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Tag Archive | "Cedar Creek Community Church"

Where often is heard an encouraging word


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

The coming together with fellow Christians is stated in the scriptures as an act of mutual encouragement.  We read in the book of Hebrews, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV).

When as Christians, we worship together, pray together, and in general work together as a community, it is as followers of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian is about belonging to a community of faith, a group that is called to build each other up, and encourage one another. One wonders why we would need to be instructed to be an encourager; why would Jesus need to teach his disciples and us about having compassion and a heart toward encouragement?

I think we can safely say that answer lies in the fact that this is against our very nature.  We are often self-centered and selfish, and if something doesn’t touch our lives or the lives of our family and friends, then it’s not our affair and we choose to stay uninvolved. That is why Jesus had to teach his disciples about being encouraging, and why we still need the lessons today.

Yet, if we just look around us, it is apparent that there is a lot of hurt and discouragement. Where is the church of Jesus? Where are we making a difference with a little compassion here and some encouragement over there?  One thing that I have discovered in my personal life is that most encouragement is one on one. Of course there is a great need for the corporate involvement in some cases, but by and large our opportunities to encourage others occur more spontaneously as we follow God’s leading through this life.

God gives us numerous illustrations of encouragement throughout his word, and in one instance we read of a Christian in the book of Acts (Acts 4:36), a man by the name of Joses, who was given the name of Barnabas. The name Barnabas was interpreted as “son of encouragement,” a nickname given him by the apostles, descriptive of his inclination to serve others and willingness to encourage wherever it was needed.

The root meaning of the word encourage simply means, “to put courage into.”  God has created us in his image as social beings, something we see throughout scripture as God is all about relationships, as indicated in his institution called the church. In Hebrews we also read, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV).

God gives each of us opportunities every day to show our love for one another and our care and concern and support for one another to be encouragers, not for our glory, but to display his love for others through us. It is through our connection with Jesus Christ that we are connected to one another and our common union with Him produces our union with each other.

Everyone can use a little encouragement on a regular basis. May God help us to be men and women more like Jesus—bold enough to reach out and touch a hurting world with encouraging (putting courage into) words and acts in Jesus’ name.

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Approaching Easter 2016


By Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church, 2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

Almost two thousand years ago, on the Sunday following the crucifixion of our Savior the Friday before, two women approached the sepulcher where Jesus had been laid, to make the necessary preparations for his dead body. We read, “The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:5-6 NIV).

For these friends of Jesus who came to the tomb, life and death would never be the same. This Jesus whom they loved and believed to still be in the grave, had risen from the dead, conquering death for us, our last enemy in this life.

Through the story of the resurrection and the promised Spirit of God, alive in us, we too must look at our own lives and answer for ourselves, “How do we approach Easter Sunday 2016?” Our answer has much to say in whether Easter makes a difference in our lives or not. How many Easters have we heard and heard again about the resurrection, and do we come to this day expecting to experience the same-o same-o, old routine? The women came to the borrowed tomb before sunrise on a Sunday, and surprise, the tomb is empty! Oh wow, like we haven’t heard this before!

Maybe we come not expecting anything more than what we’ve known before, after all, we know that God’s word is as Paul has written, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2nd Corinthians 1:20 NIV). It will be exactly as God has said it will be.

Then again, we may not spend much time reading our Bible, or attending worship services, but it’s Easter, and we know just enough to be curious, is there something there for me? Is there anything in the Bible or church that may make my life better? Our experience with Easter has always been good, but, what if we approached Easter 2016 with a heart that is open and expecting, exactly what, we’re not sure, but hoping that God will make the resurrection of Christ more of a reality in our lives?

If we come to Easter Sunday as people who have heard the story before, as people who can no longer be amazed, we will very likely leave the same way we came. We meet God where we are at. If we approach Easter in humility, repentant before God, knowing our absolute need for Jesus, he will never disappoint us. Christ’s resurrection is not just another story in the Bible, it is the central point in our faith as Christians.

How will we approach Easter 2016? Will this Easter be different? Are we willing to approach this day and the rest of the days of our lives, by joyfully allowing God to enter into our hearts, and begin a work within us that allows us to hear this story with spiritual ears, in a way we’ve never heard it before?

Approach God with an open heart, and hear with childlike amazement, God’s eternal truth in Jesus Christ!

He is risen! Indeed!

