Year of Faith, Acts Faith


What a great few days of prayer and fasting.  So encouraged by this week at Compelled.  This week I was reading and meditating on some Psalms, but also on the Book of Acts.

Acts is an amazing, historical account, written by Luke, of the early church. One cannot read it and not be amazed at the growth of the church, the boldness of the disciples, the amount of miracles, and the level of commitment believer’s had.

Many want an Acts church today and wonder why we don’t have the same results?  I have been pondering this and have come to some conclusions and then some conclusions on my conclusions.

  • I wonder if we are as committed to Christ and His work as the Acts Church?
  • I wonder if we value being full, baptized, and led by the Spirit of God like they were?
  • I wonder if we don’t want to avoid offending people, or the persecution and opinion of us that would follow, if we are bold and courageous like the Acts Church?
  • I wonder if we intentionally build our faith daily like they did. They took time to pray, listen to apostles teach, be with believer’s learn the Scriptures.  They took the time needed to have great faith?

My conclusions to my conclusions

  • We need to evaluate our true level of commitment to living for Christ, not just believing.
  • We need to be baptized and filled with the Spirit of God, thus having the boldness and power to speak for Christ.
  • We need to take time to grow our faith. We (also me)  have time for Netflix, facebook, IPad games, sucked into fake news and every dumb share on social media, etc, but most believer’s don’t invest daily time to read, grow, listen, spend time with Christ.
  • We need a hunger. A deep hunger in our spirits for more of the Lord in our lives.  It so encouraging to see people hungry for Jesus this week.
  • I believe we are supposed to be the Acts Church.  I don’t think it was the will of God that the church and believers today be so different from then.

Your thoughts?

Pastor Nate Elarton, follower of Jesus

He is faithful, even when you feel He has disappointed you


I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever;
To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.
2 For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever;
In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.”  Psalm 89.1-2

As I ponder these 2 verses this morning my heart is drawn to the potential to worship God in song for his great lovingkindness for me.  This “lovingkindness” is the Hebrew word “Hesed”. This is the merciful, kind, and good love that our Father has for us. He shows us this love by His faithfulness.

His faithfulness is  interpreted by us incorrectly so much through our lives.  We decide if God is faithful by what He has done for us, and has He met our expectations? Has He done what I have asked? Has he made my life free from sadness and tragedy? Has he answered my prayers the way I told him to?  His faithfulness promises us none of these things.

God is faithful. He is faithful to Himself. To his covenants. He is faithful to his promise and the extent of his faithfulness will not be completely known or experienced on this side of Heaven. Are we faithful to who He really is, or have we deserted that because he has not been who we wanted him to be?

I know He has been faithful to me.   I have not received all I have prayed for.  He did not always choose to intervene in life circumstances to get me what I wanted, or deliver me from situations and sadnesses I did not want.    I will tell you this, that He has never left me.  I felt and still may feel distant from Him, but He is not distant.

He has been faithful to save me and cover me with his grace. He has been faithful to give me strength during the toughest times in life. I was not delivered but he helped me persevere.  He has been faithful to give me wisdom when I lacked it. He has been faithful to love me and give me grace when I have failed.  He has been there to comfort me in mourning. He is faithful He has been faithful, in spite of me, to be God.

I must sing of this love. I must tell my kids and the younger generations.  I must not conclude he is not faithful because he has not met my expectations. He is faithful to His Word and Words, not my opinion of how He should be.

He is faithful to you also. He is faithful by not being a wishy washy god, doing what we want, fulfilling all our desires, and being bossed around by His creation.

Please consider these questions:

  • Have you concluded He is not all that loving and faithful because of a tragedy, disappointment or experience you  have had and you hold the Lord responsible.  It may be time to let go of that and to love him with all your heart.
  • Do you sing and worship?  Do you express your love to Him in many ways?
  • Mom and dad, have you talked about the faithfulness of God to all the generations?  To your children?  Are you active in increasing their love and faith in God?   Do you pray as a family? Do you discuss what God is showing them. Do they know about your faith, salvation, love for God?  Please don’t let the next generation falter.
  • How can we make know of His faithfulness more?  Be bolder about talking about His goodness?

 

 

Selah, Nate Elarton

Let’s Face it, We Have Limits


I have observed so many people living their lives and  how decisions are made based on their mind, will, desires, and understandings. I wrestle with this constantly also.  Making decisions based on our own knowledge and wisdom sounds noble, but can be catastrophic. Why?  We all have boundaries on our what we understand.  We only have learned so much.  We have only experienced so much. We have limits.  Our will can also manipulate our mind into making decisions we think we are good, but our desires, deceive our mind, and the decisions are really about us, and can impact others with pain, grief, and sorrow.

When we trust the Lord’s ways, we enter in to a life of faith and dependence on the One who has no boundaries.  God knows the past, present, and the future.  The Lord also loves us and has a will for our life, if we will but trust Him daily.  He knows what our heart and character need, to shore up our integrity, goodness, and holiness.  He isn’t tricked by our fancy prayers, deals, or justifications.

This verse in Proverbs 3 says it all:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5,6

We are encouraged to Trust in the Lord. His ways, his word, his will.  We are cautioned  about leaning on our own understanding.  Our intellect, our will, and our experiences, can threaten God ways in our lives we sweep Him aside, and trust in our own limited self.

Life is about so many decisions. Maybe today you have some heavy ones weighing on your mind and heart.  Can I encourage you to take the wisdom of Proverbs and apply them to your situation?  I mean, who wants a crooked life, and a rough path?  Surrender your will, and desires, and trust the one who know all, and loves you completely.

I have never heard anyone confess they regret trusting God.  I have heard regrets of the opposite countless times.  Live without regrets, and trust the Lord. He will direct your paths.

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

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.

 

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