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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > The World's Most Important Word

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The World's Most Important Word
John 1:1-5
Skip Heitzig

John 1 (NKJV™)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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.

"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. In Relation to God (vss. 1-2) Jesus Existed Always!

  2. In Relation to the Universe (vs. 3) Jesus Created Everything!

  3. In Relation to Mankind (vss. 4-5) Jesus Illuminates Everyone!


Questions for Home Fellowships:
  1. Who did you understand Jesus to be while you were growing up? How has that understanding changed? Who do you believe Jesus to be now?

  2. How can the Word be with God and also be God?


As it appears in the passage, how would you define light? Why is light an appropriate metaphor for the work of Jesus?

Detailed Notes

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John's premise is that the most important word, the word itself, is Jesus! He is the only hope of all humanity for salvation.  (Acts 4:12, Philippians 2:9)

  1. In Relation to God (vs. 1,2) Jesus existed always!
    1. In the beginning (Genesis 1) Jesus was already continuing to exist
    2. Word
      1. In the Jewish world - they explained what God did by his word. His word was responsible for everything. Memra - Aramaic (from the Targum-Aramaic translation) self expression of God, replaced the name of God itself.
      2. In the Greek world - Logos - order of the universe the ordering principle, omnipresent wisdom by which all things are steered.
      3. John embraced secular and religious people by describing Jesus as the Word.
    3. With God (Philippians 2:6)
      1. Face to face (pros ton theon)- intimately associated with the Father, in intimate fellowship with him, but separate from the Father, individuals in the Godhead. (Jesus gave up this intimacy for a time at the incarnation John 17:5)
    4. Was God - to say He is less than God is blasphemy. 2 John 7, Galatians 1:6 John 1:10, 11
  2. In Relation to the Universe (vs. 3) Jesus created everything
    1. All things were made through Him.
    2. Without Him nothing was made that was made.
    3. Since He is the manufacturer He is the one to go to when something breaks down.
    4. He is the Image of God Colossians 1:14, Revelation 4:11, Philippians 2:9(icon - take something invisible and make it visible)
    5. He is both the Source and Goal of Creation. Matthew 5:6
  3. In Relation to Mankind (vs. 4,5) Jesus Illuminates Everyone
    1. In Him was life (zoe- spiritual life, eternal life, quality of life 54x in Gospel of John)Life of God
    2. Everyone is DOA-born spiritually dead, but Jesus came to give life.
    3. That life was light. It illuminates, goes out and shines. 21x light in John
    4. Affects everyone (vs9) Every person has light that makes them responsible.
    5. Men love darkness rather than light. John 3:19.
    6. Kata lambano - comprehend, extinguish, - People don't want life-giving light. All the darkness of hell cannot put out the light of Christ.

As we continue through John Jesus will become brighter.  In relation to God He is eternal, in relation to the universe He is all powerful, in relation to mankind, He is Vital.


Figures Referenced: Philo, Charles Steinmetz, Henry Ford
Publications Referenced: The Words You Should Know, by David Olsen, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by CS Lewis
Aramaic Terms: Memra (word)
Greek Terms: logos (word), pros ton theon (face to face, toward each other, in the presence of), icon (image), zoe (spiritual life)
Cross References: Genesis 1:1, Matthew 6:6, John 1:10-11, 3:19, 17:5, Acts 4:12, Galatians 1:6, Philippians 2:9, Colossians 1:14,2 John 7, Revelation 4:11

Keywords: Word, Creator, eternal life

Transcript

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

Let's pray together.

Father, we are so thankful that as the seasons change and as the time has changed yet again this year, that you never change. You are the same, Lord Jesus, yesterday, today, and forever. Lord, we have such hope and the hope is because of the promises of Your Word and we study Your Word even though these are familiar verses to us. We pray for greater insight. And Lord, as we see Jesus, high and exalted in this book, for who He really is, I pray that the end result is that we would trust Him more and enjoy walking with Him more. We ask that in Jesus' Name, amen.

I have a book in my library, I brought it with me, it's called The Words You Should Know. The Words You Should Know. Twelve-hundred essential words in every educated, every educated person should be able to use and define. This was given to me by a friend; I guess he thought I needed help. Words you should know—and I need all the help I can get. The average person spends 1/5 of his or her life talking. A fifth of a person's total life you can fill a fifty page book every day. Now some do that more and some do that less. And I'm not going to get into who's who. But suffice it to say that at the end of an average lifetime, you could fill 3,000 volumes or 1,500,000 pages of words that you use. Words. What is the most important word ever? What is the most vital word ever? What are the most important words that a person can speak? Well some have suggested the words "I love you" are the world's most important words. And that's sweet and that's sentimental and there's something to that. Those are wonderful words to hear. If you were to look to some of the success gurus, they would say that it goes like this, the six most important words in the world are "I admit I made a mistake." The five most important words are "You did a good job." The four most important words are "What is your opinion?" The three most important words, "If you please." The two most important words "Thank you." And the most important word is the word "you," they say. The word "you."

Today I want to talk to you about the world's most important Word. And it is not "you." John's thesis, John's premise, in these introductory verses of the gospel of John, it could be said is the world's most important Word. And the Word is Jesus. Jesus. He calls him the Word; he begins very vague in this book to some of us—very abstruse. When he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." But if we keep reading a little further, the identity comes clear. In verse 14, "the Word became flesh." And even in verse two, the Word is given a personal pronoun. "He was in the beginning with God." So as we follow John's thinking through the first chapter of the Word and then "He" and then He became flesh and then finally, down in verse 17, where Jesus Christ is mentioned, we get the idea that he's speaking about Jesus Christ and he calls him "the Word." Jesus is the world's most important Word.

Even Noah Webster would agree. You know, the dictionary guy? Webster's Dictionary. I have a copy with me this morning; it's a little bit different than most. It is the copy of the original Webster's Dictionary from 1828. I don't know if you know this or not, but Noah Webster was a strong believer and defender of the gospel. And you get that in this dictionary. Well, I turned just for fun to the term "word" in his dictionary, and you know how there's several definitions in dictionaries of a single word depending on how it's used. So he begins predictably, "Word. An articulate or vocal sound or combination of articulate and vocal sounds uttered by the human voice and by custom, expressing an idea or ideas. A single component of human speech or language." Now that's how we know the term to be but you keep following his definitions, he, Noah Webster, says this as a definition of word, "Christ." And then he says, "John chapter one." Even Noah Webster would say, in the original dictionary, you won't find it in the more modern ones, that the world's most important word, Word, is Christ.

Now, why is that? Why is Jesus the world's most important Word? Because He's the only guy that can fix the mess. He's the only hope of all of humanity, of all of history that can fix the mess and the problems. Peter said in Acts chapter four, "Nor is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." And Paul will write to the Philippians that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that He is Lord." So let's meet Him in these opening verses and let's see Jesus, the Word, in relation to God, number one, in relation to the universe, number two, and in relation to mankind, number three.

Verse 1, John 1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

Now, this morning I'm going to beg your attention because we're going to talk about a few of the nuances and particulars about this sentence construction. It's very simple language. If you've ever studied Greek in seminary, they always take you first to the writings of John because he's the easiest guy to understand. Though he writes in simple language, his truths are very deep and very profound. The first two verses tell us about the Word in relation to God and tell us plainly that He existed always. "In the beginning." Those three words transport us all the way back to what? Genesis. Genesis one, the first book in the Bible. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." But John takes us back before Genesis one. "In the beginning was the Word." Not, "In the beginning the Word began," but "In the beginning the Word was." And it means, "was already continuing."

So way back in the beginning, before there was ever a beginning, Christ was existing. You say, "I don't quite understand that." You're in good company, neither do I. Neither does any intellect. I've read a lot of books on this subject and this is one of the imponderables. And let me just say that though the truth is plain, to understand it as humans is very difficult, nigh unto impossible or impossible. And if you try to approach the gospel of John merely with your intellect it will be crucified. You have to approach this with a faith in your heart because some of these statements that he makes, simple as they may sound, are very profound and very deep.

