Who Is This

Matthew 21.1-17

Jesus enters Jerusalem, and His final week of ministry is underway. Some gladly accept Him as their King while others complain and reject Him as an imposter.

None of the events of this final week will catch Jesus by surprise. Not one. He is in control of His destiny. He will lay down His life as a willing sacrifice. He’s not a victim. He’s not a bystander. He’s not “along for the ride.” He is the King. And He is in control. That hasn’t changed. Doesn’t matter how the world shakes or what storm is brewing in your life…Jesus is still King, and He’s still in control.

I love the OT story of Joseph. Though things start out well for him…his dad loves him and gives him a great coat…they take a turn when his brothers turn on him and sell him into slavery. It seems that every time he gets ahead, he gets knocked back down again until of course he is promoted to the second position in the kingdom. Joseph has an opportunity to confront his brothers who are the catalyst for the grief in his life…how does he respond to them? “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Who says that? Somehow Joseph recognized God’s fingerprints all over his story, even though he didn’t know the why at the time. He trusted God all along the way to guide his steps.

In my own life, when I’ve allowed God control, amazing things have happened that I can’t explain any other way. When I’ve tried to take the reins…well the outcome is pretty predictable. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Do you believe that? Do you believe that your heavenly Father wants to direct your steps, or do you think He purposely keeps His desires for your life a mystery that you have to bump around in the dark to discover?

It goes back to the care thing. Do you believe that God is a Father who cares about you? It hit me as I was going through the sermon this week. The Father cares about every detail in our life. No detail is too small and no problem is too big for Him. If your child came to you crying because their favorite toy was broken or they dropped their ice cream or they’re just mad because their brother or sister won’t play with them, would you ignore them and tell them their problems are too small for you to deal with? The best of dads wouldn’t. The best of dads wouldn’t ignore their child because they’re too busy…the best of dads stop what they’re doing. The best of dads enter into their child’s world. The best of dads…and our heavenly Father is the very best of the best of dads.

It’s our own impatience and lack of faith that cause us to take matters into our own hands most times with disastrous results. Instead of trusting God, we are trusting ourselves. And instead of letting Him be King, we grab the throne for ourselves. I am convinced that we cannot experience the fullness of life and the abundance of joy that Jesus promised unless we stop trying to be our own king and allow Him to be King in our life.

Jesus has a way of upsetting the proud and the self-righteous. But He welcomes the outcast and the broken…those who feel unworthy and the humble who recognize their need for Him. Which are you?

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from Palm Sunday. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 3

Romans 1.28-32

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Suppress the truth. Ignore revelation. Distort God’s glory. Our attempts to write God out of the script have had a predictable outcome. Turns out we are not very good gods. Scratch that…we are horrible gods. We have trouble running our own lives, much less managing a universe. And so we have a world that reflects our image instead of the Creator’s…

Writing God out of the script has also had some unintended consequences. You see, if there is no God, then we are not made in His image. If there is no God, we are not made to rule on His behalf. If there is no God, then we are not made at all. Being “made” implies intentionality…and it also implies a Maker. So if there is no God, then we are accidents of time and chance. A fluke of the cosmos. No purpose and no meaning. We are here one day and gone the next.

And so life is no longer cherished or valued or to be protected. It’s utilitarian. It’s disposable. It’s just business.

And God gave them over…because they exchanged the Truth of God for a lie, they exchanged the natural for the unnatural, and they no longer acknowledged God. Sin is a consuming fire that cannot be quenched and an appetite that cannot be satisfied. It will always take you further than you wanted to go. And it twists and perverts the good that God created and intended.

We live in a time and place where the world at large no longer cares about the difference between right and wrong. We are the godless society that Paul describes. We are constantly challenged to accept as right what we know is wrong, and then are shamed or worse if we disagree. 

Things like when life begins and what constitutes marriage and what is gender…things our culture wrestles with but that are clear in Scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, truth is not relative and doesn’t change with time. It is not based on opinion or feelings. It has no political affiliation. There is no such thing as “my truth” or “your truth.” There is only the Truth, which is based solely on what God determines is true. After all, He’s the Creator. It’s His universe. His rules.

As I said in the beginning, my goal in this mini-series has not been to point fingers or create controversy or an us-vs-them mentality. My goal has been to present the Truth, clearly, plainly, lovingly…and the Truth is sin is sin. And all sin…from the grossly immoral to the seemingly innocuous…requires a Savior.

Because of sin…because of our sin, both yours and mine…we are all under the wrath of God. None of us can escape because we are all guilty. We may not be as bad as we could be, but we are all as bad off as we can be without Jesus.

