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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Final Instructions

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Final Instructions
John 21:20-25
Skip Heitzig

John 21 (NKJV™)
20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?"
21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?"
22 Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."
23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?"
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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?

"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) | Buy series

Outline

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  1. Be Careful Where You Look (v. 20)

  2. Be Careful What You Consider (vv. 21-22a)

  3. Be Careful Who You Follow (v. 22b)

  4. Be Careful How You Wait (vv. 23-25)

Some Final Thoughts:

  1. In what ways do you compare yourself to others? What does this reveal about you?

  2. What does this final section tell us about Jesus' care for each individual follower?

  3. The next time you feel the tendency to snoop into other peoples' business, do you think you could hear God's still, small voice saying, "What is that to you?"

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. While God is straightforward, we tend to complicate things
      1. Ten commandments
        1. Jews made ten categories
        2. 613 commandments
          1. 365 negative
          2. 248 positive
      2. We move things from simple to complex
        1. What Jesus said
        2. The Lord's Prayer
          1. 56 words
          2. Covers all areas of life
          3. Straightforward  yet comprehensive
          4. Compared to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture document setting the price of cabbage: 26,911 words
          5. "We respectfully petition, request and entreat that due and adequate provision be made, this day and the date hereinafter subscribed, for the satisfying of these petitioners’ nutritional requirements and for the organizing of such methods of allocation and distribution as may be deemed necessary and proper to assure the reception by and for said petitioners of such quantities of baked cereal products as shall, in the judgment of the aforesaid petitioners, constitute a sufficient supply thereof"
      3. "All great things are simple."—Winston Churchill
    2. Setting
      1. Final words of gospel of John: final words John records Jesus said
        1. Jesus keeps it simple
          1. Reinstates Peter
          2. Told of Peter's future usefulness to Him
        2. Peter complicates it: pokes his nose in someone else's business
      2. After breakfast
      3. Jesus has given Peter "shepherding duty"
      4. The disciple whom Jesus loved: John
  2. Be Careful Where You Look (v. 20)
    1. Background
      1. Jesus came to Sea of Galilee
      2. Disciples fishing, don't know it is Jesus on the shore
      3. Obediently cast net on other side, net full of fish
      4. John says, "It is the Lord!" (John 21:7)
      5. Peter swims to be with Jesus
      6. Heart to heart conversation with Peter
    2. Perhaps a friendly competition between Peter and John
      1. John records that it was he who recognized Jesus, not Peter
      2. He records that John got to the tomb first on resurrection day
      3. John recorded that He believed the resurrection, when Peter didn't yet comprehend it
      4. Now the reverse, "What about him?"
      5. Competition before being called: James and John in fishing business; also Andrew and Simon Peter
    3. Up to this point, Peter's eyes on Jesus
      1. Fellowship with Christ
      2. Peter is distracted
    4. Problems begin when we take our eyes from the Lord onto others
      1. Look around and get distressed
        1. Morning paper filled with bad news
        2. “If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. If you look at God you'll be at rest.” —Corrie ten Boom
        3. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2)
          1. Written from perspective of running a race
          2. Looking around you, behind you, to the stands, while on the track
      2. Arnold Palmer lost focus when shook hands with friend during 1961 Masters tournament
  3. Be Careful What You Consider (vv. 21-22a)
    1. Background
      1. Jesus predicted Peter would lead a long life and remain faithful
      2. Peter loved the Lord, but he's still Peter
