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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

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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“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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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, formal, and polite whereas it was once full of outrageous 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?”  Ouch.

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, who will?

It’s another hot, sultry dog day afternoon in Texas. The temperature is hitting 100 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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Well, I have been told that I was going to Hell again.

This time from someone that had read the Statement of Faith on my website, www.revivalfire.org and decided that, because I do not believe as she does, I was not saved. She was also quick to point out that you can’t go by feelings.  I beg your pardon, but I don’t see how you can go without feelings.

Yes, we walk by Faith and we must go by the Word of God, but doesn’t the Spirit and the Word agree?  And isn’t faith the substance of things hoped for?  And if it is a substance, can you not feel it?  Faith opens the door to walk into the presence of God, but believe me, when you are in the presence of God, you can feel it!

I don’t want to just believe I’m saved or think I’m saved –I want to know it!  I want to feel it!  I love that rush that comes down from the Throne of God when I pray.  When I raise my hands and lift up my heart in praise and feel the Heavens open up – wow, there is no feeling in the world like that!

When you lead someone through the Sinner’s Prayer and you feel the Spirit of God come down and flow through them – how can you not feel that?

When you lay hands on someone that is sick and feel the Blood of Jesus Christ wash over them and heal them right in front of you; when the preacher is under the Anointing and you feel the power of God flowing through whole church; when you are deep in prayer and the Lord speaks to you or shows you a vision – tell me, how can you not go by feelings?

Perhaps that woman has never felt the supernatural power of the Holy Ghost in her life.  If she did, maybe she’d have a different opinion.

I’ll tell you what, if I were in a church or a denomination or a doctrine (or whatever you want to call it), and I couldn’t feel the Spirit of God, then something is missing.  (Like maybe God?)

If you can’t feel the Spirit of God, then something is standing between you and Him.  Maybe that something is your religion.

I don’t want a cold, dead faith.  I don’t want to guess or try to theologically convince myself that I’m saved.  My faith isn’t cerebral; it’s deep in my heart.  I want a relationship with the Lord that is so personal and so powerful that all the devils in Hell cannot convince me that I am not right with God.  Not even some zealot that doesn’t happen to agree with me.

In order to be led by the Spirit of God and keep heading down the right path with Him, you’ve got to be able to feel His leading and His correction.  This is not something you can guess on, or gamble your soul on the throw of a dice – you have to be sure.  Hell burns for a long, long time.

Jesus said that as many as are led of the Spirit, they are the Sons of God.

And if you’re not led of the Spirit … well, good luck trying to figure it out.

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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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Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, 2And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 3For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

4Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

(Jonah 2:1-4)

He could hear the waves crashing behind him, sweeping the water up the sand, never quite coming close to his feet. The whale lay there half in and half out of the water, its life running out of it with every last wheezing breath. Jonah was alone on the beach. He was alive, but more than that, God had heard him down in the whale’s belly and had brought him forth into the daylight that he had almost despaired of seeing again.

But here he was, standing alone on the beach on dry land, next to this great dying body of a fish that had committed suicide to bring him here. God had delivered him so completely that he hadn’t even gotten his feet wet. And now it was time for the mission that he had run away from not even a week ago.

Jonah is not a classic example of gratitude. Jonah cared more about himself than the salvation of 120,000 people. He went ahead and prophesied to the Ninevites as he was commanded to do, but his heart wasn’t in it. He was actually more grateful for a tree that gave him shade than the great deliverance God had done for him.

Why is that? As a young Christian, I was taught that if you had a thankful heart, you would never backslide, and I have seen the truth of that over the years, but how does one develop a thankful heart?

I don’t believe gratitude comes from circumstances or things that have happened to you as much as it does from a thankful heart that has already been planted within you. Gratitude is more the blossoming of an attitude you already have rather than the genesis of a new one.  And I believe it is tied to charity.

One of the six principles of revival that I preach about is that the gospel is not about you; it is about others. This is the central message of the Cross; it is the essence of who and what Christ was. Charity is the essential element, not only to entering into a vibrant and deep walk in God, but to seeing the power of God work in your life. Charity is Jesus Christ working in you.

You would think that gratitude would be about what happens to us rather than to others, but the seeds of gratitude cannot find a place to grow in the stony rock of a cold heart. They can only find purchase in the cultivated soil of a heart that is not only thankful, but is softened with that thing about charity that turns our focus to others, dismisses our own situation, and rejoices in what God has done for all.

Gratitude is tied to the Cross.

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8Charity never faileth …” (1 Cor. 13: 4-8)

 

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