Morning Prayer Summary for  Thursday, June 29, 2023

Morning Chapel Prayer Playlist

Pastor Heather…

I had on my heart to talk about the love of God today. As I was being quiet this morning asking the Lord what He wanted to say, where He wanted to go in prayer today… I believe if I am going through something, other people are probably going through that too or have experienced that. But I have to be honest, I felt a little unqualified to lead prayer today. Just busyness. My daughter just graduated, so we were planning a party and doing things and my time with Him, although I still had my quiet time with Him, it just wasn’t those intimate moments because my mind was busy.

I think all of us can feel that there’s a moment of disconnect that we take… we kind of disconnect because of the shame that’s inside of us because we know we’re not connecting with Him in the way that we’re supposed to. And so that’s how the enemy operates. He wants to get you in shame, and he wants you to hide and go away from the very thing you’re supposed to be going towards when we’re in shame.

Do you love me more than these?

And this morning as I was being quiet, I heard the Lord say, “Do you love Me more than these?” And I was like, “What does that mean? I know what it means, but what are you trying to tell me right now?” And He said, “Do you love Me more than these?” And so I opened up the Bible. And I was like, I’m going to read that story because “I know there’s something here that you want to tell me, Lord.”

And so I’m just going to read it to you. Just open your heart to hear this moment through this lens of what we do when we’re ashamed or what we do when we feel unqualified, or what we do when we disqualify ourselves from the call of God.

So y’all know the story. It’s after Jesus’ resurrection and the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem. But what did they do? Peter gets up one day and says, “I’m going fishing.” They were supposed to wait. But he decided he was going fishing. And there’s a lot of things that we’ll unpack as we read the story. But I’m just going to read the scripture first.

John 21:1, Passion translation…

“Later, Jesus appeared once again to the group of His disciples by Lake Galilee. It happened one day while Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, Jacob, John, and the two other disciples were all together. Peter told them, I’m going fishing. And they replied, we’ll go with you.”

There’s a footnote that says, “According to Luke 24:49, the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem for the day they would be clothed with power. These seven apostles were not following what they had been told, and for this reason, they caught nothing until Jesus joined them. He became the eighth man.”

So here they are fishing. And this is a similar story. So they fished through the night, but caught nothing. And you’ll remember this happened once before, didn’t it? Then at dawn, Jesus was standing there on the shore, but the disciples didn’t recognize Him. Which I don’t fully understand that. How can Jesus be standing right there and you don’t recognize Him? I don’t know. But in my own life, Jesus has been standing in many moments and I didn’t recognize Him.

He called out to them and said, “Hey guys, did you catch any fish?” “Not a thing,” they replied. Jesus shouted to them, “Throw your net over the starboard side and you’ll catch some.” And so they did as He said and they caught so many fish they couldn’t even pull in the net.” Now we all know this happened once before, right? When Jesus first called Peter and John and those on the boat when He first called them, this exact thing happened. So it’s no coincidence that’s the exact same thing is happening again.

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved…” I love how John says he’s the disciple that Jesus loved. “…said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Peter heard him say that, he quickly wrapped his outer garment around him. And because he was athletic, he dove right into the lake to go to Jesus. The other disciples then brought the boat to shore, dragging their catch of fish. They weren’t far from land, only about a hundred meters, and when they got to shore, they noticed a charcoal fire with some roasted fish and bread. Then Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Peter waded into the water and helped pull the net to shore. It was full of many large fish, exactly 153.”

And then there’s an interesting footnote here. “This speaks of the great redemption of Christ for all nations and all people. 153 large fish points to a mighty harvest from among the people groups of the world. This great catch of fish begins the process of inner healing for Peter and the guilt of his denial of Christ. Peter began to follow Jesus because of a great catch of fish. So now Jesus repeated that miracle inviting Peter to begin to follow Him again. According to the early church Father Jerome, there was 153 species of fish in Lake Galilee that would remind Peter of his original call to be a fisher of men. But even with so many fish, the net was not torn.”

(And that happened before too.)

“Come, let’s have some breakfast,” Jesus said to them. And not one of the disciples needed to ask who it was, because every one of them knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus came close to them and served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection. After they had breakfast with Jesus, Jesus said to Peter Simon, son of Jonah, “Do you burn with love for me more than these?”

The footnote says the Aramaic word for love is hubba. It’s taken from a root word that means to set on fire. This was the word Jesus would have used to ask Peter, “Do you burn with love for Me?” Our love for Jesus must be passionate and kindle a holy flame within our hearts.”

And then here’s another footnote: “As often as is the case, Jesus’ words have more than one meaning. “These” do you love me more than these… could refer to the fish they had just caught. For Peter was a fisherman and loved to fish. He may have been counting and sorting the fish when Jesus asked him that question. But these most likely refers to the other disciples. It was Peter’s boast that he loved Jesus more than the others, and though everyone else would leave him, Peter never would. That boast proved empty as within hours of making that claim, Peter denied that he even knew Jesus three times. So Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved Him. In essence, Jesus knew how to bring healing to Peter and removed the pain of his denial. Three times Peter denied Jesus, but three times he made his confession of his deep love for Christ. By the third time the crowing rooster inside Peter had been silenced. And now he was ready to be a shepherd for Jesus’s flock.

So He asked him, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know that I have great affection for you.” He used a different word for love there than Jesus did. Jesus said, “Take care of My lambs.”

Then Jesus repeated the question a second time, “Simon son of Jonah, do you burn with love for Me?” Peter answered, “Yes, my Lord, you know that I have great affection for you.” Again, he uses a different word. “Then take care of My sheep,” Jesus said.