        1. People change, but not that much
        2. Ups and downs
        3. Concerned himself with God's will for John
    2. We are prone to thing about someone else and want to meddle
      1. "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (2 Corinthians 10:12)
      2. Worry about what they are doing, rather than what we are doing
    3. Jesus didn't answer Peter's question: None of His business
    4. Johns end, according to Irenaeus, disciple of Polycarp, disciple of John
      1. Arrested
      2. Taken to Rome
      3. Romans tried to kill him in multiple ways, including boiling in oil
      4. Shipped to Patmos, prison colony
    5. "Take heed to yourself" (1 Timothy 4:16)
      1. "Keep a critical eye on your own life"—Phillips Translation
      2. We are not responsible for others on Judgment Day
      3. “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”—A.W. Tozer
      4. Be concerned about the Lord's will for your own life
  4. Be Careful Who You Follow (v. 22b)
    1. Are you following people, or are you following Christ?
    2. Jesus repeats the command to follow Him
      1. Already told Peter, "Follow Me." (John 21:19)
      2. Emphatic "you"
      3. As for you, you follow Me
      4. Peter was slow to understand, so Jesus said it slowly
      5. Jesus never told Peter to follow the other apostles
    3. Whenever you follow people, you will be disappointed
      1. "'I am of Paul,' or 'I am of Apollos,' or 'I am of Cephas,' or 'I am of Christ.'" (1 Corinthians 1:12)
      2. First and foremost, follow Christ
    4. When we probe deeply we may discover we aren't following as we should
      1. Like Peter answered when asked, "Do you love Me?"
      2. Be honest
    5. Measure whether you are following Christ
      1. Be where He is: "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also." (John 12:26)
        1. In all circumstances
        2. In all relationships
        3. In all decisions
      2. Do what He does: "I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done." (John 13:15)
        1. Jesus was faithful and obedient
        2. Jesus was patient
        3. Jesus was honest
        4. Jesus was holy
        5. Copy and emulate what Jesus does
      3. Suffer for His sake: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24)
        1. Not whatever problem you face at the moment
        2. Galileans knew what it meant
          1. Carrying the patibulum to crucifixion
          2. Around this time 2000 Galileans were crucified and placed on the main roads so all would see what would happen if you defy Rome
        3. Take yourself off the throne
        4. Put Christ on the throne
        5. Willing to die to your dreams, ambitions, goals
  5. Be Careful How You Wait (vv. 23-25)
    1. The last words of Jesus recorded by John are about His return and waiting for it
      1. Rumor was that John would not die
        1. Wasn't a prophecy, but a hypothetical statement
        2. Even the early church misinterpreted truth by not listening carefully
      2. John appeals to the reader to pay careful attention to what he wrote
    2. As we wait for the Lord's return, be careful
      1. Not to cling to rumors, hear say, etc.
      2. Stick to the study of God's Word
    3. Understand the Scripture
      1. Never know what it says to you personally, unless you know what it said to them personally
      2. Never know what it said to them personally unless you examine carefully
      3. Faithfully, expositionally, verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter, and book-by-book go through the Bible
      4. "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God." (Matthew 22:29)
      5. "I supposed I knew my Bible,
        Reading piece-meal, hit or miss;
        Now a bit of 'John' or 'Matthew,'
        Now a snatch of  'Genesis.'
        Certain chapters of 'Isaiah,'
        Certain "Psalms,"—the twenty-third,
        Twelfth of 'Romans,' first of 'Proverbs.'
        Yes, I thought I knew the Word.
        But I found a thorough reading
        Was a different thing to do,
        And the way was unfamiliar
        When I read the Bible through.
        Ye who treat the Crown of Writings
        As you treat no other book—
        Just a paragraph disjointed,
        Just a crude, impatient look—
        Try a worthier procedure,
        Try a broad and steady view;
        You will kneel in very rapture
        When you read the Bible THROUGH." Reading through the Bible, by Amos R. Well

