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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Step Into Son-Light

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Step Into Son-Light - John 1:6-13

Taught on | Topic: Deity of Jesus | Keywords: deity, John the Baptist, light, eternal life

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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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. The Light was Represented (vss. 6-8)

    1. The Messenger John

    2. The Mission of John

  2. The Light was Rejected (vss. 9-11)

    1. By His Own Creation

    2. By His Own Clan

  3. The Light was Received (vss. 12-13)

    1. Became God’s Children

    2. Born of God

Questions for an EnLIGHTening Discussion:

  1. What was one of the scariest experiences you’ve ever had in the dark? Why? How is light helpful to your daily life?
  2. How is rejecting Christ like living in darkness? What’s the solution?
  3. Talk about the benefits of being a “Child of God”. What are the privileges of this? What about the responsibilities?

Detailed Notes

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  1. The Light was Represented (vss. 6-8)
    1. The Messenger John- John the Baptist
      1. Sent from God
      2. 1st prophet to speak in 400 years
      3. Last OT prophet, 1st NT evangelist (Is. 40:3, Mal 3:1)
      4. Born Miraculously
      5. Filled with Holy Spirit form womb
      6. Greatest person who ever lived Mt. 11:11
      7. Performed the greatest job ever
    2. The Mission of John- telling people to step into the light
      1. Witness John the apostle summons to court - John the Baptist is the first of 8 witnesses in the book.
      2. Light - metaphor
        1. Physically, speaks for God's Glory, the heavens declare the glory of God.  Jesus embodies the glory of God in human form. Heb 1:3
        2. Intellectually, speaks of knowledge of God, ultimate knowledge, omniscience
        3. Morally, speaks of holiness - unapproachable light, morally perfect, pure, holy
  2. The Light was Rejected (vss. 9-11)
    1. By His Own Creation
      1. Didn't recognize Him
      2. Consistently get the identity of Christ Wrong
        1. In the past (John 7 good man, deceiver Mt. 16, John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, prophet,John 6 earthly king,Luke 23 tax evader,John 10 has a demon,Mark 3 out of his mind)
        2. In the present (magician, zealot, guru, world traveler, husband of Mary Magdalene, illiterate from low caste of artisans, code name for hallucinogenic mushroom, resurrection a result of alien cloning.)
    2. By His Own Clan
      1. own (masculine referring to his people)
      2. Talmud (illegitimate son of Mary, Panthera magical arts)
      3. shouted "Crucify Him!"
        The Hand he created drove nails into His hands and nailed Him to the cross.
  3. The Light was Received (vss. 12-13)
    The world didn't want Him, the nation didn't want him, do you?
    1. Became God’s Children
      1. receive/believe
      2. Not born a child of God, become one
      3. Born again John 3:16
    2. Born of God
      1. Majority is wrong
      2. Minority receive Him
      3. 1 John 5:19

Publications Referenced: "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," by Harold S. Kushner.
Greek Terms: ginóskó (to come to know, recognize, perceive)
Cross References: Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1, John 3:17, 1 Timothy 6:16, Hebrews 1:3, 1 John 5:19

Topic: Deity of Jesus

Keywords: deity, John the Baptist, light, eternal life

Transcript

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

The state of New Mexico enjoys 310 days of sunlight every year. Now I know that Florida, on the license plate, says, "The Sunshine State." But, but with all due respect, Floridians need to know that we beat them. In fact, there are five other states that have more sunshine than Florida and in order they are: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and then Florida. So I just want to set the record straight that we are a sunshine state except for today; well, we have a little bit coming out now. But chances are, in our state, almost any day that you go outside you're going to enjoy sunlight. And sunlight, even though the sun is 93 million miles away from the earth, it provides all that we need. We absolutely need that sunlight for us to function upon planet earth. Now I heard about three NASA scientists who were getting together and they were trying to figure out, this is at the height of the space program, they wanted to figure out how they were going to spend the 10 billion dollars allocated by the federal government to their program. And so the first guy said, "I say we get very ambitious and we put our man on Mars. Not the moon—Mars." The second guy said, "Well, that's really good. I think we should go further. Venus. Put our man on Venus. I mean, set the bar high." And the third guy said, "I think it's good, but go all the way. Go for broke. I say we put our man on the sun!" And they looked at him like, "Are you an idiot?" And then they said to him, "Are you an idiot?" And he said, "No, no, no! I've got it all figured out. We'll go at night!" OK, that won't work. We can't go to the sun but we can certainly enjoy its effect upon planet earth. And what an effect it has. One source that I read stated, "Sunlight is the fuel of life, its energy maintains everything upon the earth."