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The Love of God 


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

Over the years, I have found myself many times contemplating life. Not the navel-gazing type of contemplation, but seriously wondering, where is my life headed? What have I done or haven’t done? Only to come up with a negative value. This process of self-evaluation is common to the human species. I have discovered there are a couple of questions that many people who take the time to reflect on their lives get stumped on—including me.

“What difference does my life make?”

“Does anybody really know or care about me?”

Personal inventories can have different results on different days, with different circumstances past or pending, different moods and a wide range of other factors. One of the triggers for me is that I’m not getting any younger, and considering my life, the good and bad, what have I really done for the Lord in those decades? Recently, I was in one of these processes (ruts), when God brought a scripture to my memory that really shifted my wondering into a positive light.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14 NIV).

In the Old Testament, we find King David meditating on the fact that it is God who made him. In truth, each of us was created, by God, for a purpose.  That is difficult for many to believe, especially as we look at the world around us and consider the prospects for our future.

There is an often-used phrase in many of our conversations today, “It is what it is.” We may look at this from a personal standpoint and conclude that “We are what we are,” and that’s that!  But the Psalmist’s words in Psalm 139:14 implies that yes, we are what we are, but that isn’t all that we are. I want to make clear that King David was not just saying these words fearfully. It does not mean we are made to be frightened or scared of the Lord. What is being said is that David, is being made (created) by God, and holds God in awe, respect and reverence.

None of us had a say in how we were made but we can have a say in what we become. We live in a world where many examples of a “successful life” would not be what God’s plan is for you. Some rock stars, athletic stars, entertainment stars or other icons may appear to be what we want to be, but in the end, we are better advised to choose what God wants us to be.

In any industry we find people who are the stars, at the top of their peers. While unseen, they were created by God and given their gifts or talents by him. And working under these people are the folks who actually make them what or who they are. Fame is fleeting.

When I look back, many of my years working towards the goals I set weren’t spent very wisely. Position, honor, admiration, reputation, security, etc. are certainly worthy human endeavors, but through the first half of my life, I didn’t consider what God’s plans were for me. To say it more clearly, “I didn’t include God in my plans.” There were many times that I looked at where I was at and circumstances that existed where I was at, and felt stomped on, aimless, and all too often worthless.

I have achieved each of those goals in some shape and form, but not one of them lasted. Even what I thought was security turned out to be more of a soap bubble that lasts just a short while. This scripture verse quoted above is personal to me, as it was one of the first that I really considered when I first began my life with Jesus. I discovered that I was made with a purpose in mind. Not what I had planned, but that God had a plan for me.

Every life is a gift of God, even when we don’t feel like it is. We have free moral agency to choose our path in life, and to choose whose counsel we will follow. We must remember that the god we choose to follow in this life will be the god we will serve throughout eternity. Scripture says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

Choose your God wisely!

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Got Enough?


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

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

During his ministry, Jesus made many references to the “Kingdom of God,” along with instructions for those who choose to follow him here. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal,” and later, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19, 21, King James Translation).

One of the more earthy stand-up comedians of our time has made a career of poking fun at the quirks of people. One of his favorites is our tendency to accumulate stuff—to the extent that there is a whole new industry of storage units where we pay others to watch over our abundance of stuff.

The obvious question is “What is stuff?” The answer depends on each individual’s preferences. For me, along with other stuff, I have accumulated enough books to read, that if I read 20 hours a day, 365 days a year, I may be able to read through them in another 200 years. There can be no doubt Jesus knows our human nature, especially when we look at this time of consumerism we live in.

So many of us have a desire to acquire, whether for bragging rights or just simply to show it off, even though we know having possessions just to possess them leads to greed. This is a big problem, made even worse by our modern idea that Jesus’ words are merely proverbs—that they are a good moral target, but not something people in the real word can actually do.

We live in a culture that bombards us with the idea that there is always something more; something we need to have in order to be happy. Advertisers are paid big bucks to convince us that we need something better, newer, bigger or faster than whatever they convinced us to acquire just a little while back.

It isn’t only that we live in 2015, and everything was better back in 1973, 1917 or even back in ancient times; let’s not kid ourselves. King David in the Old Testament didn’t have enough in 985 B.C.,  and neither did many others mentioned in the bible as examples for us—let alone what Judas felt he needed, with more silver than he had already stolen. It isn’t that we need more than we have; no, we already have enough and don’t know it. I think it would be accurate to call this time in which we live, “the age of discontent.”

We aren’t forbidden to have any possessions, as some in the past have interpreted scripture; what we are strongly warned about is the inordinate desire for more that affects our relationship with God and others. Jesus continued on in Matthew chapter 6, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).

God is deeply concerned with the desires of our heart. If that desire is to please and glorify God, our heart, hands, mouth and feet, will respond to his word and the leading of the Holy Spirit to share love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience and self-control. Generally, if we will stop and consider what we already have in this land of freedom, we will know that we have enough.

Got enough? The writer of Hebrews states, “Let your conversation (living) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5 KJV).  Paul wrote, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1st Timothy 6:6-8 KJV).

The truth is that the more worldly things we desire and/or worry about, the less attention we will pay to loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and advancing the Kingdom of God. May you find the peace that only Jesus can give. That is something neither money nor stuff can buy!

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SUSAN W. CADWELL


 

C-obit-Cadwell-webSusan W. Cadwell, 64 of Sand Lake, died Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at her home. Susan was born September 17, 1950 in Sparta, Michigan, the daughter of Lester and Doris (Line) Cadwell. She had worked at Trini’s in Sparta as a waitress. She was a good mother and sister and had a great love for her grandchildren. Surviving are her son, Jason (Pamela) Cadwell; seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren; sister, Julie (Ray) Bush. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Amy and a sister, Cher Whitesell. A memorial visitation and luncheon will be held Saturday, March 7 from 1-3 p.m. at Cedar Creek Community Church, 2969 14 Mile Road in Sparta.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs.

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Trusting in God!


Pastor Richard Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”  (Proverbs 3:5-6 King James translation).

This is a truth that evaded my understanding for too many years of my life. I discovered (admit), it isn’t always easy to understand God’s love and concern for each of us when we are living in the moment of those events that call us to lean on God’s promises. Proverbs 3:5-6 is so meaningful, because it reveals the truth of God’s love for us.

I hope that some of what I have learned in this Christian walk will benefit others. There are times when it takes years to even begin understanding the whys of life, and some things I am convinced that I won’t understand at all in this life. Then too, there are events in life that will still hurt even though I understand better later. An old hymn title assures us “We Will Understand it Better By and By.”  My comfort and peace is in knowing that God is always there, even when I can’t see him through my circumstances.

So why trust God with all our heart as scripture tells us? Well, I’m glad someone asked.

For one thing, God is good! His character is such that he only wills and allows what is ultimately good.

We read in scripture “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV).

One of my shortcomings is that I sometimes measure God’s goodness more on my emotions of the moment, rather than on the basis of his truth. For instance, there are times when I have thought, “God is not fair,” when in actuality, I was thinking “God is not fair to me.”

Our emotions can change like the weather, but God never changes. What I should be questioning is why I am questioning God. God is righteous (just), and quite frankly, I know that any righteousness or rightness that I may have only comes from him, so listening to his word is always my best option.

Second, God is love! His character is such that his deep love is the motivating factor and controlling influence of his heart toward us. That is why I can trust Him with all of my heart, because I know that his love can never fail.

Third, God is in control! Regardless of what it looks like to me at the moment or what I think, God is in control of everything I go through! If I didn’t believe that, I would be emotionally and spiritually a wreck. Today I can have confidence in this new year that I am always right in the center of his loving hand of mercy, protection and care.  I desire to be more trusting and closer to him every day.

There is so much more I could share of my relationship with God, the blessings along with the trials, my failures and God’s successes but I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I love the Lord and trust in him. It is my prayer that you, too, may know in your heart the peace of a relationship with our loving God of Truth.

 

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Halloween Happenings


Halloween-leadin

Check out some of the fun, fall activities going on in our area for Halloween!

 

MCC Haunted Indoor Forest

Oct. 24, 25: Montcalm Community College Art Club hosts a Haunted Indoor Forest from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Instruction North Building, on the college’s Sidney campus. A $2 donation is suggested.

Harvest Brains at Sand Lake/Nelson Library

Oct. 25: Program for teens, at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, October 25. Save your brains! Build a survival bag, practice your aim, and learn what it takes to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse. The library is located at 88 Eighth St., Sand Lake.

Harvest party

Oct. 25: Cedar Creek Community Church, at 2969 14 Mile RD NE Sparta, will host a harvest party on Saturday, October 25, from 5-8 p.m. There will be hayrides (using straw due to allergies), pumpkin painting, dunking for apples, cake walk, games, face painting, soup, hot dogs, popcorn, and lots of fun! All are welcome. Call 866-9829 for more info.

Pumpkin Carving and Lit Trails Walk

Oct. 25: Pumpkin/Carving and Pumpkin lit trail hike from 5-8:30 p.m. at Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16290 Red Pine Dr., Kent City, on Saturday, October 25. Suggested donation is $8 per person or $30 for family of four or more, including pumpkin to take home. (No one turned away for inability to pay. This donation helps keep HCNC operating.) Pumpkin carving from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and pumpkin lit walk through our spooky Enchanted Forest from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Friendly enough for your toddlers. Non scary animals will be on display in the forest, weather permitting for the mock-animals). Includes pumpkin to take home or leave at the center for the wild animals to munch on. Dress up as your favorite nature character. Open to all ages.

Trunk ‘r Treat at Courtland-Oakfield UMC 

Oct. 25: It’s our fourth annual Trunk ‘r Treat for kids of all ages. Saturday, October 25, 5:30-7:00 p.m. at Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church, 10295 Myers Lake NE. Candy outdoors; hot dogs & baked beans indoors.

Trunk or Treat at East Nelson UMC

Oct. 25: Bring your kids and come “Trunk or Treat” at East Nelson UM Church, 9024 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs on Saturday, October 25 from 5-7 p.m. Warm up with hot chocolate and sloppy joes. Games and fun for all.

Fall Festival  

Oct. 29: Fall Festival for all ages at the Solon Center Wesleyan Church, 15671 Algoma Ave., Cedar Springs on Wednesday, October 29, from 6:30- 8 p.m. For families with children 5th grade and under. Games, prizes, snacks, boy and girl door prizes and candy, candy, candy! The church is located on Algoma, just north of 19 Mile Road.

Nightmare on Cherry Street

Oct. 30: Calling all 4th to 6th graders!  You are officially invited to come to our “Nightmare on Cherry Street” party at the Cedar Springs Library! The fun, games, and food will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 30 and go until 7:30. Registration is required, so come into the library to sign up or call 616-696-1910

Trick or Treat Trail Walk

Oct. 31: From 3-5 p.m. on Halloween, bring your kiddos by Howard Christensen Nature Center, 16290 Red Pine Dr., Kent City, to take a short walk down one of our trails to collect some candy, so we don’t get tricked!

Cedar Springs Spooktacular

Oct. 31:  The Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, businesses and churches in Cedar Springs are sponsoring the annual Main Street Halloween Spooktacular on Friday, October 31. Some of the free events include: spooky storytelling and crafts at the Cedar Springs Public Library, 4:30 p.m.; a haunted school house at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum in Morley Park 5-7 p.m.; a Kids Carnival, hosted by Calvary Assembly of God 5-7 p.m.; Trick-or-Treating at local businesses between 5-7pm; and Trunk or Treat at The Springs Church from 6 to 8 p.m. (see more details below).

Kids carnival

Oct. 31: Calvary Assembly of God will be presenting a free carnival during the Chamber of Commerce’s Spooktacular event from 5-7pm on Friday, October 31. The carnival will be at the corner of Ash and Main Street, next to DJ Nails, and will have lots of family-friendy games, with prizes and candy.

Haunted school house

Oct. 31: The Haunted School House is back this year at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum in Morley Park from 5-7 p.m. again. Nolan Patin has worked up another fun spooky event for the museum. We do adapt our spookiness when young children are coming through and will be handing out treats.

Trunk or Treat at The Springs

Oct. 31: Creative costumes—check. Oodles of goodies—check. Lots of giggles and loads of fun—doublecheck! You’ll experience it all at The Springs Church at Trunk or Treat on Halloween night from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be lots of candy for the taking, carnival games, a giant slide, and refreshments. It will be fun for the whole family, and a safe, well-lit environment for kids. The church is located at 135 N. Grant St., in Cedar Springs.

Traffic Squad/Fire Department

Oct. 31: There will be cider, donuts and candy at the Cedar Springs Fire Department on Maple Street from 5 to 7 p.m. or while supplies last.

