Author Archives: Matt Hatton

Secret Giving #6 – Not To Us

Secret Giving #6 – Not To Us
Matt Hatton

In my high school years, I was able to take some great acting classes! I was never one to want to be on stage in front of people for the main role in the school play, but I did enjoy goofing around and making jokes amongst my acting and improvisation classmates. One of the enjoyable things about theater is that you can say things you normally would not and act to be someone or something different while you are on stage. There are not many other reasons to participate in a theatrical performance than to receive a response from the crowd. Maybe that response is a laugh, tears, oohs, and aahs, an applause, or even a shout!

Words like “actor” or “theater” are not really used in the Bible, at least in the ways that we see them. Jesus uses a word that looks different from these; however, when looking at the root definitions, these words are synonymous with one another. The word that Jesus uses to define someone who pretends and acts like someone else in a disingenuous way for the response of a crowd is the word hypocrite.

In Matthew 6:1-4 Jesus uses this word when talking about our worship through giving: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. ‘Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’”

Jesus continues on this topic of hypocrisy when it comes to prayer and fasting as well. Often our worship is done with the same aim of most everything else in our lives, which is the aim of showing other people how great we are. We put on a show in all areas of our lives! At work, school, home, and even among the church we pretend to be someone that we are not for the approval of other people. The problem is that when we seek glory from other people, we are actually stealing the glory that belongs to King Jesus.   

The only ones who see what we do outwardly are other people. God looks at the heart. He does not notice how much money is placed in the bucket; He looks at the purpose behind it! He does not care how many zeroes are added; He cares about the joyfulness in our souls! God does not look at the dollar amount; He looks at what you have sacrificed! When we give financially this week, when we pray, when we fast, when we serve, and when we lift our hands and voices in song, let it be done out of a heart that is seeking above all else to bring glory to God!

Psalm 115:1 sums it all up for us, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”

The Most Just

Judge #1 – The Most Just
Matt Hatton | Children’s Director

We are a people of justice. Especially as Americans, it is something that we demand. We will do what it takes to purge all evils and injustices against us. We will defend something or someone that we care much about. We have no problem taking people to court or even to war to judge and to justify the unjust. Some might say that America has the best judiciary system in the entire world. Others would have no problem arguing that. Either way, no system is perfect. The Bible gives account to many awful and many great judges and kings throughout history.  When speaking of King Solomon, 1 Kings 3:28 says, “And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.” King Solomon was extremely wise by our standards, especially in the area of arbiter. However, as wise as he was, or any judge before and after him, there is only one perfect judge. There is only one who can flawlessly justify every injustice. His name is Jesus.

As Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem, many did not see a king even though they were in the presence of the King of Kings. When Jesus overturned tables in the temple, the people did not see a judge although they were looking at the face of the most Just Judiciary ever to walk the face of the earth. Jesus may have appeared to have no kingdom or throne, He may have been without a militia, army, lawyer, or battalion, but He was, is, and will always be the most excellent and stainless judge.

The case was made on the cross, and when Jesus rose from the dead, the verdict had been decided. “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war” (Revelation 19:11). Jesus will be coming again, with an army, as the King and Ultimate Judge. The gavel will be dropped for that last time. The Judge has brought justice.

Standing on the Promises

Promises #1 – Standing on the Promises
Matt Hatton | Student Ministries Director

A promise is simply a declaration made by someone that something will or will not happen. We make promises to one another to give a peace of mind, ensure security in a difficult time, and to pledge our allegiance where it may be questioned. “I promise to do my homework if I can go to the game.” “I promise always to be patient and selfless.” “I promise to take the trash out.” I cannot count how many promises I have made and kept. I also cannot count how many promises I have made and have not kept. Maybe I do not know how to count in general. The point is that we, humanly speaking, tend to make promises, keep promises, and often break promises. Our word is flawed because we are flawed people. We make predictions with our promises and sometimes those predictions are left empty.

As Joshua was getting older, nearing his final days, he gave a charge to all the leaders of Israel to trust in the promises of God. In Joshua 23:14 the Bible says, “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” Not only are there promises of God’s provision and grace, but there are also the promises of His justice. God does not fail us. God will not fail us. What He says in His Word is true; His promises are true.

The promises of God are much different from the promises of man. The promises of God are eternal, not temporal. The promises of God are not predictions. He knows what He is going to do and does it. God promises Eternal Life for those that believe in Him. He promises forgiveness, Himself as the Holy Spirit, to supply our needs, wisdom, guidance, peace, victory over sin and death, protection, and an end to suffering. God’s promises are something we can put our hope in. His promises are something we can stand on. He is the firm foundation that we can place everything in our lives upon.

As God’s Word teaches us in Matthew 6, we must be careful with our promises. If we make promises on our own grounds, then they will be flawed and broken.  If we live our lives according to God’s Word, then our words should be reflective of that. As followers of Christ, we need to be trustworthy people with a trustworthy word because out of our lips we can share the promises of God that are not flawed, broken, or fallible.

My prayer is this: “Lord, thank you for your wonderful promises.  Thank you for being a firm foundation that I can build my life upon. Let my words reflect your words.  Help me to be an honest and trustworthy person because of my trust in you and your promises.”

David’s Demise and the Depth of Sin’s Damage

Storm Damage • Devotion #4: David’s Demise and the Depth of Sin’s Damage
Matt Hatton | Student Ministries Director

Yesterday God showed us in His Word that there are, without a doubt, immediate consequences of our sin. Sometimes they are small and sometimes they are compared with being near to death in the middle of a raging storm. Whatever they may look like, sin has its effects on our lives, and the lives of others right here and right now. God not only warns us about the consequences of sin, but He shows us examples of what happens when we do sin, He shows us the depth of its damage, He gives us a chance to learn the easy way!

David was a great king, a godly upright man, fearless leader, and is even described as “a man after Gods own heart.” However, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Through David’s sin, we see the depth of sin’s consequences, but we can also learn from it. If you have never read 2 Samuel 11-12 you NEED to before you read any further. If you have read 2 Samuel 11-12 you NEED to read it again before you read any further! To make a long story short, David gives into his temptation and sins.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant’” (2 Samuel 11:2-5).

The depth of the damage of sin did not end at ruining the heart of Bathsheba and dragging her into his lust. Bathsheba had a husband as well. Uriah was a courageous upright man who was out in battle. David was going to be in trouble if he did not do something to cover up his sin. His sin led to lying and deception. David sent to bring Uriah back home and spend time with his wife hoping that they would lay together, but Uriah being an upright man did not feel he deserved to be home when his fellow soldiers were out at war. Now how was David going to cover his tracks? The lying and deception did not work, so David resorted to murder.

“In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die’” (2 Samuel 11:14-15).

Sin escalates rapidly. It went from David being lazy, to lust, to adultery, to lying, and then to murder. The sins that David committed had not only harmed him but also damaged the lives of many others. Those damaged were Bathsheba, Joab, servants, Uriah, and now a child! Unfortunately, the effects of sin did not end there. Even after David had repented, the child had died. Sin digs deep. The damage is great and will eventually lead to death!

James 1:15 says it like this, “then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

Do we think about the depth of sin’s damage before we sin? Do we think about the consequences when we lie to cover our tracks? Pray for God to keep you from sinning, so you do not have to experience the damage it can cause! Repent and pray for God to repair the damage that has already been caused!

Jonah and the Effects of Sin

Storm Damage • Devotion #3: Jonah and the Effects of Sin
Matt Hatton | Student Ministries Director

When I was in high school, I loved taking hands-on science, technology, and physics classes. I enjoyed these classes because they were an easy-A, most of the time, and because we had the opportunities to do many projects that involved building things. One of those projects that I managed to do six times in the span of four years was the infamous “Rube Goldberg” Project. The aim of these projects was to build something where energy would be transferred from one thing to another eventually causing something grand to happen. One push of a domino would have an effect on mousetraps, toy cars, wheels, pulleys, levers, and other random apparatuses that would somehow make their way to turning on a light, making a sound, squeezing toothpaste on a toothbrush, or even starting a car! One small thing had a large effect on many others.

Sin can be like those Rube Goldberg machines. The only difference is that we do not realize how large and detrimental of an impact sin makes not only in our lives but also in the lives of many others. In the book of Jonah chapter 1 we see that Jonah did not realize this either. God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh and to preach against their wickedness; however, Jonah felt like he would rather do his own thing and not do what God had commanded him to do (That is called sin by the way). As Jonah continued to run from the Lord, as he dove deeper and deeper into disobedience, we begin to see the effects.

“But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them” (Jonah 1:4-5).  “And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.’ So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah” (Jonah 1:7).

“Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?’ For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, ‘Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you’ (Jonah 1:11-12).

The consequences of sin are unmistakable. Sin brings destruction! Sin makes us deserving of an eternal destruction, but it also causes damage that is immediate. We will often face the repercussions for our sin right here and right now. Jonah saw some immediate effects of his sin that made his life pretty rough for a short while. We also see that Jonah was not the only one that faced the storm caused by his sin. There were many others that were affected by it! Everyone else on the boat thought they were going to die all because of the sin of one man! Our sin has immediate consequences in our lives and the lives of others. Have you seen the immediate damage cause by your sin or others? Has your sin affected others?  Have you been affected by the sin of others?

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