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Grace Happens HereYou Are Standing Where Grace Is Happening
By Max Lucado
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Max Lucado
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePURSUED BY Grace
To discover grace is to discover God's utter devotion to you, his stubborn resolve to give you a
cleansing, healing, purging love that lifts the wounded back to their feet.
GOD GIVES A NEW HEART
When grace happens, we receive not a nice compliment from God but a new heart. Give your heart to Christ, and he returns the favor. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you" (Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV).
You might call it a spiritual heart transplant.
Tara Storch understands this miracle as much as anyone can. In the spring of 2010, a skiing accident took the life of her thirteen-year-old daughter, Taylor. What followed for Tara and her husband, Todd, was every parent's worst nightmare: a funeral, a burial, a flood of questions and tears. They decided to donate their daughter's organs to needy patients. Few people needed a heart more than Patricia Winters. Her heart had begun to fail five years earlier, leaving her too weak to do much more than sleep. Taylor's heart gave Patricia a fresh start on life.
Tara had only one request: she wanted to hear the heart of her daughter. She and Todd flew from Dallas to Phoenix and went to Patricia's home to listen to Taylor's heart.
The two mothers embraced for a long time. Then Patricia offered Tara and Todd a stethoscope. When they listened to the healthy rhythm, whose heart did they hear? Did they not hear the still-beating heart of their daughter? It indwells a different body, but the heart is the heart of their child. And when God hears your heart, does he not hear the still-beating heart of his Son? ...
The Christian is a person in whom Christ is happening. —Grace
God dispenses his goodness not with an eyedropper but a fire hydrant.
Your heart is a Dixie cup, and his grace is the Mediterranean Sea.
You simply can't contain it al.
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15
God wrote the book on grace. He coaxed Adam and Eve out of the bushes, murderous Moses out of the desert. He made a place for David, though David made a move on Bathsheba. He didn't give up on Elijah, though Elijah gave up on him. Undeserved. Unexpected. Grace.
BEFORE WE KNEW OUR NEED
The bank sent me an overdraft notice on the checking account of one of my daughters. I encouraged my college-age girls to monitor their accounts. Even so, they sometimes overspent.
What should I have done? Let the bank absorb it? They wouldn't. Send her an angry letter? Admonition might have helped her later, but it wouldn't satisfy the bank. Phone and tell her to make a deposit? Might as well tell a fish to fly. I knew her liquidity. Zero.
Transfer the money from my account to hers? Seemed to be the best option. After all, I had $25.37. I could have replenished her account and paid the overdraft fee as well.
Besides, that was my job. Don't get any ideas. If you're overdrawn, don't call me. My daughter can do something you can't do: she can call me Dad. And since she calls me Dad, I did what dads do. I covered my daughter's mistake.
When I told her she was overdrawn, she said she was sorry. Still, she offered no deposit. She was broke. She had one option. "Dad, could you ..." I interrupted her sentence. "Honey, I already have." I met her need before she knew she had one.
Long before you knew you needed grace, your Father did the same. He made the deposit, an ample deposit: "Christ died for us while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:8 ncv). Before you knew you needed a Savior, you had one. And when you ask him for mercy, he answers, "I've already given it, dear child. I've already given it."
—Cure for the Common Life
Jesus treats your shame-filed days with grace.
He'll take your guilt if you'll ask him.
All he awaits is your request.
We cup sullied hearts in hands and offer them to God as we would a crushed, scentless flower:
"Can you bring life to this?" And he does.
It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18–19
GRACE FOR BREAKFAST
Peter's thoughts are interrupted by a shout from the shore. "Catch any fish?"
Peter and John look up. Probably a villager. "No!" they yell.
"Try the other side!" the voice yells back.
John looks at Peter. What harm? So out sails the net. Peter wraps the rope around his wrist to wait.
But there is no wait. The rope pulls taut, and the net catches. Peter sets his weight against the side of the boat and begins to bring in the net. He's so intense with the task, he misses the message.
John doesn't. The moment is déjà vu. This has happened before. The long night. The empty net. The call to cast again. Fish flapping on the floor of the boat. Wait a minute ... He lifts his eyes to the man on the shore. "It's him," he whispers.
Then louder, "It's Jesus."
Peter turns and looks. Jesus, the God of heaven and earth, is on the shore ... and he's building a fire.
Peter plunges into the water, swims to the shore, and stumbles out wet and shivering and stands in front of the friend he betrayed. Jesus has prepared a bed of coals.
For one of the few times in his life, Peter is silent. What words would suffice? The moment is too holy for words. God is offering breakfast to the friend who betrayed him. And Peter is once again finding grace at Galilee.
