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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)

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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord) - John 21:1-14

Taught on | Topic: Christian living | Keywords: discipleship; fellowship, partnership, stewardship, worship, fishing, fish

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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4/15/2012
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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)
John 21:1-14
Skip Heitzig
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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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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.

FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help)

Outline

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  1. We Need to be Together—Fellowship (vv. 1-2)

  2. We Need to be Active—Partnership (vv. 3-6)

  3. We Need to be Obedient—Stewardship (vv. 7-11)

  4. We Need to be Intimate—Worship (vv. 12-14)

Breakfast Chat:

  1. Where's your favorite spot for breakfast? What company do you like to eat with? Why?

  2. Can you think of an isolated person who is spiritually healthy?

  3. Which statement would you say your life is characterized by:
    A "I am going fishing" or B. "Cast the net on the right side of the boat"?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Fish Stories
      1. Disinterest leads to not being very good at it
      2. Jim Byrne caught a marlin, stabbed in chest by its sword, fish flopped back into the ocean
    2.  John's conclusion
      1. "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 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 20:30-31)
        1. Seems an appropriate ending
        2. John wrote another chapter (25 verses; 3 paragraphs)
      2. John's purpose for chapter 21
        1. John a good friend to Peter
          1. Peter had denied the Lord
          2. John records how the Lord restored him to useful ministry
          3. Peter prominent in Acts 1-12
        2. John a great teacher: wants us to know how to relate to a resurrected and soon returning Lord
    3. After resurrection, Jesus just shows up then disappears suddenly
      1. Early morning walk; men on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13-31)
      2. Evening meal; disciples in the upper room (see John 20:19-25)
      3. To disciples when Thomas was present (see John 20:26-29)
      4. Going to work; Jesus on the shore
      5. Imagine living that way: always on alert—Jesus may show up at any moment
        1. We should live that way
        2. He is returning at any moment
        3. "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming" (Matthew 24:42)
  2. We Need to be Together—Fellowship (vv. 1-2)
    1. The disciples gathered frequently
      1. "And being assembled together with them" (Acts 1:4)
      2. "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1)
    2. "On this rock I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18)
      1. Church: originally a secular term—a group of citizens called out of society to assemble
      2. ἐκκλησία; ekklésia - church
        1. ἐκ; ek - out of
        2. καλέω; kaleó - called to assemble; summon; invite
      3. He calls us an assembly; He wants us to assemble
      4. Biblical definition of the church: a holy assembly called out separately to meet regularly and worship Christ principally
    3. God's design
      1. Integrated with each other
      2. Not isolated from each other
    4. Problem: age of technology
      1. Social networking: a façade; studies prove that with increase of technology, society becoming more isolated and lonely
      2. Noting can replace face to face relationships
    5. "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25)
      1. Not how often do I have to go
      2. Rather, how often do I get to go
    6. Why do some resist church?
      1. Jewish proverb: a man without friends is like the left hand bereft of the right hand
      2. An isolated Christian is like the left hand bereft of the right hand
      3. "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment" (Proverbs 18:1)
  3.  We Need to be Active—Partnership (vv. 3-6)
    1. Some say, "Peter and the disciples had no business going fishing—that's what Jesus called them from"
      1. Not true
      2. They were in Galilee because Jesus told them to wait for Him there
      3. They were obedient; actively waiting
    2. Wait actively
      1. Stay busy
      2. "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13, KJV)
    3. "As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me" (Genesis 24:27)
      1. Find out where God is moving
      2. Get in the way
    4. "That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you" (1 Thessalonians 4:11): Written to Thessalonian believers who'd quit jobs, believing the Lord would come back at any moment
  4. We Need to be Obedient—Stewardship (vv. 7-11)
    1. Disciples are the fishing experts
      1. Fishing all night—the best time
      2. Caught nothing
    2. Jesus on shore
      1. They didn't recognize Him
        1.  happens a lot in post-resurrection appearances
        2. Jacob: "Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it'" (Genesis 28:16)
      2. Sometimes we think He has abandoned us
        1. He is there
        2. "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5)
      3. Why did Jesus ask? He knew the answer
        1. Admit their failure
        2. Recognize their need
        3. Frequently asks for this purpose
          1. To Adam, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:9)
          2. "Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" (Genesis 3:11)
          3. "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9)
    3. Failure good for us
      1. Think about your methods
      2. Think about your motives
      3. Open to something new
      4. Abraham Lincoln: failed at politics, failed at business; 17 years paying off debts; engaged to girl; she died; returned to politics—defeated multiple times; learned from failures
    4. John discerned it was the Lord
      1. Same occurrence 2 years prior: "When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, 'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' But Simon answered and said to Him, 'Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.' And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking" (Luke 5:4-6)
      2. Also recognized the Lord had risen from the dead
      3. For some things, the only explanation is the Lord
        1. Day of Pentecost, thousands saved when Peter spoke
        2. Drug addicts and prostitutes getting clean and walking with Jesus
    5. They were obedient
      1. Difference between failure and success: four feet
      2. More than competent, diligent, relevant: you need to be obedient
  5. We Need to be Intimate—Worship (vv. 12-14)
    1. Above all else
    2. Best part of their day
      1. Not being together in the boat
      2. Not the catch of fish
      3. Eating breakfast with Jesus
    3. Possible to be so busy doing the King's business that you forget the King Himself
      1. "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love" (Revelation 2:2-4)
      2. Serve the Lord and not love the Lord
      3. Motives
        1. Guilt
        2. Fulfillment
        3. Recognition
        4. Love for Jesus: worship
    4. Christian life cannot be lived in cruise control

