Message From Matt | October 19, 2018

In Genesis we find the story of Joseph, who God blessed and used in a powerful way, but he first had to wait on God for 13 years.  All throughout the Bible we see many examples of people who had to wait on God. Many of these examples had a clear promise from God about exactly what would happen in their lives. Joseph on the other hand had no specific promise from God concerning his future.  For Joseph, God never told him that he was going to save the entire region from famine and become the second most powerful man in Egypt. While Joseph was in prison, he had no idea that God had him perfectly situated for an amazing purpose. For 13 years everything that could go wrong went wrong. His own brothers sold him into slavery, he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, and to top it off, the people he helped out in prison totally forgot about him.
 
Have you ever been in that situation?  No,  I’m not talking about being falsely accused and sitting in a jail cell, I’m talking about waiting on God. Many times waiting is hard. In our society we want it now!  Not having any clear direction or purpose in life can make us feel like we don’t matter,  especially when we feel as if God simply is not listening to us.  It is easy to feel as if you have been rejected by God and to lose all sense of purpose and hope.  When God seems silent in your life, and things aren’t working out the way you planned, and every path you try to take seems like a wrong turn, what should we do?
 
The first thing we can do is to continue to PRAY!
 
Thank Him, cry with Him, beg Him but don’t stop talking to Him. Never stop talking. Use this time of waiting wisely.  Spending more of your time in the Bible and praying might be the greatest outcome of your current situation. If you read Psalm 13 you can see that the Psalmist starts his prayer being angry with God, because he thinks God has forgotten about him, but by the end of the chapter he is singing and praising God.  So in the midst of your waiting, keep praying even if you don’t know what to say, because in so doing you will see how good God has been to you.
 
The second thing we can do is not to SWEAT IT!
 
Trust God in His timing and believe me, His timing is a whole lot better than your timing. Psalm 46:10 says to “Be still and know that I am God.” God might just want you to draw closer to Him and to simply stop, be still and wait.
 
The third thing we can do is to HOLD ON TO GOD’S PROMISES!
 
Psalm 130:5 says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.” Waiting can be difficult, but instead of putting hope in ourselves, people, or circumstances, we need to put all our hope in the promises of God.  If we truly believe that the Bible is truth then waiting on God doesn’t have to be scary.  Knowing who God is and what His word says helps me feel more solid in a very uncertain world.
 

God was not surprised by your current situation or circumstance. He does not need a Plan B for you. As crazy as it may sound, at this very moment you are exactly where God wants you and has placed you. It wasn’t Joseph’s choice to be in Egypt; however, Joseph was right where God wanted him.  If you are hurting right now and feel like God has forgotten about you, just remember you are in the hands of your loving Father and He is using this time in your life to make you more like His Son.


Message From Matt | October 12, 2018

Take Him or Leave Him? 

Shield your eyes for a moment as I throw out a word that to many is a curse word…the word, discipline!  Do you like that word?  I usually don’t because I think of all the areas in life that I lack in discipline.  At times I lack in discipline in how I eat, in how i exercise, in how I spend money, etc… but probably the area in life that I feel most regret is when I am not disciplined to spend quality time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word.  At this point you might be thinking, “Wait! Matt’s our pastor and it’s his job is to be in the Word and in prayer a lot, because isn’t that what pastors do??!” Sorry to disappoint you but that is part of my struggle in life!  Finding the balance in life of spending the appropriate time with God on top of being a husband, father, and pastor.  Don’t feel bad for me though, this is probably a struggle for you too and I know that I am in good company regarding this struggle!  

I have found that when I am in those cycles of poor discipline, I often feel as if I have a “take Him or leave Him” relationship with with God!  Of course, I know that the Lord never leaves me, but there are times that I am out of fellowship with God and it’s as if I been so busy doing “good” things that I lose sight of doing the “best” things!  It’s almost as if things are going good that I neglect to spend time with Him or other times when I am extremely busy that I have leave off doing the best things that I can with God. 

I know that the best things are to start my day with a renewed desire to live for Him!  To put the armor of God on every morning and go out to live a victorious life for Him!  To Love my wife and kids as I ought and to love other people as I ought!  These are the best things but the problem of doing good but forsaking the best is a reality and it leads to me becoming spiritually dry!  It is in those dry times that I am once again reminded that I need to hear from God!  That I need to place myself in position to hear from God and that keeping myself busy doing and doing and doing has left me longing for the best.  

Have you been too busy to spend time with God? (Here’s what I have learned…spending time with God first in your day sets you on a course of being able to handle problems better and allows you get more done throughout the day!)

Or, are things going so good right now that the need for having a deeper relationship with God doesn’t seem like a necessity?  (Here’s a reminder…you can never “peak” in your relationship with God!  You should always be growing in the Lord!)

Look at this quote from Martin Luther, “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”.  Isn’t that convicting? 

If you have been too busy for God, good thing that His mercy is new every morning!

