Faith and forgiveness.
Salvation and spiritual refreshment.
For more than twenty-five years you've trusted Max Lucado to walk with you as you ponder these essential truths. This collection of his very best illustrations, stories, and one-liners guides you through his signature themes and life's most important matters.
Spend a few minutes or a couple of hours at the foot of the cross. Take a moment or an afternoon to search the heart of the Savior. Seize a second for a second chance.
Return to these words time and again for a dose of hope and encouragement straight from Max's heart to yours.
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The Lucado Inspirational ReaderHope and Encouragement for Your Everyday Life
By Max Lucado
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Max Lucado
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Bible
A Mine to Be Quarried
On a trip to the United Kingdom, our family visited a castle. In the center of the garden sat a maze. Row after row of shoulder-high hedges, leading to one dead end after another. Successfully navigate the labyrinth, and discover the door to a tall tower in the center of the garden. Were you to look at our family pictures of the trip, you'd see four of our five family members standing on the top of the tower. Hmmm, someone is still on the ground. Guess who? I was stuck in the foliage. I just couldn't figure out which way to go.
Ah, but then I heard a voice from above. "Hey, Dad." I looked up to see Sara, peering through the turret at the top. "You're going the wrong way," she explained. "Back up and turn right."
Do you think I trusted her? I didn't have to. I could have trusted my own instincts, consulted other confused tourists, sat and pouted and wondered why God would let this happen to me. But do you know what I did? I listened. Her vantage point was better than mine. She was above the maze. She could see what I couldn't.
Don't you think we should do the same with God? "God is ... higher than the heavens" (Job 22:12 TLB). "The Lord is high above all nations" (Ps. 113:4 NASB). Can he not see what eludes us? Doesn't he want to get us out and bring us home? Then we should do what Jesus did.
Rely on Scripture. Doubt your doubts before you doubt your beliefs. Jesus told Satan, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4 NASB). The verb proceeds is literally "pouring out." Its tense suggests that God is constantly and aggressively communicating with the world through his Word. God is speaking still!
—Next Door Savior
* * *
If we are to be just like Jesus, we must have a regular time of talking to God and listening to his Word.
—Just Like Jesus
* * *
Trust [God's] Word. Don't trust your emotions. Don't trust your opinions. Don't even trust your friends. In the wilderness heed only the voice of God.
Again, Jesus is our model. Remember how Satan teased him? "If you are the Son of God ..." (Luke 4:3, 9 NCV). Why would Satan say this? Because he knew what Christ had heard at the baptism. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased" (Matt. 3:17 NASB).
"Are you really God's Son?" Satan is asking. Then comes the dare–"Prove it!" Prove it by doing something:
"Tell this stone to become bread" (Luke 4:3 NASB).
"If You worship before me, it shall all be Yours" (v. 7 NASB).
"Throw Yourself down from here" (v. 9 NASB).
What subtle seduction! Satan doesn't denounce God; he simply raises doubts about God. Is his work enough? Earthly works–like bread changing or temple jumping–are given equal billing with heavenly works. He attempts to shift, ever so gradually, our source of confidence away from God's promise and toward our performance.
Jesus doesn't bite the bait. No heavenly sign is requested. He doesn't solicit a lightning bolt; he simply quotes the Bible. Three temptations. Three declarations.
"It is written ..." (v. 4 NASB).
"It is written ..." (v. 8 NASB).
"It is said ..." (v. 12 NASB).
Jesus' survival weapon of choice is Scripture.
Jesus' survival weapon of choice is Scripture. If the Bible was enough for his wilderness, shouldn't it be enough for ours? Don't miss the point here. Everything you and I need for desert survival is in the Book. We simply need to heed it.
—Next Door Savior
* * *
Through the words of the prophets, [God] used Scripture to reveal his will. Doesn't he do the same today? Open the Word of God and you'll find his will.
—The Great House of God
* * *
God speaks to us through his Word. The first step in reading the Bible is to ask God to help you understand it. "But the Helper will teach you everything and will cause you to remember all that I told you. This Helper is the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name" (John 14:26 NCV).
