Tag Archives: surrender

Have You Made Peace with God? 040518

All my life I’ve struggled with how to start a conversation with someone about their relationship with God.  I’ve longed to find some way to get started without offending them or making them mad, or driving them away.  It’s a very personal subject, one that many people are uncomfortable talking about.

One time 3-4 years ago, I had a friend named Evelyn, who was dying of pancreatic cancer.  She worked part-time for the same guy I worked for.  She was about my age.  She was in the hospital, fading fast and I went to visit her.  I didn’t know whether she had a relationship with God or not, but I wanted to talk to her about it.  I didn’t know how to start or what to say.

I don’t know if it mattered, but I took her a prayer blanket that had been made by ladies at our church.  They even prayed over it and anointed it with oil, especially for her.  Now that I think about it, maybe God used that prayer blanket to touch Evelyn and me both.

Anyway, I was standing there beside her bed, trying to think of something to say, when God says, “Ask her if she’s made peace with God.”

So I did.  Right out of the blue I said, “Well, have you made peace with God?”

She thought about it a minute and said the most amazing thing, “Since my husband died about 9 years ago, me and God haven’t had much to say to each other.”

After I thought a second I said, “Evelyn, God loves you; and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or failed to do, He forgives you; and all you have to do to get right with God is to trust Him and accept His forgiveness.”  She said she’d think about it.

She must have done it though, because after she died, her daughter told me that after we talked, she was at peace, happy and thankful; free of all the fear and anxiety she’d had before.

Praise the Lord!

THE FUNDAMENTALS.040318

Life is a lot like baseball.  In order to play you just need to understand a few rules, get down the fundamentals, and then practice.  How much you practice has a big bearing on how you get along.  A coach in Texas used to make his players follow the “Rule of 100″.  Every player had to throw 100, catch 100, hit 100 balls EVERY day.  Sounds like work. But he produced some great baseball players and some great teams.  Went to the State championship a lot of times.

Life in Jesus is like that.  To be a follower of Jesus you just need to learn the rules, get down the fundamentals and then practice. What are the fundamentals?  Talk to God, listen to God; trust God and obey Him. EVERY day.  Pretty simple, but not easy.  Takes practice.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.  The reward is that you develop a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe and He comes to live in your own private heart.  Life just can’t get any better than that.Like I said.  It’s like baseball.  When you get on a losing streak, what do all good coaches recommend?  Get back to the fundamentals.  When you stick with the fundamentals, it’ll turn your game and your life around. Thanks Tex

 

TRUSTING GOD FOR OTHERS.080416

JESUS HEALS PARALYTIC.080416The question for today is: Can a believer in Jesus trust God for the healing (inside or outside) of another person?  The answer (or at least one answer) is found in Mark 2:1-12, where it tells the story of four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed.  When they got to His house, they couldn’t even get in the door, so they went up on the roof, cut a hole, and lowered the guy down into the room, right beside Jesus.  Then verse 5 says, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ ”  When the Pharisees condemned Him for forgiving sins, denying His authority, He said, “I’ll prove that I have the authority to forgive sins.” He turned to the man and said, “Stand up, get your mat and go home.”  Miraculous healing.

Where did it come from?  Verse 5 begins with, “Seeing their faith . . .”  Whose faith? Must’ve been the four men.  They had enough faith to go to the trouble to bring the guy to Jesus.  Just regular guys talking about how this Jesus was going around healing people, and their friend had been paralyzed for a long time, and who knows?  What would it hurt?  So they packed him up and took him down there.  And when they got there the place was packed.  They couldn’t possibly get in.  But they didn’t give up.  They kept on pushing the envelope until they reached their goal, to get the guy in front of Jesus.  They didn’t know what would happen.  But it might be worth a try. It’s almost funny.  The passage never said a word about what the paralyzed guy thought about the whole thing.  He apparently never said a word.  All he did was follow instructions.  “He jumped up, grabbed his mat and took off.”

So what does this have to do with us?  Continue reading

CAN PEOPLE CHANGE? 072716

Jesus and the Woman taken in AdulteryIn John 8:3-9 is this story: “Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught[b] in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?” . . . He said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  . . . Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  . . . ” He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

So here’s my question: Can people change?  And if they can, how do they do it?  How do we stop following the traditions of men and start to follow Jesus?  It is not a choice between truth and love; it is finding the place of truth AND love.  (Sorta like Jesus did in this story.)  We can’t  seek a forever solution (we want one, but people just don’t have it in them).  We can only do what God tells us to do today.  I don’t have the right to cast the first stone.

In the traditions of the Jews the person who witnessed the wrongful act and testified against the wrongdoer had to be willing to cast the first stone when they stoned the person to death.  That’s a pretty hard task, when everyone is going to see.  You had to be sure of what you were accusing someone of; and sure that you weren’t just as guilty as that person, of that crime or some other.  It’s like they had to put their integrity where their mouth was.

We never get clean BEFORE  we turn from our sins, only after, we are converted (changed).  We are changed, we surrender and turn to God, THEN we are cleansed of our sins.  When we’re hooked on drugs or control or sexual sin or pride, no one can help us, ’cause we don’t think we need help. But when we’re injured, damaged and suffering, we suddenly become vulnerable and open to be comforted and changed.  Then we suddenly change from rocky to fertile soil; ready, even willing, to receive the Good Seed of God’s Word.  Praise the Lord!

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.

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

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.

HOW DO YOU WAIT? 060316

Farm cat enjoying the sun and waiting to greet visitors Isaiah 40:31 says, “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”  I call it the “Old People’s Prayer’.  A verse or two before it says, “even the young men will grow weary and fall, but those that wait on the Lord . . .” (the old people like me).

But the question for today is, “How do you wait?”

Most of us (often including me) wait anxiously.  We worry about things.  Even those of us who claim to trust God (sometimes we DO trust Him) we wait anxiously.  We wait with anxiety. That nagging doubt and fear.  We ‘sorta’ trust the God is gonna take care of us, but we’re still scrambling around looking for ways to take care of ourselves.  We forget Philippians 4:6-7, where it says, “Turn it over to God and get peace that passes understanding.”

At the very least, even if we KNOW God is taking care of us, and that somehow things will work out, we are still worrying about when.  We let the devil keep us agitated about all the stuff that’s hanging over our heads, bills we can’t pay on time, commitments we may not be able to keep; what people are going to think or say if we don’t do this or that exactly when we said we would.

Let me tell you the answer.  It’s in Ephesians 6:10-18: “Put on the whole armor of God, so when the devil attacks, you can stand.  SO STAND!!!” Every time the devil says, “You know, God isn’t going to take care of you this time; and even if He does, it won’t be in time, it won’t be enough.” You look him in the eye and say, “Oh yes He will!  He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could imagine by His power that works in us!” (Eph 3:20) And “He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you, so you can boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, whom shall I fear, what can man [or the devil] do to me!” (Heb 13:5-6)

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