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.

ThanksGIVING

2 Corinthians 8.1-15

Generosity is easily overlooked as a spiritual discipline. You have heard me say often…pray every day, spend time in the Word every day, fellowship with other believers as often as you can, and share your story at every opportunity, but generosity is another one of those disciplines that’s at the core of what it means to follow Jesus. I don’t know how we can express love…for God or for our neighbor…without being generous. Being generous with our time. Being generous with our abilities. Being generous with our resources. Being generous with our lives. Generosity reflects the love that God so generously has shown toward us in Jesus.

Two characters in the Gospel of Luke highlight for me the two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to generosity…the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18) and Zacchaeus (Luke 19). They are alike in some ways. Both are wealthy. Both have the resources to be generous. But, their characters couldn’t have been more different. We expect the Rich Young Ruler to be generous…he is well respected, a much loved leader in religious circles and generally a good guy. Zacchaeus…not so much. We don’t expect him to be generous at all. He is a despised tax collector…and not just a tax collector, but a chief tax collector. Both of them have an encounter with Jesus…one becomes a generous giver out of the overflow of his thankfulness for what Jesus has done for him, and the other leaves very sad. Jesus changes everything. And it’s not what we expected. For Zacchaeus, Jesus’ gracious offer of salvation is Good News indeed, and he goes from being a taker to a giver, from greedy to generous, from entitled to thankful… But the Rich Young Ruler can’t stand to part with his stuff. His selfishness and greed, which were already there, have just been revealed.

Let me ask you a question, and be honest with yourself…which one best describes you? 

Let me ask it another way. What would Central look like if everyone was as committed as you are? If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would we be more thankful and generous, or less?

Everything that we have comes from God. We are merely stewards of what He’s entrusted to us. Whether He’s entrusted us with little like the widow or much like King Solomon, it’s all His. We have to keep that in mind. And know this…God is more concerned about the “why” of our giving than the “what”. He looks at the heart. Sometimes it’s harder to be generous when you have more…our stuff tends to get in the way…to capture our hearts and cause us to want more. But the more we pursue generosity, the easier it is to let go of our stuff.

If being generous…if giving…is new to you, I know what it feels like to look at your finances and wonder, “how?” Let me just challenge you to try it. Taste and see that the LORD is good. And you’ll see for yourself, that when we’re generous, God’s always faithful to meet our needs.

And like our spiritual gifts, God has given us resources to build up the body. We won’t experience the fullness of joy and abundance of life that Jesus wants for us until He has all of us, including our resources.

If you haven’t experienced it yet, as I said earlier, this is a very generous church. I know there are a ton of stories of folks who give and give generously. We couldn’t do the ministry we do…we couldn’t reach the folks in this valley and around the world we’re reaching…we couldn’t have the kingdom impact we’re having…without you. So thank you.

But may we excel still more and more, and may we grow in the grace of giving.

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This post is based on this week’s sermon. 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 Angel and the Little Scroll

Revelation 10.1-11

And so we run into another pause in the action while a big angel gives John a little scroll, and he is instructed to prophesy again the unfolding events of the tribulation.

The Bible is one Story. From Genesis to Revelation. The Story of God’s plan to save a people, and through that people to provide a way of salvation for all peoples. If you have trusted in Jesus, you are a part of that Story. You have been saved, reconciled, adopted, gifted and empowered to live a life worthy of your calling. To share your story with others. To point them to Jesus so that they too might be saved. To inherit a kingdom.

If you have not trusted in Jesus, you too are a part of the Story. But your future is not so bright. It’s the bitterness that John felt in his stomach. The judgment that awaits. I don’t want that for you. God doesn’t want that for you. That’s why He’s provided a way that you might saved through His Son, Jesus. 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 you 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.

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.

Help Wanted: Service is a Response

Romans 12.1-2

We all have ways that we are conforming to the world around us. Hard not to do when you walk this planet. But 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 see that His will for us is perfect. And then offering the whole of ourselves to Him…serving Him…just makes sense. It’s the only reasonable thing to do.

