Archive for June, 2016

America’s Last Days?

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked;

For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

 Galatians 6:7 NASB

Has the thought ever crossed your mind that America might be in her last days? That the spiritual cancer caused by having rejected the mercy, love, and truth of God is entering “late stage” in our nation? That the idols we have bowed down to are finally leaving us morally and spiritually destitute, and vulnerable to our enemies?

I am becoming increasingly concerned that it is later in our nation’s history than we think, and that our days are potentially few. I am concerned that the shameful mocking and rejecting of God’s love, Word, and ways by our culture has resulted in Him allowing us to reap what we have sown, that His hand of protection has been removed, and that we are in for a very rough ride… UNLESS:

Sow for yourselves righteousness;

Reap in mercy;

Break up your fallow ground,

For it is time to seek the LORD,

Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

Hosea 10:12 NKJV

Scripture tells us of Abraham interceding for Sodom, Moses interceding for Israel, of Daniel, Isaiah, and other men and women who stood in the gap on behalf of their nation. It’s the heart that cries out,

“Yes Lord, I realize we deserve destruction –

But Abba, in Your mercy send revival!

Begin at Your house, and show Your power…

Purify our hearts and lives with Your holy fire – and Lord, begin with me!

Rekindle my love for You like never before!

I repent of my sins, and the sins of the Church –

Make us a humble, pure, powerful witness for Jesus once again…

Grant us brokenness, repentance, and revival, God of mercy!

I ask in Jesus’ name… Amen.”

 

IS IT REALLY THAT BAD?

I truly hope I’m wrong, and that America has decades to repent and return to the Lord. However, if one considers the rapid rate at which our nation is diving headlong into a moral abyss as evidenced by the radical sexual agenda being enforced by our government, the increase of addictions, murdered unborn babies, violence and racism, corruption and greed, the abysmal political landscape, and a host of other indicatorsall these suggest that the hour is late and the time for prayer is now.

Then consider the state of the Church – one survey after another show that our statistics on divorce, adultery, pre-marital sex, and pornography are eerily similar to those outside the Church – as in, epidemic. And moreover, the statistics among professional ministers are only marginally better.

But those are just symptoms of the real heart issues within the Church – we have set up idols of self, gods of mammon and comfort, and have coddled lifestyles void of prayer, sacrifice, and self-denial. We have talk without power, religion without cross-carryingWe have enabled the broken state of our nation by our compromised and prayerless Christianity.

I am throwing no stones – I am suggesting that if ever there was a time for radical obedience and reckless abandonment to Jesus for His Kingdom purposes in our nation, this is it. I am committing to prioritizing prayer for America, fasting, worship, and seeking God till they become “normal everyday life” in my own life like never before.

I believe that if we seek God there is hope for one last great revival in our nation…

Will you seek the Lord, and stand in the gap for America?

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”

Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV

Your prayers matter more than you could possibly imagine…

May the Lord bless and empower you this week,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2016

Right Step, wrong assumption

Monday, June 6th, 2016

“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

So He said, “Come.”

Matthew 14:28 NKJV

Ever felt like Peter? You took a step of faith and obedience to what you believed God was asking of you, but it didn’t work out quite like you expected:

And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

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

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

Matthew 14:29 – 30 NKJV

Human nature thinks: “Ah, now that I’ve obeyed the Lord and gotten out of my comfort zone, surely He’ll reward me with some smooth sailing!” Yet sometimes the opposite occurs: like Peter amid the waves, after taking the step of faith we may actually encounter more trial than before!

Been there & done that one, Pardner

In 2000 I felt God was calling me to leave my job in Texas (a wonderfully-compensated worship staff position at one of the largest churches in America), to come back home to Portland – a city famous for little church attendance and much vice – to start a small church in the inner city. Overnight, I went from a church of 25,000 to a church of 25.  🙂 

From a human standpoint, it made no sense whatsoever. But when God presents you with a step of faith, don’t expect it to make sense to the natural mind… He simply shows you the stormy sea, and bids you come walk with Him.

Honestly, I expected the greatest season of ministry blessing I’d ever known when I made that sacrifice and planted that little church. We set to work growing the church, discipling Believers, starting two home groups, sharing the Gospel, doing outreaches and prayer walks, airing a weekly teaching/worship broadcast on local radio, starting a ministry to Japanese people here in Portland ~ in essence, we gave Jesus our absolute best. And during all this, I made a worship CD called “In the Father’s Arms,” a collection of ministry songs to help hurting Believers experience the love and healing only found in their Father’s presence.

Not so happily ever after

But instead of unparalleled success, we experienced the greatest tests and trials our family had ever seen… An onslaught of health attacks, financial challenges and loss, ER trips, relational attacks and betrayals – it seemed like all hell was breaking loose against us. And after several years of serving and sacrifice, the Lord ended that season and the church closed… Instead of seeing thousands get saved and discipled, we saw more like “dozens.” Not exactly what I envisioned when I stepped out of the boat…    

AND YET… we never know what the Lord is doing, even in the midst of our biggest storms and greatest disappointments. He will be faithful to reap good fruit from every step of faith you take – and most of that fruit you won’t see until you stand before His presence on that Day. When your step of faith seems to come up empty, just leave it with the Lord… He’s making your obedience a blessing in ways you cannot see.

I recently received an email from a precious sister in Christ who walked through a terrible trial some years ago – and unbeknownst to me, the Lord used that same CD made during my biggest storms to help her through hers:

“Your CD ‘In the Father’s Arms’ especially ministered to me during a very difficult time… Some years ago my husband left me and our 4 children… I was broke and devastated… I was very alone and essentially abandoned.  I listened to ‘In the Father’s Arms’ many a night with tears in my heart. I was so comforted by the music.  You will never know how much the music ministered to me. God used you for me and undoubtedly many other people… I am so happy that you will be starting a new project soon!  I have prayed and will continue to lift you, the project, and your family up in prayer.”

No step of faith and obedience is ever wasted… What seems like a “failure” in our eyes is being used by the Lord in ways we cannot yet see. Since only eternity will tell the full story, let’s make this our aim: Just keep stepping out of boats whenever He says, “Come,” and leave the rest with Him. 🙂

Much love and blessings to you in our wonderful Savior,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2016

Has God rejected the Jews?

Monday, June 6th, 2016

I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means!

Romans 11:1 NIV

Scripture states (in both Old and New Testaments) that God has a plan for Israel… From prophets to apostles, in both Old Testament and New, God’s Word makes perfectly plain that the Jews as a people and Israel as a national entity play an instrumental role in His end-time plans. 

In Romans chapter 11 the Apostle Paul states with crystal clarity that:

1) “The Jews” are “Israel,” physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus, the Church is not a “new spiritual Israel” that has replaced Israel in God’s plans.

2) “The Gentiles” are “Gentiles” – those who descend from lineages other than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This means that we Gentile Believers are precious to God for who we ARE – Gentile Believers – rather than for who we’re NOT – as “spiritual Jews” who have replaced the Jewish people, as some have taught.

3) God still has a special role and calling for the Jews, and a glorious plan to bless the world through the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish people:

For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Romans 11:15 NKJV

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved…

Romans 11:25-26 NKJV

In fact, Romans 11 is one of the clearest pictures in the entire N.T. about God’s plans leading up to the Last Days, foreshadowing a mighty revival that will involve both 1) worldwide evangelization to all people groups, and 2) a spiritual rebirth amongst the Jews ~ both of which are taking place in our generation!

SO then…

Why do some teach that God has rejected the Jews?

Inherited prejudice,

missing the obvious meaning of Scripture,

& the devil’s in the details.

1) Tragically, it’s in our spiritual heritage. From early Church Fathers like Justin Martyr and St. John Chrysostom to Reformation figures like Martin Luther and John Calvin, prejudice and hatred toward the Jews have been commonplace in the history of those who name the name of Christ, and their “trickle down effect” is still felt today.  

2) Reformed Theology. I hate to be so blunt, but it’s a fact: the Calvinist/Reformed system of theology has unwittingly continued the teachings of ancient Catholicism with regards to Israel and the Jews. That teaching essentially believes: God is done with the Jews, national Israel is illegitimate, and we (the Church) have usurped all their blessings, privileges, and place in God’s plan.

This teaching was formulated (centuries ago) by people who hated the Jews; it is pathetic that so many teachers (some of them gifted Bible teachers) continue such errors today.

3) Misinterpretation of a few NT Scripture verses, along two common themes (perhaps you’ve heard pastors or churchgoers use these arguments to suggest that God is done with the Jews):

  • Passages about circumcision, such as Romans 2:28-29 and Philippians 3:3 where Paul is showing Gentile Believers the contrast between mere outward circumcision as was observed by Jewish culture, and genuine circumcision of the heart that actually pleases God (Moses himself gave the same teaching to ancient Israel in Deuteronomy 10:16). Some misinterpret these passages as saying, “The Jews are no longer the Jews – Gentile Christians are now the real Jews.” But a simple reading of the passages in context shows the obvious error of such teaching.
  • “Neither Jew nor Greek” verses, specifically Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11. Here Paul states that “in Christ” there is “neither Jew nor Greek” ~ leading some to teach that “the Jews have therefore ceased being a people before God.”

Once again, reading the passages in context makes it clear: Paul is speaking specifically with regards to salvation. He states that “in Christ” there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, etc – we all get saved the same way, and are part of one Body. He’s not saying “The Jews are no longer a people group before God,” because that would contradict the clear teaching of the entire New Testament.

Furthermore, if Paul were saying “the Jews have ceased” because they’re now Christians, he would also necessarily be saying, “Genders have ceased” once you get saved, and therefore as Christians we’re no longer men or women. L No, Paul’s point is very clear: we’re one in Christ, and we get saved the same way. He’s not suggesting there are no longer roles and callings for people groups (or for genders).

4) The devil’s in the details – meet the real author of Replacement Theology. Yes, ALL racial prejudice, ethnic pride, and hatred are of satan – and that includes anti-Semitism. He sows seeds of division and enmity amongst God’s people any way he can, and his greatest efforts are exerted in enticing Gentile Christians to hate the Jews.

Satan understands what will happen in the process – God’s covenant in Genesis 12 to “curse those who curse” Abraham and his descendants comes into play, and the spiritual children of Abraham by faith (Gal. 3:9) invoke a self-inflicted curse by being a curse to the physical children of Abraham. In the process, Jews are driven from the Messiah rather than to Him (by experiencing arrogance and hatred rather than love from those who speak in Christ’s name), and we reap the bitter fruit in the Church where there should be showers of blessing.

GOOD NEWS: all over the world, God is stirring Believer’s hearts toward the Jewish people, stirring Jewish hearts toward the Messiah, and making the “one new man” He always intended for the Church to be (see Ephesians 2:15).

This is a prophetic hour in which we live ~ and Jesus’ return may be sooner than we think. Let us go in the opposite spirit of our religious forefathers, and seek to be a blessing to Israel and the Jewish people. Share Jesus’ love with your Jewish friends or neighbors, pray for a spiritual awakening in Israel, and ask God to revive the Jewish people all over the world that they may come to know their Messiah.

May the Lord bless and empower you this week,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2016