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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > God's Valentine

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God's Valentine
John 3:16
Skip Heitzig

John 3 (NKJV™)
16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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.

"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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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.
  1. The Origin "For God"

  2. The Motivation "so loved"

  3. The Destination "the world"

  4. The Demonstration "that He gave His only begotten Son"

  5. The Invitation "that whoever"

  6. The Qualification "believes in Him"

  7. The Ramification "should not perish but have everlasting life"

Detailed Notes

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  1. The Origin "For God"
    1.  Not for man's desire for self improvement
    2. God-initiated
    3. We respond to Him
      (When Adam sinned he ran, God searched for him)
    4. We are dead in trespasses and sins, dead people are helpless
  2. The Motivation "So loved"
    1. Not "so angry"
    2. It's God's nature, God is love
    3. Easy to say, difficult to grasp
    4. Different from human love
      1. Not object oriented
      2. Subject oriented, based on His character
      3. God doesn't have favorites
  3. The Destination "the world"
    1. Not a select few, all
    2. Spoken to Nicodemus, a Jew
    3. Universal sin, universal cure
    4. Widest embrace, includes everyone
    5. Some don't experience it
  4. The Demonstration "that He gave His only begotten Son"
    1. Love isn't passive
    2. Love is active
    3. God gave his best, monogene, only begotten
  5. The Invitation "that whoever"
    Whoever!  (Samaritan woman, Revelation 21)
  6. The Qualification "believes in Him"
    1. More than acknowledging the facts
    2. Pisteuo - believe - rely on, trust in
    3. The Great Blondin, "get in the wheel barrow"
  7. The Ramification "should not perish but have everlasting life"
    1. Died so we can have eternal life
    2. Those who don't believe will peris
Figures Referenced: Valentine of Rome, Bishop of Terni, Martin Luther, Malcolm Muggeridge, DL Moody
Greek Terms: monogene-only begotten, pisteuo-believe, rely on, trust in
Cross References: 1John 4:19, Revelation 21

Topic: God's Love

Keywords: love, eternal life, believe, Nicodemus

Transcript

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Believe:879. How far will you go to find the truth? A journey through the gospel of John with Skip Heitzig.

Happy Valentine's Day. February 14th, one billion cards have been sent around the world on Valentine's Day. Did you know that Valentine's Day is the second largest card-sending event? It's only next to Christmas. Who gets the most Valentine's cards? Teachers. Second, students, giving them to each other. Third, mothers. Sweethearts are fourth or fifth, it's like they don't even count almost.

But I wonder how many of you realize that Valentine's Day has Christian roots. That it was actually named after a martyr, one of two martyrs in the early church who would not abandon their love for Jesus Christ. It's either named after Valentine of Rome, Valentinus Romanus who was murdered on February the 14th, this day, in the year 269 AD, or another one by the same name, Valentine, who was the Bishop of Terni, who was martyred by the Emperor Aurelian. We don't know exactly which one but it goes that far back.

But over time, the secular culture has reformed this day to make it a celebration of purely romantic love, and included on the day has been the adding of cupids that comes from Rome. Cupid is the son of Venus, the mother or the goddess of love. The idea of a red rose, since the rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the goddess of love, roses were given. But the original concept comes from the love of God or, more directly, the love of people for their loving God.

Now, there was a group of professionals who decided to ask kids ages four to eight what the definition of love is. What does love mean? And as you can guess, there were some pretty cute answers, even a couple of profound ones. One child said, "When a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne, and they go out and smell each other, that's love." You can picture that. "Love is when you kiss all the time," said another, "Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together, and you talk more. Mommy and Daddy are like that, and they look gross when they kiss." Another one writes, "Love is when you tell a guy that you like his shirt, and then he wears it every day." Just talk about smelling each other.

"Love is what's on Valentine's Day cards. It's the stuff we'd like to say, but no one would be caught dead saying it." Here's the best. "When my grandma got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toe nails anymore. So my grandpa does it for her, even when his hands got arthritis too. Yeah, that's love," she writes. And that's right. That is right. No subject has been so universally treated as the subject of love. No subject has had more songs written about it than love, love songs. Why is that? It's simply because all of us, we all crave love. We want love more than we want anything else, and we would do almost anything to get it.

