Saturday, October 26, 2013

God's Soft Spot

Does God have a soft spot or a blind side?  According to some research I've been doing, it appears He does indeed have a blind side. 

If we consider some of the individuals He has used on occasion, we might believe that He is a really lousy judge of people.

Just look at some of the characters He has chosen to use down through history.

David was an adulterer.  

Jonah was a chicken who ran away.  
Peter was a traitor.  

Zacchaeus, an IRS agent, was a thief.  

Rahab was a prostitute.  


Can you believe that list of losers?  Ah, but the good news is coming.

Philip Yancey reminds us of this.

“I have come to know a God whose Son made prodigals the heroes of His stories and the trophies of his ministry.”
~Philip Yancey

Trophies of his ministry …

The absolutely incredible news is this … God takes us as we are, sees what we can be, and then helps bring about that transformation when we allow His hand to guide us, His voice to speak to us, and His light to shine through us. 

And the amazing news – God can use anybody, anywhere, anytime.

What have you done?
   What are you doing?
      Where have you been?
         Where are you going?

The answers aren't important.  What is important is your response to God’s call.  Will you follow Him?

Will you follow Him? 

THAT is the ultimate question.  In every case listed above, the participant made a radical turn from their wayward life TO the invitation of God.  They placed their destinies into the hands of the God of their understanding. 

They allowed God!

They allowed God full access to their will and their destinies.  They allowed Him to change their direction, their agenda for a day or for a lifetime.

And look what happened.

They all went down in history as heroes – trophies in God’s trophy case as examples of loyalty and obedience. 

That is what God wants from each of us - obedience. 

And the most encouraging news of all is this … He uses the high and mighty, and he uses the meek and lowly. 

Is God a bad judge of character? 

Not at all.  He takes our bad character and changes and redeems it for His purposes. 

If God has a soft spot, it is for one who can be used in His work.  He sees our proclivities, our personalities, our innate skill set and He finds worthy work for each of us. 

He simply wants every one of us in His trophy case.  He wants to put us on display as a recipient of the grace and mercy that is abundantly available to every person – EVERY PERSON!

Does God have a soft spot for you and me?

You bet.  He is very, very fond of us.


Please watch this.
Sung by Trophies of Grace

 My Prayer for You!

God:
What an amazing thought.  You take the low life, the down and out, the rebellious, and the wayward and you use them in amazing ways. 

That really is an amazing thought.

I suppose that means you can use the likes of one like me.  Do I dare believe that?  Can you do something with my life, my past and my present and make a future for me? 

Can you God?

I want that more than anything.  So, here I come.  I come to you asking for all of this redemption stuff and life-change stuff we've been talking about and reading about.

Use me too, God.

Amen


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, October 19, 2013

When Grace Moves In

The great theme of grace continually captivates my heart.  It is a topic that is essential for every person to understand, for we are all in need of great grace from God almighty. 

It seems that when we talk about grace, guilt comes along for a ride, and takes over the wheel. 

Perhaps we can find some encouragement in the middle of this maze.

When we ponder the words GRACE and GUILT, we have to break them down.

Grace is all about …
Help
  Forgiveness
    Tolerance
      Kindliness
        Mercy
          Benevolence
            Leniency
              Decency.


Guilt speaks of …
  Blame
    Guiltiness
      Remorse
        Shame
          Self-reproach.

So what do we do?  How do we accept the GRACE of God without the guilt that our minds dump on us?

I found something today that may jump-start us.

“When grace moves in… guilt moves out”
~Max Lucado

We claim to be under the grace of God.  We tell others that we are living in grace, and we actually start believing in this grace thing, and that is good.

And then along comes guilt.  Just when we think we've got it all together, we come up with guilt over all sorts of issues.

I’m ashamed of what I did.
I’m to blame for my actions.
I am at fault.
How can I be declared worthy?  If you only knew the real me.

Visit Max’s quote again – “When grace comes in, guilt moves out.”

Now that is an empowering thought.  That is what God intended all along, I think. 

Let’s revisit the list of synonyms for “grace”.
Help
Forgiveness
Tolerance
Kindliness
Mercy
Benevolence
Leniency
Decency

I don’t see “guilt" in that list. 

Let’s re-work our own sense of worthiness when it comes to grace and acceptance. 

Grace frees
     Guilt binds

Grace tolerates
     Guilt is impatient

Grace is lenient
     Guilt is harsh and demanding

Grace is decent
     Guilt is mean-spirited

Grace is forgiving
     Guilt is condemning

“Oh for grace to trust him more” - wise words from the old hymn. 

I can hear the cries about now … “Then give us some weapons to fight the guilt and help move it along so we can live in grace.”

2 Corinthians 2:8-9
“My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power shows up best in weak people.”

Romans 4:15-16
“The law brings wrath, but where there is 
no law there is no infraction.  
That is why it depends on faith, 
so that we can take confidence 
in the grace that is offered 
for all his offspring.”

Romans 5:19-21
“By one man’s obedience 
many will receive grace 
and righteousness.  
The law came about 
to highlight the sin, 
but where sin increased, 
grace abounded all the more.” 


We can see with amazing clarity exactly what Max’s comment means.



We are under grace, the great grace of God Almighty. 

As a final reminder, let’s revisit this well-known chestnut of a Bible verse.

John 3:16-17
“God loved the world so much that He gave his one and only Son, and whoever believes in him shall not perish, but enjoy eternal life.  God did not send His Son to condemn us, but to save us.

That sounds like a lot of love and grace to me.  We can do a top-to-bottom house-cleaning, for guilt has moved out.

To God be the glory!
  