Publications referenced: Reading through the Bible, by Amos R. Well
Figures referenced: Winston Churchill; Corrie ten Boom; Arnold Palmer, A. W. Tozer, Irenaeus
Cross references: Matthew 16:24; Matthew 22:29;John 12:26; John 13:15; John 21:7; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Timothy 4:16; Hebrews 12:2

Topic: Christian living

Keywords: Follow me, Peter, John, follow Jesus

Transcript

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Would you turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of John chapter 21.  We welcome you here this morning.  I welcome those who are outside. We can't see you but by faith we can. We know you are out there in the Amphitheater. John chapter 21, in this week we say farewell not to me but to John.  Me, sort of like the poor, you'll have with you always. But John, we've been with John for 2 1/2 years.  October 24, 2009, we began in John 1:1.  And today we'll finish off the last section of this Gospel beginning in chapter 21. What a wonderful journey it has been, very rewarding for me personally.  Why don't we pray before we begin?

Father we're your people.  You've called us, you have a plan and it's a unique one. As unique as we are individually from one another, though there are many similarities, yet there are many differences. And like fingerprints or snowflakes and a myriad of other examples you're plan for us is unique but today we think of some common elements, elements that drive us together, elements that remind us were all part of the same body following the same master. Thank you Father for what you've shown us in this series on the Gospel of John.  His writings have awakened in us a deeper desire to know the master himself.  We have been able to through his pen, step in to his sandals and hear the words, it's as if we were there seeing the face, feeling the very breath of the Savior speaking to these men and speaking through their words to us today.  I pray Father that as we close this book that it would be a fitting close.   We would have our marching orders, our final instructions in Jesus' name Amen.

I got a note last week put on my desk from one of our gals in the Sunday school department. I don't know how old Isabella is but this is from her. It says, "Skip, I have three dogs one goat, one beta fish and two hermit crabs. I loved them so much please pray for them."  And so I did. Now life doesn't get much simpler than that.  It's so simple, little Isabella doesn't have a mortgage to worry about; she didn't have to worry about running a business or raising kids.  She just has a few very important pets that she loves and she wants per for.  Very simple, all of our lives were that simple. Now, they are not for a number of reasons.  But perhaps part of the reason is we tend ourselves to complicate things. We go from simple to complex.  We get involved in decisions and activities that just add more stress. 

If there's one thing I have discovered about God is that he is pretty simple, straightforward.  "Here's Ten Commandments", he would say, "Here's my top 10 list".  Now we weren't satisfied with Ten Commandments.  Do you know that the Jews decided to look at that differently and they made 10 categories of Commandments and say that there are 613 commandments not ten, 613, 365 of which are negative and 248 of which are positive.  We go from simple to complicated; we do it with what Jesus said.  Probably the simplest prayer you'll ever find is what we call the Lord's Prayer.  Our father in heaven holly hollowed is your name.  Your kingdom come. . . 56 words.  It covers all of major areas of life. It's so simple and so straightforward yet it's so comprehensive, 56 words, a simple prayer.

Compare that to United States government document setting the price of cabbage which is 26,911 words from simple to complicated. 

Somebody once suggested that the Lords Prayer would be very different if the theologian would have written it.  In fact, if just the phrase, "give us this day our daily bread" were written by a theologian who would sound like this.  We respectfully petition requests and intrigue that due an adequate provision be made this day and the day hereinafter subscribed for the satisfying of these petitioners nutritional requirements and for the organizing of such methods of allocation and distribution as many as may be deemed necessary and proper to assure the reception by and for said petitioners of such quantities of bate cereal products as shall in the judgment of the aforementioned petitioners constitute a sufficient supply thereof.  I like give us this day our daily bread a whole lot better,

Winston Churchill said, "All great things are simple".  And so we come to the last paragraph, the final words of the Gospel of John and the final words John records that Jesus said.  And once again we find Jesus keeps it very simple.  He takes Peter and he reinstates him. A wonderful conversation of taking a man who has fallen and denied him and resurrecting his hope and telling him of his future usefulness to him but Peter wants to complicated it and Peter it seems wants to poke his nose in someone else's business.  And so after breakfast, after Jesus has told Peter about his future and given him the shepherding duty of the sheep.  We come to verse 20 of chapter 21 and then Peter, turning around saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following.

We know that to be now unmistakably John, who also had leaned on his beast at the supper and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays you?" Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "But Lord what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain until I come.  What is that you? You follow me.  Then Jesus went out, then this saying wend out about their brother and that this disciple would not die, yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die.  But if I will that he remained until I come, what is that you? This is the disciple who testifies of these things and wrote these things and we know that his testimony is true.  And there are also many other things that Jesus did which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.  Amen.

Now that's good advice for Peter and it happens to be great advice for us. And because it's the final paragraph let's look at these as final instructions, final instructions.  Four final instructions as we leave the journey to the Gospel of John.  Four final instructions as we march forward into the future into our life.  And we're going to view them this morning in terms of warnings.  Things to be careful about, things to be careful of – They are very simple, they are very practical, the Bible always is.