Halloween Hospitality Center

Oct. 31: Warm up station at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, 140 S. Main Street, Cedar Springs, on Friday, October 31, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Serving hot chocolate and popcorn, everyone is welcome to join us.

Halloween party – Courtland Fire

Oct 31:  Stop by the Halloween party at the Courtland Fire station #2, 9535 Myers Lake road from 5-9 p.m. Games, snacks candy, cider, coffee,  car trunks with treats welcome. Sponsored by women auxiliary, and many stores in the area.

Family Harvest Celebration

Oct. 31: Pine Ridge Bible Camp invites you to its annual Family Harvest Celebration on Friday, October 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. This free event includes hayride, games, puppet show, cider, donuts and trip through Treat Town. Please bring a bag for collecting treats. It is a fun night for the whole family. Costumes welcome but not necessary. Please no witches, ghosts, monsters, etc. Pine Ridge is located just 5 miles east of town at 8415 17 Mile Rd. Call 616-696-8675 for more information.

Trunk or Treat at Crossfire Church

Oct. 31: Trunk or Treat at Crossfire Church, 4780 Cornfield Drive, Cedar Springs, from 6-8 p.m. There will be games and prizes, candy for the kids, hot dogs and chips available.

Ghostbusters at the Kent Theatre

Oct. 31, Nov. 1, Nov.2: Don’t let the Halloween weekend go by without spending some time at the Kent Theatre. A special showing of Ghostbusters will be on the big screen October 31, November 1 and 2, in celebration of Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary. Now in digital format, watch your favorite ghost busting team in action! Showing Halloween night at 6 and 9 p.m., Saturday at 3, 6 and 9 p.m. and Sunday at 3 and 6 pm. Tickets are only $3.00.

Sand Lake Fire Department

Oct. 31: The Sand Lake Fireman’s Association will host their annual Halloween festivities at the fire station at 2 Maple Street in Sand Lake from 6-8 p.m. There will be games, a bounce house, prize drawings, goody bags, cider, donuts, and coffee. There will also be a costume contest. Judging is at 7:15, must be present to win the contest. Call 636-8854 for more info.

Trick or Treat at Meadowlark

Oct. 31: Meadowlark Retirement Village in Sparta loves having trick or treaters. Their doors will be open from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, October 31. The residents can’t wait to see all the kids dressed up! Meadowlark is located at 65 Ida Red Ave, Sparta. Call 887-8891 ext. 102 for more info.

 

 

 

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Shhh! Quietude


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

This winter is truly one to be remembered; we have been given weather at record or near-record levels. But if we only remember this winter for snow, wind, ice and cold, we may be missing out on something even more unusual… quietude. Quietude is defined as “a state of stillness, calmness and quiet in a person or place.”

As I am writing this, there is a stillness in this room, away from the hustle and bustle of what I have become accustomed to as a normal day.  Yet outside, the wind and snow are anything but calm and still. The contrast between outdoors and indoors today leads me to believe that all too often I shortchange myself with all the commotion, noises and hubbub that I surround myself with in life.

I speak for myself today, but I am also confident that even though quietude is something we are generally uncomfortable with, it would certainly be a pleasant place to visit more often for everyone.  It is true that sounds can be a comfort, I’m thinking of the words we exchange in verbal communication, or the sounds of a wonderful piece of music being played, and the sounds of children playing. The prophet Isaiah wrote in God’s word, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” (Isaiah 32:18; New International Version). This pretty well describes a desirable state to be in when we communicate with God.

That scripture paints an ideal place to be, but that isn’t something we will ever experience 24/7 in this life. This isn’t to imply that we can’t visit there occasionally. When we have a choice, we would choose quietude over noisiness when we want to have a conversation with someone we really want to hear from. It is God’s desire that we know he is with us, and if we desire his presence and assurance, we need to be where he speaks, that by avoiding distractions, we can confirm his voice.

While I look outdoors today, it certainly doesn’t appear to be a picture of quietude, and still here on the inside I am at peace, inside from the winter storm, but also inside myself even though life is still making quite a stir.

Some noise is imposed upon us, especially in public places, and yes there are times those noises can be enjoyable, even comforting as we are assured we are not alone. But we can also know that we are not alone in quietude. “He says, be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.  The Lord almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:10-11 NIV).

