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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Hope Rekindled

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Hope Rekindled - John 20:11-18

Taught on | Topic: Resurrection | Keywords: grief, hope, resurrection

When people grieve, they usually run the gamut of the emotional spectrum, from denial to bargaining to despair to anger to eventually hope. Mary Magdalene was in hopeless despair as she stood weeping by the grave of Jesus. The resurrected Christ deals tenderly with this woman as he reveals Himself to her and conveys hope for her future. Let's glean some principles for dealing with brokenhearted people.

Date Title   WatchListenNotes Share SaveBuy
3/25/2012
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Hope Rekindled
John 20:11-18
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
When people grieve, they usually run the gamut of the emotional spectrum, from denial to bargaining to despair to anger to eventually hope. Mary Magdalene was in hopeless despair as she stood weeping by the grave of Jesus. The resurrected Christ deals tenderly with this woman as he reveals Himself to her and conveys hope for her future. Let's glean some principles for dealing with brokenhearted people.
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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" John 20:31.

Believe:879 is an epic journey through the book of John led by Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary of Albuquerque. As we explore each of the 879 verses of this gospel, we'll grow in grace and in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. From His pre-incarnate existence, to His public ministry, through His death and His resurrection we'll traverse familiar territory and embark on new adventures of faith.

Visit Believe879.com for more information on this series.

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Outline

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  1. Crying Is Natural

  2. Questions Are Helpful

  3. Comprehension Is Gradual

  4. Commission Is Needful

Cross Thoughts:

  1. Why do you think Jesus appeared to Mary before the others?

  2. How deep was Mary's grief? What does her despair say about her love for Jesus?

  3. When has Jesus met you at your point of need as He did with Mary? What happened? What did you learn from that experience? What did it teach you about God's care for us? About His timing and priorities?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Dealing with grieving people
      1. "Walk softly around a broken heart"
      2. Broken hearted people: fragile, emotionally distressed, need hope
      3. Journey from despair to hope
    2. Setting
      1. Mary Magdalene
        1. Came to tomb
        2. Stone rolled away
        3. Thought body stolen
        4. Wrong: resurrection
      2. Jesus deals lovingly, mercifully, compassionately with her
  2. Crying Is Natural
    1. Setting
      1. Mary is weeping: wailing loudly
      2. Disturbed sleep the previous evening (visions of the crucifixion)
      3. Got up early and went to the tomb (see John 20:1)
        1. Fourth watch: 3-6 am
        2. Sabbath is over
          1. Can walk to tomb
          2. Jewish law prohibited walking more than 2/3 mile
      4. Told the disciples
      5. John and Peter ran to tomb, then depart
      6. Mary returns
    2. Jewish mourning
      1. 30 days to deal with the loss of a loved one
      2. First seven days more intense
        1. Don't bathe
        2. Don't anoint selves with oil
        3. No shoes
        4. No business or study
      3. Wailing uncontained
      4. Tearing of garments: broken heart
      5. Sackcloth and ashes
      6. "A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;" (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
      7. Jewish legend: body of dead hovered for three days, seeking to re-enter the body; fourth day, spirit departs
    3. God designed us to cry
      1. Lachrymal glands
        1.  Secrete serum to lubricate eye
        2. Attached to emotional centers of the brain
      2. Unhealthy to suppress tears
        1. Suppressed sorrow can wreak havoc on the entire nervous system
        2. Death from ulcerated colitis due to suppressed grief
    4. Sayings
      1. "Don't Cry!" —why not?
      2. "Big boys don't cry—did lachrymal glands fall out?
        1. Think crying is not masculine
        2. "Jesus wept" (John 11:35)
    5. God notices when we weep
      1. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying" (Revelation 21:4)
      2. "Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?" (Psalm 56:8)
    6. "Let grief do its work. Tramp every inch of the sorrowful way.  Drink every drop of the bitter cup. Draw from memory and hope all that they can offer. To see the things our loved ones have left behind will give us daily pain...but what would we be without those reminders? Would we like quickly to break with the past in order to ease our grief? Those who truly love will say that they have found in sorrow a new joy, a joy which only the brokenhearted can know."— W. Graham Scroggie
    7. Tears must never blind a person from eternal truth: heaven
  3. Questions Are Helpful
    1. Angels
      1. Luke and Mark refer to them as men
        1. Angels: messengers from heaven
        2. Appear in human form
      2. 34 books of the Bible talk about angles
        1. 17 Old Testament
        2. 17 New Testament
      3. "God's Secret Agents"—Billy Graham
      4. Appear in Jesus' ministry at key times
        1. His annunciation
        2. His birth
        3. His temptation
        4. His resurrection
      5. Interested in our Salvation
        1. "To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:12)
        2. Marvel at God's love for us
        3. Don't understand our lack of faith
      6. Never sitting, except at the resurrection; always busy, working, active
      7. Their position
        1. One at each end of the bench where Jesus lay
        2. One on the rolled away stone (see Matthew 28:2)
        3. Reminder of the mercy seat in the tabernacle
          1. One on each end
          2. Only place God meets with men
          3. Jesus is the mercy seat
          4. Only place God meets with man is through Christ
    2. "I will take him away"
      1. Frail woman carrying the dead weight of a man
      2. Where would she take him?
      3. When you love someone like Mary loved Jesus, the you don't care about impossibilities
      4. "Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope;' (1 Corinthians 13:7 Phillips Translation)
    3. Jesus questions her
      1. Jesus typical method: asking questions to redirect to a proper line of thinking and elevate a person to a higher level of trust
      2. Why are you weeping? Could there be another explanation?
      3. Whom are you seeking? What kind of Messiah are you expecting?
      4. "Two-thirds of the things we fear in life never happen at all, and two-thirds of the tears we shed are thrown away, and shed in vain"—J.C. Ryle
    4. When a person is in trial, well placed questions help redirect their thinking
      1. Ask the right questions
      2. Don't get preachy
      3. Examples:
        1. Death
          1. What did you most admire about that person?
          2. What will you miss the most?
          3. What is the greatest lesson they taught you?
          4. What do you think they would want you to do now?
        2. Financial loss: At this point, what is most valuable to you?
  4. Comprehension Is Gradual
    1. Chronology
      1. Mary comes to the tomb, weeping
      2. Looks inside, questioned by angels
      3. Jesus behind her outside
      4. Jesus questions her
      5. She turns away and continues weeping
    2. One word: her fears are dissipated
      1. Her name, Mary
        1. Jesus spoke with familiar tone
        2. She recognized Him
      2. Hearing a powerful memory trigger
        1. Your name is the access point to your personality
        2. In a crowd, hear your name when spoken
      3. Why not visible recognition
        1. She is crying
        2. Emotionally distressed
        3. She thinks the body has been stolen
        4. Last one she expects to see: Jesus
        5. He is in His resurrected body
          1. Very different
          2. "The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power" (1 Corinthians 15:43-44)
        6. Supernaturally kept from recognizing, like on the road to Emmaus: "But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him" (Luke 24:16)
      4. Jesus is right there, she doesn't recognize him
        1. We too have Jesus close to us and we think He is far away
        2. "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5)
        3. "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)
      5. Circumstances cloud view of reality
    3. She recognized His voice
      1. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17)
      2. "The sheep hear his voice; he calls his own sheep by name" (John 10:3)
      3. How did she know His voice?
        1. She heard it before
        2. She has been in His presence long enough to recognize Him
        3. How can we recognize His voice? Spend time with Him
  5. Commission Is Needful
    1. People in distress need a task to complete
    2. Don't cling to me
      1. Stop fastening yourself to Me
      2. She probably grabbed Him
      3. He gives her a mission to accomplish
    3. First time Jesus refers to His apostles as brethren
      1. He has paid the price making the new relationship possible
      2. Adopted as sons (see Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5)
      3. "He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Hebrews 2:11)
    4. Commission restores hope
      1. Grief is consuming
      2. Redirect thinking
    5. "Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5)

Figures referenced: W. Graham Scroggie; Billy Graham; J.C. Ryle
Cross references: Psalm 30:5; Psalm 56:8; Ecclesiastes 3:4; Matthew 28:2; Matthew 28:20; Luke 24:16; John 10:3; John 11:35; John 20:1; Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 13:7; 1 Corinthians 15:43-44; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5; Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 1:12; Revelation 21:4

Topic: Resurrection

Keywords: grief, hope, resurrection

Transcript

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Would you turn in you Bible this morning to the Gospel of John Chapter 20.   As you are making your way there, I'll underscore the announcement that you are invited to a movie tonight at our Lobo campus downtown where we show a film.  It is Cinema Sunday to great film that has really good family and Gospel massage tied to it, with class A actors in it.  And we think it is great, you just bring your friends, bring your family, bring your kids, I wouldn't bring your pets, leave those at home.

But come out and enjoy a movie, free of charge.  Bring somebody who doesn't know the Lord but would go to an event like this.  They might not go to a churchly event but they come to a movie theater.  Jessie Lesco is going to present a short Gospel message afterwards that would be right aimed at the heart and it's going to be excellent.  So we invite you out for that tonight, free of charge and the Lobo Theater.

