Are you All IN?
By Pastor Doug Kelley
The Bible says that “old men have dreams.” Well, recently I had a dream that was so vivid that I remembered it when I awoke. In the dream I was playing poker with several friends. I was holding my hand close to the chest to make sure that nobody could see my “winning hand.” In poker, you have several choices to make when it comes your turn to play:
1. Fold or pass
3. Raise the bid
4. Or go “all in” by pushing all your money or chips to the center of the table.
In the dream, I was convinced that I had the “winning hand.” I was so convinced that I pushed everything that I had into the center of the table and said, “I’M ALL IN.” The others at the table looked at me with some surprise and attempted to discern if I was “bluffing.”
Now, I know that many people think of cards as evil as it is gambling and it has the nasty “Queen of Spades.” However, as a young Catholic boy growing up in rural Montana, I enjoyed playing cards as a family activity with my grandparents, parents and siblings. Only after I became a Christian did I learn of the “evil Queen of Spades.”
I can not remember the last time that I sat down and played a game of cards even though I had an explicit dream. I am reminded of Daniel’s words that “interpretations belong to God.” Let me share you the interpretation of this dream that I believe God gave to me.
In Acts 4:32-35 we have a wonderful, colorful photo of the New Testament Church that Jesus gave His very life for. It was a church where the people were of “one heart and one soul.” Nobody lacked anything as everybody had settled the ownership question. God owned everything (Psalm 24:1). There was no lack as people sold properties and laid their gifts at the feet of the apostles. These people were ALL IN.
In Acts 5:1-11 a couple named Ananias and Saphira decided to join the party so they went and sold their property. Like many Christians their sense of fear outweighed their faith so they decided to hold back part of the sale proceeds. However, they wanted to look good so they agreed to lie by saying that they sold the property for less than they actually sold it for. You see, Ananias and Saphira were in but “not all in.”
You lie, you die!!!!!!!!! This is part of the message of Ananias and Saphira. God expects us to tell truth. The apostles told them clearly that the property belonged to them as did the proceeds when they sold it. The problem was that Ananias and Saphira wanted to pretend to be all in when they were only partially in.
When you found the Lord, you found life, purpose, meaning, truth and everything else. Mathew 13:44 says that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who found a treasure in a field and then went and sold all that he had to buy the field. In one sense the church is the field. We know that Jesus is the head of the church and the church is His body. The head and the body are inseparable.
While the head is perfect, the body contains the usual rocks and weeds found in the field. As a pastor, I spend a great deal of my time picking rocks from God’s field. I also try to limit the weeds though He has said to let the tares and weeds grow side by side. The field goes through dry time and hard times but it matters not because I AM ALL IN.
Luke 9:57-62 tells the brief story of three men who had an opportunity of a lifetime. They had the winning hand dealt to them by Jesus when He invited them to come and follow him. The first disciple was “too soft”. The second disciple was “too slow”. And the third disciple was “too busy.” Each of them were “me first Christians” who deceived themselves into believing they were “all in.” When the call came they were weighed in the balance and found wanting. They needed to put their money, their time, their business and their relationships in right priority to the call of God. Jesus called them to be “all in.”
The card dream represented a prophetic challenge. God is not content that we “play church” pretending that we are more committed than we really are. He expects and deserves our time, talent and treasure. Too many Christians fail to realize that they are holding the winning hand so they hold back from the Lord. Opportunity is knocking on the door but they are too afraid to open the door because it might cost them something.
The Bible is full of those who are ALL IN. Abraham left family and friends to respond to the call of God to go to a new land because he was ALL IN. Noah built a boat and withstood the taunting of his neighbors because he was ALL IN. Esther risked her life to approach the King because she was ALL IN. Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego went to the furnace because they were ALL IN. Daniel also went to the lion’s den because he was ALL IN. Hebrews 11 is the story of famous and nameless saints who were ALL IN.
The local church is “heaven on earth.” Jesus told us to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” The church is God’s Promised Land. It is the Land of Milk and Honey. Everything you have need of is in the church. God is in the process of building His church which never sleeps. It is a church that prays, counsels, teaches, gives and loves 24/7. It does not take days off. But it needs people who are ALL IN.
During these challenging economic times those who trust in horses and chariots will find that they have nothing but wood, hay and stubble. God looks on the heart. He knows if we are pretending. If He does not have your money, He does not have you. Will you make that commitment right now to be “ALL IN”?