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dead-tree

This morning, I looked out over my yard and considered the great big Weeping Willow out there.  It had suffered terribly from last summer. It reminded me of the 1st chapter in the Book of Joel.  What the drought didn’t wither, the grasshoppers had finished off. Whole limbs stood out from the ground up to 30 feet high that were just about dead, brown, and dry.  Here and there were a few new outcroppings of growth.  A few leaves here; a few leaves there.

I stood looking at the mass of dead branches, figuring out which limbs I was going to have to cut down, and which could be spared.  I’m told that you should cut major limbs only at certain times; otherwise you’ll hurt the whole tree.  But they’ve got to come down eventually. If they don’t, they will sap the tree of its strength and potency.  All that dead weight will keep the tree from the beauty and health of vibrant growth.

How much like the Lord with His church.  The dead branches are allowed to hang in there for a while in hopes that they will sprout some new life and bear fruit. However, if they do not come back to life, they’ve got to be cut down or they will sap the entire Body of its strength.

Souls are not drawn to dead churches any more than we are drawn to dead trees.  The husbandman would not be worthy of his hire if he allowed them to remain unpruned.  No matter how nice or how easy it would be to just leave them alone, the axe has to be laid to the root of the tree if it does not bear forth good fruit.  And where do they throw the dead branches?  Into the fire.

The Lord always raises up vinekeepers to work His garden, and they are responsible to make sure the vines produce good fruit.  Theirs is a thankless job – nobody enjoys being told that they are dead – but in the end, the plant will prosper and grow.  To not proclaim the call to righteousness and Holy Ghost conviction would make them derelict in their duty, and allow the tree to die.  There are those who are dying to see a Holy Ghost revival that will set the church on fire, and there are those who are content with the status quo and would rather be left alone with their comfortable churches.  We choose our own destiny.

Jesus told his disciples that they were ordained and chosen that they should go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit should remain (John 15:16).  In other words, the whole reason you got saved was to go and tell others the Truth so that they could have Life.

But there has to be an excitement alive in the church to produce new growth and vibrancy.  The church has to be on fire! You know you’re growing, not when you feel good at church, but when there is a constant flow of brand-new lost souls coming in to get saved. But if there’s no moving of the Spirit to bring in new souls to Life, then the sap is not flowing. And if the sap is not flowing through you, then you’re just a dead branch waving in the wind.  And a branch that doesn’t bring forth good fruit is…well…, it’s dead.

And you know what happens to dead branches.

Brother Dale,  dale@revivalfire.org

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“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.”

“Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander…” 1stTimothy 1:5-7,20

I don’t ever want be one of those guys that your pastor warns you about. They’re right there in church in the midst of everyone, and they think they are so right that they have to make sure everyone knows it. But they’re not. But they don’t know it.

Imagine being someone that like. You know that there is a separation between you and everyone else, especially the leadership of the church, and yet you excuse it away by thinking that it is because you are just a little bit better than them. After all, you know you’re right, but most people just don’t understand. After all, the Bible does say in Proverbs that they that seek the Lord understand all things. That must explain why others just don’t get it and you do. What a trap of delusion, and how easy it is to fall into!

What a surprise awaits them! All the way up to their last breath they think they are so right with God, and then in an instant, their reality crashes down on them. The sad thing is that their time of boasting is so fleeting, but their judgment is forever.

I don’t want to be one of those guys, so how do I make sure that I do not fall into that trap? I can only think of three things:

  1. Focus on others.
    One of the principles of revival that I preach is that the Gospel is not about you; it is about others. Throughout the Bible, the Lord directs our focus to others, others, others. I always say that if you don’t get this, you will never understand the Cross, because that is the central reason why He came, and He tells us to do the same. (Matt. 16:24)
    Forget about yourself and focus on others. It will dissolve your pride and arrogance like hot water on butter.
  2. You don’t always have to be right.
    Let others have their opinion and perspective. It’s okay. You don’t have to take on the role of the Lord High Executioner or the Holy and Exalted Fruit Inspector. For crying out loud, let it go! Relax. You don’t have to correct all the world’s mistakes.
  3. You aren’t always right.
    Yeah, this goes with #2. Maybe, just maybe, you ain’t always right. That ever occur to you? You might even learn something if you kept your mouth shut. Maybe you’d learn that not only you are not what you think you are, but that it doesn’t matter anyway. This is not a matter of who gets the highest score at the Judgment Bar, or of how much “stuff” you know. Let me tell you, nobody cares. Especially not God. So whom are you trying to impress?