Now, he calls Jesus the Word. "In the beginning was the Word," and we find out that, that is Jesus. That seems like an odd way to introduce a person, doesn't it? Call him "the Word?" It sounds so impersonal. What does this title refer to? Because when you and I hear the term, "the Word," we think like Noah Webster in his first definition. It's a little unit of language. But if you and I lived 2,000 years ago and read these words we would get it immediately, whether you were secular or you were religious. In the Jewish world, the term "Word" was pregnant with significance. Because you see, the Jews explained everything God did by His Word. His Word is responsible for everything; everything was made through His Word. How often in the Old Testament does it say, "And the Word of the Lord came to"? So to the Jewish mind, any time God touches man, He does it through His Word. And they gave it the term, the Word, or the memra. M-E-M-R-A. That's an Aramaic word. I don't know if you've heard of the targums, but the targums are Jewish writings. And a targum is where you take a portion of the Old Testament in Hebrew and translate it into Aramaic. Aramaic was the language of the captivity. If you ever saw the Passion of the Christ, the language in that movie was Aramaic. Now it's a dead language. Back then, that's what people spoke in Israel. Aramaic.

Well, in the targums was this term memra, M-E-M-R-A, which means "word." And it was the Self-expression of God. Just like an author would use a word to express himself, God expresses Himself through His memra. But in the targums, these Jewish writings, they would often take the word "God" out of a sentence and put in the term memra or "word" for the name of God itself because they didn't want to break the third commandment and utter the name of God in any foolish capacity. So to a Jewish person, when you say, "the Word," they would think of not only the expression of God, but God Himself. The very name of God. And then the term to the Greeks was also significant. The word in Greek is logos, or as many say today, logos, but it's logos, "word." And the Greeks noticed that the universe was pretty ordered and regular; that there were set orbits and there were schedules that the sun rose predictably every day, so to speak, and set every day. That the stars seemed to move in a pattern, a set pattern. That seasons would regularly come and go. And so the Greeks would say, "Why? What is the reason for this regular movement?" And their explanation was the logos. The Word. This nondescript, impersonal force or ordering principal called the logos. Philosophers like Heracletes in 500 B.C. said, "It is the omnipresent wisdom by which all things are steered." So he talked about it as this something floating around out there. Those were his words: floating around out there, that is reason and mind and intelligence and justice and that was called the logos.

Philo, the Jewish philosopher, used the term 1,300 times in his writings to describe divine intelligence. So by using the term, John is taking a secular and religious people and embracing them all, putting the whole world in his arms so to speak, and presenting Jesus to them. "You Greeks talk about the word, the ordering principal. You Jews speak about the expression of God and the name of God. I want you both to know that, that is in One body and His name is Jesus. He is the Word. He is what you guys are talking about."

Now, notice it says, "And the Word was with God," and then it says, "And the Word was God." It's very interesting the word that says "with God," it actually means "face-to-face." It's pros ton theon. And it means that Jesus and the Father were intimately associated with each other. They were face-to-face in their relationship. It speaks of a continuing intimacy with. "The Word was with God." You have to understand something. Grammatically, this is the only way John could express what he's expressing about Jesus. Because he wants to say that Jesus is separate from the Father, "The Word was with God." But then he says, "The Word was God." And I'll show you how that works. They're not the same person; they're both God or in the Godhead, but they are individual and they are separate. So Jesus was with God; face-to-face with the Father in eternity past. Just think about that for a moment. In eternity past, Jesus Christ, Jesus the Son, in intimate, face-to-face, unbroken, unparalleled, unmatched fellowship with the Father. Until Jesus decided to give it up—to give it up. And cooperating with the Father's plan, Jesus in the incarnation stepped into our world and He gave up that face-to-face intimacy and fellowship for a time. It says in Philippians, Jesus, though He didn't consider equality with God something to be grasped because He was God, He emptied Himself. He became a Man—a human being. And if you want to understand the magnitude of the love of Jesus Christ in coming to this world, you just got to read a little bit further in John.

