Seeking and Saving the Lost

Luke 19.1-10

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Zacchaeus is as lost as they come, and yet he has a divine appointment with the Savior. No one is so far gone that Jesus cannot rescue them. And He delights to do so.

Zach had it all according to the world’s standards…or mostly all. While he may not have had the respect that the rich ruler had, he certainly had the affluence. He had power. He had influence. And even though he might not have had respect, he still was feared. He wanted for nothing materially. And yet he wasn’t satisfied. Money, power, influence, even fame (or infamy) had left him feeling empty somehow inside. Something was missing. He didn’t know Jesus, but he had heard stories. Maybe Jesus somehow could provide what was missing. So Zach went looking for Him, only to find that Jesus had been searching for him all along.

Maybe you are like Zach…you’ve tried everything and yet nothing satisfies. Something is missing…you are never really comfortable anymore, your conscience bothers you, there is no peace. If so, you’re in the sycamore tree, and Jesus is asking you to come down. He wants to dine with you. He wants you to be a part of His kingdom. No matter what you’ve done or how bad you think things are, no one is beyond His reach. Jesus said, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5.29-32). If that’s you today, don’t wait. Come quickly. Today is the day of salvation.

Jesus changes everything. Zach went from being a selfish taker to being a generous giver. Jesus will do that to you. Having been rescued by Jesus, Zach also had a strong desire to be reconciled and restored in his relationships with others. He wanted to make things right. Giving to the poor and repaying those you have hurt doesn’t save you, but it’s a pretty good indication that salvation has taken place. What changes has Jesus made in your life?

For those of us who have trusted in Jesus, His mission is our mission…seeking and saving the lost. It’s a rescue mission, and it’s one that requires urgency and intentionality. We are called to storm the gates of hell…to hang out with those far from God with a desire to see them come to trust in Jesus. Unfortunately that will cause some to grumble because we are hanging out with the wrong crowd. Don’t worry…you are in good company. They grumbled at Jesus too. Doesn’t mean we compromise our walk, but it does mean that we take some relationship risks for the sake of the gospel. There ought to be some dangerous folks on our Impact Lists…

“Zaccheus was a wee, little man, And a wee, little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree, For the Lord he wanted to see. And as the Savior came that way, He looked up in the tree, And He said, ‘Zaccheus, come on down,’ For I’m coming to your house today. For I’m coming to your house today. Zacchaeus was a happy man, and a happy man was he. For he had seen the Lord that day, and a happy man was he, and a very, very happy man was he.”

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

Counting the Cost

Luke 14.25-35

Salvation is completely free, but discipleship is costly. Our allegiance to Jesus must be far greater than our allegiance to our family or to our own self-interests. We have to love God more! Therefore, each of us must count the cost carefully before choosing to follow Him. Just as unsalty salt is useless, so a disciple who isn’t all in with Jesus is useless to the kingdom of God.

Very sobering words, but Jesus doesn’t save us just so we can go to heaven. He saves us so that we can join Him in His mission to rescue a lost dying world. It reminds me of a scene from the movie, Hacksaw Ridge, where Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector serving as an army medic in Okinawa during one of the bloodiest battles of WWII, after spending all day and most of the night single-handedly evacuating the wounded from the battlefield, prays and asks God, “Just give me one more.” And after that one, “Just give me one more.” And again, “Just give me one more…” Doss saved 75 men. That’s what we’re called to do as believers…to storm the gates of hell and ask God to help us rescue just one more. In the strongest possible terms Jesus invites us to make our lives count for eternity. He wants us to make a kingdom impact on those around us who don’t know Him.

Earlier we talked about the questions that we would ask before making an investment…What’s the cost? Do I have the resources to pull it off? Will it be worth it in the end? When it comes to discipleship…What’s the cost? Everything. Do you have the resources? Yes…the Father has given us the Spirit. The Spirit is the One who transforms us to live and love like Jesus. He empowers us to do what Jesus asks us to do. He gives us the ability and the want-to to love God more. Will it be worth it? Absolutely…the Father also gives us the kingdom. And the kingdom is everything. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, The Cost of Discipleship said, “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” It’s about loving God more. I like that.

When we put Jesus first…when we love God more, it benefits all of our relationships…we love better, we serve better, we reflect Him better.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, let me urge you to do so today. He invites you to enjoy life with Him in His kingdom. You need only to respond…acknowledge your need to be rescued, your need for repentance, believe that Jesus can rescue you and trust in Him to do so. Then begins the adventure of your lifetime. Don’t wait.

Until next time…stay salty.

“Let’s love God more this week.”

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

Transforming Families – Strategy Part 1

Acts 2.41-47

What do you do with 3,000 new believers? These new believers were committing themselves to gathering, growing, and impacting…and God was powerfully at work. Every day more people were joining their new family.

Like this early group of new disciples, we too are called to be a vibrant community, a family, here at Central. And as a family, each of us has a part to play, and each of us must play his or her part. A football team is only effective if each player on the field of play executes their responsibility. If one player decides that their job is unimportant, the team cannot succeed. Paul uses the example of a body. If the foot decided it wasn’t needed, it sure would be hard to walk. The same is true with the rest of the body. Each member is important to the success of the whole. We want you…we need you to be all in.

A very practical step to take…make participating our weekend gatherings a priority in 2016.

One story I want to share with you is of a family that is being transformed to live and love like Jesus. I got a call from a guy who started attending Central about 4 years ago. He and his wife were divorced, so on the weekends he had the kids he drug them to church with him. His kids fell in love with Central and began to get involved on their own…even on weekends when they were with their mom, they wanted to come to church. So she started to come with them. She’s now attending Central. And his brother who was estranged from the church, has now been coming for 4 months. Definitely not a “Leave it to Beaver” situation…it’s kind of messy. But one of the coolest things for me…the reason he called me was because his daughter, who is turning 15 soon (Quinceañera), wants to be baptized as one of her birthday presents! No better picture of God transforming a family…

God is at work. I want to invite you to join us on this journey of Transforming families to live and love like Jesus as we seek to impact this valley for the kingdom in significant ways. As part of the family, we all have a part to play in the life of our church. The Holy Spirit is ready and willing to empower us to accomplish the mission. How about you? Are you in?

Until next time…stay salty.

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