And that is probably the heart of the issue. People like that have a weakness somewhere inside them that Satan has exploited and that they are trying to compensate for. What is it that they are trying to prove? Maybe they don’t really think they’re better; maybe they’re just afraid they’re not.

The heart of this issue, however, is not just about us not falling into that trap, but of us having mercy by praying for those who have. (See #1).

After all, that is the whole point, isn’t it?

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“And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.”  Isaiah 25:7

Jesus looking over world

Picture this for a moment.  World opinion has moved against Israel to the point that she has become a burdensome stone for the entire world.  The only hope that world leaders have for a lasting peace is to subjugate Israel and force her to bend to their decrees of submission.

Israel doesn’t want to do that.  They flat out refuse.  So the world press paints a picture of Israel as a rebellious, renegade nation that, in the eyes of the world, makes Israel look like such a serious threat to world peace that she must be forcibly crushed.

The armies of the world join to surround and destroy her.  Crowds cheer as they read that half of Jerusalem has been taken in ferocious fighting.  The Jews’ back is against the wall, the Death Knell has begun to ring, and victory is at hand.

And then, surprise, surprise!  Jesus Christ splits the skies and descends to fight for His people in a fury that the world has never known and will never forget.

Oops!

Now they know.  But how had they become so blinded?

According to the Scriptures, it is because they listened to their prophets.  They had been convinced that they were executing a righteous cause in the name of Peace.  They had chased all the old-fashioned preachers from the pulpits because they didn’t bring messages of peace and love, and the prophets that had called for the righteous indignation of the Lord were considered mean, divisive, and judgmental.

Didn’t those hellfire and brimstone preachers understand that the only way to peace was to accept all religions into an ecumenical World Religion?  Didn’t those hateful prophets understand that God was Love and all those divergent lifestyles were just a different way of approaching God?  Why were they preaching Hate?

Well, I guess the only real answer I can give is because it was the Truth.

Real prophets of God are not nice guys – they aren’t supposed to be.  And if my Bible is correct, they never appeared to be real high on whatever the religious order of the day was.  And some of them were pretty nasty about it.  But Preachers of courage divide between sin and righteousness, and will suffer persecution as a result of it.
(“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2Timothy 3:12)

Just in case you’re wondering which side God is on – He hates sin … and He hates the workers of iniquity (Psalms 5:5).  Pick your side … but choose wisely.

One only has to read the newspapers to see the march of radical individualism and humanism along with unrestrained Liberalism moving us into the free licentiousness of Sodom and Gomorrah. And it’s considered a godly and loving thing!  Boy, are we suckers.

But it’s all because we have chosen our own delusions, and we have allowed our prophets of peace and love to sell us a candy-coated gospel that seems so …um … nice.  This is the hour of temptation that will come to try the whole world.

It would be so easy to say that the way to see through this deception is to simply read and pray.  However, if that is not mixed with the fear of God, your understanding will be superficial at best.  Unfortunately, the fear of God is gradually being relegated to a four-lettered word and translated to the more acceptable “reverence” and “respect” instead of that “trembling” stuff or that “dread” that is written in the old King James.

But when that covering is cast away, we will see Him as He really is.

And then we will know.


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Trust in God is dependent upon your prayer life.

In today’s religious environment, we hear all about how we should trust God. Don’t worry about anything because God will take care of you. He loves you and will not let anything bad happen to you.  I’m sorry, but that is neither faith nor trust. That’s presumption.

Just because you say something or make some “prophetic” proclamation does not necessarily mean that it is true or will happen. But I often hear supposedly real Christians quote the passage in Romans 4:17, “…before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were”, and use it to claim that we can call things into creation or that just because we proclaim it, it has to happen.

