How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.
- Hebrews 11:32-34

—–

Have you ever taken the time to dream about all you could accomplish with your life?
Have you ever thought about the future, and wished for big plans and important tasks?

The truth is that God has a purpose for you.

The above verses from Hebrews 11 show how mightily God used some other people.
To overthrow kingdoms.
To rule with justice.
To shut the mouths of lions.
To quench the flames of fire.
To escape death.

And the fact that you are still alive here on earth, means that God wants to do amazing things through you too.

Yet maybe you think that this applies to everyone but you.
Maybe you look around and see everyone else as being “better” than you.
Others are “more talented”.
Others are “more important”.
Others are “the ones that God really wants to use”.

If you feel this way, or if you have ever felt this way,
then I would encourage you to re-read the above verses from the book of Hebrews in the Bible.

And make special note of the phrase “Their weakness was turned to strength.”

There’s not a single person who God used, who wasn’t weak.
There’s not a single person who God used, who wasn’t lacking.
There’s not a single person who God used, who had everything figured out.

But God wants to use us even though we are weak.
In fact, maybe God wants to use us because we are weak.

That way, when God does miraculous things in and through us, we can’t take any of the credit.
We don’t get any of the glory.

Because it’s clear that we are too weak to do anything life-changing on our own.
But, when God is working within us, anything is possible.

So have faith that God wants to use you.
Dare to dream big dreams of what God could do in and through you.
And follow Him where He leads you, even when it is intimidating and scary.

Because He can take our weakness, and turn it into strength.

Until God turns my weakness into strength,
Pastor Matt

From A Distance

Posted: June 24, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.
- Hebrews 11:13

—–

Hebrews 11 is a famous chapter in the Bible, where the author discusses heroes of the faith.
Old Testament figures who were great examples of what it means to follow God.

Abel.
Enoch.
Noah.
Abraham.
Sarah.

It’s been said that Hebrews 11 is kind of a “Hall of Fame” for people of faith.
You could say that it’s a “Hall of Faith”.

Yet, when considering the example of these amazing people who followed God,
verse 13 points out something that is very interesting.

They died without seeing the ultimate promise that God made to them.

The purpose they were living for…
The hope they were waiting for…

…They never saw during their lives on earth.

But, even though they died without fully receiving all that they were waiting for,
they still died believing.

They saw their promise from afar, and they held on to God, even when things didn’t go as planned.

Today, we can look back on the life of Jesus, and learn so much from what He said and did.
But, for these members of the “Hall of Faith”, they couldn’t look back on the life of Jesus.
They needed to look forward.

They never fully took hold of their promise, until the day they saw Jesus face to face.

But they never gave up.
They never threw in the towel.
They never called it quits.

They kept hoping.
They kept believing.
They kept the faith.

Maybe, as you read this, you are getting tired of waiting for God to do something for you.
Maybe you are struggling with something, and wondering if it is ever going to get any easier.
Maybe you are feeling exhausted and are contemplating calling it quits as far as “being a Christian” goes.

Don’t give up.

Keep hoping.
Keep believing.
Keep the faith.

Look at God’s promises for you – even if you have to look at them from a distance right now – and hold on to the fact that one day you will receive everything that Jesus has for you.

Until I view my promises from a distance,
Pastor Matt

Pleasing God

Posted: June 17, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
- Hebrews 11:6

—–

How do you please God?
How do you impress God?
How do you do what God wants?

Is it through good behaviour?

You want to please God, so you live the right kind of life.
You want to impress God, so you do the right kind of things.
You want to do what God wants, so you work as hard as you can to be as good as you can.

A lot of people would say that this is exactly how you please God.

Be a good person.
Try your hardest.
Do your best.

Yet Hebrews 11:6 sheds some new light on this subject.

The author writes that “it is impossible to please God without faith”.
You cannot please God without confidence, hope, and trust in Him.
Even though you cannot see God, you believe that He is alive and active.
And not only is He alive and active in the world around you, but also within you.

Because, if it is impossible to please God without faith,
then that must mean that a large part of pleasing God rests on our ability to have faith in Him.

Some people make a big mistake when we think about pleasing God:
We think it’s all about us.

It’s all about how good we are.
It’s all about what we can do.
It’s all about our actions.

But the truth is, that in order for us to please God we must stop focusing on ourselves, and focus on Him.

It’s all about how good He is.
It’s all about what He can do.
It’s all about His actions.

God isn’t impressed by our feeble attempts to be superior.
God is impressed by our faith in Him.

We have faith that even though we have failed, His perfection reigns within us.
We have faith that even though we have fallen, His strength gives us the power to go on.

We need to stop trusting in our own abilities.
And start trusting in Him.

Because that is what it is going to take if we are ever going to please God.

Until I please God,
Pastor Matt

What Is “Faith”?

Posted: June 12, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
- Hebrews 11:1

—–

Chances are, if you have spent any time in church, or have ever talked with a Christian about what they believe,
you have heard the word “faith” mentioned.

