Setbacks

Good evening! Hope you have had a beautiful Sunday before Christmas. Pastor Steve brought us a wonderful message about how God uses the setbacks in our lives. To listen to this message, simple click the play button on the audio player below. I’ve also included our Advent Call to Worship and links to a couple of the verses Pastor references in his message.

Call to Worship

“Look at the Big Picture – It’s a Worship Service”

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” 
–Luke 2:14

Look at the nativity, and you see a worship service. Angels hover over it like drones. Common, smelly shepherds and sophisticated wise men bow down. Worship flows from everyone toward the Child.

It is difficult to imagine any greater contrasts than what we see at the nativity. They were different socially. Shepherds were low on the socioeconomic level. Wise men were so socially acceptable they entered the king’s palace. They were different educationally. Shepherds had no formal education, while the wise men were famed for knowledge. God is telling is that no matter who you are or where you are from, any and all can come to Christ and worship Him. Christmas, first and foremost, is about worship. Those at the manger were not there simply admiring this Child. They were worshipping Him. Make sure worship is first on your Christmas list.

Scripture References

Isaiah 53:3

Philippians 2:7-11

Praying you have a most blessed Christmas, filled with the joy of the Lord!

The Truth About Christmas

First of all, I have to pass along an apology from Pastor Steve. We had an abundance of distractions this morning: a lovely snowstorm yesterday evening, bitterly cold temperatures this morning, visitors to the church, members stuck in the snow…enough that the message accidentally did not get recorded this morning! Please forgive us!

I’ll do my best to give you the gist of Pastor Steve’s beautiful message on “The Truth About Christmas,” starting with our special Advent Call to Worship from The Christmas Code by O.S. Hawkins.

Call to Worship 
  “Making the Most of Christmas”

 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that
 they had heard and seen, as it was told them. –Luke 2:20

How can you make the most of Christmas? For some it is all about decorating
the house or tree, getting that special gift, seeing relatives, or getting invited to
that certain someone’s party. But making the most of Christmas is so much
more than any of these things.

Join the shepherds this year in making these next few days a time of “glorifying
and praising God,” a time of celebrating all that Christmas is and means.
According to Psalm 22:3, God “inhabits the praises” of His people. This is where
and when God feels at home—in the midst of your praise.

Note the shepherds “returned.” Where? To their homes and businesses. What an
impact this must have had on those who knew them best. May God give you the
grace to follow these shepherds and make the most of Christmas this year.

Message and Scripture References

The truth about Christmas is that it is about God’s promised Messiah. Jesus came in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). God knew when the “fullness of time” would be, even 400 years before Jesus’ birth, when He sent the prophet Malachi a vision of Christ’s coming (Malachi 3:1). God knew even before then, when He sent the prophet Micah a revelation over 300 years before Malachi (Micah 5:2). It was this prophecy that the wise men studied to lead them to travel to Bethlehem to worship the newborn King (Matthew 2:1-12). God promised a Savior; He gave us the greatest Christmas gift ever in Jesus the Christ.

The truth about Christmas is that it is about Jesus and why He was born to be Immanuel. Jesus came to be God with us to show us the Truth (John 18:37). Moses may have been the vessel through which the Law was given, but Jesus came to bring grace and truth to mankind (John 1:17). Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). He was born both fully God and fully man because God loved us so much that He knew we could not go on any longer without the hope of salvation that is only found in Christ (John 3:16).

The truth about Christmas is that Jesus was born to die (John 15:13). Around 750 years before the birth of Christ, God revealed to the prophet Isaiah that it would only be by His wounds that we could be healed of our sins (Isaiah 53:5-6). God also knew, however, that not everyone would believe His Word made flesh (Isaiah 53:1).

And the truth about Christmas is that it is about us and our witness (or lack thereof) for the Lord Jesus. God wants our whole hearts, not just what’s left after a day of work or play or stressing to find the perfect gift while avoiding other shoppers. God’s well-spring of grace is infinite; all He asks in return is that you draw nearer to Him with every breath (James 4:6-10). When we spend our time praising and glorifying the Lord Jesus, instead of worrying about gift buying and Christmas parties; when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, instead of worrying about health and politics and keeping up with the Joneses, the light of Jesus will shine forth from us like a beacon for all the lost souls searching through the emptiness for something to cling to. When we rejoice in the Lord, we are His witnesses, telling about Him to everyone we come in contact with (Acts 1:8).

Jesus is the Truth about Christmas.

Gifts

It’s the second Sunday of Advent and Pastor Steve brought us a beautiful message about gifts today. To listen to Pastor’s message, simply click the play button on the audio player below. I’ve also included our special Advent Call to Worship and links to Scriptures that Pastor Steve references in his message.

Call to Worship

“The Message of Christmas Is in a Name – Immanuel”

And they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” –Matthew 1:23

The name Immanuel is a translation of two Hebrew words expressing “God is with us.” God with us. Not some prophet or teacher or holy man. But God Himself clothed in human flesh—with us! He came to where we are so we could go eternally to where He is. God…always with us.

            God—that is majesty. With us—that is mercy. God—that is glory. With us—that is grace. He came to be with us, to give us what we never deserved and to not give us what we did deserve. He could not be Jesus without being Immanuel. That is, in order to save us, He first had to come and be with us, taking on human flesh. At Bethlehem we see God with us. At Calvary we see God for us. At Pentecost we see God in us.

From O.S. Hawkins’ The Christmas Code

Scripture References

Isaiah 40:3-5

Isaiah 2:4

Luke 2:10-14

Romans 5:1

Luke 2:15-20

Matthew 2:10-11

Matthew 2:2

Isaiah 7:14

John 17:22-26

Praying your week is abundantly blessed, as we focus on Christ during this season. Praise God He is Immanuel — God with us!

Expectation

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!