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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Finding the God Who Found You

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Finding the God Who Found You - John 1:43-51

Taught on | Topic: Salvation | Keywords: Nathanael, Philip, Arminianism, Calvinism, predestination, election

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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1/3/2010
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Finding the God Who Found You
John 1:43-51
Skip Heitzig
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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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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 Divine Perspective--God Chooses People

    1. Preference (v. 43)

    2. Omniscience (v. 47)

    3. Providence (vss. 50-51)

  2. The Human Perspective--People Choose God

    1. Investigation (v. 46)

    2. Belief (vss. 48-49)

    3. Revelation (v. 45)

    4. Adventure (v. 50-51)
For Home Fellowships:
  1. How did you come to Christ? Learn to briefly state your personal
    testimony: the main factors that contributed to your coming to Christ,
    your spiritual upbringing, and what changed in your life once you
    believed in Jesus.

  2. What kind of adventure has Jesus taken you on? What are some of
    the "greater things" you have seen?

  3. How does it make you feel to realize that God picked you for His team?

Detailed Notes

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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.

Some things are tough to understand. When divine choice intersects with human choice it is difficult for us to understand, but the bible says both are true. God elects us, but we must follow. God predestines us, we must decide to believe. It seems impossible to grasp. Like a plane…its destination is decided, its course is set, but the passengers on board made choices.  They have freedom on board the plane but they are being carried to a predetermined destination.

In this text the disciples are being called, first Andrew and Simon Peter, now Nathanael and Philip.  Men are making decisions to follow Christ, but Jesus seems to anticipate their choices.  Which is it? Did they choose to follow Him? Or did He choose to have them follow Him? It's a matter of perspective; it depends on your point of view. We'll look at the passage from 2 perspectives, God choosing people and people choosing God.

  1. The Divine Perspective--God Chooses People
    It is evident that Jesus is part of the choosing. 3 divine attributes involved:
    1. Preference (v. 43)
      1. Jesus makes His choice.
      2. It was against the norm for rabbis to choose disciples. It was protocol for students to opt voluntarily after hearing a rabbi. Rabbis did not invite someone into the inner circle, but Jesus took the initiative.
    2. Omniscience (v. 47)
      1. Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, He knew in advance that Philip was from Bethsaida. (vs.44) 
      2. Jesus knew where they lived, their character, and their secret hangouts. (vs. 47-49)
    3. Providence (vss. 50-51)
      1. Providence is the supernatural arrangement of natural events.
      2. It is not the miraculous which is the intervention of the supernatural upon the natural.