John Chapter 20, Verse 11; "But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping.  And as she weeps, she stood down and looked into the tomb and she saw two angles in white siting; one at the head, the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain.  And then they said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?'  She said to them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.'  Now once she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, 'Woman why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?'  She, supposing him to be the gardener said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away.'  Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'  She turned and said to him 'Rabboni'; which is to say teacher.  Jesus said to her, 'Do not claim to me for I have not yet ascended to my Father but go the my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'  Mary Magdalene came and told the Disciples that she had seen the Lord and that she had spoken these things to her."

Would you pray with me?  Lord the text that we are considering is just so wonderful, as we read a woman who comes to the understanding that the one that she loved more that anyone else on this earth is now alive.  When she have thought there was finality in His death.  Many of us can relate to the story.  Maybe not on the level of somebody that we thought was dead is now alive but somebody who is broken hearted and needs comfort.  Who needs hope weak rekindled.  Who is in despair in sorrow?  And I pray Lord that if that describes us or if we know somebody who is there that you would help us to be raised to a higher level to the teaching of your word in Jesus name.  Amen.

Some of the best advice I ever heard on dealing with people who are in grief is a simple statement that says, "Walk softly around a broken heart."  Broken hearted people are fragile people.  Broken hearted people are emotionally distressed people.  Broken hearted people need hope and hope is a process.  We have a story about a woman who is living there.  She is in sorrow.  She is in deep distress, depression you might even say.  And Jesus comes along and through a simple and quick process brings her immense hope.

There is a journey that a person takes from despair to hope and somebody who's ever counseled grieving people knows that intuitively.  And patiently, we'll take the person from step to step to bring that person into hope.  Mary Magdalene come to the tomb and the stone have been rolled away.  She thought somebody stole the body.  She was wrong.  There had been a resurrection.  She is about to discover that her assumptions were wrong.  The body hasn't been stollen.  It hasn't been taken and placed somewhere else, but she is going to discover that.

I have a story that I wanted to read to you.  Supposedly a true a story from Sarasota, Florida based upon the police records.  An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and upon returning to her car, she found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle.  She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at top of her lungs, "I have a gun and I know how to use it get out of the car."  Nice little old lady.

The four men didn't wait for a second threat.  They've got out and ran like mad.  The lady is somewhat shaken and proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and got into the driver sit.  She was so shaken that she couldn't get her key into the ignition.  She tried and tried and then she realized why.  It was for the same reason she had wondered why there was a Football and Frisbee and two packs of beer in the front sit.

A few minutes later, she found her own car parked four or five spaces further down.  She loaded her bags into the car and drove to the police station to report her mistake.  The sergeant to whom she told the story couldn't stop laughing.  He pointed to the end of the counter where four pale men, who were reporting a car jacking.  Get this by a mad elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, with glasses, curly white hair, carrying a large hand gun.  No charges were filed.  That is the best senior moment I've ever heard of right there.

Oops, wrong car.  Now that woman thought her car had been stolen.  She was wrong.  Mary Magdalene thought that her Lord had been stolen.  She was wrong.  Now fortunately, the police chief and the four pale men, dealt very tenderly and compassionately with this elderly woman with the handgun. And fortunately, Jesus Christ deals very lovingly, mercifully, compassionately with Mary Magdalene who also was wrong.

As we look at the text today, there are principles that I want you see about handling people who are grieving or in sorrow or distressed or who are depressed.  Those who are suffered great loss.  Four principles.  The first principle is probably the most obvious and that is crying is natural.  Crying is natural.  We find in Verse 11 that Mary stood outside by the tomb.  Here is the weeping, it means to wail loudly.  Not like sniffling a little bit, wiping a few tears.  She lost it.

Now let's go back in time just a little bit to the night before.  I tend to think that Mary Magdalene didn't get much sleep the night before.  She was tossing and turning and every little noise she heard woke her up and the visions of the Crucifixion.  The blood flowing down the face of Jesus, it shook her.  It woke her up.  It messed with her.  And finally, she got up early and she went to the tomb.  Chapter 20, Verse 1 uses the term early in the morning.  And that is a term I mentioned last week for the fourth watch of the night, somewhere between 3am and 6am she gets up and goes.  Sabbath is over.  She couldn't live on the Sabbath.  You can't walk according to Jewish Law more than two thirds of a mile, that's over now she goes.  She goes to the tomb.

Jewish morning lasts a period of one month, 30 days.  That's the period they core about to deal emotionally with the lost of a love one, 30 days.  The first seven days are the more intense.  During the first seven days, the survivors, they don't bathe.  They don't anoint themselves with oil or any products.  They don't wear shoes.  They don't engage in business or study.  They basically looked disheveled.  That's their way of saying, "I'm mourning.  Somebody that I loved has died and the wailing is not contained.

It is very loud and vociferous.  There is the tearing of the garments to signify a broken or tearing heart.  There is sock cloth that is put on the body and ashes that are sprinkled on the head and over the sock cloth, to say that this person is in deep mourning.  Even Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, you know it well.  There is a time to weep and there is a time to laugh.  There is a time to mourn and there is a time to dance.  This is Mary's time to weep and to mourn.  It is very natural.  That there is even a Jewish legend that's says in honor of Mary Magdalene was into this but she could of fallen into that superstition.

Many Jewish people believed at that time that the spirit of the departed person actually hovered over the grave for 3 days, seeking to reenter the body.  But that on the 4th day, because decomposing has well set in that the spirit departs.  There is no hope for returning.  Of course they never had that happen.  So the idea of that was we want to get as close to the deceased person to that body as possible during the first 3 days.

So she comes the first day of the week Chapter 20, Verse 1, she finds he stone has been rolled away.  She freaks out.  She runs and tells the disciples.  The Disciples being John and Peter ran to the tomb.  John beat Peter, wrote is down so everybody would know forever and ever.  So by the time Mary gets to the tomb, Peter and John had left and she is all alone.  You can see that in Verse 10 and 11.

Then the disciples went away again to their own home.  So obviously, they didn't cross pass with Mary who was going into the tomb.  She comes back.  Mary stood outside by the tomb loudly wailing.  And as she weeps, she stooped down and she looked into the tomb.  She just stop and just broke down.

Tears have a language all their own they don't need interpretations and her tears flowed freely because crying is natural.  God designed us to cry.  You have around the orbits of your eye.  Lacrimal glands they are called.  They secrete a serum into the eyes to lubricate the eyeball, to take away foreign bodies.  They're attached to the emotional centers of the brain.  If you are very, very happy usually when you are very, very sad, they emit more serum, more water, tears freely.

It is natural it is normal.  In fact it is unhealthy to suppress that.  One doctor noted that suppressed sorrow can wreck havoc on the entire nervous system.  And even sited one patient of his that died of Ulcerative Colitis because she suppressed grief when her father had died and yet, what do people say when somebody is crying usually?  "Don't cry".  Why not?  Or the little boys who are crying, "Big boys don't cry".  Really?  Did their lacrimal glands fall out?

So by the time that little boy gets to be aged 12, he thinks that crying is not masculine.  Really, it is not masculine?  What do you do with Jesus in Chapter 11 of John, shortest verse in the New Testament, "Jesus wept."?  Wept.  Jesus wept.  The man, the son of God wept and He seems to notice all the times when we weep.  Until finally in Revelation, "There were be no more tears," but until then, there will be in God takes note of it.

David's writes poetically in Plasm 56, "You have collected all tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book."  Imagine that.  It's as if he writes it down.  He takes notice of the times that you shed tears.

Every Pastor knows that when there is deep distress, every counselor knows when there is grief happening, when there is lost in a person's life, the most natural thing is for tears to flow.

One Pastor by the name of Charles Graham Scroggie who pastored, get this, in England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, the United States and Canada.  Oh and by the way, eventually took over Charles Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

He's pastored a lot of people in his life time.  He seen a lot of people die and get buried and work with grieving families.  And he writes these words, "Let grief do its work.  Tramp every inch of the sorrowful way.  Drink every drop of the bitter cup.  To see things, our loved ones have left behind will give us daily pain.  The cloths they wore, the letters they wrote, the books they read, the chairs they sat in, the music they loved.  But what would we be without these reminders?  Those who truly love will say they have found in sorrow in a new kind of joy, a joy which only the broken hearted can know."  There is nothing wrong crying.  It is therapy for a broken heart.  But tears can never blind a person, must never blind the person, and should never blind the person from the truth, the eternal truth.  Heaven, all of those kinds of far reaching truths and sometimes they can.

Brings us to our second point, not only as crying natural and grief questions are helpful.  Look at Verse 13, "Then they said to her," these are the angels now talking.  The angel said, "Woman, why are you weeping?"  Do you find that a strange question?  Let see.  A woman at a graveyard crying, is that so weird?  Would you walk up to a woman at a local cemetery who is crying in front of a grave?  Would you walk over her and go, "Hey, why are you crying?"  You better not.  But the question is this, "Woman, why are you weeping?"  And she said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him."

