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!