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.
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
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.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:1–13
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 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.
Jesus tells a story in which he depicts God as a farmer who throws seeds. The seeds fall among the rocks, in the weeds, and on the hard-packed paths. Their location determines if they grow and flourish, or wither and fade. Has your seed fallen on the rock, with no way of taking root? Has it fallen among the weeds, only to be entangled by the toils of the world? Or has your seed fallen on the good soil, where it can flourish and bear fruit?
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 13:1-32
Jesus is part Savior and part ophthalmologist. He wants us to see things as they really are, not the version that is distorted by sin and blurred by the world which come to us naturally. Through parables, Jesus opens our eyes to the true story of our lives, and offers a new perspective into his Kingdom.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 13:10-17
It was late in the season when Paul was put on a ship to stand trial before the Emperor. He knew it could get bad. Sometimes, we can see storms looming, and can't do anything to stop it. Yet even when all hope seems lost, God promises us that we will be safe.
SCRIPTURE: Acts 27:13-26
At first, Jesus doesn’t stop the storm. The disciples are out of their minds, thinking they might die, and want Jesus to rescue them. Instead, Jesus asks about their faith. Some things can only be learned in a storm. Discipleship is mostly on-the-job training. What storms are blowing in your life?
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 8:23-27
One of Jesus' most famous stories concerns the optimist who opts for beachfront property and the pessimist who picks the rock-filled lot. It's been said that things don't always work out the way you plan them. The truth is that they never do. In life, there's a 100% chance of rain. How are you planning for the storms to come?
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 7:24-27
The story of Elijah tells us how kings and kingdoms chase after temporary security and pleasure. Living in such a world can be discouraging. But God is more powerful, and wants more for us than just our comfort and wellbeing. After revealing His presence in the storm, God recommissions Elijah to minister to the world in which he lived.
SCRIPTURE: 1 Kings 19:11-13