Judge Not

Luke 6.37-49

If we want to be merciful just as the Father is merciful, then we must reject condemning judgment and instead forgive freely and give generously, knowing that we will reap what we sow.

We have to be careful who we follow…and how we lead. We must first recognize our own need for a Physician, that we are sinners in need of repentance, before we will be able to lead others to Jesus. If we fail to recognize our own need first, then we become hypocritical and judgmental Pharisees puffed up on self-righteousness.

We become like those we follow…if we follow the world, we will look like the world, talk the world, act like the world. But if we want to live and love like Jesus, then we have to listen to His words and act on them. We must become doers of the Word, as James calls it. Our fruit…our words and our actions flow out of who we are. What does your fruit tell you about you?

It’s good to be reminded that the ability to reflect Jesus and obey even in the smallest matters is a work of the Spirit in our lives. We have to be willing to partner with Him and submit to His leading, but He is the One who transforms us.

Only two houses being built…those with a foundation and those without, there is no middle ground…which one is yours?


Until next time…stay salty.

“May we, out of the good treasure of our heart, bring forth what is good 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

True Blessedness

Luke 6.20-36

If you are like me, the first question that comes to mind is “How?” How do I love my enemy? How do I do good to those who hate me? How do I bless those who curse me? How do I pray for those who mistreat me? Especially when my natural inclination is revenge, self-preservation, protecting my stuff? How can I live and love like Jesus?

Dallas Willard in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines said, “It’s not just turning the other cheek, but becoming the kind of person who would turn the other cheek.” It’s not just a sheer act of will in the moment, but the cultivation of a lifestyle. It’s our daily practice of turning the other cheek…of loving our enemies, which is only possible by the power of the Spirit. The good news…the same Spirit who empowered Jesus to love His enemies wants to empower those who follow Him to do the same.

I read an article about a missionary who returned home after years of service. She moved into an apartment and was excited about having her own space to fix up and enjoy, especially the patio where she anticipated making her place of solace. But shortly after she moved in and decorated her patio and got everything just right, a family moved in next door…obnoxious neighbors who played loud music at all hours of the night, whose kids ran wild around the neighborhood, who seemed to have little or no respect for others. The final straw came when the kids spray painted her beautiful patio and wrecked everything on it. She tried praying to love them anyway, but only felt hatred. So she kept praying and got the image of love as a garment (Paul in Colossians 4) that she needed to put on. So she prayed that God would help her put on love. Then she began to list all the things she would do for this family if she truly loved them…bake cookies, babysit the kids, coffee with the mom…she began working the list. She chose to show them love (agape…act of the will) even though they surely didn’t deserve it, and before long she found herself truly loving them (her emotions caught up). So much so that she was sad when they moved.

You or I might think…yeah, but Jesus doesn’t know my enemy! They deserve everything they get. You don’t know my family…they’ll just take advantage of me. Poor people buy alcohol. Whatever. Jesus really meant what He said. This is what the church in Acts actually did. This isn’t hyperbole or just making a point. When Jesus said, “love your enemies”, He meant, “love your enemies.” When He said, “give to anyone who asks”, He meant, “give to anyone who asks.” He even told us not to demand back things that are stolen! Speaking for myself, it’s too easy to rationalize away that Jesus didn’t really mean to give to the people in my life. Forget tithing, Jesus is talking about renouncing a hold on every convenience and every dime for the sake of love…. and the person who does that is blessed.

Living and loving like Jesus is a moment-by-moment decision, leaning into the Spirit, praying for God’s help, and finding practical ways to love…even when the other person doesn’t deserve it. That’s when we begin to reflect the Father’s character…that’s when we are most like Jesus who loved folks like you and me who didn’t deserve it.

Jesus invites us to experience the abundant life…the blessed life…a life that looks beyond present circumstances to the ultimate reality of an eternal life with Jesus. The invitation is open to all who will follow Him. So how about you? Will you choose to follow Him today?

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we live and love like Jesus, loving our enemies and treating others the way we want to be treated.”

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

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


Attack of the Pharisees

Luke 6.1-11

Both of these Sabbath encounters, picking the grain and healing the man with the withered hand, remind us of what God intended for the Sabbath, foreshadowing the coming kingdom when all sorrow and illness will be healed for His people for all time. It’s a reminder of what we lost in the garden but also of where we are headed as sons and daughters of the King. Through Jesus, the kingdom of God invades this fallen world with a glimpse of what it will be like when Jesus returns.

As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus has the ultimate authority to restore what God intended for the Sabbath. Because of His intimate relationship with the Father, He gives us God’s perspective. The conflicts with the Pharisees highlight the conflict between man’s authority and God’s authority. Rules are not a bad thing…in fact, many times they can be helpful…but when following the rules takes the place of loving people, it’s no longer pleasing to God…even if they are followed with good intentions. The Pharisees designed rules to help folks know how to keep the Sabbath. They thought their rules clarified what God intended. Before long their rules became the authority instead of God’s Word. Self-righteousness had set in. The self-righteous mind is not interested in mercy or truth…just following the rules. Their traditions became like old wine skins that could not contain the message of the gospel that Jesus brings…a gospel of compassion of mercy, a gospel of God’s love for all of us.

So who has the authority over your life? Is it the rules that you have set up or is it God’s Word?

What pleases God is a heart devoted to Him and a life characterized, that’s deeply marked, by compassion and mercy. Faith produces a merciful heart…and whenever we show mercy it reflects the life of Jesus in us. When we see someone showing mercy to others, we recognize, “There’s someone who has experienced mercy”. But if we have not experienced mercy ourselves, then, chances are, we will not show mercy to others. And religion…faith without of mercy does not please God (Micah 6.8 “What does the LORD require from you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”)

So what characterizes your life? What are you deeply marked by? Would others describe you as compassionate or merciful? If compassion and mercy don’t mark your walk with Jesus, what does? Pursuing God is not a matter of meticulously following rules but learning more and more how to love God with all that we are and learning more and more to love others selflessly. That’s what it means to follow Jesus.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May our lives be marked by the compassion of Jesus as we seek to follow Him 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