Throughout chapters one to three, Paul purposefully reminds us of all that God has already done. Now - he catapults the church into action. Paul urges the church in Ephesus (and us) to live a life worthy of our calling, and in true Paul fashion - he is unapologetically direct. Be who you now are. Identify and use your gifts for the Kingdom. Take off your old self. Unify with one another. Paul invites us into the freedom and maturity to be who we really are.
God’s grace is a gift, but it is a gift that obligates. When we receive God’s grace we are obligated to pass this grace on to everyone around us. As we do this, our relationship with God grows. This leads to us knowing the love that is unknowable: God’s love.
In Jesus, God has done everything to not only solve the problem of our alienation from Him, but also our alienation from one another. He destroys all barriers to peace. He’s done it for us so we can live free - in peace, joy, love and fullness with Him and with one another. This is the extraordinary message of grace.
The opening to the book of Ephesians was written to inspire its readers to worship. It’s a veritable kaleidoscope of the dazzling colors of the amazingness of this thing we believe in and belong to. Yet, how many of us - who were brought up with this stuff - can feel like these words have lost their meaning? Worse still - how badly have these upbringings caused us to misunderstand things? If you love a bit of demystifying and clarifying - all in massive puddle of grace, love and ‘it’s already done’ - then this talk is for you.
What does the Holy Spirit do? The early Christians first experience of the Holy Spirit was powerful. In the book of Acts, there is an explosion of the Spirit's activity - violent winds shake rooms; tongues of fire appear; the disciples stumble out into the street like drunk people; Paul is blinded and knocked from his horse; the Holy Spirit falls in power on everyone - even the Gentiles. All who experienced Him were empowered to preach the gospel of Jesus, to heal the sick and to raise the dead, to prophecy and speak in tongues. This is the work of the Spirit and He is available to all of us, all the time. Christianity is not simply about belief or behavior. It is a dynamic ongoing experience of Jesus’ power and presence through the person of his Holy Spirit.
In the parable of the great banquet, Jesus is revealing truths about the nature of the kingdom; the make up and essence of God’s rule/reign on earth, in and through Himself.
What we find is that the kingdom challenges us to reorient everything we think to be right: our identity and relationships, how we use our resources, our definition of success, etc. In this reorientation is an invitation to participate in the kingdom, and those once thought to be rejected and cast out, are actually the most important guests.
The parable of the sower is not really about four types of soil, but two; Those who welcome Jesus and experience the joy and abundance of His kingdom, and those who don’t. He wants everyone to experience the fullness of life that He brings and He won’t stop going after a broken world, liberally and recklessly giving Himself away to it. We can all experience it here and now, and it can pour out of us, to all those we come into contact with.
The parables have been reduced and misinterpreted when understood outside of their original context, so first we kicked off this new mini-series with a bit of a ‘what IS the deal with the parables anyway?’ before taking a closer look at The Good Samaritan - a classic in all ways, because we discover that Jesus’ listeners would NEVER have seen the point of this as ‘a story about the kindness of a stranger’.
This is a story about something else entirely. Listen here...