Tag Archives: Personal Relationship with Jesus

BIBLICAL CONNECTIONS (REINFORCEMENTS).080916

Young Boy With DogHave you heard that line, “If you want to teach a dog or a kid, you’ve got to say it over and over.”  I just made that up.  But it’s true.  Whatever it is you want ’em to learn; if you say it enough, if you demonstrate it enough, it will finally soak in. You create those neural links in their heads and their bodies. You can bet on it.  I think God had that same policy in mind when He dictated the Bible to the writers.  One subject I’ve noticed lately (over and over) is about HEARING AND DOING.  I don’t know how many times my momma said it, but I finally got it, “YOU’VE GOT TO DO WHAT I SAY!”  (whether you like it or not; if you want to live long and do good.)

Jesus said it almost that loud and that strong in Matthew 7:24-26, when He said, “If you hear My words and do what I say, I’ll think you’re a wise man . . . but if you hear My words and you don’t do them, you’re a fool. . .” (my paraphrase).  And in James 1:22, God says, through James, “Be a DOER of the Word, and not just a hearer; deceiving yourselves.”  If we don’t do what Jesus says, we’re fools, and we’re lying to ourselves.  In Luke 11:27-28, a woman said, “Blessed is the woman who gave birth to you . . .” and Jesus said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep (guard, defend) it.”

And it’s not just about “don’t do this and don’t do that”.  It’s about what you DO as a positive act, an act of your will.  It’s like in John 5:24, He says, “If you pay attention (heed, do) what I say, and trust Him who sent Me, you have eternal life.”  Trusting in God is not easy; but it’s the only thing that works in this life.  You have to DO IT as an act of your will.  Over and over, until it starts to feel easy (or at least easier.)  That’s the only way you’re ever going to have the peace that passes understanding is when you trust Jesus as an act of your will.

That’s what He’s talking about when He says, “If you follow God’s commands, you will live!”  See Luke 10:28.

“The Gospel is not about making bad people good, it’s about making dead people alive!” David Crowder

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!

 

DISCIPLINE VS SURRENDER.062016

A girl and her daddy with apple backgroundDiscipline is one of the ‘fruits of the Spirit’, as in Galatians 5:22-23.  But there it’s called ‘self-control.’ Discipline (as in self-control) is extolled as a virtue, almost without equal.  If you can be self-disciplined, then you can achieve almost any goal known to man.  Wars are won by armies who have the most self-disciplined soldiers, from top to bottom.  Their officers not only give good orders, but their troops respond well to orders, and they always fulfill their orders.  Of such are great men and great events made.

But wait!  What about that line that Jesus said?  If you don’t come as a little child, you won’t get into heaven.”  And “let the kids come to Me, for of such as these are the kingdom of heaven.” [Heaven is filled with people who are like children].  And how do you like, “Thank you Father, that you have hidden these things [things of God?] from the wise and prudent and you have revealed them unto babes.”  Babes have a lot in common with children, especially little children.  Who is disciplined; the wise and the prudent, or the little children?  I don’t know about you, but a lot of days I feel more akin to the babes than to the wise and prudent.  Often I just can’t manage to keep my life in order like it says to, either in the world or in the Bible.  And my observations over six decades plus indicate there are a lot of people out there who are a lot like me.  So what are we undisciplined cotton-pickers supposed to do?  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.

LOOK IN THE MIRROR; WHAT DO YOU SEE? 053016

Homme en pleine reflexion devant le miroirRomans 8:1-4: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not follow their sinful nature, but follow the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the sinful nature, God, by sending His own Son . . . condemned the sin of the sinful nature, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not follow our sinful nature but follow the Spirit.”

That’s the ‘Perfect Law of Liberty’ that James talks about in Chapter 1:22-25, speaking of the man who hears God’s Word but doesn’t do it, he says, “He’s lying to himself.  He’s like a man who looks at himself in a mirror, and as soon as he turns away, he forgets what he looked like.”

The ‘Perfect Law of Liberty’ is the same as the ‘Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus’ that makes us free from the law of sin and death.  The Perfect Law of Liberty is the law that is followed by people who hear God’s Word and do it.

True obedience lies in doing what the verse says, “Don’t follow the sinful nature. Follow the Spirit of Jesus.” That’s obedience. from Out o’th’ Bushes, © 2016, by Tex Tonroy.

PRESENT YOUR BODIES (as a living sacrifice).051016

Salt and LightRomans 12:1 says, “I beg you, brothers and sisters, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice ….”

Romans 12 is a great message about “If you’re going to claim to be a Christian, act like it.”  For me, ‘present your body’ means to show up, be available, be willing to be obedient to serve and to do what God tells you to, one moment at a time.

So here’s my revelation for today: If you are a ‘true’ believer in Jesus, one who is steadily focusing on God, trusting Him and obeying Him, seeking His Face, surrendering to Him on a daily basis; you have the Spirit of the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY living in your own personal heart.  That is what it means to ‘be a Christian’.  Now, if you have God’s Holy Spirit in you, and you show up anywhere, work, school, a kid’s soccer game, a band concert, a walk in the park, a flood rescue effort, you are presenting your body as a living sacrifice, for God to use to touch other peoples lives.  You are making yourself available to do and to say exactly what God wants you to do and say.

Are y’all ready for this?  You know where it says, “You are the salt of the earth.”  “You are the light of the world.”  If you have God’s Spirit in your own heart, then you ARE doing what salt does.  You are flavoring and keeping the world from corruption and decay, just like salt flavors food and keeps it from decay.  You ARE God’s shining Light in the world, to show people the way, to comfort them, to keep them safe and sound.  You don’t even have to try; or plan; or prepare; or get a special education; or have a special degree, or ordination, or anointing.  You already ARE anointed.  You have the Spirit of the Living God in your own little heart.  You just can’t get any more anointed than that.  All you have to do is SHOW UP!

So I’ve been reading the whole 12th chapter of Romans, and bringing those things back to the first sentence of the chapter.  In verses 3-8 it talks about how God has given each of us a special gift (or gifts) to help the Body of Christ.  There’s a lot of talk about learning what your gift is, so you can do a better job of using it for God’s honor and glory.  I think it’s great to focus some attention on understanding what God’s plan is for your life, so you can do a better job of serving Him and others; but you know what I really think?  I think if you really trust God, and you surrender your whole self to Him on a regular basis, it doesn’t matter whether you know what your specific gift is or not.  If you SHOW UP when God tells you to, He will use you and your gift(s) in miraculous ways, even if you don’t know exactly what they are. 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. .
Continue reading

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

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.