Greek terms: ἐκκλησία; ekklésia - church; ἐκ; ek - out of; καλέω - called to assemble, summon,invite
Figures referenced: Jim Byrne; Abraham Lincoln
Cross references: Genesis 3:11; Genesis 24:27; Genesis 28:16; 1 Kings 19:9; Proverbs 18:1; Matthew 16:18; Matthew 24:42; Luke 5:4-6; Luke 19:13; Luke 24:13-31; John 20:19-25; John 20:26-29; John 20:30-31; Acts 2:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; Hebrews 10:24-25; Revelation 2:2-4

Topic: Christian living

Keywords: discipleship; fellowship, partnership, stewardship, worship, fishing, fish

Transcript

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Turn in to your Bibles if you would to the Gospel of John.  You   probably won't hear those words much longer since we're in the last chapter of that book, John chapter 21.  And we're bringing this study to a close after 2 1/2 years.  I'm not closing it today but coming to a close in the last chapter.  Would you pray with me?

Lord, every single one of us has a need.   We have wants but we have needs and you know both.  You know what we want but you know what we need.  Moreover, you have all the resources to meet exactly what we need and that's where we come in.  As we gather here today we pray that you will speak to the deep places of our lives, ministering to us through the Word of God the Scriptures themselves, speaking to needs.   Help us in our minds not to marginalize truths that we hear or to pass them off is irrelevant to us.  We're thinking that others besides us need to be here to hear the message.  You've gathered us and we are your people, and we say to you speak and we will listen.  Help us as we study together considering Jesus' name, Amen. 

The earliest memories of my boyhood include fishing, not because I was particularly good at it.  I was not, but my father loved to fish.  So he would take his four boys to a place called Jess Ranch in California.  And those were ponds that were stocked with trout.  I mean they fill those babies up and then you stand in front of it and throw whatever you want into them and anybody can catch a fish, even me.  That's how I learned the craft.  Then he took us up to Southern Oregon.  We spent most of our summers as boys up in Southern Oregon Klamath Falls, the lakes and rivers around.  Again my Dad would go fishing and we would be with him.  Then we graduated to deep sea fishing, where he would take us out of Newport Beach California and we'd go out to the high seas, spend the night on the boat.  And I discovered then as a boy that a full stomach and a boat ride don't really go well together.

