Jesus | Demons: A Tale of Two Kingdoms

Luke 11.14-36

A battle rages between 2 kingdoms…the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light, the kingdom of evil and the kingdom of good, the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God. There is a clear Victor in this battle…Jesus. He has already defeated the enemy and plundered his stronghold. He invites any who are willing to join Him.

We must all make a choice…we are either for Jesus or we’re against Him. No middle ground. No compromise. So where do you stand? Where is your allegiance? Is it clear to a watching world…because the world is watching?

If we have trusted in Jesus, then the light of His truth has already shone into our hearts. But we still must be careful what goes into our eyes…what do we continue to accept as true? Are we being transformed by the renewing of our minds through God’s Word, or are we being conformed to the culture? If we want to live and love like Jesus and be wholly illumined, then we must continually feast on God’s Word…reading it expectantly, allowing His truth to shine on us dispelling the darkness.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus yet…don’t wait. He invites you to be a part of His kingdom…to be on the winning side. If you are not for Him, then you are against Him. The day of reckoning is coming…

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we be 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

The Disciples Prayer

Luke 11.1-13

Jesus teaches His disciples to pray.

If we want to live and love like Jesus, then we have to cultivate a fervent love for Him through a lifestyle of worship. A key component of that is prayer.

So when we pray, we pray to…the Father who loves us perfectly.

We pray for…His honor, His fame.

We pray for…His kingdom to come, Jesus to return, the end of sin and righteousness to reign.

We pray for…our daily needs, both for ourselves and for other believers.

We pray for…forgiveness, both for ourselves and for the ability to forgive others.

We pray for…strength to persevere in trials and resist temptations that would take us away from our Father.

We pray…boldly, persistently, and expectantly, trusting that God is a good, good Father who delights to give us good gifts to His children.

“Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we believe that God is a good Father and that we are loved by 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

Choosing the Good Part

Luke 10.38-42

Two women, and two ideas of what it means to welcome Jesus. Martha is busy doing while Mary sits and listens to Jesus’ word. Martha’s doing is for Jesus…she’s serving Him. So why wouldn’t that be the good part?

Didn’t Jesus say, “I didn’t come to be served, but to serve and to give My life a ransom for many?” (Mark 10.45) Isn’t that the whole point of having spiritual gifts and building up the body? Even a casual reading of the NT would indicate that serving is important. But Jesus doesn’t say that Martha’s serving is the problem…what is? She is worried and bothered by so many things. Her serving has become a distraction that has taken her away from Jesus. Ironic because she thought her serving was bringing her closer. But worship of God should come before work for God.

The same thing can happen to us…if we are not spending time “sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His word” we too can become distracted by all kinds of worries of life. Everyday there are dozens of distractions vying for our time and seeking to pull us away from Jesus if we will let them. The tyranny of the urgent often crowds out the important.

But the more time we spend listening to Jesus’ words, the more our hearts and minds are renewed. Jesus transforms everything about us when we sit at His feet. He allows us to live a life that worships Him as the one True God and King.

If we want to live and love like Jesus, then we need to follow Mary’s example and listen to Jesus’ words and glorify Him with our worship. We have to carve out time each day, creating space so that we can sit with our Savior…choosing the good part, spending time in His Word and in prayer.

When I was a kid, I remember a radio program hosted by a guy named Paul Harvey called The Rest of the Story. So here’s Martha and Mary’s rest of the story…

Well Martha took Jesus’ words to heart and got rid of her distractions. And in the end she was 1 of only 2 people to confess Jesus as the Messiah. The other person was Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples. An incredible story of how Jesus can transform us.

Mary was the only person who believed Jesus when He foretold His own death. And so she covered Him with the most extravagant, expensive perfume that was truly fit to anoint a King for burial.

Both had learned the importance of sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him. It is the best thing we can do. It is the good part.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we better live and love like 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 Is My Neighbor?

Luke 10.25-37

The 2 great commandments…love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Love God and love those made in His image. Impossible to do without God working in us to produce that kind of love…love of God produces love of others, so loving others shows our love of God. Only those who have received God’s mercy can show that same mercy to others. John says it this way, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

When the lawyer asks, “Who is my neighbor?” he is attempting to define his circle and then build fences to take care of his own. If he can identify who his neighbor is, then he can also identify who his neighbor is not. His question really is, “Who am I required to love? What’s the minimum I can do and still get by?” How often do we ask that same question? It reflects, not love for others, but love of ourselves. The kingdom of me.

