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Archive | From the Pulpit

Real Men (part two)

First-Baptist-church-currenPastor Jim Howard

First Baptist Church

233 S. Main, Cedar Springs

 

“What is a real man? By the standards of today, a real man is someone who doesn’t exist except in the imaginations of those in Hollywood and the marketing industry. Supposedly a real man looks like an Adonis, acts macho, and always wins. In reality, a real man is defined not by what he looks like, but who he is! Real men for the most part do not look like the latest “hunk” of a movie star or sports legend. He may not have rippling muscles, or stand over six feet tall, he may not even have a full head of hair. Real men are comfortable in their skin and have made their share of mistakes, and will make more.”

The previous paragraph introduced part one of a three part series on “Real Men.” The first devotional dealt with “Becoming Men of Courage.” Today we will focus on “Becoming Men of Action!” Hollywood does know what film genres appeal to men—action films. It is because we tend to want to do or fix something about a given situation.  And like fictional Tim Taylor from Home Improvement, the more explosions and power the better!

Biblically (1 Cor. 9:27 – 10:14) there are a number of principles that will help us become Men of Action in our homes, communities, and work places. There are four principles to keep in mind.

First, be aware of the danger of becoming a castaway. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27 ESV). The word “disqualified” is a word that means: failing the test; unqualified; worthless; useless; unworthy; disapproved. In other words, let’s live this life according to the rules—God’s rules—so that we don’t end the task and find we’ve been disqualified for rule infraction.

Second, let’s learn from our mistakes. “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” were the words of Edmund Burke, a member of the House of Commons in England during the Revolutionary War. Prophetic words, for each generation seems to adopt the philosophy of doing things their own way, only to repeat the mistakes of the past. We, too, can learn to avoid the mistakes of the past such as idolatry, immorality, infidelity, and disloyalty (1 Cor. 10:7-10).

Third, let’s avoid overconfidence. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall (1 Cor. 10:12 NIV). Have you ever watched as an athlete runs across the field of play and trips for no apparent reason? Overconfidence happens much more than one might think. We often do the routine things that perhaps we’ve done for years, and lo and behold, we mess it up! Distractions? Mind was elsewhere? Remember, self-confidence without Christ-consciousness is a prelude to disaster.

Fourth, deal victoriously with temptation. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13 ESV). Temptation is not sin. We all deal with it (“common to man”).  Note too, that as a child of God, we live in a controlled environment (“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”). I’m reminded over and over again that He has his hand on the thermostat and He knows how much heat I can stand.

So how should I deal with temptation? Glad you asked! I ran across the following list many years ago that I’ve refined and hope will be of help to you.

Reside in Christ. He is our only escape (Heb. 2:18). Rejoice by Faith. Do it by faith until you can do it with your whole heart (Jms. 1:2; Rom. 5:3). Remain consistent. Hang in there—you can do it—persevere (Jms. 1:12). Request ahead of time. We must prepare ahead of time, before the test starts (Mt. 6:13; 26:41). Retreat! For some things, the only course of action is to run (1 Cor. 10:14; 2 Tim. 2:22). Remove the means. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Get rid of those things, practices or places that trip you up (Rom. 13:14). Replace bad influences. (Prov. 13:20; Phil. 4:8). Refuse to take the low road.  The low road is the path of convenience and compromise.

Keep in mind as you deal with temptation, it’s not based upon what you think you can bear, but upon what God knows you can handle! Hang in there my friend. You can make a difference for His Kingdom!

 

 

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Thank God Anyhow

Pilgrim-BiblePastor Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

West Pine Street | Cedar Springs

 

 

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls–

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NKJV)

What do you really know about the first Thanksgiving in America? There is much more to the story than what most people realize. In 1620 there were 102 Pilgrims; 56 of them died due to starvation, disease and the cold winter. In 1621, 46 Pilgrims and 91 Indians met to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and for the preservation of their lives. Those people had every reason to be depressed and discouraged, but they were thankful anyhow.

The keywords found in Habakkuk 3:17-19 are “though” and “yet.” Habakkuk is saying, “I sure don’t understand all that is happening, but I am going to thank God anyhow!” Let’s look at these verses and see that regardless of how things may look on the surface, we have a reason to “thank God anyhow.”

We can thank God that His sovereignty never changes. Habakkuk 3:17-18a reminds us that circumstances change, but God never does! We may not be able to rejoice in our situation, but we can always rejoice in our Sovereign. Habakkuk is painting a bleak portrait of the future, but he looks away to a God who is always the same.

He is the One we can depend on in desperate times, we can trust in troublesome times, we can believe during unbelievable times, and we can lean on Him at all times! We may not always know what He is doing, but we can always trust Him to do what is right.

Habakkuk 3:18b tells us that we can thank God for our salvation. Things might be bad in this life, but things do not affect my salvation. Salvation does not depend on things going well, salvation. Salvation does not depend on things going well, salvation rests solely on the grace and power of God! Life is uncertain at best. One phone call or doctor’s visits can changes everything; salvation is eternal in nature.

Thank God that His strength never collapses. Our strength does not lie within us, the Lord is our strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). When we are unable to stand, He enables us. When we can’t go on, He helps us. When we are in the deep valley, He leads us to higher ground.

“Deer’s feet” and “high hills” speaks of the mountain tops where the deer is free from the dangers found below. Habakkuk is telling us that God enables him to rise above his circumstances and the God gives him the strength to stand above the battle and enjoy freedom in the Lord!

When life happens and we are left reeling with the impact of bad news and tragic events, lets choose to thank God anyhow. As Larry Petree wrote years ago:

Thank God for the valley I walked through today, 

Thank God all my burdens were lifted away, 

Thank God for the mountain I’ve had strength to climb, 

And when the sun just won’t shine, “Thank God.”

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Our security

Pastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024  18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs MI 49319

 

Ephesians 6:10-18: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 

It is a dangerous world today and it seems that our foundation of security is being challenged. We live in the most advanced and prosperous country in the world and yet a little thing like a virus has shaken our security. When I saw a picture of the protection suit that Ebola health care workers have to wear it reminded me of the words from the apostle Paul to the little struggling church in Ephesus, who was not struggling with a virus but with evil. Today we still struggle with dark forces that keep us from connecting with God and each other.

The image portrayed in the text from Ephesians is roughly the armor that was worn by foot soldiers at the time, but we can also apply it to the protection gear that we see on the news every day. One of the issues with the previous failure of the hazmat suit was it left open skin exposed, and in Paul’s description he reminds us that we need to put on the full armor of God.

I tried to imagine what this kind of armor is. In ancient times it was hard and tough materials like leather or steel, but in our metaphor today it is high tech polymers and plastics that are designed to be water-proof and germ-proof but at the same time light weight. In other words, the armor of God does not have to weigh us down or be a burden. In fact, the armor of God that Paul is talking about to this little church in Ephesus is invisible to the eye but is something that we feel surrounding us.

Each piece listed on the suit of armor is important. Even the Hazmat suit, as we have found out, is not perfect and has some gaps. And so it is with our defense against all of the hazards of this world today. I think that is why Paul reminds us not just to hide behind our shield but to stay vigilant, stay alert and keep praying in the spirit. The true enemies in this life are not germs, viruses or even bad people; they are those temptations that we face every day that try to separate us from God. The Apostle Paul reminds us in the letter to the Romans that not even death can do that. With His armor in place, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ.

 

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The Lesson of the Blue Jay

The Rev. David Meyers

Holy Spirit Episcopal Church

1200 Post Dr., Belmont, MI  49306

 

 

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I stopped at one of the many harvest markets in the area. Committed to supporting our local farmers and orchardists, we loaded up our car with all sorts of goodies. One of our purchases was a nice bunch of Indian corn. What lovely reds, oranges, blacks and yellows on those ears! With careful arranging, a nice bow, and florist wire, it looked beautiful hanging outside, next to our back door.