Jesus will ask the same questions to her and then a follow up question after that.  First of all, the angels talk to her.  If you were to compare this with Luke and Mark's account, they don't call them angles but men, there were men there.  That's because they were angels sent from God, special messengers out of heaven but they were allowed by God to take a human form at that time.  Because when people see angels and their glory, they usually, what?  Freak out.  So there are a couple men their dressed in white, but they're actually angels, John describes to us.

Thirty-four books of the Bible talked about angels, 17 in the Old Testament, 17 in the New Testament.  They're all over the Bible.  They are God's secret agents, Billy Graham calls them.  They show up in the life and ministry of Jesus at very specific and important times like his annunciation announcement.  The announcement of His conception, His birth that was given to Joseph and Mary by an angel, at His birth, angels hovered over Bethlehem and gave that announcement.  The Messiah has come.  At Jesus temptation, the angels came ministered to him.  And here at the resurrection, they are here to announce that Jesus is alive.  It seems that angels are very, very interested in our salvation.

Peter writes in first Peter 1, "These are things," that is our salvation, "these are things which angels desire to look into."  I think we are a marvel to the angels.  I think they marvel at God's love.  You love them that much?  You love these creatures?  That you would do that for them?  And then I think they look at us sometimes they go, "I don't get it?  How come these people like don't really rely on God and don't turn to God and pray more and love more?  They just can't figure us out."  These are things the angels desire to look into.

Something else I found out.  I hope you will find this interesting as I did.  We never find angels sitting except at the resurrection.  They're always like busy, right.  They're doing stuff.  They're working.  They're active.  It is at the resurrection only that we find angels sitting down.  They're just like hanging out.  There is one on this side of that bench where Jesus' body was and one at the other side of the bench.

Oh and Matthew tells us that the stone that was rolled away from that tomb, there is an angle sitting on that, just sitting there.  Waiting for people to come by, I don't know if they were eating angel food cake before they've got there or what.

Okay, so, this what my mind does.  When I read about an angel on this side, an angel on that side where Jesus' body was, my mind goes back to the Old Testament to the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle.  Are you following me?  Remember on the Mercy Seat of the ArK of the Covenant, there were two angels one on one side and one on the other side and the wing span over.  And God said, "The only place that I'm going to meet with you is on that Mercy seat."  Jesus Christ in the New Testament is the Mercy seat.  The only place God will meet with a human being is over a person of the Lord Jesus Christ and that symbolically a set forth here.

Look at Verse 14, "Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there and didn't know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?'  She is supposing him to the gardener said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him'."  Please listen carefully as if you've never read this before.  "Tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away."  Yeah right.  Frail little Mary is going to carry the dead weight of an adult man somewhere.  Let's say, she could.  Let's say this is like Brunhilda, this chick can lift big weight, "Where you have laid him?"  Where is she going to take the body?

Well that is sort of my point.  When you love somebody like Mary loved Jesus, you don't care about those impossibilities.  You don't care about those questions, "I'm going to deal with it.  Just tell where he is and I will take him."  First Corinthians 13, that great love chapter, 1 Verse in the Phillips translation is rendered, "Love knows no limits to its endurance.  No ends to its trust.  No fading of its hope."

Now think about these two questions.  Question number one, how come you are crying?  Question number two, who are you looking for?  The angels ask the first question.  Jesus asked it again and adds a question.  This is Jesus typical method asking the question to direct the thinking or redirect the thinking to a proper line of thinking to elevate that person eventually to a place of trust, the higher level.  Why are you crying?  Now we know why she is crying because she thinks somebody had stolen the body.  But asking the question it's as if Jesus is saying, "Mary, could there be another explanation from an empty tomb other than the body was stolen like a resurrection?"  How come you are crying?  And then the second question, "Who are you looking for?  What kind of a Messiah are you expecting Mary?  She is looking for a corpse.  She does not believe has risen from the dead and right in front of her is Jesus looking eyeball to eyeball with her.

J.C. Ryle writes, "Two-thirds of the things we fear in life never happen at all and two-thirds of the tears we shed are thrown away and shed in vain."  Here is the principle and here is what I have discovered.  When a person is in a trial, suffering, grief, despair, broken hearted, depressed, whale(ph) a place questions will help redirect their thinking.  Ask the right questions, don't get preachy.  Walk softly around the broken heart.  But questions like this if they've lost someone, what did you have admired most about that person?  Get them thinking those thoughts.  What will you miss the most?  What is the greatest lesson they taught you in their life?  Or what do you think that person wants you to do now?  How would they want you to think and react?  If they have lost their finances or their home, maybe a question like, "Okay, at this point in your life today, what is the most valuable thing that you have?  Or what is the most valuable to you at this point?"

Get them to evaluate and think.  Just whale a place, whale of a time questions can redirect the thinking and raise a person to a higher level of faith.

Here is the third principle, comprehension is gradual.  Verse 16, "Jesus said to her, 'Mary.'  She turned and said to him Rabboni; which is to say teacher."  Okay let me kind of give you a flow of events here.  Because it says in Verse 16, "She turned and said to him."  So this is what I think happen.  This is how, as I see it.  She comes to the tomb at this time.  She is weeping, she is crying, she looks inside.  There are these two dudes who ask her a question, how come you are crying?  And she says, "Because they have taken away my Lord and I don't know where they've laid him."  And she is talking to them stooping down inside the tomb.  Jesus is behind her outside.

How she knew Jesus was there?  We're not sure.  Maybe the angels went, look.  Or she heard footsteps.  She turns away form the tomb, turns toward Jesus.  Who says, "How come you are crying?  Who are you looking for?"  And she said, "Look, if you've taken him away, tell me where and I'll get him."  And then at that point, she must have turned away from Jesus back towards the tomb, buried her head in her hands and just started weeping again because one word was given that reeled around.  She turned around again to Jesus and she recognizes Him.  One word, one word and all of her fears, all of her sorrow, all of her discontent was melted away.  One word and she instantly recognized Jesus and it was her name.  And it was probably said in a familiar tone.  The tone Jesus always use when talking to her maybe it was like, "Mary".  It was that familiar tone that brought her reeling around, recognizing that this was Jesus.

We know that hearing is one of the strongest memory triggers that we have.  Smell and hearing are -- if you hear a song or if you hear a word, it takes you back to an episode, especially your name.  Because your name is the access point to your personality, it is your name.  If you have ever been in a crowd where people are talking to one another in several conversations, you really don't hear what they are saying.  But if somebody mentions your name, you recognize that.  You hear that.  The way Jesus said her name brought her recognition.

I have a question.  Why she didn't just recognize Jesus visibly?  He was standing right there.  That mystifies a lot of people when they read this, "I don't get this?  How come she didn't recognize Him?"  Let me give you few reasons.  Number one, she is crying okay.  Give her a break.  She has tears in her eyes.  She is emotionally distressed.  She is all been out of shape because she thinks the body has been stolen.  And number four, which should be really number one, the last one she expects to see standing in front of her is Jesus.

She thinks he is dead.  Now, she might have thought, "That guy kind of looks a lot like Jesus.  It can't be him."  Here is another reason.  Jesus is now on his resurrected body.  Very different from what she saw a couple of days ago on that cross that horrible bloodied scene.  In a resurrected body, He looked different.  In First Corinthians 15, we are told, "The body is sown in corruption but raised in incorruption.  It is sown in weakness but t is raised in power."

Let me give you another reason.  It could be that she was super naturally kept from recognizing Jesus.  That shouldn't surprise you.  Luke, Chapter 24 the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, it says, "They were restrained form recognizing Him."  They didn't know it was Him.

Okay, pause for a moment and consider this.  Because a lot you can relate to this.  Jesus is right there and she doesn't recognize Him.  How many times has Jesus been close to you and you think, "He is so far away, He like went on vacation.  He left town."  When Jesus promised, He would never leave you or forsake you.  He would be with you always to the end of the age.  What has happened?  Your circumstance, your sorrow has clouded your view of reality.  All you can think about is your grieving and your situation, but He is still there.  He hasn't moved.

How did Mary recognized Jesus?  Not by sight but by?  Voice.  By sound.   She saw Him but did not recognize Him.  She heard His voice, she recognized Him.  Does that bring up the principle to you?  Romans 10, "Faith comes by hearing not by seeing."  "Well, if I only saw something."  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  Jesus says, "I'm the good shepherd."  The good shepherd calls his sheep by name and they recognize his voice.  "Mary,"  "My teacher."  The sheep has recognized the voice of the shepherd.  How did she know that voice?  How did she know that voice?  Anybody?  She heard it before.  Thank you.  She heard it before.

