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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Spiritual Farming 101

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Spiritual Farming 101 - John 4:28-42

Taught on | Topic: Evangelism | Keywords: Samaria, Samaritan, evangelism, testimony, witnessing, harvest, farm, sow, reap

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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3/28/2010
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Spiritual Farming 101
John 4:28-42
Skip Heitzig
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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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. A Seed is Planted (vv. 28-30)

    1. The Effect of One Conversation

    2. The Effect of One Person

  2. The Farmhands are Busy (vv. 31-38)

    1. God’s Will Must be Finished

    2. God’s Field Must be Farmed


  3. A Harvest is Gathered (vv. 39-42)

    1. Many Believed

    2. More Believed

Talk Over These Things:
  1. Of all the people Jesus could have spoken to and offered salvation to, why do you think He picked this woman to reach the people of Sychar? Was she a good pick?

  2. Why do you think spiritual farming is so satisfying (v. 32)?

  3. What do you think was the big “take away” lesson Jesus was teaching His disciples?

Detailed Notes

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Farm life involves hard work, long days, and happy people. Sharing your faith is like working on a farm. Jesus uses agricultural language (harvest, sowing, reaping, laboring and rejoicing) to describe evangelism. All believers are called to preach Christ.

  1. A Seed is Planted (vv. 28-30)
    1. The Effect of One Conversation - Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman had profound impact.
      1. Samaritan woman's conversion
        1. She admits her sin
        2. She admits her need for refreshment
        3. She takes what she heard to others
      2. Samaritan woman left her water pot
        1. She was coming back with others
        2. She had found something better than water
    2. The Effect of One Person
      1. Change in the woman's life
        1. Her past
        2. Her reaction
      2. Simple effective witness
        1. "I met Jesus, He changed my life" (forgot her water pot in zeal for souls)
        2. Jonah
        3. Paul
      3. One individual transformed by Jesus is noticeable and attractive
        1. Stephen Baldwin
        2. Someone we think is too far gone
        3. Woman of Samaria
  2. The Farmhands are Busy (vv. 31-38) - (the witnesses were Jesus and the Samaritan woman, but not yet the disciples)
    1. God’s Will Must be Finished
      1. Nothing is more satisfying than leading someone to Christ
      2. Farm Terms used in parables
        1. Field is the world
        2. Good seed is the sons of the king and the word of God (His Word implanted in believers)
        3. The harvest is now
    2. God’s Field Must be Farmed
      1. The problem is never that the harvest isn't ready
      2. The problem is that the workers are not ready
      3. Workers sow, labor, water and reap
      4. Farmhands need to go out to the field (Acts 1:8)
        1. It took the disciples time to fulfill their calling to go to Samaria (Acts 8:1; Acts 8:5-6; Acts 8:14-15; Acts 8:25)
        2. Jesus had 132 recorded personal encounters with people
          1. Six at the temple
          2. Four at the synagogue
          3. 122 outside of spiritual buildings
  3. A Harvest is Gathered (vv. 39-42)
    1. Many Believed
      1. When they heard the testimony of the Samaritan woman
      2. When they saw the change in her life
    2. More Believed
      1. Heard the testimonies
      2. Experienced the Lord for themselves
Figures Referenced: Hudson Taylor, Stephen Baldwin, Dwight L Moody
Cross References: Matthew 9:27; Acts 8:1; Acts 8:5-6; Acts 8:14-15; Acts 8:25

Topic: Evangelism

Keywords: Samaria, Samaritan, evangelism, testimony, witnessing, harvest, farm, sow, reap

Transcript

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John chapter four this morning. My dad grew up on a farm. He was part of, I should say his parents, my grandparents, were part of the American Homestead Act which was, there was a time in American history when the government allowed people to buy property for 25 cents an acre and settle the land. It moved people west. It took those huge empty spaces and converted them to livable areas. Well my grandparents were a part of that and they settled in Laramie, Wyoming and then in Colorado after that and so my dad grew up on farms in those areas. And as kids he used to tell us what it was like living on a farm and I think there were probably, of all the stories I heard, there were three take-away truths I learned about working on a farm. Hard work, long days, happy people. That's the impression that I got--that it was hard work and you worked all day long but it was a great way of living. It was ideal and I know my dad had a way of spinning a story. It may not have been all of that but I loved to hear the story and I love the fact that we had a heritage on my dad's side of being farmers. Hard work, long days, happy people. Loved the heritage. I heard of a family called the Smith family. They were also proud of their family heritage because their ancestors came over on the Mayflower, some of them. In their family tree were senators and pastors and Wall Street wizards, and so the Smith family wanted to compile a family history to pass on as a legacy to their children and grandchildren, etcetera, of the family tree and history. So they hired an author to write about the family. There was only one problem they knew about, they were sensitive about, one of their uncles had been electrocuted, executed, in the electric chair. They didn't know how the author was going to write about that. The author said, don't worry about it, I'm good at spin, I'll come up with something very creative. And so when the book was finally done, the family immediately wanted to see what he wrote about Uncle George. This is what he wrote: 'George Smith occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution.' That's creative. 'He was attached to his position by the strongest of ties and his death came as a real shock.' Isn't that great? That's Uncle George. I think that a lot of Christians feel the same way whenever a preacher wants to tell them about evangelism, that it's a lot of spin that he's putting on it. He wants to make it sound really great and really fun but it really isn't all that great and all that fun. I'm hoping that in part what we're about to read will change the way you think about evangelism. And the way you get involved in it. Sharing your faith is a lot like working on a farm. Sharing your faith, doing evangelism, they'll be hard work, long days, and happy people. Guaranteed. Now I chose this title this morning "Spiritual Farming 101" because of the very language that Jesus employs when telling His disciples about the work that He's calling them to do. He uses agricultural language. He calls it the harvest. Gotta be on a farm to appreciate that. He speaks about sowing and reaping and laboring and rejoicing so it's the same theme. Hard work, long days, happy people. There was once a farmer who wanted to be an evangelist. He was in his mid-life and he was going through his mid-life crisis and he thought he wanted to leave the farm and preach the gospel. And he was sitting under a tree one day, looking up at the sky in between chores, and he noticed what seemed to him like letters being formed by the clouds. And maybe he was reading into it, but he thought he saw two letters P C and he thought, huh, P C, what could that mean? Oh! He said, I get it! It's a sign from God. He wants me to preach Christ! He went off on that and sold his farm and started an evangelistic ministry. The only problem was the guy couldn't preach his way out of a bucket. He was just a poor speaker. And at one evening at a failed evangelistic event one of his dear neighbors, who was also a farmer, went up to the man and whispered in his ear, maybe God was simply trying to tell you plant corn. Plant corn. All of us are called to preach Christ whether you can be speak well or not. But it's a lot like planting corn. You sow a seed, it involves more than just one person, there's other farm hands that get involved, and you will see a harvest. It just takes one seed, one conversation, one person with a changed life and it goes a long way. And all of those elements we find in our story. We find a seed is planted, the farmhands are busy, and a harvest is gathered. We're going to begin in verse 28 and go down to verse 42. Just as a reminder of where we've been, Jesus has been having a conversation with a woman at the well of Samaria. It occupies most of the chapter. Our verses today will conclude the episode in Samaria. What Jesus does is talk to this woman, plants a seed of truth in her heart, it begins to grow, germinate, and by the end of this episode where we're at today, it's flowering. It's bringing forth fruit. She takes what she has heard and she goes into the town very excited and tells everybody else about it. In the meantime, Jesus tells His disciples some important truths about spiritual work and then at the end of the story, a whole bunch of people in Samaria come to know the Lord. So we begin with the seed that is planted in verse 28. It says, "The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" The conversation that our Lord had with this woman was very profound. It made a great impact upon her. You'll recall that Jesus confronted her with her sin, her failure morally, she admitted to that, she didn't say, I didn't, I didn't do that! I didn't have five different husbands! She came clean and she said, You must be a prophet. And then to the people of Samaria she said, I just spoke to a Man who told me everything I ever did. They knew what she had done. She admitted what she had done. Also, in the story and in the conversation, she admits her own need for refreshment. Sir, give me this water that I won't thirst again or have to come here to draw. And then finally, third, she is willing to