Today, I want to talk to you about the highest expression of love found in the most famous verse in the Bible: John 3:16. This verse has been called "the Bible in a Nutshell." Martin Luther called it "the Bible in Miniature," noting that all of the great central doctrines of Christian truth are embodied in this single verse. I'm calling it "God's Valentine" because it just happens that it's Valentine's Day.

The verse John 3:16 is the most famous verse in all of the world; everybody knows it. One of the reasons, it has become popularized over time. The Gideon's Foundation, that wonderful group that puts Bibles in hotel rooms across the world, has John 3:16 translated in 27 different languages at the front of each of their Bibles.

If you go to the burger chain In-N-Out burger, next time look in the inside rim at the bottom of all of the paper cups and you'll see it written: John 3:16. The clothing manufacturer, Forever 21, at the bottom of all of their bags, John 3:16.

But a lot of us will remember that there was one person that made the verse extremely famous back in the 70s and 80s. His name is Roland Stewart, also known as the "Rainbow Man." He was the guy that showed up in all of those sporting events wearing the rainbow colored wig and holding up the sign John 3:16, and always positioned himself so that the cameras would pick it up, remember that guy? He had the places wired. At the NFL, he was always positioned in the audience between the goalposts. So when the pig's skin was flying over and the camera panned and up and up, and down, and down, they'd nailed John 3:16 in their lens. At all the baseball games, he made it behind home plate for the same reason. The camera is always there and people would see John 3:16. At one of the master's tournaments, one year, he held John 3:16 just over the right shoulder of Jack Nicholas as he was teeing off. Everybody saw it. A lot of people were also teed off because of it.

This verse tells us about God's plan of saving people. Let's read it together and then we'll just consider it, unpacking it phrase by phrase. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Notice the first two words. It tells us the origin of this plan, "For God." Notice the verse does not begin "For man was so looking for a way to improve himself that God sent His Son." It didn't start with us and God didn't leave it up to us. He took the initiative. First John 4:19, one of the other famous verses, "He loved us or we love Him because He first loved us." Ours is a response to Him taking the initiative.

Go all the way back to the garden in your mind when Adam blew it. What do we find Adam doing, as soon as he sins, he runs, he hides. God comes into the garden and says, "Adam, where are you?" Not because God didn't know where he was, but to accentuate for Adam the fact that he was lost and running the other direction. God was the one searching for Adam.

Malcolm Muggeridge used to refer to God as the Hound of Heaven, that's where the term originated. There's no other hope unless God searches for us. Every now and then, somebody else will say, "Well, I'm still searching for God." News flash, he's not lost. He's been looking for you for a long time. He's the one that started it. Isaiah put it this way: "All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone his own way." And then Paul, in the New Testament, puts it this way, "For we are dead in trespasses and sins."

Last time I checked, dead people don't improve their own condition. Dead people don't buy self-help books in how to be less dead as the days go on. If you're dead, you're helpless and it requires the origin of the plan, not starting with the dead person but somebody on the outside, and that's God. "For God."

The next two words, look at those, this shows us the motivation of the plan: "For God so loved." Please again notice it does not say, "For God was so angry at this world that He sent His Son down here to punch everybody out." Some people have that picture of God in their minds. "For God so loved the world." Why? Because love is the essence of His nature. John, in another book, puts it this way: "God is love." It's the very essence of who He is. It is so simple to say that. And yet, it is so hard to grasp that. Some of you have sung all of your lives in church songs about the love of God and here you are sitting today as adults still doubting it, that God loves you.

Dwight Lyman Moody, the preacher from Chicago. You've heard of D.L. Moody. He was so intrigued with this concept that he embarked on a study by going through his concordance and looking up every reference in the Bible on the love of God. And when he was all done, he simply said, "There is no truth in the whole Bible that ought to affect us as the love of God." It affected the author of this book: John. John wrote in 1 John, chapter 3, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God." Maybe a better way to put that is, what kind of love is this, that God would do that?

Now, here's the reason that God's love is so hard to grasp. Okay, it's pretty simple actually. Here's why it's so hard: because it's so different from what we do as humans. Human love is object-oriented. That is, a human being sees an object and says, "I like that object. It's beautiful. It's attractive." Or a person, "She is or he is attractive to me." That's how it all begins. It's object-oriented.

