John 14:15-21, Contemporary English Version)
How about this image? What do you notice first? What is noticeable the more you look?
What is it about optical illusions that cause us to see one thing instead of the other? What did you expect to see in the first picture? What did you expect to see in this picture?
This morning we are going to talk about the power of expectancy and how it affects where we encounter and experience Jesus today.
Let us pray: God, as we come to your word today, open our eyes and open our ears – illumine us, Spirit Divine!
[VIDEO: #4 – “Seeing Jesus Today”]
Think of a time when you were looking for a lost item, only to later find it in plain view. Why was the item so hard to find when it was clearly visible? In what way do you think your expectation about where it was played a part in overlooking it? In the video, Mike talks about “expectancy”. He says that often times we miss the things that are right in front of eyes.
What does he suggest as a remedy for this?
- FOCUS – listening for the Holy Spirit to speak to us and guide us.
How is it we miss Jesus if he is right in front of our eyes?
- Are we really looking for Jesus?
- We must look for Jesus in the most unlikely places and, as a result, find purpose.
(Chris Rice song, “The Face of Christ”)
What is the significance of Mike’s personal story about seeing the ad for the car next an ad about starvation in the Sudan?
- God used the car ad to draw Mike’s attention to the Sudanese plight.
- This planted a seed that later took root as Mike began to learn more about The Sudan and what he could do in ministry there.
In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus says: “Ask and you will receive. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door is opened.”
What is key to understanding this text?
- That we pray from and for God’s will.
Expectation needs to be constant and ongoing – a daily, intentional, whole-life priority of seeking the presence of Christ today, of actively listening for Christ’s voice in the present.
- When Jesus left he did not say he was leaving us a book; he promised his presence in the form of the Holy Spirit.
- This presence is to guide us, teach us, and lead us to those places where we will find Jesus.
John 14:14: “When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.”
- Are we praying for God’s will or ours?
Where do we see Jesus today?
- What are some examples of where you see Jesus?
- Do we only see Jesus in places where we feel comfortable?
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that Jesus ultimately judges humanity based on the fruits of their labor – “what you have done for the least of my people, you have done for me.”
- Will you be surprised when this happens to you?
Think of specific ways that our church may be able to do better by really seeing Jesus in the people around us. How might our church recognize Jesus in these people and invite them to be part of our fellowship? Write your ideas on a piece of paper and place them in the collection plate next Sunday.
“Sometimes the reason we do not see Jesus isn’t our skepticism or intellectual doubt; it is because of our hardness of heart. When we cease to have our hearts broken by those tragedies, circumstances, and sufferings that break God’s heart, when we fail to live more simply so that others may simply live, we are out of alignment with Christ, no longer in right relationship.
We need to return to living and giving like God with skin on – JESUS.” (Slaughter, page 90)
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.