Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Learning to be Loved (Excursion 2/Road Trip 12 - June 10, 2018)

This is the second message in the Excursion for June 2018. It's also message # 12 in my "Road Trip" series at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church. 

Title: "Learning to be Loved"

Message Summary:  One thing the Pipe metaphor does really well is point to the importance of having an “inflow” first. This is why the “Abide” icon has a circle at the top of the pipe, to focus our attention there. As it says in 1 John 4 “We love because he first loved us.” And Jesus teaches us this same thing in John 15 using the image of a vine and branches: fruit is the result of the sap flowing into the branches. Over and over again Jesus emphasizes that the most important thing for us to do is to “abide” in him. Stay connected. Stay open. Receive the flow. Let yourself be loved.

We do believe that God loves us, loves us all the time, and loves us just as we are. But how do we “tune in” to that realty?

The answer to that may be different for different people, and it may be different for the same person at different times! But a good starting point is to look at the beautiful moment of abiding between Jesus and his Father at his baptism. What we see there is Jesus simply listening, “soaking it in” as the Father declares three things to him: You are my son, I love you, and I’m pleased with you. (Mark 1:9-11)

Jesus abides constantly in the relationship declared in those three statements. That relationship is his source of strength and direction for all he does and endures. As followers of Jesus, we want to learn from his example and “find rest for our souls” (Matthew 11:29) So learning to be loved can begin by spending time listening to the Father just as Jesus did. Listen to the Father speak those same words to you. “Abide” in that love, and you’ll surely feel the flow pouring in from above.

Conversation Questions from the Travel Guide
  • Does it feel important to you to spend time “soaking” and simply experiencing the reality of God’s love for you?  Or does that seem like wasting time when you should be “getting something done?”
  • Sometimes people light a candle as a sign of God’s presence, or wrap a blanket around their shoulders to represent God’s loving “hug.” For many, tilting their head back – like we do to feel the sun on our face – brings a powerful sense of God’s delight in them. Are there abiding practices that you have tried or found helpful?
  • Following Jesus’ example, we too can quiet our hearts and simply listen to the Father speaking to us. Which of the three things the Father says speaks most deeply to you? “You are my child”? “I love you”? “I am pleased with you”?
  • For some people, trying to sit quietly might make it harder for them to feel loved! Is that true for you?  If so, what kind of activity does help you get filled up with God’s love?

Bible verses for Learning to be Loved:
  • Romans 5:8
  • John 15:16
  • 1 John 3:1a
  • Mark 1:9-11
  • Matthew 4:1-4
  • Matthew 11:29
  • Zephaniah 3:17

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