Eyewitnesses

2 Peter 1.12-21

Knowing that his time is short, Peter reminds us to hold on to the truth that Jesus is coming back…the King will return. When He does, we will have to give an account to Him for how we lived our lives…how we invested (or failed to invest) our minas, so what we do today matters.

Like Solomon’s advice to his son in the book of Proverbs, Peter presents two options for us. The way of the wise and the way of the foolish. The wise will listen to him. The foolish…will not. So what you do today matters.

Will we live lives anchored in the Truth, empowered by the Spirit that count for eternity? Or will we live lives for the here and now, empowered by our own feeble attempts to build bigger barns during our fleeting time on earth…being unfruitful and useless for the kingdom? What you do today matters.

How are you investing your mina? When it comes time to give an account…will it be with great joy or great sadness? The choice really is yours. What you do today matters.

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Making An Entrance

2 Peter 1.1-11

What kind of entrance do you want to make into the kingdom? How you live your life today matters. Through the Word and the Spirit we have everything we need to pursue the life God calls us to live.

Two options for entering the kingdom. One mentioned. One implied. One involves a celebration…a rich homecoming. The other…not so much. 

Both are true of believers. Both have trusted Jesus at some point in their life. Both will enter the Kingdom. But both do not enjoy the same caliber of life today, nor will they have the same kind of entrance into the Kingdom. What, or maybe better, why the difference? What you do today matters.

The difference is the philosophy or worldview that the believer lives by. Option A: biblical worldview informed by the Word and lived out in the power of the Spirit. Option B: worldview informed by our “it’s-all-about-me” culture that defines pleasure as the highest good. Living for today…all that matters is the here and now.

We all have the opportunity to live an option A kind of life. In fact that’s what God saved us for (Ephesians 2.10; Titus 2.11-15), and He is the One who empowers us to live such a life (Philippians 2.13; Colossians 1.29). But we have to be intentional. We have to make every effort to pursue that kind of life. It’s gonna cost you something.

What you do today matters. Every choice that you make has an impact in time and in eternity. Who are the voices speaking into your life today? Do reason up or reason down? Have you trained yourself to see the world through the lens of Scripture? Are you asking God for help to do so?

Having been equipped by God with the means necessary to be transformed to live and love like Jesus…namely, the Word and the Spirit, and having been given the road-map to get there from faith to love, and the present and future benefits thereof, it’s time…it’s time to make every effort…to press on toward the goal…to diligently pursue this thing called the Christian life.

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This post is based on a sermon from our 2 Peter series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

Generosity 101

Luke 18-19, 21

God’s economy is different than ours. The stories of the rich young ruler, Zaccheus and the poor widow are reminders that God is not looking at the size of the gift, but the motivation behind giving it. God’s not after our money, but us. And yet we cannot give ourselves to Him without giving everything to Him, including our stuff.

Just as our Father is generous, He wants us to be generous too. Because of our so great salvation, our thankful and happy hearts should loosen our grip on our stuff and free us up to give…and to give generously like both Zach and the widow. In fact, we as believers should be the most generous folks on the planet!

But so often we’re not. We act more like the rich young ruler. Maybe it’s because we have too low a view of God. Maybe we’re afraid to trust Him because deep down inside we believe Him to be stingy…that somehow He might hold out on us. And if we give away what we have, there won’t be enough for us. 

Yeah…but that’s not the picture that the Bible paints of who God is…think about the number of stars in the heavens, the number of galaxies, the greatness and vastness of space. In the Genesis account, when God creates the sun, moon and stars, what is their purpose? To give light to the earth, and for signs and for seasons. Seems to be a bit extravagant, doesn’t it?

What about God’s grace and His mercy and His love? His boundless, immeasurable love? The cross where the sins of all mankind were placed on His beloved Son. Every sin atoned for. Every one. So that all might be saved…if they will believe in Jesus.

So if God is so incredibly generous in these things…both in creation and in redemption, then why would He be stingy in providing for our needs (birds and flowers)? Our generosity problem has nothing to do with our wealth or lack thereof. The widow was certainly not rich by anyone’s standards. It has everything to do with our faith and obedience. So the question is, do you trust God enough to give generously?

When I was growing up, giving was not a practice my parents modeled. With eight kids…money was always tight. So giving wasn’t something I was used to…and putting myself through college, I never had two nickels to rub together as my dad would say. I didn’t think I could afford to give. So it wasn’t until I met my wife Wendy that I even considered giving as a spiritual discipline. And even then, I wasn’t sure how the giving thing would work out. But we did it anyway, and we haven’t looked back since.

For some of us, giving is a discipline that we’ve practiced for awhile. Somewhere along your spiritual journey, someone challenged you to make giving a regular practice, and so you’ve done it for years. Thank you for your faithfulness and your generosity.

If giving is new to you, I know what it feels like to look at your finances and wonder, “how?” Let me just challenge you to try it. Pick an amount and begin to give regularly. Set a goal…maybe ten percent, and build those giving muscles until you reach it. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Strive to become a generous giver, not a bigger barn builder, knowing that investing in the kingdom pays eternal dividends. Then your heart won’t be wrapped up in your stuff, but in the kingdom. Just like Zach and the widow.

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This post is based on a sermon from our main service. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Story: Series Wrap-up

Genesis, Daniel, Luke-Acts, Romans, Revelation

Genesis begins with a man in a garden enjoying perfect fellowship with God…Revelation ends with man in a garden enjoying perfect fellowship with God.

Jesus is coming back. Until He does, our work is not done. Our job in this in-between time is to invest our minas well…to live our lives on purpose. Share our stories. To build into the lives of those around us. Using our gifts to serve and our resources to further the kingdom. Making a difference…going back in for just one more. Being ready.

Good news is that we are not alone…the Spirit empowers us to live the life we have been called to live.

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. He is coming back, and He will either be your King or your Judge. But He would rather be your King. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our main service. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The River and Tree of Life aka Back to the Garden

Revelation 22.1-5

John finishes his description of the new heaven and the new earth with a trip back to the garden. Or maybe better a trip forward to the garden. The river and tree of life. The removal of the curse. God’s presence. Seeing Him face to face. Serving Him. Ruling and reigning with Him forever.

But now we live in this in-between time…in between the time of Jesus’ ascension and His return…where life seems to be crashing down around us because of sin and death and the effects of the curse. In this in-between space where the consequences of our own sin…we might call it compromise…and the sin of others, especially persecution, impact us in often tragic ways, we can’t forget that our hope is not in this broken world. Let me say that one more time…our hope is not in this broken world. I think we forget that. We are just sojourners passing through, on our way home.

As I was thinking about that, it struck me…this world is like a burning house. Hang with me for a minute. When you see a house on fire, you don’t go in to rearrange the furniture. You don’t settle in and make yourself comfortable. Nope. You grab the first person you see and pull them out. Then you go back and grab one more. And then you go back and grab one more… Our job is to keep pulling folks out of the fire until God calls us home. To storm the gates of hell until we see our Savior fact to face. To share our story with those around us, investing our mina until the King returns. No…our hope is not in this broken world, but in a new one, a re-created one where Jesus is reigning. So Don’t give up on your faith. Don’t give in to the pressure of this world. Don’t forget…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. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The New Jerusalem

Revelation 21.9-27

The New Jerusalem. A city beyond our wildest dreams. More beautiful and breathtaking than anything we’ve ever seen or even imagined. The home of a redeemed Israel, and the destination of believers from the nations who bring their glory into it. Diamond walls, pearly gates, radiant jewels and streets of gold…

A strong contrast to Babylon and the fate of those who aligned themselves with that city. Those who chose rebellion over submission, subjecting over serving, the dragon over the Lamb.

Again John reminds us of what we are hoping for…why we don’t give up or give in. Jesus wins, and this is what winning looks like. More than we could have ever truly hoped for or expected. A good reminder in the world we live in today that is nothing like that. A world where pain and suffering, the ugliness of sin in all of its manifestations is so obvious. Where maybe most days we feel beat down and trampled under foot. We need to be reminded…we need to be encouraged…not to give up or give in. The kingdom will be worth it.

But only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will be there. And your name will only be in the book if you have trusted in Jesus, so if you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might walk in the light of His glory in the kingdom forever.

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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. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

A New Heaven and a New Earth

Revelation 21.1-8

John describes for us a new heaven and a new earth…the realization of the hope for which we have been saved, so that even in the midst of suffering the afflictions and persecutions of this present darkness, this present evil age, we will be encouraged knowing that we will one day be rescued and vindicated by the sudden appearance of Jesus, whose coming will destroy the powers of evil and make all things new. Throughout the NT the message is clear: this future hope should impact our lives today…our behavior and devotion to Jesus. So knowing this let us persevere in the present as we await the return of our King to set all things right…don’t give up, don’t give in, Jesus wins!

This beautiful picture reminds us of God’s amazing love for us. The lengths that He has gone to so that we might be reconciled to Him, that we might become His children are nothing short of incredible. From the first few chapters of Genesis, He’s been relentlessly pursuing us. It started with a promise…Genesis 3.15. One day He would send the Hero to rescue us from the sin and death caused by our rebellion against Him and provide a way back to the garden. That Hero, of course, is Jesus, who lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, was raised the third day, and ascended to the throne of God. By believing in Him we have eternal life. To those who thirst…the water of life without cost. The retirement package is chill…paradise with Him forever.

Now we wait with anticipation His return…not as a sacrificial Lamb, but as the conquering Lion. Not as our Savior on a cross, but as the fierce Warrior-King on a white horse.

Today is the day. John’s encouragement to believers is also a warning to those who are not following Him. Judgment is certain. Jesus is coming back. The consequences are final. No do-overs. There will be no escape. No watching from the sidelines. You are either for Him or against Him. My prayer is that you are thirsty today…I love that His relentless pursuit continues till the end. The offer stands open, to drink from the springs of the water of life without cost.

So don’t give up because following Jesus is sometimes hard. Don’t give in to the culture around you. Why? Because Jesus wins! Amen, come Lord Jesus!

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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. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Great White Throne

Revelation 20.7-15

At the end of the thousand years, Satan is released to once more deceive the nations and gather them for one last battle, which isn’t much of a battle. Fire comes down from heaven to consume the enemies who have surrounded the camp of the saints, and the devil is thrown into the lake of fire. The great white throne is set up, and the sheep are separated from the goats.

I seem to say this a lot with this book. There are only two sides to this conflict. You are either for Jesus or against Him. You are either a sheep or a goat. But know this…Jesus wins. And you will either kneel before Jesus as King or cower before Him as Judge. So you have a choice to make…life or death, blessing or curse. The choice is yours. So why not choose life?

As believers, I hope that this motivates you to share your story…to tell others about Jesus. As I’ve said before, most of the folks you come in contact with on a daily basis don’t know Jesus. If they were to stand before the throne today, they would stand condemned to the lake of fire. I pray that that breaks your heart and creates in you a sense of urgency and intentionality about the way you are pursuing your relationship with them.

Knowing that we too will be judged/evaluated based on our deeds, let us live a life worthy of the calling. Not out of fear, but out of love. Love for the One who has so loved us, so that we too may hear, “Well done good and faithful slave.”

If you have not yet trusted in Jesus, please don’t wait. I don’t want you in the lake of fire. Jesus doesn’t want you in the lake of fire. He will bring judgment, but He would rather you choose mercy. I want you…He wants you…in the kingdom. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

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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. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

For a Thousand Years…

Revelation 20.1-6

Following the return of the King and the defeat of His enemies in battle, namely the beast and the false prophet and their armies, an angel with a great chain binds the dragon, throws him into the abyss and then shuts and locks it over him, so that he will not deceive the nations any longer for a thousand years. Meanwhile, the overcomers are resurrected and serve as priests of God and of Christ, reigning with Him for a thousand years.

While the details of how all of that works out are sometimes hotly debated, the end result is still the same. Jesus wins. And you will either kneel before Jesus as King or cower before Him as Judge. You are either for Him or against Him…life or death, blessing or curse. The choice is yours. So why not choose life?

It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and might reign with Him forever.

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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. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.

The Return of the King aka the Ballad of the White Horse Rider

Revelation 19.11-21

The King returns, and none of those who are His enemies will be able to stand before Him. His fury will be terrifying and His vengeance on His adversaries complete.

Jesus is coming…He is coming in judgment, He is coming in vengeance, He is coming as Sovereign over all, and you want to be with Him and not against Him.

In Luke 19, Jesus tells the parable of the nobleman who goes off to receive a kingdom. Before the nobleman leaves, he calls together his slaves and gives each one a mina to invest until his return. And generally the focus is on the slaves investing the nobleman’s mina. But there is a third group in that parable…those who didn’t want the nobleman to rule over them. In Luke it for sure represents the religious leaders who rejected Jesus. In Revelation, it represents the folks aligned with the beast. Seed of the serpent types.

There are only two sides in this conflict…only two. You are either on the side of the White Horse Rider, or you are aligned against Him. There is no middle ground. No Switzerland here.

As believers, this is our blessed hope…the return of the King in all His terrible glory executing judgment and vengeance for every wrong done on earth. Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and plunged humankind, and all of creation, into a world of sin, death and corruption, we’ve been waiting for the Seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent, the One God promised would set everything right. So for us, the White Horse Rider is our Fearless Commander, our Conquering Warrior-King riding into battle against an already vanquished foe. His appearance is salvation and the realization of our greatest hopes. Jesus wins. And because of our faith in Him, we also win.

For those who are facing the White Horse Rider, there is great dread and fear as they see a Fierce, Ruthless, Unrelenting and Vengeful Warrior-King bent on destroying them. None will escape. All will face His wrath.

So where are you? Are you with Him or against Him?

If you have trusted in Jesus, give thanks! Jesus wins. The realization that He is coming back in all His awesome glory is good news indeed, for He will right the wrongs that have been done. But knowing that He is coming back with such terrifying vengeance, there should be a sense of urgency in sharing our story with those around us who don’t know about Him.

If you find yourself today in the position of an enemy of Jesus, be afraid! Jesus wins. The realization that He is coming back in all His awesome glory is sobering news indeed, for He will right the wrongs that have been done. Knowing that He is coming back with such terrifying vengeance, now is the time to repent…to trust in Him, for now is the time of God’s favor. We are in a holding pattern awaiting His return. Part of the reason for the delay is so that folks will come to trust Him and join His side. It’s as simple as admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Believing that Jesus came to save you from your sin. He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on your behalf, and was raised the third day, so that you might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life, that you too may look forward to the return of your King.

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. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store.