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Posts Tagged ‘crucified’

I’ve been delivering a lot of new messages lately. All variations of my standard set, but with new twists added and from completely different perspectives. It’s been great, with lots of new stuff that I had never thought of before. I’ve been just as excited as the folks who were listening to me.

I should tell you that, after close to 1,000 revival services across Africa, I have developed a series of messages about revival. The basic structure of the overall message is always the same: four steps and six principles. Mix ‘em up, put ‘em together, and spit ‘em out. Sounds dumb, doesn’t it, like I have no imagination or any fresh word to say, but just before every service, the Lord gives me the direction He wants me to go in, and I pick a message and go. Most of the time, I have no idea where it will lead, but after about five minutes into the message, I can feel Him take over and away we go.

I was taught not to prepare my messages. Open your mouth and let God fill it, is what the Bible says. Whenever you prepare the message, then that is your message. Let God take over and deliver the message because only He knows what they need to hear. You have to get wet with the Holy Ghost if you want to swim with God. He can’t speak through your mouth if you’re still talking. Works for me.

During one service in Nigeria, I was so sick I didn’t know where I was or what I had already told these people. I could barely stand up, never mind deliver a message. I had no idea what I was going to say, but just before I was called to stand up, the Lord spoke to me plainly, “Do you trust Me?” I thought, yeah, I trust you. It’s me I don’t trust. Nevertheless, something inside me prompted me to answer, “I trust you Lord. You lead, and I’ll follow.”

There it is. The secret to being led by the Spirit.  Let go of the steering wheel and let Him drive. You may not know where you’re going or when you will get there, but you will arrive on time at the right place.  Sounds like when God called Abraham to go into Canaan. I can imagine his brother being incredulous at what he was hearing.

“What? You’re leaving? We just got here! Everything is finally going well, and you’re taking off? Oh, and God told you to go. Right. And where did He tell you’re going? Oh, He didn’t tell you? But you’re going anyway?”

Hmmmm. Seems that’s always the way. It must have something to do with trust. If you want to do great things in God, you have to let Him do it. He can only work with a soul that has surrendered. A broken spirit and a contrite heart; isn’t that what Scriptures says that He loves?

Frank Bartleman, the man who chronicled the Azusa St. Revival, wrote that God once told him what great things He could do with someone who was small in their own sight. And I might add to that, someone who no longer cares about recognition and is broken to their own glory. With someone like that, God can move in supernatural ways and not have to worry about that person being destroyed by pride. It is, after all, God’s glory that will draw men, not ours.

Can we trust God to use us if we let Him? Are we able to let go of the things we so desperately hang on to, that we are afraid to let go? If we are truly broken to His will, it no longer matters, and when we release ourselves into His hands, then He can use us to do great and mighty things that we know not.

But first we have to trust Him.

As I have said, if you never step off the edge of the cliff, you will never learn how to fly.

Brother Dale
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I love to sit on my porch in the mornings as the sun is coming up and watch the dragonflies bob and weave across the lawn, snatching up gnats like winged Pacman’s. The sun’s rays cut across the morning’s chill and catch their weaving flights like illuminated spots of light. They never seem to run out of gnats to pick up; the swarms are renewed every morning. By noon, however, they are all gone, disappearing under the heavy blanket of Texas heat as the sun asserts its dominance on the day.

In some ways, that reminds me somewhat of the Church. How many times has the exciting times that comes with the emergence of the Son in a time of spiritual refreshing slowly settle into the lethargy that comes with the afternoon’s heat. Like a heavy blanket pressing us into drowsiness, time has a way of reducing us into spiritual slumber.

As our fervor begins to wane, our prayer life becomes conversational and formal whereas it was once full of passion and fire. Services go from fiery calls for repentance and the fear of God to intellectual messages on theology and how we should live our mediocre lives. Altars for repentance, which used to be called “the Mourner’s Bench”, now have become havens for “pity lines” for the sins we never seem to overcome. We are encouraged to be nice to one another by “feel good” ministries whose reputations are bolstered by their best selling book rather than their prophetic effectiveness to call the people of God to repentance. (Jer. 23: 22)

“And my people love to have it so …” (Jer. 5:31)

Jeremiah makes the point that false prophets of peace and safety flourish in times like these. Prosperity is the ensign that our leaders wave in their pursuit of wealth so that they can show how God has “blessed” them (1 Tim. 6:5). We love the comfort of settling into a soft gospel that lulls us to sleep like the heat of a Texas afternoon. We are satisfied; we are comfortable; and we feel blessed.

