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5 Hope Killers

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Hope isn’t natural. It’s a decision

This month we’ve focused on our hope in God. We long for hope here and know we have a hope in heaven. Abiding in hope can be difficult, though. Like faith and love, our hope can be tested and exhausted by everyday life.

Here are some hope killers we need to avoid:


SHAME

Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 

Shame is opposed to hope. Shame is natural. Hope isn’t. God’s salvation through Jesus saves us from the penalty of sin, but also the shame sin fosters. If you are dealing with shame I’d simply ask,

“Is this shame over something you’ve already repented of and asked God’s forgiveness for?”

If so, take comfort, God has forgiven you and you aren’t what you’ve done. If it’s shame over sin you’re currently committing, God is convicting your heart to bring you to repentance. That’s more conviction than shame. Conviction is good as long as it leads us to repentance. Shame and guilt don’t lead to repentance. They only lead us away from hope, forgiveness and peace.

MATERIALISM

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

When we focus on material possessions, it’s easy to get discouraged. The wild truth is even those with much tend to want even more. If our hearts are set on wealth, power, and the like our hearts will never be satisfied. Materialism can rob us of the hope God longs for us to abide in.

REGRET

Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

We all have regrets. There are days and conversations we wish we could change. Living a life focused on the failures of the past can rob us of our hope in the future. Throughout the NT we are encouraged to focus on hope and let go of the past. Paul had much to regret: persecution, unbelief, wasted years, etc. Yet he focused on all that lay ahead.

WORRY

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I’m a worry wart. I’ve always been a big dreamer as well as a big worrier. I have huge aspirations for the future coupled with massive fears of what could go wrong. The recipients of Jeremiah 29:11 were facing dangerous and difficult days, yet God encouraged them not to lose hope. Philippians 4:6,7 puts it simply: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we abide in constant worry it’s difficult to have hope. Worry can strangle hope with a million little questions and fears. There is a time to plan. Then there’s a time to pray and trust God with our plans.

MISPLACED HOPE

Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Here’s the best news: our hope isn’t dependent upon our skill, our goodness or merits. Our hope is based on God and his mercy, justice, grace and holiness.

Here’s the worst news: we tend to place our hope in everything but God.

Paul put it this way in 1 Timothy 6:17:  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 147:11: the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

It’s easy to be hopeful when my career, relationships, health, and heart are satisfied. When things aren’t going so well, hope is more difficult. Hope must be a decision I make daily. I will hope in God and his promises, not my feelings or accomplishments (they change so easily). So let me ask you bluntly:

What are you placing your hope in today?

When do you feel closest to God?

I am part of a small group that's going through questions about God. One of the questions posed this week was, "when do you feel closest to God?" I had to really stop and think. I can name many instances I've had intimate times with God, but the timing is always the same. I feel closest to God when I've take a big risk for His kingdom. Whether that's inviting someone to church, sharing the gospel, investing actual dollars in missions, or just leading the church into a risky situation that only God could see us through, it always results in a real dependence upon and closeness with God. I believe it happens for a few reasons.

1. My faith is tested. I'm afraid too often I avoid situations that will stretch or test my faith. I enjoy the safety of the status quo. Testing isn't something to avoid. It's something to lean into.

2. My ideal resolution does't happen. In my mind I imagined God would fix this another way. I assumed He'd use some method I can wrap my head around. It rarely happens that way. This forces me to realize it was never my leadership or sensibilities that resolved the situation.

3. My faith is strengthened. God shows up, or guides, or fixes whatever was amiss. The end result is always the same. My faith is strengthened through the testing. This is why I tend to be more of a risk taker (in terms of my faith) the older I get. I've seen Him do amazing work in me and through me. I hope to take more risks and see God do more in the days ahead.

 

So let me ask you. When do you feel closest to God?

 

 

-Pastor Marc

What's your next step?

This week at Restore we had FOUR people (Terry, Jenny, Caleb, and Alex) take their next step with baptism!! 

What's your next step? Pastor Marc taught us this week from Ephesians 2:4-10 on how we can take the steps to having a better relationship with God. Here's what you missed!