        In these verses we have a crash course in theology. 
        God sees, knows and chooses.  People come to Christ because God seeks them.  Ultimately salvation begins with God's choice and predestination. John 15:16 Jesus said, "you did not choose Me, I chose you."
        Found is a repeated word in this text.  Andrew told Simon Peter he found the messiah, Philip told Nathan he found the messiah, but it also says Jesus found Philip. Who finds whom? Two perspectives:  We say I found Jesus, but he wasn't lost.  We were lost, He finds us.  These are heady theological topics of election and predestination. 
        We are commanded to make a decision.   John the Baptist and Jesus said, "Repent…" we are commanded to engage our free will and make a choice. Matt 11, "Come to me…take My yoke..." John 5 "You are not willing to come to Me," John 7, "If anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink…"Paul said in Acts 16," Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…" These are commands to respond to the Lord by faith, to exercise a choice. We cannot do it on our own. Whatever choice we make a choice has been made before we get there. We are selected y God out of this world system.  Our salvation began before we were born. John 6 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…" Eph 1:4, "He chose us in Him before the creation of the world,"…"predestined according to the counsel of His will."
        Charles Spurgeon said "It's a good thing God chose me before I was born. He never would have chosen me afterward."
        Sovereign election and human decision together seem to be opposite, seem irreconcilable.  Cannot be reconciled in our finite minds.  Seem opposed that we are called to make a choice, yet God selects. JI Packers, book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God", p.18 antinomy - an apparent contradiction of two equally true conclusions.  Like light.  There is evidence that light exists as wave and evidence that light exists as particle.  It's not apparent how they same substance can be both wave and particle at the same time, but they are two equally true conclusions.
        Should we argue over it?  Calvinist argue election and many won't evangelize lest they witness to the non-elect.  Arminians elevate human choice over divine election.  We should allow the tension to remain.  Like a suspension bridge, two opposing forces pull on the bridge so we can go over it.  These are truths held in tension.
        Jesus allowed these truths to remain in tension.  He addresses both perspectives sometimes in the same sentence.  John 6:37, Luke 22:22. These perspectives harmonize.  Like a rope to a drowning man.  Man must grab the rope.  We need the rope, the drowning man must grab it, but someone must pull him in.  God throws out the rope by election, we grab it by choice, and He draws us in.
        God picked us, we should enjoy it.  Get over what you don't understand and enjoy that He picked you.
  2. The Human Perspective--People Choose God
    Philip obeyed, believed and immediately told Nathanael about it.
    1. Investigation (v. 46)
      1. Philip Philip's faith was easier, no barriers or roadblocks, like some people it isn't hard for them. 
      2. Nathanael Philip found Nathanael and Nathanael asked, "can anything good come out of Nazareth?" It's the question of a skeptic.  He isn't quite sure.  Others need room like Nathanael.  Need to work through some issues.  Don't force someone to say with their mouth what they don't believe in their heart.  "Anything good…?" Judeans saw Galileans as backward hicks.  Even those in Galilee looked down on Nazareth.  Nathanael is from Cana, they were rival cities.
    2. Belief (vss. 48-49) Divine election and human choice meet. Jesus told him in essence, "You are a true blue Jew" Nathanael asked, "How do you know me?" this is where It was the moment of belief for Nathanael.  The fig tree was a private place a place where he had an experience with god that no one knew about. Jesus knew. He was the Son of God. Nathanael understood that and turned to Christ.
    3. Revelation (v. 45)
      1. There comes a point in the believers live where they fall in love with the Bible.  They see how it addresses life's issues, and cannot get enough of it.
      2. Growing in the Word-
        1. "A bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who is not"-Charles Spurgeon. 
        2. "The Bible has hands- it grabs hold of me and feet -it runs after me."- Martin Luther.
    4. Adventure (v. 50-51)
      1. When you become a believer you are entering into something you've never dreamed about. It ends in heaven. Stick around you haven't seen anything yet.
      2. Nathanael - Soon Jesus will turn water into wine in Nathanael's home town.  The disciples will be witness to 36 other miracles, the blind will see the deaf will hear, the dead will be alive again.  
      3. Jesus reaches back into history, Genesis 28. (Could this have been what Nathanael was meditating on under the fig tree?)  He alludes to when Jacob fell asleep on a rock in the wilderness and had a vision of angels going up and down on a ladder to heaven Jacob wakes up and says, "God is here and I knew it not."   Jesus is saying "Nathanael, I'm the link, the ladder between God and man."

        There is only one way to God, through Jesus.  Wake up! You are on the adventure of your life!  You will see such things as if heaven has opened to you.  There will be potholes and trials along the way, but enjoy the ride. What scenery!  The worst thing that can happen to you is you die and go to heaven.  Jesus know you, your questions and your thirst.  When you come to Him you'll discover He's been waiting for you! If you come you'll discover you're chosen.  If you won't come, maybe you aren't'! If you come he will in no wise cast you out.  Like the great artist Michelangelo sculpted David from a flawed stone, God can shape you into something wonderful.
Latin Terms: provideo(to provide advance planning; to foresee)
Greek Terms: Aletheos: truth
Figures Referenced: Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Jacobus Arminius, Martin Luther, Michelangelo
Publications Referenced: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J. I. Packer.
Cross References: Genesis 28 Matthew 11, Luke 22:22, John 5, 6:37, 7, 15:16, Acts 16, Ephesians 1:4,

Topic: Salvation

Keywords: Nathanael, Philip, Arminianism, Calvinism, predestination, election

Transcript

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

Today, we're of course in the gospel of John once again. Believe:879. So would you turn to John chapter one, as we will finish out that chapter today. Let's pray together.

Lord, it's such a beautiful day and You are such a beautiful Savior. As we consider the stories in the New Testament, Jesus encountering those who became His followers on earth, and we consider what it is for us to follow You. As we pray before you with our Bibles open, so symbolic of the fact that our lives must be scrutinized by the truth of Scripture, as You reveal to us who You are as well as who we are. Lord, I pray that today, this first Sunday of the new year, new decade, that You would find ready worshipers and You would find those who are quick to listen to what You have to say, as you speak to us. In Jesus' name, amen.

