Message From Matt – September 25

Fitting God into Our Schedule!
Just writing that makes me squirm in my seat a bit!  
The thought of my life being so busy that I have to “fit God in” seems way out of bounds from what it should be, but unfortunately I think it is becoming commonplace with our busy schedules.
I know that I am stating the obvious, but this thinking is upside down!  We’re the ones that need to fit ourselves into His schedule!
I want to give myself (and you) a pass if we’re trying to fit God into our schedule!  After all, we are living in such a hectic world.  The tyranny of busyness is all around us and most of the time we struggle with trying not to be overwhelmed.  
We can spend our days so focused on checking off chores from our “To Do” list that we often forget the best way to begin our day…seeking God.  By seeking God early, we are not fitting Him in our schedule, we are asking Him…please set my schedule!
David said something like this in Psalm 63:1-2O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;  To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.”
I believe that in one sense  David was just like we are!  He was busy!  He was a king after all and I am sure that he had a long “to do” list as well!  On top of that, his family was filled with strife, he oftentimes found himself in the wilderness and even had his son, among others, try to kill him!  I think that he had high stress! 
But David’s schedule started with God!  He sought Him early! 
In my opinion, the word “early” can be applied in two different ways. 
First, it means getting up early every morning and starting your day in prayer and in the Word…that’s simple, right?
Next, I also think it can mean that in everything that comes up in your day, you will seek God’s advice and direction first!  For example, when you have a meeting with your boss that you’re fretting about, you will actually take time to talk with God first before doing anything else.  Or when you worry over a bill, or a child, or a health scare, that we will seek God first before being overcome by that worry…this is seeking God early!  
The reality is that He doesn’t want us to fit Him into our schedule!  He wants to be the first part of our schedule.  When we allow Him to do that, in my experience, our days will be better!  
When we seek Him early, I also believe that we will be able to say what David did in Psalm 63:3-7….“Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.  My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:  When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.” 
I hope to see you Sunday and please consider signing up for our annual Run with a Mission on Saturday, October 12th at Craig Park in Greenwood.  Sign up sheets are at the welcome table!

Message From Matt – September 19

Running in a Pack!
When it comes to personalities within a group, everyone is different!  
Some people are loners who aren’t comfortable in a crowd!  Then there are others who are completely comfortable in a crowd and want the spotlight shining bright on them and then there are many who fall somewhere in between these two extremes.  
In this culture that constantly tells us to “Be True To Yourself”  or worse to “Love Yourself,” I feel that the two extremes might actually become more of the “norm” than the exception which really shines the light on the person rather than on the whole…or more importantly, on God!
Of course, we could focus on the problems with people that want the spotlight, but the problems that come from that are pretty obvious.  Instead, let me focus on those that would rather do things on their own rather than being part of a group.  
The big problem with this thinking is that a loner won’t go as far as those that are in a group and the loner misses out on important relationships and lessons that come from being in a group!
There is strength in numbers!
One of the most deflating stories (from an American perspective) from the 2016 Olympics is about the US Women’s Cyclist, Mara Abbott.  Mara was leading the very long road race and actually had a 39 second lead on a group of 3 riders with just under 2 miles to go.  Everything seemed to be going her way and she thought that she was going to win the race…but shockingly she didn’t win!  Instead, she came in 4th place! 
If you didn’t see the race, you are probably asking yourself “What Happened?”  How could she lose and not even medal with that much of a lead and under 2 miles to go???
It turns out that a 39 second lead can be erased very quickly when a competing cyclist gets in a pack and they feed off of each other like they did.  The group of 3 took turns pushing one another!  One would take the lead and then another would pass that leader and it would go back and forth until they overtook Abbott.  In fact, they closed the gap so quickly that when they passed Abbott, they made it look like she was cycling in cement!  
They worked together to make each other better!  
There are good lessons that we can learn from this story:

  1. You can go (and our church too) farther and achieve greater success together rather than alone!
  2. You need people around you to push you beyond what you think you can do!

I admit, there are times that it’s great to just be alone!  Sometimes we really need this.   Even Jesus modeled this many times when he would get alone to pray (Matthew 26:36-44).  But Jesus also modeled togetherness too!  He picked out 12 disciples to do ministry with.  He took them to each town that he traveled to and showed them how to live and how to die.  Jesus modeled that we can do more together than we can do on our own.  In fact, I believe that we were created to be in relationships and not be loners!  
So don’t be a loner! 
Enjoy the people around you and learn from them!  
Please don’t skip church either!  We are told in Hebrews 10:24-25 that we should come together even more as we get closer to Jesus’ return.
We need God’s help every day!  We also need each other!

Message From Matt – September 12

Take a SELAH!  
Have you ever heard of that word?  I’m sure you have but I am sure that it’s not a word that you use often in your regular conversations.  
That word is found 74 times in the Bible (71 in Psalms and 3 times in Habakkuk) and no one seems to be clear on what the definition really means.  
Some say it means to “exalt” or “lift up”.  Others say that it refers to a loud sound that should be made by musical instruments.  However, most believe that the word means to take a pause and reflect on what was just stated.
I tend to believe the last possibility!  
I think the writers in Psalms use the word for the reader to stop and reflect on what was just said as a way for it to sink in.
For example, look at Psalm 77 and see how Asaph uses the word:

  • Verses 1-3, when he was completely overwhelmed, he said…
    • “I cried unto God with my voice…”; “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord:…” “…my soul refused to be comforted”; “…I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed”  Then he wrote SELAH!
  • Verses 4-9, when the troubles kept on coming, he said…
    • “…I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”; “Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?”; “Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?”; “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?  Then he wrote SELAH!
  • Verses 10-15, when he remembered how good God was to him, he said…
    • “…This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.”; “I will remember the works of the Lord:”; “I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”; “Thou art the God that doest wonders: Thou hast declared thy strength among the people.”  Then he wrote SELAH!

It seems to me that this writer struggled like we do, but maybe even to a greater degree.  Things weren’t going well in life and he had frustrations and questions.  However, before being rash, he decided to take a pause and think about what was going on!  He decided to be still for a moment!  Even while he was questioning God’s goodness, he was wise enough to stop and process what all was taking place!  Simply, he took a SELAH!  
You might be having some problems in your life as well!  
Maybe you feel overwhelmed, troubled, and forgotten!  However, before you do anything negative with those thoughts, can I suggest that you take a SELAH?
I believe that if you will reflect on your problems in light of God’s Word and power, then you will come away with a perspective that is completely positive.  
After Asaph questioned God but took time to actually think about what he was thinking, he realized how wrong that he was!  He remembered how good God was and is!  He remembered all the things that God did for him and all the wonders that God had done in all the world!  He decided to go from complaining about God to declaring God’s goodness…because he took time to pause and think!
When we think about God more than our problems, things tend to make more sense and we can feel less overwhelmed! 
I decided that I need to take more SELAH’s in my life!  Maybe you need to as well.  Stop, think and reflect on how good God has been to you…you won’t regret it!