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Tag Archive | "Craig Carter"

Power of Prayer


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345

 

 

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness”—Martin Luther.

For the last several weeks, I have been drawn to a more committed and deeper prayer life. Often we think, as Martin Luther wrote, that our prayers are somehow needed to “move” a reluctant God. When in reality, we are simply acknowledging and “laying hold” of God’s willingness. Do you see God as a willing person? Willing to listen? Willing to answer? Willing to provide? Willing to reveal and show His love to you?  Is your “picture” of God one of a willing Father or a resistant and reluctant God?

You see, your “picture” of God is critical to understanding prayer. It is essential to knowing Him as a loving and willing Father. Jesus taught this lesson to his disciples when he taught them about prayer in Luke chapter 11. We call this well known teaching of Jesus, “the Lord’s Prayer.” Luke 11:1-4 reads, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us and lead us not into temptation.’”

Jesus had been with his disciples for some time now. They had witnessed him heal and deliver many people. They witnessed him repeatedly say, “I only speak what the father speaks,”  “If you have seen me, you have seen the father,” “I and the Father are one.” They also have witnessed him take time out of his demanding life and spend time in prayer. One day, upon returning from one of His prayer times, the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to teach them how to pray.  Their request was, “teach us how to pray, as John taught his disciples!” Notice this request? There was something different about how John was teaching people to pray. Jesus disciples knew about “prayer” but they wanted Jesus to teach them about the prayers that John’s disciples were praying. You see, up until this time, prayer was mainly one of reverence and adoration. Prayers, especially by the Pharisees and religious people, were known to be long and repetitious. In fact, Jesus warned us not to pray like this. So, what was different about these prayers?

As we read further in verses 2 – 4, we see that the Lord introduces the principle of praying to God as a Father. He includes in this communication our petitions and requests. We are encouraged to adore God as our Father and to share our requests and needs. In essence, He is saying, “please know you can ask your Father for what you have need of in your life.”

In fact, immediately following the Lord’s prayer, we see Jesus sharing a parable about a man who was rewarded for his persistence in asking for his need to be met. There was no rebuke, but a reward for his persistence! One translation says, he was rewarded for his “boldness.” As a child of God the Father, learn to communicate with him through prayer. Exercise your faith, your boldness, your confidence, during these times of pray. Make your requests and needs known.  For the Father’s ear is always listening. We are, as Luther said, “laying hold of His willingness.” Will you lay hold of it today? Will you be more consistent and persistent in your prayer life, because you know you have a willing Father who loves you. If so, you will begin to see the power of prayer in your every day life.

 

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American Legion presents checks


N-American-Legion-checks-webThe Cedar Springs American Legion Glen Hill Post #247 presented checks last week to both the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association and the Cedar Springs Community Food Pantry.

Legion Commander Bill Gregones presented Pastor Craig Carter, of the Ministerial Association, with a check for $200, to help with the requests they receive at Christmas time.

Gregones presented Pastor Mary Ivanov with a check for $100 for the food pantry, which is located at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, where Ivanov is pastor.

The American Legion makes the presentations annually, and also donates $200 to the Salvation Army.

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Heard from heaven


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345 

 

 

2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV)

It is Sunday, November 24, at approximately 9 p.m., and I am taking a moment to reflect on one of the most amazing “Community Thanksgiving Services” I have ever attended. Tonight, I had the privilege, as did hundreds of others, to hear three powerful testimonies from three different men in our community. These men shared their stories with honesty, vulnerability and great a deal of humility. It took a lot of courage for them to share. Ultimately, their stories were filled with love, forgiveness, and redemption in Jesus Christ. They revealed how amazing God was to hear their cries and heal their lives. Their changed lives and testimonies have inspired me to write this article and remind men everywhere that Jesus Christ loves them! In fact, I am convinced that we are in a season of healing for the lives of people, but men in particular.

The souls of men have been beaten and left for dead, by the culture and cares of this life. Men are searching for meaning and purpose now more than ever. They realize that the pursuit of success and the accumulation of possessions do not satisfy. Men are being driven to fill this void with so many things, yet none of them bring the peace that Jesus offers. The overriding theme in these testimonies was that they were men who had come to the end of themselves. They were tired and weary from the demands of life, and the expectations placed on them as men. They humbled themselves and turned to God. They found a loving God who cared and was willing to save and heal them. God showed them He was listening to their hearts. So, He lovingly reached down from heaven and healed them and brought them peace.

If you are a man reading this article, how are you doing?  Do you know God is listening? Do you know He wants to heal your heart and free you from your burdens? You, like these three men, can find comfort and assurance in knowing God will, “hear you from heaven” and heal you. The Apostle Peter offered us this great advice when he wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV). If this is you, humble yourself! Cast your burdens on the Lord and he will remove them from you, because he cares for you!

