Category Archives: CLOSE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

THE PRAYER OF FAITH. 041016

 

Miracles HappenJames 5:14-15, 18:  14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. . . .18 The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

Back to that “prayer of faith,” it definitely sounds like the person doing the praying has some special ability, some special anointing from God; that he is a “righteous” man, so his prayers will be powerful and effective (just like it says later in this very passage). I used to read that line, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (KJV) and I’d think, “Must be a really holy guy.” Like Elijah, mentioned in verses 17-18, who prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t rain for 3-1/2 years. Well, Elijah was a righteous man, a holy man, a prophet, and he prayed for many truly wondrous miracles. He also trained Elisha, who prayed for people and they were healed, including one lady’s son who came back from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35). What I want to know is, what did Elijah and Elisha have that any regular old, normal, believer (truster) in Jesus doesn’t have?”

The answer is nothing. In the Old Testament, God picked out certain people and “anointed them with His Spirit,” such as kings, prophets, and priests. Elijah was one of those people, but in those days not everybody was anointed. Most people, if they wanted to find out what God said, what He wanted, or what He was going to do, had to ask one of the people who were anointed with God’s Spirit. Today, since Jesus came to the earth, made the final sacrifice to reconcile us to God, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent His Spirit to be with us and to be in us, we have the same anointing that Elijah had. If we surrender ourselves to Jesus, and line ourselves up with Him and His teachings and His Spirit, we have the same direct line to God that Elijah had. It’s not just that we can have what Elijah had, we do have what Elijah had. All we have to do to fully realize God’s power in us is to do what Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “Deny yourself, and take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” It’s simple but it’s not easy. It takes daily surrender and daily dying to yourself, but the results are just incomparable. You get to know the one true God for your very own self. No intermediaries; just direct contact with God through His Spirit present inside of your heart, soul, mind, and body, every minute, every second. Just like Elijah.

So if we’re talking about service, what does that mean? It means that we really are God’s lights in the world. It means that we really are the “salt of the earth,” whereby it is flavored, “cured,” saved from corruption. All we’ve got to do is surrender to Him and let His Spirit use us to fulfill His purposes in the world.

Who is a “righteous” person? A righteous person is one who has Jesus’s righteousness in him because he has surrendered his whole self to Jesus. (See 1 Corin. 1:30) Not my righteousness but His righteousness is the only thing that is going to save me, the only thing that is going to make me holy, as God is holy. So if you want to have a prayer life that is powerful and effective, what do you have to do? You have to surrender; not just once, but every single day, every hour, every minute. Most of the time we’re too busy to do that; to think about that, to even consider that. But if you try to do it, and you keep on trying, eventually it gets to be a habit; you enter a zone where you’re in constant contact with the Spirit that is in you, and you begin to “pray without ceasing,” you begin to “rejoice evermore,” you begin to “give thanks in all things,” because that really is “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). That’s where “righteous” comes from, and that’s what it takes to be a servant in the biblical sense—it’s all about God; “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. (Colossians 1:27)  from Out o’th’ Bushes © 2016 by Tex Tonroy

 

 

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Open Your Heart Concept

“Consistency is the crutch of small minds.”  Tex (from a letter to my kids)

Some people said Jesus was inconsistent because He said people should abide by the law one time, and the next time He said people should be led by the Spirit, and be merciful to lawbreakers. Even in the Old Testament, God said He’d rather have someone with an obedient heart than sacrifice, even though sacrifice was according to the law.

Over and over in the Bible, it says that God looks at the heart.  Somehow or other it should be the way we look at it too.  I’m sure people ought to do what they say they will, but you don’t have to do the same way ever time. Different situations require different responses.

And this isn’t situation ethics either.  It is just realizing that we ascribe to a higher law, which is layman’s terms is being true to God and the people that God puts you with, above being true to man’s law or any dogmatic principle.  (How do you know which is is right?  If you’re seeking God, you’ll know.)  Like it says in the Bible, “This is the first and great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, . . . And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is the fulfillment of all of the law and all of the prophets.  If you love God, you will keep His commandments; if you love your neighbor, you’ll treat him right.

My experience has been that if you abide by these two commandments, you won’t always appear consistent to the world, but you will usually do the right thing, and you will be consistent to God and in your heart.

YOU JUST CAN’T WORRY . . . 032916

Everything Will Be Okay Reassurance Advice Problem Worry OK

“You just can’t worry about everything.” Bob Gold, Austin, Texas; 1972. (from A Letter to My Kids)

Bob Gold was a boy I met when I was in the Jaycees in Austin.  He was a drinker and a bullshipper, but he was also a responsible member of the community.  He was a factory rep for a paper company.  He didn’t work too hard, but because of his relationships with his customers, he made a good living.  He always had time to stop and talk, even in a big city, high intensity environment.  If he needed to take the afternoon off to counsel or console a friend, he’d do it.  As far as I’m concerned he had the right attitude about life.

