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Jesus the Destroyer

I have known Jesus as many things in my life. First of all, I am glad he is my Savior. The sacrifice he made by giving his life, gave me eternal life. That one act of amazing love provided the forgiveness and removal of my sins and a brand new start.

He has been my friend, provider, healer, comforter and many more things.

This Christmas, I was reminded that he is also my destroyer.

We may not think of him as a destroyer because that doesn’t sound like the loving, kind and gracious Jesus we sing and read about.  But in order for him to be my Savior, he must also be my destroyer.

 …the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8

He can be our Savior because he destroyed the one thing that separated us from God, sin. He not only destroyed sin, but also the effects of sin like shame, guilt and condemnation.

Jesus is a destroyer of all the things in our lives that prevent us from living a joyful and abundant life. The sin problem has been taken care of because he destroyed it. Sin never has the last word, when we confess Jesus as our Savior.

We may go through some consequences of sin, but even in that, he can turn all things into good. If we look at our lives, we may see some things he still needs to destroy. Maybe there is pride, low self-image, a bad habit or defensive mechanism he has been working on for some time.  Those of us who have experienced the love, grace and mercy of God are those who have realized there is something in us that needs to be destroyed.

Our prayer this new year is that you would know him as everything you need, including your destroyer. He came to destroy all the works of the devil so we can enjoy the freedom he gave us.

Have a great new year and may you know how much you are loved by us and by our amazing God. Happy 2018!

-Pastor Sam Mata

He Will Bring Us Goodness

God is good. His very nature is good. Therefore every action of God is good. This week we celebrate God’s desire to bring goodness as echoed in the carol, Do You Hear What I Hear?

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

Theologians define God’s goodness as his benevolence to his creation and his kindness exhibited toward all he has made

God expresses his goodness toward the people who know him and the people who don’t know him. He is good to all.

How is God good to us before we know him?

He created us with free will. He wanted love and so he was willing to take the risk that we might reject him.  He sustained us even when we were far from him. He gave us the beauty of creation to enjoy. He gave us friends and family. He gave us each gifts, talents, and creativity. He heard the prayers our loved ones prayed on our behalf.

The ultimate sign of God’s goodness to us before we knew him is Christmas. God so loved the world and everyone in it that he sent his son. If you ever want to know if God is good – look in the manger and then look to the cross.

How is God good to us after we know him?

He gives us everlasting life the moment we believe – eternal life in heaven and his abundant life here on earth.  He gives us immediate access to him through prayer. He works all things out for our good.  He gives us the Holy Spirit and the Word of God so we can become the best possible version of ourselves here on this earth.

How do we respond to God’s goodness?

For those who don’t know him yet he invites us to experience his goodness.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8 NLT

Those of us who know him offer our thanks.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 NLT

God is good. His goodness is generously poured out on all humanity.

God and Sinners Reconciled

In this holiday season we are finding the true meaning of Christmas in our favorite carols. This week we take a look at Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn king”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled

Christmas is all about the reconciliation of God and man. That is why Jesus came. And it’s all summed up in one verse of scripture.

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 NKJV

Lets take a look at each phrase in this beautiful passage

She will bring forth a Son –The Christmas story is so familiar that sometimes we don’t really feel the impact of each detail. Don’t let the thought of the virgin birth slip by you. In this one facet of the story, so many important things are communicated. The virgin birth:

  • Proves Jesus’ divine origin
  • Expresses God’s desire to draw near and become part of the human race
  • Fulfill prophecy
  • Demonstrates that man cannot save himself
  • Allows Jesus to live the incarnation as fully God and fully human
  • Reveals that reconciliation was all God’s initiative

You shall call his name Jesus – The name Jesus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Joshua. Both are literally translated Jehovah saves. Jesus’ name reveals God’s heart of compassion for his creation.

For He will save His people from their sins – The message of Christmas is that Jesus became a man so that sinners could be reconciled to God. He saves us from our past sins, our present sins and any future sins. The core of Christmas is that you can change!

Jesus’ humble virgin birth, his obedient life, his substitutionary death and his powerful resurrection take care of all our past sins and save us from future sins by transforming our lives. Change is possible because of Jesus. That is something to sing about!

6 Ways to Worship at Christmas

The word Christmas originates with to words Christ Mass. The very name of the season points to our gathering to worship, the mass of Christ. Christmas is all about the worship of Jesus.

We can learn more about ways to worship Jesus from the story of the wisemen who sought him out that very first Christmas. Read the story from Matthew 2:1-12 and pay attention to the six phrases in bold.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Cultivate a Sincere Desire – Worship seldom happens spontaneously without effort. You have to plan for it. You have to want it like the wise men who most likely traveled over a thousand miles for 30 days.

Live with Expectancy – There is something about expectancy – about faith – that leads to worship. The wisemen expected to find “the One.” They fully anticipated that they would find him. If you expect to find Jesus, he will show up!

Choose to Express Joy – The three wisemen were overjoyed. They greatly rejoiced with exceeding joy. They didn’t just feel joy, they expressed it. Worship is about expressing joy for every good thing God has done.

Humble Yourself – The feel on their knees to worship Jesus. They bowed down. Worship is about humbling yourself in the presence of someone so much greater than you.

Purpose to Give – Worship is also giving. The wisemen presented gifts to Jesus. What do you give to the one who created everything? Give him the only gift that matters – yourself.

Say Yes – After worship the wisemen were warned not to go back to Herod. They returned by another route. Worship changes the direction of your life. You enter God’s presence one way and returned changed. Say yes to the changes!

 

How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Theologians, therapists and thinkers agree that gratitude is the most impactful virtue.  Developing a habit of giving thanks can literally change your life.  It’s a life skill that will improve your life in many ways.

You can begin by simply seeking out the gifts God gives. See them everywhere – the great and the small. Pause and give thanks in the moment.  You will experience satisfying joy.

Jesus is our role model. At his last meal with his disciples before his death, he gave thanks.

he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them Luke 22:19

In the original language the word for “gave thanks” is eucharisteo. It is actually three words wrapped into one and means thanks, grace or gift and joy.

When we express gratitude for the grace or gifts in our lives, we experience joy.

Giving thanks brings the miracle of wholeness. Jesus healed ten men of a disfiguring disease. (Luke 17:11-19) Only one came back to express gratitude. When he did Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole.” All ten men experienced healing but the one who expressed gratitude was made whole.

Giving thanks thrills the heart of God.  Parents love to hear their children express gratitude for the things they provide. God is that way too. A simple thank you goes a long way! Thanksgiving is the key to unlock God’s presence.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving Psalm 100:4

Giving thanks changes your perspective. We can’t always control what happens in our lives but we can control our response.  Gratitude has the power to change the way we think about our lives. In fact, gratitude is more important than circumstances when determining how rich your life is. Happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want; it comes from being grateful for what you have.

There so are many benefits of gratitude, we can’t afford not to be grateful people. What are you grateful for?

 

The Power of Gratitude

Researchers conducted a study with two groups of people, both were assigned the task of keeping a daily list. Group A made a list of everything they were grateful for. Group B made a list of everything they were frustrated about.

It didn’t take long to see a dramatic difference between the two groups of people. Joy, happiness and energy skyrocketed for the gratitude group and plummeted for the frustration group. Science proves it really is quite simple – what you focus on determines your level of joy.

We want to challenge you to join us in using the very practical, tangible tool of a daily gratitude list.

There really are no rules. You can use a scrap of paper, a leather bound journal, a spiral notebook or your smart phone. You can do it first thing in the morning, before your go to sleep or all throughout the day. Just start counting things you are grateful for.

Nothing is too small to record and you can list the same things over and over – things like waking up in the morning to watch the sun rise, eating your favorite meal, or completing a challenging project.

Soon you’ll begin to notice everything, like a good parking spot, rain filling our lakes, a kind word and a friendly smile as an expression of God’s love for you.

In making a conscious effort to express gratitude you’ll find what you appreciate appreciates – things you take note of and give thanks for will grow in value.

Developing a habit of gratitude will require learning to be grateful for flawed people and imperfect gifts. Nothing is ever perfect, give thanks anyway. Write those things down too!

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18 AMP

For a wonderful read and more inspiration to record your own daily gratitude list, pick up a copy of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Increase the joy in your life by developing the disciple of gratitude.

 

This post originally appeared in a 2015 series on Gratitude, click below to read the entire series:
Live in the Moment
Who, What and When
Gratitude Destroys Joy Killers
The Year of Gratitude
Make a Daily Gratitude List
Grateful for the Leftovers

How God’s Generosity Becomes Your Source

Every good thing that comes to you in life comes from God.  How generous God really is!  Despite what the world says, He is the source behind all of the good things in our lives.  Generosity is wrapped-up in who God is.  And because God is love, He wants to lavish you with blessings.

