Our first Sunday at Shoreline Church was incredible! We had 59 adults and 24 children, and a great response of about a dozen people to place their confidence in the redemptive work of God on their behalf. Our Serve Team showed up at 8am with willing and joyful hearts to serve and got an entire YMCA transformed from workout to worship space in just under an hour! By 9:00 we were sound-checking for worship and at 9:20 we were praying together for great things.
Many of the attendees were friends and family showing their support for the new church, and had a wonderful time seeing God launch a fresh work in the area. But most of the crowd were people ready to be a part of Shoreline, and it showed. There was a great spirit of excitement and we were flooded with Connection Cards to sign people up for various ministries or to connect them with the church better. We are eager to see God develop this church from the ground up and know He is just beginning!
I taught from Philippians 1:6, which says “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Paul essentially tells the church in Philippi three things about the work of God in Christ in our lives:
1. God’s at work.
Paul says God began a “good work” in you. The phrase has with it the idea of beginning and ending. And it is always used ofsalvation. Sometimes we aren’t sure if God is up to anything, or if He is, why things are happening the way they are. We ask questions and try to take control rather than resting in His artistry. What does the canvas contribute to the artist? He’s the one doing the work, the creating, the painting, the shadowing, the #awesomeness. What does the canvas contribute? The canvas is merely the object that sits still long enough for beauty to emerge from the surface.
Don’t take my word for it. Over and over God tries to explain this in the New Testament, that He is doing a work within us and we need to allow Him to have His way (Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 2:4-6, Phil 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Titus 3:4-7, Hebrews 13:20-21).
2. God will finish the work.
If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s I’m sure you’ve heard ofIndiana Jones and his “Temple of Doom”, but chances are you probably haven’t heard of the ‘Hotel of Doom’. In North Korea in 1987, construction started on the Ryugyong Hotel, a 105-floor pyramid-shaped hotel that reminds you of a spaceship rising out of Communist North Korean soil. In 1992 the funds ran out for construction, and the hotel stayed unfinished until 2008, when construction began again. It remains incomplete even today, with most floors still at their concrete stage of the process, and stands as a huge reminder of what Jesus said in Luke 14:28:
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
Unlike the 105 Building, God doesn’t start something and then abandon the work. In the NFL there is a penalty for doing this: it’s called a false start. Someone on the offensive line makes a move as if they are going to start the play, but then pull back and are penalized for not finishing what they began.
We often can be concerned that like this offensive penalty, God began a work but won’t finish it, and we will lose yardage.
As we launch this new church, I’m reminded of three things:
He is beginning it.
He will complete it.
We are merely along for the ride of our lives!
3. We can be confident in God as a competent worker.
Unlike you and I, ignoring the honey-do lists we perpetually have calling out to us to finish each weekend, God won’t leave a work undone.
The great artisan Michelangelo was said to have been commissioned to sculpt “David” and found the piece of marble he used outside of a town in Italy, thrown aside. The story goes that a previous artist had attempted a work of art with the same marble but couldn’t do the work and neglected the stone. When Michelangelo found it, weeds were growing on it and it had a reputation of being a neglected object that “could-have-been” a wonderful masterpiece.
There may be something in your life that seems forgotten or neglected by the Lord. You’ve relapsed, or sinned, or you have made a mistake, and you think you are beyond saving or beyond recovery or beyond hope. Whenever you think of your future, or ministry, you just look at yourself as a “could-have-been”.
Paul said he was fully persuaded, fully confident that God will finish the work. And I am as well. What He began in us won’t be forgotten or set aside. God is a master Artisan who always creates something breathtaking and beautiful. And what He begins He always finishes. So don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Don’t be discouraged if you look around on a Sunday and it doesn’t seem like there is much happening. He’s doing a work in you, and He won’t get any penalties for false starts. He promises to do exceedingly abundantly above what we can ask or imagine.
The question remains: are we asking or imagining great work to be done?
Visit thisisshoreline.com for more details about Shoreline Church.