Message From Matt | August 17, 2018

Consumer Based Religion! 

I think that there is a problem in many religious circles that goes undiagnosed and untreated!  It is the problem of doing spiritual duties (i.e. going to church, giving your money, and even reading the Bible) to be served (“get blessed”) as opposed to doing those things as a reflection of our love and obedience to God.  The rationale of those that think this way is that if they go to church, give their tithe, and read their Bible, then God will bless them with more money, more health, and more blessings.  Although there is truth in the fact that God does command us to go to church (Hebrews 10:25), give our money cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7), and follow the Bible (Psalm 119, Hebrews 4:12), we should NEVER do those things with the primary purpose of getting things (i.e. “Blessings”) in return.  This mindset is what many refer to as “consumer based religion” or in my vernacular, this person is a “taker”!  Doing spiritual things to “get” rather than to “give”!

What’s the problem with consumer based religion? There are many but I will only focus on a few:

  • Motives are important! Sure, God can see past motives and still work good in people’s lives but every time that happens, that is an act of God’s mercy and grace that shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Our motives should be based around obedience to God’s Word and His leading, as well as love towards Him for His saving grace! Motives are the picture of your heart…what is your motive for serving the Lord?
  • Checking the box! So many think that if they check off the box of their spiritual activities like they are checking off chores on their “to do list “ that they will be blessed by God.  The problem with this is that legalism sets in rather than a vibrant relationship with Christ!  Again, spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible reading should be done, but doing these in robotic fashion just so you can check it off your to do list for the day is not God’s intention.  God doesn’t want a robot – He wants a person whose heart is intone with His!  

You will have problems in this life!  The big problem with doing things just so that God will bless you is that when hard times do come, the person with this mindset is left bewildered as to why these things took place.  The questions to God begin to form in our mind, such as, “God, I am doing everything that you want me to, why is this hard thing happening?  Why aren’t you blessing me?”  Although I completely understand why we would ask such  questions, I believe that many times we get to that mindset because we think just because we are doing certain spiritual acts that everything should be rosy…however, that is not the case!  In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33 that we would have tribulation in this world, so we should expect problems to take place!  

Abiding in Christ is the opposite of consumer based religion!

To abide in Christ is far different than checking off your spiritual to do list.  It is constantly being present with the Lord.  Meaning…He will never leave us, so we should also stay close to him as well.  Abiding is drawing close to God!  Abiding is trusting in God no matter what situation is going on in your life!  Abiding is persevering even in troubling seasons.  The only reason that we can have hope through troubles is because of Christ!  His resurrection!  His interceding on our behalf!  His promise of returning for us!  All of these things give us hope!   Abide!  Trust!  

Abiding in Christ leads to producing fruit!  Jesus is the source of this fruit!  

The natural byproduct of abiding with Christ is fruit, not a completed checklist!  The fruit of the Spirit grows in us!  The fruit of obedience grows in us!  The fruit of trusting in God grows in us!  The fruit of justice grows in us.  In fact, it is impossible not to grow fruit in our life as we abide with Christ but don’t ever forget where that fruit comes from!  It comes from Jesus.  Look at what Jesus said in John 15:4-5, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” The question that has to be asked is, “Are you bearing fruit in your life?”  

If you are bearing fruit, remember that anything good in your life doesn’t come from you!  It comes from Jesus!  Since it comes from Him, then we should abide in Him!  We should love and obey Him because of what He has done for us!  We should serve Him not to just check off a box, but because He has done everything for us!  As we abide in Him, He changes everything for us!  



Message From Matt | August 10, 2018

Flickering or Flourishing?

 
We have had some new lights installed in our house recently that look great but have had us a little worried lately.  The reason that we were concerned is because as soon as the air conditioning would turn on, the lights would flicker for a brief moment making us think that we might have some electrical issues.  After checking with an electrician about the issue and finding out that we didn’t have anything to worry about the thought came to me about spiritually flickering that can happen in many believers lives.  Sure, anyone can have a spiritual power surge from time to time, but often times these are short lived events like the lights in my house and we can find ourselves flickering instead of flourishing!  I am positive that God doesn’t intend for us to just “flicker” for Him but since that can easily can happen in my life if I allow it to I think that it is good to talk about what can change this…it’s abiding in Christ!  
 
