Category Archives: DIE TO YOUR SELF

THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS.070516

Saint Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon;  Where there is doubt, faith;  Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; and  Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; To be understood, as to understand;  To be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive,  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and  it is dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen”

I don’t know much about St. Francis.  I’ve heard a few stories.  I’ve read a few passages from him and about him, about how he was so in harmony with nature and with people; how he was totally surrendered to his place and time; how he, more than most, fulfilled the Golden Rule (see Matt 7:12)   He probably did a better job of following Jesus (of being like Jesus) than anyone I know of.  You know why?  Because he had the attitude of Jesus, the attitude of a humble, obedient servant. (Philippians 2:5-8)  His prayer, cited above, is a clear indication that he got it.

Like Jesus said, “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven . . “ Matt 5:43-45.

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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

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

 

 

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!

JUST SAY YES.012516

Yes Pink Squares Burst             I was inspired by a devotional I read last week (01.21.16) by Charles Stanley.  He said, in part, “When we encounter opportunities to serve God, we don’t always respond in the way He desires.” Maybe “our schedule is too busy or we don’t feel qualified.” . . . “You probably never thought of a refusal to serve God as a type of idolatry, but that’s what it is—bowing down to self instead of submitting to Him.” . . . “when we’ve already decided what we can’t do, won’t do, or are ill-equipped to do, then we’re acting by our own will.  That doesn’t work.” . . .”Laying down our excuses is the wisest thing to do when serving the Lord.”  . . . “All He asks is that you say ‘Yes’.”

I say “Glory Hallelujah!!!” to that.  The reason I was so inspired by this message from Rev. Stanley is that it made me think about my experience with a couple of ‘extra-church’ ministries I’m involved with.  In both of these ministries, one called “Walk to Emmaus” and the other called “Kairos Prison Ministry”, the characteristic that is most remarkable, I mean really REMARKABLE, is the willingness of the participants (that is the workers/servants/team-members) to say “Yes!” in serving in whatever way they are called upon to serve.  I’ve worked at several different levels in each of those ministries, and I’ve been truly astounded at how humble, how self-deprecating, the members are.

Whether it’s to lead a meeting, or give a talk, or counsel, or teach, or prepare or serve food, or wash dishes, or carry out the trash, or clean toilets and make beds; or pray; they’re ready to go. And they’re ready to do it voluntarily and with a good attitude.  Makes me think of that line in Phlippians 2:5, “Let this attitude be in you that was also in Christ Jesus!”  They’re “humble and obedient, kind and gentle, never jealous or boastful or proud or rude, never demanding their own way.” (Right out of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7) When you ask them if they’d be willing to do _____; their answer is always “Yes!” with no qualifications.  It really “rang my bell” when I heard Rev. Stanley say that same thing about our attitude about service to, with and for Jesus.  I can truly say that for me, people saying “Yes” to Jesus is the best evidence of the presence of His Holy Spirit in our brothers and sisters in Christ.

VICTORY IN JESUS.112015

FulmineHad a flash of light this morning when I was thinking about how to have “Victory in Jesus”.  You can write this down in your book.  The way to have victory in Jesus to is to do everything you do with, for or about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, WITH ALL YOUR HEART! You probably already know that I use six themes to organize my thoughts about the Bible; for instance:

1] LOVE: Deut 6:5 says, “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” Jesus said, “This is the first and great commandment.”

2] HUMILITY: Being humble, not proud, is another key to developing your relationship with God; in Proverbs 3:34, Solomon says, “God scorns the scorners, but gives grace to the humble” (this is echoed (quoted) in James 4, and in 1 Peter 5); Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, the humble, for they shall inherit the earth.”

3] GRATITUDE: In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says, “Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you!”  (‘In all things’ sounds like ‘with all you heart’)  In Romans 8:28, Paul says,  “God makes all things work together for good to those who love the Lord . . .”

4] TRUST: In Proverbs 3:5-6, Solomon says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart., and lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

5] OBEDIENCE: In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul talks about Jesus.  He says, “Let Jesus’ attitude be in you.”  He says that even though Jesus is God, He gave up His heavenly position; He humbled himself and became a man; then He humbled Himself even more and surrendered Himself to be arrested, and beaten, and ridiculed, and spat upon; and He was obedient [to His purpose and to His calling] unto death, even death on a cross.  I don’t know about you, but for me, the degree and the depth of Jesus’ commitment qualifies as with all your heart.  And Paul says, “Let Jesus’ attitude be in (me and) you.”

6] SERVICE: Maybe it’s just me, but being a disciple of Jesus Christ is the best example of service you can do.  In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “if anyone wants to be My disciple (My student, My follower), let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (‘Take up his cross’ means, as it says in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ”, “I’m dead.”)  It means to “die to your sinful nature”. (daily).  ‘To die’ may not be with all your heart, but it’s plenty close.

With all your heart may not be the only way God wants us to do and be, but it’s certainly high on the list.  For me, with all your heart expresses the passion that comes with having the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord God Almighty, living in your own personal heart.

TEACHING THEM WHAT? 110515

Teacher talking with students in the clasroomOK, In Matt. 28:18-20, Jesus says, “I have all authority, so go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them .  .  .  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. .  .  . and [know this] I am with you always, even unto the end of the world [age].”  What does in mean, “all things”?  Some folks would say those things are particular things, like ‘love God with all your heart’, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’, ‘seek first the kingdom of God . . .’, ‘don’t resist evil’; ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart’; ‘rejoice evermore’.

If we really want to ‘make disciples’ maybe we should teach an attitude of surrender; of surrendering ourselves to Jesus; like it says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wants to be My disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross [meaning “die to yourself”](see Galatians 2:20), daily, and follow Me.”  To have the attitude in your heart that comes from Jesus, that says, “I’m not touched by things in this world, because Jesus has put His Spirit in my heart.”  So you get to the point where you really don’t care what happens to you and your stuff, because you’re thinking about Jesus and helping others come to a personal relationship with Him.   That’s something really worth teaching and worth learning.

Like Paul said in Romans 5:3-5, “And not only that, but we also [rejoice] in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces [endurance]; 4 and [endurance], character; and character, hope. 5 Now [this] hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  When you get that attitude in your heart, then observing all the things Jesus commanded becomes possible.