Then Jesus asked him again, “Peter, son of Jonah, do you have great affection for Me?” Now, Jesus uses Peter’s word. Peter was saddened by being asked the third time and said, “My Lord, you know everything. You know that I burn with love for you.” And then Peter used Jesus’ word. He meets us where we are. Jesus replied, “Then feed My lambs.”

“Peter, listen, when you were younger, you made your own choices and you went where you pleased. But one day when you are old, others will tie you up and escort you where you will choose not to go and you will spread out your arms.” Jesus said this to Peter as a prophecy of what kind of death he would die for the glory of God. And then he said, “Peter, follow Me.”

Then Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. This was the disciple who sat close to Jesus at the Last Supper and had asked Him, “Lord, who is the one that will betray you?” So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “What’s going to happen to him?” Jesus replied, “If I decide to let him live until I return, what concern is that of yours? You must still keep following Me.”

So I want to unpack a few moments here…

So when Peter felt unqualified or disqualified from the call of God because of what he did, denying Jesus three times. And there are times in our lives where we’re not going to live up to our own expectations of ourselves. And we know when we don’t live up to our own expectations, we’re definitely not living up to God’s expectations. And there’s something that happens in our hearts where we disqualify ourselves from the call of God.

But Jesus knew this and He took this moment to literally replay that moment when He first called Peter to the ministry, let’s say. So when He first called him, there’s this moment where He’s on the shore, they’re in the boat, and they’re fishing all night. And they can’t catch anything. And He says, “Throw it on the other side.” So He recreates this entire moment again, kind of like I’m bringing you back to your first love… I’m bringing you back to that moment when you first encountered Me, when I first called you, when you felt that passion, and you felt that excitement. You are not disqualified for this moment. You are not disqualified for the call that I have for you. He recreated that on purpose.

Peter went back to what he knew…

He went back to what was comfortable because he disqualified himself, right? So Jesus took Peter back to the beginning. Then Jesus takes Peter right into that moment when he denied Him. And it says that there was a charcoal fire that He made. And from what I’ve heard from other commentators, there’s only two times they mentioned a charcoal fire. It’s a specific fire. The time when Jesus was in the court and Peter denied Him, they were standing around a charcoal fire. Then that day on the beach, Jesus specifically made a charcoal fire. And then He goes right into Peter’s shame, and He gives him three chances to redeem that moment, to restore him.

And it’s basically like, “First of all, I’m going to take you back to that first moment when you felt My love. Now I’m going to take you into this moment that is causing you this shame where you feel that you disqualified yourself. I’m going to take you straight into this moment, and we’re going to redeem this moment right now.”

And He asked him three times, “Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Do you love Me?” And Peter says, yes, yes, yes. But this time Peter doesn’t say “Yes, I love you more than all of these.” Because he learned his lesson. The boasting. Peter was a little humbled by all his experiences. And so this time he says, “Lord, you know everything in my heart. You know how much I love you.”

Jesus would not allow Peter’s shame to separate him from his calling and to separate him from his relationship with Him. And what does Jesus do through this whole thing? Does He ask Peter, “Peter, do you promise not to sin again?” “Peter, do you promise to have faith?” Peter, do you believe in Me?” No! He says, “Do you love Me?” Because that is the bottom line. That is the question we all need to answer in our hearts. Do you love Me? Because that is the basis of what you are going to live and walk your faith through is that moment of, “Do you love me?”

Because there’s going to be times we’re going to mess up. We’re going to fail ourselves. We’re going to fail God. But we have to have that assurance that no matter what, He loves us and that we love Him. And we make that decision, we make that choice.

So I just wanted to take a minute…

First of all, if there’s anyone out there that feels they’ve disqualified themselves for any reason, it could be big reasons, it could be little reasons. Sometimes we set the bar very high for ourselves. And so like me, I’ve had my quiet time, but I was busy. And now with something inside of me is feeling like I’m just not living up to the standard I set for myself. I’m not doing this… I’m not doing that. But Jesus’ love is overwhelming. It swallows up shame. It swallows up perfection. It swallows up right or wrong. It swallows all of that up. And if our eyes are on Jesus and how much He loves us and we take our eyes off of every little thing we’re doing right or wrong, that’s what changes us. His love is what changes us. His love is what draws us nigh.

And so just take a moment…

I want everybody to… if there is some shame, if there are some things that you know are distancing you from that love that you just take some time this morning. Let’s lay those down together and let’s go straight into that love of Jesus and know that no matter what you’ve done, He’s there for you. He loves you the same today as He did yesterday. We’re the ones that think He’s going to love me less if I do this. He’s going to love me more if I do this. His love is the same. He’s already paid for all of it.

And if we can stop shame in its tracks from disconnecting us from the love of God and go straight into that moment, go back to your first love, and then go back to that moment where you feel there was a separation, maybe because of something specific you did, or maybe it has just been over time, but Jesus wants to march right into that with you. He’s not afraid of the things that we’re afraid to show Him or afraid to tell Him. He knows already and he already paid the price for it.

So Father, we just thank you for your goodness. And why do we talk so much on love? And I know this is prayer, but you can’t pray from a head place. You can’t have a relationship from a head place. You have to have it in your heart, and that is where you have to open up to love. That is where that abundance will flow out. And prayer is straight from that connection and that intimate relationship that you have with Him, that can only come through love.

And so we thank you, Father, that you loved us first, even when we were unlovely. Thank you that you loved us even when we didn’t even know about you. Thank you that your love is greater than any sin or shame in our lives, any busyness, anything that would try to separate us from your love.

And right now, we just remind our hearts that nothing separates us from the love of God. Nothing. And we declare that over our hearts today. We declare that over our minds today. And we bring that into remembrance this morning that nothing separates us from your love.

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