 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. – Colossians 1:16

Who gave you the brains, the health, the determination and the creativity to be successful in life?  God has graciously stood by your side to equip you to do what you do.  His power enables you to achieve your goals, overcome obstacles and acquire good things that position you, in turn, to be generous to others.

The Bible is clear that the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is all generous.  God the Father demonstrated His love for us; while we were yet sinners, He gave His Son.

 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

God the Son, Jesus Christ Himself, was generous to lay down His life in order for you to come into relationship with God and have eternal life.  The Lord even gave to His enemies.

 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”  John 10:18

The Holy Spirit is generous, too.  The Bible says that He gives gifts to His children, including you.  The Holy Spirit wants you to move forward in life in Him and through Him.  If you deny His generosity or refuse His gifts or want to rely only on your self-sufficiency, the Holy Spirit will not force His generosity on you.  He is a gentleman.  But the Bible talks about the manifestation of the Spirit:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”  — I Corinthians 12:4-7

When we are generous, we are reflecting the nature and essence of God Himself.  We are being Christ-like and honoring our heavenly Father.  Generosity is a blessing to other people, exhibiting the nature of God in us as believers.

When you give, something really special happens.  We invite you to partner with us and our Heart for the House Initiative. Learn more HERE. Join us for a special service Sunday, November 19th and learn how you can make a difference.

 

Celebrating 30 Years

We have been gathering together as a community of faith for 30 years. Shoreline Church has shined the light of God’s love in Austin and around the world. One thing we know for sure, the church is important to God.

The church is central to God’s plan on the earth.

At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. Ephesians 1:23 MSG

Why is the church so important?

It’s where people get refreshed and renewed in the presence of God. Something special happens when we gather together in his name. God’s presence renews and refreshes. The inconsolable longing of our soul is satisfied.

It’s where we are challenged and inspired by the word of God. Our culture is filled with shifting standards and new philosophies, but in the Bible we have the timeless truth of God’s word. The Bible trains, shapes, convicts, refines, inspires, challenges and motivates us.

It’s where we experience community. We were never intended to live this Christian life alone. We are part of God’s family and we do life together. We love one another, pray for one another, comfort each other, forgive each other, bear each other’s burdens and challenge each other. We need each other.

It’s where we experience the grace of God’s divine intervention. Life has challenges. Not every day is a bad day, but difficulty visits the life of every person. When we gather together we pray and invite God’s power to either calm the storm or calm us in the middle of the storm. God answers! He brings healing, restoration, deliverance and breakthrough.

It’s where we find significance in serving his kingdom. The church offers a chance to live for something bigger than yourself. Together we can make a difference. Together we can change the world.

As we celebrate all that God has done in 30 years, we anticipate tall that he will do in the future. We are enjoying the harvest of seeds that were sown years ago and we will continue to plant seeds and expect a harvest 30 years from now.

How to Become Kinder

Sometimes we think that real spirituality is some spectacular gift, like preaching great sermons or praying loud prayers. But more often the mark of true spirituality is simple and ordinary, like kindness.

Kindness goes far beyond being nice or polite. Kindness is proactive, courageous, expansive and impactful. Kindness is what happens when love decides to do something.

If kindness is so powerful then we need to know how to express it better and more often. Here are five ways to become kinder.

Accept people just the way they are – It’s easy to judge people and draw attention to our differences, but that is the opposite of kindness. Kindness starts with acceptance. People feel the impact of kindness when they are accepted just the way they are.

Embrace peoples’ true value – Kindness is the byproduct of knowing the immeasurable worth of an individual. When we remember that Jesus paid the ultimate price to redeem every single one of us, we appreciate the value of a human life.

Become aware – Don’t be so wrapped up in your own life that you can’t recognize the needs around you. Kindness sees the need and responds. Kindness is fueled by empathy for those around you.

Step out of your comfort zone – Kindness is like a muscle, the more you use it, the more it develops. It may feel awkward at first but it will become more natural. Start small and grow.

Ask God for help – Life is hard and we can live overwhelmed with the circumstances of our own lives. Ask God for help. Kindness is one of the fruits of the spirit. Invite the Spirit to cultivate kindness in your daily life.

God has been so very kind to us.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4 NLT

Kindness has the power to change us, to lead us to repent and turn away from sin. If God uses kindness, we should too! Try a little kindness today.

Community

Here at shoreline we believe in the power of community and life giving relationships. We know real change happens when you get connected. There are so many ways for you to get involved in this big God family.

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