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- Brian + Jocelyn
NEW SERIES LAUNCHING SUNDAY 12/3: KING
Christmas at Bay Area this year can be summed up in one word, “King.” The word “King” is a powerful and right description for Jesus. He was born King of the Jews. One day he will return as King of kings. And today, he desires to rule as King in our lives.
A throne represents the seat occupied by a king. It’s a seat so magnificent that only an exalted person has the right to occupy it. It represents authority and sovereignty. The throne is the place where the will of a king is exercised. It’s the seat of decisions, the control center where choices are made.
Each of us has a throne. It’s the throne of our heart.
The throne of our heart is where our decisions and choices are made.
It is the prime real estate of the human soul. Whoever occupies this space will determine the kind of lives we live, what kind of decisions we make, and what kind of purpose we fulfill.
In 2017, all around us are people vying for the throne of our heart. There is a constant and fierce campaign with an infinite pool of candidates competing. In the midst of this spiritual climate, we began to think, pray, and plan our Christmas celebrations at Bay Area.
We started by asking the question, “How can we best honor Christ and the bold love He demonstrated for us in this unique season?” The answer is tied to the battle for the throne of people’s hearts. Specifically, Jesus desires not only be a meaningful part of our lives, but to be preeminent. He wants to reign as King of the throne of our hearts.
So this Christmas we will worship our Savior by bringing to light the reality that for many of us (perhaps most of us) Jesus does not sit supremely on the throne of our hearts. We are the constituency of an ongoing spiritual campaign in which too often we fail to crown Him as our preeminent King.
The parable of the rich fool
Discuss with your MC prior to Sunday 12/10
The first step to understanding the story of the rich fool from Luke 12 is to settle the context. In chapter 12 of Luke, we find Jesus in a crowd of thousands - so many people that they were trampling each other (12:1). Yet even in the midst of the chaos, Jesus doesn’t miss an opportunity to teach his disciples, warning of the dangers of hypocrisy and encourages his followers to not fear.
In the midst of this crowd, someone nearby asks Jesus to help him settle a family dispute over finances (v1 - “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”). Instead of getting drawn into this family’s issues, Jesus uses the opportunity to teach him and the crowd at large. He draws out the man’s motivation: greed. He then plays out the scenario by sharing a parable in which he teaches that life is more than the accumulation of possessions. In his story, Jesus depicts a rich man who is actually not rich at all, but rather a “fool.”
To the world then, and even now, the rich man would have been viewed as successful, secure and hardworking. He would have been praised or held in high esteem by his community. Others would have envied him or worked to be like him. Yet even though this man had plenty of wealth that should have curbed his appetite, he plotted to build even more space for even more riches, only to die and not even enjoy what he had already accumulated. He was greedy, wanting more. He was short-sighted, focusing on the present over the kingdom of God. He didn’t ever enjoy the life he had created for himself, because his life was rooted in the wrong things.
We don’t know what became of that man, but we do know what Jesus instilled in his disciples after sharing this parable: “do not be anxious about your life…” (v21). Where early he shared a depiction of an earthly life, here Jesus pains a picture of a life lived for the Kingdom of heaven. God knows and sees and will provide! Then Jesus closes with a challenge for his disciples to lay up treasure in heaven.
In the vein of our Christmas theme, we can read this story in the light of Johnny Gold, the candidate who promises wealth, possessions and comfort. For so many of us, these things take the throne of our heart, whether done intentionally or not. Yet here, Jesus shares a better reality: a life rich toward God.
- Greed: The Affliction of the Affluent
- The Parable of the Rich Fool
- John Piper Sermon: Let's Be Rich Toward God
- What is the big idea that Jesus is trying to convey throughout Luke 12?
- What does it mean to be rich in the worldly sense? What does it mean to be rich toward God?
- Review the passage. Where do the rich fool’s riches come from? What does this tell us about who ultimately provides us our things?
- In what ways does fear play into our striving for security? What does God say about being fearful or anxious? What does worrying say about our understanding of God?
- In what way does your view of the future (eternity with God) affect your present? How should it affect your life?
- What does it look like to lay up treasure in heaven?
- What are the things in your life that you hold really tightly to? What would it look like to loosen your grip on any of these?
you: The self life
Discuss with your MC prior to Sunday 12/17
- Matthew 16: 13-26, emphasis on 24-26
In this series, we are looking at the things that vie for the affections, the influence, the commitments of our hearts. We have identified three candidates who are vying for the throne of your heart:
- Johnny Gold - a metaphor for the "good life" ... money, possessions, power, influence, comfort, ease of life. These are things the world tells us are important and necessary for a good life. Johnny Gold would say that the total sum of our life should be found in our ability to own, possess and pursue the material things life. Only they can make you happy and give you meaning and purpose. Johnny Gold says that these things should sit as king on the throne of our heart.
- The second candidate, which we look at this week, is You. This metaphor or message says that all you need is "You" to become the best you you can be. Life is about self-actualization, self-realization, self-promotion, and self-sufficiency. It’s all about what you want because "who knows better than you." This worldly message promotes finding yourself, being yourself, and knowing yourself. All that you need for happiness, fulfillment, and life is within you, you just have to find it. Through focusing solely on yourself and allowing your needs, motives, and goals to dominate the affections of your heart, you will experience the good life.
- Lastly, we’ll look at Jesus who is also contending for the throne of your heart. We'll look at that topic next week.
But for this week we examine You.
In a world that values You, it’s easy to fall into the trap of elevating yourself to the throne. But the Biblical view of self is one that contradicts the world’s view. Jesus appreciates and values every person, primarily because they were created in the image of God. But He also knows the sinful nature of the human heart and how it will naturally elevate self over any and every other thing - including God. This is what led to the fall in Genesis 3. It was the desire for "self" to be like God and "self" to elevate itself over God. It was a "You" problem that led to the fall. By eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve placed themselves above their relationship with God, thereby destroying the perfect relationship they had with Him. And since then, the world has been promoting You as a viable candidate to sit on the throne of your heart.
By the time Jesus came, You was firmly established on the throne of people’s hearts. This is why Jesus modeled and taught that life is not about self. "You" should not be on the throne of your life. This life is about denying self, lowering self, putting self in its proper place. And one can only overcome the You candidate when they have proclaimed what Peter did in Matthew 16:16. In this verse, Peter comes to the realization and conviction that Jesus is the King, not just a prophet, good teacher, or some manifestation of God, but THE KING. And in his confession, he essentially removes "You" from the throne, and invites Jesus to take His rightful place. The candidate "You" is a strong one. One that only is removed by surrendering to Jesus.
- What ways do you hear or see the world promoting "You" as the most important pursuit of life? Consider ways the media and entertainment industry promotes this message.
- How has "You" been sitting on the throne of your life?
- What makes Jesus’ teaching about denying self so challenging?
- What does that practically look like in your own life? Describe.
- Reflect on Jesus and Peter's interaction in Matthew 16:16. If Jesus asked you the same question, what would your answer be?
Key or Application Question:
- What is one area of your life that you have not given over to Jesus and allowed self ("You") to remain on the throne of your heart? What can you do change this?
Need a refresher on how to facilitate the narrative teaching schedule? Click the button for tips and tricks.
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Review Brian's talk from the MC Leader Workshop on the life of a busy leader and get some tips on how to better balance life and leading.