Category Archives: Sermon Series

Five Steps Toward Courage

You may sometimes feel that you are living with a low-grade level of fear and discouragement.  It drags you down and you feel less than your best.  You may even feel that you are living with a malaise of anxiety that grips you.  But God wants you to be courageous.  Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous.”  Do you want to know how to do it? The following is how you take courage: 

Remember your position 

Courage comes from recognizing your true position in Christ.  You were born (again) for courage.  Born for victory, born to overcome.  You are righteous, not because of what you do, but because of who you are in Christ and the free gift that God gave you when you accepted Christ as personal Lord and Savior.  And, according to Proverbs 28:1, the righteous are as bold as a lion.  (Get ready to roar in victory.)   

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. –             2 Timothy 1:7 

Train yourself to see life out of two lenses at the same time 

Be honest about the challenges you face.  Embrace the reality of what is happening.  Nobody benefits from refusing to see what is happening in this world.  However, at the same time, recognize what comes after the “but” in the following two Scripture verses: 

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 

While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18 

 Turn and face your fears 

Something supernatural happens when you turn and face your fears.  When you face your fears, God will give you courage.  It has been said that courage is fear that has said its prayers. Courage is not the absence of fear.  Fear is necessary if you are going to have courage.  It’s what you do with fear that makes you courageous. 

Transfer courage to each other 

You don’t need to go through life alone.  You can get courage from other people.  Encourage one another to see from God’s perspective.  Courage is available for you to grasp by faith.   

Trust in God’s everpresent love 

When you know the Lord is present, you gain courage.  The Lord is with you.  His love will sustain you.  You can put your trust in Christ.  Focus on Jesus.  As the Bible says, God is love, and He is perfect.   

Perfect love casts out fear  John 4:18   

When you add courage to your life, you’ll live with the peace, joy and strength that God wants you to have.  Become the best version of you. 

A Second Chance – The Veil 2016

An orphaned child waits with no real mother, no real father to claim her and nobody to say, “This child is mine”. There is no one to keep her, protect her, love her or simply be with her. She finds herself alone, again.

Then a stranger steps up – a man with a family of his own who says, ”I will make a place for her.” The child, having lived a life of rejection continues to act out of the belief that she is unloved, perhaps even unlovable. The man provides a comfortable room for her to call her own. He cooks her dinner to welcome her. He does all he knows to do to make her feel included but she doesn’t accept it. Unable to deal with the rise of the emotions she feels deep inside, she grabs the two things she brought to this new house, her backpack and sketchbook, and she runs.  She runs until the sun begins to set and she finds an abandoned barn for shelter and protection.

With frustrated fury, she opens her sketchbook and presses deep into the blank paper scratching bold, hardened lines with her pencil – lines as dark as void she feels within. She turns to the next page only to find something that wasn’t supposed to be there and it stops her dead in her tracks. She sees a hand-drawn picture of her new family; her dad and two brothers surrounding a stick figure version of her, finished off with the words, “Welcome Home.”

Can you imagine the overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance this girl must have felt the moment she saw herself included in the picture? Overjoyed, she runs back to the house twice as fast as she left it, hoping and wishing that the man who drew the picture would still want her back. On the way home she thinks about the things she had done, the way she acted out and the names she called him out of her own pain. Maybe she even fought with herself about the possibility that because of her actions, he may turn her away, locking the door never to look back. Isn’t that what she deserves?

She comes up to the door of the house, turns the knob (it is unlocked) and steps in to find the man who had drawn her into his family not only waiting for her, but calling around, frantically looking for her! The Father God’s love is just like that of the father in this story. We are adopted into his family, not by anything we did to deserve it, but only because of the grandeur of His love and mercy. He is a God that doesn’t give up on His children. And being His children, we get what we don’t deserve – a second chance.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV

5 Things Happen When You Are Planted

Favor is when someone looks on you with grace, acceptance, a desire to benefit and give gifts, pleasure, kindness and beauty. You can find favor by being planted in God’s house.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

In the temple or church and in small groups meeting in homes, the early church experienced favor with all people. Favor empowered them to make a difference in the lives of those around them.

5 Things Happen When You are Planted in the Church

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

  1. You Have Roots – The Giant Sequoia’s in California are the largest living things on earth. They stand tall through the power of their intertwined root system. Roots will hold you steady in the storms of life. (Click here to read more of this story)
  2. You Have Peace In The Heat – Heat comes. Life can be so hard. Roots help you take the heat. They provide perspective to help you trust God and rest in his ability to work all things out for good. (Romans 8:28)
  3. You Will Be Fresh And Alive – Being planted keeps us connected to the source of life. It keeps us ever-green in every area of our lives.
  4. You Are Unfazed By Changing Times – We are surrounded by change. Changing climates, whether cultural or relational can be unsettling. Being planted keeps us steady.
  5. You Never Stop Bearing Fruit – Jesus said, “Abide in me and you will bear much fruit?” (John 15:5) You don’t have to struggle and strive to be fruitful. You just have to stay connected, stay planted.

The church is God’s hope for the world. The church is God’s hope for you. Good things happen when you are planted!

Favor With Other People

Think of a time when another person blessed you. It may have been a boss, a family member, a friend or someone you just met. When other people want to do something good for you – something that benefits you without expecting anything in return – then you are experiencing favor with other people.

While the favor of God is something you receive, the favor of man is something you can influence. You can actually cultivate an environment in which people want to go out of their way to be nice to you, say good things about you and give you what you may not even deserve.

The Bible says in Proverbs 3:4 that it is possible to have the favor of God and man at the same time. It is a fallacy to believe that you need to be disliked by other people in order to have the favor of God operating in your life. Some Christians wear their inability to get along with people as a badge of honor . But it doesn’t have to be the case. The truth is that we can maintain our integrity without compromising, but still experience favor with people.

Consider Samuel in the Old Testament as a person who enjoyed the best of both worlds. According to 1 Samuel 2:26, Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people. You can follow the same biblical blueprint. God wants you to live in favor – with God and man. Favor opens new doors of opportunity and influence.

The following are five attitudes and behaviors you can embrace to cultivate the environment in which favor with other people can arise:

Humility – The more you grow in humility, the more favor will grow in your life. There is power in genuine humility.

Faithfulness – If you want favor, be faithful, which involves trustworthiness and dependability. The more faithful you are, the amount of favor in your life will grow.

Kindness – Kindness creates incredible favor. The kinder you are to the people around you, the more favor will spread in your life. Selfishness, insensitivity, fault-finding, judgmental attitudes and ungratefulness all destroy favor.

Honor – When you honor and respect people, favor comes. It has been said that the culture of heaven is honor.

Cause – Live for a greater cause than just yourself. An act of service done for others creates favor. Favor comes when you live life generously.

You don’t need to compromise your convictions to have favor with people. Billy Graham had favor with U.S. Presidents. Mother Theresa was universally admired. Both of them maintained their stance with the courage of their convictions, but they also had favor with people because they practiced the five attitudes and behaviors. They demonstrated humility, faithfulness, kindness, honor and a cause-driven life. You can, too. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.

Speaking of favor, Shoreline was recently highlighted online for reaching our community in new ways. You can read the article by CLICKING HERE.

Favor with God

The Bible is filled with epic stories of people who found favor with God. They didn’t earn it. They didn’t deserve it. They didn’t make it happen. They didn’t work for it. They found it.

Esther experienced favor that opened doors she could never open. She was an orphan living in exile and yet she became the queen of Persia. Favor placed her in a position of influence that she later used to rescue her people. (Read more about Esther)

Joseph found favor wherever he went. Time and again when his situation looked bleak, God’s favor turned it all around for good! (Read more about Joseph)

Favor gave David victory over his adversaries. It rescued Noah from the flood. It made the impossible possible for Moses. Favor will bring unexpected blessings to your life.

So how do you experience favor?

Pray for an awareness of favor – Here is the truth about favor, God has already given you the gift of his favor.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14 NIV

Pray and ask for favor (Job 33:26). Connect with God daily to be reminded of the favor he is already given.

Declare it so – Words are powerful. So proclaim God’s favor over your life. Say, I have favor with God and with man, and something good is going to happen to me today.

Live with expectancy – Move forward into this new year with a sense of wonder, not worry and fear. Expectancy keeps hope alive and will help you walk in faith.

