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Promoted to friends


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. NE

Sparta, MI 49345

 

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” John 15:13-16 (NIV).

A few weeks ago, while on vacation, the Lord led me to this passage. In fact, it was on the first day of vacation, during my personal time of reading. I was touched by verse 15 where Jesus said he “no longer called his disciples servants but friends.” I felt like He was saying to me, “Craig, I want you to be my friend, not my servant.” This simple, yet profound truth has done so much in my heart and life in a few short weeks. You see, I have for most of my Christian life, strived to be a very good servant of the Lord. At times, even trying to be the best servant possible. I have preached many sermons on being a good and faithful servant for Jesus. I never recalled a sermon on being Jesus’ friend; after all, He is God. Servanthood is important, and yes biblical, but if not careful, servanthood alone can become your sole source of purpose and identity. It can rob you from your intimate relationship and friendship with Jesus. It steals your joy and your ability to really hear from and follow Jesus. It can leave you empty, tired and worn out. Once rested, we tell ourselves, I have to do a better job of serving him, not be a closer friend of Jesus.

The first thing I noticed is that Jesus says that the disciples were only his friends if they did what He commanded! Then before they could ever fulfill a command as his servants, he says, I NO LONGER call you servants! What? Wow! He promoted them. In one statement, he changed the status of their relationship. They were just invited into His inner-circle. Why? The reason is simple, because servants do not know their master’s business. Servants are limited in their information access. They are limited in their understanding of their master’s heart and decision-making process. Often, they are the last to know anything. You see, masters and bosses do not reveal major decisions and important plans to their servants, but friends do! Think about it, everything important, any valuable or intimate piece of information you ever received from anyone, you received based on your friendship with him or her. So, it is with Jesus.

For example, those of us who are married realize we do not know the personal, intimate and important things about each other based on serving one another, but on our friendship. You open your heart to friends. It’s been said, “people want to know you care, before they care to know.” As a pastor, I do not strive to build a church based off servanthood, but friendship. The Heart of God is the same. Jesus is not building his family, the church, off servanthood, but friendship. If Jesus is your Savior, you are His friend and He is yours! Plain and simple. You have access to the intimate things of His heart before you ever do a thing for him. Jesus holds no secrets from you. Verse 16 states, everything His father shared with him, He shares with you. Learn to be a friend of Jesus. Slow down, even stop your serving long enough to hear what He has to say. How he loves you and cares about every about you. Many people think if no one serves in the church, our families or jobs, nothing will get done! This is simply not true! People are not motivated by servanthood. A servant’s mentality alone will never sustain anything of value or importance. Great example from Luke 10:38-42, is the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was so busy serving, she never heard Jesus’s heart. Her serving distracted her. If Jesus wanted a clean house and a sandwich he would have said so, and Mary would have made him one. Martha, on the other hand, just cleaned the house and made five sandwiches just because. She made them just in case Jesus needed or wanted them. Many Christians are like this. We create unneeded work for ourselves, even doing things that were never asked or desired of us.

In hopes of helping you develop a better friendship with Jesus, I would like to leave you with four things to consider. They contrast the difference between a Servanthood vs. Friendship mentality. One is freeing and empowering, while the other leaves us empty and requiring more.

Friends live from His presence, not his commands.

Friends find value in relationship, not assignments.

Friends work “with” God, not “for” God.

Friends live “from” God’s favor, not “for” God’s favor.

Brothers and sister in Jesus, Friends of God, cultivate your friendship with Jesus. It is the key to knowing His love and heart for you.

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Sincere Faith


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. NE • Sparta, MI 49345

 

I recently had the privilege of performing the funeral of a gentleman who was born and raised in a small community near McBain, Michigan. In learning more about this family, I soon discovered he was the grandson of a family who raised 7 children in a small 2-bedroom home near the edge of the town. They were very devout Christians, who were very active in their community and church. It was clear that their honest devotion and sacrifice to others had made a huge impact on this community for years to follow.