Think about it. From the photosynthesis in plant life to the Vitamin D that our bodies enjoy because of its rays, to the reflection off of objects that enables visual perception, to the enormous gravitational field that keeps earth tethered, so to speak, in its rotation around the sun. But the term "sun" can be spelled two different ways in our language: "sun" and "son." And even as sun—S-U-N—light is needed for physical well-being, so Son—S-O-N—John would say, the Son of God, His light is absolutely needed for spiritual life. And that becomes the theme of the paragraph we're about to read beginning in verse six all the way down to verse thirteen. Step into Son-light, John would say. Now let's see how often he uses that little term. I'm going to begin for context's sake to start in verse four. Let's look at it together: "In Him [in Christ] was life, and the life was the light of men." There's the first time it's used. "And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Just by way of reminder, the first 18 verses of the gospel of John are introductory—it's a prologue. In those 18 verses, John gives us the entire theme of the entire gospel. Think of it as a briefing; a briefing before you get into the details of the whole story of the life of Christ. Here is the briefing of Who He is, Who we're dealing with, the plan of His life, and then I'll tell you the whole story in detail. And that's what John does. So in verses one through five, the apostle John considers the deity of Christ. He is the Word; He was with God; He was God; He created everything; He's the source of light; He's the source of life. And now, John shows us the reaction of this world, generally and specifically, to the Light coming into the world.

So John the Baptist comes and he represents, or introduces, Jesus. That's the first few verses of our paragraph beginning in verse six. And then the world, by and large, didn't recognize Him. They reject Him, but there are some who will receive Him. So John represented the Light. The world rejected the Light, but some received the Light. Those are the three brushes, or strokes, that the apostle gives us in this paragraph. Now, something about John you already know. It's a simple book. In fact, isn't this the first book we tell young, brand-new believers to read? Typically, it is. We tell them, "Hey, if you're going to read the Bible, start with John's gospel. It's the best place to start." We don't say, "Hey, you're a brand new Christian: read the book of Hebrews." Or Romans or Galatians or, "Hey, how about Leviticus? That's your first one." No, it's the gospel of John. It's simple; straightforward. Christ exalted.

Something else you may not know. In the original Greek language, it's also the simplest. In fact, when you take Greek, the writings of John are the first place you begin because his words are so easy to understand. And so when we graduated from our Greek class, we took the writings of John, in this case 1 John, and had to translate it all from Greek into English and parse every single word. And that was ok because it was easy. But, though his language is simple, easy, straightforward, the concepts are pretty profound; pretty deep. And what John does is paint these vast portraits of Christ using metaphor. We have it here: he talks about light; he talks about life; and he talks about birth. And he's using them in spiritual terminology.

And, what John shows us today is that there are basically two responses and two only to Christ. One: you reject Him. Two: you receive Him. So here's a question for you: are you living in Son-light? Or are you living in shadowland? Are you walking, living in the Son-light of Christ or are you still hiding in the shadows? Look with me at verse six through eight, how the Light was represented by John. "There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but he was sent to bear witness of that Light."

