Dec20SunDecember 20, 2015
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
All the conditions were perfectly lined up for the birth of God’s own Son, Jesus. The political, spiritual and social climate were all set for the entrance of the Messiah into the world. At this time, we also reflect on how God’s timing is always perfect in orchestrating the events for Church at the Manor.
One of our recent highlights began one afternoon began as Sharon and I along with Steve, Carolyn, Kristen and Jen blitzed the local neighbourhood surrounding the Manor with flyers sharing that Mike ‘the bull’ Roberts was speaking the next day. We met lots of people from talks at the door to apartment lobbys. There was a great build up of excitement, prayer and anticipation on that Saturday. Then Sharon and I had to race off to pick up Carrie who was speaking that night at “Break The Chains,” an event being held the Father’s Heart Ministry in Waterloo. By the way, she did fantastic… check it out here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN3I2IBp4Sg
So, there we are making our way to this event and a text came to Sharon. It was Mike and he was sorry, but he was going to have to cancel his engagement with us. My heart sank and we were stunned by the turn of events. He went on to share that he had spoken tirelessly at so many church and school events that week and was completely spent. He spoke with his mentors and felt he needed to take time off. What do you do? Do we accept it or challenge him to reconsider. As it turned out Sharon and I had just spoke about the fact that we wanted to bless Mike and his ministry with what little we had at the Manor…sometimes the offering in our beer bucket is $3-, but we were determined to honor him. So, Sharon asked him to simply pray and ask God to speak to him and we left it at that. Shortly after, Mike made the decision to come and honor his commitment.
Sunday is here and the Manor is packed out to the gills! We have one of our best attendances to date with over 70 people present to hear Mike share. Mike is pulled aside to meet with Roger in his office as an engaging conversation unfolds as Mike shares how he was once a white supremacist, but how God changed all that one night while lying on the floor in his apartment. He speaks of going to Auschwitz and the smell of death and how God broke him. They talk about their dogs and have a great moment.
Later Mike shares his story, going from notorious to glorious, from a life of abuse, crime, drugs, gangs, violence to being completel y transformed by the love of God. Sharon pulls me aside to share how we need to have each person come forward afterwards to bless and encourage Mike. A beer bucket is placed on the stage behind him for people to give to bless his ministry. So, a long train of people unfolds and for the next 45min, the people who attended did just that, blessed him and gave.
Here follows how Mike shared about the events that unfolded that day.
so there is no other way to describe what happened today other than to say holy s__t I can't believe that just happened.yesterday I was so deflated and never wanted to go speak at my event today.but I went anyway because I gave my word. The strip club I spoke at was full and I spoke next to the st poll and between the blessing the people gave me and the line up of thank you and encouragement all I can say is God came to help me today and renewed my strength I feel very humbled and thankful for the church at the manor that blessed me today it has been a long time since I have felt so appreciated for the work I do. Even the owner of the joint invited me back to his office for a chat nice Jewish fella...thank u lord for m daily bread
Over $1000- was generously given in the beer bucket to support Mike's ministry!
And now here is the teaching focus for Church at the Manor. We took time to look at life lessons on breakthrough from Jonah.
Running in the opposite direction!
The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. Jonah 1:1-3NLT
Why did Jonah do that?
Did he really think that he could get away from the Lord?? As Pastor Jim has shared, sin makes you stupid!
Sin also brings shame - hiding from God is our natural learned tendency. Instead of running to God, we run away… in the opposite direction! We run, withdraw when we sin. We choose independence from God
Jonah really had no interest in going to Ninevah, there was no love for the people there. In fact, he most likely wanted nothing to do with them. It’s like being a pastor and God says, you know what, I want you to go and start a church in a little place like Timbuktu but no, this pastor wants to go to sunny southern California where it is warm and sunny and more fun!
Have you ever gone completely opposite of what you know God told you to do or spoke to you about?
Why do we do that? What is the lure?
Often we think we know best. We say things like ok, God, this is the path that I’m choosing, now go bless it.
