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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > The Wedding Guest

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The Wedding Guest - John 2:1-12

Taught on | Topic: Deity of Jesus | Keywords: Cana, wedding, water, wine, deity, miracle

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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1/10/2010
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The Wedding Guest
John 2:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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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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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. Jesus and His Mother (vss. 1-5)
  2. Jesus and the Moment (v. 4, v. 1)
  3. Jesus and a Miracle (vss. 6-10)
  4. Jesus and His Men (v. 11)

For Home Fellowships:

  1. Would your wedding have been any different if Jesus would have had a prominent place?
  2. Does He occupy that place in your marriage and family life right now? How is God’s timing different from yours? What could help you to be more patient?
  3. In what ways does your faith grow? What things help it grow?

Detailed Notes

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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.

Weddings days are high stress with many details and plans culminating in one event. No details about the bride and groom are recorded in the text because they are not most important to this story, Jesus is.  What he brings to this wedding changes the disciples.  This is His first miraculous sign.  Weddings would be different if He were a guest.  Marriages would be different if He were the center of the home.

The place-We have moved geographically NNW from the Jordan River area to Galilee, which will become the headquarters for Jesus ministry.  Cana is five miles north of Jesus hometown of Nazareth and was Nathanael's hometown.

The time - It is a Wednesday.  It was almost universal that the wedding of a virgin would be on a Wednesday in this culture.  Not a Saturday, because that was the Sabbath.

The people- This is probably a very close friend or relative of Jesus family,  because both Jesus and Mary were invited and Mary seems to be working behind the scenes.

  1. Jesus and His Mother (vss. 1-5)
    1.  Historically
      1. Mary has been worshipped by some
      2. She has been prayed to and revered
      3. Named the co-redemptress and co-mediatrix of the human race.
      4. Vatican II notes a union of mother and Son in the work of salvation.
    2. Biblically
      1. Jesus calls her woman.
        1. Not disrespectful, but polite and formal (like lady, ma'am)
        2. Indicates a change in their relationship
          1. Jesus begins His public ministry
          2. Earthly relationships won't determine His course of action.
          3. Not just your Son, but Your Savior
      2. Asks her, what does your concern have to do with me? (ti emoi soi gunai?)
        1. My thoughts are not your thoughts.
        2. Didn't you know I must be about my Father's business?
      3. Mary is a blessed woman and wonderful example of womanhood.
      4. Mary is NOT sinless, co-redemptress, nor co-mediatrix.
        1. She called Jesus her Savior, indicating her need for mercy and grace. Luke1
      5. The early church did not honor nor worship her.
      6. Mary is hardly mentioned in scripture.
      7. Examples include Matthew 12, Luke 11.
  2. Jesus and the Moment (v. 4, v. 1)
    1. John keeps careful track of the time, (John 1:29, 35,43) indicating Jesus seems to be keeping a schedule.
    2. My hour has not yet come
      1. "My hour" will be used  5 more times in John (John 7:30, 13:1, 17:1)
      2. "My hour" refers to the time of suffering, death, and subsequent resurrection.
      3. When Mary told Jesus they were out of wine, she was not simply asking Him to miraculously make wine.  She was asking him to reeal who He was as Messiah.
        1. She knew Him better than anyone else.
        2. She remembered her virgin birth, the Magi, Annas
        3. She knew about gossip and rumors of illegitimacy
    3. Jesus is moving in a divine time schedule toward the cross.
    4. Importance of the "hour" of suffering in the 4 gospels
      1. Four chapters hint at the first 30 years of Jesus' life
      2. 85 chapters are about the last 3 ½ years of His life
      3. 29 chapters of those are about the last week of His life
      4. 13 chapters are about the final day (579 verses about "his hour"
    5. Jesus was saving ultimate revelation about who He is until that last "hour"
    6. Application: God's timing is perfect, never late never early
  3. Jesus and a Miracle (vss. 6-10)
    1. A wedding was "the" social event. Important to have wine.
      1. Wedding paid for by the groom.
      2. Wine a symbol of Joy (Isaiah 55, Psalm 104
      3. If the groom ran out of wine it mean he couldn't provide joy for his wife, his family ro his friends.
      4. The groom could be sued for failing to meet His social responsibility.
    2. 6 water pots of stone (stone represents clean vs. earthenware represents unclean)
      1. 180 gallons of wine - more than enough
      2. Jesus was not meeting a need, He was lavishing a gift.
      3. The bride and groom could sell the excess wine and use the money
    3. The water pots were filled to the brim
      1. It was a miracle
      2. Nothing was added to the pots
    4. Demonstrates Jesus is God
        1. In chapter one he revealed Jesus omniscience in choosing Philip and Nathanael
        2. Now demonstrates his omnipotence in control of the natural world
        3. Old Testament begins with a miracle of creation, and Jesus ministry begins with a miracle of creation
  4. Jesus and His Men (v. 11)
    1. This is the first miracle, the beginning of signs. (refutes the fanciful accounts of Jesus exercising power as a child in Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Peter which are Apocryphal not Canonical books)
    2. Tells us why he did this miracle.  To reveal His glory in order to develop the fiath of his disciples.
      1. The disciples believed.  (John 20:31,32)
      2. Private miracle, only five disciples at this time.
      3. They may not have thought of Moses at this time -another prophet like Moses
        1. Moses first miracle turned water to blood, brought destruction and misery
        2. Jesus first miracle turned water to wine, saved the day and brought joy
      4. Part of the "greater things" Jesus promised to Nathanael.
Figures referenced: Ogden Nash, Charles Spurgeon, William Barclay
Greek terms: gunai (woman), ti emoi soi gunai (what with me with you woman?)
Cross References: Genesis 1, Psalm 104,  Isaiah 55, Matthew 12, Luke 11, John 1:1, 20:30-31

Topic: Deity of Jesus

Keywords: Cana, wedding, water, wine, deity, miracle

Transcript

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

The gospel of John, chapter two.

Wedding days are high stress. How many of you are married? Raise your hand. How many of you remember your wedding day? How come more hands went up? You remember them, one of the reasons is because there were so many details and there was months of planning and they all culminated on that day. High stress. Detail after detail. There was a young woman who was getting married and she said to her mother, "Mom, this day is so important to me. I do not want to overlook one insignificant detail." And she said, "Don't worry, sweetheart. I'll make sure the groom is there." Well the groom is hardly an insignificant detail. However, in our story, the wedding supper at Cana, the wedding feast, we don't know who the couple is—they're not mentioned at all. There's no mention of the bride or the groom by name; they're unnamed, they're unidentified and there's no record that they even said a single word which may be a good thing. I think it was Ogden Nash the American poet who said, "To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup, when you're wrong admit it and when you're right shut up."

But the real reason that John does not record that this couple is named or said anything at all is because they're really not the most important part of the story. The most important One in this story is not the bride. It's not the bridegroom. It's not the mother of the bride. It's not the one who officiated the marriage. It is the wedding guest. It is Jesus Himself. Because what He does and what He brings to this wedding would change everything for a group of disciples who were watching. I love this story and I love the fact that Jesus' first miraculous sign was at a wedding. And I thought as I was reading through the text this week how weddings would be really different if Jesus were the invited guest. And how marriages would be different if Christ were the center of the home. And how relationships would be different if that also was the case.

I do a lot of weddings. I have done a number of them for years and one of the reasons I love them so much is because I see what nobody else sees. I have the best seat in the house standing up here. I get to see the sweat bead up on the brow of the groom as he's being watched by a whole bunch of people and sometimes his hands will shake uncontrollably. I get to watch that—it's a lot of fun. I get to watch tears in the eyes of sometimes both the bride and the groom. I certainly get to see the love that is exchanged in just the looks that they have. It's a wonderful, wonderful time. And no doubt, this was also a wonderful moment for this young couple.

Now, John chapter two moves us geographically from the area of the Jordan River down south, and it moves us north-northwest to the area of Galilee, which will become the headquarters for Christ, and just about five miles north of his hometown of Nazareth was the village of Cana of Galilee. Nathanael, this last disciple that we read about in chapter one, his hometown was Cana of Galilee. We're going to read through 11 verses of chapter two. There's one little point that isn't mentioned here that I want you to know about: the day of the week this wedding happened on was a Wednesday. The reason I know, that is almost universally in Jewish literature, that was the appropriate day for the wedding of a virgin in Israel, was a Wednesday. It was certainly not done on Saturday, like in our culture, because Saturday was the Sabbath. And a marriage would not take place on the Sabbath. Wednesday was the typical day and, you know, Jewish weddings are like the coolest. Because the bride and groom get married under a canopy and as soon as the ceremony is done, they lift them up and carry them through the streets with the canopy above their heads and they're singing songs. It's a torchlight ceremony and they would make the most circuitous route through the town possible so that everybody in town could get on the bandwagon, so to speak, and say, "Congratulations," "God bless you," "Mazel Tov," "Good on ya," and they would all be involved.