What do you say at a moment like this?
What do you say at a moment such as this?
It's just you and God. You and God both know what you did. And neither one of you is proud of it. What do you do?
You might consider doing what Peter did. Stand in God's presence. Stand in his sight. Stand still and wait. Sometimes that's all a soul can do. Too repentant to speak, but too hopeful to leave—we just stand.
He has come back.
He invites you to try again. This time, with him.
—3:16, Numbers of Hope
We are presumptuous not when we marvel at God's grace, but when we reject it.
God offers second chances, like a soup kitchen offers meals, to everyone who asks.
People cannot do any work that will make them right with God.
Romans 4:5 NCV
Salvation is the result of grace.
Without exception, no man or woman has ever done one work to enhance the finished work of the cross.
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER GIVES GRACE
Come with me to God's living room.
Sit in the chair that was made for you and warm your hands by the fire which never fades.... Stand at the mantel and study the painting which hangs above it.
Your Father treasures the portrait. He has hung it where all can see....
Captured in the portrait is a tender scene of a father and a son. Behind them is a great house on a hill. Beneath their feet is a narrow path. Down from the house the father has run. Up the trail the son has trudged. The two have met, here, at the gate.
We can't see the face of the son; it's buried in the chest of his father. No, we can't see his face, but we can see his tattered robe and stringy hair. We can see the mud on the back of his legs, the filth on his shoulders and the empty purse on the ground. At one time the purse was full of money. At one time the boy was full of pride. But that was a dozen taverns ago. Now both the purse and the pride are depleted. The prodigal offers no gift or explanation. All he offers is the smell of pigs and a rehearsed apology: "Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:21 NCV)....
Though we can't see the boy's face in the painting, we can't miss the father's. Look at the tears glistening on the leathered cheeks, the smile shining through the silver beard. One arm holds the boy up so he won't fall, the other holds the boy close so he won't doubt.
"Hurry!" he shouts. "Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Also, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get our fat calf and kill it so we can have a feast and celebrate. My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost but now he is found!" (Luke 15:22–24 ncv)....
Gaze at this painting and be reminded of your God: It is right to call him Holy; we speak truth when we call him King. But if you want to touch his heart, use the name he loves to hear. Call him Father.
—The Great House of God
Christ came to earth for one reason: to give his life as a ransom
for you, for me, for al of us.
He sacrificed himself to give us a second chance.
He was wounded for the wrong we did; he was crushed for the evil we did.
Isaiah 53:5 NCV
Have you ever been given a gift that compares to God's grace?
Finding this treasure of mercy makes the poorest beggar a prince.
Missing this gift makes the wealthiest man a pauper.
GOD'S GRACIOUS LOVE
At the time Martin Luther was having his Bible printed in Germany, a printer's daughter encountered God's love. No one had told her about Jesus. Toward God she felt no emotion but fear. One day she gathered fallen pages of Scripture from the floor. On one paper she found the words "For God so loved the world, that he gave ..." The rest of the verse had not yet been printed. Still, what she saw was enough to move her. The thought that God would give anything moved her from fear to joy. Her mother noticed the change of attitude.
When asked the cause of her happiness, the daughter produced the crumpled piece of partial verse from her pocket. The mother read it and asked, "What did he give?" The child was perplexed for a moment and then answered, "I do not know. But if He loved us well enough to give us anything, we should not be afraid of Him."
—It's Not About Me
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Of al the things you must earn in life, God's unending affection is not one of them. You have it.
Stretch yourself out in the hammock of grace. You can rest now.
Your hearts should be strengthened by God's grace, not by obeying rules.
Hebrews 13:9 NCV
We ask for grace, only to find forgiveness already offered.
Chapter TwoSAVING Grace
Jesus already knows the cost of grace.
He already knows the price of forgiveness.
But he offers it anyway.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God didn't look at our frazzled lives and say, "I'll die for you when you deserve it." No, despite our sin, in the face of our rebelion, he chose to adopt us.
JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS
As a young boy, I read a Russian fable about a master and a servant who went on a journey to a city. Many of the details I've forgotten, but the ending I remember. Before the two men could reach the destination, they were caught in a blinding blizzard. They lost their direction and were unable to reach the city before nightfall.
The next morning concerned friends went searching for the two men. They finally found the master, frozen to death, face down in the snow. When they lifted him they found the servant—cold but alive. He survived and told how the master had voluntarily placed himself on top of the servant so the servant could live.
I hadn't thought of that story in years. But when I read what Christ said he would do for us, the story surfaced—for Jesus is the master who died for the servants.
—And the Angels Were Silent
I was given mercy so that in me, the worst of all sinners, Christ Jesus could show that he has patience without limit.
