The Ascension

Luke 24.36-53

Jesus makes His final appearance to His disciples and gives them instructions on carrying His mission forward.

Like the disciples, we too can get distracted by life’s events and circumstances and forget that God is at work in our lives…that He is bringing about His purposes in and through us, that He is conforming us to the image of Jesus, transforming us to live and love like Him. So while we may not see the purpose in suffering, He ultimately uses it to bring about greater glory.

God invites us to see our lives and our circumstances through His eyes…to see the opportunities that each of us have on a daily basis to be His witnesses to those around us. To encourage, to equip, to love, to serve, to share the gospel, to point them to Jesus. And He’s given us the Spirit to help us do just that.

How do we begin to see life through God’s eyes? Time spent in His Word, time spent in prayer, and time spent with other believers. It’s only as we spend time with Him in His Word that the Spirit opens our minds to understand the Scriptures. How do we know who God is apart from His Word? Through His Word, we get to know who He is and who we are. And the latter is almost as important as the former. You see, every day in a myriad of ways this world tells us who we are…tv, social media, music, books, friends, enemies, family members, etc. Not to mention the enemy… All these other inputs judge our worth based on the value we bring to the system…by our looks or our talents or our bank accounts or our reputation or our popularity or whatever. Those voices tell us that we are never good enough or acceptable enough or worthwhile enough. But what does the Bible say? You and I are of infinite value because we are made in the image of the Creator. That would be enough. But even greater than that, if you have trusted in Jesus, then you are a son or daughter of the King.

It’s only as we spend time with Him in prayer that we share our thoughts with Him…our hopes and dreams, our fears and failures, our desires and our struggles…and hear from Him. And it’s only as we spend time with other believers that we are reminded and encouraged to pursue Jesus together. Time spent with God should be a daily habit.

The disciples struggled to believe initially, but when they became convinced, they changed the world. The only reasonable explanation for their devotion, even at the cost of their own life, is:

• They saw the empty tomb.

• They met their risen Lord.

• They came to believe the Word of God: “… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Have you trusted in Jesus? If not, today could be the day. He invites you to be a part of His kingdom. He’s already provided the way…all you have to do is recognize your need for repentance, believe that Jesus can save you and trust Him to do so. Then forgiveness of sins, eternal life, peace, joy, hope…the kingdom are yours.

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

The Resurrection

Luke 24.1-12

The women have a front row seat to the miraculous events of that first Easter morning. Though all hope seemed lost…the Hero was dead…God was not finished yet. God’s the Author of this Story, and I love when God tells the story…because when God tells the story, there’s always hope. An astounding twist to the plot…the Hero is alive. Death is conquered. Sin is atoned for. The way is made available for us to return back to God. Death is swallowed up in life, despair in hope, mourning in astounding joy. Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!

The resurrection proves that Jesus is the Hero He claimed to be and that everything He said is true…His death satisfied God’s just punishment for sin, and He is able to raise us to new life, to give us eternal life. And as He promised, Jesus will be with us always, even unto the end of the age. So no matter how much the world may shake around us…whether it’s natural disasters or the wickedness of men…God is able to bring life out of death, hope out of despair, victory out of sure defeat.

In this life, there will be suffering. Guaranteed. Some of that suffering is due to our own bad choices, some of it to other’s bad choices, and some of it because we live in a fallen world. Every death is a tragedy because every death is a reminder of our rebellion against God…a rebellion that broke the good world He made…a rebellion that could only be atoned for by the death of His own Son, so that while physically these bodies will die, we have the hope of new bodies that won’t…we have the hope of an eternity spent with our Hero, delighting in our Triune God, in a place where there is no more pain or sorrow, no more tears or death. Perfect peace, joy and bliss…reigning with our King forever.

The question isn’t whether or not these bodies will give out…they will…we will die someday. Death is one for one. It’s an appointment we all must keep. The question is: will we be ready when that time comes? And when it comes, Jesus will either be Savior or Judge. Which will it be for you? Life is short. Death is sure. The only hope we have is in Jesus.

