Gather

Hebrews 10.19-25

I came across this poem the other day…“Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone. For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own. Sing, and the hills will answer; Sigh, it is lost on the air. The echoes bound to a joyful sound, But shrink from voicing care. Rejoice, and men will seek you; Grieve, and they turn and go. They want full measure of all your pleasure, But they do not need your woe. Be glad, and your friends are many; Be sad, and you lose them all. There are none to decline your nectared wine, But alone you must drink life’s gall. Feast, and your halls are crowded; Fast, and the world goes by. Succeed and give, and it helps you live, But no man can help you die. There is room in the halls of pleasure For a long and lordly train, But one by one we must all file on Through the narrow aisles of pain.” The poem is called Solitude. Striking because it highlights the difference between why the world chooses to gather, and why we, as the church, as those who follow Jesus, choose to gather. The world gathers when it benefits them, when it makes them feel good, when it’s fun…when it serves “me”.

Contrast that with what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 4.9-12, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” There is a synergy that exists when we run after Jesus together…when we gather together. Synergy simply means that the total is greater than the sum of the parts. 1+1=3. It’s the way God’s designed it. We run faster, jump higher, reach more folks…we do better together.

Let me challenge you this year…in 2019…to make the weekend services a priority. It’s the time that we gather as a body to worship God together, to be encouraged and to be challenged, to be recharged and equipped. But let me also challenge you to come expecting God to do something. Come expecting to worship…to give rather than just receive. Come looking for the opportunity to serve those around you…maybe a kind word, a warm handshake/hug, a prayer…to provoke one another to love and good deeds…but come. And when you come, why not bring the one that Jim talked about with you?

My prayer for us as a church in 2019 is that we would continually draw near to God, intentionally pursuing Jesus with reckless abandon, and that we would hold fast our confession, being a light and a beacon of hope in our community, and that we would always provoke each other to love and good deeds, anxiously awaiting the return of our King.

May your 2019 be marked by an ever deepening experience of contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God.

pro rege

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

New Beginning

Genesis 35

Jacob’s spiritual journey reminds us of our own spiritual journeys…an incredible destiny full of promise and potential, a new identity, God’s presence with us. But somewhere along the way we generally find ourselves, like Jacob, slipping from the white-hot passion of following God to the lukewarm comfort of convenience and compromise. Sometimes the rebellion of wanting to do things our own way…to do what’s right in our own eyes, fooling ourselves into thinking we know what’s best. But more likely than not the daily grind and the routine of life quenches our fire.

Jacob puts away the foreign gods, purifies himself and puts on some new clothes…a new beginning. But there is a challenge to this new beginning…Jacob still knew where he buried the idols, and so do we. Many times we’re tempted to return to them. We’re tempted to return to the old life and many times, if not most, God uses the consequences of our choices to wake us up, to bring us back to our spiritual roots…to return us to Bethel.

Jacob was in a place of convenience for 20 years before he left Laban’s hacienda to return to the land. He was in a place of compromise in Shechem another 10-15 years. But both times, God showed up to call Jacob out of his complacency, to remind him of his incredible destiny. God was not giving up on Jacob. He was a lynch pin in His plan of redemption. God could have chosen another way…maybe someone less stubborn and self-reliant, less proud and deceitful, but He chose Jacob; and He was committed to Jacob realizing his new identity as Israel…His savage mercy, His fierce grace.

Some of us have just come out of a place of compromise and are experiencing a renewed sense of destiny…that God has called us to make a big impact on His kingdom right where we are. Some of us are still in a place of compromise and are experiencing the consequences of our choices…be encouraged. God is not done with you yet. But you have to put away those things that are keeping you from Him, your idols whatever they may be, and return to Bethel. Some of us are on the threshold of entering a place of compromise…don’t do it. Remember who you are…a child of the King. You don’t have to go down that path.

Some of us aren’t compromising simply because we aren’t in relationship with this amazing God yet. I hope you’re curious. I hope you’ve gotten a glimpse of His incredible love and relentless pursuit of you. He wants to give you an unimaginable destiny as one of His children, spending an eternity with Him in His kingdom through faith in His Son Jesus, who lived a perfect life, died a horrible death, was raised the third day conquering sin and death and crushing the head of the serpent, so that you too could have a new beginning.

 

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster