Category Archives: UNITY

THE PRAYER OF FAITH-2. 041116

There Are Miracles All Around You card with sky backgroundJames 5:15 “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up;”

The “prayer of faith” is a prayer that is spoken by a person who has God’s Spirit dwelling in her; it’s not something she has to “work up”; it’s something that is already happening in her heart, soul, and spirit because of the presence of God’s Spirit in her. It’s one of those “rivers of living water” that flows out of her because she trusts in Jesus as a condition of her very being; it’s not just a momentary act of her will. I’m 66 years old, and I’m just now beginning to get that concept.

What does an apple tree do during the process of bearing fruit? It sits there and waits, but while it’s sitting there it takes in the ingredients it uses to make fruit—water, nutrients from the soil, sun and rain from the sky. Then one day, when the time is right, it puts out leaves and begins to develop the chlorophyll that is its food, it puts out buds and blossoms and bees come along and help with the pollination, and in due time, while the tree is still waiting, the blossoms turn into little, tiny apples. Eventually, the apples grow big and ripen and get ready to be picked and eaten.

But here’s the version that we would envision if we were comparing most of us to an apple tree. The apple tree gets up every morning and starts worrying about how it is going to bear fruit. It knows there must be fruit down in there somewhere, so it grunts, pushes, strains, gets tired and frustrated, and develops ulcers waiting for something to happen. It grunts and pushes, expecting I guess, for the apples to just pop out of the ends of the branches. One day no apples; the next day ‘pop!’, and there are big, fully developed, fully ripened apples. It just doesn’t work that way, does it?

In Spanish, wait and hope are the same word, esperar, and sometimes I think trust could be a part of those same active verbs. While we’re waiting and hoping, we’re also trusting that God is going to bring it to pass, because there’s not a way in the world that we’re ever going to push hard enough or grunt hard enough to make those apples pop out on our tree. We’re got to trust that God, by His Spirit, is going to use what He’s put in us to fulfill His purposes in the world. That’s the service of trust, and that is the same action verb we need to have when we pray, which is down deep knowing that God is going to bring it to pass.

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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

 

 

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.” 

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.

SMALL GROUPS FOR JESUS 3.111115

drinks, communication, friendship and people concept - happy young women with cups sitting at table and talking in mall or cafeThis is my last post about “small groups for Jesus”, at least for the time being.  I just have a few more comments to make.

1] In my opinion, small groups are like family; they’re not about enforcing rules, and everybody being disciplined; they’re about letting God’s love flow through you into other people.  You may not believe this, but I’m convinced that almost every single person is acutely aware of their short-comings, and what they really need, on a regular basis, is encouragement and moral support.  (I find a lot of support for this attitude throughout the Bible; call it grace and mercy)  Small groups are, and should be, about sharing and expressing the fruits of the Spirit; and while self-control is one of the fruits and is therefore important to God and should be important to us; it is the very last thing on the list.  Wonder why that is?  (I don’t even know if there IS a hierarchy of the fruits, but I hear a lot more about love in the Bible than I do about self-control.)

2] One of the central, indispensible ingredients of a small group is trust.  Continue reading

SHEEP, WOLVES, SNAKES AND DOVES.102015

SHEEP CLOSE UP.102015Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as snakes and harmless [innocent and gentle] as doves.”  In this passage, Jesus is talking to his twelve disciples.  He tells them they will suffer persecution, but the reason they’re going is to be a testimony [for Jesus], particularly in the councils and the synagogues, before governors and kings.  Some versions say “to be a testimony against them.”  This is the beginning of the apostles “going out to preach the Gospel.” (At first it’s only to the people of Israel; but later, unto all the world.) Grey Wolf Pack at PlaySome people think this was just for the apostles, or just for the Christians in the First Century.  But I always think this passage is applicable to us, the Christians who are alive on the earth today.  It is especially evident when you think of all the Christians in Asia and elsewhere, who are under persecution from Muslim, Communist and other totalitarian regimes.  We really are like sheep among wolves; and we really must be as clever as snakes, and as gentle as doves, just in order to survive and continue to be witnesses for our Lord Jesus. Continue reading