Pursue Deeper Connections

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Stay Connected to Jesus
Unconnected to Jesus, Peter couldn't achieve the results he wanted. But when he is connected to Jesus, he bears much fruit. Peter's response is to repent and humbly submit himself to God. Things don't have to stay the same the way things are and don’t have continue on the same path as they have been. This time doesn't have to be like the last time, but it's not going to be because your way works this time. It's going to be because there's a different connection that takes place.  Church is a place for connection. Sometimes we don't know how much we need it until some things aren't going our way. Sometimes we don't know how much we need it until somebody is honest with us about our disconnection to them and to others. In these moments, we realize it's time that we need to connect more deeply to Jesus and more deeply to other people who follow him. But sometimes you don't know how much you need it until your way isn't working. In Jesus, we find the life that we need. When we are connected to him, it doesn’t instantly solve all of our problems or answer all of our questions, but we find strength, purpose, and peace. So, when our way isn't working, we pray that it would continually point us back to the connection we are meant to have with Jesus. When our way isn’t working, help us remember what matters most: Staying connected to Jesus and being deeply connected to one another as Christ’s followers. Reflection/Discussion Question: Who is someone in your life that you need to challenge to rekindle a deep connection with both Jesus and other Christ followers?
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Emotional Indicators
We all experience these emotions of discouragement, fatigue, frustration, and anxiety that begin to show up when things aren’t going the way we hoped. These emotions act like your dashboard. It's not just a light, but it's telling at you that something needs your attention. The dashboard is letting you know that you can keep driving right now, but unless you do something about these things, you're going to have some pretty significant problems down the road. Right now, you can tell yourself, “I'm sure it's okay. It's probably not that big of a deal right now.”  You can say to yourself, I'll probably get away with ignoring it or putting it off. But the manufacturer designed the vehicle so these lights would let you know that something needs to be addressed, and God created our emotions to work that same way for us. We don’t know exactly which emotions Peter was experiencing when Jesus asked him to cast the nets again in Luke 5. To Peter, this request just didn't make any sense. He probably anticipated that other people were going to think that he had no idea what he was doing as a fisherman going out to fish in the heat of the day after fishing all night long. After all, it's the same lake, it's the same boat, and it's the same nets. Just in the same way that we think it's the same marriage, it's the same kids, it's the same friendship so why is this time going to be any different than the last time? Is there any reason to think things will change? But this time, Jesus is in the boat and this time, there's a different connection. So Peter, when his way isn't working, humbly submits to Jesus, just as we should.  Reflection/Discussion Question: What lights are going off on your dashboard that you have been ignoring or putting off dealing with?
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Emotions Move Us
Sometimes fatigue occurs when we're not living life at a rhythm that reflects what God designed for us. Maybe we've been in a season that is just chaotic; we thought it would last about a week or a month, but it's turned into years to where you can't keep up the pace and you're just exhausted. Another emotion that you experience when some area of your life isn't working is going to be frustration. You're upset or annoyed, especially because of the inability to change or to achieve something. You find yourself short with people, because frustration or irritability is likely going to surface in how you treat people in different areas of your life. It spreads that way, causing you lash out in surprising ways that even you don't anticipate.   We also experience anxiety when our way of handling situations in life isn’t working. The definition of anxiety is a feeling of worry or unease. Typically, when facing an imminent event or an uncertain outcome that you have no control over, you're aware of a position you're going to be put in that you will be powerless. Think of Moses when God calls him at the burning bush to go to Egypt and to free the slaves. Moses is anxious and overwhelmed. But God reminds Moses of who he is and that it's Moses’s connection to God that's going to empower him. Our emotions move us in different directions, including directions that aren’t always the most spiritually or emotionally healthy. When we allow ourselves to turn these emotions over to God and use them to cause intentional change in our lives, we form a deeper connection with him. Reflection/Discussion Questions: Which emotions do you most often experience when things are working your way? How do you handle these emotions?
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Putting in the Work
Luke 5 is towards the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. It’s before Jesus has even called all the disciples to be his disciples. In fact, he's yet to call Peter to be a disciple and this chapter shows one of Jesus’s earliest interactions with Peter. Peter, still called Simon at this point, in Luke and his crew have pulled their two boats onto the shore of the Sea Galilee after they had been fishing all night long without catching anything. Verse three tells us that Jesus doesn't seem to ask permission, but he just gets into one of the boats and he tells Peter to take him out to the water. Jesus proceeds to teach from the water, and verse four tells us that when he finished speaking, he tells Peter to go out into the water where it's deeper and let down the nets to catch some fish. We're not sure of the tone that he used, but Peter lets Jesus know that they have worked hard all night long, it hasn't worked, and he has nothing to show for it. Some of you are in a place right now where you have worked hard, you've tried to turn things around, you've done the best you, you've tried to be more consistent with what you say and do, but it's not getting better. You are exhausted because you've put in long hours and have made a real effort day after day, week after week, but years have come and gone, and it just seems like things are worse than ever. Most of us know the frustration and the anxiety of that. You know what it's like when you've tried, but there's these things that are out of your control. Jesus invites us to come beside him and simply trust that things can be different if you only have his presence.  Reflection/Discussion Question: What would your reaction have been to Jesus's request if you had been in Peter's position?