Archive for October, 2012

Fuel for the Fire, #38: What Do YOU See?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

1. EYES OFF OF JESUS = THAT SINKING FEELING

 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid;

and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

Matthew 14:30

For never having walked on water before, Peter was actually doing pretty well!  You and I can walk through some impossible-looking things if we keep our eyes on Jesus.

Peter’s problems weren’t caused by the wind & waves, but by looking at his circumstances instead of looking at His Savior…

Question: What are you looking at today?  Are you more aware of your problems than of the presence of the Son of God who protects you? 

2. LOOKING FROM THE WRONG PLACE = SEEING THE WRONG THING

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing…

2 Samuel 11:2

David had seen many trials in his lifetime: He’d seen betrayal, hatred, and jealousy… He’d seen lions and bears in the pastures, a giant in the valley, and spears in Saul’s palace (coming at him in 3-D)… He’s seen the swords clash and arrows fly on the battlefield – but through it ALL he was kept safe!

His problems started when he saw someone he shouldn’t have seen from a place he shouldn’t have been – the palace of worldly ease, free from problem or pain, living large in the lap of luxury. 

Question: What are you looking at in this season of life?  Have you allowed the mindset or value system of this world – perhaps about success, or worth, or beauty – to cloud your vision of God’s love and glory?  Have the trials and troubles you’ve known made you long for mere relief – rather than realizing that the battlefield you’re facing might just be (in the Father’s wisdom) the safest and best place for you to grow strong and stay close to Him?

3. TEN MEN LOOKING THROUGH THE WRONG LENS

There we saw the giants… and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Numbers 13:33

The 12 spies all SAW the same thing – GIANTS – but they saw it through a very different lens.  10 saw their God through the lens of their problem, while 2 (Joshua and Caleb) saw the giants in perspective to their great and awesome God. 

Viewing God through the lens of our circumstances is like looking through the wrong end of the telescope: it minimizes our view of the Lord’s greatness (and it throws a wet blanket over our faith). 

Question: Has your vision been so filled with giants lately that you can’t see how great and mighty your God is?  Or are you magnifying God through praise and thanksgiving, and seeing your troubles in the light of His love and power? 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,

the author and perfecter of our faith…

 Hebrews 12:2 

May the Lord grant you grace to focus on the exceeding power and glorious greatness of the God who has redeemed you… He is with you!  His ears are open to your cry!  And His answer is on the way… just keep praising Him, friend of God.  You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living once again.   

In Jesus’ love,

Pastor Matthew Casey

(c) 2012, Springs of Life Ministries

Fuel for the Fire, #37: True Friendship, True Success

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear Me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.”

Revelation 3:20 NLT

Amazing as it seems, the One called, “Holy… Messiah… King of Kings… Lord of Glory” and so many other beautiful and deserving titles desires to call us “friends.”  He desires our friendship:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends… I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

John 15:13, 15 NIV

He calls you “FRIEND”… And everything this world says about you – whether good or bad, kind or mean, true or false – absolutely pales in comparison to this truth: the Messiah, the Savior, the King calls you “friend.”  You are that precious to Him. 

Want a REALLY good week?  As we get ready to dive into another Monday, let’s ask ourselves: “How long has it been since I spent unhurried time with the One who calls me “friend”?  How long since I waited on Him – not just giving Him a quickie devotional time, but really basking in His Spirit’s presence?  Is Jesus getting my best, or is He receiving merely the crumbs of my time and priority?” 

You see, your week won’t be a success or failure based on how much work you get done, or how much money you make, or how many problems you solve, or any other measure of busy-ness.  Your week will be as truly successful as your friendship with Jesus is rich and rewarding

A growing, loving friendship with Jesus – THAT is the definition of a truly successful life.  And consistent time with Jesus always results in a life that is more fruitful, work that is done more wisely, and efforts that are more blessed and graced by God’s hand.  

May your week be spent in His presence, anointed with His Spirit’s power, blessed with His favor, and filled with His love.

Much love to you in our precious Savior,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2012

“…the Father Himself loves you dearly because you love Me and believe that I came from God.”