God said, ‘I want you to be Mine and I want to be yours.”
— Marc

SPend time with God

The more time that we spend with God, the more we come to realize how perfect He is and how far we are from Him. But that isn't supposed to discourage us, it's supposed to encourage us to strive to be more like God in how loving, merciful, and gracious we are with other people.

Jesus has called you to change your world

Our focus shouldn't be to change the whole world, but to change our community, our workplace, our families, and ourselves for Jesus.

it starts with your relationship with god

Before we can change our world God has to change us first. God wants to rescue you from who you were. God wants to redeem you into who you were called to be. And through you God wants change the world.

 

Here's a video of this weeks message.

What does it look like to Step Up in faith?


WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO STEP UP?

Life consists of a multitude of daily decisions. With each of these decisions we must come to a conclusion on whether we say yes or no. There is no backseat to these decisions that we face. When we answer the call to accept Christ into our lives we are actually giving a two-fold answer. First, we answer that we believe in Christ's complete sacrifice for all sin. The second of which is that we choose to live our lives for Christ, in the same way that He lived, to the best of our ability. In James 1:19-27 we read that we should not only be hearers of the Word of God, but doers as well. We aren't called to live life with a backseat mentality, we are called to Step Up and take action.

HOW DO I TAKE MY FIRST STEP?

Our first step starts with having faith in Christ and that he will be glorified in our decisions. Colossians 1:15-20 tells us that everything begins and ends with Christ. Our faith in Christ is what saves us, but our faith should produce works. James 2:14-26 explains that our faith is to be active along with our works, and that our faith is completed by our works. Faith and works aren't separate. When we choose to STEP UP in our faith in Christ, genuine love will be the product.

Maybe you're trying to decide to STEP UP to a new relationship, an engagement, or marriage. Maybe you've wanted to STEP UP to a new job opportunity. Maybe you've been afraid to STEP UP and share your faith in Christ. We weren't made to remain idle. We were made to do. We were made to love.

 

What step are you trying to make now?

There is a first step for everything, but our first step is only the beginning. 

What's your next step?


This week at Restore Pastor Marc taught from Matthew 14:22-33 and challenged us to take our Next Step. Here are a few takeaways from this week.

WHEN SHOULD I START MY NEXT STEP?

Anytime life calls us to step up in any aspect of life our first inclination is to wait till things are just right. But we don't live in a perfect world. More likely than not things will never be "just right" for us to make our next step. In Matthew 14 Jesus made his disciples leave by boat before he spent some time alone to pray. Directly after this we read that his disciples were being tossed by the waves. They were terrified that they wouldn't make it out alive, but during this storm that they were passing through Jesus appeared. WALKING. ON. WATER. But during all of this Peter asked, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." Jesus replied, "Come." 

We can't wait for things to be perfect. Jesus knew that this storm would come and he still commanded his disciples to go ahead of him. They thought that they were alone and doomed, but Jesus knew all along that he would come to lead them out of disaster. 

BUT WHAT IF I FAIL?

When Peter trusted Jesus, he walked to him. ON. THE. WATER. But as soon as Peter began to doubt in fear he started sinking. He cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out and took his hand. Failure is a real thing. It happens, but we can't be afraid of failure just because it may happen. There are times that Christ calls us out to do miraculous things that we can't begin to comprehend and all we have to do is trust in Christ.

Jesus told Peter to come to him on the water and Peter walked to him. What is he calling you to do?

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ON THE STEP YOU're ON?

 

Here's a video of Pastor Marc on how we make our next steps.

Three benefits of joining a small group


ACCOUNTABILITY

When we give our lives over to Christ and choose to follow Him we give up the way we use to live our lives. Colossians 3:1-17 talks about putting to death everything that is earthly in us. This sounds easier said than done, and rightly so if we attempt putting to death our earthly desires on our own. But we weren't designed to live this life alone. The saying that, "there is strength in numbers," applies to our lives as we live for Christ. In the same passage about putting to death our desires it also says in verse 16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom." Joining a small group gives you the opportunity to live out Christianity by bearing each your burdens with other Christians as we all are putting to death those earthly desires within us.

ENCOURAGEMENT

But it doesn't stop at accountability. Small groups don't stop with us only holding one another accountable. We need encouragement. Through encouragement we build one another up so that we have strength to persist through the difficulties that we face. Living for Christ isn't always easy, but that's why God gave us each other. 

WATER

Water serves many purposes. Of all it's purposes, the most important of which is that water brings life. We need water to live. The same is true for us as Christians, but our water is the Word. Joining a small group is refreshing. It's an opportunity to learn more about living for Christ. We need the Word so that we can grow as Christians. The thing that is so amazing about water is that, if there is enough of it, it can carve through mountains and terrain. The water that we drink, the Word of God, is just like that water. When we have it behind us it will cut through anything.

Three ways to live generously

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give some of your treasure

Our first thought when it comes to generosity always goes to money.  Many in the church give a tithe of our income, but is that where giving stops? Giving to the church should only be the start. There are plenty of people in our city that are struggling. How can you give some of your treasure? Maybe it looks like supporting a local food bank. Maybe it looks like finding someone who hasn't eaten today and paying for them to have food. What if you paid for the groceries of a single mom next week? Jesus said where our treasure is, our heart will be. Let's have a heart for the church and our community.

Give some of your talent

We often assume that talent only relates to playing an instrument, juggling, or performing a back handspring. Those are great talents to have, but there are so many more things out there we can use. This week one of our guys was retelling the story how he met his neighbor. His neighbor is 20 years younger and really looks up to him because he's handy. The last few weeks they've been changing oil, simple home maintenance and more. This middle-aged gentleman is being generous with his talent. As a result he's mentoring a young man he just met. Maybe you can affect your neighborhood just by going out to love and encourage your neighbors. Maybe you're the kind of person who is good at orchestrating and gathering people of different talents to do a great thing in your community. When you know what you're capable of, you can begin to share that talent with others.

Give some of your time

This sounds so simple, but sometimes giving our time is the most difficult thing to give. You've probably had a busy week. Things have not gone the way you had hoped and you've been playing catch up since Monday morning. During those kinds of weeks we long to have some ME time, but it's during those times that we often turn off the issues that others around us are experiencing. Maybe you have people that are asking for some of your treasure, or some of your talent, but there are plenty of people out there that just want some of your time. Be willing to give someone your ear. Be willing to give someone your Saturday morning. You'd be amazed how many people are starving for relationship and community.

 

Sometimes we are guilty of telling ourselves we'd be more generous if we had more time, talent or treasure. We look at someone and tell ourselves if we were in their shoes things would be different. The hard truth is many of us do have more time, talent and treasure than those we come into contact with. Let's not wait until we've got everything worked out to be generous. Start today.

 

Generosity

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This week Pastor Marc talked about 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 and what it looks like to live generously. Here are three take-aways from this week.

Generosity is giving when it doesn’t make sense.
— Marc

Generosity requires faith

God asks for us to have faith in him, but that faith is stretched so thin when the rent is due. We serve a generous God. He has given us His Son, He gives us Salvation open-handed, and He gives us hope. God is not a taker, He is a giver. He asks us little in comparison. Money is not the end-all-be-all. He may not always give us money, but God knows what we need. Our God is faithful to give to those are faithful to give.

generosity kills materialism

How do we kill materialism? We have to view money for what it is, a tool. For us as believers, money is a tool for us to bless our community. Tools are made to be used, not to be stored away never to be used again.

Generosity builds faith

God provides a way for us to be generous. Our faith in God increases as we see the blessings He brings to those who are in need. When we step out in faith and give (at church or in the community) and watch God step in and provide, our faith is strengthened. Do we trust God enough to give?

 

A follow up to Sunday's sermon:

The goal of growth is ALWAYS productivity. We raise our kids to be independent so that they may grow to be productive adults. We don't want our children to depend on us forever, and we desire to see them mature and become self-sufficient.

