I have a new website! You will be redirected to my brand new blog. Cory Nickols: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Having Eyes To See

For many years of my life, I did not see anyone hurting because I was so hurt. I thought I was the only one going through rough times and honestly, I did not care about the problems or challenges of other people. Was I a Christian? Yes, but a very carnal, self absorbed one at best. In college, God became the center of my life and He began to heal me from the inside out. Shortly after this took place, I was asked to volunteer as a youth leader on a rafting/ camping trip with a Christian ministry. I accepted the invitation and it dramatically changed the way I look at life. For the first time, I saw other hurting people and it was like God took the veil off my eyes to see. I remember this young kid maybe 10 or 11 years old. He was the tough guy on the trip, but was maybe pushing 70 lbs…really intimidating. He was the loud one in the bunch and many of the other kids made fun to the point a fight broke out amongst them. I broke it up and went on a walk with this young kid. He began to open up to me about his life at home…no dad, his mom was a drug addict and her live-in boy friend was high on drugs trying to beat her. He told me he had to kick his mom’s significant other out of the house and fend for his younger sister. He was crying while sharing with me. My heart broke for this young boy and I so wanted to make a difference in his life. I cannot remember everything I shared with him, but I showed him the love that God was showing me. I listened a lot and was just there for him!

How would the world look if we had eyes to see the way God sees? Would we react differently to situations that cause us to want to run in the opposite direction or say something we regret later? I am reminded of the woman caught in adultery.

John 8:3-11
As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

The religious leaders saw a woman who had fallen short of the law. They wanted to condemn her and see she got her just punishment. Jesus saw a woman in need of His love, acceptance and forgiveness. As she turned to Him for help, He would empower her to change. It was His act of love and mercy that drew her to God. She knew she had messed up and was well aware of her own sinful condition. God sees so differently than we do and we need to ask God to help us see from His perspective. Otherwise, we are blind guides leading people down a wrong path instead of into the Savior’s arms.

When I lived in Atlanta, I was involved with a youth group at the church I attended. One night, I took two other youth leaders out to dinner and while we were standing in line to order, a woman looked at me and very rudely said, “Are you done ordering? There are a lot of people in line behind you!” I was definitely taken by surprise with her response.  However, I started to mature in my Christian walk to know that I do not react by the way that I feel, so I got quiet and was trying to listen to what God wanted me to say to her. I looked straight at her and spoke what the Lord put on my heart and she said back to me, “what you said was of God!” She then started asking me all sorts of questions about my relationship with God and while I was talking, an older gentleman had been listening to our conversation while standing behind us and he asked if he and the lady I was talking with could sit down with me and my friends. I said of course. They both began to share the difficult situations going on in their lives. At the end of our conversation, which lasted 2.5 hours, they asked if I would disciple them. I graciously said yes, and I started my first bible study at my house for the two of them and some friends in my cul-de-sac. This was the beginning of my ministry.

Just think if I had given this woman a piece of my mind. I would not have had the opportunity to minister to her and bring healing into her life. The same is true of the gentleman I spoke with. Jesus used me as His ambassador because my heart and spiritual eyes were open to His leading. What if Jesus would have responded the way the religious leaders wanted Him to? Do you think the woman would have received Jesus as her Savior and Lord? Too many of us respond out of the flesh and never see God move in a powerful way because we cannot discern His voice and be led by Him. Jesus, when put into a difficult spot, crouched down in the sand and waited on God to give Him direction. Then He got up and spoke what the Father wanted Him to say.

The next time you find yourself dealing with difficult people ask God to help you see from His vantage point and give you the wisdom to speak a word of encouragement or to respond properly. You never know, it just might save somebody’s life. Hurting people hurt people. It is easy to fall into this cycle, but it takes a mature person being led by the Spirit of God to respond correctly. Will you allow God to lead and guide you to be a healing vessel to people in your world? Maybe you have not had eyes to see for years like I did, but God is whispering to you today to open your spiritual eyes and accomplish the good works He has in store for you. Will you have eyes to see?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

God Is Pleased With Who He Made You

Have you ever struggled with self-image problems? Maybe you have an insecurity with your voice, or the way you look. Maybe you don’t like how thin your hair is, the color of your eyes or your dominant personality isn’t quite like your best friend’s mild soft spoken demeanor. Most of us, if we are honest do not like certain aspects about who we are; whether it is our personality, looks, race or financial status. The truth is God created you special and unique and He did not want you to be just like everyone else. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn. One day about 9 years ago, I was driving back to my parent’s house and God whispered in my heart, “I am pleased with who I made you.” I wondered why God would say such a thing to me because I thought I had a pretty good self-esteem. However, over the next several months and years, God began to expose so many areas of my life where I was not pleased with who God created me to be. One area in particular had to do with my voice. I was a late bloomer and my voice did not change until I was at least 16 years old. When I would talk on the phone, people would mistake me for a woman’s voice and I would get so frustrated. I even would try to lower my voice, but it did not work out very successfully. I hated talking in front of people because of my voice even though I was a gifted communicator. I constantly thought about it and wished I had a different voice. Even when my voiced changed to become much deeper, these insecurities still haunted me for years! When they tried to over take my mind, the Holy Spirit would remind me that He was pleased with who He made me! Little by little, I began to believe God and trust that He does not make junk.  The Bible says, “God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27 Amplified Bible). I am made in the image of God. He formed me and knew me before I was born and knew the reason He created me. The Bible says, “Then the word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah], saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations’” (Jeremiah 1:4-5 Amplified Bible). This scripture is powerful because God is saying that before Jeremiah was born God knew him and approved of him. God had a unique calling on Jeremiah’s life and created his personality, looks, skills and talents to accomplish God’s plan for his life. What was true for Jeremiah is also true for us. God created you and me in His image and tailored all our traits that make us distinct and different from anyone else on earth! God does not make trashy stuff. When I finally started believing God at His word, I began having confidence in Him and began using the gifts and talents He gave me. I now am a public speaker that God is using to help people come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. If I would have continued to believe the lies of the devil about my voice, I might never have stepped into all that God desired of me. Will you start to believe that God created you unique and special and that He is pleased with who He made you? You are not an accident, but were handcrafted by the Creator of the universe. He loves you, believes in you, and wants you to understand your value and your worth in His eyes! He is pleased with who He made You.

