A great post from my friend and Pastor James Allen.
Saint Paul says: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
May I offer some simple suggestions as we end 2020 and move on to 2021?
- Please tip the housekeepers at hotels. Most of the housekeepers are female, that I have encountered. Leave a tip each morning. I have talked to many over the years, and they are single moms, people who are new to the country and trying to make a new life, and wives with inadequate income from their spouse. Imagine what $5 to $10 a day per room would mean to them.
- Please turn off your car engine when grocery servers come out to load the groceries in the trunk. You will not freeze, you will not burn up, but you will limit the exhaust the servers have to inhale.
- Write a letter to someone who has…
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To the follower of Jesus Christmas is very important. The prophecies of old become fulfilled with the coming of the Savior of the World. The manger would lead jesus to the cross, the tomb, and to the right hand of the Father. The life of Jesus changed history, the world, but most importantly individual lives. We celebrate His coming, but we know it’s all for us. His birth, His life, His Death, His resurrection, and ascension. It’s was all for us. If you don’t know that, I pray you do. Jesus came for us. Read this from Matthew quoting Isaiah 9.6-7.
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1:21–23, NIV)
Christmas is about new life, forgiveness, redemption, and being redeemed. Christmas is about being rescued from our sins, having Christ in our lives now, being part of His Kingdom of the earth. Not only that, we spend eternity alive. We never die.
And we did nothing for this. Not a thing. Actually the only thing you need to do to understand the complete Christmas Story is believe that Jesus did this for you and receive his forgiveness. Just pray or talk to Him. He is with you. I love these verses:
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9–10, NIV)
If you haven’t done this, do it and become a follower of Christ. If you have done this and your life is not what you know pleases God, then jump into your faith with zeal and commitment. Jesus came for us all, but he also came for you. He knows you.
Christ came to us and he knew his life would lead Him to the Cross. His love for us lead HIm there, and His love for us continues to lead us to Him.
I am thinking and rolling around in my heart and soul the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 2.14. I have of late, been reading Scripture differently. Instead of reading to get in several chapters, I am reading to notice, messages from the Holy writings that I gloss over, and given little attention to. I am intentionally looking for lessons and messages I normally do not see. Taking this extra time and slowing down my reading has revealed incredible gems of revelation. I want to share one today.
I am reading Scripture slowly, carefully, rereading, pausing, and thinking. Selah
This thanksgiving morning I was stopped in while reading 2 Corinthians. This verse caused me to pause.
” But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us reveals the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2.14
There is nothing much stronger to trigger emotions than smell. Think of all the smells that give you an emotional or mental response. A smell calms your heart, triggers a memory, maybe even brings anxiety or worry. I think that’s why we love the smell of a baby, burning leaves, baking cookies, as they trigger powerful positive memories. On a holiday, we inhale the baking of a turkey, the smell of pumpkin pie and these aromas remind us of family, friends, and faith. Comfort food are mostly comforting because of smell, even more than taste at times.
As I thought about this verse I am thankful this day of Thanksgiving for Christ leading us in triumph and victory. So many things in life can go wrong, but wihtout serving Christ, we can make decisions that make life even harder and more hurtful for us and those around us.
Christ’s triumph included his victory over sin, death, bondage of people, spiritual blindness, and emptiness. We are lead by him into forgiveness, freedom, enlightenment and purpose with the Holy Spirit God in our hearts.
Because of our new standing and life in Christ we have become and are knowing Jesus more and more. I hope you are, every day. That knowledge of knowing him mentally but also relationally gives an aroma. Not just a smell but a “sweet aroma”. in “every place”.
What place are you in today? I don’t mean geographically, although this Scripture does imply that also, but what place are you in? Are you with family, lonely because of Covid restrictions? I know many people are grieving loss, missing loved ones, confused, worried, happy, discouraged, rejoicing, and disappointed. Whatever place we are in today, we have and know the might Victor that is leading us, and knowing Jesus is manifested in us by this “sweet aroma”. Smells can’t be hidden, and they do not change whether we are alone, or in a group.
Please know that even if you are alone today, or your Thanksgiving is not what it used to be, you still have that sweet aroma. You still are being led. You still know Christ. You are His. The wonderful fragrance of Christ is not just from us, but for us, for you today.
In a moment I will go to my carving shop. The familiar smell of peace will greet me. The fragrance of the wood I carve, the incense I burn, the 100 year-old garage, will always be the same, regardless of what “place” I find myself.
Christ is the same (Hebrews 13.8). Whatever “place” you are in today, inhale the sweet aroma that is manifesting through you, as that aroma is a reminder that He is present with us in every “place”. May your “place” today be blessed with the thankfulness of the sweet aroma of the peace and presence of the Lord.
NOTE: “Selah” in the Scriptures (74 times) is a Hebrew note that may mean “forever” or a notation to pause and consider what was just written.
Lectio Divina is an ancient way of praying the Scriptures and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Lectio Divina is Latin for “Divine Reading”.
I think of Luke 24.45 how the Lord opens our minds to understand the Scriptures: “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
Steps to praying Lectio Divina
Choose a text and place yourself in a quiet environment. Calm your anxieties and thoughts for a couple minutes of silence. Pray that you would here the Holy Spirit as He speaks to your through the Word and ask Him to enlighten your heart, mind, and thoughts in Christ.
- Lectio: Read the text of the Bible slowly and prayerfully constantly listening for what the Word of God says to you. Maybe read it 4 or 5 times.
- Meditate: Meditate upon the Word. Maybe a word or phrase will strike you. repeat it and listen with your heart to God. Allow it to speak to you in a persona way by pondering it in your heart.
- Response: Respond to God in prayer and dialogue as you are directed by your heart. Enter into a loving conversation with your Father.
- Contemplate: Rest in the presence of God and receive deeply what you have been shown, what you have prayed, and enjoy the presence of the Lord. Be content and at peace with a wordless, quiet rest in the Father’s presence. This is not your action or doing, rather, silence and contemplations is allow God to act within you.
Close with thanks, maybe journaling what the Father has shown, what you sensed, or felt.
For Wednesday, September 24 noon prayer we will be praying Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16, ESV)
This is a great way to know the Word, know God, and connect with the Father in prayer. Add this to your prayer life. P. Nate
My wife Wendy, reads daily. One of her devotionals is by an amazing missionary and teacher, Dick Brogden. His devotion is “365 days of Living and Dying with Jesus; Live Dead; Joy.”
She shared one of the devotions from last month that she said she continues to think, pray, and meditate on. It was powerful. Let me share the last paragraph:
“God revives us for His own sake. He heals that He might be glorified. He supplies that He might be worshiped. He forgives that He might be exalted. He delivers that He might be adored. He meets us that we might magnify Him. He acts to bring honor to His divine self, not to exalt man or woman. Let us stop approaching God for answers on behalf our ourselves. Let us learn to approach Him for the defense of His honor, for the glory of His name. Let us seek answered pray for His sake.” (Dick Brogden from his book Live Dead, Joy, page.255, reading for August 12).
We can become so distracted and so easily tripped up. Jesus has to remain at the center. The glory of everything must go to God. Our lives, our talk, our focus, our posting, our giving, our prayers, our families, and our lives.
Be encouraged today to center. Center your life on Christ again. Don’t let the political climate, the pandemic, and all the opinions of everyone and our own move us from wanting all glory to go to our God. I have to remind myself of this and what my wife shared with me is another great reminder. May our lives give God Glory.
Pastor Nate Elarton
This is going to be a gut-honest post from my heart as a pastor and a spiritual leader.
With Covid really mixing things up, bringing confusion, inconsistent policies, and fear, things in the church have changed. I never thought when we canceled services for a couple weeks it would be 14 weeks and re-opening would be so difficult, with so many opinions.
I realize many are staying away as they have compromised immune systems, and or have been sick or are in a high-risk age bracket. I totally understand, support, and encourage you to only come back to church when you are ready and have peace and confidence. Please make choices to keep you safe and healthy.
My worry is those that are moving around and going on with life, but have not reengaged with their church community. Covid has had a lot of people moving away from their community of faith. New habits are formed, new ones are made, and 14 weeks can do that. If you have moved away from attending, but are moving around and doing life as normal, then it’s time to come back to worshipping Christ with your faith family.
Can I encourage you to stay engaged with your faith and your church. If you are not staying home than I would encourage you to get back into the habits and disciplines of worship with your family on the weekend. If you are staying home and being careful, then please continue to engage on our online services, live facebooks, and even an online small group.
I don’t want any of us to leave our faith, convictions, and love for Jesus because of this Pandemic. Don’t move away from the things of God, move toward them.
Love you all Pastor Nate
This message was given by Pastor Billy Worland. Pastor Billy and his wife Karen, pastor Linton Assembly of God in Linton, IN. He is one of the most successful youth pastors I know and also an incredible pastor with a heart that hears from God and he is not afraid to share it. Billy and Karen and their family have been friends of ours for over 25 years.
This message was given after he was quarantined with his family for 2 weeks. His message starts around the 38:00 minute mark.
I listened to this while working out this morning. I was greatly moved, and I recognized it as being a word for the us all not just Linton Assembly of God. Listen, pray, share, and listen again. This is the best message I have heard addressing the church and Christians response to Covid. Pastor Nate Elarton
Teach me to seek you,
and reveal yourself to me as I see;
for unless you instruct me I cannot see you,
I cannot find you.
Let me see you in desiring you;
let me desire you in seeking You;
Let me find you i loving you;
let me love you in finding you.
St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)
We are always in a hurry and sometimes for no reason. We commit to too much, overplan, set goals that are not reality, and stress ourselves into a state where peace is elusive. We are in a state of perpetual hurry. Cultivating a relationship with our Father can not be hurried. That is one of the things God has shown me the last several years.
We need to learn that “less is more” in life. To not be so busy, so weighted down by commitments, so burdened by trying to be the world’s best mom or dad. “Less is more” when we come to Scripture. Sometimes instead of reading a few chapters of the Bible read, and reread a few verses and let our loving Father reveal to you His messages and His truths to your life. Today I read, reread, prayed and thanked God for Isaiah 43.1-7. Take a moment
“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”” (Isaiah 43:1–7, NIV)
- Read this a couple times
- Pray over them and ask Father to speak to your heart about them.
- Ask Who is God for me? How does He see me?
- What promise does God have for you right now in your life? What are forever?
- Respond in grateful appropriateness.
Keep in the process of spiritual formation, receiving and responding to God’s love.
Pastor Nate Elarton