We go Barracuda fishing that I remember.  Now I wasn't very interested in fishing and I wasn't very good at fishing and number two was true because number one was true.  But I do remember what it felt like to catch something on the other end of the line, to have that snag that pull, that hook.  An exhilarating feeling even if it was just a can or a rock.   It's like – Wow!  Another memory I have at fishing was much later on when a friend of mine, Randy Schneider decided I needed to learn how to fly fish because he said it was the coolest thing ever.   So I went to the high Sierra's with Randy Schneider, he was an expert fly-fishing; he had the art down, the whole casting thing.  It was beautiful and I went with them I have never done it before and what really ticked him off is I caught the biggest fish that day.  Beginners luck, he hated me for that. 

Now I know when you hear a fish story, you're always suspect, right?  Because they tend to grow as the story gets told over and over again.   It's been said that there are more fish that come out of streams than are actually in the streams.  But every now and then, you come to an honest fish story.  Like this one.  Jim Byrne who lived in Australia, fishing off the coast of Australia, Marlin fishing, one day hooked a giant Marlin. It took him a long time, hours to flight with that struggling thing and bring it into the boat, which he did.  He finally got it on deck but the fish wasn't done fighting, true story, the fish to its spear and poked it right into the chest of Jim Byrne narrowly by a fraction of an inch missing his heart and lungs.  And then the sword came out of the chest and the fish happily flopped over back into the ocean and swam away - total bummer for Jim Byrne and anyone who had that experience, true story.

We come in the Bible to another fishing story, a true one.  It is about fishing but it's more about people than it is about fishing John chapter 21 verse 1.  After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples of the sea of Tiberius and in this way he showed himself.  Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathaniel Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee the James and John, and two others we don't know whom. They're anonymous, so seven altogether of his disciples were together.

Simon Peter said to them, "I'm going fishing".  They said to him, "We're going with you also".  They went out and immediately got into the boat and at that night they caught nothing.  When the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore and yet disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, "children" the equivalent would be "Fellows, do you have any food.  That is if you caught anything.   They answered "No".  He said to them cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.  So they cast and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.   Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved, we now know that's John, said to Peter, "It's the Lord".   When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment for he had removed it and plunged into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the little boat for they were not far from the land of about 200 cubic that's 300 feet dragging the net with fish. 

Then as soon as they had come to the land, they saw fire of coals there and fish laid on it and bread.   And Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to the land full of large fish, 153 so somebody is counting.  And although there were so many, the net was not broken.  Jesus said to them come and eat breakfast.  Yet none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" knowing it was the Lord.  Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them likewise the fish.  This is now the third time Jesus showed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 
I find something fascinating about John's writings.  As I read chapter 20, the chapter right before this.  It seemed like that was an appropriate ending, because the last two verses of chapter 20 are like an epilog.  Those last two verses, it says, and truly many other signs Jesus did in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that by believing you might have life in his name.  It sounds like a closing statement.  It's a perfect way to close a book.  But John gives us a whole other chapter 25 more verses, three more paragraphs, why? Why after that perfect ending does he continue the story?

Let me suggest you two reasons.  Reason number one, because John was a good friend and his buddy Peter had denied the Lord and John wants us his readers to know how Jesus restored in his buddy Peter back into useful ministry, because otherwise we would be reading the book of acts and discover how prominent Peter is in those first 12 chapters and we'd be asking, "How did that happen, where was I?  How did Peter who denied the Lord and just sort of fell off the map become so prominent in this early Church?   And John tells us how that happens.  He gives us as a friend what happened to his friend his buddy Peter.  There's another reason I believe – because John is a great teacher and John wants cause his readers to know how to relate to a resurrected and soon returning Lord.   And that really is what we're going to talk about today.

How to we relate to a savior who is alive and is coming back? Because here's the deal after Jesus rose from the dead, you'll discover that he just sort of shows up, pops in.  It comes to a place and then disappears suddenly at whim it would seem.  So you might be having an early morning walk like the two guys on the road to Emmaus and Jesus just shows up, "Hi".   Or you might be having an evening meal like the apostles in the upper room and Jesus pops in, "Peace to you", and then he leaves.   Or you might be having a heated discussion, like Thomas, he said, "I won't believe unless I can touch his side and his hands", and Jesus just shows up and then he leaves.  Or, you might be like these guys here, going to work.  And there is Jesus standing on the shore.

