Happy Birthday Jesus!

Luke 2.1-21

Mary had a little Lamb…what a simple story with life-changing implications! Mary’s little Lamb is none other than the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is not only the long-awaited Jewish Messiah who came to save His people from their enemies…both physical and spiritual, but He’s also Lord who is worthy of all worship and praise and honor…and obedience.

The heavens erupt in praise at His coming, and the shepherds catch the excitement. The people are amazed, and Mary ponders. So what will you do? Do you know Jesus as both Savior and Lord? If so, are you experiencing the joy that salvation brings? Do you have a sense of excitement about the Word you’ve heard? Do you have the desire to tell others the good news? If so, good. Keep proclaiming the good news. If not, why not? Have the cares of this world and your present circumstances robbed you of your joy and excitement? Spend some time this week, like Mary, pondering the truth of God’s Word and the amazing realization of your rescue. It really is good news. Ask God to reignite that fire in your belly, that excitement about following Him.

If you don’t know Jesus as Savior and Lord today, I want to invite you to take that first step. Jesus came as Savior, the Hero and only one who could rescue us. Unlike the kings of this world who may be able to save from mortal enemies, King Jesus came to save us from our real enemies, both sin and death. Unlike earthly kings who promise peace through force of arms, King Jesus brings peace that invades every aspect of our being…peace with God, peace with men, peace with creation and peace with ourselves. Jesus came not just as Savior, but also as Lord. He is our Sovereign and deserves our allegiance. But unlike the kings of this world who force subjugation and seek only their own good, King Jesus is a benevolent Ruler who invites submission and seeks the good of His subjects.

 

 May we experience afresh and anew the uncontainable joy and excitement that salvation brings, and may we share that joy with others as we tell them about Jesus.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Happy Birthday John!

Luke 1.57-80

Zechariah has learned to trust God in a bigger way. While he was an OT saint who was eagerly awaiting the Messiah…he was a believer…he was not yet willing or able to trust God to do the impossible. But now that God has fulfilled His promise, Zechariah can’t help but praise Him and trust Him in a bigger way to fulfill His promises to Abraham and David, providing rescue to His people.

Sometimes we’re like Zechariah…we’ve crossed the line from death to life. We’re followers of God, we’ve trusted in Jesus for eternal life. But we still don’t believe that God can do the seemingly impossible in our own lives. Somehow we see our situation as different. Maybe we don’t doubt that God can…but why would He? Zechariah is a great reminder that God is still actively involved in the lives of His people…He works through ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. And He wants to work through us…you and me.

We were saved to serve God fearlessly…Paul says it this way, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not as a result of works lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” As we will see later in Luke, John is a great example of this. His ministry was to prepare the way…he served God (and others) by giving them the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins. Guess what? That’s our job description too. We’re to share the good news of the gospel…to bring folks one step closer to Jesus. Are you doing that? The Impact List is a great way to get started.

Can you see the first rays of the Sun rising? Has “the Sunrise from on high” shined on your life? Do you have “the knowledge of salvation”? Is Jesus your mighty “horn of salvation”? Do you know that you have “the forgiveness of sins”? Have you been saved from “the shadow of death”? Are you fearlessly serving Him? Are your feet treading “the path of peace”? If not, you need the Sunrise—you need Jesus who came to rescue you.

“May we trust God to do the impossible, fearlessly serving Him, and sharing with those in darkness the good news of the gospel.”

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Mary’s Song

Luke 1.39.56

John echoes Gabriel’s promise that Mary would be Jesus’ mom by leaping in the womb. Elizabeth praises Mary’s faith in God’s promise. Her blessing leads Mary into a hymn of praise that is also a declaration of faith. God will vindicate the God-fearers in the nation in remembrance of His covenant promises to Abraham. Mary knows that God has not only shown mercy to her, but that this mighty, merciful, and holy God will also show mercy to His faithful people. It’s clear that Mary trusts in the fulfillment of God’s promises. They will come to pass.

John, Elizabeth and Mary are co-conspirators in the divine plot to rescue the lost, experiencing the joy that salvation brings. There is a sense of excitement and great expectancy about what God is going to do. He is fulfilling His promise to David, but also His promise to Mary. He is a faithful God and One who is powerful enough to bring about what He has promised. He exalts the humble and brings low the proud.

Mary once again is a model of faith…believing what the angel has said, trusting in God to bring it about, submitting to His will, then moving out in faith. We too are to believe God’s promises (everlasting life, eternal kingdom, presence), trusting Him to bring them about, submitting to His will (timing, ways) and then moving out in faith.

But it starts with faith…faith that salvation is here. Jesus has come to rescue us. He is both perfect, sinless Man and almighty God. He alone can save. By believing that He came and lived a perfect life, died a bloody, sacrificial death, was raised again the third day, conquering both sin and death and trusting in Him alone to rescue us…all so that we could be reconciled to our Creator God…the Bible says we are saved. We are rescued.

May Jesus be enough for us this week, and may we experience the joy of salvation that Jesus brings.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Divine Pronouncement

Luke 1.26-38

Mary’s obedience…her submission to the Lord’s will reminds me of a contrast that Soren Kierkegaard made when he was wrestling with Genesis 22 in his essay, Fear and Trembling, between the knight of faith and the knight of infinite resignation. The knight of infinite resignation obeys God purely out of a sense of duty and obligation. He does what’s required, but only because it’s required. The knight of faith also obeys and does what’s required, but he or she does so with joy and expectancy. We will see next week…Mary is definitely the knight of faith.

This is the greatest news ever…since the time of the fall, the people of God have been looking for the promised Head-crushing Seed of the woman. The Hero who would come to rescue them and lead them back to the garden and restore their relationship with Creator God. And now He’s here!

Mary is an unlikely candidate to be the mother of the Messiah from an earthly perspective…in this age of celebrity we might have expected someone more prestigious, someone more connected, a little more flash or a bigger deal, not a young, poor small town girl. I’m glad God’s not caught up in the things that we are. I’m glad that He always redefines our view of family and grace. He sees her humble heart, that she’s poor in spirit…she’s desperately craving His grace. She was reflective…pondering the angel’s words, believing and submissive. She’s a great example for us.

God is fulfilling His promise to David, and not just to David, but to all His people from the time of the fall…we can trust God to fulfill promises today. Promises of everlasting life and an eternal kingdom, of His presence with us. Only God can accomplish these things…He can do great things and use whomever He chooses to accomplish His purpose however He wishes. You are not insignificant in God’s design…in His plan to reach the valley. From an earthly perspective, Mary was a nobody from a nothing town in the middle of nowhere, but not so from the heavenly perspective. She had a significant role to play in God’s plan of redemption, so do you. He wants to use you to impact the folks around you for His kingdom.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost … He comes to a needy people…those who recognize their spiritual bankruptcy and need for a Rescuer, not the proud and self-sufficient. Do you recognize your desperate need for Him?

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Unexpected Promise

Luke 1.5-25

Zechariah is unexpectedly surprised…opportunity to offer incense for the people, appearance of Gabriel, and the news that he’s going to be a daddy…and not just of any son, but a son with an amazing prophetic ministry, integral to God’s plan of redemption for His people.

Everything that God has promised in the OT is coming to pass. The plan is in motion, the stage is set. The showdown will be quickly underway. God cares about the salvation of His people…but as we said last week, He also cares about the salvation of the nations. He will rescue those who turn to Him in faith. He will reconcile heaven and earth. His plan has cosmic repercussions.

But this story reminds us that in the midst of the bigness of God’s plan for reaching all peoples, He is still concerned about the lives of individuals. He cared about Zechariah and Elizabeth’s pain. He knew the questions and sideways glances that others gave them. And while He could have answered their prayer for a son much earlier in life when it was more convenient and they had more energy, in His perfect timing He chose to bless them with an incredible son in their old age. God doesn’t conform Himself to our wishes or dreams for ourselves… God is not a genie in a bottle, and prayer is not a divine vending machine. He is actively involved in the lives of His people to bring about His purposes…His glory and our good.

God was actively involved in the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and He’s actively involved in our lives as well. On the macro level, He wants to see this valley impacted for His kingdom. On the micro level, that happens as each one of us seeks to impact one or two around us, bringing them one step closer to Jesus. I love the fact that Zechariah and Elizabeth still trusted God in the midst of their pain…that they walked blamelessly. They weren’t perfect…we see Zechariah’s, doubt, even though he should have known better. But nevertheless they were committed to following God.

So what about you? What prayer are you waiting to have answered? Are you trusting God in the midst of it? How has He surprised you in unexpected ways? Who can you impact, bringing them one step closer to Jesus?

If you are not a follower of God today, the first step is trusting in Jesus. He’s the long-awaited Hero we’ve been longing for…the only One who can rescue us. He wants to give you life today. Don’t wait.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Setting the Stage

Luke 1.1-4

Who is Jesus, and why is He a big deal…why is He important? He’s the long awaited Jewish Messiah…He didn’t just show up one day on a dusty Jewish road and say, “I think I’ll die for the world today.” He’s the long-awaited Jewish Messiah…the Head-crushing Seed of the woman from Genesis 3.15. He’s the long-awaited Jewish Messiah…the Descendant of Abraham, the One through whom ultimately all the families of the earth will be blessed from Genesis 12. He’s the anticipated Lion of the tribe of Judah from Genesis 49, the One from whom the scepter will not depart. He’s the Greater Prophet than Moses from Deuteronomy 18. He’s the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, the Son of David and the expected King from 2 Samuel 7. He’s Isaiah’s Suffering Servant from Isaiah 53. He’s Daniel’s Son of Man who rides the clouds and receives an everlasting kingdom from the Ancient of Days from Daniel 7. He’s the long-awaited Jewish Messiah…the Perfect Son of Man and the Son of God. He IS God. He’s our Hero, our Savior, our only hope of rescue and reconciliation with our Creator God. Through His life, death and resurrection He has not only defeated sin and death, but He’s also given us life…eternal life. Luke, writing to a guy named Theophilus, endeavors to answer these questions. Luke challenges Theophilus to examine the evidence and draw his own conclusions. But it doesn’t stop there. Having examined the evidence, Luke wants Theophilus to be changed…to be transformed to live and love like Jesus. As we go through this series, I’m going to challenge us to do the same thing…examine the evidence. Who is Jesus, and why is He important to me? What impact is He having on my life? How is He transforming me to live and love like Him?

I hope that we spend time personally reflecting on the passage each week, praying through and examining the evidence for ourselves. Ask and answer the question: What difference is Jesus making in my life? How do I live my life as I follow Jesus?

I’m excited about our time together examining the evidence to learn more about who Jesus is and the revolution He came to bring. I’m excited to be a part of His revolution…a rescue mission to seek and save the lost, to reconcile heaven and earth, to bring life from the dead, to storm the gates of hell and rescue the captives held there. To share a gospel not only with spiritual ramifications, but one that works itself out on the physical plane in love for our neighbor in unexpected, radical and generous ways.

Until next time…stay salty.

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