Well, a nine-year-old was asked by his mother what he learned in Sunday school. She was surprised. And this is the way he put it: "Mom, I learned the story of how Moses was sent behind enemy lines to rescue the children of Israel and how that he called for his engineers to come in and they built a pontoon bridge over the Red Sea and it enabled the children of Israel to go safely across and then Moses got on his walkie-talkie and called for reinforcements. And then he called for bombers to come in and bomb the bridge while the Egyptians were on it and the children of Israel were rescued." And she looked and him puzzled and said "Is that what your Sunday school teacher taught you?" He said, "Well, not exactly. But mom, if I were to tell you the way she told it to us, you never would believe it." That illustrates a truth, does it not? There are some things in Scripture that are just tough to understand.

Whenever the supernatural intersects with the natural, we have problems with it. And one of the areas we have the greatest problem with is when divine choice intersects with human choice. Even though the Bible says both are true: that God elects and yet we are told to make a choice. That God predestines people for salvation and yet we are called to make a decision. Well how can that be? How can both of these things be true? That seems so impossible to grasp. Here's a thought: it's sort of like this. An airline is slated to go to New York City from London. The destination has already been determined by the proper authorities; the FAA is involved (Federal Aviation Administration); the ICAO is involved (the International Civil Aeronautic Organization). They're both involved to set that course and that plane is going to take off. It has been decreed---nothing can change it. However, on board that airplane are passengers with free will. They have made a series of choices. Number one, they've chosen to fly. Number two, they've chosen what airline to fly. Number three, they've chosen what date to leave on. Number four, they've even chosen what part of the plane they're going to sit in: whether it's first class, business class, or economy. Once they're on board, they're not chained. They can have an enormous amount of freedom. They can eat, they can sleep, they can read, they can talk. At the same time, they're all being carried to a predetermined port. And so you have sovereignty involved and you have human choice involved and they do not contradict.

And every now and then, you'll come across both of these truths wedged into the same paragraph of Scripture, and that is the paragraph we have in front of us today, beginning in verse 43 down to verse 51. Let's read it together: "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.' Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote---Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.' And Nathanael said to him, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' Philip said to him, 'Come and see.' Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, 'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!' Nathanael said to Him, 'How do You know me?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.' Nathanael answered and said to Him, 'Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!' Jesus answered and said, 'Because I said to you, "I saw you under the fig tree," do you believe? You will see greater things than these.' And He said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.'"

What's going on here is pretty simple. The very first disciples are being called. Last time we were together we saw how Andrew and John were called by Jesus after following John the Baptist; then Peter gets into the act. And here we have two more of these early followers: we have Philip and we have Nathanael. It's a strange story because on one hand, you have men following Christ, making a cogent, cognizant decision to follow Jesus. But at the same time, reading through this story, you get the idea that Jesus had been anticipating them all along. So which is it? Did they choose to follow Him or had He chosen to have them follow Him? Well I would say it's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? Can't both be true? I'll ask you this question: a person who is five foot six, is that a tall person or a short person? I'm getting different answers. Just little whispers. I'm not going to answer that definitively except to say well it depends on who you are. If you're four foot ten, that's a pretty tall person. I'm six foot five, that person would not appear to be tall to me. It's all a matter of perspective on who you are. And thus, we look at this text this morning.

There were three people that were visiting the Grand Canyon. They got off the bus, all at the same time, and they all had an impression of what they saw before them---this beautiful, huge hole in the ground. One was an artist and the artist looked and said, "What a magnificent panorama to put on canvas!" The next was a clergyman and this pastor looked and said, "What a beautiful example of the majesty and handiwork of a creative God!" The third was a cowboy. He looked down at that hole and said, "What a terrible place to lose a cow!" Now they were all correct; they all had a perspective.

What I'd like to do with you this morning is take the verses that we have read and cull through them a couple of different times and look at them in two different perspectives. One is from the divine perspective, that is, God choosing people. And then second, from a human perspective, people choosing God. And see how they fit together. The first is the divine perspective. And it's pretty evident from looking at this text that Jesus is part of the choosing process. There's three divine attributes that are seen in our text. Number one is preference. Jesus makes His choice. In verse 43, "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.'"

Now you should know something. This was, this was against the norm. Rabbis typically did not do this with disciples. It was the protocol to have a disciple opt voluntarily after hearing a rabbi to be a disciple of that rabbi. Rabbis never came up and invited somebody into the inner circle. This was different: Jesus takes the initiative. That's preference. The second I want to draw your attention to is omniscience. Watch this, in verse 44, is an explanatory note: "Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter." That's exactly where Jesus wanted to go. He wanted to go to Galilee. He knew in advance before even meeting Philip, "This guy lives in Bethsaida; that's where I want to go." Hold on to that thought. Look at verse 47: "Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under that fig tree, I saw you."

So these two guys understand that this Jesus knows where they live. Number two, knows a little bit about their character in advance. And three, even knows the secret hangouts that they frequent. So that's omniscience. Now look at something else in verse 50, if you will. I'm calling this providence. This is a prediction: "Now Jesus answered and said to him, 'Because I said to you, "I saw you under the fig tree," do you believe? You will see greater things than these.'" How did He know that? Because He knew that. He was omniscient. And He knew that He could arrange his life, Nathanael's life to experience what He predicted. This is called providence: it's like it's all been arranged in advance. By the way, providence is a good word for you to know. Here's what it means. It means the supernatural arrangement of natural events. It is not the miraculous. The miraculous is the intervention of the supernatural imposed upon the natural world. Providence is simply natural events that happen but arranged by a supernatural hand. It comes from the Latin word provideo, "to see in advance." God sees in advance and can call the shots.

So, these two guys are getting schooled in theology in one paragraph. This is like a little crash course. They understand that God sees, God knows them, and God chooses them. Now from a divine standpoint, this is always the case. People come to know Jesus Christ because God sought them. First and foremost. Doesn't matter what preacher they go to hear, doesn't matter who initiates the conversation when witnessing to them, doesn't matter what crusade event one attends. Ultimately and originally, it begins with God's choice and predestination. They're going to discover that. In John chapter 15, verse 16, Jesus is going to unload a heavy truth on them. He's going to say to them, "You did not choose Me. I chose you and I ordained you that you should bear fruit and that your fruit should remain."

I want you to notice something; maybe you already have. But let's go back and notice a repeated word in our text, verse 40, I'll take you back a little bit: "One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, [now, watch this] "We have found the Messiah." Now go down to verse 45: "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote.'" And yet, it says in verse 43, "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.'" So, question is: who really finds whom here? Well you have two different perspectives. See, we often say, "I found Jesus!" Oh really---was He lost? I mean isn't the real truth, behind-the-curtain truth, is that you were lost and He knew that and sought you out and He found you? "I once was lost, but now I'm found/Was blind but now I see." We're dealing here with the deep mysteries of election and predestination. It's some pretty heady theological stuff. You've got a couple things at play. On one hand, you have in the Bible frequent commands to unbelievers to engage their choice; their freedom of choice. To make a decision.

For example, both John the Baptist and Jesus said, "Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand." That's a command for people to engage their will and their choice. In Matthew 11, Jesus said, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me." Again a command. In John chapter 5, Jesus will say to the Jewish leaders, "You are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." And in John chapter 7, He will say, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink and whoever believes in Me," as the Scripture has said, "out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Now that's just Jesus talking. We can have several more. In Acts chapter 16, Paul says to the Philippian jailer when he's in prison and before he gets out, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." So on and on, Scripture after Scripture, these commands to the unsaved to respond to the Lord---to exercise a choice; to respond by faith.

But on the other hand, we learn from the same Bible that we can't do it wholly on our own. In fact, we discover that in whatever choice we have made, a choice has been made by someone else before we got there. That we have already been selected by God out of this world's system and that our salvation began way before we were even a twinkle in your father's eye. Before we were born. John chapter six, Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." Did you get that? "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." Paul is even more specific. In Ephesians one, verse four, "Just as He chose us in Him before the creation of the world." And he amplifies it a few verses later by saying, "We are predestined according to the counsel of His will."

Charles Spurgeon loved to play with this a little bit. He said, "It's a good thing that God chose me before I was born because He never would've picked me afterwards." So we have here sovereign election and human decision together---together---that seem opposite and seem as if you can't reconcile them. And you can't in your finite mind. This has been tried for centuries and if you think you are going to unravel the mysteries of all this, um, I'll come and visit you in the insane asylum.

They seem to be opposed to one another. We're called to make a choice and yet God selects. There's a helpful little book that I would recommend on this subject by J.I. Packer. Just a little book. It's called Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. And on page 18 and 19, there's a great little illustration that I remember. In fact I read it again this week. He said that in the Oxford shorter dictionary there's a word; a definition. The word is antinomy. A-N-T-I-N-O-M-Y. The definition of the word antimony is an apparent contradiction between two equally true conclusions. And Packer says, "For example, in physics we have an antinomy---it's called light. There is cogent evidence that light exists as wave but there's equally cogent evidence that light is particle. But it is not apparent how the same substance can be both wave and both particle at the same time. But there's evidence that it is---that is an antinomy." We're facing here a theological antinomy.

So what do we do about it? Do we draw swords and fight each other? And argue over it? A lot of people do that. They have for centuries. The followers of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius have fought over this issue and drawn blood as they have fought with their theological swords. The Calvinists will emphasize election apart from human choice and many of them won't even do evangelism lest they preach the gospel to those who aren't elected by God to hear it. And those who follow Arminius will emphasize human choice over divine election. I'll tell you what we ought to do, honestly. We ought to allow the tension to remain. Sort of like a suspension bridge. The reason the bridge stands is because you have two forces opposing each other, pulling on that taut bridge so that you can go over it. So you can sit at the Golden Gate Bridge and go, "I just don't agree with this whole thing, these forces are opposing each other" or just get in your car and drive across it. That's what I recommend we do. We let this tension remain. These are truths held intention. And I submit to you that's exactly what Jesus Christ did.

I want to show that to you. Sometimes Jesus combined both truths of divine election and human choice in the same sentence. Here's an example. In John chapter six, verse 37: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me." That's election; that's sovereign election. "And the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." That's human choice. He does it again in Luke chapter 22 regarding Judas Iscariot. Jesus said, "The Son of Man goes as it has been determined." That's election. "But woe to that man by whom He is betrayed." That's human choice. So we could polarize and there's a lot of people that love to do that. Or we could see that these things harmonize. On one hand, man isn't just sitting there, passively, being irresistibly grabbed by God apart from any knowledge of it themselves or decision on their own. And on the other hand, man is not trying to discover some hidden God that can't be found. Truth is, God chooses and we respond. It's like throwing a rope to a drowning man.

Will that rope save him? Unless that man grabs a hold of it? And even if that man grabs a hold of it, if there's not somebody at the shore pulling it in, will that rope save him? Nope. There's three elements that are needed. You need the rope, the guy in the water has to grab a hold of it, but there has to be somebody drawing from the shore for that salvation to occur. So God by election throws out the rope and draws us in and we by our choice grab the rope. So we can kvetch over it, we can argue over it, or we can enjoy it. Here's what I mean: God picked you. Let that sink in. You're on God's team; you're on the winning team. Instead of going, "I just don't know about this whole predestination and election." Get over it and enjoy it. He picked me---how cool is that? You're on the winning team.

Let's shift gears. Let's look at it from a second perspective. Not the divine perspective, this time the human perspective. How people choose God. That's also in this story; it's prominent in this story. Philip, first of all, seems to have obeyed immediately. Jesus said, "Follow Me." Not only is he willing to do that, he wants to tell Nate about it, Nathanael, perhaps his brother or a good friend. He's thinking, "Man! Nate needs to meet this guy! He's got to hear this stuff." So from a human perspective, there's a few elements. Number one, there's investigation. Philip comes to Nathanael. Look at verse 45: "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote---Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

What kind of a statement is that? What kind of a question is that? I'll tell you what it is. It's the question of a skeptic. It's the statement of somebody who isn't quite sure that what he's hearing he believes yet. "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" For Philip, faith was pretty easy, much easier than Nathanael. And there are some people like Philip; they're just ready to believe. They have no barriers, they have no roadblocks, they're just, are ready to be plucked. There are other people like Nathanael that are more resistant. It takes some investigation. They need room; they need space. They have to work through some issues. If you know a Nathanael, or if you are raising a Nathanael in your home, can I just suggest that perhaps you back off a little bit? And give that one space and grace to wrestle through the issues and the questions. In fact, help them do that. They'll come out the end much stronger. You never want to force somebody to say with their mouth what they don't believe in their heart. Jesus showed enormous grace here.

