Archive for January, 2017

Freedom from the Tyranny of Self

Monday, January 30th, 2017
“…and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves,
but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

2 Corinthians 5:15 NKJV

Ever felt miserable?  I believe we can trace much of the misery in our lives to areas of uncrucified self-life.  Wherever self is allowed to reside unchecked, the waters of our hearts will be muddied.  And wherever self is allowed to reign, the fruit will be misery.  Abundant life (which Jesus promised us – see John 10:10) is stolen, and in its place we find a meager existence that lives on diversions and passing pleasures, largely void of the presence of God.

The answer to this problem is simple, but costly:

I have been crucified with Christ;
it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 NKJV

Paul understood that to truly experience “the good life,” we must stop seeking “the good life” and start seeking to let Jesus live through us.  The sooner we humble ourselves, choose the place of servanthood, and cease striving to do or get for ourselves, the sooner we enter into His joy, peace, and rest.

We simply bring our entire lives to the Cross once more in full and unconditional surrender, abandoning every shred of “self” – like self-will, self-preservation, self-reliance, self-justification, self-promotion, self-love, and every other form of seeking our own good or glory, and invite Jesus to rule and reign anew in us.

He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:30 NKJV

Only in surrendering self and seeking Jesus will we ever be fulfilled.  Every earthly treasure or prize, ever award or accomplishment, every dream realized – all will be empty and void unless it comes in the path of loving and serving Jesus and others.  Self-life spoils everything it touches; seeking Jesus first brings meaning and joy to even the valleys and deserts of life.  You and I don’t need to seek “our best life now,” or a purpose-driven life, or any of the other self-focused fads that pop-church culture has sold us.  We just need to seek Jesus

Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it,

and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

Luke 17:33 NKJV

When Jesus is our treasure, all else finds its proper place and priority.  I believe that one hour in the manifest presence of the King of Kings is of more real spiritual value that many hours of man-centered religious activity.  For in His presence, we are transformed into His image.  We’re made more like Jesus, our minds are renewed, our hearts are healed, we’re better equipped to serve others with His love…And we’re set free from the tyranny of self.

For Prayer
:  “Abba, teach me to cease seeking self, and to simply seek You… Grant me grace to abandon every care and concern to You, to put aside the busyness of this life, and to focus on Your Word and will.  Refresh my heart with a hunger and thirst for Your Presence.  Teach me anew the joys of being a servant, of worship, and of walking humbly before You every day.  Fill my life afresh with Your love and Holy Spirit this week.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”  

May the Lord bless you with His freedom this week,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2017

Simply Trust

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

“Who among you fears the Lord?

Who obeys the voice of His Servant?

Who walks in darkness and has no light?

Let him trust in the name of the Lord

And rely upon his God.”

Isaiah 50:10

When faced with problems, our normal human response is to think it through, figure it out, and come with a plan. That’s a God-given ability, and is not a bad thing in itself. And yet, life’s challenges can easily defy our ability to solve them with human reason. Some of us are facing problems so deep and questions so vexing that attacking them with mere reason only exacerbates the matter. Trying to “figure it out” at that point is like a stuck car spinning its wheels in mud: the harder we try, the deeper we sink into the mud of confusion. Sometimes the only answer is to simply trust. Cease striving to work it out, to figure it out, and to find a way out of the trial; just trust your Father in heaven. We must leave the matter in His hands, and choose to trust His heart of love for us. Trust can take us where trying cannot. It draws us into the presence of God.

There’s Healing in His Presence

“When I thought how to understand this,

It was too painful for me

Until I went into the sanctuary of God;

Then I understood…”

Psalm 73:16-17

The psalmist knew he needed to run to the “sanctuary” – the place of God’s presence – for help and healing. You and I are just the same: some things only become clear when we are resting in the presence of the Lord. There’s peace of mind and healing for our wounded hearts as we draw near to His heart of love for us.

It’s no surprise, then, that the enemy fights so hard to keep us from the Lord’s presence. He uses the very battles we’re facing to whisper accusations of God’s heart for us, such as “If God is so good to you, why did He allow ______ to happen to you? Why would He allow you so much pain? Why wouldn’t He bless you the way He’s blessed others? Look at how well things are going for them – what does He have against you?”

