1.  There is a God and you can know Him.

We, at Sunland Neighborhood Church, believe there is only one God who can fill the void in our hearts, and the beauty is that even though we’re lost and are separated from Him in our rebellion; God has not lost us. He still wants to be known; and He has gone to great lengths to bring us back to Himself.

Not only can you know Him; but you were made to.  It’s in how we are wried as men and women to desire this relationsip with the God who created all things.  It’s there because He put it there; and at one time; long ago; we humans enjoyed this perfect relationship with Him.  But everything went haywire.  Man rebelled from God.  He decided he wanted to do things his own way; deteremine his own destiny; and to flat out disobey the rules God put in place to protect him.  The result here was that death (not just the death of our bodies but of our souls as well) entered the world.  Along with it came destruction; suffering; pain; and separation from God.

If you look around you can see the fall out of men and women trying to fill this God-shaped void in their lives.  Some decide they will be there own god; determine their own destiny and build their own kingdom on earth.  Some protect themselves at all costs.  Others feel deep pain/boredom or numbness and seek to fill it with pleasure; escape/entertainment; or even hurting others.  There are also those who try to be good people; to fill their lives with religion and its rules; but even this falls short.  The truth is, we all carry this momentum in us to be our own god and make our own meaning in this world.  We have all rebelled; protected ourselves; hurt others; and tried to determine our own destiny along the way.  But all of our efforts only fall short.  We, at Sunland Neighborhood Church, believe there is only one God who can fill he void in our hearts and the beauty is that even though we’re lost and are separated from Him in our rebellion; God has not lost us.  He still wants to be known; and He has gone to great lengths to bring us back to Himself.

 

2.  There is hope for all of mankind that lasts forever.  His name is Jesus.

Jesus; God’s only Son, died on the cross for us, to erase the sin that separates us from God; and in Him we have an eternal hope that lasts well beyond the moment our bodies fail us.  The hope we have in Jesus starts now and lasts forever . . .

If everyone is lost; if we are separated from God; waiting for the death and destruction of not only our bodies but our souls; what hope do we have left?  Our hope is in Jesus.  He is God’s only Son and is God Himself. God knew that humanity was lost; that their sin and rebellion required a payment.  It’s like if a child steals lunch money from another kid; he needs to pay that child back; or to go scrape gum off tables at recess.  It’s not okay that the theiving child merely gets away with it.  Most of us feel like the child at least deserves to pay his victim back.  This comes from our internal sense of what is just and right.  That justice flows out of God.  He IS just and cannot let our rebellion go unanswered.  The Bible tells us the “Wages of our sin is death.” This is the payment: Eternal forever death.  That’s real bleak huh?  But here’s where the good news comes in.  What if God, who was wronged by us; paid our debt Himself? There was nobody who could. Nobody good enough.  The only person left to erase this debt we owe is: God Himself.  And He knew it . . .

Enter Jesus.  God’s only Son. God Himself.  Jesus leaves His rightful throne and becomes a baby; born in a filthy animal stable to two peasants.  He becomes a man like us but instead of rebelling; He lives a life free of sin.  In addition to this, He begins to build a whole new kingdom on this earth . . . God’s kingdom.  Why? To reclaim a world that is rightfully His and to start a movement of saving the men and women He created; those He loves.

So here’s where it gets deep.  Man has rebelled.  Man needs to pay back this sin, but no man can because all of us are in the same boat; lost.  All of us, except for Jesus; who is God but also now; a man.  Jesus pays our death ransom with His own life. By being nailed to a cross; a cruel; vicious and humiliating way to die. We know this was no surprise to Jesus.  He willingly died for each of us.  We see in the Bible that He predicted His own death and He predicted something else. . . that He would rise! Jesus rose again from the dead! In fact He is alive this very day.  In this we trust His promise that if we believe He died for us, ask Him to save us from our sin, and agree that He is the King of all; then we will have our sins erased and someday we will be raised from the dead to live with Him forever.  The beautiful thing is that our eternal life doesn’t begin once our bodies die; it begins now because we can once again have a relationship with God and it stretches from now to forever!

3.  There is a more powerful and meaningful way to live life than many dare to believe exists.

We believe that all of us have been made with a specific design; to enjoy a relationship with the God who created us and to make a unique contribution to what God wants to do here on earth.  In knowing God and living for Him; we find a life we were meant to live; and we find a new power to actually live it!

To be saved by Jesus; to have our sins and rebellion washed away and to have our ability to be in relationship with God restored is only the beginning! We are meant to know God; and we are meant to be like Him.  This is not say that we are to be little “gods,” but it is to say that He begins a work in us where we become more able to walk in His footsteps.  We see the world like He does; we grow to love like Him; we find increasingly more freedom from destructive ways of living, and we have a powerful capacity to join in the work He wants to do here on earth.  The Bible calls this:  “Putting on the character of Christ.” But here’s the catch . . . We can’t do any of this ourselves.  The real power comes from knowing God and it is His presence in our lives that changes us.  Once a person becomes a Christian; God’s Holy Spirit moves into their heart and begins this radical life changing work that continues throughout their life.  Jesus once said: “I came that they might have life and that they might have it to the fullest.” Only with Christ are we fully alive. What’s more; God’s Spirit takes up residence in our heart and He begins to radically empower us to take our part in the movement of His kingdom.  He gives us gifts with which to use in service to the church.  God does things so often beyond the realm of what we imagine.

To be in constant relationship with God, to be given gifts to help us serve Him; and to be in a process where we are becoming increasingly more and more like Him; is a picture of an amazing life.  In the Bible; one of the writers named Paul, writes about how there are certain character traits that grow in us as a result of having God in our lives.  He calls them”fruit of God’s Spirit.” They are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control.  How many of us wouldn’t want more of these things in our lives; in the world even? To live freely; with joy, peace, love, patience, kindness and self control is to really live a powerful abundant life.