Message From Matt | February 15, 2019

Surrender!

 I have been re-reading the book 

Absolute Surrender by author Andrew Murray.  In the first chapter of the book he quotes 1 Kings 20:1-4 which states in part…”And Benhadad the king of Syria…sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him…Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have.”

At this point, much could be said about how weak and evil a king that Ahab was…no doubt this is true.  I wonder if King David would have done this.   Most likely not!  But it’s not Ahab’s weakness that grabbed my attention…it is what he said during his surrender to the king of Syria.  I think this is what attracted Andrew Murray to write this book as well!  

I have “surrender” on the brain as 15 of our church members are in Costa Rica this week with 3 missionaries that have surrendered their lives to God’s call.  It is as if they said to God “

I am thine, and all that I have.” 

when God called them.  Maybe many would think that it is easy to leave the States to live in Costa Rica;  after all, the weather and scenery are fantastic!  But I can tell you from my experience of seeing behind the scenes that surrendering to leave your home, family, friends and security is not easy!  In fact, there are some very hard parts about it!  So why do they do it?  

It has to be because when God puts something on your heart like this and it won’t go away – surrender is the only thing to do!  Doing anything else would be unfulfilling!

So how do we know when God is calling us to do something for Him?  

Maybe there are multiple answers to this depending on the circumstances and person, but I reflect back on what my father in law, Ron Pollard, told me when I asked him years ago about being called into ministry.  He said that I would know it is of God “when it’s all that I can think about!”  At that time, getting into full-time ministry was constantly on my mind! I couldn’t shake it and I tried to, but God was calling me to something different than anything that I could imagine and I knew that I would continue to be miserable if I didn’t surrender. 

Surrender can be scary!  You don’t know what to expect and what the future will hold.  It might even change your plans like it did mine but I don’t regret it!  I am glad that I surrendered (hesitantly at first) and know that I should be ready to do anything that God calls me to do.

What about you?

  Has something been pressing in your thoughts for a long time that you haven’t surrendered to yet?  

What about today?  Will you say to God, “I’m yours and everything that I have”?

What’s next?  You wake up every day and say to God that same thing and see how God directs you.  Work for Him and wait on His direction!  When I surrendered to God, I never thought I would be surrendering to be the pastor at IBT, but that was God’s plan that was fulfilled nearly 10 years after my surrender. 



Message From Matt | February 8, 2019

What are we looking for?
 
In my devotional reading from yesterday, I read about a man that had an “infirmity” for 38 years that waited during a certain season each year (along with other people that were handicapped) to be healed of his physical issues.  The passage in John 5 states that an angel would come and “trouble” the water and the first person to step into the water would be healed.  Can you imagine that?  It’s hard to, but when I envision this I can see hundreds of people constantly watching for the water to be stirred.  Then when it happened the race to the water had to be quite a sight!  I can see pushing, shoving, and stepping over people to try to be the first in but only one could be first.  The rest left dejected and depressed…they had to wait for the next season to have a chance for healing! 
 
But when Jesus came to the man and told him to stop looking for the water to heal him and look to Him…everything changed for him!  
When he heard and obeyed the words of Jesus…he was immediately made whole. (John 5:9)!
Instead of the water – he was made whole by Jesus! This is an old story but it seems like the same can still be true for us…when we look to Jesus, good things happen!  
 
It’s easy to look toward other things rather than Jesus; in fact, it almost seems natural.  We can lean on ourselves, other people, or even substances to help us through our pain, but you already know the obvious answer should be that we should be looking toward Jesus, the Spirit, and His Word for the help that we are needing!  
Jesus really is the problem solver (healer)!  God’s Word really has the answers! 
 
So, what are you looking for?  Keep looking to God and He will continue to help you! If you have been looking elsewhere, choose the right focus today!
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” – Jeremiah 29:13


Message From Matt | February 1, 2019

For God’s Pleasure!
 
Ever watch a movie or listen to music and it affected you so much that it made you want to change a part of your life that needed changing?  I have, and for example, every time that I watch a Rocky movie or hear its famous songs, I have a great desire to get into shape, run through the streets of Philadelphia with a crowd of people cheering me on and get in the ring to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world….then, after a while, reality sets back in and the thought of running crushes that temporary fantasy.  Maybe if I would just listen to Rocky music every morning then maybe I would stay motivated!  Maybe not…
 
When I was a young teenager there was another movie (and its main song) that also influenced me like Rocky.  It was the movie Chariots of Fire.  If you’re my age or older, you definitely remember the movie and its plot based on the real life story of Eric Liddell, a Scottish Olympic track star running for the British team who was also called to be in Christian ministry.  The pivotal point of the movie was when Eric, who was a favorite to win the 100 meter sprint in the 1924 Olympics, chose not to run the race because it was held on Sunday.  His conviction cost him a gold medal, frustrated many, but also encouraged many to live by their convictions.  Eric won the gold for the 400 meter race in that Olympics but he is not remembered for that win, he is remembered for standing by his convictions and his stand for Christ.   Most don’t know that he died 20 years later while being held prisoner in a Japanese prison camp after serving as a missionary in China.  He died as he lived…for God’s pleasure!  
 
There is a line in the movie that speaks to Eric living for God’s pleasure and it is the scene where his sister is urging him to give up running and go “all in” into the ministry.  It was during this exchange that he said, I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.
 
What a great quote!  What a great attitude! 
As I have thought about this quote this week, I have been remembering that Bible verse that says that we were created to do good works for Christ!  It’s written in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  
Our purpose is to work for God!   He created us to do good works!  He ordained (appointed) us to walk in those good works!  When we do what we were created for it pleases God and I believe that we can feel God’s pleasure!  
I know that when I serve God by serving others, it feels great!  
I know that when I spend some time in the Word of God, it feels great! 
I know that when I take time to spend time in prayer, it feels great!  
I know that when I resist temptation and have victory over it, it feels great! 
 
I don’t think that these are just shallow feelings though!  I think it comes from feeling God’s pleasure!  God is pleased when we live and work for Him!
Want to feel God’s pleasure – serve Him!  Serve others!  Serve in the church!  There is no greater feeling than that!