Archive for April, 2012

Fuel for the Fire, #17: A Million Years from Now

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth… And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people… And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Then He who sat on the throne said,

“BEHOLD, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW.”

Revelation 21:1, 3-5

 A MILLION YEARS FROM NOW…

Our Stuff won’t matter:
Earthly riches and wealth will be worthless.
The finest luxury car and private jet will be useless.
Healthcare and retirement plans will be obsolete.
Gold will be the stuff that streets are made of (see Revelation 21:21).

Our Problems won’t matter:

Everything about which you and I might worry today will be gone – forgotten, like a vapor.
No taxes or terrorists, no budgets or doctor bills, no root canals and no colonoscopies. Ever.

Our Happy Aversions won’t matter:
We won’t remember who won the NBA playoffs, we won’t care who our football team drafted in the 5th round, and we won’t want to play golf. I promise.

We won’t need to shop or redecorate, won’t need a new hair style, and won’t go to Nordstrom or *Starbucks.

This World’s Power Structures won’t matter:
No more media spin and talking heads – just the Truth spoken, loved, and lived.
No more pop culture and celebrities – just the Kingdom that knows no end and follows no fads.
No more politicians and presidents – just one King, worthy of our full allegiance, devotion, and praise.

So what will matter a million years from now?

How you and I loved Jesus.  

For instance:

Every moment spent seeking Him

Every sacrifice made for others

Every time we chose to forgive those who wounded us

Every song of praise in the face of trouble

Every giving of thanks in the shadow of loss and pain

Every prayer for the hurting

Every time we kept going when everything inside was yelling “quit!”

Every decision made for His glory and not our own

Every expression of His love, every sharing of His truth, and every soul led to Jesus
All these will still matter a million years from now.

Dear Father, help us – this very day and week – to live in the light of eternity.  Speak to our hearts, revive our vision, refresh our faith, and help us invest our lives in things that will matter forever.  May You have a people whose hearts are wholly Yours, and whose lives reflect Your life.  Be glorified in us once again, Holy One.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

 In service of our soon-returning King,

 Pastor Matthew Casey

© 2012, Springs of Life Ministries

 * Starbucks drinkers, be sure you know where your money is going: http://www.dumpstarbucks.com/

 

Fuel for the Fire, #16

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

TEST THE FRUIT, DISCERN THE SEED

Those things we choose to believe, both about God and about ourselves, are like seeds planted in our hearts.  They may start as small ideas or subtle suggestions, but if persistently believed they will (like a seed) inevitably bear fruit in our lives and show their influence in our mindsets, attitudes, and actions.  Jesus said:

Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Matthew 7:17-18 NKJV

 SO in other words:

  • Good seed = a good tree = good fruit
  • Bad seed = a bad tree = bad fruit. 

CHECK YOUR FRUIT

And if you and I look at the fruit of our thoughts – which is shown in our attitudes, desires, goals, and actions – we can clearly see what “seed” we’ve believed (either the seed of God’s report, or of the enemy’s report).  Consider:

  • Everything God says is entirely true, and believing His report about our lives (as shown in His Word) will inevitably produce the fruit of His Spirit, things like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT). 
  • Everything the enemy says – every thought, every suggestion, and every idea – is utterly a lie, resulting in things like discouragement, fear, discontentment, heavy burdens, shame, jealousy, etc.  Though he may speak facts to discourage us, he’ll never speak the truth.  Even if he quotes Scripture (see Matthew 4:1-11) he does so deceptively.  If the devil says it it’s a lie 

You are of your father the devil… He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

John 8:44 NKJV

HOW IT WORKS

Here’s a simple example of satan’s report vs. God’s report, showing us how the “seed = fruit” principle works in our lives:

Let’s suppose that you realize that you’ve just sinned in an area, perhaps one where you’ve struggled in the past and dealt with much condemnation.  You’ve been trying to give God your best, and are truly repentant about your sin.  Now then, satan’s report says:

  • “You’ve sinned, you’re no good, you’re worthless, and God won’t accept you into His presence.  You’re never going to really experience any lasting victory, and in fact you have to question if you’re even really a Christian.  And forget trying to minister to anyone else – you’re a mess!  And God’s not interested in using the likes of you.” 

But the Father’s report (according to His Word) looks at the very same circumstance, and speaks thus:

  • “You’ve sinned, but your heart is repentant and broken before Me.  You’re unworthy on your own merits, but made worthy by the Blood of My Son.  I have promised to forgive you, to purify you, to make you more than a conqueror, and to continue the good work I’ve begun in you until the day of my Son’s return.  You’ve lost a battle, but you’ll win the war – because I said so, and I’m willing and able to help you.  So come boldly before My throne of grace, and let Me minister the mercy and grace that you need.  Draw near to Me, and I’ll draw near to you.”  (See 1 John 1:8-10, Titus 2:14, Romans 8:37, Philippians 1:6 & 2:13, Hebrews 4:14-16, and James 4:8, among others). 