First and foremost, "Be careful where you look, be careful where you look".  We're told in verse 20, then Peter turning around saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following and a description is given.  Now let's just backup in the story and let's just be reminded what's happening here.  Jesus Christ has come to the Sea of Galilee early one morning when seven of the disciples are out in a boat casting their nets to fish.  They don't know that the stranger on the shore is Jesus until the stranger shouts out, "Hey have you guys caught any fish?" and they go, "No".  He says, "Cast your nets on the other side".  They did and the net is full of fish.  At that point it is John, the author of this book who says, "That's the Lord".  At that time Peter gets up, puts his robe back on.  He was just in shorts, puts his robe back on and jumps off the boat and into the lake, swims to shore to be with Jesus. At that time there is a breakfast setting, there's a conversation with Peter, eye to eye, heart to heart, it's beautiful.

But I do find it interesting and I just want to suggest to you that perhaps, perhaps there was a friendly gentle competition between John and Peter.  And I say that for a few reasons.  Number one John writes down for us.  He records for everybody to read for years afterwards.  But it wasn't Peter who recognized the guy in the shore was Jesus.  It was John and he told Peter and the reason Peter even launched out into the deep was because John said that's the lord.  He writes that down.  Also if you go back a couple of chapters in the same book on Resurrection Sunday there was a resurrection marathon between John and Peter, they both ran to the tomb remember that? John got there first and he wrote it down.  So you would know, I John beat Peter in that race.  Not only that, on the same day they were both looking into the tomb, John discovers that the empty grave clothes must mean a resurrection and it says John believed, not Peter.  And he wrote it down.  All of those instances were recorded.

Now we have here sort of the reverse of that, this time Peter saying, what him, looking at John.  Also let me just add something to the mix, even before they were called as disciples, there must have been some competition because we read that Peter and Andrew together, the brothers, had a fishing business on the Sea of Galilee.  So did John and James and his dad Zebedee.  They had their own business.  So they have been competitors in business for a long time.  That may just be me, but let's just throw that into the mix that these humans who love each other probably have been, even in a friendly manner, some rivals before.  But look at verse 20, it says, "Then Peter turning around saw the disciple".  Okay up to this point Peter's eyes had been locked on Jesus, as Jesus says, "Peter do you love me, and feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep".

It has been a wonderful time of fellowship, a wonderful time of connectedness that Peter has with Christ, but then Peter is distracted and he must've seen John out of the corner of his eye or just thought about him and turned and he noticed him.  He got his eyes off Jesus and is looking at John.  After all, Jesus just told him Peter, his future but he notices John.  Now this is where our problems begin is when we get our eyes off of the Lord and onto other people or circumstances.  As long as we're gazing heavenward, no problem, everything is good.  We get it.  Life is in perspective.  Once we glance earthward it's all over.  And so let's say you come to church one day and worship music and the song choice really spoke to your heart, those words resonated and boy you're so close to the Lord.  You're pouring out your heart to him.  The message was right from God's heart to your heart.  You're applying it and life is good.  But then you go out to the parking lot and you get behind the wheel of your car and you see that long line of cars and it's not the same.  And then you pull out onto a sooner road or under the freeway and that beat up old Ford cuts in front of you.  And you see that, you turn and you're seeing that now or you go to the restaurant and you see the waiter totally neglect you.  Or you go home and your kids are disrespectful to you or your husband berates you or you see that police officer pull you over on the road and give you a ticket.

And it's different now.  You're looking not at the Lord.  You're looking around and those circumstances get to you.  You know, anytime you look around in this world, you can get pretty distressed.  I don't know what your daily routine is but a lot of you would grab a newspaper in the morning.  First off, bad form Why go to the bad news first? And I say bad news because is it ever good news? Do you ever read front-page article, "Man loves his wife for a lifetime, never leave each other" there are always - never read something good.  It's always some scandals, some war, some horrible thing, so great everything is good in the world.  Corrie ten Boom put it this way, "Look around and be distressed.  Look within and be depressed.  Look to Jesus, be at rest".

