Freedom From Sin

Everyone struggles with sin; we are all sinful in nature. That makes living pure and blameless an everyday battle. I can think of several things in life that I have to fight every day. Even Paul, who wrote a large portion of the New Testament, confesses to struggling. This makes his knowledge of living free from sin worth paying attention to. There are three things relating to sin that Paul hits on at the beginning of Romans 8 that are really important for living free.

Not controlled by sin
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:2
The sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross set me free from sin. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of life, lives in me. Life is the opposite of sin, which is death. Because I as a believer have the Spirit of life inside of me, I am not controlled by sin. This means that I have a choice, no matter how hard, to resist sin. God says that He will never let e come against temptation too strong to resist. In any situation of temptation, it is possible to be victorious with God’s help.

Focused on life
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Romans 8:5
Paul is indirectly calling believers into focusing on the things of the Spirit in not only our actions and words, but our thoughts and entire being. Instead of trying to just stick my head in the sand, it is so much easier to resist sin by setting my mind on God. When I do this, sin becomes so much less attractive. Don’t try to simply resist sin, counteract it!

There is no condemnation
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1
Inevitably though, I will still mess up and give in to temptation. However, that is no excuse to feel condemned. Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Because of this, I will never be judged for anything that I ask forgiveness of. Condemnation is from the devil. God wants me to get back up on my feet, ask for forgiveness the instant I mess up, and then never think about it again.

These are three very simple and powerful points in acheiving freedom from sin. As much as we might all know these, it is so easy to forget or not fully believe in them.

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He Heals

I just finished spending six hours in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer, like I do every night as part of my internship. A half hour before it ended, they told people to who needed healing to raise their hand for prayer. An intern raised her hand, so several people and I went to pray for her. She was losing her voice, and it clearly sounded raspy.

Here is where the crazy stuff happens. As we all started praying, everyone felt God’s manifest presence came down on us so strong we could barely stand up straight. At the same time that the worship sang about joy, God filled us with joy overflowing. It was intense.

Then, suddenly she was healed. She said, “Wow!” without any rasp in her voice. That’s how powerful and alive God is.

The testimony gets even better, though. After we prayed for her and were enjoying the joy of the Lord, I asked for prayer for my sore throat. After a minute at the most, I swallowed and felt no pain. It was miraculous. Not only that, but as I went back to singing and worshiping God and noticed that I was able to sing much, much better!

Who can say that God does not work wonders in those who ask of Him?

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Beautiful Promises in a Rainbow

The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.
-God (Genesis 9:16)

Today, I went to Sam’s Club to buy some instant oatmeal and jelly beans. I know, healthy. That is beside the point though. Walking into the store, I saw this rainbow and had to take a quick picture with my cell phone. The picture nowhere near does it justice.
Where did rainbows come from? God created them. But why? As a sign of His promise with humanity through Noah in Genesis 6-9. God flooded the earth because of sin, leaving only Noah and a few others alive on an ark. At the end of the flood, God made a covenant with Noah. He will never again send so great a flood as to destroy everything.

Every time I see a rainbow, especially one this gorgeous, I cannot help but to think about God’s promises. The evidence of His promise with Noah has lasted thousands of years. Surely every promise that God makes is equally valid.

Sometimes though, I do not believe that. God has promised to do several important things in my life that have not yet happened after years of prayer. It is hard to constantly believe in a promise that I cannot see happening. Persevering in faith builds something in me though. When I finally see a promise fulfilled after patience and continued prayer, something changes in me. My faith in the unseen grows. Still, it is a constant struggle for me to believe that His promises will always come true and that He has a perfect plan for me. Are there promises that you have let slip away?

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
-Mark 9:24

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Pink Elephant In the Room

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

The nature of God as an invisible being is a taboo subject in Christian circles. I skirt around the fact so many times, but never actually talk about it. Saying that God is invisible is a sign of weakness. Whenever Christians are talking and the invisible nature of God comes up, there is a nearly audible gasp. Everyone thinks, “Did you really just say that? Are you even saved?” As if only unbelievers would mention that God really cannot be seen.

I need to wake up and realize that faith is firmly rooted in the unseen. It is time to wake up and face reality. God is invisible; I cannot see Him when I pray. This troubles me. Talking to someone without seeing their face makes me wonder what they are doing while I talk. The same goes with God. Is He listening to me, or is He too busy dealing with the orphans in Haiti?

Faith says He is always listening. Faith says that just a thought ravishes His heart. But really, do I believe that at the deepest levels of our hearts? How do you address the pink elephant?

