Come invest a couple of hours on THIS Saturday, April 26, from 10am to noon. It would be helpful if you can let us know ahead of time if you will be joining with us, but you can just join us by the Cedar Springs fire station at 10am.
If you missed the Easter message in our series God’s Favorite Place On Earth, here’s a recap from our pastor’s blog.
Scientists tell us that the sense of smell contributes to more vivid and clear memory recall than any of the other human senses. Have you ever thought about the things Jesus smelled? Or about the memories others recalled about Jesus because of the way He smelled?
Less than a week before His crucifixion, Mary anointed Jesus with a highly-scented spice called spikenard (see John 12:1-8; Mark 14:3-9; and Matthew 26:6-13). Let me rephrase that: Mary didn’t just “anoint” Jesus as we think about that word today, she doused Him in a lifetime supply of this fragrance. Some people complained, but Jesus told those sour people that it was absolutely beautiful what she had done, as Jesus carried this aroma with Him to the Cross.
After He died on the Cross, Joseph and Nicodemus prepared Jesus for burial with 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes (see John 19:38-40). Think about that: seventy-five pounds! In doing so they actually fulfilled a prophesy from the Old Testament about King Jesus’ triumphal return to life—
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has set You above Your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy. All Your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia… (Psalm 45:6-8).
Jesus carried a powerful aroma with Him all the way to the Cross, into the tomb, and when He burst forth alive from the tomb!
Without Christ, our lives carry the stench of death. We cannot come into our Heavenly Father’s presence because of that putrid smell clinging to us. But when God forgives us of our sins as we place our faith in Jesus, we are wrapped in the robes of Christ: we smell like Him and are welcomed into the Father’s presence.
Easter is a reminder of how a forgiven Christian should now live—
Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God (Ephesians 5:2).
…Now [God] uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God… (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).
How do you smell? Do you smell like Jesus? Are others attracted to the aroma of Christ because of what they smell in you? Smelling good honors the work Jesus did on the Cross and in overcoming the grave.
If you missed part 3 in our series God’s Favorite Place On Earth, here is a recap from our pastor’s blog.
Did you know among Americans the fear of death is only #2 on the list? Yep, 68% of people list this as their top fear. What could be more fearful than death?! Believe it or not, the #1 fear—listed by 74% of people—is public speaking! (Followed in a distant third place by the fear of spiders by only 30% of people).
Why would people fear speaking more than death? Maybe because they don’t think they have anything to say.
But if you almost died, or had a near-death experience, or even temporarily crossed over to the other side, don’t you think you’d have a story to tell? And don’t you think lots of people would want to hear your story? And wouldn’t you want to tell it to as many people as you could?
In other words, if you could stare down death and come back from the brink, you would not only overcome your fear of death, but your fear of public speaking too!
In John 11 there is the story of a man who not only had a near-death experience, but he actually died. In fact, he was dead for over four days! Lazarus was a part of a family that loved Jesus, and the Bible says that Jesus loved them dearly too.
Prior to this account of Lazarus’ death, there is no mention in Scripture of him speaking at all. He was clearly one who suffered from the fear of public speaking, and quite possibly the fear of death too. But after Jesus raised him from the dead, the Bible says large crowds came to Lazarus’ hometown of Bethany to hear his amazing back-from-the-dead story. And not only that, they began to put their faith in Jesus because of his story! (see John 12:9-11).
We have a back-from-the-dead story to tell too. All of us have sinned against God (Romans 3:23), and because of that we are under a death sentence for our sins (Romans 6:23). But when we put our faith in what Jesus did on the Cross for us, and we ask God to forgive us of our sins, we have been brought back to life!
We have looked death square in the eyes and laughed!
Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
Now our darkest valleys—even our valleys of death—have no fear for us. The Lord is our Shepherd … His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives AND we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
Not only should you not fear death, you shouldn’t fear public speaking. If you have been forgiven of your sins, you have a back-from-the-dead story to tell.
People need to hear your story! Why? Because they’re scared of death! So tell them about the love of a Savior that rescued you from death.
