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Tag Archive | "Jesus Christ"

THE GREATNESS OF GRACE


Pilgrim-BibleRev. Michael Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

West Pine Street • Cedar Springs

 

“Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20-21)(NKJV)

Of all the words contained in the dictionary, perhaps non is so beautiful as “grace.” Although it can heave several meanings, in a spiritual context it simply means “the free and unmerited favor of God.”

Grace is gift that Christians are privileged to enjoy and that is freely offered to everyone from the hand of a loving God. There is not a single individual who deserves this grace and yet there has not been nor will there ever be a single person to whom this grace is not offered.

You see, we are all born with a corrupt nature that naturally leads us to the paths of sin. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NKJV). Sin has tragic consequences. It causes hurt and pain for those who have been sinned against, and it has fateful and fatal spiritual results of the one who has committed the sin.

James 1:15 tells us “…Sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (NJKV). If we refuse to repent of our sin and continue to follow the path of wickedness, we will find at the end of life’s road memories of regret and eternity in Hell separated from Christ. This is what we had to look forward to, a lifetime of rebellion followed be an eternity of ruin.

Enter grace. Perhaps the Apostle Paul summed it up best when he wrote in Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NJKV).

Please understand that sin conquered the human race, but because of Christ’s selfless sacrifice on the Cross the dynamics of the situation are forever changed. The chains of sin have been broken by the power of grace, and you do not have to live a life of shame and regrets. Jesus died on the Cross and then rose from the dead to give us not just life, but abundant life, and all who desire a stainless conscience, a pure heart, and a clean slate can obtain them through His matchless and gracious gift!

Regardless of where you have been or what you have done, regardless of foolish choices and marred memories of regret, life can be different from this point onward, if you will simply accept the gift of God’s grace, repent of your sins, and ask Christ to forgive you. That’s what the good news of the Gospel is all about.

As one songwriter put it:

Grace will always be greater than sin,

Calvary’s proven it time and again.

Whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been,

God’s grace will always be greater than sin.

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Lent


C-East-Nelson-United

Pastor Inge Whittemore

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs

 

At East Nelson UMC, the last 24 hours of Jesus Christ is our series of messages for Lent. Lent is the 40 days prior to Jesus’ crucifixion (not counting the Sundays) and it’s a time of reflection. We are reflecting on how so much happened in that last 24 hours. From that last Thursday evening to Friday evening, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples; shared his last supper; prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane; was betrayed; arrested; deserted; tried; convicted; sentenced to death; tortured; crucified; died; and buried. The season of Lent allows us the space to reflect, to meditate, to ponder, to ruminate over each of these profound events.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, treasured and pondered all of the events that led up to the momentous evening when the shepherds barged into the stable to “see this thing that has happened.” I love that Luke (2:19) shares her introspection. I believe it’s a beautiful example of how to hold a story close to our heart.  We have much to ponder also. The story of Jesus’ life on earth begins when Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” There’s the birth in the lowly stable, parable stories Jesus told, people of all walks of life who were healed. We can meditate on the words of the Sermon on the Mount, or the meals for hundreds made from a few fish and loaves of bread. And now, in Lent ,we can reflect on all that occurred to bring Jesus to the cross for us.

May we each find the space in our daily living over the next few weeks to ponder these things in our hearts.

Psalm118: 5-6, 13-14, 17 (NIV): 5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. 6 With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?

13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. 14 The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. 

17 I shall not die, but I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord.

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The missing puzzle piece


CS-United-MethodistPastor Steve Lindeman

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

In my reading of the Bible, one of the saddest verses is found at the very beginning. Genesis 3:9, God calls out Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” God has been walking in the garden in the cool of the afternoon. This portion of Holy Scripture is short but teaches so much about the relationships that we have been created for. As I read the text, I envision that there was a time when God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in community with one another; but humanity had rejected this relationship and we have been hiding from God ever since. Due to the power of sin, it seems we have become unable to live in direct relationship with God, as we had prior to the fall. It is the hope of God’s love that continues to pursue us, and this hope is made available to all of us through the sacrifices of Jesus Christ.

Not long ago, I was listening to an evangelist at a tent revival that my congregation hosted as a part of our church’s sesquicentennial celebration. She used a statement that I have tried to communicate both from the pulpit, as well as in more intimate conversations; we have been created with a God-sized hole in our hearts. There is nothing that can fill that place in our lives except God. My children played with a plastic blocks puzzle when they were young; each had its own unique shape and could only properly fit in the space that it had been designed for. They couldn’t force the wrong block into the wrong hole without either the block or that space being damaged. As people, we try to put all sorts of things into that space in our hearts that’s designed for God (drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, love of power and riches). We get the same result as the block puzzle—we damage ourselves and our relationships with others. This God-sized hole is of our own construction. God did not decide to be separate from us; God has sought us throughout history and has pursued us so that we might be in right relationship with him again.

Here is the good news for our life puzzles: God has provided a fix for our hearts. The cross of Jesus Christ fits within that hole. We simply have to accept the gift of grace and allow Jesus in. So as you continue on the journey that is your life, remember that God is pursuing each of us—seeking a relationship with us—seeking to restore our hearts and to make us whole.

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Freedom from worry this Christmas season


CS-United-Methodist

Pastor Steve Lindeman

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

 

 

I am currently reading the personal memoir of Thomas Oden, who is one of the leading Methodist theologians of our time. In the book, he makes a statement that can be helpful for us during this Christmas season.

“… Christian freedom centers on being freed from anxiety about the future through the act of trusting in God who transcends our gods.”

As we enter into this season of Advent, and as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, this is something that we would all do well to remember. We may feel weighed down by the worries of this world but we need to remember that we are freed from the power of worry and doubt and anxiety when we trust in God.

Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:25-34 that we are not to worry about the things of this earth because we are called to “… strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This puts Christmas into a different perspective, doesn’t it?

I could make a long list of all of the stressors that pile up on me during this joyful season. All of our lists might include such things as not having enough time to attend the church Christmas program, not having enough money to buy the toy that your child has asked for, spending the holidays with family members who are ill, or folks that you may not get along with … and the list goes on.

Instead of worrying about these things—the same things that are listed in the 6th Chapter of Matthew—focus on the manger instead, and what this infant means. As you work your way through this season of Advent, prepare your heart to make room for him. Focus on the things that are important as taught by Christ. If you need a daily reminder, and most of us do, read the 6th Chapter of Matthew every day as we approach December 25. It only takes a few minutes, and it will help keep things in perspective.

Be reminded, today, that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives and Lord of the world. As our lives seem to spin out of control, remember that he holds our future in his hands, and that we don’t have anything to worry about. The power of God is greater than any other god that this world has to offer.

I wish you well and I wish you a season of peace.

 

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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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Don’t miss Resurrection Celebration 2014


ENT-Resurrection-CelebrationFLYER2Would you like a new way to celebrate Easter this year? Or, are you wondering how Easter is even relevant to life today? Either way, you won’t want to miss Resurrection Celebration, coming to Cedar Springs High School on Saturday, April 19 at 2 and 7 p.m.

This community production is a musical drama highlighting the birth, life, death and struggles of Jesus Christ. A contemporary drama, written by Kaleigh Rosenberger, is interwoven with the historical and focuses on the struggle of a young man, who is overcoming his addiction, and what he needs to change his life. The dramas are directed by local playwright Scott Phillips, Jan Malmo, and Cherryl and Kaleigh Rosenberger.

The music features contemporary Christian songs sung by characters in the play and a strong choir.

There are dozens of people from the community involved in this production—members of local churches, teachers from the Cedar Springs School System and citizens of West Michigan. You are bound to see someone you know! Bring your friends and family to see this exciting event.

Shows are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The play will run about 2 hours with a short intermission. Admission is free, but tickets are encouraged to be sure of a seat. Pick up tickets at The Springs Church from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday; and at The Cedar Springs Post, Cedar Springs Public Library, Main Street Restaurant, Alpha Omega Coffee and Games, and Perry’s Place, all in downtown Cedar Springs.

