Message From Matt – July 17

It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who you Know!
 
As many of you know, we headed to Oaxaca, Mexico this week for our annual missions trip to encourage our church plants and see the great work that they are doing!  Since this is my third trip to Oaxaca, I feel that I have good insight on what to expect from start to finish, including the “pain” that getting through security at the airport can be.  I know that the word “pain” seems a little dramatic, but if you fly, you know what I mean…the TSA lines can be a drag.  I expected the security lines to be long!  I expected the process of taking belts and shoes off, emptying my pockets, getting everything on the conveyor belt to be scanned to be a little too much!   Then being scanned myself would be at the very least, slightly annoying!  But this is what you expect when you take a flight…right?
Yes, unless you know someone!
I didn’t know a TSA supervisor or a “high up” at the airport…I just know Wanda Britt!
 
If you don’t know Wanda, she is a lady that has played a vital role in our church for many years and has an amazing testimony of dedication and service to God/IBT!  But that isn’t the reason that I am writing about her.  I am writing because of what she had…a pass for her and a friend to go through the pre-check line and bypass the long lines through the regular check points.  If you remember my post about the Fast Pass at Disney several works ago, this was similar as we got through the line in a few moments and didn’t have to wait long.  
As we were going through the short line, I was reminded of what I tell my kids often, “it’s not what you know as much as who you know” that will help open doors for you in your life!  Wanda was Fast Pass through security!
 
Of course you know that I am going to get biblical on you…but knowing Jesus Christ is the greatest thing that we can do to have a fulfilled life because He is the greatest!
Just a few reminders to know about Jesus:
  • He is the greatest of all time (John 1:27)
  • He is the door to salvation (John 10:9)
  • He is the way, truth and life (John 14:6)
  • He gives abundant life (John 10:10)

And the list could go on and on!  
We are thankful for these great truths, but the greatest truth is that Jesus Christ died for you (1 Timothy 1:15) and that He currently is making intercession for you (Romans 8:34)!
So if Jesus died for me and is always thinking and praying for me…why should I ever be overcome with fear or stress?  Even though those things will come upon me from time to time, I do not have to give in to them because of who I know! 
 
What about you?  Are you overcome right now?  If you are a believer in Jesus, remember who you know!  Remember who is in your corner!  Remember who you are!



Message From Matt – July 10

Cliffhangers!
 
If you like watching TV shows,  you know that sometimes your favorite show will end an episode with an unanswered question called a “cliffhanger”.  This is where a climatic part of the show cuts off just before letting you know what happens next, making you wait another week before you get the answer.  It makes for intriguing TV but honestly I always hated how those shows ended!  I wanted to know what happened right then and there and not wait!
 
The Book of Jonah ends this same way…like a cliffhanger (see Jonah 4:11)!  Being transparent here, I don’t like how the book ends.  It ends without us knowing what Jonah’s response is to God’s question. God asked Jonah if he had a  right to be angry about his shade withering away and at the same time not caring about the thousands of innocent children that would be killed if Jonah got what he wanted.  We don’t know what Jonah’s reply was!  It doesn’t show if Jonah had a change of heart!  It doesn’t show if God had any further punishment on Jonah for his attitude! It doesn’t tell us anything else but leaves us with unanswered questions!  
 
You already know this but let me say it anyway…unanswered questions are very frustrating! 
 
We often have seasons in our lives that we are looking for answers to questions only to have those answers put on hold!  Each time this happens, it is like we are waiting for the answer but it rarely comes when we want it.  What is intriguing of the make believe TV show is replaced with impatience, frustration and doubt in our real lives! Since one day is as a 1,000 years to God (2 Peter 3:8), waiting is not an issue for Him! But since waiting one day seems like a 1,000 years to us…it’s a big deal!!
 
If this is you right now and you are waiting for an answer from God on something, I want you to take heart!  God is still working while you are waiting.  
 
