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Posts Tagged ‘life’

Do You Get an Answering Machine When You Pray?

Ever wonder how in the world the Lord can really hear and pay attention to you when you pray?  Let’s face it.  He has got to be pretty busy. He has to pay attention to billions of people, what they do, what they saying, even what they’re thinking.  On top of that, He writes all this stuff down in a Book, and He can’t make any mistakes– people’s souls depend on its absolute accuracy!  If that’s not enough, He has to be mindful of the entire universe.  The rivers, the seasons, the wind and the weather, the animals and plant life, even the stars and galaxies are dependant upon His Word to be held together in order.  And you mean to tell me that He not only knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, but He actually numbers the hairs of your head?  One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…  We’re talking busy here!

Is it a small wonder, then, that so many of us don’t expect a personal answer each and every time we go to pray?  When you pray, do you get a personal response, or do you get an answering machine?  “Thank you for praying.  I’m away from the prayer line right now and am either answering another prayer, or not at home right now.  Please leave your prayer at the sound of the beep, or press 0 to talk with one of the angels … Oh, and have a nice day!”

Do you pray with the attitude that you will just leave a message, and somehow, when God gets around to checking His messages, He’ll handle your request?  After all, He is pretty busy and we do have to cut Him a little slack.

Or do you pray expecting an answer?  When you call, do you ring the phone until you get an answer?  When you go to visit, do you hang on that doorbell until He answers the door?  You know He’s at home.  Answer the phone!  Open the door!  You didn’t come just to hear the cute little sound of the bell.  You need an answer!  Right here, right now!

We’ve got a contract with God that is written in Blood, and sealed with the Holy Ghost. That contract gives us rights to the Throne of God.  God is a Jew; He makes deals; and that’s part of the deal!  I’ve got it in writing.  I am not going to be satisfied with some dumb answering machine, or some angel for a secretary, or some saint.  I want the real thing, and I’m stubborn enough to hang in there until I get it.  So was the guy in Luke 11 who harangued his neighbor with his importunity until he got what he wanted.

We need powerful prayer warriors who know how to get answers from God. If there was ever a time the people of God need to stand strong, it is now in these last days. Each and every one of us needs to believe God for a personal answer when we contend before God with effective, prevailing prayers. That’s where you get your strength.  If we don’t learn to pray like that, our souls will become weak and insipid with a lack of faith and will eventually fall prey to the storms of Satan.

Elias was a man of like passions as we, and he stopped up the heavens from rain through prayer, and then he prayed again and it rained.  That’s what I call knowing how to get an answer from God!

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

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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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“What, me worry?”
(Alfred E. Newman, Mad Magazine)

My mother hated Mad Magazine. She thought their hilarious spoofs would teach me to be irresponsible, unholy, and generally wayward. Alfred E. Newman, the flagship personality of the entire magazine was especially abhorrent to her. He would be the ruin of me if she allowed me to be exposed to his reprobate way of thinking.

So I would stash my copies with my other contraband, like pocket knives and chewing gum.  Poor Mom. She never suspected how corrupt I had become.

Years later, I have discovered that Alfred was not so far off the truth. His philosophy on life is echoed by the Apostle Paul, only in a much different context. Paul’s repeated exhortation was to cast off your carnal worries and allow God to take control of your life.

“Be careful for nothing…” (Philippians 4:6)

“With food and raiment, therewith be content…” (1 Timothy 6:8)

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Jesus echoed this same sentiment with, “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

So what are we worried about?

I spoke to a wealthy young man last night about his concerns that his latest tithing was not bringing back the results he expected. Normally, he gives heavily and there is an immediate response from the Lord in new deals and revenues, which he then, in turn, sows back into the ministries that he supports. This last time, however, he has not seen the usual response from God, and he was getting worried about going broke.  I might mention that he tithes over 50% of his income, and sometimes much higher.

