Good afternoon! Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and Colona Community Church is celebrating Advent this year with special readings and messages. To listen to Pastor Steve’s message about “Expectation,” simply click play on the audio player below. I’ve included the Call to Worship and links to some of the Scriptures Pastor Steve references in his message. Enjoy!

Call to Worship

“Bethlehem Is a Place of Privilege”

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you. –Galatians 4:19

What an awesome privilege to be the handpicked city to cradle the Son of God. Why Bethlehem? Why not Jerusalem, the seat of religious power? Or Rome, the center of political power? Or Athens, the center of intellectual power? God was sending a message. The hope of  world is not in religion, politics, or philosophy. God privileged the little village of Bethlehem to send the message—the hope of the world is in a Savior!

This Christmas could become a Bethlehem moment for you. Like Bethlehem, you can awaken to a brand-new world. The same Christ born in Bethlehem can be born again in you. Paul puts it this way: “I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you. If you think Bethlehem is privileged to be His birthplace, what a greater privilege for Christ to be born in you.

Thinking of Bethlehem, Phillips Brooks wrote, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

From O.S. Hawkins’ The Christmas Code

Scripture References

Mark 3:13-19

Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7

Luke 1:5-7

Malachi 4:5

Luke 1:17

Luke 1:26-28

Psalm 89:3-4

Isaiah 9:6-7

Luke 1:29-33

Matthew 1:18-20

Matthew 1:24-25

Praying you have a blessed week, filled with the expectation of Christ’s Advent!

An Attitude of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving week! What am I grateful for? We got the recorder to work this week so you can hear Pastor Steve’s message about gratitude! Simply click on the play button on the audio player below. I’ve also included a list of the verses Pastor Steve references in his message with links to Bible Gateway, so you can read those verses, if you don’t have your Bible handy.

Scripture References

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

James 1:2

Psalm 27:13

Psalm 118:1

Psalm 103:1-5

Psalm 29:11

Psalm 100

2 Corinthians 9:15

Genesis 18:1-10

Hebrews 13:2

Matthew 22:36-40

Hebrews 13:15

1 Samuel 12:24

Colossians 4:2

1 Peter 3:12

Psalm 119:62

1 Chronicles 16:34

1 Chronicles 16:8-12

Praying you have a truly blessed Thanksgiving, full of praise to God for all He has done and is doing for you!

Do Not Be Anxious

Due to human frailty and imperfection, the audio of the last few messages have not gotten recorded. Oops. I do apologize and promise to try to figure out the best way to remind someone to push the button on the recorder! 🙂

But, I suppose I shouldn’t worry about it too much, because Pastor Steve has been giving us messages on the cure for anxiety, found in Matthew 6:25-34.

Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body
more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or
store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not
much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single
hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow.
They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his
splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass
of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he
not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying,
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For
the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that
you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all
these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about
tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough
trouble of its own.

Last Sunday, Pastor Steve reminded us that when our priorities are messed up, we tend to worry. We choose what he calls “Careful Infidelity” — choosing to abide by something, to put our faith in something, other than God. That is when Jesus says to us, “O, ye of little faith” (Matthew 6:30). Worry is infidelity because we are not trusting that God is in all the details, and that He is taking care of it all. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need (Matthew 6:31-32); it is but for us to be faithful, to increase our faith through time in the Word, in prayer, and in meditation (Psalm 1:1-2).

There will always be sorrow, there will always be hardship, but God is in control. The antidote to worry and anxiety is increasing our faith, with prayer and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:4-7).

It is with the cares of this world that faith gets choked (Matthew 13:22), so don’t have too tight a grip on worldly things. Hold tightly to Christ Jesus. And remember that in Him, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).

This Sunday, Pastor Steve told us that we need to choose this day, and every day, how we will live — will we seek the things of this world first or will we seek God first? Matthew 6:33 tells us that if we seek Him first, above all else, He’ll give us everything we need. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Worry is failure of faith. When we worry, we are putting our time and devotion into the things of this world, instead of heavenly things (Matthew 6:19-20). When we worry about the future, we are borrowing trouble (Matthew 6:34), we are wasting today (John 11:9).

Instead of worrying, we need to hold fast to Christ, for He is always faithful (Hebrews 10:23, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Pastor Steve read a poem which ended with “I’ll bear the sorrow that comes tomorrow, but I’ll borrow none today.” There will always be trouble, trials, hardship, and struggle, but the Lord tells us that worrying will get us nowhere but further from Him. Instead of being anxious about what the future holds, remember Who holds the future.

Have a blessed, worry-free week!