Can you imagine living that way, always having to be on the alert?  Jesus might show up, where is he going to be next?  You know what, you know what - you do live that way.  Or I should say, you should live that way, because the truth of the matter is this risen, resurrected Lord is returning.  And the Bible says he can come at any moment and we ought to also be on the alert knowing that he could come at any moment, as Jesus said, "Watch therefore for your Lord comes at an hour you do not know".  So there's a question, how do we live while we're waiting for the Lord to return, what things do we do? And I think the answers are all found in the paragraph we just read.   There are four principles I want you to look at with me this morning.   Number one, "We need to be together".   We need to be together, as we're waiting for the Lord to return we need to frequently get together.   We'll read in verse 2 that these disciples and there were seven of them were all together.  Now here is a good example, a great pattern that they will follow the rest of their days together.  You don't have to turn there but in the book of Acts 1:4 says, "An being assembled together, they kept the same pattern.  Acts2:4, they were in the same place in one accord.   They were assembled together. 

So as we're waiting for the Lord to return, one of the fundamental things and every Christian ought to know this, is w ought to gather frequently.  I always found it interesting, the word that Jesus chose to describe us.  He called us a church.   He said, "Upon this rock I will build my church".  Now we've heard that word for so many years.  We think well, here it is, this is the church we're inside the church.  I'm going to church.   And it has become such a religious word but you've got to know that when Jesus said, "My church".   It meant something for something far different originally.  It was actually a secular term of a group of citizens called out of their city or society to assemble together regularly.  It comes from two Greek words the word is 'eccaleo' and the word is 'ecclesia' for church, and the word 'ecclesia' from the words 'eccaleo' means to be called out and to meet together, that's the idea. 

So think of it this way, if Jesus refers to us as an assembly, he must want us to assemble and that's the idea.   So here's what I think is a biblical definition of the church, a holy assembly called out separately to meet regularly that worship Christ principally - that's a church.  He calls us out and we gather frequently and we meet together.  He said I will build my Church, he didn't say "Upon this rock I will build my monastery, or upon this rock I will build my private little meeting place where you can go all on your own and you never have to be with other people.  Every now and then I meet people that say,
"Well, I'm a Christian; I just don't like God's people.   I don't want to be around church people.   I don't go to church.   I'm not a church person.   As you're waiting for the Lord, you need to be in church, you need to be with God's people.  And so they were meeting and they were together. 

And that's the way God designed us folks.  God designed us that we would be integrated with each other not isolated from each other and we're facing a problem, you and I, it's called the age of technology.  And this wonderful age in which we live, in the technology, I see iPads and iPhones and people are reading their Bibles and hopefully you're not socially networking right now. Let me just talk a little bit about that because I bet a lot of you do socially network your Facebook and Twitter and I do the same thing but there is a façade that that gives to us, there's a veneer.  It's a lie you think you really connected with people because you go online and you can e-mail or you can Facebook, right?

Studies prove that what our increase of technology our society is becoming more isolated and lonelier. Because nothing, nothing can take the place of being together in eye to eye relationship, being in each other's presence. You can't go out and buy fellowship 3.0, acceptance 7.1.  You have to be with people.   That's the way we're designed.  And worldly groups or social networking or all the technology cannot take the place of what God knows you and I need.  We need to be together. 

I want you to turn in your Bibles, keep a marker here and turn with me to the book of Hebrews chapter 10 just for couple verses.  Of course if you don't have a Bible and you have a cool little iPhone and there, but for the rest of us, Hebrews 10:24, And let us consider in order to stir up love and good works.  That is best done when you're actually with somebody else, stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some but exhorting one another and so much more as you see the day approaching.  You might ask, 'Well how often do I have to get together?' Wrong question, it should be how often do I get to do this?

