Archive for January, 2015

THOU SHALT REJOICE

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Q: Why did God make so many “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” statements to the Israelites of old?   

A: He loved them… and when a good Father tells His children “do this” or “don’t do that,” it means that He’s watching out for them and wants what’s best for them. 

The same principle applies to us – Believers under the New Covenant.  Listen to Jesus’ own words about one way that He expresses His love to His followers:

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.”

Jesus speaking in Revelation 3:19, NIV

That’s good news!  Because we need Jesus’ input, correction, and discipline in our lives.  When God says “THOU SHALT…” it’s an expression of His kindness to us! 

But of all the “thou shalt’s” in the Book, here’s one that you may not have considered:

“And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee…”

Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV

WHAT A COMMAND! In fact, the Israelites are commanded not once, not twice, not even thrice – but NINE (9) TIMES in Deuteronomy to rejoice in the Lord. Is that awesome, or what? 

Q: So why would God COMMAND His people to rejoice in Him?

A: He knew life would be hard sometimes… And when rejoicing is hardest, it’s often most vital that we do it.  It helps to guard our minds against despair, it helps heal our hearts from the battles we’ve faced and the scars we wear, and it gives us perspective on the future – because when it comes right-absolutely-rubber-meets-the-road down to it, our God is LARGE AND IN CHARGE, no matter what ugly dog the devil has barking in our face! 

And He has PROMISEDand He’s NOT A MAN that He should lie – He has PROMISED to work ABSOLUTELY ALL these things – that includes the hardest, the saddest, the most fearful or frustrating, the most depressing or dreary – ALL these things together for the GOOD of EVERYONE who loves Him and is called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).  THAT, by the way, means YOU – if you’ve surrendered your life to Jesus. 

Remember: disappointments are inevitable in life, but despair is a choice… and so is joy.  Make YOUR choice to REJOICE in Jesus’ love for you. 

And JUST in case you can’t think of anything to rejoice about, try these on for size, O follower of Jesus:

1. HELL is very, very REAL (see Matt. 25:41, Luke 12:5, and dozens more) – and you’re NEVER, EVER GOING THERE thanks to Jesus’ work on the Cross!

“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

 John 10:28-29 NKJ

2. HEAVEN is ALSO VERY REAL, and it’s WAY, WAY, WAY THE HECK BETTER than you think!  

 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him”

1 Cor. 2:9 NIV

3. So long as your wise and loving Father keeps you down here on planet Earth, He’s got a GOOD PLAN to use you for His Kingdom work!

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 Eph. 2:10 NKJV 

Don’t know what those “good works” are that He’s made especially for you?  Just ask Him, then make rejoicing in Jesus a way of life… He’ll show you His path for you, fill you with His Spirit’s power, and use your life for His glory. 

May the Lord BLESS you as you rejoice in Him this week!

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2015

 

MAKING WAY FOR A MIRACLE

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

For some reading this exhortation, only a miracle will do – a true intervention by the Almighty, an answer only God could work.  I want to look at several principles that make way for a move of God in our situation, as illustrated in the account of Jesus feeding the multitudes in Mark chapter 6:

“You feed them… How much bread do you have?”

Mark 6:37-38 NLT

Principle # 1:  Seeing your need is a good thing!  Jesus’ question leads the disciples to the stark awareness that their need far outweighed their supplyDon’t be afraid to face the truth about your need, and admit how serious your situation is.  Denial is an evasion tactic to insulate oneself from hurt, but it only hurts more in the long run because it keeps us from Principle # 2 – desperation! 

 “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money

to buy food for all these people!”

Mark6:37 NLT

Principle # 2: Desperation is a powerful motivator for dynamic faith.  Let the greatness of your need drive you to the Throne of Grace (see Heb. 4:16).  You have a Father who loves to answer His children – so call out, pour out your heart before Him (Ps. 62:8), and know that His ears are open to your cry (Ps. 34:15).

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that His disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while He sent the people home.

Mark6:45 NLT

Principle # 3: Sometimes Jesus sends His friends straight into a stormNo matter how difficult your situation and how hard the storm winds are blowing, you’re not here by accident. Remember that “The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord” (Ps. 37:23), and that includes when the steps lead you into a difficulty or sorrow.  God is with you, and He’s promised to work ALL these things together for your good.   

You might be saying, “But that’s the problem – I got in this predicament by NOT being righteous.” So did a fellow named Jonah… and Jacob… and Moses… and King David… and Peter… and on it goes. 

