Discovering LIFE in CHRIST is where it all begins! In Galatians 5:25, the apostle Paul says, Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, and He is constantly leading us to take the next step on our journey with Him through dependence.
For this first step, we have compiled several resources to help you (a) begin your relationship with Jesus, (b) hear an encouraging testimony about finding life in Christ, and (c) learn more about the life that you have received in Jesus! Learn more at www.colonialhills.com/next-steps
*This transcript was auto-generated by a transcription service and may differ from the originally spoken content*
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Jesus, what a powerful, powerful name. It is, you really don't have any rivals because of who you are. And what it is that you've done through the cross and being resurrected and raised from the dead you are the victory you are our life you are the creator and our everything. And Father we have gathered together today to be able to declare these truths and praise you for who you are. And, and and for what it is that you've done. And to just give you thanks, it's not something that you had to do but you you chose to do out of a love for us, which we cannot fathom because we have turned our backs on you and walked another way and spit in your own face. And yet you declare that you love us and you sent your one and only Son for us. And so we are grateful. We thank You today as we gather together to worship. Thank you, Jesus for your forgiveness. Thank you for your life. Thank you for the way you provide for us and the resources you bless us with. And Father as we continue in an act of worship right now we give those resources to you we offer them to you to be used for your glory, to further your kingdom work in this church. And in this community. Father, it is our prayer that that we would be a church that is for this community that you've put us in this community to be for the community use these resources, use our hands or feet or time or gifts or talents to be a blessing to our community. We pray for those who haven't yet to come to know you. They don't know the forgiveness you offer. They don't know your grace. They don't know the life they could have in you what you use us to declare that and to live that before them. And in the Lord. It is our prayer that many would come to know you as their Lord, their Savior and their life. Use us in that process we pray. And all God's people said, Amen. Man, that was good. Thank you, Andrew, thank you worship and praise leaders, you guys are doing an incredible job. We appreciate your leadership and the hard work that you put in. And I was not good. I was amazing. These guys are so talented, so gifted have such great hearts practice. And when the Spirit is moving in, we allow him to work in it. It's just so rich. And so I'm glad I'm here today, I hope you're glad that you're here today. Thank you for giving, to support what God is doing in our church and forget you can always give online to support what God is doing here andin our community. And you know, it's been, it's been a good week, it's been a good week, overall, not just a good morning, but a good week. It was my birthday on Wednesday. And I appreciate all of the birthday wishes and you guys reaching out if you are on social media, and you follow us, you you certainly saw the way the rest of the staff around here treated me on my birthday, I got blown up with confetti bombs about 10 different times throughout the day. And if you've never experienced one of those confetti bomb things going off, they're loud, you know, and they would sneak up and pop one of those things and confetti would fly everywhere. And I'm having a little PTSD every now and then when there's loud noises around but it was it was awesome. It's nice to be thought of and to be celebrated in that way. And, man, we have a lot of fun around here and have a great staff. And so it was certainly an adventure though. Speaking of adventures, I've been fortunate to have a number of different adventures throughout my life like many of you guys have, but one of the adventures that I have never ever been on or participated in is white water rapids. Anybody ever participated in whitewater rafting on rapids like that? Some of you'd have some brave souls in here and you lived I mean, you made it through it right I mean, that's that's my fear in it. All right, because I've seen pictures like this right here and I've seen the videos and I'm going I like a little risk and a lot of adventure in my life. But I don't I don't know if I want to sign up for that. Right. I mean, there are twists and there's turns and there's places where where the whole thing speeds up and it it gets dangerous, right of course there's times it slows down and can be a little bit more relaxing. And so this of course is where I mean a good guy comes into play right we don't go whitewater rafting and places like this on your own, you hire a guide someone who knows the river, someone who knows where it twist and where it turns and and when the rapids began to speed up and when you're going to fall and and they don't just know it they they know how to navigate it right they know how to get in and around each one of those corners. And quite honestly, they even know how to teach you and equip you to be able to participate with them to get in and around each and every one of those curves on this journey that you're on. I mean, honestly, a good guide, when it comes to whitewater rafting can make all the difference in navigating you through that step by step process of working your way in and around and down the river. And quite honestly, the journey of life is really no different than that there are times when it's peaceful, and we're just enjoying kind of a calm, little float down the river, right? But then there's all of a sudden, it takes a twist and a turn and it gets faster. And there's rapids and there's water hitting you in the face and there's danger and you're like, am I going to die out here, right? This is the way life can be? Well, in a similar way. That's why a good guide on the journey of life can be helpful to someone who knows the journey, someone who doesn't just know the journey but knows how to navigate you through the journey and to be able to help you have an a great experience while doing so. The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit being a guide. John chapter 16, verse 13, Jesus himself when he was talking to the disciples said, but when he the Spirit of Truth, comms, He will guide you into all truth. He'll guide you into the truth about who God is and how this world works and how you fit into it. He'll guide you into the truth about what you are to think and where you are to go. And what it is that you are to do. The Holy Spirit, then came right Jesus was saying this to his disciples, and when the Holy Spirit comes, and then after His death and His resurrection, we know the Holy Spirit did come. And now each time a believer someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ saving faith in Him and receives the gift of salvation. We're indwelt by that Holy Spirit, we're in dwelt by that guide, who will guide us into all truth. Then after the Holy Spirit came, the writers of the rest of the New Testament Scriptures began to refer about looking for the Spirit's guidance, if he is a guy, if he's been deposited into your life to guide you throughout life, then look for him to do the guiding. The apostle Paul in Galatians, chapter five says, Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. This is the language of a guide, right, the spirit goes before us, he leads us to take next steps on our journey with him. And so starting today, we're going to be beginning this new message series on next steps and how the Holy Spirit is leading us on this journey with him on his journey of life with him, and leading us to take next steps along the way. And while we could talk about this journey in a number of different ways, a hike walk along a path with him and all of those, as you could guess, we're going to be talking about it as a journey down a river. As a matter of fact, I don't know if you knew this or not. But at the very beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, we're told about rivers, from Heaven river of living water from heaven, and at the very end of the Bible, the exact same thing where we open with rivers of life flowing from the throne, and rivers of life flowing from the throne at the end, Genesis Chapter Two, we're told that rivers have a river of living water in the garden flowed down from Eden. And at the very end of it, and Revelation is God is restoring all things. John says, Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal flowing from the throneof God and of the Lamb. Of course, the lamb is a reference to Jesus, who then even said this in His earthly ministry in John chapter seven. He says, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink, whoever, whoever believes in me as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them, and even gives an explanation John does based on what Jesus just said, he says, By this, he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. And so again, we have the Holy Spirit has given to all of us the moment we come to saving faith in Jesus in in Jesus said, it's like having a river of living water flowing from within us. If we have the Spirit in us, he's there to guide us and lead us on this journey. And then if you look at scripture overall, we can begin to see ways that we can anticipate the Holy Spirit guiding us, like, well, what kind of activity should I look for? Whenever he's guiding me? Do I have any kind of clue as to what next steps he's going to be leading us to take? Well, if you look at scripture, there's certain ways that Jesus lived his life and taught on certain things. And the writers of New Testament scripture told us that we could expect and we even saw happen in the early disciples in within the early church. And so we've identified four general ways that we can expect the Holy Spirit to lead and to guide in our lives for next steps that we can expect him to lead us to take. The first one is to discover life in Christ. This is where it all starts, it has to start there. And we're going to be talking about that a lot of that today. But then as we discover that life in Christ and have his life deposited in us through the Holy Spirit, He leads us not into just a journey down the river with him, but with others, he connects us to others, the whole idea of church and and union with Him is a body of believers connected on the journey together. And then we can look for him to lead us to invest the life that He's given us in the body, if he connects us to other individuals, we can expect the Holy Spirit to lead us to take the step of using our resources and our gifts and talents and abilities and all of the above, to invest in the body of believers that He's given us to grow with, and be on this journey with and to then allow that life to be expressed through us into our community so that we carry the living waters to those that they could drink from the same fountain that we have the opportunity to drink from it. So we're going to be talking about each one of these for the next four Sundays, we're talking about discover life and Christ today. Next week connect we're going to take a break over Labor Day weekend, Aaron's going to be preaching that Sunday is going to be awesome. So be it, make sure you're here for that. And then we'll pick back up with invest and then express. And by the way, this was just kind of an introduction to the whole series. So however much time that just took, you can't really count that against me for the sermon today. Like now we're just starting the message for today.Okay, I'll it'll still be we'll get out on time. I'll put it that way. Alright, so the first step, and like I said, it all starts here is discovering life in Christ. Because really, this is what the whole point of Scripture is all about is life in Christ, everything before Jesus in the Old Testament is pointing forward to him. And everything after His death and His resurrection written in the New Testament after that, his pointing back to Jesus and His life and His death and His resurrection. He really is the crux of it all. And he tells us the whole reason that he came in why everything points to him in John chapter 10. Well, he tells us in a number of places, but this is one of the places he says it. And John chapter 10, verse 10, he tells us why came, the thief, he said, comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I came, he said that they may have life and have it abundantly. The whole reason that Jesus came, the whole reason that everything in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus, and everything after him pointed back to Jesus is because he offers true, abundant life. This is what he came to do. And the reason that he had to come offer that and do what He did on the cross, to be able to offer that life to us is because of the state and the situation that we were all in or that we are all in if we haven't received Jesus yet. And that is that of spiritual death, a lack of life at the very core of our being. We talked about this earlier this summer in Romans chapter five, when we were going verse by verse For through Romans chapter 567, and eight but he says this in chapter five, verse 12, Paul does to the church at Rome, he says, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all people because all people sinned. We were we're all in a place where we're spiritually dead. In other words, your biggest problem isn't the need to be a better person. Your biggest problem isn't learning to be more moral. Your biggest problem isn't learning to make better choices in life. Your biggest problem is that you are dead and no amount of good behavior and moral choices and wise behavior is going to make you undead. That's why Jesus had to come. Otherwise, if it could be done with behavior, he wouldn't have even had to show up. He had to come because of our spiritual death problem, he had to die. Because our sin is what separating us from that life because the life is him holding a perfect God can't be a rent around it. So he had to die, pay the penalty for all of those sins, but it didn't just die for your forgiveness. And so that one day you could go to heaven, he died so that he could clean up the environment inside of you to be conducive to now allow his life to be deposited in you and live through you. And in this is what of course he did. John chapter four, just a few chapters before the one we looked at in John chapter seven, with the reference to living water, Jesus was having a conversation with a woman at the well. And here's what he said to her. Jesus said, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is, that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water, he goes on in verse 13, it says, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty, again, referring to the water in the will, right. But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Jesus says, Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. In other words, what Jesus is saying is every single one of us are thirsty for life.We're thirsty for life, because we're spiritually dead. On the inside, we're, we're dry, right? And so we're, we're thirsty for life. And we're looking out in the world to find something that will quench our thirst for life. And we grab a hold of anything that we can see that we feel like might offer some some satisfaction to quench this thirst that we have for for life, we try to find it through relationships, we try to find it through success. And in school or in our career, through sports, we try to find it in material possessions, we try to find it in hobbies, we try to find it in drugs, or alcohol, or pornography or sex, we try to we try to drink of the things that this world has to offer, but none of them will ultimately ever satisfy. And so we have to keep drinking more and more and more and more to try to satisfy and it never dies. It's kind of like we're all born into a desert. Right? I mean, picture you yourself being in a desert and you're you're walking around and of course it's it's hot, right I mean you're you're sweating and and and it's dry and there's there's sand and dust and dirt and it's it's windy and it's blowing, and it's hitting you and you're you're breathing it in your nostrils and down your your throat and your your lips are are chapped. And they're they're cracked and your throats dry. And you got that chalky kind of a taste. And you're, you're weak because you can't find any water and you don't have anything to satisfy you in that. And then And then finally, you see an oasis, you come across the spring in the desert, and you you run to it and you fall down on your knees and you start to bury your head in it and just drink of the water only to find out that it's saltwater. No matter how much of it you drink. It will never, ever satisfy. It just leaves you more thirsty than you already or so then you leave that when you go to the next one, you come across the next one and you drink. Oh, more saltwater, and you go to the next one, you drink more saltwater. And we know that if you drink too much saltwater, you eventually die, right? This is what it's like to be spiritually dead. You're born in a desert, you're looking for life, you can't ultimately find it, and you will die in that state. And this is why Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, I can give you living water though I can give you water that will well up to eternal life. I can't give you water that will never leave you thirsty again. He said Right. He's the only one who can quench the thirst. And so that is why discovering life in Christ has to be our first step. There is no other place that you can get the life that you are missing other than Jesus. It's only found in him this world has nothing to offer you. It's saltwater in the desert. First John chapter five. Even tells us that God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. Verse 12. Whoever has the sign has life. Whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. It doesn't really get any clearer than that. It's all about Jesus. If you have him you have life if you don't him has him. You don't have life in here. He constantly thirsting for more. The best news is that if you don't have Jesus, he offers himself to you as a gift. Doesn't matter who you are, what it is that you've done, where you've been, he went to the cross out of his love for you to die for your sin. If you'll receive Him by faith, He will forgive you. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Remember, John 738, whoever, whoever means whoever, right? No matter who you are, where you've been what it is that you've done, believes in me, rivers of living, water will flow from within them, it all comes down to belief, it all comes down to faith where you receivethis free gift. By placing your faith and trust in Jesus, my hope and prayer is that if you're here today, and you've never taken a step of discovering this life in Christ, and received his gift through faith, that you will take that step today. And we'll give you a chance to do that at the very end of the service. But listen, there are many of you, probably the majority of you here here today, who you've taken a step of faith, you've received His forgiveness, you have these rivers of living water flowing you in you. But listen, the Holy Spirit is not done with this step. This will be a step that you will be taking for the rest of your life discovering more and more about the life that you now have in Christ, why can I not just check the box, because Satan is actively working in your life and in my life, to rob us of that life, rob us of experiencing the life of Christ that we have in him, he wants to lead us to believe that we're still thirsty, that our thirst hasn't been quenched. And when you fill that place of lack in your life, then we must not have all of it. So we go looking for more of it still out in the world, or we go looking for it through religious activity. Satan can be at work in a lot of our lives, after we've taken an initial step of faith to rob us, of experiencing that life of Christ. And it can leave us in a place where sometimes we almost even feel like we were better off before we were saved. Can you imagine that? But it's true. That's the story of one of our own members named Nancy, many of you know her, but I don't want you to hear me talk about it. I want you to hear her words. So point your attention to the screen Turner digital screen and listen to her story.Hi, my name is Nancy Kirkpatrick. When I finally began to truly discover life in Christ at Colonial hills, it began to radically change my life. Before then, when I trusted Jesus as my Savior, I knew God loved me. And he had sent Jesus to die for my sins. I knew I was forgiven. I knew I'd go to heaven one day, and that the Holy Spirit was living with me. But I really didn't understand much more of what Jesus had done for me. In fact, my religious upbringing had led me to believe that I received forgiveness only if I confessed each individual sin. I even heard messages that said daily confession was necessary to stay in fellowship with God, and for him to hear my prayers. As you can imagine, my mind was filled with guilt and condemning thoughts over my continued mistakes. To make things even worse, I attended a Bible study that said these condemning thoughts were from the Holy Spirit, that conviction of the Holy Spirit that called some days I felt worse. And when I was a non Christian, thankfully, guide us people like Robert Carter, Bill Loveless, Glenda Lauder, and Dan stones writings to share scripture that renewed my mind, and I began to discover life in Christ. I was like a dry sponge, soaking up more and more of God's incredible grace. I learned from Hebrews 13 And Romans eight, that in Christ, my fellowship with God is unbreakable. He never turns his back on me, even when I sin. Knowing God's love, His unconditional love. I felt accepted and valued. Hebrews 10 teaches that Christ died once for all my sin, the past, present and future ones. It's Jesus's blood, not my apologies to God. That rock complete forgiveness. This was eye opening. I felt such assurance relief and peace. Knowing that I have complete forgiveness because of point Jesus did. I still get those condemning thoughts. But I've learned that in Romans eight one, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. So when Satan accuses me and tries to rob me of joy, I'm now confident to rebuke the thought with turning. John 1613 says, The Holy Spirit guides me and on true, he never convinced me. The Holy Spirit is my friend, and my teacher, he wants to convince me of who I am in Christ. Now, I feel true rest, knowing the spirit is for me, and wants me to trust Jesus and to express himself through me. My life is not perfect. And sometimes I don't let Jesus express himself through me. But when I do, and I experience love for others, that comes from him. There's no greater joy or fulfillment.Because they understand Christ, loneliness, and express his transforming love and grace to hurting people.Nancy said, Listen, I had taken a step of faith, I had discovered life in Christ in an initial sense, I understood that there was sin in my life that is separated from me. And then I needed that and I took a step of faith, but she didn't really understand the fullness of the life that she had in Christ. And was deceived by Satan, even in the church through Bible studies to believe that the life that she felt like she was missing some times came from religious activity, and all of the things that we do for Jesus, rather than it coming from him, and in Him alone, and it led to a place of bondage, and a place of despair, and a place where she felt like the Christian life didn't even work, right. So this is why when we talk about the Holy Spirit, discovering life in Christ and leading us through that next step that we're not done once we take a step of salvation, an initial step of salvation, Jesus wants to help us discover or open up the eyes revealed to us, the life that we now do have in Christ, when you heard Nancy even say, as I began to discover it, it radically began to change my life, she said, radically begin Did you hear the peace in her voice, the joy that she is experiencing in her life with Christ? Now? Did you hear? Did you hear her plea, her emotional plea for us as a church to discover more and more about the life of Christ so that we would experience that same peace and joy and satisfaction? Why do you think she was so emotional and felt so strongly about it, because it's impacted her in such a deep way. And she knows that many others are experiencing the same thing in the church that she experienced after she first took a step of salvation. And she doesn't want you to walk in that bondage. She wants you to be free from that. So when we talk about the Holy Spirit, leading us into these next steps will always be on a discovery of life in Christ. Which is why we've created a new resource page for you on our website, you'll see, I think, on the screen we have kind of a video if you go to our website, you'll see this next step of discovering life and Christ, you'll see some videos, some basics on the introduction to it, taking a step of baptism after receiving life in Christ, you can check out Nancy's video and point other people to it. But below that's additional resources of books and podcasts and websites and our Wednesday night studies that you can be a part of, they all have clickable links. And so these are a number of books that I've read myself that other people around here who that the Lord has used in order to help us discover real life in Christ. But what does that really mean? I mean, this if we had to nail down our entire church being about one word, those who have been around here for a long time, know that the one word we would use over and over and over again is we're a church that's all about life. This is it. This is what we have experienced the Lord doing so much of in our lives, leading us to this discovery of the life being found in Him and not in all the stuff that we're going for him, and how to live from him rather than for him. So we want you to take advantage of growing and reading and opening up your heart and mind to learn more and to honestly, maybe even unlearn some things that you've learned along the way that Satan's allowed you to buy into, to lead you away from where the real life actually is.When we open up our hearts when we open up our minds, and we allow Him to begin to reveal these truths to us, as he saw in Nancy's life, it can really make all the difference. Let me give you one more quick example. And we'll be done. This is book Christ our life by Pastor Larry Smith. And, and in it he writes about Charles Trumbull, who was a he was a chaplain in the Civil War. He was a Sunday School editor, he was a leader and a teacher and, and Larry Smith writes about his experience of discovering life in Christ. Listen to what he says, having been a Christian and involved in ministry for several years, Mr. Trumbull became aware that men whom he related with had, quote, a conception or consciousness of Christ, that I did not have, in quote, they were presenting Christ in a way that was totally unfamiliar to him. As he began to pray over what they were teaching, he came to two conclusions, listen to this. First, if what they were saying was right, than what he had been teaching and living was wrong. And second, that they were talking about a Christ, whom he simply did not know if this was real, and available for all Christians, he wanted to know and experience Christ that way in his life. And then he began to discover that life in Christ, and in describing the changes in his perception and relationship with Christ. He writes this with great humility and joy. He says, I've always known that Christ is my Savior. But I had looked upon him as an external savior, one who did a saving work for me from outside, as it were, one who was ready to come close alongside and stay by me, helping me and all that I needed, giving the power and strength and salvation. But now, I know something better than that. He says, At last, I realized that Jesus Christ was actually and literally within me. And even more than that, that he had constituted himself, my very life, taking me into union with himself, my body, mind and spirit was this not better than having him as my helper, or even having him as an external savior, to have him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God as my very own life. It meant that I never need to ask him to help me as though he were one and I another, but simply to do his work his will in me, and with me, and through me, my body was his my mind, his mind will his my spirit his and not merely his, but literally part of him. What he asked me to realize was what Paul says in Galatians, that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me. Do you wonder he says that Paul could say, Eat with tingling, and joy and exultation in Philippians? To me to live is Christ. He says, notice, he did not say is I had mistakenly been supposing to live to me to live is to be like Christ, nor did he say to me to live is to have Christ help, nor to me to live is to serve Christ. No, no, no, no, no, no, he plunged through and beyond all that, in the bold, glorious and mysterious claim, to me to live is Christ. I had never understood that verse before. Now, thanks to his gift of himself, he says, I am beginning to enter into a glimpse of its wonderful meaning. After quoting what Trumbull says here, Larry Smith comes back and says, having Christ as our life is vastly different than much of the Christianity we see today. If that's true, if living Christ as our life is vastly different than much of the Christianity we see today.Which Christianity are you living? Which one are you experiencing? Have you truly discovered not just life in Christ, but Christ as your life, it will radically change your world. Father, we thank you so much for the life that you have given in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.We recognize that there's no other place that this life is found. And that's the whole point why Jesus had to comment. So thank you for allowing Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, thank you for raising Him from the dead, defeating the power of sin and death forever. Thank you for offering his life to us. Thank you that when we put our faith and trust in you that we have rivers of living water flowing from within us and that our thirst has been quenched. And we can experience ultimate satisfaction in You. Lord, for those of us who have taken an initial step of salvation, my prayer is that you really will open up our hearts and our minds to potentially unlearn. unlearn some things that we've learned along the way that you would reveal your truths about the life that we have in Christ, and how we can live from that life flowing in us and through us. Father, I pray for all of those who may be here today or watching online who have never taken an initial step of salvation to receive that life in them that you would continue to open up their minds and hearts to see you for who you really are in all the life that you offer them if they'll just receive it by placing their faith and trust in you today. It's in Jesus name I pray. Amen.