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Believe:879 - John 20:30-31

Taught on | Keywords: John, believe, gospels, life

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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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
Skip Heitzig
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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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. What Jesus Did (Vs 30)


    1. His Disciples Witnessed the “Signs”

    2. They Were Not All Written Here.



  2. What John Documented (Vs 31)

    1. This Book is John’s Gospel:

    2. John’s Gospel Will Promote Faith

    3. This Faith Will Produces Life




Detailed Notes

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  1. What Jesus Did (Vs 30)
    1. His Disciples Witnessed the “Signs”
      1. Disciples were students, learners, followers
        1. 12 apostles
        2. 70 disciples (Luke 10)
        3. 120 disciples (Acts 1)
      2. They heard (1 John 1:1) Eyewitnesses to:
        1. Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
        2. Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13)
        3. Upper Room Discourse (John 13-16)
      3. They saw
        1. limbs made whole
        2. deaf ears opened
        3. blind see
        4. Jesus raise the dead
        5. Jesus walk on water
        6. water turned to wine
        7. Jesus own resurrection
        8. Miracles (not natural phenomenon.  A miracle is when natural law is suspended and is overridden by supernatural forces.
        9. 34 documented miracles
    2. Not All Written Here.
      1. John's selective account.
      2. 4 gospels-4 viewpoints
      3. Matthew - for the Jews.  Fulfillment of the promised Messiah.  Jesus as Messiah "Behold your King!"
      4. Mark - Jesus as a Servant "Behold your Servant!"
      5. Luke - Jesus the Human "Behold the Man!"
      6. John - Jesus is God "Behold your God!"
        1. doesn't start with human genealogy
        2. begins before time and space
  2. What John Documented (Vs 31)
    1. This Book is John’s Gospel:
      1. John's selective account.
      2. 90% unique.  New Material not mentioned in the synoptic
        1. Prologue, Jesus exaltation, incarnation, deity
        2. Miracle at Cana
        3. Nicodemus,
        4. Samaritan woman at the well
        5. The seven "I AM" statements
        6. Raising of Lazarus
        7. Washing of the disciples feet
        8. Upper Room Discourse
        9. High Priestly Prayer (John 17)
        10. More teaching about the Holy Spirit than other Gospels.
      3. Of the 3.5 years of Jesus ministry John focuses on 20 days and omits the 2nd year entirely.
    2. John’s Gospel Will Promote Faith
      1. "that you may believe"
      2. Not a historical narrative, inspirational and applicational.
      3. 98 times "Believe!"
      4. Jesus is the Christ
        1. Written after the resurrection
        2. He is among us
      5. Faith will be birthed and increased.
      6. Believing as believers.
        1. Not just evangelistic
        2. Trust, settled
      7. Belief in Christ
      8. Christos - Greek The Anointed One, Messiah, Christ.
      9. Mashiach - Hebrew Messiah (Yeshua ha Mashiach)
      10. Son of God - title for deity
        1. Unique son
        2. Shares the same nature as the Father
    3. This Faith Will Produces Life
      1. Life
        1. Bios - physical, biological life, externals
        2. Rarely in the Bible, but always negatively what people tend to focus on
        3. Pseuche - inner self, thought life, personality
        4. Zoe- (often accompanied by eternal or everlasting) - quality of life
      2. Joi de vivre
      3. Life more abundantly, super abundantly, to the full until it overflows, to the max!

Figures Referenced: William Barclay, Henry David Thoreau, Ted Turner, Origin of Alexandria
Hebrew Terms: mashiach (messiah), Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah)
Greek Terms:
Semeia (a sign), Christos (Christ, anointed one)
Cross References:
2 Corinthians 8:7, Luke 10, Acts 1, 1 John 1:1, Matthew 5-7, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, John 13-16, John 1

Keywords: John, believe, gospels, life

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Believe: 879. How far will you go to find the truth? He is among us.