This week, as I was backing out of the driveway, a big, beautiful, bold blue jay swooped down from the trees and landed on that prized bunch of corn. He thought we had sent out invitations and prepared a feast for him. Upon closer look, I noticed this was not his first visit. One of the ears was entirely stripped of kernels. While I was tempted to shoo the bird away, I started chuckling at the lesson of the blue jay.

What better use for that beautiful decoration than to feed God’s creatures? Sometimes we put much thought into the frills and decorations of our lives, forgetting that there could be more important needs. I know I like to adorn my life with extras and luxuries, occasionally forgetting that some others are concerned with basic survival. That is not to deny the validity of beauty in our lives. “Art for art’s sake” is a legitimate goal. It is important, however, to examine what we have and how we employ it. Maybe we treasure too many things that could be put to better use. This is an important question that should be asked, knowing that there are wonderful resources in our cupboards, our buildings, in our bank accounts. It is prudent to weigh the private satisfaction our possessions provide with the possibility that God may have another idea—a higher purpose.

The Gospels talk about not burying our talents, not keeping our lights under a bushel, not letting our salt lose its taste. Jesus told us if we had a couple of coats, we should give one away to the person who has none. Those are pretty important lessons. People easily get overly focused on the fluff of life. Christians have to be mindful of the stewardship of possessions. We have to ask ourselves, “Where will the corn do the most good?”

I know I got more pleasure watching that old blue jay gobble up my Indian corn than I ever did when it hung quietly on the side of the house.

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Peanut butter pews

Hillcrest-Church-picPastor Kristi J. Rhodes  

Hillcrest Community Church

5994 18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs, MI 49319

 

Over the years, I have had the privilege of being used by God to help many people, marriages, and families through some very hard seasons in their lives. Too often, people get stuck in a bad place and really struggle to find a way out. In many cases, some have resigned themselves to give up, believing there is no hope.

As a pastor, my calling is to point them to the hope—Jesus Christ—who is the hope of the world! There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain and restore hope to those who seem stuck in a bad place. Each new assignment brings its own challenges, but none that God can’t handle, for those who will trust him with the outcome in every situation.

As I was preparing my most favorite sandwich in the whole wide world (Jif peanut butter and almost any flavor of jelly), I was meditating on one of the most recent victories. I was in awe of God, praising Him for His power and thanking Him for trusting me with His precious child. I am amazed yet again of His amazing power to transform relationships for His glory.

The peanut butter on my sandwiches is always quite thick (yum) and I dropped the knife in the middle of the peanut butter and it stuck there. I got the knife out and cleaned the peanut butter off, then the lid to the jelly dropped on the peanut butter and stuck there. My thoughts went to—“hmm, I would like to get stuck in a sea of peanut butter.” Then I was reminded of how often we can get stuck in a good place, too!

We can get so comfortable in our peanut butter pews that we don’t want to go out and reach those who are lost or hurt, depressed, confused, or struggling in relationships, stuck in hopelessness. We can even become a hindrance to those who do. Those who won’t leave their comfort zone have lost sight of why the church exists in the first place. We dishonor God when we refuse to be used to expand His Kingdom.

When God has redeemed us and healed our broken relationships, healed our past hurts and scars, restored our dignity, and written our names in the Lamb’s book of Life, we should be so thankful that we want to help others. Just before Peter would experience the lowest point of his life thus far, Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31-32, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter was stuck in the worst place of his life—betrayal of his Lord—until he remembered Jesus’ words. Jesus’ powerful words restored Peter who in turn helped restore and strengthen his brothers. Let us be found faithful to Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:19).

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Trust and faith in God

Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

 

The Bible tells us that when we put our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ and obey His commandments, we are bound to achieve great and marvelous things through Him. But many of us have been involved in situations that resulted in frustration and disappointment. We thought we had faith in God’s power, only to see the results not go our way. Sometimes, we need a clearer understanding of what faith really is.

