Whose Side Are You On?

Luke 12.49-59

Whose side are you on? Jesus says we are either for Him or against Him. There is no middle ground. There is no halfway. There is no both/and. For those who have heard Jesus’ word about the kingdom…who have recognized that they are in need of a Physician, that they are sinners in need of repentance…and who have acted on it…they’ve trusted in Him to rescue them, the kingdom of God is theirs. Their names are recorded in heaven for eternity.

But for those who have heard Jesus’ word about the kingdom and rejected it…they’ve chosen to trust in themselves or in their stuff or in anything else but Jesus…who chose to fear men rather than fearing God…they have an eternity apart from God in a place called hell.

Whose side are you on? If I were to ask your friends or co-workers, your classmates or teammates, your family or neighbors, would they know whose side you’re on? Is it clear from the way you live your life, or would they be confused about your answer? Jesus didn’t save us just to go to heaven…if that was His sole purpose then the moment we believe we would be there. No He saved us so that we would follow Him, so that we would be faithful and wise servants, investing in the kingdom…so that we would live lives worthy of the calling with which we have been called, so that we would walk in the good works He has given us to do. We were saved so that we would live and love like Jesus and join Him on His rescue mission, crashing the gates of hell and pulling folks out of the flames.

The Bible says that we are all guilty before God. We all have a sin-debt that must be paid. In the garden, God said that disobedience/rebellion was punishable by death, and so a death is required to pay the penalty for sin. The good news is that Jesus came to pay the penalty for us…He died so that we may live. That’s the baptism He had to undergo. His death covered all our sins, so that by trusting in Him we can be sons or daughters of the King. We must all appear one day before God…it’s an appointment we will not miss. And when we appear before Him, we will either have our sins forgiven already and know Him as Father…or we pay for them ourselves and know Him as Judge.

Whose side are you on?

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we be clearly for 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

Who Do You Fear?

Luke 12.1-12

Who do you fear? Do you fear God or fear men? Is it obvious to others in the way you conduct yourself…in the way you live your life? Jesus, talking to a group of guys who would soon be facing intense persecution because of Him, calls them to trust in their heavenly Father who cares and who has the only authority that really matters and who gives His children the Spirit so that they can endure.

The disciples’ commitment to stand with Jesus depends on how much they trust the Father, both as Judge and Provider. The same is true for us. To stand up when others are walking away or bowing down, we have to trust God…and we will only trust Him if we remember that we are fully known and fully loved by Him. When we choose to follow Jesus, we kick off a chain reaction. And we have to be ready. Some will be excited for us…but most will not. The pressure to conform to this world will intensify, and we have a choice to make…follow Jesus or follow the world, acknowledge Him before men or deny Him. Life and death. But we need not fear because our names are written in heaven, and the Father has given us the Spirit…and knowing that the Father who loves us is the ultimate and final Authority, we should be fearless in our faith.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, don’t wait! The Bible warns us that there is only one Judge, and only His opinion counts. You are either for Jesus or against Him. If you are for Him, an eternal kingdom awaits…and you will reign with Him forever as a son or daughter of the King. But if you are against Him, it’s a very different story. So please don’t wait…trust in Jesus today.

In honor of Reformation Day…which just happens to be October 31…I want to close with this story about Martin Luther.

When Martin Luther first stood before the Diet at Worms, John Eck, the Archbishop of Trier, asked him, “Martin Luther, do you recant of the heresies in your writings?… Do you defend them all, or do you care to reject a part?” Luther gave the quiet answer, “This touches God and His word. This affects the salvation of souls. Of this Christ said, ‘He who denies me before men, him will I deny before the Father.’ To say too little or too much would be dangerous. I beg you, give me time to think it over.” That night Luther and his colleagues passionately called out to God in now-celebrated prayers. With the rising of the sun another, larger hall was chosen, and it was so crowded that scarcely anyone except the emperor could sit. Eck spoke long and eloquently in the flickering candlelight, concluding, “I ask you, Martin—answer candidly and without horns—do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?” He spoke first in German and then in Latin: “Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.” At that towering moment Luther’s massive fear of God freed him from the smaller fear of men!

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we choose the fear of God over the fear of man 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

Our Reclaimed Hope

Daniel 12

What a ride! Fourteen weeks in the book of Daniel. Terrifying visions, steadfast faith, incredible courage, uncompromising commitment, a new chapter. The rules have changed during the Time of the Gentiles. Where doing the right thing once brought blessing, it now brings a curse (ex. fiery furnace and lions’  den). Conforming to the surrounding culture brings comfort. Good is called evil, and evil good. Right and wrong are a matter of public opinion. Following God will not be easy, but for those with insight and the courage to persevere, their inheritance is secure. As the divine messenger says, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” In the midst of a world seemingly out of control, Daniel is reminded (and reminds us) that God is still in control… “For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the ages; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.” So don’t give up, don’t give in…God wins.

The first six chapters of Daniel are story…the adventures of Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah in the kingdoms of Babylon and Persia. Daniel receives his first two visions while Belshazzar is king…still under the dominion of the first beast, Babylon. He receives these visions before the “handwriting on the wall” of Daniel 5. Daniel’s prayer and the last two visions are during the time of Darius/Cyrus. Why is that important? Because Daniel’s experience in the lions’ den (Daniel 6) could very well have come after this final vision. His response to persecution/suffering should inform our response…God can, God will, but even if He doesn’t, He is still sovereign and actively involved in the events of my life and is working for my good and His glory. And just as prayer was an indispensable part of Daniel’s life, it should be of ours as well.

God’s faithfulness to deliver the fantastic four…His faithfulness to deliver His people throughout history … should cause God’s people to want to be faithful in the face of tribulation and oppression. The Daniel’s visions are given within a context of persecution…there was tremendous pressure for him to compromise and even abandon his faith. Daniel writes to persuade folks who are suffering persecution to hold fast their faith and endure because God will rescue them even through death by resurrection (many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake…to everlasting life). Like the fantastic four, we too are tempted to compromise and abandon our faith, but don’t do it. We are called to live out our faith in a hostile world no matter the cost, being available to be used by God to boldly, yet compassionately point those on our impact list to Jesus, knowing that good triumphs in the end. Don’t give up, don’t give in…Jesus wins.

Is your name written in the book? Only those whose name is written in the book will be rescued and resurrected to everlasting life. And the only way to have your name written in the book…trusting in Jesus to rescue you. Then you too, like Daniel, will receive your allotted inheritance in the eternal kingdom. If your name is not in the book, or if you’re not sure…if you don’t know the God that Daniel speaks of today, the God of heaven, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, the Revealer of Mysteries, the Rescuer of our souls, please don’t wait. Only those who have insight, whose names are in the book…who have trusted in Jesus for everlasting life will be a part of His eternal kingdom. The rest will spend an eternity apart from Him. Lack of understanding will be no excuse.

May God give us the courage and steadfastness of Daniel to face life in the fourth kingdom, and may we do it with an undying hope.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Murder 1

Genesis 4.

So…“Why is the world so fascinated with/prone to violence?” As I reflected on this passage this past week, I was reminded over and over that ours is a culture of violence. Not only the seemingly senseless acts like that of mall shootings, school shootings, drive-by shootings, violence in the schoolyard, the workplace and behind the closed doors of many homes, but also the violence we celebrate in movies, at sporting events, in music, on TV… Like we said last week, God created a perfect world. All that He made was good, including the man and his wife. It was paradise…heaven on earth. What happened? Again, it’s difficult to describe the catastrophic results of a single act of rebellion. 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.

Cain’s act of violence…murdering his brother Abel…was just the first in a series of acts of violence that have colored the history of mankind blood red. Death would be a natural result of the curse, but murder is a microwave version that exposes the darkness of sin. It’s a direct result of the enmity, the hostility that the seed of the serpent (wicked) have toward the seed of the woman (righteous).

What is violence? It’s an affront to the image. Every act of violence is a physical attempt to eradicate the image of God. It flows from the serpent who is the enemy of God and of what’s good. And the ironic thing is, that the enmity is not just between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, but also between seeds of the serpent (and if we are honest, between seeds of the woman as well). When we celebrate violence, you can bet the serpent’s pleased.

But the good news…the bookends of this entire episode both include reference to the LORD and the hope of Genesis 3.15, that LORD would send the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman to defeat the serpent, to rescue us and all of creation, to provide the way back to Creator God. And He did just that in the Person of Jesus who absorbed every act of violence from the murder of Abel to the last violent act that will be perpetrated on planet earth when He was nailed to the cross. The innocent died for the guilty, so that we might be reconciled to our Creator by His grace through faith in Jesus.

But what about you? Violence is one aspect of suffering that is the result of sin. Along with pride, it reflects the character of the serpent, who we are told, was a murderer from the beginning. He likes nothing better than to see the image destroyed. Those of us who have trusted in Jesus…the seed of the woman…are at war with the seed of the serpent. Yet, as Paul reminds us, our struggle is not against flesh and blood…our warfare is against an unseen enemy and not against the captives he’s taken hostage. We are on a rescue mission – braving the horrors of hell to pull folks out. We are our brother’s keeper. Hope is possible because the Head-Crushing Seed of the Woman has already come and has defeated the Adversary. And now we wait with all of creation for the time when He will come back to set all things right…for the new heavens and the new earth.

My prayer for us this week is that we would war against a culture of violence in our own lives…that we would see others as image-bearers, that we are our brother’s keeper, and that we would join God in His grand rescue mission of pulling folks out of the flames of hell.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster