Thy Kingdom Come

Luke 17.22-37

Jesus is coming back…it will be a glorious day for those who are ready, for those who have trusted in Him. But for those who are not, then like the days of Noah and Lot, it will be a day of sudden, unexpected, final judgment.

Clearly there is a warning here for those who have not yet trusted in Jesus…do so before it’s too late. Recognize that you are a sinner in need of repentance. Believe that Jesus can save you. Trust Him to do so. Then you too can have a future secured in the kingdom. No need to fear the coming judgment. Jesus will be your King, not your Judge. Strength for today, hope for tomorrow.

But I do think there is a warning here also for those of us who claim to follow Jesus. Here is where the example of Lot is instructive. Noah is clearly a righteous man…clear from the Genesis account. Lot on the other hand…not quite as clear. His choices and actions leave a big question mark…especially when he ends up in Sodom as one of the elders of the city. Even though he’s a man of influence in the city, it’s clear as the story unfolds that he’s had zero spiritual impact on folks around him, including his wife. Abraham thought for sure at least there would be 10 righteous in the city after Lot’s tenure there. When the dust settles, we only know for sure that Lot is based on what Peter has to say (2 Peter 2.6-8). Without the mention of Lot being a righteous man living in Sodom…righteous soul being tormented day after day by their lawless deeds…not sure that we could make that call.

What was the difference between Lot and his wife? What would their friends have thought of them? My guess is…there was no noticeable difference. Lot and his wife looked the same on the outside…eating and drinking…going through the everyday rhythms of life with no thought of the kingdom, but one was saved and the other destroyed. Lot is a believer who cared more about his stuff or the things of this world than he did the kingdom…like the soil with the weeds, he bore no fruit to maturity. Don’t be like Lot. If you’ve trusted in Jesus, know that you were not saved to go to heaven. Otherwise you would already be there. You were saved to be a part of God’s rescue mission…to make an impact on the kingdom…to share the good news of salvation through Jesus with a lost and dying world…to storm the gates of hell…to live a dangerous life…a life worthy of the calling.

How do we not be like Lot? How do we avoid the trap of simply “eating and drinking”, going through the everyday rhythms of life with no thought of the kingdom? How do we ensure that folks are not surprised when they find out we are followers of Jesus? We have to be intentional. We have to be intentional about pursuing our relationship with Jesus through time spent with Him in His Word and prayer. We have to be intentional about spending time with other believers. We have to be intentional with those who don’t know Jesus around us. This is where our impact list comes in. It’s a tool that helps us to be intentional with bringing 1 person at a time closer to Jesus. All of which is possible because of the Spirit’s work in and through us. I love this quote from Tozer, “The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Satan never knows from what direction the danger will come.” May that be true of us.

Jesus is coming back soon…are you ready?

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

Ten Lepers Cleansed

Luke 17.11-21

Ten lepers are miraculously healed by Jesus, but only one returns to give thanks. Ten are healed, but only one is saved. We can be beneficiaries of God’s goodness and yet still miss the bigger blessing of forgiveness of sins and entrance into the kingdom.

Where faith is present, there is also a thankful heart. One of our values is: Inspiring a fervent love for Jesus through a lifestyle of worship. Those who have experienced God’s grace…the forgiveness of sins, the indwelling of the Spirit, the love of God…can’t help but worship…glorifying God and giving thanks to Him. Is that true of you? If not, why not? If you have trusted in Jesus, He’s taken care of our big problem…sin. I think sometimes we can get so focused on our current circumstances that we make them the big problem and miss the awesome truth that God has saved us…that whatever our current circumstances are, they are only temporary. Paul calls them “momentary, light afflictions”. But we have an eternal weight of glory being produced in us…the kingdom awaits us. And we have forever to spend with our King.

But our King also cares about our circumstances. Jesus healed the lepers. What do you need to cry out to Him for today? How is He asking you to respond?

Where there is an ungrateful heart, can faith be present? Paul says in Romans 1.21, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks.” And in 2 Timothy 3.1-2, “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful.” We can often fall prey to a spirit of entitlement…that God owes us something. And that He does, but if He gave us what we are owed, what we deserved, none of us would be happy. Instead He offers us what we don’t deserve…His mercy.

Do you need His mercy today? If so, the King is here, and He offers the kingdom to you. The invitation is open to all. Recognize that you are a sinner in need of repentance. Believe that Jesus can save you. Trust Him to do so. It’s that simple. Then you too will be a kingdom citizen, confident that the big problem of sin has been taken care of in your life.

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

The Prodigal God

Luke 15

How does God feel about the lost? He loves them…both the younger son and his older brother, both the unrighteousness and the self-righteous. The real prodigal is the father who of course represents God. So we might call it the parable of the prodigal God. He waits for us expectantly…looking with anticipation. When we turn to Him, He is a God who comes running to welcome us with open arms and great affection. We become His sons and daughters. And He throws a huge party.

Maybe you are like the younger son today. No one is beyond the Father’s love…there is nothing that you can do that would keep Him from seeing you with compassion and warmly welcoming you home and totally forgiving you. In fact, total forgiveness is the only kind of forgiveness that God gives. To receive God’s forgiveness, we have to see ourselves before we can see God…we have to recognize our need for repentance. We have to see ourselves as wayward sons and daughters before we will realize His great love for us. Then we must come home.

But maybe the older brother better describes you. Your problem isn’t an overtly pagan lifestyle, but a wrong view of yourself and of God. He demands a lot, but gives very little. Righteousness is not given, it is earned. You interpret His grace in the lives of others as unfair treatment because you have never truly experienced His grace for yourself. Instead of rejoicing over the salvation of the lost, you grumble and complain. You don’t know the Father. Jesus tells this parable to the Pharisees and scribes to show them what God is like…He wants them to be the older brother who, like his Father, anxiously awaits the return of his younger brother and runs with the Father to greet him and welcome him home. But they too have to recognize their need for repentance…their need for Jesus. Only then would they share the Father’s heart and be a part of the celebration.

And while both the younger son (tax collectors and sinners) and the older son (Pharisees and scribes) represent the lost, as believers we can stray like the younger son or become self-righteous like the older son. Jesus invites us too to come home.

The love of the Father toward His sons (and daughters) is not determined by their character but His. I love the description of the greatness of God’s love by A. W. Tozer in his book Knowledge of the Holy: “… because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning; because He is eternal, His love can have no end; because He is infinite, it has no limit; because He is holy, it is the quintessence of all spotless purity; because He is immense, His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea.”

How does God feel about those who are far from Him? He waits expectantly for us…looking with anticipation. He welcomes us with open arms and great affection. He adopts us as sons and daughters and throws a huge party. Such is the Father’s love for us.

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

Look Who’s Coming To Dinner

Luke 14.1-24

Look who’s coming to dinner…not those who have it all together, not the popular, not the connected, not the powerful, not the elite, but the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind…the powerless, the forgotten, the overlooked, the left out and left behind…all those who recognize their need to be rescued.

Jesus offers the kingdom…a forever feast of peace, joy, love, of rest and tranquility, the absence of tears, pain and death, of hope realized and life eternal, reigning as sons and daughters of the King. No one can enter the kingdom without an invitation from the King, and no one can remain outside the kingdom except by their own deliberate choice. That’s why Jesus’ warning is so urgent. When you reject Jesus, you reject the opportunity to sit at God’s Great Banquet Table in the kingdom. The riches of the kingdom are not lost, but given to others who accept the invitation. Many of those we might least expect will be there…those rejected by men are often those who say “yes” to God.

For those of you who have said “yes” to Jesus, are you living in light of eternity? Do your actions reveal your faith?

If you have not said “yes” to Jesus, what’s holding you back? What are those possessions or affections that you love more than Him? The excuses that the folks gave in the parable seemed like good excuses to those who gave them, but at what cost. Nothing is as important as accepting Jesus’ offer of the kingdom because our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

“Still there is room”…if you haven’t trusted in Jesus yet, today is the day. The invitation is still going out for folks to come to the Great Banquet. All you have to do is respond to His invitation…recognize your need to be rescued and trust Jesus to rescue you. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

The Narrow Door

Luke 13.22-35

Are just a few being saved? That’s really the wrong question. The real question is, Are you going to be among those who are saved? Jesus says the door to the kingdom is a narrow door…there’s only one way in. It’s the way of Jesus. It’s narrow door theology. Narrow because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life…the kingdom is only available through Him. But also very broad in that it’s open to anyone…anyone who recognizes their need for repentance…their need to be rescued from their sin…and who believes that Jesus can rescue them and trusts in Him to do so. Jesus says that folks from all over the place will be there. John in the book of Revelation writes that there will be folks there from every tribe and tongue and people and nation gathered around the throne worshiping God in the kingdom.

Three sobering truths…Jesus is the only way, the time to respond is short, and many who think they’re in won’t be. It’s imperative that you know that there are no back doors into the kingdom. There are not many ways to God…only one. And the time to respond to Him is now. Once the door is closed, it’s too late. Whether that door is closed because of death or Jesus’ return, there are no do-overs. You are either in or out. Jesus will either be your King who welcomes you into His kingdom with the words, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” or Jesus will be your Judge who casts you out with the words, “I never knew you. Depart from Me you evildoer.” The time to act is now. You may think that because you are a good person, or because your parents or spouse or best friend are believers that somehow you are covered. But there are no +1’s in the kingdom, and God doesn’t have grandchildren. There are no group discounts. Each must enter through the narrow door…one at a time.

