Message From Matt | December 28, 2017

 

Our family usually spends most New Year’s Eve nights watching the ball drop in New York City.  I don’t always like the entertainment surrounding that event but I have always liked watching the clock tick down on the old year which also brings in the new year!  To me,  this New Year’s celebration is a special thing to watch as it’s nostalgia and anticipation all wrapped into one event.  It’s nostalgic due to the great things that have happened in the past and anticipation due to the hopes for what is in store for the future.   I am sure that in my adulthood I have had some New Year’s Eve nights that I was looking forward to being done with the terrible year that we just had and was really looking forward to a fresh start!  Then there were other years that were much better but still the hopes for the new year were exciting to consider.  Either way, the beginning of the new year has always had a way of being motivating for me.  

I usually am motivated to do some of the following:

  • Read the Bible and pray more often 
  • Eat better and exercise more
  • Be a better steward of my time and money
  • Be a better husband and father

Are you ever motivated with the same thoughts?  

If so, I hope that you have been better than me in the past at following through and completing those things that motivated you at the start of the year.  I hope that you didn’t let a lack of discipline deter you from eating better!  I hope that you gave of your time and money better than the year before!  I pray that you spent more time with God like you set out to do!  I hope that you were a better husband and father!  A better neighbor and church member!  I hope that you were just…better than the year before!   But the question is, are you better?  

As I alluded to in the last paragraph, I haven’t always been great at following through with my resolutions (motivations) and I always get discouraged when I don’t!  I then wonder, why did I not follow through?  Why did I not press forward?  For me, the answer usually has several answers to it, but let me focus on one for this email.  The reason is that I get stuck in the past!  I default to the past and conform back to old patterns.  I lose motivation after I fall into these old patterns and think that it’s useless to keep trying!  I get defeated and I give up!  There it is…the truth, and it’s painful to admit!
 
But this year, I hope that I will have a different experience!  I believe that I am already in a different place spiritually and mentally than in past years and I believe that I will see victory in my life over the New Year’s funk that I fell into before.  The reason?  Because I am not going to look back and dwell on past regrets, setbacks and failures but I am going to just look forward to the hopes of a great 2018!  I believe that God is with me always (Hebrews 13:5) and that He won’t leave me!  I believe that I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37)!  I believe that I can do all things through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:13)!  I believe that if God be for me, who can be against me (Romans 8:31)!  I believe that the devil wants to destroy me but Jesus wants to give me the abundant life (John 10:10)! I believe that God has a purpose for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and that He is going to use me as I yield to Him (Isaiah 6:1-8)!  I believe that I am a Child of God (John 1:12) by believing on Jesus!  Since I believe all of these things,  the question is, why would I look backward?  The answer is that there is no good answer!  We have everything to look forward to and very little that we should dwell on from the past!  To be sure,  we can learn from positive and negative life experiences or even sins, but don’t let the devil use anything negative to pull you back!  

I want to challenge you to look forward and look toward God!  Set some God-honoring goals for your life and press forward.  Don’t let the devil defeat you!  Don’t let negative influences sway you!  Stay focused and move forward!

I love you all – looking forward to a great 2018! 

Matt



Message From Matt | December 21, 2017

 

I was flipping through channels the other night and ended up watching the tail end of the kids movie “Polar Express”.  I’m sure many of you have seen the movie, but if not, the premise is centered around a little boy who takes an unexpected ride on the Polar Express that is headed to see Santa Claus.  This boy, because of hard things that have taken place in his life, has chosen not to believe in Santa or anything good coming out of the Christmas season.  To sum up the movie, after a long, harrowing but magical ride with the other kids on the train, the boy meets Santa and has his joy renewed!  More than that, he believes again!  At the end, the conductor, played by Tom Hanks, validates the boy’s ticket by spelling the word “BELIEVE” on it!  The moral of the movie is to not let anything get in the way of believing. For the boy, believing was what he needed to have hope again!  Believing was what he needed to have joy again!  Believing is what he needed to enjoy life again!
 
The point of believing in this movie has an interesting truth to it!  BELIEVING is important!  Of course, believing in Santa Claus is not important but believing in the source of hope, joy and life are and we all know where this source comes from – it comes from JESUS!
 
Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  Paul says in Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” So we know that we can have hope because of Jesus!
 
In the Gospel of Luke (1:14) he tells us “And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth (Jesus) .” and then John says in John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my (Jesus) joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” – John 15:11.  So we know that we can have joy because of Jesus!

 

Then in the Book of John, there is also another theme that is very prevalent!  Believe on Jesus to have life! 
  • For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
  • Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life.” – John 5:24
  • “For the bread of life is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” – John 6:33

The greatest gift that anyone can have is new life in Christ!  How do we get it?  BELIEVE!  Believe in Jesus – He is the source of our hope and joy!  Believe in Jesus – He is the source of our life!  

This Christmas season, I hope that we all will treasure Jesus, because He truly is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE!  I hope that if there is anyone that is struggling this Christmas in believing in hope, joy and a fulfilled life that they will believe again!  That we will look to Jesus this Christmas as the source of all things good!  Turn your struggles over to Jesus; after all, He cares for you very much!!  

Merry Christmas everyone and I will see you on Sunday!  BELIEVE in CHRIST!!

Matt



Message From Matt | December 14, 2017

 

I know that I told this story at least once in a service and another time in a Bible study, but I would like to share it again and probably at the disproval of my son Brandon :)!  When Brandon was little he went through a time that he was very stubborn and would be a challenge to discipline!  Can any parents relate to to us on this?  One particular time that he was being difficult around age 4 or 5 was when he lied about doing something that he shouldn’t have.  When we found out the truth and confronted him on the lie, he stated that it was just a “little lie” and he didn’t think he should be punished.  That is when God gave me a good thought.  It was dinner time and I asked him about the carrot that I had in my hand.  I asked, “
what is this?”  He responded, “a carrot!”  Then I took a bite out of the carrot and asked him again “what is this?” and he again answered “a carrot!” Then I repeated that process until I had just a little piece of the carrot left and Brandon’s answer didn’t change.  No mater the size of the carrot, it was still a carrot!  Then I told him that no matter how little the lie was it was still a lie!  I reminded him that telling the truth is always so much easier and better.  I think that he learned something that day that I hope he will keep with him the rest of his life.   That telling the truth and living in the truth is the best way to live!  
 
However, not everyone lives this way!  Many do live their lives in dishonesty!  Our American culture seems to be rampant with people who don’t have truth as a part of their fabric.  Many don’t trust public leaders, church leaders, supervisors, spouses, kids, etc… because there have been too many times that they have “burned”!  We also hear people say that they don’t come to church because there are too many hypocrites in church.  They assume that most in church are those who talk about godly things but don’t live it out.  There are definitely people that have or do those things.  I have in the past and I hope not to ever do again.  
 
So where is truth? Consistent, unfailing truth?  Let me give you a one word answer – JESUS!
 
Jesus said in John 14:6, “…I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
John 1:17 states, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
John 1:14 states, “…the Word (Jesus)…is full of grace and truth.”
And there are many more verses that speak to Jesus as the truth!
 
The point is that there lies all around us we might not know what to believe, but please don’t ever lose sight of Jesus being the truth!  Of the Word of God being truth!  
 
This is yet another reason that we can rejoice this Christmas season!  Jesus came into the world to save us, but also to be truth!  He is the way to Heaven – that is the truth!  He is life – that is truth!  He is the way – that is truth!  He is the Light  – that is the truth!  He is love – that is truth!  He is the Creator – that is truth!  He was born of a virgin – that is truth!  He lived a sinless life – that is truth!  He died on a cross and rose again – that is truth!  He is coming again – that is truth!  
 
This coming week as we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us also celebrate that He is the TRUTH!  Believe in HIM!
 
Matt