take what she hears and tell it to other people in the village. You take those three elements and that makes us lean on the verdict that this woman was a converted woman, or at least in the process of such. But here's my point. It was just one conversation that Jesus had with this woman. Here is the effect of just one conversation. He told her and it says here that she left her waterpot. Well that's kind of funny because why, why did she come to the well… to get? Water! In the pot. She came with the pot. She left her pot and went away without water. Now why? Well two reasons come to mind. Number one, she knew she'd be coming back. She went out to get more people and bring them back. Number two, she just found something way better than water. Living water. Something changed her life and she wanted to tell others about it. Just one conversation. Think of all those conversations you've had over the years where you've maybe shared your testimony or a word about the Lord and then you walked away from it and you thought, nothing will ever happen in that person's life. It's over. They don't care. Not so fast. You don't know that. You might find out now or in heaven, great effect that took place. I'll never forget years ago I worked on a farm, it was really my only experience on a farm, it was in Israel. I was working in the cotton fields and one of the workers with me was a guy by the name of Tony Keene. Tony was from England. He was an Oxford, I believe, graduate of botany, he was a scientific guy, very sharp, very bright, an unbeliever, an evolutionist, and he loved mocking religious people. so guess who was his target every single day? Yep. We had very interesting and stimulating conversations. I'd tell him about the Lord, he'd mock it. He'd ask me questions about my faith and science and I'd shoot back and I'd give him some things to think about. Finally I gave him a book to read. I left the country, came back home, I get a phone call several months later. Hello? Skip, this is Tony Keene. Hi Tony, how are you? I happened to be in town but I want you to know I'm a born-again Christian. I go, no! And he told me, hey, you planted the seed. I thought about what you said. I went back to my professors. I investigated. I gave my life to Christ. Just this week on Facebook, I haven't heard from this guy, Dan Foressi, since I was in high school. I grew up with him, even when we were much younger he was my neighbor down the street. I worked at his uncle's delicatessen. And he wrote me and he said, I'm a Christian. He goes, I think it was something that you said to me in high school that planted the seed--his words, planted the seed. And I forgot about it but now I've come to Christ. But that planted the seed. Well truth be told, in high school I was a heathen. Didn't want anything to do with Christians either but there must have been somebody in high school that told him something and later on, somebody watered it and somebody else watered it, and eventually he came to Christ. Here's the point. One single conversation has an effect, a power. Secondly, the effect of one person is part of the seed planting. Look at the end of verse 28. It says she went her want into the city and said to the men, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" Now watch this, "Then they went out of the city and came to Him," to Jesus. Why? Well there must've been enough of a change already in this one woman's life to make them go, I gotta check this Guy out. She had a past and they knew her past and they had never seen the expression on her face like they saw after she came back from this conversation. Here is a changed life and they can see it and so they want to check it out for themselves. Now her, her witness was pretty simple but effective. It kind of went like this: I met a Guy named Jesus. It changed my life. That's it. I met a Guy named Jesus. He changed my life. It's sort of like our testimony. I once was lost, but now I'm? Found. Was blind but now I see. And they could tell something was different. Hudson Taylor, great missionary, once wrote about how Christians like to identify with biblical characters, some of us like to identify with Paul or Daniel or Joseph or if you're a gal, maybe Ruth or a number of others. He said, "Of all the people I want to emulate, it's the woman at the well of Samaria." Here's his words: "I would rather be a successor of the Samaritan woman who, while the disciples went away for food, she forgot her waterpot in zeal for souls." Now there was a missionary. Hudson Taylor--one person who was very effective. Just think of that. Jonah. He was one guy. But boy did his life affect a whole city: the city of Nineveh. And he was even not a cooperative guy, right? He didn't want to go to Nineveh. He said, I'm not gonna do that. And it wasn't till he was whale vomit that he got the picture and said, ok, uncle, I'll go do it. But just one person. Paul was one person. When you put him in a jail cell or you put him on the Aeriopagis in Athens or the Agora of Corinth and that one person, through a changed life, make a big difference. That's a seed being planted. A single individual transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ is noticeable and attractive. Noticeable and attractive. Last week I spent a few hours with actor Stephen Baldwin, remember a couple years ago or a year ago, I interviewed him on a Wednesday night, he's a believer and we were catching up on some things and he was telling me about, he's grown a lot in the Lord, by the way, he was telling me that he was in Paris and he was in his hotel room and he was down at the gym lifting weights, staying in shape on the road, and while he was there, there was a woman in the gym who noticed him and came over to him and said to him, I don't know what it is about you but there's something different about your life. Well he thought she was trying to pick up on him so he held up his ring finger and said, I just want you to know, ma'am, I'm married. She said, no, it has nothing to do with that! I'm not trying to pick you up. I just noticed, by the way you come in, and just looking at you, that there's something different about you. So he went forward and he