Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Crippled Boy and the King

Once upon a time there was a King.  Let’s call him David.
He had a best friend.  Let's call him Jonathan.

They were close – closer than close, for their brotherly love was of a kindred spirit made in heaven, so to speak.

Jonathan had a father.  Let’s call him Saul.  He once was King Saul, and one day King Saul threw a spear at David and tried to pen him to the wall because of jealousy. 

Saul and Jonathan died in battle one day.

David became King.

Soon peace came upon the land.  As was typical in those days, the incoming King usually preempted any remaining family members of the old regime.  He threw them out, cut off their inheritance, so to speak.  That was the way it was done in the olden days, or so they say.

But David – King David was different.  He had a different kind of heart.

Because of his great friendship and love for Jonathan, he inquired about any remaining family members from Jonathan’s line.

Low and behold a forgotten son still lived.  His name was Mephibosheth, a cripple boy, and a son of Jonathan.

You see, when David became King, the existing family members fled for their lives for fear of severe punishment from the incoming King.  In their haste to escape, a nurse dropped five-year-old Mephibosheth and he became crippled in both feet. 

Well, the King said to his servants, “Go and find this boy and bring him to me.”

And so, it was.  Mephibosheth was found and brought to the palace.  His fear was that some evil might fall on his head.

But wait … there’s more.

The dinner bell rang in the palace. 

King David came in and sat at his appointed place.
Next came members of his family and staff.
~Amnon–son of the King and the clever one
~Tamar–the gracious and beautiful lady
~Solomon–brilliant and preoccupied
~Absalom–son of the King with beautiful hair
~Joab–the courageous warrior

And had you been there that day, you would have heard this ...

Clop!  Clop!  Clop!

The shuffling of feet.  The thud of something solid hitting the floor in regular intervals. 

And finally … finally, coming into view they saw crippled Mephibosheth.

A crippled boy, now a man, slowly making his way up to the King’s table.

You see, David made a promise a long time ago to show favor to any of Jonathan’s family that might still be alive when he, David, came into power.

Mephibosheth was in fear when first summoned to the King’s table.
His fear soon gave way to surprise and relief.  He was invited in, as a cherished guest, a loved one, because of the King’s grace.

You and I are Mephibosheth.  We are crippled, shackled by life in so many ways.  And yet we are invited to the King’s table every day.

“Come, all who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens.  I will give you rest.”

The grace is flowing from the King’s table down to where you and I sit and stand.  We don’t deserve it.  We think our crutches get in the way.  We move at a snail’s pace.  We don’t speak eloquently.  We don’t dress eloquently.  We are ashamed of the rags we wear.  We wonder why we would ever receive such an invitation.

And yet it is offered.  And we receive, because of the graciousness of the King. 

Hope Encouragement Inspiration

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How to Reimburse God

I spent $105 of my own money last week at work for some promo materials.  I needed to be reimbursed, and I was. 

Have you ever needed to reimburse someone for floating you a loan, jump-starting your career, or giving you a leg up?

Haven’t we all. 

And there stands God.  Perhaps He has redeemed you from a life of despair.  Maybe He has given you a second and third and even a forth chance to get life right.

And then our thoughts turn to reimbursement and repayment.
How do you pay back God?

This may help.  Ephesians 2:8-9 talks about being “saved through trust in Christ Jesus.  And even trust is not within us; it too is a gift from God.”

So, God keeps giving, and so far, we’ve made no payment, no attempt to reimburse Him.  You mean the ability to trust is itself a gift from God?

Max Lucado helps me here.  From his book In the Grip of Grace, we read this: “God does what we cannot do so we can be what we dare not dream: perfect before God.”

But perfection comes with a price tag, doesn’t it? 

~The perfect body comes at the expense of a gym membership and a weekly commitment to exercise.
~A great singer pays the price of expensive lessons and hours upon hours of practice.
~The CEO pays the price of grunt work, and working his/her way up the chain of command by putting in long hours, eating the dust of those who have gone before, and doing the mundane so that one fine day they could be THE BOSS.

We are accustomed to paying.  We pay for groceries, clothes, entertainment.  Why not pay God back for some of his charity and a few blessings along the way?

And so, we think we must work at this God thing – teach a class, give money, paint the church fence, sit in a pew, sing the songs, look pious, sound pious, act pious, be pious, feed the homeless, visit the sick.  Surely God is impressed when we do those things. 

Surely, somewhere in all those works some salvation can be found.  Surely, we are paying God back for some of His benevolence.  Surely, we are earning our place in heaven.  Surely?

Again, Ephesians speaks: “Salvation does not come by works, so that no one can boast.”

So, how to I reimburse God?

receive the gift.  I ask for His invasion into our heart, and receive it, regardless of how good or bad, pretty or ugly, able-bodied or crippled, rich or poor we may be.  I receive.

And then, I do what Matthew 10:8 says – “Freely have you received … then freely give.”

It’s done in that great spirit of love.  I have been loved into the kingdom, and so I reach out in love, using the gifts I have, offering a cup of cold water, offering a piece of bread, offering a word of hope, giving a couple of bucks to a needy one.

I reimburse God by giving to others in love.

That is a strange way to do business, but it is God’s way.

Hope Encouragement Inspiration

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Meet the Merciful God

God is not an ogre!
He is not looking for ways to punish you.
He is not seeking to trip you up and keep you from His presence.

He IS the God of mercy.  He seeks constantly
to restore and redeem those who have wandered away.  He calls.  He beckons.  He invites. 

Someone noted that God invites us 365 times in the Bible.

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavily weighed down.  I will give you rest.”

“Cast all your cares on Him (G0d), for He cares for you.”

In Exodus 34:6 we find, “God is merciful and gracious. He is slow to anger, and abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

When God looks at you and me, his eyes are not flashing anger, revenge or regret over creating us.  Oh, no. 

His look is one of great compassion, great tenderness.  He realizes that we are like sheep, easily led off the path into the brambles and thickets of what attracts us.  And He seeks for us.

He is the Father in the parable of the prodigal son.  He stands on the front porch every day, looking, hoping, seeing if that might be us trudging our way back home after our times of wandering.

He is MERCY.

The merciful one. 
          The forgiving one.

To borrow from Brennan Manning, “God loves us as we are, not as we should be”.  That is mercy overflowing and abundant.

In my book, The Letters, I attempt to present God as the God of love and grace and mercy.  Many individuals that I meet seem to view God as harsh, the “gotcha” God.  They think God is just waiting for us to step out of line so he can zap us with His heavenly walking stick.

I love how Psalm 145:8 phrases this: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Have you met this version of God? 

He IS, and He wants to be a part of your life.

Come to the merciful God who has His arms wide open and will readily receive you. 

He is the God of all the people.  The merciful one.  Your redeemer and friend.

Offering Words of
Hope Encouragement
One Word at a Time