Where did we get that from? That statement applies to God and God only. That does not give you power to “name it, and claim it”. Neither does it bequeath unto you power to make anything happen. To access power through the words you speak is sorcery, not faith.

1st Corinthians 4:20 tells us that the kingdom of God is NOT in word, but in power. Power in God – real power – does not come with the snap of your fingers. It is earned slowly the hard way. It comes from hours on your knees in deep, prevailing prayer. Your little “quiet time with Jesus” will not break through the holy of holies to pierce the heavens. Matthew 11:12 says that the violent take the kingdom of heaven by violence. Is that how you pray? Is your prayer room a place of battle, a contending before the Throne of God, and a place of violent spiritual warfare?

Crucifying your flesh through fasting and prayer breaks your fleshly desires and paves the way into the presence of God. The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. (Gal. 5:17)  We cannot get to a place of real power in God if we are still walking in uncrucified flesh. We have to break through ourselves first before we can see breakthroughs in our walk in God.

Everybody wants to be a prophet, but nobody wants to pay the price. They think it’s as easy as “speaking the word”.  Just click your heels together three times, hold a good thought, speak a word of prophesy, and BINGO! Just like that, we are in the Land of Oz!

We have lost the fear of God that should have kept us back from such foolish sin. Prophets of peace and prosperity abound because we love to hear fake prophesies about our prosperity and blessings, but real prophets of God who are called to bring us to repentance, (Jer. 23:22) are rejected as being too judgmental, hard, caustic, and legalistic. So we heap up to ourselves teachers that tell us what our itching ears want to hear (2Tim. 4:3). But God says that because we did not love the truth, He would turn us over to believe a lie (2Thess. 2:10-12)

To fully trust God, you must find your place in Him – that secret place of the Most High (Psalm 91:1) – and when you have touched the Throne of God, you know that you know that you know that you have solid confidence that your trust in God is not based on wishful thinking or presumptuous flesh, but upon your communion with God Himself.

You get your trust in Him when you touch the Throne of God,

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“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing:
but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.”  (Proverbs 25:2)

Everybody has those times when you just don’t know what to do.

It’s easy for someone to just tell us to simply seek the Lord for your answers, but oftentimes that means entering into a very misty arena where there are few clear-cut signposts to show you the way.

You want an answer?  Oh, well praise the Lord! Just pray!  Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?  But you and I both know it isn’t always that simple.

Sometimes the right answers are elusive and are found hiding behind shadowy rocks and nebulous shapes in a misty landscape.

“He does want me to do the right thing, doesn’t He?  Why doesn’t the Lord make things more obvious?  Can’t He just tell me what I’m supposed to do and leave it at that?  Wouldn’t that make things so much simpler?”

Well, yes and no.

Sometimes He just wants to see how much you really want that answer and how many obstacles you are willing to overcome to get it.  Remember now, it is not to those who try, but to those who overcome that will eat of the Tree of Life.  It really strikes at the heart of our willingness to carry the Cross.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting us to realize how much we need Him.  If everything were easy, there would be no reason to seek His face.  After a while, the price that was paid on the Cross wouldn’t seem as big of a deal anymore.  Why, we could just snap our fingers and God would spring into action!  God loves us, doesn’t He?

Everyone would like a Gospel without a Cross — that’s why there are so many Prosperity preachers out there – but there is no such Gospel.  We are thrust into a war where the combatants are invisible, our choice of paths are often dictated by desires instead of sight, and the ultimate ends for our souls can only be taken by faith.

To negotiate the way before us requires a determination to resist the obvious comforts that our flesh pulls us toward, and reach through to the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, fueled by the hope of righteousness above all things.

That’s tough sometimes.  And that’s why the Lord puts us through those dark valleys that we must go through.

No, I don’t like it either.  But you know what?  Above all things, I want to go to Heaven.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  (Matt. 7:13,14)

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“And his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. (Judges 6:11)

What makes the difference between a nominal Christian and an on-fire one? Are they both variations on the same theme or are they on two very different trajectories heading for two very different destinations?