This marriage was probably a wedding that was of a friend of the family who was very close to Jesus and His mother, Mary. Or perhaps even a relative because Jesus and Mary, His mother, were invited and Mary, it seems like, is serving behind the scenes—she's part of the workforce. So probably they were related or at least good friends. But what I want to show you today is something I think John shows us. As we go through the story, we see Jesus Christ and His relationship to four separate entities. And John brings them all out. First of all, His mother. Second, the moment. Third, a miracle—that's probably what it's most famous for. And fourth, His men, the disciples. Jesus in relation to all four of those entities.

Let's begin in verse one and read through the fifth verse, and what's highlighted there is Jesus and His mother: "On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." Now you know something always goes wrong at a wedding, right? I don't care how much you spend or how well you plan, there's going to be some detail that is unforeseen that will crop up.

I remember my own wedding; it was wonderful. It was a warm day but it was a beautiful day. The music was good and the food was great and Lenya looked like a knockout. I remember I saw her, I just went, "Ohhhh…" But there was one detail that just kind of changed the day for me. I rented a tuxedo but I did not try it on before the wedding. I put it on right before the wedding, it fit fine except for one small item and that was the shoes—they were one-and-a-half sizes too small for my feet. So the entire wedding, I have like bird-claw feet inside my shoes and if I shed tears during the wedding, it was not out of joy, it was out of sheer pain and agony. I'll never forget that.

But I've done a lot of weddings as I mentioned. And um, I've watched the best planned events go awry. I'll never forget the garden wedding that I did where the groom fainted, not once, but twice. Yeah it was really beautiful. They came and they were walking down the aisle and I told the groom, "Make sure you have a good meal in the morning." He didn't do that; so we got up there and he's nervous and the blood leaves his head and his legs are locked up and he just went back. And we caught him and we kept going and he did it again. So for the rest of the wedding we had to have him sit in a chair while his bride stood nice and tall next to him and they finished it off. He'll never forget that, I'm sure—never live it down.

Then there was the silent wedding that I did. That's right. The musician forgot that he had to play that day at a wedding so there was no music. It was a silent wedding. It was like an old black and white movie and when she walked down the aisle it seemed to take hours, because music helps. Well here's a wedding where they run out of wine. Now, I cannot overemphasize the distress that must have been in Mary's voice when she said to her Son, "They have no wine." Because to have no wine was a social catastrophe which I'll explain in a little bit. What I want to focus on first is the relationship between Jesus Christ and His mother at this point. And I do that because this has been a huge issue historically. Mary has been worshiped by some, being called the mother of God, some say that she was sinless, some say that her body was assumed into heaven and that Jesus Christ crowned her the queen of heaven and the queen of the universe. She has therefore been revered and prayed to and depended upon and she has been called the co-redemptress of the human race and the co-mediatrix of the human race. There's even a church in Rome, and I've been to it, it's a basilica, that has Jesus hanging on the cross, on one side of the cross dying for the sins of the world. And on the other side of the cross is Mary, dying on the cross. Even Vatican II, in the 1960s, spoke of, and I quote, "The union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation."

With that background, verse four is very, very interesting because Jesus said to her, "Woman, [in Greek, gynai] what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." Now, don't, don't misunderstand. This is not harsh; this is not inconsiderate or disrespectful. It is polite to say "woman." Jesus will say the same thing to Mary when He hangs on the cross and says, "Woman, behold your son!" and gives her to John's care. In fact, it's a typical, polite way to address a woman. Six times in the New Testament in the gospels, Jesus calls different women by the name "woman." It's like saying, "Mrs." or "lady" or "ma'am." Ma'am. Now that's polite but it is not intimate. It is more formal and it indicates a change in the relationship that He would address His mother like any other woman, calling her "Ma'am," or "Mrs."

Couple that with the question: "What does your concern have to do with Me?" In the Greek I discovered it's even more poignant. It's "ti emoi kai soi gynai," or literally, "What—what with you and Me, woman?" And it's a little Semitic rhetorical question that is meant to show we're thinking in two different galaxies; we're thinking in totally different manners. My thoughts are not your thoughts—two divergent ways. Now, you couple that question with the formal "woman" and as I said, it indicates a change in the relationship. And here's the change: Jesus here is beginning His public ministry and now, earthly relationships will not determine His course of action. But a different relationship will.

It's as if Jesus is saying, "I'm not just your Son. I'm to be your Savior. And I'm on a different agenda." And Christ predicted this day would come. He was 12 years old when He did. Remember He was lost in the temple and Joseph and Mary were like partway back to Nazareth and go, "Where is he?" And they had to go back and find Him and Jesus said, "Didn't you know that I must be about My Father's business?" And what Father was He speaking about? God the Father. There's a whole other relationship that I'm tracking with even more than this relationship of Son and mother, and that is My Heavenly Father. Now, all of that to say simply that Mary is a blessed woman. She was a wonderful, godly example of motherhood; a wonderful example of womanhood; a great, wonderful example of spiritual submission—but she is not sinless and she is not the co-redemptress and she is not the co-mediatrix of the human race. I'll tell you what she is and what she was: she was a disciple who needed God's grace and mercy like anybody else. And I'm saying that because that's what she said about herself. When she was told that she was going to be the mother of Jesus in Luke chapter one in that beautiful section called the Magnificat of Mary, she responds by saying, "My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices [listen] in God my Savior."

Savior? Well, who needs a Savior but a sinner? Only sinners need saviors; sinless people don't need saviors. Co-redemptresses don't need saviors. Only those who know that they need God's grace and mercy because they're sinners need a Savior. So I would say to you if you want to honor Mary, please honor her by doing what she says to do. In verse five, "Whatever He says to you, do it." She points to Jesus and says, "Honor my Son. Submit to my Son." So you want to honor Mary, do that—submit to Christ, love Jesus, obey Jesus, make it all about Jesus. Because that's what she did. She was never given any special honor by the early church. You'll never find a shred of evidence that that happened. She was certainly never worshiped by the early church. In fact, she's hardly mentioned in the Bible at all after a certain point. She just drops off the page after Acts chapter one.

Now, don't you think that if Mary were to play a role in our salvation or if she were to be prayed to, don't you think the New Testament would at least mention that? But it doesn't mention that. In fact, what it says is quite the opposite. In Matthew 12, Jesus is teaching and the house is packed full of people listening to His Bible study. And as He's teaching, He gets interrupted by somebody who says, "Hey, Your mother and Your brothers are outside. They want to talk to you." Remember what Jesus said? He didn't go, "My mother?" He looked around the room and said, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And he pointed to those listening and said, "Those who listen to God's Word and keep it, the same is My mother and My brothers."

Then in Luke's gospel, chapter eleven, evidently there was somebody already wanting to worship Mary back then and this person came up to Jesus and said, "Blessed is the mother who gave You birth and nursed You." Jesus immediately shot back and said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and do it." So this is a good section to highlight, as John does, the relationship between Jesus and His mother. "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?"

Second thing I want you to notice, because John brings it out, is Jesus and the moment. The relationship between Jesus and the moment. You'll notice in verse one, it says, "on the third day." And so far haven't you noticed how John is very particular about recording what happens on what day, as if there's some schedule that Jesus is keeping? If you haven't, I want you to notice back in chapter one, after the prologue. Look at verse 29: "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'" And down in verse 35 is another time indicator. "Again the next day John stood with two of his disciples." Verse 43: "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee," because He's got a wedding to go to. "And he found Philip and said, 'Follow Me." And then verse one of chapter two: "on the third day." So there was a couple days to travel from down at the Jordan River to Galilee to Cana up there in the mountains.

But John is announcing the timetable. But the key verse is back in verse four of chapter two: "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." I want you to notice that phrase because you're going to see it five more times in the gospel of John. Jesus will make reference to "My hour, My hour, My hour, My hour, My hour." And what does He mean by that? What He means by "My hour" is the time of His suffering, death, and subsequent resurrection. That is, the manifesting sign of who He is and what He has come to do by His death and resurrection. I'll give you a few examples, just a few; I won't go through them all. John chapter seven, verse 30: "They sought to take Him but no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had not yet come." In John chapter 13, verse one, "It was before Passover and Jesus knew that His hour had come when He would depart from this world and go to the Father. In John 17, verse one, Jesus is now praying to His Heavenly Father: "Father, [He says] the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son may glorify You."

