Living Poor


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.3

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? To be poor means to be utterly dependent on others and totally impoverished. The Greek word that Matthew uses here is the strongest word he could have used for “poor” (Gr. ptochos) it  literally means “undone, pathetic, miserable.”  This is the only place in the New Testament “poor in spirit” is used like this.

I am starting to understand this spiritual mystery a little. I have been a follower of Jesus for over 35 years, and I sit here pondering how I can live daily  “poor in spirit.”  To be miserable without God, and His presence? To be totally undone if He and I are distanced.  To have a motivation everyday to draw close, to need Him so badly, that I am pretty pathetic without Him.   I confess, I am so capable to not think or feel this for extended periods.  Without the conscience desires and heart-grooming to love Him more, I am able to live without that strong living connection, and consciousness  of Jesus’ presence.  I can study, function, think, eat, and even be kind and loving without being “poor in spirit.” But to live daily “ poor in spirit” is a different level of desire, motivation and heart posture.  It requires a consistent exposure to a posture of poverty in spirit I must posess.

To be needy in my spirit for Jesus, is something I cannot will, but I must “be”. How can this happen? What does this look like?

  • To be in such a love relationship with Jesus that distance brings my poor spirit distress.
  • To have such faith and true knowledge of the Lord, that I can do nothing of eternal value without working in tandem with His Spirit.
  • To verbalize, ponder, and meditate of my spiritual poverty and deep need for Jesus.
  • To know that “in Him I live, and move and have my being. (Acts 17.28), as I go about the daily, often, mundane routines of life not alone, but with the joy and light of Christ.
  • To not allow my experience, self-sufficiency, or knowledge to substitute a life that is indwelling with the living Christ.
  • To be with Jesus, to keep reminding myself of His glory, love, friendship, and life, which my life must be lost within.

To live like this is to live within the Kingdom of Heaven. To live without being “poor in spirit” is to live in the systems of this temporal world’s ways. To live in a state that we do not recognize we truly need Him in every way is to live in the un-desperate self-sufficient mode and the deception that Jesus does not matter and really doesn’t make a difference in who we are, and what we are doing.  May we not be deceived. May we desperately with all poorness throw our life, our day, our strength, our thoughts, our desires, into His hands.

Cultivate your poverty in Spirit daily by being with Jesus. More than a “devotion” or “quiet time” but a posture of heart that continues throughout the day.  Commune with Jesus in such a way, that if that communion is broken, you immediately know it, and return to being poor and needy for Him. So we really do live in poverty.

“For thus says the high and lofty one, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 NRSV

Pastor Nate Elarton

Don’t Be Judgy


There are many people today who are not part of the local church because they have been hurt by the believer’s there.  One way we really hurt people is by judging them.  It seems Christians, unfortunately, find it easy to do this. I know I have been guilty of this.  I recently talked to a young lady who was “shunned” from her last church for her divorce.  Everyone just rushed to judgement that she was breaking the Bible, not knowing anything about what sad things were going on behind closed doors at home.  She was ignored, a single mom, and no one cared, they only gossiped, judged, and avoided her.  As we talked the deep pain that people she loved and served left her side, and climbed up on a throne to look down on her, her life, and her decisions.  She made it clear to me she had no time for church, God or God’s people.  Being judged stole her young faith.

I know we Christians are not perfect, but I also know from being in spiritual leadership for over 30 years, that we all underestimate the effects of judgement, slander, and gossip.  It deeply wounds people, it does not add value to their lives.  It is discouraging and it is hurting us.  It’s highly unloving, and we are asked by our Lord Jesus not to do it.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5, NIV)

Jesus commands us not to judge others.

I know the pain of being lied about (a form of judging called slander), having people judge your motives, being spoken poorly of behind my back, and having people treat me weird, later knowing they believe something about me that wasn’t true, nor did I know they judged me and my friendship differently.   We all know what this is like.  We have to forgive and move forward keep our eyes on Christ.

Consider the follow thoughts….

