Archive for January, 2013

Fuel for the Fire, #54: the 3 W’s

Monday, January 14th, 2013

WEARY, WIMPY, or WATCHFUL 

Oy… The news has been a little depressing lately… For instance:

  • “Same-sex weddings” to be performed in our National Cathedral…

 

  • “Legalized marijuana” in two states (and more on the way, so they say)…

 

  • Christian-owned businesses and faith-based institutions being forced to pay for abortions for their employees (mandated by Obamacare), in spite of the fact that it violates their conscience and their religious beliefs…

 

  • Our VP suggesting that our president can use an “executive order” to override our nation’s Constitution in the pursuit of “gun control” (that’s illegal, but who’s counting?)…

 

  • And a big-name pastor being uninvited to pray at the Presidential Inauguration due to statements he made in a sermon (close to 20 years ago) in which he referred to homosexuality as a lifestyle of sin from which the power of Jesus can set you free (if you’re not familiar, there’s a worthy article on the incident here).  

My friends, the day is growing darker…  And Believers must decide how they will respond to the challenge.  I see 3 likely paths many will follow ~ two are broad, and one is narrow:

  1. Head in the Sand  (A.K.A. “Ignorance is Bliss”).   This is a tempting response when so much bad news comes at us… The weary heart can cry out, “Enough!  I’m going to let the outside world worry about its own problems – I’ve just got to take care of myself!”  Though understandable, this rationale leaves the Christian in a place of inability to pray, to share God’s heart for the lost, and to be an instrument of Jesus’ love and truth to this hurting, dying world.  We must not close our eyes to the battles taking place in our nation, lest we fail to take our place on the wall and pray for God’s mercy (see Ezekiel 22:30). 
  2. Hot Froggy!  Hot Froggy!  (A.K.A. “Compromise is Deadly”).   Yes, it’s the old “frog in the kettle” analogy… Briefly put, it says that if you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, he’ll skedaddle right out of there!  But if you put him in a pot of tepid water and raise the temperature ever-so-slowly, he’ll sit there until his skin boils off.  Because the change is gradual, Mr. Frog can’t tell what’s happening to him.  And the result (for the frog) is deadly. 

If you’re like me, you’re wondering, “Who’s the sicko who figured that mystery out?  Whose idea was it to boil the frog in the first place?  Are they on their medicine?”  But that’s not the point here.  My point is this:

Many Christians will be subtly swayed by the lies pervading our nation (see 1 John 5:19), and will choose to compromise with the mindsets, values, and direction of this corrupt world system.  Not wanting to be rejected or seem “out of step” with the world today, these “hot froggy” Christians will choose compromise over counting the cost, and will consider acceptance by the world as greater riches than sharing in the reproach of Christ (see Hebrews 11:26). 

I hear churchgoers saying things like, “But Christians should just be loving… People aren’t ready for the truth, so let’s just give them love… Besides, who am I to judge?  I mean, we’re all God’s children, right?” as rationales for not sharing the truth about sin. 

Well THANK GOD someone had the guts (and the LOVE) to say to me when I was 16 years old and living in sin, “Matt, that’s wrong behavior – it’s sinful.  God loves you enough to want what’s best for you ~ and that means learning to walk in His ways and obey Him… He loves you, He’ll forgive you of your sin, and He’ll change you.”  Suppose they had thought, “Gee, I don’t want to hurt Matt’s feelings… He’s not ready for the truth… So I’ll just love him with Christian love, but not say anything that might offend him.”  Had they done so, I may still be on a highway to hell…

My friends, no one was more loving to the lost than Jesus – religious leaders of His day called Him a “friend of sinners.”  He was (and is) love incarnate.  And this same Jesus who forgave the woman caught in adultery loved her enough to tell her, “Go and sin no more” (see John 8).  He loved her enough to speak the truth, and to change her into a new person.   

Where is satan going with all this? 

Satan is trying to back the American Church into a corner where we surrender our God-given mandate to believe, speak, and live by the Word of God.  He’s essentially forced Biblical Christianity out of American political and public arenas, and now he’s trying to force Biblical Christianity out of the American Church as well – from pulpit to pew. 

Many churchgoers will take the bait under the guise of being loving and non-judgmental, when in reality their ultimate motive is purely selfish: a lust for approval from man, and a deep desire to avoid rejection.  Yet, either sooner or later there WILL be rejection for those who follow Jesus wholeheartedly:

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

2 Timothy 3:12

The world system is not our friend (see James 4:4); it serves a different master and worships at a different altar.  It’s time for American disciples of Jesus to decide that being rejected by men (if need be) is far preferable to dishonoring the Messiah. 

