The God Who Loves

Posted: May 21, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

Just like a jeweler uses a dark backdrop to show the different facets of the diamond, God uses the dark backdrop of Jonah’s boiling rage to display the facets of his glorious love. After preaching the sermon of the ages (chapter 3) through which an entire city was saved, Jonah express his anger towards God, that he would extend his mercy to the wicked people of Nineveh. God uses Jonah’s anger to show his love for his people. God uses less than perfect obedience in service. Anger is one letter away from danger. Unchecked anger not only puts oneself in danger but others around as well. Being more happy over God’s gifts than God is idolatry and massive instability. The only savior that is worm-proof is Jesus himself. God calls us to dangerous things but our calendars have already been printed. 

God’s affection for his people is clear, but just like Jonah we find ourselves caring more about “plants” than about people! Jonah mourned outside the city because the city of Nineveh repented, but several hundred years later the true and better Jonah would mourn outside the city of Jerusalem because people would not repent. And he walked into that city knowing that he was going to be tortured, brutally beaten, and ultimately hung on the cross to die, not just so that the people in the city would be forgiven, but so that we would also be forgiven. God’s love is universal and not tribal, it is undeserved and not earned, it is particular and not just general, and it is invasive and not passive. You can listen to this message on Jonah 4 by Pastor Mike HERE!
We are starting a new sermon series on the seven churches of Revelation! Come join us at the PO 11am Sunday morning to hear what God wants us to learn from the early churches!

 

The God of Mercy

Posted: May 13, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

There are just two religions in the world – Merit & Mercy. In religions of merit you must climb a ladder to get to god. In the religion of mercy (Christianity) God comes down the ladder to us; God is the God of mercy! As we saw in Jonah 3, God shows mercy to those who know better. Jonah did not deserve a second chance. We like think that we deserve a second chance but we don’t, and God doesn’t always give second chances.  Mercy is not getting what you deserve but getting something that you don’t. Jonah displayed willful and intentional disobedience. Yet God gave Jonah a second chance. He extends his mercy by not holding grudges. When we come to him in repentance for our great sin, he comes to us with greater grace, and he does not disqualify us for future service. Also, God is neither a negotiator nor a quitter. He is more interested in his work in you than through you. God is so committed to us that he won’t quit. God also shows mercy to those who hate him. Nineveh was a greatly wicked city, but also one in which he was greatly interested. God hates sin, but he loves people. He could have destroyed the city had he wanted to. Yet, the power of God fell on Jonah’s words and there was massive mercy in massive repentance. True repentance is being in right relationship with God no matter what people say, getting off your throne and letting God get on the throne of your heart, being humble, turning from sin, and appealing to the mercy of God alone. How can God not destroy a rebellious prophet and an evil city and not be a wicked judge? Because Jesus paid for it, coming down the ladder to take the hit that we deserved so that we would be forgiven. You can listen to this message by Pastor Mike on Jonah 3 HERE!

God’s Gracious Grasp

Posted: May 5, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized
“Then…” This is how Jonah 2 begins. After clearly hearing God’s call, disobeying, caught up in a storm, getting swallowed by a big fish, THEN Jonah prayed. In other words, Jonah’s prayer was born out of affliction, not of affection for God. Often we don’t hit our knees until we hit rock bottom, not praying for repentance until we feel the consequences of our disobedience. We are Jonah, not seeing the need for Jesus until we reach the end of our rope. Yet, despite our disobedience, God hears our cry. He is faithful despite our unfaithfulness. The faithfulness of Jesus to rescue us is not predicated on our goodness, merit, or deserving. It’s sheer grace. As we saw in Jonah’s prayer, he acknowledged that God was sovereign over everything that happened to him. God is the master orchestrator even in our disobedience and wickedness, saving us in spite of our sins. We are never too far from the gracious grasp of the God Almighty. Jonah’s disobedience lead him to the bottom of the sea, hopelessly drowning. Instead of falling in the hands of death, Jonah fell into the sweet embrace of the God who saves. When it all seems impossible, looks like its over, God has a way of coming in with impeccable timing, to swoop up and save. God saves us and he continues to save us, for no one is too far for God to rescue. Idols break the hearts of its worshipers. Who or what do you seek to save you from your loneliness? Troubles at home? Depression? The human heart is a factory of idols. We are all prone to wander, exalting things above God. Who is your savior daily? Is it your job? Approval of men? Family? Church? Just like the fish vomited out Jonah, God spoke to the grave and the grave spat out our Lord Jesus Christ and now salvation belongs to him. Have you surrendered your life? Where do you seek your peace? You can listen to this message on Jonah 2 by Pastor Tyler HERE!
Next Tuesday (May 12) is our next Plant Midwest Detroit Quarterly! As we normally do, we will be meeting at the PO (2701 Joy Rd) 9am – 1pm. Our speaker Terry Virgo is a seasoned sage on prayer and you won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear him speak on prayer and the leader’s prayer life.You can register for FREE at http://www.plantmidwest.com/event/spring-quarterly-2015/.