Several years ago, I pleaded with God for the people in the American church. As I was wrestling in prayer, I cried out, “But God, they are really nice people!” There was that ominous pause, like what you feel before a storm breaks, and then the Lord answered me directly in words, “I will spue the lukewarm out of my mouth … and you think they’re nice?”

We are in desperate need of revival. The problem is that as the Church slides deeper into apostasy, they are less and less able to see it in themselves. There has to come a spiritual earthquake to wake them up. The deeper we fall asleep, the more we need a revival, the greater the calamity that is needed to awaken us.

“Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season:” (Jer. 5:24)

No revival comes without repentance. The harvest will not come without the former and latter rain (Joel 2:23), and they won’t come without our prayer life being gripped with the fear of the Lord to crack our knees in abject, heartfelt repentance. The kind that moves mountains.

Jonathan in 1 Sam. 14 had his earthquake after all Israel had fled because he climbed the mountain that was before him on his knees to engage the enemy and fight. We need to take on his same faith and tenacity to fight for the people of God and climb that mountain which is before us. If we won’t fight for this, who will?

It’s another hot, sultry dog day afternoon in Texas. The temperature is hitting 105 degrees and the heat smothers you. Tomorrow morning the air will be fresh and cool again and the dragonflies will be back, zooming around like dive bombers playing in the rays of morning sun, but then by noon, that oppressive heat will be back again, draining the life out of the rest of the day.

Lord, we need it to rain.

Brother Dale

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Since so many people have responded favorably about these Nigerian chapters, here’s one more – 


I haven’t been sending much out in the way of reports on this trip to Nigeria because it’s as if I have been in a cloud.  I feel like I am walking under some kind of spiritual oppression and I just can’t seem to get a grip on what to tell folks back home.

The first two weeks here have been good. My messages were breaking ground with a lot of pastors because they remember that 40 years ago when the old powerhouses were here preaching and revival was burning, this very same message that I am preaching was alive in the churches here. As one pastor put it, they used to be so desperate to win souls that they would go out into the streets to take the Gospel to the lost, but now they have retreated back into their churches, waiting for the sinners to come to them instead.  Something died in the Church when that happened, and they want it back.

My core message is that the Gospel is not about you, but is about others, and this resonates loudly with many of these pastors.  They get it.  But there are some who do not. The prevalent message of blessings, prosperity, and a more abundant life in Jesus always has more appeal than a message of blood, sacrifice and death.

Most of the people out in the congregations get it also, but sometimes it is only for the moment. Put one of these prosperity preachers up behind me that will proclaim showers of blessings and that this is your day of victory and deliverance, and the people jump to their feet cheering, forgetting everything that I just told them. Like any good con artists, these charlatans know exactly which buttons to push to get people on their feet. I watched in aghast after one of my messages when, as the bishop was dismissing the crowd, gave one more prosperity call to give him money – the obvious promise, of course, being that if you want God to bless you, you have to bless the bishop.  He stood there with his hand out taking money like a man selling raffle tickets.  At least with raffle tickets you stand a chance of winning something.

After so many years of being fed this American version of the Prosperity Gospel, it is going to take patience to turn this ship around. Many have itching ears and are more willing to heap to themselves teachers that will tell them what their ears itch to hear than to offer their lives as a holy sacrifice.

But not everybody.  Many have come back to me to tell me that the message has transformed their outlook and that they will take the message and carry the torch to others.  God will raise up those whom He will use to change the world. There may not be many. Jesus only had eleven men to entrust the entire world to and look what they did.

All we can do is cast our bread upon the waters and let God do what only He can do.

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The call to bring revival to a nation is not something that can be accomplished through any strength or wisdom that we possess in ourselves. No matter how badly you want to plunge into the fray and proclaim liberty in the land, the power to bring the presence and power of God that will ignite the Church is not something that can be flippantly learned in Seminary or produced with any carnally designed program. Only God can do that, and only in complete surrender are we able to lend ourselves as crucified vessels that He can work through.  Frank Bartleman, in recounting an encounter he had with the Lord, wrote that the Lord told him after he had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, “If you were only small enough, I could do anything with you.”

Ah, here’s lies the crux, almost a Catch-22 if you would.  How does one maintain, or better put, achieve that place of true humility so that God can use you to do His mighty works?  On the one hand, we strive to get to that place of righteousness to have power in God while at the same time, try to be stay in that broken, crucified walk in God so we can be yielded to His power.  How does one strike that perfect balance?  Sounds simple … or is it?