“I have faith in God.”
“I need to walk by faith.”
“My relationship with Jesus is based on faith.”

So, if faith is such an important part of having a relationship with God, then we need to understand:
What is faith?

Some common definitions of “faith” include “confidence, trust, and belief”.

But, taking it even further,
the author of Hebrews gives us a great definition of what it means to have faith.

First, we learn that faith “is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen”.

To have faith means that we wholeheartedly believe that something is going to take place.
We just don’t believe in Jesus as an impractical, impersonal, uneventful force.
We believe in Jesus, and we have faith that He is going to do something in our lives.

To have faith means that you believe something is going to happen.
God is going to show up.
Jesus is going to save you.
The Holy Spirit is going to empower you.

Because you had faith in God before, and He showed up and did something.
And so you have faith that something else is going to happen too.

Second, we learn that faith “gives us assurance about things we cannot see”.

This is why some people use the term “blind faith”.
Because faith involves believing in something that you cannot physically see.

Even though you can’t see God physically standing in front of you, you believe that He’s there.
Even though you can’t see the Holy Spirit within you, you believe that He’s with you.
Even though you can’t see the world getting any better, you believe that God is in control.

Faith is the belief that even though you can’t see something,
it doesn’t mean that it’s not real.

So, do you have faith?

Do you have confidence, trust, and belief in God?
Are you able to believe with confidence in God, even though you can’t see Him?
Are you able to believe with confidence that God is going to do something in your life?
And are you able to believe with confidence that God is going to do something through your life?

Until I grow in my faith,
Pastor Matt

Patient Endurance

Posted: June 10, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
- Hebrews 10:36

—–

What do you need to live for God?
What do you need to follow Jesus?
What do you need to be led by the Holy Spirit?

Chances are, a lot of things come to your mind when you think about those questions.

I need God’s grace and mercy.
I need to know what the Bible says.
I need to be able to hear God’s voice.
I need a good church family to support me.

I don’t know about you, but my list could go on and on.

But the author of Hebrews suggests something that doesn’t naturally come to my mind:
Patient endurance.

If I’m going to live for God, I need to be able to stand strong.
I need to be able to patiently endure anything that the world throws at me.

When times get tough, when life gets hard, and when struggles arise…
Will I throw in the towel?
Or will I be able to endure?

Will I be able to press on?
Will I be able to push through?
Will I be able to hold onto Jesus?
Will I be able to continue to do God’s will?

Maybe you are currently facing something, and you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to make it.
My prayer is that you would receive patient endurance from God.

I pray that you would be patient in what comes your way.
I pray that you would be able to endure what life throws at you.

I pray that, no matter what happens around you, you would still be able to do what God has called you to do.

Until I patiently endure,
Pastor Matt

Get Together!

Posted: June 5, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
- Hebrews 10:25

—–

Can you be a Christian by yourself?
Can your faith survive without others to support you?
Can you follow Jesus without being a part of the Church?

The author of Hebrews writes that we should not neglect meeting together.
We should not forget to spend time with other Christians.
We should not ignore going to church.

Rather, we should go to church.
We should encourage one another.
We should get together!

Today, I would simply like to challenge you:

If you are not currently a part of a church…
If you have not found a gathering of Christians who you can belong to…
If you are trying to live for Jesus without the support of others around you…

Then please, find a church.

Find a place that is a good fit for you.
Find a place that is a good fit for your family.
Find a place where you believe in what they are doing and want to be a part of it.

Don’t neglect meeting together.

And also, don’t just attend a church every once in a while,
where you come in late, sit in the back row, don’t talk to anyone, and leave early.

Be an active part of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Find support.
Find encouragement.
Find people who can assist you in your walk with Jesus.

And then you can turn around and support others.
You can encourage others.
You can assist others in their walk with Jesus.

God has not promised to bless individual efforts to live for Him in seclusion from everyone else.
God has promised to bless His Church (Matthew 16:18).

Make no mistake about it, there is no such thing as the “perfect church” (at least not in this life).
People will make mistakes (including you and me).
Churches will make mistakes.

But, even though it isn’t perfect,
it is where you belong.

Until I find support and encouragement from my church,
Pastor Matt

Motivate Each Other

Posted: June 3, 2014 in hebrews, new testament

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
- Hebrews 10:24

—–

Why should we spend time gathering with other Christians?
What is the purpose of going to church?

The author of Hebrews gives us one reason why we need to have strong relationships with other Christians:
To motivate each other.

We can help each other live for God.
We can encourage one another to keep doing acts of love and good works.
We can stir up some excitement and passion in our lives by sharing what God is doing.

As Christians, we need to help one another.

We need help to hear God’s voice.
We need help to grow closer to God.
We need help to continue living for God.

Living for God can be difficult.
It can be exhausting.
It can be lonely.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Let’s get together.
Let’s get together as Christians, as followers of Jesus, and as the Church.

And let’s help motivate each other to continue in acts of love and good works.

We need to come together in the light.
So that Jesus would be known in the darkness.

Until I motivate someone to be closer to Jesus,
Pastor Matt