The main thing I remember about hmi is that anytime a crisis arose, and nobody could figure out what to do about it, he’d say, “Well, you just can’t worry about everything.” Seems like simplistic nonsense now, but at the time it really meant something.  It meant that you ought to take care, that is “worry”, about something you can do something about; and the stuff you can’t do anything about will either take care of itself, or it will reappear later, when you can do something about it.  It also means there’s a lot of stuff you just can’t do anything about at all, so you might as well not waste          your energy even thinking about it.

Like that verse in Matthew 6:34, which says, “Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow will take care of itself.  Each day has enough trouble for itself.”  There may be some people out there who would disagree with this advice, but I’m not one of them.  To me, take no thought means exactly that, do not think about things you can’t do anything about, ‘cause you just can’t worry about everything, you just can’t afford to.

And by the way; you don’t have to worry, because God is looking out for you.  Like it ways in the previous verse, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you [as well].” Matt 6:33.  If you seek a personal relationship with God, you get LIFE with Him.

BORN AGAIN: 031716 (John 3:3)

bible

KJ21    Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

This seems like a relatively simple verse.  It says that you can’t SEE God;  you can’t SEE the kingdom of God (KJV); you can’t GET into the Kingdom of God (TLB); you cannot BE in God’s kingdom (NCV) unless you are born again.  Other expressions for knowing God, such as ‘get saved’, ‘have eternal life’, ‘go to heaven’, ‘have righteousness’, ‘be converted’, ‘have a relationship with God’; you can’t do any of those things, unless you are spiritually transformed.  [Changed on the inside]

The word translated as ‘again’ means ‘from above’ in Greek.  ‘From above’ means by God, by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

‘Born’ means what you’d think it means; that you’re the child of your father and mother; you have their substance residing in you.  So you can’t be ‘born again’, ‘born from above’, have God as your Father, unless you are spiritually transformed from your natural self to God’s own child.

So ‘Born again’ means ‘spiritually transformed’.

So it IS simple.  Jesus wasn’t making some ethereal, mystic statement.  He was just telling a truth.  He was just stating a fact.  You just CAN’T have a relationship with God unless you die to yourself, trust Him and let His Spirit come to live in you.  As long as you are holding on to control of your life instead of surrendering and letting God run your life, you can’t even SEE the kingdom of God, much less be a part of it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Talking about Talking: 030116

Happy portrait of grandparents and granddaughter“A man’s words are a mirror to his soul.” Unknown. 

“It is not what goes into a person’s mouth that defiles them.  .  . but what comes out of their mouth that defiles them.” Jesus of Nazareth, Matt 15:10; (paraphrase)

[From a letter to my kids, 1995]

“I just don’t know what to do with people that won’t talk. It’s hard for me to deal with them. People that talk a lot, which includes most everybody in my family, are easy to read. They tell you a lot about themselves.  If they’re not talking, they must be sick, or mad at somebody. 

“There is nothing more fun and pleasurable than spending an afternoon or evening solving the world’s problems with somebody who enjoys talking and listening. It helps your mental, emotional health. When necessary, it’s a legitimate and inexpensive alternative to a psychiatrist or psychologist.  Personally, I enjoy a ‘highball of an evening’, with my talking companions, but the highball is not required.  Tea, cokes, or red Koolaid will substitute nicely.

“In Ireland of old, next to the kings, the persons held in highest esteem were the bards, who were the government supported combination priests, historians, and storytellers. Some say that the oldest uninterrupted literary tradition in Europe was the orally maintained and transmitted stories of the Celtic Bards. Those folks raised talking to the level of an art, a science, almost a religion. That’s where we came from, a long and uninterrupted line of talkers. Talking is in our blood, so in choosing what you want to do in your life, find something that involves talking. You’ll enjoy it, you’ll be good at it, because you’ve got it in you.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but talkers get extra attention, and they often end up being leaders, because they don’t mind telling people what they think.  It is a big responsibility, so don’t take it lightly. You have a lot of influence just because you talk, as long as you know what you’re talking about, and you have love in your heart. Always remember to use your influence for good. Really, that just sorta happens, because that love in your heart comes out.

“Talking is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s good cheap entertainment. You can do it anytime, any place. You can even talk to yourself.” 

