Covenant And Relationships: An Introduction

Today’s teaching is the first in a series of a study on covenant (God’s plan for our relationships both with God and with others). Pastor Evan Brown has invited us to join him on his personal journey with regards to understanding covenant and how it affects us and our families. This series begins with a definition of the word, an explanation of the foundation of covenantal relationships, and an outline of the essential elements of covenant and its various aspects that impact our and others’ lives, including the consequences of keeping and breaking covenant.

Scriptures: Proverbs 1:1-7, Psalm 34:8, and Psalm 27:13

VBS Sunday

This service was a wrap up of the week of VBS (Vacation Bible School) at the Coastlands. It included two testimonies, each person sharing their experience leading up to and during the week, a video showing clips of special events, team time, assemblies and more, and in conclusion, kids who had attended VBS sang songs they had learned throughout the week.

Be Weak in Christ

Have you ever felt that your weakness disqualifies you from being all God meant for you to be? No matter what our circumstances, we are never cast aside by God.   He has an important purpose and plan for each of us.  Paul the Apostle did not let the thorn in his flesh stop him from doing what God called him to do.  In the same way, when we feel weak or that we’re not enough, that is when God‘s power is made strong through us.  Scripture references are from 2 Corinthians 12: 1-10.

Jesus as a Reference : How He Suffered

2 Cor. 1:3-7 & 2 Cor. 4:7-10

Suffering for Christ by Allowing Him to Use You to Benefit Others

Pastor Evan shares personal testimony of how God has asked him to embrace and endure suffering in his own life. Evan communicates that rather than flee from suffering, we can actually pursue it, like Christ--who endured it because He saw the joy set before Him. Suffering on behalf of others, specifically by being willing to share our own past painful experiences, can encourage them to turn toward Jesus as they experience their own. God is able to redeem our suffering in order to bring great blessing to those around us.

Jesus as a Reference : How He Stayed Focused

Jesus’s first followers were confused about who He was, where He came from, why He came, what He was all about, or where He was going. Although they did not understand much of His teaching, many of them continued to follow Him and ask Him questions (John 7). The written Word of God answers these questions for us. We have learned in particular that Jesus is our example of how to live a godly life and demonstrate the love of the Father. We know that the Father sent Jesus to do His will and to accomplish His work (John 4:34; 7:16, 28-29, 32; 9:4). Jesus charges us to carry on the work that He completed while on earth. To do this we need to stay focused and make it our mission to feed the spiritually hungry with the knowledge of God and His love and peace. Our work is to reap that which Jesus originally sowed and to harvest what will become spiritual food for the lost (John 4:35-38). May we all take advantage of opportunities to feed others with the goodness of God.

John 4:31-38; 9:1-5; chapter 7, esp. verses 7:16-18, 26-39

Jesus as a Reference : How He was Thoughtful

During his life on earth, Jesus went about doing good, healing all who were oppressed, because God was with him.  Jesus’ life on earth serves as an example for us to follow.  The same Holy Spirit that rested on Jesus, also lives within us today.  Through the Holy Spirit’s power, we can reach out to the world around us to be a help to others in need. 

Scripture reference is from Acts 10:38.

Jesus as a Reference : Who He Spent Time With

Following the theme of Jesus as the Cornerstone and our ultimate reference point, Evan now talks about what characterized the kind of people Jesus chose to spend His time with. Who did Jesus value? There was Peter, a "salty" sailor so aware of the spiritual chasm between him and Jesus when they first met, that he told Jesus to distance himself. There was Matthew, an extortionist and traitor to his own people. There was a skeptic, a political zealot, two blusterous brothers, the ultimate betrayer and others who we know only by their names. Jesus' attention was on the "unlikely" people, and most often, those who were considered contemptible by more than just the Pharisees. Jesus' motivation was clear: people. To be with people. To love people. He made the example as simple as it could be for us. 

The Puzzle of Life

The Living Stone: Jesus Our Cornerstone

Without the Cornerstone (Jesus), attempting to construct the “puzzle of life” is impossible.  Life gives us so many “pieces” to work with, many of which are incorrect or misshaped.  With Jesus we have the correct dimensions, so all other pieces align to create a more complete version of who God made us to be.  After all we are part of His great design!

Jesus as a Reference : How He Drew Near to People

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.

Jesus As a Reference

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?

Ephesians 4:15
Hebrews 12:2
Mark 6: 33-41

Jesus As Our Foundation

Matthew 7:24-27

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

Growth in Christ

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).

Identity in Christ

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

Christ is The Head

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.

Mere the Shadows of Things to Come

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 Philosophies and Traditions of Jesus

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.

Let's Get Our Heads in the Game

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.

Light Overcomes

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”.

Clarity : A Light for Me and My Path

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