Father, our attention has been focused on You. We've left things outside and we have deliberately come as a statement of worship and rendered You our voices and our hearts, in song, in praise, and now in our attention, our listening, our devotion to Your Word. Our worship continues and we pray that we would be rewarded as the Word of God says we would. You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Okay, I want to unravel the mystery. Your Bible is an amazing book. There are 66 books, Old and New Testament that comprise the one book. Thirty-nine books in the Old; 27 in the New. If you were to count up the individual number of verses in the Bible, it's a total of 31,173 verses of individual Scripture. That means there are exactly 23,214 verses in the Old Testament and 7,959 verses in the New Testament. But if you were to take all 21 chapters of the Gospel of John and tally up the number of verses, there would be 879. 879 verses in the Gospel of John and the key theme of the book of John is "believe." It is a word that John uses almost 100 times in the book. So now the mystery is unraveled. What we are doing is a week-by-week, verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter study on Sundays of the Gospel according to John.

It's something I've always wanted to do on a Sunday morning. I've done it as we've gone through the Bible before, but I've never done it where we have a series of expository messages that are homiletically crafted with a couple of verses or a paragraph that drive home a single point or two and that's something I've always wanted to do. And we're going to do that in Believe: 879. And here's why: because the promised result of plowing through these 879 verses will be increased faith. Increased faith. Your faith so increased that it can be on display, so to speak. So go with me to chapter 20 and I've had you turn there because this is one of the few books where the author's purpose is written in the book and he tells us exactly why he wrote this book. Chapter 20, verse 30: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; [this book being the Gospel of John] 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."

So our faith will be increased because of this book. I heard a story about two nuns and these two nuns were also nurses. And they had to go way out in the country to attend to a patient who was suffering from something. And so the nuns got in the car and they were driving out there; they didn't plan appropriately and they ran out of gas in the process. So can you picture two nuns standing on the shoulder of the road next to a car that ran out of gas? They just stood there, didn't know what to do. Finally a trucker drives up in his huge semi and sees these two nuns in distress and says, "Ladies, sisters, can I help?" And they said, "Well, we ran out of gas. If we could have some of your gas it would be helpful." And he said, "Sure, you can drain as much as you can use out of my tank, but I don't have a can, I don't have a bucket." So one of these nuns, nurses, got out of the backseat a clean bedpan and proceeded to drain a couple of quarts of gas from the truck into the bedpan and they got the gas and the truck driver sped away, waved. And now they're pouring the contents of the bedpan into the car and just then, a highway patrolman pulled up and just watched and eventually the state trooper, he rolled down his window and he said, "Sisters, I don't think it will work but I sure do admire your faith."

I want to say this morning, I admire your faith. No joke. One of the great joys is being able to be around such a faith-filled Scripture-loving congregation. But, don't you think that our faith could increase? Could get better? Could be like what Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 8, he said, "Your faith abounds." I want that kind of faith. I often think of the demon-possessed boy whose father came to Jesus and Jesus said to him, "If you believe all things are possible to him who believes." And that man was so honest with Jesus. He said, "I believe but help my unbelief." That's honest. "I believe You, but there's this little part of me that doubts. If you just fix that part..." "I believe but help my unbelief." And I think the Lord will do that in this series.

So today we just want to look at this opening statement, though it's not opening—he puts it in the back of the book. But we are opening this series with these two verses: John's purpose statement. And there's two verses and there's two ideas that John looks at. What Jesus did, number one, and what John documented, number two. What Jesus did and what John documented. That's verse 30 and 31 of John chapter 20.

Let's consider first of all what John says Jesus did. You'll notice he says, "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book." The first thing that is clear from this verse, in fact it's clear from reading any of the gospels is that Jesus' life and ministry was extremely active. He had a 3 ½ year ministry and all of it was packed full of signs and activity and work. If you have this idea of Jesus standing in a robe glowing on the corner with a halo going "Aww," you've got the wrong picture. He was very, very active. And the disciples saw it. They witnessed it. Jesus did them in the presence, it says, of His disciples.

So we have eyewitness testimony of what Jesus said and did. And the ones who saw it are called here "disciples." Now we probably have a reasonably good idea what a disciple means. Let me just say that disciple simply means "a learner; a student; a follower." And when you hear the term disciples, you probably think there's how many? You think of 12. And that is correct because it is most often used of the 12 disciples/apostles who were sent out. But the Bible indicates, like in Luke chapter 10, there were 70, seven-zero, another translation: 72 disciples that were sent out around the Sea of Galilee. In Acts chapter one, it mentions 120 disciples gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. But most often, the New Testament talks about Peter, James, John, Bartholomew, Simon the zealot, etcetera. The 12 that we know; the 12 apostles and disciples.

Well, John was one of them and if you have ever done a study on the 12 that Jesus picked, you have to come to the conclusion that Jesus must have had a great sense of humor to pick the guys that He picked. I mean, they were not like the brightest bulbs in the batch. I think, if today people were to advise Jesus on a mission to reach the world, it would be very different than the people that He picked to help Him do that. Don't you think? I think if He would have gone to a P.R. firm, they would say, "OK, Jesus, here's our advice. Number one, You should go to the finest seminaries in the land and get the brightest, most erudite professors who know this stuff on Your team. Number two, it would be helpful if You had some pretty powerful, articulate communicators to really get to the hearts and minds of the crowd. That would help. Number three, we recommend, Jesus, that You get a few millionaires on Your team. After all, You want to reach the whole world. That's quite a budget to take this message everywhere. So money would help. Number four, You could get two or three pro wrestlers as bodyguards because You're going to say some pretty controversial things and You're going to need protection. And number five, we recommend that You get a really good musician or band that everybody in Galilee and Jerusalem knows, to attract people so they can hear this message."

Does Jesus do any of that? No. He goes down to Fisherman's Wharf in Capernaum at the Lake of Galilee, this little insignificant lake in the Middle East and gets a group of grubbers; fisherman—blue-collar workers. You get within three feet of Peter, James, John, and the rest of them and that odor of fish is strong. But He takes them. And this is the group, these disciples, that He says, "Let's change the world. Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel." Well, we're going to talk more about them later but we want to look at, is what John looks at. And that is, what they saw—the amazing stuff they saw. He calls them in verse 30, "signs." Notice the Word: "Truly Jesus did many other signs." A very important word—signs. Sēmeia in Greek. And this is what it means: a distinguishing mark. A distinguishing mark. It could be a miracle; it could be just an activity that is predicted in the Scripture. Whatever it was, they were distinguishing marks that would point to Jesus being the promised Deliverer, the promised Messiah, the King of Israel, the One that the Scripture in the Old Testament spoke often about. Jesus did signs that distinguished Him from everybody else.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to actually be there watching what they watched? And hearing the messages that Jesus preached? Or if at least we had them on DVD—amazing. Well, John, who wrote this gospel, also wrote 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation, was there. And this is what he says. First John chapter one: "The One who existed from the beginning is the One we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ the Word of Life." See John didn't have some second-hand religious experience or something he got from a book; this is something he saw and heard. I mean, just think for a moment: they heard the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. They heard the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 and Mark 13. They heard the upper room discourse in chapter 13, 14, 15, and 16 of the Gospel of John—they heard it. They listened to that first message and what they saw, on top of what they heard, they would never forget.

They saw withered limbs made whole. They watched as deaf ears were unstopped. They watched as those who were blind could now see, those who were lame could now walk, and those who were dead now lived after resurrections. They watched Jesus walk on the water. They watched Jesus turn water into wine. All of these were signs—distinguishing marks. And the greatest of them all was the resurrection from the dead. That was the greatest distinguishing mark of all as Jesus raised Himself from the dead. Now, when you here of a sign or a miracle, please don't confuse natural phenomenon with miracles. I hear people like to degrade the miraculous by saying things like, "Well, every time a baby is born that's a miracle. Every time a sun sets, that's a—" No it's not. It's a miracle if you and I try to pull it off, but it's not a miracle. That's the natural order of things.

A miracle is different. A miracle is when natural law is suspended and overwritten by supernatural forces. Now that's different. And that would be a sign—those would be miracles. And Jesus did a lot of them. In fact, the New Testament records 34 miraculous signs that pointed to Jesus being who He said He was. Thirty-four. Somebody tried to imagine what it would be like if Jesus were to do those same signs in a modern age, our age. And this is what they wrote, "He would be wanted by the FDA for turning water into wine without a license. He'd be wanted by the EPA for killing fig trees. The AMA for practicing medicine without a license. The Department of Health for asking people to open graves and raising the dead and feeding 5,000 people out in the wilderness. He'd be wanted by the NEA [that's the Education Association] for teaching without a certificate. OCEA for walking on water without a lifejacket and flying without an airplane. He'd be wanted by the ASPCA for driving hogs into the sea. He'd be wanted by the National Board of Psychiatrists for giving advice on how to live a guilt-free life. He would be wanted by NOW [that's the National Organization for Women] for not choosing a woman apostle. He'd be wanted by the Abortion Rights League for saying that whoever harms children, it's better that they had never been born. And he'd be wanted by the Interfaith Movement for condemning other religions."

Well nonetheless, Jesus did many signs, says John. Many of them. And he says, "Many other signs that are not written in this book." So there's a bunch of stuff Jesus said and did, John says, that I didn't include in my book. They are not written in this book. So here's what we need to know: the Gospel of John is a very selective account of Jesus' life. It is not a comprehensive view of His life; a very selective view. Now John is one of four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. And I often get the question, "Why are there four gospels? Why isn't there just one composite gospel? Do they differ? Do they contradict?" Well, the answer is yes, they differ, but no, they do not contradict. You have simply four different viewpoints of one person's life. That's all. And they don't contradict. Here's what it's like: the character of Jesus Christ is so unique and so magnificent that like a diamond, you can't just look at it from one angle. You've got to turn it and examine every facet. And so Matthew does it; then Mark does it; then Luke does it and finally John does it.

This is what it is. The Gospel of Matthew was written by a Jew for a Jewish audience to show them that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament promise that Jesus is the Messiah—the King of Israel. So the message of Matthew is: Behold your King. Mark is different. Mark shows that Jesus is the Servant Prophet. That's why Mark has no genealogy, because servants have no genealogy that matters; they're servants. So the Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as behold your Servant. Luke includes a lengthy genealogy and he describes Jesus as human. He's the Son of Man. He is fully man; He is fully Man among men. And so Luke presents Jesus as behold the Man. Now you come to the Gospel of John and it's completely different in the way the first three gospels, called the Synoptic Gospels, because they're similar, are written. In John, the heavens open and descends toward us the Son of God, God in human flesh. And if Matthew is saying behold your King, and Mark is saying behold the Servant and Luke is saying behold the Man, then John is saying behold your God. That's how John presents Him in His pre-existence, in His glory, and in His deity. That Jesus Christ is none other than God in human flesh. That's why John doesn't begin with human genetics, but rather, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." So John goes back before time and space and says, "Jesus didn't have a beginning. He was always there. In fact, He's what began everything else that we see." That's John.

So I think that the third century scholar named Origen, from Alexandria, Egypt, was correct when he said, "We don't really have four Gospels. We have one fourfold gospel in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John." Now before I tell you what John includes, I need to tell you what John doesn't include because we're still on that little phrase, "which are not written in this book," in verse 30. There is no account of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem in John's Gospel. There is no account of the baptism of John, of Jesus by John the Baptist at the Jordan River in this gospel. There's no account of Jesus being tempted out in the wilderness by the Devil. And it's simple to see why: John is emphasizing the Deity of Christ, not the humanity of Christ, so he leaves that to the other gospels to cover that. John doesn't cover it.

Now John does describe how the Word became flesh, speaking about the birth but from a whole different angle. This is His incarnation as God in human flesh. John doesn't include any of the parables of Jesus like the others do. None of the eschatological discourses does John mention. Eschatology means the study of end times, the Second Coming of Jesus, like Matthew 24 or Luke 13, etcetera. No accounts of Jesus exorcising demons or healing lepers. No formal list of the twelve apostles are found in the Gospel of John. There's no mention of His transfiguration with Moses and Elijah. No record of the formal institution of the Lord's Supper: This is My body, this is My blood. We see Jesus in the upper room, but there's no formal institution of the Lord's Supper and there's no mention of the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Those are in the other three gospels, which are largely informational. This gospel is highly inspirational and applicational. Now look at verse 31 of our text. We've considered what Jesus did, which are not written. Let's see what John documented: "But these are written." What are these? These 879 verses that tell us about the life of Jesus. "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." Now just as John is unique in what he leaves out, let me tell you how unique he is in what he puts in. Ninety percent of the material in the Gospel of John—nine-zero, 90 percent—is all new material. You would never know about these things unless they were in John's Gospel. So 90 percent of the material in John is not found in any of the other synoptic gospels.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke follow the same chronology, the same pattern, the same content. John gives 90 percent new stuff; new information. For example, the opening prologue is all new. "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not, and the Word became flesh." On and on, that whole beautiful prologue that speaks of Jesus' exultation, incarnation, and deity. It's found only in John and nowhere else.

The first miracle at Cana is found in John. That lengthy dialogue with Nicodemus on what it is to be born again is found only in John chapter three. The conversation with the woman at the well of Samaria in chapter four, found only in John. And here's what's really great, you'll notice. Seven times there are statements called the "I AM" claims of Jesus that are found in John. "I am the Bread of Life, I am the Living Water, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I am the Good Shepherd," are found here and here only. The raising of Lazarus from the dead in chapter 11 is found here and only here. The washing of the disciples' feet in chapter 13 is found only here. The upper room discourse, a long teaching, an intimate teaching of Jesus to His disciples in chapter 13, 14, 15, 16—only here. And that great prayer of Jesus, called the high priestly prayer of Jesus, of all of chapter 17, is only found here.

What's more is John includes Jesus' teaching on the Holy Spirit more than all of the other three gospels. He lays an emphasis on that. Something else that's astonishing: John will indicate that Jesus' ministry on earth lasts 3 ½ years. That's well over 1,200 days. But what you may not know is John only focuses on 20 of those over 1,200 days. A very narrow slice of the activities of Jesus Christ. Twenty days out of over 1,200. In fact, John omits the events of the entire second year of Jesus' ministry—they're not even included in his book. So we have a sampling. We have a sampling of some of the words, and some of the events, but that's the whole point. That's the whole point John is making: "Hey, Jesus did a lot of stuff. I didn't write about that. What I did write, I wrote for a purpose and here is the purpose." John's Gospel will promote faith, belief, and that faith will provide life. John's Gospel will promote faith and that faith will provide life.

So notice what it says: "That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God." Please understand once again that the purpose of John's writing of this book is not to give us a historical narrative or lots of just, information. This is not a curricula; a written-for-college courses on the Bible as Literature. Or comparative religion. He has an agenda in what he includes. These 879 verses have one purpose: believe. Believe. John will use that word, believe, 98 times. Believe what? Well, it says, "believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God," But notice the word "is," if you don't mind. "That Jesus is." And so, I'm going to sum it up by saying this is what he wants us to believe: that He is among us. He is among us. When did John write this? He wrote it after Jesus died and rose. So he didn't say, "I want you to believe that Jesus was the Christ," past tense, and "was the Son of God." I want you to believe that He is. Because if He died, and He did, and if He rose, and He did, then guess what? He's still hanging around. He is among us. He is alive. That's what John wants us to believe.

