You’re Not Alone

Acts 4.23-37

Peter and John return with news of their first confrontation with the religious leaders. And while they weathered this first storm, they recognize their need for the Spirit’s enablement to courageously carry forward the mission in the face of fierce opposition. And so they pray. They are not alone. They not only have each other, but they also stand together with the Sovereign Lord, the Creator of the universe on their side.

Once again, prayer is front and center for the Apostles. Is prayer your go-to in crisis? Is it something you need, or just something that you get around to after you’ve tried everything else? Are you praying for strength and courage to weather the storm, knowing that it’s in times of suffering and tragedy that our faith is most clearly on display, or are you just praying to escape the storm? Do you recognize that you’re not alone…that you have a community of believers that is here to support you, not to mention the Spirit of the living God who indwells you? Or are you trying to go it alone?

Meanwhile the early church continues to be a model of unity and love. There is a singleness of purpose in their pursuit of building the kingdom…telling others about Jesus and growing in their faith. Their love is expressed practically in meeting the needs of those within the community who are lacking.

Like the early church, we too are called to be a vibrant community, a family, here at Central. Jesus said the world would know that we are His disciples by our love for one another. So how are we doing? How are we doing with loving each other and pursuing the kingdom together?

We are all called to be witnesses…to tell others about Jesus and how He has changed our lives. We are called to proclaim the awesomeness of the God we serve. That seems hard to do at times for a myriad of reasons. Maybe we don’t think about it…too self-absorbed, maybe we’re too busy, maybe we’re too afraid. Whatever the reason, take a moment now to confess it to God and then ask Him to give you the confidence to do what He has called you to do. 

Are you living a generous life…when you see a need, do you work to meet the need? Are you generous, not just with your resources but with your time and with you life? Are people more important than things…is Jesus really more satisfying than your stuff?

How are you doing with spiritual disciplines? Are you spending time daily with the Lord in prayer and the Word? Are you meeting with believing friends to encourage and pray for each other?

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Initial Opposition

Acts 4.1-22

Peter and John encounter their first challenge to the gospel. Sadly it comes from the religious leaders, the very ones who should have been the most excited about the good news. But their response is not too surprising because they are the same folks who asked Pilate to spare Barabas and crucify Jesus.

Why were the folks in charge of the Temple that day greatly disturbed? Why were they so unwilling to embrace Jesus as their Messiah…the One that God had exalted…the One that God had raised up from the dead…the Stone that they had rejected? Because Jesus threatened their way of life. They didn’t want to forfeit the kingdom they had built for themselves. They would rather be slaves of Rome than servants of the Most High God. They would rather be slaves of sin, than servants of righteousness. Sound familiar?

Jesus changes everything. Peter and John were no longer lost and afraid…they were bold and confident. The lame man was no longer sitting on the outside begging…he was walking and leaping and praising God. Jesus came to bring life to the dead, hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless…He came to save us. And only He can. “For there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

I love the boldness of Peter and John. Standing before the very men who condemned Jesus, the most powerful Jewish men in Jerusalem, they bolding proclaim the good news that Jesus has been raised from the dead. The man who was formerly lame, but now completely healed…both physically and spiritually…is proof positive. I wonder if we are that bold…are we willing to share the gospel, to tell our story of how Jesus has rescued us, with our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, etc.?

Has Jesus changed your life? Have you trusted in Him? If not, what’s holding you back?

If you have trusted in Jesus, how has He changed your life? What’s your story? Who are you sharing it with?

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Good News…Jesus is Risen!

Jesus is alive. God raised Him from the dead. His resurrection proves that Jesus is the Hero He claimed to be and that everything He said is true…His death satisfied God’s just punishment for sin, and He is able to raise us to new life, to give us eternal life. And as He promised, Jesus will be with us always, even unto the end of the age. So no matter how much the world may shake around us…God is able to bring life out of death, hope out of despair, victory out of sure defeat.

The resurrection changes everything! Jesus makes all the difference. He gives purpose and meaning to life, He brings real hope and change. Eternal life that starts today and never ends.

Do you know Jesus as Savior today? If you have not yet trusted in Him, today can be the day of salvation for you. Recognize your need to be saved…we are all sinners. Believe that Jesus came to save you by dying a sacrificial death for your sins. Then trust Him to save you. Then you too can truly celebrate Easter, and the good news that Jesus is risen.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

It’s Not Too Late

Acts 3.11-26

In this Peter’s second sermon, he once again implicates the Jews for killing their Messiah. But if they will repent and return, forgiveness is available. Only then will they realize the promises that God made to their fathers. If not, they stand condemned.

Jesus is the answer the Jews had been waiting for, but they missed it. Even though they were wrong about Him, they were convinced they were right. Unfortunately I think we often believe the lie that the answer we’re looking for…whatever it is we think will give our life meaning…can be found in the pursuit of self and the things of this world…relationships, careers/jobs, etc. Even though we may think we’re right, we’re dead wrong. That’s not life, but death. So if you are looking for the right answer in the wrong place, it’s not too late. Jesus is the answer for you too.

Jesus came to bless us…I think it’s such a beautiful picture. Though we were His enemies and our only thought was to put to death the Author of life, yet He willingly gave His life so that we could experience life. Real life. Life with Him in His kingdom. He came to bless us by turning us from our wicked ways. By believing in Him you can be saved.

So how is repentance taking root in your life? We have been called to repent time and time again throughout this series…there’s that first act of repentance when we trusted in Him initially, but then there’s the ongoing repentance…the turning back again. Are we actually doing it? Are we learning to live and love like Jesus?

