Favorite Verses

1. John 3:16

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

3. Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God...

4. 2nd Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousnes...

5. Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

 

 

 

Friday
Mar272015

April

From the Pastor’s Desk - WORK AS WORSHIP
Scripture to consider: Ephesians 6:7

Our definition of worship is too narrow. When we think of worship, we probably think of singing songs in the sanctuary, or listening to a sermon. For most church-goers, I imagine worship is synonymous with the hour or so we gather with other Christians for prayer and study and music.
How often do you think of your daily work and daily tasks as your primary act of worship? Unless you happen to be in some “religious profession,” you will probably spend the vast majority of your time outside the church building. And that’s as it should be. God wants His people in the world - in the mission field - interacting with others and honoring God by doing good work.
Consider Jesus. Traditionally, Jesus is said to have lived for 33 years. Jesus’ public ministry is thought to have lasted 3 years. So - what did Jesus do for most of his life? He was a carpenter - a blue-collar worker. Jesus was in the habit of going to worship on the Sabbath day, but from Sunday to Friday, Jesus worshipped God by making tables and chairs. Was that wasted time? What did God teach us by spending 90% of his time doing “common labor?” An honest day’s work has great value to God!
How you go about your daily work tells God a lot more about what you think of Him than the hour you spend on Sunday mornings. God is not any more present on Sunday mornings than He is on Monday mornings or on Friday evenings. And if you manufacture that product or sell that commodity or provide that service with integrity and excellence, God is honored. For ultimately, God is your boss - not any human authority. Do your work unto Him, and it becomes an act of worship.
There is no division between “secular” and “sacred” for the Jesus-follower. Everywhere we go, we are in the presence of God. And every word we say and every action we perform tells Him how much (or how little) we think of Him. Preach about God by treating your boss or your employees as Jesus would treat them. For in the end, our actions speak louder than our words - to God and to others. Your work is worship.
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Matthew

Friday
Feb272015

MARCH

from the Pastor’s Desk - A prayer for Lent

Dear Jesus,

You have given Yourself to us - and we have no greater treasure than the message of Your cross. At the cross, we see Your love - we see how You deal with sin - and we hear Your voice saying "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)  Money doesn’t love me - didn’t bleed for me. Why do I seek peace from it? Jesus, You said "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)  And as wonderful as my friends and family are, no one knows me like You do. You alone are able to transform me from the inside out. Thank you for the ways that You speak to me through my friends and family, but may I always know it is Your voice that heals, and You alone can truly rescue and save me.  Help me to be there for my friends and family. Speak through me. May I be a door for your grace to walk through. Make me quick to reconcile. Take any anger or resentments out of my heart and replace it with Your Spirit.  All around us there are people seeking peace - looking for truth and love. Help us to humbly guide them to You - where we have found truth and love. May we be gentle, wise, gracious, and authentic. We don’t have all the answers, but we can testify to what You have done in our lives.  We are imperfect, and there are things in our lives that suppress Your Spirit’s work in and through us. Make us sick of lesser things: those salt water pleasures that do not satisfy our thirst for the living water You alone provide. Prune us. Train our lives upon the trellis of Your cross. Make us eager to share the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  You have provided many things for us as a people - as a church here in Mattoon. We are blessed with faithful men and women willing to serve You and each other. We are blessed with an amazing building, and with the means to accomplish missions for You. We are blessed in order to be a blessing, not just to be comfortable and secure. You have given us a mission. Help us to see where our gifts and the world’s needs intersect. Keep us looking out the window, and not just in the mirror.  To you alone be the glory. May this church be at Your service - and for the glory of Your Kingdom. My we be a friend to our fellow believers in Christ, and may we welcome all who are looking for peace - looking for You. Amen.

 