said, I think what you're sensing is the Holy Spirit of God. I've given my life to Christ and he told her about that and he led her to the Lord in the gym. A single transformed life is noticeable and attractive. Oh he told me another cool story. He's been a part of a film shoot over in England this last year. It's a television reality show called Celebrity Big Brother, they take different people that are known in England, put them all in a house, and they film every day and they make episodes out of it. There's cameras everywhere. Well you go into this home, spend a month with these people, and you are allowed one luxury item, they call it. Could be a picture of your family, could be a teddy bear, I don't know, one luxury item. So he says, great, I'm going to bring my Bible. Producer says you can't bring your Bible. We don't do that. And Baldwin said, then I won't be in your show. They went back and forth and finally they said, look, would you come if we allowed you to read your Bible one hour a day, just one hour you can have your Bible? He said, done, that's a deal. All I need is one hour. So he brought his Bible and he was reading it, people were curious, it's all on film and put on television in the U.K., imagine this reality show, as the show progresses it shows Baldwin holding a Bible study with all of the people gathered around him in the house. And this gets on national British television. Ok, so he's very bold and there's this one prize-fighter celebrity who's part of this household and he's mocking and he's asking questions but by the end of the show, Baldwin leads him to Christ on national television. One individual transformed by Jesus is noticeable and attractive. So I don't know if you're thinking of somebody that you may have shared with and you walk away from them and you go, there's no hope for that person. That person will never come to Christ. Don't be surprised if they end up as an evangelist. This woman was now an evangelist in the city of Sychar. It proves that God can take the worst and do this with them. John Booth was that guy for me. He was a guy in high school, football jock, didn't like church, didn't like Christians, I saw him at the high school reunion. John, what are you doing now? He goes, I'm preaching the gospel. That's the woman at Samaria. Here's the second big thing to notice is not only a seed is planted, that's the first part of spiritual farming, but also the farm hands are busy. Now who's been busy so far preaching the gospel here? Jesus. And now who else? The woman! The disciples, interestingly enough, haven't even been a part of the conversation. All they care about so far is food. Understandable, they had a long journey, they're going to go get food. Verse 8, "For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food." Now when they get back, look at verse 27: "And at this point His disciples came and they marveled that He talked with a woman," we already covered that whole notion, "Yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why are You talking with her?" So they're all about food and social hang-ups. You know, it's like, we just got to town, see You later, we're gonna go find In-N-Out, come right back after the burger or falafel, or whatever it might be. That's all they're thinking about. And so Jesus uses this as an opportunity to talk to them about His Father's work. His Father's work. And He says to them versed 31, it says, "In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." That's all they can think about. "But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" That's their level; that's where they're at. "Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." Now something you need to know. Verse 32, the way it's constructed in the original, there's two words that have the emphasis. The word I and the word you are emphasized. So it's like Jesus is saying, I have something you don't have. Remember doing that as a kid? I know something you don't know. So everybody goes, well what is it? I have food you don't know about. Why did Jesus say it that way? To reel them in and get them curious so they'd go, ok, like what? Did somebody slip you something, some food? It worked. It got their curiosity peaked and now He tells them about what's important. He says, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish," let me tell you what He's not saying. Don't misunderstand Him. He is not saying, well, really spiritually people don't need to eat, they just need to preach. He's not saying that. What He is saying, however, is this: there is nothing more satisfying in life than doing the will of God. Now if you have ever led somebody personally to Christ you know exactly what I'm talking about. You say bingo! If you know what it's like to pray with someone to receive Christ, if you know what it's like to see them change in the way they think and come around, there's nothing more satisfying. I was with my wife the first time she led someone to Christ. We were in India of all places and she was sharing on the street with this Indian fellow, a couple of them. She spent about twenty minutes doing so and then she said, now would you like to pray to receive Christ? And he, he shook his head. He did this. Now to us, it sort of looks like a no, it looks like this. But in India, this means this. It means yes. So she would say, now are you ready to receive Christ and the man went… and so she went oh man, so she kept talking to him and telling him why he needed to receive Christ and about his sin and about God's grace and are you ready now? And he went like this and she's thinking ok and she spent more time telling him. Finally, this is all true, finally a dear Christian Indian brother came up and said, he is not saying no, he is saying yes. You should be praying with him! So she prayed with him. She felt excited. Question: what drove Jesus in His life? What was His food? What lit His fire? It was His Father's agenda. It was doing the family business of the harvest, that's what drove Him. That's the point He's getting across. He has a task, He loves doing it, and He came to finish it so when He's on the cross one of the last words He'll say is Father, is it finished! It's finished. Mission is accomplished. I've come to do everything You wanted Me to do in representing You and paying for the sins of the world. His mission was accomplished but do you know that you have a mission on earth and I have a mission on earth? Do you know that? You know how I know that? Because you're still here on earth. That's why. You see, if God was only interested in saving you and immediately getting you to heaven, what would happen the moment you received Christ? You'd fall over dead and go to heaven. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to heaven. But the fact that you and I are still here means that He has some plan in the family business, spiritual farming, that He wants us to get involved in. the Bible says He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. That's His business. Therefore it should be our business. Dwight L. Moody from Chicago, the evangelist who used to love to give altar calls, always made evangelism his business. So much so that he didn't just do it from the pulpit, but he would do it individually. He was walking down a Chicago street one night and there was a man leaning against a lamppost. Moody walks right up to him, puts his hand on his shoulder, and says, "Are you a Christian, sir?" The man bolted back, put his fists in the air like he wanted to fight, and he said, "It's none of your business what I believe!" And Moody politely said, "Well, sir, um, pardon me if I've offended you, but to be very frank, that is my business." And he continued sharing with the man as he so often did. Look at verse 35. Here's the paragraph I want you to notice: "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors." All of this is farm language, agricultural language. The physical reality of the farm Jesus uses to speak of the spiritual reality of the condition of the world. Remember all those parables Jesus gave? The sower and the seed and the wheat and the tare. Same terminology. Well listen to this, in those parables Jesus said the field is the world. Keep that in mind--the field is the world. And He said the good seed are the sons of the kingdom. You and I. Men and women. Sons and daughters of God. The field is the world, the good seed are the sons of the kingdom, and then He also said the seed is the Word of God. So here's God's method of farming. He implants His Word in you and I. He sends you and I out into the world to speak His Word to people of the world, just like Jesus spoke to this woman at the well of Samaria. That is spiritual farming and by the way, when is it harvest time? According to Jesus, when is the time to be involved in this? Now. Now. For He says in verse 35, that's the whole point. "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" Now they had a saying back then: there's four months between seed time and harvest. That was their saying. It meant you do a lot of hard work cultivating the ground, putting in the seed, then you can rest. It's going to rain, let it rain, wait awhile, and eventually it'll come up. What our Lord is saying is that is not the way it is spiritually. There is always someone who can be plucked, harvested, for the kingdom. There's always somebody whose heart is ready. He says lift up your eyes and look. Ok, now while He's saying this, listen to this. While He's saying this to His disciples, guess who's coming to meet them? All the people from the city that the woman spoke to. Look at verse 30 and you'll get the whole thing together: "Then they went out of the city and came to Him." So she goes into the city, talks to them, Jesus is talking to His disciples, they're coming out, and Jesus says to His disciples, there's the harvest field. They're coming at you right now. Lift up your eyes and look what's happening. And no doubt, as one commentator beautifully helped us to see, these men were probably wearing white robes as Samaritans did 2,000 years ago and they're walking, kind of bouncing back and forth on the road, coming to Jesus and it must have looked, to the disciples, like ripened grain of wheat at harvest time, standing there, coming toward them. There's the harvest field--ready and ripe. I wonder if the disciples would've been on a committee to do evangelism in Samaria what they would've said. I mean, they're slow on the uptake, right? Let's go get some food. Jesus, have You eaten? Did somebody give Him something to eat? That's what their whole thing is about. And I bet they would've said something like, especially judging from what they said in verse 27, they probably would've said, ok, this town needs to hear the gospel, they need to hear what our Master has to say but I don't think now is the time. I don't think they're quite ready yet. Jesus needs to spend more time in Jerusalem with the Jewish leaders or in Galilee with the Jewish settlements but not now. Here's the point I want to make. The problem is never that the field isn't ready. The problem is always that the workers aren't ready to go to the field. It's always the problem. That's always the problem. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 9, the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are? Few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest field. Now according to verse 36, 37, and 38 there's all kinds of workers. Those who sow, those who labor, maybe that refers to those who help water, and there are those who reap. Different ones. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3 verse 6, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. Let's ask a question. Let's not even be nebulous and talk about the church of Jesus Christ on earth. Let's just talk about this church and this service--this third service on Sunday. Of all of the people in this room right now who is to be involved in the harvest? All of us. You knew that was coming. All of us. It's not, well, you're the preacher; we pay you to do that. Or your staff, that's what they're here for. No, there's some who reap and there's some who sow and there's some who labor but we're all doing it together. That's really the point. Now the disciples come along, as Jesus said, and, verse 38, "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored," see they came in late on the conversation, Jesus has been laboring, the woman is talking to the people, the people are going to come to Him and they're going to believe in Him and the disciples are going to stand around going, boy, didn't we do great? It was great! And they will be able to share part of that. But not just now. I want you to see something that I think is tremendous. Keep a marker here and go to, in your New Testament, Acts chapter 8. One book to the right: Acts chapter 8. Before we read just a couple of verses, do you recall what Jesus tells His disciples before He is ascended into heaven? He said you'll be filled with the Holy Spirit and you'll be preaching the gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. That was their commission. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, uttermost parts. Meanwhile they all stayed in Jerusalem until Acts chapter 8. "Now Saul was consenting to [Stephen's] death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria," it took a persecution to get them there, "except the apostles." Hmm. The apostles still back in Jerusalem. Verse 5: "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them." This is round two of evangelism in Samaria. "And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did." Look at verse 14: "Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them," those are apostles. They were with Jesus with this whole woman at the well thing. Now they go back. Verse 25: "So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans." Boy, do you think God has a plan for the city of Samaria and their regions or what? I mean, they had Jesus come there and the disciples watching and then again others coming to them and the disciples watching but what a great plan! There's a very important here that I don't want you to miss. They needed to leave where they were and go to them. They had to go to them. farm hands need to go out into the field if they want to see a harvest. Did you know one person counted 132 individual encounters that Jesus had with people in the four Gospels? 132 different contacts Jesus made with people. Of that 132, according to this one author's count, 6 of those encounters were at the temple in Jerusalem. Four of those encounters were in different synagogues. 122 were outside of the spiritual building realm and they were out in the byways and the highways and the various jobs that people were occupying. That's where they were reached. Workers need to go out to the field. Let's conclude. Let's finish out our story in John chapter 4. A seed has been planted, the farm hands are busy, and now a harvest is gathered. Verse 39: "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there," another 48 hours, "two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world." There's two things I want you to notice. Many believed, many more believed. Many believed when a woman gave her testimony. They saw the changes; they believed. Something had to have happened to change this gal. I believe. But many more believed when they had a personal encounter with the Lord. Personal testimonies are fine. Preacher's sermons are fine. People's experiences are great. But real change will come when a person experiences the Lord for themselves. Maybe you were brought up in church all your life, your parents told you about Jesus, they brought you to church and so you come to church every week and you believe. Your wife brings you to church, she got saved so you'll come with her and you'll come every week and ok, I'll come to church, and I, I believe. Or a son or a daughter is transformed and so the parents decide, let's, let's as a family go together. And you come to church and you believe but, but when you yourself come to Jesus, that's when you can say, we believe and we know that this is the Christ, the Savior of the world. By the way, isn't it interesting the very first time Jesus is called the Savior of the world, it's by the Samaritans? Not by the Jews in Jerusalem--by the Samaritans. You're the Savior of the world. You came to us! We would have no hope unless You came to us. So question I leave you with: what is your food? What rings your bell? What motivates you? What lights a fire in your heart? I am, I'm sorry to say that for many Christians it's no longer Christ or the work of Christ. It's a new hobby, a new relationship that really fires them up. Have you ever experienced, you don't have to say yes, I'll tell you why in a minute, you'll see, do you experience the Christian blah's? the blah's? you have a Bible, you read your Bible, you go to church, you read the Bible, you sing the songs, you do the stuff, but it's sort of like you're just in the blah's? I have a cure for the blah's. spiritual farming is the cure--guaranteed--for the blah's. it will excite you; it will give you an energy like nothing else will. Charles Spurgeon said to his church, "If you would just roll up your sleeves for the work and go and tell the gospel to dying men, you would find your spiritual health mightily restored for very much of the sickness of Christians comes through their having nothing to do." All feeding and no working makes men spiritual dyspeptics. That is, someone with spiritual indigestion. They eat a lot of food, read a lot of Bible, they get a lot of sermons, but they don't spread it out. so here's the challenge this week. Challenge is to lift up your eyes and to see the harvest around us and ask the Lord what part do You want me to play in it and here's the further part of the challenge: would you plant, this week, just one seed? Can you covenant together that this week all of us will plant one seed? We'll engage one conversation; we'll share at least one truth about the Lord to some person, because you'll never see a spiritual harvest unless you plant one seed. And the more, the better, right? You know, I told you my dad was a farmer. My mom had a garden. We had a garden but she was the one that really kept it. And she grew a lot of stuff in it. But you know what grew in the garden? More than anything else? And it was never planted--not weeds. Watermelons. And that's because we boys would sit out back in the summer eating watermelon and doing what with the seeds? Psh. Spitting them over the fence in the garden, got all the water and the fertilizer and the watermelon seeds grew. We spit a lot of seeds in that garden and got a lot of watermelons. So this week you run into somebody at the gas station--psh. Somebody in line at the supermarket--psh. Somebody next door--psh, psh. Spit a seed of truth. Ask them like Moody, are you a believer? Can I talk to you for just a moment? You don't know what's gonna grow. Just one seed, one conversation, one person reaching one person and you might just plant a seed and somebody else, in a week or a month or a year, may water it, and somebody else may come along as they come to church or a crusade or watch or hear something and reap it. We're all workers together.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