Good news: God is awesome enough to redeem even our worst failures for His glory and our good once we humble our hearts and seek Him.  I’m not suggesting that there are never consequences for our actions – there may be – but I’m reminding us that we must never underestimate the mercy and grace of our God.

Principle # 4:  Cease numbing your pain.  Miracles come at the place of need, and avoiding the sense of need by numbing your pain only prolongs the ordeal.  Some numbing agents are benign in themselves – like food, hobbies, shopping, etc., while others are inherently destructive (addictions that wage war against the soul).  But either way, they weaken us spiritually, distract focus from the only One who can help us, and only make our problems worse.

I would have despaired unless I had believed

that I would see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

Psalms27:13 NASB

Principle # 5:  Choose to believe in God’s goodness once again.  It’s possible to live so long in the valley that you forget what hope feels like, forget that God really loves you and has plans for your future. 

On certain levels, despair is a choice, a decision to believe that your Father won’t answer you in His faithful love once more.  And hope is the same – a decision to agree with God’s Word, and to believe in His love and wisdomGive yourself permission to hope again, realizing that your Father is the “God of hope” (Rom. 15:13) and He holds your future (for all eternity) in His hands. 

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord;

 be brave and of good courage

and let your heart be stout and enduring.

Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

Psalm 27:14 AMP
 

May the Lord refresh your faith in the power of His Spirit,

Pastor Matthew Casey

 © Springs of Life Ministries, 2014
 

THAT MOUNTAIN BEFORE YOU

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

“Who are you, O great mountain?

Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!”

Zechariah 4:7 NKJV

“Climb every mountain… ford every stream…”  That’s what the song told us to do (from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Sound of Music”).  It makes for beautiful theater, but in real life it’s EASIER SAID THAN DONE. 

FACT: Some mountains are TOO big – like the one staring some of us in the face right now.  The bills that are beyond your budget, the sickness deemed “incurable,” the addiction hooked too deep, the wounds of years past too relentless in their torment… You’ve done everything you know to do, but to no avail.  Your case seems IMPOSSIBLE.

The Blessings of Impossibility

Your weakness is where God’s power begins…  We all know that – but none of us likes getting to the point where we can experience it.  We cling to human effort, earthly hope or answers – but it’s often not until all these have left us dry that we’re desperate enough to step out on the waves with Jesus and see what God will do. 

Your freedom won’t come through your effort, your deliverance won’t be produced by the tools of man – your answer is from the Most High God alone:

“Not by might, nor by power,

but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6 NKJV

If God has entrusted you with a true MOUNTAIN of a difficulty, then realize: this is your opportunity to bring Him great glory.  The devil expects you to wonder, whimper, whine, complain – but as you choose to give God praise and thanks, to forgive those who have wronged you, and to stay content in Jesus’ love for you, you’re going to bring Him GREAT GLORY in the battle, and put the devil to shame. 

I pray that you are strengthened in faith, refreshed in hope, and revived in the power of the Holy Spirit this week… And that you see the arm of the Almighty One toss your mountain in the sea like it was a baseball. 

“He who calls you is faithful, and will also do it.”

1 Thess. 5:24

Love and Blessings to you,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

Leaving the Wilderness Behind

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you;

He will destroy these nations from before you,

and you shall dispossess them…

Deuteronomy 31:3 NKJV

40 years of wandering through a wilderness, waiting for unbelief to die off… It must have felt like an eternity, a pointless journey that would never end. 

And yet, it did end.  In the fullness of time, the wilderness had accomplished its purpose to help prepare God’s people for the Promise.  And they entered into the Promised Land with the Presence of the Lord going before them. 

Some reading this feel like they’re in a wilderness right now ~ in fact, you may feel as if you’ve been there a lifetime.  Hurts, confusion, unanswered questions, unfulfilled promises – these can leave the pilgrim feeling as if the wilderness will never end, and that the promise of a new season was a false hope all along.  If that’s you, please hear this encouragement:

1. God is “seldom early and never late” – and He will perform what He has promised 

Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed.

Habakkuk 2:3 NLT

Waiting on God is never wasted time.  Our Father knows best ~ and we can trust His heart, wisdom, and plan. 

2.  Faithfulness in the wilderness = preparation for the Promise. 

I tested your faith at Meribah, when there was no water.

Psalm 81:7 NLT

What seems like endless waiting and pointless wandering is actually the proving ground for our faith, and the preparation for God’s promise to come to pass in our lives.  So don’t give up on His faithfulness – keep trusting, worshiping, and serving the Savior who died for you.  The reward for your faithfulness is absolutely, 100% guaranteed – and we won’t know the full measure until we stand before Him in glory:

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

May the Lord strengthen your heart to wait on Him with expectation and joy this week.  The wilderness season will end, and the land of promise will open – right on time. 

Blessings to you,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

YOU ARE AN OAK TREE, NOT A CHIA PET :-)

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

So be patient with God’s good work in you.

Ever watched an oak grow?  Gaze upon an oak tree for a few hours (or days or weeks), and it appears that NOTHING is happening at all.  But in reality, a myriad of processes are taking place – many of them below ground, out of sight – which are turning a tiny acorn into a mighty oak that can withstand the fiercest storm. 

For the Lord has planted them like strong and graceful oaks

for His own glory.

Isaiah 61:3 NLT

That’s what God is making you: an oak of His righteousness, “the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3 NKJ).  So be patient with His good work in you – HE began it, and HE will be faithful to bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).   

It may feel like nothing is happening in your life, like God has you stuck in an endless holding pattern, always circling the airport but never arriving at your destination.  But if you’re praying, God is hearing – and He’s on the move (usually in ways you can’t see!) 

Your Battle is Like a Jericho

Remember Joshua and the Battle of Jericho?  Here’s what an Israelite soldier’s diary might have looked like that week:

Day 1: Walked around Jericho (marched, blew shofars, marched, blew shofars)… nothing happened. 

Day 2: More walking around Jericho (marched, blew shofars, marched, blew shofars)… nothing happened. 

Day 3: Umm… see Days 1 and 2. 

And so on for 6 days!  That’s a long time to march in the Middle Eastern heat for no apparent reason, with no apparent change in the situation.  But of course, we know the end of the story:

Day 7: Marched around Jericho 7 times (whew!), blew shofars, then SHOUTED!  The walls fell, the foe was defeated, and we destroyed everything – even the chia pets. 

Jericho’s battle reminds us that God often works in two ways:

1. S-L-O-W-L-Y……. then,

2. SUDDENLY! 

We all like the SUDDENLY part!  We want to fast forward our lives to Day 7, but Days 1-6 are vital to make us ready for God’s “suddenly.”  They prepare us for the blessing, they refine and focus our hearts and minds, and they teach us to trust and obey HIS plan (not our own). 

Just Add Water! 

Growing in Jesus is much like growing an oak tree ~ your local garden store doesn’t sell products with names like “Insta-Oak” or “Miracle Tree” that promise you a big, strong oak tree in a matter of weeks.  Why?  Because real strength requires time to grow, and that’s God’s plan for you.

Chia pets may grow overnight (at least that’s what the commercial said), but they don’t last, and they’re not strong.  No one ever built a tree house in their chia pet.

God has LONG-TERM plans for your life ~ so be patient with His good work.  Just cooperate with Him ~ let your roots go deep into His love for you (Eph. 3:17-19), feed on the life-giving promises of His Word, and drink in the Living Waters of His Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39) in worship and prayer.  You do the simple things, and God will be faithful to do the miraculous.  He will make your life like a mighty oak tree, faithful by His grace and strong in His Spirit’s power.  

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014
 

Please Guard Your Heart

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life.

Proverbs 4:23 NASB

Dear Friends,

I cannot tell you the grief I’ve felt lately in watching so many Believers stray from their first love for Jesus… In nearly 30 years of following Jesus, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

It often starts with a hurt, a disappointment – maybe even something caused by a church or ministry situation.

As the hurt lingers, the accuser subtly whispers, “How was the Lord good through this?  Where was He in all this?  Why did He allow it?”  And the hurt turns into disappointment with God.

The Christian allows their devotion to Jesus to wane, allowing their friendship with Him to take backseat in their lives to other pursuits…

Pretty soon, their time with Jesus is sporadic (at best), their lives are hectic and joyless, and their hearts start to stray.

And then the devil really sets in.

Jesus said that in the season before He returned:

“Sin will be rampant everywhere,

and the love of many will grow cold.”

Matthew 24:12 NLT

I am convinced that we are living in those days.

I have never seen so many ministers falling, so many 20+ year marriages crumbling, so many Christians buying into the lies and accepting the value system of the world as I’ve seen the past few years…and my heart grieves. 

So my friends, here is my point:

Please don’t become the next casualty of the enemy’s lies.

Don’t let your marriage fall prey to the false promises that satan is using to allure spouses away from their covenant vows.

Don’t let the crazy pace of this info-saturated and celebrity-worshiping world dictate your life and choke out your time with Jesus.

Don’t trade the precious things – like your friendship with Jesus, your marriage, family, friends, and the calling He has on your life – in exchange for the worthless, empty pursuits and false promises of this world. 

Remember: the devil doesn’t take a day off, and neither can we – every day is a day to love Jesus, to serve others, and to grow in His calling and will for our lives.

But if we stop walking with Jesus, we don’t stand still – we lose ground, guaranteed.

Know this: God is MORE than faithful to guard us, keep us, and make us more than conquerors over EVERY scheme and tactic of satan – but He cannot do our part for us.

And our part is simple but vital: to love Him, spend time with Him, grow in Him.  It’s simple, but it makes all the difference.

I pray that you experience a refreshing and reviving of your love for Jesus this week that never, ever stops.

Let’s stay close to the Shepherd… He loves you so.

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

God With YOU

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Enjoying the Promise of His Presence

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son,

and they shall call His name Immanuel,”

which is translated, “God with us.”

Matthew 1:23 NKJ

How different would your Monday be if you were CONVINCED that God was with you all day long?  If you believed that His presence with you was a fact, a reality, as certain as the dawn? 

TRUE STORY: if Jesus visibly appeared in your room RIGHT NOW, He would not be any more “with you” than He already is, for He dwells in your heart through His Holy Spirit’s presence:

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20 NLT

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5 NKJ

YES!  He’s right here, right now, keeping the promise of His presence with His child…  In fact, you and I couldn’t escape His presence if we tried:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?

Psalm 139:7 NKJ

“God with us” is God with YOU – right now, and forever!  Man, that’s good news.

But to enjoy it, we’ve got to believe it!  So let’s feed our faith on the facts of God’s Word, asking the Holy Spirit to increase our belief in the promise of His presence:

  • “Fear not, for I am with you…” Isaiah 41:10
  • I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” Psalm 23:4
  • “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty…” Zephaniah 3:17
  • My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14
  • “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” Psalm 46:1-2
  • “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?”  1 Corinthians 6:19
  • “All those who love Me will do what I say.  My Father will love them, and we will come to them and live with them. John 14:23 

Immanuel has promised His presence with YOU – today, and forever.  On the brightest day or in darkest night, His presence knows no shifting of shadow – He is constant, faithful, unfailing.  And He is with you – right now.    

May you live confident in the joy and peace of His presence this week, 

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

Fire on the Altar

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

So with the stones he (Elijah) built an altar in the name of the Lord…

Then the fire of the Lord fell…

1 Kings 18:32, 38 NASB

The fire didn’t fall until Elijah had built the altar…  God wanted to show His power to Israel, wanted to send fire, wanted to defeat Elijah’s foes – but the miracle wouldn’t take place until Elijah had done his part.  He did the possible, and God did the impossible.

What’s Your Altar?

Elijah’s altar didn’t build itself… It took time & effort to carry heavy stones, arrange the wood, etc.  It required sacrifice, because bulls weren’t cheap!  But most of all, it demanded: devotionAn altar was an expression of heart-devotion to the Lord, a place of making a covenant, of consecrating oneself, of giving Him the best of the flock, and of remembering the Lord’s goodness and faithful love.

So how about you?  What step of devotion, sacrifice, and consecration can you take that will say to the Lord, “I love You more than anything, and I’m giving You my best.”  Many times an altar for God’s people today means:

1. A step of sacrificial giving (such as finances, or prized possessions)

2. A sacrifice of time to cultivate a deeper friendship with Jesus

3. A special season of self-denial (perhaps fasting food, media, entertainment, for the purpose of increased focus on Jesus and greater attention to prayer)

The “man after God’s own heart” refused to offer a sacrifice that cost him nothing (see 1 Chronicles 21:24); our altar must cost us something, must involve sacrifice somehow if it is to bless the Lord’s heart.  But isn’t our Savior worth that? 

If you build it, He will come

Just as in Elijah’s day, God wants to show His power today, to send His Spirit, to defeat your foes – but He’s looking for altars upon which to fall.  1 Kings 18 details the work that Elijah went to in building his altar – it wasn’t quick or easy!  But the results changed history. 

