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GRACE for the MOMENTInspiration for Each Day of the Year
By Max Lucado
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Max Lucado
All right reserved.
I have chosen the way of truth; I have obeyed your laws. —Psalm 119:30
January 1 GOD LISTENS
I cry out to the Lord; I pray to the Lord for mercy. Psalm 142:1
You can talk to God because God listens. Your voice matters in heaven. He takes you very seriously. When you enter his presence, he turns to you to hear your voice. No need to fear that you will be ignored. Even if you stammer or stumble, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God, and he listens. He listens to the painful plea of the elderly in the rest home. He listens to the gruff confession of the death-row inmate. When the alcoholic begs for mercy, when the spouse seeks guidance, when the businessman steps off the street into the chapel, God listens.
The Great House Of God
January 2 A Chosen People
You are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession. 1 Peter 2:9
Do you ever feel unnoticed? New clothes and styles may help for a while. But if you want permanent change, learn to see yourself as God sees you: "He has covered me with clothes of salvation and wrapped me with a coat of goodness, like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding, like a bride dressed in jewels" (Isaiah 61:10).
Does your self-esteem ever sag? When it does, remember what you are worth. "You were bought, not with something that ruins like gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, who was like a pure and perfect lamb" (1 Peter 1:18–19).
The challenge is to remember that. To meditate on it. To focus on it. To allow his love to change the way you look at you.
When Christ Comes
January 3 Worthless Worry
I was young, and now I am old, but I have never seen good people left helpless or their children begging for food. Psalm 37:25
We worry. We worry about the IRS and the SAT and the FBI.... We worry that we won't have enough money, and when we have money, we worry that we won't manage it well. We worry that the world will end before the parking meter expires. We worry what the dog thinks if he sees us step out of the shower. We worry that someday we'll learn that fat-free yogurt is fattening.
Honestly, now. Did God save you so you would fret? Would he teach you to walk just to watch you fall? Would he be nailed to the cross for your sins and then disregard your prayers? Come on. Is Scripture teasing us when it reads, "He has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go" (Psalm 91:11)?
I don't think so either.
In The Grip of Grace
January 4 A Complete Restoration
You will know that God's power is very great for us who believe. Ephesians 1:19
God loves to decorate. God has to decorate. Let him live long enough in a heart, and that heart will begin to change. Portraits of hurt will be replaced by landscapes of grace. Walls of anger will be demolished and shaky foundations restored. God can no more leave a life unchanged than a mother can leave her child's tear untouched. This might explain some of the discomfort in your life. Remodeling of the heart is not always pleasant. We don't object when the Carpenter adds a few shelves, but he's been known to gut the entire west wing. He has such high aspirations for you. God envisions a complete restoration. He won't stop until he is finished.... He wants you to be just like Jesus.
Just Like Jesus
January 5 Don't Miss God's Answer
Is anything too hard for the Lord? No! Genesis 18:14
The God of surprises strikes again.... God does that for the faithful. Just when the womb gets too old for babies, Sarah gets pregnant. Just when the failure is too great for grace, David is pardoned.
The lesson? Three words. Don't give up.
Is the road long? Don't stop.
Is the night black? Don't quit.
God is watching. For all you know right at this moment ... the check may be in the mail.
The apology may be in the making.
The job contract may be on the desk.
Don't quit. For if you do, you may miss the answer to your prayers.
He Still Moves Stones
January 6 At Home With God
"If people love me, they will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." John 14:23
God wants to be your dwelling place. He has no interest in being a weekend getaway or a Sunday bungalow or a summer cottage. Don't consider using God as a vacation cabin or an eventual retirement home. He wants you under his roof now and always. He wants to be your mailing address, your point of reference; he wants to be your home.
For many this is a new thought. We think of God as a deity to discuss, not a place to dwell. We think of God as a mysterious miracle worker, not a house to live in. We think of God as a creator to call on, not a home to reside in. But our Father wants to be much more. He wants to be the one in whom "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28 NIV).
The Great House of God
January 7 The Foundation Of Courage
I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12 NIV
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1 niv).
"[God] justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26 NIV).
For those in Christ, these promises are not only a source of joy. They are also the foundations of true courage. You are guaranteed that your sins will be filtered through, hidden in, and screened out by the sacrifice of Jesus. When God looks at you, he doesn't see you; he sees the One who surrounds you. That means failure is not a concern for you. Your victory is secure. How could you not be courageous?
The Applause of Heaven
January 8 The Water of The Servant
He poured water into a bowl and began to wash the followers' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:5
To place our feet in the basin of Jesus is to place the filthiest parts of our lives into his hands. In the ancient East, people's feet were caked with mud and dirt. The servant of the feast saw to it that the feet were cleaned. Jesus is assuming the role of the servant. He will wash the grimiest part of your life....