Because of what God’s done for us, we want to serve Him…and we do that by serving others.

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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 Fifth Trumpet – The Abyss

Revelation 9.1-12

But even as we see these horrifying judgments playing out, God’s mercy is still evident. Even until the end, He’s giving folks time to repent. And as we saw several weeks ago, a great multitude which no one can count from all nations and every tribe and people and tongue will do just that. They will repent and respond in faith. They will trust in Jesus.

What does that mean for us? For those of us who have trusted in Jesus, we need not fear the coming judgments. We are already on the winning side. Ours is just not to give up or give in. It’s to share our story with others…to share the hope that we have found in Jesus…with a sense of urgency.

No one wants to think about judgment day. We like to hear about heaven, but hell…no. But hell is a real place, and unfortunately, many of the folks you know are headed that direction. Some of them knowingly. But most without a clue. The great multitude gathered before the throne are there because someone told them about Jesus. They heard, and they believed. Who are you telling about Him? Who are you sharing your story with?

If you have not trusted in Jesus yet, I might sound like a broken record…but I feel compelled week after week to remind you that the time is short. Your time is short. Please don’t put off the most important decision of your life. The one that impacts your eternal destiny. 

What does it mean to trust Jesus? It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior and 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. And when we believe that, the Bible says we pass from death to life. Jesus is no longer our Judge, but our King. And we get to live and reign with Him forever.

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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 First Four Trumpets

Revelation 8.6-13

The first four trumpets are sounded and a third of the created order feels the effects. God’s judgment is sure, but His mercy is still present.

Many these days go about their lives unaware or indifferent about the choices they are making that have eternal consequences. Like Pharaoh, many see God’s patience…His mercy…as an indication that if their actions have no immediate consequences, then they must not have any consequences. But they are wrong. God will deal with sin. It may not be today. Or tomorrow. Or the next. But eventually the day will come. And in the day of God’s wrath, who is able to stand?

The answer is simple…those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Those of us who have done that…those of us who have trusted in Jesus need not fear the coming judgment. We are on the winning side. Jesus is our Resurrected King who has conquered death and satisfied God’s wrath on sin.

We live in uncertain times. The world is shaking all around us. The trumpets haven’t sounded yet, and yet we see our world fractured and coming apart at the seems. Almost daily we are reminded of how fleeting life is. But the fact that you’re still here means that you still have work to do. If you’ve trusted in Jesus, your job is to keep sharing your story with those around you who don’t know Him. Your job is kingdom impact. It’s to point others to Jesus.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus, the fact that you’re still here is God’s mercy. Hang with me. With each trumpet blast a third of the earth is impacted in some way. But that gives two thirds of the earth time to repent. When you see how fleeting life is, how fragile life is…the fact that you are still here is God’s mercy. You still have time. But that time is running out. So don’t wait. Jesus is either your King or He will be your Judge.

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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.

Preparation for the Trumpets

Revelation 8.1-5

The Lamb breaks the seventh seal, and there is silence as both heaven and earth await the coming of the trumpet judgments.

As the events of the tribulation unfold, persecution becomes more and more severe. The number of martyrs continues to increase at a staggering rate. From an earthly perspective it appears that those who have chosen to follow Jesus have chosen the loosing side. But they are wrong. You see, death is not the end. All will die, but not all will truly live. Only those who have trusted in Jesus. Only they will escape the wrath of God soon to be poured out.

And it’s the prayers of the saints that are continually going up before the throne. God hears when you call out to Him, and He cares about what happens to you, and He is working out His purposes for your good and His glory. He will deal with sin. And He will make all things right. Ours is just to trust Him.

The time to trust in Jesus is now. God’s wrath on sin is sure. And the only way we can stand in the day of His wrath is by trusting in Jesus. You see, Jesus suffered the wrath of God for sin when He died on the cross. The penalty has already been taken care of. We simply have to believe in Him. But if we don’t, then we are left to suffer the wrath of God for ourselves. Please don’t make that choice. Choose Jesus today.

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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.