I was reminded of a similar story in the Bible. In 2 Timothy 1:3-5, we read of the Apostle Paul’s memory of a family dear to him. It was the family of young Timothy. Paul says, “I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (NIV)

Notice, Paul recalled the legacy of this family that began with Timothy’s grandmother and then was also passed on to his mother, Eunice. Now, Paul says he is persuaded, or convinced that it lives or exists in Timothy!

What was it? What did Paul see in Timothy? What family trait did Paul find had been passed down from one generation to the next?

In Verse 5, Paul calls it “Sincere Faith.” The Word “sincere” here in the Greek means real, without hypocrisy. In Latin, it comes from the word, “Sincera,” which means “without wax.” It was word used to describe pottery or sculptures made by artist that were authentic or flawless. Artist often made mistakes! The way they would correct them was to fill the cracks or flaws with wax. They would then paint them and cover them up. If the artist was not honest they would sell them as flawless or authentic pieces.

So, what was the Apostle Paul saying about Timothy and his family? What made Timothy’s grandmother and mother so effective in sharing their faith with Timothy? They were real! They were sincere! They were authentic! They did not try and hide their flaws. Interestingly, Timothy’s mother was Jewish and his father was Greek. One would be considered and believer and the other a non-believer. So, they had their flaws and differences. Every family has them. None of us are perfect, but if we are going to impact our families and communities with the love of Christ, we need to be real! I have been a probation officer, high school security officer and pastor for over 35 years now. People just want you to be authentic. Too often Christians try and portray this perfect image. We are good at filling our flaws with wax and then acting like we’re the real thing. You want to have a lasting impact in your family, church or community? You want to leave a legacy? Then live out a “sincere” faith first among your family and then others.

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Hometown Happenings


Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.

Craft & Vendor Show at Hillcrest Community Church

Apr. 29:  On Saturday, April 29 the Hillcrest Community Church (5994 18 Mile Rd.) will be hosting the Spring Craft & Vendor Show from 9 am – 2 pm. It is an opportunity to experience a time when you can set aside the fast paced world and slow down, enjoy some coffee or tea, browse the craft tables, enjoy a relaxing lunch and visit with friends. Mother’s Day is coming soon and this is a great opportunity to shop for mom. We will have flowers, hanging baskets and ferns too. #17

Huge Adoption Fundraiser

Apr. 29: Rockford Reformed Church is hosting a HUGE Adoption Fundraiser Garage Sale for a local family in the Church Gym (4890 Eleven Mile Rd.) on Saturday, April 29th from 9 am to 2 pm. There will be a $5 bag sale beginning at 1 pm. Please join us for a great sale to support a great cause – tons of kids items, clothes, home décor, quality large furniture items and much more! #17p

Payton Christian in Cedar Springs

Apr. 30, May 1: Payton, an 18 year old actress/model/non-profit director/speaker, will share her testimony on Sunday, April 30 at North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Rd. NE, Sparta, MI 49345 at the 10 am service. At 5:30 pm Payton will speak to the youth at the community wide screening of “I’m Not Ashamed.” Monday, May 1 at 2:45 pm, Payton will speak to En Gedi Youth Center at Red Hawk School, 204 E. Muskegon St. Cedar Springs. For more information contact Pastor Craig Carter, Senior Pastor of North Kent Community Church, 616-550-6398. #17

Dinner at the Legion

May 1: American Legion, 80 S. Main St. Cedar Springs, is hosting a Baked Chicken dinner on Monday,  May 1, from 5 – 7 pm. Included will be baked chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, veggies, salad, roll, drink and dessert. The cost is $9 for adults, children (15 and younger) $4.00. Come and enjoy home cooking. Take out is available. 616-696-9160.  #17p

God’s Kitchen in Cedar Springs

May 2,9,16,23,30: Join us for dinner every Tuesday. God’s Kitchen – Cedar Springs welcomes families from Northern Kent County and the surrounding area to a Tuesday Evening Meal. No charge – no registration required!  Served from 5:30 – 6:30 pm at the St. John Paul II Parish, 3110 – 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs. For more information, call the Church office at 616-696-3904. #17