David had it; Saul did not.  Perhaps that was because, for Saul, it was always about Saul. When he was little in his own eyes, he was found hiding amongst the stuff, but a couple years later, he was such a big shot that he didn’t think he had to wait on God’s prophet.  For David, on the other hand, it was never about David; it was always about God. Because of that, he was able to take on Goliath as a kid, and later as an adult with just a couple other guys, the entire Philistine army.  (2Samuel 23:9)

Any man of God who has had the power of God work through him will immediately be attacked by the enemy. Whether it is miracle healings, dynamic preaching, or supernatural revelation, no sooner does one experience the touch of God’s hand than that little wisp will pass through the back of his mind that, yes it was God’s power, but … ahem … He did choose to use you!  Satan will lightly sneak those thoughts in as subtly as he can. Obviously, if you think about it hard enough, you will recognize the devil’s handiwork, so he keeps as light a touch as he can … and then another … and then another, merging them ever so slightly into the several streams of your thoughts until he can find an anchor somewhere in your heart to attach his lines of vanity and plant his seeds of pride.

The challenge that faces a man of God who desires to be used in a supernatural way, therefore, lies in how to be “meet for the Master’s use” (2 Timothy 2:21) and yet keep his ego and self completely invisible.  God does not bestow His power on just anybody.  He may work through anybody, but He is careful to whom He entrusts His power. We must be careful that our desire to be used by God is not rooted in our own self-image or desire for position in God, but entirely upon the promotion of the kingdom of God.  As I Corinthians 13 tells us, you can all the faith to move mountains, but if you do not have charity, it is worth nothing.

Easily said; not so easily achieved.  Any fool can spout off religious platitudes that boast of unearned righteousness and spirituality, but it is an entirely different matter to fight your way through the spiritual swamp of fleshly ego and pride that you have to negotiate through to arrive at that place where God can use you.

I often hear young Christians naively spout off that they have been called to be a prophet. My first response is to tell them to pray and beg God to change His mind and please choose someone else because you will die a thousand deaths before you enter into that calling.

Ego, pride, and self-awareness must be burned out of you before you are ready to enter into that place of real power.  God will give it to you in pieces – just enough to lift you up so He can break you down again.  Line upon line, one step at a time, until you gradually become empty of self.  Jacob had his Laban, Joseph his prison, and Moses his desert, and you will have your desert place of cauterizing fire to take the “you” out of you so God can fill you up with Himself.  His goal is not to change you, but to kill you.  You are to be purified into transparent glass so that when people look at you, it is not you that they see, but the fire of God that is in you.

And so with the power that works through you, there is a deep innate understanding that it is not you but God who is working through you to do these miracles. You are nothing but dust and ashes; you don’t even own the breath in your body. You are dead in Christ, crucified to the world, numb to pride and arrogance. Any place that Satan could have gotten hold of has been broken away. You have finally surrendered to God.

When you are no longer mindful about yourself or your spiritual place in God – when you just simply do not care anymore – then you are finally “meet for the Master’s use” and ready to wield the power of God so that He, and He alone, will get the glory.

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
(2 Timothy 2:20-21)

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“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” (1Ki 17:8-9)

I wonder what Elijah was going through during those 3½ years of famine.

We don’t know where he came from. He was a “Tishbite”. Is that from the country of Tish? Where is that? Right next to Oz?  Did he have a wife, a family, friends? Did he work at a regular job and all of a sudden was called to prophesy to King Ahab? Who was he really?

All we know is that this old man who is nobody coming from a place that nobody knows has the holy boldness to deliver an ultimatum to a very wicked king and command the powers of Heaven to stop the rain. Pretty impressive.

And then he runs away …

This had to be a difficult time for him. He spends the next three and a half years in some foreign city with some widow woman and her son whom he hardly knows, scraping by with a residue of meal and oil that won’t quit.  Was there any word from God? Any sign of what was going to happen next? Did Elijah have any idea of what the plan was?

I don’t think so. I don’t think it mattered because this man walked in the depths of the fear of the Lord as evidenced by his pronouncement, “the Lord, before whom I stand”. To know completely in the very core of your soul that God Almighty, the One Who created eternity, is standing right behind you constitutes a piercing of the veil of this reality that only comes from a very crucified walk in God, drenched in the chilling fear of God. That is where Elijah got his power from.

