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Tag Archive | "Pastor Ryan Black"

Contentment and happiness


Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Man is always searching for that which promises happiness, but rarely finds it because he looks to the world for things to make him happy. So where can true happiness be found? Our unhappiness is not due to our lack of a fortune or high position or fame. It is due not to a lack of something outside of us, but to a lack of something inside us. We were made for perfect happiness. No wonder everything short of God disappoints us.

One of the most satisfying things to our souls is having contentment with God. The desire for perfect happiness, for contentment was placed in our hearts at the moment of our conception. We all have that desire to draw us to Him for every need we have. Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition. It is the inward submission of the heart. While this is one of the most satisfying aspects in our lives, it can sometimes be difficult to find and maintain.  

We must learn to walk by faith, not by sight. We are given the privilege of the peace and contentment consistent with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is by grace alone we are permitted such a blessed, divine gift. Freely instilled in the faithful by our Lord, we are able to stand firm in our beliefs, and have unwavering trust in God even through winds of adversity as they attempt to topple us in great storms.

It is important that we grow in contentment, giving God the credit for all He has bestowed on us and our loved ones. To obtain true contentment, we need to open our hearts, minds and souls to God. We need to allow Him to grace us with what we need and be grateful for it. Also, we need to find our consolation in the love and mercy of Christ. Only then, will we be truly content. True contentment brings with it a sense of freedom from the prison of want. True contentment also creates an attitude of well-being, and peace in our inner lives. Be free, grateful and at peace—be truly content! (Philippians 4:10-13, see below)  

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Self love


Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

While it is a great good to seek self-sacrifice and self-denial in our relationship with God and others, we also want to be weary of demeaning ourselves to the point of self-hatred. While we are called to be lowly in Spirit (Proverb 16:19) and to lay down any self-pride, we must also be careful not to demean our own selves. We must recognize and embrace the value given to us by our Father who made us good.

In the Bible, Paul illustrates the idea of not despising ourselves but the flaws and effects of our brokenness. (Romans 7:14,15, 20, 24, 25).  In this way, Paul shows us how to apply to ourselves the saying, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” He then goes on to share that even with the guilt of doing what we hate, we still preserve great value as children of God. “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God…and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14, 17).

We cannot hate what God loves, whether this refers to others around us or ourselves. We need to hinge on God’s love for us to overcome the temptation of self-hatred. God loves us, and sent his son Jesus on the cross to prove it. The whole gospel message is built on His love for us. This love should remind us of our true value as humans. When we keep in mind our worth, it helps us to love ourselves in the balanced way that we are meant to.

We should not misunderstand this love with the modern day notion of self-esteem, which is simply an artificial “good feeling” about oneself. This balanced love of self is not feeling good about the nice things we can do. This is a love of self in which we seek the true good for ourselves, forgiving ourselves when we fail, and accepting ourselves totally with all of our talents and weaknesses, realizing that we are not perfect, but we are also not hopeless. Remember, God told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. How can we do that if we do not have respect for ourselves? We are created in His image in which we find our identity. That would indicate a whole lot of worth.

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Spring cleaning


Cedar-Christian-Church

Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Do you feel like your soul could use a good renewal or cleanse? Each spring arrives in God’s perfect timing and this year is no different. This stretch of the year tends to lead us into “spring cleaning” mode. The thoughts to restore a crisp, clean feel to all surfaces, purging or refurbishing the old and embracing the new. This unexplainable urgency to scrub and declutter every nook and cranny encourages a new spirit of energy. We actually collect enjoyment in breaking out the mops, brooms and dusters. We get a rush from organizing and cleaning out. Imagine if we applied this ambition and excitement to renewing our spiritual life this spring season.

How are some ways to bring forth this renewal of our spirit? Nothing will restore your soul like time with God. Find a place where you can have quiet and calm. No distractions, no time limits, no pre-planned structure, no agenda—just be with Him.

Another way to help your renewal is while you’re with God you might as well put everything you’re carrying into His hands, including yourself! He already knows about it all. You’re not hiding anything from Him. Nothing you’re feeling or thinking will surprise Him, and He invites you to cast it all upon Him—so go for it! (1 Peter 5:7)

Meditation of biblical principles is an excellent way to bring in renewal. Choose a passage, a promise, or a verse and just rest upon it. Chew on it slowly and let it sink deep. Find a place to jot down some reflections. What you meditate upon has much to do with your attitudes and actions (Psalm 1:2). Meditating on scripture is great, however, you can also try reading an inspiring book constructed with faith-based principles. Make sure it connects to some practical aspect of your life (Proverbs 25:11).

Serving or meeting the needs of another is an exceptional step towards great renewal. This could be your spouse, your kids, your neighbor, a church member, or a local business owner. There’s something really refreshing about choosing to perform an act of kindness “just because.”

A final way to bring forth a renewal in the spirit would be to try spending time with someone you love. This could be your spouse, your family, or a good friend. Right relationships are energizing. They have a restoring and renewing quality. Go ahead and spend yourself for others, but be sure you carve out time to be with those who strengthen you in the Lord as well (Proverbs 17:17).

This spring, let’s spend a little quiet time with God, maybe even while we’re dusting, mopping and decluttering. These are just a few things we can apply to our lives to help us grow and renew our relationship with God. When we engage in biblical, renewing activities then it’s only a matter of time before God breathes new strength into our spiritual life. Patiently enjoy His presence as He renews your strength (Isaiah 40:31).

