Category Archives: CLOSE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

SEEK MY FACE.112716

change your life

2 Chronicles 7:14: [God says to Solomon, before the dedication of the Temple], “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sins, and heal their land.”

Had a little discussion in Sunday school with a bunch of high school kids; talking about prayer.  The question was, “What do you pray about?”  Right out of the chute, Kelli says, “I pray to know God.”  I was astounded.  I didn’t think we’d even get around to that part of prayer for a long time, maybe not even touch it that day.  I said so.  I asked, “What do you mean?”  She said, “I want to know what God thinks; what He wants for my life; to understand who He really is. I want to know what it means to really trust Him.”

You know it’s like Oswald Chambers said, “When you stop seeking what God can do for you, you have time to seek Him for Himself.”  I think that’s what the verse means when it says, “Seek My face.”  We talked about ‘listening to God’.  Maybe not an audible voice, but that clear feeling you get in your heart about what God thinks, after you seek God’s face.

Later I had a revelation about this little episode.  Never understood it this way before.  When you start to seek God’s face; seeking to know Him for Himself; you enter a whole different dimension of knowing God.  It’s like the difference between ‘believing in God’ with your head and trusting God with your heart.  It changes your whole relationship with Him.  This is the same way (maybe the same thing in different form), when you seek to know God, to develop a relationship with Him as a Father and a friend, it changes the whole complexion of your relationship with each other.  When you really start to listen to Him for understanding, and not just for provision, you really are changed in your heart.  It’s just like it says in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He’ll draw near to you.”

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TRUSTING GOD FOR OTHERS.080416

JESUS HEALS PARALYTIC.080416The question for today is: Can a believer in Jesus trust God for the healing (inside or outside) of another person?  The answer (or at least one answer) is found in Mark 2:1-12, where it tells the story of four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed.  When they got to His house, they couldn’t even get in the door, so they went up on the roof, cut a hole, and lowered the guy down into the room, right beside Jesus.  Then verse 5 says, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ ”  When the Pharisees condemned Him for forgiving sins, denying His authority, He said, “I’ll prove that I have the authority to forgive sins.” He turned to the man and said, “Stand up, get your mat and go home.”  Miraculous healing.

Where did it come from?  Verse 5 begins with, “Seeing their faith . . .”  Whose faith? Must’ve been the four men.  They had enough faith to go to the trouble to bring the guy to Jesus.  Just regular guys talking about how this Jesus was going around healing people, and their friend had been paralyzed for a long time, and who knows?  What would it hurt?  So they packed him up and took him down there.  And when they got there the place was packed.  They couldn’t possibly get in.  But they didn’t give up.  They kept on pushing the envelope until they reached their goal, to get the guy in front of Jesus.  They didn’t know what would happen.  But it might be worth a try. It’s almost funny.  The passage never said a word about what the paralyzed guy thought about the whole thing.  He apparently never said a word.  All he did was follow instructions.  “He jumped up, grabbed his mat and took off.”

So what does this have to do with us?  Continue reading

OASIS WEEKEND.NEWTON TEXAS.07-31-2016

Oasis_9Last weekend we went to First United Methodist Church in Newton, Texas.  The kids at John Wesley UMC, from grades 6-12, did a weekend mission trip.  We built a wheelchair ramp, and did a good deal of mowing and cleanup for several people in the community.  We had a Vacation Bible School for 49 kids. We worked in the Food Pantry (and Clothing Shop) of Newton, stocking and sorting. We had entertainment: A Youth Rally on Friday night, with live music, games, toys and free tee-shirts; and a movie for all ages on Saturday night, on the lawn in front of the Church, an animated feature called “Inside-Out”.  Popcorn, candy and drinks for all!

May not sound like such a big deal to some; but it was a big deal to us.  It was a memorable event.  We get to develop personal relationships with people in the community.  They love us, and we love them.  Everybody is happy to be nice to each other.  And the SPIRIT  is moving in Newton!  On Sunday morning, members of the church served the team breakfast, then we had church together, with the youth band leading the singing.  At the end we had a few testimonies from people in the community who were touched by the service of our kids.  No doubt, when it was over, everyone was blessed, and God was grinning!

