What is God’s purpose for my life? This is a question that many of us ask. Usually, we are looking for details like what career I should choose, where I should live, or who I should marry. In Ephesians, we find that God’s greater purpose for our lives has been that we live together as a community that reflects His love and kindness toward each other. Let’s look this week at how much God has invested in this project of life together called the Church
Pictures are important. They sum up how we see and go at life. Our picture of life in Christ is important, too. Often, we think of it like winning a lottery. But it is more like an orphan on the street being brought into a family. The blessing is not that we have everything for ourselves, it is that we are surround by a community, a family, who love us and will not let us fall or fail. We are called to be more than just Christians. We are called to be the Body of Christ.
When we don’t have a clear picture of God’s unimaginable love for us and His unending pursuit of us, we fear and distrust Him. When we fear Him, we do not give ourselves to His guidance and care and never see His good purposes fulfilled in our lives. We desperately need to see the stunning and unexpected Big Picture of our God; His power, His goodness, and His love for each one of us!
How many times do we feel like outsiders when it comes to God’s story? But isn’t it interesting how regularly God invites some of the most unexpected people into some of the most important parts of His story… even outsiders. That’s why we see a very elderly couple, a teenage girl, shepherds, even foreign magi in the center of the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. So, has God invited us, even those of us who feel like outsiders, into the center of His story as well? Let’s find out together…
In the Nativity story, there is one person that we rarely talk about or focus on and his name is Herod the Great. He caused great pain and suffering throughout his reign and is remembered in the Bible because of His focus on destroying any rivals to his kingdom, including a newborn that some Magi claimed was the next 'King of the Jews'. This focus closed him to the power that God was unleashing on the world... the power that could've brought joy and peace instead of jealousy, fear, and loss. Why was he so opposed to God invading his space? What did he fear? What happens when we allow fear to rule our lives and seek power in the wrong places? Come Sunday and discover how your fear or your desire for power could be draining the joy from your life.
God’s messages can be very unsettling to us at times… even His message of love and peace at Christmas. And apparently, His messengers can be terribly unsettling as well. Terrifying really! But in reality, the fearsomeness of His angels should be a great comfort to us. Angels are those who God has said He has commissioned to watch over, protect, fight for, and defend us. Let’s look at the angelic messengers of God to hear clearly the message they have to speak to us of the power of God that fights for each one of us and our salvation.
With the routine of Christmas and the familiarity of the Christmas stories, it can be easy to miss how radical Jesus' birth really is. God Himself invades our dark and hostile world. Throughout history, God has been invading our spaces through eccentric and sometimes strange people called Prophets. So why did many people miss it when Jesus showed up and fulfilled what the prophets had been proclaiming? Let's look at these prophets and what they said together and see how God always keeps His promises.
When you lose something, your hope is that you can find it again. But what would it be like to find something that you were pretty sure wasn’t there to be found? The Bible talks about discovering the depth of God’s love and salvation as being like finding a hidden treasure in a field, or a spring of water in a desert, or like the one who has no father finding someone who loves them deeply, like a father. God’s love is a game changer.
The brokenness of our lives goes deep. So deep that we don’t even see it as broken at times - it’s just normal. So, what is God’s response to the mess we are in? What is His solution to the problem of His devastated creation? How can we ever get to the place where we can join with Him in His restoration of His beautiful world?