Now, the question is pretty funny: Can anything good come out of Nazareth? I just want to tell you what that's all about. The people down in Judea, Jerusalem looked down their noses at all the people in Galilee in general. Galileans were hicks. Unsophisticated; mostly illiterate. Now I'm not going to say what that's like, I'm not going to name a city or a state. You all have in your minds some place, but I won't name any place. I've tried that and done that and it didn't work out very well. I don't want to offend anybody. But the Judeans saw the Galileans---all of them---as unsophisticated, backwards hicks. But, those in Galilee even had a place in Galilee that was worse than every other place. The armpit of Galilee---that was Nazareth. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Something else that will help you in the story. Nathanael, the guy asking the question, is from Cana, in Galilee, we will discover later. Cana of Galilee is four, five miles away from Nazareth. If you come to Israel with us, I'll show it to you. We drive right through it. From Nazareth on the way to the Sea of Galilee. You blink, you'll miss it. So because Nazareth and Cana were so close to each other there was a rivalry going on. I'm sure that the high schools battled each other in a lot of games. So you can just hear Nathanael, "Ugh! Nazareth! I played them back in high school...Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" He asks. Moses didn't write about Nazareth, the prophets didn't say anything about Nazareth, The Talmud and the Mishnah said nothing about Nazareth. That's investigation: that's stage one.

Here's stage two: It's belief. It's when you come to faith. Verse 47, here's the meeting: "Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" The word "indeed" is aléthós, it means in truth. Or you're genuine; you're the real deal; what you see is what you get; you wear your heart on your sleeve. Man, you say honest things. You are a true, blue Jew. An Israelite indeed. I know all about you. Then Jesus shocks him. When Nathanael says, "How do you know me?" I love this. "Jesus answered, "Before Philip called you [before that whole conversation] when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" That was the moment he believed. That was the moment he believed. That's the moment that divine election and human decision transacted---right here. Just that flash. Now we don't know what the fig tree thing was all about. Most people think it was a place that nobody knew about, he thought, a private place where he meditated and maybe was asking God questions and dealing with issues. It was private. He had a private experience under some fig tree with God that no one knew about until Jesus said, "I was, I was privy to that. I know all about that fig tree thing." And that's why he goes, "You're the Son of God! You're the King of Israel!" Um, I've watched people who are like Nathanael, resistant at first. They've got issues, they've got questions, they struggle. But I've also watched them in a split second; just some light goes on in their heart. They just suddenly get it and they turn to Christ. That's belief.

Here's the third stage: revelation. You investigate, you come to faith, and then you grow a little bit. And I just want you to see how this is hinted at in verse 45 when Philip finds Nathanael and notice what he says: "We found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote---Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Philip is amped at this point. He's amped at how the Scripture predicted the Messiah and he sees it all. He grew up Jewish. It's like, "I get it! I see how the whole Bible fits together!" And there comes a point in every believer's life when they fall in love with that. They fall in love with the Bible. They can't get enough of it because they see how it all fits together and how it speaks so clearly about the issues of life. And they're entering into that, not just faith, but revelation. They're growing in the Word. I've quoted often what Charles Spurgeon used to say. He said, "A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to somebody who's not." It's well-worn; it's been read; it's been used; it's been applied; it's been outlined and underlined. That's a good phase. I hope you never get out of that phase. I hope you never say, "Yeah, I used to read the Bible a lot. I was in the phase." I gotta tell you, I've been doing this for a number of years---reading and studying and exegeting and teaching. And I'm still right in the middle of that phase. The Bible is the most exciting thing. Martin Luther used to say, "The Bible has hands, it grabs hold of me. It has feet, it runs after me."

Here's the third---or fourth phase, I should say, and we'll close here: adventure. From a human perspective, when you come into that relationship with Christ, you are entering into something that you have never dreamed about. It will end in heaven eventually, but until then, you are in for the adventure of your life. Look at verse 50: "Jesus answered and said to him [Nathanael], 'Because I said to you, "I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?" You will see greater things than these.'" You think that fig tree thing was cool? Psh. Stick around. You haven't seen anything yet. What does He mean? Well in chapter two, Nathanael and the other disciples will be with Jesus when He performs His first miracle. In Nathanael's hometown of Cana: turning water into wine. Blow him away, it'll blow him away! He'll enter into a whole new realm of faith. He'll witness 36 other miracles that are recorded in the New Testament. Nathanael will watch blind eyes able to see again, deaf ears able to hear again; dead people get up and live again. That's what Jesus meant when He said, "Greater things will you see."