 

CATS ‘N’ DOGS.071016

American staffordshire terrier dog playing with little kitten

I’ve had people tell me that I oversimplify things, that I try to reduce everything to the most elemental level possible.  They’re right.  I actually LIKE to do that; to find ways that simple things CAN explain, do explain, complicated matters.  Here’s one for you: “Some people are like cats and some are like dogs.”  I’m sure you’ve heard of this idea before.  It’s not new, just true.

Take cats.  They’re an independent lot.  Fascinating.  On a good day they’ll purr and rub up against you, even crawl up in your lap and let you pet them as long as they want.  They’re soft and cuddly.  Often they’re very expressive.  They have any number of different “meows” to tell you what they want or need.  But don’t get crossways with them.  They may not talk to you or get close to you for a week.  And when you try to get them to do something they don’t want to do, forget it.  If you’re wondering who is the master and who is the pet, you obviously haven’t been around cats much.  Oh and have you noticed the disdain they have for dogs?  You’ve probably seen an 80 lb dog back down from a 10 lb cat.  And what about quick response to direction?  Even when they’re accustomed to doing something you want them to, they have to take time for a little grooming.  Their timing, their rules, their game, their way.

On the other hand, take dogs.  Some little, some big.  Almost all are just DRIVEN by this desire to please their master.  They may have been in the crate for hours, but when you come home and let them out, they try to lick you to death.  They’re wagging their tails so hard they can hardly stand up.  They run in circles to entertain you and let you know how much they missed you.  If you let them, they’ll follow you wherever you go, wind, snow, sleet, rain, or dead of night.  And they’re really protective of the master and his or her clan.  Again, little or big, old or young; if anyone attacks, they are ready, willing and often able to defend.  Even when the master is old or broke or really cranky, even when he beats his dog for something he didn’t do, the dog is there to please, to worship the ground he walks on.

You probably already know the punch line:  “Some people are like cats and some are like dogs.”  It’s almost exactly like that other line: “Some people are believers, some are skeptics.”  Continue reading

DAILY QUIET TIME.050816

Hands Praying on Bible            Luke 9: 23 says, “If anyone would follow me (be my disciple), let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”  The point I want to focus on right now is about our daily habits. We can’t go many days without eating (and we certainly like to eat every day); we cannot live more than a few days without water; we have to sleep regularly, mostly every night. If we don’t go to work or school every day, we won’t last long in those endeavors. If we don’t do these things every day, we will languish, and diminish, and die.

I submit that if we don’t focus attention on our spiritual lives every day we will eventually wither and die spiritually. Because God wants so much to have a personal relationship with us, He gives us many, many extra chances to choose Him, so we won’t die forever (2 Peter 3:9). If we want to have a vibrant relationship with God, we must do it daily. We have to choose, this day, to serve Him. (Joshua 24:15) If we don’t eat daily, we won’t grow and develop properly physically; and if we don’t seek God daily, then we won’t grow and develop properly spiritually.

If anyone wants to draw near to God; if they want to develop a personal relationship with God; then they must focus their attention on God every day. The best times I have getting to know God better are the times when I take the time to: 1 Read the Bible and a devotional and let it soak in a little; 2 Read the prayer requests that I have received and think them over; both about the physical needs requested and about the spiritual needs that are represented by those requests; and then 3 kneel and talk to God; tell Him how much I want Him and how much I need Him in my life; about how thankful I am that He loves me and is taking care of me; about how much I love Him and how much I want to be more like Him and less like me, how I want to die to myself so He can live His life in me; and then I 4 wait; (and while I’m waiting),           I try to 5 listen for God about the needs in the prayer requests and how they relate to the Bible passage and the devotional. .
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WHO DO YOU TRUST? (REALLY) 042716

Eroded beach with house, Pititinga, Natal (Brazil)

So we were talking about obedience; and we were talking about ‘building your house on the sand’ as a metaphor for ‘basing our lives on principles and practices that shift and change’.   We should touch on another aspect of this obedience.  If, as we alluded to earlier, obedience is about doing what God tells us to do; then what about the First of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before (besides) Me.”  We’re back to that question about who or what do we worship (or serve)?  Who do we really trust?  Who do we really turn to when we’re in dire straits with nowhere to turn?

