Investing in the Kingdom

Luke 19.12-27

Jesus is going away to receive His kingdom which He will establish upon His return. As His followers, we are commanded to carry out Jesus’ mission until He comes back…seeking and saving the lost. For the faithful, His return will be a time of rejoicing and celebration, but for the unfaithful and for the those who reject Him it will be a time of judgment.

We’re not told, but I have to believe that the first two slaves are not surprised by the response of the King at His return. I believe they know Him to be gracious and compassionate and generous. That’s what frees them up to operate from a place of confidence and courage rather than from a place of fear. There’s an excitement on their part to serve the Master and to take huge risks for the sake of the kingdom. And just like these two slaves, Jesus invites us into an ever-deepening experience of contentment, joy and confidence in our everyday lives with Him. He wants us to serve Him with joy and excitement and not fear. He wants us to get to know Him better through His Word and time spent with Him in prayer and in fellowship with other believers. Each of us has been entrusted with a mina…the gospel…the word of the King. And each of us is responsible for how we invest it…boldly, courageously, fearlessly, intentionally taking big risks for the kingdom.

The third slave, the other slave, did not invest in the kingdom. Instead of seeing the King as generous and compassionate and gracious, he saw the King as stingy and selfish and greedy. He did not know the King, and he did not trust the King, so what he had was taken away. So is the third slave in the kingdom? Can you be in the kingdom if you don’t know the King? Is it possible that there are those who think they’re in the kingdom for whatever reason, but will find themselves on the outside because they didn’t know the King? Folks who are relying on their good works or church attendance or status in the community or relationships…who like Judas who was one of the twelve, but really wasn’t one of the twelve…but do not really know the King?

Do you know the King? Do you know Him as gracious and compassionate and generous? Do you believe that He cares about you and your circumstances? Do you know that He loves you? If you know the King, how are you investing in the kingdom? How are you using your resources…your time, your gifts, your finances…to further Jesus’ mission? Are you being intentional about sharing the gospel with folks on your impact list? Are you eagerly awaiting Jesus’ return? Do you know the King?

Jesus is coming back. He will either be your King or your Judge. Which will it be for you? If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, don’t wait. Recognize your need for repentance. Believe that Jesus can save you and trust Him to do so. Then you too can hear, “Well done, good slave…” and share with Him in His kingdom reign.

Let’s pray.

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

Are You Ready?

Luke 12.35-48

Are you ready? If Jesus came back today…if He came back right now, would He find you faithful and wise? If not, why not?

Jesus told His disciples He would go away…first to a cross then He ascended into heaven. But He promised that He would return. That one day He would come back…that His kingdom would not just be a spiritual reign, but also a physical one. The end of sin and the reign of righteousness. No death. No tears. An eternity spent with our Creator and King, our Savior and Hero…forever delighting in His presence in new bodies that don’t break down or grow old or get fat. Hallelujah! That is our hope. And if that is our hope, then we must live with the end in mind.

So how do we do that? How do we live with the end in mind? By living a life worthy of the calling with which we’ve been called. Spending time in God’s Word getting to know who He is and, by the power of the Spirit, living in light of that truth. Spending time in prayer asking Him to transform us to live and love like Jesus. Acknowledging Jesus in the court here on earth. Faithfully following Him. Joyfully serving others. Loving our neighbors as ourself.

Sometimes we find ourselves asking, what’s the minimum that’s required? What’s the least I have to do and still get into the kingdom? That’s a scary question. Can you imagine standing at the altar with your future spouse asking them, “What’s the minimum you’re going to ask of me? I really don’t want to put forth that much effort.” Or if you were across the table from a potential future employer, and you asked them, “What’s the least I can do and still keep my job?” Or maybe you’re on a team and ask the coach, “I really want to be a part of a winning team, but I don’t want to have to do much. What’s the minimum requirement?” We wouldn’t do that in any other area of our lives, so why would we give Jesus anything less than everything? That’s why Jesus doesn’t clarify on the third and fourth responses. Like the parable of the soils…Jesus isn’t looking for the minimum. He wants everyone to be the faithful and wise servant…to be the good soil.

