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Tag Archive | "Pilgrim Bible Church"

Choosing to rejoice in difficult circumstances


Pilgrim-BibleRev. Mike Shiery

Pastor: Pilgrim Bible Church

West Pine Street • Cedar Springs • 696-1021

 

Given a choice, I’m sure that almost everybody would prefer the moments in life where everything seems placid and calm. Those days when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all seems right with the world. The cheerful words of the old song come to mind:

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Zip-a-dee-a, My oh my what a wonderful day. 

Unfortunately, reality is that many times our days aren’t like that at all. Perhaps it’s a marriage that has dissolved from a dream to a nightmare. Or it could be a child that has deeply disappointed us, a family member that is terminally ill, the loss of a job and financial security, or any other number of possibilities that haunt the corridors of our mind and threaten our peace and joy.

How are we supposed to handle events like these? The human instinct is to complain, gripe, and even grow bitter. God’s Word gives us a drastically different conclusion.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” (James 1:2) (NKJV)

When trials hit, count it all joy because you can discover the power of prayer. We are not talking about little ritualistic prayers that are little more than words uttered as mere form. This kind of prayer comes from the depth of who we are and shows a desperation. We instinctively understand at moments like these, that we are not infallible or invincible, and that we really do need help from God. The beautiful part of prayers like these is that God promised us:

“Call to Me, and I will answer you.” (Jeremiah 33:3) (NKJV)

Understand that inherent in that promise is the understanding that we must be surrendered to the will of God. Also, we must realize that His answer may not be what we expect, but He does all things well.

When trials hit, count it all joy because you can gain an unshakable faith in God. True, mature, and deep faith is formed not in the calm and peaceful sunshine, but in the howling winds amid the dark night of the soul! Faith in our fellow humans if often found to be a let down, but faith in God results in more faith as we find Him to be absolutely trustworthy. You can trust the character of God!

When trials hit, count it all joy because you can discover the real values of life. Two years ago, I sat in an oncologists office and listened in stunned disbelief as my father was informed that he was now a cancer patient. It truly seemed that the life of our family had been turned upside down for the worse!

I’ve learned to hate the word cancer with a new passion since then. As a family, we’ve run the gauntlet of that disease together. We’ve uttered impassioned prayers, shed gallons of tears, faced the uncertainty of surgery, waited with bated breath for every test result, and stared into the darkness hoping this was all a bad dream.

We’ve also discovered that God is faithful, His grace is sufficient, and that a vibrant relationship with Him is the most important thing in life. We’ve learned to cherish every moment together as a family, spent a lot of time reminiscing about our favorite family memories, made some good new memories, and determined that we’re in this together on this side of eternity and that we’re resolved (by God’s grace) to someday stand on Heaven’s shore together as a family. We’re learning to live with eternity’s values in view. It’s not been easy, but we’re finding out that you can face a trial head on and still be joyful.

 

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Time


Pilgrim-BibleRev. Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

 

As I write these words 2013 is rapidly slipping away and soon 2014 will become reality. I’m sure that many of you share with me a sense of astonishment at how quickly time passes. It seems like just yesterday that we were ushering in 2013 and here we are bidding the year adieu. It is a good time to stop and reevaluate the priority of handling time in the light of God’s Word.

God has given each of us the same amount of time each day. We each have 24 hours. Each hour has 60 minutes. Each minute has 60 seconds. We are the arbiter of our time. We have the ability to invest or squander this precious gift as we see fit. Moses, in Psalm 90, makes some interesting observations about time that we would do well to consider.

First of all, we need to recognize the time.

“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10) (NKJV)

According to the Bible, the average life span is 70 years. In America, with our advanced medical technology, that average is somewhat higher. In the grand scheme of things compared to eternity, our lifespan is brief. Even though we know this to be true, multitudes live daily as if this life will never end. It would be prudent for us to recognize the time we have been given is precious and never to be regained. We will only live this life one time. As best-selling author Randy Alcorn has written: “Life is merely the lobby to eternity.” Our time on this earth is not about toys, trinkets, and treasures but rather about investing in eternal dividends.

Secondly, we need to redeem the time.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) (NKJV)

Moses recognized the need for the proper use of time. Our time should be used to acknowledge the brevity of time and the need to use our time wisely. One of the tragedies of our days is that so many people live on a shallow spiritual, intellectual and moral plane. Rather than feeding their soul, mind and spirit on stimulating and uplifting books, music, and conversation, they are wasting vast amounts of time on social media, gaming, superficial reality shows, sports fanaticism, and other assorted drivel of pop culture. I challenge you to make a conscious effort this year to limit the wasting of time and instead to make strong efforts to use that time wisely and build up your spiritual walk with God, your personal knowledge of important wisdom, and your relationship with your family.

Thirdly, we need to rejoice through time.

“Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Psalm 90:14) (NKJV)

The sooner we find the mercy of God in Christ, and are satisfied with that mercy all our days, the happier we will be! The word “mercy” here refers to God’s love. That love has been extended to all of us. When we choose to accept that love and reciprocate that love with devotion and service, we will find that we can rejoice even when life presses in on us. As the world around us becomes more chaotic, choose to recognize the time, redeem the time, and yes, even rejoice through time. I wish all of you a blessed and happy new year.

 

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Christian school changes name


“Welcome to Cedar Christian Academy.” Those will be the words students will hear as they open the school year on August 19. The surroundings will be familiar, but the name will be different. After decades of operating as Pilgrim Bible Academy, the school board recently voted to change the name to Cedar Christian Academy.
The school, which operates under the auspices of Pilgrim Bible Church, at 361 Pine Street, in Cedar Springs, has served families desiring Christian education for their children since 1973. In recent discussions, the board felt that the time was right to change the name of the school.
“We fell strongly that there is a great need for Christian education that will instill Biblical principles and good moral values, along with quality learning in today’s students,” said Mike Shiery, pastor of Pilgrim Bible Church. “We believe there are numerous families in our community who would like to provide a Christian education for their children but really don’t know where to start. Our staff would like to have the opportunity to assist them in making their dream a reality.”
Rev. Shiery explained the reason behind the name change. “Our board felt that the name ‘Pilgrim Bible Church’ could be construed as somewhat exclusive. Some people might get the idea that only children who attended Pilgrim Bible Church could attend the academy. We want to make it clear that we are interested in ministering to the whole community of Cedar Springs, not just a select few.”
Cedar Christian Academy is located on the grounds of Pilgrim Bible Church at 361 Pine St. If you are interested in more information about the academy or enrolling your children for the upcoming school year, you can contact the school at (616) 696-1021.

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Finding Peace in Strange Places


Rev. Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

 

As I progress through my earthly journey, I find a particular word and concept becoming more precious to me. Peace is such a beautiful word, and when it is a reality it is to be carefully cherished and guarded. Peace, whether it is spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, financial or any other way you choose to define it, is the cry of multitudes of people.

Many of us have our own pre-conceived ideas of what peace is, and we labor valiantly to make it a reality in our world. We feel that we have to have a certain set of ideals, which if met, will create a temporal peace which will satisfy this longing. It could be, that by doing so, we are basically putting God and His plan for our life in a box and missing the peace He is currently offering us.

Just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) (NKJV)

Our Lord knew that in a very short time these disciples would feel discouraged, disillusioned, and defeated. He was well aware that their world was about to be turned upside down and yet He promised that His peace would be with them. To some of Christ’s followers, peace was the overthrow of the Roman oppressors with some of them in key government positions and Jesus always around to provide a miracle if the need arose. They were about to learn that peace was not necessarily an idyllic existence, but rather a relying on the character and goodness of God to oversee their lives in unpleasant circumstances. I believe that same lesson applies to many people today.

The story is told of an art gallery that sponsored a contest years ago. A substantial financial prize was offered to whoever would paint a picture that best portrayed the concept of peace.

On the day of the judging the gallery was packed with curious spectators. By popular acclaim one particular picture was expected to take first place. The painting portrayed a little boy romping with his dog in a grassy meadow. The sun was shining, the little boy was smiling, and the dog looked content. To the minds of those gathered at the exhibit it was no contest, this surely had to win first place.

To everyone’s shock and consternation, however, the judges placed the coveted blue ribbon on what appeared to be a dark and foreboding painting. The artist had pictured on the canvas a rocky little island in the midst of a vast body of water. Dark storm clouds hovered above the craggy mass of land.  Lightning streaked the ominous darkness and violent waves beat upon the jutting rocks. It was a scene of desolation and despair.

Curious and even a bit put out, the crowd began to shout questions and comments to the judges. “How could you possibly award first place to a picture like this? Have you lost your minds? This is not peace, this is chaos!”

