In the first part of our advent series, Let There Be Light, Andrew Schey confronts the darkness of this world and our desire for peace and restoration. Reflecting on Lamentations 2:11-15 and Isaiah 9:1-7, we learn that the arrival of Jesus will result in a joy like that of those who realize their toil is over and the harvest is plentiful. Like the sun rising at dawn, the light of Jesus will only get brighter and higher; however, as we'll discover in the weeks ahead, allowing His light to shine in and through us involves a choice.
In the conclusion of our yearlong study of the gospel of Luke, we find Jesus extending a patient invitation to believe and instructing the disciples in what is to come, thus transforming their confusion into experience-based conviction. Although the task of telling others about your own experiences with God can be daunting, we don't share it alone; instead, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to make up for our inadequacies and expect God to make good on His promises. As Andrew Barris points out, the world is broken, but God is transforming it from the inside out - one heart at a time.
In this message, we hear from Charles and Gretchen Hill about how they followed God's prompting in their hearts, found themselves in an orphanage in China, and began to compare their expectations of retirement to God's plan for their lives. Continuing with the theme of expectations, in Luke 24:13-35 two disciples are lead on a journey of discovery in which the truth is revealed gradually and deliberately on the seven mile walk to Emmaus. Andrew Schey teaches us that such a journey reflects the character of God in that our relationship with Him is dynamic, personal, and involves some level of mystery. By reading God's self-revelation throughout the scriptures, we can get our expectations in order and truly get to know who He is and what He wants for our lives.
This week in our study of Luke 24:1-12, Chris Shaddix challenges us to have hope in the return of Jesus and the promise of our own resurrection. Much like the disciples, we can easily get wrapped up in our current situation and place our hope in things that will inevitably leave us wanting. Instead, like Peter running toward the empty tomb, we must enliven our own imaginations and run in expectation of something more.
In Luke 23:26-43, we see the fulfillment of God's divine plan as Jesus is scourged, mocked, abandoned, and killed on a cross in order to bring about the forgiveness of our sins. Brian Sumner unpacks this scene of radical love, pointing out that even in the midst of suffering, Christ was focused on the people around him. We, too, must mourn for those who don't know the freedom of Jesus' sacrifice and be emboldened to tell other people about the Gospel. Because, at the end of the day, the Bible is the only Word that can save us.
As we near the culmination of our Luke series, Andrew Schey leads us through Luke 22:54-23:25 in which Jesus is disowned by Peter, mocked by guards, shuttled between Pilate and Herod, and ultimately condemned to die upon the demands of a crowd. Despite tremendous emotional pain, Jesus was able to move forward due to his knowledge of the good things God had in store. Christ's commitment to grace and love forms our own calling as Christians, in which the Spirit of God is found in the breaking more than the healing. As such, we must ask ourselves: do we love the good things of God enough to suffer for them?
In Luke 22:39-53, we see Jesus retreat with his disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray before a crowd arrives to arrest him. As he struggles to accept what is ahead, Jesus' prayers are intimate, emotionally honest, and ultimately submissive to the Father's will. In contrast, our own prayer life may resemble a distant, impassive wish list in which we act first and ask for guidance later. But by using Jesus' prayers as a model, Andrew Schey teaches that the proper emphasis of prayer is how to honestly wrestle with the reality of what God wants so that we can begin to say "Your kingdom come, Your will be done."
When Jesus mentions that his betrayer is one of the twelve seated at the table in Luke 22, his disciples quickly transition from questioning who would turn against Jesus to boasting of their own accomplishments and clamoring for greatness. But true greatness, as Andrew Schey points out, comes from emptying ourselves of our selfish ambition and extending grace to others. When everyone else is climbing to the top, we must take our cues from Jesus and live a life of service.
This weekend we picked up where we left off in our Luke series, with Brian Sumner unpacking Luke 21 and the signs of the end of the age. Although much is said in this passage, it is helpful to approach Jesus' discussion of the temple with bifocal vision in which we can see what's near and what's distant. Noting that many of us can get caught up in the details and experience anxiety about the end of times, Brian echoes Jesus' words that we should stand firm and be on watch so that we will not be deceived.
In the conclusion of our Presence series, Andrew Schey explains how God's temple has always been a place where His presence resides and where all people are drawn to worship and praise Him (1 Kings 8:41-43; Isaiah 2:2-3). Although this same glorious presence now resides in us, we often fail to share this light with others due to our ultra-private, modern lifestyles. Using the imagery from Matthew 5:14-16 in which a light shines before others, Andrew explains that the main attraction of a church should be us as a people because God is in our hearts and working through us. As such, we must carry God's presence in our city wherever we go by living out what we believe and sharing the Gospel message in both word and deed.