When my wife Lenny was first saved she discovered there were church services every night and you know what she went every night because she wanted to learn and grow as much as she could.  It wasn't like, do I have to go? It's like do I get to go? Notice what the writer says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some".  Why is that the manner of some? Why is it that the manner of some is - church consists of Christmas, Easter and maybe a wedding or funeral from time to time?  Why is it the manner of some that you have to drag them to church? I'll buy you lunch and dinner for a week if you come – Okay. And others, you have to drag from church, they love it so much.  Why is it the manner of some, 'I don't need to go through the Bible with the rest, I'll just get my sporadic fix from time to time." Why is that a manner of some - because they don't get this need?

We need to be together and much more as the day is approaching.  There's an old Jewish proverb that says a man without friends, a friendless man is like the left-hand bereft of the right-hand.  And I would say an isolated Christian is like the left-hand bereft from the right hand.  Listen to this; this is right out of the Bible, Proverbs 18:1, A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire. He rages against all wise judgment.  When we gather together we get the collective judgment of God's people especially when we base our meeting together on the Word of God. We need this, we need to be together.

Let's go back to John 21.  The second thing we need according to our text is, "We need to be active".  We'll read in verse 3, Simon Peter said, I'm going fishing and the other guy said, I'm going fishing with you.  They were fishermen.  Now, I want to just dispel something, because I've read it in some commentaries and I've heard some sermons and I've heard Christians talk. And this is how it goes, Peter and these disciples had no business going fishing because that's what Jesus called them out of and said I'm to make you fishers of men.  So they shouldn't have gone back, they were backsliding going to Galilee, no they weren't.   Do you know why they went to Galilee? Because Jesus said, "Go to Galilee and wait for me there."

So they are being obedient to him and they're going to Galilee and while they were waiting for him to return when he's going to come, Peter goes, 'I'm going fishing' – Oh no.  Really, you're going to say that to a fisherman? You see, Peter needs to eat and there's a lake in front of them, and he knows how to work the lake and he and the other guys worked a meal.   Or maybe we have some bills to payoff but the point is they were actively waiting, that's the point. 

You know you can wait passively or you can wait actively and I suggest, until the Lord returns we stay busy, we wait actively, we don't put our feet up and our hands back and go, "I'm just waiting for the Lord".  No, as you're waiting for the Lord, stay busy, stay active.  Luke 19 is a parable.  The bottom line, Jesus says, therefore, occupy or do business, occupy until I come.   Stay busy, move, be active, live your life, pay your bills until the Lord comes back. I've always discovered it's easier to direct a moving than an object at rest.  If you want to learn how to ride a bicycle, don't just park the bicycle and go watch a video on how to ride a bicycle.  Book – How To Ride A Bicycle, I'm going to study this – Get on that baby and let somebody push you because once that gets speed going and it's moving and it's going it to be a lot easier to direct it.  Once it's moving than when it's standing still. 

And so it is with us we move, we live our lives, we pay our bills, we make our decisions trusting that the Lord is going to direct us as we're moving and I think that's the way to it.  Wait on the Lord actively.  There's a great text of Scripture that has this principle, let me tell it to you.  In Genesis 24, I believe, the servant of Abraham by the name of Eliezer is being sent out by Abraham to find a wife for his son Isaac, right? And so, he describes it as a process, this is what he says, Eliezer speaking, "I being in the way, the Lord led me".  And the Lord will lead you as you and I are in the way.  And so the key is stay busy, stay active. 

I want you to turn to one more Scripture.  John 21 bear with me turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 4 for just two more verses first Thessalonians 4.  If you're wondering where that is, its right before 2 Thessalonians, so just turn right and go down a few streets and you'll see it on your right.  1 Thessalonians 4:11, Paul writing to this young church, that you also aspire to lead a quiet life to mind your own business.  I know some people they ought to underline that and memorize that one, and to work with your own hands as we commanded you that you may walk properly toward those who are outside and that you may lack nothing.  In other words stay busy, work hard, pay your bills.  Do you know why Paul wrote that? Most scholars believe Paul is writing this book, here's one of the reasons, many of the Thessalonians believers had quit their jobs believing the Lord would come back at any moment.   And if God's coming back, if Jesus is coming back, we might as well just quit our jobs and wait for him to come, why go to work?

