Abraham - Starting Over
Genesis 12 & 22
In the story of Abraham, we see how God started something new in response to a broken world. God chose Abraham and his family to live in a new way and be a new kind of people. He promised that if they trusted him and followed where he led that he would bless them and also bless the world through them. God wanted to restore the world and he invited people to partner with him in that work of restoration. As we look at Abraham's journey of faith, we see our own invitation to partner with God if we are willing to trust and follow him.
YOU ARE CALLED TO BE A PEACEMAKER
The Bible is a story of a peacemaking God. In the beginning, God brought life and beauty and order where there had been darkness and disorder. We hold in tension the original goodness with the brokenness of our current reality. But God is restoring our broken world, and he calls us to be peacemakers and to join in the restoration.
THE GOD WHO SEES
We looked at the story of Hagar, a woman who was used and abused. Though her dignity was not upheld by those around her, she had this sacred encounter with God in the desert, and she gave him the name El Roi - the God who sees. We all have a need to be seen, and when we discover the God who sees us, it has the potential to transform our identity and teach us to see others.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Money is often a topic that we don't like to talk about at church because so many of us have had bad experiences with it. And yet there are more than 2,000 references to money, possessions, and giving in the Bible so it must be pretty important. So how much should we give? We are called to give generously out of a response to God's goodness.
FREEDOM FROM SHAME
Genesis 1-3, Matthew 3-4
From the very beginning, God has been declaring that humans are inherently good and loved. Yet so often, we fall for the lies of the enemy that tell us that we're not loved, that we're not enough, and that we can't trust God. These lies bring about shame that causes us to act in ways that harm ourselves and others and break down the original beauty that God created. Jesus came to restore our broken world and as part of that restoration, he wants to free us from shame and free us to love and be loved.
PAIN & JOY - ADVENT IN THE TENSION
Luke 2:10-11, John 16:20-22
Our current reality might seem like a far cry from the Christmas cheer that often characterizes this season. Yet, we see that Jesus' birth was announced amidst dismal circumstances as a cause for great joy for all people. His arrival didn't change their circumstances, but it was a sign of God's love for them, his presence with them, and his goodness even in the midst of pain. That is still the source of our joy today. Joy does not ignore or cancel out our pain, but we can let our pain lead us into the joy that is found in God's presence.
The Mountain of God
In Isaiah 2, we see a vision of hope as the nations flock to the mountain of the Lord. As they learn to walk in the ways of God, they turn their weapons into gardening tools. It's a vision that at once points us toward the life of Jesus and back to the garden at the beginning. And it's a call for each of us to turn away from all the places where we find our power and status and instead follow the humble way of love and peace that Jesus models.
SAVED BY GRACE
God created us for loving relationship, but we have all failed to live out that purpose that God gave us. We have broken relationship and brought about destruction. But God invites us into a new way of life. We get to be part of the restoration that he is doing when we receive his grace and learn to show that grace to others.