Well, I’m good about saying that ultimately I trust God; not my job, nor my employer, nor my network of friends and relatives, nor my piddly bank account or my credit cards.  But do I really?  I say that; but every time I get in a bind, I’m steadily calculating where I’m going to go to stay afloat for another few days or weeks.  Funny thing is; usually something “falls out of the sky” that I was completely not expecting, so clearly that it just had to be God.  It’s happened over and over so often that I just can’t deny that God really has delivered me from evil or destruction or punishment when I didn’t deserve to be delivered.  God’s mercy.  (You know ‘mercy’: that’s when God loves you and takes care of you, even when you deserve to be punished.)

Problem is, we all have been in that position, when to our logical mind it looks like there is a logical man-made explanation for how we got out of that trap; and we don’t give the credit to God.  Somebody comes by and says, “You know that just couldn’t be God; that was your boss, or your rich uncle, or just the luck of the draw.”  And the sad thing is we let it slide and agree by omission.  We don’t say, “You may think that, but I know it was God.”  Just so you’ll know, nobody else may think a thing about it, but God didn’t miss it.  The true miracle is that God still loves me (and you) anyway.  Some people go for years, running in the bushes, worshipping those idols of ‘other stuff’ taking care of them, growing more and more calcified in their position of trusting something else besides God, acknowledging something else besides God is our real god.  (Often it’s our selves.)  The really sad part is that we’re not only worshipping idols, but we’re getting more and more used to trusting in “the house on the sand”; getting closer and closer to the time of ‘great was the fall of it”.  That’s dis-obedience and the fruits (the results) of disobedience all rolled into one.

In case somebody didn’t get it; trusting in something else besides God to take care of you is not only 1] building your house on the sand (basing your life on shifting, shaky stuff); but it’s also  2] worshipping idols; serving other gods than the One True God.  That’s disobedience of the first order.   That’s the exact definition of what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Everyone who hears My words, and does NOT do them is like a foolish man . . .” Only an idiot would do that.  I guess if you want you can join me as a ‘recovering’ idiot.  You know, like members of AA talk about being a ‘recovering alcoholic’.  We never completely grow out of it.  We have to get up every morning, turn ourselves over to God and say, “One more time Lord, I’m turning myself over to You; I’m dying to myself so You can live Your eternal life in me.  I love You.”  From Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy

THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS ON YOU! 042616

 

Jesus Preaches in the Synagogue           In Luke 4:14-21; Luke says, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.  He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ [Isaiah 61:1-2] Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.  He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ ”

First let me say that this story is about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  At the beginning of His ministry he spent 40 days in the wilderness, fasting and then being tempted by the devil.  And immediately after that is where this passage comes, in the Gospel of Luke.  When He returned to Galilee, He returned from the wilderness, ‘in the Power of the Spirit’.  He spent a little time in the neighboring villages teaching, and then He went back to his home town, Nazareth, where He had spent the first 30 years of his life being a child and then a carpenter.  So this occasion was His ‘coming out’ statement before the ‘hometown crowd’.

And what did He say?  He said “God’s Spirit is on Me.  He has anointed Me.”  (You remember about anointed; that’s the evidence of gift of the Holy Spirit usually given to kings and judges, prophets and priests) (not usually to lowly carpenters with no education, no ordination, no special treatment from the High Priest or the Pharisees or Sadducees.)  And pretty as you please, Jesus gets up and says, “I’m anointed by the Spirit of the Lord.  This verse from Isaiah is talking about Me.”

One thing that deserves mention about this passage is what Jesus said when He finished reading it.  Continue reading