Saturday, May 31, 2014

Without Exception

Have you ever been excluded from something?  I almost made a few sports teams.  Once I almost got a book contract.

I almost dated a dozen or so ladies before I met Carolyn, but most of them excluded me for one reason or another. 

You see, they had exceptions.  I was excluded for whatever reasons in all of the above scenarios.  The standards were higher than I could reach based on whatever the criteria was that was in play. 

Back in the early nineties I dated a lady a few times until she shared this bit of news with me. She said, “I could never marry you because you don’t make enough money to support me in the fashion in which I want to be supported.”

Thankfully, God doesn’t have those kinds of exceptions.  I find great peace and comfort in this idea from my favorite writer.

“Christ’s message is this:  
forgiveness, peace 
and reconciliation 
for all, without exception.”
~Brennan Manning

That is an inclusive statement if there ever was one.  You and I are included in that.  We are offered relationship with God himself when we draw near. 

Remember this one:  “For God so loved the world”.  That is an inclusive declaration.

“I have called you by name.  You are mine."  That includes you and me too.

“If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”  Again, we are included.

He doesn't say to go and wash three times, swim a mile in the ocean, eat sushi or wear a Mohawk haircut.

He simply invites and includes each of us.

That is the great message that I continually present.  God invites us into an accepting relationship with Him.  First we come to Him, and then He directs what happens next. 

We don’t have to change first, and then come to Him.  See the difference?

Bring your dirty, full and bulging burlap bag with all the stuff of life inside.  Lay it down at the feet of God.  Without exception He’ll help sort out your life and guide you down a better trail than you’ll ever discover on your own.

You don’t have to get healed first.  
You don’t have to go buy a new shirt or a new dress first.

Come as you are.

Without exception!
  
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Leaning on Grace

The concept of “leaning” on anything conjures up the most vivid of images.  We lean on lamp posts, we lean against walls and we lean on each other in times of great distress and sorrow.

But leaning on grace?  What is that all about?

Here are some examples of somebody leaning on grace.

The thief on the cross:  He pleaded with Christ for redemption as they both hung on their respective crosses, and He was granted grace.

The centurion:  a soldier once sought out Christ for the healing of his son.  He leaned on grace, which for him was a very brave act.  And grace proved strong enough to hold him, for he returned home and his son was well.

A lowly prostitute:  She approached Christ at a gathering once and simply washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair and with kisses.  That was a very bold act of leaning on grace.  And grace sustained her.

Have you ever had a heavy heart, a heart on the verge of breaking, and in your despair you simply uttered groans and moans – no viable words – just utterances that had no earthly meaning?  Then you leaned on grace and you were heard. 

YOU WERE HEARD!  That is just about the best and most encouraging thing I could say to you right now. 

I am continually reminded that God expects us to be worse than we are, and He loves us anyway.  That is leaning on grace.

Another writer says that God loves us because He sees what we can become.  That is leaning on grace.

There is a verse of scripture that says:  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)  Yet we lean on grace, and somehow, against all reason, we receive the gift of grace time and time again.  As Philip Yancey puts it, “We are still God’s pride and joy.”

Did you read what Romans 3:23 said above?  We have sinned and fall short, and yet …

We just leaned on grace.

The marvel of the great grace of God. 

You don’t have to understand it.  You just accept it!

Please watch this:


A Prayer

God
For your grace that is available, thank you.
For your grace that is sustainable, thank you.
For your grace that is reliable, thank you.
For your grace that holds me steady, thank you.

Amen



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


Saturday, May 17, 2014

What Does God Look Like

Have you ever wondered what God looks like?  I imagine many of us have some mental image to go with that answer.  What about you?

I know from my work in ministry that many picture God as a fierce being.  He has a scowl on His face and He is just waiting for you to step out of line so He can zap you.

I know a lady in Texas who said to me one day, “I think God is mad at me.”

I asked the obvious question and she continued.

“One day I was cooking dinner and had a pot of boiling water on my stove.  My daughter, Jenny – age 4 – reached up and grabbed the handle and poured the water all over her head and arms.”

She hung her head and added, “God must be mad at me for that to happen.”

Some see God as an aloof sort, only interested in the really big players in this world.  These are the people who go to Africa or India and heal people and give out food and clean drinking water.  Otherwise, He pretty much leaves people like me alone.  "I’m a nobody," they think.