I gave him my best impression of Alfred E. Newman. Don’t worry about it because it doesn’t really matter. If you’re giving just to get, you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons. If you’re giving because you really believe in this gospel, then it doesn’t matter if you get anything back.  If you want true prosperity, then you have to let go.

Prosperity is not measured in dollars and cents, but in the lack of financial stress. Your ties with the things of this world have to be cut so that you, as Paul also put it, are crucified unto the world and the world is crucified unto you. You no longer care. There is nothing in that world that you long for or lust for. The connection is severed and your treasure is now in Heaven, not in this world.

It may be that the blessing you are not seeing is the stretching of your faith by allowing you to walk without the tangible crutch of money.  Or food. Or home. Does it not say, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content”?  Food and clothing are the only things mentioned. And maybe God is doing that so your faith will grow as you learn to trust Him completely and thereby enable you to step up into a higher calling and a greater effectiveness than you have ever known … and thereby greater blessings.

When we come to the realization that we are dead to this world and alive only in Christ, and when the world no longer has any pull on us because we are dead to it, we then enter into a crucified walk in God, broken to His will, and yielded to His purpose.

It is then that the cares of this life are sloughed off like a dead layer of skin, and we are truly free.

Brother Dale
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You know, if the stakes weren’t so high, Life would be just a great game to play.  Kinda like an evening out with the boys playing Poker.

We all have our hands to play and we’re betting that we’re going to be the one that wins the jackpot.  We work our hands as best we can, and if we don’t win, oh well, there’s always another hand to play.

But Life isn’t that way.  This is the only hand you get, and you’re not going to bluff your way through this one.  You either win or lose.  That’s it.

Unlike poker, you choose your cards.  You can pick any hand you’d like – there’s one for every different belief that’s out there.  Many feel that it doesn’t really matter that much which hand you pick, as long as you pick something.  We’re all in the game together, so nobody really loses – or is it that nobody really wins?  Just play the odds and have fun.  No big deal which hand you choose.

Like I said, if the stakes weren’t so high, it would all be just a great game.  But the stakes don’t get any higher.  There’s only one winning hand.  You either win it all or lose it all, and there’s no coming back tomorrow night to try your luck again.  Better make sure that the hand you pick is the right one.

Unfortunately, everybody thinks that their cards will win and they play them for all they’re worth.  Looks good enough to them, so they should probably be OK. Maybe we should take some time, however, and take a good, long look at the cards we’re holding and see if they’re the ones that the Rule Book says will win.

If we don’t, then we’re gambling our eternal souls on chance.

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You know what the difference is between Fairy Tales and Heaven?  The Fairy Tales happened once upon a time.  Heaven is yet to come…at least for some of us.

In Fairy Tales, all your dreams come true.  You might have to kiss a toad, or take care of evil stepsisters while you play with little mice, but somewhere, sometime, somehow, your Prince will always come.  Heaven is not quite the same thing.  While we all would love the idea of living in a fairy tale existence where everything will be wonderful, reality paints a different picture — not everything works out according to Walt Disney’s script.  Life can be tough and you don’t always get to live in a castle, but there is a promise that there really is a place called Heaven.  There’s only one problem:  not everybody is going there.  The Prince is coming all right, but He’s not taking everybody with Him.

In Fairy Tales, the most wonderful magical things happen for free.  Make a wish, and Poof!, in pops your Fairy Godmother.  Sprinkle a little dust, wave a wand, say a few magic words, and presto, you are a princess. Heaven, however, requires a price that must be paid to enter in.  It is reserved only for those who have labored to enter into that place of rest, who have repented of their sins and asked Jesus Christ to save their souls, and who have then gone on to serve the Lord.  Not everybody wants to do all that.

