the CBA Hardcover Bestseller List in both March and April 1997. A Max Lucado title has appeared on the CBA hardcover bestseller list every month for the past seven years. His newest book, A Love Worth Giving, was released in September 2002 and You Are Special recently won a Gold Medallion award in the Inspirational category.
    In addition to his nonfiction books, Lucado has authored several award-winning children's titles including , Just In Case You Ever Wonder, The Crippled Lamb and Alabaster's Song. Max's newest book is a follow-up to the award-winning You Are Special entitled You Are Mine. He served as the general editor for the best-selling Inspirational Bible and God's Inspirational Promise Book.
    Max serves as the pulpit minister of the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas. But he says his greatest accomplishment is finding a one-in-a-million wife in Denalyn and having three unbelievable daughters: Jenna, Andrea, and Sara.


Birth Place: San Angelo, TX
Graduate: Andrews High School, Andrews, TX
Advanced Degrees: BA Mass Communications, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX
MA: Biblical and Related Studies, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX
Positions Held: Associate Minister, Central Church of Christ, Miami, FL
Church Planning Missionary, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Currently serving as the Pulpit Minister, Oak Hills Church of Christ, San Antonio, TX



                   You Might’ve Been in the Bible

       There are a few stories in the Bible where everything turns out right. This is one. It has three characters.
       The first is Philip—a disciple in the early church who had a penchant for lost people. One day he was instructed by God to go to the road that leads to Gaza from Jerusalem. It was a desert road. He went. When he arrived he came upon a ruler from Ethiopia. Must have been a bit intimidating for Philip. It would be similar to your hopping on a motor scooter and following the secretary of the treasury. At a stoplight you notice he is reading the Bible, and you volunteer your services.
       That is what Philip did.
       “Do you understand what you are reading?”
       “How can I unless someone explains it to me?”
        And so Philip did. They have a Bible study in the chariot. The study is so convicting that the Ethiopian is baptized that day. And then they separate. Philip goes one way, and the Ethiopian goes another. The story has a happy ending. Philip teaches, the Ethiopian obeys, and the gospel is sent to Africa.
But that’s not all the story. Remember I said there were three characters. The first was Philip; the second was the Ethiopian. Did you see the third? There is one. Read these verses and take note.
       “An angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Get ready and go south. . . .’ So Philip got ready and went” (Acts 8:26–27).
       “The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ So . . .         Philip ran toward the chariot” (Acts 8:29–30).
        The third character? God! God sent the angel. The Holy Spirit instructed Philip; God orchestrated the entire moment! He saw this godly man coming from Ethiopia to worship. He saw his confusion. So he decided to resolve it.
He looked in Jerusalem for a man he could send. He found Philip.
Our typical response when we read these verses is to think Philip was a special guy. He had access to the Oval Office. He carried a first-century pager that God doesn’t pass out anymore.
        But don’t be too quick. In a letter to Christians just like us, Paul wrote,     “Live by following the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).
“The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them” (Rom. 8:14).
       To hear many of us talk, you’d think we didn’t believe these verses. You’d think we didn’t believe in the Trinity. We talk about the Father and study the Son—but when it comes to the Holy Spirit, we are confused at best and frightened at worst. Confused because we’ve never been taught. Frightened because we’ve been taught to be afraid.
        May I simplify things a bit? The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in our lives, carrying on the work of Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us in three directions—inwardly (by granting us the fruits of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22–24), upwardly (by praying for us, Rom. 8:26) and outwardly (by pouring God’s love into our hearts, Rom. 5:5).
        In evangelism the Holy Spirit is on center stage. If the disciple teaches, it is because the Spirit teaches the disciple (Luke 12:12). If the listener is convicted, it is because the Spirit has penetrated (John 16:10). If the listener is converted, it is by the transforming power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:11). If the new believer matures, it is because the Spirit makes him or her competent (2 Cor. 3:6).
       You have the same Spirit working with you that Philip did. Some of you don’t believe me. You’re still cautious. I can hear you mumbling under your breath as you read, “Philip had something I don’t. I’ve never heard an angel’s voice.” To which I counter, “How do you know Philip did?”
       We assume he did. We’ve been taught he did. The flannelboard figures say he did. An angel puts his trumpet in Philip’s ear, blares the announcement, and Philip has no choice. Flashing lights and fluttering wings are nothing to deny. The deacon had to go. But could our assumption be wrong? Could it be that the angel’s voice was every bit as miraculous as the one you and I hear?
        You’ve heard the voice whispering your name, haven’t you? You’ve felt the nudge to go and sensed the urge to speak. Hasn’t it occurred to you?
        You invite a couple over for coffee. Nothing heroic, just a nice evening with old friends. But from the moment they enter, you can feel the tension. Colder than glaciers, they are. You can tell something is wrong. Typically you’re not one to inquire, but you feel a concern that won’t be silent. So you ask.
You are in a business meeting where one of your coworkers gets raked over the coals. Everyone else is thinking, I’m glad that wasn’t me. But the Holy Spirit is leading you to think, How hard this must be. So, after the meeting you approach the employee and express your concern.
        You notice the fellow on the other side of the church auditorium. He looks a bit out of place, what with his strange clothing and all. You learn that he is from Africa, in town on business. The next Sunday he is back. And the third Sunday he is present. You introduce yourself. He tells you how he is fascinated by the faith and how he wants to learn more. Rather than offer to teach him, you simply urge him to read the Bible.
        Later in the week, you regret not being more direct. You call the office where he is consulting and learn that he is leaving today for home. You know in your heart you can’t let him leave. So you rush to the airport and find him awaiting his flight, with a Bible open on his lap.
        “Do you understand what you are reading?” you inquire.
        “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?”
And so you, like Philip, explain. And he, like the Ethiopian, believes. Baptism is requested and baptism is offered. He catches a later flight and you catch a glimpse of what it means to be led by the Spirit.
         Were there lights? You just lit one. Were there voices? You just were one. Was there a miracle? You just witnessed one. Who knows? If the Bible were being written today, that might be your name in the eighth chapter of Acts.