The Bible in Hebrew says, looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.  And Paul or not Paul but the writer of Hebrews whoever that was, was talking about living the Christian life in such a way as you're running a race.  Now, if you want to lose a race, you look around.  Can you imagine trying to be on the track and make progress while you're looking at whose running next to you and looking behind to see who's coming behind you or looking up the grandstands? You want to keep your focus.

Back in 1961, Arnold Palmer was at the Masters and he tells a story.  He said that he was ahead by one stroke.  It was the last hole of the tournament.  He had a great tee shot.  He felt really good at the game.  He walks out on the fairway to make his second shot on the last hole and he notices that in the gallery there's a man, an old friend of his that he recognizes, who motions to him to come over to the gallery.  So Palmer did it and he said that's where I lost the game.  The man put out his hand and said "Congratulations" but Palmer said, "I knew then that I'd lost my focus" and the next few shots proved it. His second shot was over the green in the rough and then he missed the pot and he lost the Masters because he lost his focus.  We always lose when we lose our focus spiritually speaking and we get our eyes off the Lord. So be careful where you look.

Number two, "Be careful what you consider".  Verse 21, let's see what Peter considers.  Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, but Lord.  Okay now, just stop there.  The Lord Jesus has just predicted to Peter that he is in a live a very fruitful life to old age and then be martyred in the end.  And after Peter denying the Lord this was good news to Peter.  I'm going to be able, all the way to the end, to be faithful to the Lord.  The ending doesn't sound all that good to me but the Lord has made his prediction about me.  Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?" that is what about John, tell me about his future.  You told me about mine, what about this guy? And Jesus said to him, "If I will, that he remain until I come, what is that to you, you follow me." Good old Peter.

Peter loved the Lord, but Peter was still Peter.  I have a friend who says people change but not that much. And Peter had his ups and downs and he's coming along but he keeps reverting back to 'Peterdom', always been Peter, always saying those things, always want to do those things.  So at some point in this glorious conversation it's inevitable that Peter goes, "Now, wait a minute what about this guy?" And his focus now is on John and is caring about and concerned for and careful over what's going to happen to John.  Boy, how much like Peter are we? We're so prone to think about somebody else and want to run their lives, want to meddle in their affairs.  We want to manage what that father or that daughter or that pastor or that deacon does.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10 concerning a group of people measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves, they are not wise.  And we do that a lot, don't we? We compare ourselves with others. . Oh look she's wearing or look at that hairdo.  Oh look what they're driving.  Oh look where they live.  Oh look how they look.  Constantly comparing and worried        about what they are doing rather than what we're doing.  Now, it's interesting that Peter asked the question, "What about this man?" Jesus never answers him.  It's okay Peter let me tell you what's going to happen to John now.  He didn't even get there because it's none of his business.  Now, you want to know what happened to John. You want to know what happened to this man who is so intimate and so close and seemed to Peter like he had it made.  He's the guy who is so close and put his head on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper.

What happened to his is he was arrested. Irenaeus tells us, he's one of the church historians.  Irenaeus was the disciple of Polycarp.  Polycarp was the disciple of the Apostle John.  So were just one generation removed.  Irenaeus said was arrested taken to Rome.  They tried to kill him a few different ways.  One of which was to boil him oil and according to the story he didn't die.  So they shipped him off to the Island of Patmos, a prisoner colony.  The worst place the Romans could think of to banish somebody, no vegetation, hard life, and they stuck him there.  Now you think of that next time you're prone to look at somebody and compare yourself and say, "How come they are so blessed and I suffer so much." Stop your private pity party because you have no idea what that person is facing or will face in terms of his or her own personal suffering. Think back to this.

Verse 22, if I will that he remained until I come, in other words, if I wanted to live until the rapture it's none of your beeswax.  Don't concern yourself with John Peter.  You want to know a great text scripture for this? A little short one, 1 Timothy 4:16, listen to it, "Take heed to thyself".  Or as the Philip's translation puts it, "Keep a critical eye on your own life".  Because some of us like to look around – There is Joe he is not as committed as I am, there is Pete and Sally, they don't work as hard as I do, they do the glorious stuff, I do all the hard work around here. You get in to that, it's hard to get out of that.