In the seventeenth chapter, in verse five, Jesus prays to the Father. This is what He says: "The glory that I had with You before the world was I want that restored, Father." Remember when He prayed that? "The glory that We had, restore to Me the glory that We had before this world was." That glory; that wonderful fellowship; that intimacy of Me and You and You and I—I want that back. Jesus gave it up temporarily. So "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God," and then it says, "the Word was God." Such a simple statement; such a profound, deep truth. Jesus the Living Word is God in a body. All that God is, is in the Word, Jesus. Now in six weeks, you and I will be singing that truth in a famous Christmas carol and one of the verses sounds like this: "Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, Hail incarnate, Deity, Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!" This is the truth that is expressed. Here's the Word. He was with God, close, intimate. And He was God.

Now, the Jehovah Witnesses have a little bit of trouble with this. In fact, they deny it. They have a translation called the New World Translation where it is translated, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a god." A god. And that's because they say, "Well, you know, in the Greek, John left out the definite article, which must mean that Jesus is a sub-god." And so they translate it, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a god." Well that's a poor translation. John, when he writes this, leaves out the definite article, "the" is the article for "the God," see a lot of times in Greek you would say, ho theos, "the God," and John left out the "the," the article. And here's why: if John were to say Jesus was ho theos, he would contradict what he just said when he said the Word was with God. Because by using the article, he would be saying Jesus and the Father are the self-same Person. So in Greek, you leave out the definite article and you transpose the words to show essence or nature. And so literally it reads, please follow me still, literally it reads, "And God was the Word." Theos ēn ho logos.

Now, a few years ago I had a Jehovah Witness knock on my door, two of them actually, an older one training a younger one, and I said, "Oh, this is going to be fun." Because the younger one is always looking to the older one to know how to answer evangelical Christians. So they came to the door and we were talking and it was a matter of minutes where we dealt with Jesus being God. And I just said to him, "Well, the Bible says Jesus is God." And that sort of ruffled his feathers and he said, "Never does the New Testament declare Jesus is God." And I said, "Well, it's so apparent. It's all over the place." So he said, "Ok. John chapter one verse one," and he starts quoting this. "In the Greek," he said, "It says the Word is a god." I said, "Are you sure about that? You want to go there? Because now you just, now you have more problems, because now you have two gods. If Jesus is a god, now you've got two gods—you've got bigger problems than before you came to this door." "Oh no, in the Greek, it's a god." I said, "Ok, just a minute." And I went to my study and got my Greek New Testament and I opened it up and I said, "Ok, so show that to me." And he said, "I can't read that." I said, "Ok, here's what it says, 'En archē ēn ho logos kai ho logos ēn pros ton theon kai theos ēn ho logos.' So there is no 'a' god." And I said, "You will notice that those two words subject and object are transposed because John wants us to know that Jesus the Word, though separate from the Father, has the exact same nature as God." Theos ēn ho logos. We had a wonderful conversation. Didn't last that long.

Now look at verse two. Verse two is, and here again, John is so simple in his terms, it's profound, but it's just the simplest terms. He restates verse one: "He," He, it's a person, the Word, "He was in the beginning with God." Brothers and sisters, because Jesus Christ is God, that's what the Scripture declares Him to be in no uncertain terms, to say He is anything less than God is blasphemy. It's not to be messed with. In fact, you ought to know this, that the cults and religions will ascribe everything else to Jesus other than deity. "Oh, He's a nice guy, He's a good man, He's a wonderful example," on and on and on. Everything but being God. Because of that you need to know and I need to know this: John, the writer of this gospel, was confronted with the same issues we are confronted with, but 2,000 years ago. And he writes in 2 John verse 7: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus as coming in the flesh." In other words, they're going to come to your house and tell you Jesus isn't God in a human body. And John says, "This is a deceiver and an antichrist." John! Did you have a bad apostle day? Why so strict language? Because Jesus of the New Testament is God. And any other ascription to Him is making Him less than who He is and it's a different gospel.