Okay, I want you to see something; I don't want you to miss this part. Mary asked Jesus something by saying, "They have no wine." And Jesus says, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour is not yet come." So, Mary couldn't have simply been asking Jesus to pull off a miracle. Like, "Hey, you know, they don't have any wine and You're really good at that." Because that wouldn't make any sense. It wouldn't make any sense because Jesus rebuffed her in saying, "We don't share the same concern," and then He makes more wine, which is what she's indicating. No, what she must have been saying and indicating to Him is, "Son, now is the time. Here's the launching point. Here is the time when You can display and reveal who You are and what You have come to do. Give some unmistakable sign, some supreme manifestation, that You are the Messiah and launch it publicly so everybody will know here and the word will go out." And He says, "My hour is not yet come."

You see, Mary knew Jesus better than any person on the earth at that time. She remembered back to when she found out she was pregnant and she knew, "I haven't slept with a man. I haven't been sexually involved with anybody—I've been pure." But the angel said, "You're pregnant and it's conceived by the Holy Spirit." She would never forget that. And she remembered what the angel Gabriel said this Child would be like, that He would be the Savior, etcetera. She remembered the night the shepherds came, after the birth of the Child. She remembered when the magi came, following that star. She remembered what Simeon said in the temple and what Anna said and what Jesus, at twelve years old, said: "I must be about My Father's business." And all of that was in her heart and in her head and she pondered that. And she says, "Now is the time to let what I know out so everybody else knows."

There's something else Mary knew. Mary knew about gossip. Mary knew that she had to live day in and day out in Nazareth with people talking things like, "Well you know, we know that Mary got pregnant before the wedding. And that Joseph says he has nothing to do with it." And all of these rumors of illegitimacy; it was so, so much so that when Jesus confronted the Pharisees down in Jerusalem they said to Jesus, "Well, we were not born of fornication." In other words, "We weren't but You were." So all of those rumors, all of that stigmatization, socially, could be done away with if You would just reveal who You are. But Jesus said, being in the moment, "My hour has not yet come."

So here's what I want you to see: He's moving in a divine time schedule toward His hour leading up to the cross. And so it begins in the garden of Gethsemane when He says, "Behold! The hour is at hand and the Son of Man is betrayed." And here's what you need to know: Jesus' entire life is moving toward that hour. If you were to take the four Gospels and find out how much was written about Jesus growing up and the first thirty years of his life, you know what you'd come up with? There are only four chapters in all of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—only four chapters—that even hint at what happened in the first thirty years of Jesus' life. That's why they're known as the silent years: there's nothing written about them. But there are 85 chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that talk about the last 3 ½ years of His life. And of those 85 chapters, 29 of those 85 chapters deal with the last week of His life. And of those 29 chapters, 13 deal with just the final 24 hours—that last day. In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John there are 579 verses that speak of the final day of Christ on earth. That was His hour—that was the focus of His life. And He is saying to His mother, "I am saving that ultimate manifestation for My suffering, My death, and My resurrection."

Well, I'll tell you what that does to us. It tells us something about God's timing. It's perfect. You know what? God is never late. God is never early. God is precisely on time. He is always on time—that's what it tells us. Now, honestly, there have been times in my life where I didn't think God was on time. I actually told God—I've counseled God before, by the way; that's how dumb I've gotten. "God, You had the chance! It was such a perfect time for You to do that and You didn't do it! Where were you?" God is perfectly on time. Peter said, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness." Now I grew up with an earthly father who was late. Maybe that's why I keep trying to put it on my heavenly Father; it's what I grew up with. When my mom said, "I'll pick you up from school," I knew she'd be on time. Whenever she'd say, "I can't make it, your dad'll pick you up," I knew I'd be the last kid standing—inevitably. But not my heavenly Father; it's very different. His timing is impeccable. Spurgeon put it this way, "There are no loose threads in the providence of God. There are no stitches that are dropped, no events that are left to chance. The great clock of the universe keeps good time and the whole machinery of providence moves with unerring punctuality."

The third relationship in our study today is really what most people think about when they think of this story. And that is the miracle—Jesus and the miracle that He performed. Verse six: "Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing 20 or 30 gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them to the brim. And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water [they] knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"

Now, just a while back I told you that I'd talk about the whole wedding/no wine social catastrophe thing. Here's the deal: weddings were the social event. If you're a poor person, it was the one party in life you'd have. And it was so important socially to have the right kind of a wedding and to have wine at a wedding. By the way, in those days weddings were paid for completely by the groom. The bride's dad or the bride had no responsibility. The groom paid for it all and supplied the wine. To have no wine was a social embarrassment, because in Jewish thinking, wine was a symbol of joy. Many Scriptures, Isaiah 55 and others, Psalm 104 says, "The wine that makes glad the heart of man." Even the rabbi said, "Without wine there is no joy." So for a groom to run out of wine, this is what it meant: it was to admit, I can provide no joy for my wife or her family or my friends. In fact, if you ran out of wine at a wedding, you could be sued for it because you have failed to meet your social responsibility.

So when Mary said, "They have no wine," it was like—they have no wine! They've run out of wine! Jesus knew what that meant. So in verse six, John is telling us about what happened. There were six waterpots of stone. Now here was the Jewish thinking: if it was made out of stone, it was clean, if it was made out of earthenware, it was unclean. All a matter of purification. But did you get how big they were in that verse? Twenty or 30 gallons apiece? That's between 120 to 180 gallons of wine. I agree with William Barkley, "No wedding party on earth can drink 180 gallons of wine." This isn't Jesus just meeting a need; this is Jesus lavishly going way over the top. Like more than ever you'll need. Which, all I can say about that is, what a gift. What a—what a lavish gift! Because that wine was so good, and even the master of ceremonies said, "This is good wine." And that couple could've sold that wine and could've used that money for their early marriage. It was quite a gift.

We often like to skip over things like verse seven. We call them insignificant details, but notice Jesus said, "Fill the waterpots with water" and they what? Filled them up to the brim. You know why John wants you to know that? He wants you to know that nothing was added. This wasn't some sort of a fake miracle. It was filled all the way up to the top so unmistakably this was a miracle. It's not like there's a little bit of water and somebody dumped a gallon of wine in it. It was water all the way up to the top. This was a miracle. It did not come through the normal process of fermentation that has to happen for wine to be made. Just instantaneous, fresh, good, sweet wine. Now our wedding was sort of like this only in reverse. Because we had no alcohol at our wedding but we had Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Juice and when you put it in a glass it bubbles and I remember a lot of people going, "Champagne!" And they all kind of rushed for it and then they drank apple juice. We didn't do that to psyche them out, but it was kind of funny.

Now, I'll tell you why John is writing this. John is writing this to demonstrate who Jesus Christ is. John wants everyone reading this book to know that Jesus Christ was no less than God. That's the premise of the whole book, right? That's why he starts out saying it: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And He made everything." All through the book, he is saying that Jesus Christ is God and so he's going to demonstrate that. Back in chapter one, he demonstrated that by telling us how omniscient Jesus was; that He knows everything. So he meets Philip and He knows that Philip is from Galilee and He wants to go to Galilee. He meets Nathanael and He knows about Nathanael's character and He goes, "Hey, you're a man in whom there is no deceit." "How do you know me?" "I knew you when you were in the fig tree, when you were out there praying—I saw that."

And after that, now John is demonstrating that Jesus is not only omniscient, but He's omnipotent. That He can control the natural world. That He is capable of creation. Like God creates things, Jesus created wine and maybe John even had Genesis one in mind because the Old Testament begins by a miracle of creation. Jesus' ministry began by a miracle of creation. So that's Jesus and a miracle. But it doesn't end there. Verse 11 is the end of this story, really, and it tells us why Jesus did what He did. It's really the answer to the whole issue here, and it's about Jesus and His men.

Verse 11: "This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him." Two things are told in verse eleven about this miracle. Number one: that this was the first miracle Jesus did. The first one. The beginning of the signs that Jesus did. And I'll tell you why that's important. Because there are a couple of books floating around out there, they have been for some time. One is called The Gospel of Thomas; the other is called The Gospel of Peter. They're apocryphal books; they're not canonical books of the New Testament. But they have these fanciful stories of Jesus sort of kind of coming to grips with His miraculous power when He was a child, and there's a story that Jesus made a clay bird in class, or a few clay birds, and then made them come to fly and they flew away. And then He was out on the playground one time and He got mad at a kid and cursed him and the kid fell down dead and then Jesus raised him from the dead. And He's just sort of like, "Whoa! I'm pretty powerful!"

So it's helpful that John gave us this note. That didn't happen. This is the very first miraculous sign Jesus performed. Second, he tells us why He did it. He did it to reveal His glory in order to develop the faith of His disciples. Because it says, "And His disciples believed in Him." That's why the name of this series is Believe:879; that's the theme of John's book. Believe. Remember our first study and we looked at John 20:30-31? Where John said, "Truly many other signs Jesus did in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing you would have life in His name." So naturally, John wants you to know why He did this: it's so that His disciples would believe in Him.

By the way, there's only five disciples, right now. If you look at the disciples from chapter one, there was Andrew, and John (that's who we infer it was), then there was Peter, then Philip, and Nathanael and they go to Cana. And so this is a very private miracle. It is not public. Sure the servants knew about it, His mother knew about it. But really the disciples knew about it and what they saw brought faith. Those disciples, you know they're just sort of getting a grip on who this is and what's going on, and then they see this miracle and they go, "Wow! I believe."

Now, I'm wondering something. I can't prove it, but I'm just wondering that they didn't think immediately of Moses at this miracle. Because Moses predicted, and they would have known this, Moses said, "The Lord God will send unto you another Prophet like me; Him you shall listen to." And do you remember what the first miracle Moses ever performed was? It was turning water into blood. Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine. Moses' miracle of turning water into blood brought destruction and misery; Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine saved the day and brought joy. And they might have put two and two together and thought, "This guy is like much cooler than Moses! This is awesome! I believe."

And by the way, this is part of what Jesus promised Nathanael would happen. When he said, "Nathanael, you think the fig tree thing was cool? You will see greater things than this." And boy, Nathanael had no idea what he was in for in three days. He got up to his hometown, Nathanael of Cana, and here's Jesus of Nazareth and Nathanael said, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Now here's the boy from Nazareth doing this in Nathanael's home digs. And his faith was increased.

I read a funny little story about a businessman back in the East who always had a dream of being a rancher out here in the West; of course it was just a childhood dream. He read books and he thought, "I want to own land to be a rancher." So he eventually saved money and bought a ranch, or bought land, I should say, in Wyoming and started his own ranch. And a friend of his came out to see the ranch and saw so many acres of land and said, "This is fabulous! What do you call it? What's the name of your ranch?" And the man said, "Well, that's sort of the problem we've had. We couldn't agree on a name so I've given it the name, the Double R Lazy L Triple Horseshoe Bar Seven Lucky Diamond Ranch." The guy said, "Wow, that's a long name." And he goes, "You know, I look around, I notice you don't have any cows. Where's all the cattle?" And the man said, "None of them survived the branding." Can imagine the long brand.

Well, I thought about that and I thought about all of the people who have joined different religious groups that I have known. This brand of spirituality and that brand of cult and this brand of that, and I think, you know what? I listen and I look at what they believe in. And some of it's narrow and legalistic and austere and they just turn out weird. None of them can survive the branding. Then I think of Jesus here, who brought joy to a group of people and faith to His disciples and so I have a question: Do you think that if you came to Jesus Christ you would ever be empty or you would ever be disappointed? This one who could lavishly supply such graciousness—180 gallons. Because if you ever do feel empty and you ever do feel disappointed following Christ, it's not because He failed you—it must be because you left Him.

The Christ who can produce this kind of abundance is able to take care of you even in a recession. He's lavish, He's abundant. Oh, you'll be tested and you might even go, "I don't have any… stuff." Like Mary to Jesus, "They have no wine." His timing is perfect. He knows what He's about. I'm going to give some of you this morning like we did last night and all the other services an opportunity to meet the real Jesus. Not some crazy person invented by some group that you could never survive the branding, but the one who lavishly gives joy and life to you and forgiveness to you. Let's pray.

Our heavenly Father, I do pray that those today who don't know you or have strayed away from You would come back. Father, I pray for those who are strong believers, devoted believers, who are with us this morning. I pray that this year You'd lavishly bless them. You'd provide what they need and then some. 'Cause there's no limit with You. You're a God of creation and recreation. You make all things new. You do all things well. And I just pray that blessing upon this wonderful congregation of Your children, Your sons and daughters. That You, the God who knows no limit and has no lack would supply, and that this year would be marked by that supply in the lives of these, Your children. Father, we pray that those who don't know You and they need that touch of love and forgiveness and a new life would come to Jesus Christ today. We pray in His name, amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
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Is your faith in need of bolstering? Do you find yourself saying "Help my unbelief?" The book of John presents a unique, up close and personal look at the life of Christ, focusing on Jesus as God Incarnate. As we dive into a thorough study of each of John's 879 verses, we'll walk with disciples who were eyewitnesses of His ministry, His death, and His resurrection, and we'll experience abundant life in His name.
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11/1/2009
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The World's Most Important Word
John 1:1-5
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It may be difficult to say what the most important word is in any language, but not for the Apostle John. He begins his gospel with the identification of Jesus as, "The Word." Starting with the very beginning of beginnings, John shows us the fundamental truths about the Jesus that he writes about in the rest of this book. The language is simple and unmistakable and yet the truths presented are deep and extremely profound. Let's see how John presents Jesus and Who Jesus is according to one who was closest to Him.
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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you’ve ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes (like when you turn westward while the sun is going down), it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness". But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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11/22/2009
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One of a Kind!
John 1:14-18
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It is a mistake to think of Jesus as "one among many" options in the pantheon of deities. He is unique, matchless, unrivaled, singular, and incomparable. From His birth to His Resurrection, there is no one who even comes close to the majestic Christ. Jesus was One-Of-A-Kind! Let’s consider four distinct ways that Jesus was unique and what these mean to us today.
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12/6/2009
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The Greatest Man Meets the Greatest Lamb
John 1:19-34
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Everyone is good at something, maybe even great at something. Maybe you're a great artist or a great mom or even a great leader. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). But John knew Jesus to be the greatest One ever—past, present and future - the Sacrificial Lamb sent to remove sin. Today we discover from John the Baptist how to witness for Christ and we look at the identity and the activity of this most unusual man.
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12/13/2009
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Are You a Follower-Really?
John 1:35-42
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You can't make it through much of the Bible without coming to the word Disciple. Just the four Gospels alone use this term 228 times. Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher: one who observes, learns, and practices what the teacher shares. We now come to the first time John uses this term in his book. So today we assess ourselves by asking, "Are YOU a follower?" Lets look at five characteristics of the first disciples of Jesus and see if they’re reflected in our lives.
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1/3/2010
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Finding the God Who Found You
John 1:43-51
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When the first disciples encountered Jesus, they chose to follow Him--only to discover that they had already been chosen by Him! Without getting drowned in that theological tide pool, let's consider and marvel at how both of these realities work together. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects people for salvation while at the same time teaches our responsibility to believe in Christ. Let’s see how both Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus for the first time.
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1/17/2010
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Trouble in the Temple
John 2:13-22
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A hymn by Charles Wesley begins, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child..." It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful thought. However, Jesus is anything but gentle and mild in John chapter two. Here in the temple at Jerusalem, He displays His righteous anger as He overturns tables and beats the religious businesspeople with whips! But Jesus was using this trouble in the temple to predict a greater sign—the triumph of His own physical temple—His bodily resurrection!
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1/24/2010
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Uncommitted!
John 2:23-25
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These three verses are some of the most unusual in the New Testament. They describe a scene in the life of Jesus that explains His popularity and fame. The response of people to the miracles of Jesus is understandable. What is not readily understandable is Jesus' response to the interested and excited crowd. Though they believed in Him, He was not too energized over their kind of faith. Understanding this will help us to understand Jesus and His mission.
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1/31/2010
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Nick at Nite!
John 3:1-8
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The meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus at night is one of the most famous and compelling stories in Scripture. This man's inner curiosity and spiritual thirst drove him to want to know more. What he heard puzzled and astonished him, but he heard from Jesus' own lips the only way to be saved. Jesus' words here divide all of humanity into two groups: those who are born again and those who are not.
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2/7/2010
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Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition!
John 3:9-21
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For years ABC has aired two different versions of a show called Extreme Makeover. One is a total body makeover designed to enhance the physical beauty of a selected individual. The other is a Home Edition that rebuilds or adds to a struggling family's residence. But only Jesus can give the soul a makeover; only Jesus can ready a person for eternity. Here Jesus answers Nicodemus' question of how a person can have the New Life that comes from the New Birth.
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2/14/2010
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God's Valentine
John 3:16
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Today we take a look at the Bible's most famous verse and probe its depth while preparing to take the Lord's Supper together. Though most everyone knows this verse, John 3:16 is much more than just a slogan; it is a summary statement of God's love through Jesus Christ. This single verse of scripture gives us the salient truths of God's plan of salvation in abridged form. Let's consider God's great plan for us as we unpack it phrase by phrase.
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2/21/2010
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To Grow Up, You Must Grow Down!
John 3:22-30
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"They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud!" That's what British Puritan John Flavel once said. And that’s how John the Baptist once lived! John the Baptist and his followers provide some great applicational fodder for how Christians should get along and humble themselves before one another and God. For any Christian believer who wants to spiritually grow up and grow strong, he must first grow down.
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2/28/2010
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The Nail Everything Hangs On
John 3:31-36
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Imagine if everything you valued was in a sack, hanging on the wall from one nail. It surely must be a strong nail, or you're lost! If life could all be boiled down to one thing or one word or one most important principle, what would it be? What is the irreducible minimum for everything and everyone? John answers that here, saying that Jesus Christ is the nail that everything hangs on. He determined what has been and what will be. Thus our knowledge of Him and relationship to Him is paramount above everything else.
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3/7/2010
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Refreshment!
John 4:1-14
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You know the feeling of swallowing ice-cold water on a hot day or after a savory meal—it's refreshing! That cool, invigorating sip revitalizes you from the inside out and makes you say, "Ahh!" Well, that experience is not limited to the physical realm, but is even more satisfying in the spiritual realm when dealing with Living Water. Jesus came to give thirst-quenching spiritual life to every parched soul on the planet. When was the last time you drank deeply?
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3/14/2010
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How to Lead People to Water
John 4:10-30
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The world is thirsty and doesn't even know it, or won't admit it, or will look to be satisfied by everything else but Jesus Christ. So your job and mine is to lead them to water (living water, that is). Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman illustrates perhaps the best approach for personal evangelism to be found anywhere. Leading someone to the place of spiritual satisfaction is a process that rests upon two pillars—the pillar of attitude and the pillar of approach:
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3/21/2010
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What God Really Wants
John 4:20-24
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Worship conferences, worship seminars and worship experiences abound within the landscape of the American church, but in all these there's something that seems to be always lacking—worship is confined to the activity of singing songs. When the subject is brought up in this chapter, Jesus talks plainly and openly about true worship: what it is and what it isn't. Let's explore these few verses to discover what God is seeking after and how to be part of fulfilling that.
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3/28/2010
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Spiritual Farming 101
John 4:28-42
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Farmers live for the harvest season--a time when their crops are taken in and profits are made. But crops don’t grow on their own. Seeds must be sown and plants must be garnered by a whole group of active farm workers. God is the head Farmer and we are His farmhands, all working together to produce a bumper-crop of people who believe that Jesus is the Savior--Are you in?
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4/18/2010
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Everyone Needs a Faith-Lift!
John 4:43-54
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Like any muscle in our physical body, our faith too must be exercised in order for it to develop. Faith is developed in virtually every circumstance in life, but especially in hard times. Peter put it best, "These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold" (1 Peter 1:7). Let's look at a real-life story of one who came to Jesus in his trial and had his faith lifted to a higher dimension.
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4/25/2010
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Healing Misery with Mercy
John 5:1-16
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One of Jesus' most distinguishing characteristics in His earthly ministry was His mercy toward people who were hurting. This is not astonishing, for the prophet Micah announced that "God delights in mercy" (Micah 7:18). Jesus standing among the squalid misery of sickness and hopelessness while at a feast in Jerusalem is a perfect setting to show how Christians can show mercy to a world in misery. But be warned: not everyone will be sympathetic to your cause!
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5/23/2010
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Like Father, Like Son
John 5:16-24
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The most important question you could ever ask is not, "Who am I?" but rather, "Who is Christ?" That was the supreme question Jesus presented to His disciples when He said, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15). Jesus made the most astonishing claim ever when He confronted the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem here in John 5. What do these claims have to do with us today? Absolutely everything!
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5/30/2010
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Everyone Lives Forever
John 5:25-29
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My mom used to wake me up early every morning with her sweet voice saying, "Rise and Shine!" It took a few times but I eventually got up out of bed. As Jesus declares that He will be in charge of the future judgment, He too will usher the call to everyone who has died to "Rise up!" But not everyone will rise up to shine; some will rise up to suffer. Let’s consider three inevitable and unalterable truths about the future for all of us: We will all die, we will all be judged, and we will all rise again to live forever... but where?
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6/6/2010
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Why Should You Believe?
John 5:30-47
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The theme of John's gospel is "believe." The whole reason he wrote this book is so that people who read it will believe in Jesus (see John 20:31). But why should they believe? And even more applicable, why should we believe? After all, the events of the New Testament are over 2,000 years removed from us today. Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders in John 5 tells us why we should believe. Like a skilled lawyer, Jesus calls upon four witnesses to testify to His claims and these four give the reasons for our believing in Jesus Christ.
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6/13/2010
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Lessons From a Picnic
John 6:1-14
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This story ranks in the "top ten" of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ. In fact this is the most famous of all His miracles as it alone is recorded by all four gospel accounts. But this is far more than a Sunday school tale. This extraordinary picnic was not just a free meal for five thousand folks; it provided lessons for both ancient and modern disciples. Here are four profound truths that emerge from this lakeside lunch.
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6/20/2010
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What Storm Goers Need to Know
John 6:15-21
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Have you ever been on the ocean in a raging storm? If so, you know that a well-trained crew follows an immediate protocol until the storm is over. Their knowledge and experience about violent weather are invaluable for those who want to survive. Using the story of Jesus walking on the waves to His disciples, let’s discover a few things about the stormy trials of life.
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7/4/2010
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The Right Thing, The Wrong Way
John 6:22-29
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Our text reads that crowds of people came "seeking Jesus." That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And yet Jesus challenges them as to their motive because they were seeking Him (the right thing) in order to satisfy themselves only (the wrong motive). Let’s consider three monumental truths about how people interact with spiritual things in general and Jesus Christ in particular. Let’s also reconsider the starting point for anyone who wants anything to do with Christ.
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7/11/2010
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Wonder Bread!
John 6:30-50
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The Hostess Company has for years advertised that its Wonder bread "helps build strong bodies 12 ways" and that just two slices has the calcium of eight ounces of milk and the fiber of 100% whole wheat. Wow! The crowd that Jesus was speaking to would have loved that! But our Lord presents something to them far greater than what they were wanting. He knew what they needed.
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7/18/2010
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Plain Truths About the Bread of Life
John 6:51-71
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Mark Twain once remarked that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still lacing up its boots!" This section of John's Gospel has generated much confusion and misunderstanding. Even Jesus' original audience had trouble understanding His meaning, and when they did, they found the truth was difficult to bear. These "hard truths," however, are "the words of eternal life" (v. 68). Let's look at these four realities today.
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8/1/2010
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Seeing Jesus Through the Fog
John 7:1-13
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There was always a fog surrounding Jesus! It was a fog of uncertainty, of unbelief, and of conflicting opinion. He was misunderstood about both His mission and His message. His friends, His family, and His foes were often bewildered about who He was and what He was doing. That remains true even today. But in this passage our view becomes clearer. Jesus had clearly defined objectives that He reveals here and they are extremely practical for us today.
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8/8/2010
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Follow Jesus But Don't Be Religious
John 7:14-24
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Jesus clashed with religious leaders more than any other group of people. He went against their spiritual grain and challenged their legalistic ideas. Christ made it clear that He hadn’t come to establish a new religion but rather to show the way to God His Father. He didn’t give people another “system of beliefs and practices”; instead He said that He Himself was the way, truth, and life. In this public confrontation, we learn how to follow Christ in truth and not be religious.
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8/15/2010
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Standing by a Waterfall (Dying of Thirst)
John 7:25-53
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All the diverse and assorted experiences offered by this world can never satisfy the deepest longing of the human soul. What we really want isn't what we really need. The rest of John chapter 7 illustrates this truth. In the midst of a crowd of people clamoring for deep spiritual satisfaction stands the only One who can provide it. He offers them the drink that really satisfies and all but a few refuse it, preferring rather to die of thirst. How painfully ironic!
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8/22/2010
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Scribbling on the Ground
John 8:1-11
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Can you imagine what a surviving copy of Jesus' autograph would be worth today? Or what about a letter to His disciples? The fact is, there is no existing document or copy of anything Jesus ever wrote. We only have this story of Him scribbling something in transient dust on the Temple stones. Though John doesn't tell what Jesus wrote that day, his account does reveal a lot about Jesus Himself and how He interacted with three different kinds of folks.
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8/29/2010
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Blinded by the Light
John 8:12-20
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When the sun shines right in your eyes, your immediate inclination is to squint, turn away, or put sunglasses on. Light can be blinding! Though light penetrates our world, providing illumination and energy for our very existence, big doses of it can be difficult to handle. That's true spiritually as well. Jesus, by His teaching and work, illuminated this world darkened by sin. Some rejoiced in that light, able to see where they were going. But others, who'd been so accustomed to spiritual darkness, could only wince when Jesus was around.
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9/5/2010
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The Worst Way & Best Way to Die
John 8:21-30
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One person put it this way, "Death is the big flaw. Sometimes we can postpone it, lessen its physical pains, deny its existence—but we can't escape it!" Since that is universally true, why don't people take death seriously enough to plan for it? While we are alive in this world, everyone should be thinking more about the next. But what's the best (and worst) way to die?
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9/19/2010
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The Best Way & Worst Way to Live
John 8:31-36
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Everyone has an opinion on what "The Good Life" is. For some, it's financial independence. For others, it’s autonomy from government control. For still others, it’s the ability to do whatever you want whenever you feel like it. Jesus offers a different kind of freedom and a better brand of life. Here Jesus tells us what the best way to live really is: It’s the freedom to be a genuine disciple. And He tells us what the worst way to live really is: It’s the slavery of a sinful lifestyle. Today consider how free you really are and what areas of life you may still be in bondage to.
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9/26/2010
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The Devil's DNA
John 8:37-47
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Your body has 100 trillion cells. Inside each one is a nucleus and in each nucleus are DNA molecules. DNA is like an instruction manual for life with densely coded information telling each cell what to do. A simple paternity test would prove that my father was really my father. Here Jesus gives His audience a spiritual paternity test that reveals their spiritual father to be the devil himself. No matter what your physical ancestry, you can always tell one's spiritual heritage.
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10/3/2010
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Who IS This Guy?
John 8:48-59
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Jesus had friends and He had enemies. But besides those, He also had some "frenemies" (enemies who pretended to be friends). To this crowd who at first pretended to believe (v. 31) Jesus is both confrontational and controversial. This paragraph highlights three possible identities of Jesus: two of them were his enemies' accusations and one was Jesus' own claim.
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10/10/2010
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Life Hurts! Where's God?
John 9:1-12
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"Why is there so much pain in the world?" is the most frequently asked question ever! We hate it when we, or those we love, are in pain. Today we see Jesus confront a hurting world. As we do, consider these words by Elizabeth Elliot (whose husband was murdered): "If God is in charge and loves us, then whatever is given is subject to His control and is meant ultimately for our joy."
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10/17/2010
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The Truth About Your Neighbors
John 9:13-34
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Those of us who are Christians live in a sea of unbelievers who work with us, live next to us, shop where we shop, and send their kids to the same schools. Some have a mild case of unbelief disguised by religious practices. Others are more demonstrable in their agnosticism or atheism. Let's watch a local Jerusalem neighborhood struggle against faith in spite of clear evidence.
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10/24/2010
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Got Any Blind Spots?
John 9:35-41
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When you drive, you encounter "blind spots"—it could be part of your own car or it could be a tree that hides traffic on the other side. Those blind spots hinder both progress and ultimately, safety. When Jesus healed a blind man in Jerusalem, the same man was also healed of his spiritual blindness. But others who thought their spiritual perception was keen were as blind as a bat! As we consider this story, can you think of any blind spots in your spiritual journey?
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10/31/2010
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The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!)
John 10:1-10
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This is one of the most beloved passages to be found anywhere in Scripture. But it's not a stand-alone passage: The healing of the blind man in chapter 9 was more than a miracle. It was part of the process of Jesus forming His flock. The leadership had cast the healed man out of the synagogue. Jesus found him, accepted him, saved him, and placed him in His own fold.
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11/21/2010
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What's So Great About the Good Shepherd?
John 10:11-21
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"What's so great about being a Christian?" some people ask. The answer lies in the kind of care, provision, and protection we get from Jesus Christ, our Shepherd. Have you ever stopped to make a list of the benefits that are yours as a follower of Christ? Consider this short list of advantages that you, as a child of God, have. When was the last time you thanked Him for being your Shepherd? This would be a great week to do that!
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12/5/2010
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To BElieve or Not to BElieve...
John 10:22-42
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"In all unbelief there are two things: a good opinion of one's self and a bad opinion about God."— Horatius Bonar. It's true, isn't it? Humanism is man-centered and rejects God's existence or His relevance. But Jesus appealed to two things: the plain evidence of His supernatural works and the testimony of those who witnessed them. Jesus here asserts His deity, and the reaction is predictable—some believed while others did not believe. Which camp do you fall into?
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1/9/2011
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The Great Physician's Patient Dies
John 11:1-16
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When a doctor loses a patient on the operating table, there is a deep sense of remorse and sadness in the surgical theater. Doctors are trained to save lives but sometimes even the best trained physicians are unable to control complications that lead to death. But here we discover that Christ, the Great Physician, not only knows that His patient is sick--He allows him to die! Here are three principles about Divine Medicine that we can all learn.
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1/16/2011
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A Tale of Two Sisters
John 11:17-32
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In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote his famous work, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story before us is set in Bethany near Jerusalem and highlights the personal relationship that two sisters had with Jesus Christ. Their broken hearts provide an excellent platform to consider how Christ deals with people in grief and loss. Let's actively probe not only their responses but ours to the incredible promise Jesus makes.
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1/23/2011
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The Strangest Funeral Ever
John 11:33-44
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According to one source, there are approximately 2 million funerals in America per year, which means that about 5,479 funerals take place every single day! Most of those funerals are pretty typical: a formal service followed by an interment. But the funeral service we're looking at was really different--and not just because of a resurrection. Here Jesus does three things that are pretty normal for most people at a funeral, but strikingly odd for Jesus.
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1/30/2011
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What to Do with Jesus?
John 11:45-57
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Any lawyer can tell you that whenever the star witness is a resurrected corpse, you have a pretty good case! But Lazarus being alive from the dead doesn’t seem to persuade everyone. And so the big issue becomes what shall we do with Jesus? The decisions made here set the clock in motion for an impending hate crime—the crucifixion of Christ. But from heaven’s vantage point, this is all part of God’s plan for redemption. Let’s see the responses and how we can make a difference.
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2/6/2011
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A Meal to Reveal the Heart
John 12:1-11
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If you were to step into the home of Simon at Bethany (Mark 14:3) on that night, you would've seen Jesus and His disciples along with Lazarus and His two sisters reclining at a low table for a meal in honor of Christ. But if you were to step into the hearts of those people, you would discover they were all very different from each other. Those inside the house and outside represent the gamut of feelings about Jesus—from adoring love to intense hatred. What a complicated meal!
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2/13/2011
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A Day, a Donkey, a Deliverer, and a Decision
John 12:12-19
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2000 years ago, on the final Sunday of Jesus’ earthly life before His crucifixion, He did the most unusual thing—He sat on a donkey and was carried into the city of Jerusalem in parade fashion. This formal presentation of Him as Deliverer was both profound and predicted. What’s the significance of such an act as this? What overarching principles emerge for us today? We’ll dig in and discover them, but today you’ve got to write them down yourself:
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2/20/2011
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Living the Right Life
John 12:20-26
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If this sermon was a book and I wanted to sell lots of copies, the title would cause it to fail. Now if it were entitled "Living the High Life" or "Living the Successful Life," then I may have a winner. But many have lived with both success and riches who didn't live right! So what is the right life? Or to frame it with a better question: What kind of life is most pleasing to God? Through a series of paradoxes, John gives us the answer—it wasn't the answer most people are looking for!
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2/27/2011
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Cross-Culture
John 12:27-36
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The term cross-culture emerges from the social sciences and typically refers to interaction of one culture or language with another. But that's not how I'm using it today. I'm thinking of it in the biblical sense, the salvation sense. Jesus' whole life was immersed in the culture of the cross and He referred to His impending death on the cross as "His hour." Let's consider today the culture of the cross of Christ: what it meant to Jesus personally and the world ultimately.
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3/6/2011
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Believe It or Not!
John 12:37-50
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Most of you reading this are believers. Some are not. Both are dangerous positions to take but for different reasons—vastly different reasons! This paragraph in John's Gospel is the summary of all that has been written, from chapters 1 through 13. It reviews the two different responses people have to Jesus and then gives us Jesus' own synopsis on faith and unbelief. Today you will be able to understand the real differences and consequences of faith and unbelief.
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3/13/2011
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A Night Unforgettable
John 13:1-5
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Some days are frozen in time because of the magnitude of an event. You will always remember September 11, 2001 and where you were when the towers fell. The night America bombed Baghdad or the night John Lennon was murdered may be permanent memories captured in your mind. This was the final night Jesus spent with His own disciples and it would be unforgettable. Let’s discover how what seem like ordinary moments can be extraordinary appointments.
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3/20/2011
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Basin Theology 101
John 13:6-17
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At the final Passover meal that Jesus shared with His closest friends, He gave new meaning to the bread and wine, using them to point to His upcoming sacrificial death on the cross. Today we share Communion as a church family and reflect on that meal, as well as the lessons Jesus was teaching His first followers. After dinner Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash the feet of his students and taught them life principles about stooping, cleansing and serving.
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3/27/2011
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Betrayed!
John 13:18-30
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Relationships can withstand an enormous amount of pressure, but betrayal is sure to end most. The old English word means to hand over or to deliver. Think of it: while Jesus was about to deliver the world from sin and its destruction, Judas was about to deliver the Savior over to His enemies. If you've ever felt betrayed by someone, this study will have special application to you.
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4/10/2011
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A Brand New Way of Life!
John 13:31-35
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To follow Jesus is to have a brand new way of life. When these twelve men sitting around the dinner table started hanging around Jesus, they had no idea just how new and different their lives would become. At this final meal on that last night, they were still learning just how new their lives should be. (Jesus can still teach old dogs new tricks!) As present-day followers of Christ, let’s consider three aspects of life that become new once we become His disciples.
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4/17/2011
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F.A.Q.
John 13:36-38
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An old Persian Proverb reads, "It's harder to ask a sensible question than to supply a sensible answer." Many times our questions to God are reactive—based on a sort of knee-jerk reaction to painful circumstances. Peter asked Jesus two questions of this sort. But whenever we ask God questions we must hang around to get the supplied answers. The questions Peter asked are similar to ones we frequently ask. Let's consider and apply Jesus' outstanding answer
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5/1/2011
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A Theology for Messy Lives
John 14:1-6
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Life can be pretty messy sometimes: plans fail, people leave, money diminishes, and taxes rise. There are plenty of reasons to be troubled these days but there are better reasons not to be! Life was about to get real messy for those disciples around that Jerusalem dinner table. At times like that, there are some basic instructions we need to fall back on so our hearts inside us won't be swallowed up by the mess around us.
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5/8/2011
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How Can I Know God?
John 14:7-11
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What a thought—that a mere human can know God! The agnostic asserts this is impossible. The atheist insists that the very idea is an arrogant and purely metaphysical pursuit. But one of the reasons Jesus came was to reveal God's character and nature clearly and perfectly! Let's consider two roadblocks to knowing God and four resources that help us know Him better.
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5/29/2011
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Privileges of God's Employees
John 14:12-14
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Most companies have benefits for employees: things like overtime pay, health insurance, and sick pay. In 2 Corinthians 6:1, Paul calls us "workers together with Him" (NLT renders it "God's partners"). We have been called to a high and lofty task—to be His representatives here on earth. You might say we're part of the "family business." So what has God called us to do? And how has He provided for us in terms of resources? In short, what are the benefits of being God's employees?
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6/5/2011
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Four Part Harmony
John 14:15-18
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Some of the best moments on American Idol aren't the solo performances, but when all the singers join together and blend their voices in harmony. There's nothing sweeter than well-trained voices blended together in first, thirds, and fifths. Spiritual harmony is much the same—when believers blend with the triune Godhead there is an alignment that results in a deep sense of fulfillment. And what is the note we are to sing in this spiritual song? It is the note of loving obedience!
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6/12/2011
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Promises, Promises!
John 14:19-26
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Someone once mused, "Promises may get friends, but it's performance that keeps them." No wonder God has so many friends! He makes promises and keeps them. On this final night that Jesus spent with His friends, as both sorrow and confusion assailed them, Jesus made several promises that would sustain them in the days, months, and years ahead. What about you? Will you dare to trust the promises of God? It's the only way to see if they really work.
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6/26/2011
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Peace Where You Least Expect It
John 14:27-31
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On countless American gravestones this epitaph could be written: Hurried, Worried, Buried. What a sad way to live! Fear, anxiety, and distress have literally become part of our national culture. Odd, isn't it? Though we have such abundance in this country, most don't experience abundant life—especially as Jesus described it. Sure, everyone has his or her share of trouble and anxieties, but let's consider one of the greatest gifts Jesus gives to followers—the gift of peace!
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7/3/2011
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Life-Lessons from Grape-Growers - Part 1
John 15:1-7
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My parents grew grapes on their little plot of land in Southern California. There weren't many, but enough for me to know that getting fruit at harvest depended on three things: the solid connection of branch to vine, the vigilant care of the workers, and the consistency of those things over time. Jesus, walking with the disciples toward the Garden of Gethsemane, gives life lessons to His men using the familiar example of growing grapes. With that analogy in mind, let's consider the three ways our relationship to God is described by Jesus.
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7/10/2011
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Life-Lessons From Grape-Growers - Part 2
John 15:8-11
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As we grow older, we mature. In our spiritual lives we should become spiritually mature. The Bible calls it being fruitful. Spiritual fruit is the indication that we're truly connected to Christ. But there are others, as we'll see today. Last week we examined how the relationship with Christ is described (Connected to Christ, Cared for by the Father, and Consistent Over Time). Today let's consider how this relationship is demonstrated. When we're rightly connected to God we'll be:
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7/17/2011
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What a Friend We Have in Jesus
John 15:12-17
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We can get through almost anything in life with friends to share our sorrow and divide our grief. A Chinese word for friend is peng-yu and it has a much fuller meaning than in English. It means "one who brings completion and sums up beauty." The ancient Hebrews saw true friendship as an ideal to pursue and a blessing to enjoy. In these final moments with His followers, Jesus uses a most tender term for their relationship—they were friends! What does that friendship look like?
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7/24/2011
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Why Does Everyone Hate Me?
John 15:18-25
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There is a flipside to being a friend of Jesus. That's true of any friendship. Whenever you ally yourself and make friends with someone, you will incur some enemies because of it. Likewise, some who don't like Jesus won't like us either—and we discover there are quite a few who don't! Let's find out why, and how we can raise our heads high and prevail.
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7/31/2011
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Two Thirds Is Not Enough
John 15:26-16:15
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We love God the Father who created us and God the Son who redeemed us, but what about the Holy Spirit? We hear His name a lot, but who is He? What exactly does He do? What does He want from us? The Holy Spirit is the "quiet One," active in the life of believers but sometimes not acknowledged as being vital. Oswald Chambers noted, "The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a guest in a house. He invades everything!" Today, we consider Him and His role in our lives.
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8/7/2011
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The Holy Hound of Heaven
John 16:5-11
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Having understood Who the Holy Spirit is (Person not just power; Deity not just dignitary) we now find out what He does in the world of unbelieving people. Since the greatest gift God ever gave to the world was His only Son (John 3:16) it stands to reason that the greatest sin one can commit is to reject the Son (John 16:9). How does the Holy Spirit both sentence the world as prosecutor and lead people away from judgment? And what role do we play in all of this?
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8/14/2011
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When Sorrow Turns to Joy
John 16:16-22
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The flamboyant baseball-legend-turned-preacher Billy Sunday stated, "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere!" That's not to say that life is all laughs. Hardly! Jesus anticipated His followers' deep sorrow. He predicted it. But He also assured them that their experience of sadness would be eclipsed by a greater experience of lasting joy.
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8/21/2011
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How to Send Knee-Mail
John 16:23-28
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Today you can be anywhere in the world and send or receive messages digitally via email. Sending email has eclipsed traditional mail for years now. Sending knee-mail is similar (you can be anywhere)—but with better results! You don't need wifi or a modem; you don't need an electronic device or a computer. Before Jesus left His disciples, He wanted them to get "online" with the Father and stay connected through the simple yet powerful means of prayer.
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9/4/2011
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I've Fallen, but I CAN Get Up!
John 16:29-33
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I would rather fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail! So said President Woodrow Wilson. Our Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and is not surprised by our weaknesses. We all fall and fail, even though we may commit to standing strong. What can we learn about ourselves and our God in such valleys? Even more, what kind of restoration can we hope for after our bout with failure?
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9/18/2011
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Holy Eavesdropping
John 17:1
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Imagine if you could sit and listen to Jesus talking to His Father—what would Jesus say to Him? In this prayer (which comprises all of John 17) we step onto holy ground. His instruction to His followers is now over. His preparation of them is done. He now turns His attention heavenward to talk directly to His Father about Himself, about His disciples, and about His future church. This prayer is unique for four reasons:
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9/25/2011
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The Gifts That Keep On Giving
John 17:1-5
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It's possible to give without loving but it's impossible to love without giving— Richard Braunstein. Part of God's nature is that He shows His love by His generous gifts. "For God so loved the world that He gave..." (John 3: 16). Here, in the opening lines of Jesus' prayer to His Father, He requests a gift from His Father and acknowledges three other gifts—two given to the Son by the Father, and one given by the Son to us. These are the gifts that keep on giving!
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10/2/2011
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How Followers Are Formed
John 17:6-10
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Okay, so which is it? Did I choose God or did God choose me? Perspective is everything! If you look at it from the divine viewpoint, you'll say God chose. If you're looking at it from a human viewpoint, you'll say we do the choosing. But why can't both be true? I suppose you can sit around, scratch your head, and try to ponder such imponderables, or you can sigh happily and say with a grateful heart, "I'm elated that He chose me!" But you should also ask yourself another question while you're at it—What am I going to do about it now?
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10/9/2011
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Missionaries or Monasteries?
John 17:11-19
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How can you leave your mark on the world? Most everyone wants to be remembered for some contribution made to society. Well, Jesus wants us to do that, too. In fact, He prays for that. God wants you to make an imprint on life's road so people will say, "Hey look! God's kids were here!" We can't do that by isolating ourselves. We have marching orders!
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10/23/2011
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Listen Up! Jesus is Praying—for YOU!
John 17:20-26
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What's God's general will for you? Look no further than this text! Now as we listen to Jesus pray for us, we also find what our priorities in life are to be. These words are the "Last Will and Testament" of Jesus Christ. So pay close attention and you'll get it right from the heart of Jesus Himself.
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10/30/2011
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I've Got It Under Control
John 18:1-11
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Sometimes life appears to be spinning out of control. Events happen we didn't plan for, people do things we didn't expect, we find ourselves in places we never thought we'd be in. But though you can't always control what happens to you, you are responsible for what happens in you (attitudes and responses). What do we really believe about God's authority and power in our lives? Is there ever a time when God can't say, "I've got it under control"?
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11/20/2011
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The Darkest Night!
John 18:12-27
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On a dark spring night in Jerusalem, it seemed everyone was against Jesus Christ. The religious system had long been opposed to and jealous of His burgeoning ministry. The mock trial designed to get rid of Jesus was only going through the technical motions to achieve their end. And Peter, Jesus' closest friend, was in a downward process of disassociating himself from Him. But in the midst of the darkest night, the sunrise of God's grace was beginning to shine!
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1/8/2012
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A King, a Kingdom, and a Courtroom
John 18:28-40
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What kind of a King is Jesus, and what is the nature of His Kingdom? And what does it mean to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done"? These are the questions faced in the text before us. As Jesus nears the cross, a nation denies His reign over them, while a Roman ruler questions Him and then cynically admits his own confusion and despair.
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1/22/2012
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How Do You Handle Jesus?
John 19:1-16
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Pontius Pilate was like every other person who has ever lived. The fundamental question of his life was, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22). Everyone has to deal with Jesus, to decide about Him and His claims. In one setting, we can see how one man (Pilate) was influenced to deal with Jesus in three different ways. These three ways are how many people today still choose to deal with Jesus Christ.
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1/29/2012
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Execution of a King
John 19:17-22
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Regicide is the official word used for the execution of a king. Most countries reserve the stiffest of punishments for subjects or assassins who would kill their royalty. John records the execution of the King of kings on a Roman cross outside the city of Jerusalem. But the rest of Scripture reveals that it was more than an execution; it was sacrifice that brought salvation. The next few weeks, we will consider the cross in depth and what it means for the world and for us.
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2/5/2012
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The Cross on the Billboard of Eternity
John 19:23-24
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Did you know that the cross of Christ was always God's plan from the very beginning? It wasn't a reaction to mankind's rejection of His Son, nor was it an accommodation to a Roman and Jewish miscarriage of justice. It was according to "the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). Today we will take a journey back and connect the dots of God's unfolding plan of the cross throughout the ages.
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2/12/2012
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How to Love Your Mother
John 19:25-27
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A mother's love for her children is distinctive and irreplaceable. To watch a child suffer is crushing and almost intolerable for any mom. In this touching scene revealed in three verses, we not only see Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of her Son's cross, we also learn how Jesus cared for His mother. Even from His place of extreme suffering, Jesus was thinking of others and His love for Mary is noteworthy for us.
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2/19/2012
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iThirst
John 19:28-29
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The world is filled with Apple's i-technology, which delivers on its promise to make connectivity and information readily accessible. But there is a deeper need within everyone, a thirst to be right with God, that no app or gadget can fulfill. How ironic that Jesus, the great Thirst-Quencher, would Himself be thirsty. It was part of the great exchange—His temporary thirst enabled yours to be quenched eternally!
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2/26/2012
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It's Done!
John 19:30
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While Jesus was doing His greatest work, He uttered His greatest words! Through the excruciating pain of a tormenting death, Jesus gave the most meaningful statements worthy of careful consideration. John records three of Jesus' seven statements uttered while on the cross. The sixth—and perhaps the most hopeful—is the one we consider today.
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3/4/2012
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Death Under Control
John 19:31-37
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Watching someone you love die is always a heart-wrenching experience, especially when the victim experiences great suffering. For the apostle John, the death of Jesus was likewise difficult-but he saw a glimmer of hope, a silver lining in the dark clouds of death. This death was long ago anticipated and was being carefully monitored from the control center of heaven. Today we see why that's important.
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3/11/2012
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Disciples on the Graveyard Shift
John 19:38-42
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You can find an unending supply of books, pamphlets, and articles on discipleship in Christian churches and bookstores. Many of them will be predictably regimented and conventional, giving solid biblical references and calling Christians to ardently follow Christ—all great stuff. But not everyone's spiritual journey is identical. Some disciples are unexpected, and so is their story. Here are two disciples of Jesus who've been in the background and now step forward to care for the body of Christ after His death. Let's allow their story to inspire us.
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3/18/2012
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A Not-Quite-Empty Tomb
John 20:1-10
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There was a lot of confusion happening on the first Easter morning. The resurrection had happened but it was neither expected nor accepted by all at first. Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples what she saw, and they ran to check out her report. What they saw was compelling evidence of a resurrection, but only one of them really connected all the dots. Let's see why.
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3/25/2012
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Hope Rekindled
John 20:11-18
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When people grieve, they usually run the gamut of the emotional spectrum, from denial to bargaining to despair to anger to eventually hope. Mary Magdalene was in hopeless despair as she stood weeping by the grave of Jesus. The resurrected Christ deals tenderly with this woman as he reveals Himself to her and conveys hope for her future. Let's glean some principles for dealing with brokenhearted people.
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4/1/2012
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From Closed Doors to the Open Road
John 20:19-23
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Our relationship with Jesus isn't a secret to be hoarded; it is a story to be heralded! The disciples were seated behind closed doors (sounds like a lot of churches). Jesus wanted them out, giving away what they had been given. Let's see how these early followers went from panic to peace, from perplexity to purpose, and from protection to power. It's a great journey. Are you up for it?
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4/8/2012
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Rise Up!
John 20:24-31
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The apostle Thomas has been noted for his skeptical attitude. In fact, we refer to a skeptic as a "doubting Thomas." In this message from John 20, we consider four ways Thomas was able to rise up from doubt and become a joyful follower of Jesus.
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4/15/2012
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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)
John 21:1-14
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I am not a great fisherman. I don't do it often and when I catch something, it's pure luck! My dad was the opposite—he loved it and was great at it. At least seven of Jesus' disciples were fishermen and here we see them plying their trade after the resurrection. Some beautiful lessons can be discovered about how to live while we wait for Jesus to come back for us.
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4/22/2012
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I Failed! Now What?
John 21:15-19
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One of life's harshest realities is failure. The very sound of the word seems harsh to our sensibilities. We even harbor the age-old axiom, "Failure is not an option!" But failure is an option; in fact, it's a certainty. But discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to victory. In a post-resurrection interview, Jesus restores Peter with a fresh commission. If you have failed in your spiritual experience (and who hasn't), these principles will inspire.
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4/29/2012
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Final Instructions
John 21:20-25
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As John closes off his singular testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he features some closing words of Jesus and Peter about himself (John). These final sentences provide some instructions for us as we await Christ's return. How should we live in light of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and when Jesus will return?
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.