In fact, the Bible is very clear about His work in the waiting periods…
 
  • He will renew your strength while you wait – Isaiah 40:31
  • He has great thoughts toward you – Jeremiah 29:11
  • While we wait we can have hope in His Word – Psalm 130:5
  • That those who wait on the Lord will inherit the earth – Psalm 37:9 

 
There is enough biblical proof that God is working His purpose in and through you while you are waiting that we should have plenty to rejoice about! 
 
If you’re frustrated today, don’t give up!  Don’t throw in the towel and think that God has forsaken you (Hebrews 13:5). Don’t surrender to the enemies’ mind games while you wait!  But believe that God is working all things for His glory and your good!
 
Although we don’t read what Jonah’s initial response was to God’s final question, we do know that God used Jonah, even with his sinful behavior, to see an entire nation turn to God!  Maybe in your wait, God is going to use you and this experience to impact someone with the truth of His Word!



Message From Matt – July 3

Alarmed, but distracted!
 
As I was leaving the church building this morning to drive to the gas station across the street, I decided not to buckle my seatbelt because of the short trip. It only took a few seconds for my car to tell me that this was not a good idea…you know, that annoying alarm that comes on telling you to put your seatbelt on!
 
Even though I heard the alarm going off and was annoyed by its sound, I decided to do nothing about it because the trip was just a short distance.  Writing about it now, it all seems a little silly on my part, because if I wanted to stop hearing the alarm all I had to do is take a few seconds to buckle up.  Instead I was distracted by my thoughts and decided not to do anything about it!  
This got me thinking about other alarms that might be going off that we are too distracted to hear or do anything about:
  • There are alarms with our health!  If you’re not feeling good, you need to do something about it
  • There’s the alarms in our marriage! If there is little to no peace in your home, you need to do something about it
  • There are alarms with our children and grandchildren!  If they are going the wrong way, you need to do something about it even if prayer is the only thing to do
  • There are alarms in our community regarding poverty and crime!  What can we do about it?

I think there are alarms going off all around us but we can easily get distracted and ignore them. It is like the tornado alarm that sounds every Friday in Indianapolis at 11 AM…we have heard it for so long knowing that it doesn’t mean a real emergency that we ignore its intended purpose.  I think this is the way it is in our spiritual life too.
 
The Holy Spirit sounds alarms when we aren’t going the way that we should (called conviction) but I wonder if we aren’t too distracted (or spiritually lazy) to do anything about it?  
 
Then there’s the Biblical alarm that Jesus will return again!  There are alarms going off in all areas of our planet that what the Bible said was going to happen, is in fact happening!  There are wars, tensions, perversions, and all types of wickedness that is taking place.  There are national alignments that are shaping up like the Bible predicted and just about everyone hates Israel.  The end times are upon us and God’s alarms are going off!
 
So what are we to do?

  1. When the Spirit convicts (sounds the alarm)…repent!
  2. Be in the Word of God and in prayer!
  3. Watch for Jesus’ return and look for ways to share the gospel of Christ!
  4. Do these things every day!

I think the time that we have is relatively short…let’s listen to God’s alarms and not be distracted!



Message From Matt – June 26

Half way!
 
Have you ever seen a squirrel crossing the road, then when it sees an oncoming car, instead of going the rest of the way,  it will turn back and run to where it started from?  I have!  The incident that pops in my mind every time I see a squirrel do this happened many years ago when a squirrel was a few feet from the side of the road but chose to run back to the starting point when a car approached!  I wondered back then…why didn’t the squirrel keep on going?  Why did he go back to start instead of finishing his course?
Even though I didn’t understand it then, I believe that I understand it now.  As a disclaimer, I haven’t studied the instinctual habits of squirrels but I do think I have this figured out:
  • The squirrel has fear and would rather run backwards than running forwards and facing the unknown.

Um…that sounds like us sometimes too!
 