She recognize the voice because she has been in the presence of Jesus long enough to recognize it.  How do you recognize the voice of God?  Well, you've got to spend time with Him.  The longer you spend time listening to the voice of God in scripture as he speaks, you will recognize the voice.  And you will be able to tell the difference between the voice of God and the voice of your mother's tapes playing in your mind or the voice of the media or the voice of your peers or the voice of false prophets, you'd be able to go, "That's the voice of Jesus, it is unmistakable.  I have been in His presence.  I have spent time in His word, I hear it."  The comprehension was gradual but she eventually got it.

Here is the fourth principle for those dealing with the trial like this.  Commission is needful.  That is people who are broken hearted, distressed, confused, discouraged, depressed sometimes need a task to be given to them.  Look at Verse 17, "Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to my father but go to my brethren and say to them I'm ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God.'  Mary Magdalene came and told to the Disciples that he had seen that Lord and that he had spoken these things to her."  Now why did Jesus say don't cling to me?  Literally, He is saying, "Stop fastening yourself to me."

What do you think Mary did when she recognized Jesus?  I think she grabbed Him.  What would you do if somebody you thought was dead was now alive and standing in front of you?  Would you go, "Hi, knuckles dude!  Nice to see you."?  You would grab that person and she probably put a dense grip on Jesus like, "I'm never letting you go again."  Probably, she is grabbing Him so tight and here is Jesus saying, "Stop fastening yourself to me.  You have known me only in this relationship.  I'm going to be around here for another 40 days."  That's how long it took before He ascended to His father.

"In the mean time, I have something I want you to do.  I want you to go to my brethren and give them this message."  She was elevated to a place that Jesus gave to her of a commission, a mission that he would send her on.  "I want you to bring this message to them.  I could do it myself but I'm giving you this task for you to do."

Oh by the way, this is the first time Jesus ever refers His Apostles, His disciples as my brethren.  Up until now, it has been, you are my friends, you are my servants, never you are my brethren.  Now he calls them His brethren, why?  Because He has died on the cross, paid the prize for redemption, making this new relationship possible, were adopted sons and daughters of God.  And Hebrews too says, "God or Jesus is not ashamed to call them brethren."  "Go tell my brethren," I could think He couldn't wait to say that, my brethren, "that I'm going to my God and your God, my father and your father."

Giving a task to someone who is depressed or broken hearted is part of restoring their hope and it is simple as to why.  Grief, sorrow, discouragement are all very consuming activities.  They require lots of attention, they absorb all of your energy and a person in those situations can become hopeless and listless and unmotivated and just so down they say, "I can't do anything."

I visited a girl sometime back.  She was on suicide watch.  She tried to take her life.  I was brought in to speak with her.  I spoke with her for a couple of hours and at the end of it, I said, "There is something I want you to do for me."  And her first response is, "I can't do anything."  I said, "You can do this.  It is a little assignment, it is very simple but I'm going to ask you to do something for me and as soon as you are done with that task, I want you to call me.  Here is my number personally.  Call me and tell me when you have completed that."  And she goes, "Okay, I will try."  But she did it and she called me.  She says, "I did it."  I said, "That is excellent.  You did such a great job.  Now there is something else I want you to do." and I gave her another one and then I gave her another task.

Eventually, what I've got her to do is to find somebody who is in a very needy situation and tell her story to them and how she got hope.  And what that did, those task helped elevate her to a place of, "I have purpose.  I'm useful.  I'm doing something."  And it quickly helped bring her out of that funk that she had been living in for so long.

So these are good principles when you encounter somebody who is being buffeted by these trials.  You always bring in hope.  You always redirect their thinking.  It could be a question.  It could be a task.  The scripture that comes to mind as an overarching scripture to this passage is Psalm 30 that says, "Weeping man, doer for a night but joy comes in the morning.  Let them emote.  Let them cry but then direct their thinking from the temporal to the eternal.  Little task, little task but always with the view of now look to the horizon and see what you have to face in your eternal future as the prime motivator."

Let me close with a story about a woman who taught that to her Pastor.  She went to the doctor.  The doctor said, "You have a terminal illness.  You have three months to live."  True story, I met the man last night who attend to this funeral.  She went home from the doctor.  She knew she had roughly three months to live.  Liver cancer was going to take her and it did.  She got her house in order, told her friends, her relatives.  They went through those stages of planning and weeping.

She went to her Pastor.  She said, "This is what I want at my funeral.  I want these songs to be sung.  I want these scriptures to be read."  And she said, "There is one final thing I want you to do at this funeral.  Promise me you will do it.  I want you to place a fork in my right hand."  And he gave her one of those looks like -- I really want to ask you but I don't know if I should.  He had this look like, "I don't get this."  So she smile and she said, "I know what you are thinking.  Here is why I wanted you to do this.  All through my life whenever I've gone to church, publics or socials, whenever there is a dinner, they serve the meal, inevitably someone will say after you eat the meal, "Hold on to your fork.  Which means they're going to serve up dessert, the good stuff is coming."  You know the chocolate cake and the apple pie.

"Hold on to your fork.  So, Pastor I want you to promise me to place a fork in my right hand and I want the casket open and I want people filing by my casket before you give the message.  And they're going to look in the casket and see a fork and they're going to think, "Why is there a fork in her hand?"  And they're going to go back to their sits and then I want you to preach the message and you tell them this, "The best is yet to come."  Hold on to your fork because the best is yet to come.

Here is a woman who lived with all the trial she lived with knowing with fork in hand, the best is yet to come and you thing about that.  And you think about that when you go to lunch today and pick up your fork and you will never forget as you grab that fork, "Hold on to your fork.  The best is yet to come."

Father we know this to be true.  We cannot turn to a page and scripture without getting that brought to our attention especially in the Gospels with Jesus who is always thinking of not just that moment but that moment means in the skim of all moments and into eternity itself.

