Expanding Faith May Meet Resistance


For the month of Feb. I am reading Ezra and Nehemiah.  In the book of Ezra we see that Cyrus is going to allow the Israelite people, who have been in exile for 70 years, to return from Persia, back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.  They returned and began to rebuild.

A moving scene is found in chapter 3 of Ezra when the foundation of the temple is laid. The Levites praised God with thanksgiving, the people shouted, but the older priests, Levites, and fathers, that had known the former temple wept.  The joy of being “home” and having the building of the Temple begin, moved them deeply, as they had prayed for decades for that day to come (v.12).

Soon after, enemies came to distract them.  As they were building for God these enemies tried to discourage them, frustrate them, and to fill them with fear (Ezra 4.4,5).

When we begin to expand our faith, to grow it, opposition seem to come.  This comes from those that do not understand our godly priorities, the ungodly system and culture in which we live, and the enemy of our souls.

As your faith expands, know that many things, and forces will try to discourage you to steer you away from the things of Christ.  Do not relent in your quest to seek and know the Lord.  Do not let any setback persuade you on your journey to serve and know God.  Keep growing and expanding every day.  For the days acts of devotion will expand your faith, even in the face of opposition. Faith in Christ is greater than any asset this world has to offer.

Blessings Nate Elarton

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Our Compelled Community fills me with Gratefulness


I love our church. I love the heart of our people.  I love how we pursue the Lord and people.  I loved the Toledo Campus going door to door, and hosting a fall festival. I love our Children’s ministry and leaders,  and the annual chili cookout. So glad the Lord led Pastor Matt and Mandie to Compelled. I love Pastor Rick’s heart as we gathered for worship team training and he encouraged us. I love Pastor Dusty getting our students reaching out. I love filling shoeboxes for the Lord and operation Christmas Child.  I love that we are truly “Compelled by love.” I’m am grateful to be part of our Compelled Community.

At Compelled this weekend we stressed our Family Value of Relationships.  “People grow better in relationship than they do in isolation.” We had people stand and publicly  give testimony and thank those who encouraged them in the faith and brought them to Jesus.  This was moving, encouraging, and filled us with faith.  I loved it.  We heard powerful stories of people reaching out in friendship and love for Christ and lives were changed and of course eternities.

We must be those people that are the encourager now.  As we have received, now let’s give.  Make a difference in someone’s life.  Start a small group.  Call someone you have been missing. Write out a prayer for a struggling friend and mail it.  Send a text, buy a coffee, open your home and your heart and see what God will do.

Keep being missional Compelled Church!  We are making a difference.

(NOTE:  All the gatherings were awesome but the 11 am worship was amazing.  The place was packed and so many people were pursuing the heart of God.  It was so powerful.)

We grow better in community than isolation


Here are my sermon notes for our “Family Values” message on Community.

Family Values|Relationships

October 29, 30 2016

Nate Elarton, Compelled Church

We believe people grow better in community than isolation

We are created for relationship.  With God and with others.  The greatest joys in life will not come from TV, purchases, or social media, but in real relationships with others. The two greatest commandments that Jesus quoted are about relationship.

“and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’“The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12. 30-31

When the relationship between God and man was broken, God took the initiative to repair it.   We can only practice the Christ-like virtues in relationship. We grow in Christ much greater when we grow together with others.

Jesus was in close relationship with 12 disciples and 3 he was very close to.  They traveled, lived with each other, and shared life together for 3.5 years (Mark 3.14).

Relationship in the early church was critical to the growth of people’s faith.

Acts 2.42-47

Observations of Community

  1. They were devoted to being taught (2.42)
  2. They were devoted to each other (2.43).
  3. They were devoted to meals together (2.43; 46).
  4. They were devoted to prayer (2.43).
  5. They were in unity
  6. They were generous, and compassionate (2.45)
  7. They were thankful and grateful. v. 46
  8. They praised God

Results

The people loved them (v.47)

More people were saved (v.47).

Signs and wonders occured

Three Things I see about Community

  1. They took responbility for other’s faith not just their own.

2.They poured into each others lives in every way.

  1. They grew deeper and Christ and the church grew.

We believe people grow better in community than isolation

Who helped you grow in Christ?  Who encourage  you in the faith?  Maybe a parent?  A friend?  A small group leader?

 

 

Now you are that person?  Who are you helping grow? Get in community and grow.

The one thing this early church all had was Jesus Christ. He is the common denominator, the head of the church, and the author of all relationship. Our relationship with must be good and then with each other.

 

Colossians 2.12-15  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Stop being so unhappy and discontented


Why are so many people not content?  Unhappiness, anger, depression, and hopelessness seems to be much more prevalent than contentment.  Contentment is a state of peaceful happiness.  Few have it.  There are so many things that take peace and happiness away from us.  Most of these things are external or circumstantial, but some are rooted in attitude and world view.