Jesus transforms the lawyer’s question to a call to action…who can I be a neighbor to? The Samaritan went to great lengths to serve the man in need. Very costly…time, money, convenience, etc. How we respond to the needs of folks we come in contact with every day, our impact list, especially when those needs are unscheduled and unexpected…what we might call interruptions…is a pretty good indication of how we’re doing in loving our neighbor. Do we see those interruptions as opportunities or distractions? Do we see folks as in need or in the way? Do we show compassion toward others or indifference? Are we generous with our time and our resources? If not, why not?

Maybe it’s a lack of margin that keeps us from loving our neighbor…we’ve so packed our schedules that we simply don’t have time to help those in need, or we’ve so over-extended ourselves financially that we don’t 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 hardness of heart that keeps us from loving our neighbor…we simply lack compassion and mercy for people. We get fed up with people and their perceived lack of judgment and perpetual bad decisions. Why did the man knowingly go down a dangerous road? Hardness of heart is dangerous…we can only show mercy if we’ve received mercy. If we don’t show mercy, it could be an indication that we ourselves need God’s mercy. At a minimum we have a heart problem. Ask God to reveal to you what’s going on in your heart. Ask Him to help you show compassion.

Maybe it’s selfishness, laziness or pride that keeps us from loving our neighbor…we are too busy building our own kingdoms, focusing on our own comfort, avoiding inconvenience. Our gaze is fixed inward instead of outward. Pray that God will open your eyes to the needs around you.

The way we respond to those in need is a pretty good indication of where we are on the “loving God” scale. So how are you doing? If we want to live and love like Jesus, the question for us is not, “Who is my neighbor?” but “Am I neighbor to the person in need?”

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we be neighbors to those we find in need 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 Is the Greatest?

Luke 9.46-62

Who is the greatest? What makes a person great? Is it power or prestige? Is it wealth or influence? Is it strength of mind or body? Jesus’ answer is not only countercultural…it’s otherworldly. The truly great welcome the least…the poor, the outcast, the disenfranchised, the discarded, etc. for Jesus’ sake and with His love. The truly great are rarely honored. They are rarely noticed. They are among the anonymous, and they stand with the weak. The truly great rejoice in the good of others, delighting in their growth and success.

It’s a reminder that the kingdom that Jesus brings is unlike any other kingdom on the planet. Those of us who are kingdom citizens will likewise live lives that are unlike the citizens of this world. Mercy rather than judgment, suffering rather than glory, the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of me. Tender mercy and steely commitment.

If we want to live and love like Jesus, then we have to live as sojourners in this world, following in the footsteps of the King. We have to live with a sense of urgency…proclaiming the kingdom everywhere. Who on your impact list can you talk to this week? Finally we have to focus on our pursuit of Jesus. The weeds are everywhere…worries and riches and pleasure of life…and they choke out the seed so that it does not bear fruit to maturity. Like seed in the good soil, we have to hear the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

I want to close with this story…“William W. Borden was the heir of a wealthy Chicago family. In 1904 and 1905, at the age of eighteen, he traveled around the world. This was followed by a brilliant education at Yale and then Princeton Seminary, where he committed his life to seek to win the Muslims in China to Christ. Before he left, Borden gave away some $500,000 (equivalent to $15,000,000 today) and served at the age of twenty-three as a trustee of Moody Bible Institute. In 1913, in his twenty-sixth year, he left for Egypt and never looked back. It was the final year of his life, because in Cairo he contracted cerebral meningitis. As he lay dying, he scribbled this note: ‘No reserve, no retreat, no regrets.'” Pretty good description of the commitment Jesus demands of His disciples.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we live lives of greatness in the eyes of 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

Suffering Before Glory

Luke 9.28-45

When we began the Luke series last fall, one of the things we talked about…what Luke wanted us to do as we read through his Gospel…is to examine the evidence so that we might be able to answer the question, “Who is Jesus?”

We’ve come a long ways since then, and no doubt we still have a ways to go. Now we’ve reached a pivotal point in Luke’s story. Last week Peter rightly answered our question for us…“Who is Jesus?” He is the Christ of God. But what does that mean? The disciples thought that they knew what it meant…a Conquering King bringing in a glorious kingdom. The overthrow of Rome and Israel once again in a place of prominence on the world stage. And while Isaiah talked about a Suffering Servant and there were hints of adversity to come (Genesis 3.15), still Jewish folks living in the 1st century were expecting a fierce Warrior-Messiah like David.

While there were plenty of OT prophesies to justify their expectations, there were also personal reasons why folks would want a Conquering King…we all want to be on the winning side. Their expectations weren’t wrong, just mistimed. Jesus will come back as Conquering King. Everyone who is on His side will win with Him. But first He would be the Suffering Servant. Suffering before glory.

I think sometimes we have a similar timing problem. We like the glory part. We like the kingdom part. But we don’t like the suffering part. And if we are honest with ourselves, many times we do anything we can to avoid it. We want to follow Jesus without cost or consequence. And yet the constant testimony of Jesus and the rest of the NT is that suffering is a fundamental part of the Christian life. But the good news is…we are never alone in suffering for Jesus. Somehow Paul says that we can experience the perfect peace of God in the midst of chaos, joy in the midst of pain, hope in the deepest darkness. We don’t have to give up or give in because Jesus wins. And we have a heavenly Father who delights in us and desires our good, who loves us so completely that we will spend an eternity trying to comprehend it.

Sometimes ours isn’t a timing problem, but a “Who is Jesus?” problem. We are looking for a Jesus who meets our expectations. We want Jesus to rescue us from our sins, but we don’t want Him to change us too much. We want Him to heal us or fix our marriage or solve our financial problems…we want Him to be Savior in lots of ways, but we don’t really want to listen to Him. We don’t want His words sinking into our ears. We don’t want Him to be Lord of our lives. We want Him to make much of us…we don’t want to make much of Him.

But Jesus is both Savior and Lord. He is Suffering Servant and Conquering King. He is both Lamb and Lion.

Maybe today is the day that you need to let Jesus’ words sink into your ears. Maybe today is the day that you need to see Him in all His glory as both Suffering Servant and Conquering King. Maybe today is the day that you need to recommit to following Jesus, no matter what the cost. Maybe today is the day that you need to be reminded that suffering comes before glory.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we be willing to follow Jesus in both the good and the hard times 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

Ministry Interrupted

Luke 8.40-56

In this story we have 2 narratives intertwined…2 desperate but very different life situations: 1 well-off, the other poor; 1 highly respected, the other rejected; 1 a part of a family, the other alone. But both are seemingly beyond help. For 12 years the girl and the woman have lived such different lives, but now tragedy has put them on a collision course, and they both experience God’s life-giving power.

This is a story of fear and faith. Fear of the circumstances of life that Jairus and the woman find themselves in. Faith in Jesus’ ability to rescue them in those same circumstances of life. Calming the storm…casting out demons…healing disease…raising the dead…Jesus has power over creation, demons, uncleanness and death. No doubt Jesus can rescue them. His compassionate words and compassionate touch are proof of His willingness to rescue them.

The woman’s faith is pretty straight forward…she believes that if she can only touch Jesus’ cloak, she will be healed. And she is…immediately. No delay. Instant satisfaction.

But what about Jairus? He too believes that Jesus can heal his daughter. However, the interruption and subsequent delay seemingly result in all being lost. Yet Jesus still asks Jairus to trust Him. The timing is not what Jairus would have chosen…Jesus has His own timing (rarely early, but always on time)…but God is still in control. Do you believe that? In the circumstances of your life, do you believe that God is in control, and that His timing is always the right timing? Are you willing to patiently wait on Him? The seed planted in good soil holds fast to the Word and bears fruit with perseverance.

The guy from Jairus’ house thinks that all hope for Jairus’ daughter is lost…and by all appearances it is. But Jesus uses the delay to do something even bigger than healing a sick girl…He raises her from the dead.

We learn something important from this story about living and loving like Jesus…Jesus is busy, but not rushed. He sees interruptions as opportunities to minister grace to others. He’s very interruptible. I’m afraid I for one am both busy and rushed. That many, if not most, times I see people as distractions or as problems to be dealt with. I often overlook or miss opportunities to minister grace to others. I have to protect my routine. Interruptible? Are you kidding me? I have a schedule to keep. But if we want to live and love like Jesus, we have to be willing to slow down, trust God’s timing, and embrace interruptiblity.

So I don’t know where you are…maybe you are like the woman in desperate need of Jesus to rescue you…physically, emotionally, spiritually…maybe you’ve tried everything else. Just reach out to Him.

Maybe you are like Jairus…needing God to act right now! Maybe you need to be reminded that His timing is always perfect and to see the bigger thing that God may be doing in the delay. Maybe it’s a time to exercise a patient faith.

Maybe you need to be reminded that Ministry Interrupted is really a Ministry Opportunity.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we see interruptions as opportunities to be wholesalers of God’s grace.”

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

Setting the Captive Free

Luke 8.22-39

Having just calmed a violent storm at sea, Jesus meets a man with an equally violent storm raging within him. In both cases Jesus is able to squash the chaos with a word. It would be easy to come to the conclusion that Luke is showcasing Jesus’ power and authority over both the natural and supernatural worlds. And he does that, but I think Luke is driving us to something even more powerful…Jesus crosses a violent, storm-tossed sea and faces down the forces of hell for one man! Did you get that? Jesus crosses a violent, storm-tossed sea and faces down the forces of hell for one man! And having rescued him, He sends him on mission to share his story – of “what great things God had done for him.”

This is a story for those who, like the disciples, are followers of Jesus, but now are in need of hope in a time of difficulty, disaster or discipline…in the midst of the storm. It is also a story for those who, like the demoniac, find themselves lost and as far from God as they can possibly imagine. But I also believe that Luke includes this story for a third group.

The townsfolk are unbelievers…but is there a rebuke there for us when we see a problem instead of a person? When we value possessions over people?

Where do you fit in the story? Which one are you? Frightened disciple needing Jesus to bring peace into the midst of the storm? Frightful demoniac needing Jesus to rescue you from the kingdom of darkness and to bring you into His kingdom? Maybe you’ve been rescued and need to share your story? Fearful townsperson valuing your stuff over other folks, wishing Jesus would leave because He changes things too much?

Jesus wants to rescue us…

Crossed the sea (calmed the storm, etc.)

Faced off with the hosts of hell

Braved the potential backlash of a frightened mob

For one man

Jesus is still on a rescue mission, pulling folks out of the fires of hell. Setting the captives free.

Until next time…stay salty.

“Like the former demoniac, may we gladly brag on what great things God has done for us 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

The Parable of the Soils

Luke 8.1-21

Plants reflect the soil they are planted in. If there is something wrong with the soil, then it’s reflected in the crop. A tree is known by its fruit…

What soil best represents you? Hard…shallow…distracted…good. The goal of the Christian life is fruitfulness…the seed planted is intended to produce a bumper crop. If you are not seeing the fruits of the Spirit increasing in your life…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…if you’re not growing in your love for God and others…if you identified with any other than the good soil, that’s not good news. The word is not having its intended effect on your life. You are not experiencing the abundant life Jesus intended you to have.

The devil, persecution, wealth and the cares of this world all can and do get in the way of our experiencing the fullness of life that Jesus wants for us…the fruitfulness that the word is intended to produce. The good news is…the hard soil can be broken up, rocks can be removed, weeds can be pulled…the good soil, that receives the word and perseveres producing a great harvest, can be cultivated.

So how do you cultivate good soil? Jesus says it’s the right kind of heart that holds fast to the word and perseveres…steadfast endurance over time. We have to hear what Jesus says and then do it. Fundamentally, we have to believe that God really does love us and desires our good. Until we believe that, we will never really trust Him enough to do what He says. Obedience should follow trust which follows love. Obedience that comes from fear is feigned obedience…I obey because I don’t want to face the consequences of not obeying. But when I obey because I trust the One I’m obeying, there’s a freedom to risks and to live life boldly that cannot be experienced any other way. To get to that point, we have to spend time with the Father…in His Word and in prayer, asking and allowing the Holy Spirit to instruct us and guide us, to reveal to us more of Jesus…then we will be able to overcome trials, worries about wealth, and the pursuit of pleasures because we have found the greatest of all pleasures…God Himself. [I read a great quote this week…”Live your life in such a way that it only make sense if God exists”]

The different soils reflect differing responses to Jesus. How will you respond to Him?

 

Until next time…stay salty.

“May Jesus’ word fall on the good soil of our hearts, producing much fruit in our lives.”

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