Archive for March, 2015

Almost Persuaded

“Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian…”  Acts 26:28

I am always struck by King Agrippa’s silence as he sat intently listening to Paul’s defense in a Roman court.  Even when the Roman governor burst out that Paul must be crazy to believe in the rising from the dead, he remained silent, intent, listening.

King Agrippa knew.  He knew the prophets had foretold of the Messiah and that it had been noised abroad that this Jesus had fulfilled all those prophesies.  He knew of the stories of all the miracles that had been done, and how multitudes had been electrified at the preaching of Jesus Christ.  Lives had been changed, the diseased had been healed, and even the dead had been raised. These things were not done in a corner.

He also knew of the corruption and greed of the Sanhedrin that had incited the crucifixion of this man.  But then, that was fulfillment of prophecy also, wasn’t it?  And then there were those reports of Jesus Christ rising from the dead and ascending into the heavens.

So he listened silently and intently as Paul unfolded the Gospel.  He knew Paul was not a mad man.  He was too lucid, too bold, too sure of himself. There was something to this Gospel message that laid a finger on him and touched his soul.  He was almost persuaded.

What held him back?  Agrippa was no fool.  He knew that if he accepted the Gospel, he would have to surrender everything he had.  No more palace, riches, pomp and splendor.  He would have to make a decision between the glories of this world and the cross of Jesus Christ.  He was almost persuaded, but not willing to give it all up for the Truth.

Agrippa may be in Hell right now as you read this article, but he understood one thing that many who claim to be Christians today have not.  He knew that there was a price that had to be paid to follow Jesus Christ.

Many today have turned the Gospel message around to just the opposite.  We hear that Salvation is a way to receive blessings and glory, success and prosperity.  We are encouraged to become a Christian because it is a good deal.  God loves us and wants us to prosper and be rich.

God has a message for those of us who have become like the Laodiceans in chapter 3 of the Book of Revelations.  We know the Truth, but have become content in the fullness of our sufficiency.  We are rich and have need of nothing.  Our hearts are neither cut, nor on fire.  We’re not affected  by Holy Ghost conviction, and therefore not given to a brokenhearted repentance, a crucified walk in Christ, or to  partaking in the sufferings of the Body of Christ.  We have settled into a lukewarm porridge.  Not too cold; not to hot – just right.

That may be all right for Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but it’s not all right with God.  He would rather you were either hot or cold.  If you are lukewarm, you’ll burn in Hell.  Christian or no Christian, there is no middle of the road; no comfortable place in-between, no compromise with the things of this world.  God calls you to burn with a passion from the fire that comes off the Altar of God.

King Agrippa knew this, and he made his choice.  You will have to make yours also.

Are you almost persuaded?  Do you know the Truth but have convinced yourself that it is OK to be a Laodicean Christian?  Like Agrippa, is the price too high to pay for you to give up everything?  Have you figured that somehow you will escape judgment simply because you have heard the Gospel?  Have you yielded to the conviction of the Truth, or have the desires of your fleshly heart forged your path in life?

The path to the Kingdom of Heaven is narrow and hard, and few there be that find it.  Don’t allow yourself to go along with the crowds who have settled for that wide, easy path.  It leads to destruction.  Don’t be almost persuaded.

Brother Dale, dale@revivalfire.org

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Everybody I know is going to Heaven.  (Let me think for a minute … yep, everybody).  From the Alpha+ personalities that charge ahead in their own self-righteousness to the casual believers who relax in their own languid reassurance that all is cool with the “Man Upstairs”.  The only folks I know who say they’re not going to Heaven are the ones who don’t believe in Heaven anyway!  Well, I guess that just makes everything convenient then. We can all relax and be raptured.

But somewhere there is a line.

If everybody is right, then nobody is wrong; and if everybody else is wrong, what makes you think you are right? Peter said that he knew and was sure that Jesus was the Christ. That’s all fine, but it’s not God who I am wondering about — I trust God.  It’s me I don’t trust.

A guy named Howard Pitman had an experience years ago when he died in an ambulance and went up before God. God showed him the Day of Judgment where he saw billions of people going up before God to be judged.  Multitudes were shot down into Hell like showers of sparks.  Some souls went up to Heaven, but nowhere near as many as those who went to Hell.  But every once in a while there would be one who would come up before God and there would be a pause … and then they would be shot down into Hell. He said that when he asked who they were, God replied that those were the self-righteous  who thought they were supposed to go to Heaven and stood there justifying themselves to God.