Stating the obvious, the closer that we get to God, the brighter our lights shine for Him!  The closer that we get to God, the more that we want that experience to continue!  The more that we abide in Him, the more addictive He is to us…we can’t get enough!
 
What is abiding?
 
From the Greek, it means “to continue, to remain, to tarry, to be present” and the part about being present is a big deal that we should focus on!  Being present is more than just being “around”!  Being present is more than checking off a box noting your attendance!  So, what does it mean?  In my mind, being present means that I am taking an active role in my relationship with God.  I am deliberately choosing to follow His Word, His Spirit, and His ways!  I am choosing not to sit on the sidelines but choosing to be in the daily fight to submit to God and resist the devil!  I am abiding!  I am choosing to be actively connected to God!  
 
Being “around” is not “abiding”!  
 
Why is it different?  Because presence alone does not mean that there is involvement!  Ask any wife if they want their husband to turn off the TV and listen to them and they will give an emphatic…YES!  Ask them if they want their husbands to engage them in conversation rather than just plopping in the easy chair after work…again, YES!  The wives will tell you that having their husbands around the house is wonderful but if there isn’t much communication then they are left unfulfilled!  I think this is how it can be spiritually speaking as well!  We can go to church every Sunday, but if we are not actively applying God’s Word to our lives and serving Him and others with the gifts that He has given us, then we aren’t really abiding…we are just around!  Just being around is not what God intends for our lives to be!  He wants us to abide (be present) so that we will grow closer to Him each day.  He wants us to actively be involved with Him so He can help us bear fruit for Him!  
 
What about you?  Are you abiding with Christ or are you just around?  
 
If you are just showing up on Sunday’s and not much else, then make the decision today to get more active in your walk with the Lord!  Make the decision to get close to God (James 4:8) and see how He will get close to you!  Serve God by serving others!  Read, study, meditate and apply God’s Word to your life and see how His presence will radically change your walk with Him!


Message From Matt | August 3, 2018

Power and Peace! 

Over my time in ministry there are many things that I have learned about people and especially about myself that I would love to share with you.  Actually the list could be very long and not all of it would be positive, yet I think it would be a very real look at us!  Since I don’t have that much room to write the complete list, there are two things that stick out to me about myself and “us” in general that I have observed.  Those two things are: 

  1. Many believers don’t understand and use the power of God in their lives
  2. Many believers don’t completely live with the peace of God in their lives 

I don’t know how those two statements hit you, but as I have been thinking about these thoughts for several weeks, the louder its truth rings in my ears…even if it only applies to me!  But I don’t think I am alone in this.  

Same old struggles!

These problems aren’t new!  Looking in the Scriptures reveals that believers from every generation have struggled with these issues, or if not struggled with them, they were at least ignorant of what God has given to His children!  

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was that they would know the “exceeding greatness” of God’s power given to those that believe on God (Ephesians 1:16-23)!  I assume because he was praying for them “to know….what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe…” that  they were new believers that needed to be taught about God’s power.   Maybe this is why God inspired Paul to write this to the church because they needed to hear that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that is given to us who are His children!  Maybe they were struggling with the truth that the Holy Spirit lived in them and they needed to be reminded. 
 
This is the same truth about the peace of God!  In his instructions to the Philippians, Paul told the church how they could have peace in their lives!  I think that the church at Philippi, who was a loving church, still needed to be taught how they could have peace in a world that was filled with insecurity and tension (Philippians 4). Paul was “locked up” when he wrote this but seemed to understand how to have peace!  He seemed to understand the power and peace of God but maybe the church was struggling in these areas.  Since the church was still learning what God’s salvation offered, they needed to be taught that God has given us His Spirit to live inside of us to: 
  • Sanctify us – Romans 8:13, 1 Peter 1:12
  • Teach us – John 14:26
  • Comfort us – John 14:26
  • Guide us in truth – John 16:13
  • Bear witness of God – John15:26, Romans 8:16
  • Intercede for us – Romans 8:26-27
  • Purify us – 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5
  • Reveal things to us – Ephesians 3:5
  • Forbid us to do wrong – Acts 16:6-7
  • Give life – Psalm 104:30
  • Empower us – Acts 1:8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
  • Indwell us – 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • Unify us  – 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

How do we understand God’s power and peace?