However, it doesn’t work very well does it?
The starting point for all of us in knowing the right way to go is to not lean on our own understanding. The first decision we have to make is to say, OK, God you are in control.
Proverbs 3:5,6 Where are you leaning?
REMEDY – lean heavily ON God for wisdom, direction in all life’s choices.
Swallowed Up By Our Bad Decisions
12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 16 The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.
So, here’s an incredible takeaway that even in our poor choices God can use us. He can use our life lessons to reveal Himself powerfully to others, yes, even in our own stupidity! The sailors were completely transformed by these events and worshipped the Lord. Nothing is impossible for God
Have you ever made a bad decision that you later paid dearly for?
What happened to Jonah?
He knows that he is running from God and it is not just affecting him, but it is affecting those around him. He knows that he has to take responsibility and he own his mistake. This is huge and this is a really important part of the Christian life. It is called repentance. He does a 180 degree turn in his thinking that leads to a change of direction.
Listen to his prayer in chapter 2. It is beautiful and it is powerful. We have all been there figuratively speaking. We’ve been in the belly of the whale, in a place of despair.
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. 2 He said,
“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble,
and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead,
and Lord, you heard me!
3 You threw me into the ocean depths,
and I sank down to the heart of the sea.
The mighty waters engulfed me;
I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
4 Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.
Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’
5 “I sank beneath the waves,
and the waters closed over me.
Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
I was imprisoned in the earth,
whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O Lord my God,
snatched me from the jaws of death!
7 As my life was slipping away,
I remembered the Lord.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
in your holy Temple.
8 Those who worship false gods
turn their backs on all God’s mercies.
9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
and I will fulfill all my vows.
For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”
10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
What does God do?
He does the unthinkable and Jonah is swallowed by a fish.
Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
What happens to us?
I believe with all my heart that God is gracious and He is completely forgiving, but yes, we still live with the scars and the memories.
The hope is that those painful memories serve as a reminder for us. The decision is that I won’t go down that path again, but I will allow those moments to propel me into the presence of God.
Do you know God as your deliverer, your rescuer? You can!
REMEDY – God is our rescue!
Who, oh Lord, could save themselves,
Their own soul could heal?
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still
You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise
You, oh Lord, have made a way
The great divide You heal
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, your love goes further still
When Things Don’t Go Our Way…or according to plan…or should I say OUR plan.
So, Jonah finally is obedient and He follows through with the message that the LORD gave him and plans change. He brings a message of judgement, it’s time to pay the price for Ninevah’s wickedness, but the LORD sees their change of heart, their repentance and a miracle takes place!
5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.
6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. 7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city:
“No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. 8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. 9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”
10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.
When has God answered a prayer in your life that turned out differently than you expected?
How did you respond?
What happened to Jonah?
He has a pity party and he sulks about his situation, but the story is left unfinished and the hope is that Jonah does another turn around and continues to be God’s messenger. The final chapter didn’t get published for his life and we have a cliff hanger.
What happens to us?
So, maybe we pray God get me out of here…BEAM me up Scotty so to speak. I don’t want to be here, but God doesn’t answer that way. Often, He keeps us right in the place we are and He enables us to bloom where we are planted. He doesn’t remove us from our world, our situation, but He allows us to be transformed in the midst of it and we become an amazing testimony or story for God, of His power and His presence to carry us through!
It could also be that we have a difficult time praying for someone that God is calling us to forgive. It may feel like the last thing that we want to do. You might even say it’s not in me to forgive and I would agree, but then, we are in Christ and only because of Him do we have to strength to forgive those who have wounded us. God is pretty serious about the whole forgiveness thing.
25But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:25
We are called to obey His whether we agree or not with God. We all have unanswerable questions with God. We need to trust God with this.
What will be the final chapter be in our lives…that we finished well I pray!
It is only by the Holy Spirit’s power and the presence of Jesus in our lives.
And on that day
When my strength is failing
The end draws near
And my time has come
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years
And then forevermore
From 10000 Reasons Matt Redman