That’s why the gospel is such good news. Because Jesus paid it all. He lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death on our behalf. He died to pay the penalty for sin…all sin…so that God’s wrath on sin might be fully satisfied, so that everyone who puts their trust in Jesus might be forgiven of their sins and be reconciled to God.

So are you under the wrath of God or do you have the righteousness of God? The difference is Jesus. Have you trusted in Him? If not, why not make today the day?

If you have trusted in Jesus, be careful. We have an enemy who is on the prowl. We are living in the midst of a godless society that would love to see us fall. It’s easy to allow its twisted morals to infect and influence our worldview…to draw us away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Commit to living by the Truth…living and loving like Jesus.

We’ve talked about some pretty weighty topics over the last few weeks. Maybe God has been convicting you in some areas where you’ve suppressed the truth and strayed from Him. Some areas where maybe you’ve allowed the culture to infect and influence your worldview. Like the prodigal son you’ve come to the end of your rope…you’ve seen the devastating effects that sin has had in your own life and the lives of those around you, and now you’re ready to come home…it’s time to come home. The Father is waiting…with open arms…waiting for you to come home.

I want to invite you to spend some time this morning, this afternoon or sometime today just sitting with God, asking Him to reveal those areas of your life where you’ve strayed from Him, then confess that sin and give it up to Him. If you’ve wronged someone, make it right. If they’ve wronged you, forgive them…and still make it right. It’s time to come home.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 2

Romans 1.24-27

God gave them over…frightening words, but words that describe the world we live in today. Society has fallen for the rouse of The Emperor’s New Clothes…exchanging the truth of God for a lie. We wanted to decide truth for ourselves apart from God, we wanted to be the determiners of good and evil, right and wrong, we wanted to be our own gods…and so we have a world that conforms to our image.

We all have a sin bent. We are all sinful, but we also have particular sins that we are prone to. For some it’s lust. For some it’s pride. Or anger. Or lying. Or stealing. Or coveting. You get the picture. We all have a sin bent…an inclination toward some form of rebellion against God. The goal is not to pursue that bent, but to turn it over to God so that He may transform that sinful inclination into a desire to please and pursue Him.

These are not easy topics to talk about. Definitely not popular and may even get me in trouble. But they are things we need to talk about because the Bible talks about them. Here’s the bottom line…we all need a Savior, and the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. For God so loved the world… No one is so lost they can’t be found. No one is so dead that they can’t be made alive again.

Jesus ate with tax-collectors and sinners. There is no doubt He loved them. So should we because…newsflash…we are one of them. But loving the sinner doesn’t mean leaving them in their sin. That’s why sharing the Truth is so important. It’s also why we share our story. It’s one beggar telling another beggar where they can find bread.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Wrath of God Revealed Part 1

Romans 1.18-23

The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… Sin has consequences. And the consequences? The wages? Death. The first and most basic sin…the suppression of the truth of God. To deny His existence even while creation itself gives evidence of its Creator.

But since the garden we have been suppressing that truth. And our hearts have been idol-making factories ever since. And so we’ve either written God totally out of the script (atheist) or we’ve given His glory to His creatures (polytheist). In either case we’ve elevated our own understanding above the truth that God has revealed both in His world and in His Word. We are without excuse.

I said it earlier, but I think it’s important to keep coming back to it. Apart from Jesus, we are all under God’s wrath (John 3.36). But we don’t have to stay there. Because of God’s amazing grace and His astounding love He has provided a way for us to escape His wrath…through His Son. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross satisfied God’s wrath. It paid the penalty for sin. That’s the gospel. The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Jesus died so that we might live. His death allowed for forgiveness of sins. His resurrection provides new life. For everyone who believes… If you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus, why not make today the day?

If you have trusted in Jesus, be careful. Our culture is saturated with the lies of the enemy, suppressing the truth at every turn. It’s easy to allow it to infect and influence your worldview…to draw you away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Commit to living by the Truth (capital “T”), which is found in God’s Word, the Bible.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Greetings Part 2

Romans 1.8-17

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” Can you say that? Our world today is not so different than Paul’s. Believers are still ridiculed, mocked, made fun of, despised, persecuted…not always overtly, but often covertly. In movies or TV shows, on social media, in politics…throughout our culture. Often it is friends or family, coworkers or classmates. And yet we are still called to share our story.

What are you not ashamed of? In other words, what are you proud of? You see, it’s the things that we are proud of that we tend to promote, right? Kids on the honor roll, some new product that’s going to change your life, your team wins March madness, etc. Does the gospel make your list? Is the gospel good news to you…have you experienced its power to save? I hope so.

You see, the gospel is for everyone. There is no one who is so dead that they can’t be made alive. There is no one so lost that they can’t be found. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. If you haven’t taken the time to write out your story, this week would be a good time to do that. Remember this is not your biography…it’s your testimony of what Jesus has done for you.

This series in the book of Romans is a great opportunity to invite folks to church. In it we see the seriousness of sin and the greatness of God’s love. It reminds us that both the sinner and the seemingly self-righteous are in need of a Savior…and that there is hope in Jesus.

Remember that I said that Romans 1.16-17 is at the center of this letter? Let me challenge you to memorize it over the next week over so. Not only will it be a great reminder of Romans, but I’m sure the team will also have some kind of something they do with it in the coming weeks leading up to Easter.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Greetings Part 1

Romans 1.1-7

Paul packs a lot into seven verses. A summary view of the gospel he will spend the next several chapters explaining. I fully expected to get through verse 17 with this first sermon, but you can see by the part 1 I didn’t quite get there. Welcome to Romans.

Two things I want to leave you with. The gospel is for the lost…for those who have not yet trusted in Jesus. To you I want to say…God has been pursuing wayward sons and daughters from the beginning. Because of His amazing grace. Because of His astounding love. He has provided a way through Jesus that we might know Him and be reconciled to Him and be saved. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, why not make today the day?

The gospel is also for the found…for those of us who have trusted in Jesus. We have been saved on purpose for a purpose. To do good works, to let our light shine, to obey the One who has saved us. In our free and independent culture we sure don’t like the idea of having to be beholden to anyone. We don’t like folks telling us what to do. We want to be our own man/woman. We want to be our own boss.

And yet the Christian life is one of obedience. If we trust the One we are called to obey…if we really believe that He loves us, that He knows us, and that He wants the best for us, then obedience should be one of the easiest things we could do (John 15). So if you are having a hard time with obedience…doing what Jesus says…my guess is that there is a breakdown somewhere. Either you doubt God’s love for you or that He really knows/cares about you or that He wants what’s best for you. Which might that be for you?

This series in the book of Romans is a great opportunity to invite folks to church. In it we see the seriousness of sin and the greatness of God’s love. It reminds us that both the sinner and the seemingly self-righteous are in need of a Savior…and that there is hope in Jesus.

As we go through the book of Romans, we will learn a lot about what God calls us to do. Let’s commit right now to do it.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Essentials: Generosity

Luke 20.45-21.4

God’s economy is different than ours. The widow’s offering is a reminder that God is not looking at the size of the gift, but the motivation behind giving it. God’s not after our money, but us. And yet we cannot give ourselves to Him without giving everything to Him, including our stuff.

Throughout church history, generosity has been one of the defining characteristics of Christianity. The care of the poor, the first hospitals and schools, leper colonies, providing for widows and orphans, for the downtrodden and left behind…all witnesses to the power and provision of God. Just as our Father is generous, He wants us to be generous too. Because of our so great salvation, our thankful and happy hearts should loosen our grip on our stuff and free us up to give…and to give generously. In fact, we as believers should be the most generous folks on the planet!

But so often we’re not. Maybe it’s because we have too low a view of God. Maybe we’re afraid to trust Him because deep down inside we believe Him to be stingy…that somehow He might hold out on us. And if we give away what we have, there won’t be enough for us. Yeah…but that’s not the picture that the Bible paints of who God is…think about the number of stars in the heavens, the number of galaxies, the greatness and vastness of space. In the Genesis account, when God creates the sun, moon and stars, what is their purpose? To give light to the earth, and for signs and for seasons. Seems to be a bit extravagant, doesn’t it?

What about God’s grace and His mercy and His love? His boundless, immeasurable love? The cross where the sins of all mankind were placed on His beloved Son. Every sin atoned for. Every one. So that all might be saved…if they will believe in Jesus.

So if God is so incredibly generous in these things…both in creation and in redemption, then why would He be stingy in providing for our needs? Our generosity problem has nothing to do with our wealth or lack thereof. The widow was certainly not rich by anyone’s standards. It has everything to do with our faith and obedience. So the question is, do you trust God enough to give generously?

If so, where might you start? Well, if you’ve never given before or have only given sporadically, then start by being intentional. Sit down with your family and pick an amount and give that amount regularly. Maybe sign up for online giving. Revisit your giving throughout the year to see how you’re doing. If you’ve been a consistent giver, make it a goal to increase that amount…shoot for generous. Watch how God provides. Strive to become a generous giver, not a bigger barn builder. Remember God gives generously to us so that we can then give generously to others. When we invest in the kingdom, it pays eternal dividends.

Here at Central we are striving to be generous with our finances, too. We give away 20% of our budget…both locally and globally through missions and, soon, through church planting. Definitely something to celebrate. I know some folks in Japan who are thanking God for your generosity!

Make 2020 the year that generous giving becomes a priority for you…just like the poor widow.

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This post is based on our January Series, Essentials. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster