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

November 13 – OT Reading

Lamentations 3:37-5:22

Lamentations 3:37-65

37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both good and ill go forth?

39 Why should any living mortal, or any man, Offer complaint in view of his sins? 40 Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the Lord. 41 We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven; 42 We have transgressed and rebelled, You have not pardoned. 43 You have covered Yourself with anger And pursued us; You have slain and have not spared. 44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud So that no prayer can pass through. 45 You have made us mere offscouring and refuse In the midst of the peoples. 46 All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. 47 Panic and pitfall have befallen us, Devastation and destruction; 48 My eyes run down with streams of water Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people. 49 My eyes pour down unceasingly, Without stopping, 50 Until the Lord looks down And sees from heaven. 51 My eyes bring pain to my soul Because of all the daughters of my city. 52 My enemies without cause Hunted me down like a bird; 53 They have silenced me in the pit And have placed a stone on me. 54 Waters flowed over my head; I said, “I am cut off!” 55 I called on Your name, O Lord, Out of the lowest pit. 56 You have heard my voice, “Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief, From my cry for help.” 57 You drew near when I called on You; You said, “Do not fear!” 58 O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause; You have redeemed my life. 59 O Lord, You have seen my oppression; Judge my case. 60 You have seen all their vengeance, All their schemes against me. 61 You have heard their reproach, O Lord, All their schemes against me. 62 The lips of my assailants and their whispering Are against me all day long. 63 Look on their sitting and their rising; I am their mocking song. 64 You will recompense them, O Lord, According to the work of their hands. 65 You will give them hardness of heart, Your curse will be on them. 66 You will pursue them in anger and destroy them From under the heavens of the Lord!

Lamentations 4

Distress of the Siege Described

4 How dark the gold has become, How the pure gold has changed! The sacred stones are poured out At the corner of every street. The precious sons of Zion, Weighed against fine gold, How they are regarded as earthen jars, The work of a potter’s hands! Even jackals offer the breast, They nurse their young; But the daughter of my people has become cruel Like ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the infant cleaves To the roof of its mouth because of thirst; The little ones ask for bread, But no one breaks it for them. Those who ate delicacies Are desolate in the streets; Those reared in purple Embrace ash pits. For the iniquity of the daughter of my people Is greater than the sin of Sodom, Which was overthrown as in a moment, And no hands were turned toward her. Her consecrated ones were purer than snow, They were whiter than milk; They were more ruddy in body than corals, Their polishing was like lapis lazuli. Their appearance is blacker than soot, They are not recognized in the streets; Their skin is shriveled on their bones, It is withered, it has become like wood. Better are those slain with the sword Than those slain with hunger; For they pine away, being stricken For lack of the fruits of the field. 10 The hands of compassionate women Boiled their own children; They became food for them Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people. 11 The Lord has accomplished His wrath, He has poured out His fierce anger; And He has kindled a fire in Zion Which has consumed its foundations. 12 The kings of the earth did not believe, Nor did any of the inhabitants of the world, That the adversary and the enemy Could enter the gates of Jerusalem. 13 Because of the sins of her prophets And the iniquities of her priests, Who have shed in her midst The blood of the righteous; 14 They wandered, blind, in the streets; They were defiled with blood So that no one could touch their garments. 15 “Depart! Unclean!” they cried of themselves. “Depart, depart, do not touch!” So they fled and wandered; Men among the nations said, “They shall not continue to dwell with us.” 16 The presence of the Lord has scattered them, He will not continue to regard them; They did not honor the priests, They did not favor the elders. 17 Yet our eyes failed, Looking for help was useless; In our watching we have watched For a nation that could not save. 18 They hunted our steps So that we could not walk in our streets; Our end drew near, Our days were finished For our end had come. 19 Our pursuers were swifter Than the eagles of the sky; They chased us on the mountains, They waited in ambush for us in the wilderness. 20 The breath of our nostrils, the Lord’s anointed, Was captured in their pits, Of whom we had said, “Under his shadow We shall live among the nations.” 21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, Who dwells in the land of Uz; But the cup will come around to you as well, You will become drunk and make yourself naked. 22 The punishment of your iniquity has been completed, O daughter of Zion; He will exile you no longer. But He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will expose your sins!

Lamentations 5

A Prayer for Mercy

5 Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; Look, and see our reproach! Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, Our houses to aliens. We have become orphans without a father, Our mothers are like widows. We have to pay for our drinking water, Our wood comes to us at a price. Our pursuers are at our necks; We are worn out, there is no rest for us. We have submitted to Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread. Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities. Slaves rule over us; There is no one to deliver us from their hand. We get our bread at the risk of our lives Because of the sword in the wilderness. 10 Our skin has become as hot as an oven, Because of the burning heat of famine. 11 They ravished the women in Zion, The virgins in the cities of Judah. 12 Princes were hung by their hands; Elders were not respected. 13 Young men worked at the grinding mill, And youths stumbled under loads of wood. 14 Elders are gone from the gate, Young men from their music. 15 The joy of our hearts has ceased; Our dancing has been turned into mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head; Woe to us, for we have sinned! 17 Because of this our heart is faint, Because of these things our eyes are dim; 18 Because of Mount Zion which lies desolate, Foxes prowl in it.

19 You, O Lord, rule forever; Your throne is from generation to generation. 20 Why do You forget us forever? Why do You forsake us so long? 21 Restore us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old, 22 Unless You have utterly rejected us And are exceedingly angry with us.

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