Listen to what John says down in verse 10 and 11: "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor bid him Godspeed." Not even a "God bless you." That's strict. Want to see something else? I want you to turn with me to Galatians chapter one. Galatians chapter one. This is Paul and you need to know that Paul and John agree on this. In verse six of Galatians one, Paul writes: "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel which is not another but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven." Hmmm. I guess even an angel with golden plates. "We or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." You see, God has a special curse for those who deny the deity and Godhead of Jesus Christ. This is not something to play with. It is dealing with the very essence of Who He is, which matters from here on out, what He does. "In the beginning was the Word." Logos. And that Word was with God, in close intimate fellowship with God and the Word was God. "He was in the beginning with God." Very, very clear.

Let's go back to John chapter one, that's the Word in relation to God. Now let's see the Word in relation to the universe. Again, a very simple statement: "All things." How many things? "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." Do you see how simple John writes? He states the truth first in the positive and then in the negative. In the positive, "All things were made through Him," and then in the negative, "Without Him nothing was made that was made." So He made what? Everything! All things. The Bible affirms that the universe was created. Created by a Creator. And that the Creator is Jesus Christ. Of course, Darwin would disagree with this. And others like him in the scientific community would disagree with this. They like to hold to the theory that random chance, without any outside cause, is responsible for the universe. That's what they like to believe: that living matter can replicate itself and then inexplicably grow in complexity, defying the very law of entropy. I love what Adam, or Alan Sandidge, the cosmologist said, listen to this question, "How is it that inanimate matter can organize itself in order to contemplate itself?" Ok, just think about that and if you can answer that for me... hooray. How is it that inanimate matter can organize itself in order to contemplate itself? Well, enough of that. We've dealt at length with evolution versus creation in the past.

This is what this means to you and I personally. If Jesus Christ is the Creator of everything, that means He's the One you and I can go to when something breaks down in our lives. He's the manufacturer. If something goes wrong, the first person to go to is Jesus. Because He made us.

My brother Bob was a brilliant mechanic. He could fix stuff. He could fix—my dad, who was an engineer, would go to him sometimes to fix stuff. And if Bob couldn't fix it, he would create a tool to fix it. But every now and then there were things that even he couldn't fix—that you had to go to the manufacturer itself to get fixed. There's a great story about Henry Ford and Charles Steinmetz who was his friend and mechanical genius. One of the mechanical geniuses behind Ford. He made many of the motors for Ford and he made the motors for the assembly lines for Ford Motor Company in Detroit. One day, one of the motors in the assembly line broke; the assembly line was shut down. Ford's guys couldn't fix it so they called in Charlie Steinmetz. Charlie spent a few minutes tinkering, got it going, and then sent Henry Ford a bill for $10,000. Now think $10,000 back then when Henry Ford was alive. Well, he looked at the bill and he thought, "This is crazy." He writes his friend and he says, "Charlie, I think this is a little steep, $10,000 for tinkering." So his friend Steinmetz wrote him back and he said, "Ok, here's the new revised bill. For tinkering: $10.00, for knowing exactly where to tinker: $9,990." He had a good point, didn't he? It's not just tinkering, it's knowing exactly where to do that because you can see it in your mind's eye, you made it. So Jesus knows exactly where to tinker, doesn't He? Exactly what to push—what button to push, what belt to loosen, what screw to tighten in our lives when something breaks down.

Now, would you turn with me to Colossians chapter one? Colossians one sounds a bit like John one, this is again Paul the apostle agreeing with John about Jesus being God and the Creator of everything. But there's something he leaves out, that John leaves out that Paul informs us of. Verse 14, he's obviously speaking about Jesus "in whom we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins." That's Jesus. But look at verse 15: "He, Jesus, is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." Now stop right there. When it says "image," it's the Greek word eikōn. And the idea is to take something invisible and make it visible; that's all it is—image. And what it's like in photography there's something called the latent image. If you take a picture on the film, an image is produced in the silver bromite crystals of that film. You can't see it until you pass it through certain chemicals that reveal it. They develop the image. Or in digital photography, you have a sensor and the light forms an image on the sensor but you have to digitally convert it in order to see it. That's what Jesus did. He came to this earth and said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father." Simply because Jesus shared the same nature as being God. So He's the image of the invisible God, making God visible. The firstborn over all creation. Verse 16: "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and are on the earth." There's that truth again. Visible and invisible. Whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, those are unseen, invisible things. All things were created—now watch this—through Him. And what? Oh, for Him. So Jesus isn't just the source of creation, Jesus is the goal of creation. Creation, including us, we were made for Him. Revelation 4:11, same truth: "For Your pleasure they were and are created."

So Jesus is the goal because everything ultimately is designed to give Him glory. Philippians 2: "At the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." So let's apply that to me and to you. If Jesus created me and my purpose in life is to glorify Him, I'm made for Him, here's the simple question: am I glorifying Him? Is that true of my life? Is my goal in life to glorify Him? Am I living my life for Him? Pleasing Him?

When I was about two weeks old in the Lord, as a Christian, 18 years of age, saved out of a lot of weird background, I came to Christ and I had this little Bible called Good News for Modern Man, it was a modern translation. I'm reading it in my bedroom, I'm reading Matthew chapter five, the Beatitudes, and I came to that Beatitude, we know it as "blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." In this translation it was a little different. It said, "Happy is the one whose greatest desire is to do what God requires." And I stopped right there—I couldn't read any further. "Happy is the one whose greatest desire is to do what God requires." So I thought about that. Does that describe me? Is that my number one goal right now is to do what God requires? And I had to be honest. Nope. It's not and I want that changed. That was one of the first steps of real growth that I saw, is taking the Scripture and now applying it to my life. So the Bible tells me, in relationship to the universe, Jesus created everything and the goal of that creation is for Him, for His pleasure. So I need to ask, "Is my life being lived to give Him pleasure, to glorify Him?"

Third and finally, in relation to mankind, let's see Who the Word is. Back to John chapter one verses four and five and we close with this. In relation to mankind, Jesus illuminates everyone, for it says: "In Him." Verse four. In Him, in Jesus, in the Word, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness does not comprehend it." Now these two verses describe the incarnation. Here's Jesus coming into our world and here's our world reacting to Jesus coming into it. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Well, verse four says, first of all, that Jesus is the life of God. For it says, in Him was life. Now, you might read that and think, "Well he's just sort of repeating what he said in verse three." Verse three, Jesus is the Creator of everything so it only makes sense if He's the Creator of everything living that He has to have life in Himself to do that. But remember the word I told you about last week, for life? Is zóé. There's one of the three words. This is the word he uses here. Not bios, biological life; not psuché, psychological life, but zóé, which is often translated eternal life, everlasting life. The quality of life enjoyed now that will last forever. Fifty-four times in this book, John will use the term "life." Zóé, life, life, life. To understand spiritual life, we need to understand spiritual death. It says in Ephesians chapter two that when you and I were born, get this, when you and I were born, we were born dead on arrival. Dead on arrival. It describes us as being dead in trespasses and sins. OK, sort of like a corpse. You know, if there's a dead corpse in front of you, if you yell at that corpse, they're not going to respond. If you say, "How could you die?!" They're not going to say, "Ahem, well, the reason is..." You can punch that corpse, you can poke that corpse, they can't respond. That's how it is spiritually. You can poke unbelievers who are dead in sin, the world is populated with dead people. You can poke them with the truth of Jesus Christ and they won't respond unless God does a work in their life. They're dead in trespasses and sins.

