Archive for March, 2017

Guidance through the Dark

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,

Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them…

Isaiah 42:16a

God can lead us even when we don’t realize it… This is especially true when we find ourselves in situations and seasons of life that are unfamiliar, unexpected – even uncomfortable – and our hearts just cry out for “normal” and long for the familiar.

But growth always requires change – and following God into the high calling and depth of fellowship He desires for each of us will mean stepping into the “unknown” at times. Just as God led Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Paul, and so many others, we won’t always know why God is allowing the trials and transitions touching our lives – but we can know that He’s promised to make it ALL a blessing to us if we will stay yielded to Him.   

Maybe those “ways they have not known” in your life means the loss of a relationship or loved one, a change of role in work or family or ministry, or the death of a dream you’ve held dear that now looks impossible… And when we find ourselves on unfamiliar paths, it’s easy to wonder if God is still with us, still guiding, still good.

What to do? When a season of unexpected change touches our lives, we can take comfort in a few truths that are unchanging and rock solid: 

1.  “Adonai Roi” ~ He is the Lord our Shepherd. By definition, shepherds lead, feed, and protect those under their care. And if your heart is His, then you can KNOW that He is guiding you, though you may not understand, see, or feel it in the moment. He never ceases being who and what He is (not even for a moment) – and He is our Good Shepherd, “that great Shepherd of the sheep,” who cannot fail (see John 10:11, 14; Hebrews 13:20).

2. He’s not done leading you, He’s not through with you… He’s going somewhere with this, and His plans for you stretch into eternity. He’s never stranded a sheep in the valley yet, and He’s not going to start with you. Even if it feels like you’re in the valley of the shadow of death, He’s leading you THROUGH. 

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;

Your love, O Lord, endures forever…

Psalm 138:8

3. Trust is a choice (not a feeling), trust is powerful beyond what we realize, and trust is always rewarded.  Abraham could not understand the guidance of God when it called him to take Isaac up Mt. Moriah, but he chose to trust even if it cost him the most precious thing on earth.

Any good father knows that Abraham would have rather died a thousand deaths than offer up his “yachid” ~ literally, his “only one” son (Genesis 22:2). We can see it from this side, and we know how the story ended – that the blessings God promised to Abraham for his obedience are still flowing, both to Israel and to every follower of Jesus today:

“By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son – blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

Genesis 22:16-18

Your Father gave the life of His “yachid,” His very own Isaac (as it were) to purchase you. Remember that the next time you face the unfamiliar and unexpected – Your Father’s love will never fail.  

And as you trust and worship, rest assured that you’ll witness Him work the second part of Isaiah 42:16 in your life, in His perfect time and way:

I will turn the darkness into light before them

And make the rough places smooth.

These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16b

May you rest in the Good Shepherd’s guidance this week,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2017

 

My sure-fire recipe for JOY, contentment, & PROMOTION!

Monday, March 6th, 2017

OK, so it’s not really MY sure-fire recipe ~ it’s the Bible’s! And every Christian I know could use more joy, contentment, and promotion from Jesus, so allow me to explain:

1. THE ONLY place on earth with fullness of joy… And it’s not Disneyland, a cruise ship to the Bahamas, a serene mountain hideaway without cell phone coverage… No, the ONLY PLACE that delivers absolute fullness of true joy is found here:

You will show me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11

We were made for His presence Moses cried out for it at Mount Horeb, King David sought after it in the Judean wilderness, even Jesus Himself often slipped away to enjoy quiet times of prayer and fellowship with His Father – and if the Son of God needed time in His Father’s presence, how much more do you and I!

Fullness of joy, refreshing for weary hearts, renewing of our minds, strength for the battles ahead – all this comes as we wait on the Lord, and enjoy His presence.

2. CONTENTMENT: a rare and priceless treasure that money cannot buy. In fact, surveys indicate that the wealthiest people are generally the least content. Fame and success don’t equal a contented heart either – the opposite is often true, as external notoriety and achievement only magnify the lack of internal peace, and the soul becomes empty and disillusioned.

Real contentment is only found in surrendering our rights and yielding to the Father’s will. And sometimes getting to that place of true surrender is painful… Our wills can die hard, especially when it involves deeply-held dreams, and goals that are precious to our hearts.

It proved most costly for Jesus; on the darkest night any human has ever seen, with the prospect of the unimaginable suffering immediately ahead, Jesus found contentment and strength as He utterly relinquished His rights to the will of His Father:

“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;

Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will

O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it,

Your will be done.”

Matthew 26:39, 42

We forfeit so much peace, provision, and contentment when we cling to our own wills, rights, and direction. Surrender can be painful and scary, but it’s always met with the grace and strength to do what He calls us to. Truly: the path to true contentment lies in relinquishing our rights and embracing our Father’s will. He knows best, and does best too.

3. PROMOTION: when the way up is down. It runs counter to our flesh, to everything this world says and seeks, and to the power structure in the typical American church ~ yet it’s true: Jesus promises promotion to those who choose the “lowest place,” who embrace a life of servanthood and putting others ahead of themselves:

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled,

And he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,

that He may exalt you in due time.

1 Peter 5:6

There are blessings – both for now, and for eternity – reserved only for those who choose the path of humility. In little ways and little decisions every day, God provides us opportunities to put Him first by putting others ahead of ourselves… to live like Jesus did, so He can be glorified through us.

I pray that you experience the joy of His presence, the contentment of surrendering your will and embracing His, and the favor of Jesus as you follow His path of servanthood and humility this week.

Your servant in our precious Savior and glorious King,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2017