Oftentimes we will start moving in the right direction, keeping our eyes on the road ahead, BUT then something happens!  It’s a health scare, a financial struggle, a problem at work, or a criticism for standing up for Christ and we can find ourselves moving backward rather than keep moving forward.  Why?  Fear and the desire to be safe and comfortable rather than facing the unknown! 
Here’s a news flash…God doesn’t want you to go backward, only forward!  Here’s another one…God is with us all the time and gives you the strength to keep moving forward!  
The Bible is very clear, that with God we are more than conquerors and we are never separated from Him (Romans 8) and what that means for us is that we cannot ever escape the presence of God and He gives us the strength to keep moving forward!  
For example, some of the things that you might be trying to move forward on could be meeting your health goal, or that ministry that you have been wanting to start, or a new position at work;  you have the choice to make; are you going to let fear send you backward or are you going to believe in God and keep moving forward?
 
I am encouraging you today to not have the faith of a squirrel!  Don’t go backward when you need to go forward!  Don’t give up…you have the all-powerful God with you at all times! 



Message From Matt – June 19

Fast Pass 
 
On our vacation last week we went to Disney World Magic Kingdom for a day and yes, it is true, it’s the most magical (magical is code word for expensive) place on earth!  
 
Not only was it one of the most magical days ever, for me it was also filled with much frustration.  It took us two hours to get from the parking lot to actually walking into the park. I had to take out a second mortgage to pay for our meals and the crowds were so large it seemed like half of the population of Florida was there.  With that size of a crowd, the biggest frustration was that we had to wait in a long line to get to the ride…wait times sometimes upwards to 2 hours for a 5 minute ride. That is unless you had a Fast Pass!
 
This pass is something that you had to go to a kiosk and reserve a spot for a certain time period.  You could spread out your rides throughout the entire day and what the Fast Pass got you was bypassing the long wait times to get to the ride.  For example, the line for Splash Mountain had a 115 minute wait in the regular line, but we got through to the ride in 10 minutes with the Fast Pass!  When I was in the Fast Pass line I was so happy to be there, but when I was in the regular line on another ride, I was coveting those people’s Fast Pass!
 
I came to love the Fast Pass…really love it!
 
However, in life, I think people are looking for the Fast Pass in everything!  We want money, comfort, and security and we want it now!  It’s often said that young adults want all the things that they have grown accustomed to with their parents but not work for it like their parents had to.  I don’t blame them.  I find myself wanting things without putting the work into it!  For example, I dream about winning $7,000.00 a week for the rest of my life when I see the Publisher’s Clearinghouse commercials, but I always neglect the first step in that dream…actually going online and signing up for it!  I assume that it will be an endless trap of getting offers for magazines and other services that I don’t want and that my chance of actually winning is 1 in a trillion…so I don’t put the effort into it, I just dream about that check coming every week!  
 
Although God is able to work fast in your life, I think that most times  He chooses to work slowly!  When we want blessings fast,  it seems that God is oftentimes slow in moving on our behalf, but I have found that His timing is always perfect! 
 
Even today you might be wanting something to happen in your life right now, but God is saying “wait”!  Don’t get frustrated…have faith!   Have faith that God won’t leave you (Hebrews 13:5)!  That God has great thoughts toward you (Jeremiah 29:11)!  That your waiting is not in vain in that there are so many things that He wants to teach you in the waiting about Himself, others and yourself that you wouldn’t get if you got things fast!   
 
So, appreciate the wait!  Wait on God and know that He is working for you, not against you!  
 
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14


Message From Matt – June 12

Roundabouts
 
It’s pretty funny (and scary) sometimes to watch people navigate a roundabout.  At the one close to our house,  we have witnessed near wrecks, jumped curbs, cars that have run into walls, and acts of road rage because they seemingly can’t manage the roundabout.  As simple as a roundabout is, there are people who struggle with it which makes the whole roundabout experience just that…an experience!
 
However, as I was driving around a roundabout recently,  I had another experience worth mentioning.  It wasn’t a crazed driver that didn’t know how to handle the roundabout this time, but as I was driving I realized the place that I was going was someplace that I really didn’t need to be.   It wasn’t a bad place or a bad event, it was just something that I realized I didn’t need to do.  As I got onto the roundabout,  I just kept following the circle around and went back the same way I came.  I did a “180”!  
 
The truth is,  there are many people that need to do a “180” in their life!  Up front, this is not only speaking about spiritual things!  This also could include your finances, your health, and your relationships but even all of those things need to be submitted to God because God cares about all of that in your life!   
If your spending is off base, God wants you to do a roundabout and become a good steward of what He has blessed you with!  If you overeat and under-exercise, God wants you to do a roundabout and take care of the “temple” He gave you!  If your relationships are struggling because of your pride, He wants you to do a roundabout, let go of your pride, seek forgiveness and restoration and start afresh with family and friends.  
 
The great news about the need for roundabouts in our life is that God encourages you to use them and He sticks with you all the way around it. 
In this process, remember a few things:
  1. God wants you to repent (do a roundabout)! – Job 42:1-6Acts 17:30
  2. God never leaves or forsakes you through this process! – Hebrews 13:5
  3. God is rich in His mercy even when you are going the wrong way!- Ephesians 2:4
  4. God has great thoughts toward you that you won’t experience unless you do a roundabout! – Jeremiah 29:11
  5. God can use you even though your past, recent and far back, can be sketchy…remember David, Saul/Paul, Moses, Abraham, etc…

What about you right now?  Do you need to do a roundabout?  If so, turn back to God.



Message From Matt – June 5

“Know-It-All” 
 
Don’t you just love being around a “know-it-all”?  Ok, most likely you don’t because for some reason, people that fit that description are hard to be around.  It’s difficult to have a conversation with someone who knows everything about everything and doesn’t mind reminding you about it.  On top of that, we all know that “know-it-alls” really don’t know as much as they think they know, but convincing them of that is nearly impossible.  
 
However, there is one exception…God!  He is a “Jack-of-all-trades and a Master of all of it”.
God knows everything.  His Omniscience is one of His attributes that we can’t deny but many of us wish weren’t true.  Why?  Since He knows all things, there is nothing that we can hide from Him.  Just like last week’s email about His omnipresence and the truth that He is everywhere at all times, including the past, present and future, the same goes for His knowledge…you can’t hide your thoughts or actions from Him.  
 
This is frightening when you think about it because He knows your every thought!  He knows your motivations for what you do and He knows all the plans that you have.  Since God knows every hair on your head (Luke 12:7) there is nothing that we can keep from Him.  His knowledge of everything is perfect.  A.W. Tozier said it well when he wrote, “God knows all that can be known”. 
Even though God’s knowledge can be scary, it also can be comforting because God never discovers anything!  He is never blindsided!  He is never caught off guard! He knows your worries and struggles and He knows what can help you overcome them.  
David wrote about this in Psalm 139:1-4“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.”
 
As I think about God’s greatness through all of His attributes,  my mind goes to where Paul’s was at when he wrote, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?  For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” – Romans 11:33-36
Even though it’s hard to comprehend everything about God’s greatness, I  believe it.  I rest in the fact that my God is so much greater than anyone that has been created and anything that has been made!  He is so high and lifted up even above the heavens yet He thinks good thoughts to me and you!  He knows you, the good, bad and ugly things about you, yet He loves you!  What a God we have and serve!  
 
Let’s keep searching out the attributes of God!  You’ll never be disappointed in Him!


Message From Matt – May 29

You can’t run, can’t hide!
 
Remember the story of Jonah?  I know…everybody does, but do you remember how the book started?   
 
It starts out with God telling Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach God’s warning of judgment against them, BUT, Jonah had another plan…”But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord…(Jonah 1:3)
If disobeying God was Jonah’s plan, he succeeded!  
If getting away from God was the plan, he failed!  
 
The problem is the same problem that everyone else has that tries to run from God; it’s impossible to run from Him…Because He is everywhere at all times!  For those that are running to God that is a blessing!  For those that are running fromGod, this can lead to big problems!  
 
Focusing on the good parts of this truth, it’s good to know a few things!  The first is that God’s omnipresence transcends time itself.  He is in the past, present, and future all at the same time which is far above our comprehension.  The truth is,  since God is currently in all three of those time categories,  He already knows my future!  He already has mapped out His best for me and knows every move that I will make and since He has the best thoughts toward me (Jeremiah 29:11) and cannot lie (Titus 1:2), I know good things await me…especially in spending eternity with Him (Revelations 21-22).  
 
The second part of this truth is that God is never far away.  You can never be too far from God!  He is never too busy or distracted to take His eyes off of you and He is definitely always capable to handle any problem that you have.  
 
Lastly, He is here, there and everywhere.  Normally, that phrase is said in a negative way, but the truth that God is everywhere at all times should give us comfort!  We cannot escape His presence, His mercy, His grace, His chastening when needed, or His love.  Whether you are in Indy, Florida, or China…God is there.  You might try to run from Him, but if you are His child…you can never get rid of Him!  You can never get Him out of your mind!  You can never get Him to forget you!  You can never be so far away that He can’t help you!  
 
Let’s always be running to Him…never trying to run from Him!



Message From Matt – May 22

Untapped?

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  – Ephesians 3:20-21

You have probably heard me say this a few times, but I want to say it again;  I believe that most Christians don’t understand the power of God that is within them!  

What I mean by that is that we have been given everything  we need to live a life pleasing to God and overcome sin and temptations, but oftentimes we live defeated, depressed or even devastated.  

 

I don’t wish this on any of us but the truth is that  maybe one of those “D” words apply to you?  If so, are you ready to break free from that downward spiral of troubling emotions to a life of experiencing the power of God?

I am not suggesting that we won’t have times of troubles and problems; being saved doesn’t “save” you from struggles and suffering…in some cases, it might mean more of that.  The point here that I want to get across is that we need help to overcome the daily struggles that we have and God is there, never changing in His power, to help us!  

 

As I spoke about on Sunday, God is Omnipotent! (Omni = All/Potent = Powerful) and according to Paul in the verse above, God’s power works in us for His glory!  God’s strength is unlimited and is our power source, but in many lives, His power is untapped!

So, what is too hard for God?…NOTHING!!

  • “Ah Lord God! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:”  – Jeremiah 32:17
  • “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Does God every wear out or give in to pressure?…Not a bit!!

  • “Hast thou not known?  Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.” – Isaiah 40:28

God’s power is hard to resist – Job 42:2

God’s power is hard to comprehend, but we just need to believe it – Ephesians 3:20

God’s power never changes – Psalm 102:25-27

When we read the Bible, look at Creation, or think about the fact that God will one day be rapturing out His children, we have to say that God is all-powerful…and His power can help you today!

Look at what Isaiah wrote about God’s power given to us…He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31



Message From Matt – May 15

Not what I used to be….
 
I was with someone recently that had lost a lot of weight when the conversation turned to trying on new clothes.  This person made a statement in passing that stuck with me when she said, …”I’m not what I used to be!”  
Her statement is very true but not only because of her weight loss…it was true for her spiritually speaking as well!  As it is for her, it is for all of us who are believers in Jesus Christ when we say similar things.  Because of Jesus and our faith in Him, we are changed!  
 
The Apostle Paul said it best when he wrote to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:11-13.  As he was writing a list of wrongs/sins that people do that keep them from the Kingdom of God, he finished with these words….13) “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 
I love it!  Paul was saying as he is being inspired by God to do so…you weren’t great before Christ!  In fact, you were filthy in the eyes of God but because of Jesus you have been washed!  Because of Jesus you have been sanctified (set apart for God’s use)!  Because of Jesus you are now just in the eyes of God!  Because of Jesus and your faith in Him, you are not what you used to be…you are now a child of God!
 
Why is this important to know? 
It’s important because the enemy, the devil, wants to remind you of your past!  He wants to have you keep running in circles on the hamster wheel of regret, fear and worry so that you won’t experience the true freedom that comes with being a child of God!  He wants you to be depressed, defeated and discouraged!  He wants you to keep reliving in your mind what you used to be so he can trap you in a lifetime of defaulting back to those things.  But that is not from God!  God wants you to be free and to live with an understanding of all that He has done for you, for what he is doing for you, and what he has in store for you! 
 
Let me end with another verse from Paul to this church…”But as it written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
 
Remember this quote: “I know that I am not what I should be, or what I could be…but praise God, I am not what I used to be!