Thank you to the three men who humbled themselves to God. Your lives are an inspiring example to us all!

Happy thanksgiving!

 

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Moments of Selah


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. N.E., Sparta, MI 49345

 

“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. Selah” Psalms 46:10-11 (NIV.)

If you are like me, you have purposed this summer to slow down the busyness of life and enjoy your summer.  However, it is the first part of August already and it continues to go by so fast. There is a saying in music, the “beat goes on.” Life does go on also, and it often tends to find a “rhythm” like a good song. However, the great songs and songwriters always place “musical rests” or pauses in the song. They have learned that they enhance the music and often drive home the purpose of the song or the lyrics. That is exactly what this word Selah means.

The word Selah is used 71 time in the Book of Psalms and 3 times in the Book of Habakkuk. Most Bible scholars agree that this word has various meanings, but most agree on three that are most common. The first is to pause or rest; secondly, to measure or meditate; and thirdly, to lift up.

The first meaning is to rest. This rest is not like a Sabbath, known for a specific or extended time off, but is one that denotes a brief pause or a break. The writer of Psalms is asking the reader to stop reading at that moment and take break from reading. Why are they asking us to take a break?

This leads us to the second meaning, which is to measure or meditate. The purpose of Selah (rest) is to take a moment and meditate or reflect. Remember the “Selah,” rest or break was purposely placed in the psalm, by the writer, to stop you. God the author of our life purposely places moments of “Selah” in our lives to stop us. He wants us to slow down, stop for a moment and take time to reflect on what He is speaking or doing in our life. These moments by God often come in various ways, vacations, summer breaks, seasons of life and even difficult or tying times. But like a great song, we must place them and acknowledge their purpose in our life.

Thirdly, Selah means to lift up. When we take the time to incorporate and allow God to place these moments in our life, we live stronger more refreshed lives. They also cause us to “lift up” our hearts and lives to God. We are able to “Be still, and know that He is God,” We stop long enough to remember that God has everything under control. We once again are refreshed by this truth and fact in life as a believer. So although summer continues to go by fast and life itself does not stop, purpose to incorporate moments of “Selah” in your life! If not, God may just schedule them for you. Regardless of the season, circumstances, or situations you face, take a break and reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness. Be still and remember He is God.

Just a final note to remind our readers that on Sunday, August 25,at 11am, our annual UNITED SERVICE will take place at Morley Park.  It is our time collectively as churches when we take a scheduled “Selah” together. We pause from our own church schedules and together reflect on God’s goodness. We hope you can make it. We know you will leave refreshed.

 

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The Valley of Achor


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. N.E., Sparta, MI 49345

 

What is the valley of Achor? This was a valley near the city of Jericho. It was the place in the Old Testament where a man by the name of Achan was stoned to death. You might be wondering, “What is your purpose in writing about this?” Bear with me and you will see how the Lord works in and through our times of trouble, even if we bring them upon ourselves—like Achan. The name “Achor,” in Hebrew, means “trouble.” So, this valley was actually the valley of trouble. Joshua  7:24-26 reads, “Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since” (NIV).

We see at the end of this verse that God eventually turned from His fierce anger. Why? It was because the price for Achan’s sin was paid. Achan paid the high price of death. This is an amazing picture of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ paid the high price of death for sin. His death, like Achan’s death, paid the price for sin and God turned from his anger. This is the simple truth of the loving message of the Gospel. God’s not mad at you! Jesus Christ’s death satisfied God’s anger. If this is true, why are so many people, including Christians (God’s own children) walking around all the time thinking God is always angry with them?

Let’s see some other truths about this valley of trouble, so when we ourselves experience times of trouble, we can find encouragement. There were two prophets who had some very profound things to say about this valley. The first prophet was Isaiah. Isaiah 65:10 says, “Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me” (NIV). Wow! Isaiah was saying that our valleys of trouble, our times of difficulty in life, can actually become a place of rest. How can this be? We must bring them to the Lord. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matt 11:28-30 (NIV). Again, we see our valleys of troubles can become a place of spiritual rest.

The second prophet was the prophet Hosea. Hosea brought to light even more amazing truth about our valleys of troubles. Hosea said, “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt” (NIV) (Hosea 2:15). He said that in our valleys of troubles, God actually produces hope. In the places we seem to feel the most hopeless, God brings us hope. Not just happiness, which is based on the happenings of our life, but real hope that sees past our troubles. I think this is what the Apostle Paul understood when he wrote, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Rom 5:2-5 (NIV) Paul wrote that real biblical hope often stems from sufferings, yet it never disappoints us.

