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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

I love mornings. I usually sit outside and pray on my porch at sunrise. As the rays of morning sunlight begin to peek over the trees, they cast a golden sheen across the lawn that glistens across the lingering evening’s dew. As the morning sunlight starts pouring over the trees, it highlights the little gnats that are swarming around over the grass like a cloud of tiny pinpoints of light tumbling around in the beams of sunshine. There’s thousands of them over the whole property, but they can only be seen where the sunlight hits them and lights them up like sparkles against the dark contrast of the tress that are still hanging on to their early morning shadows.

It doesn’t take long before the dragonflies come. First one, then another, and soon the whole gang arrives for the feast, twisting, turning and dive bombing like tiny fighter planes in dogfights scooping up the little gnats, extinguishing the little sparkles one at a time.

This morning, however, the dragonflies had not shown up. There were gnats everywhere, but no dragonflies. I waited for the word to get out that the buffet was spread out and it was time to come and get it, but there was no response. So I prayed.

I was having one of the quiet, intimate prayer hours with the Lord. We were so close that our hearts were touching each other. I love prayer hours like that. It is not a time for contending in battle or laboring in agonizing prayer, but it is a time of quiet fellowship with your Heavenly Father. He’s right there, sitting next to you, listening to you pour out your heart in secret communion.

Since I was so close to Him at this moment, I thought I’d just ask for a little answer to prayer, “Lord, send the dragonflies.”  No big deal; just kinda for kicks, I thought it would be a neat thing to have Him answer such a small thing right while He was sitting there with me.

I waited. And waited some more.  No dragonflies.

“Lord, You there?”

Still none.  I went back to praying for a while, wondering if I did something stupid. Again.

After a while, lo and behold, what shows up but a single dragonfly. And then after 10 minutes, another one. By that time the morning mists were lifting and the day had begun. Soon they’d all be gone.

I wondered what the lesson was here. One was that, yes, God can and will answer even dumb requests like sending the dragonflies, but He doesn’t always answer right away. Sometimes the answer has to come through a process before you are ready for the answer. And sometimes it is you that needs to go through that process. He will send it when it is time. We have to wait.

But the other lesson I came away with was that God is sovereign. He is not at our command to jump through hoops and roll over for us when we call. He is God and we are at His command, not the other way around. There are rock solid promises in the Word of God, but every promise of God has conditions – nothing is free, and rarely cheap – but in the end, God is sovereign and will do as He pleases.

He did send two dragonflies, though. But he sent them in His own time, just to give me a lesson of faith and patience on a misty morning.

 

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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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“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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“He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”  John 9:7

What a moment!  What an incredible moment!

Here is this guy who had been blind all his life, and Jesus passes by and changes his entire life in one moment.

Now, why did this blind man let someone just come along out of nowhere, plaster spit and mud on his eyes, and tell him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam?  Jesus could have just been some “would-be wanna-be” who was promising all kinds of stuff that he would not be able to deliver on.  Hadn’t this guy had a tough enough time sitting on the side of road all his life begging for scraps to survive on without being mocked on top of it?  He might have just blown off this Jesus, but he didn’t.

He had hope.

Hope is something that reaches past all reason, past all common sense, past everything that the world would condemn us to, and grasps for that slender thread that says that there is something more to this life that what you see around you.  There has to be something more than this temporal existence that gives meaning to the essence of life.

You hope because you can feel it in your soul.

And then there’s that incredible moment when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior – you wash the spit and mud off your eyes and all of a sudden, you can see! You can see! This man didn’t just come back … he came back seeing!

All the colors!  All the things that were just sounds before!  People’s faces!  Rocks and trees!  Oh, and look at the sky!  He didn’t just come back – he came back seeing!

The neighbors stood looking in amazement.  Was this the same guy?  Some said yes, but others said, “I don’t know.  He looks like him, but he’s not the same beggar we used to know.  Something has changed about him!”

They didn’t get it, did they?  Nobody seemed to understand.  Even his parents were taken aback.  They were so afraid of getting kicked out of the church that they sidestepped the whole issue.

But he didn’t care.  He was saved!  He could see!  He was alive for the very first time!  Really alive!  If others didn’t understand, it was only because they hadn’t tried.

Those who should have known couldn’t see what he saw. They couldn’t feel what he felt, and since he didn’t go to church, then they figured it must not be of God.

Why, herein is a marvelous thing that they couldn’t figure it out with all their theological expertise, and yet he had been touched by the power of God.  But he didn’t have to figure it out – he could see! — And that’s all he needed to know.

If you have never experienced that incredible moment of Salvation, it may look strange to you.  It doesn’t follow any set formula that you know about, and you can’t see the invisible Spirit of God, but if you have hope, if you just have hope, then reach out anyway.

And when you do, you will touch the face of God, and you will see like you’ve never seen before.  The Spirit of Life will raise you up from death; it will open your eyes,

… and you will come seeing.

 

Brother Dale
dale@revivalfire.org 

 

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 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

Remember the woman of Canaan in Matthew 15 who cried to Jesus to heal her daughter?  She cried and cried unto him until the disciples begged Him to send her away.  His answer was that He was not sent to the Gentiles, and her desperate answer was that the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.  That got His attention, and He proclaimed how great her faith was.

Another story:  A brother I know, while traveling on an airplane, was subjected to one of the other passengers continually taking the Lord’s name in vain.  When he had finally had enough, he approached the man and said, “Praise the Lord!  I am so glad to hear that you’re saved!”  To which the puzzled man replied that he wasn’t a Christian at all.  The brother responded with, “Oh, but yes.  The Bible says that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  And you’ve been calling on His name this whole flight!”

It’s so easy to say that we’re a Christian and our spiritual life is covered.  Everything is going just fine.  We have some kind of a measure of faith in God, and, as long as we maintain that status quo, life is good.  We are saturated with messages of prosperity, peace, and good things to those who profess Jesus Christ.  But what happens when the sky blackens, the storms come, and your tranquil life is blown away?  How do you come to grips with the adversity that life sometimes hands us?  Does your faith still apply?  Did God just dump you?  What happened to all the messages you heard that told you that all you had to do was call, and He would answer with a snap of His fingers?

Life is good, but there comes a time when we are brought to the reality of the fact that we are still just flesh.  You cry out, but there’s no answer.  You cry out some more, but nothing but stillness.  Where’s God?  And why doesn’t He jump to our plight?  What’s going on?

As easy as it is to proclaim the goodness of God when all is well, we have a tendency to forget that this life is not reality, and that God is not something to store away in a box until Sunday. Sometimes prayer is easy.  But there are those times when you absolutely have to have an answer from God.  One fellow told me that if God answered our prayers right away, then we wouldn’t realize how much we need Him. We can send up token prayers and tell ourselves that we’ve done what the Bible says to do.  There is a depth of soul, however, that He wants to bring us into where our spirits are broken and our bones are dried out.  A place where we finally give up and surrender to Him.  It’s a place of desperate, broken prayer.

There is a point when a desperate heart will reach beyond everything seen, push through the crowd like the woman with the issue of blood, and grasp hold of the hem His garment for a miracle.  That’s the point that He was trying to get you to all along.

That’s when faith takes hold, and great and mighty moves of God are birthed.

 

Brother Dale
dale@revivalfire.org

 

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“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly …” (Jonah 2:1)

I imagine it was a bright sunny day – blue skies, birds singing, gentle breeze blowing in from the sea. It must have been a beautiful day. At least it was for Jonah. After three days of hell, he had finally been delivered out of the belly of that whale.  He might have been slimy and acid-eaten, but he was standing on dry ground … alive!  Yes, it must have been a beautiful day.

But this ordeal wasn’t about Jonah. The survival of 120,000 people was depending on this. I’m not sure if Jonah did not want God to deliver the Assyrians, or if he was just plain scared to walk into the midst of this fierce, merciless people and tell them they were going to hell. The point is, he didn’t want to go.

But God did.

Acts of mercy that we perform are generated, not from our own wells of charity, but from the heart of God. He just allows us to participate. And it is prayer that unlocks the door to that mercy.

It may be hard for us to believe that our little tiny prayers could move continents and drop mountains into the sea, but are we limiting God or ourselves?  James 5:16 says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Much – as in, a lot, because prayer unties the hands of God so that our works of faith become His works of action. True, there are conditions that God requires for effective prayer, but there are no limitations. If you can imagine it, God can do it.

Prayer is an act of mercy.  Mercy, even unintended, is still mercy. We may be praying for something entirely different – Jonah was certainly not praying for the Ninevites – but the effects of prayer, like the random twists and turns of a stream on its way to the sea, can often take circuitous routes to reach God’s intended purpose. We are just required to pray. And prayer moves God. And it may not be in the way you intended.

The works of faith can move mountains. They may not be the mountains you were concerned about, but sometimes God puts you into a situation where you have to pray your heart out, often for your own deliverance, just so He can work through your prayers to bring about unintended consequences and move in ways that you could not have imagined.

Including saving 120,000 people who you never intended to save.

 

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“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly …” (Jonah 2:1)

I imagine it was a bright sunny day – blue skies, birds singing, gentle breeze blowing in from the sea. It must have been a beautiful day. At least it was for Jonah.  He might have been slimy and acid-eaten, but at least it wasn’t raining because the whale had spit him out onto dry land. That whale had beached itself just so Jonah wouldn’t get his feet wet. Yeah, it must have been a beautiful day.

The survival of 120,000 people was depending on it. I’m not sure if Jonah actually knew that God would deliver the Assyrians and did not want them to be delivered or if he was just plain scared to death to walk into the midst of this fierce, merciless people and tell them they were going to hell. The point is, he didn’t want to go.

But God did.

Acts of mercy that we perform are generated, not from our own wells of charity, but from the heart of God. He just allows us to participate.

And most often it is prayer that unlocks the door to that mercy. We may be praying for something entirely different – Jonah was certainly not praying for the Ninevites – but the effects of prayer, like the random twists and turns that a stream takes on its way to the sea, can often take circuitous routes to reach God’s intended consequence. We are just required to pray. And prayer moves God.

We may scoff that our little tiny prayers could move continents and drop mountains into the sea, but are we limiting God or ourselves?  James 5:16 says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. While there are conditions for prayer to be effective, there are no limitations.

Everything in your Christian walk distills down into two things: reading and prayer. The Word of God gives us the power to pray, and prayer unties the hands of God to move in ways that we cannot imagine.

Including saving 120,000 people who you never intended to save.

 

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Brother Dale

 

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