And I believe, in fact I know, that your faith will be increased in this series. For some, faith will be birthed during this series. I can't wait to see what's going to happen in terms of people coming to Christ, and people's faith being restored and renewed. It's going to happen. It's going to happen. It says it's going to happen. William Barkley wrote these words: "So often we have a kind of vague, wistful longing that the promises of Jesus should be true. But the only way to enter into them is to believe in them with a clutching intensity of a drowning man." Now you're going to find in the gospel that sometimes people will be face-to-face with Jesus and they'll be at the end of their rope and when it says, "They believe," it's with this kind of faith. Not like, "Ok, well that's cool, Jesus, I'll be in church next week." No. It's like, "I believe," with a clutching intensity of a drowning man.

Notice something else in verse 31: "Not only that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God," but notice this: "That believing," here's a better translation, "That as believers." It's put in a special tense, the present active subjunctive—it's in the continual tense. It's not speaking about, "Hey, I'm writing this stuff just for evangelism's sake. So that people will get saved. But now that you are saved and now that you do believe, that continuing to believe you will have life in His name." I wonder how many believers enjoy life in His name. Enjoy believing. I know a lot of Christians, they say they believe but, boy, you wonder what difference faith has made. When my son Nate was just a little guy and I used to throw him up in the air, that was just last year, no, this was years ago. I'd throw him up in the air. Now I'm 6'5 and one of the first, one of the greatest things he loved whenever I'd see him afternoons was to toss him up in the air. Remember doing that, dads or moms? Well, I'm 6'5 and I can throw him up pretty high so he could get about, you know, he could be up in the stratosphere sometimes. Way up there. Well, he loved it. "Do it again, Daddy, do it again!" I throw him up. "Don't stop, Daddy, do it again!" He loved it. I kept doing it. I remember doing that, I think it was here on the campus and somebody saw me and got very nervous and walked up to me and said, "I wouldn't do that. That's dangerous." They were all nervous. You could see it in their face. And I said, "Just do me a favor. Watch the next time I do it right here in front of you and watch his face and tell me what that face says to you. Ready? Watch, here it goes! Here it goes! Look at him right now. What's he saying?" He's going, "Yeahhh..." And here's why: he trusted me. I'd never dropped him. No, I did once—no, I didn't. I'm just kidding. I never dropped him. And that's why it was such a joy to him. Because I didn't drop him. He trusted. And he'd do it again, do it again.

Your life and my life are going to take some interesting twists and turns through this study of the Gospel of John and sometimes you're going to feel like you're just kind of floating out there in space, but you might just find yourself being caught by Jesus and you might just be saying, "Do it again! This life of faith is great. Do it again—I'm enjoying life in Your Name. Do it again!" That you may believe in that, as a believer, continuing to believe, you might have life in His name. Now notice the word Christ in verse 31. That's a title, not a name: "That Jesus is the Christ." It bursts some people's bubbles when they discover Christ is not His last name. There's a Christ family living on Branom Lane in Nazareth and Jesus was one of the boys. No. Christ is a title: Christos means "the Anointed One." In Hebrew, Mashiach. If you were to live in Nazareth, Jesus' name was Yeshua. That's what everybody called Him; that's Yeshua. Jesus. And the disciples came to believe that this Yeshua was Yeshua Ha Meshiach. Jesus the Messiah. The Christ. The Promised One that the Old Testament said would come.

Not only that, but John wants you to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. A title John mentions ten times in the book. Now understand what Son of God means. And we'll get into it more later and dissect it. Son of God is a title for deity. That He is the unique Son of God. He's not the Son of God like you and I are sons and daughters of God by faith. This is the unique Son of God that He shares the same nature as the Father. The Father and the Son share the same nature. Jesus will say, "If you've seen Me you have seen the Father." Thus He is the Son of God.

Finally, not only is this John's Gospel and not only will it promote faith, but the faith will produce life. "That by believing you may have life in His name." Now you're going to meet some people in this book and this is what it says, "And Nathaniel believed," chapter one. Chapter two, "And the disciples believed." Chapter four, "The Samaritans believed in Him." "The nobleman believed." And you're going to read all these people that believe and you'll read how they enjoyed the life that came through faith.