Friday, March 18, 2011

God Wants You To Hear From Him - Are You Listening?

God has an amazing plan for your life, but sometimes we fail to hear His voice and follow him. Cory shares some very practical ways in which we as Christians can hear from God and live out our God-given Destiny!

God Wants You To Hear From Him - Are You Listening? Part 3
God Wants You To Hear From Him - Are You Listening? Part 4

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is Your Worship Real Worship To God?

I had the amazing privilege of worshiping God with thousands of other people at a Christian worship concert this past week. It was truly an amazing experience listening to everyone’s voices and watching people raise their hands to the Living God. It is so amazing that we can worship God with an outward expression. However, just because we worship God outwardly with voices raised and hands held high doesn’t mean our worship is pleasing to God. He wants so much more from His people. The Bible says in

Matthew 15:1-9, “Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

Jesus was saying that the Pharisees put a higher regard for their religious rules rather than obeying God’s word and following His heart. God said through the prophet that they gave God lip service, but really did not have concern for what God thought was important! Again the Bible says in

Matthew 15:18-20a, “But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you.”

God looks at the heart and sees what man is really thinking and the motives behind the actions. We can put on a show for others and look spiritual on the outside, but God looks beyond appearance and knows our true intentions and the way we live our lives the other six days of the week.

For many years of my Christian life I gave God lip service, but my heart was far from His heart. I struggled with pornography, unforgiveness toward several people who had hurt me, lying, cheating, slander and talking bad about people behind their back, selfishness and insecurities.  The list could go on. I was a mess on the inside, but failed to realize that God was concerned with my very thoughts and my inner man.

I remember when I was in high school; I went to a Christian school and took a trigonometry class. I had to do well in it because I had a very good GPA and I did not want it to go down. We graded our own homework assignments much of the time and being the spiritual giant I was, I cheated on several of my assignments to get a better grade. Now, at the time, I tried to convince myself that I meant to put the right answer and reasoned through why it was acceptable for me to cheat. However, deep in my heart I knew it was wrong. Then I would go and worship God on Sunday morning or in chapel and let everyone know I was a great Christian man. One day at school, the trigonometry teacher taught a devotion for our whole class and he talked about how a young man cheated in his class several years earlier. God did a deep work in the young man and he felt a conviction from the Holy Spirit to go back to the teacher and ask for forgiveness for what he had done. Well, the Holy Spirit convicted me for months and months afterwards, but I refused to obey God for fear of not getting a good grade. Years went by and God finally softened my heart to His leading in college. Every time I came home from school, God would remind me to go back to this teacher and ask for forgiveness for cheating in his class. I finally mustard up enough courage to obey God and go make it right. I went into the school and had lunch with my younger brother and afterward ran into my old trigonometry teacher. I told him what God was doing in my life and how He kept asking me to come to him and ask for forgiveness for cheating in his class. My old teacher said, “You are totally forgiven and God can forgive any sin.” I went away from the school on cloud nine because I walked in obedience to God and made things right with my teacher! When I got back to my car, there was a song on the radio that said, “How good it is to be forgiven of your sin.” I began praising and worshiping God and I knew that my worship was acceptable and honoring to Him because I was willing to do what He asked of me. A heart that is open to His leading is a heart that truly worships God. The Bible says in

Isaiah 1:16-19, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes! Cease to do evil, Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;”

When we do the things that are pleasing to Him and not just follow a bunch of religious rules, we bring pleasure to His heart and our righteousness will break forth like the morning! As we learn God’s ways and walk in obedience to Him, He will lead our lives down such a rewarding path. Is God tugging at your heart? Are there areas of your life that He wants you to deal with? It could be unforgiveness toward a loved one or friend, an unhealthy sexual lifestyle, gossip and slander toward an individual or church. Maybe it is spending more time with Him, helping your neighbor across the street or stepping out to go on a missions trip? You might be in a place where I was for many years; going through the motions, but not really connected to God. In humility ask God to forgive you for your past indifference and to help you live a life fully devoted to Him. My prayer is that you obey the convictions of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide you to a place of victory. True worshipers of God honor and please Him and do not just give Him lip service. Take it from me. When you do it God’s way, life is truly worth living!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Second Published Article by The Good News

Have you ever wondered if God could forgive you of your past mistakes or somehow turn your failures around and use them for good?  Do you feel like you are washed up and beyond God's grace to repair and restore your life?  Read my second published article for the Good News newspaper: Broken But Not Destroyed.  Once you click on the link, my article is on page 17 of the newspaper.

Broken But Not Destroyed