This is part 4 in a series
Click here for Part 3 Complete Favor
Click here for Part 2 Redemptive Favor
Click here for Part 1 Favor For All

Complete Favor

Last week we talked about redemptive favor – favor that takes something away. Because of God’s grace, we have the gift of forgiveness. Our sins are washed away. This week we are talking about favor that GIVES you something. Because of God’s amazing grace we have the gift of righteousness – total and complete right standing with God.

 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17 NIV

As a Christian, you are righteous and acceptable in the sight of God. God took our sins and gave them to Jesus. He took his righteousness and gave it to us.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Christianity is not self-improvement. It is a new life, a total change of identity. It is up to us to embrace our new identity. We have to let go of the mythical Super Christian. We don’t have to be perfect or do all the right things to be right with God. Rationally, we know the Super Christian ideal is ridiculous, but he remains a vague ghost in the back of our minds creating a sense of failure to measure up.

The answer involves laying aside performance pressure and resting in God’s acceptance.

Performance is where you earn favor by your own efforts. Grace is where you receive favor as a free gift with no strings attached.

In this new identity we live out of the gift of right standing. We do the right thing out of a place of security and behave in a manner that reflects what we believe about who we are in Christ.

You are accepted. You are made perfect. You are blameless before God. You are blessed with every spiritual blessing.You are an overcomer. You are complete!

Redemptive Favor

 

Do you truly know what Jesus Christ did for you?  Jesus came to earth to pave the way for you to have favor with God.  Your Heavenly Father looks at you with grace, acceptance, kindness, pleasure, beauty and pleasantness, desiring to generously give you gifts.  That’s the biblical definition of “favor.”  And it’s available for you, your family, your friends and your co-workers, along with everyone else.  It’s personal as well as stunning.  You can do nothing to deserve or earn it.  It’s a free gift to be received by choice and by faith.

As we celebrate 2016 as the year of God’s favor for everyone at Shoreline Church, we recognize that one of the greatest gifts emerging out of God’s goodness toward us is redemptive favor.  As you wipe away any misconceptions of God caused by the cloudy lens of circumstances, you can behold the magnificence of His favor and love.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” — Luke 4:18,19

What does “redemptive” mean?  The cultural definition differs from the biblical definition.  In society, people often think of “redeeming” as atoning for a fault or mistake.  If a football player drops a pass in a game but then catches the next pass, the sports announcer is apt to say, “He redeemed himself.”  Furthermore, redemption can also mean taking possession of something in exchange for payment.  For example, you have probably used a coupon to “redeem” it for something of value.

However, the Bible defines “redemption” as a gift paid for by God Himself.  It literally means a ransoming, a debt paid for and a rescue that was purchased.  It’s like having a judge declaring his son or daughter guilty as charged but then stepping down from the bench to pay the penalty to set his child free.  Just think of the favor of God who sent His only Son into the world to die on a cross to pay for your sins – to redeem you.  Jesus would have come to redeem you no matter what, even if you were the only person on earth.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows… He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” — Isaiah 53:4 – 6

People engage in bad behavior because they don’t know how much God loves them.  When you understand how much God loves you, passion arises inside you to live right, honor God and live a life that truly honors the Lord.   The death and resurrection of Jesus unleashed unmerited, unearned favor pouring out into your life with no strings attached.

See God as He really is.  Join us to declare 2016 as the year of the Lord’s favor.  The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.

Favor For All

The ocean danced and colors exploded on the horizon. My fantastic new super-polarized sunglasses cut out the glare and gave me crystal clear vision. That’s what we want to do with this series of messages, No Strings Attached. We want to help you see life through the lens of God’s favor.

We have declared 2016 as the Year of the Lord’s Favor

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

Favor means to look upon with grace, acceptance, pleasure, pleasantness, kindness and beauty. It entails a desire to benefit, to give gifts and be generous.

God is the source of all goodness. (James 1:17) There are aspects of his favor that benefit everyone – favor that is common to all mankind.

This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. Matthew 5:45 MSG

All the good in our lives, all the beauty, all the joy, all the gifts, all the benefits come from God, whether we realize it or not.

God is the giver of the greatest gifts.

