Message From Matt | July 6, 2018

Staying Broken!
I did something this week that I’ve been needing to do for quite a long time…I cleaned and organized my garage!  I don’t mean that I just swept the floor and moved a few things around; no, I tossed out things that I didn’t want, then straightened, swept, and reorganized everything else.  After the job was done, I was hot and dirty, but I was happy!  In fact, I walked into the garage several times afterwards not to get something but just so I could look and admire how nice and neat the garage was!  It felt good to have everything in its place and to walk around the cars and not have bikes to dodge or basketballs to trip over.  On top of that, the floor was clean and the walls were organized with everything  in its proper place!  It’s amazing how a clean and organized garage can make me happy!  
It was in that moment of happiness that the thought came to me, “This looks good now, but the challenge will be to keep it looking this good!”  
That really is the challenge!  The sad truth is that deep cleaning and reorganizing the garage is something that I do at least once a year.  Although I enjoy the times when it’s clean, it can easily become dirty, dusty and disorganized and before I know it, the garage can be “out of control”…again!  I again asked myself, “Why don’t I just keep it clean and organized all the time”???

I think that this same thought can apply to many things in our lives.  Whether it’s our diet, our exercise program, or how we manage our money, I think that many of us can start off well but eventually stop having the same intensity and drive to keep it going.  Maybe that’s just life!  Maybe, it’s just a normal thing that we all go through due to our lack of perfection!  Or maybe we need to focus on being more disciplined in our lives to keep doing the things that we should do!

When it comes to brokenness I think that we can have similar struggles.  There are times in our lives that God can show us things that need to be broken in us and we respond to Him with complete surrender.  When those times do happen, the “sweetness” of the presence of God is so good!  God’s mercy and grace is realized more and our level of peace goes up!  When this happens, it feels great, but if we are not careful, this same sweetness can slip away and when that happens we ask ourselves, “ Why can’t I keep this going?

Actually, we can!  How?

I think the secret to success is not a secret at all…it’s staying close to God!  

Look at what David wrote in  Psalm 34:18“The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”   James states in James 4:8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Our daily duty is to stay close to God!  We are not supposed to be double minded and have one foot in the world and one foot on God’s side.  We are supposed to be completely on His side and by His side.  He is constant and does not change.  When we feel like we are apart from Him it is because we change.  Because we stop coming close to Him.  We stop doing the things that helped us stay broken before!  
What about you?  Are you coming closer to God today or are you going farther away from Him?  If you are going farther away, then do some spiritual garage cleaning!  Throw out the junk that doesn’t need to be in there and put things in their right place.  God is here for you!  He is the one that said “…I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”(Joshua 1:5)  We are the ones that move away from Him!  If you want the sweetness of His presence and peace that a surrendered life brings, then always stay close to God.  Spend time with Him each day in prayer and reading the Word!  Ask God to show you what needs to be cleaned up in you and reorganized!  Ask Him what needs to be thrown out!  He will show you and you will be better for it!  

Let’s be broken to us and filled with Him…always!

When God takes us through a period of brokenness, it is never a fun feeling but it has great results.  

Message From Matt | June 29, 2018

If you’re broken, don’t fix it!

Most guys that I know are fixers…at least we want to be!  

If there is a problem at work, we want to be the one to solve it!  If our wife or kids are sad we want to cheer them up!   If there is something or someone that needs to be rescued, we want to be the one to do it!  We always want to save the day and be a hero for the ones that we love and what’s wrong with that?  NOTHING!!  

I think that it is a great thing for men to step up to lead, help, and encourage everyone they connect with and there needs to be more of that going on. But what happens when we can’t fix things?  Generally, we get very frustrated!  Frustrated because we don’t like it when things are broken and we often can feel like a failure when we can’t fix it.  