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Grace Flows to the Lowest Point

Have you had your ultimate low point in life yet?  This would be the time when you felt all was lost, all was hopeless, and you were at your rope’s end.  And when you reached the end of the end of the rope, what did you discover? 

I predict that you found grace. 

Grace has been described as “the unmerited favor of God”

Some use the word “mercy” as a substitute word for grace.

Other synonyms are:
   Charity
      Favor
         Leniency
            Kindliness
               Benevolence

You do see what I’m describing here, right? 

I’m describing the incredible love and favor of God reaching out to mankind in a thousand ways.  And it often doesn't make sense. 

Who do we think we are that we should receive this kind of leniency?  Who are we that God should even care one little bread-crumb about us?

We are His creatures, His chosen ones, made in His likeness and He shows us this incredible mercy and grace simply because He knows our nature, he knows our weak sides, He knows our dirty laundry and He still loves us. 

He loves us in the middle of our rags, our rot and our wretchedness.

And the second part of our thought this week is this:

God’s grace helps us with earthly trials, earthly issues and the ‘stuff’ of life.

I know a lady who has to deal with aging parents who can no longer properly care for themselves, and she lives 2,000 mile away.  When she does visit them she continually finds herself reaching out to God for “grace to help in a time of need.”

I know a mother and father with a son who is living in the clutches of some serious drug addictions.  My goodness, do they need to experience the grace of God in these days, and so does their son.

You see, God’s grace is not just for the wayward and lost.  It is for each of us at every juncture of our lives. 

When we are in good health, we need God’s grace. 
When the world turns against us, we need God’s grace. 

When the checks come in on time, we need God’s grace.
When the bills mount and we don’t know the next step, we need God’s grace.

I like this expression:

“Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part.”
~Philip Yancey

His grace flows down, falls gently on us in whatever state of grace or disgrace we may find ourselves.  And when we are ready and ask for it, He comes along, gives us His hand and leads us forward.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound”
~John Newton

Will you accept this demonstration of love into your own heart and mind?

It’s offered.  It’s free.  It’s abundant.  It’s GRACE.

I’m reminded of a lyric from a favorite hymn.

“Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace
Freely bestowed on all who believe
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment His grace receive”
~Julia H. Johnston


Check out these verses – click on the reference Bible verse





Now please watch this 
inspirational video/song



My Prayer for You

God
It becomes apparent every day that we are in great need of your grace.  We can’t even drive safely on the highways without a measure of your grace riding with us. 

Our relationships need your grace.
Our workplace needs your grace.
Our schools need a huge dose of your grace.
Our government is in great need of your grace.

We cry for grace. 

May we not only receive grace; may we become dispensers of the grace of God to others.

Amen!

Pastor Mike
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Is God Disappointed with Us

Perhaps this is the age old question.  We wonder if on some deeper level we've greatly disappointed God. 

Maybe we have not lived up to our potential. 
Maybe we have committed some great sin or haven’t performed on some deeper level and that disappoints God.  

Some would say that we are experiencing the wrath of God in today’s world because of some enormous sins that have been committed.

Look at any headline on any given day and you see things that might suggest this.

     ~Rape on the increase
     ~Embezzlement rising
     ~Theft soaring
     ~Adultery is rising
     ~Guns in school
     ~Drugs sold on every corner

And we might throw in questions like this:
  “Where is God in the middle of all of this?”
    “Did I cause this in this world?”“
      “Did I let God down?”

I want to turn to one of my favorite writers and speakers – Brennan Manning.  He says this:

“For those who feel their lives are a grave disappointment to God, it requires enormous trust and reckless, raging confidence to accept that the love of Jesus Christ knows no shadow of alteration or change. 

"When Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened,’ He assumed we would grow weary, discouraged, and disheartened along the way.  These words are a touching testimony to the genuine humanness of Jesus." 

Brennan uses words like “enormous trust” and “reckless, raging confidence.”  Sometimes we have such a weak image of God that we think He is a pansy.  We think He is weak, incompetent, off base, and a poor judge of character.  And we think He is so very fragile.

For the record, here is a page from God’s resume.

·       “I created the foundations of the world
·       I formed it in six days
·       I flung the stars to their far corners of the world
·       I created enormous beasts and delicate flowers, and
         a sparrow
·       I created man in my own image
·       I saw mankind and know how he works, how he
         thinks, and what his proclivities are, and yet I still
         love him.” 

I could go on, but you get the idea. 

We forget sometimes who our Heavenly Father really is.  If we but grasp a larger image of Him, we will accept the reality that God is worthy of “enormous trust and reckless raging confidence.”

His love knows no bounds; there is not a tether that keeps pulling His love back from reaching us, and He will never run out.

He has plenty …

Plenty of love
Plenty of grace
Plenty of mercy
Plenty of whatever we may need.

Here is another page from God’s resume.
I AM …
    Eternal                 Psalm 90:2
    Holy                      I Samuel 2:2
    Unchanging          Hebrews 13:8 
    Infinity                  Revelations 1:8 
    All-powerful         Matthew 19:26
    Omnipresent        Proverbs 5:3
    All-wise                 Jeremiah 10:12  
    All-knowing          Psalm 147:5    
    Gracious                Hebrews 4:16
    Merciful                 Psalm 86:5
    Just                         Romans 3:23-26
    Sovereign               Job 42:2

We come back to or original question:  Is God disappointed with us?

No.  He loves us, He continually reaches out for us, He is always with us, and He always has His eye on us.
He knows us and He loves us anyway.

I would have to say this … I am a child of God and I have nothing to fear.  He has a future with hope all mapped out for me.

I rest my case.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time