On paper it’s simple!  Abide in Christ!  Somehow in reality we make it harder than it should be.  Abide in Him!  Be close to God!  Choose Him and choose to follow His ways and you will begin to know God’s power and peace.  Focus your mind on God and you will know His peace (Philippians 4:8-9).  Believe what God’s Word says about His power and use that to defeat the enemies in your life (i.e. Satan).  Let’s choose not to struggle with a defeated or depressed attitude!  Let’s choose to use God’s power and peace to direct our lives!  Let’s use it this weekend to make it the best weekend that we have had in a long time!  Let’s use it to experience the presence of God in a greater way!  Let’s use it to see God do great things in our lives at IBT!  God’s power and peace are not things that are unattainable – they are yours already!  Let’s use them!



Message From Matt | July 27, 2018

Impacted by 10 year olds! 
 
I met a couple of kids this past week while on our church mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico that really impacted me!  Both are 10 year old boys named Chi and David.  Chi asked me to pray with him because his father has been missing for 4 months.  Back on March 25th his father went to work that morning and called home that evening to say that he was going to stay overnight with a friend in the city because he had to be at work early the next day.  He said that he would be home that next night but he never showed up and the family doesn’t know if he is dead or alive.  The mom now has the burden to provide for 2 children that live at home and prays everyday that her husband is alive and will return home.  
 
David lives in the same mountain village as Chi and sells corn in a nearby town to help his family financially.  I consider his home life to be atrocious as he is often  abused and easily becomes aggressive with other children. Lately he has been cutting himself.  Veronica, Pastor Edmundo’s wife, approached David on the first day of VBS after he was being aggressive with some other kids and as she pulled him close to hug him and ask him why he was starting fights, he pulled back and said “ Don’t touch me”!  He said “When they hug me, they hurt me”.  Immediately, Veronica had tears well up and got Edmundo to figure out the best way to help him.  
 
Unfortunately, these two boys are not the only ones affected by these types of circumstances in their mountain village.   There are many that are affected in similar ways and yet looking at most of these kids, you can never tell that they live in bad conditions!  Most seem very happy!  Even though these kids had very few material things, especially compared to us, most seemed very happy.  The kids were happy to play “tag” or “duck, duck, goose”, to get candy, and to sing and dance to songs about Jesus!   Most everyone had fun!  Most everyone was happy!  I was impacted by their happiness! Thankfully, Chi asked God to forgive him and to save him which made all of us happy and David, who had already accepted Christ, actually got a microphone on the last day and “preached” for 20 minutes on forgiveness, honoring your parents and following Jesus!  I was impacted by David’s forgiveness!

Why were Chi and the other kids happy?  

Maybe it’s because they don’t know any better and aren’t aware of what we have in America and what they are missing out on.  Maybe they were excited for the American visitors to be there with them. Maybe they live life the best way they know how and are excited for any event that gets them out of their normal routine.  No matter what the reason is, these kids were happy.  Even though their circumstances weren’t the greatest, they still enjoyed every moment of the VBS!  Chi, even with the pain of missing his dad, was running around like a happy kid!   

Why was David forgiving?

When David got on the microphone and began speaking, all the kids stopped what they were doing and listened…for 20 minutes!  As he spoke he had tears in his eyes and and Cynthia, our translator, was crying while telling me what he was saying!  I was blown away when David said that Jesus loves us all and that He forgives us of our sins.  Since Jesus loves us and forgives us, we should forgive those who hurt and wrong us as well…even if it is our parents.  He went on to say that all of them needed to honor their father and mother because that is what the Bible says to do, not because they deserve it.  As I was listening to this, I couldn’t believe that it was coming from a 10 year old.  He was the best preacher that I heard all week as his message was full of truth and passion.  David forgave because Christ forgave him!  David forgave because the Bible states that we should forgive! 

So I have to ask, “Are you Happy? Are you forgiving?”