Three and a half years waiting. Something has to be planted deep in your soul that God is not done with you yet. There may be no indication of what is coming, or even if anything is coming at all. You may feel like you are drifting on an endless sea with no sense of direction and wonder if He has forgotten you. He brought you to this place, but is He leaving with someone else?

But there are those landmarks in your life that God warns us not to move. They are those experiences you have had with God that anchors the hope in our hearts that He is still there. He knows exactly where you are and what you are going through, and when the proper time has come, He will move you into position to fulfill that calling He planned for you so very long ago.

Did Elijah know? I don’t think he had any idea he was about to bring about one of the greatest miracles in the Bible, but I believe he knew he was about to step into something. Did he realize the intensity of the coming battle to declare victory over the enemy and restore Israel back to God? I don’t know, but if he was surprised, he sure didn’t show it. He was too immersed in the power of God.

We all face times like that. There are times when we wonder where God went. Did I do something wrong? Did He forget me? Is He more interested in someone else and has left me for another? What do I do now?

You wait. He has given you a season to wait, to partake of the portion of the Word of God and prayer, the meal and the oil, and be ready for when He calls. He always does. He has not forgotten you, nor will He ever.

He is just getting you ready for the next victory.

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“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us …”  (Eph. 3:20)

I went to go pray over a friend of mine who was in serious condition in the hospital. We had prayed for him a couple months ago when he was slipping over the edge into death, and the Lord answered mightily. I was on the phone with his wife as we were praying, and about 15 minutes into it, we both experienced the power of God come down in a finality that established the victory like slamming a standard into the middle of a battleground. It was done! God had answered!

Needless to say, the next morning, instead of dying as everyone expected, he immediately took a major turn toward life. Prayer had literally pulled him back from the dead.

Three months later, however, he was still in the hospital. It was up and down, back and forth. This week he is chipper and doing well; next week he is faltering. We had prayed him back from the dead, but now it was time to bring him back to life, real life.

I have seen just about every miracle healing I can think of from  blind, crippled, paralyzed, barren, broken bones, even one man who was virtually dead, but I still have no idea how it works. Or why.  I have listened to all the theological experts (who, by the way, rarely have done this themselves) explain how the whole process works, but I am still clueless. I can only step into the situation, lay hands and pray, and wait for God to do something miraculous.

And He does. Many times, an entire line of people who have come forward will get healed – every last one of them! But there are those times when you pray your guts out, and nothing happens. Burned into my memory is the picture of me in Africa holding a child that was brought to me with malaria. I prayed harder that morning than I had ever prayed, but, on the way to the hospital that afternoon, the baby died. You can’t question these things; you just keep going and keep doing. God is in charge.

In spite of all that I have seen, I am still intimidated and a little scared when I am asked to pray over someone. I don’t know how it works, I don’t always feel something when it does, and who am I anyway to drive my way into the Throne Room of God to demand this thing? This past weekend, however, the Lord was pressing me hard. Go and pray. Exercise your authority that I have placed upon you. Have the guts to believe Me and establish the promises that are planted in the Word of God.

Yikes! This has now taken a very different tack. This is no longer a mission of choice – this is a campaign of battle to establish the will of God. This is now a commission, not a request. The honor of God is on the table. He said it; we have done it; it is finished. Go!

And then the above scripture came to me. “Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…” I get that part. God is sovereign. Everybody knows that. What has that got to do with prayer?

Ah, the “rest of the story”, so to speak, is in the other part of the verse, “according to the power that worketh in us …”

All of a sudden, this is not a work of chance or wishful thinking. It is not about tossing out some anemic prayer requests and hope that it works. And if it doesn’t, oh well, it must not have been the will of God. No excuses, no backdoor exit, no nebulous theologies. NO MORE EXCUSES!

What did God say? Then have the courage to believe Him! As a friend once told me, “Act like you believe the Bible.” That’s it. It’s as simple as that. Just step off the edge of the cliff and let God catch you.

The catch in this, however, is predicated on that one little turn of a phrase, “the power that worketh in us.” This is not a free-for-all; there is a price to pay for the kind of power that God requires. This is not a matter of “works”; this is a matter of power. And we are required to do what it takes to get that power in God so that we can, in turn, exercise it so the world can see how great God is.