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The Beginning of the End

There are at least 150 separate chapters of the Bible that deal with the end times — that is more than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John combined. Jesus talked more about the end of the age than any other topic, including salvation. If 2,000 years ago Jesus considered the end times that important, then surely it is important to study today. The idea that it is impossible or even hard to understand the end of the age is absolutely false. Of all the places that the Bible directly discusses end times, Matthew 24 gives the simplest literal explanation.

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:3

Jesus’ disciples approached Him in private to ask Him about His second return and the end of the age. The disciples were everyday workers with no education, not scholars, so Jesus answered them on a very simple, literal level. There really is no room for confusion in the rest of this chapter if you simply assume Jesus meant what He said. Jesus broke down the end of the age and His return into simple sections and steps.

Part A:
1. False Christs

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
Matthew 24:4-5

We must be wary of false Christs who will deceive many people. How do we avoid being deceived? By knowing Jesus through prayer and Scripture knowledge. A stranger can not deceive you into thinking that they are someone who you talk to every day. You would never fall for it.

2. Wars and rumors of wars

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Matthew 24:6

After this, Jesus says that there will be wars and rumors of wars. This is also very straightforward. People will be fighting, and there will be talk of even more fighting. As an interesting side note, this is happening more than ever today, especially with the current situation developing between Israel, Palestine, and the rest of the world. Jesus also tells His disciples not to worry, because these things will assuredly happen, but not at that time. However, today we are 2,000 years into the future.

3. Widespread war, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
Matthew 24:7

After the wars and rumors of war, there will be war on a widespread, global level. Then, there will be famine, pestilences, and earthquakes. People are going to starve, be afflicted by pestilences of some sort, and there will be a lot more earthquakes than normal. Turn on the news for the moment. These are headline news stories all the time. People are starving more than ever in third world and corrupt countries, and there have been so many earthquakes this year that scientists are struggling for explanations.

4. Transition

All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Matthew 24:8

Here, Jesus ends this “section” of his timeline. The false Christs, wars, rumors of wars, global warfare, famines, pestilences, and earthquake are the beginning of sorrows. The term “beginning of sorrows” mean labor pains, or the beginning of the end. All these events mark transformation from now into the next age. When Jesus returns and the end times are all over, the world does not cease to exist. We will still be living here on earth, but it will be drastically different from it is now. My point in that is simply this: the end times are the end of the age, not the end of the world.

Part B:
5. All nations will hate Christians

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
Matthew 24:9

Now in the next time period of the end times, after the events in the first part take place, real Christians will be hated by all nations and killed. The nations will absolutely hate people who live a radical life for Jesus. This is already happening in certain parts of the world, such as China, but it is not yet happening on a global scale. However, it is slowly starting to, even here in America. Christians who really live out what Jesus says are not yet killed here, but persecuted and disliked? Definitely.

6. The attitude of the world will change

And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
Matthew 24:10-12

Not only will people hate Christians, but their attitude towards everyone will change. Love will cease to exist. Not only this, but there will be false prophets who deceive many. What is the difference between false prophets and false Christs? False prophets are false messengers, demonic versions of John the Baptist, while false Christs are demonic versions of Jesus Christ the Messiah. Now there will be false prophets and false Christs running around. You better have an intimate relationship with Jesus and know who He is.

7. Those who persevere shall be saved

But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Matthew 24:13

Jesus says that he who endures to the end of everything will be saved. With a statement like this, it is safe to assume that those who do not endure will not be saved. This means that simply being a Christian now and saying you believe in Jesus is not enough to have eternal life. Instead, we must believe in Jesus to end, being fully ready to face persecution and still confess our faith through it all. That’s a hard thing to do. It takes preparation. This is why understanding the end times and having a deep relationship with Jesus are so important.

8. The Gospel will be preached to all nations

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:14

This is the last circumstance that Jesus lists before the coming of the end, which the rest of Matthew 24 addresses. The Gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached in all nations. After this, the end will comes. This is very close to happening. Get ready.

So there we go, the first half of Matthew 24, addressing the beginning of the end. All of these things are either happening or about to happen. That excites me. I’m ready for Jesus to come back while I’m still alive. What do you think?

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Help

This internship has radically transformed my life in so many ways. God has shown himself to me, given me a glimpse of His glory. I am so important to Him, that He says in Song of Songs 4:9 that I have ravished His heart with but a single glance. Think about that for a moment. The God of all things is undone by just a thought from me. If I matter that much to God, I want to spend my life giving Him glory. He’s worthy of it. Then in Zephaniah 3:17, God says that He rejoices over me with gladness, He quiets me with His love, and He rejoices over me with singing. To Him, I am a big deal.

I had a brief vision a month ago about just how much of a difference I make in the world. I was in a house of prayer, interceding in prayer and singing for strongholds of the enemy to break down. As this happened on earth, I saw Jesus standing on a cloud. Every time I came against things in His name, He threw a lightning bolt down from heaven that broke them down. That’s how powerful intercession is. It’s not a nice thing to do so we can by touched by God. Intercession is literal warfare. God also showed me how much my prayer matters to Him.

Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Psalm 141:2

Clearly, He thinks a lot more of prayer than we do. When I lift up my hands to pray, God receives it as incense and a sacrifice. If you really believe that God is our Creator and is truly the Holy One, then you cannot argue how important that is. He is definitely worthy of prayer.

In light of these realizations, I want to spend my life in prayer, worship, and intercession. Maybe that will change years into the future, but for now I feel strongly called to spend my time as a sacrifice to God, to glorify Him and to literally change the world. In order for me to do this though, I need help.When this track of Fire in the Night ends on June 28th, I am planning to move to Federal Way, Washington and become involved full-time in IHOP-NW (International House of Prayer Northwest — http://www.internationalhouseofprayernorthwest.org). They are a rapidly growing house of prayer, similar to the IHOP here in Kansas City. I can not do this without financial support from you, though. If you can spare any money to support me and sow into the work that God is doing, please do so. Even a few dollars counts. To get in contact with me for any questions, you can email me at chase.caleb@gmail.com or call me at (360)610-7472.

If you can help me, I can receive support through cash (in person), checks, or credit/debit cards through PayPal. I am working on becoming able to accept tax-deductible donations through IHOP-NW soon as well, so if you are interested in that, please let me know. To make a one-time donation to me by credit/debit card through PayPal, click here:

To send a check via mail*:
Caleb Chase c/o FITN
3517 E Red Bridge Rd
Grandview, MO, 64137

*When this internship ends on June 28th, I will no longer be able to receive mail at this address. If you are sending mail close to or after then, please ask for my home address.

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Talking to the Ceiling

Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Psalm 141:2

Talking to God for six hours a day, six days a week seems a lot like talking to the ceiling sometimes. God is always listening, but we do not always feel His presence. When I started this internship, that was a hard concept for me to come to terms with. My attention span does not last six hours in the middle of the night. Slowly though, God has revealed a few things to me that made a lot of sense. I held so many wrong perceptions of who Jesus is and didn’t understand the Bible as events that really happened, or are yet to come. Through that, God showed me how worthy He is of receiving all the glory. As I learned these things, my mindset about prayer and worship completely changed. After that, a lifestyle of prayer became easy to live and enjoyable.

The biggest mistake that I see so many people make, and that I have made myself, is not seeing Jesus as a real person. Growing up in church and hearing all the stories about Jesus makes it so easy to simply file Him away in the same class as Aesop’s Fables. That really is not the way to live as a Christian. It simply does not work. How can you pray to a God who in your heart is a myth? Instead of seeing Him as a myth, see Him as a living person who is worthy of all the glory.

You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation
Revelation 5:9 (The elders singing a new song to Jesus)

Even the slightest glimpse of God’s worthiness completely shatters illusions about who He is and radically changes prayer. Jesus was the only one worthy to take the scroll of God’s plans for the end times. He was the only one to live a perfect life. He redeemed us by His blood. The eternal, immortal, and all-knowing God created us. Even so, one glance from us ravished His heart (Song of Solomon 4:9). God created us to worship Him and give Him glory. Nowhere does the Bible say that God is here for us. That is an idea of Western civilization, not God. Instead, God created us to give Him glory. That is our highest calling and the best thing we could ever hope to do with our lives.

When we go to church, we judge a worship service by the music choice, the musicians, and whether or not “God showed up.” That mindset is focusing on what God can do for us. It is not about us. Besides, God always shows up. Saying that God did not “show up” is as ridiculous as standing in a room with several other people, all talking about not being in that room, when clearly they are.

My point in all this is simply that prayer and worship become much more enjoyable when we focus on whether we are glorifying God than whether He is touching us. It is so freeing, and was the biggest struggle for to overcome so that prayer would be enjoyable. God does touch our lives, that is the delight of His heart, but that is not what makes prayer enjoyable. What makes it enjoyable is giving glory to a real person.

Even now, spending so much time praying is very hard for me at times. It’s simply part of life. Prayer does require pressing in through hard times, but that is not the only thing that prayer is. Prayer is enjoyable and overwhelming when focused on God. Even after a “bad day” in the prayer room, I go to bed full of energy, excited, and glad that I am alive. Making prayer a daily part of life completely changes you. Try it for a month and see what happens at the end.

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