Our brothers and sisters in places like China, Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, and North Korea have been making these decisions for much longer – and at a much higher cost – than we have.  If they have endured imprisonment, torture, and even martyrdom for Christ, can’t we American Christians endure some rejection and shame in the court of popular opinion for the sake of the Gospel? 

Remember Jesus’ words:

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:38 

3.  Getting Our Eyes Fixed (A.K.A. “The Cost, the Cross, the Crown”).    

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV

How do we stay loving, stay joyful, and stay strong in this daunting day?  By fixing our eyes on the One who suffered and overcame so much for us.  The closer we stay to the Shepherd, the more we know His heart of love for the lost and His Word of truth to set the captives free.  Only in His Presence are we able to shake off all the lies and weights of this world, and be refreshed in the power and peace of His Holy Spirit. 

In all love I must say: a casual, “once-a-week” sort of Christianity may have gotten someone by in the times of ease and acceptance of decades past in America.  But those who continue to practice such will be in grave danger of being swept away in the flood of darkness and deception the enemy desires to send on our nation.  The hour is too late, the need to great – it’s time to seek the Lord, pray for lost souls, and love Jesus with all our hearts. 

Much love to you in the Prince of Peace,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2013

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation;but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

#53: STRENGTH, SAFETY, SUCCESS

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Fuel for the Fire Weekly Devotionals ~ Refreshing Faith, Rekindling First Love, & Praying for Revival

Welcome to 2013… God took you and I faithfully through 2012, and has brought us safely to this day ~ and that is a great blessing.  As we begin 2013, let’s refocus our hearts, minds, and lives on the Source of all our strength, safety, and (true) success for the year ahead:

  1. GOD is your Strength. 

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,”

says the Lord of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6

“…My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

Our greatest struggles and defeats often come from too much trying and too little trusting.  God’s power is infinite and sure; ours is limited and faulty.  Let’s begin 2013 by identifying our greatest areas of struggle and/or defeat, and submitting them to Jesus again.  Surrender your own efforts and striving, and receive by faith the Holy Spirit’s strength, help, and holiness in your places of need.  Here’s a recipe for true spiritual strength in the year ahead:

More trusting, less trying…

More seeking, less striving…

More thanking, less thinking…

More worship, less worry.”

  1. GOD is your Safety

 

“Have I not commanded you? 

Be strong and of good courage;

do not be afraid, nor be dismayed.

for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

The Lord is your keeper…

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;

He shall preserve your soul.

Psalm 121:5, 7

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man

and makes flesh his strength…

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

And whose hope is the Lord.”

Jeremiah 17:5, 7

Every earthly source of safety and protection can fail us, but our God never can (and never will).  Entrusting your life, family, finances, and wellbeing to Jesus is the wisest and safest step you can take.  The Shepherd may guide you by a path that doesn’t look like so secure or easy – steps of faith seldom look that way.  But if you stay submitted to His will and close to His side, you know He will guide you in the best paths for your life.

  1.  GOD is your Success. 

“Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me… for without Me you can do nothing.”

John 15:4-5

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with Him.

Philippians 3:8-9 NLT

 If you make your friendship with Jesus the measure of your success, then your life will prove to be truly successful when weighed in the scales of eternityWhen we stand before that great Throne and our lives are “revealed by fire” (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15) before His Presence, I’m afraid that much of what we 21st century American Christians considered “success” will prove to be garbage, absolutely worthless by God’s standard.

Every place that you and I allow “self-life” (in its many forms – like self-seeking, self-pity, self-preservation, self-righteousness, and others) to reign in our lives, we will suffer loss on that Day.  Conversely, every place that we deny self and choose instead to serve Jesus (and others), there will be reward.  It doesn’t mean we have to become pastors or third-world missionaries to honor Jesus – He has a plan and a ministry for every one of us, starting right where we are.  It’s the little decisions in life that (when consistently made for Jesus) will reap great reward in the final analysis.  Remember:

…He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

I want to seek Him like never before…  I don’t want my finest pursuit of the Lord to be in the past, in years of youthful zeal.  I want 2013 to be a year of His Presence… A year of seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness, of denying self and serving others.  Will you commit yourself as well to giving Jesus your very best in the year ahead?

Let’s believe God to make 2013 a year in which we enjoy His strength, His safety, and His success as we seek His face and abide in His presence.

Much love to you in our Messiah,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2013