Message From Matt | January 25, 2019

Wrestlemania! 

You might find this hard to believe, but when I was younger,  loved Iwatching wrestling!  Not the real wrestling but the fake stuff from the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).  I grew up watching it on Saturday mornings and loved Dick the Bruiser, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat!  I liked the WWF so much that when I was 19 years old I bought a 3rd row ticket to the 1992 Wrestlemania event at the Hoosier Dome in downtown Indy.  There I was, as close to the action as possible, watching some of my favorites beat up on each other and try to finish off their opponent with their finishing move!  One of those moves was the “figure four leg lock” that was the signature finishing move of Ric Flair.   This move wouldn’t last long, supposedly because the pain was too great, and those that were in it would eventually “tap out”!  But again, that stuff was fake!  

What about Jacob wrestling with Jesus in Genesis 32?  That wrestling match was the real deal and it lasted all throughout the night!  

I can only imagine how worn out Jacob had to be and the result was that Jacob walked the rest of his life with a limp…but he survived (he was preserved – Genesis 32:30)!

The result of that all night match didn’t end up with Jacob winning a championship belt, but it was the culmination of a 20 year process of breaking Jacob from his sinful behaviors!  

Remember, Jacob was a deceiver!  Jacob was a liar!  Jacob played favorites!  Jacob was following in his family’s sin patterns (strongholds) but enough was enough…it was time to change!  

When Jacob wrestled with Jesus, Jesus easily could have won!  But, He had a greater purpose!  His purpose was for Jacob to repent…and he did!  

Jacob realized that the life of deceiving was not what it was cracked up to be and through the pain of being deceived and the night of wrestling, he was a changed man!  In fact, his name would be changed and his fellowship with his brother that he robbed would soon be restored!  Jacob repented!  He changed his mind – he changed his direction!  

When we have been going the wrong way in life, God is merciful and gracious enough to allow things to happen in our life to get us to the point of repentance. It is because God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4) that He allows us the ability to repent instead of chastising us to the full extent that we deserve!  Repentance is a great thing:

Repentance brings refreshing (Acts 3:19)!
Repentance is given by the goodness of God! (Romans 2:4)!
Repentance is a gift (Acts 11:18)! 

If you’re living apart from God – repent!  It is God’s gift to us and the best way to start living for God again!    Repentance is changing our mind about our sin and turning back to God’s way!


Message From Matt | January 18, 2019

Breaking Free!
 
Have you heard the story about Jayme Closs in Wisconsin?  I have and all  I can say is that it’s an amazing story of survival!   On October 15th, Jake Thomas Patterson, age 21, decided to kill Jayme’s parents, kidnap her and take her to his cabin about an hour away from her home.  There, for 88 days, he kept her locked up, many times under a bed for hours at a time.  When people would come over to his house to visit, he would put her under the bed and stack things all around it and play loud music to keep people from hearing her.  Once, he left for an extended time to visit family leaving her chained to the bed with no food or water.  This girl, only 13 years old, had witnessed her parent’s murder, was deprived of food, water and security, and locked up like an animal, but somehow was able to escape after 88 days and find help!  
 
As I have read about this story, I have been thinking about how powerless Jayme must have felt!  She’s a young teenage girl and he’s an ex-military guy at the prime of his strength.  It had to seem that she was in a no win situation and that her life would end in that cabin….but thankfully she was able to break out of that stronghold and run to freedom.
 
A stronghold is defined as “a fortified place” or “a place of security”, but for Jayme it definitely was not a place of security but the opposite.  The strongholds that I am talking about are something that we feel locked into because of family dysfunction, or our personality, or the experiences that have shaped our thinking.  These strongholds are things that have formed in our brain and have us locked into negative thinking that we will never be freed from.  Although none of us (I hope anyway) have gone through what Jayme has been through, we all have some strongholds that we have been in before or might currently be in that we need to have a break out experience from. 
Some might have problems with addictions and feel that they are genetically disposed to the addiction and there is no hope of freedom…they need to break free from the stronghold of their thinking!
Some have insecurity problems that have haunted them for a lifetime…they need to break free from the stronghold of their thinking!
Some find no joy in their life as their purpose has been sidelined by bad choices and bad thinking…they need to break free from the stronghold of their thinking!
 
The list could go on and on, but I think that you get the point.  We all have had things that have happened in life that can cause strongholds in our thinking and leave us lifeless!  However, God wants to help you break out of those strongholds and live life to the fullest!  How do we do this???
 
“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
 
How do we do this?  We obey God’s Word and use His power to break these strongholds from us!  Our mind is powerful, but it can be swayed by either good or evil.  The things that we put in our mind will determine how successfully we will live for God!  If we allow the devil to have free reign in our minds or allow our minds to be influenced only by the world…we will be in bondage!  
Maybe that is you today!  Let me give you some hope – you can be free!!!
With God’s help, we can break free from the grips of the strongholds of our minds!  Focus your mind on God’s Word, follow it and you can be free!  
Is there more to it?  Come Sunday morning and we will talk more about recognizing and breaking free from strongholds that we have in our mind!


Message From Matt | January 11, 2019

The Resistance! 
        Last week I wrote “What Satan Attacks” that outlined the things in your life that the devil wants to attack.  I only gave three things (your faith, peace and purpose) but we all know that he will use any means necessary to kill, steal and destroy our lives (John 10:10), not just these three things.  I ended the message with three things that we can do to fight off the attacks from the devil.  Those three things are the Word of God, Prayer to God and God’s people!  
  Today, I want to flesh this out a little further from James’ vantage point!  He wrote in James 4:7“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” 
How do you get the devil to run from you when he is attacking?  Submit and Resist!  
 
       Submit to God – Resist the devil!   Sounds easy, right?  Attacks from the devil are never easy, but God’s way of fighting the devil works – we just need to know how to use it.  To know how to use these things we need to understand their meaning.  
 
       Submission has two parts.  The first is surrender or yielding!  This means that I am intentionally surrendering or yielding myself to whatever God wants.  We know what He wants by His written Word as well as the leading of the Holy Spirit who lives inside us.  As we submit to His Word and the Spirit, we are surrendering our will to please Him!  The second part of submission is drawing close to God.  We surrender so we can get closer to Him.  James 4:8states, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”  As you choose to surrender your ways to God, the natural byproduct is getting closer to Him!  Submission leads to intimacy!  
 
       Then there is resisting the devil!  Resisting the devil is a deliberate use of the Word of God to help you in the attacks of the devil! Jesus demonstrated how this works during His great temptation in Matthew 4:1-11.  After fasting for 40 days, the devil used three things (things that fall into the category of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – 1 John 2:15-17) to tempt Jesus to sin.  But Jesus resisted the devil and the devil left.  So, how do we resist?  We use the Word of God to resist!  More specifically, we speak the Word of God to resist.  After each temptation, Jesus said, “it is written…”  
 
        Jesus gave us the example and proof that God’s formula works for resisting the devil and having victory over the devil’s attacks; the question is, are we going to use what He has taught us?  The best time to start memorizing the Word of God is now!  The best time to start fighting the attacks of the devil is now!  The best way to do this is to submit and resist! Let’s be a part of the resistance!