It’s been years since I listened to that vision, but that one scene has never left me. It lines up with the admonition Jesus gave us of the broad and narrow paths. (“Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name and in your name done many wonderful works?”)  While we may all have our own perspective of what is required to get to Heaven, only one perspective matters – and that would His.

Let us be careful that we don’t make ourselves to be so squeaky clean that we become Pharisees, or to become so “spiritual” that we think that going out and looking at the trees is a religious experience with God.  Some will echo the old assertion of “I don’t smoke, and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with them that do”, all the while completely stagnant in their lack of mercy for others.  Others will float around in their spiritual effervescence, dispensing “feel good” prophesies laced with sweetness and sugar plums so that everyone will know they are “loved” but leave them clueless as to the holiness that God demands.

There is a walk in the Spirit that found in neither of these extremes nor anywhere in between them.  It is a completely different path, a different perspective, with an entirely different goal.  It is a place of surrender before God where you no longer matter.  It is being as porous as an open window so that the Spirit of God can pass through you to shower the true mercy of God on others.

You will never gain that place in God through your own efforts or spirituality – only through surrender.

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Wisdom of Men

Lately, I’ve been breaking my own rules.

I’ve always said, “Stick to the basics.  You can’t go wrong with the basics.”  It seems God has a tendency to simplify things, while man always tries to complicate everything.  God urges us to trust completely in Him and rest in Faith, while we set off to build a tower of Babel.

We want everything explained and figured out.  I guess that makes us feel a bit more secure in our own knowledge and wisdom, and yet, the wisdom that God admonishes us to have is to simply fear God and keep His commandments.  Unfortunately, that’s too simple for most of us.

The struggle is best seen in the doctrinal disputes over the timing of the Rapture, Eternal Security, the King James vs. the NIV, and even the very existence of the Trinity.  We even want to know if God is a He or a She, or if David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers – and the quest for the Knowledge of Good and Evil goes on and on and on.

Is it any wonder that Jesus spoke in parables to confound the wise?

Few Christians question their core beliefs.  Most believe what they have been taught to believe.  Ask anyone why they believe in the Oneness doctrine, and they will most likely mumble some passage that someone told them.  Question someone’s belief in Eternal Security and they will relate a metaphor they’ve been taught about giving gifts.  Challenge someone’s belief in pre-tribulation rapture and they will point to some book or a set of novels they have read.

Is that the point?  Do we just believe what we’re told because it sounds good?  Or do we go to the other extreme and become completely wrapped up in complicated analyzations to prove our presupposed beliefs?

I believe that sound doctrine is the bricks by which we build our house of safety to protect us from the winds of Satan.  Each brick is important and needs to be straight, but it is only one brick in the wall.  If enough bricks are out of place, the wall will collapse and Satan will blow the house down.  Doctrine is important and demands our attention, but is that the main focus of our Salvation?

One of these modern theories has caught my attention lately, and I made the effort to research all the points made by each side of the argument.  (I know, I know, I should be immune to this already, but hey, I was curious!)  After pouring over reams of intelligent suppositions, arguments, counter-arguments, and the ramblings of theological gymnastics, one point became very clear to me – mankind is really stupid!

No matter how sophisticated we may be, let us never lose sight of the fact that God made us out of dirt – and that includes our brains.   Paul was as educated as anyone, and he said he knew nothing but Christ Jesus, and Him crucified.  He came “not with the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power so that your faith would not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

The Bible tells us that the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.  Instead of wresting the scriptures to suit what we want to believe, or swallowing whole what somebody else tells us because it sounds good, why not give it to God and let Him reveal His Truth to us in His time?  That’s the difference between Faith and Presumption.

I can just picture the Lord sitting up there watching all this scrambling around and shaking His head in disbelief.

Want to know what God’s opinion is?

“He that winneth souls is wise.”

Brother Dale, dale@revivalfire.org

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Vain Jangling

“… Charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.   Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.“ 1st Timothy 1

I heard an interesting story the other day about a man who had considered himself a pretty good Christian.  He was at church whenever they opened the doors, was active in all the church functions, and led what he considered a pretty good Christian life for years and years.

He got very sick and died in the hospital one day, and his son tells how the monitors went flat-line for 20 minutes and how he watched as his father’s skin color turned blue.  He was dead.

But as they wheeled the body out on a gurney into the elevator, all of a sudden the color came back into his skin and the man awoke.  The first thing that he told his son was, “What a fool I have been all my life!”

He experienced something very few of us get a chance to see.  He saw himself die and carried up to meet the Lord.  As the angel that carried him up approached the Door, permission was granted to enter in – permission that is only granted to those who are washed in the Blood and are obedient to God’s Word.

He found himself there with very little to show for all the years that he had been a Christian.  In all that time, he had only won 5 souls to the Lord, and now that he understood the only true reality of Life, he was so ashamed of himself that he begged for a chance to go back.

Needless to say, in the next 5 years remaining to his life, he was a fireball of a soul winner.

When it is all said and done, will it really matter what theological wisdom or knowledge you have?  Does it really matter how many degrees you have, or what religious position you have?  Does anyone care beside you?

I read weekly spoutings of vain jangling by supposed enlightened teachers of the law from throughout the Christian world.  We are bombarded with articles, books, and videos to invent new perspectives, new doctrines, and new ideas about the Gospel. We spend so much time developing new programs to edify the Church that we have become too busy to reach the lost. The Bible says that Jesus Christ came to earth to save sinners.  Not satisfied with that, however, the wise and intelligent have decided to improve on it.  But as the Bible says, “Knowledge puffeth up; charity edifieth”. Professing ourselves to be wise, we have become fools.

And all the while, lost souls are dropping off into Eternity without Christ.

Paul’s admonishment to Timothy stands just as valid today as it did then.  When you cross over into Eternity and stand to face the Judge of all the earth, will you bring your theological credentials with you to justify your faith?  Will all your great ideas gain “brownie points” with God?  Or will you point to the souls that you have won and bear witness to the testimony of the power of God in your life that you presented to a lost and dying world?

The litmus test in Christianity is the winning of lost souls.  It is your whole purpose and commission as a Christian.  You take nothing else with you when you die.

You may not get the same chance as that man who died to see the stark reality of what is really important, but it is all written clearly in God’s Word.

But then, just as Jesus said in a parable, if you won’t believe that, you wouldn’t believe it if someone came back from the dead to tell you.

Brother Dale

Website: www.RevivalFire.org

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I have a friend that I love hanging around. His main desire in life is to serve the Lord. He doesn’t care if he is rich or poor — he just wants to seek the face of the Lord.

Now, when you have that kind of desire, you’re always faced with the shortcomings of your flesh that keeps you from getting to that place in God that you’re striving for. That’s just the way it is. The Apostle Paul referred to it as struggling with his “vile flesh” that was always trying to hold him back. You want to get to a consecrated walk with God and be totally in the Spirit, but your flesh, of course, has other ideas. It’s a struggle that never ends.

This friend of mine was praying the other day and out of frustration with himself and his constant shortcomings, he asked God, “Why don’t you just break me?”

The Lord answered him on the spot, “Because you don’t trust Me enough.”

Whoa. That’s a mouthful! But in that answer lies the essence of the Cross.

Now, my first thought would have been, “Lord, I’m not 100% sure I want to trust you that much.” But I also know that if I ever want to be anything in God, I have to be willing to let Him take me through those valleys to break me and empty me out so that He can fashion me into a vessel that is “meet for the Master’s use”.

All the ego and pride and all the desires for self and what we want in life has to go. In it’s place there has to be a willingness to humble ourselves in total surrender. Until we are emptied out and broken, God can’t use us in any great and mighty way. How could He? Our egos would be trying to share the glory with God.

But in order to allow God to break you, you have to trust Him, and in order to trust Him that much, you have to know that you are right with Him. There are those who will tell you that your faith and trust are based upon the Blood of Jesus and faith in God – and they are correct and that all sounds so very good and “spiritual”, but the truth is that peace will never come as long as there is sin in your life. You are in a covenant relationship with Him. That means that you have made a deal with God that you will keep His commandments just as He has promised to keep His promisies to you. Only when you have the kind of deep solid confidence that comes from knowing you are right with God will you be able to completely surrender and allow Him to be in total control of your life so that, no matter what happens, you will be willing to go through whatever comes your way for the glory of God.

That can be tough sometimes. Are you sick and afflicted? Are you broke and oppressed? Does everyone else seem to be cruising along in Life while you’re trudging along in the mud? Has Life dealt you a crummy hand and you seem to have ended up with the fuzzy end of the lollipop?

Do you trust God?

The Prosperity Prophets out there tell us that God is supposed to pour out blessings on us no matter what, but this isn’t about us – this is about others. We are called to the Cross, not the Crown, and that crucified walk in God to give up the things that we want in life takes a brokenness in your spirit that doesn’t come easy. It takes a deep, surrendered trust in God to be able to allow Him to take us there – a trust so deep that, as Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”.

God has a Plan, and if you want to be part of it, you have to yield and let Him take control of your life. It’s only when we surrender to it and trust Him completely that we will find that place of perfect peace that passes all understanding.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6,7

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