I have a friend who gave me a link to a YouTube video of the Pastor who got up on a Sunday morning; it was an Easter morning to a pact congregation and just berated them, calling them out, name by name.  Fred, you've been so unfaithful in your Sunday school class, you are fired, and you're a wretch.  Calling people, I know what you're doing behind your husband's back; we've talked about that, just calling everybody out. And angry and mad berating them, and angry and mad and berating them.  And I think the Lord wanted to slap him upside the head and say, "What is that to you, you follow me."

And I've learned something as a pastor, as a teacher, as a leader that when it comes to judgment day, I'll face Jesus Christ.  I'm not going to be responsible for how you did it.  I'm going to be responsible for how I did it, as well as the words that I taught and how to do it. So we shouldn't be so concerned.  Disciple, yes, help yes, bring along yes.  But ultimately it's their responsibility, not yours.  A.W. Tozer has a wonderful illustration about a hundred pianos.  He said, "If you took a hundred pianos in one room and yu tried to tune each piano to the other piano, they'll be grossly out of tune".  If however, you tune all 100 pianos to an outside source, a tuning fork, they will automatically be in tuned with one another. He said it's the same with Christians, have a hundred worshipers, have them all focused in Jesus, they are automatically in tuned with each other. If however you bring them down to the level of "We need a unity conscious meeting", you're not going to do it.

The key is just focus on the Lord, eyes on the Lord, be concerned about the Lord's will for your life, not the Lord's concern and will for their life.  I think I've told you about a woman who came into my office several years ago and wanted to know God's will for her life and who to marry.  And I said, "Well, I have no idea who you are to marry" she goes, "Well, there's this one guy I'm really interested in.  I want to marry him.  My friends think I shouldn't do it".  So I told the Lord before coming in your office, "Whatever you say to me that's what I'm going to do".  You know what I said to her? Nothing, I said, "You're not going to slap than on me.  I'm not going to tell you who marry.  I'll tell you principles on how to discover God's will for your life but then you, before the Lord are responsible". So final instructions, be careful where you look, be careful what you consider.

Number three, "Be careful who you follow" are you following people or are you following Christ? Verse 22 said, if I will that he remain until I come.  What is that to you? You follow me.  You know Peter didn't get the whoe follow-me thing, did he? Because Jesus already said this to him back in verse 19, right? I want you to be my apostle Peter.  You're going to shepherd my sheep, you're going to feed my lambs, you're going to be faithful until death to old age, you're going to be my apostle but, Peter, you know what, I also want you to be just be my disciple, follow me.

He didn't quite get that because Jesus has to repeat it and here when he repeats it, it's the emphatic vive in Greek. The best translation would be "As for you, you follow me".  You see, Peter got it slow, so Jesus set it slow. And he repeats it, and emphasizes it so he won't miss it.  Jesus never tells Peter to follow John, never tells Peter to follow Andrew or James or Thomas, not that anybody would.  He says, "Follow me".  And the Lord would say to you this morning, not follow my people, he never said that, not follow my preachers but follow me.   That's what he would say to us.  Whenever you follow people you will get disappointed.  Do you remember that Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian Church saying that each one of you says something like, "I'm a Paul or I am of Apollo's or I'm of Cepheus", they were identifying themselves with certain leaders and I find that people still do that.  "Oh I really like that radio preacher at television or that author.  I'm all about that".  Really, how disappointing. You're going to be let down at some point.  You need to put first and foremost following Christ.  So I love it is so simple once again. If you were to boil the Christian life down to the irreducible minimum, the simplest axiom, it would be follow Christ.  Right, that's pretty simple isn't it, "Oh the Christian life is so complicated", really? Follow Christ, it's very simple.

