A provocative element of Jesus’ parables is that they simultaneously point to the present and to the future. An important attribute of a growing, faithful Christian life is the ability to see the present and the future mingled together and to be reminded that our future is being rendered by what we participate in today.
Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus used parables to convey deep truths about the Kingdom of God, God himself, and his followers. These simple stories reveal a richness and depth that, at first glance, may escape the hearer. But each parable says something eternity-revealing and spur us into action.
Central to the Christian message is the idea that a new world is arriving among the present one. That God's kingdom has arrived, is arriving, and will arrive. Part of the Christian life, then, is learning how to live as God's new version of ourselves as God is renewing creation all around us. Today, we'll engage in a conversation about how we do that in day and age.
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:12–16
When we identify the end goal of the trajectory we hope to achieve, we need a role model. Becoming like Jesus means we need Him to transform us.
SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 3:17–18
Starting a new year often calls us to turn the page, not only on the calendar, but in life. The trajectory we seek for life demands particular tools for our success.
SCRIPTURE: 2 Timothy 1:3–7
The wait is over, Christmas Day is finally here! The gospel of Luke describes the celebration of those that had long waited for the king. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we also are expectant, looking forward to all that he will do in our lives in the year ahead.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:21–40
Holiday traffic, shopping lists that grow ever longer (and change!), crowded malls, seasonal parties where we eat all the wrong things…and we wonder why we are sometimes in a foul mood at this, “the most wonderful time of the year.” All the more reason to appreciate the fact that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:1-7; John 14:25-31
Another of the Bible's stunning declarations about Jesus is that He is “Everlasting Father.” This is not a statement about Jesus’ gender so much as it is about his approachability. Jesus is not just a precept, an idea, or a spirit-being. Jesus has a unique capacity for intimacy as in the way that only a parent can have with a child.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:1-7; John 14:8-14
One of the Bible's great claims about Jesus is that he is “Mighty God.” The implications of this in everyday life are profound for those who dare to put their faith in him. For those who do, there is no longer any such thing as “ordinary.” Every aspect and incident of life is charged with deeper meaning.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:1-7; Colossians 1:15-20
As the Wonderful Counselor, Jesus is one who knows all things, including us, deeply and totally. Though he knows our worst, he entrusts himself to us, bringing us grace and forgiveness and bringing us fully into his presence. And Jesus, more than any earthly advisor, can give us perfect guidance and counsel.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:1-7; John 2:23-25
We live in a world filled with great injustice leaving us wondering how we should respond. In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus offers us a way forward that demonstrates how to respond by loving and serving our neighbor.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 10:25–37
We live in a world that cries out for “more, more, more;” yet Jesus calls us less to accumlate for the sake of having more things, and more to invest in his Kingdom. What does this counter-cultural life look like today?
SCRIPTURE: Luke 12:13–21; Matthew 25:14–30
Our experience with others is dictated by “social maps” with relatively clearly defined roles and expectations, rewards, and punishments. Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector frustrates the social map of Jesus’ own day and suggests that we should examine the way we see our world as well.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 18:9–14
In our world that is shaped by competition and earning, Jesus’ parables of grace seem to be upside down, bizarre, and other-worldly. While the grace of God may be celebrated by those who are vulnerable without it, the grace of God frustrates those who suggest that they can make it all on their own.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 20:1–16
“Lost” is a reality that confuses men, confounds women, and can strike fear into the hearts of the bold if they realize they are lost. “Lost” is also a condition that Jesus used to describe people who were estranged from God. The curious thing about being lost is that more often than not, it takes someone else to find you. Someone like God, maybe.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:1–32
In preparation for his masterpiece, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey researched the success literature of the United States. What he found was that for the first 150 years, the material was based on character—who you were. The next 50 years, it was based on personality—how you acted. There is a significant difference between genuine faith—the kind the Apostle Paul describes in Romans—and the faith that we try to act out.
SCRIPTURE: Romans 12:9–18
In the parables, Jesus often speaks of the Kingdom of heaven, giving examples from daily life. In many cases, we can see the Kingdom growing in our world. In other cases it is harder to detect, seemingly hidden by noise and strife. On this World Communion Sunday, we will join with believers around the world to celebrate the Kingdom in our midst.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 13:31–34
Life is filled with weeds that choke and tangle our lives and with weedy people trying to entrap us and keep us from living into the fullness of God’s plan for our lives. Jesus teaches how we should respond to these weeds, and how we can ultimately use them for the betterment of his Kingdom.