Why did Jesus come? Though we humans are created in the image of God, we come into this broken world separated from Him, as weak and helpless infants, with no idea as to who we are or who God is or why we are here. By nature, we long to be known and loved by God, but because without God we are clueless as to how to navigate life and by nature we are selfish beings, we go it alone, trying to figure it out on our own, losing our way and ending up exalting ourselves. Jesus, on the other hand (see Philippians 2:3-9), “though he was in the form of God” (verse 6), humbly took on human form ( verse 7). He came into this broken world to reveal Himself, took on the attitude and action of a servant, showed us the way to become more like Him, and be an example of how we are to live a godly life. Knowing this, we can be better prepared to strengthen our relationship with God, continue to grow in Christ, walk in humility with God, and make a difference in people’s lives.
In continuation of the “Growth in Christ” series, Pastor Josh Engelhardt lead us through many scriptures referring to and describing the birth right of the firstborn son in the Old Testament, and then in the New Testament, where we learn that we, through God’s grace and the sacrifice of Jesus, are now heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ! We receive a double share of the blessings and inheritance the Lord has for us and we get to walk in the authority of and covenant relationship with Him. The questions we face are these: Am I walking in the way of the first born? Where in my life am I living in less than the double portion the Lord gave me? If the answer is: yes, I live in less, what can I do about it?
Romans 8: 16-17, 37
Pastor Josh continued with the theme of growing in Christ by emphasizing that it is by God’s grace, not by our works, that we are saved. Works are not what define us in the Lord. Jesus is our reference point.
By trying to prove our worth based on what we do, we build a pattern that can overwhelm our thoughts, allowing room in our thinking for things that are not true. This steals our spiritual birthright. In response, we often feel compelled to try to “do good” to make up for the bad we do, instead of apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Ultimately, we change not by trying hard, but as a result of receiving and walking in God’s grace.
Eph 2:5. “We were once dead in the world, but now by grace are saved through faith.”
Christ, the new covenant, fulfilled and replaced the law and the old covenant, making possible salvation to all by God’s grace.
Acts 15: 11 “…We believe that through the grace of Christ we shall be saved even as they.” (Jews and Gentiles alike)
Acts 15:24 “…We have heard that certain men have disturbed you, upsetting your soul by saying you must be circumcised and keep the law; we have never commanded these things!” Works puts the attention on self, leaving God out of the equation.
This weekend's services were dedicated to the "kick-off Sunday" for The Coastlands Vacation Bible School (VBS) season. We saw a video of last year's VBS, and the new directors, Drew and Amanda Clowser, shared their vision for this year's camp, the thinking/heart behind the new schedule, and what they have personally been learning in the process. The theme of this year's VBS is "Wonder", taken from Habakkuk 1:5: "Look among the nations and watch—be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you". You can find more information on the Coastlands VBS web page: http://www.coastlands.org/about-vbs.
How are patterns in our thinking influencing and shaping our hearts and minds? Are we glorifying God in that process? Or, are we being robbed, from who God truly made us to be? This sermon draws the parallel between the physical temple in Jesus’ time and how we (our bodies/beings) are temples for the Holy Spirit now. Jesus was indignant and reacted very strongly to the money changers and those looking to make a profit by selling doves to those who came to the temple to worship and offer a sacrifice/offering to God. How does He feel about the robbery that happens in our own thinking, which can lead us to adopt a fractured and false self-image?
Pastor Steve Shober addresses a specific aspect of growing in Christ, namely, growing in the works/activities of Jesus. As Jesus begins His public ministry (Luke 4:14-17), He declares what He came to do (verses 18-19), fulfilling in verses 20-21 the prophecy from Isaiah 61:1-2. As messengers of Jesus, we are called to announce the good news to a lost and broken world, telling them what we know about Jesus (who He is, what He does, how He can be known). As ambassadors of Christ, we have been given authority to continue to carry on His ministry of casting out evil spirits and healing people from all disease and illness (Matthew 10:1) and setting free those living under spiritual oppression (Acts 10:38). Jesus came to set us free physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We know we can trust Him to keep His word (Hebrews 13:8).
Continuing the series on “Growth in Christ”, Pastor Evan Brown references Ephesians 4:15 where Paul encourages his audience to “grow up in all aspects into Christ, who is the Head”. Using some visual aids, Evan explains how we need a reference point (or think of rebar in a cinderblock wall) as a gauge to put our building blocks in the proper place and grow into Christ. If there is nothing that holds our life together, it will be very easily pushed over! What motivated Jesus while He was on earth? What if we had the same motivation?
Mark 6: 33-41
Being Founded in Jesus - Building on the rock of Jesus Christ.
Whoever hears, considers, understands, believes, and obeys God’s Word is like the wise man who built his house on the rock; a stable and strong foundation to face the storms of life. God gives us the bricks to lay a foundation, the tools we need to build; faith, hope, love. How & where we choose to build is our decision, He has giving us free will. But power and wisdom is in doing what Jesus is telling us to do, after all He is the Master Planner.
References: II Samuel 22:2-7, Psalms 62:5-8, John 15:9-11, I Peter 5
Today’s teaching builds upon keeping focused on Jesus as the foundation for maturity in Christ. Added to the growth equation is the importance of fulfilling our role in the edification of God’s church (the people, not the structure—Ephesians 4:12). It addresses where God is taking us, how He is leading us, why He wants us to continue to grow in Him, how the enemy works against us in ways that he can take advantage of that can get in the way of our growth, and how we can help each other in building up the body of Christ to attain unity among all of God’s people (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Our true identity is found in Jesus Christ. As we look to Christ, we begin to see a reflection of who we really are and who we were created to be. The world around us has set up distorted mirrors that warp our reflection and give us a false perception of our identity. Yet, each of us was uniquely created in God’s image, and as we draw closer to Jesus our true identity is revealed. When we think of what makes us who we are, do we think of what we have done or what Jesus has done-on our behalf?