  • Creation with its majestic sunsets, intoxicating mountain peaks and restful rhythms of waves on the shore is a gift of his grace.
  • Nurturing relationships with family and the beauty of friendship are a gift of his grace.
  • Our innate sense of right and wrong, conscience and moral code testify to God’s existence and are a gift of his grace.
  • The complexity and harmony of the principles that govern the universe and the wisdom to understand those laws are a gift of his grace.
  • You are the wondrously unique person you are because of his favor on you. Your own talents and abilities are a gift of God’s grace.

God’s common favor is favor for all. It enriches the lives of everyone. It is his common favor that leads us to his miraculous favor and his saving grace.

Clear Vision

Pause for a minute and check your pulse, your spiritual pulse. How is your prayer life? Have you been fasting? Are you living your life with fresh vision and clear purpose?

We all end up somewhere but some of us will end up somewhere on purpose. Vision is about seeing into the future and imagining what can be. It is about creating a preferable future. We all need an inner architect to draft and design before we build a life.

Where there is no vision, the people perish…Proverbs 29:18 KJV

If you find yourself lackadaisical and unmotivated, most likely you have lost sight of your purpose and are lacking a clear vision.

  • Some people live with no vision; they have no clarity and no restraint.
  • Some people live with small vision; their future is limited by small, unimaginative thinking.
  • Some people live with conflicted vision. They never fully commit to any course of action because they are constantly changing their minds
  • Some people live with a wrong vision and live a life consumed with self-satisfying endeavors.
  • Some people live with vague vision and become strangely loyal to preforming tedious, trivial acts.
  • Some people grab hold of another person’s vision and forsake a life of unique purpose in order to make someone else happy.

Clear vision is the work of the Holy Spirit in our core being. So, ask God for a vision for your life.

When God gives a vision he gives clarity. You will know what you’re supposed to do. You’ll have focus and direction. You will also have protection in knowing what not to do. Vision will keep you from drifting.  Vision will bring peace and rest.  And vision will energize you with passion and commitment.

“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.” Henry Ford.

Life is too short to live without vision.

One way to discover the plan and purpose God has for your life is to understand the way he made you.  Set aside some time for this free test based on Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typological approach to personality. It could be a step toward living this year with renewed vision.

When You Fast

Fasting is a spiritual practice that involves choosing to abstain from something, such as food or alcohol or the Internet, for a period of time. Fasting is about reminding yourself who or what is first in your life.

How many of us have worshipped food? The “stomach king” wants to sit on the throne of your life and dominate, but the Lord wants you to be blessed. Don’t let your appetite undermine your receiving God’s abundance and favor in 2016. Strength rises up in you when you deny yourself something that you crave. It is better to crave God Himself.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?  My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42: 1-3 (NIV)

God wants a deeper relationship with you. He wants to reward you for putting Him first. Jesus had the expectation that His followers would engage in this spiritual practice of fasting. This is not about religion. According to Matthew 6:18, your Heavenly Father, who sees what is done in secret, rewards you for a sincere fast. It’s not about performance or earning points. The benefits of fasting are so much greater.

Fasting brings spiritual renewal. It’s all about connecting with God. It’s a way for you to get closer to God, so that you are strengthened from within.

Fasting removes the distractions in your life. It enables you to more sincerely connect with who God is. If you want to see God more clearly, then you should fast. When you fast, you decrease the distractions that tend to cloud your view of God’s passionate and persistent love for you.

Fasting breaks bondages, such as addictions. It helps you gain a greater degree of self-control in all of the areas for your life where you are out of control.

Fasting brings health and healing. On a physical level, it removes toxins from your body, strengthening your immune system (as described in Pastor Laura Koke’s book “Fit for the King”). But the benefit of fasting goes beyond the physical. It puts you in a position to receive the abundance of God. There is a spiritual blessing attached to this spiritual practice. God is still in the miracle-working business.

Fasting brings an awareness that nothing is impossible. Something supernatural happens when you fast, as well as pray and give. If it’s important to you, it’s important to God.

In these early weeks of January, we invite you to join our community at Shoreline and churches all over Austin and across the United States to participate in a “corporate fast” over the next three weeks. We encourage you to fast — give up something – over the next 21 days.

There are many different types of fasts – water-only fasts, partial fasts, selective fasts, “Daniel fasts” and soul fasts, among others – so you decide what kind of fast works for you. Do it in pursuit of God and reap the benefits.