Sunday was a powerful day – honoring our “retiring” Elders; ordaining our new Elders, inspired by highlights from their Statements of Faith; becoming Prayer Angels for each of our One Youth…

And receiving my Christmas Gift, to open our lives to receive a life-changing gift from Jesus!

Invitations to Blessings – Love

On Sunday, Jesus invited us to receive his gift of love – by letting him love us, to see who we can be; by loving him, to become who he sees we can be. (John 21:1-21)

On summary:

  1. After Advent and Christmas are over (even before they are over), we, like the disciples, go back to business as usual…without Jesus. Even without the reminders of “this season,” we know about Jesus, have received him as our Lord and Savior, know and have experienced his promise of blessings and Abundant Life; live in hope of his offer of Eternal Life with him.
  1. Yet, so often, we go about “business as usual,” living “our way,” not his way; ignoring him, even rejecting what Jesus wants for us. When that happens, our lives and relationships, like the disciples, come up empty – without his power and blessings. The great good news is that Jesus came into the world, not to condemn us for our “business as usual,” but to save us from ourselves, to save us to receive the power and blessings of his Abundant Life, full of love, joy, peace, and more.
  1. Jesus offers us the way to move from our business to his business, from emptiness to abundance – Let him love us…to see who we can be! I picture Jesus, as he comes to the shore that morning in Galilee, as he comes to us many days, crying – saying to himself, “I have given them the ways to abundant blessings, to eternal life; I gave my life for them…and they walk away, walk their own ways.”
  1. But Jesus wipes away his tears and comes to us where we are – for he promises that “I will be with you always…in all ways.” Jesus is like the older man who pleads with the receptionist at Urgent Care to be treated quickly so he can meet an important appointment at 9:00…the visit he makes every day to “see his beautiful wife,” although she does not recognize him, know who he is…“Because I know who she is; I love her; and perhaps someday she will remember me…”
  1. Jesus keeps coming to us because he knows who we are – precious children of God, his brothers and sisters, he loves us…and perhaps someday we will remember him and let him show us who we can be.
  1. This is the insight of the artist who painted a portrait of a homeless man at the Urban Ministry Center, not as the man saw himself, but “the person I see in you, the person Jesus sees in you.” The man began to want to be the person Jesus saw; he began to do what it took to become that person – counseling; AA; reading the Bible and praying with a Chaplain. Today he is that man, sober, full of joy, full of love…
  1. Jesus has a portrait of us – a portrait that shows the plan Jesus has for our lives…that looks like him. He waits for us to look to him, never giving up…because he loves us!
  1. Because Jesus loves us, he invites us to love him – for his portrait to become who we can be! It is true (as Christine reminded us last week) that change begins with confession and repentance for Jesus to take away whatever gets in the way of the life he wants for us; but that is most often a “quick fix.” So Jesus offers Peter and us a different way, not to just take away our sin, but to put in what we need to become who we can be.
  1. Jesus asks Peter and us, “Do you love me more than these” –  using a word for love that means “devoted/exclusively dedicated;” leaving to us to choose whether we will be devoted to him or to some other way of living, value, priorities.
  1. Peter and we say “yes,” with words, but Jesus gives us a path that will turn our words into life – “Care for my sheep…and follow me!” This is another way of living Jesus’ commandment, “Love others as I love you, giving your life for them…and you will experience Life Abundant and complete joy!”
  1. I shared how Mike Slaughter has walked this path and experienced this blessing: “My life is stress free, because I spend my life putting Jesus into everything I say and do. And when there is a set back or trouble, I am not discouraged, I am encouraged, because it gives me the opportunity to do more for Jesus, follow his lead, drawing closer to him as I do…and receive even more his peace, joy and love.”
  1. I closed with a picture of what this can look like, with the “rest of the story” of “Footprints in the Sand,” with this progression: walking apart from Jesus; then with him; then being carried; then walking together; then in his steps; then prints everywhere, not wandering away, but dancing for joy…for our lives blossoming into all they can be, overflowing with blessings for us, and for the lives we blessed for him!

Connection for the Week: Accept Jesus’ invitation to his post-Christmas, New Year dance – Focusing every day on Jesus loving you; devoted to him by letting him lead you in his steps in your thoughts, words, actions, decisions; and experience his joy-full blessings as you do.