Faith is not just a concept that fulfills a mere wish. True faith is complete confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, which makes us follow His footsteps. (Hebrew 11:1)  In the book of Daniel, we are reminded of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who refused to worship the golden image created by King Nebuchadnezzar. Because of their stand for God, they were thrown into a fiery furnace. In faith, they believed that their God could deliver them. Their perseverance demonstrated the elements that are required of true faith in God and they came out without a single burn. They trusted in God even if things would not have turned out as they had expected.  Faith in Jesus Christ calls for total reliance on Him, even when some things do not always make sense to us. The trio knew they could trust in Him because they understood His nature, which does not change. They understood that God is in control of everything in Heaven and on the earth.

God has given us an opportunity to choose and to decide. Sometimes we are bound to be tested and he again assures us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that he will never let us be tempted beyond what we can endure. After the great challenges that we must all undergo, we can be victorious and emerge as stronger men and women of God. It’s not necessary that we go looking for trials and tribulations. They will find us. But when faced with them, our Heavenly Father gives us strength to overcome.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul was assured by the Savior that His grace is sufficient and that his strength is made perfect in weakness and his response was just amazing. He said, “I take pleasure in my infirmities, in accusations, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress for the sake of Christ.” He realized that during his very weakest moment is when he became very strong. Not strong in his own might, but strong in the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to empower and live in him.

When we trust in God, He is more than willing to provide help when we desperately need it. It doesn’t matter how challenging the situation is. This gives God’s spirit room to live in our heart so that He can constantly talk to us and lead us in the right direction.  True faith is based on trusting the Lord Jesus Christ and His ever willing desire to meet our needs. Daniel 3:15 says, “For surely He blesses and prospers only those who fully trust in Him.”

Faith in Jesus Christ is more than a system, tradition, or belief. He is a Person who knows our needs, feels our pain, and sympathizes with our weaknesses. In exchange for our trust, He offers to forgive our sins, to intercede for us, and to bring us to His Father. He cried for us, died for us, and rose from the dead to show that He was all He claimed to be. Conquering death, He showed us that He can save us from our sins, live His life through us on earth, and then bring us safely to Heaven. He offers Himself as a gift to anyone who will trust and follow Him (John 20:24-31).

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Where will we go from here?

C-Cedar-Creek-Community-Church-LandscapePastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

 

We are so privileged to live in this time of history. The changes that have occurred, as mankind continues to discover and invent, are far beyond what anyone could have imagined just in my lifetime (70 yrs). We are on the upside of innovation, which all too often proves to have a downside, too. The prophet Daniel wrote, “But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge” (Daniel 12:4 NIV).

This appears to be a good description of our time in history. With developments in transportation, we see people being moved here and there all over the world at ever increasing speeds. We can get where we’re going much quicker, at ever increasing speed. Yet the downside is, at what cost? At what impact to our physical safety, our natural resources and to the environment?

Knowledge is increasing exponentially and data moves so fast that they’re going to have to come up with new words to describe the speed. Along with all the increase of power to build and utilize faster and better and bigger ways of life, there is the much politicized issue of climate change.

Jesus had much to say about a personal climate change. On one instance he specifically said to us, in his word, that one of the many signs of the end times would be, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12 NIV). Climate change isn’t only a global issue, but we see that even within the hearts of people, there will be a change.

I am reminded of times past when my son and I would head north to go deer hunting. Some of my least fond memories of those times are how cold it can be in the north country. We would leave our warm home to experience the frigid north. Sitting still in the wild often was a lesson in nature’s freezer effect on the body. We had to sit still and quiet in hopes of seeing a deer, with our ears freezing from exposure because we couldn’t hear through earmuffs, and it didn’t do any good to cover our ears with the frozen hands at the end of our frozen arms.

We are warned in scripture that in the last days, spiritual deafness will abound as people refuse to hear the word of the Lord. “Whosoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:13 NIV). Not only the ears and hands, but your feet feel like blocks of ice, numb from the cold, and you can’t walk them warm. We mustn’t stir or make any sounds, which can be a danger in itself as another effect of the cold is that you easily become sleepy.

Yes there is a time for rest, but when we allow spiritual coldness to settle into our being, the warmth of love is quenched. We must guard ourselves all the more as the wickedness that we see increasing can affect us to join the frozen chosen in spiritual indifference. When people grow cold in the Lord, they can’t sense the moving and wooing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that most will let their love grow cold in these last days, which will lead not only to apathy and indifference, but if we allow it to continue, will lull us ultimately into spiritual death.

“How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9 NIV).

Are you feeling cold? Not in the flesh, but in your spirit? Let’s wake up while we can and let God bring life back into us and feel the warmth of his love and the power of the fire of the Holy Ghost.

 

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Learning to pray

Pastor Barry Briggs

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant, Cedar Springs

 

 

Prayer may be the least understood, yet the most powerful action in a Christian’s life. It’s not just reciting a few trite religious words; it’s communicating with the God of the universe who wants to have a relationship with you.

I was thinking this week, why prayer is so difficult for people? Here’s what I think: We’ve had limited exposure to authentic prayer. The bottom line is this—a lot of us just don’t know how to pray. We haven’t been taught how to pray. Maybe the only time we’ve even heard prayer was around the Thanksgiving table or something like that. And because of that we don’t know how to pray or what to say. The reality is prayer is just telling God what’s on your heart.

Why else is it difficult? We think I’m not important enough for God to listen to me. I mean, after all, I can’t even get the cable guy to listen to me.  I call and he puts me on hold. And I wait. And I wait. Then, when I finally talk to the cable guy, what happens? He can’t even pinpoint a time when he’ll be here. “Sometime between sun up and sun down,” he says. So you stay home all day waiting for him to show up, you leave for five minutes for lunch, and he jumps out from behind the bushes where he was hiding and puts a note on your door that reads, “Sorry I missed you. I’ll be back… maybe.” We have those experiences all the time and we think, “If people don’t even want to talk to me or listen to me why would God?” But God isn’t like the cable guy. What you have to say is important to God. If you were important enough for Jesus to die for, you’re important enough to be heard.

We also believe that prayer doesn’t work because, when we’ve asked God for things in the past, He didn’t answer. Or He didn’t answer them quick enough. We are so into instant answers. We think God is like a vending machine; we put in our prayer request, push a button, and out drops an answer. And, because God doesn’t answer prayer that way, we think prayer doesn’t work.

The truth is God does answer prayers. What I’ve found in my own spiritual journey is that a lot of times God answers prayers based on what I need, not on what I want. I want a lot of things that maybe aren’t in God’s big picture and best plans for me.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 66:20 (NLT), “Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me.”

Prayer can be learned, so let’s get practical. Here’s a couple suggestions:

Call on God first. What does that mean? It means that tomorrow morning, when you wake up, have these words be the first words that come out of your mouth, “Good morning, God.” Just try it. Start out your day tomorrow in prayer.

Get alone. Have a place where you talk to God. Maybe it’s in your car, maybe it’s in the shower, or maybe it’s in your bedroom. Find a place where you can get alone with God and just talk to Him.

Prayer doesn’t have to be awkward or confusing or uncomfortable. In fact, it’s not supposed to be. You can learn how to pray. Maybe learning to pray is the next step you need to take.

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Why we need children

Courtland-OakfieldUMCPastor Robert Eckert

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

10295 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford

 

Among the first stories you’ll come across if you read a Bible from the beginning concerns a man named Abraham and his wife, Sarah. Part of their story is a promise God makes to them that they will be the matriarch and patriarch of an entire nation. “I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore,” God says in the story.

However, at age 100 and 90, respectively, Abraham and Sarah are skeptical; in fact, they fall down laughing. But in this tale what is impossible for mortals turns out to be possible for God who does just as God promised. Sarah conceives and bears a son and celebrates his birth with a different kind of laughter: “Sarah said, ‘God has given me laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.’”