One other thing. Fairy Tales are just that – nice stories that sound good. Heaven is real and it is good.  Unfortunately, Hell is real also, and it isn’t good.  Don’t get Fairy Tales and Heaven mixed up.  We aren’t going to get carried away to Heaven just by wishful thinking, it isn’t going to happen just because we believe in magic, and it sure isn’t going to happen for us unless we prepare for it.   If we don’t get right with God, it won’t be the wicked witch that does us in; it will be the Devil that sinks his claws in us and drags us down to Hell.

Don’t live your life in a fairy tale.  If you want to walk on streets of gold someday, you have to travel the path of a Christian.  That may not be as easy as making a wish, but it is the only way to make your dreams come true.

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There is one question that I have never been asked:  “How do you know you are saved?”  Really, in 47 years, no one has ever asked me that.  That amazes me.

I’ve been challenged why I believed certain things, and, as the Bible commands us, I have studied so I can give a good answer for them.  I certainly don’t want to believe something just because somebody told me so.  I did that when I was a kid, but I learned quickly that grown-ups aren’t always right – and, surprisingly, even teen-agers aren’t always right.  No, you have to let God reveal His Truth to you through His Word so you know for sure what is right.

I’ve also been told that I’m a lot of things – some not so good.  Well that kind of goes with the territory when you take a stand for what you know is right (see the paragraph above) — that is, if you’ve got the guts to make that stand

But nobody has ever asked how I knew that I was really saved.  Why is that?

Maybe it’s because the proof of my salvation does not lie in religious expositions of theological nonsense, or a piece of paper that says I have been “confirmed”, or an adherence to a tradition of showing up for church every week, or even that I said a prayer once upon a time at the altar.  To me, that’s not proof of anything.

I know I’m saved because I can feel the Spirit of God.

That’s it.  It’s just that simple.  I can actually feel the Spirit.

I may not be floating around on some ethereal cloud all the time, but when I go to the Throne of God in prayer, the Spirit of God responds.  Jesus said the Spirit was like the wind, and that makes sense to me – you can’t see it, but you sure can feel it.

When I read the Word of God, there are times when He will open up a scripture with what you can only call a supernatural revelation.  Is that so hard to believe?  Paul talks about it happening in his churches all the time.  Boy, when that happens, you know you just heard from the Lord!

There are other times when the Lord has literally spoken to me.  I’ll tell you what, when that happens to you, ain’t nobody can tell you that you ain’t saved!  Now, I realize that’s a hard nut for some people to swallow, but what do you want me to say?  That it didn’t happen?  It’s not like I’m the only one that the Lord has spoken to or shown a vision to.  Lot’s of folks have that happen to them.

I know some people will immediately say that you can’t go by “feelings”, but that you have to base your faith on the Bible because it is the ultimate authority.  True, but the Bible plainly says that the Spirit and the Word agree.  If you’re in the Spirit, you will line up with the Word, and if you’re in the Word, you’ll be in the Spirit.  What’s so hard about that?  Maybe if you don’t feel the Spirit then you need to read and pray more – and try your hand at some fasting while you’re at it.

I’ll tell you how important I think this is – if I did not feel the Spirit of God, I’d be scared to death.  Although there are times when you have to go through “faith walks”, you always come out of those valleys with increased faith, and the Spirit of God is always right there to pour out on you when you come out.  But, if I didn’t feel the Holy Ghost, I would feel like I was cut off, and that’s worse than scary.

I’ve got something real to base my faith on.  I know I’m right with God because He is right there with me and I can feel His Holy Spirit, and that is enough to sustain me through anything.  It is the Shekinah Glory that makes me know that I am in the Spirit of God.

If you know what it is like to actually feel the Holy Ghost, then you know what it is like to have that communion with God and know that you know that you know that you are right with God. But If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re missing out on the most wonderful thing in Life, and you need to find out soon.

The Spirit of God gives you a life and an excitement that actually makes you glow from the inside out.  Without it, though, all you’ve got is religion — and religion can’t save your soul.  There is a difference that can be felt.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never been asked that question.  It must show on my face.

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