1 Timothy 1:16 NCV
Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, "I can clean that if you want."
And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a palm full of mercy and washes away our sin.
Our faith does not earn God's love
any more than our stupidity jeopardizes it.
The cross was heavy, the blood was real, and the price was extravagant. It would have bankrupted you or me, so he paid it for us.
Cal it simple. Cal it a gift. But don't cal it easy. Cal it what it is. Cal it grace.
OUR PENALTY IS PAID
Back in our elementary school days, my brother received a BB gun for Christmas. We immediately set up a firing range in the backyard and spent the afternoon shooting at an archery target. Growing bored with the ease of hitting the circle, my brother sent me to fetch a hand mirror. He placed the gun backward on his shoulder, spotted the archery bull's-eye in the mirror, and did his best Buffalo Bill imitation. But he missed the target. He also missed the storehouse behind the target and the fence behind the storehouse. We had no idea where the BB pellet flew. Our neighbor across the alley knew, however. He soon appeared at the back fence, asking who had shot the BB gun and who was going to pay for his sliding-glass door.
At this point I disowned my brother. I changed my last name and claimed to be a holiday visitor from Canada. My father was more noble than I. Hearing the noise, he appeared in the backyard, freshly rousted from his Christmas Day nap, and talked with the neighbor.
Among his words were these:
"Yes, they are my children."
"Yes, I'll pay for their mistakes."
Christ says the same about you. He knows you miss the target. He knows you can't pay for your mistakes. But he can. "God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin" (Romans 3:25 NLT).
—Facing Your Giants
To be saved by grace is to be saved by Jesus
not by an idea, doctrine, creed, or church membership, but by Jesus himself, who will sweep into heaven anyone who so much as gives him the nod.
If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 NKJV
God didn't overlook your sins, lest he endorse them.
He didn't punish you, lest he destroy you.
He instead found a way to punish the sin and preserve the sinner.
Jesus took your punishment, and God gave you credit for Jesus' perfection.
A SINNER SAVED BY GRACE
John had served on the seas since he was eleven years old. His father, an English shipmaster in the Mediterranean, took him aboard and trained him well for a life in the Royal Navy.
Yet what John gained in experience, he lacked in discipline. He mocked authority. Ran with the wrong crowd. Indulged in the sinful ways of a sailor. Although his training would have qualified him to serve as an officer, his behavior caused him to be flogged and demoted.
In his early twenties, he made his way to Africa, where he became intrigued by the lucrative slave trade. At age twenty-one, he made his living on the Greyhound, a slave ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
John ridiculed the moral and poked fun at the religious. He even made jokes about a book that would eventually help reshape his life: The Imitation of Christ. In fact, he was degrading that book a few hours before his ship sailed into an angry storm.
That night the waves pummeled the Greyhound, spinning the ship one minute on the top of a wave. Plunging her the next into a watery valley.
John awakened to find his cabin filled with water. A side of the Greyhound had collapsed. Ordinarily such damage would have sent a ship to the bottom in a matter of minutes. The Greyhound, however, was carrying buoyant cargo and remained afloat.
John worked at the pumps all night. For nine hours, he and the other sailors struggled to keep the ship from sinking. But he knew that it was a losing cause. Finally, when his hopes were more battered than the vessel, he threw himself on the saltwater-soaked deck and pleaded, "If this will not do, then Lord have mercy on us all."
John didn't deserve mercy, but he received it. The Greyhound and her crew survived.
John never forgot God's mercy shown on that tempestuous day on the roaring Atlantic. He returned to England where he became a powerful pulpiteer and a prolific composer. You've sung his songs, like this one:
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!
This slave-trader-turned-songwriter was John Newton. During his last years, someone asked him about his health. He confessed that his powers were failing. "My memory is almost gone," he said, "but I remember two things: I am a great sinner, and Jesus is a great Savior."
—In the Eye of the Storm
Salvation is God's business. Grace is his idea, his work, and his expense.
Attempts at self-salvation guarantee nothing but exhaustion.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8–9
You think God would love you more if you did more, right?
You think if you were better, his love would be deeper, right?
PARDONED BY GRACE
During the early days of the Civil War, a Union soldier was arrested on charges of desertion. Unable to prove his innocence, he was condemned and sentenced to die a deserter's death. His appeal found its way to the desk of Abraham Lincoln. The president felt mercy for the soldier and signed a pardon. The soldier returned to service, fought the entirety of the war, and was killed in the last battle. Found in his breast pocket was the signed letter of the president.
Excerpted from Grace Happens Here by Max Lucado Copyright © 2012 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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