John 16:27 NLT

Fuel for the Fire, #36: LIFE beyond the COMFORT ZONE

Monday, October 15th, 2012

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10

Each of has a “comfort zone” for our lives – a set of circumstances and pace of life where we feel at ease, experienced, in control.  Life feels good in the comfort zone! 

BUT I LIKE MY COMFORT ZONE!

It’s true that we like life in the comfort zone…Because it’s easy! But it’s also true that Christians stagnate spiritually if left in their comfort zone very long.  Listen to what God said about Israel of old:

I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot Me. Hosea 13:5, 6 NLT

Like Israel, we tend to thrive when we know our need, and grow complacent when things are easy.  Too much ease = forgetful saints.

LIFE BEYOND THE COMFORT ZONE

So what is the answer?  If we stay closer to Jesus when life feels hard, must our lives be filled with perpetual strife to grow spiritually?  Is there another way to stay close to Jesus?  Indeed there is, and Jesus told us the way:

Into the Comforter Zone

Jesus told His disciples that it was actually a GOOD thing that He was leaving them – because when they lost their Friend, they gained their Comforter:

“…It is expedient” (good, advantageous) “for you that I go away:

for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you;

but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”

John 16:7 KJV

The Comforter… The “Spirit of truth”… The “Helper” sent to us by Jesus Himself.  I want to make a bold statement, but one that I believe to be Scripturally irrefutable:

1. The normal Christian life – as defined and described by Scripture – is intended by God to be a life daily guided, empowered, and filled with His Spirit.  That’s what God wants us to expect as “the norm” for every Believer. 

2. Today’s normal American Christianity knows virtually nothing of this life.

I’m not talking about merely speaking in tongues or joining a denomination whose heritage was Pentecostal – in all honesty, I’ve seen just as great a void of reliance upon the Holy Spirit among pastors labeled “charismatic” as anywhere else (I say that as a charismatic myself). I’m talking about a daily, growing dependence and reliance upon the Holy Spirit for every good thing needed in and through our lives – from guidance and grace to purity and power to obey; from faithfulness for serving to faith for miraculous answers to prayer; from direction in big decisions to that “still, small voice” leading us to share a word of comfort with a friend.  EVERYTHING (according to Scripture) is to be done by and through the help of the Comforter. *(see below)

My point: a life of growing dependence on the Comforter will never become a stagnant life.  He will be faithful to keep us growing in our vital experience of God’s love, and deepening in our friendship with our Savior.  And such a life will bear FAR, FAR more fruit than a life of striving, straining self-effort to do what’s right. That, my friends, is life in the Comforter zone.

For Prayer: “Dear Father, please teach me, remind me, and help me to lean on the presence and power of Your Spirit every day… Forgive me of striving so often in self-effort, and leaning on my own understanding ~ Make me a child who rejoices Your heart by believing Your promises and expecting Your Spirit to be mighty through me.  Be glorified in my life, and in my brothers & sisters… In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

In His love,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© 2012, Springs of Life Ministries

 * Here are just a few of the many verses that illustrate how our lives are meant to be Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered, and Spirit-filled:

Power to obey/overcome temptation = Romans 8:2,13; Galatians 6:8

 – Ability to bear good fruit in our character = Galatians 5:22-23

Guidance = Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18

Hope = Romans 15:13

Transformation in our lives; Christlikeness = 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Assurance of salvation = Romans 8:15-16; 1 John 3:24; 4:13; 2 Corinthians 5:5

Training and guidance in spiritual truth = John 14:17, 26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:12-13

 – Renewing of our minds = Romans 8:5-6

– Strength = Ephesians 3:16; Romans 8:26

 – Conviction of sin = John 16:8

Gifts for ministry = 1 Corinthians 12:4, 7-11

Direction in prayer = Romans 8:26-27

Ability to worship in a way that pleases God = Philippians 3:3; John 4:23-24

Fuel for the Fire, #34: Z is for ZIKLAG!

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters.

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

 1 Samuel 30:6 

David’s back was against the wall… He and his men returned to their town of Ziklag to find all their possessions stolen, their homes burned, and worst of all their wives and children missing.  And now his army – men for whom he had risked his life, and with whom he had fought many battles – were considering killing him for what had happened.

That, my friends, is a very bad day… A BIG problem… A life-or-death crisis. 