Aren’t you glad for that!  Aren’t you glad that when you are in a pattern of undisciplined living that God is merciful with you, especially when you ask Him for mercy?  Aren’t you glad that He is faithful to us even when we aren’t?  Don’t get me wrong, God will chasten His children as needed (Hebrews 12) and that is never fun, but even in the chastening, His mercy is evident!  He could “consume” (kill us)!  He could do many things to us, but He is merciful!  Look what Jeremiah says about this in Lamentations 3:21-26… “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

Always Take Him!  Never Leave Him!

Let me encourage you to not ever get too busy to spend time with God!  I am urging and encouraging myself too!  I don’t want to leave God!  I need Him too much!  In a very real sense, I want to be a taker!  I want to take in all that I can of God and never be spiritually dry again!  As I write this, I desire to long for God in deeper ways and see Him with a greater vision!  That’s my desire for you too!

Let’s seek God together! 

Let’s seek God’s BEST together!

Let’s be disciplined in our lives to make Him the first priority!

When we don’t, thank Him for His mercy and then get back on track!


Message From Matt | October 5, 2018

Wide Awake to Worn Out!          

Had one of those nights this week where I woke up at 2:45 AM and was wide awake.  After laying there for a little while, I thought about getting up and doing some computer work or getting in the Word but  I thought I might just fall back asleep in a little while so I stayed in bed.  Unfortunately, I was wrong!  I didn’t fall asleep until it was close to time to wake up.  I went from being wide awake for 3+ hours to falling asleep for a few minutes and waking up exhausted!  

I know that I am getting a little older, but I can’t blame my lack of sleep on old age…not yet anyway!   My problem was that I was thinking too much…but not necessarily on good things.  In fact, I was thinking about all the things that I needed to do, all the things that I wanted to accomplish, and all the barriers that I thought were in the way of meeting my goals. The more I thought, the more my problems seemed to get bigger and the more negative my thinking became!  My thinking and over-thinking kept me awake until I couldn’t stay awake any longer!  

With all of the thinking that I was doing that night, I should have thought about Peter’s words in 

1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” and then maybe I would have fallen back to sleep a little sooner.  But I didn’t.  Instead, my mind was like a snowball rolling down a steep mountain that was quickly becoming a boulder! 

Have you had one of those nights?  If you haven’t, I am happy for you!  But, if you do have one of those nights in the future, please take my advice…give your cares to God sooner than later!

What’s it mean to “cast” our cares?

It means what it says…to cast or to throw!  It gives a picture of someone who has struggled long and hard with a care (burden or weight) and that they can’t go any longer without taking the weight off of them.  It is literally throwing it off of yourself and throwing it upon God!  It’s saying, “God, take this, because I can’t handle it!”  

The great thing is that God willingly takes it!  He wants to take your burden!  Just think about it this way, the God of the world wants you to throw on Him your burdens!  Why wouldn’t we?  

Today, maybe you aren’t burdened by anything…that’s awesome!  But then again, maybe you do have burdens!  If you are burdened, remember that you have a God that cares for you!  He loves you (John 3:16)!  He won’t leave you (Hebrews 13:5)!  He won’t forsake you!  He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)!  Lean on Him today!   

Speaking of those who have burdens – please read this article and pray for Christians in foreign lands that are suffering for Christ! 

Church Calls for Help as Police Block Stairwell

ChinaAid

(Zhengzhou, Henan—Sept. 29, 2018) Officials in Zhengzhou, capital of China’s Henan province, sent people to blockade off the church during a service on Sunday, Sept. 16. In response, the church posted an SOS notice online, calling on all Christians in the area to support them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The message appeared at 9:00 a.m., calling on other adherents to Christianity to help Dali Church as government officials blocked its stairwell, forcing the churchgoers to worship on the first floor. Around 300-400 Christians were present, and the authorities sent additional people to raid the church.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just five days before, government personnel broke into the church but were intercepted as a few hundred Christians protected it.                                                                                                                                                                                                          In another announcement, Dali Church stated that the current crackdown on Henan churches, spurred by the adoption of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs on Feb. 1, is the worst the area has seen in the past 40 years. The government has ordered the removal of crosses, closed churches, smashed their possessions, and beat and harassed Christians, making it difficult for them to attend church and leaving them endangered, grieved, and enraged, but so intimidated that they fear to speak up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All of these actions have happened to Dali Church.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Such oppression is also happening in other parts of the nation, such as Chengdu, Sichuan, where Early Rain Covenant Church, a large, unregistered church, is facing repeated harassment. On Sept. 16, Linxishu Evangelical Church, a branch of Early Rain Covenant Church, was raided by local officials. The church’s minister, Cao Qingen, was taken into custody.                                                                                                                                                                                               According to congregants, a dozen officials from the religious affairs bureau and the public security bureau claimed that the church was not yet approved and organized illegal activities. Dozens of churchgoers had information from their identification cards taken down and had to provide their cell phone numbers to the authorities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Christians in China, in order to stand in solidarity with Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.