Parent and Child Yoga @ KDL

May 4: Amber Kilpatrick – founder of Mindful Vinyasa School of Yoga & creator of The Mindful Classrooms Project – will be hosting a special Parent & Child Yoga session, perfect for young children. Come learn about yoga and try a few poses. A story is included! The library has a limited number of yoga mats. First come, first served. Please bring your own if possible and join us! Thursday, May 4, 6:30 pm,  at the Spencer Township KDL Branch, 14960 Meddler Ave., Gowen. #17

Carnival Bingo

May 6: Come join the fund and help the North Kent Senior Citizens Association raise money to help pay for their furnace. We will have a baked good sale going on and chances to win gift baskets as well. So come check out the Senior Center, 44 N. Park, Cedar Springs, and have a great time playing bingo! Only 25 cents for 3 bingo cards per game to play. #17,18p

3rd Annual Kentucky Derby Party

May 6: Watch the Kentucky Derby, listen to music by Gordon Thayer Band, enjoy a Mint Julep, food, raffle, and silent auction. Pick your favorite horse. Saturday, May 6th from 4 to 12 midnight at Sparta Moose Lodge, 11510 North Division, Sparta. Benefit to support 2nd Chance School a school for troubled teens of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin. Questions? Call 616-293-2150. #17,18p

Discover Small Museums

May 6,7: “Spring Into the Past” and discover the small museums of the Tri-River Historical Museum Network, including Cedar Springs Museum, Rockford Area Museum, Oakfield (Twp) Museum and Plainfield Township’s Hyser Rivers Museum in Belmont. These and 25 other member museums from Hastings to Edmore, Plainfield to Sunfield will be open from 11 am to 5 pm for your convenience. Pick up one at any member museum. Ask about the new Tri-River Quilt Trail too. #17

Pierson School Reunion

May 13: The Pierson School Reunion will be held on Saturday, May 13th from 9 am to 12 noon at Pierson Bible Church, 101 Grand St., Pierson. Contact Dick Pierce or Francine Sherman, 616-550-4547. #17

Christian Women’s Retreat

May 13: The Carousel of Life – Strategies for Navigating Today’s World. Speaker – Leslie Anne Wood, Transforming Faith Ministries. Do you feel like you’re on a carousel? Life is spinning round and round and first you’re up and then you’re down. The music plays louder and louder. Let me off! But we can’t get off; we must learn how to ride the colored horses of life. We can do this with faith and perseverance and God’s help. Saturday, May 13, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Settlement Lutheran Church (1031 S. Johnson Rd., Gowen). Cost is $5 and includes registration, wake up coffee, snacks, and a light, healthy lunch. Register by Sunday, May 7 by calling Linda Hansen at 616-984-5557 or mailing her at 13680 Sprague St., Gowen 49326, or by emailing linda13680@sbcglobal.net. #17


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Actress in Columbine film to speak at local church


 

Payton Christian, an actress, model and speaker, will speak at North Kent Community Church on Sunday, April 30, and be on hand to speak to youth that evening at a community-wide showing of “I’m not ashamed,” a film telling the story of Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine shooting in 1999. Courtesy photo.

Payton Christian, an actress, model and speaker, will speak at North Kent Community Church on Sunday, April 30, and be on hand to speak to youth that evening at a community-wide showing of “I’m not ashamed,” a film telling the story of Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine shooting in 1999. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

The shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 was a tragic event that people will not forget. And the stories that came out of it—like the shooting of Rachel Joy Scott—the first victim, are a reminder of the courage of many of the students.

“I am not ashamed,” a movie that tells her story and is based on Scott’s diaries, came out last fall. It will have a special showing next weekend, April 30, at North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Rd NE, at 5:30 p.m. Payton Christian, an actress who plays a Columbine student in the movie, will be on hand to give her own testimony during the 10 a.m. service April 30, and will speak to youth at the community-wide screening at 5:30 p.m.. She will also speak to youth at the En Gedi Youth Center on Monday, May 1, at 2:45 p.m. at Red Hawk Elementary.