What does that last verse mean? What is that all about when the Lord says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." This is what I think Jesus is doing. I think Jesus is reaching back 2,000 years in history to Genesis 28 to a story Nathanael was familiar with as a Jewish young man. In fact, could it be that under the fig tree he had been meditating on Genesis 28? Could be. Genesis 28 is a story about a young man named Jacob who stole the birthright from his brother Esau and he was found out and so he ran away from home. He fled in the middle of the desert and he was so tired, he was so unprepared for the journey, he felt so abandoned by God and man. It says he fell asleep on a rock; he put his head on a rock. You've got to be really, really tired to fall asleep with your head on a rock. But he fell asleep. And at night he had this vision and it was a vision of angels coming down out of heaven to the earth and going up that ladder that he saw back up into heaven. So he sees all of this traffic from earth to heaven and heaven to earth on a ladder. He wakes up the next day and he went, "Whoa! God is in this place! And I knew it not." And he named the place Beth-el, the House of God.

But notice that Jesus says, "You will see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." That is, Jesus Himself. What is He saying? Simply this: "Nathanael, I'm the link. I'm the ladder. I'm the only Mediator between God and man and you're going to see that in the days ahead. You're going to see that." There's only one way to make contact with God. There's only one way for a human to make contact with God and that is through Jesus Christ. And when a person comes to Him, they're in for an adventure. I was in Spokane some time ago and I was boarding a plane at the airport and I saw a banner on the wall that grabbed my attention. It said, "Buckle Up! You're in for an Adventure!" It was a Southwest Airline ad, advertising flights from Spokane to Reno. "Buckle up; you're going on an adventure!" I don't think going to Reno, though I have nothing against it, is like the adventure of a lifetime. But I do think that, that fits right here. In essence, what Jesus is saying to Nathanael is, "Buckle up, buddy. You're going to have the adventure of your life. You're going to see such things and it's as if all of heaven will be open to you."

I believe that following Christ, from my perspective, is like the ultimate adventure. It's the ultimate adventure. Yeah, there are ups and downs. There's trials; there's potholes in the road. There are curves I did not anticipate, but what scenery there is! Let me give you a challenge for the New Year. If you're a Christian today, you already know what the ultimate destination is; you know where the flight is going to end up. That's going to be where? You're going to end up eventually in heaven! You said that with a little bit of---"Hmm, uhh..." Heaven! That's the destination; that's the ultimate landing spot. Can I just suggest that you enjoy the ride until you get there? Just learn to not live this way: head down, hands clutched, white-knuckled. "This is hard---" Just, okay, the worst thing that will ever happen to you is you're going to die and go to heaven? So enjoy the scenery a little bit more. Head up, look around. "This isn't what I expected; what's going to be next; what's the Lord going to do?" It's an adventure.

I know I'm speaking to a few Nathanaels this morning. Jesus knows you; He knows all about your questions and He knows your thirst to find Him. It could be that you've come and you've just sensed something different here. "I'm around people who really believe and feel that Jesus is alive---He's among us." But you still got those issues; you still got those struggles. "I don't know. I've heard about this stuff. What happens if...My wife told me to come...My mom..." Here's what I suggest. I love the answer that Philip gave to Nathanael: just come and see. Come and see; come check this out! "Yeah, but..." Just come and see. "Yeah, but I'm not..."Just come and look and see! I love that response. If you do come and see; if you do respond to Him, you're going to discover a couple of things. Number one, you're in for the ultimate adventure. But you're going to also discover that He's been waiting for you there all along. All along He's been there. He has made a choice before you got there.