Do you know Jesus as Savior today? If you have not yet trusted in Him, today can be the day of salvation for you. You simply have to recognize your need to be rescued…that you are a sinner in need of repentance. You have to believe that Jesus can rescue you…that He can save you from your sin, that He died in your place. And then you have to trust Him to save you. When you do that, the Bible says that you are adopted into God’s family…you become a son or daughter of the King of the Universe, spending an eternity with Him in the kingdom.

Maybe you are a believer, but, like the women or the disciples, the circumstances of life have caused you to lose hope. You’re living as if Jesus is still in the tomb. Maybe you need to be reminded today that Jesus is alive, and He wants you to experience resurrection life…the abundant life that He saved you for. Now’s a good time to rededicate your life to following Him.

The resurrection changes everything! Jesus makes all the difference. He brings purpose and meaning, real hope and change. Eternal life that starts today and never ends.

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

Signs of the Times Part 2

Luke 21.20-38

Using a discussion about the temple as a starting point, Jesus foretells future events leading up to His Second Coming. While we wait, we are not to be deceived, afraid, ignorant or careless, but we are to be ready…faithfully, courageously, obediently, prayerfully and intentionally investing in the kingdom and anxiously awaiting the return of our King.

In the waiting, it’s easy to lose focus. It’s easy to allow the things of this world to take priority. Like the days of Noah…eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage (Luke 17.27). Life goes on and gradually we stop thinking about the kingdom. We no longer anticipate the return of our King. Bills to pay. Errands to run. Things to do. Our own lives to live…our own kingdom to build. Instead of being faithful stewards, we treat the resources He’s entrusted to us as our own private pile of loot to do with as we please. In the parable of the soils, the third soil…thorns represent worries and riches and pleasures of this life…brings no fruit to maturity (Luke 8.14). I’m afraid most of us live in the third soil….and so miss out on the abundance of life, the fullness of joy that comes from living a kingdom-life. We live as if we have all the time in the world…then suddenly like a trap…it’s over. Don’t be careless.

There are lots of things in this life we prepare for…we study for tests; we practice for the game; as parents, we save up for our kids’ education or first car or retirement or any number of things. Why do we prepare? So that we will be ready when the moment of truth comes…the test, the game, the event, the milestone… So why wouldn’t we prepare for the most significant, the greatest event ever…the return of our King?

Reminds me of a fireman. Although a chunk of his time on the job, he might be able to shoot pool, watch TV, play basketball, sleep, etc. At any moment the alarm could sound, and he would have to be ready to go. That means his fire suit has to be prepared, his boots have to be where he can find them, and his helmet needs to be in its place. If he misses anything, the results could be disastrous, or he’s left out of the action. Jesus has given us all a job to do…we each have a mina that we are to invest. The alarm is sounding, are you ready?

As believers we are to keep looking up…“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2.11-14).

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

Questioning the Resurrection

Luke 20.27-21.4

The Sadducees’ question about the resurrection backfires. Jesus says there’s no doubt there will be a resurrection. God is faithful and will fulfill all that He has promised. Jesus will sit at the right hand of the Father, He will rule over the kingdom and His enemies will be crushed beneath His feet.

What the Sadducees considered a trick question because of their own doubt and misunderstanding is the central question of Christianity…is the resurrection real? The resurrection is central to our faith, and is our hope as Christians. If there is no resurrection, then eat and drink for tomorrow we die. If there is no resurrection, this life is all we have. If there is no resurrection there is no future kingdom, and our hope is only a fleeting and fading one. If there is no resurrection all the promises that God has made…are false, and frankly, we are all wasting our time here today.

Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection…first for Jesus, then for us. For Jesus to conquer sin and death, a resurrection is required. In the parable of the nobleman, Jesus says He goes away to receive His kingdom and then return, picturing His death, resurrection, ascension, and return. The promises made to the patriarchs can only be fulfilled for them if there is a resurrection. For us to live in the kingdom that both the OT and Jesus describe, there must be a resurrection. We know that God is faithful to His promises. Our hope is not in vain. We know that since Jesus was raised, we too will be raised with Him. And we will reign with Him in His kingdom. We know that there is a resurrection.

Knowing that the resurrection is real, it should affect the way live. We have a real hope in Jesus. Hope that this life is not the end. A hope that one day wrongs will be made right. No more tears or pain or sorrow. No death. Endless joy and unheard of satisfaction living life in the kingdom, serving and worshiping Jesus our King.

Knowing that the resurrection is real, we should live, not for the here and now, building our own kingdoms, selfishly grabbing all that we can get…but for the kingdom to come, willingly giving of ourselves and our resources, investing our mina in the lives of those who are around us.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life…our hope is in Him. If you have not yet trusted in Him, make today the day. Recognize that you are a sinner in need of repentance. Believe that Jesus can save you and trust Him to do so. The kingdom awaits.

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

The Resurrection

Luke 24.1-12

The women have a front row seat to the miraculous events of that first Easter morning. Though all hope seemed lost…the Hero was dead…God was not finished yet. God’s the Author of this Story, and I love when God tells the story…because when God tells the story, there’s always hope. An astounding twist to the plot…the Hero is alive. Death is conquered. Sin is atoned for. The way is made available for us to return back to God. Death is swallowed up in life, despair in hope, mourning in astounding joy. Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!

The resurrection proves that Jesus is the Hero He claimed to be and that everything He said is true…His death satisfied God’s just punishment for sin, and He is able to raise us to new life, to give us eternal life. And as He promised, Jesus will be with us always, even unto the end of the age. Do you know this Jesus? If you have not yet trusted in Him, today can be the day of salvation for you. You simply have to recognize your need to be rescued…that you are a sinner in need of repentance…that your life is a mess and beyond hope of repair. You have to believe that Jesus can rescue you…that He can save you from your sin, that He died in your place. And then you have to trust Him to save you. When you do that, the Bible says that you are adopted into God’s family…you become a son or daughter of the King of the Universe, spending an eternity with Him in the kingdom.

Maybe you are a believer, but, like the women or the disciples, the circumstances of life have caused you to lose hope. You’re living as if Jesus is still in the tomb. Maybe you need to be reminded today that Jesus is alive, and He wants you to experience resurrection life…the abundant life that He saved you for. Now’s a good time to rededicate your life to following Him.

The resurrection changes everything! The disciples went from despair to radically changing the world. Jesus makes all the difference. He brings purpose and meaning, real hope and change. Eternal life that starts today and never ends.

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

A Resurrected Jesus

John 20

The resurrection proves not only that everything Jesus said and did was absolutely true, but that He “crushed sin and death for all eternity.” Jesus’ death pays the penalty for sin. However, if we stopped there, we might be forgiven; but where’s the empowerment for life? It is the life of Jesus that allows us to experience life today…real, abundant life.

John says that he wrote “these things that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing we might have life in His name.” While Mary and the disciples had believed in Jesus…their experience of a crucified Jesus hadn’t brought life (fear, doubt, distress, confusion). Although Jesus was alive and although He had crushed sin and death, they were not experiencing the victory.

And while I would say “yes” to those truths today, many times I practically live like Jesus remained in the tomb…I know I’m forgiven, but I still tend to be totally consumed by my circumstances – distraught, confused, fearful, and even doubting that Jesus can/will bring me out of the current situation. My guess is, I’m not alone.

Some of us today are believers…we’ve believed in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, but we are not experiencing the life of Jesus that is ours through His resurrection. Maybe we are like Mary…distraught and grieving, focused on our circumstances and having a hard time seeing Jesus. These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. Like Mary, Jesus patiently waits for us to recognize Him, wanting to turn our mourning into joy. Maybe we are like the disciples…fearful, betting on Jesus but feeling like we are on the losing side. These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. Like the disciples, Jesus speaks peace over us, wanting to transform us from being fearful to being fearless. Maybe we are like Thomas…doubting, needing evidence that Jesus can help us in our present predicament. These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. Like Thomas, Jesus meets us in that place of unbelief and wants to turn our doubting to believing. Whatever character you most resonate with, we all need to be reminded of the truth of the resurrection. Jesus is alive. He died and rose again to give us life.

Some of us today would not put ourselves in the believing category at all. We may be somewhere on the road of our spiritual journey, but we are definitely not there. That’s ok. These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. Jesus changes everything. He wants to meet us right where we are. He knows us…He knows our name, our doubts and fears, our circumstances. He’s not afraid of our questions, but is patient with us.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we experience the uncontainable joy and unquenchable hope in knowing that Jesus is alive today!”

This post is based on our Easter sermon, A Resurrected Jesus. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Our Reclaimed Hope

Daniel 12

What a ride! Fourteen weeks in the book of Daniel. Terrifying visions, steadfast faith, incredible courage, uncompromising commitment, a new chapter. The rules have changed during the Time of the Gentiles. Where doing the right thing once brought blessing, it now brings a curse (ex. fiery furnace and lions’  den). Conforming to the surrounding culture brings comfort. Good is called evil, and evil good. Right and wrong are a matter of public opinion. Following God will not be easy, but for those with insight and the courage to persevere, their inheritance is secure. As the divine messenger says, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” In the midst of a world seemingly out of control, Daniel is reminded (and reminds us) that God is still in control… “For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the ages; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.” So don’t give up, don’t give in…God wins.

The first six chapters of Daniel are story…the adventures of Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah in the kingdoms of Babylon and Persia. Daniel receives his first two visions while Belshazzar is king…still under the dominion of the first beast, Babylon. He receives these visions before the “handwriting on the wall” of Daniel 5. Daniel’s prayer and the last two visions are during the time of Darius/Cyrus. Why is that important? Because Daniel’s experience in the lions’ den (Daniel 6) could very well have come after this final vision. His response to persecution/suffering should inform our response…God can, God will, but even if He doesn’t, He is still sovereign and actively involved in the events of my life and is working for my good and His glory. And just as prayer was an indispensable part of Daniel’s life, it should be of ours as well.

God’s faithfulness to deliver the fantastic four…His faithfulness to deliver His people throughout history … should cause God’s people to want to be faithful in the face of tribulation and oppression. The Daniel’s visions are given within a context of persecution…there was tremendous pressure for him to compromise and even abandon his faith. Daniel writes to persuade folks who are suffering persecution to hold fast their faith and endure because God will rescue them even through death by resurrection (many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake…to everlasting life). Like the fantastic four, we too are tempted to compromise and abandon our faith, but don’t do it. We are called to live out our faith in a hostile world no matter the cost, being available to be used by God to boldly, yet compassionately point those on our impact list to Jesus, knowing that good triumphs in the end. Don’t give up, don’t give in…Jesus wins.

Is your name written in the book? Only those whose name is written in the book will be rescued and resurrected to everlasting life. And the only way to have your name written in the book…trusting in Jesus to rescue you. Then you too, like Daniel, will receive your allotted inheritance in the eternal kingdom. If your name is not in the book, or if you’re not sure…if you don’t know the God that Daniel speaks of today, the God of heaven, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, the Revealer of Mysteries, the Rescuer of our souls, please don’t wait. Only those who have insight, whose names are in the book…who have trusted in Jesus for everlasting life will be a part of His eternal kingdom. The rest will spend an eternity apart from Him. Lack of understanding will be no excuse.

May God give us the courage and steadfastness of Daniel to face life in the fourth kingdom, and may we do it with an undying hope.

Until next time…stay salty.

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