God's love is wholly different than that. God's love is subject-oriented. God's love is based on His character, His nature. He is love. So it's indiscriminate. Now what it means is, God doesn't love you because you earn His love or because you deserve His love. God just loves you because---because God is love. And thus, it's a stable, consistent kind of love. And God doesn't have favorites. He didn't love Billy Graham more than he loves you. Billy Graham starts praying and you're praying; God didn't say, "Shhh. Billy is praying. Hold on. This is Billy Graham." No favorites.

There was a woman talking to a psychiatrist. And as they were talking, the psychiatrist thought he'd spring a question on her. He said, "So which of your kids, [she had three children] which of them do you love most?" And she answered predictably, "I don't love anyone most. I love them all the same." Well he pressed her a little bit on that. He said, "Ma'am, it's psychologically impossible to regard three human beings as completely equal." Then she started crying. She said, "You're right. When this one is sick, I love him the most. When she's in pain, I love her the most. When that one's in trouble, I love that one the most. But besides those exceptions, I love them all the same."

God has the ability by his very nature to love us all the same. Speaking of that, notice the next two words as we unpack it. Here's the destination of the plan: the world. "For God so loved the world." Are you part of the world? If you wonder, try this, if something comes out, you're part of the world. If you breathe, you're part of this world.

Now here's love at its widest. It's not that God loves one group. "God so loved the Americans, God so loved people on the western world, God so loves the middle class" or as some would like to say, "God only loved the elect." It doesn't say that. And that drives some people nuts, that it doesn't say that. And I love it when it drives them nuts.

"God so love the world." Who were these words spoken to originally? Nicodemus. Nicodemus was one of those Jewish elders who believed God loved the Jews, the good Jewish sons and daughters of Abraham. They were the elect. They were the special chosen ones. Jesus blew that out of the water saying, "For God so loved the world." Later he will tell his disciples, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, not just to the western culture, to everyone."

And there's a simple reason for that. We all have a disease. We and the world, everyone in the world, every person who's been born in the world has a disease that has a single universal cure. It's like heart disease. If a person has heart disease who's an American, it's the same cure for an American as an Argentinean, as an African, as an Australian, it's universal. It'll work anywhere. It doesn't matter the culture, the language, the soil. If a person has lung disease, same cure is universal. Hansen's disease, same thing. We are all S-I-N positive. Every human being, every person a part of this world is infected with a disease, and there is a single universal cure. And that is blood, the blood of God's flawless, perfect Son.

Now I wonder what we would think if the verse read something like this: "For God so loved all of the good people of the world that He gave His Son." Most of us would say, "Okay, I can hang with that. I can actually---I understand that a whole lot better." But if it did say that, we would all immediately be eliminated, wouldn't we? Because we're not always on our best behavior. There's some days we're good and some days we're not so much. And so, it's going to be very unstable. Or if God said, "Well, you know, I love you today. You, not so much because I know what you've been thinking this week."

So here we have this broad, brushed statement: "For God really loved the world." It's the widest possible embrace. His love isn't precarious. His love is not moody. It is not selective. It includes everyone. But do you know that some people don't experience it? Do you know that some Christian people don't experience it? You can press a Christian and they'll say, "Oh yeah, God loves me." But to be around them, you'd never know it. You'd never know that they really believe it. It's sort of like the sun. The sun is shining but you could walk outside with an umbrella over your head and you wouldn't enjoy the warmth. It's still shining. It's just not affecting you.

Notice the next little phrase in our verse. Here's the demonstration of His plan: that He gave His only begotten Son. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. He gave His Son. Imagine that, moms. Imagine that, fathers. He gave His Son.

You know sometimes I think that I love people. I'm pretty good at it. Sometimes, I think I love them pretty deeply until I think of this. Then I think differently. I wouldn't give my son for any of those people and neither would you. God gave His Son for everyone. He gave His Son for everyone.

Why did He give his Son? He gave His Son because love, to be love, can't be passive. It has to be active. You can't just get by, going, "I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you." You've got to do something with that. You got to demonstrate it somehow. And marriages will deteriorate right at this juncture. Here is where the chasm is. They stopped giving. They stopped giving time. They stopped giving energy. They stopped giving care. And it disintegrates into a formal legal cohabitation, domestic partnership, not what it used to be. God so loved that He gave His Son, active love.

