Tag Archives: Die to your self

JESUS AND THE SINNERS: 090216:

A fondue dinner with friend on a beautiful place

In Luke 5:27-32, is the story of when Jesus called Levi (Matthew), a tax collector, to be His disciple, and Levi had a big banquet at his house with Jesus as guest of honor, and invited all his friends (mostly tax collectors and sinners).  The Pharisees asked the disciples, “Why do y’all eat with sinners?”  Jesus heard what they thought, and said, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick.  I didn’t come to call those who think they’re righteous, but those who know they’re sinners.” NLT

In Matthew 9:9-13: speaking of the same episode, Matthew (yes the same as Levi), tells the story like this: Jesus said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, sick people do.”  Then He added, “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.  For I have not come to call those who think they’re righteous, but those who know they’re sinners.” NLT

And in Mark 2:13-17: Same story; same comments, except this time it says, “There were many of this kind [tax collectors and sinners] who followed Him.”

‘Course the real revelation in this story comes in Luke 15, where it begins with, “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.  This made the Pharisees complain that he was associating with such sinful people – even eating with them.” Then Jesus told this story (actually 3 stories).  First He told of a man who had 100 sheep, lost one, then left the 99 to go search for that one sheep till he found it; then he had a celebration.  Just like, “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and turns to God, than in 99 righteous people who haven’t strayed.”

Second, Jesus talks about the woman who lost a coin: she searched high and low till she found it, then she called all the neighbors and had a party to celebrate; just like “there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Third: Jesus told the story of the “Lost Son”, the one we know as the “Prodigal Son”.  We all know the story, how the younger son takes the father’s money and goes way off and wastes it on wine, women and song.  Then, when he’s feeding pigs and starving because Jews don’t each pork (or pork feed either), he “comes to himself”, and goes home to repent and become a servant in his father’s house.  But the father won’t have it.  He dresses him in velvet; puts a ring on his finger, kills the fatted calf, and has a gigantic party, because his son, who was lost, is found; the one who was dead, is come back to life.”  The story then addresses the older brother, who is unforgiving (he’s the one who is often equated with the Pharisees.

If you look back to the beginning of these episodes, the Pharisees are complaining about the sinners, and Jesus tells these stories, TO THEM.

What ‘moral’ can we draw from these passages about tax collectors and sinners on the one hand, vs the Pharisees on the other?  What does Jesus think?  If we’re disciples (students/followers) of Jesus, if we have Jesus’ Spirit living in our hearts, what are we supposed to think?  Let’s see. Continue reading

NOT THAT KIND OF SIN.061516

cycle of fears, pain, anger, grief, revenge

Since we’re talking about sin, you probably heard of lying (bearing false witness) and stealing; murder and adultery; not honoring your father and your mother and covetousness; see Exodus 20:3-17, the Ten Commandments; also including don’t make or worship idols, don’t take the Lord’s Name in vain, remember the Sabbath to keep it holy, and the most important one, ‘you shall have no other gods besides Me [the One True God].’

But we’re not talking about those kinds of sin, what we show to the world as sin.  We’re talking about what is going on in your heart; all the things that give rise to the sins that we exhibit to the world.  Things like fear and shame, and guilt and worry, depression, hate and unforgiveness, arrogance and control.  James says in his letter to the churches, in chapter 1:14-15 14“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”  What was it Jesus said about what defiles a person? In Matthew 15:17-19, 17He said, “It’s not what goes in your mouth, but what comes out of your mouth that defiles you, 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. Those things defile a man.”

How do we get away, and stay away, from sin like that?  The short answer is, “Turn to God”.  Like John the Apostle says, in 1 John 1:9, “If you’ll confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”  But ultimately, it’s like Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross [that means die to your self] daily, and follow Me.”  It’s a lifetime commitment.  If you keep on drawing near to God, He will definitely keep on drawing near to you.  (James 4:8) It’s His life that will make you whole.  It’s His righteousness (not yours) that will keep you from sinning, more and more every day.

ABOUT YOUR PRAYER LIFE. 060716

Silhouette illustration of a man praying under the lightI used to have these long spells when I’d get down and pray, and nothing was happening.  Sometimes I’d go for months without praying at all till something really bad would happen and I’d start trying again.  Then I discovered something. Every time I’d get really desperate, when I was so worried and so scared and so depressed about my life, and so cornered with nowhere to go, I’d really have a spell of knowing what bad shape I was in, and how bad I needed God, and how weak I am and how strong He is; and how stupid I am, and how Wise and Smart He is, and how ‘out of control’ I am, and how ‘IN CONTROL’ He is, and what a stupid jerk I am and what a MERCIFUL GOD He is, and I’d feel this blanket of peace and forgiveness and love settle over me like I never felt before.  (It’s happening to me right now; Wow!)  I call it ‘humbling yourself before the Lord’.  I don’t know if that’s all it is; but that’s sorta the central point I think.  After I had that experience a few times, I started trying it on purpose, instead of accidentally, and IT WORKED.  I would actually feel the Presence of God, right there, right then!  (right here, right now!) Try it; see what happens.

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.