All In: Transforming Families

Nehemiah 3

Let’s consecrate our work to the Lord. More than that, let’s consecrate ourselves to Him (Ro. 12.1-2). God is in the transforming business…transforming lives…transforming families to live and love like Jesus. So whether you are at work or serving here at the church, look for opportunities to share, encourage, equip…Don’t forget Who it is you serve and why you’re serving Him. Then, like Nehemiah, you will be able to give Him the glory He is due for the success that He brings.

The point of God’s work in the church is not just to get from point A to point B, but to get everybody from point A to point B. Like a family.

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This post is based on a sermon from our January series: All In. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

All In: Prayer

Nehemiah 1

The situation in Jerusalem is desperate. The circumstances are dire. Seems a bit helpless and hopeless. Enter Nehemiah, the cupbearer for the king. Feeling overwhelmed, he fasts and prays. He intercedes for his people. He confesses sin, asks for forgiveness and seeks restoration. His confidence is clearly in the great and awesome God of heaven…the faithful and loving God.

Do “dire circumstances” sound familiar to you? Maybe that’s been your life over the last year or so. Maybe that’s your life right now. So what should you do? Allow the circumstances to overwhelm you or trust in the God who is above the circumstances…the great and awesome God of heaven?

What’s causing you to “weep and mourn” today? What burden are you carrying? What sin do you need to confess? Where do you need the Lord’s help? How about others in your life? Take some time now right where you are and pray.

Amen.

I hope you know prayer is a discipline that is indispensable in the Christian life. It’s something that should be woven into the fabric of your day. Times like this shouldn’t be an anomaly. But here’s what I know…as much as we may want prayer to happen, unless we are intentional about setting aside time to pray it just doesn’t. So plan it into your schedule…maybe in the car on your commute to work. Maybe before your feet hit the floor in the morning or after your head hits the pillow at night. Maybe on your lunch break or over your first cup of coffee. You could even do it while you’re in line at the store or working out at the gym. Maybe all those times. But get in the habit of praying.

May you have an ever deepening experience of contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God as you spend time with Him this year.

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This post is based on a sermon from our January series: All In. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Jesus, the Light of the World

John 1.1-18

In these opening verses, John presents Jesus as more than a Man…He was with God and He was God. But not only does John present Jesus as more than a Man…He is also a Man. The Word became flesh. He didn’t give up His God-ness to become a Man, but somehow clothed His divinity in humanity.

John wants us to know Jesus…fully God because only God can forgive sins. Fully Man because only a Man could die for sin. The perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…if you have not yet trusted in Jesus, today would be a great time to do that.

It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him.

Merry Christmas!

This post is based on a sermon from our Advent series: Christmas at Central. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Joy in God’s Proclamations

1 Peter 1.6-9

We can experience inexpressible joy even in the midst of trials when we see our lives from a kingdom perspective…because we have a living hope and an imperishable inheritance that is protected by God.

Everyone who walks this planet will suffer…guaranteed. It’s part of living in a fallen world. Death. Loss. Broken relationships. Pandemic. Disappointment. You name it. Some of that suffering is due to our own bad choices. Some of it’s due to the bad choices of others. Some of it’s a result of the fall. But everybody will suffer in some way at some time. But not all will suffer for their faith.

The picture that Jesus frequently uses for discipleship…for following Him…is taking up our cross. It’s a clear picture of suffering. Now why does suffering have to be a part of the deal? I mean if we’ve chosen to follow God, if we’ve been adopted into His family, if we’re kingdom citizens, then why doesn’t He keep us from suffering? If we are on the winning side, then why does it feel like we’re losing? It goes back to the fall…

When we rebelled against our Creator, it had a devastating effect not only on us but also on the good world that God had made. The benevolent rule that man was supposed to exercise over creation was forfeited to the enemy (Luke 4.6), who subsequently became “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4.4) , “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2.2). Before we trusted in Jesus, we were “sons (and daughters) of disobedience” (Ephesians 2.2) and were citizens of this world and thoroughly committed to life in the kingdom of darkness.

When we trusted in Jesus another rebellion occurred, but this one was really a return. And while it is true that we are citizens of a new kingdom and children of God, we are still living in enemy territory. Because our allegiance has changed, we are at odds with the world around us and traitors to its malevolent king. The more we look like Jesus…the more we live as citizens of His kingdom…the more at odds with this world we will be. The more at odds, the more suffering. The more suffering, the more rejoicing. Why can we rejoice? Because our faith has been purified and strengthened. Because we know that our salvation is sure. Because we’ve chosen to respond to our circumstances with joy, knowing that God will use these experiences to accomplish His work in and through us. Because we are becoming more like Jesus.

The counterfeit joy that this world offers is based on avoiding unpleasantness of any kind…forget about suffering. It’s a joy that is hollow, self-seeking and fleeting. It disappears when the storms of life come. Unfortunately that’s the only joy that many of us pursue. But true joy…inexpressible joy…comes only from following Jesus, taking up our cross and being willing to suffer with Him. Seems like an odd way to find joy…especially an inexpressible joy…but there it is. That kind of joy is independent of circumstance…good or bad, suffering or rejoicing…it remains unshaken.

So what difficulty are you facing right now? What trial are you going through? How might God be using it to purify and strengthen your faith in Him? What, if anything, is preventing you from choosing joy despite your circumstance?

May you experience Joy in God’s Proclamations this Christmas season.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Advent series: Christmas at Central. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Peace in God’s Prophecies

Genesis 3.1-19

God created a perfect world. All that God had made was good, including the man and his wife. It’s paradise…heaven on earth. What happened? It’s hard to describe the catastrophic results of one single disobedient decision. Welcome to life as we know it. Every act of violence, every natural disaster, every awful thing that has happened since is a direct result.

That’s why I love Genesis 3.15…what we couldn’t do for ourselves, God will do. God Himself will rend the veil of time and space and come down to the earth He created in the Person of Jesus. He will rescue His people. He will save us from sin and death by sacrificing Himself in our place. He will die that we might live. He will reconcile us with our Creator God. He will establish a kingdom where we will live and reign with Him forever. Where we will know true and lasting peace. 

And so Jesus has come…the King has come. He has come to reestablish our relationship with our Creator. To reconcile us with God. To restore our broken situation. To bring peace. Not just the “absence-of-conflict” kind of peace, but the OT “shalom” kind of peace, the “taking-action-to-restore-a-broken-situation-so-that-all-is-well” kind of peace. It’s what God has been doing for us for a very long time…since the beginning when we wrecked the place. Not only has God taken action to restore our broken situation, but it’s also what He calls us to do with others.

That’s why Paul can say in Romans 5.1-2, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”

So if you find yourself getting anxious about your relationship with God or with others, be proactive and seek peace. God is only a prayer away, and He delights to fix broken situations. And others? Let me challenge you…make the first move. What person comes to mind who you need to seek peace with this week? I bet they are only a text or a phone call away…or even better, maybe you can make plans to grab coffee and make things right. But don’t wait.

May you experience peace in God’s prophecies this Christmas season.

Join us next week as we continue our Advent series with…Hope in God’s Promises.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Advent series: Christmas at Central. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Help Wanted: Service Shows Our Love for One Another

Romans 12.9-21

Renewed thinking allows us to see the world from a very different perspective than those around us. It causes us to think rightly about who we are and how we fit within the church. It frees us up to  think of others before our selves. It pushes us to look out for ways to use our gifts and serve each other. And it’s the catalyst for us to live and love like Jesus.

Renewed thinking comes from a renewed mind…a mind that has been transformed by God’s Word. As we spend more time in God’s Word and allow God’s Word to spend more time in us, the Spirit uses the Word to renew our minds and transform us to live and love like Jesus. We begin to see the world more and more through His eyes. We begin to want what He wants. We begin to love like He loves. We begin to live out our role as ambassadors for His kingdom. And so come what may…good times or bad, blessing or cursing, feast or famine, tribulation or persecution or suffering of any kind…we can rejoice. We have hope. We trust God. And we see that His will for us is perfect…good, acceptable and perfect.

When my son was in third grade, he and I decided to try tae kwon do. The first day we entered the dojo, it was clear that the goal was for us to be black belts. Even though there were a number of them present, the sensei didn’t consider his job done until we all crossed the finished line. It’s not about one of us making it to maturity. It’s a group project. The job’s not done until we all attain to the unity of the faith…

I hope you’ve found this serve series to be helpful. I hope it’s caused you to begin to ask questions…to explore what your spiritual gifts are and where you might use them. I hope you’ve been encouraged. But most of all, I hope you discover the joy of serving for yourself. So if you’ve been waiting…just try it!

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This post is based on a sermon from our Help Wanted: Inquire Within series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Help Wanted: Service Uses Our Gifts

Romans 12.3-8

A renewed mind brings about renewed thinking which allows us to see the world from a very different perspective than those around us. It causes us to think rightly about who we are and how we fit within the church. And it’s the catalyst for us to live and love like Jesus.

God’s gifted you for a reason…are you using your spiritual gift to build up the body? Of course that assumes that you know what your spiritual gifts are. One way to discover what your spiritual gift is…is to serve. If you hear about an opportunity that appeals to you, then just try it. If it’s an area of giftedness, you’ll know. It will “feel” right, and we won’t be able to talk you out of it. If not, you’ll know that too, and you can try something else. Remember the Christian life is not an experiment but a lifestyle, not just trying, but training.

If you want to experience the fullness of joy and abundance of life that Jesus talks about, you’ve got to get serving. So find ways to serve. As you exercise your spiritual gifts, don’t be surprised to see God use them in tandem with others, bringing you closer together and closer to Him.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Help Wanted: Inquire Within series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

The Sixth Trumpet – The Army from the East

Revelation 9.13-21

The sixth angel sounds his trumpet and the four angels bound at the Euphrates River will lead forth another demon army 200 million strong to kill a third of mankind. Those who remain, instead of repenting, will harden their hearts.

God is gracious and compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil. He is mighty to save, and He’s provided a way to be saved through His Son Jesus. The Lamb who was slain so that He might purchase with His blood, folks from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, to make us a kingdom and priests to God and to reign with Him forever and ever. No one has to face these terrible judgments. All can be saved.

But not all will be. Even in the face of the fierceness of God’s wrath, still some will refuse to repent of their idolatry and the worship of demons. They will love their destructive lifestyle more than even the chance at life itself. And yet they will still shake their fists at the sky and claim it’s God’s fault. Like Pharaoh, God’s mercy only serves to harden their hearts.

I don’t want that to be you. All can be saved. You can be saved. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

The Great Multitude

Revelation 7.9-17

A great multitude from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues are standing before the throne and before the Lamb. A couple of weeks ago we saw those facing the great day of God’s wrath crying out, “who is able to stand?” And the answer is…those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. All those who have trusted in Jesus.

Judgment is for sure a pervasive theme throughout the book of Revelation. But so is mercy. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19.10).

Jesus came to save us from our sin and the wrath of God that we rightly deserve. We are/were dead in our trespasses and sins, but He came to give us life. And if we will trust in Him, He will do just that. And although the tribulation will be a time of intense suffering and persecution, it will also be a time when many come to faith. A great multitude. From every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues.

It’s a beautiful picture of what God intended. All the families of the earth. Every crayon in the box, not just one or two.

One of the most stirring pictures of God’s love is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 (recap)…this son of mine was dead, but has come to life again. He was lost and has been found. That’s God’s heart for the lost.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. God is patient and He’s provided a way for you to be saved, but there will come a time when it is too late. So don’t put it off any longer. Make today the day.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the app store or google play.

The Four Horsemen

Revelation 6.1-8

The Lamb breaks the first four seals of the great scroll, unleashing the four horsemen of the apocalypse. A terrifying reminder that God takes sin seriously. The final reconciliation between heaven and earth has begun.

For those who belong to the Lamb, there’s nothing to fear. Their hope is being realized. Their King is coming. And He will set all things right.

For those who are enemies of the Lamb, there’s every reason to fear. Their is no hope. Their Judge is coming. And He will set all things right. But…there’s still time repent. There’s still time to switch sides. But don’t wait.

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