Here's one of the first things you notice in just reading through chapter one. In verse six, we have an abrupt change. John has been dealing with everything heavenward: the deity of Christ. This Man—the Word, Christ—is God, was with God, but was also God Himself, created everything, is the source of all life, and is in fact the Light of the world. Now there's a change. After dealing with all of that, he goes: "There was a man." Now he's not dealing with God, he's dealing with a man. He's not dealing with the man, the Son of God, he's dealing with a man sent from God whose name was John. Now he's talking about, not himself, but John the Baptist. John the Baptist. John the apostle never mentions himself in this book, isn't that interesting? He never says, "Oh, by the way, I, John, one of the friends of Jesus." He doesn't call himself by name. The only reference we have to him in this whole book is he calls himself, get this, "the disciple whom Jesus loved." And you might say, "Well, that's kind of arrogant, isn't it?" No, I think it's beautiful because Jesus loves everyone, but he personalizes it. "Oh by the way, I'm the guy Jesus loves, too." But he is here speaking about John the Baptist and since John the Baptist was from Judea, down south, I guess technically he was a Southern Baptist, but nonetheless, this is John the Baptist. Way before the denomination. He baptized people.

And this is what the apostle says about the Baptist: "There was a man sent from God." Boy, if ever there was somebody sent from God, it was this guy. He was predicted twice in the Old Testament. Once, in Isaiah chapter 40, where he is called "a voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord.'" John the Baptist will apply that text to himself in this chapter. Also, the Old Testament closes with the prediction of an Elijah-like forerunner who would come. Behold, the prophet said. God said to the prophet, "I send My messenger who will go before Me and prepare the way before Me." And this is that guy—sent by God. And then the birth of John the Baptist also proved that he was sent by God. Because he had a miraculous birth, did he not? Remember the story about his mom, Elizabeth, and his dad, Zacharias? They were old; they were way past the ability to have children. In fact, Elizabeth was barren, could never have a child. Suddenly, she turns up pregnant by natural means, her and her husband. But it was a miraculous pregnancy. And a miraculous birth. In fact, Zacharias is standing in the temple one day doing his priestly duty and an angel of the Lord appears to him and says, "Zacharias, your wife Elizabeth is pregnant. You guys are going to have a child and here's what you'll call him: John. And he will be the forerunner of My Messiah." And spills out the whole story to him right there.

And so John is born and John comes, but he's just a man sent by God. Here's something you ought to know: even though John was just a man, did you know he was the greatest person who ever lived? Up until his time; up until Christ. He was the greatest person who ever lived. You say, "But on what basis do you say that?" On what Jesus said in Matthew 11:11, Jesus said, "I assure you, of all who have ever lived none is greater than John the Baptist." Isn't that quite a statement? You mean he's greater than Abraham? Yep, he's greater than Abraham. He's greater than Moses? Yep, greater than Moses. Greater than Moses. Greater than David. Greater than Isaiah. Greater than Noah, Jeremiah. Now why is that? Because he performed the greatest task: announcing for the first time, publically introducing Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Savior of the world, which we'll read about in a few weeks.

So for God to do the most important task, the greatest task of all, He gets the greatest man who ever lived until His time. Verse seven is his mission: "This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe." That's why he existed: to point to Son-light, to bring the message of Son-light. "Hey, step out into Son-light. Here is the Son of God." He was a witness. Now that's a technical term; it's a courtroom term. A witness is somebody who testifies to the truth, goes to court and tells what he has seen and what he has heard. And John the Baptist was that. He came into the world to testify of the truth of who Jesus really was.

It's sort of like this. It's like John the apostle puts all of humanity into one large courtroom and he says, "Now, I have a message I want to write to you. This Jesus the Messiah is God in human flesh, He is the Creator of all things that exist, He is the source of light and life, and I want to call my first witness to the stand and his name is John the Baptist. He'll tell you. He saw Him; he heard Him." And John is the first witness. He came to bear witness. Now watch out for that term because John the Baptist is first of eight witnesses in the gospel of John. John the Baptist is the first. There will be more, but he will call witnesses to the stand and John is the first witness to come.

So the whole purpose of John's life is to bear witness of the Light. Ok, when he uses the term "light" to refer to Christ, he's using a metaphor, right? I mean, he doesn't mean that Jesus, literally wherever He walked, glowed? That you didn't need to light a candle when He came into the room at night? "Jesus is here—He's the light. He'll just sort of glow-in-the-dark, like the holy cards show Him, He's got the halo, and He's glowing." Don't picture that. It's a metaphor. And the Bible uses the term "light" to speak of a few things. Number one, light physically speaks of the glory of God. The glory of God. What were the first words God the creator ever said? "Let there be light." Let there be light and light was, the Bible tells us. And when David looked up into the sky where the sun, moon, and stars were shining, he said, "The heavens declare the glory of God." When I look at the starlight and the moonlight and the sun shining, it speaks to me of God's glory and magnificence.

In fact, in the book of Revelation, in the New Jerusalem, we're told there's no sun, there's no moon that shine in it, for the glory of God will illuminate it. So physically, light speaks of the glory of God. So for John to say Jesus is the Light is to say Jesus embodies the glory of God in human form. Hebrews one, the author says, "Jesus is the brightness of God's glory." There's a second way it's used. Intellectually, light speaks of the knowledge of God. You know what theologians call God? Omniscient, which means He knows everything. He's the ultimate knower; He never learns it, He just knows it. Now you history buffs know that there was a time of history called the Dark Ages, where it was said that people lived without the light of knowledge. And then came the next age, the Enlightenment, when suddenly there was a renaissance of learning and knowledge and art. God is the ultimate knower. To say that Jesus is the Light means that He is the ultimately enlightened One. And boy, was He. Did you know that it was dangerous to be around Jesus? Because He would know what you're thinking, right? Remember when He'd walk up to people and go, "Why is it that you're thinking evil thoughts right now in your heart?" And they're going, "How did You know that?" Because He's enlightened. Ultimately enlightened. He knew so much that He predicted His own betrayal, His own death, and the future events of the world up to His second coming.

There's a third way the term light is used. Morally it speaks of God's holiness. His holiness. Light is pure and light is brilliant and to say God is Light or Jesus is Light speaks of purity and holiness. It says in 1 Timothy chapter six: "God alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light." Another way to put it is, there's no flaw at all in God's character. He's perfect. No flaw. No indiscretion. You may have heard of a book, in fact, some of you may have read it, it's a book that's been out a long time ago, but it was called, When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold Kushner. And the good rabbi in the book encourages you and I to forgive God. Forgive God. Because, he says, God really can't be in control of this thing called the universe. There's a lot of things that happen outside of His control or knowledge—they just happen. And He'd like to help you but He can't, so would you please forgive God? Well, I want to tell the good rabbi, you don't need to forgive God. There's nothing to forgive God for. He is absolutely flawless and perfect in His character. And so He is Light. And to say Jesus is Light is to say He is pure and holy and He is perfect and there is no flaw in His character. In fact, Jesus will ask the religious leaders this very penetrating question, "Which one of you can convict Me of sin?" Answer: no one.

Now, there's something implied in all this. If Jesus Christ is Light, that means that when we follow Him we step out of what? Darkness. So, to say, "I'm a Christian. I follow Christ," means you have stepped out of moral darkness and are walking in the holy Light of Christ. Doesn't mean you're perfect, because you're not. I'm not perfect; none of us. But we're growing; we're becoming as we follow Him. He is the Light. Now before I leave this and go to the next little swath that John gives us here, I just want to say that what John was, is what I want to be. It says, "John was a man sent from God." Really that's all I want to be. Just a man, or a woman, isn't that the greatest possible aspiration we could have? Just a person sent by God to do His bidding. Just to point to Him; just to point to Christ.

Look at verse seven: "This man [this John] came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe." Through whom? Not Jesus—through John. Notice it's a small "h" as opposed to the big "h." In other words, John is the conduit. His life was the channel. He was the guy pointing people to Christ, that people, through his testimony of truth, might believe. I picture it this way: John the Baptist was like the moderator, the emcee, at a sound and light show. I don't know if you've ever been to one of those. But there's one in Jerusalem, a sound and light show, you can go to at night and you sit in a little theatre and they show you the walls of Jerusalem, especially the Tower of David, and a voice comes over the loudspeaker, "Ladies and gentlemen, I direct your attention to..." And then the light goes on and you see some stones and an explanation is given. "Now ladies and gentlemen..." They point to another section where the light—John is like the voice in the sound and light show. "Ladies and gentlemen, you might want to put on your sunglasses because the Light of the world is about to step into human history." John was that voice. And that's what I want to be. Just a man sent from God. John never wanted the limelight. He just wanted to be a man sent from God to point people to the truth.

So I ask you this question: is your life a gate or a wall? When people, or, can people look at you and thus through you and see Christ or is it just a wall? They see you and that's all they see. Or are you pointing people to the Savior? That's the highest goal one can have. A man or a woman sent from God. So, the Light was represented by John. But look what happened, verse nine: "That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world." But notice now how the Light is rejected. "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him."

Did you know that Jesus' whole life is summed up in those two or three verses? Jesus' life was one of rejection; His whole story was a story of rejection. He came into the very world He created and the world didn't get it. And you know what? They still don't get it. The word "know Him" is the word ginóskó, which has the idea of recognition. The Creator came in human form and they did not recognize Him. They didn't connect the dots. I've discovered that if there's one thing this world consistently gets wrong, you know what it is? The identity of Christ. They get that answer wrong all the time. "Well, I picture Jesus as just a good man." Or, "I think he was just a wonderful prophet who had a lot of fine things to say." And they'll say a lot of things about Jesus and they're consistently wrong. And you should not be surprised. It is the story of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In all those four Gospels, there's individuals or there's groups of people who thought certain things about Jesus and they were not right. I'll give you a sampling. In John seven, some said He was just a good man while others said He was a deceiver. They got that wrong. Push the button, [buzz], answer wrong. In Matthew 16, some said He was John the Baptist, others Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. [Buzz], got the answer wrong. He wasn't that. In John chapter six, after Jesus makes them a free lunch, they wanted to take Him by force and make Him a what? A king. A human, earthly king. A monarch. A dictator. He wasn't that. Luke 23, they called Him a tax evader—imagine Jesus against the IRS. I won't go there. And they said, "He's subverting the government." [Buzz], got the answer wrong there. John chapter 10, they said He has a demon. [Buzz], got the answer wrong there. And did you know, in Mark chapter three, even His own family got the answer wrong? In Mark chapter three, His mother and His brothers go to Capernaum to take Him away because they said, and I quote, "He is out of His mind." [Buzz], got the answer wrong there.

Now, nothing has changed. And every year, right about this time, Christmas and Easter, you're going to find these magazines will put out various articles about "The True Identity of Jesus." It's predictable; it comes every Christmas, every Easter. One of these lame magazines will come out with an article. And were it not so tragic, it would be laughable. This steady stream of what people say Jesus was. I've collected a few of them. Some have written and said, "Jesus Christ was a magician who practiced illusion and hypnosis." [Buzz]. Others said He was a "zealot" or a "guru" or a "world-traveler." Some believe He was "the husband of Mary Magdalene who procreated a secret lineage to rule the world." These are things that make articles in Time and Newsweek magazine. According to the Jesus Seminar, a group out of Arizona who tells you what is really Scripture and what is not Scripture, said and I quote, "Jesus was probably just an illiterate from a low-caste of artisans." John Allegro, a Semitics scholar, wrote a book called The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross. And he said, "Jesus Christ was not a historical man at all but Jesus was a code name for a sacred hallucinogenic mushroom allegedly used by the first Christians." That puts a whole new spin on, "Hey dude, do you want Jesus?" A French-Canadian cult said, "Jesus' resurrection was a cloning performed by aliens who made humans in a laboratory DNA experiment 25,000 years ago." And what do we say to all that? [Buzz].

People write articles about this stuff. If there's one thing the world consistently gets wrong, it's who Jesus was. "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world did not know Him." But John gets more specific. Look at verse 11: "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." See, what I think John is doing, he's saying, "Ok, generally, you put Jesus in the world and generally the world doesn't recognize Him. But specifically, His own people, the Jewish nation, didn't receive Him." That's what I think he's referring to in verse eleven, and here's why. "He came into His own." The first word "own" in that sentence is in the neuter gender and it refers to things like place or land or home. But the second "own" in that sentence is masculine in gender and it refers to people. So it could be literally translated, "He came to His own place, or nation, but His own people did not receive Him." And that's why the New Living Translation renders it that way, "Even in His own land and among His own people, He was not accepted."

You know what the Jewish Talmud said Jesus was? This is a quote right out of the Talmud: "He was the illegitimate son of Mary." The illegitimate son of Mary whom they fancy Mary was a hairdresser. Where they got that, I don't know. But it also says Jesus was called Panthera and He learned magical arts in Egypt and then came to Israel to instigate a rebellion. So you see what John is saying. Jesus, the Creator, the Light, the Life, He came into His world, He came to His nation, He came to His place, His city, His temple, and they did not recognize Him and they did not receive Him. Even though, for centuries, the Jews had predicted and waited for a Messiah to come. And you read the Old Testament and it's like there's a flicker of light here and a flicker of light there and a trace of light here and a trace of light there. And they get their hopes up and then, it's like the sun itself, the Light, comes to the earth and John the Baptist goes, "That's it! That's the Light! Not me, I'm just a preacher, that's the Light." And they said, "Turn off the Light." Or in the words of Scripture, "Crucify Him! His blood be on us and our children." That was the response.

They hated the Light. It was too bright for them. Imagine the very hands that He created were the very hands that picked up nails and a hammer and drove His own hands, those sacred hands, onto a cross. Now that's going to happen again. It's going to happen again in a few weeks. It's called Christmas. Oh, excuse me, holidays. The winter holidays. You'll hear the debates; they will be on television. Somebody in some city, some public display or decoration, got to take Christ out of Christmas. And, you know, just make it about Santa and reindeers and a little snow and gifts and smiles and winter holiday, but take Christ out of that. Or they'll say, "Well, you can have a manger scene but just make sure that you just keep Jesus as a little baby. We don't mind the little baby Jesus. We just don't want Him to grow up. Because when He grows up, He's very unstable and unpredictable and says things like, 'You better believe in Me because I'm the way, the truth, and the life, and I'm going to a cross to die for the sins of the world.' We don't want that Jesus. We just want the little baby one that stays a baby every year and brings good cheer."

"He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." And that is the position of the world and you'll see it over and over again in Believe:879 through the gospel of John. However, there's good news. The Light was represented by John; the Light was rejected by most. But the Light was received by some. Look at verse 12: "But..." If ever I was glad to see that word begin a sentence, it's right about now. Even though my English teacher said, "Never begin a sentence with the word 'but.'" I'm so glad that John the apostle didn't go to my English class. Because this little conjunction, negative conjunction, is a huge fulcrum that shifts it now a whole other direction. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [or literally, power or authority] to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Do you notice how John goes from very wide to very narrow, from very general population to individual person? You know, he talks about the world first of all, and "the world did not recognize Him," and then He came to His own people, the Jewish people, and they didn't receive Him. But now to the individual. "But as many as received Him." In other words, anyone, any individual. So from wide to narrow. I think what he's saying could be summed up in this: "The world didn't want Him, His own people didn't want Him. Hey, do you want Him?" Do you want Him? "As many as received Him, he gave them the power to become His children." The world didn't want Him; His nation didn't want Him; hey, do you want Him? Because if you want Him, you know what? You have to receive Him. "As many as received Him." That's another word for believe. Grammatically, they are appositional terms: one means the other. To receive Christ is to believe in Him. It's more than intellectual, "Yes, I believe God exists and He had a Son named Jesus. I believe that up here."

The idea is to receive it. To make it personal. To make it personal. To surrender. To commit. You know, it's sort of like a gift. If you get a gift this Christmas, it's not really your gift until you receive it. You have to take the gift, open it up, and it's yours. If it just sits in the closet unopened, un-received, it's really not your gift yet. You have to receive it. Same with Christ. You have to receive Him. Now something, I know it's obvious, but we should note this. Notice that you're not born a child of God. You become a child of God. "As many as received Him, He gave them the right to become children of God." You don't get born a Christian, you get born again a Christian. Born of God is what it says in the next verse.

I'll tell you why this is important; this becomes the issue today. Because the prevailing belief system is this: it's called the fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. We're all children of God; everybody in the world's a child of God by creation. Now that may be good on Oprah. That is Oprah theology. But it is not biblical theology. You're a child of God, not by creation, but by redemption. You receive Christ and you have the right, the power, to become God's children.

