The Wrath of God Revealed Part 3

Romans 1.28-32

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Suppress the truth. Ignore revelation. Distort God’s glory. Our attempts to write God out of the script have had a predictable outcome. Turns out we are not very good gods. Scratch that…we are horrible gods. We have trouble running our own lives, much less managing a universe. And so we have a world that reflects our image instead of the Creator’s…

Writing God out of the script has also had some unintended consequences. You see, if there is no God, then we are not made in His image. If there is no God, we are not made to rule on His behalf. If there is no God, then we are not made at all. Being “made” implies intentionality…and it also implies a Maker. So if there is no God, then we are accidents of time and chance. A fluke of the cosmos. No purpose and no meaning. We are here one day and gone the next.

And so life is no longer cherished or valued or to be protected. It’s utilitarian. It’s disposable. It’s just business.

And God gave them over…because they exchanged the Truth of God for a lie, they exchanged the natural for the unnatural, and they no longer acknowledged God. Sin is a consuming fire that cannot be quenched and an appetite that cannot be satisfied. It will always take you further than you wanted to go. And it twists and perverts the good that God created and intended.

We live in a time and place where the world at large no longer cares about the difference between right and wrong. We are the godless society that Paul describes. We are constantly challenged to accept as right what we know is wrong, and then are shamed or worse if we disagree. 

Things like when life begins and what constitutes marriage and what is gender…things our culture wrestles with but that are clear in Scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, truth is not relative and doesn’t change with time. It is not based on opinion or feelings. It has no political affiliation. There is no such thing as “my truth” or “your truth.” There is only the Truth, which is based solely on what God determines is true. After all, He’s the Creator. It’s His universe. His rules.

As I said in the beginning, my goal in this mini-series has not been to point fingers or create controversy or an us-vs-them mentality. My goal has been to present the Truth, clearly, plainly, lovingly…and the Truth is sin is sin. And all sin…from the grossly immoral to the seemingly innocuous…requires a Savior.

Because of sin…because of our sin, both yours and mine…we are all under the wrath of God. None of us can escape because we are all guilty. We may not be as bad as we could be, but we are all as bad off as we can be without Jesus.

That’s why the gospel is such good news. Because Jesus paid it all. He lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death on our behalf. He died to pay the penalty for sin…all sin…so that God’s wrath on sin might be fully satisfied, so that everyone who puts their trust in Jesus might be forgiven of their sins and be reconciled to God.

So are you under the wrath of God or do you have the righteousness of God? The difference is Jesus. Have you trusted in Him? If not, why not make today the day?

If you have trusted in Jesus, be careful. We have an enemy who is on the prowl. We are living in the midst of a godless society that would love to see us fall. It’s easy to allow its twisted morals to infect and influence our worldview…to draw us away from Jesus. Don’t let it. Commit to living by the Truth…living and loving like Jesus.

We’ve talked about some pretty weighty topics over the last few weeks. Maybe God has been convicting you in some areas where you’ve suppressed the truth and strayed from Him. Some areas where maybe you’ve allowed the culture to infect and influence your worldview. Like the prodigal son you’ve come to the end of your rope…you’ve seen the devastating effects that sin has had in your own life and the lives of those around you, and now you’re ready to come home…it’s time to come home. The Father is waiting…with open arms…waiting for you to come home.

I want to invite you to spend some time this morning, this afternoon or sometime today just sitting with God, asking Him to reveal those areas of your life where you’ve strayed from Him, then confess that sin and give it up to Him. If you’ve wronged someone, make it right. If they’ve wronged you, forgive them…and still make it right. It’s time to come home.

pro rege

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

Passover and Communion

Luke 22.1-23

With Judas’ betrayal looming, Jesus celebrates Passover with the disciples and institutes the Lord’s Supper/Communion.