So in quitting their jobs they have time on their hands and now they become instead of busy, they become busy bodies.  They started getting involved. Well, you know what; I've been looking at your life.  We'll you know what, get out of my life and go do your job.  That's what Paul is saying, stay busy and stay active. I remember in the Jesus movement we called it in the late 60s, early 70s that's when I was saved at early 70s. I was going to college and I was called unspiritual because I was going to college.  And here's why I had friends say Jesus is going to come back before you graduate, why are you in college?  Some of them were even quitting their jobs and get this, maxing out their credit cards because after all if Jesus is going to come back I can buy now and never have to pay.

Not a good witness, bad idea.  A man went to a doctor, and that doctor gave him a thorough examination. He said, "Doctor you've got to tell me what's wrong". So blood work, total physical and they patient said, "Okay doctor, lay it on me, give it to me straight.  Tell me what's wrong, I can take it."  Do you want me to tell you honestly what's wrong? He goes, "Yes sir".   The doctor said, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with you except one thing, you're just plain lazy." And the man thought about it for a moment, he said, "Would you say that again in medical terminology so I can tell my wife."

I think a lot of people try to couch their excuses in spiritual terminology. Well the Lord led and I'm waiting – You know what, Paul says, "Stay active, stay busy, be together, be active" here's the third principle back in John 21. Be obedient, verse 5 Jesus said to them, "Children have you any food?" They answered him, no.  He said I love this part; I absolutely love this part, "Cast your net on the right side of the boat".  There's only 4 feet from the first spot, and you will find some.  So they cast and now they were not able to draw them because of the multitude of the fish.  I love it when Jesus talks to these experts. They've been fishing all night because that was the best time for net fishing in the Sea of Galilee, you begin at sunset and you fish into the night and they were doing at all night and got to zip, zero, nadda, nothing.   And Jesus asked them, "What have you caught?" and they said, "We've caught nothing".

It's interesting that Jesus was on the shore and they didn't recognize him. We discover this a lot with some post-resurrection appearances. There he is, better know it's him.  How much is that like us, right? We think God has abandoned us, God's not here.  He's right there.  He said he'll never leave you or forsake you.  Remember the story in the Old Testament of Jacob when he ran away from home and he went to this, what he would consider a godforsaken place, way out in the middle of nowhere, put his head on a rock and went to sleep that night thinking God is so far away from me.  I've run away from his will and he gets a vision that night, a dream of angels descending a ladder from heaven to the earth and going back up.  He wakes up next day and he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not".  Did you hear that? I know it now but I knew it not.   Yesterday, last night, I didn't know he was in this place I thought I was alone.  The Lord is present tense in this place and I knew it not but I know it now.

So there is Jesus on the shore, there's the disciples in the boat, Jesus shouts out, "Hey, have you dudes caught anything?" – No.   And so, "Well, cast your net on the other side".   Why did Jesus ask them the question?  Is it because he didn't know the answer? Was he really trying to get information that he didn't already have?  No, he asked them the questions, so they would admit their failure and recognize their need. My failure I haven't caught anything, my need, I need to catch something for a meal, so to admit their failure, to recognize their need.   

You'll discover in the Bible that god uses this method frequently.  He'll ask a question to Adam in the garden, when Adam and Eve sinned.  God cried out, "Adam, where are you?" God knew exactly where he was, he wanted Adam to admit where he was.  "Far away from you God." Have you eaten off that tree that I commanded you not to eat? - Again a question.  Or Elijah the prophet who ran away down into the wilderness, sat under a broom tree. And said, "God, I just want to die" God didn't go up to Elijah, "Oh poor little Elijah".   He said this, "Elijah, what are you doing here?" – That's a good question, what are you doing here? Dude, you just killed thousands of prophets to bail and one little gal, one little Lady Jezebel threatened your life and you run away and you want to die.  What are you doing here?

And so here to these guys, "Did you catch anything?" No, because he wants them to admit their failure.  Now listen, we all fail.  And did you know that failure is actually good for us if you have all success, nobody wants to be around if you.  If you fail at something, it causes you to slow down, to pause, to think about your methods, to think about your motives and to be open for something new.  You learn from that.  You are open to another thing like casting your net 4 feet away.  What good is that going to do?  They'll do it now, they've caught nothing and they admitted it.