  • No one truly knows the motives of others.
  • We all walk a different road.  Our journey’s are different. Our upbringing, our childhood, our life are not the same.
  • Most things are not our business.
  • Judging is about looking down on someone to boost us up. It pride.
  • The humble rarely judge.
  • We always have limited and often incorrect information.
  • Judging divides, and that is the devil. He loves to dived families, churches, Christians, and people.
  • Judging someone else’s spiritual journey is one of the most immature things a believers can do.
  • Judging dehumanizes others, and is a twin to hate.

Christ gave us a new command and that is to love each other.   To be patient, to encourage, to speak blessing and not curses.  The Bible teaches us to not be prideful, to bear the failures of the weak and to lift each other up, not tear each other down.

Judging, gossiping, complaining, and being rude to people to their face or behind their back, is a visible sign, that our hearts are wrong.  May God help us shun this as followers of Jesus and to love others.  May we care more about people than their mistakes, pasts, or shortcomings.

Some other Scriptures to help us all:

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11–12, NIV)

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1, NIV)

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” (Romans 15:1–2, NIV)

 

 

 

 

You Are Not Helpless


May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:2–3, ESV)

As I prepare and study 2 Peter, the first chapter, for the next 8 weeks of teaching  at Compelled Church,  it has dawned on me that we are not helpless as followers of Christ.  After pastoring for 30 years, I have encountered many people that have this mentality when we experience the hard times and challenges of life.  When difficulties come we  are not without divine help to make it through.  We cannot melt-down, act like victims, throw in the towel,  reject our faith  or become co-dependent on others when hard times come.  This is not God’s way for his people. He has provided power for us.

How?  Read the verses at the top.  God has granted us his divine power for all that we need in this life.  When Jesus left he sent His presence, the Holy Spirit, to live in our souls.  The Holy Spirit is the presence of Jesus. He is our  divine power. He is with us.  We need to understand this, tap into  our faith by growing in the knowledge of Jesus.

We grow in faith by growing inn knowledge and we grow in knowledge by taking in the truths of God, through teaching, reading, listening, and discussing the Bible.  We also grow in knowledge or knowing Jesus, by experience Him.  We do that through life, through worship, in relationship, while we serve, and as we pray.  If you are not experiencing Jesus in a real way, you are missing how knowing the Lord really happens.

So when hard times come in this life, and they will, do not have crisis.  Do not act helpless. Do not question God’s goodness. Jjust grow. Lean into your faith. Lean into surrender, and the power of the Holy Spirit, and you will make it through trials and become better through them, not bitter.

Pastor Nate Elarton

“Get Moving”


hikThe Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (Exodus 14:14–15, NLT)

We see more and more terrible effects of sitting too much. We Americans need to get moving.  Our jobs, and leisure, just include excessive sitting.  It has been discovered that a sedentary life leads to all sorts of health issues.  The Mayo Clinic says that the health risks of sitting include obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Prolonged periods of sitting increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Moving is life.  In the Scripture above the Jewish nation are leaving Egypt. They had been slaves for 430 years and after a series of plagues sent by God the Pharaoh allows them to leave, but then changes his mind and the armies of Egypt pursues them.  The Lord parts the Red Sea and tells Moses to tell the people to “get moving.” Get moving to freedom, to safety, to a new life.

We are people that move physically but also spiritually slowly at times.  We do not like change, effort, or leaving what is comfortable and familiar.  God is calling us all to “get moving”.  To move out to new territory we have to leave the old. Is there something old, and maybe normal in your life that you need to leave?  Habits, anger, grouchiness, and of course. sin.  These things not only hurt us but those around us.  It is time to leave sinful things in our lives that are quite honestly, ruining, or at the least, not adding value to your life.

Time to “get moving”. To move on to what is better, what is God’s will, and what will add more value to your life.  Maybe it is time to leave the way you normally treat your spouse.  It might be the day to leave the pain of your past that keeps you paralyzed with fear to pursue your passions.  Maybe get moving from the hate in your heart you feel toward people who are not like you.   Time to move on from bitterness, unforgiveness, and being spiteful. To leave this to the love of God. To allow His love to be part of your life, and you pass that love on to others.

Time to move on?  With God’s help, and our decision, let us “get moving.”

P. Nate

Submission, the Lost Discipline


gardenAt Compelled church I have been teaching on the spiritual disciplines in our series called “Making Room”.  This weekend I will teach on the discipline of submission. As I study and read and realize this is definitely a concept we don’t like to talk about and surely struggle to live out.  But it is a discipline of the heart nonetheless.

Submission comes easy to me when I want to submit, serve, and obey.  Maybe I will be noticed for it, or I will be thought of highly for submitting or serving in some “public” way that others can see.  Submission is really deeper than that. It is of the heart.  To give up perceived or even real “rights” is hard for our flesh and not thought of as honorable in our culture.  We truly believe we have a right to do whatever we want and if anyone disagrees or questions us they become enemy #1.

Submission has been abused by religion, leaders, churches, and organizations, but that does not mean it is not a virtue still.  Jesus had to submit, “not my will but thine” (Luke 22.42). Paul’s teaching to the Philippians show the submission of Christ, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Phil. 2.8)”.  He submitted to the plan of the Father, to us for our freedom from sin, to death which God should never experience, and He submitted to how that will happen,  on a disgusting cross.  Do we think we do not have to submit, serve, obey, and give up our rights, when our example did, and He did for us.  

Submission of the heart to the ways of God is the deepest and most secret act and posture of our heart. Our jealousy, offense, hate, bitterness, all the things we believe we have a right to have, and to feed, must be forsaken for the sake of the love of Christ and His desire for our soul to be spiritually healthy. It is also an act of love for others.

Submission of our souls, and lives to the truths of the Bible, the moral compass, God gives us, and the love he wants to shower us with.  When we do not truly give him all areas of our life, we forfeit an awareness of His love and presence.  Our relationship turns into religion and our hearts can turn to stone.

The true mark of a child is they must have their own way.  Submission is a virtue for the mature.  We love others more than ourselves.  Just like Jesus did.

Read the teachings of our Savior,

Mark 8:34-36  “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

May the Lord helps us submit, which is the deep virtue of love, and our world needs this so desperately, as does our families, spouses, children and community.

Pastor Nate Elarton

The Discipline of Confession


It’s hard to be honest.  To speak of our own weaknesses  is against human nature.  We always want to protect ourselves and control what others think of us.

Honesty is another one of those character traits that just can’t become rare

Confession is being honest with God and others about our failures, fear, inadequacies, and even sin.

Our culture does not want to appear vulnerable or weak.  We care way too much what people think of us, and we even try and control their thought about us.  We want to impress others, to be loved, and in doing the things that require this to happen to we are not true to ourselves or to them.

We live in a world where secrets and shadows are the norm.  to be totally and honest with someone is a very special relationship.  Priceless I would say.

We have learned to be dishonest, because we are all judgmental, and we expose others weaknesses for our gain.  We are a dark bunch in that way.

Admitting fault is ever so difficult but a strong character link,  — It is tough to say “I did it”  “I was wrong”  “I can’t do that”  “I struggle with….”  This all admits weakness?  Maybe not, maybe this is admitting honesty which is humility, which is a godly attribute, the fruit of the Spirit, and an attribute of Christ.

When we practice confession as a discipline it shapes our heart, molds our spirit, and attracts Jesus.  Confession is coming clean with the truth with God and others.

There is some wisdom here from Solomon

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”  Proverbs 28.13

Confession is humility. and humility always attracts the Holy Spirit.

Unconfessed sin will harden our heart to sin, invite more and we may be in danger of straying away from the Lord.  Sin separates, plain and simple.  We have a promise and a wonderful invitation, to total forgiveness,

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:9–10, NASB95)

Go be free, confess, and enjoy the mercy and love of Jesus!

I made some space and listened.


This morning as I set on the patio, with my Bible, journal, prayer book. I did the few moments of silence, centering my groggy mind on the Lord, sipping some strong black coffee, and immediately sensed His special presence.  I encountered a “thin place”. A place where it seems my connection with the Lord became closer.  I enjoyed this time.  I sat a few minutes, sipping, thinking, and soaking in God’s love for me.  I did not hear this, but know in my spirit-nate that this is what the Holy Spirit was saying to me.  It was refreshing, and there was fullness of joy.

