web analytics

Tag Archive | "Pastor Dick Nichols"

I will, until I won’t


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

We have all promised to do something and then not done it, or promised not to do something, and then did it anyway. Then too, some make promises while really never intending to do what they say. It isn’t mere coincidence that Jesus has given an illustration for us:                                                                                                                

 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” (Matthew 21:28-31a, NIV).

We are all familiar with sayings such as a man’s word is his bond; or, a handshake is as good as a contract. There was a time when these were true.  

The fact is that we are of a fallen nature, prone to errors of judgment and may make promises foolishly or out of immaturity. Adding vows, promises or oaths to our words will open us up to compromise our words, which will compromise our Christian testimony.  

Then, to make matters worse, we come up with justifications for our failure. We may shrug it off as a foolish pledge made in the heat of the moment, or simply “forget” because its importance fades over time. Then too, there are the times we partially fulfill a promise, explaining that circumstances have changed. The bottom line is that we live in a time filled with a crisis of trust.

The meaning of this word trust is being eroded in all arenas of life; family, community, politics, church, industry, etc. As Christians, children of God, when we fail to keep a promise or oath, people conclude that we can’t be trusted, and determine, wrongly, that God can’t be trusted. 

As Christians, when we blow off a promise, someone is left to pick up the slack and most of the time, that person remembers who didn’t keep their promise; thus, God’s reputation becomes tainted because of us. Making promises is easy; keeping them is more of a challenge, especially when we make promises carelessly. Just because we didn’t think it through doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility for keeping our word.  

When we become people of our word in little things and in big things, and when we make certain that our yes means yes and our no means no, after a while, we will have the reputation of integrity, and others will see Jesus in us. Promises are a trust and with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can keep every promise we make. Some wise person once said that “You may be the only bible that some people will ever read.”   

May God help us to be better reading material. 

Posted in From the PulpitComments (0)

The Spirit of heaviness  


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

Foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah really hits home with these words of promise: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3 –King James translation).

There is a comparison being made here between a funeral and a wedding celebration. A funeral is where the Hebrews would have put ashes upon their heads in mourning, and some would have beat their breasts and wailed, while wearing sackcloth. Yet at a wedding, they wore beautiful garments, literally, garments of praise.

The point being that whatever you were feeling in your spirit and soul, whatever your mood was, would be reflected in what you wore. That is still the case today; Jesus taught on this—that Christianity is meant to be a wedding celebration and not a funeral dirge. I believe that what Isaiah is speaking to us today, is a revelation, an important key to get delivered from the spirit of heaviness.

What is the spirit of heaviness? First off, we’re not talking about a weight loss program like Weight-Watchers; the spirit of heaviness is spiritual. It is like a drudgery that comes over you, something generally unexplainable, not necessarily reflecting the circumstances that are around you. Some have described it as a numbness of the soul, more like darkness. The NIV translates it as spirit of despair. If you’ve ever been in desperation you can understand this.

Young’s Literal Translation says a spirit of weakness, which covers a whole lot of things, like how we can be weak in mind, weak in our emotions, weak in our actions, and even weak in our body.

If the real you, your human spirit that God breathed into you, if that is damaged, it will affect your whole being. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 KJV). If there is something wrong with your spirit, it can even affect your body. What Isaiah is talking about is this human condition of the heart that is devastating, that makes us weak, that makes us frail, that makes us despair, that makes us want to give up on life, taking all the color out of life, burning life to the ashes.

Isaiah gives us the solution: the garment of praise. How do you get it? Like every provision of God, you’ve got to go and get it. It is free, given by grace, you don’t have to buy it or earn it, but you do have to come and get it by faith. Jesus has bought it with His own blood, and God, by grace, is handing it to us. But we, in the midst of our despair, have got to come up to the throne of grace and say “I need that garment, Lord!” There is something for us to do; we’ve got to wrap ourselves up in praise, “I had a coffee with a friend,” “somebody blessed me,” or “I had a nice walk today.” Thank you Lord, thank you!

Isaiah said he will give you beauty for ashes. We all know what ashes are; it’s what is left after all the fuel (joy) is burned out. God knew we would be burnt by life’s experiences. But he also knew he could replace that burnt out mess with something beautiful. Rather than anointing our head with ashes, he wants to anoint our head with the oil of joy.

Bill Gaither wrote the song that says: “Something beautiful something good; All my confusion He understood; All I had to offer him was brokenness and strife; But he made something beautiful of my life.”

This may seem simple, actually it is, but it’s profound. You are wrapping yourself up in the garment of praise and thus, overcoming the spirit of heaviness. If you wait until you feel like praising, you’re not going to break through. You take your God-given will and say, “I will praise God.”  There is power in praise, medicine for a merry heart, take it many times a day.

Posted in From the PulpitComments (0)

Choices—today and every day


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

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

God has a plan for each and every one of us, for life, and gives us the privilege to make choices as we journey through the process of fully living our life.

Jesus assures us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, New International version.)

The bible tells us that before we were born, God knew us. God knows who each of us are, much better than we know ourselves; and he knows not only why, but the reason for when and where he purposed us to begin life. It took me many years to discover that my life did not come about by accident. God is the Creator, the Giver of life, on purpose.

Not only has God purposed each and every life, through the writer of Proverbs, he has also given us wonderful direction: “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.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV.)

Trusting God with all of our heart is how we show that our faith in him is real.  This is not a piecemeal trust; the call is to a complete trust in him with our whole heart, putting our whole life in his hands. Often, we think we know better than God, when in reality, like Adam and Eve in the beginning, our wisdom and understanding is weak, crooked and unreliable. It’s like trying to walk with a foam rubber walking cane; if we lean on it, we’re going to fall over.

This is where I find myself sometimes coming up short of what God knows would provide life to the fullest. It is easy for Christians to make plans and set goals, expecting God to fall in behind them. I believe though, that we aren’t being fair to God, ourselves and others, when we insist on doing just what we want to do, while not letting God handle through us, the situations that pop up in life.

We must turn that around. Otherwise, the greatness of our God will not be seen by the unbelieving world around us. I learned many years ago, that if I wanted to go boating, I must first, get on the boat. I have to trust that the person piloting the boat is a good pilot; while trusting that the boat won’t sink.  It is simple, getting on board is an act of faith.

In all our ways acknowledging him, means exactly what it says, coupled with the promise, “and he will make your paths straight.” This appears to be an encouraging promise, which it is; a promise that with God’s help as we trust in him, we will eventually reach the destination that he has in mind for us. But it is also a warning. It reminds us that our path in life is God’s path, and his way may not be the way we would have chosen for ourselves.

If we want to find God’s will for our life, first, we have to put our trust in God. Acknowledging the Lord is surrendering to God’s will and starting on the journey; it’s putting our faith into action. In other words, be prepared to go where God wants to take you, trusting in him to make the way clear.

God’s word reveals his heart and love for us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.) The God we serve in this life is the God we will serve for eternity; choose wisely.

Posted in From the PulpitComments (0)

A Gift too wonderful for words; handle with awe


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

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

If you are reading this brief message, you have survived through the year 2016, including the Christmas-Advent season, and now we all have begun the journey called calendar year 2017 with whatever it holds. In my mind, this is no small accomplishment, and as Christians, we look forward to what God has for us in this new year—new learning, new discoveries, new relationships and more.

The Advent season, the coming of Jesus Christ, God incarnate into the world we live in, is celebrated in many different kinds of ways; one being that we become concerned about choosing just the right gifts to give to some of the special people in our lives. The full meaning of this practice can sometimes get lost in the activities of the season.

We must continually remind ourselves to be thankful for the first gift-giver, as Paul points out to us, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2nd Corinthians 9:15, King James translation). Have you ever received a gift that was beyond description? Just what kind of gift would it have to be to be called indescribable? Would it be a gift you open and say, “this is beautiful, something I’ve wanted all my life, what is it?” Or how about a gift given to you by someone special, carrying a lot of feelings and emotions with it?

The apostle Peter helps us better understand the importance of yielding our lives here to follow the path taught by Jesus Christ, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1st Peter 1:8 KJV). We are all in this year of uncertain times together, and may we all personally find this “unspeakable joy in the Lord.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ is describable and yet he is beyond human description. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” In these eight words, scripture captures our attention, to a word that cannot be expressed in mere words. When we search the scripture diligently, we find thousands of words describing characteristics of Jesus Christ, but the truth is that the more we learn of and about Jesus, we discover that the full knowledge, depth, width and height of Jesus nature, character, eternal existence, etc., always leaves us with more to learn.

When we believe on Jesus as scripture directs us, we quickly learn that this indescribable gift God has given, is God himself; that Jesus is man, Jesus is Savior, Jesus is the good news, and that even if God somehow would give us life for hundreds of years on this planet, we will still have an eternity to continue learning just how unspeakable this gift is.

This Jesus will bring us to God through the sacrifice of himself, and secure for us forgiveness of all our sins; for all eternity. Christmas is past, but it is not too late to open the gift.

 

Posted in From the PulpitComments (0)

Where often is heard an encouraging word


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in From the PulpitComments (0)

Approaching Easter 2016


By Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church, 2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is risen! Indeed!

Posted in From the PulpitComments (0)

The Love of God 


Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

 

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

“What difference does my life make?”

“Does anybody really know or care about me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choose your God wisely!

Posted in From the PulpitComments (0)


advert
Advertising Rates Brochure
Kent Theatre

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