Some of you maybe are struggling and saying, "Well, you talked about that whole election thing, Skip. Maybe He didn't choose me. Maybe I'm not one of the chosen ones." I can prove to you that you are. You come and receive Christ as your Savior and Lord, and you will discover that He has chosen you from the foundation of the earth. You'll discover it. "Maybe I'm not ready to do that." Then maybe you're not chosen. "Well, that's not fair. I mean, what if I..." Great! Why don't you come? "Don't push it on me." Then maybe you're not chosen. But you'll discover that if you come to Him, He will in no way cast you out, He said. There's a beautiful story about a huge rock that was cut out of the quarries in Carrera, Italy and sent to Florence, Italy for one of the masters to take it as a project and make a sculpture out of it. And it was brought to Florence. The problem is it had a crack running through it---a fissure. An imperfection. And one sculptor looked at it, Donatello, the great master, and said, "It's flawed. I can't work with it." And one after another just rejected it until it finally sat for a long time in an empty yard. A lot, a vacant lot. One day another artist came along, looked it over, saw the crack running through it and said, "It's perfect." This is what he said, "There's an angel trapped inside of it and I must let it go free." And so that young artist, Michelangelo, worked for two years on that piece of stone and on January 25, 1504, he unveiled his masterpiece known as "David." That wonderful statue that you've seen at least in picture, that you can see still today in Florence, Italy.

You know what I think? If you just let God get a hold of your life, what He can do with you, no matter what flaws that we all have when we come to Him with, if you just, just let Him shape and mold and put you in the ultimate adventure.

Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the time that we have spent. Thank You Lord that Your Spirit through the writings of John has given us a very unusually keen insight into two parallel truths, and that is human decision and divine election, and how both of them have intersected in the lives of these men we read before us. So it is with all who come to Christ. Father, none of us here knows who in this world You have elected. We are simply asking that You would elect some more. And we pray, Father, that those that You have chosen would keep that appointment that You have made with them from the foundation of the earth, that today would be the day that they're set free to be everything You've intended them to be.

As our heads are bowed, as we're praying, and you're thinking about your life, maybe you have never given your life to Christ, you've never let Him in. The best you've come up with is: God is my copilot. You've just never given Him the keys to the car. God wants that to change. He wants you to surrender to Him. Others of you maybe made a choice years ago as a younger person, and the truth is today you're not walking with Him, you're not following Him, and you need to rededicate your life. Whatever the case, whatever the background, maybe you're just visiting from out of town and about to go home after a holiday season. I don't know; God knows; you know. But, are you willing today, by your own decision, empowered by God's choice, to come to know Him? Are you willing to give your life to Christ? Do you want to say, "I know that if I died, I'd go to heaven"? If you're not sure about that truth, then this is the day for you to surrender your life to Him. In this quiet moment, I want you to raise your hand up if you are willing to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. Just raise it up, keep it up just for a moment, so I can pray for you. God bless you right up front. Anybody else? Raise that hand up. In the back, God bless you. And you, in the middle, toward the back. Anyone else? Maybe you want to come back to Him and rededicate your life to Him, I don't know, but raise your hand up. You're saying, "Yes, I'm going to do this." God bless you, and in the balcony. Anyone else? Way in the back, and in the corner back.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for people around this auditorium, ones that You have brought and that You have touched. They have responded by an act of Your grace, and they're about to walk into an adventure. Wonderful. How we thank You for it. 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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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you’ve ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes (like when you turn westward while the sun is going down), it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness". But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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11/22/2009
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One of a Kind!
John 1:14-18
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It is a mistake to think of Jesus as "one among many" options in the pantheon of deities. He is unique, matchless, unrivaled, singular, and incomparable. From His birth to His Resurrection, there is no one who even comes close to the majestic Christ. Jesus was One-Of-A-Kind! Let’s consider four distinct ways that Jesus was unique and what these mean to us today.
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12/6/2009
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The Greatest Man Meets the Greatest Lamb
John 1:19-34
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Everyone is good at something, maybe even great at something. Maybe you're a great artist or a great mom or even a great leader. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). But John knew Jesus to be the greatest One ever—past, present and future - the Sacrificial Lamb sent to remove sin. Today we discover from John the Baptist how to witness for Christ and we look at the identity and the activity of this most unusual man.
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12/13/2009
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Are You a Follower-Really?
John 1:35-42
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You can't make it through much of the Bible without coming to the word Disciple. Just the four Gospels alone use this term 228 times. Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher: one who observes, learns, and practices what the teacher shares. We now come to the first time John uses this term in his book. So today we assess ourselves by asking, "Are YOU a follower?" Lets look at five characteristics of the first disciples of Jesus and see if they’re reflected in our lives.
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1/10/2010
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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
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
As John closes off his singular testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he features some closing words of Jesus and Peter about himself (John). These final sentences provide some instructions for us as we await Christ's return. How should we live in light of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and when Jesus will return?
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.