Of course ladies can be “fixers” too, as this desire to fix broken things is universal and transcends genders.  However, whether you’re a man or a woman, there is a reality to accept.  The reality is that there are some things that are meant to be broken!  The question that goes along with that reality is, “What if the things that need to be broken are things that are a part of you?”  What if you are the one that needs to be broken?”
When I was younger I heard a phrase that has since stuck with me.  The phrase is, “God cannot fully use a man until He fully breaks a man!”   Although no one initially likes the thought of being broken (especially in our culture that promotes self- reliance and self- ability), I think this phrase is not only Biblical, but  is very practical!   
As a seed goes through the process of being broken so it can produce its fruit (see John 12:23-25), there are things that need to be broken in us so that we can produce greater fruit for God!  David knew this after he was confronted with his sins towards Uriah and Bathsheba.   He wrote In Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”  David knew that God wanted him to have a broken spirit and broken heart.  Once he had this brokenness, God was going to use it to mold him into a better man!  Through all of the dumb decisions that David made, the reason that he was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) is that he would become broken and repent of his sins.
David was great in many ways, but he also had sin patterns that needed to be broken in him!  Are there sin patterns that need to be broken in you?  The answer is most likely, yes!  The follow up question is, “Are you willing to be broken?” If so, ask God to show you what needs to be broken and ask Him for daily help to overcome these sinful habits and patterns.  He will show you!  He will help you!  Be open to being broken!“

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

Message From Matt | June 22, 2018

A Good Thing!

The hard reality is that life is not always fun!  Sometimes life can be a pain and you wish that you could go live on an island alone somewhere to get away from problems! There is bad health to deal with, bad crime rates to worry about, bad finances that lead to desperate decisions, and there are bad relationships that can cause a boatload of problems.  You don’t have to look too hard to see that there are bad things all around us and there can be so much bad that it can easily taint our outlook on life.  In fact, focusing too much on the bad can make a person grow cynical and critical towards God and towards others.  

Although we might not think we will ever be critical of God, the reality is that you can easily have this attitude and if you are not careful,  this can lead to bitterness!  Bitterness towards God and towards others!

One of the things that can help us with avoiding this type of attitude is to have a grateful heart rather than an ungrateful heart!  It’s having an attitude that no matter what situation is going on in your life, you are thankful for all that God has done for you!  Is this possible when you are going through tough times?  YES!  Not only is it possible, but it is a good thing to thank the Lord for all that He has done for you… but it becomes difficult to thank Him when we focus on the negative too much!  Here is a simple gauge to determine if you think about the negative too much:

  • When you are low on cash, do you constantly worry about your bills or do you work hard and trust in the Lord?
  • When you are not feeling well or received a bad report from the doctor, are you consumed with the “what if’s” of the diagnosis or do you trust that God’s work in your life will be as He wants it to be?
  • When you have unmet expectations in your marriage, do you assume the worst and give up or do you believe that you can do all things through Christ in you?

If your answers to these questions are the negative answers, maybe you are not focusing enough on what good you have from God because you’re focusing too much on what you don’t have.

When I get in this type of a negative mood, the thing that helps me get out of the funk is to realize all that God has done for me and all that He has in store for me!  I then start singing to God any praise song or hymn that I can think of and after a little while, my negativity is gone and I am left with thanking God for His grace!  When I get into the right frame of mind, I understand even more why the psalmist in Psalm 92:1-2 states, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High.  To show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,”. Because it is good to praise the Lord!  It is good to thank Him for all He does for us!  It is good to tell others about God’s lovingkindness that gave you another morning to praise Him and it’s good to tell others that it is God’s faithfulness that got you through the day!  Really, it’s all about what you focus on!

Paul stresses the right focus in life when writing Colossians.  He states in chapter 3…

  • “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above…” (1)
  • Set your affection on things above not on things of the earth” (2
  • “Mortify (kill) therefore your members which are upon the earth…”(5
  • “put off the old man with his deeds” (9)… put on the new man” (10)
  • Put on mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, forgiveness and charity (love in action) (12-14)

Paul writes…

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” – Colossians 3:15-17

These verses are a challenge for me to be thankful and to look to the Lord in all things!  I want to challenge you as well to look to God and be thankful for Him!  It is a good thing to give thanks to God!

See you Sunday!