Message From Matt |September 28, 2018

Do you have H.I.V?  

Sorry for the personal question and don’t be offended by it!

Actually, a variation of that question was actually asked of me by Mark Wilson a couple of Sundays ago after the message on eternal life and I assumed he wasn’t trying to offend me.  His father, Dr. Art Wilson, once told an audience that he had H.I.V as a way to start his sermon and it definitely got everyone’s attention and Mark wanted to get mine.  The H.I.V that he was referring to of course wasn’t a virus, but was the acronym, Heaven in View…meaning we should be living our lives here on earth with our eternal life in heaven in mind.

Why should Heaven be in view?

There are many reasons and one of those is that sometimes things happen to make life “stink” and we need to realize that these stinky times won’t last forever!  In fact, what lies in store for believers in Christ for eternity is utterly and completely awesome!  

Here are a few things in Revelation 21 that describe what eternity for believers in Jesus Christ will be like:
  • “God himself shall be with them..” (21:3)
  • “God shall wipe away all tears…” (21:4)
  • “there shall be no more death…neither shall there be any more pain” (21:4)
  • We’ll live in a huge city (1500 sq. miles high x 1500 sq. mile wide x 1500 sq. miles long) (21:16) made of pure gold (21:18)
  • There will be no night there and there is safety and freedom (21:23-25)

As amazing as those things are, there is so much more that awaits us, even things that aren’t mentioned in the Bible! 

When your journey’s end is a beautiful place it makes the journey more enjoyable!

Every couple of years or so, our family takes a vacation to a town in Florida’s gulf.  It is one of our favorite places to go and each time that we have been there, it is an amazing experience.  We love the beach, the warm weather, and the time to relax and have fun.  A couple of times we have flown but the majority of the time we drive.  Normally being in a van with all 5 of us for that long of a stretch sometimes makes us all cranky, but as we get closer to our destination the less cranky we are and the more excited we become.  It’s almost as if when we see the “Welcome to Florida” sign that we get a shot of adrenaline knowing that we will soon see the ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In our mind, the final destination made the journey seem not so bad at all.  It’s amazing what focusing on the joy of vacation will do for the pain of driving 18-20 hours in a car!  If that is the case for a vacation, just think  what focusing on Heaven can do for our life now!

This focus changes everything!!  OK, OK, not everything but most things!

It doesn’t change all of our problems, but it definitely helps us process everything that’s going on around us!  Knowing that Heaven is where our eternity will be spent should make life’s problems a little easier to handle.  After all, we don’t know what this life has in store for us, but the little that we know about life in Heaven should make us look past these problems and look towards what God has in store for us!  

What about you today?  Do you have Heaven in View?  With whatever problem that you have going on in your life, are you able to process it easier because you’re focused on Heaven?   This life does stink sometimes, but Heaven life doesn’t!  Heaven will be worth all the pains and struggles that we go through now so just hold on!  Don’t give up!  Keep on going, one foot in front of the other!  Don’t stop doing what you should be doing!



Message From Matt |September 21, 2018

“I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.  For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.” – 1 Corinthians 16:17-18

Are you refreshing?

Don’t you love being around people that are like a breath of fresh air?  Whether it’s their positive outlook on life, or the fact they always seem to have a smile on their face even in adversity, or by the kind things that they might say when you need it…those types of people are refreshing to be around.  The Apostle Paul had a moment in his life that he needed to be around people that would lift him up and he found it in some guys from the church of Corinth.  Paul was away from the church and had needs that needed to be met, and these guys met the need!  I’m not sure what they did but the effect of it was that Paul (and the church) was refreshed by what they did…and probably also by what they said.  When I read these verses in 1 Corinthians I can’t help but reflect about my own life!   Am I saying and doing things that are honoring to God and refreshing to others?  

Are our words refreshing?