For more info, find our event on Facebook—just search for Resurrection Celebration. Or, send an email to resurrectioncelebration@outlook.com.

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Spring—a reminder of life


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church
340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Springtime is finally approaching. What a lovely time of year. No other season invokes these sights, sounds and smells. Spring is the awakening of what was once dead but has now come alive. The Bible describes it, “For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!’ (Song of Solomon 2:11-13). 

The spring season reminds us of how important life truly is.  But what is life and what does it mean? What does it mean according to God?

In the beginning God created a perfect world. Why was this world so perfect? Because God’s presence was there and the presence of God brings life! However, man fell into Satan’s temptations, which removed the presence of the One who gives life. As a result, a curse was placed on this earth because of sin which has resulted in all of us being handed a sentence of death.  The image of a physical death and a curse on the earth which forewarns us of an ending we do not want to inherit.  That picture is eternal death. Eternal death means eternal seperation from God, the One whom gives life.

However, God had a plan; a plan to rescue us from that separation. He accomplished this by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for us. This sacrifice bridges us back to the One who gives life! Eternally God has allowed us to escape our death sentence and has called us to live and reign with Him forever and ever. All you need to do is to confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and He will set you free and grant you eternal life in His Kingdom.

While the life God is concerned about is eternal, He gives us reminders and illustrations here on this earth.  Spring is a perfect time of year for that reminder. Spring brings hope that there will be brighter days ahead; days full of sunshine, happiness and joy. We see plants come to life, trees blossoming, flowers blooming, animals lively and birds chirping. These are all wonderful signs of life and should remind us that Jesus Christ gave us life through His death. It is a life that will allow us to live in peace and harmony with Him forever and ever. Remember, God is Life!

 

 

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Hearing the Prophets (Read Amos 5: 21-24)


cs-united-methodistPastor Mary Ivanov

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319

 

Each year when we remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), I’m amazed at the work he did as a servant of Jesus Christ. In just 39 years, his prophetic voice and tireless work for justice for all left a profound impact on our country and around the world.

He was a Christian pastor like my colleagues and me, but I cannot imagine what it was like to lead and work for racial equality for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rev. Dr. King is commended for his “I have a dream” speech, but he was much more than a dreamer. He was a doer. He lived his faith in Jesus Christ who came for all. He suffered for his faith. He was a prophet.

One way that I’ve heard prophets defined is that they seek to tell us where we are, tell us where God wants us to be, and they drive God’s Word in between. Rev. Dr. King’s legacy continues to draw us back to examine ourselves and our world and see where we’re still struggling to love one another as Jesus Christ loves us.

Rev. Billy Graham was a friend to Rev. Dr. King and participated in the civil rights movement. In a sermon, Rev. Graham said, “Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.” Rev. Graham’s words are powerful as we celebrate the message of Christmas: that God comes in Jesus Christ for ALL the world.  In late December my family and I visited Washington, D.C. and were able to visit the memorial dedicated to Rev. Dr. King. It is a beautiful space surrounded by many of Dr. King’s quotes. One of the poignant for me is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Throughout the Old Testament, we find “justice” and “righteousness” paired together, in the Psalms and throughout the Prophets.  And Amos is no exception. We are called to be people who seek to be righteous (to have right aim before God) and who seek justice (which is concern for the poor and oppressed). The two are tied together.
Early in Amos, chapter 5, God speaks to the people:
“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.”
It’s no surprise that Jesus’ words to the people call us to be righteous and just. In the same spirit of the prophets, he calls us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness…”
There are times when we stray from God’s way, and we are constantly called back to faithfulness. The struggle for righteous living is real along with the work of seeking justice. Each day, we’re called to love and serve God, to live as children of God, as we work to bring even a glimpse of the Kingdom of God right now.

How are you working for God’s Kingdom? Where do you see it clearly?

If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us at 9:00 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!

 

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