Let me tell you about a failure.  This young man was an aspiring politician, he ran for state legislature.  He was defeated, he decided to quit politics.  Went into business, was a failure at business, spent the next 17 years of his life paying off debts of a worthless partner who got him into debt, then he found a girl that he was engaged to, she died.  Then he decided, "I'm going back into the politics", ran for several offices defeated, defeated, defeated.  But eventually that man Abraham Lincoln became the President of the United States.  He learned at each juncture from his failure and was hoping to try something different.

Have you caught anything? No, and then Jesus says cast your nets on the other side.  Now, who was it that discovered it was the Lord? Who was it?  John, the disciple Jesus loved, John, it wasn't Peter.  Now I'm not going to – Peter, but I am going to applaud John.  Because this is so much like John to be quick on the draw, right, at the tomb who discovered Jesus was risen from the dead? It wasn't Peter, it was John.  They both looked in and Peter saw it and believed and Peter is just kind of scratching his head going, "Cool, I don't know what this means." But John did and Peter believed after John.   So John recognizes this and says – "That's the Lord".  And that's when Peter says, "Good enough for me" jumps in the water with his robe on.  Like okay, how good is that, it's not going to keep you warm in the water.  Number two; you're going to get out soaking wet and colder than when you got in but whether.  Okay, so question - How did John figure out that's the Lord.   Here's my hunch, John saw what was happening and said "There's only one explanation for this" The same exact thing happened to us two years ago.  Now, you don't have to turn there, but let me read this account to you.  This is an account that happened 2 1/2 years prior to this, when Jesus called them formally to be his disciples Jesus is at the Sea of Galilee a crowd of people gathered.  Jesus steps into a boat, teaches from the boat and after the sermon it says when he had stopped ,speaking, he said to Simon launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.   Simon answered and said to him "Master we've toiled all night and caught nothing.  Sounds familiar to doesn't it? Nevertheless, at your word, I will let down the net.  But I think Peter was saying to the Lord is, "Look, I'm the fisherman, you're preacher. I know about fishing, you don't.  I've done it all night and caught nothing, but you know what you want to go fishing preacher, I'll humor you, I'll let down my net.

So he did and it says when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their net was breaking.  John after the resurrection sees what is happening and goes, "I know the explanation that has to be the Lord, and because this happened to us a couple of years ago and it was the Lord." You see, there are some things that happen in life and there's only one explanation.  It is the Lord.  How do you explain what happened on the day of Pentecost, thousands of people getting saved when Peter spoke.  That's the Lord.  How do you explain a drug addict or a prostitute getting off that stuff and being in love with Jesus?  Only one explanation, that's the Lord.  How do you explain what has happened here with this church, with this bone-head pastor?  There's only one explanation, it has got to be the Lord.  And anybody who knows me really well goes – Amen it is the Lord.

But here's the deal, they were obedient.  Isn't it amazing that the difference, the only difference between failure and success was 4 feet, one side of the boat, and the other side of the boat?  Do it, it has got to be the Lord.  I know people who are in Christian service and they strive and they organize and they work and they spend and there's no fruit, there is no results.  Listen, you have to be more than competent and diligent and relevant.  You need to be obedient and listen carefully.   Is this what the Lord is telling me to do at this time?  I want to follow as I'm moving in the way I want to follow his impulse because I want to see fruit come out of it.  Back at John now, finally we will close it off by saying here's fourth principle.

We need to be intimate with the Lord.  We need to be together, we need to be active, we need to be obedient but above all else, and springing from this last principle is, we need to be intimate with the Lord.  Verse 12, Jesus said to them, come and eat breakfast.  Yet none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" knowing that it was the Lord.  Then Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them and likewise the fish.  Now, this is the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.  I can almost guarantee you that if you could have interviewed these disciples, picture it, you're down there at the Sea of Galilee, and you've got your microphone.  News cameras right there and you say your name, Peter, John, James, come here, I want to interview you guys.  Listen, this is a pretty epic day, right? So what was the best part of the day? That none of them would say the best part of today was being together in the boat.  Even thought they loved each other that wasn't the best part of the day.

