Once Upon A Time – New XP3 Series

XP3_OUAT_Instagram_Pic Everyone loves a good story. Even if you hate reading, you probably don’t mind movies, TV shows, or a great musical.  There is just something about a story, a good story that we can’t resist. When we were little, all the great ones started with “Once upon a time”. They were tales of heroes and villains, evil queens, noble princes, and fairy godmothers.   And while the characters in our favorite stories look different now, not much else has changed. We still love to see the good guy win, the bad guy lose, and the couple live happily ever after. Maybe it’s because, no matter how old you are, great stories have the power to pull you in and make you feel like you’re a part of them. Jesus knew that and He often told stories, called parables, that worked the same way.  His stories may not have involved princesses or evil villains, but as we take a look at four of these famous parables we may just find that the characters look more familiar than we could have ever imagined.

Session One: Lost And Found

Bottom Line: God never stops running after you.

XP3_OUAT_LS_S1Have you ever lost something important and had to go searching for it? Maybe it was your phone or the remote to your TV. Maybe it was the keys to your car. Whatever it was, chances are you searched high and low because missing something important can make you crazy. In fact, the more important it is, the more time and energy you’re willing to put into searching for it. In two of Jesus’ most famous stories, he tells of a farmer who lost a sheep and a woman who lost a coin. To an outsider, neither loss seems like a big deal, but the way each of these characters responded feels shocking. And, it gives us a clue into just how much God cares when it comes to lost things.

Session Two: Head Of The Table
Bottom Line: Nothing values humanity like humility

XP3_OUAT_LS_S2Do you ever have arguments with someone in your head? Of course you do. Maybe you’re annoyed at your teacher or your mom or even a friend and, in your mind, you totally let them have it. You win every time. Why? Because nearly all of our conversations or fights or mental dramas are based on one idea that sits in the back of our minds. We think, “I’m smarter than them. I’m right.” Or maybe you think maybe you’re just cooler or more talented or more popular. Maybe you’re more spiritual than them. In any case, we always win the argument in our minds because, in some way or another, we believe we’re better. And that’s not a new thing. Jesus once went to a dinner party where the guests had similar feelings. Each believed he was better than someone around him, and they acted accordingly. As He often did, Jesus addressed the very thing in the room that no one was talking about—status. And what He said has the power to forever change the way we rank ourselves and those around us.

Session Three:  Tenacious
Bottom Line: When it comes to prayer, don’t quit because it’s quiet.
XP3_OUAT_LS_S3Have you ever wanted something really badly and didn’t get it? A certain birthday present? A new car? A new outfit? Or maybe the answer wasn’t “no”. It was “we’ll see” or “maybe”. Sometimes that’s even more frustrating. What are you supposed to do? Just wait? Keep asking? Give up? A lot of us feel that way when it comes to prayer. Maybe you prayed and nothing happened. Maybe you wonder if God even heard you or if you should just give up and try to figure things out on your own. That’s exactly what some of Jesus’ followers were wondering when He launched into one of his famous “Once Upon A Time” moments.  It was a story about a man who needed something badly and his only option was to go to a friend in the middle of the night. He wasn’t sure what the answer would be, but he had no other options. And through his story we may just find the courage to pray and keep praying even when it’s silent.

Session Four: Unpaid Debt
Bottom Line: Before you pay back, remember you were paid for
XP3_OUAT_LS_S4Revenge is sweet, isn’t it? Few things feel better than destroying the team who beat you last year or getting back at someone who treated you badly. Maybe you know you’re not supposed to enjoy it. Maybe you’ve heard you’re supposed to forgive and forget, but there is just something in all of us that loves to pay others back.  Of course the sweetness of the moment doesn’t last long. We know that if we pay someone back, they will want to do the same to us. That’s the thing about revenge, it doesn’t put an end to the situation—it escalates it. But what other options do you have? If you’ve been hurt or attacked or humiliated, you can’t just stand by and do nothing. Once again, Jesus uses the art of storytelling to address this very idea. As He introduces us to two guys, both with a debt to pay, we find that forgiveness isn’t about doing nothing. It’s about using your time and energy to do the only thing that can make the situation better.