Thursday, July 19, 2018

Simply Love

Simply Love

We toss this word around so easily today.
I ‘love’ banana flavored Italian shaved ice from Kona.
I ‘love’ Mexican food.
I ‘love’ writing early in the morning.

Love – four simple letters that say so much more.

And then comes God. 

   ~God so loved …
   ~God is love …
   ~God love me …

I’m not a cup of ice with banana flavoring on it.  I’m me.  What if I’m not God’s favorite flavor?

But I am, you see.  And so are you.  Are you white, or brown, red, or do you have a yellow tint to your skin?  Maybe you are cold black, or anywhere in between.  You are still God’s favorite flavor.

Poets, song writers, essayist, theologians and others have been trying to write about love for centuries, yet it remains the one elusive verb that no one can really get their minds around.  Especially God’s love for me and you.

Oh, I spout off, and write, and sing “God loves me.”  “God loves you.”

And I end up in the same place many times.
“But, me?  Really?”
“I once did this.”
“I went here one time.”
“I said this to her once upon a time.”
“I acted wrongly way back then.”

And the repeating chorus from God sings out, “I still love you.”

So, now what?

Why is love and acceptance from God so difficult for us to accept and believe?  Why do we buck up against His offer of love?

When I figure that one out, I’ll let you know. 

Yes, God is holy.
Yes, God wants the absolute best for us.
Yes, God wants that closeness that is better than any human friendship or sibling relationship we could ever imagine. 

Carolyn and I are close, and deeply in love, yet somehow, God loves each of us more than we love each other.  I don’t get that.

And yet, my opening premise kicks in.  That’s just it … we don’t believe in God’s love.

Perhaps, our memories won’t allow us to believe in God’s love.  It comes down to this … “How can a Holy God reach out in love to a lowly, less-than-right specimen like me or you?

And yet He does.  I often use this quote from Brennan Manning:

“God loves us as we are 
… not as we should be.”

This, it seems, is the first step.  Acknowledge that God loves me and you.  Allow Him to love you, as you are.

If God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-seeing God, then He can start with this simple acknowledgement and walk you through the next steps you need to take.

And He will do it in love.

That’s grace, my friend.

Love and grace.

I accept his grace. 

I believe in God’s love!

Hope Encouragement Inspiration

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Drinking from the Cup of Grace

Drinking from the Cup of Grace

Grace has come into my life in fresh ways of late.  It started through some books I’ve read, and I’m thankful for that.  I taught a Sunday School class for three years, before my heart by-pass and our focus for those three years was on grace.  We talked of grace from God and how to extend grace to others.

First, perhaps we need a refresher course on the meaning of ‘grace.’

I am loved, and so are you.  That is grace.  The great God of the universe knows us, even down to the very hairs on our head, and He loves us anyway.  He sees us in our alone moments, in our daily interactions, in our busy moments and our leisure moments.  He knows our thoughts, our deeper attitudes of the heart, our assessment of others, and our considerations of ourselves.  And He loves us through it all. 

Take a sip of grace. 

I am learning to offer grace to others for their and my own miss-steps, misspoken harsh words, for slights, for offenses, for judgments of my own motives, and for a thousand other judgmental edicts, many of which I am not even guilty. 

Take another sip of grace. 

I wallow in the forgiving grace of God.  I live as one who is forgiven, restored and offered this great clemency from God.  I don’t deserve this kind of favor; however, I’m offered it simply because God is good, and He is the Merciful One, the Redeeming One, and the God of grace.

Take another sip of grace. 

In Philip Yancey’s book – Vanishing Grace – he lists four common complaints about Christians.

·      You don’t listen to me
·      You judge me
·      Your faith confuses me
·      You talk about what’s wrong instead of making it right.

If I am to be one who actually drinks regularly from the cup of grace, I have to take personal responsibility and fix this in my own life.

~God, help me listen more, and to not prepare my next comments as I listen.
~God, deliver me from being judge and jury on other’s lives.
~God, how do I live a straight-arrow life of a follower of Christ?  Let me not confuse others.  Let me mark the trail to You.
~God, let me offer words of wisdom and hope, not words of condemnation.

Take a big gulp of grace.

When others see me and consider my life, I would hope they would say something like … “He loves.”  I want to lead with love in my life.  We are called more to “love one another” than we are called to do anything else in this world. 

I want ‘them’ to know me by my love.

Let me have another drink of grace.

P Michael Biggs
Hope Encouragement Inspiration