The Angel and the Little Scroll

Revelation 10.1-11

And so we run into another pause in the action while a big angel gives John a little scroll, and he is instructed to prophesy again the unfolding events of the tribulation.

The Bible is one Story. From Genesis to Revelation. The Story of God’s plan to save a people, and through that people to provide a way of salvation for all peoples. If you have trusted in Jesus, you are a part of that Story. You have been saved, reconciled, adopted, gifted and empowered to live a life worthy of your calling. To share your story with others. To point them to Jesus so that they too might be saved. To inherit a kingdom.

If you have not trusted in Jesus, you too are a part of the Story. But your future is not so bright. It’s the bitterness that John felt in his stomach. The judgment that awaits. I don’t want that for you. God doesn’t want that for you. That’s why He’s provided a way that you might saved through His Son, Jesus. All can be saved. You can be saved. 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 with Him.

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, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

The Sixth Trumpet – The Army from the East

Revelation 9.13-21

The sixth angel sounds his trumpet and the four angels bound at the Euphrates River will lead forth another demon army 200 million strong to kill a third of mankind. Those who remain, instead of repenting, will harden their hearts.

God is gracious and compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil. He is mighty to save, and He’s provided a way to be saved through His Son Jesus. The Lamb who was slain so that He might purchase with His blood, folks from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, to make us a kingdom and priests to God and to reign with Him forever and ever. No one has to face these terrible judgments. All can be saved.

But not all will be. Even in the face of the fierceness of God’s wrath, still some will refuse to repent of their idolatry and the worship of demons. They will love their destructive lifestyle more than even the chance at life itself. And yet they will still shake their fists at the sky and claim it’s God’s fault. Like Pharaoh, God’s mercy only serves to harden their hearts.

I don’t want that to be you. All can be saved. You can be saved. 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 we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him.

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, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

The Four Horsemen

Revelation 6.1-8

The Lamb breaks the first four seals of the great scroll, unleashing the four horsemen of the apocalypse. A terrifying reminder that God takes sin seriously. The final reconciliation between heaven and earth has begun.

For those who belong to the Lamb, there’s nothing to fear. Their hope is being realized. Their King is coming. And He will set all things right.

For those who are enemies of the Lamb, there’s every reason to fear. Their is no hope. Their Judge is coming. And He will set all things right. But…there’s still time repent. There’s still time to switch sides. But don’t wait.

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: 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.

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: 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.

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: 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.

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

The Hope of Glory

Romans 5.1-11

By believing in Jesus, we are justified…declared righteous…before God. Our debt has been paid in full. God’s wrath completely satisfied, so that we now have peace with God having been reconciled to Him. Our hope is secure. Our boasting then, is not in ourselves, but in God. We even boast in the things that bring us closer to Him like our tribulations.

Peter says this in 1 Peter 4, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13but 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” (1 Peter 4.12-13).

Suffering for the faith, part of the category Paul calls tribulations, is a predictable outcome when you choose to follow Jesus. I love that Peter says, “Don’t be surprised.” Why might he say that? Because I think that often we are surprised when tribulation comes. That somehow it catches us off guard. We forget that we are swimming against the current…living in hostile territory…behind enemy lines. That this world is not our home. And we find ourselves reacting…and often negatively…to our circumstances. Instead of seeing tribulation as a tool that God is using to strengthen and purify my faith…to make me more like Jesus and bring me closer to Him, I mostly see it, at best, as an annoyance and, at worst, some kind of proof that God is against me.

But what if we looked at our tribulations as reasons for exulting…for boasting? What if we saw them as opportunities to grow closer to God? To learn perseverance and deepen our character? What if we saw this time of quarantine as a reason to rejoice? What if we began to look at what God is doing in the midst of it? How He’s purifying and strengthening our faith? How He’s deepening our character? How He’s making us more like Jesus?

Tribulations can fortify the hope that we have if we will let them. If in the midst of them we run to God instead of away from Him. It’s then that we experience more and more His love overflowing in our hearts. If we will run to Him. If we will trust that He desires our good. Look at all He did to be reconciled to us when we were His enemies. How much more will He do now that we are His heirs…His sons and daughters?

pro rege

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

The Restoration Process Part 2

Daniel 9.20-27

What was the essence of God’s message to Daniel? God has a plan for history…a plan to vanquish sin and its consequences once and for all and to usher in His eternal kingdom. A return to the garden. Creation. Fall. Redemption. Recreation. This would be accomplished through Messiah the Prince who would be cut off and have nothing…Genesis 3.15 “He will crush your head and you will crush His heel.” It will look like losing along the way…to the end war, desolations are determined…but victory is assured. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. God wins.

But if this vision relates to Daniel’s people, why do we care? God’s promise to Abraham…through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. We know that the promise is ultimately fulfilled through Jesus…but Jesus is a very Jewish Messiah. His sacrifice will be for the whole world, but He came first for the Jews. We care because, as Paul tells us in Romans, we are grafted into the root. If God doesn’t keep His promises to Israel, why do we think He will keep His promises to us? Well, we might say, “But they were disobedient. They followed after false gods. They worshiped idols.” Have we been any different? So we should be Israel’s greatest cheerleaders. God’s plan has always been for the nations…Nebuchadnezzar and Darius are microcosms of that in Daniel… Salvation is not a birthright, but a gracious gift; and Israel His chosen people.

We know that Jesus defeated sin and death at the cross, that in Him is eternal righteousness, the fulfillment of prophecy and God’s presence with us. All that was accomplished in the spiritual realm at His death and resurrection. But we don’t see the full working out of that yet, as the author of Hebrews tells us. We are still awaiting the time when faith becomes sight, when heaven and earth, the spiritual and the physical come crashing together once again, when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. God’s sovereignty is unchallenged in the heavenly realm. The battle is for planet earth. Romans 8…creation groaning awaiting freedom from corruption.

I love the fact that Gabriel tells Daniel that he is highly esteemed (Hebrew “precious”). If you are a follower of Jesus, the same is true of you. We are living in the time between the 69th and 70th weeks, a time of persecution and suffering for the people of God. God has not forgotten us. His Spirit dwells within us, He will neither leave us nor forsake us. So don’t give up. Don’t give in. God wins.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, know that a primary purpose of prophecy is to warn folks of impending judgment. The desolater is desolated. The outcome is already determined. Those who side with God are citizens of the eternal kingdom, but those who oppose Him are citizens of earthly kingdoms that are doomed to destruction. The time is short. Don’t wait.

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