Parables: Overflowing Extravagance
Luke 15 This Sunday we will bring our summer series on the Parables to a close with the familiar story of two sons and their father. Jesus adds unexpected twists to the story of this usual Jewish home, leaving those of us with eyes to see and ears to hear quite unsettled. Join us this Sunday as we explore the extravagant love of a father for both of his sons: one, a wayward sinner, the other, a self-declared hard-working… slave. Pray that the Spirit will use this well-known story to open your eyes and ears in unexpected ways to the extravagance of God’s love for you… and for those around you!!
Matt 25:14-30 What does “living a good life” mean to you? Is a “good life” measured by success, wealth, or status? In the kingdom of God, a “good life” is one that matters for God, one with eternal significance. This coming Sunday, let’s explore together how to diligently live our lives to yield a good “return on investment” for God’s kingdom; our text will be on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.
Luke 18:9-14 “Two men walked into a church…” This is the case in this week’s parable. One man will look at the other and see a joke of a man. The other, looking in the mirror, would agree. He had nothing to bring into the house of God that would be of any value. So, that’s what he brings…nothing! And the joke ends up being on the first guy! He gets rejected and the joke of a man is accepted! The lenses God uses to read the applications and resumes of humans for entry into His Kingdom is vastly different than the lenses used on us as we apply for schools and jobs. Come this Sunday as we will celebrate that the resume God receives and stamps-“righteous”- is the one from the person who recognizes his or her own sinfulness!
Luke 18:1-8 “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Our parable this week ends with this question. The first part is a guarantee: Jesus will return. The second, “will he find faith on earth,” is not a guarantee. This is intended to make Jesus’ first hearers, and us today, Luke’s readers, feel a bit unsettled. This Sunday we will follow Jesus in the telling of a usual story of a widow and a judge, through the unexpected twist and turns between the two, ultimately being left with the unsettling question: “will he find faith on earth.” What is potentially more unsettling? Jesus is wondering if he will find those whose faith is characterized by persistent prayer. Be praying now that the Lord will give you eyes to see and ears to hear how the Lord wants to draw you nearer to him in your faith as one who prays!
Mark 4:26-34 As we continue in our summer studies in the parables, Jesus gives two more parables setting forth the mysterious ways the kingdom of God grows in “good soil.” Both set forth God’s extravagant grace. The first speaks of a harvest that requires “sleep,” rather than human toil or understanding to achieve it. The second stretches our imagination beyond the limits and “warns us against underestimating the significance of the proclamation of the kingdom of God, however unimpressive its initial impact may seem.” (R. T. France) It will be nothing less than a New Creation.
Matt 13:24-30, 36-43 If Jesus has brought the Kingdom of God, why is evil still happening? This Sunday we explore the parable of the wheat and weeds which helps us with that question. In the parable, the wheat and weeds are not to be separated until the final harvest, the final judgment. Ultimately, we are reminded again that God will bring justice and will reward the “righteous,” promising that they will shine like the sun forever and ever!This is our extravagant hope.
Matt 13:24-30 This week we will look at the parable of the sower from Matthew’s Gospel. The key to this parable is the word “understand.” A way to understand the word understand is to think “stand under.” If we “stand under” the Word sown in our hearts, we will be transformed (from seed to tree) and naturally bear fruit which is Jesus’ primary calling of this parable. Come this Sunday to explore this famous parable.
Matt 20 “It’s not fair!” the child whines… This seems to be an instinctive response when a child is asked to share a toy, or to eat vegetables, or to do anything he doesn’t want to do… “It’s so not fair!” This tendency to exclaim “It’s not fair!” extends to adults, too, though we may hide it better or may be more eloquent in expressing our dissatisfaction. We tend to assess what we have or deserve, compare ourselves to others, and when the balance is not in our favor, we exclaim, “It’s not fair!” Sometimes we even blame God for allowing a perceived inequity in our lives. Jesus addresses this tendency in his parable “The Workers in the Vineyard.” He compels us to confront our own attitude in view of God’s generosity and teaches us an uncomfortable lesson. This Sunday we will study this parable in Matthew 20 as the first parable in our summer series Overflowing Extravagance: Studies in the Parables of Jesus.
Mark 4:1-20 After spending 8 weeks in the book of Acts, we now begin our summer series, Overflowing Extravagance, Studies in the Parables of Jesus. Jesus taught mainly in parables, story-analogies. In fact, they are ordinary stories of ordinary people in ordinary places doing ordinary things. And, yet, they are intended to engage, cause reflection and compel action. Come Sunday as we begin to explore Jesus’ compelling parables.