  • Materialism steals contentment.
  • Sin Steals contentment.
  • Conflict resulting in bitterness and unforgiveness steals contentment
  • Neglected our spirit, and inner health steals contentment
  • bad eating habits, sleep habits, steals contentment.
  • Negative, complaining, and overall views of pessimism will steal peace for sure.
  • too much netflix and TV can steal contentment.

We get unhappy at our circumstances. Maybe life has not turned out the way you had thought, or someone is making rotten decisions in their life that is affecting yours?  Contentment can be evasive in a world of conflict, a life of hectiness, and a heart divided.

Many are discontent as the media continues to bombard us with ads telling us and reminding us we do not have the coolest and newest things, and we fall prey to feeling that we are not significant because we don’t own the new whatever and discontentment grips our heart.

True contentment, inner peace and happiness, comes when we our faith and hope is not in the external things, and circumstances we cannot control, but in an all-loving and unchanging God. He purchased a chance for us to experience His life and peace, through the life, death, and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ.  A life with Christ, is a life of contentment.

In a life full of people and circumstances we cannot control, we need contentment. In a life of stress, busyness, raising kids, paying bills, driving here and there, we need contentment. With hearts that  have been wounded, pasts that haunt us, consequences from past mistakes, remind us, we do need inner peace, happiness, and a sense that there is more to life than all of this.  We need contentment. We need faith to know, that no matter what, we are part of the plan God has for our lives. We need the peace and contentment from resting the hands and love of our Father in Heaven. Choose Christ’s presence, power, and peace in your life, and stop allow unhappiness to rule your heart and mind. With God’s help that is truly possible.

May I leave you with some ancient words from the 1 century found in the Scriptures.

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” (1 Timothy 6.6)

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 6:6). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Quotes from Week One of the Six-Week Series Titled “Purpose”


As we start a six-week teaching on purpose, I am gripped with passion, conviction, and compassion.  I believe the purpose of our life is to glorify the Lord in all we do and how we do things.  I believe we are called the glorify the Lord in who we are.  Here are some quotes from week one of the series.

  • “We have to stay grounded on Scripture, dedicated to God’s ways. The world will not function in God’s ways. This world is determined not to glorify God, but to glorify man, embracing all sin, rejecting any moral voice, and pushing the philosophy of pluralism and secular humanism forward, at the expense of all reason and purity.”
  • “Since time began the deception from the enemy has been to NOT glorify God, but glorify yourself, you become the god.”
  • “You can be a saved person, and not a very spiritual person. We are good at siloing our lives, and separating our faith from daily living.
  • “Whenever man wants glory and honor, ahead of the Lord, or in place of the Lord, destruction in some form, awaits.”
  • “Too many of us live with ‘flimsy faith’. Faith that is so shallow, so much about us. Flimsy faith says my faith  is exercised so God can do what I want, not I live the life He wants. My will is more important than His.”

“Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. “

1 Cor. 10.31

A Very Dark Saturday


As we understand from the Scriptures, the week of the Passion of Christ, Jesus died on the cross for us on Friday, that we now traditionally call Good Friday. We also know that on the third day he rose from the dead. Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday, now traditionally called.  But what about that in-between day?  Saturday. What a dark day that must have been.

The disciples had scattered, denied, wept, and may have lost hope.  over three years that had been with Jesus.  He was not just the promised Messiah to them, he was their friend, their close friend and now he was gone.  In Matthew we see on Saturday that Pilate sent guard to secure the tomb as they recall that Jesus said “After three days I will rise.” I smile a little that even they believed this was a possibility.  But on Saturday, the second day, he was not there.   Psalms 16, tells us that on Saturday Christ went to the place of the dead. I believe Christ was busy on that dark day. descending to the place of death to free and liberate, and smash the gates of hell, the gates of death. the tombs of hopelessness (See 1 Peter 3.18-20, Psalm 16.10; Acts 2.31; 1 Peter 4.5).

What a dark day for the followers and believers of Christ.  They must have felt so hopeless, confused, abandoned.  But even though they could not see or know what Jesus was up to, he was working on their behalf. In their darkness they may have had trouble remembering the truths that Jesus taught. That he would rise, that this was the plan of the Father, that he must die, and he would sit in glory. The darkness of their present state, diluted all they knew to be true.  The present “facts” of the moment, upstaged the “faith” of what was really going on.

Life can seem very dark at times and Jesus can seem far away.  We can wonder why things are not going very well. We don’t see the Lord working. Your present situations envelope you in a reality of hopelessness that is not real.  You encounter shattered dream, broken relationships, disappointments, difficult times and this dark present chases away the truths we know to be true.

That Saturday the disciples did not know what Christ was doing but He was working on their behalf. They could not see with their eyes, but He was going to keep His promises.  On that quiet and painful Sabbath, Jesus was preparing to shock and shake all of humanity, all of history, and change all of eternity.  They just had to get through that dark Saturday.

May I encourage you. Should you be living through a “dark Saturday.”  Remember, Christ is working on your behalf even though you do not see Him doing what you thought He should be.  His presence escapes you as you become enveloped in what seems to be suffocating sadness, and overwhelming loneliness, or unending hopelessness, but He is working, and even though you don’t know the future or His plans, you can know they are going to be best as your life is in His hands.

On the dark Saturday, don’t decide much, just wait, as His work in your life is going to spring forth,and remember,  waiting is part following, and trust is part of believing.  The dark Saturday will past and the Sunday will come.  Just do not give up because you can’t see what he is  up to.  Trust what he has said.  Trust in His Words, trust in His sovereignty, and trust your life with Him. The dark Saturday will not last forever, it’s fleeing even now as you read. Faith, trust, hope, and belief in a Father who has the best for you, and is working, even though you feel like He is not because you can’t see him.  -Peace, Pastor Nate

God’s Words for Faith and Hope

Psalms 34.17, 18  The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 42.5  Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and 6 my God!

Psalm 66.17-20  For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke.  If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

Psalm 146.5 But joyful are those who have the God of Israel* as their helper,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.

 

Six Signs Your Heart is Drifting From Jesus


This weekend I am going to be talking about the heart of a disciple.  The heart is our center.  So naturally, when the heart becomes deceived by incorrect thoughts, wrong priorities or spiritual neglect we then begin to drift from the Lord. When we drift from the Lord we drift from His ways. When we drift from His ways we drift toward our ways. Our way is selfish, self-centered, and not Christ-centered.  In my experience and knowledge of the Word I offer these five signs that manifest when a believer’s heart begins to move away and drift.

  1. Behavior and Beliefs no longer match up. What you know is right and true begins leaving your life.  What you lived with passion and grace was once fed by your convictions and commitments. Now things are changing. Your behavior is being compromised and sadly most people will align their beliefs to their behavior sooner or later, and simply stop believing.
  2. Time alone with Jesus rarely happens anymore. There is time for TV, IPAD, phone, friends, Facebook  and constant looking at social media, but your private time to be in the presence of Jesus in prayer and the Word has, or is, disappearing from your daily routine. Your desire for that connection with Christ is being lost in the desire for other things of this world. The world’s ways is gripping stronger on your heart.
  3. Being part of the faith community (church) is stopping. There is always a reason why skipping church, not being in a community small group, or serving is now more normal. Always a reason to appease a conscience, but in your heart you know you are jeopardizing a lot. Your kids are learning the habits of their parents. The body of Christ misses out on what you have to offer and the opportunity for worship, encouragement and the voice of the Lord in your life is lost.
  4. Desire to see other’s saved has vanished. There is no thought of the commission to make disciples. Talking about your faith with unbelievers or inviting them to church is the farthest thing from your priority list.  Gone is giving to missions, volunteering for missional events, and crying in God’s presence as you pray for unsaved family and friends. The heart has been deceived that their salvation is not a priority. Your own life and thoughts of you, your needs, wants, hurts, desires,  has gobbled up your heart.  You are into “you”, and others and their eternity has become or is becoming irrelevant.
  5. More connected with your time, money, and interests to the things of this world, than the things of the Kingdom of Christ. My brother Steve once told me; “let me look at your checkbook and your calendar. I will tell you what you really believe.” I have never forgotten that. It’s true.  Talk is cheap, and actions and priorities are manifested.
  6. Your kid’s sports, and schedules, are more important than their faith. The five things above, affect your children’s faith. Parents, not to be fears-ish but we are accountable to the Lord for how we raise our children. I know when they are adults they make up their own minds, and choose their ways, but until then, it’s our ways that affect them.  More is caught than taught. We must lead by example and by heart.  They will follow us, but we must lead them and be a godly example with Jesus and His word a priority of our life.  Disciple your children. Don’t let the world do it.

What to do if you know this message applies to you?

Repent, which means to change direction.  Adjust and calibrate your life to Jesus.  Pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness and recommit your ways to Him.  Open the Bible and read once again.  Raise your hands to heaven and thank Jesus for His grace and patience.  Bask in His love for you and the knowledge that He wants the best for your life, your marriage, and your children. Pray for your family, pray for those that are not saved yet.  Get back to your church and don’t let the enemy give you anymore weak excuses.  Manage your life daily and don’t let the things of this world dilute your fresh commitment to Jesus.  Then, never look back.  Serve Jesus with all your heart.  With prayer and the heart of God.

– Nate