The same invitation Jesus offered to the folks in Jerusalem…to gather them like a hen gathers her brood under her wings…to rescue them and protect them, to care for them…He offers to you today. He wants to rescue you. He wants you to be at the party in the kingdom. He wants you to experience life with Him today. So strive to enter through the narrow door…recognizing your need to be rescued, believing that Jesus can rescue you, and trusting in Him to do so.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

The Fig Tree

Luke 13.1-9

The message for us is pretty simple…life is fragile and unpredictable, and so we need to repent so that we are not caught off guard and perish. God is patient, but judgment is coming…it will not wait forever. Now we are in a time of pure grace and divine forbearance. Paul in Romans 2.4 says, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Peter tells us, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…” (2 Peter 3.9-10)

We live in a broken world plagued by sin and death. Because of sin, death is the common denominator of us all. No one escapes. Death is one for one. All will die, but not all truly live…only those who have trusted in Jesus to rescue them, to forgive them of their sins, and have chosen to follow Him will experience life.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus should be obvious…the fruit of repentance should be evident in our lives. I want to ask you to reflect for a few moments…I want you to take a spiritual inventory and ask yourself the question…what evidence do I see in my life that I’ve trusted in Jesus? Do you see the fruits of the Spirit increasing in your life…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? Do you have a greater desire for God and the things of God? Do you enjoy being around His people?

If the answer is “yes”, spend the next several moments thanking Jesus for rescuing you. If the answer is “no”, don’t wait. Your parents or your spouse may be believers…but there are no +1’s in the kingdom and God doesn’t have grandchildren. You may have said a prayer at some point, but when you trust in Jesus, you are not who you used to be…a fundamental change has happened at the core of who you are. If nothing has changed for you, then something’s wrong…maybe you haven’t trusted in Jesus. Maybe there is something else that’s keeping you from growing. Either way, ask God to rescue you.

Until next time…stay salty.

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

Our Hope for Christmas

Luke 2.8-20

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…our Savior who rescues us from sin and death. Jesus is not only the long-hoped-for 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 Jesus’ coming, and the shepherds catch the excitement. The people are amazed, and Mary ponders. “Angels we have heard on high, Sweetly singing o’er the plains: And the mountains in reply, Echoing their joyous strains. Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong? What gladsome tidings be Which inspire your heav’nly song? Come to Bethlehem, and see Him whose birth the angels sing; Come adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King. See Him in a manger laid, Whom the choirs of angels praise; Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, While our hearts in love we raise. Gloria in excelsis Deo (Glory to God in the highest)!”

So what will you do? Do you know Jesus as both Savior and Lord? If so, are you experiencing the hope that salvation brings? Do you have a sense of excitement about the Word you’ve heard? Like the shepherds, 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 have robbed you of your joy and excitement and left you hopeless? Is it possible that your hope is misplaced…that you’re “hoping” in the things of this world which really amounts to wishful thinking and is destined to disappoint?  Hope from a biblical perspective is so much more than wishful thinking. It’s a confident anticipation based on the truth of God’s Word. And God does what He says He will do. Our hope is in the unseen…it’s in a kingdom where we will spend eternity with Jesus…it’s home. Spend some time this week asking yourself, “where is my hope?” If it’s anywhere but in Jesus, then it’s misplaced. Be honest with yourself and ask God to help you, then make whatever course corrections you need to to get back on track.

If you don’t know Jesus as Savior and Lord today, I want to invite you to take the 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. Jesus came to bring us home. 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. So will you trust in Him today?

There is no place like home. There is no home like heaven. There is no king like Jesus.

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we experience afresh and anew the hope that can only be realized in Jesus, and may we share that hope with others this week as we tell them about Him.”

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

Whose Side Are You On?

Luke 12.49-59

Whose side are you on? Jesus says we are either for Him or against Him. There is no middle ground. There is no halfway. There is no both/and. For those who have heard Jesus’ word about the kingdom…who have recognized that they are in need of a Physician, that they are sinners in need of repentance…and who have acted on it…they’ve trusted in Him to rescue them, the kingdom of God is theirs. Their names are recorded in heaven for eternity.

But for those who have heard Jesus’ word about the kingdom and rejected it…they’ve chosen to trust in themselves or in their stuff or in anything else but Jesus…who chose to fear men rather than fearing God…they have an eternity apart from God in a place called hell.

Whose side are you on? If I were to ask your friends or co-workers, your classmates or teammates, your family or neighbors, would they know whose side you’re on? Is it clear from the way you live your life, or would they be confused about your answer? Jesus didn’t save us just to go to heaven…if that was His sole purpose then the moment we believe we would be there. No He saved us so that we would follow Him, so that we would be faithful and wise servants, investing in the kingdom…so that we would live lives worthy of the calling with which we have been called, so that we would walk in the good works He has given us to do. We were saved so that we would live and love like Jesus and join Him on His rescue mission, crashing the gates of hell and pulling folks out of the flames.

The Bible says that we are all guilty before God. We all have a sin-debt that must be paid. In the garden, God said that disobedience/rebellion was punishable by death, and so a death is required to pay the penalty for sin. The good news is that Jesus came to pay the penalty for us…He died so that we may live. That’s the baptism He had to undergo. His death covered all our sins, so that by trusting in Him we can be sons or daughters of the King. We must all appear one day before God…it’s an appointment we will not miss. And when we appear before Him, we will either have our sins forgiven already and know Him as Father…or we pay for them ourselves and know Him as Judge.

Whose side are you on?

Until next time…stay salty.

“May we be clearly for Jesus this week.”

This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster