Archive for February, 2014

Open up and say “Baaaaaa”

Monday, February 24th, 2014

“I am the good shepherd;

and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”

John 10:14 NKJ

Jesus didn’t call His followers a smart animal like German Shepherds, or dolphins, or even squirrels (hey, squirrels are pretty clever!)  Rather, He chose to call us “sheep.”  And in case you hadn’t heard: Sheepies need a shepherd. 

No fangs, no claws, and not much in the way of smarts… sheep are dependent upon their shepherd to guide, protect, and provide

“The Lord is my shepherd;

I shall not be in want.”

Psalm 23:1 NIV

When the Sheepie tries to be the Shepherd 

We’ve all done it at times – whether through neglect, unbelief, or forgetfulness, we fail to trust Jesus to do what shepherds do (guide, protect, and provide) – and so we take a burden on our shoulders that God never meant for us to carry.  The result?  Miserable, weighted down, discouraged Sheepies…

It’s HIS role and responsibility to direct your paths, show you His will, open doors of provision, speak to you, heal your heart, restore your soul, and watch over your life… It’s YOUR job to enjoy time with the Shepherd, listening and learning.  ALL the heavy burdens and big responsibilities are ON JESUS.  That’s why Jesus could say, “Come unto Me… for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light(see Matthew 11:28-30). 

That’s a Good Sheepie:

Psalm 37 gives us some simple commands that we can only do with the Holy Spirit’s help, but which make for a blessed life in the sheepfold:

1.  Trust in the Lord

2. Delight yourself in the Lord

3. Don’t fret or worry  

4. Commit your situations to Him

5. Rest in the Lord

6. Wait patiently for His help and timing

I encourage you to check your shoulders – are they weighted down, or at ease?  How about your mind – is it vexed, or victorious?  Is your heart joyful, or troubled?  If you’re feeling crushed beneath a heavy load, it’s likely you’ve taken on a burden the Lord never meant for you to carry. 

So hand it over!  Roll off the burden!  Cast your cares on Him!  Let Him be the Shepherd – you just enjoy being His sheep.  No more figuring it out, trying to fix everything, scheming and striving… It’s time to rest, trust, and wait on your Good Shepherd to come through.  He’s always right on time.

Remember how He loves you this week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

And now, may the God of peace,

who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,

equip you with all you need for doing His will.

 May He produce in you,

through the power of Jesus Christ,

all that is pleasing to Him.

Jesus is the great Shepherd of the sheep

by an everlasting covenant,

signed with His blood.

To Him be glory forever and ever.

Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21 NLT

 

Where Do We Turn?

Monday, February 17th, 2014

In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet.

Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord,

but only from the physicians.

2 Chronicles 16:12 NIV 

Where we run when something BIG touches our life largely depends on where we’ve been running during life’s smaller situations.  King Asa – though he was a great king who had been mightily used by God – had allowed hardness to start building up in his heart.  He had started turning to man rather than God, walking by sight rather than faith (see 1 Chronicles 16:1-10).  And the results were tragic: this king, who started his race so well, ended it in unbelief and misery.

Where do you go for advice, comfort, and peace of mind during life’s “little” situations?  The answer is crucial, because where we turn determines what counsel we’ll receive, what we’ll believe, and how we’ll respond in the BIG moment of crisis. 

You have 4 months to live.”

Those are the words a doctor told my Mom early in the summer of 1988.  She was only 54 years old, and not planning on facing the end of life so suddenly and soon. 

A Death Sentence?  Worst-case Scenario? 

That counts as a “BIG crisis” by anyone’s standard.  I can’t think of much worse news than to be told you’ll suffer a swift but very painful death as cancer destroys your major organs. 

BUT GOD

Mr. Doctor forgot Who sits on the Throne of the universe…

My Mom was understandably devastated by the terrible news… But after the initial shock and normal responses (like, “How could God let this happen to me?”), my Mom started turning to and trusting in the Lord She realized that she – like Asa – had let hardness build up in her heart and distance come between herself and Jesus.  And she turned back to Him with all her heart (and my Dad followed suit).  They joined a Bible-believing church, surrounded themselves with friends who could encourage and build them up in God’s love, and then…

8 Years and 8 Months Later…

My Mom slipped from this life into the arms of Jesus in the early morning of Valentine’s Day, 1997.  The medical authority gave her 4 months.  Jesus gave her 4 months x 26.  I like that math! 

Hey!  Jesus has your back!  He’s got you covered!  *Your life is in His hands, your days are in His Book, your tears are in His bottle, your hairs are all numbered, your wanderings are all recorded, and your life is precious to Him… so precious, in fact, that He gave HIS life for YOUR life. 

He can do anything except fail you… So let’s run to Him today with the “little things” in our lives, and trust Him for the big moments as well.  He’s the only One truly 100% worthy of our trust. 

Much love and blessing to you,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

* “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” Isaiah 49:16 NKJ

* “Every day of my life was recorded in Your book… before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16 NLT

* “You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.” Psalm 56:8 NLT

* “You number my wanderings…” Psalm 56:8 NKJ

* “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30 NKJ

For Those in the Fight

Monday, February 17th, 2014

“Fight the good fight of the faith. 

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…”

1 Timothy 6:10 NIV 

Paul found life to be a battle sometimes, and all those who love and follow Jesus will find the same thing (see 2 Timothy 3:12).  I’ve said it before: if you’re content to do nothing for Jesus, the enemy is content to let you.  But start growing in God’s love, seeking His face, praying for others, and reaching out in His love – and you’ll find yourself in a fight.    

The King calls us to follow in His footsteps; He overcame, and so shall we.  Here are but a few of the principles and promises of His Word to help us wage war successfully this week:

1. Yesterday’s victory doesn’t win today’s battle.

Each day presents a new opportunity to surrender your will, trust your Father, serve others, and rejoice in His love for you.  It’s a daily choice based on the fact of your Father’s faithfulness – not based on how faith-filled you’re feeling that morning:

“The unfailing love of the Lord never ends…

Great is His faithfulness;

His mercies begin afresh each day.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

Feelings will come and go, but God’s faithfulness to you is surer than the rising sunHe won’t fail you!  So walk BOLDLY into the battle this week, with your life built squarely on the rock of His unfailing love and perfect care for you.

2. Surrender = Victory

“We are human, but we don’t wage war

with human plans and methods…”

2 Corinthians 10:3 NLT

In worldly terms, victory means “last man standing,” survival of the fittest, personal advancement, saving self at any cost.  But in God’s Kingdom, daily surrender leads to lasting victory:

“Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

Luke 17:33 NKJ

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Luke 9:23 NKJ 

Only what we entrust to Christ is truly safe, and only a surrendered life is a victorious lifeAll we seek to attain or preserve for ourselves – whether loved ones, dreams and desires, possessions or plans, or even life itself – is truly left unprotected on the plains of self-preservation. 

3. Faithful Soldiers are Honored

“You therefore must endure hardship

as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:3 NKJ

The lifestyle of living for the glory of Another makes no sense to the wisdom of this world… But then, this world is seriously screwed up (just sayin’).  John wrote that “The whole world lies under the sway of satan(1 John 5:19), and the reward for serving yourself is short-termed and unsatisfying.  But the sweet savor of a life spent in service of Christ will reap reward forever. 

“Eye has not seen,

No ear has heard,

And no mind has imagined

what God has prepared

for those who love Him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

Know this: Jesus is worth it all.  Whatever cost you count, whatever cross you carry – you’ll not possess one ounce of regret when you see Jesus face to face and realize that your life on earth brought Him glory

“Those who honor Me I will honor.”

1 Samuel 2:30 NKJ 

The Lord bless you,  

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

ALL IN

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. 

As a result, he was very successful.”

2 Chronicles 31:21 NLT

 Hezekiah discovered the secret to true, lasting success: he sought God with ALL his heart.

He wasn’t a perfect leader, nor a perfect man – but he was wholehearted in his pursuit of the Lord – and the result was a successful, fruitful life. 

And you will seek Me and find Me,

when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13 NKJ

A Question:

What would seeking God “with all your heart” look like in your life?  What step of love and devotion for Jesus would make the statement, “I’m ALL in!  I’m giving God my best – no more holding back!  I’m seeking Him first and putting Him above all else.  My definition of success is to seek God with all my heart.” 

A challenge:

In an age of feel-good sermons and weak  Christianity…

In a day when the enemies of the Cross take a stand in the streets while some pastors are afraid to take a stand in their own pulpits…

In an age of so many half-hearted converts and so much compromise…

Let’s do something radical, countercultural, and entirely unpopular:

Let’s seek God with ALL our hearts this day, this week, and all year long.

Let’s live like we have an appointment in eternity with the King of Kings.

Let’s stand so in awe of God that there’s no room left to fear any man. 

Let’s cry out for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to flow to and through us like the “rivers of living waters” Jesus promised His disciples (see John 7:37-39).

Let’s show the world what a wholehearted, single-minded, sold-out follower of Jesus looks like – not perfect, but passionate in the pursuit of our Lord. 

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

2 Chronicles 16:9 NAS 

Eagerly they sought after God, and they found Him.  And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.” 

2 Chronicles 15:15 NLT

Let’s live a passion-driven life, tending the holy flame of love for Jesus on the altars of our hearts. 

May the Lord bless you this week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

Doctor’s Orders

Friday, February 7th, 2014

“King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the psalms…”

 2 Chronicles 29:30 

I recently read an article by a neurosurgeon who suggests that 75% of Americans are “magnesium deficient” – suffering from significantly low levels of the mineral magnesium – but don’t even realize it.  This can cause problems in the nervous system, digestive system, elevate blood pressure, affect blood sugar levels, create problems sleeping, and many other possible effects. 

God put magnesium in foods – like spinach, and many beans/seeds/nuts, for instance – because He knew our bodies needed it (that’s how He made us!) 

Which got me thinking…

  • Many of us are lacking a basic mineral that God knew our bodies needed (that’s why He put it in foods). 
  • Our lack of what God intended creates health problems. 
  • Rather than addressing the source, we Americans usually just treat the symptoms with medicines (which may create their own side effects).

“AHA!” I thought.  “That’s JUST LIKE WORSHIP!”

  • God intended for us to worship – to praise Him, thank Him, exalt His greatness, think about His mercy, etc. – as a regular part of our daily life.
  • Many Christians suffer from “worship deficiency” – the entire week’s worship is often contained in a 20 minute song service before announcements on Sunday morning. 
  • This deficiency causes problems – whether we realize it or not – such as:
    • VISION PROBLEMS ~ Our fears and foes look bigger when we fail to exalt the greatness of our God.  Worship helps us see straight!
    • HEARING PROBLEMS ~ It’s often hard to discern the Lord’s voice through the din of this noisy world.  But making time to worship helps quiet the world’s noise, and helps us hear from Him.
    •  HEART PROBLEMS ~ Jesus told us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  A heart that fails to worship Jesus will inevitably start to worship something or someone else ~ and that creates a hard, calloused heart.  But as we praise Jesus, it invites and allows the Holy Spirit to soften, heal, and instruct our hearts in His ways and will. 

It could be loud or quiet, spoken or sung, in the shower or during your commute – but the fact is, you and I were created to worship Jesus!   

God’s Word doesn’t just suggest that we worship Him – it commands it!  Obeying that command brings glory to God, and also yields blessings in our lives – like joy, strength, peace, hope, and victory in spiritual warfare. 

“But I will hope continually,

and will praise You yet more and more.”

Psalm 71:14

But when we fail to worship, we fail to prosper in the spiritual health God intended for His children.  It’s like missing out on magnesium: we might not know we’re missing it, but we feel the effects in many ways. 

So I encourage you: make praise a priority.  Create a wealth of worship in your life this week.  Make time to thank Him, confessing His goodness with your lips.  Even if you can’t carry the proverbial tune in a bucket, your praise is beautiful to God, and that’s who it’s for: 

“For praise from the upright is beautiful.” 

Psalm 33:1

Love and blessing in Jesus,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014