Jesus is the new Passover Lamb. He is the fulfillment of all that the Passover anticipated…the innocent dying for the guilty, forgiveness of sins, the new covenant…a new heart and the Spirit dwelling in all those who believe. If you think the Passover is a Jewish thing….you are right. If you think it’s not a Christian thing…not so much. Jesus is our Passover Lamb, too. He rescues us from sin and death. Because of His sacrifice we have true forgiveness of sins and eternal life. His Spirit dwells in us. We too celebrate Passover…we just call it Communion, and we celebrate it when we gather together.

Every time we take the bread and the cup, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us…His death and resurrection, His shed blood that covers our sins, and the gift of the Spirit. It’s a time for us to look forward to the day when we will eat with our King at the great banquet in the kingdom…a reminder that He is coming back soon. As such, communion is something we celebrate as followers of Jesus. It’s one of the hallmarks of the church.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Sabbath Healing Take 2

Luke 13.10-21

Jesus had warned His listeners that the time is short…if the fig tree doesn’t start bearing fruit it will be cut down. And so we have a repeat performance by Jesus. Another Sabbath day, another synagogue, another opportunity to show compassion. Yet once again the religious leaders show their failure to love God by the way they despise people. Nothing’s changed.

While the effects of Jesus’ teaching and miracles may seem insignificant now, they are still evidences of the kingdom’s presence…the kingdom where one day God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Citizenship in the kingdom is open to all, but only those who respond to the invitation of the King will become kingdom citizens. And the only way to respond is to recognize our need to be rescued.

Rejoicing is a clear indication of those who have been rescued by Jesus. We can’t help but be excited when we pass from death to life. Unfortunately sometimes our rejoicing turns into indignation if we are not careful and allow our relationship to Jesus to become more about following rules than loving others. Pride and self-righteousness can slowly slink in, and we begin to question God’s work in other’s lives. Instead of rejoicing with them, we might even resent them because it’s not how we would have done it. But God’s will rarely comes wrapped in our preferences.

If the joy of your salvation has turned sour…if you no longer find yourself rejoicing over the work of God in your life and the lives of others, maybe you’ve become a rule-follower rather than a passionate pursuer of Jesus. Spend some focused time this week asking Jesus to rekindle that sense of wonder and excitement at what He has done for you, and then tear up that list of rules.

If you still have not trusted in Jesus, don’t wait. The time is short. Jesus is a compassionate and benevolent King who invites you to become a kingdom citizen. He wants to save you from your sin…He’s already died in your place, so that you might live. He was raised again to life conquering sin and death, so that you too might conquer sin and death through Him. He is coming back one day to set all things right.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our latest mini-series in the book of Luke, Life, Death and the Pursuit of 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

Forgiven Much

Luke 7.36-50

Folks of Jesus’ day would have assumed that the religious elite…the pious Pharisees, the lawyers, the priests, etc. loved God most. Yet Jesus here praises not a religiously astute Pharisee but a notorious sinner for her great love. The story reminds us that loving God is not self-righteous acts done to earn His favor, but gratefully accepting the free gift of salvation available through Jesus.

Jesus came to save sinful women, but He also came to save sinful Pharisees…unfortunately the Pharisees were too blind to see their need for saving. We all have a spiritual debt that we cannot pay. It doesn’t matter how long or short our list of sins, or how great or small we perceive them…what matters is that we realize we have a debt we cannot pay. No amount of “doing good things” will satisfy it, but only God’s gracious offer to forgive our debt…our sin. The good news is…Jesus has already paid our debt in full. We simply have to receive His gracious gift by faith.

So what keeps us from coming to Jesus? Sometimes it’s our labels that keep us from Jesus. As “sinner” we might feel like we are too far gone for Jesus to rescue us. But no one is so bad that Jesus can’t forgive them. Just ask folks like Paul (worst of sinners), Augustine of Hippo, John Newton…me.

As “Pharisee” we might assume we don’t need Jesus. We’re good enough. I hate to break it to you…you’re not that good.

Simon wondered if Jesus knew who and what sort of woman this is…He does. She is a woman who loves, who serves, who surrenders, who humbles herself, who worships, whose forgiven…a child of King. Her faith expressed itself in love, gratitude and devotion…how is your faith expressed?

Repentance/faith leads to forgiveness from God, which leads to affection for Jesus. No repentance/faith leads to no forgiveness, which leads to no affection for Jesus. So if you have no affection for Jesus, something’s wrong…maybe you’ve forgotten the huge debt that you’ve been forgiven. Maybe you’ve yet accepted God’s gracious offer.

Are you one who loves much or little? Do you recognize the tremendous debt you’ve been forgiven in Jesus? Is it obvious to others?

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we show how much we’ve been forgiven by our great love for God and others 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

God of All Comfort

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…” 2 Corinthians 1:3 NASB

As we come now to the book of 2nd Corinthians, Paul addresses some of the things he previously addressed in 1st Corinthians, but also deals with a few new issues as well.

Think of 1st Corinthians as a call for believers to be unified with each other, while the focus of 2nd Corinthians is for the church in Corinth to be unified with Paul and his ministry.

In the same way, we should be unified as a church in ministry for the furtherance of the Gospel.

In 2nd Corinthians we find Paul’s thoughts on the Gospel ministry (Chapters 2-5), encouragements for holy living, (Chapters 6-7), and instructions about giving (Chapters 8-9).

One point Paul makes in our reading for today is that we can find genuine comfort in God as Paul did.

Paul knew a thing or two about suffering for the gospel, something we will cover in more detail next week, but here in 2nd Corinthians, Paul’s opponents are undermining his work in Corinth, claiming that Paul was not an Apostle – why?  Because he suffered too much!

I guess their thought was a real apostle would be spared some of the opposition Paul suffered at the hands of men.

Yet, Paul had learned the great lesson of suffering for the Gospel, his suffering highlights his dependence on Christ, as it points to Christ’s strength and not his own.

We are reminded that God comforts us so that we can comfort others.

I was reading through several passages in Matthew 5 earlier in the week – verses from Jesus’s teaching we call the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 ESV

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 ESV

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 ESV

As Christians we share in the sufferings and comfort of others. But, we rely not on ourselves but on Him.

Paul found genuine comfort in God. We will too.

As we go through the difficult times in life, no matter what the storm or challenge we face, we find comfort in the Word of God, comfort in the prayers of those around us, and we find comfort in the examples of the saints that have gone before us.

Our God is a God of mercy and comfort, in Him we can rest.

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Back to Egypt

Genesis 43

The healing process has begun for this fractured family. Jacob is praying, and maybe hoping again for the first time in twenty years. The brothers are acknowledging their sin. Joseph has a front row seat. Good news because the plan of redemption rests with this motley crew. Through them all the families of the earth will be blessed, because from their descendants and more particularly through the line of Judah the Head-crushing Seed of the woman will come, a guy we know as Jesus. God could have chose any other way…He could have entrusted the mission to angels, He could have caused the rocks to cry out…yet He allows the plan to rest on this family. There is no plan B. Very risky proposition considering their track record. Sound familiar? His plan of redemption now continues with us, the church. A ragtag, motley crew…and considering our track record… Yet He has no plan B. We carry forward the plan of redemption.

Through this story we see both the mercy and the grace of God, working through circumstances and people to bring about restoration and healing. Jacob’s prayer. The steward’s consoling words. Joseph’s blessing. The compassion and mercy that we see reflected in Joseph is but a foreshadowing of the compassion and mercy, the grace of his distant Nephew, Jesus. Jesus, the One whose compassion and mercy drove Him to a cross to rescue you and me, who like Judah became Himself the guarantee so that we might be reconciled/returned to the Father. The One who like the Father, is waiting with open arms for His prodigal child to come home.

So whatever the weight of sorrow or guilt you may be carrying…tragedy that you have engineered or that has befallen you, may you experience His grace and mercy today.

Until next time…stay salty.

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