Everyone knows that the old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me ” is a lie…right?  Words can hurt worse than sticks and stones and the wounds last longer.  Quite frankly, I don’t always say or do the right things!  In fact, I have often said the wrong thing and hurt others or there have been other times I didn’t say the things that I should have said.  Although I will feel terrible when I put my foot in my mouth, I have noticed that I can still easily repeat that process over and over.  The Book of James is chock full of the truth about the problems our tongues can cause…
  • “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” – James 3:5 
  • And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…it defileth the whole body…it’s set on fire of hell” – James 3:6
  • “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8
  • Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” – James 3:10

But then our tongues can also be used for good…

  • “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” – Proverbs 16:24
  • “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29
  • “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

We should focus on speaking refreshing words…

  • “let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in the sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  – Proverbs 18:21

Is your life refreshing?

I long to be a person that isn’t controlled by the environment around me.  Meaning, no matter what someone says or does, I am not going to let their actions dictate my actions!  I want my life to be steered by God and not by anyone or anything else and be refreshing to be around and not a drag!  I want my words to reflect Christ and my actions to be powered by the Holy Spirit and my life to be grounded  in the Word.  I desire to be refreshing!  

I know that I am not what I can be, but I believe that God will help me each and every day to be a person that isn’t a taker but a giver!  I want to use words for life and not death!  What about you?  If your words haven’t been as they should – change them!  If you are thinking negative thoughts ask God to help you renew your mind!  If you are not refreshing someone today, ask God to help you and then see the difference He will make in your life and the lives of those around you!  If you see that someone has a need, do your best to meet that need – the benefits to them and yourself are so great!

 



Message From Matt |September 14, 2018

The Process!

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for all the ministry opportunities that God has given me in my life!  I have been able to go on mission trips and lead various groups within the church that have expanded my horizons.  I have been able to work with homeless and/or addicted men and see many lives changed through the effects of the gospel of Christ.  Currently, I am extremely honored to be the pastor at IBT and I often think to myself…why did God pick me to do these things?  In my mind, it still doesn’t make sense!  It doesn’t make sense because I still remember my beginnings.  I still remember me as a teenager that was average in certain areas and definitely afraid to speak in front of a group of people!  I remember my shortcomings and how I used to train my mind for failure rather than victory!  But God was working on me…and thankfully still is!  Because of His working in me, I can say that ” I am not what I once was“, but then I must also say “I am still not what I can be!”  
 
This is true because life is a process!  We should be constantly growing!  We live, we make mistakes, we should learn from those mistakes, then we should not make the same mistakes again…it’s a process! This truth works for our spiritual life as well as every aspect of our physical life.  The process is so very important for our long-term success in life and shouldn’t be overlooked or under estimated!  Think about your life!  Have you always lived right?  Probably not!  Are you living right now?  I hope so!  If so, why?  Is it because you have learned in the processes of life what is important and how we should live?  In the process of your experiences and realizing how God hasn’t given up on you, you begin to think about and do things differently!  

God’s work in you!

I love Philippians 1:6!  It states, Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Never forget that once you become a believer in Jesus Christ, you always have God with you (Hebrews 13:5, John 14:16)!  He is working His process in you to make you of more use to Him!  Think about it this way…maybe you once did not give your tithe to the Lord, but through the process of teachings from God’s Word, hearing the testimony of other believers, and the Holy Spirit’s leading, you are now a giver!  Maybe you couldn’t ever think about praying out loud in church, but through the same process you are now a teacher of God’s Word!  I am always excited to see the fruit of God’s process in people’s lives, because the process is always about change!  Changing us to be more for Him!

Trust the Process….Trust God! 

I know that we oftentimes can try to do too many things on our own power without submitting to the processes of God.  I actually think that is one thing that God uses in His process…our frustration when our process doesn’t work!  So, the thing to do is to TRUST HIM! Even if things aren’t going right today…trust Him and His process!  He is working in you so submit to Him and see what He does!  His process works and works for our good!