That is Ziklag.

Put yourself in David’s sandals for a moment… What’s a normal response to such a tragedy?  Perhaps to complain?  Give up?  Decide that following God is just too hard and these problems are simply unfair? 

Let’s look at what David did:

1. David wept (see 1 Samuel 30:4), he cried, he mourned his loss.  Expressing our grief is good, as long as we don’t set up camp and pitch our tent in the place of weeping.  Crying is fine as long as it leads to crying out to our Father for help.

2. David strengthened himself in the Lord.”  In other words, David drew near to God.  He didn’t look to man or to any false source of hope or help – he went to his Good Shepherd. 

3. David inquired of the Lord (see 1 Samuel 30:8).  Now that he had received comfort from his Father, he asked for direction.  And he got it!

 4David “pursued” the enemy and kicked their patootiesWell, it doesn’t exactly say “kicked their patooties” in the New King James version, but it paints the picture.  He OVERTOOK those rascally Amalekites, SLAUGHTERED them, and TOOK BACK ALL that they had stolen!  Everything the enemy stole was recovered – “And nothing of theirs was lacking… David recovered ALL.” (1 Samuel 30:19). 

When the enemy has stolen much from us and our circumstances go from bad to worse, we have a choice: stay in Ziklag and nurse our wounds, or seek the Lord and move on with Him.  It cuts against the grain of our flesh, and it leaves us no room for self-pity… But pursuing the Lord will prove the most powerful step you can take in your darkest day.

Ziklag was a proving ground for David’s heart… In the very next chapter, his nemesis King Saul is killed in battle, and his promotion to kingship becomes imminent. 

You and I cannot tell how God desires to use these battles facing us today, and we can’t see what God has around the corner… But this we know: as we honor God in this desert place, it prepares our hearts for the Promised Land ahead.  Our trust in the night will be rewarded, however our Father sees best. 

It is time to get up, dry our eyes, and seek the Lord.  Strengthen yourself in His love, presence, and Word… Put His praise on your lips, and watch the Lord start to confound your foes. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 NIV 

For Prayer: Abba, I ask that you would revive the ones who are weeping in their own Ziklag… Grant them grace to cast off the hopelessness, and to put on a garment of praise.  Stir their hearts to seek You, trust You, and believe You to do great things in their future.  Help us to rejoice in Your great love this week!  In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!”    

May you abound with His love, hope, and power this week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2012

Fuel for the Fire, Part #35: The STIRRING of the SPIRIT

Monday, October 1st, 2012

“So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel… and the spirit of Joshua… and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God…”

Haggai 1:14

 

I want to share my heart in this weekend’s devotional email, and offer a word regarding the season that we are entering.  I encourage you to consider and pray about it, and ask the Lord to make application to your life:

I believe there is a fresh stirring of God’s Spirit among His people, awakening vision and reviving faith in our spirits… It is not an external work with outward signs, but rather a deep work in the hearts of a remnant people who love Him.  I sense His Spirit blowing like a cool breeze that whispers of a changing season on its way…

I believe there is a season ahead of renewed faith for various miracles, for healing (in all forms and areas needed), and for salvation.  And most importantly, this stirring will cause our hearts to “yearn for the courts of the Lord” again, to desire His nearness and long for more time in fellowship with Him.  It will draw us into deeper friendship with Him, and produce the outflow of a more fruitful life for His glory.   

I believe there is a call to return to our first love, to the simplicity and beauty of pure devotion for Jesus.  It will mean setting aside some other things that are sapping us spiritually, tiring us physically, and clouding our ability to hear His voice and enjoy His Word.  It will be a season of renewed focus on the love of our Father, with a fresh desire for each of us to know and walk in His very highest will for our lives.  If this word speaks to your heart, I adjure you to stop right now, take some time, and seek His faceMany of God’s people are spiritually depleted, running on fumes, living on crumbs… when all the while, our Father has a feast of His Word and Presence for us if we will simply make time for Him.  Let’s draw near to Him, ask for that fresh stirring of His Spirit in our spirits, and believe Him to begin a work of revival in our lives. 

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 

 Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.

Psalm 85:6-7

May the Lord refresh your heart in His Presence this week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

 

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2012