Same circumstance, different reportdifferent “seed” to believe and allow to take root in your heart and mind.  If you believe satan’s report, it will result in the fruit of distance from God, feelings of condemnation and shame, and utterly broken fellowship with Him due to having believed a lie.  If you believe God’s report, it will always bear good fruit like repentance, cleansing, joy, healing, peace, acceptance, love, and a closer friendship with Him.  And that good fruit will start to go forth from your life to bless others, as you become an instrument of God’s mercy, love, and truth to those around you. 

For prayer:

Dear Papa in Heaven, Your people need to learn to discern… Teach us to test the fruit of our thoughts, to pay attention to what we believe, and to choose Your report.  Expose the lies we’ve accepted as true, and destroy every stronghold built on those falsehoods.  Guide us in Your Word – under the leading and power of Your Spirit – to know and believe Your report, and then to share that GOOD report with others.  Use us for Your glory, and cause our lives to bear much good fruit.  In Jesus’ name, Amen! 

May the Lord guide you in His Word, bless you with His manifest presence, and cause you to bear the sweet-smelling fruit of His Spirit this week. 

Much love in our Messiah Jesus,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© 2012, Springs of Life Ministries

 

 

 

 

Fuel for the Fire, #15: EASY YOKE, LIGHT BURDEN

Monday, April 16th, 2012

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30  

My dear friends, let’s cast off all the heavy burdens, the cares of this world, the accusations of the enemy, and the hard yokes of trying to be smart enough (or strong enough, or good enough) to make it through this life… In fact, let’s forsake all self-effort and striving, and simply obey Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 11:

“Come to Me.”

Let’s believe His promise, embrace His love, receive the gift of His forgiveness as we confess our sin, and allow Him to speak to our hearts and calm our minds in His presence. 

He will give “rest for your souls,” a peace that doesn’t depend on our circumstances, a joy that doesn’t need things to go “right” for us to experience it.  By His Spirit, He will give us His holiness, His purity of thought and motive, and real victory over sin as He changes our hearts and renews our minds.  His Holy Spirit will be mighty in the midst of our weakness, once we yield that weakness to Him. 

O, what rest and joy when we cease striving, when we submit our wills to His, when we humbly acknowledge our need, and when we allow His Spirit to do for us and in us what ONLY He can. 

  • You cannot earn His unfailing love ~ but you can receive it. 
  • You cannot deserve His favor and blessing ~ but you can thank Him for it.
  • You cannot be worthy (in yourself) of His abiding presence ~ but you can enjoy it, and learn to walk in closer and more constant communion with Him every day. 

Scripture says that only God can change our hearts, give us rest, empower us with purity, grant us grace, lead us in triumph, shine light in darkness, show the perfect path for the future, comfort the downcast, and bind up the brokenhearted.  ONLY GOD! 

Let’s obey Jesus’ simple and clear command: “Come to Me.”  Let’s go to Him in humility and thanksgiving, asking for and receiving the help of His Spirit in every area of need.  You exercise your faith by coming to Him, and He will meet you with a new measure of grace, guidance, help, and holiness.  You’ll find the wisdom and love you need… He’s waiting for you and I to simply obey Him and “Come.” 

Precious and Loving Abba,

 Teach us to “Come” to You every day, in every need, in every joy.  Make us sheep that stay close to our strong and loving Shepherd.  Change our hearts as we come; cause our lives to overflow with the love of the Messiah and the fruits of Your Spirit.  Touch many in Your Church, Lord… cause them to hear the Savior’s words “Come to Me,” and cause many to obey.  Change our lives for Your glory as we spend time with You this week.

 In Jesus’ name above every name, Amen.

 May the Lord bless and anoint you afresh this week, and may you be a vessel of His Spirit to touch the hurting ones around you. 

 In His faithful love,

 Pastor Matthew Casey

 

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2012

Fuel for the Fire, #14: DEATH unto LIFE

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Revelation 2:10

We live in a “me first” world.  Remembering that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one(1 John 5:19), it’s not hard to see satan’s fingerprints on the value system that this world gives us:

  1. Put Self first!
  2. Get your best life possible!
  3. Live for now!

Many Americans (including churchgoers) live essentially for those priorities, although few do so consciously.  The painful reality, however, is that it doesn’t work.  Living for self inevitably leads to:

A.    Disillusionment now

B.    Death soon

C.    Loss forever

Jesus called us to be “disciples” ~ those who follow the life, teaching, and mission of their Master.  And our Master’s mission ended at a cross. 

Jesus’ priorities for life run counter to the world in which we live:

  1. Put God first (love Him most, seek Him first)
  2. Lay your life down for others
  3. Live for eternity

And Jesus’ counsel (if followed) leads to:

A. Both trials and joy (see John 16:33)

B. His friendship and presence, both in the sunshine and in the storm

C. Reward forever, which nothing on earth can steal or touch

ISN’T THERE AN EASIER WAY?

An increasing amount of popular church teaching is offering Americans a version of Christianity that is built far more upon the first set of priorities I mentioned ~ the “me first” approach to life.  It offers a costless, crossless “Christianity” that promises all the blessings without the self-denial, humbling oneself, suffering, and other costs that Jesus mentioned would be the mark of His true followers:

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Mark 8:34-35

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Matthew 23:12

Heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Romans 8:17  

In contrast to these statements from Scripture, today’s “new gospel” tells its followers they can 1) pursue personal gain now, and 2) have limitless reward in Heaven.  No cost, no cross, no sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10)… And ALL the blessing!

I must tell you: even if such a sugar-coated life were possible, I wouldn’t want it.  I don’t want to be just another fair-weather “friend” to Jesus, simply hanging around Him because there’s something in it for me.  Multitudes followed Jesus for personal gain – they tasted the loaves & fishes, they saw the healings, and they rode the wave of popular opinion.  And most all of them deserted Him when times got rough. 

True followers of Jesus are still human ~ we don’t look forward to suffering, and we’re not gluttons for punishment.  But we realize that “All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution(2 Timothy 3:12), and we count Jesus worthy of any and every sacrifice we could make for HimWe would rather die for Jesus than live apart from Him

Jesus walked His talk, without exception. He chose His Father’s will over His own in the Garden of Gethsemane, though He knew it would mean unthinkable torture, suffering, and shame (Luke 22:42).  When it was time for satan to strike, He took the heat so His friends could escape: “Since I am the One you want, let these others go” (John 18:8).  He proved that “greater love has no man than this” when He laid down His life for you and me (John 15:13).

He humbled Himself and became obedient to death (Philippians 2:8), enduring the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), and pouring out His soul unto death (Isaiah 53:12) so that sinners like you and me could be saved from the certain and final judgment we deserved. 

Now I ask you:

  • Who are you going to live for?  For Jesus’ glory, or your gain?
  • What are you going to seek?  Jesus’ Kingdom, or yours?  You cannot pursue both…

Life is short; eternity is long.  We have a few short days to bring Him glory now – even through suffering, if need be – and all eternity to reap the fruit of having lived for Him.  Let us follow our Master, love Him first and best, and live for the glory of our King. 

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him

and given Him the name which is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

of those in heaven, and of those on earth,

and of those under the earth,

and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

“Gracious and loving Father,

Grant us grace to live for our Messiah, to glorify our King, and to show forth the mercy and love of our Savior to the dying, hurting world around us.  Grant us strength to deny ourselves in little ways – day by day – so that we’ll be ready to make larger sacrifices for Him when the time comes.  Let us not count our lives as dear to ourselves, but help us live in the light of eternity.  Teach us to abide in Your presence, to be led and empowered by Your Spirit, and to love You more deeply… Reveal Your indescribable love to our hearts in a fuller and richer experience, and help us return to our First Love in every way needed.  We ask these blessings to be extended to many in the Church – call out a people with hearts after You, and set our hearts ablaze by Your Spirit.  We love You so; we bless Your name and give You praise for Your priceless gift of salvation through the Blood of the Lamb. 

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.”

May the Lord bless you richly this week ~ much love to you in our Risen Savior,

Pastor Matthew Casey

 

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Fuel for the Fire, #13: A WORD TO THE WEARY

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Matthew 11:28-29 NLT

 

A Word to the Weary 

Here’s a word of hope to the one who feels weary, whose faith feels battered by the battles of life, whose heart is aching from disappointments, failures, and broken promises, and who feels like giving up:

1: A BETTER SEASON IS COMING:

Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 NKJV

It shall not always be as it is now; as surely as winter gives way to spring, God has a different season ahead for you.  Often the Lord purifies and prepares us for the season ahead precisely through the difficulties we face today.  Israel’s preparation for the Promised Land came in the Wilderness – and had they grumbled less in the desert, they would have rejoiced more in the desired place. 

2: SUFFERING RESULTS IN GLORY:

But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.  Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later.

Romans 8:17-18 NLT

St. Augustine wrote, “God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.”  If you and I are to be fashioned into the image of Christ and made fit for His service here and Heaven afterward, it will at times involve suffering. 

But the truth is, every life encounters suffering – including the “rich & famous,” and the ones who live only for self.  Suffering touches everyone; it gives the unbeliever a chance to feel his frailty and finiteness, and to recognize his need for God.  The Father is not singling us out when He allows suffering to touch our lives – but He does promise to work it together for our good, and to transform us through all we experience as we stay submitted to His will. 

3: Yes, He will HEAL your heart

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3 NKJV

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…

Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18 NKJV

Though the pain runs too deep for words, His love for you is deeper… The Blood that flowed for you on Calvary is stronger than every hurt, every wound, and every need. 

Bring Him your heart, lay your life on His altar in utter surrender, and abandon your will to His.  In His perfect time and way, He will heal your heart completely.  And your portion of His love and presence will be greater than if you had never needed His healing so deeplyHe will make your battle a blessing

Remember what lies ahead, precious child of God:

Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in all His glorious power.  He will rule with awesome strength.  See, He brings His reward with him as He comes.

Isaiah 40:10 NLT

For Prayer: “Father, we pray healing and strength this week for our brothers and sisters who are weary… Encompass them with Your presence, surround them with songs of deliverance, and grant them grace to trust You in the storm and praise You in the desert.  Touch them anew right now, and bless them through the battles they are facing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.” 

May the Father reveal His love to you in a special way this week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

 

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2012