Tag Archives: surrender to God

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

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

COMMENT ON THE NEWS: RESISTING EVIL: 071316

riot policeIn Matthew 5: 38-39a: Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, but I say unto you, don’t resist evil people.”  In Leviticus 19:18, God said, “Don’t seek revenge, don’t hold a grudge, but love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the LORD.”

Dallas. Orlando. Minnesota. San Bernardino. New Orleans. Paris. Belgium. Evil is breaking out all over.  As Christians, down in our hearts we know we’re supposed to be doing something to help things, but we don’t know how.  On both sides of every dispute, we’re saying it’s about BAD PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE; when it’s really about deep festering wounds to our hearts. We, as Christians, (many of us on opposing sides) are uniquely equipped to do something about this, but we’ve lost sight of what (or who) we’re really fighting.

Ephesians 6:12 says: “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against [BEINGS] without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, …” TLB  We are fighting the devil, Satan, and we can only beat him by using God’s power that He gives us through the Holy Spirit.  In order to stand against the devil, we must use all of the tools God gives us. “13 the strong belt of truth and 14 the [bullet-proof vest] of God’s righteousness 15 the Good News of peace; faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. 17 … the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God.  18 Pray all the time…

We’re not gonna win this war with guns and tear gas; armored cars and snipers on buildings; we’re gonna win by trusting God and doing what He says, which is “don’t resist, turn the other cheek; understand and forgive.”  The confusing part is we keep feeling the grudge and the urge to seek revenge; to pay them back.  It just won’t work.  This is a test to see if we’re willing to be obedient to do what God says;  to surrender ourselves to God in this very situation.

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.

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

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

POLLY AND CHLOE.022216

A life raft floats in mid ocean awaiting rescue            For several years I’ve been writing this book, and after many ups and downs, God let it be published.  It’s about discipleship, but it’s not your standard book on the subject.  The other day I was at the bank talking to them about opening a new bank account for marketing and promotion of the book, and I was talking to the bank manager and one of the cashiers named Polly.  I showed them a copy I just happened to have handy (Ha!).  I told them a little about it, and I mentioned that it was available on the Barnes and Noble website on the ‘Net’.  I said I had been looking at their website and they had the first 29 pages of the book as a ‘reading sample’.  I thought that was pretty cool.  They were nice and said they thought it was really neat that I had actually gotten a book published!  I said, “Thanks.”

The very next day I was back in the bank, with all my paperwork in hand, to open that new account.  I was sitting at the manager’s desk, talking about the particulars, when Polly came up behind me, put her hands on my shoulders, leaned down and whispered in my ear, “I read the first 29 pages of your book, and I really like it.  I’ve been thinking for a long time that God wants me to be a missionary, and your book really inspired me.”  She walked away.  I sat there thinking, “Even if this book never amounts to a hill of beans, God has used it to touch someone’s life.” Praise the Lord! Continue reading