And when God gave, God gave His best. It says in Greek monogenés, only begotten or the unique, one of a kind Son of God was given. He gave the very best. I read an article some years back about an astronaut. Last week, I talked about a cosmonaut. Now I'm telling you about an astronaut. This astronaut was an American who was one of the first ones who walked on the moon. And so, the magazine interviewed him and said, "Okay, when you were walking on the moon and you are looking back at the earth, what thoughts went through your mind?" The astronaut said, "Well, it's crazy. But, um, when I was on the lunar surface and I'm looking at the earth and there's my spacecraft, the thought that kept coming to my mind is that my spacecraft was built by the lowest bidder." That'd be a bit unsettling, wouldn't it? Travel all of that distance in something that went out to the lowest bidder.

Well, when God needed to fix the world, He didn't give it out to the lowest bidder. He paid the highest possible price. He gave His one and only unique Son. And here's the invitation, the next two words: "that whoever." That whoever. Who is salvation offered to? Whoever. Sounds like God isn't too picky.

To the Samaritan woman, Jesus will say, "Whoever drinks of the water that I give will never thirst." Revelation 21, same thought. "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' Let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Who can get into heaven? Whoever. Who can live forever? Whoever. And here we are on earth, and on earth, we have exclusive places that not everybody can get into. You have to be a member. You have to have credentials. You'd be stopped by the guards. You have to own property in the club. You have to make so much money or whatever.

Think of it. It's harder to get into a Christian university than it is into heaven. Isn't that interesting? You have to pass tests. You have to prove worth and character. Whoever. You know what the biggest surprise is going to be in heaven? Who's there. You're going to find---you're going to see somebody and you're going to go, "I can't believe it. They let him in." And you'll walk up to him and say, "What ever happened to let you in?" And he'll say, "I was thinking the same thing when I saw your face." The other big surprise in heaven is who's not there. Probably a lot of people that thought they'd just be there and they're not.

But there is a qualification to that invitation: "That whoever believes in Him." Now let that word just sort of soak in. Here's the qualification: believe in Him. You don't have to clean up your life. You couldn't do it if you try it. It's called the gospel. It's good news. Here's the qualification: believe. "Well what do I have to do?" Believe. "I got to do something." Yeah, you got to believe.

Now, we discovered last time and the time before, that the word belief though means more than to acknowledge, just "I agree that there's a God up there somewhere and He's got a Son named Jesus." Because there was a group in chapter two, verse 23 that believed in His name and Jesus did not commit Himself to them because he knew what was inside of them.

And so, we discovered the word in Greek pisteuó, to believe, means to rely on, to trust in, to stick to or adhere to, or to put your weight upon. That's a better way of looking at it. In fact, there was a translator in a tribal situation who was translating the Bible. He found out that the language, the receptor language of the tribe didn't have a good word for the word believe. And so he was trying to describe what biblical faith is. And one of the elders stood up from the campfire, ran into the tent, and lay down on a cot and said, "You mean like this?"

And so, I've been told that in that language, for that tribe, John 3:16 has rendered something like, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever puts his full weight on Him will never perish but have eternal life." It's beautiful, isn't it?

Sometimes somebody will say to me, "Oh Skip, Jesus is your crutch," and I say, "Oh no, no, no. Correction. I don't just lean on Him. He's my stretcher. I have to---He's got to carry me through. I don't just like 'Yeah, I'm a little bit rough to lean on Jesus.'" It's a complete carry me through. Carry me through.

Some of you have heard a great story of a tightrope walker many years ago called "The Great Blondin," who could stretch a tight wire across buildings, and once, across the Niagara Falls, and he would walk the tightrope and walk back. People would applaud him. On one occasion, he put a blindfold on, walked across, walked back, more people applauded. He got on a bicycle, road across and road back, louder applause. He then went across with a wheelbarrow full of bricks, across and then back, more applause and then he asked the crowd, "How many believe I could do it again with a person in the wheelbarrow?" And they said, "We believe." And then he asked for a volunteer. Not a one stepped forward to get in that wheelbarrow.

Can Jesus Christ save people? Yup. Will you get in the wheelbarrow? Will you get in the wheelbarrow? It's one thing to look at a parachute and acknowledge its greatness. It's another thing to strap it on your back and jump, right? Whoever believes in Him.

We'll close with a final, little phrase. This is the ramification of God's plan. "That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." The South Africans call the Bible, "The Book of Beautiful Words." One of the reasons they will tell you is because of the promise in this verse, "If I believe in Him, I won't perish. But I will, like Him, have everlasting life." Jesus perished so I wouldn't have to perish. He died so that you wouldn't have to die. He gave His life so that He could give you eternal life. But notice there's a flip side that's built into this. Because if by believing in Him, it means that I have eternal life then it would also mean if I don't believe in Him, I would perish and I wouldn't have everlasting life.

And so the guy who was considering Christ and said to his friend, "You know, I'm just not sure I can pay the price to be a Christian." His friend was right when he said, "Have you considered the cost of not becoming a Christian?" Perish and not have everlasting life.

Let's suppose I were to give you this book, this Bible, say, "I want you to have it. It's my gift to you, but I'm going to take this pen and put it inside the book. Now take it." When you take the book, you also get the pen. When you receive Christ, you also get life, it comes with Him. He's the author of life. He's the one who died to give us life. So when you receive Christ, you get life. Now if you were to say, "I want life but I don't want Christ," you don't get it. You got to receive Christ to get the life. If you don't, you will perish.

In just a minute, we're going to pass out these elements. We're going to ask you to take a piece of bread and a cup. One represents His broken body; the other represents His shed blood. If you're a Christian this morning, if you've received Christ, you take the elements. None of this nonsense, "Well I don't feel worthy today. I've had a bad week. I've said some bad things, so I'm not"---stop that utter nonsense forever. If you've received Christ, you have life. Whether you feel good about that life or not is totally irrelevant. You take it. You take it and you celebrate it. But if you're just a sweet, nice, religious, wonderful person who likes to go to church but you've never received Christ, don't take it. Let it pass you by, pass it on to the next person. Because what you do in essence is you raise a red flag. You go, "God, hey, over here. I'm the guy who's taken this stuff that speaks of something else that I never really did." And the Bible says all you do is heap condemnation on yourself.

So it's better to just say, "No, I'll pass it on." That's option number one. Option number two, better option, how about right now, in your heart, from your heart, believe in Him, trust Him, receive Him as your Lord and Savior. Let's bow our heads. You might be one of those. If so, right now from your heart to the Lord, meaning it, you simply say something like this to Him and do it now.

Lord, I know I'm a sinner. Forgive me. I trust that Jesus Christ died and rose again to pay for my sins. And now I turn from my sin and I turn, I turn to You. I trust You, laying all of my weight of trust completely upon You. I receive You as my Savior, I take You as my Master. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Give me Your power to live this life. In Jesus' name, amen.

Now you take those elements. You take them with confidence this morning. You take these elements that symbolize that you have taken Christ as your Savior and Lord. That He has taken your sins upon Himself and that's why we celebrate.

I want to read to you something before we take these elements. I have a hunch that there's just a bunch of folks that would say something to the effect of "I hear it. I hear what you're saying. But if you knew me like I knew me, if you knew the things that I have done or thought or said, I don't know who could love that."

Okay, I have a word for you. This is Paul's letter to the Romans as told to us by Eugene Peterson in his translation, The Message. "So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would even dare to point a finger? The One who died for us---who was raised to life for us!---is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture." Isn't that terrific?

Now in your darkest moment, when the bottom of your life falls out, you remember that. You remember how much God loves you.

I smile as I pass the elements out to these men. I love these men. I love serving with them. Some are on staff; some are on our board; some are volunteers. But I love them. I love you. I love this church. And moreover, God really loves you. He's crazy about you. There's a great, old song called "The Love of God" by F. E. Lehman. Here's just a sampling of the words: "The love of God is greater far than words or pen could ever tell. It goes beyond the farthest star, and reaches to the lowest hell. Could we with ink the oceans fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above, would drain the oceans dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky." I think the guy who wrote that got it, and I think it made him really happy and confident and at rest. And I pray that you will be, as well. We're going to take the bread and pray for it, and then the cup after we pray for it. I'm going to ask these two guys on my side, Mike and Dave, to do that.

Lord, we thank You for Your commitment to us, and standing in the shadow in the light of the most beautiful words any of us could ever hear, that You loved us, and if we just believe in You and trust in You, and Lord, we thank You for taking the stripes upon Yourself, for Your body being broken in our stead, a true example of love. And we take this bread this morning, Lord, not only in remembrance of what You've done but with great appreciation for the visible manifestation of Your love as You died on the cross. We thank You, Lord.

Let's take it together.