And we consider how Jesus handle this woman who is so broken hearted, so many tears have been shed in that last 24-hour period by this woman and Jesus saw that.  And though these tears were natural, questions asked to elevate the way she process her life in her events and then she recognize Jesus.  There was light at the end of the tunnel, but a task was given that helped her feel that she was important.  That she lived with purpose.  That she had an eternal job to do that's getting her eyes fixed on something more important than what she had been dealing with.  All very, very practical and help us as your ambassadors to walk softly around a broken heat, in Jesus name.  Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
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Is your faith in need of bolstering? Do you find yourself saying "Help my unbelief?" The book of John presents a unique, up close and personal look at the life of Christ, focusing on Jesus as God Incarnate. As we dive into a thorough study of each of John's 879 verses, we'll walk with disciples who were eyewitnesses of His ministry, His death, and His resurrection, and we'll experience abundant life in His name.
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11/1/2009
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The World's Most Important Word
John 1:1-5
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It may be difficult to say what the most important word is in any language, but not for the Apostle John. He begins his gospel with the identification of Jesus as, "The Word." Starting with the very beginning of beginnings, John shows us the fundamental truths about the Jesus that he writes about in the rest of this book. The language is simple and unmistakable and yet the truths presented are deep and extremely profound. Let's see how John presents Jesus and Who Jesus is according to one who was closest to Him.
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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you’ve ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes (like when you turn westward while the sun is going down), it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness". But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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11/22/2009
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One of a Kind!
John 1:14-18
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It is a mistake to think of Jesus as "one among many" options in the pantheon of deities. He is unique, matchless, unrivaled, singular, and incomparable. From His birth to His Resurrection, there is no one who even comes close to the majestic Christ. Jesus was One-Of-A-Kind! Let’s consider four distinct ways that Jesus was unique and what these mean to us today.
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12/6/2009
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The Greatest Man Meets the Greatest Lamb
John 1:19-34
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Everyone is good at something, maybe even great at something. Maybe you're a great artist or a great mom or even a great leader. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). But John knew Jesus to be the greatest One ever—past, present and future - the Sacrificial Lamb sent to remove sin. Today we discover from John the Baptist how to witness for Christ and we look at the identity and the activity of this most unusual man.
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12/13/2009
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Are You a Follower-Really?
John 1:35-42
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You can't make it through much of the Bible without coming to the word Disciple. Just the four Gospels alone use this term 228 times. Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher: one who observes, learns, and practices what the teacher shares. We now come to the first time John uses this term in his book. So today we assess ourselves by asking, "Are YOU a follower?" Lets look at five characteristics of the first disciples of Jesus and see if they’re reflected in our lives.
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1/3/2010
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Finding the God Who Found You
John 1:43-51
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When the first disciples encountered Jesus, they chose to follow Him--only to discover that they had already been chosen by Him! Without getting drowned in that theological tide pool, let's consider and marvel at how both of these realities work together. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects people for salvation while at the same time teaches our responsibility to believe in Christ. Let’s see how both Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus for the first time.
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1/10/2010
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The Wedding Guest
John 2:1-12
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How cool (and also potentially scary) would it be to have Jesus as a guest at your own wedding! The unnamed couple at the village wedding of Cana had that privilege. Jesus was the wedding guest who brought the best gift. His first miraculous sign was performed while celebrating that marriage. But far more than just attending a nuptial party, Jesus demonstrated who He was in relation to four entities: His mother, the moment, a miracle, and His men.
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1/17/2010
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Trouble in the Temple
John 2:13-22
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A hymn by Charles Wesley begins, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child..." It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful thought. However, Jesus is anything but gentle and mild in John chapter two. Here in the temple at Jerusalem, He displays His righteous anger as He overturns tables and beats the religious businesspeople with whips! But Jesus was using this trouble in the temple to predict a greater sign—the triumph of His own physical temple—His bodily resurrection!
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1/24/2010
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Uncommitted!
John 2:23-25
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These three verses are some of the most unusual in the New Testament. They describe a scene in the life of Jesus that explains His popularity and fame. The response of people to the miracles of Jesus is understandable. What is not readily understandable is Jesus' response to the interested and excited crowd. Though they believed in Him, He was not too energized over their kind of faith. Understanding this will help us to understand Jesus and His mission.
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1/31/2010
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Nick at Nite!
John 3:1-8
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The meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus at night is one of the most famous and compelling stories in Scripture. This man's inner curiosity and spiritual thirst drove him to want to know more. What he heard puzzled and astonished him, but he heard from Jesus' own lips the only way to be saved. Jesus' words here divide all of humanity into two groups: those who are born again and those who are not.
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2/7/2010
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Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition!
John 3:9-21
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For years ABC has aired two different versions of a show called Extreme Makeover. One is a total body makeover designed to enhance the physical beauty of a selected individual. The other is a Home Edition that rebuilds or adds to a struggling family's residence. But only Jesus can give the soul a makeover; only Jesus can ready a person for eternity. Here Jesus answers Nicodemus' question of how a person can have the New Life that comes from the New Birth.
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2/14/2010
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God's Valentine
John 3:16
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Today we take a look at the Bible's most famous verse and probe its depth while preparing to take the Lord's Supper together. Though most everyone knows this verse, John 3:16 is much more than just a slogan; it is a summary statement of God's love through Jesus Christ. This single verse of scripture gives us the salient truths of God's plan of salvation in abridged form. Let's consider God's great plan for us as we unpack it phrase by phrase.
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2/21/2010
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To Grow Up, You Must Grow Down!
John 3:22-30
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"They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud!" That's what British Puritan John Flavel once said. And that’s how John the Baptist once lived! John the Baptist and his followers provide some great applicational fodder for how Christians should get along and humble themselves before one another and God. For any Christian believer who wants to spiritually grow up and grow strong, he must first grow down.
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2/28/2010
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The Nail Everything Hangs On
John 3:31-36
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Imagine if everything you valued was in a sack, hanging on the wall from one nail. It surely must be a strong nail, or you're lost! If life could all be boiled down to one thing or one word or one most important principle, what would it be? What is the irreducible minimum for everything and everyone? John answers that here, saying that Jesus Christ is the nail that everything hangs on. He determined what has been and what will be. Thus our knowledge of Him and relationship to Him is paramount above everything else.
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3/7/2010
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Refreshment!
John 4:1-14
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You know the feeling of swallowing ice-cold water on a hot day or after a savory meal—it's refreshing! That cool, invigorating sip revitalizes you from the inside out and makes you say, "Ahh!" Well, that experience is not limited to the physical realm, but is even more satisfying in the spiritual realm when dealing with Living Water. Jesus came to give thirst-quenching spiritual life to every parched soul on the planet. When was the last time you drank deeply?
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3/14/2010
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How to Lead People to Water
John 4:10-30
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The world is thirsty and doesn't even know it, or won't admit it, or will look to be satisfied by everything else but Jesus Christ. So your job and mine is to lead them to water (living water, that is). Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman illustrates perhaps the best approach for personal evangelism to be found anywhere. Leading someone to the place of spiritual satisfaction is a process that rests upon two pillars—the pillar of attitude and the pillar of approach:
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3/21/2010
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What God Really Wants
John 4:20-24
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Worship conferences, worship seminars and worship experiences abound within the landscape of the American church, but in all these there's something that seems to be always lacking—worship is confined to the activity of singing songs. When the subject is brought up in this chapter, Jesus talks plainly and openly about true worship: what it is and what it isn't. Let's explore these few verses to discover what God is seeking after and how to be part of fulfilling that.
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3/28/2010
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Spiritual Farming 101
John 4:28-42
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Farmers live for the harvest season--a time when their crops are taken in and profits are made. But crops don’t grow on their own. Seeds must be sown and plants must be garnered by a whole group of active farm workers. God is the head Farmer and we are His farmhands, all working together to produce a bumper-crop of people who believe that Jesus is the Savior--Are you in?
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4/18/2010
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Everyone Needs a Faith-Lift!
John 4:43-54
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Like any muscle in our physical body, our faith too must be exercised in order for it to develop. Faith is developed in virtually every circumstance in life, but especially in hard times. Peter put it best, "These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold" (1 Peter 1:7). Let's look at a real-life story of one who came to Jesus in his trial and had his faith lifted to a higher dimension.
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4/25/2010
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Healing Misery with Mercy
John 5:1-16
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One of Jesus' most distinguishing characteristics in His earthly ministry was His mercy toward people who were hurting. This is not astonishing, for the prophet Micah announced that "God delights in mercy" (Micah 7:18). Jesus standing among the squalid misery of sickness and hopelessness while at a feast in Jerusalem is a perfect setting to show how Christians can show mercy to a world in misery. But be warned: not everyone will be sympathetic to your cause!
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5/23/2010
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Like Father, Like Son
John 5:16-24
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The most important question you could ever ask is not, "Who am I?" but rather, "Who is Christ?" That was the supreme question Jesus presented to His disciples when He said, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15). Jesus made the most astonishing claim ever when He confronted the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem here in John 5. What do these claims have to do with us today? Absolutely everything!
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5/30/2010
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Everyone Lives Forever
John 5:25-29
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My mom used to wake me up early every morning with her sweet voice saying, "Rise and Shine!" It took a few times but I eventually got up out of bed. As Jesus declares that He will be in charge of the future judgment, He too will usher the call to everyone who has died to "Rise up!" But not everyone will rise up to shine; some will rise up to suffer. Let’s consider three inevitable and unalterable truths about the future for all of us: We will all die, we will all be judged, and we will all rise again to live forever... but where?