Scripture references from: Colossians 3:1-11
In the continued theme of focusing on Jesus, we see a stark contrast in Col. 2:16-23 between what seems wise to men vs. what is valued by God. It is easy to be tricked into believing righteous-sounding requirements (do not do this, do not do that) which only leads us to have an inflated perception of ourselves and distracts from what is indeed righteous: connecting ourselves and others with Jesus. Living our lives by these man-made rules is like living in the blue print vs. the house, which Jesus has built for us, and we get to live in together. The love of Jesus is no longer a shadow of what’s to come – it is with us right now. And, in that same love, just as joints working together in unison, we need each other. We are a body in which Jesus is the Head and by whom all things “grow with the increase that is from God” (vs. 19). Our source of life is Jesus, and we need to place our focus continually on Him.
Colossians 2:16 – 3:2
Staying Focused on Jesus
v.16 - Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.
We’re encouraged to be a thinking church: Setting our minds on the things above, not below; engaging with the principles of Jesus; staying focused on Him, thereby being built-up in Him. Knowing His thoughts and commandments for us (as revealed in the Bible) enables us to see, hear, and understand life with His perspective and truths in mind, so we don’t come under earthly judgments rooted in the traditions, philosophies, visions or the wisdom of man.
The traditions of men are at odds with what Jesus teaches. Jesus tells us to be in the world but not of it. How are we to do this? How can we prepare for things coming against us that can take us down the wrong path? Jesus says, “Follow Me.” This requires that we keep our eyes on Jesus. But how do we do that? Paul ‘s letter to the Colossians reminds us that it takes both knowing who we are in Christ (Colossians 2:6, 9-14) and being careful to avoid being carried away by the philosophies and empty deceptions of humankind’s traditions and the lies of the devil (vv 4, 8) that can keep us from staying focused on Jesus.
As we begin this new year, let’s stay focused on Jesus. So many things in this world will distract us, but let’s prepare to not be swayed. The scriptures tell us that all treasures and wisdom of knowledge are found in Jesus Christ. The world’s wisdom is elementary compared to the wisdom and knowledge of God. Let’s get our head in the game. Let’s stay rooted in good soil. As we seek God, we will find the fullness of His deity and experience the abundant life we were meant to live.
Scripture references are from Colossians 2: 2-9.
This morning, Pastor Josh Engelhardt shares from the book and life of Nehemiah. Nehemiah and his work to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem provides a vivid image of what our lives and hearts are like: to fight and work hard to follow the Lord’s instructions for us, even though the enemy wants to discourage and destroy us. Let this be our hope: the work on the wall continued, which was proof that God frustrated the plans of the enemy!
On Christmas Eve, Evan concludes his series on “Light Overcomes” using an artistic view of light and darkness. Our choices or our sin or things out of our control can create a deep darkness in our lives and can keep us from moving forward, but God’s light and power of restoration shines on our life to redeem and overcome that darkness. This is portrayed by a testimonial video of four men telling their story of how God’s light overcame in the hardest times of their lives and how it inspired the idea of the painting “Light Overcomes”.
God’s light leads us. He illuminates where we are and shows us where we are headed. When the three Wise Men came to visit Jesus, they were led by a star—something that would have been compelling to them as astronomers/astrologers. When Jesus’ life was in danger, His earthly father Joseph was led, one step at a time, by a series of dreams that took him from Bethlehem to Egypt and ultimately to Nazareth. Drawing on these stories, Pastor Evan Brown explains how God’s light can drive out even the most persistent darkness in our hearts and our minds, if only we will let Him.
Scripture references: Psalm 119:105; Matthew 2: 1-12, 13, 15, 23
Evan shares about living transparently in the Lord as he continues his series on “Light”. In this engaging, illustrated sermon from 1 John 1:5-10, Evan demonstrates that when we pay attention to God and interact with people, we can effectively be used to pass along the things of God. Like a glass window, we cannot generate light on our own, we can only let God’s light pass through us. However our sin and complacency can block our relationship with the Lord, which in turn blocks His light shining through us. If our relationship with people is nonexistent that also blocks God’s light shining through us. When either of these aspect are blocked then we are not doing what we are called by Jesus to do, “be the light of the world”. Watch this and ask yourself, “How are my boards?”
What does it mean to be transformed? What does it mean to be rescued from darkness? What does it mean to be redeemed? What about being an heir of God? How can I experience the fulness of life by walking in the light? In Part 2 of this year’s Christmas teachings on light, Pastor Evan offers some biblical insights to guide us in answering these (and other related) questions by digging into the first chapter of the book of Colossians. He starts with verses 13-14, which are wrapped in verses 9-12 (walking in the light), verses 15-20 (knowing who God is and putting Him first in our lives), and verses 21-22 (reconciliation). The teaching concludes with some further ideas about redemption, focusing on why God wants to transform us and how we can grow in God as a new creation in Christ (verses 23-24).
During this Christmas Season, Pastor Evan Brown begins a series on “Light.” God thoughtfully brought each of us into existence for a divine purpose and plan. He created us in the same way He thoughtfully and methodically created the universe. Within our human existence, we can feel empty and formless inside, looking for purpose. Yet God understands us, He knows us, and He designed us. God is light and when He inhabits us, He will illuminate dimensions in our lives that will enable us to more clearly understand who are and why we were created.
Scripture references are from Genesis 1: 1-5 and Psalms 139: 13-16.