ROLES NOT GOALS. PURPOSE.022916

stone faced            “God has a purpose for your life.  All you’ve got to do is figure out what it is.”            [This is from a letter to my ‘young-adult’ kids in 1995]  “I used to wonder what I was doing here.  Sometimes I even wondered what you were doing here.  I finally got the message.  God has a plan for my life.  Actually, I think He has a plan for every person’s life, but some folks never figure out what it is.

“When I was a kid I bought into the idea that goal setting and goal pursuing and goal orientation were the way to achieve everything I wanted in life, and happiness too!  When I was 15 I wanted $1 million by the time I was 30.  I focused a lot of attention on it.  I read the right books and tried to practice what they preached.  But somehow it never worked for me.  I guess I just didn’t want it bad enough.  I just couldn’t get motivated enough.  I had a lot of other things on my mind.  Looking back, maybe God didn’t want me to be a millionaire.

“After I got baptized in the Holy Spirit, I started seeing differently.  I decided that God had a purpose for my life, a destiny.  Somehow, I got the message that God has a role (really a bunch of roles) for me to play in my life.  In fact each of us is given a number of readymade roles to play when we’re born.  Like the role of a son or a daughter, the role of brother or sister.  Then pretty soon you get the role of student, then later employee, then girlfriend or boyfriend, then husband or wife, then father or mother, then maybe employer, or doctor or lawyer, or teacher, or preacher, or seeker or finder.  What fulfills your destiny, and God’s purpose, is for you to be the very best you can at whatever role God has given you for that time.  And what’s really neat is that this will make you happy.  Seems to me that chasing a goal is not very fulfilling, but being best in your role is very fulfilling, and with your role you fit into God’s plan perfectly.  Just remember when you can’t figure out what you’re doing here, or where you’re going, or why; focus on being that person, that character, the very best you possibly can.  You’ll be surprised how happy it will make you.

“The thing that separates the exceptional people in the world, the 2-3%, and the rest of the folks, is that the 2-3% have realized that God has a grand design for their lives.  (Here again, a lot of people call it a lifetime goal, which is OK with me.)  Many people spend all their time just living from day to day, so they never have time to fulfill that grand design.  Eating and sleeping, working and raising kids may be enough for most folks, but it’s not enough for me.  I may never amount to a hill of beans, but it won’t be because I didn’t try.  Oh, and by the way, I still think that grand design is about the role you play in your life with other people; not so much about making a million dollars, or being the President, or climbing the highest mountain, or building the biggest building, even though those are perfectly OK things to aspire to.  (Heck, if you don’t aspire to something, you’ll never amount to anything.)

“But in the end, the best way to help other people is to get in tune with God’s purpose for our lives, and focus our attention on fulfilling His grand design for us. In the meantime we will still have time to eat and sleep and play and have fun and raise kids, just like everybody else. And we may do something truly memorable.”

RESISTING TEMPTATION.011816  

 

ANXIETY CLOUD.121415

 

In this election year it’s hard to resist the temptation to dive into political commentary, particularly about who would make the best president; and what the candidates think about issues that I think are important.  I’m with Mary Harwell Salyer: “How far above politics You are, O Lord – high above the low-slung mud and lack of love shown for others, including…”  Can’t resist saying what a Godly courageous man Dr. King was; and I love his quotations floating around the ‘Net.  And while I don’t know who the best man is for the job, I also loved Dr. Carson’s comment at some speech last night, about the Powerball: “I already won the lottery. I was born in America & know the Lord”.

I also can’t help saying how much I love what Lysa TerKeurst said on Twitter early this morning, “We can’t possibly remain in Jesus and rant about others at the same time. Dear friends… Remember today to love even when we disagree;” and “Jesus made it clear. His command wasn’t to bash other people when we don’t agree. [He said] ‘This is my command: love each other,’ John 15:17.”

My real conclusion about commentary is this:  We, as Christians, have a much more important task and higher calling than to consume ourselves with the ‘cares of this world’ and the ‘deceitfulness of riches’. We actually have the Answer, our Lord Jesus; and while many among us would disagree, for all kinds of reasons, WE JUST MUST keep sharing Jesus, and His love and His grace and His mercy and His eternal salvation, because we are HIS representatives here on this earth, and WE JUST MUST keep on telling the world that there really is VICTORY IN JESUS and not get distracted by all the alternative stuff. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.Religious Words on Grunge Background

IN THE BEGINNING.011716

skyI’m always fascinated with Genesis 1:1.  It says so much.  I keep learning more and more, both from research about the meanings, and from revelations that God gives me.  Just this week I’ve been reading the Amplified Version, and I love the points the explanatory notes make.  Here’s what it says;

“In the beginning God created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth.”

Just a few comments. 1] ‘In the beginning’: Before anything else existed except God; the very beginning.  God, the Pre-existent One.

2] God created: He formed it from nothing.  That’s what the Hebrew word ‘bara’ translated as ‘created’, means: ‘formed it from nothing’.  Reminds me of what it says in verse 3, “God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light.”  He spoke the worlds into existence.  Actually, because Hebrew has words and tenses we don’t even have in English, as close as we can come to the word translated as ‘spoke’ is: “He willed it to exist.”

3] ‘the heavens and the earth’.  It’s all those galaxies out there in the universe, as well as this ‘blue dot’ among them.  God ‘spoke’ them all into existence, from absolutely nothing.

I’m glad we have God, who is so powerful and so gifted that He can do all that.  And if you read on down in the first chapter, He created all the rest of the stuff on the earth; plants, fish, birds, reptiles, mammals and finally men and women.  (and ultimately you and me).  He made each of us unique.  Look at the tip of your index finger on your right hand. There is a finger-print that is different from anyone else, anyone else who has ever lived or is living right now.  You are special. God made you special because He loves you, and He wants to have a relationship with you.  You in particular, not just as a member of the human race.  Whenever you’re ready, you can know Him for your very own self too, if you don’t already.

WHY GO TO CHURCH? 010816

group of people watching a screenHad an interesting conversation with a couple of brothers today.  One of them, call him Bill, along with his wife, has been searching for a new church home.  The church where they had been going for several years was changing.  Many of the couples they had relationships with had moved away, changed churches, or otherwise lost contact with them.  Several of their friends had gone to one particular church nearby, and they tried that church, but they didn’t like the preachers. The assistant preachers were younger than Bill and his wife, and in their sermons they told stories that were not relevant to Bill’s life.

So for several months (maybe even a year or more) they have been casting about for a ‘new’ church.  They have partially settled on a large church in the area (with an auditorium that seats about 3,000 people, which is filled every Sunday morning.  They like the preaching.  The preachers preach from the Bible and they expect the congregation to participate in application of what is preached to their lives.  And one of the primary reasons for their attendance there is that their 17-year-old son  knows several kids who attend church there and they’re all actively involved in the church activities.  In Bill’s words, “If my son is willing to get up and go to church regularly, then that’s the place for me.”  His wife is not yet so enamored of that church, so they have not yet made a commitment to join.  But they are going to worship services regularly.

I asked Bill if they were involved in any church activities besides attending worship services, and he said no.  He said they don’t say much about personal involvement with small groups in the church.  He said if you want to become involved in small groups you can locate them on their website.  He said at their old church the pastors spent a good deal of time during the worship services on Sunday morning talking about small groups, where they meet, what they’re into, and what they’re studying.  (He even mentioned the “motorcyclists for Jesus” group that meets on Sunday morning before or after church.)  He again mentioned that he and his wife had many friends at the church, but they’d all moved away.  He said that was a substantial difference between the ‘big’ church and their ‘old’ church.  Continue reading

HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO YOU.122215

Female choir conductor during performanceSounds crazy, but every time I hear this song from Grease, sung by Olivia Newton-John, I think about God, and about how I feel the same way about God that she felt about John Travolta.  I am hopelessly devoted.  Even if God didn’t love me back, I’d still be totally committed, totally surrendered to Jesus, because I know that He is my only hope, my only Deliverer, my only real LIFE.  In the song, Olivia says, “My head says I should leave, but my heart says to ‘hang on till the end’.”  Sometimes I feel that way.  My head says there’s just no sense in what’s going on. Why would God do that to me or to someone I love?  But my heart keeps saying what Peter said, when Jesus asked the disciples if they were going to leave Him too.  Peter said, “Where would we go?”  ‘Course God is different from John T.  God not only wants me, but He loved me when I didn’t want Him or love Him.  He’s there every minute, in my heart, telling me He’s taking care of me.

‘Devoted’ makes me think about ‘devotional’.  When I was a kid, maybe 8-10 years old, my momma would give me a copy of the Upper Room daily devotional, those little bitty books that had a few words about God for each day.  She said I ought to read it.  She didn’t say much else about it, about why I should read it.  I remember thinking, ‘I can read the Bible if I want to think about God, and I do read the Bible; so what do I need with some old person telling me what to think about God?”  So being young and dumb, I didn’t read it.  I think if she’d explained a little more to me about why it was a good idea, if I’d just think about God for a few minutes, early in the morning each day, that it would truly change my life; that I would begin to feel the Presence of God in my life from that one small daily act.  So, and this is truly humorous (and sad at the same time), I promptly started reading a devotional every day when I was about 54 years old.  Doesn’t take me long to get it, huh? Continue reading