Before reading the Bible, pray. Don't go to Scripture looking for your own idea; go searching for God's. Read the Bible prayerfully. Also, read the Bible carefully. Jesus told us, "Search, and you will find" (Matt. 7:7 NCV). God commends those who "chew on Scripture day and night" (Ps. 1:2 MSG). The Bible is not a newspaper to be skimmed but rather a mine to be quarried. "Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure. Then you will understand respect for the lord, and you will find that you know God" (Prov. 2:4–5 NCV).
Here is a practical point. Study the Bible a little at a time. God seems to send messages as he did his manna: one day's portion at a time. He provides "a command here, a command there. A rule here, a rule there. A little lesson here, a little lesson there" (Isa. 28:10 NCV). Choose depth over quantity. Read until a verse hits you, then stop and meditate on it. Copy the verse onto a sheet of paper, or write it in your journal, and reflect on it several times.
On the morning I wrote this, for example, my quiet time found me in Matthew 18. I was only four verses into the chapter when I read, "The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child" (NCV). I needed to go no further. I copied the words in my journal and have pondered them on and off during the day. Several times I asked God, "How can I be more childlike?" By the end of the day, I was reminded of my tendency to hurry and my proclivity to worry.
Will I learn what God intends? If I listen, I will.
Don't be discouraged if your reading reaps a small harvest. Some days a lesser portion is all we need. A little girl returned from her first day at school. Her mom asked, "Did you learn anything?" "I guess not," the girl responded. "I have to go back tomorrow and the next day and the next day ..."
Don't go to Scripture looking for your own idea; go searching for God's.
Such is the case with learning. And such is the case with Bible study. Understanding comes a little at a time over a lifetime.
—Just Like Jesus
* * *
You have a Bible? Read it.
Has any other book ever been described in this fashion: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12 NIV)?
"Living and active." The words of the Bible have life! Nouns with pulse rates. Muscular adjectives. Verbs darting back and forth across the page. God works through these words. The Bible is to God what a surgical glove is to the surgeon. He reaches through them to touch deep within you.
Haven't you felt his touch?
In a late, lonely hour, you read the words "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" (Heb. 13:5 NASB). The sentences comfort like a hand on your shoulder.
&Mdash;Facing Your Giants
The words of the Bible have life! ... God works through these words.
* * *
People have been known to justify stupidity based on a "feeling." "I felt God leading me to cheat on my wife ... disregard my bills ... lie to my boss ... flirt with my married neighbor." Mark it down: God will not lead you to violate his Word. He will not contradict his teaching. Be careful with the phrase "God led me ..." Don't banter it about. Don't disguise your sin as a leading of God. He will not lead you to lie, cheat, or hurt. He will faithfully lead you through the words of his Scripture and the advice of his faithful.
—Facing Your Giants
* * *
The following paragraphs document the degeneration of this author into criminal activity. The facts are true, and no names have been changed. I confess. I have violated the law. What's worse, I don't want to stop!
My felonious actions began innocently. My route to the office takes me south to an intersection where I and every other person in Texas turn east. Each morning I wait long minutes in a long line at a long light, always mumbling, "There must be a better way." A few days back I found it. While still a half mile from the light, I spotted a shortcut, an alley behind a shopping center. It was worth a try. I turned on my blinker, made a quick left, bid farewell to the crawling commuters, and took my chances. I weaved in between the Dumpsters and over the speed bumps and voilà. It worked! The alley led me to my eastbound avenue several minutes faster than the rest of society.
Lewis and Clark would have been proud. I certainly was. From then on, I was ahead of the pack. Every morning while the rest of the cars waited in line, I veered onto my private autobahn and smugly applauded myself for seeing what others missed. I was surprised that no one had discovered it earlier, but then again, few have my innate navigational skills.
One morning Denalyn was with me in the car. "I'm about to remind you why you married me," I told her as we drew near to the intersection. "See that long line of cars? Hear that dirge from the suburbs? See that humdrum of humanity? It's not for me. Hang on!"
Like a hunter on a safari, I swerved from the six-lane onto the one-lane and shared with my sweetheart my secret expressway to freedom. "What do you think?" I asked her, awaiting her worship.
"I think you broke the law."
"You just went the wrong way on a one-way street."
"I did not."
"Go back and see for yourself."