I've encountered some who think God ignores them until they say the exact words of contrition and confession, or He won’t look at them until they go and change their clothes, or better yet, change their lives before He will even look in their direction. 

Let me set the record straight.

God loves YOU.  Right now, where you stand or sit. 

His arms are open wide, ready to embrace you.  He will receive you when you call and He even wants you to crawl upon His big soft lap and have a cuddle session.  He wants to be intimate with you, hear your woes.  You can even show Him where it hurts, and just how mad you may be over a certain issue in life.

My friend Chuck reminded me recently that Christ is recorded as saying “come unto me” more times than He ever says “don’t.” 

My picture of God?

He is the inviting God.
The forgiving God.
The grace-filled God.  He is extending to you and me yet one more chance for redemption, forgiveness and relationship.

He is not to be avoided.  Oh no.  He is reaching for us, longing to become one with us. 

Remember the woman caught in adultery?  Christ simply said “Where are your accusers?”  None were left. 

And he continued, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  I like that picture a lot.

To Zacchaeus, a corrupt tax official, He said, “Come down, We've going to have tea and crumpets together.”  (Well, maybe flat bread)  In other words, “You may be looked down upon because of your corruptness, but I see great value in you.  Let’s sort this out and get you going down a better road.”

My image of God? 

A redeemer and friend.

Trust Him.  He really does LOVE you.


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


Saturday, May 10, 2014

God Loves Insignificant People

Have you ever felt insignificant?  Were you once at the top of your game and now … now you feel no one remembers your name? 

Has age erased abilities that once came with ease?  Do you feel you’ve been put on the shelf?  Do you feel less than validated in this world?

Do you have fashion model tastes and a minimum wage budget?

I have some great news for you.  Keep reading.

The first thing I want you to know is this – God still knows your name.  He still has His eye on you and knows where you are and what you need every moment of every day.

You have significance. 

In Isaiah 43:1 we find this:  “Don’t fear.  I have redeemed you.  I call you by name.  You are mine.”

That is a profound word of hope. 

And in another place we find this:

“Be not afraid nor dismayed, for I your God will go with you everywhere you go.”
~Joshua 1:9
Paraphrase by PMB

These verses speak of the presence of God, and they speak of the validity of God in our lives no matter what we face, or what happens, and in spite of our own feelings of inadequacy or insignificance.

God is on our side when we have good days and bad.
He is with us when we are triumphant and when we are defeated.
He is with us at the peak of our abilities and in the senior years.

He comes and validates us and He assures us of our significance and of His presence in every circumstance.

I find great hope and encouragement in these thoughts.

Here is another thought that holds great encouragement.

“We are, each and every one of us, insignificant people whom God has called and graced to use in a significant way.” 
~Brennan Manning

So, my friend, God has a significant role for you to play. 

You are on God’s A-team.

Lace up your shoes.  He’s about to call on you for a critical play.


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


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Term of Endearment

Your name is your handle used in conversation and all of life’s interactions.  Those who know us on a more intimate level can dare to violate that code of ethics and use a pet name or shortened version of our name.  With spouses, we come up with a dozen labels to apply, and they run the gamut from Sweetie, Baby-doll, Honey, My Love, Sugar-babe, and on and on. 

Can you imagine walking up to Prince William and Princesses Kate and shouting out “Hey Willie?  Hey Katie.  How’s it going?”  That would be a great and grievous social affront and in exceedingly poor taste.

However …

HOWEVER – there is one to whom we can go and use the most endearing of terms – and the term is "Abba".  Papa.  God delights in the inflection of the term Abba Father.  That is what historically a young Jewish child would call his/her parents and it represents the greatest of respect and greatest of love and affection. 

Brennan Manning helps us unlock this one concept a bit more.

“To address God as Abba is the boldest and simplest expression of the absolute trust that God is good and that He is on our side.” 

The phrase – God is on our side – jumps out to me today.  I take great comfort from that thought.  God is on my side. 

When I face the Goliaths today He is there.
When contrary thoughts plague my mind, He is present.
When temptations bombard my borders, God is there in my defense.

My prayer is that you will find great comfort in these words today.

Happy Sunday.

Here is a parting verse.

“That as tenderly as a father
treats his children, so Yahweh
treats those who fear him”
~(Ps 103:13)




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