So we have 879 verses in this book that will promote faith and that faith will produce life. This is what I want to say as I bring it to a close. When you hear the word "life," here's the problem. See, in English, we have a limited amount of words to describe experiences. So we call one word that could mean something different by just one word. "Life." But the Bible uses three different Greek words, all translated "life," in our English Bible. So here's one: bios. B-I-O-S. Bios, we would say. That's biological life; that's physical life. That's all life on the externals. We get the term biology, biography, from the word bios. Now this kind of word, biological life, is used in the Bible, but very, very seldom. And when it is used, it is used negatively, not positively. John, in 1 John chapter 2 will speak of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Bios—biological life. It's what everybody in the world focuses on. Jesus will even use the term, "The seed that fell among the thorns was choked up by the pleasures of this life." You know, a poll was done a few years ago. Simple question. They asked Americans, "If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?" Overwhelming answer: my appearance. My appearance. Not my personality, not my spiritual life—my appearance. My body type, my hair color. Of course, that's pretty easy. A couple bucks and you can do that, but it was all external.

Here's the second term the New Testament uses. Not bios, here it is: psuché. It's often translated: life. We get the word psychology from it, or psychologist, or psychiatry. It's the thought life. It's the inner life. It is your personality. But did you know that you can have biological life and psychological life and still be dead? Spiritually. The Bible says that. Or to put it in the words of Princess Bride, "You can be mostly dead." So you've got life, you can breathe, I can breathe, watch me, I can run, I can eat, I'm living, I have life. That's physical, biological life. And you can have a thought life and a pretty intense thought life and a spiritual thought life. But you can still be dead if you lack this kind of life and this third word is the Greek word zóé. It is often accompanied with another word, everlasting or eternal life. And this is the kind of life that is really more of a quality of life than it is a quantity of life. When you think of everlasting life, you might think of just living forever and ever. But technically, everybody has eternal life in that sense. Everybody's going to live forever. It just kind of all depends on where you're going to live forever. And that will determine the quality of life now and then. The Bible speaks of zóé, eternal life.

Henry David Thoreau once said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." I've observed that. I've observed that. Even Ted Turner, the media mogul, said, "Life is nothing but a B-grade movie." Well, let me tell you. That is not what Jesus wants for us. He doesn't want us to settle into just, mediocrity. Jesus said, and you'll read it in John 10, "I have come that they might have life and life more abundantly." Life more abundantly. Or as the Wuest translation says, "Life in super abundance." The Amplified Bible puts it, "Life to the full until it overflows." Do you want that? Boy, I do. Now let me ask you this, how many people do you really know, can you even count them on one hand, that live that kind of life? That live life to the brim? What the French call, "joie de vie," that love for life; and it's because of what Jesus has done and is doing and they have believed and they continue to believe and that is seen by the life that is in them. It doesn't matter what goes on around them—there's life in them.

Well, we're going to meet Jesus face-to-face for a long period of time in this new series and we're going to let His life spill over into our lives. I want to close with something I had read years ago and I dug it out for today. It just seemed to fit in this first study of Believe: 879. It's called "One Solitary Life" by James Hefley. He writes:

"Here is a Man who was born in an obscure village. The Child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was 30. And then for three years, He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home; He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside of a big city. He never travelled 200 miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away; one of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth—His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary Life."

And we will be looking at, as it where, into the eyes of, and gazing at, that one solitary Life: the Lord Jesus Christ. And that Life will impact our life. Let's pray.

Lord, we're excited. We're excited at the things that are written in this book because the things that, by Your Spirit, John included are the kind of things, the kind of truths that spark faith, trust, and it's the kind of trust that produces life, it's the kind of life that is enjoyed no matter what storms are going on around us. There's such life in us that even though we're tossed in the air, You catch us every time. Thank you for that. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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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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4/29/2012
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Final Instructions
John 21:20-25
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As John closes off his singular testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he features some closing words of Jesus and Peter about himself (John). These final sentences provide some instructions for us as we await Christ's return. How should we live in light of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and when Jesus will return?
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.