It was an exciting and inspiring Sunday – our new members officially becoming part of our family…and Chris, Brooks, and Dawson being baptized into a new life with God.
And clear your calendar now for what will be one of the most exciting and inspiring Sundays in our Family’s history – October 11…when Bob Schindler, the man who has been coaching our Session in outreach/evangelism will be offering the Message, and spending time with us at lunch. Bob has made a Big Impact on our Elders; now we will all have the opportunity for his Big Impact on us…!
And Jesus wants to have a Big Impact on our lives by the counter-intuitive blessing that he offered Sunday…
Invitations to Blessings
Come and Take
Jesus offers to restore our lives to all God created them to be – by centering our lives on him; letting him set us free from our limiting burdens; coming to his Table to let his grace change us. (Matthew 11:27-30)
- Jesus offers his invitation to life-changing blessings, through three Good Life Invitation Openers – The 1st: Take on the yoke of Jesus – Let his way become your way…in all ways! 80% of Americans have too much stress in their lives; more than half of all diseases are linked to stress; many of you report being tired, stressed, stretched…
- The problem is revealed by the greyhound, who quit racing when he discovered he had spent 10 years of his life chasing a fake rabbit! Jesus urges us to quit chasing fake rabbits, the false gods of our culture…and recover the life God created for us, full of “grace, peace, living freely and lightly,” by focusing our lives on him. We too often stop with the first words of our Scripture, but Jesus does not just want to relieve our stress and give us rest, he wants to take over our lives, by yoking our lives together.
- When we are yoked to Jesus, we are not resting, but we are at peace, because he is sharing our load and guiding us to be in sync with God…which is how, Jesus promises in the Gospel of John, that we receive “peace that the world cannot take away,” and the “Abundant Life” full of love, joy, peace, and more.
- Because we are not very familiar with yokes, I offered a picture of what it is like to be connected with Jesus – The Wheel of Life: Jesus in the center; all parts and relationships of our lives as the spokes; and the rim the ways of Jesus to guide and put boundaries on our lives! This is a depiction of Paul urging us: “Whatever you think, say, or do, be able to put the name of Jesus on it.”
- The default option is “me” in the center, the values of our culture our guiding rim… We will know which wheel we choose by our answers to these questions: Is your marriage held together by patience, compassion, forgiveness, passion; in your schools, are you a peace-maker, do others see Jesus in you; as parents, are we raising our children to be faithful, with a Jesus-centered wheel for life; as young people, are you joy-giving, compassionate to your parents…? How good our lives and relationships would be if we answer each question with “Yes!”
- And the spokes run both ways – As Jesus connects us to his ways, the more we let him walk with us, the closer we come to him; and his grace begins to flow out of us into the people and parts of our lives “in between”…
- When we say “yes” to be yoked, we are ready for Jesus’ 2nd Good Life Invitation Opener: Come away with Jesus – Experience your life in all the fullness God created it to be! The Message version declares the powerful possibilities, “Come to me; get away with me, and you will recover your life!” We are kept from his good life by distractions, burdens, limitations – anger; envy; fear of change and challenge; unhealthy habits and addictions; bad decisions; disappointments; voices that tell us we are trapped by our past.
- Jesus invites us to let him take away these life-limiters; to put his yoke on us that fits just right; because he knows better than anyone God’s plans for you; how to protect and guard us from being distracted and pulled away; the unique, beautiful gift and future that lives inside of you… This is the message of the familiar, yet still powerful poem, “The Old Violin” – Telling the story of the battered and scarred old violin that was about to be auctioned for $3.00, until an old man took it, wiped it clean, tightened its strings, and brought out music “as sweet as the angel sings;” moving the hearers to bid thousands; and concluding, “Many a man is a life out of tune…But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand, the worth of a soul and the change that is wrought, by the touch of the Master’s Hand!”
- Is there any way that your life is battered, bruised, burdened, out of tune with the beautiful, grace-filled music life of Jesus? Then put your life in the Master’s Hand, and get ready for a beautiful new you! That is the promise that came true for the one who wrote this poem – Myra Welch was crippled with arthritis; she was bitter and burdened; in her despair, she prayed for Jesus to take over her life; she began to offer his grace to others; she became beautiful music to others, and beautiful herself. Jesus opened her life to the gift of poetry…
- Someone asked how she could be so joyful in light of her circumstances; her reply: “Jesus is not limited by our circumstances, only by our willingness to let him take over our circumstances; he has unlimited grace waiting to open a beautiful new door for us…The question is not whether the grace of Jesus will save us; the question is whether we will let the grace of Jesus change us…for only Jesus knows who we can be; only Jesus can set us free to be filled and overflow with his beautiful music!”
- If you want the grace of Jesus to change you, say “yes” to his 3rd Good Life Invitation Opener: Come to his Table – Tell him that you want him to become the center of your life! For at his Table, his grace lifts our burdens and sets us free, to receive and live his grace-filled life…with him!
Connection for the Week: Take the Invitation I gave you; say “yes” to his invitation to be yoked to him; turn it over and let his Wheel of Life guide and guard you and your relationships, and get ready for him to open a door that opens your life to being filled and overflowing with his grace-giving, beautiful music.