When Jesus returns, everyone will be evaluated on the lives they’ve lived…both believers and unbelievers. For believers, the evaluation covers the period of time from the moment you believed to the moment you are in Jesus’ presence. Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 3…tested by fire and only what remains receives a reward, the rest is burned up. We will all smell like smoke…we all have things that we know we should do that we don’t or that we shouldn’t do that we do. It’s called sin. But as we progress in our Christian walk, we should see more and more faithfulness…we should begin to look more and more like Jesus. If not, there’s a problem.

If you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus, don’t wait. Like a thief in the night, Jesus could return at anytime. And if you’re not ready, you’re fate is sealed. Now’s the time to trust in Him.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we be faithful and wise servants this week as we anticipate Jesus’ return.”

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

Where Is Your Treasure?

Luke 12.13-34

Where is your treasure? What captures your heart? What consumes your time? What gets you up in the morning or keeps you up at night? Is it on earth or in heaven?

If greed says, “I can never get enough”, worry says, “I’m afraid I may not have enough.” Both reveal a wrong view of God. Greed is short-sighted and makes idols out of our stuff. Always wanting more, we think our stuff will give us life. When we do that, we forget or ignore the fact that life is so much more than the things that we have or the achievements we’ve accomplished. Life, true life, can only be found in our relationship with Jesus…the way, the truth and the Life.

Worry is similar but different. It’s constantly asking, “But what if…” It’s a failure to trust God to provide. Instead of seeing Him as a loving Father who gives good gifts to His kids, He is a distant God who is unconcerned about the day-to-day of life on the earth He created. The weeds that choke out the Word in the parable of the soils are worries and riches and pleasures of this life…worry and greed. Both keep the Word from being productive in a believer’s life.

But there is an alternative…if we want to live and love like Jesus, then we need to trust God rather than our stuff. We have to believe that God is a loving Father who loves us and cares about what’s happening in our lives. We have to trust that He can and will provide as we pursue Him and look out for the needs of others. Then we can be generous rather than greedy, helping rather than hoarding. If we want to worry less,  then give more.

BTW our stuff is neutral…it can be either good or bad. It depends on how we use/invest it. If we use our stuff to promote ourselves or our own kingdoms, then it becomes either an idol or an obstacle to fully trusting God. If we use it to promote His kingdom…if we are rich toward God and generous toward others, then our stuff becomes a vehicle for building up treasure in heaven.

Don’t be a fool. One day your life will be required of you. If your life reflects greediness and selfishness, if it’s the sum total of the stuff you’ve accumulated, if you’re trusting in your stuff, then you will be sadly disappointed. But if your life is rich toward God, if you’ve invested in His kingdom and loved people, if you’ve trusted in Jesus and allowed Him to transform you from the inside out, then yours is the kingdom.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we store up treasure in heaven this week.”

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

Who Do You Say that I Am?

Luke 9.12-27

Feeding the 5,000…Peter’s confession…Jesus’ call to discipleship. We turn a corner in Luke’s Gospel as Jesus begins to prepare the disciples for His departure and the awesome task of carrying forward the message of the kingdom in His absence.

“Who do you say that I am?” The most important question that any of us will ever answer. Who is Jesus to you? The world has lots of different answers. C.S. Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, wrote, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” There is only one answer that’s true…only one that has the power to give life. Jesus is the Christ of God.

If we want to live and love like Jesus, we must walk the path that He walked. The cross that He calls us to bear is not simply a trial or hardship…it’s not your boss whose a jerk or an unfair teacher or coach or an impossible mother-in-law. It’s not an illness or any other physical challenge. That’s part of living in a broken world.