We invite you to join us next Sunday as we continue to celebrate Jesus Christ’s victory over death on Easter morning!
If you missed part 2 in our series God’s Favorite Place On Earth here is a recap from our pastor’s blog.
Martha has gotten a bad rap throughout history. So many people jump on her for buzzing around her home trying to make sure Jesus, His disciples, and all of the other guests were taken care of. She was attempting to be a good hostess.
But let’s read her story again carefully (see Luke 10:38-42). Notice first of all that Martha “opened her home” to Jesus. She took the responsibility for making sure Jesus felt welcomed in her home.
Next notice how Jesus addressed Martha. He said “Martha, Martha.” There are no unnecessary words in the Scripture, so His repeating her name is significant. Jesus alone speaks like this in all of the New Testament: only He repeats someone’s name to make sure He has their undivided attention—
- Simon, Simon (Luke 22:31) when warning him that satan is after him.
- Jerusalem, Jerusalem (Luke 13:34) to the people who could be helped by Him.
- My God, My God (Matthew 27:46) to His Father from the Cross.
- Saul, Saul (Acts 9:4) to the young zealot who was persecuting Christ.
Jesus was not scolding Martha, but He was trying to get her attention. Jesus told her she was “worried and upset about many things.” By contrast Mary was focused on one thing: soaking up Christ’s words. It’s hard to be hospitable when you’re doing it in your own strength. It’s hard to be a healer when you need healing yourself.
In an amazing turnaround, Jesus became the Host. He wanted Martha to see that having a relationship with Him is THE priority. Everything else flows from that.
It’s not coincidental that both hospitality and hospital come from the same root word meaning a place of healing.
You are HEALED when you make Christ at home in your heart.
You are a HEALER when your heart makes others feel at home.
This is the essence of being God-oriented and then people-focused. This is when YOU can be a healed healer!
Think about this: What does it mean to you to make Jesus at home in your heart? What’s stopping you from receiving His healing today? It’s only after you’ve been healed that you can bring healing to others.
Please join us this Sunday as we continue this amazing series.
If you missed part 1 in our new series God’s Favorite Place On Earth, here is a recap from our pastor’s blog.
You can spin it around, roll it down the stairs, throw it high in the air, and still it isn’t phased one bit. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving fast or slow, if you’re at high altitudes or in Death Valley, it still works. The needle of the compass always points north.
It can’t help it: it is naturally oriented to the north pole. Whether it’s pitch-black outside, or 40 degrees below zero; whether you feel like north is “north” or not, the needle will always point its way back to north.
Jesus could be cheered by the crowds or jeered by them. People could shout “Hosanna!” or “Crucify Him!” The weather could be calm or stormy, His disciples could be courageous or scared to death, and still Jesus was oriented to His Father.
Every word Jesus said, every action He undertook, every lesson He taught, every prayer He prayed was God-oriented.
But not only that, even as much as people ridiculed Him, snubbed Him, rejected Him, or denied Him, Jesus was still people-focused. After being so cruelly treated, I think I may have turned from some people, or even turned on some people with some not-so-kind words. I may have even begun to withdraw from people. But despite the way people mistreated Him, Jesus remained lovingly people-focused (see 1 Peter 2:21-23).
When asked what the greatest of all the commandments was, Jesus replied that it was to be God-focused and people-oriented—
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
So a good check-up question for us all: How am I doing at being God-oriented and people-focused, no matter what the circumstances are?
“God doesn’t have favorites. Everyone and everyplace is His favorite.” Do you think that’s true? If God had a favorite place on earth, where do you think that would be? What about the favorite place for Jesus during His earthly ministry? Was it maybe the nation of Israel? The city of Jerusalem?
Jesus did have a favorite place while He was on earth, and what He did there has major implications for all of us today!
The title of this series is taken from a book Frank Viola wrote (you can read Pastor Craig’s review of this book by clicking here). In an email correspondence, Frank told Pastor that this book was the most critical of all his works to date, and Pastor totally agreed! So we’re going to use this book as our guide to visit God’s favorite place on earth and let the pages of Scripture speak to us in a new and exciting way.
We are so excited to get started! Will you please join us this Sunday at 10:30am.
This Sunday we will be honoring Sanctity of Human Life Month. This post is from our pastor’s blog.
“As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.” —David, in 1 Samuel 26:24
This is as strong of a pro-life statement as any in the Bible!
The Hebrew word for value in this verse means…
- to grow up
- to become great or important
- to do great things
Throughout the Old Testament this word is used to describe people growing from a small, infantile state to a place of maturity and prominence.
David held King Saul’s life in his hand. Since Saul was hell-bent on messing up David’s life (even killing him, if he could), we could say that David had plenty of rationale to justify ending Saul’s life. But David would not touch Saul because he recognized Saul’s God-given human dignity.
David asked God to value his life in the same way that David valued Saul’s life. Even Saul himself affirmed this when he said, “May you be blessed, my son David; you will do great things and surely triumph” (v. 25).
What if God only valued your life as much as you valued others’ lives?
What if God only spoke up for you as much as you spoke up for the not-yet-born?
What if God only blessed you as much as you blessed the aged and disabled?
How much would your life be blessed by God?
Something to think about as we celebrate Sanctity of Human Life month. We will be honoring Sanctity of Human Life Sunday this week by bringing our donations for Alpha Family Center of Cedar Springs. We would love for you to join us!
This is an encouraging word from our pastor’s blog! You can read more encouraging posts from him by clicking here.
“What does God want from you in your difficult time? He wants you to believe His Word—His promises! He wants you to fully trust that He is with you in your struggle. It does not matter if all hell is coming at you, His presence will never be taken from you, even in the midst of your fears and tears. No dart of the devil—no powerful attack against you—will destroy you. Your Father already has a plan of deliverance in place. God is waiting for you to cling to Him in blind trust. He wants you to be able to face all your ferocious temptations, and say, ‘I may not understand this but I know my Lord will not forsake me. I am trusting Him to see me through!’ … God is saying, ‘You’re not going down. I am with you through all of this! If you will just seek My face and trust Me, I will bring you through—because I am always with you!’” —David Wilkerson
In Hebrews 13:5 God says, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
But in English this isn’t quite strong enough. In this short phrase the Greek language uses five negatives. Let me try to state God’s words as they are literally written—
I will never, certainly not, by no means ever loosen My grip on you, and I will never, certainly not, by no means ever leave you behind, nor leave you helpless, nor leave you abandoned.
Commenting on this verse, Charles Spurgeon wrote—
“This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our Lord’s company, assistance, and provision. … Come, my heart; if God says He will never leave you nor forsake you, be much in prayer for grace that you may never leave the Lord, nor even for a moment forsake His ways.”
Oh my, what a word of hope! God has not abandoned you, friend. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that He is close to the brokenhearted and the beat-up. He will never, certainly not, by no means ever leave you, so don’t leave Him but cling even more tightly to His unshakable promise!
This is from our pastor’s blog. You can read his daily posts by clicking here.
His heavens shall drop down dew (Deuteronomy 33:28).
“What the dew in the East is to the world of nature, that is the influence of the Spirit in the realm of grace. How greatly do I need it! Without the Spirit of God I am a dry and withered thing. I droop, I fade, I die. How sweetly does this dew refresh me!” (Charles Spurgeon)
May you find the refreshment of the dew of God’s Holy Spirit today!
We are big fans of the EnGedi Youth Center, an after-school program in Cedar Springs.
This Christ-centered program gives students in 6th grade and up a safe place to hang-out after school, and gives them opportunities to play some organized sports with high school coaches, get homework help, learn life skills, and develop lasting friendships with the dedicated Christian staff members.
If you have a couple of hours a week you can invest with these students, we promise you that the rewards will definitely be eternal. For both you and the students with whom you will work.
EnGedi for 6th-8th grades meets Monday through Thursday, from school dismissal until 5:15pm, in Red Hawk Elementary. For more information on EnGedi, visit their website by clicking here.