So my question for you this morning, in these final messages is, "Are you following Christ?"  Be careful how you answer that because if you probe honestly you may be forced to say like we discovered last week that Peter had a say, "Well, I sure like you a lot".  My love is not what it should be and following you I want to do that.  Are you following Christ? Now, I want to help you with that.  I'm going to give you a little test, three things that you can measure yourself by to see if you're truly following Christ.  Because according to the Bible it means three things.  Number one - that you be where he is.  If you follow Christ, you want to be where he is.  Jesus said in John 12:26, "Whoever serves me will follow me and where I am a my servant will be also" now think about that, it means in all circumstances of life, all relationships of life, all decisions of life, if somebody ever says to you "Why are you here?" You can say, "Because I follow Christ and he led me here today".  Can you say that? I tell you what, that would eliminate a lot of places that Christians go to and things that they do.  Because they can't confidently say, "The Lord let me here".  

A lot of Christians go to places and do things and I hope the Lord still hangs with me after this.  So number one, "You be where he is".  That's following Christ.  Number two, "You do what he does", and you follow his example.  This is John 13 Jesus said, "I have given you an example that you should do as I have done".  Jesus was faithful and obedient, be faithful and obedient.  He was patient, be patient.  He was honest, be honest.  He was holy, be holy.  He had these certain attitudes, have those certain attitudes.  You copy and emulate what he does.  So it's pretty straightforward and we don't have to guess what it means to follow Christ, you, be where he is, you do what he does. And here's the third one, this is the hardest one, "Suffer for his sake".  Now I can just see this dead silence in contemplation to that third one.  Suffer for his sake, because this is the hardest of all.  This is the nitty-gritty of discipleship.  But listen to what Jesus said once again Matthew 16, "If anyone desires to follow me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me".  Do you know how many times I've heard that misinterpreted over the years?  My cross they say is whatever problem I'm facing at the moment.  Yes this is my cross to bear.  I have an ailment or I'm married to this creep.  It's my cross to bear.

You have no clue than what it means to bear the cross because I'll guarantee you when Jesus said those words to the Galileans they knew exactly what it meant.  They have seen people be crucified and they knew that all victims of crucifixion carried the upper part, the "patibulum", part of their cross to the place that they would be executed.  In fact history tells us that around this time the Roman government had 2000 Jewish Galileans crucified and they placed the crosses on the main arteries, the main roads in Galilee so that all the populace would see that's what happens when you defy Rome.  So when Christ said to them if you want to follow me, you deny yourself.  That is to dethrone you, take you off the throne, put Christ on the throne, take up your cross and follow me.  They knew automatically speaking about death, that I have to be willing to die to my dreams possibly, or my ambitions perhaps, or my goals and I have to say, "I gave my life to Christ.  I'm following him.  My life belongs to him".  And if that means I'll suffer for the cause of Christ then I will follow him.  So the final instructions, "Be careful where you look", "Be careful what you consider", "Be careful who you follow" and ask yourself "Am I following Christ?"

Fourth finally, "Be careful how you wait".  Look at verse 23 and we'll close off the book.  "Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die" yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but if I will that he remained until I come - What is that to you? This is the disciple who testifies of these things and wrote these things and we know that his testimony is true and there are also many other things Jesus did which if they were written one by one I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.  I suppose that is true.  It closes with that great refrain, Amen.

I do find it interesting; enlightening that John closes the book and records the last words of Jesus that John records are about his return and about waiting for his return.  Now it's based on a rumor.  Rumor circulated that John wasn't going to die because Jesus said what he said.  And so John focuses on the 'if' and then the 'will'. If it's my will that he remained until I come what is that to you.  That's what Jesus said, he wasn't giving a prophecy but a hypothetical statement.  Here's what it shows me, that even God's people, that even the early church could misinterpret truth by not listening carefully or not reading what is written carefully and John closes his book, appealing to the reader to pay careful attention to what he wrote down by the Spirit of God.  In effect he is saying Jesus came, lived, died and rose and I'm an eyewitness account and I wrote it down.  And also he is coming again, he is going to return and while we wait for him we should stick carefully to what is written.

So let's close with that admonition, as we are waiting for the Lord to return and I don't know about you but I tend to think it's a lot sooner than later, based just on what I see going on in the world and what the Bible has predicted will happen.  But while we're waiting for the Lord to return, be careful, be careful not to cling to, to adhere to rumors, hearsay, the latest End-Times chart that you see in the bookstore, certain ones predictions of when Jesus is going to show up, the latest book or the Mayan Calendar.  Don't stick to rumors, stick to the study of what is written in the Word of God.

Now just think about it, it's taken 2 1/2 years to get to this book; do you know what that means? You're going, "I know what it means, and you're really slow". We'll you're right and I want to explain why.

The reason it has taken us 2 1/2 years to get through John is because we paused to dig and examine and compare text with context and historical data background syntax etcetera, etcetera.  And you know why? Because we wanted to be able to walk away from each study saying, "I know exactly what God meant when he said that".  You'll never know what the Scripture means to you personally until you know what it said to them originally personally and you'll never know what it said to them personally until you examine carefully and do what we have done".  Dig and study.  We want to walk away, not having any false ideas about what God said.  And the only way we know how to do that is to faithfully, expositionally,  verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and book by book go through the bible.  Do you know what Jesus said to the spiritual leaders of his day? He said, "You do air, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God".

And I would say to us, we will also air if we don't know the Scriptures.  We won't know the power of God unless we know the Scriptures.  I close with this poem of admonishment:

I suppose I knew my Bible, reading piecemeal hit and miss.  Now a bit of John or Matthew, now a snatch of Genesis, certain chapters of Isaiah, certain Psalms, the 23rd, the 12th  of Romans, the first of Proverbs.  Yes I thought I knew the Word but I found that thorough reading was a different thing to do.  And the way was unfamiliar when I read the Bible through.  You who like to play at Bible dip and dabble here and there just before you kneel or weary and yawned through a hurried prayer You who treat the crown of writings as you treat no other book, just a paragraph disjointed just a crude impatient look, try a worthier procedure, try a broad and steady view.  You will kneel in very rapture when you read the Bible through.

I want you to know something.  This church was built on teaching the Scriptures.  By God's grace it will stay that way, verse by verse, book by book.  And with so many people and so many different ministry groups now very active on the campus doing their own thing in their own emphasis, with all of that happening, one of the most unifying activities is that we all gather together going through the Bible.  And we do that Wednesday night's, that's my favorite time to meet because on Wednesday nights it allows us to go through not a couple of verses but large chunks of the Bible and see how it all fits together.  It is one of the most unifying things because we're all focused on the same things. And It's like well tuned pianos.  That's the group I want to march forward with.  Those who thoroughly know what God has said and lives are changed accordingly.

Father, we close thanking you.  Thank you Lord that you have been faithful.  In the last 2 1/2 years, as we have studied this book to bring some pretty important lessons we've seen hundreds upon hundreds of people make commitments to Christ and to come to believe as the Word is highlighted in the book.  Thank you, for so many changed lives.  Thank you Lord that our scope of Jesus has been magnified, our view of him has been made greater.  We see him as John pictured him, God in a human body, the one who claimed to be a deity, the savior of the world, the lover of our soul.

Lord as we close with these final instructions, I pray, that you'd help us to be careful in how we treat spiritual truth.  But this book is different from our math books or cooking books or sports magazines or newspapers.  It is truth inerrant and preserved in book form.  Our worship revolves around it.  We take our cues for life from it and we pray that we might be faithful because your Spirit works in us in Jesus' name and as John closed his book we say, 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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4/15/2012
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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)
John 21:1-14
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I am not a great fisherman. I don't do it often and when I catch something, it's pure luck! My dad was the opposite—he loved it and was great at it. At least seven of Jesus' disciples were fishermen and here we see them plying their trade after the resurrection. Some beautiful lessons can be discovered about how to live while we wait for Jesus to come back for us.
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4/22/2012
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I Failed! Now What?
John 21:15-19
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One of life's harshest realities is failure. The very sound of the word seems harsh to our sensibilities. We even harbor the age-old axiom, "Failure is not an option!" But failure is an option; in fact, it's a certainty. But discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to victory. In a post-resurrection interview, Jesus restores Peter with a fresh commission. If you have failed in your spiritual experience (and who hasn't), these principles will inspire.
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.