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6/6/2010
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Why Should You Believe?
John 5:30-47
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The theme of John's gospel is "believe." The whole reason he wrote this book is so that people who read it will believe in Jesus (see John 20:31). But why should they believe? And even more applicable, why should we believe? After all, the events of the New Testament are over 2,000 years removed from us today. Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders in John 5 tells us why we should believe. Like a skilled lawyer, Jesus calls upon four witnesses to testify to His claims and these four give the reasons for our believing in Jesus Christ.
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6/13/2010
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Lessons From a Picnic
John 6:1-14
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This story ranks in the "top ten" of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ. In fact this is the most famous of all His miracles as it alone is recorded by all four gospel accounts. But this is far more than a Sunday school tale. This extraordinary picnic was not just a free meal for five thousand folks; it provided lessons for both ancient and modern disciples. Here are four profound truths that emerge from this lakeside lunch.
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6/20/2010
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What Storm Goers Need to Know
John 6:15-21
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Have you ever been on the ocean in a raging storm? If so, you know that a well-trained crew follows an immediate protocol until the storm is over. Their knowledge and experience about violent weather are invaluable for those who want to survive. Using the story of Jesus walking on the waves to His disciples, let’s discover a few things about the stormy trials of life.
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7/4/2010
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The Right Thing, The Wrong Way
John 6:22-29
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Our text reads that crowds of people came "seeking Jesus." That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And yet Jesus challenges them as to their motive because they were seeking Him (the right thing) in order to satisfy themselves only (the wrong motive). Let’s consider three monumental truths about how people interact with spiritual things in general and Jesus Christ in particular. Let’s also reconsider the starting point for anyone who wants anything to do with Christ.
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7/11/2010
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Wonder Bread!
John 6:30-50
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The Hostess Company has for years advertised that its Wonder bread "helps build strong bodies 12 ways" and that just two slices has the calcium of eight ounces of milk and the fiber of 100% whole wheat. Wow! The crowd that Jesus was speaking to would have loved that! But our Lord presents something to them far greater than what they were wanting. He knew what they needed.
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7/18/2010
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Plain Truths About the Bread of Life
John 6:51-71
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Mark Twain once remarked that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still lacing up its boots!" This section of John's Gospel has generated much confusion and misunderstanding. Even Jesus' original audience had trouble understanding His meaning, and when they did, they found the truth was difficult to bear. These "hard truths," however, are "the words of eternal life" (v. 68). Let's look at these four realities today.
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8/1/2010
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Seeing Jesus Through the Fog
John 7:1-13
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There was always a fog surrounding Jesus! It was a fog of uncertainty, of unbelief, and of conflicting opinion. He was misunderstood about both His mission and His message. His friends, His family, and His foes were often bewildered about who He was and what He was doing. That remains true even today. But in this passage our view becomes clearer. Jesus had clearly defined objectives that He reveals here and they are extremely practical for us today.
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8/8/2010
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Follow Jesus But Don't Be Religious
John 7:14-24
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Jesus clashed with religious leaders more than any other group of people. He went against their spiritual grain and challenged their legalistic ideas. Christ made it clear that He hadn’t come to establish a new religion but rather to show the way to God His Father. He didn’t give people another “system of beliefs and practices”; instead He said that He Himself was the way, truth, and life. In this public confrontation, we learn how to follow Christ in truth and not be religious.
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8/15/2010
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Standing by a Waterfall (Dying of Thirst)
John 7:25-53
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All the diverse and assorted experiences offered by this world can never satisfy the deepest longing of the human soul. What we really want isn't what we really need. The rest of John chapter 7 illustrates this truth. In the midst of a crowd of people clamoring for deep spiritual satisfaction stands the only One who can provide it. He offers them the drink that really satisfies and all but a few refuse it, preferring rather to die of thirst. How painfully ironic!
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8/22/2010
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Scribbling on the Ground
John 8:1-11
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Can you imagine what a surviving copy of Jesus' autograph would be worth today? Or what about a letter to His disciples? The fact is, there is no existing document or copy of anything Jesus ever wrote. We only have this story of Him scribbling something in transient dust on the Temple stones. Though John doesn't tell what Jesus wrote that day, his account does reveal a lot about Jesus Himself and how He interacted with three different kinds of folks.
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8/29/2010
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Blinded by the Light
John 8:12-20
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When the sun shines right in your eyes, your immediate inclination is to squint, turn away, or put sunglasses on. Light can be blinding! Though light penetrates our world, providing illumination and energy for our very existence, big doses of it can be difficult to handle. That's true spiritually as well. Jesus, by His teaching and work, illuminated this world darkened by sin. Some rejoiced in that light, able to see where they were going. But others, who'd been so accustomed to spiritual darkness, could only wince when Jesus was around.
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9/5/2010
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The Worst Way & Best Way to Die
John 8:21-30
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One person put it this way, "Death is the big flaw. Sometimes we can postpone it, lessen its physical pains, deny its existence—but we can't escape it!" Since that is universally true, why don't people take death seriously enough to plan for it? While we are alive in this world, everyone should be thinking more about the next. But what's the best (and worst) way to die?
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9/19/2010
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The Best Way & Worst Way to Live
John 8:31-36
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Everyone has an opinion on what "The Good Life" is. For some, it's financial independence. For others, it’s autonomy from government control. For still others, it’s the ability to do whatever you want whenever you feel like it. Jesus offers a different kind of freedom and a better brand of life. Here Jesus tells us what the best way to live really is: It’s the freedom to be a genuine disciple. And He tells us what the worst way to live really is: It’s the slavery of a sinful lifestyle. Today consider how free you really are and what areas of life you may still be in bondage to.
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9/26/2010
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The Devil's DNA
John 8:37-47
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Your body has 100 trillion cells. Inside each one is a nucleus and in each nucleus are DNA molecules. DNA is like an instruction manual for life with densely coded information telling each cell what to do. A simple paternity test would prove that my father was really my father. Here Jesus gives His audience a spiritual paternity test that reveals their spiritual father to be the devil himself. No matter what your physical ancestry, you can always tell one's spiritual heritage.
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10/3/2010
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Who IS This Guy?
John 8:48-59
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Jesus had friends and He had enemies. But besides those, He also had some "frenemies" (enemies who pretended to be friends). To this crowd who at first pretended to believe (v. 31) Jesus is both confrontational and controversial. This paragraph highlights three possible identities of Jesus: two of them were his enemies' accusations and one was Jesus' own claim.
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10/10/2010
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Life Hurts! Where's God?
John 9:1-12
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"Why is there so much pain in the world?" is the most frequently asked question ever! We hate it when we, or those we love, are in pain. Today we see Jesus confront a hurting world. As we do, consider these words by Elizabeth Elliot (whose husband was murdered): "If God is in charge and loves us, then whatever is given is subject to His control and is meant ultimately for our joy."
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10/17/2010
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The Truth About Your Neighbors
John 9:13-34
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Those of us who are Christians live in a sea of unbelievers who work with us, live next to us, shop where we shop, and send their kids to the same schools. Some have a mild case of unbelief disguised by religious practices. Others are more demonstrable in their agnosticism or atheism. Let's watch a local Jerusalem neighborhood struggle against faith in spite of clear evidence.
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10/24/2010
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Got Any Blind Spots?
John 9:35-41
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When you drive, you encounter "blind spots"—it could be part of your own car or it could be a tree that hides traffic on the other side. Those blind spots hinder both progress and ultimately, safety. When Jesus healed a blind man in Jerusalem, the same man was also healed of his spiritual blindness. But others who thought their spiritual perception was keen were as blind as a bat! As we consider this story, can you think of any blind spots in your spiritual journey?
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10/31/2010
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The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!)
John 10:1-10
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This is one of the most beloved passages to be found anywhere in Scripture. But it's not a stand-alone passage: The healing of the blind man in chapter 9 was more than a miracle. It was part of the process of Jesus forming His flock. The leadership had cast the healed man out of the synagogue. Jesus found him, accepted him, saved him, and placed him in His own fold.
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11/21/2010
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What's So Great About the Good Shepherd?
John 10:11-21
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"What's so great about being a Christian?" some people ask. The answer lies in the kind of care, provision, and protection we get from Jesus Christ, our Shepherd. Have you ever stopped to make a list of the benefits that are yours as a follower of Christ? Consider this short list of advantages that you, as a child of God, have. When was the last time you thanked Him for being your Shepherd? This would be a great week to do that!
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12/5/2010
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To BElieve or Not to BElieve...
John 10:22-42
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"In all unbelief there are two things: a good opinion of one's self and a bad opinion about God."— Horatius Bonar. It's true, isn't it? Humanism is man-centered and rejects God's existence or His relevance. But Jesus appealed to two things: the plain evidence of His supernatural works and the testimony of those who witnessed them. Jesus here asserts His deity, and the reaction is predictable—some believed while others did not believe. Which camp do you fall into?
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1/9/2011
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The Great Physician's Patient Dies
John 11:1-16
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When a doctor loses a patient on the operating table, there is a deep sense of remorse and sadness in the surgical theater. Doctors are trained to save lives but sometimes even the best trained physicians are unable to control complications that lead to death. But here we discover that Christ, the Great Physician, not only knows that His patient is sick--He allows him to die! Here are three principles about Divine Medicine that we can all learn.
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1/16/2011
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A Tale of Two Sisters
John 11:17-32
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In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote his famous work, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story before us is set in Bethany near Jerusalem and highlights the personal relationship that two sisters had with Jesus Christ. Their broken hearts provide an excellent platform to consider how Christ deals with people in grief and loss. Let's actively probe not only their responses but ours to the incredible promise Jesus makes.
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1/23/2011
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The Strangest Funeral Ever
John 11:33-44
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According to one source, there are approximately 2 million funerals in America per year, which means that about 5,479 funerals take place every single day! Most of those funerals are pretty typical: a formal service followed by an interment. But the funeral service we're looking at was really different--and not just because of a resurrection. Here Jesus does three things that are pretty normal for most people at a funeral, but strikingly odd for Jesus.