They wouldn't the best part of the day was the miraculous catch of fish.  When we put the nets on the right side, it was that many fish, unbelievable, highlight of the day.  They wouldn't have said that.  They would have all said, "The highlight of the day was eating breakfast with Jesus. When we were with Him together and it reminded us of that sweet intimacy of that last supper and he was feeding us fish and bread, we were in his presence that was the best part that was the highlight of it". 

And that's the principle of worship.  We need to be together, that's fellowship.  We need to be active, that's partnership.  We need to be obedient, that's stewardship but we need to be intimate with Christ, that's worship. Do you know that it's possible to be so busy doing the King's business that you actually forget the King himself?  You can work and serve and stress out and you don't spend time with him.  And that's a mistake because all of the activity, all of the obedience, all of the togetherness should be formed in that place of intimacy with the Lord in worship.  It was the church that did this.   It was the church of Ephesus.  Jesus wrote a postcard, let's call it an e-mail.  In Revelation 2, he said to the church of Ephesus, you guys are great.  You labor, you work, you persevere, you have patience but I have something against you. You have left your first love.  Or one translation says, you don't love me like you did at first. You're busy, you're serving, you're working, you're working, you're active, but you don't love me.  It's not based upon an intimate relationship.  You say, "Is that even possible?  Is it possible to serve the Lord and not Love the Lord?" I'm here to tell you this, think with me.  For several different motives that keep Christians busy and active and they're not always the best motives.

Motive number one, 'Guilt' and they always talk about being involved with this search.   Okay, I want to alleviate my guilt so I'll do something, 'Whew, I feel better. I'm not guilty".  Reason number two, there's some psychological need to exercise a gift.   So that when I exercise this gift, when I sing, when I speak, I feel so much better, fulfilled. Okay not the best motive, because you're doing it just for you.  A third motive, because when I do this thing, people see me.   Not a god motive.  The best motive is because I love Jesus, I love him and part of my worship to him is to do this for him, knowing that I'm doing it with him.  So it's more than your hands in the water getting fish, it's your hearts on fire before the Lord. 

I'll close with a story, true story.  I read it, so it has to be true.  It was cited with names and dates and everything, true story, husband and wife sold stocks and bonds and a lot of their possessions and about this cool killer RV motor home, it had everything in it.  It was their dream to drive around the country and see it.  So they began in Southern California going up Highway 1 and then the freeway, they were going up the coast in Oregon, Washington and then across.  The husband drove first, he was so stoked, he got behind the wheel and rode it for hours but after awhile he was tired and said to his wife, "Will you drive?" She said, "I'd love to."

She gets behind the wheel.  She puts it on cruise control, right? You'd maintain your speed cruise control and then after some cruise control, she gets up and goes back to use the bathroom because she thought cruise control was the same as automatic pilot in her mind. That's what she told the California Highway Patrol after the accident. The RV was totaled. Husband and wife were both okay. The motor home was totaled. She thought cruise control meant autopilot.  If you think that you can live the Christian life on autopilot or cruise control, then you need to put on the brakes today and think about all that you do in your fellowship, all that you do in your service and even your obedience and ask, "Does it come, is it formed by a heart of – I really am in love with Jesus' and all that I do springs from the time that I spend in fellowship with him. That's the gas pedal you need to use today – worship, devotion because all the rest will spring from that. 

Father, that's where we want to close and we're so thankful that John didn't close in the 20th chapter.  That he included these stories that we might know what happened to peter as we'll discover next time.   And also, how we are to relate to the resurrected and soon returning Lord who may show up at any moment and we live in a sense on our tiptoes waiting for that return.  I pray that we would begin, like these disciples began early in the morning with breakfast with Jesus that we would begin early every morning in fellowship with you. It's in His mighty name we pray, 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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3/25/2012
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Hope Rekindled
John 20:11-18
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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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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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4/22/2012
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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
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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.