GRACE by Max Lucado


 
OVERALL RATING:
 5 of 5 stars
GENRE:
Christian Living
ISBN: 0849920701
ACQUIRED:
Review Copy from BookSneeze.com
READING PERIOD:
Aug 30 – Sept 26, 2012

Max Lucado can always be counted on to speak God’s truth in the most approachable manner, and his latest book, Grace, is a prime example. In chapter upon chapter Lucado discusses the everlasting grace of our holy God, and each successive anecdote illustrates just how deep is the well of God’s grace. It is boundless and endless and completely unearned by any of us, and Lucado does a fine job of breaking open the mystery of such an incomprehensible Truth.

While Grace is short on chapters, the message is sufficiently addressed and has great impact for both the casual seeker of God and the longtime committed Christian; I’d venture to say that even a skeptic of God’s authority would find redeeming value in Lucado’s words. It is human nature to seek grace in all circumstances, most especially when one is found on the receiving end of it. Lucado manages to make God’s grace understandable and applicable to anyone who reads it, whether or not they have any knowledge of God.

It is in chapter 8 that Lucado nails down the entire book and the entire message of God’s Word itself. In one short passage I gained more clarity about God’s grace than any other time in my life.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Cor. 12:7–9 NIV)

Paul is referring to sustaining grace. Saving grace saves us from our sins. Sustaining grace meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength.

And according to Paul, God has sufficient sustaining grace to meet every single challenge of our lives.

Plunge a sponge into Lake Erie. Did you absorb every drop? Take a deep breath. Did you suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere? Pluck a pine needle from a tree in Yosemite. Did you deplete the forest of foliage? Watch an ocean wave crash against the beach. Will there never be another one?

Of course there will. No sooner will one wave crash into the sand than another appears. Then another, then another. This is a picture of God’s sufficient grace. Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection. It comes at us not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave. We’ve barely regained our balance from one breaker, and then, bam, here comes another.

“Grace upon grace” (John 1:16 NASB). 

If God permits the challenge, he will provide the grace to meet it.

That is the crux of God’s love for all of us: “Sustaining grace meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength. And He has sufficient sustaining grace to meet every single challenge of our lives.” Sustaining. Enduring. Everlasting Grace. Grace that never runs out and that can carry each of us through every challenge we will ever face.

In the book, Lucado makes it clear just how accessible such grace is for every one of us. I can think of nothing more comforting.

MEMORABLE PASSAGES:

Though I could easily have posted 90% of the book here as notable passages, there are a handful that speak to the heart of the book. Still, this first passage is probably my favorite because it shows Lucado’s great talent in illuminating Bible history with hilarious, modern flair. Witness the story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz like you’ve never heard it before – and see Boaz in a completely new light!

Chapter 6: “Grace On The Fringe”

The women shuffled into the village and set about to find sustenance. Ruth went to a nearby field to scavenge enough grain for bread. Enter, stage right, Boaz. Let’s envision a hunk of a fellow with a square jaw, wavy hair, biceps that flex, pecs that pop, teeth that sparkle, and pockets that jingle. His education, Ivy; jet, private; farm, profitable; house, sprawling and paid for. He had no intention of interrupting his charmed life with marriage.

But then he saw Ruth. She wasn’t the first immigrant to forage grain from his fields. But she was the first to steal his heart. Her glance caught his for a moment. But a moment was all it took. Eyes the shape of almonds and hair the color of chocolate. Face just foreign enough to enchant, blush just bashful enough to intrigue. His heart pounded like a kettledrum solo, and his knees wobbled like jelly. As fast as you can turn a page in the Bible, Boaz learned her name, story, and Facebook status. He upgraded her workstation, invited her for supper, and told the overseer to send her home happy. In a word, he gave her grace. At least that is the word Ruth chose: “Oh sir, such grace, such kindness — I don’t deserve it. You’ve touched my heart, treated me like one of your own. And I don’t even belong here!” (Ruth 2:13 MSG).

Ruth left with thirty pounds of grain and a smile she couldn’t wipe off her face. Naomi heard the story and recognized first the name, then the opportunity. “Boaz . . . Boaz. That name sounds familiar. He’s Rahab’s boy! He was the freckle-faced tornado at the family reunions. Ruth, he’s one of our cousins!”

