Archive for December, 2015

The Gift of Contentment

Monday, December 28th, 2015

In this season of gift-giving and celebration, let’s take a few moments to consider a gift that far surpasses any earthly treasure: the gift of contentment.

“Just a little bit more.”

Billionaire John D. Rockefeller, answering a journalist who asked him, “how much money is enough?”

 Rockefeller was fabulously rich (one of the richest men ever), strictly religious, yet notoriously ruthless in his business dealings. L He had lots of money, and lots of religion… but no contentment.

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure… Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind…”

King Solomon, writing in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIV

King Solomon had lots of money, lots of religion (much of it pagan), and lots of EVERYTHING ELSE too (wives, real estate, fame – you name it!). He went for the gusto and got it, and some consider his fortune to be the greatest ever – perhaps over $2 TRILLION dollars by today’s figures. But he discovered that contentment is a gift received by a humble heart, not a possession purchased by the proud.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus was a servant. Unlike Rockefeller, He wasn’t recognized as a man of great power and worth. Unlike Solomon, He wasn’t celebrated by the masses as a great king, and didn’t live in the lap of luxury.

But Jesus possessed a treasure that surpasses all of Rocky’s and Sol’s toys combined: perfect contentment, even in the midst of ridicule, rejection, and injustice.

How did Jesus walk in such contentment? What was His secret? Jesus always embraced the will of His Father – even when it meant embracing the Cross en route to Golgotha. Jesus showed us: true contentment means surrendering my will, and embracing the Father’s.

It’s easy to live with an attitude that says, “I’d be content if… I’ll be happy when…” but it’s not true. Contentment always begins where we are, not where we aren’t. Learning to be content in Jesus here and now (by embracing His will for us, even when that will means self-denial or sacrifice) is an invaluable secret to living a truly joyful and blessed life.

Such a life may not be “living the dream” by this world’s standards, but this world isn’t what we’re living for anyway ~ our King is coming back, and “His reward is with Him” (Is. 62:11). He offers us the gift of contentment in His will now, and sharing in His glory forever…

May your heart delight in Jesus’ love and presence this week,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2015
 

How Should We Respond to Evil?

Monday, December 7th, 2015

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,

but against principalities, against powers,

against the rulers of the darkness of this age,

against spiritual hosts of wickedness

in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12 NKJV

How should Christians respond to Wednesday’s attack in California? How do we be rise above the media blather and political posturing, and instead share God’s heart at such a time? I have several exhortations

1. Recognize the true foe: the root cause of the San Bernardino attack is not merely “religious zeal,” but spiritual evil, the work of him who seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).

It is undeniable that satan uses those under the influence of “radical Islam” to persecute and murder others around the world (and the vast majority of the persecution is directed at Christians ~ please follow this link to learn about the hardships being endured by our brothers and sisters around the world: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/).

But let us embrace the mind of Christ and heart of the Father: Muslims (whether “radical” or otherwise) are not the “enemy” – they are precious souls for which Jesus shed His sinless blood, and for whom we must pray and share God’s truth and love.

The real enemy is the one who seeks to take as many souls to hell with him as he possibly can – and our prayers weigh mightily in that battle! GOOD NEWS: missiologists report that Muslims are currently coming to faith in Christ at an unprecedented rate, especially in some of the most difficult places like Iran and Syria.

2. Recognize the false savior: “Gun Control” is both a political agenda and an ideological goal, but it is not the solution.

If you are one of the well-intentioned people who sincerely believe that “gun control = safer America,” please read the next few paragraphs to balance the onslaught of media and political hype inundating our nation.

The painful truth is that the vast majority of our nation’s mass shootings have been perpetrated in “gun-free zones(like schools and theaters) where gun control is already in force. And places with the strictest “gun control” laws (like Chicago) typically have the highest rates of gun-related crimes and murders (no, criminals who don’t obey existing laws also don’t obey gun control laws – but they do like an unarmed populace). Mass murderers always choose places where they know they will meet little or no resistance – not places where law-abiding citizens may be armed.

Detroit’s Chief of Police recently encouraged law-abiding residents of that city to arm themselves as a response to Detroit’s terrible crime rates, stating that the best way to make the city safer was for criminals to know that innocent citizens may very well shoot back. And in fact, statistics seem to show that he’s right (gun ownership is up, violent crime is down).

We are a BIG country with millions of illegal weapons (and my friends in law enforcement tell me they are easily attainable, if you know where to look and have a little money). And many more illegal guns are constantly entering our country along with the illegal drugs that flow through our southern border. “Gun control” is a myth, a false hope for our nation’s safety, and a misunderstanding of the true (spiritual) nature of our problem.

3. Recognize the REAL hope – the ONLY hope for America’s future: a Return to Prayer.

History (ancient and modern) is filled with examples of what happens when God’s people seek His face and pray… and what happens when they don’t. We are there.

The tragic reality: We – the American Church – have largely ceased prioritizing prayer… As a result the Church is rife with addictions, divisions, adultery, divorce, pornography, abortions – we resemble the World far, far more than we resemble the Word. And America is suffering the heartbreaking effects of a nation with a powerless Church.

The Immutable Hope: We can change that. No, I didn’t say GOD can change that – because He already wants to! His Word tells us what He will do WHENEVER and WHEREVER His people seek Him with all their hearts. He is waiting for US to do OUR part:

“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

Your prayers matter far, far more than you can imagine ~ you have an impact in the spiritual battle raging in our nation (and beyond) when you pray for God’s Kingdom to advance and for satan’s schemes to be bound. May you be mighty in battle this week, stirred by the Holy Spirit, filled with His love, and used for His glory.  

Much love in Jesus our Savior,

Pastor Matthew Casey

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2015