I have said before that your place in God is determined by your depth of prayer. The oil for your lamps is gotten on your knees before God in deep, broken subjection. The deeper your prayer, the deeper you go into His bleeding side. That “secret place in God” that David speaks about in Psalm 91 can only be found in a place that is nailed to the Cross.

The troubles and pain in the valleys, the sufferings of the Cross, the crucified walks, the brokenness and surrender all lead to a place in God that cannot be found in the mountaintop experiences and pleasant times that we celebrate in church. This is the price we pay for that deeper walk in God. Pain and sorrow open wounds that take us into a depth in God that laughter never will. It also brings us into a walk of righteousness because the closer we get to God, the more we approach His holiness and are finally able to understand the fear of the Lord. Righteousness establishes the promises of God, and a crucified walk that takes us into the sufferings of the Body of Christ brings us to that place of righteousness, not because pain cleanses us, but because it opens depths in our soul that brings us closer to God.

Walking in this kind of depth establishes a confidence of faith and power in you that you never had before. It exposes your understanding to realize that time and space are not real. They are unrealities that tie us to this world. Only when you understand that time and space are not real will you ever be able to believe God for the impossible.

Walking in the power of God blasts demons, breaks chains, destroys obstacles, and heals the sick. God has given you power to heal the sick – He didn’t ask you to ask Him to do it. He told you to do it. Now you understand; now you are empowered to exercise that which is “exceeding abundantly above all” because we have a power that works in us which has been forged in the fires off the altar of God – the same altar that accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and that is covered with His blood.

That is where the power comes from – His blood on the altar of the suffering of the Cross.

But …  you have to go get it.

Are you wondering about why things are so weak? Are you, like Gideon in Judges Chapter 6 wondering about where the miracles are? Why are our altar calls so empty? Why are services more like a college lecture than a supernatural experience with God? Where is the power?

It starts on your knees … and goes down from there. Power in God only comes from a depth of prayer that is washed in the agony of His blood.
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Brother Dale

 

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“Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him…” Mk 6:20

If you picked up a newspaper today and saw that John the Baptist was holding revival services at a local church, would you drop everything you’re doing to make it there?  How about Elijah?  or Peter?  Would it be because they are famous?  Or is it because you would expect to hear a man speak with authority in God?

Souls are drawn to men of God who can stand up in the power and authority of God.  Revivals are poured out on anointed vessels to whom people flock to hear the Word of God and see the amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit work.  They came to Jesus to be healed, but stayed to listen because He spoke with authority.

We need that authority today.  Actually, we are desperate to see a man of God stand up in that kind of power and authority.  We have a lot of nice preachers, quite a few charlatans, and a whole pile of evangelists who would have you believe that they are the vanguards of the next great move of God, but we don’t have any John the Baptist’s, Elijah’s, or Paul’s.  Why is that?

Search the Scriptures and you will find that the kind of power and authority we are referring to only comes the hard way.  We all read and pray, but how many of us STORM the Throne?  We fast, but how many of us crucify our flesh?  And what is it that we seek the face of God for?  For ourselves, or for the lost souls of others?  All this only lifts us up to a higher plateau in God.

The real holy boldness, the real strength and power in God, and the genuine authority in God only comes through the fear of the Lord.  That is what gives a man strong confidence, makes his face to shine, gives him that entrance into the presence of God’s power.  Moses’s knees smote together, David’s flesh trembled, the prophet’s spoke of Him being their dread, Paul feared and trembled.  It is the common attribute for every powerful man with authority in God.  And we need that today.

In the last 20 to 30 years, the message of the Fear of the Lord has been extracted from our pulpits and has been preached out of our hearts to the point that most Christians don’t even believe it anymore.  They’ve been told that Love is the most important element.  Read carefully, my friend.  The Love of God is not possible without the Fear of the Lord.  Neither is wisdom, understanding, depth, or power.  And we will not see revival, nor a strong move of God, nor another strong man of God to stand up in the kind of authority we so desperately need without the Fear of the Lord.

Brother Dale

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“Where’s the Beef?”  (old Wendy’s commercial)
We all want the same thing … well, pretty much all of us.  Everybody wants to go to Heaven and be right with God.  And the ones that don’t are just hoping that at least there is no Hell.  The problem is that we want to go on our terms.  That makes it a tricky issue.  Who’s to say which the right way is?

I have an answer for that.  It’s in 1st John.  We know we are in Him by the Spirit that He has given us.

You would think that would make it simple.  Either you got it or you don’t.  But now we have to debate over how you determine if you have the Spirit or not.  (Scheesh!  Does it ever end?)