A mountain stream splits when it encounters an obstacle that divides it. One part of the stream goes one way; the other goes the other way. They both will tumble down the mountain for miles, twisting and turning back and forth. They do not run in parallel, but each takes its own unique path as it heads to its final destination. Those destinations can be very different. One can end up in the Atlantic Ocean while the other tumbles down to the Pacific.

Our lives run in much the same way.  When we encounter that fork in the road or the boulder in the stream, we make a choice as to which road we will go down. What is it that determines that decision? Very simply, we choose the path that appeals to us the most.

What happens when that choice is between an easy-going Christian walk with all the amenities of the world or a walk of holiness and hardship in the fear of God? The worldly path is a wide path that offers comfort, prosperity, blessings, and all the good things we would like to pad our lives with. It’s easy, wealthy, and fun. We celebrate Jesus as if we were at a party with balloons and streamers. If that is what appeals to our hearts, then we will follow our hearts.

I can look down the easy path and see many Christians sitting on their pews every Sunday assuming that they are at rest with God. The reality is, however, that while their motors are idling they are stuck in neutral and are not going anywhere. They think this Pollyanna Gospel they adhere to will usher them in past the gates of Judgment while they sail off on the Good Ship Lollipop.

The other path leads to a rough and narrow path. There are no promises of some easy lark as we saunter down the road of Life. Conversely, there are plenty of promises of hardships, suffering, persecution, and a crucified walk that is designed to strip away all the trappings of the easy path. The joy here is not of the flesh or what we find in the world, but a joy that is found deep in the Spirit of God. The flesh here is called to pay a price, and sometimes a very heavy price.

I do not want to walk this entire journey of Life only to find out at the end that I came up just a little short of goal. Jesus said that many would come to him in that day expecting to be ushered into glory but would hear Him say, “I never knew you”. Can there be anything more horrible than that?

What is it that will make us want to choose the hard path over the easy one? What forges our desires for righteousness over apostasy?  2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12 tells us that God would cause those who did not have a love for the truth to believe a lie. He would damn them because they loved unrighteousness.  That’s pretty terse. How do I shear away from being someone who has lost his love for truth and righteousness?  There is no switch that I can turn on; no button to push; no mouse to click. How do I make sure I make the right choices? When I stand at that split in the stream, how do I make sure my heart will choose the beauty of holiness over the appeal of flesh?

Philippians 2:13 says that God will work in us to give us both the will and the power to do His pleasure. In other words, God will put the desire in our hearts to do His will and serve Him. Sounds simple, right? But there is one question: how do I get God to work in me?

Again, the answer is simple, as most things in God are.  If you want God in you, you have to read His Word. But the Word alone is not enough. It must be anointed by the Spirit of God to have life. Paul said the “letter” kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). You must have both, and you must have them in a sufficient depth to make enough of a difference to break up your stony heart and transform it into a soft and open heart that can receive the Spirit of God.

In Judges 6, we see that Gideon saw the apostasy and sin that the church had fallen into and he made a decision to separate himself from them. He threshed his wheat by the winepress in secret. Wheat stands for the Word of God, the Bread of Life. The winepress is the place of prayer. So Gideon did not warm the proverbial church pew like the others. He sought the face of God in that secret place of the Most High (Psalms 91:1) through reading and prayer.

Remember, you get what you pay for. How bad do you want God? That is reflected on how much you give yourself to seeking Him through His Word and serious, prevailing prayer. That is what gave Elijah the power to call down fire. That is what gave Paul the drive to push through the persecution to establish the Gospel with the Gentiles. That is what made the difference for Gideon and is why he was chosen by God to bring in a revival.

So in the final analysis, the choice is not whether you want to go to Heaven or not, or whether you want to be a strong Christian or not. It is the little choices you make everyday on whether or not you will read His Word and pray.  Everything in Christianity – everything – comes down to those two things – read and pray.