The God Who Pursues

Posted: April 27, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized
The Assyrians had a certain kind of pride in making their brutality known, just as lynching was a way of saying, “I hate you, I’m in power, and I’m going to destroy you.” As we saw last week, Jonah’s fear was what partially drove him to disobey God, but what really led him to take the ship to Tarshish was the fact that he knew God would show mercy and relent from the disaster if the people of Nineveh would repent, and he did not want to see this people avoid God’s judgment. Don’t we all have a little Jonah syndrome in us, thinking that there are people in our lives to whom God should never extend his mercy? In our fight for justice we should not reflect the very hate which fuels the hate we’re fighting against.
Jonas disobedience shines light on our own disobedience. Disobedience is functional atheism and a fool’s errand. Thinking that God does not exist in certain aspects of our lives, trying to live like God does not exist does not change the fact that he actually does exist and that he sees everything all the time at the same time. When you want to run from God, the devil always has a ride in the form of friends and opportunities, and he’s more than happy to take you in the direction of disobedience. Disobedience is fun for a minute but always takes you down, down, down. As we keep going down spiritually in our heart, sin keeps us longer than we want to stay, costing us more than we want to pay. Disobedience may happen alone but does not hurt you alone. How much have you been hurt by someone else’s disobedience? How much have you hurt those around you because of your disobedience? Disobedience is easily justified. Merely admitting disobedience is a bootleg confession. We are to admit and then to turn from our disobedience. Peace is not a test for what’s right. Obedience may actually take us into a place of turmoil. How does God pursue Jonah? God pursues Jonah by sending a storm, the storm of storms. Trials and danger can lead cussing men into praying men. Has God sent any storms your way? God then pursues Jonah by turning up the heat. We can’t see what God is doing in our storms because we are so bent on doing it our own ways, blinded by our sin. As it becomes clear that God’s will is over the storm and he continues to turn up the heat, Jonah actually does take ownership of his sin and turns to obedience. As a fruit of ownership and repentance of Jonah we encounter two miracles. The sea ceased from its raging, but more importantly, the sailors on the ship worship God, realizing that he is the true God who can create and calm the storm. Lastly, God pursues Jonah by rescuing him. When things are the darkest for this man, the hope shines the brightest. The God of relentless grace saves Jonah at his worst point. God is chasing after us to beat sin over its head, and he’s coming after us in mercy because the sin was judged on the cross as we put our faith in Him. You can listen to this message on Jonah 1 by Pastor Mike HERE
We’re painting the PO!  If you are available 5/1 (Fri) and/or 5/2(Sat) please email Peter Ashmore at p.ashmore@gmail.com for the details. The last work day we had at the PO there was a great turn out which made the load lighter for everyone! This will be a great opportunity to be part of the bigger vision of renovating the PO!

Lift up your eyes and see!

Posted: April 22, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized
The encounter between Jesus and the woman at the well broke every social convention. It was the most improbable meeting. However, Jesus intentionally made sure that it did happen. He went through Samaria because of her and he used this woman to bring a whole town. Jesus tells his disciples, “Lift up your eyes and see.” What was it that the disciples could not see? What is it that we cannot see? There are 4 reasons why we must lift up our eyes and see. There is a christologial reason. Jesus is our lord and he was a friend of sinners. This is why we are expected to be with sinners. There is also an anthropological reason. All people were created in the image of God, and simple for that reason, we must love on them, regardless of their shape or color. There is a missiological reason. Wherever we are going, we must make disciples, for that is Jesus’ calling for us. Lastly, there is an ecclesiological reason. The church is the instrument of God for restoration, salvation, building of his kingdom, and the demonstration of who God is. We have to do more than sociology. We have to be transformed and our theology must be re-calibrated, seeing the world in a way Jesus does. This doesn’t mean we stop being who we are. Whoever we are is God’s gift to the church, and he will use us within our own people to harvest. However, God may also place us in a areas in which we have not labored, having a whole other harvest prepared for us. He will use us in the most unlikely places in the most unlikely ways, all for his glory. Let us Lift up our eyes and see! Thank you Alex Mandes (Director of Hispanic Ministries in the EFCA) for sharing this message from John 4. You can read a helpful article by Alex on multiethnic ministry here.

A handful of us from Restore are driving down to Memphis, TN to attend the Kainos conference. Please keep us in your prayers for safe travels and that God may use this conference and our time there to better equip us as a multi-ethnic church!

 

 

God of Outrageous Grace

Posted: April 15, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized

What is grace? God’s undeserving favor to ill-deserving people like us, the glorious reality that separates itself from anything else the world has to offer. But the reality is that even we as believers can get this twisted. Cheap grace? Not-them grace? Earned grace? Limited grace? The book of Jonah corrects these views as it displays the God of outrageous grace. God exceeds normal expectations to pour out His grace. As we will see throughout the book, Jonah is not the hero of the story and we should be able to identify with the fear of Jonah. Jonah being told to deliver the message of judgment over the land of Ninevah was like the Coptic Christians going to an ISIS camp and sharing the gospel. But it’s not just the fear that motivates his disobedience; it is also the hate, for he does not believe that they deserve God’s mercy. Jonah shows us our struggle to love on people whom we do not want to. As shown in his obedience and disobedience, Jonah also displays the spiritual bipolar disorder with which we as followers of Christ all struggle. This is why we must look at the main character and true hero, God himself. Throughout the series we will see how He is the God who pursues, saves, shows mercy, and loves as the true hero of this story. He is the God of outrageous grace because he is the sovereign king who reigns, because he hears and answers our prayers, because he cares for the untouchables, and because he sent his son Jesus Christ, who was rejected, and ultimately, crucified for our sins. Jesus saw our wickedness but in joy he took our condemnation. You can listen to this introductory sermon by Pastor Mike to kick off our sermon series on the book of Jonah HERE!

Speaking of kicking off, we are also kicking off Restore Flag Football this upcoming Saturday (4/18) 10 am at Hutchins School (8820 Woodrow Wilson St, Detroit, MI 48202). As Pastor Mike put it,”this is a great opportunity to love on and connect with our great community!” Even if you can only stop by for a couple of hours, we’d love to see you there!

 

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday

Posted: April 10, 2015 by Nick in Uncategorized
What makes Good Friday actually “good?” That’s a great question because maybe a better expression would be Horrific/Evil/Bad/Catastrophic Friday when you think of what Jesus went through. He suffered massively! Who killed Jesus? The Jewish authorities? The Roman authorities? Us? Yes, we crucified him, but ultimately, in his sovereignty and omnipotence, it was all according to the Father’s plan that the sinless one laid down his life for the sin of all mankind. God’s purpose on the cross was to satisfy his own judgment against sin. So why did God do this? Because he loves us. The horrific events on Good Friday are gloriously salvific because God was working to save his people. Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for you. You can listen to this message from Good Friday preached by Pastor Mike HERE!

At some point in time, each and everyone of us was an enemy to God, all in need of a mediator. Jesus took our punishment so we could receive his peace. We now have the peace of God. We are to remember where we came from, separated from God and strangers without hope. We deliberately chose the life without God. But.. BUT! Once far from God, we were brought near to the love of God through the blood of Jesus. Though we were sinful, doomed to suffer in eternity, Christ brought us home. Where would we be without Jesus? Do you have this peace? Have you made peace with God through his Son? Have you surrendered your life to this Savior? Are you standing in his peace or your own righteousness? Not only did Jesus’ death and resurrection cause peace between us and the Father, but it also caused the truce with our earthly enemies. Because we have the peace of God, we have peace with one another. In our sin, not only do we build brick walls but also spoken walls.  We’re all responsible. Walls of division and hostility. Walls of race and classism. By his death, Jesus broke down these walls. What can bring together people who hate each other? The resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because he got up, the walls came down. The sacrificial death and the triumphal resurrection of Jesus Christ was the TNT to destroy all dividing walls past, present, and future. His church is revolutionary where rich and poor, black and white, men and women, all come together as one body. The body of Christ is like gumbo, some of this some of that, and it tastes like nothing else in this world! So what does this all mean? We must come to Jesus, surrendering our lives. We must tear down our walls of hostility. We must be peacemakers. What can we do to build bridges in our community? What can we put our hands on? Are we people who bring other people together or pull them apart? You can hear this message from Resurrection Sunday by Pastor Tyler HERE!

We will be starting a new sermon series on the book of Jonah! Join us on Sunday 11am at The Post Office! 


Jonah