So Jesus comes into the world to give life, to fix that. And you read that throughout John. He will say, "I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly." He will say, "You are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." He will say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He will also say, "He who has the Son has life, He who does not have the Son does not have life." So in Him is life. This quality of life and then Jesus comes into our world and that life, like light, illuminates. It shines. It, it goes out. Verse four at the very end says, "And the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." Now, something else. Twenty-one times in the gospel of John, you're going to read the term "light." Jesus is the life of God and like a light that shines forth from an origin and emanates out, Jesus is the light of God. He's the light of God. And who did it affect? Who did Jesus affect in coming into the world with His light-like life? Answer: everyone. Verse nine, look at verse nine, "This was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world."

Every person born has some kind of light that they must act on. At least enough to be responsible before God. But, you ready for this? You want to see the flip side of this? John chapter three verse 19, Jesus said, "But men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil." Do you get that? I'll go back a little bit. "Neither will they come to the light lest their deeds should be reproved. Men loved darkness rather than light." Isn't that sad? Sad to think what it cost Jesus Christ to make the way so clear, so illuminated, and people by and large go, "No. Don't want it. Not interested. Forget it." If you're living in darkness and if you are without Christ you are living in darkness, He can give you light which will be life-giving. Life-giving.

Now what does it mean when it says, "And the darkness did not comprehend it"? I just got to say that's a difficult word to translate and if you have different translations, they've given a stab at it. It's the word katalambanó. And it could be translated "comprehend, overcome." Here's a better word: "extinguish." Extinguish. They couldn't put it out. A light came into the world and the world couldn't put it out. All of the darkness on earth cannot extinguish the light of a single match. And all the darkness of hell cannot put out the light of Jesus Christ, though they tried and all the demons in hell and Satan probably were thrilled when Jesus died on the cross, three days later, they got a wake-up call. The Light is back—brighter than ever before. And now, whether it was during Jesus' lifetime or you in your neighborhood or at school, and that light is shining. The world cannot extinguish it or put it out.

Now, what you're going to notice and I'm going to notice is that with each verse in 879 verses of John, with each chapter, with each paragraph, the light becomes brighter, Jesus becomes bigger, more exalted than ever before. That's what you notice. Those are the themes. You remember Chronicles of Narnia? Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, where he takes this figure of Aslan the lion, which represents Jesus Christ, and these three children, Lucy is one of them. Lucy hasn't seen Aslan for awhile and finally she sees him again and looks up into that large, wise face. And Aslan speaks and says, "Welcome, child." Lucy said, "Aslan, you're bigger!" Aslan replied, "That's because you're older, little one." Lucy questioned, "You mean it's not because you are?" And Aslan says, "I am not. But every year that you grow, you will find me bigger." That's such a beautiful truth. The more you and I grow and are exposed to Jesus Christ for who He really is—He'll get bigger and bigger and bigger and grander and more trustworthy. And that's how John begins the gospel, with the biggest, widest possible scope. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and He was God." And then he'll take us through His life and show us those truths over and over again.

So we've learned something today about Jesus. We've learned, number one, that He's eternal, number two, that He's all-powerful, and number three, that He's vital. Number one, He's eternal in relation to God—He always existed. Number two, He's all-powerful in relation to the universe—He created it all. And number three, He's vital—in relationship to mankind, He is the One that sends lifelike light in a dark place. The only question left is, "What will we do about it?" What will we do about it? Will we come to the light and go, "Yes, I want to be more enlightened and enjoy more of that life"? Or will we say, "No, frankly I love my darkness more than light"? That's the choice that God leaves with us as He sends out His Light.

Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, there probably are a lot of words we need to know. Some think there are six or five or three or 1,200, but there's one we really need to know and that is Jesus, the Word. The Word. The One who is Your Son, the One who created everything, and the One who enlightens every single person coming into the world. So the big issue for everyone is, "What will you do with Jesus?" I pray that we will come to the Light. In His Name, amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
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Is your faith in need of bolstering? Do you find yourself saying "Help my unbelief?" The book of John presents a unique, up close and personal look at the life of Christ, focusing on Jesus as God Incarnate. As we dive into a thorough study of each of John's 879 verses, we'll walk with disciples who were eyewitnesses of His ministry, His death, and His resurrection, and we'll experience abundant life in His name.
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11/15/2009
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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.