If you let him. The water of the Servant comes only when we confess that we are dirty. Only when we confess that we are caked with filth, that we have walked forbidden trails and followed the wrong paths.
We will never be cleansed until we confess we are dirty. We will never be pure until we admit we are filthy. And we will never be able to wash the feet of those who have hurt us until we allow Jesus, the one we have hurt, to wash ours.
A Gentle Thunder
January 9 Our High Priest
Our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15
Read how J. B. Phillips translates Hebrews 4:15: For we have no superhuman High Priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible—he himself has shared fully in all our experience of temptation, except that he never sinned.
It's as if he knows that we will say to God: "God, it's easy for you up there. You don't know how hard it is from down here." So he boldly proclaims Jesus' ability to understand. Look at the wording again.
He himself. Not an angel. Not an ambassador. Not an emissary, but Jesus himself.
Shared fully. Not partially. Not nearly. Not to a large degree. Entirely! Jesus shared fully.
In all our experience. Every hurt. Each ache. All the stresses and all the strains. No exceptions. No substitutes. Why? So he could sympathize with our weaknesses.
In the Eye of the Storm
January 10 Made for Heaven
"My kingdom does not belong to this world." John 18:36
Unhappiness on earth cultivates a hunger for heaven. By gracing us with a deep dissatisfaction, God holds our attention. The only tragedy, then, is to be satisfied prematurely. To settle for earth. To be content in a strange land.
We are not happy here because we are not at home here. We are not happy here because we are not supposed to be happy here. We are "like foreigners and strangers in this world" (1 Peter 2:11)....
And you will never be completely happy on earth simply because you were not made for earth. Oh, you will have your moments of joy. You will catch glimpses of light. You will know moments or even days of peace. But they simply do not compare with the happiness that lies ahead.
When God Whispers Your Name
January 11 Faithfully Present
"The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them." Luke 19:10
Our God is the God who follows. Have you sensed him following you? He is the one who came to seek and save the lost. Have you sensed him seeking you?
Have you felt his presence through the kindness of a stranger? Through the majesty of a sunset or the mystery of romance? Through the question of a child or the commitment of a spouse? Through a word well spoken or a touch well timed, have you sensed him?
God gives us himself. Even when we choose our hovel over his house and our trash over his grace, still he follows. Never forcing us. Never leaving us. Patiently persistent. Faithfully present. He uses all his power to convince us that he is who he is and he can be trusted to lead us home.
The Gift for All People
January 12 Who Is The Servant?
Martha was distracted with much serving ... "Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:40–42 NKJV
Martha is worried about something good. She's having Jesus over for dinner. She's literally serving God. Her aim was to please Jesus. But she made a common, yet dangerous mistake. As she began to work for him, her work became more important than her Lord. What began as a way to serve Jesus, slowly and subtly became a way to serve herself.... She has forgotten that the meal is to honor Jesus, not Martha.
It's easy to forget who is the servant and who is to be served.
He Still Moves Stones
January 13 Thinking of You
Pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. Philippians 4:6
Heaven knows no difference between Sunday morning and Wednesday afternoon. God longs to speak as clearly in the workplace as he does in the sanctuary. He longs to be worshiped when we sit at the dinner table and not just when we come to his communion table. You may go days without thinking of him, but there's never a moment when he's not thinking of you.
Knowing this, we understand Paul's rigorous goal: "We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can fathom why he urges us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV), "be constant in prayer" (Romans 12:12 ESV) ... and "let heaven fill your thoughts" (Colossians 3:2 TLB).
The Great House of God
January 14 Just the Way You Are
In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5
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.
Just Like Jesus
January 15 God's Good Gifts
Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. James 1:17
Ever feel like you have nothing? Just look at the gifts [God] has given you:
He has sent his angels to care for you, his Holy Spirit to dwell in you, his church to encourage you, and his Word to guide you.
Anytime you speak, he listens; make a request and he responds.
He will never let you be tempted too much or stumble too far.
Let a tear appear on your cheek, and he is there to wipe it.
Let a love sonnet appear on your lips, and he is there to hear it.
As much as you want to see him, he wants to see you more.
You have been chosen by Christ.... He has claimed you as his beloved.
When Christ Comes
January 16 God's Good Timing
"God will always give what is right to his people who cry to him night and day, and he will not be slow to answer them." Luke 18:7
Why does God wait until the money is gone? Why does he wait until the sickness has lingered? Why does he choose to wait until the other side of the grave to answer the prayers for healing?
I don't know. I only know his timing is always right. I can only say he will do what is best.
Though you hear nothing, he is speaking. Though you see nothing, he is acting. With God there are no accidents. Every incident is intended to bring us closer to him.
A Gentle Thunder
January 17 Clothes of Salvation
This body that dies must clothe itself with something that can never die. 1 Corinthians 15:53
Does Jesus care what clothes we wear?
Apparently so. In fact, the Bible tells us exactly the wardrobe God desires.
"But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and forget about satisfying your sinful self" (Romans 13:14).
"You were all baptized into Christ, and so you were all clothed with Christ. This means that you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26–27).
This clothing has nothing to do with dresses and jeans and suits. God's concern is with our spiritual garment. He offers a heavenly robe that only heaven can see and only heaven can give. Listen to the words of Isaiah: "The Lord makes me very happy; all that I am rejoices in my God. He has covered me with clothes of salvation and wrapped me with a coat of goodness" (Isaiah 61:10).
When Christ Comes
January 18 Sowing Seeds of Peace
Plant goodness, harvest the fruit of loyalty, plow the new ground of knowledge. Hosea 10:12
Want to see a miracle? Plant a word of love heart deep in a person's life. Nurture it with a smile and a prayer, and watch what happens.
An employee gets a compliment. A wife receives a bouquet of f lowers. A cake is baked and carried next door. A widow is hugged. A gas-station attendant is honored. A preacher is praised.
Sowing seeds of peace is like sowing beans. You don't know why it works; you just know it does. Seeds are planted, and topsoils of hurt are shoved away.
Don't forget the principle. Never underestimate the power of a seed.
The Applause of Heaven
January 19 One Secure Place
"I will be with you always." Matthew 28:20
David, the man after God's own heart, said: "I'm asking Yahweh for one thing, only one thing: to live with him in his house my whole life long" (Psalm 27:4 MSG).
What is this house of God which David seeks? Is David describing a physical structure? Does he long for a building with four walls and a door through which he can enter but never exit? No. Our Lord "does not live in temples built by human hands" (Acts 17:24). When David says, "I will live in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6), he's not saying he wants to get away from people. He's saying that he yearns to be in God's presence, wherever he is.
The Great House of God
January 20 A World Without Sin
Then wolves will live in peace with lambs, and leopards will lie down to rest with goats. Isaiah 11:6
Can you imagine a world minus sin? Have you done anything recently because of sin?
At the very least, you've complained. You've worried. You've grumbled. You've hoarded when you should have shared. You've turned away when you should have helped.
Because of sin, you've snapped at the ones you love and argued with the ones you cherish. You have felt ashamed, guilty, bitter.
Sin has sired a thousand heartaches and broken a million promises. Your addiction can be traced back to sin. Your mistrust can be traced back to sin. Bigotry, robbery, adultery—all because of sin. But in heaven, all of this will end.
Can you imagine a world without sin? If so, you can imagine heaven.
When Christ Comes
January 21 A Heart Like His
We are like clay, and you are the potter; your hands made us all. Isaiah 64:8
God wants us to be just like Jesus.
Isn't that good news? You aren't stuck with today's personality. You aren't condemned to "grumpydom." You are tweakable. Even if you've worried each day of your life, you needn't worry the rest of your life. So what if you were born a bigot? You don't have to die one.
Where did we get the idea we can't change? From whence come statements such as "It's just my nature to worry" or "I'll always be pessimistic. I'm just that way"? ... Who says? Would we make similar statements about our bodies? "It's just my nature to have a broken leg. I can't do anything about it." Of course not. If our bodies malfunction, we seek help. Shouldn't we do the same with our hearts? Shouldn't we seek aid for our sour attitudes? Can't we request treatment for our selfish tirades? Of course we can. Jesus can change our hearts. He wants us to have a heart like his.
Just Like Jesus
January 22 The Reachable Jesus
He remembered us when we were in trouble. His love continues forever. Psalm 136:23
God chose to reveal himself through a human body.
The tongue that called forth the dead was a human one. The hand that touched the leper had dirt under its nails. The feet upon which the woman wept were calloused and dusty. And his tears—oh, don't miss the tears—they came from a heart as broken as yours or mine ever has been.
So, people came to him. My, how they came to him! They came at night; they touched him as he walked down the street; they followed him around the sea; they invited him into their homes and placed their children at his feet. Why? Because he refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an elevated pulpit. He chose instead to be a touchable, approachable, reachable Jesus.
God Came Near
January 23 Blessings at God's Table
You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies. Psalm 23:5
Pause and envision the scene in [God's] royal dining room.
Driven not by our beauty but by his promise, he calls us to himself and invites us to take a permanent place at his table.... We take our place next to the other sinners-made-saints, and we share in God's glory.
May I share a partial list of what awaits you at his table?
You are beyond condemnation (Romans 8:1 NKJV).
You are a member of his kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
You have been adopted (Romans 8:15 NKJV).
You have access to God at any moment (Ephesians 2:18 NKJV).
You will never be abandoned (Hebrews 13:5).
You have an imperishable inheritance (1 Peter 1:4).
In the Grip of Grace
Excerpted from GRACE for the MOMENT by Max Lucado Copyright © 2007 by Max Lucado. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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