To that, all I can say is that if you have to figure it out, you ain’t got it.

But there are those who think they feel the Spirit every time they feel a gust of wind, or get all worked up in when they’re singing in services.  I see them twirling around and bouncing up and down, and getting all happy.  Well, at least that’s better than handling snakes just to prove you’re in the Spirit.

But where’s the beef?

I believe that the Spirit of God responds in a very real way to worship.  But is that all there is?  When we go home after a rousing service, what happens then?  After the euphoria wears off, are we left in the same old flesh, just waiting for our next fix?  There has to be something more.

Real depth in God comes from elements that are not associated with singing and dancing.  It’s the more serious side of the Gospel that brings us to that secret place of the Most High that pulls us out of our flesh and into a deeper walk with God.  The suffering of the Cross is supposed to be manifest in our lives. (And please, I’m not talking about whipping yourself or anything weird like that.)

What about a crucified walk?  Or how about being grieved for lost souls?  Or allowing yourself to go through the fire, or letting God take you through valleys to strip away your flesh?

I could go on and on.  I know you’ve read about this stuff, but not many want to think about that side of the Gospel.  You see that’s the stuff that makes a real Christian — the walks in the valleys, not the experiences on the mountaintops.

To put it succinctly, we don’t want to face our own death.  And yet, that is exactly where the Lord wants to take us if we are ever going to have power in God. A friend once told me, “God isn’t trying to change you. He’s trying to kill you!” Amen. But that ol’ flesh just doesn’t want to die.

It takes serious depths in the Word of God and desperate prayer to bring us to the point where we are willing to allow God to break our hearts and strip us down.  Without that we are just like kindergarteners running around on the playground, having a good time, but not going anywhere.

Revivals are birthed in heartbreak and sacrifice — not the instant, cheap ‘n’ easy version that echoes the Lottery mentality of this generation.  There is a price for everything in God.

God is looking for those with a serious dedication to serve the Lord and stand against the powers of darkness.  That comes from a battle-hardened determination to overcome all things and carry the Cross.

It may not be as much fun as we’d like, but it is the path that leads to Calvary.

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“If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. Though thy beginning was small, yet they latter end should greatly increase.”   Bildad the Shuhite (Job 8:6)

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“…For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” Paul, (Philippians 1:29)

There has been a shift in our view of the personality of God.  I noticed it taking hold of the evangelical church world about 30 years ago, and it has established itself more firmly ever since.

The old fashioned view of a God of judgment was mollified to one of a kinder, gentler God who was more attuned to a loving relationship with His children.  The old brush arbor revivalists were considered too hard in their outlook, mocked in Hollywood films, and brushed aside as narrow-minded zealots who did not understand the mercy of God.  We assumed that we had a better understanding of God because we are somehow more enlightened.

We shifted our focus to the blessings, the love and mercy, and the goodness of God.  Yes, judgment was still there, but was more relegated to the shadows off-stage than out in the spotlight.  The Fear of God, although undeniably written in the Word of God, was analytically digested and has been presented as being more by the precept of men (Isaiah 29) than the emotionally charged issue of actual dread and fear.  God is now our Daddy.

Because there was no momentous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in recent memory, we, like the Israelites of Sinai, felt that Moses had taken too long to come down from the mountain, so we’ve fashioned our own gods that have supposedly delivered us out of Egypt.

Seems to work pretty good.  It feels much better, and it is much more palatable than walking around under the cloud of intense holiness like our forefathers did.

After all, it makes much more sense to the carnal mind.  If you get saved, God will love you and pour out His unconditional Love all over you.  No more dark valleys to walk through, no more refining fire to strip away your flesh, and no more sufferings of the Cross to bear.

It made sense to Bildad the Shuhite.

But not to Paul.

We are inundated with an easy Gospel that promises a wonderful time in Jesus.  We proclaim that there will be a great revival soon, and we sing and dance to the rhythm of the message, but we have not considered the price.  Our pastors who have taken the pulpits in the last 20-some-odd years have regurgitated the message they heard in Bible College, and are not even aware that something is missing.  But hey, it sure feels good, doesn’t it?

So we continue to sing and dance, and line up for someone can touch us so we can fall down on the floor in euphoria, but we never notice our lack of depth and brokenness, nor do we consider that old crucified walk that our fathers have trod to establish the Church.

We want to touch the Cross; not bear it.

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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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