Payton is an 18-year-old actress and model who lives in Erin, Tennessee. Her faith and family are both important to her. She lives on a 200-acre farm called Christian Farm, with her mom, dad, and grandmother. She was homeschooled from about second grade on, because of an auto-immune deficiency. “I would be sick all of the time, catch colds and flu really easy,” she explained. So her mom decided to keep her home and homeschool her. It’s gotten better as she’s gotten older, but it’s still with her. “It’s just something I have, it doesn’t stop me,” she said.

When she was 11, she was watching New York fashion week, and told her mom she’d like to do that. So they looked at agencies, and chose a Christian-based agency. “They told me I was a little short for modeling but they could put me in a movie here and there,” she explained with a chuckle.

Her first movie was “Rumors of War,” when she was almost 12. “It’s an intense, faith-based film about the end of days,” she explained. “Not for kids under 13.”

Payton has done a variety of movies—both secular and Christian, but said her heart is with faith-based movies. “I love God and love doing films about Him and his word, and how he’s worked through people’s lives,” she said.

The Post asked Payton how she became involved with “I’m not ashamed.”

“I had seen some talk about it, and I helped with some of the casting. My agency was doing the casting and I was there that day, and I listened and watched as the actors read for their parts. I later talked to my manager about it, and said ‘If there is anything I can do to be a part of it, I want to do it.’ So I was there from day one to the last day,” she recalled.

She said they were all happy with the response to the film. “So many people showed up at the premier, and huge groups came to see it,” she said.

Payton Christian loving on a parrot, on the farm she lives on with her parents and grandmother in Kentucky.

Payton Christian loving on a parrot, on the farm she lives on with her parents and grandmother in Kentucky.

When Payton is not acting, modeling, or speaking, she likes to spend time reading—“I have 500 books in my room,” she confessed. She also spends time with the animals on their farm. The farm is home to an array of animals, including regular farm animals as well as camels, zebras, and birds. But one of her favorite things is working with the rescue horses they take in. “I feed and help them put on weight and just love on them. I have a real passion for that. It’s a humongous this for me,” she explained.

Payton’s big heart is not just for animals. She is also involved in a foundation called “To write love on her arms,” a depression awareness and suicide prevention cause. And she also just started a new foundation called Bibles in Battle, a foundation to provide bibles to every soldier fighting overseas. She said she would have a donation box set up when she comes to speak in case people want to donate to that cause.

Payton said that she feels faith should be important to everyone. “People are worried about everything. But whenever we leave this earth, those things we worked so hard to get won’t be important. God doesn’t care how much money we make, where we live, what we drive. He cares that we love him and follow his word. He should be our number one priority.”

When she talks to the youth in Cedar Springs, she will try to impress on them that no one is ever perfect. “Don’t try to make yourself perfect. To God you are already perfect from day one—he loves you the way you are. It doesn’t matter what group you are in; you don’t need to prove yourself. You have God and that’s enough,” she said.

What does Payton see in her future? “My goal is mostly to do what my heart tells me—what God wants me to do—to spread his message and do as much good as I possibly can,” she said.

Payton has never been to Michigan, and is looking forward to it. “I’m overly excited that I get to be here and talk to everyone,” she remarked. “And I’m looking forward to seeing the sights!”

For more information on the showing contact Pastor Craig Carter at 616-550-6398 or craigcarter8282@gmail.com.

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CAROL A. PHELPS


 

Carol A. Phelps age 80 of Cedar Springs, passed away Sunday, February 5, 2017 at her home. Carol was born June 30, 1936 in Paw Paw Township, Michigan the daughter of Bernard and Maude (Sirrine) Schidt. She served as Nelson Township Clerk for many years. She loved the Lord and serving in church, most recently, North Kent Community Church. Surviving are her children, Debra Austin and Todd Phelps; grandchildren, Shawn (Katy) Austin, Troy (Kendra) Austin, Brandon Austin; six great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dale Phelps. Services were held Wednesday, February 8th at North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Road NE, Sparta. Pastor Craig Carter officiating. Interment in the spring in East Nelson Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to pay it forward with an act of kindness.