Verse 13 spells it out: "Who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." It doesn't come by bloodline. Remember the Jews, some of them, tried that? They said, "Well we have Abraham as our father." And they tried it with John the Baptist and John the Baptist said, "Now I know what you guys are thinking, you guys are thinking, well you're children of Abraham—you have this right of salvation by birth. But you ought to know something," John the Baptist said, "God can make children of Abraham out of these rocks!" He was very direct. And yet, you can ask people today, "Hey, are you a Christian?" "Well sure, I was born a Christian. I was born into a Christian family. My parents are strong Christians." "That's not what I asked you and you didn't answer my question. God has no grandchildren, He only has children." You're not born, you're born again into his family. You become a child of God and you do it by believing, by receiving.

So there's two possible responses to the Light. The Son-light shines and one response is the majority response and it's the wrong response. The second response is the minority response and it's the right one. Have you ever stopped to think that the majority is not right? I know that sounds so un-American. But the majority is wrong. I want you to consider what John the apostle wrote in 1 John chapter five, verse 19, I'll quote it for you: "We are of God, dear children, and we know that the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." So is the world, by and large, right about Jesus? Nope. The minority.

Jesus said, "Wide is the gate that leads to destruction and most people enter therein and narrow is the gate that leads to life and very few enter therein." His words. So the Light has come. John represented Him, most of the world rejects Him, but some will receive Him. Some will receive Him and Jesus said, "You are either for Me or against Me."

I heard a story about a man who lost his car keys. When I first read it, I thought it was somebody writing about me. But this guy lost his car keys, I do it all the time, and he's looking for them outside on the street, under the streetlight at night. He's looking for his keys. His neighbor sees what's going on, feels sorry for him, goes out to help him. They search for about 20 minutes until the neighbor finally says, "Now, do you remember exactly where you dropped your car keys, because we've been looking for 20 minutes." And the guy said, "Yeah. I lost them in the garage." "You lost them in the garage? What are we doing looking for them out here?" And the guy said, "Well the light's better out here."

Well, I have a hunch that some of you here today, you don't exactly know where or when you lost your way. But you lost your way. You've come here because the light's better. The light's better here. You're around people who enjoy and bask in the Light of Jesus and they love Him and you feel it and you love to come, but there's a step that must be made. A single step out of darkness into Son-light. S-O-N-light. And all I've done is give a message. I've just been a man pointing to the Light. I can't save anybody; I can't help anybody. I had a lady come up to me the other day and she said, "I just want to thank you for saving me." And I said, "I appreciate what you're saying but I, I save no one. I've been saved. Jesus will save." And friend, He will save you. He will enlighten you; He will make your way clear—crystal clear. But it comes by believing in and thus, receiving the gift personally.

Heavenly Father, as we close this service today, it's my prayer, first of all, for your people, believers, that we would become a door and not a wall, that people would see us and see through us and see the Savior, Jesus, the Light of the world. We would be like a moon to a sun, simply reflecting the greater glory of the One who sent us. And then Father, I pray for those who have come, who've lost their way. They've come here because the light is much better. Through the lens of Scripture, it's clear. It's clear who You are. It's clear who we are. And it's clear what we must do. And I pray that many more would receive Christ today. In Jesus' name, amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
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Is your faith in need of bolstering? Do you find yourself saying "Help my unbelief?" The book of John presents a unique, up close and personal look at the life of Christ, focusing on Jesus as God Incarnate. As we dive into a thorough study of each of John's 879 verses, we'll walk with disciples who were eyewitnesses of His ministry, His death, and His resurrection, and we'll experience abundant life in His name.
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11/1/2009
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The World's Most Important Word
John 1:1-5
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It may be difficult to say what the most important word is in any language, but not for the Apostle John. He begins his gospel with the identification of Jesus as, "The Word." Starting with the very beginning of beginnings, John shows us the fundamental truths about the Jesus that he writes about in the rest of this book. The language is simple and unmistakable and yet the truths presented are deep and extremely profound. Let's see how John presents Jesus and Who Jesus is according to one who was closest to Him.
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11/22/2009
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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.