In closing, if you find yourself in a “valley of trouble” right now, remember these principles. Jesus paid the price for my sin, so God’s not mad at me. I can actually find rest and hope in this valley. Lastly, I do not need to remain disappointed, because God is producing a “door of hope” for me right in the middle of this low point in my life. So, do not be afraid to step through the door he opens.

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More than conquerors!


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, 

Church Phone #: 550-6398

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV).

The Apostle Paul wrote these amazing words to the church in Rome. It was a group of people, whom the apostle Paul had never even met. Yet, he loved them so much, he wanted to remind them of God’s love for them. We see from this verse that he asks them a very simple, yet profound question. “Who or what can separate you from the love of God?” So, precious people of North Kent County, who or what can separate you from the love of God? I, like the apostle, have never met the majority of you reading this article, yet I am compelled to remind you of God’s love for you.

An amazing truth! I have found that it is easier for people to believe that God exists, than it is for them to truly believe that He loves them—that He is crazy, head over heels in love with them and concerned about every detail of their lives. If our understanding of God does not go any deeper than His existence, we will continue to believe that the things of this life have somehow separated us from His love. God’s amazing love convinced the apostle Paul that there was nothing that could separate him from it. Do you believe this? Or are you like many of us who struggle to believe it? If you struggle with believing or accepting the love of God, then I encourage you to simply say, “Lord, convince me!” Then sit back and watch Him show you that His love for you is not tied to your behavior, good or bad, but in His nature alone. The nature of God is love. That is why I am continually convinced myself that God enjoys convincing us of His love. Are you convinced yet?

Why the hoopla over convincing us of His love? Because it makes us more than a conqueror! Notice what the apostle Paul said in verse 37, “No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” We learn from this verse that his love reaches all things. There is not one area or circumstance of our lives that God’s love does not touch. Secondly, it makes us more than conquerors. The love of God not only gets us over circumstances but can keep us there. His love cannot only provide a job for the unemployed, but can pay every bill. His love cannot only save your marriage, but can make your love for one another thrive and flourish again. His love cannot only get you over depression but also can renew your hope and restore your joy for the future.  Now that’s being “more than a conqueror.” What made it possible? The love of God! Will you receive it today? Will you quit believing that God simply exists and start believing that he exists to reveal His love to you? If have never received God’s love, then open your heart and acknowledge this priceless truth, “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17).” Enjoy the Love of God!

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$12 Dollars Short!


Pastor Craig Carter
North Kent Community Church
1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, • Church Phone: 550-6398

I recently spent some time with a friend and his family. He shared a personal story about his son, who recently went through some legal difficulties. We had the privilege of praying for and encouraging his family and his son through these difficulties. Since that time, my friend’s story has profoundly touched my heart and life. It has reminded me of how much I need God and am dependent upon Him.
His story went on to include details about his son’s arrest. He shared that after having been arrested, his son appeared before the judge, where his bond was set.   His son had some money on him personally and was hoping to simply bond himself out of jail. Unfortunately, the judge set the bond amount for $12 more than he had on his person. He found himself $12 short! His financial shortfall required him to call his father for help. Of course, this was not want he wanted to do. His son’s desire was to just take care of his problem on his own.
Does this sound familiar? How many times in our lives as human beings have we tried to solve our problems on our own? We, like my friend’s son, respond the same way. We say, “I can take care of this myself.” The problem with this thought process is that God never intended for us to do things on our own. As a result, we too fall short. I do not like this feeling of “falling short.” It makes me feel inadequate and nobody likes that feeling. However, I have come to realize that is exactly how God planned it. Our “shortfalls” and inadequacies, if we let them, will cause us to rely on God for his help. The Apostle Paul knew this truth when he wrote, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Rom 3:22-24 –NIV). Paul reminds us that trust (faith) in Jesus Christ makes up the difference. We are redeemed from our sin, and our shortcomings, simply by trusting in God and His amazing grace. You cannot earn it, you must simply believe and receive it! In essence, God provides the $12 you need, but you have to ask Him for it. Have you ever asked God to make up the difference in your life? Have you ever acknowledged that you are a sinner and that you fall short? Even if you are a Christian, do you live with the realization that without God, you will always come up short of what you need?  Or do you live a self-reliant life? In another portion of scripture, the Apostle Paul said, “In Him I live and move and can’t get away from him (Acts 17:28 -The Message). We realize that without him we can do nothing. You have to come to realize that your self-reliant nature does not like this truth. That is what I have come to realize in this story.  My self–reliant nature always leaves me $12 dollars short of what I need. However, when I simply acknowledge my complete dependence upon God, He always makes up for what I lack. I just need to humble myself, like my friend’s son, and call my Heavenly Father.

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