It was then that one of the judges walked over to the canvas and pointed to a small opening in the rocks that the crowd had overlooked. The artist had painted inside that small opening, the figure of a mother bird with her wings outstretched over her little brood of babies. In the midst of the storm, they were safe and content. The judge announced with a smile, “Ladies and gentlemen, that is peace!”

Friends, in a world that seemingly has gone mad, in circumstances that make no sense to us, the promise of Jesus to His disciples extends to all who know Him as Savior today. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.”

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What God was saying at the cross


Rev. Mike Shiery

Pilgrim Bible Church

261 Pine St., Cedar Springs, MI 49319

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8 (NKJV)

As we come into the Easter season, we are again brought up short at the sight and story of the Cross. It is a story that is simultaneously gory and glorious. The evidence of the depravity of mortal man that would impale the innocent Son of God on a wooden crossbeam is not only matched but overwhelmed by the evidence that Jesus loved sinful humanity enough to volunteer to sacrifice Himself for us.

The Cross is God’s vivid illustrations of His love for us. Knowing that the majority of humanity would reject His gift of love, He still chose to send His only begotten Son to pay the price for our sin. The story simply overwhelms us. It is almost more than our finite minds can grasp, because it is so opposite of what most people would do. We despise the people who have despised us, and turn on those who have misused or mistreated us. But Jesus, while suffering untold agonies on the cross, offered no recriminations for His torturers. Instead He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:24) (NKJV)

No wonder men, women, boys and girls down through the last two thousand years have been changed by hearing of this love, or that an Italian painter named Francetti is said never to have completed a painting of Christ on the cross because every time he tried to paint it he wept so hard he could not put his brush to the canvas.

On  March 15, 1985, Mr. Wayne Alderson appeared on the Today Show. It was the 40th anniversary of Mr. Alderson’s being wounded as the first American soldier to cross the Siegfried line into Germany in World War II. He had a permanent crease in his head from the wound. Asked for his most important memory of the occasion, Mr Alderson replied that it was a friend who saved his life that day. Alderson had come face to face with a German soldier. The German threw a grenade at Alderson’s feet, and Alderson shot the German. The grenade exploded almost instantly, sending Alderson to the ground, face down in the mud. A nearby German pillbox opened fire in his direction, and he knew that if that grenade had not killed him the machine gun fire would. But his friend turned him over, so he could breathe, and threw himself across his body, shielding him from the deadly fire. “I can never forget the person who sacrificed his life to save me,” said Mr. Alderson, tears in his eyed. “I owe everything to him.”

Friends, we can never forget what Jesus did for us on the cross. We owe everything to Him. If you have never thanked Him, if you have never asked Him to come into your heart, there is no better time than now.

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Christmas Carries Over


Pilgrim Bible Church
West Pine St., Cedar Springs
Rev. Mike Shiery

Each Christmas we read again the stories of the birth of Jesus and the visits of the shepherds and wise men to His birthplace. These stories come with all the old charm, and their message thrills us again because of its wonder and meaning. I confess that the powerful truth of Christmas, that God loved each individual enough to give us all the Gift that we didn’t deserve, stirs and thrills me to the depths of my being.
I love the majestic simplicity of the Christmas story, as well as the lights, decorations, traditions, family time, feeling of good will, and even the snow and cold weather. One songwriter poignantly expressed the feelings of many people when he wrote: “If everyday could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be.”
Of course we know that Christmas Day will soon be past, the carols will no longer be sung, and the decorations will be packed and stored away for months to come. However, the spirit of Christmas does not need to be relegated to some box in the closet, but can forever impact us.
I believe that the road map for such living can be found in the story of the shepherds and the wise men. The Bible tells us that after the shepherds had been to the stable, they “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.”
Then after the wise men had worshiped the babe, they returned home by a different route from that which they had previously traveled.
The thought that I would like us to consider is that the experience of the shepherds and of the wise men carried over in our lives. It wasn’t the experience of a day or an hour. It was an experience that would enrich their lives ever afterward.
It is the experiences which carry over that make life wonderful and beautiful and rich. Sometimes they are rather simple happenings; a boy will remember all his life the touchdown he made in an unimportant game; a girl will receive a school honor which brings pleasure all her life. Of course, there will also be outstanding events that carry over.
It is possible for us to have experiences this Christmas season which will carry over and give beauty and richness and meaning to our lives long after this Christmas is past.
I encourage you to make good memories, cherish family time, enjoy traditions, and revel in the joy of the Christmas season. But most of all, make the foundation of your Christmas experience a relationship with Jesus Christ. After all, He truly is the reason for the season.

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