If you invest the time and devotion to make your life an altar to the Lord, He will (in His perfect time and way) visit you with His fire, with quickening of life and warming of love, and with a fresh move of His Spirit in and through you.

Make the sacrifice that the Lord lays on your heart… And watch what He does.

The Lord bless you,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

He answers you TODAY

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

In the day when I cried out,

You answered me,

And made me bold with strength in my soul.”

Psalm 138:3 NKJV

God is always on time – He was on time for Noah on Mt. Ararat, for Abraham on Mt. Moriah, and for Israel at the Red Sea.  He was on time for one shepherd boy with five smooth stones, for three Jewish youths in one fiery furnace, and for one fiery prophet battling 450 pagan priests on Mt. Carmel (those are good odds if God is with you!). 

He was born right on time in Bethlehem, and He’s fixing to return right on time to Jerusalem (see Acts 1:10-12).  “All the nations” will come to wage war against Jerusalem, and just when it looks like all hope is lost, “Hineh Hu Ba!(Behold He comes) ~ Jesus will split the eastern sky on a milk-white steed, set His feet on the Mount of Olives, and give His enemies a whoopin’ with fire in His eyes and a rod of iron in His hand (see Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19).

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,

Today, if you hear His voice,

Do not harden your hearts…”

Hebrews 3:7-8 NAS 

The One who created time is watching over every moment of your day and every beat of your heart – and He’s promised to answer when you call.  Listen to how the Amplified Bible puts it:

“In the day when I called, You answered me;

And You strengthened me with strength

(might and inflexibility to temptation) in my inner self.”

Psalm 138:3 AMP

He will be faithful to do His part – right on time, every single time.  His track record is 100% faithfulness, 100% success, with 100% of those who seek Him.  He never fails.  Our part is to look to Him which means looking away from every false source of strength, hope, holiness, and peace – and to call out for His help alone.  You cannot go wrong by running swiftly and often to the Throne of Grace (see Hebrews 4:15-16).  The High and Holy One will draw near every time He hears your call – and He will answer you today. 

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble;

May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;

May He send you help from the sanctuary,

And strengthen you out of Zion…

Psalm 20:1-2 NKJ

The Lord bless you and keep you,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2014

Time to Trade In

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

The devil’s job description hasn’t changed much over the centuries… Jesus put it this way:  

The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy

he is a liar, and the father of lies.”

John 10:10, 8:44 NASB

The devil is like the proverbial “dishonest used car salesman” – he wants us to trade in something of tremendous value in exchange for something that looks good, but is actually totally worthless and will never satisfy.  For instance, he wants us to trade in:

  • Our daily time with Jesus (see Rev. 3:20) for a busy schedule, mindless entertainment, and a joyless life.
  • Our boldness in Christ’s authority (see Luke 10:19) for fear for self and apprehension about the future.
  • Our enjoyment of God’s love (see John 15:9, 1 John 4:19) for a mindset of striving and performing to feel “good enough” for your Father’s approval. 
  • And much, much more! 

    How much would YOU pay for a deal like that?  But don’t answer yet!  Mr. Devil has MORE deals for you – in essence: 

The devil constantly tries to persuade us to trade away something priceless for something worthless.

He did it with Eve in the Garden, and he’s been doing the same bum deals ever since.  If you’ve fallen prey to his schemes and scams, what can you do? 

GOOD NEWS ~ our Messiah will trade us: 

  • Beauty for the ashes of we’ve been sold
  • The oil of joy for grief and sadness
  • A garment of praise for the heavy weight of discouragement and depression
  • And Robes of His very own Righteousness for our filthy rags of self-effort.

    (See Isaiah 61:3, 10; 64:6)

Here’s a REALLY GOOD deal:

We can trade in the worthless clunker of lies we’ve believed, false mindsets we’ve bought, and vain pursuits we’ve sought after… and in exchange, Jesus will give us the priceless things that matter now and forever.   And as we come to Him and surrender all, He promises to heal our hearts, free us from the captivity of sin and self, and set us free from the prison of lies and fears with which the enemy has bound us (see Isaiah 61:1-2).

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;

He will beautify the humble with salvation.

Psalm 149:4

May the Lord bless and favor you, and fill you with His Spirit afresh this week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

 © Springs of Life Ministries, 2014