The same is true for the church.

Our goal is to be healthy enough that we can grow to a place in which we are taking care of our own needs; physical, spiritual, and financial. Our ultimate goal is to be productive. We aren't just paying bills and passing time, but we are making a difference and investing in our community. If this is to be true in the church it must also be seen in believers' lives.

Here are two questions to think on this week

  1. Are we growing into mature believers who are generous AND self-sufficient?
  2. Are we growing into every good work mentioned in 2 Corinthians 9:8?

Growth and good works go hand in hand.

 

Here's a video of the sermon this week on Generosity.

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What God is after?

Last week we looked at what God is after. What is He all about? The more we learn about God, the more we discover He is the answer to some of our deepest desires.

 

People desire to be seen.

It starts when we are kids. We keep asking mom to watch as we display our latest trick, dance move or athletic endeavor. As we grow older, it becomes a subtle desire. Facebook likes, Instagram followers and Twitter mentions are the new form of attention. God does see us. He is interested in who we are and what we do. 

People have a deep sense of right and wrong (justice).

God created us with this understanding of right and wrong hardwired into our souls. We sense there is good and evil. We also desire to see right win over wrong. We don't want to see injustice. This is a deep longing inside us for another world- a world to come. 

 

People feel like their lives are building toward something.

God describes what our lives are building towards throughout the scriptures. Our lives are building toward eternity. This life we live here is short in comparison to eternity. This eternity depends completely on what we believe about God.

 

Our message was focused on 1 John 2:1-11

This passage comes down to abiding in Christ. That's the answer to the question. God wants us to abide in Christ. If I'm abiding, loving my brother won't be an issue. If I'm abiding, living in sin won't be an issue.

We concluded with 3 ways to abide in Christ:

  • Spend time with God at church and in groups.

  • Be surrounded by people who will keep you accountable.

  • Prepare for days you don't feel like abiding.

Here's a video of the message:

Vision 101: what is faith?

People often ask what we are about. Our go to answer is : Restore Church exists to foster Authentic Faith, Diverse Community, and Radical Generosity.
We sum it up: believe connect serve.

Today I'd like to discuss Authentic Faith. What is faith? Why is authenticity emphasized at Restore? 

We believe that everything starts with faith around here. That's why it's the first part of our vision. We don't gather because we all hold the same political views, have similar backgrounds or even like the same type of music. We gather because we have faith in common. In Hebrews 11 Faith is defined as the essence of what we hope for, but cannot see. I'm never going to try to prove God to you. That's the opposite of faith. I'd rather challenge you to believe in what we can't see. 

Recently we discussed this in greater detail at Restore. Here's a clip of the service.

Our goal is for everyone to believe and have a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Belief (according to Hebrews 11) deals with future and past. The hope it refers to is our longing for an eternity in a place free of war, pain, death, sin, etc. Every human has this longing. We long for a different world. That's a desire placed inside us by our Creator. We long to be where He is.

Faith also deals with the past. The unseen mentioned in the passage emphasizes that the individuals reading that passage had never seen Jesus. They came around years after His death, burial and resurrection. We also can't see Jesus, but that's where faith comes in. Faith changes everything. That's why everything starts with faith around here.

Let me close by saying this: faith isn't the absence of doubt! Some of Jesus early followers struggled with doubt. Doubt is natural. This is where we get authentic and honest with one another. As a pastor I must confess that my faith isn't always the faith to move mountains. I struggle with doubt in different areas often. I'm not saying I question God, heaven or anything major. I do however struggle with depending on Him. I have doubts arise when I see people hurting or in need. We must get used to dealing with doubt without letting it turn into unbelief. Unbelief is the rejection of faith, Jesus, everything. Doubt can lead to unbelief, or it can lead to deeper faith. It depends on what you do with your doubt. Will you deal with it by asking questions, seeking out community, digging deeper into what is truth and what isn't, or will you just hope it goes away? I hope you'll deal with it. let me know if we can help in any way.

 

Blessings

Pastor Marc