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Is your faith in need of bolstering? Do you find yourself saying "Help my unbelief?" The book of John presents a unique, up close and personal look at the life of Christ, focusing on Jesus as God Incarnate. As we dive into a thorough study of each of John's 879 verses, we'll walk with disciples who were eyewitnesses of His ministry, His death, and His resurrection, and we'll experience abundant life in His name.
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11/1/2009
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The World's Most Important Word
John 1:1-5
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It may be difficult to say what the most important word is in any language, but not for the Apostle John. He begins his gospel with the identification of Jesus as, "The Word." Starting with the very beginning of beginnings, John shows us the fundamental truths about the Jesus that he writes about in the rest of this book. The language is simple and unmistakable and yet the truths presented are deep and extremely profound. Let's see how John presents Jesus and Who Jesus is according to one who was closest to Him.
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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you’ve ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes (like when you turn westward while the sun is going down), it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness". But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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11/22/2009
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One of a Kind!
John 1:14-18
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It is a mistake to think of Jesus as "one among many" options in the pantheon of deities. He is unique, matchless, unrivaled, singular, and incomparable. From His birth to His Resurrection, there is no one who even comes close to the majestic Christ. Jesus was One-Of-A-Kind! Let’s consider four distinct ways that Jesus was unique and what these mean to us today.
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12/6/2009
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The Greatest Man Meets the Greatest Lamb
John 1:19-34
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Everyone is good at something, maybe even great at something. Maybe you're a great artist or a great mom or even a great leader. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). But John knew Jesus to be the greatest One ever—past, present and future - the Sacrificial Lamb sent to remove sin. Today we discover from John the Baptist how to witness for Christ and we look at the identity and the activity of this most unusual man.
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12/13/2009
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Are You a Follower-Really?
John 1:35-42
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You can't make it through much of the Bible without coming to the word Disciple. Just the four Gospels alone use this term 228 times. Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher: one who observes, learns, and practices what the teacher shares. We now come to the first time John uses this term in his book. So today we assess ourselves by asking, "Are YOU a follower?" Lets look at five characteristics of the first disciples of Jesus and see if they’re reflected in our lives.
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1/3/2010
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Finding the God Who Found You
John 1:43-51
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When the first disciples encountered Jesus, they chose to follow Him--only to discover that they had already been chosen by Him! Without getting drowned in that theological tide pool, let's consider and marvel at how both of these realities work together. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects people for salvation while at the same time teaches our responsibility to believe in Christ. Let’s see how both Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus for the first time.
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1/10/2010
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The Wedding Guest
John 2:1-12
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How cool (and also potentially scary) would it be to have Jesus as a guest at your own wedding! The unnamed couple at the village wedding of Cana had that privilege. Jesus was the wedding guest who brought the best gift. His first miraculous sign was performed while celebrating that marriage. But far more than just attending a nuptial party, Jesus demonstrated who He was in relation to four entities: His mother, the moment, a miracle, and His men.
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1/17/2010
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Trouble in the Temple
John 2:13-22
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A hymn by Charles Wesley begins, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child..." It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful thought. However, Jesus is anything but gentle and mild in John chapter two. Here in the temple at Jerusalem, He displays His righteous anger as He overturns tables and beats the religious businesspeople with whips! But Jesus was using this trouble in the temple to predict a greater sign—the triumph of His own physical temple—His bodily resurrection!