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

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Precious thoughts


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345 

 

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” (Psalms 139:17-18 NIV).

I am thinking about my sermon series for this month on “Love.” Specifically, God’s love for me! I could not help but contemplate on the verse in Psalms 139:17-18 that tells me what God thinks about me. Did you know that the thoughts God thinks about me are much better than what I think about myself? Let’s look at these verses and the three primary characteristics about God’s thoughts.

First, God’s thoughts are precious. When you reflect on your life and what you think about yourself, do find your personal thoughts precious? The Hebrew word here for “precious” means to be precious, valued and honored. It is also a verb that means God puts actions behind His thoughts. He is always working behind the scenes of our lives to show us our value and to bring us honor. Another root Hebrew word for “precious” means “to be pleased.” Do you know when God thinks about you, He is pleased? Why? Because you do everything, right? No! Most of us spend our whole lives trying to please others and God, too. However, according to His Word, the only thing that pleases Him is faith, and our trust in what Jesus already did. God so loved us that he sent his son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). He put action behind His loving thoughts.

Secondly, His thoughts toward you are numerous; they are vast. He said if we could count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When was the last time you accurately counted the number of sand grains at Grand Haven beach? In your human ability, it is not possible. Yet, God says that’s how much he thinks about you! God thinks about you all the time. Psalm 139: 2-4 says, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.”  The Hebrew word for “vast” not only means be to be numerous or great, but to be powerful, mighty and strong. God’s thoughts toward us are strong. They are not “strong” with negativity, but strong in love. They are designed to make us stronger. Understanding and receiving God’s loving thoughts towards you empowers you to be strong. Romans 8:35-37 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Lastly, His thoughts are comforting and reassuring. Notice in verse 18, David says, “when I awake, I am still with you.”  It is as if he is surprised that God is still there. The word “awake” implies it’s a new day. When I wake up today, He is still there. He has not left me. Regardless of my previous day, good or bad, He is still there. Remember, God’s thoughts and actions are strong, filled with the power to convince you of His love towards you. There is no greater statement of love than consistency and faithfulness. All of us have experienced unfaithfulness in some way, shape or form—a lack of follow through, a broken promise, a failed commitment. Whatever the form, we know the insecurity it brings into our lives regarding love. However, God assures us again and again, that He will “never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5).

Remember that when you wake up tomorrow, God is still there with you, and He is for you! His thoughts and actions towards you are precious and vast, designed to reveal to you that He loves you. You’re precious and so are God’s thoughts toward you.

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Better Things


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd. • Sparta, MI 49345

 

Heb 12:24: “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that better things…” – KJV

In light of the current election and all the other stress we cannot help but feel going on in our country, I am reminded of a simple thing my mother used to share with me when I was a child and struggling with whatever life was bringing me at that moment. She would say, “Everything will be ok, son, and things will get better.” Things usually did get better and it was often a change in my perspective. I will share some Scripture that promises us “better” things. Things may or may not get better, but as Christians, we remain hopeful because a God who loves us always has our best or better interest in mind.

Better Things

We see according the Hebrews 12:24, that the blood of Jesus Christ speaks “better things” than the blood of Abel. You may remember this story about two brothers named Cain and Abel. Unfortunately, Cain allowed his heart to become hardened towards God and his brother, and thought the answer to his rejection was to kill his brother. Ever since, Abel’s blood has “spoken from the ground” it was spilled on. It has cried out for justice. The good news is that Jesus’ blood shed at Calvary speaks of better things. It says there is mercy, forgiveness, and hope. It says, although we deserved justice, He was willing to give us better. If that is not better, I do not know what is!