Lucado, M. (1994). When God whispers your name (Page 35). Dallas: Word Pub.



                             A Heart Like His

What if, for one day, Jesus were to become you?
What if, for twenty-four hours, Jesus wakes up in your bed, walks in your shoes, lives in your house, assumes your schedule? Your boss becomes his boss, your mother becomes his mother, your pains become his pains? With one exception, nothing about your life changes. Your health doesn’t change. Your circumstances don’t change. Your schedule isn’t altered. Your problems aren’t solved. Only one change occurs.

What if, for one day and one night, Jesus lives your life with his heart? Your heart gets the day off, and your life is led by the heart of Christ. His priorities govern your actions. His passions drive your decisions. His love directs your behavior.
What would you be like? Would people notice a change? Your family—would they see something new? Your coworkers—would they sense a difference? What about the less fortunate? Would you treat them the same? And your friends? Would they detect more joy? How about your enemies? Would they receive more mercy from Christ’s heart than from yours?
And you? How would you feel? What alterations would this transplant have on your stress level? Your mood swings? Your temper? Would you sleep better? Would you see sunsets differently? Death differently? Taxes differently? Any chance you’d need fewer aspirin or sedatives? How about your reaction to traffic delays? (Ouch, that touched a nerve.) Would you still dread what you are dreading? Better yet, would you still do what you are doing?
Would you still do what you had planned to do for the next twenty-four hours?

 Pause and think about your schedule. Obligations. Engagements. Outings. Appointments. With Jesus taking over your heart, would anything change?
Keep working on this for a moment. Adjust the lens of your imagination until you have a clear picture of Jesus leading your life, then snap the shutter and frame the image. What you see is what God wants. He wants you to “think and act like Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).