Father God, I thank You so much for "whoever." Lord, I thank You that You made it so simple, a voluntary act of faith, of belief in a God that we've never seen with our own eyes, but, we believe and proclaim, died on the cross and shed all of His blood for us. Lord, we take this cup as Your body, letting You know that we believe and we thank You.

Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
completed
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
It may be difficult to say what the most important word is in any language, but not for the Apostle John. He begins his gospel with the identification of Jesus as, "The Word." Starting with the very beginning of beginnings, John shows us the fundamental truths about the Jesus that he writes about in the rest of this book. The language is simple and unmistakable and yet the truths presented are deep and extremely profound. Let's see how John presents Jesus and Who Jesus is according to one who was closest to Him.
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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you’ve ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes (like when you turn westward while the sun is going down), it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness". But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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11/22/2009
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One of a Kind!
John 1:14-18
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It is a mistake to think of Jesus as "one among many" options in the pantheon of deities. He is unique, matchless, unrivaled, singular, and incomparable. From His birth to His Resurrection, there is no one who even comes close to the majestic Christ. Jesus was One-Of-A-Kind! Let’s consider four distinct ways that Jesus was unique and what these mean to us today.
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12/6/2009
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The Greatest Man Meets the Greatest Lamb
John 1:19-34
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Everyone is good at something, maybe even great at something. Maybe you're a great artist or a great mom or even a great leader. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). But John knew Jesus to be the greatest One ever—past, present and future - the Sacrificial Lamb sent to remove sin. Today we discover from John the Baptist how to witness for Christ and we look at the identity and the activity of this most unusual man.
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12/13/2009
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Are You a Follower-Really?
John 1:35-42
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You can't make it through much of the Bible without coming to the word Disciple. Just the four Gospels alone use this term 228 times. Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher: one who observes, learns, and practices what the teacher shares. We now come to the first time John uses this term in his book. So today we assess ourselves by asking, "Are YOU a follower?" Lets look at five characteristics of the first disciples of Jesus and see if they’re reflected in our lives.
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1/3/2010
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Finding the God Who Found You
John 1:43-51
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When the first disciples encountered Jesus, they chose to follow Him--only to discover that they had already been chosen by Him! Without getting drowned in that theological tide pool, let's consider and marvel at how both of these realities work together. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects people for salvation while at the same time teaches our responsibility to believe in Christ. Let’s see how both Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus for the first time.
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1/10/2010
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The Wedding Guest
John 2:1-12
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How cool (and also potentially scary) would it be to have Jesus as a guest at your own wedding! The unnamed couple at the village wedding of Cana had that privilege. Jesus was the wedding guest who brought the best gift. His first miraculous sign was performed while celebrating that marriage. But far more than just attending a nuptial party, Jesus demonstrated who He was in relation to four entities: His mother, the moment, a miracle, and His men.
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1/17/2010
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Trouble in the Temple
John 2:13-22
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A hymn by Charles Wesley begins, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child..." It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful thought. However, Jesus is anything but gentle and mild in John chapter two. Here in the temple at Jerusalem, He displays His righteous anger as He overturns tables and beats the religious businesspeople with whips! But Jesus was using this trouble in the temple to predict a greater sign—the triumph of His own physical temple—His bodily resurrection!
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1/24/2010
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Uncommitted!
John 2:23-25
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These three verses are some of the most unusual in the New Testament. They describe a scene in the life of Jesus that explains His popularity and fame. The response of people to the miracles of Jesus is understandable. What is not readily understandable is Jesus' response to the interested and excited crowd. Though they believed in Him, He was not too energized over their kind of faith. Understanding this will help us to understand Jesus and His mission.
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1/31/2010
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Nick at Nite!
John 3:1-8
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The meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus at night is one of the most famous and compelling stories in Scripture. This man's inner curiosity and spiritual thirst drove him to want to know more. What he heard puzzled and astonished him, but he heard from Jesus' own lips the only way to be saved. Jesus' words here divide all of humanity into two groups: those who are born again and those who are not.
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2/7/2010
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Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition!
John 3:9-21
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For years ABC has aired two different versions of a show called Extreme Makeover. One is a total body makeover designed to enhance the physical beauty of a selected individual. The other is a Home Edition that rebuilds or adds to a struggling family's residence. But only Jesus can give the soul a makeover; only Jesus can ready a person for eternity. Here Jesus answers Nicodemus' question of how a person can have the New Life that comes from the New Birth.
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2/21/2010
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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.