The cross Jesus calls us to bear is a direct result of walking in His steps, embracing His way of life. It comes from bearing “the jeers of the crowd” because we are following the narrow way of Jesus, “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). It comes from living and loving like Jesus in the marketplace, in the schoolyard, on the ball field, at home, in the community, in the world. It comes from persevering in the midst of life’s storms for the sake of the gospel.

The crosses that we bear are proportionate to our dedication to Jesus. Storms in our lives do not indicate cross-bearing, but the storms we endure for Jesus’ sake do.

Every day, the first question that we should ask ourselves, in the quiet morning hours, “Who is Jesus to me?” He is either King or He’s not. If He’s King, how will that impact the way I live my life today? How will it impact my decisions and my interactions? How will it change my relationships?

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we choose the path that leads to life with Jesus this week.”

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

Next Generation Ministry

Luke 9.1-11

First solo mission for the 12. The first opportunity to flex their ministry muscles. The first time to cast out the net for a catch. Jesus gives them the ability and right to do what He does, then He sends them out to proclaim the kingdom, giving them works to back up their words. Travelling light, they depend on God for their needs and bring the good news to all who will hear.

When was your first solo mission? Have you begun to flex your ministry muscles yet? Who have you told about Jesus? Just as Jesus empowered the disciples before sending them out on mission, He has also empowered us by giving us His Spirit and fellow believers to equip us and prepare us to accomplish His mission…making disciples. We call it transforming families to live and love like Jesus.

If you haven’t taken your first spin, don’t wait. There are lots of opportunities to serve. By now, hopefully you have put together an impact list…folks that God’s placed in your sphere of influence whom you can help take one step closer to Jesus. Proclaim the good news of the kingdom to them. Take a risk. You may not do it perfectly…that’s ok. God uses regular folks like us to accomplish His mission.

If this isn’t your first rodeo, and you’ve been serving and sharing the gospel for a while now, maybe it’s time for you to take someone else under your wing and bring them along. Show them the ropes and then turn them loose.

Until next time…stay salty.

“Let’s join Jesus on His mission this week of transforming families to live and love like Him.”

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

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

Luke 6.12-19

Abraham Lincoln once said, “God must have liked ordinary people because he made so many of them!”

Just as Jesus called 12 ordinary men to do the extraordinary…to change the world with the gospel of the kingdom…so Jesus still calls ordinary folks like you and me to do the extraordinary. And not only does He call us, but He gives us His Spirit so that we can carry out the mission. Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 12, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

It’s in our ordinariness, our weakness, that God’s power shines the most brightly. Again, Paul says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves…” Oswald Chambers once said, “God can achieve His purpose either through the absence of human power and resources, or the abandonment of reliance on them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on Him made possible the unique display of His power and grace. He chose and used somebodies only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources.” God doesn’t call somebodies…Jesus said, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Somebodies fail to see their need to be rescued. Instead God calls anybodies and nobodies…and then He makes them somebodies and invites them into the incredible journey and adventure of following Him, and carrying forth the message of the gospel of the kingdom.

Church history is littered with stories of ordinary folks whom God used to do extraordinary things. Folks like Jim Elliot, Martin Luther, Augustine, Mary, AW Tozer, Oswald Chambers, Hudson Taylor, Thomas a Kempis, Brother Lawerence, William Wilberforce, C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom, Martin Luther King, Jr., Billy Graham…but my favorite stories are folks whom God is using in extraordinary ways that only a few may see…who are faithfully following Jesus in the ordinary and mundane, but who are also making an impact on the folks God has placed around them.

For the moms…hope you had a fantastic Mother’s Day. For all of us, I hope you appreciated your momma.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we take seriously our call to be the ordinary who do the extraordinary this week.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus: The Great Galilean Ministry. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

 

NT Reading – June 16

Luke 24

The Resurrection

24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.

The Road to Emmaus

13 And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. 17 And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. 22 But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” 25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

28 And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. 29 But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. 30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

Other Appearances

36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them.

44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension

50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising God.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)