Archive for September, 2016

The Ananias Factor

Monday, September 19th, 2016

…there was a man named Ananias…

who sold some property

 and brought only part of the money,

claiming it was the full price.

Acts 5:1-2 TLB

“Ananias” seldom makes it on the “Most Popular Bible Names” listsIt ranks right up there with “Herod” and “Blastus” (great name! Acts 12:20). We remember Ananias for a reason no one wants to be remembered by: Ananias lied, Ananias died.

His problem:

Claiming to give ALL to God,

But subtly keeping SOME for himself

Does that hit close to home for anybody but me? I’m not talking about the realm of tithes or money or possessions (which are pretty measurable), but the far more subtle realm of the heart, the lordship of one’s life, the “driver’s seat,” if you will.

“I surrender all… I surrender all… All to Thee, my blessed Savior…”

I’ve “surrendered all” at times, and so have you. We’ve sung it, prayed it, meant it ~ and that’s good… But “self” is a sneaky foe, and sometimes “self-rule” subtly takes back some of what we surrendered to Jesus. And it can lead us to act as though our lives were OURS to control, as if WE called the shots and charted the future – instead of the One who purchased us with His own blood.

Our Father lovingly calls us to a life of CHOOSING to be last so that JESUS can be first in us, of learning that only as “SELF” decreases and dies can we experience and enjoy the abundance of life and love He desires for us (John 10:10)

Just as our Good Shepherd willingly laid down His life for us out of love, we get to choose to lay down our lives for Him the same way – not religious duty, not a heavy burden… just because we love Him, and He is worthy. And THAT sort of life is true FREEDOM.

Our alternative: the Ananias factor =

Imagine that we’ve given Jesus everything,

but still maintain control over our lives, stuff, decisions, desires, etc.

Ananias’ decision resulted in sudden death; the Ananias factor (if allowed to reign in our lives) results in a slow, subtle death – starving off joy, fellowship, and spiritual sharpness as we serve the idol of self.

GOOD NEWS: His Spirit will be faithful to show us our hearts, help us in our need, and make us new. Our part is very simply to bring our hearts humbly before Him as David did:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me, and know my anxieties;

And see if there is any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24 NKJ

May His love kindle a holy flame of revival in our hearts this week, and may you experience afresh the joys of surrender and friendship with Him,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2016

CONFIDENCE

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;

Though war break out against me,

even then will I be confident.

Psalm 27:3 NIV

They do not fear bad news;     

they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

They are confident and fearless     

and can face their foes triumphantly.

Psalm 112:7-8 NLT

This world’s version of “confidence” is based on the absence of troubles, on favorable circumstances, financial provision & possessions, a great job, good health, physical strength – all things that can be lost in a twinkling of the eye. In essence, worldly confidence is a house of cards just waiting for a breeze of adversity to blow by and knock it down.

To the extent that we find a sense of confidence and security in anything other than Jesus, we open the door to disillusionment, anxiety, and fear… Because everything that I place confidence/security in other than Him will be something I must try to keep, protect, insure, and control in my own strength (which is a recipe for a miserable life).

GOOD NEWS: God has much, much better than that for us.

True Confidence is built upon the reality of the Father’s perfect love, flawless care, and undefeatable power constantly at work on our behalf.

That means that when things don’t go our way, when finances or health or the job situation appears to be against us instead of for us, even when a whole nation seems to be seething against those who truly live for Jesus (as in places like Sudan, Pakistan, North Korea, and many others) – EVEN THEN the follower of Jesus can experience and enjoy a confidence in His love and care that is truly UNSHAKEABLE – the world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.

How do I get there?

If you want to disarm and dethrone all false confidence from your life, here are a few simple steps to take in prayer that will help you place your confidence squarely on Jesus’ perfect love and care for you. Make some time when you can be quiet before Him, sitting at His feet with His Word open and a journal or paper & pen handy (these steps are not a formula, just a form to help you get started ~ His Spirit will guide):

  • “Father, would You please show me everything that I look to for confidence and security other than You?”
  • Write down the things He shows you, then one by one surrender them to prayer with a simple (but powerful) prayer like this:
    • “In Jesus’ name and authority I fully surrender this area to You ~ I repent of having put my confidence in anything or anyone other than You, and I break its hold off of my heart and mind. I put my confidence in YOU ALONE; please fill me afresh with Your Spirit and grant me the grace to trust You more than ever. Help me believe what I already know is true: You love me, You never fail, and trusting Your love is the only real source of confidence in the whole world. Amen!”

May your life be planted on the rock of His perfect love for you this week,

Matthew

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2016