web analytics

Tag Archive | "Dick Nichols"

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?

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

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.

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

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.

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

He Is Risen Indeed!


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

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

If you ask the average person on the street what Easter is about, you are more likely to hear about the beginning of spring and new life, about warm weather and plants starting to grow and days getting longer again, more than you are to hear about Jesus.

Easter isn’t about spring or the growing season, it’s about something more important than that. Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  We read in John’s Gospel, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25 King James Version).

Easter is about the promises of Jesus as to our great hope for resurrection into a new life eternally. We read in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (King James Version).

A lot of people doubt that Jesus rose again on the first Easter; it doesn’t make sense to human reason that a dead man should come alive again.  But it doesn’t depend on human reason, Jesus rising from the dead doesn’t depend on our belief or understanding.  It depends on God and his sovereign promises and authority, and God himself said Jesus would live again.  Though many people will say ‘no, Jesus didn’t rise,’ they don’t have the authority, we have God’s word.

Of course Jesus’ own disciples thought their walk with Jesus was ended when he died on the cross. But the Gospel truth, the Good news is, Jesus Christ is risen today!  When the disciples met Jesus after the cross, this truth changed their lives for ever.  What a joy it is to know that his promises have been kept, Jesus turns sadness into joy and that is reason to celebrate now.  Jesus lives today and that means that those who believe on him will live also.

Until Jesus Christ rose from the dead, death had been the enemy of mankind, no one knew what awaited beyond that point; until Easter morning.  That all changed and now we can dare to believe that the Lord will see us through the days and minutes of our lives, and that he will never leave or forsake us.

The great Easter truth is not limited to our new life after death, but we are to live here and now by the power of resurrection hope.  When we face the tragedies in this life, we can draw from God’s promised resurrection power to overcome the pain, sorrow and mourning that terminal diseases, sudden calamities and fatal accidents inflict on us.  Because He lives, I can face today and tomorrow. We should live like we believe!

 

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

Why? Or why not?


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

You can be sure that at least once in everyone’s life, something so difficult and painful will happen that we will ask “God … why?” So many things in life seem unexplainable; why does a tornado destroy one house and leave another untouched? Why does one brother prosper while another struggles all of his life? Why did the tumor come back when the doctor said he thought he got it all? We all have these types of questions in this life; the list is endless.

Sometimes we encounter circumstances, events and situations that make it seem like the entire world is collapsing around us. Things make no sense at all. And, if there is a purpose behind it, we can’t see it. So, we will turn to the Bible for comfort and read scripture like “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, New International Version).

Before my wife and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, there were some painful and difficult events in our family, and we heard this verse quoted to us more than once from well-meaning friends, and we didn’t find any consolation in it. Now that Jesus is our Lord, we have an understanding that we couldn’t have before.

Do all things work together for good? My answer to this question is now an emphatic YES! But there still remains the inevitable question “are all things good?” that can only be answered emphatically NO! The difference is that we know now that the Lord can turn harrowing circumstances around and literally cause everything to work together for good. It’s tough for many of us to grab hold of the idea that God doesn’t let anything go to waste in our lives. He has a purpose and a reason for everything that happens in the lives of his followers and will even use the bad and difficult things to produce good on our behalf.

I do not have to tell you that Romans 8:28 is one of the most beloved verses in the Bible. But there are times when this verse is misused and is thrown at those suffering, as if it could answer every question in life. That is the opposite of what Paul the apostle intended. Some people think that after a tragedy, God will show up and make everything come out o.k. Then, when life’s wrinkles don’t get ironed out, they wonder “where was God when…?”

That is not the biblical view at all. In reality we know now that God is there at the beginning, and God is there at the end, and he is there at every point in between. Simply put, this scripture lets Christians know that God was there before it all happened and he is still there when it is over, and that his plan is to serve a higher purpose and bring about good results.

The Bible never asks us to pretend that tragedy isn’t tragedy, or to pretend that our pain isn’t real. The point is, we must see the active involvement of God in our circumstances. Paul taught, in Romans 5:3-4, that a believer’s faith and character must be refined, purified and tempered in order to grow and reach greater levels of maturity for God so he can make us into what he wants us to be, to do what he has called us to do.

The Lord allows assorted troubles, trials, and temptations to test our faith and spiritual character so that we can grow closer to our Lord. You will never face any trial that you and Jesus cannot overcome. This does not mean that we will evade such trouble; it means that with him, we will be able to bear them.

Scripture does not say that whatever happens is good, or that suffering and evil and tragedy are good, or that we will be able to understand why God allows what he allows in our lives. Instead, God puts a sign over us that reads: “Patience, God is at work.” As in any construction project, don’t judge the end by the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off

New beginning for a new year (every day)


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

A new year is much like running a foot race. In order to begin a new one, we need to put the old one behind us, because we can only participate in one at a time.
New Year’s is the time we like to make resolutions that we hope will make our future much better than the past we just left. There are always things we know we can do better; or maybe things we shouldn’t do at all; or maybe there is something we need to change to help us be more at peace in our personal lives.
Most people. whether they go to church or not, know the “Golden Rule.”  Let’s give it a try. Please complete the following sentence: “Do unto others as you __ __ __ __ __ __.” (Answer at bottom of article).  This is a part of our American culture, yet many people have no idea that it came from Jesus’ teaching. Following it, though, is another story.
We read Jesus words in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (New International Version).
We each have our own circumstances in life, where we should apply the Golden Rule, but just to help us better understand the application, let’s look at just one illustration today: forgiveness. Jesus talks to us about forgiveness in Matthew’s gospel in chapter 6, verses 14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (New International Version).
God is the God of relationships, and in order to begin a new year, we must first make peace with our past and the relationships that have been broken through a lack of forgiveness. Thank God that because of Jesus Christ and the fact that he is reaching out to us in love, whatever has happened to us in the past can be put behind us. If something happened to you in your youth or in your past or in some other relationship and it continues to hurt in your heart, then that resentment, that hurt, that brokenness is to some degree controlling your life, like a heavy burden that weighs you down.
The bible talks about how to get yesterday off your back. To paraphrase scripture, “forgive and you will be forgiven, if you don’t, you won’t.”  In Romans 12:18-19, the apostle Paul wrote; “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘it is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (New International Version).
From this we can see the purpose of God’s command to forgive others. The burden of unforgiveness is like carrying a 50-pound bag of garbage around all of the time. January 1st is one day, like any other day of the year. When we resolve to do what we can to ease this burden on New Year’s day, and then carry that same resolve into the next day, and the next day, and the next etc., we will find the truth of God’s word.
Now, if we will apply this same principle to other circumstances in life, just think of what your future in following Jesus could hold. Part of this good news is that this golden rule can be applied starting today, and then again tomorrow and so on,  and others did the same, can you even imagine what kind of world we might live in? May the peace of Jesus Christ dwell in you.
(Answer: fill in the blank:  “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”)

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off


advert

LOCAL Advertisers

Bryne Electrical
The POST
Kent Theatre

Get the Cedar Springs Post in your mailbox for only $35.00 a year!