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1/30/2011
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What to Do with Jesus?
John 11:45-57
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Any lawyer can tell you that whenever the star witness is a resurrected corpse, you have a pretty good case! But Lazarus being alive from the dead doesn’t seem to persuade everyone. And so the big issue becomes what shall we do with Jesus? The decisions made here set the clock in motion for an impending hate crime—the crucifixion of Christ. But from heaven’s vantage point, this is all part of God’s plan for redemption. Let’s see the responses and how we can make a difference.
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2/6/2011
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A Meal to Reveal the Heart
John 12:1-11
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If you were to step into the home of Simon at Bethany (Mark 14:3) on that night, you would've seen Jesus and His disciples along with Lazarus and His two sisters reclining at a low table for a meal in honor of Christ. But if you were to step into the hearts of those people, you would discover they were all very different from each other. Those inside the house and outside represent the gamut of feelings about Jesus—from adoring love to intense hatred. What a complicated meal!
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2/13/2011
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A Day, a Donkey, a Deliverer, and a Decision
John 12:12-19
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2000 years ago, on the final Sunday of Jesus’ earthly life before His crucifixion, He did the most unusual thing—He sat on a donkey and was carried into the city of Jerusalem in parade fashion. This formal presentation of Him as Deliverer was both profound and predicted. What’s the significance of such an act as this? What overarching principles emerge for us today? We’ll dig in and discover them, but today you’ve got to write them down yourself:
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2/20/2011
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Living the Right Life
John 12:20-26
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If this sermon was a book and I wanted to sell lots of copies, the title would cause it to fail. Now if it were entitled "Living the High Life" or "Living the Successful Life," then I may have a winner. But many have lived with both success and riches who didn't live right! So what is the right life? Or to frame it with a better question: What kind of life is most pleasing to God? Through a series of paradoxes, John gives us the answer—it wasn't the answer most people are looking for!
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2/27/2011
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Cross-Culture
John 12:27-36
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The term cross-culture emerges from the social sciences and typically refers to interaction of one culture or language with another. But that's not how I'm using it today. I'm thinking of it in the biblical sense, the salvation sense. Jesus' whole life was immersed in the culture of the cross and He referred to His impending death on the cross as "His hour." Let's consider today the culture of the cross of Christ: what it meant to Jesus personally and the world ultimately.
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3/6/2011
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Believe It or Not!
John 12:37-50
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Most of you reading this are believers. Some are not. Both are dangerous positions to take but for different reasons—vastly different reasons! This paragraph in John's Gospel is the summary of all that has been written, from chapters 1 through 13. It reviews the two different responses people have to Jesus and then gives us Jesus' own synopsis on faith and unbelief. Today you will be able to understand the real differences and consequences of faith and unbelief.
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3/13/2011
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A Night Unforgettable
John 13:1-5
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Some days are frozen in time because of the magnitude of an event. You will always remember September 11, 2001 and where you were when the towers fell. The night America bombed Baghdad or the night John Lennon was murdered may be permanent memories captured in your mind. This was the final night Jesus spent with His own disciples and it would be unforgettable. Let’s discover how what seem like ordinary moments can be extraordinary appointments.
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3/20/2011
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Basin Theology 101
John 13:6-17
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At the final Passover meal that Jesus shared with His closest friends, He gave new meaning to the bread and wine, using them to point to His upcoming sacrificial death on the cross. Today we share Communion as a church family and reflect on that meal, as well as the lessons Jesus was teaching His first followers. After dinner Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash the feet of his students and taught them life principles about stooping, cleansing and serving.
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3/27/2011
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Betrayed!
John 13:18-30
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Relationships can withstand an enormous amount of pressure, but betrayal is sure to end most. The old English word means to hand over or to deliver. Think of it: while Jesus was about to deliver the world from sin and its destruction, Judas was about to deliver the Savior over to His enemies. If you've ever felt betrayed by someone, this study will have special application to you.
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4/10/2011
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A Brand New Way of Life!
John 13:31-35
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To follow Jesus is to have a brand new way of life. When these twelve men sitting around the dinner table started hanging around Jesus, they had no idea just how new and different their lives would become. At this final meal on that last night, they were still learning just how new their lives should be. (Jesus can still teach old dogs new tricks!) As present-day followers of Christ, let’s consider three aspects of life that become new once we become His disciples.
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4/17/2011
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F.A.Q.
John 13:36-38
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An old Persian Proverb reads, "It's harder to ask a sensible question than to supply a sensible answer." Many times our questions to God are reactive—based on a sort of knee-jerk reaction to painful circumstances. Peter asked Jesus two questions of this sort. But whenever we ask God questions we must hang around to get the supplied answers. The questions Peter asked are similar to ones we frequently ask. Let's consider and apply Jesus' outstanding answer
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5/1/2011
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A Theology for Messy Lives
John 14:1-6
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Life can be pretty messy sometimes: plans fail, people leave, money diminishes, and taxes rise. There are plenty of reasons to be troubled these days but there are better reasons not to be! Life was about to get real messy for those disciples around that Jerusalem dinner table. At times like that, there are some basic instructions we need to fall back on so our hearts inside us won't be swallowed up by the mess around us.
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5/8/2011
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How Can I Know God?
John 14:7-11
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What a thought—that a mere human can know God! The agnostic asserts this is impossible. The atheist insists that the very idea is an arrogant and purely metaphysical pursuit. But one of the reasons Jesus came was to reveal God's character and nature clearly and perfectly! Let's consider two roadblocks to knowing God and four resources that help us know Him better.
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5/29/2011
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Privileges of God's Employees
John 14:12-14
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Most companies have benefits for employees: things like overtime pay, health insurance, and sick pay. In 2 Corinthians 6:1, Paul calls us "workers together with Him" (NLT renders it "God's partners"). We have been called to a high and lofty task—to be His representatives here on earth. You might say we're part of the "family business." So what has God called us to do? And how has He provided for us in terms of resources? In short, what are the benefits of being God's employees?
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6/5/2011
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Four Part Harmony
John 14:15-18
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Some of the best moments on American Idol aren't the solo performances, but when all the singers join together and blend their voices in harmony. There's nothing sweeter than well-trained voices blended together in first, thirds, and fifths. Spiritual harmony is much the same—when believers blend with the triune Godhead there is an alignment that results in a deep sense of fulfillment. And what is the note we are to sing in this spiritual song? It is the note of loving obedience!
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6/12/2011
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Promises, Promises!
John 14:19-26
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Someone once mused, "Promises may get friends, but it's performance that keeps them." No wonder God has so many friends! He makes promises and keeps them. On this final night that Jesus spent with His friends, as both sorrow and confusion assailed them, Jesus made several promises that would sustain them in the days, months, and years ahead. What about you? Will you dare to trust the promises of God? It's the only way to see if they really work.
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6/26/2011
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Peace Where You Least Expect It
John 14:27-31
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On countless American gravestones this epitaph could be written: Hurried, Worried, Buried. What a sad way to live! Fear, anxiety, and distress have literally become part of our national culture. Odd, isn't it? Though we have such abundance in this country, most don't experience abundant life—especially as Jesus described it. Sure, everyone has his or her share of trouble and anxieties, but let's consider one of the greatest gifts Jesus gives to followers—the gift of peace!
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7/3/2011
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Life-Lessons from Grape-Growers - Part 1
John 15:1-7
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My parents grew grapes on their little plot of land in Southern California. There weren't many, but enough for me to know that getting fruit at harvest depended on three things: the solid connection of branch to vine, the vigilant care of the workers, and the consistency of those things over time. Jesus, walking with the disciples toward the Garden of Gethsemane, gives life lessons to His men using the familiar example of growing grapes. With that analogy in mind, let's consider the three ways our relationship to God is described by Jesus.
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7/10/2011
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Life-Lessons From Grape-Growers - Part 2
John 15:8-11
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As we grow older, we mature. In our spiritual lives we should become spiritually mature. The Bible calls it being fruitful. Spiritual fruit is the indication that we're truly connected to Christ. But there are others, as we'll see today. Last week we examined how the relationship with Christ is described (Connected to Christ, Cared for by the Father, and Consistent Over Time). Today let's consider how this relationship is demonstrated. When we're rightly connected to God we'll be:
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7/17/2011
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What a Friend We Have in Jesus
John 15:12-17
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We can get through almost anything in life with friends to share our sorrow and divide our grief. A Chinese word for friend is peng-yu and it has a much fuller meaning than in English. It means "one who brings completion and sums up beauty." The ancient Hebrews saw true friendship as an ideal to pursue and a blessing to enjoy. In these final moments with His followers, Jesus uses a most tender term for their relationship—they were friends! What does that friendship look like?
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7/24/2011
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Why Does Everyone Hate Me?
John 15:18-25
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There is a flipside to being a friend of Jesus. That's true of any friendship. Whenever you ally yourself and make friends with someone, you will incur some enemies because of it. Likewise, some who don't like Jesus won't like us either—and we discover there are quite a few who don't! Let's find out why, and how we can raise our heads high and prevail.
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7/31/2011
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Two Thirds Is Not Enough
John 15:26-16:15
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We love God the Father who created us and God the Son who redeemed us, but what about the Holy Spirit? We hear His name a lot, but who is He? What exactly does He do? What does He want from us? The Holy Spirit is the "quiet One," active in the life of believers but sometimes not acknowledged as being vital. Oswald Chambers noted, "The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a guest in a house. He invades everything!" Today, we consider Him and His role in our lives.
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8/7/2011
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The Holy Hound of Heaven
John 16:5-11
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Having understood Who the Holy Spirit is (Person not just power; Deity not just dignitary) we now find out what He does in the world of unbelieving people. Since the greatest gift God ever gave to the world was His only Son (John 3:16) it stands to reason that the greatest sin one can commit is to reject the Son (John 16:9). How does the Holy Spirit both sentence the world as prosecutor and lead people away from judgment? And what role do we play in all of this?
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8/14/2011
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When Sorrow Turns to Joy
John 16:16-22
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The flamboyant baseball-legend-turned-preacher Billy Sunday stated, "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere!" That's not to say that life is all laughs. Hardly! Jesus anticipated His followers' deep sorrow. He predicted it. But He also assured them that their experience of sadness would be eclipsed by a greater experience of lasting joy.
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8/21/2011
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How to Send Knee-Mail
John 16:23-28
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Today you can be anywhere in the world and send or receive messages digitally via email. Sending email has eclipsed traditional mail for years now. Sending knee-mail is similar (you can be anywhere)—but with better results! You don't need wifi or a modem; you don't need an electronic device or a computer. Before Jesus left His disciples, He wanted them to get "online" with the Father and stay connected through the simple yet powerful means of prayer.
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9/4/2011
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I've Fallen, but I CAN Get Up!
John 16:29-33
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I would rather fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail! So said President Woodrow Wilson. Our Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and is not surprised by our weaknesses. We all fall and fail, even though we may commit to standing strong. What can we learn about ourselves and our God in such valleys? Even more, what kind of restoration can we hope for after our bout with failure?
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9/18/2011
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Holy Eavesdropping
John 17:1
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Imagine if you could sit and listen to Jesus talking to His Father—what would Jesus say to Him? In this prayer (which comprises all of John 17) we step onto holy ground. His instruction to His followers is now over. His preparation of them is done. He now turns His attention heavenward to talk directly to His Father about Himself, about His disciples, and about His future church. This prayer is unique for four reasons:
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9/25/2011
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The Gifts That Keep On Giving
John 17:1-5
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It's possible to give without loving but it's impossible to love without giving— Richard Braunstein. Part of God's nature is that He shows His love by His generous gifts. "For God so loved the world that He gave..." (John 3: 16). Here, in the opening lines of Jesus' prayer to His Father, He requests a gift from His Father and acknowledges three other gifts—two given to the Son by the Father, and one given by the Son to us. These are the gifts that keep on giving!
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10/2/2011
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How Followers Are Formed
John 17:6-10
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Okay, so which is it? Did I choose God or did God choose me? Perspective is everything! If you look at it from the divine viewpoint, you'll say God chose. If you're looking at it from a human viewpoint, you'll say we do the choosing. But why can't both be true? I suppose you can sit around, scratch your head, and try to ponder such imponderables, or you can sigh happily and say with a grateful heart, "I'm elated that He chose me!" But you should also ask yourself another question while you're at it—What am I going to do about it now?
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10/9/2011
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Missionaries or Monasteries?
John 17:11-19
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How can you leave your mark on the world? Most everyone wants to be remembered for some contribution made to society. Well, Jesus wants us to do that, too. In fact, He prays for that. God wants you to make an imprint on life's road so people will say, "Hey look! God's kids were here!" We can't do that by isolating ourselves. We have marching orders!
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10/23/2011
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Listen Up! Jesus is Praying—for YOU!
John 17:20-26
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What's God's general will for you? Look no further than this text! Now as we listen to Jesus pray for us, we also find what our priorities in life are to be. These words are the "Last Will and Testament" of Jesus Christ. So pay close attention and you'll get it right from the heart of Jesus Himself.
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10/30/2011
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I've Got It Under Control
John 18:1-11
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Sometimes life appears to be spinning out of control. Events happen we didn't plan for, people do things we didn't expect, we find ourselves in places we never thought we'd be in. But though you can't always control what happens to you, you are responsible for what happens in you (attitudes and responses). What do we really believe about God's authority and power in our lives? Is there ever a time when God can't say, "I've got it under control"?
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11/20/2011
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The Darkest Night!
John 18:12-27
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On a dark spring night in Jerusalem, it seemed everyone was against Jesus Christ. The religious system had long been opposed to and jealous of His burgeoning ministry. The mock trial designed to get rid of Jesus was only going through the technical motions to achieve their end. And Peter, Jesus' closest friend, was in a downward process of disassociating himself from Him. But in the midst of the darkest night, the sunrise of God's grace was beginning to shine!
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1/8/2012
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A King, a Kingdom, and a Courtroom
John 18:28-40
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What kind of a King is Jesus, and what is the nature of His Kingdom? And what does it mean to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done"? These are the questions faced in the text before us. As Jesus nears the cross, a nation denies His reign over them, while a Roman ruler questions Him and then cynically admits his own confusion and despair.
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1/22/2012
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How Do You Handle Jesus?
John 19:1-16
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Pontius Pilate was like every other person who has ever lived. The fundamental question of his life was, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22). Everyone has to deal with Jesus, to decide about Him and His claims. In one setting, we can see how one man (Pilate) was influenced to deal with Jesus in three different ways. These three ways are how many people today still choose to deal with Jesus Christ.
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1/29/2012
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Execution of a King
John 19:17-22
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Regicide is the official word used for the execution of a king. Most countries reserve the stiffest of punishments for subjects or assassins who would kill their royalty. John records the execution of the King of kings on a Roman cross outside the city of Jerusalem. But the rest of Scripture reveals that it was more than an execution; it was sacrifice that brought salvation. The next few weeks, we will consider the cross in depth and what it means for the world and for us.
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2/5/2012
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The Cross on the Billboard of Eternity
John 19:23-24
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Did you know that the cross of Christ was always God's plan from the very beginning? It wasn't a reaction to mankind's rejection of His Son, nor was it an accommodation to a Roman and Jewish miscarriage of justice. It was according to "the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). Today we will take a journey back and connect the dots of God's unfolding plan of the cross throughout the ages.
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2/12/2012
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How to Love Your Mother
John 19:25-27
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A mother's love for her children is distinctive and irreplaceable. To watch a child suffer is crushing and almost intolerable for any mom. In this touching scene revealed in three verses, we not only see Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of her Son's cross, we also learn how Jesus cared for His mother. Even from His place of extreme suffering, Jesus was thinking of others and His love for Mary is noteworthy for us.
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2/19/2012
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iThirst
John 19:28-29
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The world is filled with Apple's i-technology, which delivers on its promise to make connectivity and information readily accessible. But there is a deeper need within everyone, a thirst to be right with God, that no app or gadget can fulfill. How ironic that Jesus, the great Thirst-Quencher, would Himself be thirsty. It was part of the great exchange—His temporary thirst enabled yours to be quenched eternally!
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2/26/2012
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It's Done!
John 19:30
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While Jesus was doing His greatest work, He uttered His greatest words! Through the excruciating pain of a tormenting death, Jesus gave the most meaningful statements worthy of careful consideration. John records three of Jesus' seven statements uttered while on the cross. The sixth—and perhaps the most hopeful—is the one we consider today.
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3/4/2012
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Death Under Control
John 19:31-37
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Watching someone you love die is always a heart-wrenching experience, especially when the victim experiences great suffering. For the apostle John, the death of Jesus was likewise difficult-but he saw a glimmer of hope, a silver lining in the dark clouds of death. This death was long ago anticipated and was being carefully monitored from the control center of heaven. Today we see why that's important.
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3/11/2012
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Disciples on the Graveyard Shift
John 19:38-42
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You can find an unending supply of books, pamphlets, and articles on discipleship in Christian churches and bookstores. Many of them will be predictably regimented and conventional, giving solid biblical references and calling Christians to ardently follow Christ—all great stuff. But not everyone's spiritual journey is identical. Some disciples are unexpected, and so is their story. Here are two disciples of Jesus who've been in the background and now step forward to care for the body of Christ after His death. Let's allow their story to inspire us.
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3/18/2012
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A Not-Quite-Empty Tomb
John 20:1-10
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There was a lot of confusion happening on the first Easter morning. The resurrection had happened but it was neither expected nor accepted by all at first. Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples what she saw, and they ran to check out her report. What they saw was compelling evidence of a resurrection, but only one of them really connected all the dots. Let's see why.
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4/1/2012
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From Closed Doors to the Open Road
John 20:19-23
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Our relationship with Jesus isn't a secret to be hoarded; it is a story to be heralded! The disciples were seated behind closed doors (sounds like a lot of churches). Jesus wanted them out, giving away what they had been given. Let's see how these early followers went from panic to peace, from perplexity to purpose, and from protection to power. It's a great journey. Are you up for it?
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4/8/2012
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Rise Up!
John 20:24-31
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The apostle Thomas has been noted for his skeptical attitude. In fact, we refer to a skeptic as a "doubting Thomas." In this message from John 20, we consider four ways Thomas was able to rise up from doubt and become a joyful follower of Jesus.
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4/15/2012
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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)
John 21:1-14
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I am not a great fisherman. I don't do it often and when I catch something, it's pure luck! My dad was the opposite—he loved it and was great at it. At least seven of Jesus' disciples were fishermen and here we see them plying their trade after the resurrection. Some beautiful lessons can be discovered about how to live while we wait for Jesus to come back for us.
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4/22/2012
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I Failed! Now What?
John 21:15-19
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One of life's harshest realities is failure. The very sound of the word seems harsh to our sensibilities. We even harbor the age-old axiom, "Failure is not an option!" But failure is an option; in fact, it's a certainty. But discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to victory. In a post-resurrection interview, Jesus restores Peter with a fresh commission. If you have failed in your spiritual experience (and who hasn't), these principles will inspire.
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4/29/2012
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Final Instructions
John 21:20-25
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As John closes off his singular testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he features some closing words of Jesus and Peter about himself (John). These final sentences provide some instructions for us as we await Christ's return. How should we live in light of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and when Jesus will return?
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.