The accuser can be pretty effective sometimes, and such questions prove “too painful” for us to answer. That’s when we must be like the psalmist and run “into the sanctuary” – into the presence of the Lord. There His love answers our hearts more deeply than the questions troubling our minds. We may not come away understanding the “why” of our situation, but we find ourselves resting in His love and able to trust Him again.

Some questions won’t be answered until we see Jesus face to face. The One who died for me deserves my absolute and unreserved trust, including when His ways don’t appear to make sense. My brothers and sisters, let us simply trust Him… Trust His will, trust His ways, trust His wisdom, and trust the Man who died for us. The Day is coming when we will see, we will know, we will understand all things clearly (see 1 Corinthians 13:10, 12). Until then, let us choose to simply trust His heart of love.

Much love in Jesus,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2017

Focus leads to Victory

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.

I Peter 5:8-9 NLT

An unfocused life is seldom a productive life; whether in work, school, or relationships, focus is vital to success in any endeavor.  Nowhere is this truer than in our walk with God – which impacts every area of our lives. 

And nothing saps spiritual energy and focus like distractions.  To survive and thrive spiritually and emotionally amid the crazy, hectic world in which we live, we need undistracted time in God’s Word and presence every day. 

So as we begin a new year, Let’s clean out the temple… We are God’s very own temple which He bought with Jesus’ sinless Blood, and in which He desires to dwell constantly

Do you now know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,

whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19 NKJV

In 2017, let your highest calling and purpose become your first focus and top prioritybeing a temple for the presence the Lord, dwelling daily with Him, and growing in the love and power of God

Practical steps toward a more focused 2017:

  1. Do one thing at a time. Generally speaking, “multi-tasking” is a myth that leads to distracted driving and diminishing returns – but being “all there” and giving our full attention to the task before us (in any area of life) leads to a more focused mind and peaceful heart, and makes it easier to stay tuned into the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.
  1. Don’t skip breakfast and leave the house unarmed. God’s Word is our spiritual bread and meat, and much of our spiritual weakness and defeat can be traced to failing to invest focused, intentional time in God’s Word (no, the “30 second devotional” readings don’t substitute for getting in the Word, and letting the Word get in you). If you want a more successful and fruitful year in 2017, then follow God’s pathway for success:

“…but you shall meditate in it (God’s Word) day and night,

 that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.

For then you will make your way prosperous,

and then you will have good success.” 

Joshua 1:8 NKJV

Keeping the Word before us – whether that’s a sticky on our desk at work or dashboard of the car, listening to the Bible app during commute time, etc. – is an investment that yields great rewards in our hearts, minds, health, and labors

  1. Set your pace & silence your distractions. Carve out times in which you shut out the distractions of life – don’t react to every call, text, or email as they come. You set the pace at which you live, and where your mind will focus.  The greater focus you enjoy in your time with Jesus, the more focus you’ll see amid the busyness of lifeMake staying in touch with Jesus your top priority – and in doing so, all else will become more balanced and blessed. 

Let’s face it: every time we leave our home, we’re like a fish swimming upstream against the current of this world. And the more spiritually hostile your environment, the more it’s like little fishy is swimming in toxic waters, too! 

As the day grows darker and the distinction between light and darkness in our nation becomes more stark, the world is demanding “Christians” and churches that are willing to compromise God’s Word for the sake of being accepted and liked by the World.  Remember Jesus’ words:

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. 

Yet because you are not of the world,

but I chose you out of the world,

therefore the world hates you.” 

John 15:19

The watered-down gospel message offered by many American churches today is useless to save lost souls and powerless to make true disciples of Jesus.  Jesus said that following Him means carrying a cross – dying to self-interest and self-rule, so Jesus can live and be glorified through us.  Only such a life will possess the true power, love, and presence of Christ that lost souls are dying to know. 

Let’s choose now to be temples set apart for His presence, to be disciples willing to deny ourselves and carry our cross, and to be followers of Jesus that make the wisest investment in the whole world: investing daily time alone with Him. 

May the Holy Spirit fall upon your life with fresh anointing and holy fire this week,

 

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2017

Jerusalem, according to Jesus

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Satan spins a narrative of half-truths and outright lies about Israel, broadcast by mainstream media outlets every day. So let’s briefly look at WHO owns Jerusalem, WHY it’s so special, and WHAT it means to us as Christians today

1. Jesus claims Jerusalem for His Father

“Jerusalem… is the city of the great King.”

Jesus, speaking in Matthew 5:35

The Arab world insists that Jerusalem (and indeed, all of Israel) belongs to the Arab world… The United Nations considers Jerusalem an “international city,” belonging to the United Nations… But JESUS put it plainly: “Jerusalem is the city of the great King.

That’s “KING” with a capital “K” ~ His Father, the Creator, the One who chose that city to be the heart of Israel, of Jewish history, and of the prophetic future. According to Jesus Christ, Jerusalem belongs to God Almighty; it’s the only city which Jesus claimed for His Father.

I realize that there are pastors/teachers today (some very well known) who say Jerusalem, Israel, and the Jewish people have no significance to God… Though they know it not, their teachings flow from the anti-Semitism that began in ancient Catholicism and has trickled down to many Protestant denominations even today (particularly common among Calvinist/Reformed traditions).

With all due respect, any Bible teacher who teaches that Jerusalem/Israel/the Jewish people have no place in God’s heart and plans is flatly teaching against Jesus and against Scripture – regardless of how revered or well-known a teacher they may be.

2. Jesus prophesied Jerusalem’s recapture by the Jews

“And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles

until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

Jesus, speaking in Luke 21:24

With perfect accuracy, Jesus prophesied what Jerusalem’s future would hold: she was “trampled by Gentiles” as different nations (the Romans, Turks, and Brits) ruled the area for centuries.

Then in 1917 England promised to create a Jewish homeland in Israel; but in 1922, the UK took 80% of that land and created a homeland for Palestinian Arabs instead: Jordan. (That’s why the “Two State Solution” is bogus – they’ve already had a state, since 1922).

In 1948, Israel was reborn in one day (Isaiah 66:8) – the only nation in human history EVER to vanish for over 2,000 years, and reappear.

And then in 1967, Israel was attacked (unprovoked) by Jordan, who thought Israel was vulnerable since Egypt had also just attacked, and that it was an opportune moment for Jordan to take more land from Israel.

Jordan forgot one pesky detail: they were attacking the apple of God’s eye, a nation destined by God (who ordains and oversees the nations and their borders – Acts 17:26). It’s never a good idea to fight God. J

And they were playing right into prophetic destiny: Israel defended herself and was victorious despite overwhelming odds. In the process, Israel reclaimed the Old City of Jerusalem and Temple Mount area.

Then a new chapter in God’s prophetic plans began to unfold: the spiritual rebirth prophesied by the Apostle Paul in Romans 11 began, and Jews began to come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

And thus, the “times of the Gentiles” to which Jesus referred (that season in which God’s focus and emphasis was primarily upon taking the Gospel to the “goyim,” the Gentile nations) began to draw to a close.

3. The Last Battle… And Jesus’ return… Jerusalem!

“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming…

For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem

Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations…

And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,

which faces Jerusalem on the east.”

Zechariah 14:1-4

“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,

will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven.”

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives.

Acts 1:11-12

Jesus’ departure point from earth was the Mount of Olives, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. And according to God’s Word, that’s where He’s returning!

WHICH explains why the whole World stews against this tiny strip of land smaller than New Jersey, whose land mass is around 1/600th of the Arab nations around her…

It’s not ultimately about politics or religion at the heart of the matter: it’s about Jesus’ return, prophetic history fulfilled, God’s Kingdom come, and satan utterly defeated. THAT is why he fights so hard against Israel, and why Israel matters so much to the Lord (and should matter to you as well!)

4. Wanna be blessed? Love Jerusalem

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

May all who love this city prosper.”

Psalm 122:6 NLT

There is a special blessing for those who love and pray for Jerusalem. Do YOU pray for Jerusalem, for Israel, and for God’s work among the Jewish people worldwide?

Furthermore: Do you go to a church that loves Israel? You should! As Jesus’ return draws nearer, any church that fails to understand and embrace God’s heart for Israel is basically blinding themselves to the prophetic signs of the times, and will be ill-prepared to recognize and cooperate with His move on the earth.

Love and blessings to you in our Messiah,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2017 www.matthewcasey.org