Better Hope

Hebrews 7:19 says, “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” The blood of Jesus Christ provided a better Hope. A Hope not simply founded in the wishes and dreams of our own life, or current circumstances, but on the life of Jesus Christ. It permits us to “draw close to God.” To have a relationship with the one who tells us that nothing we experience or face in life, will ever leave us hopeless. Hope always makes things better.

Better Promises

Heb 8:1-6  says, “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.”  The blood of Jesus provided the assurance of “better promises.” We have the blessing of the New Testament, full of wonderful promises to those who believe them. My favorite is found in Hebrews 12:5. This verse promises that God will “never leave you and never forsake you.”

Better and Enduring Substance

Heb 10:34 states,  “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” What a blessing to know that the blood of Jesus purchased eternal things.  We live a life so focused on temporal things. Things that never provide the love, joy, peace and assurance we are looking for. Yet, through Christ, we have a better and enduring substance; one full of eternal assurances. That is why we are encouraged as Christians to “store up things” in heaven where moth and rust can not corrupt.

Better Country

Heb 11:16 reads, “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” This verse speaks of our eternal home called heaven. A place where Jesus said he went to prepare for us; a place where all those who have received salvation through the shed blood of Jesus will go when they die. A place where every tear will be wiped away and joy and peace will be ours for eternity. Now, this place is clearly better than the alternative—a place that we do not often talk about, but is real none-the-less—a place called Hell. A place of eternal separation from God, where no joy or peace will ever be found.  That’s why I desire the “better country.” How about you?  It’s simple to go there. Just thank Jesus for shedding His blood for your sins. Tell Him you are sorry for thinking other things are “better” and receive Him into your life.

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What is this?


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

Sparta, MI 49345

 

Has anyone ever given you something and the first thing out of your mouth was, “What is this?” This happed to the children of Israel. The Israelites had just been brought out of Egypt, from a time of slavery, which was a very difficult season in their life. They found themselves in the middle of the wilderness in need of food. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this white substance appears. Exodus 16:31 says, “The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.” They called the bread “Manna.” The Hebrew word used here for “manna” was a compound word established from two words. The first was the word “man” meaning “what.” In fact, it is known as an imperative what, implying a question. The second was the word “huw” which is used for the word “this.” So, when you combine the two words together, it is literally translated “what is this?” The reason they said this was because they had never seen it before. This was the first time they had seen this white stuff.

Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Notice it says that God fed them with manna, which they, nor their fathers had ever known. So, what was this stuff called “Manna?” It was the provision of God! It was God meeting their need. It was God’s answer to their problem. Yet, their reply was, “What is this?” Why? Could it be it was because it came in a way and form unfamiliar to them? Could it be they just did not see it for what it was? I remain intrigued by the fact that the Israelites called it manna, not God. They named it, “what is it?” God didn’t. How many times do we name something for God? Have you ever rejected something from God because it did not come the way you envisioned? The Israelites did just that. In fact, after a while, what God provided was no longer good enough. So, they complained and asked for something different. Does this sound familiar?

You may ask, what is so important about this? It is important because this lesson remains true for us today. God’s provision and direction often comes in ways and forms you may not understand. You may have never seen or experienced them before. The question is, will you receive it, as from the Lord? You may have lost a job, been struggling with your health, your marriage. You may be depressed and wondering if anyone cares. Is there a God and does He even care? The answer is, Yes He does! He sees your need in your “wilderness” experience, just like He did the Israelites and He will provide. Just realize He will probably do it in a way you do not understand. In fact, your current situation, as difficult as it may seem, may just be what is needed for you to trust Him and not yourself. Notice the end of verse 3 in Deuteronomy.  God did this to “teach you that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He did this so that they would learn to trust God, not just for their daily needs, but for every area of their lives. Will you do that today? Will you give him every area of your life? Will you trust Him with your money, your marriage, your children, your problems? The test is to trust Him with everything we are and everything we possess. As I close, I leave you with a few other verses that encourage and challenge us to trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-10: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

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Confident Grace


By Pastor Craig Carter, North Kent Community Church

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16 NIV).