Naomi’s head began to spin with possibilities. This being harvest season, Boaz would be eating dinner with the men and spending the night on the threshing floor to protect the crop from intruders. Naomi told Ruth, “Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do” (3:3-4NIV).

Pardon me while I wipe the steam off my glasses. How did this midnight, Moabite seduction get into the Bible? Boaz, full bellied and sleepy. Ruth, bathed and perfumed. Uncover his feet and lie down. What was Naomi thinking?

Grace goes beyond mercy. Mercy gave Ruth some food. Grace gave her a husband and a home. Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace threw him a party. Mercy prompted the Samaritan to bandage the wounds of the victim. Grace prompted him to leave his credit card as payment for the victim’s care. Mercy forgave the thief on the cross. Grace escorted him into paradise. Mercy pardons us. Grace woos and weds us.

Grace does this. God does this. Grace is God walking into your world with a sparkle in his eye and an offer that’s hard to resist. “Sit still for a bit. I can do wonders with this mess of yours.”

Believe this promise. Trust it. Cling like a barnacle to every hope and covenant. Imitate Ruth and get busy. Go to your version of the grain field, and get to work. This is no time for inactivity or despair. Off with the mourning clothes. Take some chances; take the initiative. You never know what might happen. You might have a part in bringing Christ to the world.

 
Chapter 2: “The God Who Stoops”

Jesus is prone to stoop. He stooped to wash feet, to embrace children. Stooped to pull Peter out of the sea, to pray in the Garden. He stooped before the Roman whipping post. Stooped to carry the cross. Grace is a God who stoops. Here he stooped to write in the dust.

He stooped. Low enough to sleep in a manger, work in a carpentry shop, sleep in a fishing boat. Low enough to rub shoulders with crooks and lepers. Low enough to be spat upon, slapped, nailed, and speared. Low. Low enough to be buried.

And then he stood. Up from the slab of death. Upright in Joseph’s tomb and right in Satan’s face. Tall. High. He stood up for the woman and silenced her accusers, and he does the same for you.

He “is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us” (Rom. 8:34 MSG). Let this sink in for a moment. In the presence of God, in defiance of Satan, Jesus Christ rises to your defense. He takes on the role of a priest. “Since we have a great priest over God’s house, let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience” (Heb. 10:21–22 NCV).

A clean conscience. A clean record. A clean heart. Free from accusation. Free from condemnation. Not just for our past mistakes but also for our future ones.

You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.

 
Chapter 5: “Wet Feet”

To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it.

Give the grace you’ve been given.

You don’t endorse the deeds of your offender when you do. Jesus didn’t endorse your sins by forgiving you.

The grace-defined person still sends thieves to jail and expects an ex to pay child support.

Grace is not blind. It sees the hurt full well. But grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more. It refuses to let hurts poison the heart.

 
Chapter 8: “Fear Dethroned”

[John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” grieved for his just-deceased wife but] in his grief found God’s provision. He later wrote, “The Bank of England is too poor to compensate for such a loss as mine. But the Lord, the all-sufficient God, speaks, and it is done. Let those who know Him, and trust Him, be of good courage. He can give them strength according to their day. He can increase their strength as their trials increase . . . and what He can do He has promised that He will do.”

You are fearful and weak, but you are not alone. The words of “Amazing Grace” are yours. Though written around 1773, they bring hope like today’s sunrise. “’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” You have his Spirit within you. Heavenly hosts above you. Jesus Christ interceding for you. You have God’s sufficient grace to sustain you. [emphasis mine]

 
Chapter 11 “Heaven: Guaranteed”

Where there is no assurance of salvation, there is no peace. No peace means no joy. No joy results in fear-based lives. Is this the life God creates? No. Grace creates a confident soul.

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).

Trust God’s hold on you more than your hold on God. His faithfulness does not depend on yours. His performance is not predicated on yours. His love is not contingent on your own. Your candle may flicker, but it will not expire.

My copy of GRACE by Max Lucado was obtained at no cost through the BookSneeze® book review bloggers program. All opinions are mine.

Publisher’s Website: www.thomasnelson.com/grace.html
BookSneeze Reviews: booksneeze.com/reviews/bybook/9780849920707

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About Jules Q

sharing stories of life, faith, and love for pop culture

Posted on 27 September 2012, in What I Read and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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