I read a few chapters in Romans, my psalms, prayed. People were on my mind and heart.  I read the Scriptures from my Prayer/devotional book. And these words jumped up from my heart.

“The LORD is my portion.”  Psalms 119.57

I thought and meditated on this.  I realized He is all I need.  I don’t need to get a million things done today. I don’t need to worry who will be affected if I don’t. I don’t need to purchase this or that.  The Lord is my portion. I am fulfilled and content.  I keep saying this in my mind. I said it out loud to myself and the Lord.  As I said it, the truth of it, ignited faith in my spirit.  Say it a few times out loud.

“The LORD is my portion.”  Psalms 119.57

“The LORD is my portion.”  Psalms 119.57

“The LORD is my portion.”  Psalms 119.57

Jesus is enough.

I’m so glad I made some room to listen this morning. portion

P. Nate Elarton

 

Making Room is Making Sacred Time


Making-RoomAs we started the series “Making Space” this weekend, we have begun a journey of the spiritual disciplines.  I shared on the spiritual disciplines, and the need for us to take focused time each day for prayer, worship, solitude, meditation, study, and wonderful fellowship with the Father.

“Giving God time is creating sacred space in our lives in which God can act.”

Some have asked me what I do.  I will give you today’s sacred time for me.

Monday is our Sabbath. After a full weekend with 3 services, preaching, talking, laughing, and serving, on Mondays I can be worn out spiritually. The Sabbath is not just a rest from work, but a rest from work in the Lord.  I need refilled and refreshed more than ever.  After the focused time with Father, I’ll take a walk with Wendy, maybe carve today, be with my dad, get some errands done, and I always try to have the mowing done so I don’t have to do that on Monday.

I awoke this morning, and am just finishing up some of my time. I came down the stairs, and as every morning Wendy was already in deep fellowship with the Lord.  I got my coffee (yes I have to have that) and went outside to our patio.   I will also take some sacred time and “make room” before the end of the day.  This morning I started with silence, coffee, and solitude.  I did some thinking. I heard the birds, the traffic, the silence, and then the Lord. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer, read and Prayed, though and about my “Daily Office”. I sat in silence, sipping my coffee, allowing my thoughts to be on God. I thanked him for the weekend, the provision of a new Family Life Pastor.  I said my confession of faith. I journaled a few simple thoughts and read Romans 1-5. I  I often paused my reading to reflect, to think, and to listen to the voice of my Father. I  journaled some prayers, prayed blessing upon my family, my kids, my week, our church.  I asked God to help me be a blessing. I prayed in my prayer language for a few minutes (tongues).

During my morning I always read more than the Bible.  I always have 4 or 5 books going at once, like my carving projects.  I am reading “Celebration of Discipline” again by Richard Foster. Finished the chapter on meditation.

It’s not complicated. It’s simple.  It’s the time priority that trips us up.  It’s not doing, it’s being with the Lord.  If we really take time, God will act deeply on our behalf, changing us, molding us, and spiritual shaping us.

The important point is taking time and making time.  We can always sleep a little longer, stay on our phones in the morning, turn the TV on right away to get our news “fix” or rush right on to all our tasks.  I am guilty of all of these things and have learned years ago that these will not add the value to myself, like time with the Living God.  During that time with Him, I find encouragement. I hear His voice about decisions. I ask Him about appointments during the day and often receive supernatural insight.  I reset in His fellowship and receive refreshing by His Spirit.  This time will help me keep my mind and thoughts on Christ during the day.  And if I do another short “Daily Office” during the day that will help even more.

My prayer and desire from Jesus and that we will make time to let Jesus by the power of His Spirit do His will in our lives, hearts, and souls.  From that will come change, from the inside out.                                         Praying for us all, Pastor Nate Elarton

Take some time to comment some of your thoughts about this.  thanks

Some Scripture that encourage

“My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation (Psalm 62.1).

“Deep calls to deep (Psalm 42.7).

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there (Mark 1.35).

“Be still and know that I am God (Psalms 42.10).”

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

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