I did. She was right. Somehow I'd missed the sign. My road-less-taken was a route-not-permitted. Next to the big orange Dumpster was a "Do Not Enter" sign. No wonder people gave me those looks when I turned into the alley. I thought they were envious; they thought I was deviant.
But my problem is not what I did before I knew the law. My problem is what I want to do now, after I know the law. You'd think that I would have no desire to use the alley, but I do! Part of me still wants the shortcut. Part of me wants to break the law. (Forgive me, all you patrolmen who are reading this book.) Each morning the voices within me have this argument:
My "ought to" says, "It's illegal."
My "want to" answers, "But I've never been caught."
My "ought to" reminds, "The law is the law."
My "want to" counters, "But the law isn't for careful drivers like me. Besides, the five minutes I save I'll dedicate to prayer."
My "ought to" doesn't buy it. "Pray in the car."
Before I knew the law, I was at peace. Now that I know the law, an insurrection has occurred. I'm a torn man. On one hand I know what to do, but I don't want to do it. My eyes read the sign "Do Not Enter," but my body doesn't want to obey. What I should do and end up doing are two different matters. I was better off not knowing the law.
Sound familiar? It could. For many it is the itinerary of the soul. Before coming to Christ we all had our share of shortcuts. Immorality was a shortcut to pleasure. Cheating was a shortcut to success. Boasting was a shortcut to popularity. Lying was a shortcut to power.
Then we found Christ, we found grace, and we saw the signs....
All these years you've been taking shortcuts, never seeing the "Do Not Enter" sign. But now you see it. Now you know it. I know, I know ... it would have been easier had you never seen the sign, but now the law has been revealed. So what do you do?
Your battle is identical to the one within the heart of Paul.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (Rom. 7:17–23 MSG)
The civil war of the soul.
Let me give you a second truth to take to the battlefield. The first was your position: you are a child of God. The second is your principle: the Word of God.
When under attack, our tendency is to question the validity of God's commands; we rationalize like I do with the one-way street. The law is for others, not for me. I'm a good driver. By questioning the validity of the law, I decrease in my mind the authority of the law.
For that reason Paul is quick to remind us, "the law is holy, and the command is holy and right and good" (7:12 NCV). The root word for holy is hagios, which means "different." God's commands are holy because they come from a different world, a different sphere, a different perspective.
In a sense the "Do Not Enter" sign on my forbidden alley was from a different sphere. Our city lawmakers' thoughts are not like my thoughts. They are concerned for the public good. I am concerned with personal convenience. They want what is best for the city. I want what is best for me. They know what is safe. I know what is quick. But they don't create laws for my pleasure; they make laws for my safety.
The same is true with God. What we consider shortcuts God sees as disasters. He doesn't give laws for our pleasure. He gives them for our protection. In seasons of struggle we must trust his wisdom, not ours. He designed the system; he knows what we need.
—In The Grip of Grace
Excerpted from The Lucado Inspirational Reader by Max Lucado Copyright © 2011 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Bible: A Mine to Be Quarried....................1
The Church: God's Family....................15
Comfort: God in the Hurts of Life....................29
Compassion: Love for the Least....................49
Creation: A World Wrapped in Splendor....................62
The Cross: A Triumph of Tenderness....................86
Encouragement: God Cares and Is in Control....................98
Evangelism: Hope for Searching Hearts....................116
Faith: A Crazy Hunch, a High Hope....................132
Family: A Priceless Treasure....................148
Forgiveness: Kindness Received, Mercy Given....................169
God's Love: Never Failing, Never Ending....................180
Grace: A Gift Beyond All Expectations....................193
Heaven: The Happiness That Lies Ahead....................207
Hope: A Zany Dependence on God....................226
Jesus: Steadfast Savior....................238
Miracles: Mysteries of Majesty....................263
Peace: A Tender Tranquility....................288
Perseverance: Whatever You Do, Don't Quit....................299
Prayer: Your Voice Matters in Heaven....................322
Purpose: Ignite the Fire Within....................338
Relationship with God: A Personal Protector and Provider....................349
Salvation: A Heart Cleansed by Christ....................362
Second Chances: Count on God's Kindness....................377
Spiritual Refreshment: Rivers of Living Water....................404
Value to God: He's Crazy About You....................422
Worship: A Big View of God....................435