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Tag Archive | "Pastor Richard Nichols"

Shine, Jesus, shine!

Pastor Richard Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta

In the serenity of David’s beloved 23rd Psalm, verse 4 presents us with a passage of confidence, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 King James translation). The “valley of the shadow of death,” pictures a journey that every person will experience at the end of our lives, though it is not the only shadow we encounter in life.

We think of a shadow as something dark, made by an object coming between us and the light. It is an intercepting or cutting off of brightness. God created night to be a shadow made by the earth coming between us and the sun; a welcome phenomenon that though darkness comes, there is a benefit equally welcoming as we see the stars in the heaven that we couldn’t see during daylight.  

Every person we come into contact with also casts a shadow, some which make the world darker for us, while others, despite their shadow, seem to make our life brighter, as if light can pass right through them to actually cheer us up when we’re down, giving sunshine or radiance where and when it helps the most. Each of us casts a shadow of our own as we make our way through life. It reflects influences and choices we make and affects those around us. I like to call it our realm of influence. 

Some seem to make the world darker as their shadow falls on others, seeming to believe their gloominess to be uplifting, indifferently spreading or magnifying the darkness, doing nothing to lighten the lives of others and in effect adding more darkness in lives that already have more than enough. It isn’t only the shadow of death that brings about darkness in life, there is the shadow of sickness, broken relationships, catastrophes that bring in darkness of what the future holds and losses in finances, health, etc.

We are created in the image of God, and in our own ways we sometimes experience days, weeks or more that are much like what was here originally. We read In Geneses 1:2 KJV, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” 

The question I ask myself and others is, “what kind of shadow do we cast?” What is the effect of our presence on other people? Is it cheerfulness, gladness, hope, kindness or some other encouraging character trait? As people who know us see our shadow, does the presence of Christ’s goodness shine through, so that their life can be better as they can see the hope that is in us regarding our future? 

Knowing Jesus as our Savior should not be kept to ourselves. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, KJV).  

Shine, Jesus, shine!

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God moves in a mysterious way

Pastor Richard Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Road NE, Sparta


Recently I was in a conversation with someone who asked, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” Most of us have heard that question in some form, or we may have even asked it ourselves at some time. There is no single response for everyone, but the one I particularly favor is, “A person must know God themselves in order to understand the answer.” For myself, only when I became a Christian, did I understand that the better question for me is, “Why does a holy God provide a way for sinners like me to enter his heaven?”  

The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6, NIV).  Isaiah tells us how to seek God: “while he may be found and while he is near;” implying there may be a time when God may not be found or near. So, when is the time he can be found and near? Right now, today.

There is a timeless truth in the first verse of a hymn written by William Cowper in 1774, “God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform; he plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.” This is not citing a bible verse, but it is based on what we read in scripture, “God moves in mysterious ways.”                                                                                                                                          

Yes, having said that, you still can know him. He makes himself knowable to those who seek him in their lives. As good as that may sound, the even better news is that the God of the universe knows you personally and the fact that we can talk to God is absolutely amazing.    

This passage from Isaiah has become more dear to me over the years, as there was a time when I was living my life apart from God. Some people can’t find God in the same way a criminal can’t find a policeman, because they aren’t looking for him. Knowing God is just like knowing anyone else, I learned that I had to spend time with him, to be still and listen, to study his word, spend time in prayer and go to church. 

Of course, we need to know that God is so great that we will never fully understand him. Although we can and should know God, we cannot know everything about him. That may seem strange, but for those who are married, you surely know your spouse, but you don’t know everything about them. In our marriage of over 50 years, we are still being surprised from time to time with each other’s thoughts or actions.   

Inside all of us there is a longing to fill our lives with purpose and meaning. We can chase what the world offers, but our own pursuits always fall short.  Isaiah the prophet gives us this wisdom, “Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel” (Isaiah 45:15, NIV).  God brings us a kind of Savior we never would have expected, one who sympathizes with us in our weakness, while he works through our triumphs and tragedies.    

The word mysterious means “difficult … to understand, explain, or identify.” Based on this definition, God’s ways become both mysterious and not mysterious to us in some ways, and the Bible clearly explains how. God truly moves in mysterious ways; get to know him more today.

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Laura Smith age 87 of Sand Lake passed away December 22, 2017 at Spectrum Health Butterworth Campus. She was born May 6, 1930 in Courtland Township the daughter of Albert and Grace (Stewart) Becker.  During her working years she worked as a seamstress as well as working in a factory for several years. She enjoyed sewing, plastic canvas, crafts, camping, fishing, gardening and swinging on the swing in the front yard. Surviving are her children, Dan (Jane) Smith of Pierson, Margaret Merritt of Sand Lake, Sandra (Harold – Trez) McConnell of Sparta, Edward (Karin) Smith Jr. of Ohio, Randy (Roxie) Smith of Texas, John (Cheryl) Smith of Sand Lake, Lori (Scott) Wesche of Howard City; 16 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren; one sister, Martha Parker; one brother, Kenneth Becker; a sister-in-law Dorothy Briggs; several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Edward, and seven brothers and sisters. The family greeted friends on Wednesday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. and prior to services on Thursday. Funeral services will take place on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at the Heckman Funeral Home in Howard City with Pastor Richard Nichols officiating with burial in the Pierson Cemetery. Luncheon at 12 noon to 2 pm at the Sand Lake VFW. In lieu of flowers gift donations can be made in Laura’s honor at Howard City Action Center, 132 E. Edgerton, Howard City, MI 49329.

Arrangements by Heckman Funeral Home, Howard City

Posted in ObituaryComments Off on LAURA SMITH

Ray Winnie
Intandem Credit Union


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