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From the Pulpit: Pastor Ryan Black


Cast your cares on the Lord

Are many of your life activities worrisome? I believe the most obvious answer is yes! God recognizes and understands this hardship, which is why He tells us to “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). Even many in the medical field would agree that “An anxious heart weighs a man down” (Proverbs 12:25).

If we look at the Bible, Christ speaks to us about letting our fears and uncertainties govern our lives. This is captured through a moment in the Gospel of Luke 10:38-42:

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” 

Don’t you think we can easily sympathize with Martha? At one time or another, we are like Martha overwhelmed by all the activities of our lives. We find ourselves trying to do what everyone else expects. We are going in many directions and then we become irritable, resentful and angry.

Christ’s gentle rebuke was for anxiety and distraction. We have no need to be anxious when we can go to the throne room of heaven and simply ask Him. Worrisome issues can lead to a separation from our spiritual life. God encourages us to balance our activities by adding prayer and Scripture with serving others. Surprisingly, when we add balance to our lives foolish anxiety vanishes. We don’t have to worry because we can simply let God know our needs. God does not want us wringing our hands with worry over things in this life.

Next time you find your day driving you crazy, give yourself a break. Take a deep breath and remember Our Lord’s rebuke and meditate on it.

Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

304 Pine St. Cedar Springs, MI

 

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Humility


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

Throughout the history of mankind, pride and boastfulness has attached itself to the brashness of men. Most of us are likely guilty of this to some degree. Consequently, God tells us to turn away from this notion and seek to humble one’s self. Humility is what God desires as it acts as an opposite of pride. Humility does not mean thinking badly of yourself, or trying to hide your accomplishments. If you know a person who boasts and brags about his successes, or acts as if he were better than other people, you already have a view of what you should not do. No one wants to be around a person like this. In contrast, the person who is humble gives credit where it is due.

The Christian who practices humility begins by acknowledging God as the source of all that is good in their life.  If he gains a success, he knows he would not have accomplished it without God. When you experience something positive, be aware that God is the source of the wonderful blessing. Your awareness of God extends to knowing he would not even exist otherwise. A humble person will defer glory and credit to God, not boasting in his own self.

Humility extends to hard events in life, too. When you experience a loss or a difficulty, these are also times to acknowledge God. The strength and courage to continue during hard times come from knowing there is a reason for your faith. Knowing God will not let you down or leave you results in faith based on humility. When pressing on is something you know you cannot do alone, all you need to do is acknowledge God as the source of your strength.

To acknowledge God working all things for our good is one part of humility. Another part is to be thankful. Learning to be thankful is a good place to start in regard to humility. While it may seem easy to thank God for his gifts when you are going through a difficult time or experiencing something very positive, humility requires consistent gratitude. If you start by thanking God for your life and every new day, being humble will become natural for you. Pride will eventually give way to humility. It may not happen overnight. It may have to follow a painful process, because pride can be very, very stubborn. Like an embedded splinter deep in the flesh of your foot, it is hard to remove. You cannot remove it alone, and there is constant throbbing and pain until it is extracted. This is the plight of pride. Pain and suffering are its cohorts. Pride provides a false sense of security.

Humble yourself, and trust God to humble others. It is easy to recognize pride in others while it is still looming in your spirit. Run from spiritual pride. It is the worst kind. It is insidious. It is self-righteousness in nature, and it chokes the Holy Spirit. Humility grows in an environment of honesty, openness, prayer, and change. Be a change agent on behalf of the humble. Humble pride!

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A Giving Heart


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Christmas is quickly approaching and for many it is a celebration where family and friends spend time together as they recognize the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This time of year we are reminded of those in need and who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is wonderful that we have concern of those people in need, however, we often times become satisfied with solely having sincere thoughts or sharing kind words. While these are good things, we often fail to fulfill any actual giving or physical assistance to those same individuals. The Bible describes this very concept in James 2:15-16.

When we think of being selfish or greedy, we tend to think of mean spirited people who are engrossed in themselves and their needs and not of the needs of others. While there are people in this world who exhibit this Scrooge-type personality, the truth is, all of us demonstrate some greed and have self-centered tendencies. This tendency can get in the way of our willingness to give or to help those in need. The Bible tells us the importance of helping others throughout the scriptures including Proverbs 21:13, Proverbs 28:27 and in the parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37).

Why is God so concerned about us giving to and helping others? God tells us in Genesis 1:27:So God created man in His own image. This indicates that we are to be like God and to take on His traits. To be like God is to give. Our God is a giver and that’s apparent in the scriptures.  However, the most important thing God gave came around 2,000 years ago. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Bible also tells us to be Christ-like (Philippians 2:1-3). When we read the Gospels, you will see Christ consistently helping those in need. Therefore, God wants us to give in order that we may be like Him. The Bible tells us that a “giving spirit” cannot be forced; it is something that must come from the heart and should be an enjoyable act from within (2 Corinthians 9:7).

This time of year we are reminded to give to those in need. The concept of giving should not just be contemplated around Christmas. It should continue throughout our entire life, in order that a Giving Spirit may take over. When we become focused on being a Giver instead of a Receiver, it will change our life forever. Giving is something God intended for us to do to others just as He does for us when we face adversity. The Bible tells us that if we give like Him, we will be blessed for it (Proverbs 22:9).

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