When You…Week 3

Matthew 6.16-21, 33; 7.24-27

Time spent in the Word. Time spent in prayer. Time spent in fellowship with other believers. All things we have talked about before. Have they been woven into the fabric of your daily routine yet? If not, make the answer to the question, “When you?” today.

Giving and fasting may be new concepts for you, but Jesus assumes that those who follow Him will practice both. When we give as an expression of love and out of a desire for God’s glory…to invest in His kingdom…we are storing up treasures in heaven. We are investing our resources in things that moth and rust cannot destroy and no thief can steal.

When we fast, we recognize our dependence on God in a very tangible way…a way that expresses our hunger and thirst for His righteousness that Jesus said would be satisfied.

But as we said a couple of weeks ago, you have to have a plan. Be intentional about gathering with a group of believers. Sign up for a community group or small group or class. Start a dinner club. Get into an accountability group. Don’t wait…just do it.

Same is true for the Word. As much as we may want to spend time in the Word, unless we are intentional about setting aside time to do so it just doesn’t happen. So plan it into your schedule…maybe you could listen to the Bible in the car on your commute to work. Maybe you could read a chapter or two before your feet hit the floor in the morning or after your head hits the pillow at night. Maybe it’s on your lunch break or over your first cup of coffee. But get in the habit of spending time in God’s Word.

Ditto for fasting. Probably even more so. Have a plan. Maybe it’s just a meal a week. Take a break from social media or technology. It’s not punishment, but an intentional removing of distractions to focus on your relationship with Jesus.

This is between you and the Lord. Take a few minutes to think, to pray and to commit. What area or areas do you need to shore up this year?

May you experience greater joy, confidence and contentment in your everyday life with God as you intentionally pursue Him this year.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

When You… Week 1

Matthew 6.1-15

Time spent in prayer…something we have talked about before. Has it been woven into the fabric of your daily routine yet? Time spent with just you and your Father? If not, make the answer to the question, “When?” today.

Giving may be a new concept for you, but Jesus assumes that those who follow Him will be generous givers. When we give as an expression of love and out of a desire for God’s glory…to invest in His kingdom…we are storing up treasures in heaven. We are investing our resources in things that moth and rust cannot destroy and no thief can steal.

But we have to have a plan.We have to be intentional…it starts with recognizing that all that we have belongs to God anyway. We are just stewards of His resources. Then make giving a regular practice…give as an act of worship on the weekends. Give to folks who are in need around you. Give generously of both yourself and of your resources. But give.

Same is true for prayer. As much as we may want prayer to happen, unless we are intentional about setting aside time to pray it just doesn’t. So plan it into your schedule…maybe in the car on your commute to work. Maybe before your feet hit the floor in the morning or after your head hits the pillow at night. Maybe on your lunch break or over your first cup of coffee. You could even do it while your in line at the store or working out at the gym. Maybe all those times. But get in the habit of praying.

May you have an ever deepening experience of contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God when you spend time with Him in 2018.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

A Dangerous Idea of Blessedness

Matthew 5.1-12

Let’s be honest…Jesus’ idea of blessedness doesn’t fit the ideal of the American dream. Those He lists as blessed are not necessarily the folks we would have picked. He doesn’t list the courageous, the wise, the popular, or the just. Not the the agreeable, the funny, the intelligent, the attractive, or the “it” kind of folks. It’s not the spiritually elite, the I’ve-got-it-all-together crowd, the my-universe-is-running-just-fine-thank-you crew. No…the blessed are those who recognize their desperate need for God and long for the reconciliation of heaven and earth…the kingdom belongs to them.

Welcome to the strange world and wisdom of Jesus. Welcome to His narrow-gate theology that separates the “crowds” who want it all…health and wealth…right now and the “disciples” who are willing to deny themselves, pick up their crosses, and follow Him (cf. 5:1). Welcome to what it means to be “blessed” according to Jesus.

Choosing to follow Jesus…to be a kingdom citizen…is a dangerous proposition that will put you at odds with the kingdoms of this world. Why? Because when you choose to follow Jesus, you begin to live and love like Him. You start to embody kingdom characteristics. The difference in you is going to be obvious to folks around you. You will stand out like a light shining in a dark place. By doing that…by embodying these qualities and living this way, you are bearing the image of God brightly. Pointing people to Him and bringing Him glory. Said another way, if your life reflects the beatitudes, you will force a response from those around you. Some will persecute you and others with give glory to the Father. Both are good things!

So how “blessed” are you? Do you recognize your desperate need for God? Do you mourn over your sin and the brokenness of this world? Do you have a hunger and thirst for God and the things of God? Are you showing the same kind of mercy towards others that you want God to show you? Are you actively pursuing peace with others?

