Preach the Word

2 Timothy 3.10-4.5

Paul admonishes Timothy to “preach the Word”…if we are going to make disciples, we have to stay true to the Word.

But why is that so important? Adam and Eve in the garden. Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What knowledge did Adam and Eve gain when they ate of the fruit…the serpent promises that they would be like God, knowing good and evil. But didn’t they already know what was good? Wasn’t that God’s assessment of creation? Didn’t they know that God was good and the Definer of the good? So what did they gain? The ability to define the good for themselves. Now they could determine what was good and evil, what was right and wrong apart from what God had revealed. In becoming their own gods, they also became their own barometers of Truth. And so Truth would seemingly become relative. But the Truth has never been relative. When heaven and earth split apart in the fall, it was those who looked to the things above, to the heavenly realities who followed God and were willing/able to see the Truth as Truth. Those focused on earthy realities continued to define truth according to their own image, according to their own sliding scale.

When we first trust in Jesus, the Bible says that we are new creatures; but our perspective isn’t automatically realigned. Vestiges of the flesh and a culture hell-bent on dragging us away from God tend to keep us very earthy and self-centered. And we continue to look like the world around us. We see Truth as relative. And that’s why fidelity to the Scriptures and preaching the Word has to be foundational.

Discipleship is the process of learning to think and act differently. To reorient our perspective so that we begin to see the world through God’s eyes and to respond to others the way He would. It’s not an automatic process, but a change in lifestyle. And that only happens as we become immersed in the Story, as we remind ourselves who we are and what God is calling us to. It’s learning to see my resources – my time, my money, my relationships – through God’s eyes.

One of the scariest things in this passage is the fact that the challenges to the Truth come from within the church. If we do not have a strong commitment as a church to the Truth of the Scriptures and sound doctrine, then we as a church will be in danger of falling into error. We all have to be committed. Because false doctrine may seem to start innocently enough with an applicational thought, “This is what this means to me…” which becomes a deadly disease that spreads throughout the body. And the church disintegrates from the inside. It generally happens when we let our circumstances define Truth. We should apply the Truth of God’s Word to our circumstances, but we should never let our circumstances define Truth. Right and wrong isn’t my opinion, but what the Bible says.

pro rege

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

Worship of the Lamb

Revelation 5.1-14

All of creation will one day worship God. Some will do it willingly, some will do it unwillingly. But all will do it. The Lamb is worthy…He has the right to rule and to execute judgment and to establish His kingdom. He purchased that right with His own blood.

Jesus came first as a Lamb…a Lamb who would sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world. He will return as a Lion to execute judgment and reign over the earth. The irony is…it’s the Lamb who has overcome. By His weakness He defeated the might of the enemy. The cross was the serpent’s undoing. He sealed his own fate when he thought he was sealing Jesus’.

Jesus is coming back. And He’s coming as a Lion. As the Lion, He will either be King or Judge. For those who have trusted in Him, He comes as King to welcome us into His kingdom. For those who have not trusted in Him, He comes as Judge. And you don’t want Him as Judge. You see, heaven and hell are real, and our decisions now have eternal consequences for our future. So don’t wait. If you have not trusted in Jesus, make today the day.

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

Worship of Him Who Sits on the Throne

Revelation 4.1-11

John is caught up to see the great throne room in heaven. And He who sits on the throne. The Sovereign Lord. Mighty God. Eternal Father. King of the universe. There is none like Him. He’s in a category all His own.

The contrast between the dire circumstances of the churches and the scene in heaven is astonishing. Even among His people, the situation on earth is a mess. Unlike heaven. On earth, the problem is folks giving up or giving in. Worship is sporadic at best. In heaven, all attention is given to Him who sits on the throne, and worship is continuous.

And so the great reconciliation is about to begin. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The battle lines are drawn, and like He did on Mount Sinai, the Lord is about to visit the world He created in awesome power and great terror. And like the Flood, it will be a time of judgment…but also of mercy.

Heaven responds with worship. Shouldn’t we? The redeemed? Those who have been bought with the blood of the Lamb?

This scene in heaven is a reminder that no matter how chaotic our lives may seem, God is still on the throne. He’s still in control. And He is mighty to save. He’s the Repairer of the breach, the Restorer of the streets, He builds up the age-old foundations. He’s the Rebuilder of the broken down, the Healer of the brokenhearted, the Finder of lost things. The Maker of a way when there seems to be none. The Help of the helpless and the Hope of the hopeless. The Father to the fatherless, the Husband to the widow, the Support for the Stranger. His mercies are new every morning. He brings beauty from ashes and gives life to the dead. He makes all things new. And He is our God!

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

Message to the Churches: Laodicea

Revelation 3.14-22

The church at Laodicea is a mess. The best thing Jesus has to say about them is, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline…” Like Sardis, the church in Laodicea has a much higher opinion of themselves than Jesus does. And the discrepancy is shockingly great.

If the problem in the church of Sardis is spiritual lethargy…spiritual laziness. Being comfortable Christians. The problem in the church of Laodicea is self-sufficiency. They have everything they need, so they no longer recognize their need for Jesus resulting in rotten fruit and worthless works.

Like the church in Sardis, there is no mention of persecution at the church in Laodicea. And like Sardis a lack of persecution, a lack of suffering for their faith, a lack of tribulation is their biggest problem. They mistook physical wealth for spiritual blessing, a comfortable life for God’s favor. They saw self-sufficiency as a virtue. But persecution…that’s the blessing. Suffering for our faith…that’s the blessing. Tribulation…you got it. Because we are never more like Jesus than when we suffer for Him and suffer with Him.

Needless to say, the church of Laodicea is uncomfortably similar to the church in America today. Not everyone’s guilty, but it is an American virtue. Another name for the American dream…bigger barn building, being a self-made man or woman, independence, no one can tell us what to do, etc.

So what do we do? Start working on our heavenly bank account and stop worrying about our earthly one. Walk in the good works that God has prepared for us to do. Ask Jesus to reveal the areas of our lives where we have shut Him out, and by all means, invite Him back in! Don’t give up, don’t give in…Jesus wins.

That’s a wrap on the churches. We’ve seen some bright spots here and there, but for the most part the “C” Church on earth is a mess. Nothing like the throne room we will see in heaven next week.

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

Message to the Churches: Philadelphia

Revelation 3.7-13

The church in Philadelphia doesn’t receive a rebuke from Jesus. Though they were small in the world’s eyes, they had a big faith. They didn’t give up in the midst of persecution. They held on to Jesus’ word and didn’t deny the faith.

And you know, that’s the best thing that can be said about a church. Bigger is not always better. But being faithful is. Persevering in the midst of persecution and tribulation is. Living out God’s Word…being a doer and not a hearer only. Doing what’s right because it’s right, and not just because it’s easy or what everyone else is doing.

It’s been a long sixteen months, but you guys have remained faithful. You didn’t give up, even when things were hard. You just kept persevering. Well done.

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

Message to the Churches: Sardis

Revelation 3.1-6

The church in Sardis is in trouble. Barely holding on to life. Spiritual lethargy has set in. If something doesn’t change soon, the church will die. But there is a faithful remnant within the church…a believing remnant, so not all hope is lost. The church still has a chance, but it must repent.

There’s no hint of persecution at the church in Sardis. There doesn’t seem to be the same pressure to conform that we’ve seen at some of the other churches. It sounds strange to say…a lack of persecution, a lack of suffering for their faith, a lack of tribulation may be their biggest problem. It’s resistance that builds strength. Without opposition we can become weak…flabby. That (meaning spiritual lethargy) and compromise are the two things plaguing the American church most.

The solution? Wake up! Before it’s too late. Before our lamp goes out. We need to strengthen what remains. Remember what we have received and heard, keep it and repent. We need to become effectual doers of the Word and not just forgetful hearers. We need to confess Jesus before a world so desperately in need of Him. And we need not to give in…because Jesus wins.

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

Message to the Churches: Thyatira

Revelation 2.18-29

The church at Thyatira is great at love…and seems to get better all the time. Their problem is the opposite of the church at Ephesus. Remember the church at Ephesus was good at Truth. They put the false apostles to the test. Not so the church at Thyatira. They follow the teaching of the self-proclaimed prophetess, Jezebel. They may be good at Love, but they stink at Truth. And Love without Truth is as bad as Truth without Love. 

Like the church at Pergamum, the church at Thyatira’s big temptation is to give in. It’s to compromise. And the pressure here seems to be somewhat economically motivated. To “succeed” in society, you had to be part of the guild, and to be a part of the guild, you had to be a part of the…guild. You had to offer the sacrifices and participate in all the extracurricular activities. You had to fit in if you are going to fit in and even get ahead.

That’s probably one of the biggest temptations for us these days. Need to fit in. We do what’s necessary because “it’s just business”. No matter how questionable or immoral it may be. It’s no big deal, right? Everybody’s doing it…

But actions have consequences. And Jesus takes sin seriously. So when we minimize or trivialize it…watch out! Or like the folks in Thyatira, we may find out how quickly we’ll be called to account.

Instead let’s hold fast…let’s not give in. Let’s remember that Jesus wins.

pro rege

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

Message to the Churches: Pergamum

Revelation 2.12-17

The circumstances in Pergamum are a bit different than those in Smyrna. Smyrna was facing persecution. The temptation for the church was to give up. Pergamum is facing compromise. The temptation for the church is to give in. And some already had.

I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can relate to the church in Pergamum a lot better than we can the church in Smyrna. Maybe some of us have suffered for our faith. Maybe. But we’ve all been tempted to compromise. We’ve all felt the peer pressure to give in. And unfortunately some of us have.

What does giving in look like these days? Well, maybe we don’t have a physical idol that we are sacrificing to, but anything that we love more than God, anything we are more devoted to, anything that has first place in our lives before Him…that’s an idol (money, family, status, etc). And immorality? What are you watching on Netflix these days? What are you filling your mind with?

Giving in looks a lot like doing what everyone else is doing. Championing the same causes. Jumping on the same bandwagons. Following the same trends. Doing everything we can to fit in.

The dangerous thing about Pergamum is that they seemed to do pretty good against the external pressures. They held fast to the name of Jesus and did not deny the faith. But internally they got into trouble. When Balaam couldn’t curse Israel from the outside, he devised a plan to have them curse themselves from the inside. Sometimes the greatest danger isn’t ”out there” but “in here”. Who are you listening to and how are you letting them influence you? You see, peer pressure only really works with your…peers. Who are your peers? Are they pointing you to Jesus or away from Him? And what about you? Are you pointing others to Him or away from Him? Have you become a stumbling block? If so repent…or else.

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

Message to the Churches: Smyrna

Revelation 2.8-11

The church in Smyrna is one of the two churches that don’t receive a rebuke from Jesus. My guess is that it has to do with their suffering. You see, the church in Smyrna is under fire. Persecution is both a present and a near term reality for them. So perseverance is crucial. They can’t give up in the midst of suffering. Key to persevering is hope…it’s remembering that Jesus wins. And because Jesus wins, so do we.

Suffering for our faith is never easy. It definitely doesn’t feel like winning. It feels like losing, big time. And yet we are never more like Jesus than when we suffer for our faith. Peter says this, “…to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4.13-14).

We all want God to save us from suffering…but what if He wants to save us through suffering. Reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. God didn’t save them from the fiery furnace. He walked with them in it. And He still walks with His children through the fire.

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

Message to the Churches: Ephesus

Revelation 2.1-7

The church in Ephesus is good at Truth. They have a zeal for what is Right. And in the beginning that zeal was driven by their love for God and showed itself in a love for each other. But over time, their love has grown cold. They’re still clinging to the Truth, but truth without love can be very cruel. Definitely not what God desires.

That’s bad for a church, but it’s also bad for us individually. Maybe you know someone who always has the right answers…can quote the Bible chapter and verse…but somehow it doesn’t seem to impact their behavior. Grace has gotten lost somewhere in the mix. Harsh words and bitterness begin to set in. It can make for a very lonely life, especially when others avoid you. So what should you do? Remember, repent and do. Love is an action word. Start doing loving things. Don’t lessen up on the truth…just add a lot more love.

Some folks have the opposite problem. Super nice to people. High on the love scale, but not so concerned about Truth. That’s not a good combination either. If that’s you, then you don’t need to lessen up on the love…just add a lot more truth. That only comes with time spent in the Word.

The good news is that each day is another opportunity. To let our lights shine. For both truth and love.

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