Anticipate Great Things

One thing you may not know about me is that I am a world news junkie! If you ask my wife, Heidi, she will roll her eyes saying, “Oh really, you think!” I watch and listen to several news outlets to keep up on world events. As I do so, I have to keep reminding myself that God is sovereign in the midst of this mess. It is easy to become pessimistic when it seems like so many things are going wrong and the world continues to seemingly spin out of control. The Apostle Paul is a prime example for us to follow of one person who received bad news and experienced difficult circumstances, yet remained positive that great things would happen regardless. Paul regularly experienced the abuses of an unrighteous, decadent Roman Empire. He saw paganism and idolatry running rampant within the entire known world as well as his own nation of Israel. He endured personal attacks from other “believers”, imprisoned by multiple civic authorities and stoned to the point of death by his own people. What a life!
In the midst of persecution, Paul declares while in chains in Philippians 1:12-14 & 20 NLT, “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear…For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.” He always saw the great things God was doing and anticipated great things to happen regardless of what the devil brought his way. Whether he lived or died, God will be glorified and great things were on their way.
You may feel that aspects of your life are being riddled with trials and struggles that are bringing you down. News that you receive from some may not be pleasing to your ears. But God is still in control and he will not allow you to go through anything you cannot handle without providing a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13). And always be reminded, as the Apostle indicated, whether we live or die, have great wealth or live in modesty, like what we currently view or are dismayed by the news, God will be glorified in us and great things are on the horizon for those who keep their eyes on Jesus.

Pastor Hayden

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Thrive Where Planted

I heard a phrase from a wise mentor of mine when I was going through a particularly difficult time early on in my ministry. He said to me, “God will use you and bless you no-matter what circumstances surround you. He will bless you where you are, He can’t bless you where you are not.” When I find myself going through a difficult time, the Lord seems to always bring that phrase to my remembrance.

In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul addresses this same concept as he struggles to deal with his own “thorn in the flesh.” We do not know exactly what this thorn in the flesh was that oppressed him whether it was a person, a sickness, a physical challenge or another difficult circumstance in Paul’s life. It really does not matter what it was, what is important is the attitude Paul embraced and the manner in which he dealt with his thorn. What we know is that it was something the Apostle requested of the Lord to be removed yet God refused saying, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” God lets Paul know that it is this place of weakness that God can display his power in our lives. Isn’t that how God’s power shows up most of the time? When we can’t, He always can? Otherwise, we tend to give credit to the person for accomplishments or to ourselves regarding those things that only God can do.

Because of this revelation, Paul declares that he will emphatically boast about his weakness so as to bring more glory and honor to God. This might translate in how we approach our jobs, school, an illness or accident incurred, a person or persons who rub us the wrong way, or any situation that would taunt and tempt us to give up and quit.

When a believer pushes through an obstacle, crashes through a wall meant to defeat them, and keeps on going, it brings glory and honor to God.

Are you going through a difficult time right now? Have you prayed, yet it appears that God has refused to remove the thorn? In the place you seem planted, trust the Lord. As you do so, His strength will become apparent in your weakness.

Pastor Hayden

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Face of Faith, Part 2 Active Faith

On the sign out in front of the Church, we read the message that “faith goes where the eyes cannot see;” an excellent posting for our community and a needed message for God’s people. If we believe what God has told us in the Bible, we will do what it says. Our actions will be shaped by His Word and not by what we perceive by our five physical senses.
In the book of James 2:14, 17-18 tells us, “ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, ‘You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’”
Putting feet to what we believe is the active part of faith. If we believe that prayer works (as the Bible tells us), we will take time to prayer. If we believe that worshipping and fellowshipping together as one Body of Christ is important (as the Bible tells us), we will come together at Church regularly. If we believe that faith does come by hearing God’s Word and faith is absolutely vital to us (as the Bible tells us), we will make it a priority to read and study the Word each day.
To be effective, faith must be active. It is not enough just to say you believe something. The devil himself believes in Jesus and knows that He is the Christ, yet Satan will never submit to Him. If we say we believe Jesus is Lord of all, faith compels us to follow Him and to put into action His Word in our life. Our active faith is a testimony to the world that we truly believe in Jesus as our Lord as well as Savior.

Be blessed and be grateful,

Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church

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Face of Faith, Part 1

Trust does not always come easily. It often takes a period of time to develop the type of relationship that promotes and allows trust to flourish. But it is that very relationship that God invites us into. Jesus calls us to follow Him, to know Him, to love Him, and to trust Him, to trust Him even when the situation warrants skepticism and doubt. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we read, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

When the fortress city of Jericho kept the Israelites from taking the land that God had promised them, Joshua became one of the many faces of faith. God instructed Joshua and the Israelites to do something that was absolutely crazy. They were told to march around the city quietly seven days in a row and to shout with all their strength on that last day. If they trusted God and were obedient to His Word, they would see victory. If not, they would never be able to breach the city’s walls. Joshua trusted the Lord’s instructions, not leaning on his own understanding and did the crazy thing, believing God over the wisdom of men. As a result, the city was delivered into the hands of the Hebrews and the first victory in the Promised Land was assured.

God’s Word does not always make sense. God tells us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). We cannot always judge situations by what we see or reason as to the problem or the corresponding solution according to how we feel about it. Jesus simply tells us to have faith in God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:5-6).

Be blessed even more,

Pastor Chris Hayden
Central Christian Church

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What Would You Have Me Do?

In the book of Matthew, the 20th chapter, an account of two blind men sitting by the wayside unfolds. Jesus is just leaving Jericho as he passes by these two souls. He has no plans to stop, He is not heading for them to give aide; Jesus is just passing by. In fact, due to being followed by a multitude of others, unless these two were to call out His name, the impression given to the reader is that the Lord may not have even known they were there. But not only did they call out for the Lord, they kept calling even though chided by the mob to be still. Even then, Jesus does not just go to them to heal them, rather He asks a question. Matthew 20:32 – “…What would you have me do for you?”

Now what kind of question is that? It is obvious that these two are blind and in need of healing. The crowd knows it. Jesus knows this as well. Yet He still asks the question, “What would you have me do for you?” Why ask if the Lord already knew what they needed? It seems that in most cases, with a few exceptions, Jesus did a miracle for a person only after two things took place. In Matthew 7:7-11 says, 7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? The first is the person in need had the faith to come to the Lord for help. We see this in case after case as people approached Him. The second thing would in veritably happen. Jesus would ask, what we might interpret in present day vernacular, “What’s the problem?”

If you have a need, first come to the Lord. Second, let Him know what you need and ask Him to provide it. Often, we just sit around worrying about a problem just waiting for God to do something and complaining when He doesn’t. Have you gone to the Lord in prayer and asked Him to provide for your need? One last thing, if the answer is yes to the last question, remember the final part. You can find the final key to receive from the Lord by looking up and reading Mark 11:24 and Proverbs 3:5.

Be blessed,

Pastor Chris

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