God’s plan for you is nothing short of a new heart. If you were a car, God would want control of your engine. If you were a computer, God would claim the software and the hard drive. If you were an airplane, he’d take his seat in the cockpit. But you are a person, so God wants to change your heart.
“But you were taught to be made new in your hearts, to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy” (Eph. 4:23–24).

God wants you to be just like Jesus. He wants you to have a heart like his.
I’m going to risk something here. It’s dangerous to sum up grand truths in one statement, but I’m going to try. If a sentence or two could capture God’s desire for each of us, it might read like this:
God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.

God loves you just the way you are. If you think his love for you would be stronger if your faith were, you are wrong. If you think his love would be deeper if your thoughts were, wrong again. Don’t confuse God’s love with the love of people. The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God’s love. He loves you right where you are. To quote my wife’s favorite author:
God’s love never ceases. Never. Though we spurn him. Ignore him. Reject him. Despise him. Disobey him. He will not change. Our evil cannot diminish his love. Our goodness cannot increase it. Our faith does not earn it anymore than our stupidity jeopardizes it. God doesn’t love us less if we fail or more if we succeed. God’s love never ceases.

God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.

[Max Lucado Just like Jesus  Nashville: Word Publishing.]



                  Tough Love, Tough Grace

      I have good news and bad news.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. We are separated from God by sin. We aren’t strong enough to remove it. We aren’t good enough to erase it. We can’t do enough good deeds to cover it up.

Now here’s the good news: God has done what we can’t. Before we even recognized our sinful state, he paid the price for what we’ve done and what we’ll do. Jesus was “not guilty, but he suffered for those who are guilty to bring you to God” ( 1 Peter 3:18 ).

Ponder the achievement of God. He doesn’t condone our sin; nor does he compromise his standard. Rather than dismiss our sin, he assumes our sin and, incredibly, sentences himself. God’s holiness is honored. Our sin is punished. And we are redeemed. God is still God. The wages of sin is still death. And we are made perfect.

That’s his grace. And that is the best news of all.—Max Lucado



                        A Moment With Max

Many don’t understand God’s anger because they confuse the wrath of God with the wrath of man. The two have little in common. Human anger is typically self-driven and prone to explosions of temper and violent deeds. We get ticked off because we’ve been overlooked, neglected, or cheated. This is the anger of man. It is not, however, the anger of God.

God doesn’t get angry because he doesn’t get his way. He gets angry because disobedience always results in self-destruction. What kind of father sits by and watches his child hurt himself?

What kind of God would do the same? Do we think he giggles at adultery or snickers at murder? Do you think he looks the other way when we produce television talk shows based on perverse pleasures? Does he shake his head and say, “Humans will be humans”?

I don’t think so. Mark it down and underline it in red. God is right fully angry. God is a holy God. Our sins are an affront to his holiness. His eyes “are too good to look at evil; [he] cannot stand to see those who do wrong” ( Habakkuk 1:13 ).

God is angry at the evil that ruins his children.



                   A Message from the Word

18 God’s anger is shown from heaven against all the evil and wrong things people do. By their own evil lives they hide the truth. 19 God shows his anger because some knowledge of him has been made clear to them. Yes, God has shown himself to them. 20 There are things about him that people cannot see—his eternal power and all the things that make him God. But since the beginning of the world those things have been easy to understand by what God has made. So people have no excuse for the bad things they do.  Romans 1:18–20


1 “Come, let’s go back to the Lord.

He has hurt us, but he will heal us.

He has wounded us, but he will bandage our wounds.

2 In two days he will put new life in us;

on the third day he will raise us up

so that we may live in his presence 3 and know him.

Let’s try to learn about the Lord;

He will come to us as surely as the dawn comes.

He will come to us like rain,

like the spring rain that waters the ground.”  

                                                         Hosea 6:1–3



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