What’s so amazing about grace? If we are honest, the longer we live and serve the Lord, the more we realize that God’s grace is simply amazing. One of the most profound things about God’s grace is that it invites us to God’s throne with confidence. Notice that the throne we are invited to is not one of judgment, but of grace. The writer of Romans gives us this same picture. He writes, “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:15-17). God provided abundant grace for this life. Now that’s a confidence builder in us all! God says this grace assures us we can reign in life. We can live confidently that if God is for us, who can be against us?

I think it is important to remember that grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is a favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that same person deserves. That is why we are invited to come to this throne without hesitation. In the above verse, we are instructed to come to this throne with “confidence.” Another translation says that we may “come boldly” unto the throne of grace. This word “boldly” is the Greek word parrhesia (par-rhay-see’-ah), which literally means to come with an all out-outspokenness, frankness and bluntness. It also implies that we can do so, without fear of some repercussions.

Let me ask you this question. When was the last time you went to God and spoke your mind honestly and openly, without fear of some repercussions? You may be uncomfortable with this, but that’s exactly what God’s grace allows us to do. I find it interesting that people harbor all kinds of thoughts in their heart that they would not even consider speaking with their mouth. Yet, they fail to realize God already knows their thoughts! They act as if they were to verbalize them to God, he would punish them with some consequence. They think a lightning bolt from heaven is going to strike them because they had the audacity to speak their mind to God. I frequently remind people, God is a big boy, feel free to tell Him how you really feel.

Let me challenge you today. Go confidently or boldly to God’s throne with whatever need you have. Do not be afraid to speak your mind to God, because mercy and grace await you. Grace invites you to its throne because it longs to help you.

North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, Church Phone #: 550-6398

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Glory to God and peace to men


Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

1480 Indian Lakes Rd., Sparta, MI 49345

 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”

This passage of scripture in Luke 2 is one of the most read verses in the bible this time of year. There is so much here, it is often easy to overlook the powerful, yet simple message of Christmas found in these verses! We see from this passage, the angel’s message was one of good news about a specific day in history, in a specific city, about a real Savior, who is Christ the Lord. While this news was being proclaimed, immediately there was a response from heaven. The heavenly response declared two very distinct purposes that God had for sending Jesus to earth.

The first was to declare the Glory of God. Notice it took one angel to announce the savior’s birth, but a multitude joined with the angel to praise God! This word multitude is a military term, also translated host. It meant an army. An army of angels came to sing and proclaim God’s glory. It signified how important this event in history was. It signified how important this Savior was. It was a life-changing event that would forever change the course of history. What did it mean? What did it proclaim? It proclaimed how much God loved the world. We are reminded in John 3:16, that “God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only son…” It declared to all of humanity that God alone deserves all our praise. It was intended to grab all of man’s attention and direct it to the one who was worthy to receive it, Jesus Christ! Christmas is designed and celebrated to turn the world’s attention to Jesus.

Secondly, the multitude of angles declared that peace was now available to all mankind, through this sign, this Savior—Jesus Christ. Often, we declare this peace, at Christmas, as a universal one. Meaning everyone can have peace on earth. This is true, but only to a degree. Meaning, this peace is available to everyone on earth, but only to those on “whom God’s favor” rests. Who may that be, you ask? God’s favor rests on those who receive Jesus Christ as savior, as the one who forgives us of our sin; as the Christ, the one who provides hope; as Lord, the one who defeats our enemies and makes us secure; and the one who provides us peace. Ephesians 2:14 says, “For he himself (Jesus) is our peace…” In the current days we are living in, everyone is ultimately looking for and pursuing peace in their own ways. We would love to see the world at peace with each other. However, apart from Jesus Christ this will never occur. Christmas says that Christ is the answer for peace in the world. That’s why many are anti-Christmas. They ultimately are opposing Christ. The message of Christmas to the whole world is that there is peace through a relationship with Jesus Christ! The angels sang and declared this good news of peace. The greatest gift this Christmas is personal peace with God through Jesus Christ. Will you receive it?

Merry Christmas! Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men!

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