As I said earlier, we never outgrow our need for Jesus. We’re all broken…even those of us who have trusted in Him. One day we will experience complete freedom from sin, but until that day we’re still in process. As Luther put it, “We are saved…we’re being saved…and we will be saved.” We are all addicted to sin…we all have hurts, habits and hang ups that keep us from experiencing the life that God intended for us. But again somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that only the really, really, really broken people need help. You know, those who need Jesus more than we do. But the truth is, we all need help. That’s why the picture of the church as a hospital is so powerful. We all need spiritual healing. And we need each other to help each other to experience it. That doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit is not involved in the process. There is no spiritual transformation…there is no spiritual progress…we can not live and love like Jesus apart from the Spirit’s work in our lives. But as I’ve said it before, discipleship is a group project…it’s a team sport. We’re in it together. Success is not one person crossing the finish line, but “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4.13)

That’s what Celebrate Recovery is all about…about taking off our masks and being real about our brokenness, about bearing one another’s burdens, about encouraging each other to pursue Jesus, about spiritual and emotional healing. It’s a way of discipleship…a step by step process to overcome hurts, habits and hang ups. Now’s a great time to get involved…new year/new you…new opportunity to pursue Jesus.

Jesus’ definition of blessedness is dangerous…but it is true blessedness. It’ living life in the kingdom now. It’s being image-bearers of the King.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we live as kingdom citizens…as those whom the King calls blessed.”

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

Our Love for Christmas

Matthew 2.1-12

A tale of two kings…a tale of two loves. Herod, an earthly king, living in Jerusalem, seeks to build a name and a kingdom for himself. Jesus, the true King, has already been given a Name and a kingdom.

Herod’s love is a very worldly love…love for his own kingdom, love of power, prestige, position, pleasure. A love that was very selfish and self-serving. A love that did not save him because it could not. Jesus was a real threat to Herod because he knew what was at stake. If Herod didn’t think Jesus might indeed be a king…the King…if he didn’t think Jesus, though now just a child, could in fact dethrone him, rule over him, take allegiance from him, he would not have felt threatened. But Jesus is a real threat to anyone who thinks seriously about Him. If Jesus is King…you’re not. It means your dethronement. It means your submission. It means you can’t lead your life any longer, as Herod did according to your worldly loves. If Jesus is who He says He is, you either love Him or you hate Him! Herod represents King Me…his response to the true King, to King Jesus is hatred and rejection.

The Magi’s love is other-worldly…it’s clear where their loyalties lie. The Magi give their allegiance to Someone far greater than any earthly king…their King’s arrival was announced by the heavens. A star pointed the way. The Magi’s love led them to go to crazy, incredible lengths to see Jesus, and seeing Him, they couldn’t help but worship Him, expressing their love for Him for what He would do and God’s love already demonstrated in sending Him. They brought costly gifts…another natural expression of their love. In Him, they found an object worthy of great pursuit…chasing after Him with all they had…their love for Jesus is clear…Jesus, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, the Warrior-King from the line of David, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Hero of the story and the only One who could rescue them, the Savior of the nations. The Magi’s recognize Jesus as King, and their response to Him is worship and adoration.

There is a third group in this story…the religious leaders. These guys are indifferent towards Jesus. They know where Jesus is to be born, but do nothing with the information even when the Magi show up. The trek from Jerusalem to Bethlehem was between 5-6 miles…nothing in comparison to the 900 miles the Magi had travelled… The religious leader’s indifference will turn to anger, hatred and rejection as the story unfolds because Jesus will threaten their kingdoms as well.

Where are your affections this Christmas? Who or what do you love? Is it causing you to be selfish and self-serving? Is it causing you to want to protect your stuff? If so, you may be giving your affections to people or things that are destined to disappoint. Or are you loving Jesus, the only One who can save and deliver and rescue…not just in an eternal sense, but also here and now? Is He the object of your affections…your devotion every day? Do you live that way…going to crazy incredible lengths to be in His presence, to worship Him, to serve Him with the same passion and diligence that the Magi did? Are you living as one who has realized their hope in Jesus, whose experienced God’s amazing love? Are we as God’s people making much of Jesus this Christmas, or are we caught up in the hustle and bustle of building our own little kingdoms?

If you don’t know Jesus as Savior today…if He is not the King you adore, make today the day. Salvation is a free gift. Like a Christmas package under the tree with your name on it that just needs to be opened. Jesus has already secured salvation for you by dying in your place…paying the penalty that your sin deserves…so that by believing in Him you can be forgiven and can become a son or daughter of the King. But you have to make the choice to believe in Him…you have to open the package…you have to change your allegiance. I would love to talk to you about it if you have questions.

O Come All Ye Faithful…Christmas is a busy season, and we have a thousand things on our minds and a thousand things to do.  But through it all, let us remember to come and adore Jesus who loves us and proved that love by coming into the world to bring us light for our darkness …and joy…and life eternal.

There is no place like home. There is no home like heaven. There is no king like Jesus.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May our worship this week reflect the amazing love that God has shown us in Jesus.”

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

Born is the King of Hope

Matthew 2.1-12

A tale of two kings…a tale of two hopes. Herod, an earthly king, living in Jerusalem, seeks to build a name and a kingdom for himself. Jesus, a heavenly King…but not just a heavenly King, but also an earthly King who came to reconcile heaven and earth, born in Bethlehem, has already been given a Name and a kingdom.

Herod’s hope is a very earthy hope…a hope for his own kingdom, a hope for power, prestige, position, pleasure. A hope that was very selfish and self-serving. A hope that did not save him because it could not. The scribes and the chief priests seem to have a similar hope, but slightly different. While they were not in the position of king, they still were building their own little kingdoms and hoping in an earthy king who could not save.

But the magi’s hope was in Someone far greater…His arrival was announced by the heavens. A star pointed the way. The magi’s hope led them to go to crazy, incredible lengths to see Jesus, and seeing Him, they couldn’t help but worship Him, bringing Him their costly gifts…a picture of their submission to Him (service). In Him, they found an object worthy of great pursuit…chasing after Him with ardor, zeal and perseverance…their hope was in Jesus, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, the Warrior-King from the line of David, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Hero of the story and the only One who could rescue them.

What are you hoping in this Christmas? Who are you hoping in? Is it causing you to be selfish and self-serving? Is your confidence in people or things that are destined to disappoint? Or are you hoping in Jesus, the only One who can save and deliver and rescue…not just in an eternal sense, but also here and now? Is He your hope every day? Do you live that way…going to crazy incredible lengths to be in His presence, to worship Him, to serve Him with the same passion and diligence that the magi did? Are you living as one who has realized their hope in Jesus? Are we as God’s people making much of Jesus this Christmas, or are we caught up in the hustle and bustle of building our own little kingdoms?

“May Jesus the King be our one true hope this Christmas season.”

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our Advent series, Born is the King. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Born Is the King of Peace

A few weeks ago I celebrated my daughter’s first birthday. Time flies! Only a year ago she was a little newborn curled up in my arms. Now she’s a 25lb, walking, talking, climbing, teeth brushing, little princess (yes, she likes to brush her own teeth). Looking back over her first year of life reminded of what a gift it is to be a daddy.

What I love most about being a daddy is knowing that my daughter trusts me. My daughter, like most children, has a habit of getting herself into unusual predicaments. The good news is that all she has to do is yell out “Daaad,” and I come running to the rescue.

Did you know that God delights in being a Father? Just like any good Father, He finds great joy in being there for His children. When we find ourselves in unusual predicaments, or when life throws us a curveball our response should be similar to that of my daughter’s.

In this weekend’s passage, Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, lost all peace the moment he was thrown a major life curveball. One day out of the blue his betrothed, Mary, announced that she was miraculously pregnant with a child from the Holy Spirit. As you can imagine, this announcement sounded more like a cover-up than the truth. But the moment Joseph lost peace regarding his future with Mary was the moment that God responded just like any good Father would.

Here are three things to remember when life throws you a curveball…

  1. God is Immanent – The God of the Bible is a personal God who is actively involved in the in-workings and out-workings of His creation. He is so involved that a sparrow doesn’t fall to the ground without Him knowing. He even knows the very hairs on our head. His immanence is a reminder that He sees, cares, and intervenes. It is a reminder that God is never absent in our time of need.
  1. God Intervenes – While Joseph was writhing over the news of Mary, God intervened by bringing a supernatural peace. Matthew records that “as Joseph considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’”

God sent an angel to deliver a simple message, “Do not fear! God is in control!” Maybe today you have lost sight of the fact that even when life throws you a curveball, or hits you with a tragedy, or takes an unexpected turn; God is still in control. He is actively involved in the details of your life and has the supernatural ability to bring peace where you have none. All you have to do is call out to Him. The peace of God is a heavenly peace granted through prayer (Phil 4:6-7). The moment we fall to our knees is the moment that the peace of heaven collides with earth.

  1. God Saves – According to Matthew 1, God is so involved with the world he made that he actually becomes like His creation through the incarnation. The incarnation teaches that the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, took on flesh as Jesus. The identity of this miraculous Son is captured in the two names that the angel gives him. The name Jesus describes what he will do (“for he will save his people from their sins”) and the name Immanuel describes who he is (“God with us”).

This announcement from the angel reveals an even greater need for peace than the temporary peace that Joseph lost. We all have a need for eternal peace. Yes God cares about the things that rob us of peace, but we must never forget that our greatest need of all is peace with God through the forgiveness of sins. Without this need met, we can never know true peace.

Do you have peace today? If not, get on your knees and ask for it. God cares about the curve balls in your life. He is immanent. He intervenes. He saves

Do you have the assurance of eternal peace? Don’t let your need for temporary peace distract you from your greatest need of all, which is peace with God. Eternal peace comes only through faith in the King of peace, Jesus Christ.

–Ricky Hemme

You can listen to the sermon here: Born Is the King of Peace

 

November 28 – Advent Week 1 – Peace

Matthew 1:18-25

Conception and Birth of Jesus

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)