We all know how an infant’s coo or a child’s smile can soften the hardest heart. But children mean more to our world than sentimental warm fuzzies. Children are the counterbalance to disappointment, cynicism, and regret. Unfortunately, the scales tip disproportionately toward pessimism when the seniors outweigh the juniors, a trend we have seen in this country, as the baby boom, following World War II, with its average of 25 births per 1,000 population between 1945 and 1959, tapered off to 16 or fewer births per 1,000 population since 1972 (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005067.html).

I’m not maligning folks at the upper end of the age continuum, I just turned 60 myself, but when a person can reasonably conclude that he/she is somewhere in the final 25 percent of his/her life, impending loss produces grief; grief breeds anger and depression; and the anger and depression of unmet expectations and unfulfilled goals is frequently expressed in variations of the lament that everything is worse than it ever was and the country is going to hell.

When one of my now adult sons was a child, there was a day he went to great lengths to turn his bedroom into a mini-theater, created and gave tickets to his parents and brothers, and put on a one-boy show. It was delightful. God gave me the gift of laughter and with it reasons to be optimistic and joyful. Recently his young son, with sword in hand, announced, “I’m a pirate; I’m here to steal your golden balloons!” It was another gift of laughter; another reason to hold on to hope.

Children give all of us a reason for living, a reason for being productive, honorable, charitable, and faithful. But, please don’t read anything into this from your own perspective on the several issues that fall under that nebulous heading of “family values.” I’m not making a political statement here. And please don’t take offense; it is not my intent to disrespect anyone who is uninterested in having children nor to be insensitive to anyone unable to have children.

It’s just that I was listening to the news on my car radio today, wondering whether everything is worse than it ever was, when I caught the smile on the face of the girl in the car next to me as she waved and giggled with the child in the seat beside her and found myself thinking, “along with fresh air and clean water, we desperately need children.”

 

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Seeing vs. hearing

Pastor Jim Alblas

Pioneer Christian Reformed Church

Cedarfield Community Center

3592 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs

Cedarfield Community room

 

 

Jesus once said, “a prophet has no honor in his home town”  (John 4:44). He was referring to prophets of long ago as well as Himself who experienced persecution in their hometowns. However, one day when Jesus was in his home region of Galilee, the people welcomed Him. It seemed as though a prophet was finally being honored in His own country until we learn why they had welcomed Him.

In John 4:45 it says: They had seen all he had done in Jerusalem. (Jesus had performed many miracles in Jerusalem.) They welcomed Him because He had performed flashy miracles and they wanted to see more. They were excited about what Jesus was doing, but weren’t very interested in listening to what He was saying. Jesus expressed his frustration over this when a man came to Him seeking a miracle; he wanted Jesus to heal his sick son. Jesus responded by saying, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders you will never believe” (John 4:48).

Sometimes in the church today, we too, can place too much of an emphasis on what we see from God rather than what we hear from Him. We have a tendency to get excited and place our confidence in The Lord when we see Him performing mighty acts. Don’t you find yourself excited when you see God bring a new couple to the church, or when He fills the offering baskets or when He repairs a broken relationship? There’s nothing wrong with getting excited about seeing those things, but will we still be excited and confident in Him when we don’t see those things happening? If all we have is the Word of God, but no affirming visuals to go with it, is that enough for us to still honor Him with our excitement and trust?

It can be difficult to do this, but it’s important that we do because God doesn’t always perform miracles. Sometimes the bank account is low, a rift remains between friends and we haven’t seen a new face in church for awhile. The good news, however, is that if we turn to His word (The Bible) and listen to what He says to us, we will find everything we need to remain excited and confident in Him despite the lack of visuals. The man with the sick son came to understand this.
After Jesus had expressed his frustration, he said to the man, “You may go, your son will live” John 4:50a). Notice how there was no visual yet, no proof that the son would live, all the man had was the word of Jesus. But it says, “He took Jesus at His Word and departed” (John 4:50b). You can imagine the sense of excitement and comfort he would have experienced as he placed his trust not in what he saw, but in what he heard. We can experience the same thing. Until God decides to move in a powerful visual way, be excited even now, by focusing upon and trusting in what God says.

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