Brother Dale

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“And his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. (Judges 6:11)

What makes the difference between a nominal Christian and an on-fire one? Are they both variations on the same theme or are they on two very different trajectories heading for two very different destinations?

A mountain stream splits when it encounters an obstacle that divides it. One part of the stream goes one way; the other goes the other way. They both will tumble down the mountain for miles, twisting and turning back and forth. Thtwo streamsey do not run in parallel, but each takes its own unique path as it heads to its final destination. Those destinations can be very different. One can end up in the Atlantic Ocean while the other tumbles down to the Pacific.

Our lives run in much the same way.  When we encounter that fork in the road or the boulder in the stream, we make a choice as to which road we will go down. What is it that determines that decision? Very simply, we choose the path that appeals to us the most.

What happens when that choice is between an easy-going Christian walk with all the amenities of the world or a walk of holiness and hardship in the fear of God? The worldly path is a wide path that offers comfort, prosperity, blessings, and all the good things we would like to pad our lives with. It’s easy, wealthy, and fun. We celebrate Jesus as if we were at a party with balloons and streamers. If that is what appeals to our hearts, then we will follow our hearts.

I can look down the easy path and see many Christians sitting on their pews every Sunday assuming that they are at rest with God. The reality is, however, that while their motors are idling they are stuck in neutral and are not going anywhere. They think this Pollyanna Gospel they adhere to will usher them in past the gates of Judgment while they sail off on the Good Ship Lollipop.

The other path leads to a rough and narrow path. There are no promises of some easy lark as we saunter down the road of Life. Conversely, there are plenty of promises of hardships, suffering, persecution, and a crucified walk that is designed to strip away all the trappings of the easy path. The joy here is not of the flesh or what we find in the world, but a joy that is found deep in the Spirit of God. The flesh here is called to pay a price, and sometimes a very heavy price.

I do not want to walk this entire journey of Life only to find out at the end that I came up just a little short of goal. Jesus said that many would come to him in that day expecting to be ushered into glory but would hear Him say, “I never knew you”. Can there be anything more horrible than that?

What is it that will make us want to choose the hard path over the easy one? What forges our desires for righteousness over apostasy?  2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12 tells us that God would cause those who did not have a love for the truth to believe a lie. He would damn them because they loved unrighteousness.  That’s pretty terse. How do I shear away from being someone who has lost his love for truth and righteousness?  There is no switch that I can turn on; no button to push; no mouse to click. How do I make sure I make the right choices? When I stand at that split in the stream, how do I make sure my heart will choose the beauty of holiness over the appeal of flesh?

Philippians 2:13 says that God will work in us to give us both the will and the power to do His pleasure. In other words, God will put the desire in our hearts to do His will and serve Him. Sounds simple, right? But there is one question: how do I get God to work in me?

Again, the answer is simple, as most things in God are.  If you want God in you, you have to read His Word. But the Word alone is not enough. It must be anointed by the Spirit of God to have life. Paul said the “letter” kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). You must have both, and you must have them in a sufficient depth to make enough of a difference to break up your stony heart and transform it into a soft and open heart that can receive the Spirit of God.

In Judges 6, we see that Gideon saw the apostasy and sin that the church had fallen into and he made a decision to separate himself from them. He threshed his wheat by the winepress in secret. Wheat stands for the Word of God, the Bread of Life. The winepress is the place of prayer. So Gideon did not warm the proverbial church pew like the others. He sought the face of God in that secret place of the Most High (Psalms 91:1) through reading and prayer.

Remember, you get what you pay for. How bad do you want God? That is reflected on how much you give yourself to seeking Him through His Word and serious, prevailing prayer. That is what gave Elijah the power to call down fire. That is what gave Paul the drive to push through the persecution to establish the Gospel with the Gentiles. That is what made the difference for Gideon and is why he was chosen by God to bring in a revival.

So in the final analysis, the choice is not whether you want to go to Heaven or not, or whether you want to be a strong Christian or not. It is the little choices you make everyday on whether or not you will read His Word and pray.  Everything in Christianity – everything – comes down to those two things – read and pray.

Brother Dale

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