I love the boldness of Peter to stand up and proclaim Jesus, even when it wasn’t easy. I wonder if we are willing to do the same. Why not start with your impact list? Who is the one you are praying for…that you are inviting to come with you for Easter? Maybe you can share your story with them this week…

Until next time…stay salty.

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

The Healing of the Lame Beggar

Acts 3.1-10

Luke tells us that “…many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles” (Acts 2.43) The healing of the lame beggar is an example of one of them. The man, who had been going through the motions and everyday rhythms of life, didn’t expect to have an encounter with Jesus. But when he is miraculously healed by Peter in Jesus’ name, everything changes.

All of us, like the lame beggar, need Jesus. Sometimes our other needs camouflage our deepest need…and that deepest need is always Jesus. If you have not yet trusted in Him, why not today? Then you too can experience the unexpected surprise that is no less than life from the dead. Uncontainable joy and unfettered worship.

Peter and John are on their way to the temple that day to worship…to participate in the evening sacrifices and pray along with many of their Jewish brethren. They have somewhere to be, and no one would think twice if they just politely ignored our friend or threw a few shekels his way. But not Peter. Not this time. Maybe he’s thinking back to all the times that Jesus stopped to heal folks throughout His ministry. Maybe, like Jesus, Peter is overcome by compassion and mercy for this man. Maybe he remembers Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan and what it means to love your neighbor. Whatever it is that day, Peter looks a lot like Jesus.

Speaking of the parable of the Good Samaritan…I think there’s a pretty close link between loving our neighbor…loving others…and being interruptible. Jesus was often interrupted, but He never treated the interruptions or those who caused them as distractions…He leveraged them as opportunities to teach, to show mercy, to demonstrate His amazing love. Here we see Peter being interruptible. I believe that some of the best ministry happens in the interruptions…in the unplanned encounters…in the unexpected surprises.

So how interruptible are you? Do you see interruptions as opportunities or distractions? Do you see folks as in need or in the way? Do you show compassion toward others or indifference? Are you generous with your time and your resources? If not, why not?

Maybe it’s a lack of margin that keeps you from being interruptible…you’ve so packed your schedule that you simply don’t have time to help those in need, or you’ve so over-extended yourself financially that you don’t have the resources to help. Spend some time asking God to help you create some margin in your life. Ask for wisdom of what you need to say “no” to in order that you can say “yes” when needs arise.

Maybe it’s selfishness, laziness or pride that keeps you from being interruptible…you are too busy building your own kingdom, focusing on your own comfort, avoiding inconvenience. Your gaze is fixed inward instead of outward. Pray that God will open your eyes to the needs around you.

Maybe it’s hardness of heart that keeps you from being interruptible…you simply lack compassion and mercy for people. You get fed up with people and their perceived lack of judgment and perpetual bad decisions. Hardness of heart is dangerous…you can only show mercy if you’ve received mercy. If you don’t show mercy, it could be an indication that you’re in need of God’s mercy. At a minimum you have a heart problem. Ask God to reveal to you what’s going on in your heart. Ask Him to help you show compassion.

Easter’s just around the corner. Who, like the lame beggar, do you need to keep your eyes open for? Who can you introduce to Jesus? I hope that you’ve identified that one on your impact list that you are praying for and plan on inviting.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Life Together

Acts 2.42-47

What do you do with 3,000 new believers? These new believers were committing themselves to learning more about Jesus, praying, worshiping, and enjoying a vibrant community life. They were also committed to proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah to others, and God was powerfully at work through their testimony. Every day more people were joining their new family.

Following Jesus is simple, not easy. The apostles’ teaching, the fellowship, prayer and evangelism…practices that kept the early church on mission. Practices we’ve incorporated into our values as a church…renewing hearts and minds through biblical teaching, intentionally building Christ-centered relationships, inspiring a fervent love for Jesus through a lifestyle of worship, and strategically creating opportunities for families to impact their world for Jesus. Practices that keep us on mission as a church…believe it or not they’re on my wall so that whenever our staff or elders meet, we’re reminded of our values. Practices that I hope you have woven into your spiritual life as well.

Like this early group of new disciples, we too are called to be a vibrant community, a family, here at Central. Jesus said the world would know that we are His disciples by our love for one another. So I wonder what folks would say about us? Would they see that our faith is making a difference in our lives? Would the quality of our life together and the positive impact that we are having on the valley cause us to have favor with all the people?

A couple of practical steps you can take. Make daily time in God’s Word and prayer a part of your spiritual disciplines.

Be generous in your giving. When you see a need, meet a need. You don’t need permission. Look for opportunities…excuses to give.

If you are not a part of a community group yet, remember that’s our primary vehicle for growing. Find a group of friends to gather with on a regular basis…pray, study the Word, dig into each others’ lives, challenge and encourage each other.

Don’t forget your impact list…who is that one person you are praying for?

Until next time…stay salty.

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

The Beginning of the Church

Acts 2.14-41

The crowds ask Peter that day, “What must we do to be saved?” Maybe that’s you today. If it is, the answer is the same…repent. Recognize that you stand condemned, guilty before a holy God. Believe that Jesus can save you, and then trust Him to do so. When you do that, you too will receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit. You will be adopted into God’s family, a son or daughter of the King with an eternity to spend with Him. The first step of obedience then is baptism.

If you have trusted in Jesus, but have not yet been baptized, what are you waiting for? We will see throughout the book of Acts that those who believe are baptized. And in Matthew 28 as Jesus is giving His final instructions to the disciples, part of the disciple-making process is “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded…” So what are you waiting for?

For the rest of us, who are you praying for? Who’s on your impact list? Last week I asked you to start building your testimony by considering the question, “Who was I before Jesus?” This week I encourage you to interact with the question, “How did you recognize your need for Jesus?”

Until next time…stay salty.

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