The city of Smyrna was a hot bed of Caesar worship, which then presented a conflict for the Christians. As we saw with the early church leader Polycarp, whose faith lead to martyrdom, suffering was not a matter of if, but a matter of when and how. Polycarp or punk-out? Courageous or cowardeous? Stand fast or sit down? When we take our faith in Christ public in a pagan world, we will suffer. The letter to the church in Smyrna gives us three reasons we can stand stand firm in our faith in times of suffering. Because Jesus knows our suffering we can stand fast. We don’t serve a distant deity. Jesus is near to us and he knows all about our suffering. The church of Smyrna was impoverished because of financial persecution they were experiencing, due to their faith in the Savior and not Caesar. How can Jesus say that this impoverished and afflicted church is rich? Because when Jesus is all we have, we learn that Jesus is all we need. Suffering strips us of everything and all we have left is Jesus, who actually first got a hold of us. We will be slandered for our faith in Jesus Christ, and he knows all about it. It was his rejection and suffering that has allowed our salvation. Because Jesus controls our suffering we can stand fast. Behind all opposition there is demonic opposition, but Jesus harnesses that opposition with a purpose. Suffering is a separator, testing the reality of our faith and whether or not we truly do put our faith in him and in him only. He controls the purpose of our suffering and he limits the extent of our suffering. Lastly, because Jesus has a promise for our suffering we can stand fast. This crown of life is not only for exceptional super Christians, but for all Christians, everyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ. There are no prizes for how we start the race, only for how we finish. And we can finish well by looking to the one who ran and finished the race perfectly and won the victory on our behalf! Jesus doesn’t promise us roses, but commands us to be faithful unto death for he will give us the crown of life. We are called to take daily doses of martyrdom through daily doses of self-denial for the sake of His name! Sadly. we’ve all punked-out, been a coward, and sat down rather than stood fast. But just like Jesus restored Peter when he pinked out, he can restore and use us even after we punk out! This should give us massive encouragement. It’s all about Jesus, and the perseverance of the Savior! You can listen to this message on the church of Smyrna from Revelation 2 by Pastor Mike HERE!
We’ve all received report cards from school and many of us may have received evaluations from our work places. As we saw in the letter written to the church in Ephesus, the Ephesians are similarly given a report to how they are doing and how they should be doing. This letter to the church of Ephesus from the book of Revelation is comprised of a relevant introduction, a penetrating evaluation, a corresponding exhortation, and a motivating benediction. What good is a tasty salad with steak strips if dry cow manure is sprinkled over it? In a similar way, the church is acknowledged for the good work they were doing, but what was lacking was their love for God, their first love. It’s not enough just to be right and to do right. When our hearts are in the right place, our actions follow through and we are led to doing the right things. We need to remember the times when it was a joy to discover more about who God was and what he wanted from us, how we would do things we never used to do.We are to remember who it is that we actually serve, the God who created this universe and has authority over all things. We also need to repent, owning our sin of lovelessness and confessing our hearts. We will then see it is actually God who is the one running towards us, the one who always has been pursuing after our hearts. Lastly, we must resume, continuing with the good that we do for the glory of God. We must not stop when things are not going well. In Jesus Christ, there is much grace and mercy. Where is your heart today? What motivates you to do the things that you do? You can listen to this passage on the letter to the church in Ephesus by Pastor Clete HERE!
“I love Jesus but I don’t like the church!” Really? Can you love Jesus but hate that which he loves, died for, and now calls his bride? It doesn’t add up to hate that which Jesus dearly loves. It’s a fallacy, hypocrisy, utter foolishness and anti-doxological. The church is the primary place on earth where God wants to display his glory and the primary instrument through which God will gather His people. Our vision of Jesus will drive our view of the church. Jesus is present in his church. We must know that the one and only one always standing in our midst is Jesus, and he is very present in a unique way when his people gather to worship him. Jesus is also powerful over his church. Jesus not only has power over all the earth but also over his church, where we uniquely encounter the power of God. Lastly, Jesus is pastoring his church by his work on the cross, through which he purchases his people, and by his word, through which he speaks to his people. You can listen to this sermon to kick off our sermon series on the 7 churches in Revelation by Pastor Mike HERE!
Are you looking for an intimate group of believers who are seeking to make disciple-making disciples?Looking for a community to serve your neighbors? It’s time for you to get connected with a Dgroup! The summer months are the best time to grow closer with a Dgroup family through serving our community, whether that may be clean ups, cook outs, or by simply praying for each other. The different Dgroups meet throughout the week and if you would like to learn more about Dgroups and how they are an integral part of what we do at Restore, feel free to contact Pastor Clete at email@example.com!
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.
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!