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1/24/2010
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Uncommitted!
John 2:23-25
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These three verses are some of the most unusual in the New Testament. They describe a scene in the life of Jesus that explains His popularity and fame. The response of people to the miracles of Jesus is understandable. What is not readily understandable is Jesus' response to the interested and excited crowd. Though they believed in Him, He was not too energized over their kind of faith. Understanding this will help us to understand Jesus and His mission.
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1/31/2010
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Nick at Nite!
John 3:1-8
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The meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus at night is one of the most famous and compelling stories in Scripture. This man's inner curiosity and spiritual thirst drove him to want to know more. What he heard puzzled and astonished him, but he heard from Jesus' own lips the only way to be saved. Jesus' words here divide all of humanity into two groups: those who are born again and those who are not.
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2/7/2010
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Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition!
John 3:9-21
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For years ABC has aired two different versions of a show called Extreme Makeover. One is a total body makeover designed to enhance the physical beauty of a selected individual. The other is a Home Edition that rebuilds or adds to a struggling family's residence. But only Jesus can give the soul a makeover; only Jesus can ready a person for eternity. Here Jesus answers Nicodemus' question of how a person can have the New Life that comes from the New Birth.
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2/14/2010
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God's Valentine
John 3:16
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Today we take a look at the Bible's most famous verse and probe its depth while preparing to take the Lord's Supper together. Though most everyone knows this verse, John 3:16 is much more than just a slogan; it is a summary statement of God's love through Jesus Christ. This single verse of scripture gives us the salient truths of God's plan of salvation in abridged form. Let's consider God's great plan for us as we unpack it phrase by phrase.
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2/21/2010
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To Grow Up, You Must Grow Down!
John 3:22-30
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"They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud!" That's what British Puritan John Flavel once said. And that’s how John the Baptist once lived! John the Baptist and his followers provide some great applicational fodder for how Christians should get along and humble themselves before one another and God. For any Christian believer who wants to spiritually grow up and grow strong, he must first grow down.
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2/28/2010
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The Nail Everything Hangs On
John 3:31-36
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Imagine if everything you valued was in a sack, hanging on the wall from one nail. It surely must be a strong nail, or you're lost! If life could all be boiled down to one thing or one word or one most important principle, what would it be? What is the irreducible minimum for everything and everyone? John answers that here, saying that Jesus Christ is the nail that everything hangs on. He determined what has been and what will be. Thus our knowledge of Him and relationship to Him is paramount above everything else.
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3/7/2010
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Refreshment!
John 4:1-14
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You know the feeling of swallowing ice-cold water on a hot day or after a savory meal—it's refreshing! That cool, invigorating sip revitalizes you from the inside out and makes you say, "Ahh!" Well, that experience is not limited to the physical realm, but is even more satisfying in the spiritual realm when dealing with Living Water. Jesus came to give thirst-quenching spiritual life to every parched soul on the planet. When was the last time you drank deeply?
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3/14/2010
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How to Lead People to Water
John 4:10-30
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The world is thirsty and doesn't even know it, or won't admit it, or will look to be satisfied by everything else but Jesus Christ. So your job and mine is to lead them to water (living water, that is). Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman illustrates perhaps the best approach for personal evangelism to be found anywhere. Leading someone to the place of spiritual satisfaction is a process that rests upon two pillars—the pillar of attitude and the pillar of approach:
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3/21/2010
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What God Really Wants
John 4:20-24
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Worship conferences, worship seminars and worship experiences abound within the landscape of the American church, but in all these there's something that seems to be always lacking—worship is confined to the activity of singing songs. When the subject is brought up in this chapter, Jesus talks plainly and openly about true worship: what it is and what it isn't. Let's explore these few verses to discover what God is seeking after and how to be part of fulfilling that.
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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.