We should be about devoting ourselves regularly to times of seeking God in silence and quietude. “I say this because I know what I am planning for you, says the Lord, I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future” (Jeremiah 29:11 The Inspirational Bible).

Did you hear that?

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In the process of being prepared


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

 

The writer of the bible book of Ecclesiastes expresses this very thoughtful statement “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV – New International Version). Then he lists a variety of comparative times, such as a time to be born and a time to die, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to be silent and a time to speak, etc.

This points us to one of the constants in life is that time changes things. Yet a more important aspect of change is that God will change lives. How does God change us? How does this process of change happen?

You may have seen a change in your neighbor, or your boss or son or daughter that you’ve thought to yourself, “There’s something up.” Yes there is! In the New Testament, the apostle Paul tells us how this will affect the born again Christian, as he writes “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2nd Corinthians 5:17, NIV).   Old things are passed away and all things are become new.

Some may be thinking, “Well, that’s ok for those who don’t have much changing to do, but you don’t know about me, about my past and what is going on now.” And you are right, I don’t know, but God does know. What I do know is what the Bible says and my experience in my own life, and I’ve seen what God has done in the life of others.

There were some things in my life, struggles that I thought I would live with the rest of my life, because there’s just no way out of them, no way it could change. I thought, “There is no way I can ever make that happen.” My response of choice was that “that’s just the way I am.”

God doesn’t take that as an answer; he didn’t say “Oh, that’s the way you are, then let’s just work on other areas of your life.” No, God doesn’t work that way. He has not only changed those things I thought were hopeless, but he also transformed my thinking and my character and he isn’t finished yet.

Scripture says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

Something we must remember is that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we don’t just kick back and think that God does everything, as in “if I don’t transform, then it’s God’s fault.” Nor should we think, “it’s all up to me to change, I’ve got to work and do it all on my own.”

Accepting Jesus Christ and believing on him as our Lord is a decision that we each must make for ourselves.  But what the Bible teaches about sanctification is that it is being set apart for God’s purpose, is that there is a God part and there is an our part. Paul wrote “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2nd Corinthians 7:1).

God’s part is his power. Our part is our cooperation. We cooperate in this process of change but God’s power through his Holy Spirit controls the process. It is God’s Spirit in us that does the changing and we do the cooperating. God wants us to become new, and if we miss this, we will miss out on what God intends us to be. No, Christians are not perfect, at least not while we are still on this earth. But we are cooperating with God as he works at making us what he wants us to be.

 

Be sure to attend the church of your choice.

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The Gospel Truth


Pastor Dick Nichols
Cedar Creek Community Church
2969 14 Mile Rd., Sparta

If you are a Christian today, sometime in the past you said… (not these exact words, but your own words asking Jesus into your life),  “Dear Lord Jesus, I believe that you died on the cross for my sins.  I ask you now to come into my heart and make me a new creation.  Forgive me all of my sin as you are my Savior.  I promise to follow you.”
Some of you have followed Jesus from the time you were a small child; some of you gave your heart to him later in life as I did. The truth is that we made a promise to be faithful to Jesus and to serve him alone, a promise with eternal importance.
There is a problem in our human nature that we often times make promises, pledges, oaths or vows that the moment they fell off our lips we knew we couldn’t live up to them. General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army said, “I want you to always bear in your mind that it is the nature of a fire to go out, you must keep it stirred up and fed and the ashes removed.”
I believe General Booth had in mind what the writer of Ecclesiastes made clear: “(4) When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. (5) Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, King James translation).
A few years back, James Patterson and Peter Kim interviewed thousands of people and then published a book called “The Day America Told The Truth.” They cited a lot of statistics of being dishonest to parents, spouses, friends, etc., one of which is that 91% of those surveyed said that they lie on a regular basis. One statistic we should take to heart is that ‘there is minimal difference between Christians and non-Christians.
I believe I can safely say that most of us know that God requires that we speak the truth whenever we speak. Honesty helps us grow in our relationships with Jesus Christ and others, while dishonesty is contrary to the character of God and undermines relationships.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 King James translation). Jesus said that we should ‘stand out’ as a beacon on a hill, not for our glory, but that others would see the difference between a practicing Christian and others. You might ask how we know what God thinks about this?  Well, I’m glad you asked. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth’  (John 4:24 King James translation).  Let us practice the example of Jesus and make truth a relevant part of our character.

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