A simple question, 'when is the kingdom coming?', has sparked all kinds of debate and confusion. Jesus addressed two different groups as he answered this question; the pharisees and his followers. At the heart of his response we see the same message to both: don't miss the kingdom of God by building your own.
Long thought of by many as a depiction of the afterlife, Jesus once told a fictional story that had much more to do with how God's people were living their current lives on earth, and how they were treating others made in God's image. The call of God's people has always been to use their blessings to be a blessing to others, inviting all into the loving community and kingdom of God. The main audience for this story Jesus was telling had lost that calling. What about us? How are we living out this call?
What does prodigal mean? The reckless and extravagant use of resources.
Jesus once told a story of two brothers; the younger who ran away from home and squandered his father’s inheritance, the older who stayed home and squandered his father’s presence. But the story is really about the father, who lavishly spent all of his resources to bring both of his sons into his loving arms.
What is the Kingdom of God about? Luke seems to think Jesus was breaking it down very simply for us: love God, love people, be with the King Jesus. In chapter 11, Jesus teaches us how to pray for the way of the kingdom, and at the heart of the prayer is a reshaping of our own hearts toward loving God, loving people, and being with the King.
Parables, the Mandela Effect, Samaritans, and Lawyers.
This week we take a look at a familiar story Jesus told of the Good Samaritan. Though familiar to us now, this was a scandalous story Jesus told to his listeners. One that provoked a radical love for both God and people… even the people they thought were undeserving.
In chapter 9 of Luke's gospel account, we see Jesus begin to make his way toward Jerusalem, knowing he will meet his death there. At the end of this chapter Jesus has an interaction with three men who claim they will follow him... each with their own caveat. What is that thing keeping you from truly following Jesus through death into life?
The more you recognize your need for forgiveness, the more love and gratitude it seems you will give back. At least, that's the economy of forgiveness Jesus tells about while a woman society shunned was serving him at the table of a highly respected religious leader. Which do you identify more with: the sinful woman in need or the self-righteous man who thinks he’s good?
This week we hear a story of a paralyzed man and his friends who do everything they can to get him to Jesus, because they knew he had the power to heal. Jesus does, but he first heals him spiritually. It’s our prayer that you would know the healing power of Jesus, which saves us from the sickness of sin! Only Jesus has the power and authority to heal physical (disease) and spiritual (sin) sickness.
The good news of Jesus is often not what we expect. His words were often shocking to people and difficult to understand. Jesus often approached what God’s people thought they knew, and revealed an even deeper and better meaning behind them.
In Luke 4, Jesus stands in the synagogue reading from Isaiah's words centuries before. He is the fulfillment of those long awaited words promised, and yet it is unlike anything expected.
Continuing our tour through Luke, we see Jesus and John are both grown now and John is preaching for people to turn away from trusting themselves or this world, and to turn toward trusting God. Get ready for the kingdom of God to come and reign over all of creation. He calls for people to come and cleanse themselves in the river as a sign of their cleansing from rebellion against God, and among the crowd that comes is Jesus. Why would Jesus get baptized? Why would the Savior need cleansing? Why would the King need to prepare for the kingdom?
This is the week! We’ve spent all month pointing toward the coming King Jesus, and this week we celebrate that he did indeed come. The God of the universe, the Creator of all things, the King of everything, has come into this world. He has come to you and I. He has come to rescue. It's our prayer that you would see the beautiful rescue of Christmas this week - and that that is what would shine through all the excitement of presents and the hurriedness of our culture.
Sometimes when I’m eating really good food, I do a little happy dance while I’m eating. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. There is something about joy and experiencing goodness that brings out a reaction. We are designed to enjoy good things. This week, we look at the joyous good news that stirred Mary and Zechariah to a response of singing and praising God. What has been stirring in you this week?
The Christmas season is a time of looking forward to all kinds of things; presents, treats, time with family, time off from school or work. This story takes us to a time when God’s people were looking forward to His rescue and salvation. Still, when the time had come for this news, it was almost too good to be true. What is your response when you hear the good news of God?