I hope that you are!  Actually, I hope that you are filled with the joy, peace, happiness, love and all the blessings that God gives to all of His children, but maybe you are not happy right now!  Maybe you are not feeling the joy of the Lord, which is different than happiness!  In fact, you might not feel the joy of the Lord in your life at all as many things have made you feel discouraged or depressed!  If that is you, I want you to be encouraged today!  I want you to remember that you have been given everything from a God that loves you so much that He promised to always be with you and to never leave you!   He has forgiven you of your sins and made you clean!  He has replaced your sadness with gladness!  He has given you hope and an eternal future with Him to look forward to!  He has been there for you in the worst times and during the best times!  He is good!  He is great!  Rejoice today that you have a God that can make “beauty from ashes”!

Be happy today!  Be forgiving today!



Message From Scott | July 20, 2018

In one of his books, George Barna, a leading church growth consultant, tells about two men in their mid-thirties who find themselves one Sunday morning on a country club golf course. He describes them as “born-again Christians who have eliminated church life from their busy schedules.” Instead of attending church, they worship, as they put it, at the “Church on the Green.”
 
According to Barna, within the next several years more and more people will follow the lead of those Sunday-morning golfers and opt out of church attendance. A recent church periodical stated that “from high school graduation to age 25, there is a 42 percent drop in weekly church attendance.”

Whatever the reason, eliminating public worship from our lives will prove to be a great loss. All throughout history, whether at an altar, in a synagogue, in the temple, or in their own homes, God’s people gathered together to worship the Lord.

God himself calls us to worship. Our busy lives demand it. The church is called to provide opportunities for people to come together to praise God, be renewed, and be challenged to live out their faith in everyday living. Taking the time to worship benefits our marriages, strengthens our families, and empowers all our relationships.

Psalm 100                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Worship is not complicated. It’s not a list of things that we need to do or places we need to go. It’s as simple as turning our thoughts to God.   In Psalm 100, David is simply reciting facts about God and these facts lead to wonder. It should fill our hearts with joy! We are to make a joyful NOISE because of who God is! As a Christian we have many things to make a joyful noise about.  Take a moment today and think about God’s goodness to you. Think about Jesus hanging on the cross for you. Think about all the mighty things He has done in your life.  When you begin thinking about these things you won’t be able to contain it and you will begin worshipping God! Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with singing. Lift your praise to the one who is worthy of all praise. Make sure worship is on your agenda today!



Message From Matt | July 12, 2018

The Love of our Heavenly Father!

This past Sunday I read from Luke Chapter 15, Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son and his older brother.   I spoke about the brokenness in the lost son after he spent everything and realized that he needed to come back to the father.  We also read that the older son had a need for brokenness but couldn’t see it.  He was prideful and critical and not focusing on the bigger picture…his brother came home!   Instead of being happy he was angry with the father!  He always worked hard and did everything the father told him to do but never had a party thrown for him!  He never got the attention that he thought he deserved!   

This story is a great picture of two types of people that need to be broken.  The first type is the one that commits obvious sins!   The younger son couldn’t pretend that he was living right as his sin was blatant, rebellious, and disgusting.  However, I suggest that the older son’s sin was just as rebellious and blatant and disgusting!  The older son represents the second type of person that needs to be broken, the person that is blinded by their pride regarding how sinful they really are.  This type of person lives their life feeling like they have no problems and often times look down on others with arrogance.

Both of these boys had sin in their lives and both needed to be broken!  

Although the stories of the boy’s lives are often the ones that are focused on the most, I can’t help but think that it is the love of the Father that is the best part! 

Look at what the Father did for His boys:

  • He was patient! The younger son wanted his inheritance early.  The father didn’t have to give it to him, but he did.  The younger son ran off and the father could have tracked him down, but he didn’t.  Instead, the parable says that the father waited (verse 20) for the son to return!  He could have done several things to reach the son, but he was patient!  I think that this is how we as parents need to be as well, especially with our teenage and adult children…patient!  The reality is that I can discipline to change behavior but I can’t change hearts.  It is God alone doing His work that can bring about lasting change.  
  • He was proactive! I love how the father in this parable handled his two sons differently!  With the younger son he was patient but with the older son he was proactive.  When the older son would not come to the party, the father came to him (verse 28). The father treated the son’s sin differently and was perfect in his handling of them.  He could have waited for the older son to come in, but I believe that he knew this son’s pride would get in the way of that.  
  • He was forgiving!  The father had the right to make the younger son a slave or disown him completely.  He didn’t do either!  He could have been angry with the older son for being a “party pooper” but he wasn’t!  His love was marked by his forgiveness as he focused on what was most important in their lives.  He wanted to restore the younger son and teach the older son what forgiveness was.  Many times we can let our hurt feelings and unmet expectations ruin our relationships, but this father determined to forgive instead!
  • He was loving!  When you read this parable there is no doubt that the father loved his boys!  No matter what their actions were, or what they did, they did not lose the love of the father!  They were his boys and nothing was going to change that.  He loved them from birth and nothing was going to break that love!
This father’s actions are a picture of our Heavenly Father and we know that as His children we can never be separated from His love.  Paul wrote in Romans 8:37-39“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Because of the Father and sacrifice of the Son, we are more than conquerors and nothing (or nobody) can separate us from His love!  Once you are a child of God, you are always a child of God!  Do we deserve this love?  NO!  Should we be thankful every day for His love? YES!  To go along with thankfulness to God, we should also demonstrate His love to others!  If you have a child not living right…be patient!  If you have someone at work that you need to go to and show love to…be proactive!  If you have been offended…forgive!  If you get down, remember how God loves you and show that love towards others!  

God loves us greatly…show that love to others!

See you Sunday!


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!


Message from Matt | June 15, 2018

Our greatest need??
 
Have you ever thought about what our greatest need is?  I know that some will state the obvious things like oxygen or beating hearts.  Others might say coffee in the morning!  Still others might say Oreos, but of course that wouldn’t be me.  Although we do need oxygen and beating hearts to live, this is not the need that I am thinking about.  I do believe that forgiveness is mankind’s greatest need, because without accepting God’s forgiveness and free gift of eternal life, this life would be hopeless.  But in the life of the believer, who has already received God’s forgiveness, I believe that a great need, maybe our greatest need, is to continually and constantly hear from God!

I know that I am stating the obvious, but life seems to be more peaceful and filled with purpose and direction when we hear from God…doesn’t it?  Throughout the Scriptures this is proven to be the case and is especially shown in the lives of Saul and David. 

Near the end of Saul’s life (1 Samuel 27-31) we see that Saul was in a desperate situation!  He was foiled in his attempts to kill David.  He was without the Prophet Samuel that would give him direction, and worst of all, God was displeased with Saul for his disobedience and God “departed” from him (see 1 Samuel 28:6, 15-20).  The Lord wasn’t listening to or speaking to Saul…and Saul was lost.  Being as desperate as he was, Saul sought out the advice of a godless woman, the witch at En-dor, and through her sorcery Saul received the word that he didn’t want to hear – Israel would be defeated in battle and he and his sons would die!  
 
Then there is David.  David and his men, who happened to be staying with the Philistines at the time, were sent home from a battle only to find that their town was burned and their families stolen (1 Samuel 30:8)! After a lot of finger pointing and threats on David’s life, David sought the Lord and the Lord heard him and told him what to do!  The results were that David and his men recovered everyone and everything that was stolen from them.  David went into battle knowing that they would have victory because he believed what God told him!  

For David, hearing from God was the difference between him and Saul and that is the same for us today!  If you are a child of God, know that He is on your side!  He is always with you!  He makes you more than a conqueror!  BUT, even with all of those blessings, are we doing the things needed to hear from Him on a daily basis?  I am convinced that hearing from God is my greatest need as your pastor, and when I do hear, it is always an amazing feeling.  When I don’t hear, it is always because I am not spending time with Him or I have unconfessed sin that is hindering my fellowship with God!  

So how can you hear from Him? 

  1. If you are not already, become one of His children! (Romans 10:9,10, 13)
  2. Be in the Word and obey it! (Psalm 119)
  3. Confess your sins to God and repent on a regular basis! 

You don’t have to be perfect to hear from God because David certainly wasn’t, but we do need to place ourselves in the position to hear from Him.  

If you are struggling right now with a life challenge, take a few moments to spend some time praying and reading some Scriptures.  Ask the Lord for direction and follow His leading.  

Remember to believe in Hebrews 13:5! 

 

P.S. 
We do have Sunday School for all ages this Sunday at 9:30 AM and our worship service at 10:30 AM.  Looking forward to worshipping the Lord with you!