Thursday
Jan292015

February

From the Pastor’s Desk
Scripture focus: Mark 4:3-20


The comic strip cat Garfield once called February “the Monday of months.” The skies tend to be gray, the weather tends to be cold, and it’s usually a bit soggy or slushy. By February, we’re fairly weary of the winter season, and more than ready for the flowers of spring.
In our spiritual lives, there are sometimes long Februaries, when the joy of life seems muted. There are seasons in which our daily prayers and Bible studies don’t bring us the emotional satisfaction they do at other times. We trudge through our spiritual exercises with wet socks and sniffles. The aroma of divinely baked bread doesn’t penetrate our stuffed noses, and we wonder if the spring will ever arrive.
I believe that it is during these February times that the genuineness of our faith in God has a chance to be made evident. Will we continue to follow Jesus and keep our prayer times and Bible times when there’s no obvious benefit to us? Will we give up on Jesus when God is no longer providing the warm fuzzies?
Jesus often spoke in parables, and one of the most famous of his parables is the one about the sower casting seed about willy-nilly. Some of the seed lands on the path, and never sinks in. Other seed falls among the thorns, and is choked out by competing interests. Some of the seed lands among the rocks, where it quickly takes root, but lacks depth, and so don’t survive the harsh seasons of life.
February times test the depth of our faith. Have we allowed God’s Word to take root, or are we too easily shaken by surface conditions? On the surface, there may be little tangible evidence of a living faith. Things may feel cold and gray and dead. But beneath that surface, if that seed is still being nourished, those February times will result in amazing growth. In God’s time, those practiced habits of remaining faithful in prayer and Bible reading (even in the cold) will result in soul transformation.
Don’t give up on love when the surface happiness and excitement isn’t evident. Joy runs deeper than happiness, and love becomes real when it is no longer dependent on circumstance, but springs from a deeply rooted place within.
Yours in Christ’s love,
Pastor Matthew

Friday
Jan092015

January 

Something Amazing

A reflection on Luke 7:1-10 (from the desk of Rev. Froeschle).

When our Lord walked the earth 2000 years ago, He attracted a lot of attention because Christ was known to be a healer and a good teacher.  Crowds gathered around Jesus in those final three years, hoping to see something amazing.But what Jesus considered amazing wasn’t what the crowds considered amazing.  The people were impressed by miraculous signs - they were stunned that Jesus had authority over nature and could bring healing to the sick.

But Jesus was amazed by the faith of a Roman soldier.  Remarkable to Jesus was the fact that this Gentile got it when so many of God's elected people didn’t.  The centurion (we never do get his name) had such faith in Jesus that he didn’t even need to see him, he knew that with a word Jesus could heal.  “I understand what authority is,” he said to Jesus through his messengers, “and I know that your word will make things happen.”God’s word makes things so.  From God's first recorded words: “Let there be light” to Jesus' words in this story, as the other gospel writer Matthew recorded: “Go!  It will be done just as you believed it would.”

When there is faith - when people hear and believe the word of God - real life appears.  People come alive.  In the gospel, we saw it happen literally - the servant was made well.  And these things do happen.More than that, however, when people believe that God does love them, that God does forgive them, that God does live inside them, love comes where there was anger, people who were divided are brought back together, and despair turns to hope and purpose.  What is truly amazing?  Faith in God.  Trusting God's promises makes the church thrive.  Faith empowers God's people to accomplish the ministry God has already laid out in advance for us to do.

What does God have for us to do in 2015 as individuals and as a church?  What things will change, and what things will stay the same?  God alone knows.  But may we know God as altogether trustworthy, and may our faith in Him be our peace.

In His grip,

Pastor Matthew

Monday
Nov102014

November 

 

Grace and peace to you, my new church family!  It is a privilege to be welcomed to First Presbyterian Church as your pastor, and it is my prayer that our Lord Jesus will bless us with many fruitful years of ministry together in Mattoon.
I am grateful for the ministry you are already accomplishing as a community of God-followers.  Following God’s lead, you serve men, women, and children in need through the giving of food and other necessities.  By offering the displaced a place to stay in a crisis you testify to the reality of God’s love.  Through your commitment to Christ-centered worship and Christian education, you obey the great commission of Jesus to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He commanded.
We all owe a debt of thanks to the Rev. Dr. John Helgeson for his leadership as interim pastor, and to all those who served (and continue to serve) the church by giving generously of their time and talents.  There is a lot of exhausting work that takes place “behind the scenes” during a transitional time in the life of a church, and I pray the Lord gives you some rest and much satisfaction from your labors.
During our first months together, I look forward to listening to you, and dreaming together of what God would have us do and be as His church in Mattoon.  These first months are about getting to know one another and establishing mutual respect and trust.  We will all have “first impressions” (Oh no!  What if you don’t like me?!), but over time, as we commit to work together and care for each other despite our differences, a sense of teamwork and love develops.
I have ideas of what a church should be.  You have ideas of what the church should be.  But the most important thing to ask isn’t what I want or what the leaders want or even what the members or the community wants, it’s all about what God wants.  He knows exactly what we need, and so let us commit from the start to be in prayer.  Let us commit from the start to be in God’s Word.  Let us commit from the start to make room for God’s Holy Spirit to capture our imagination.

God, may we as individuals and as a church have our eyes set on You.  You are the Good Shepherd - our Perfect Pastor.  You are without fault - we most certainly are not.  May what we do and what we say be pleasing to you.  May we be hopeful encouragers of one another, not cynical critics.  And hold on to us, Lord, as we seek to follow Your lead with strength and courage.  We are Your church.  Make us an answer to prayer!

Okay.  Let’s go!

In His grip,

Pastor Matthew

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