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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Healing Misery with Mercy

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Healing Misery with Mercy
John 5:1-16
Skip Heitzig

John 5 (NKJV™)
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.
3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?"
7 The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me."
8 Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk."
9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.
10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed."
11 He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, 'Take up your bed and walk.' "
12 Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, 'Take up your bed and walk'?"
13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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!

"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. Gather Frequently (v. 1)

  2. Observe Compassionately (vv. 2-6a)

  3. Confront Honestly (vv. 6b-9, 14)

  4. Expect Adversity (vv. 9-16)

Making It More Than a Sermon:
  1. Think of an episode in your life when you were miserable. What things did you do to make it better? How did you get out of it? What did you get out of it?

  2. Find a family or an individual to help this week. Suggestions: take over meals, do yard work, clean their house, or simply sit, listen and encourage.

  3. Have you ever been "burned" while trying to help someone else? Did it make you hardened to any future risk? How did this "backfiring" effect prevent Jesus from any further merciful ventures? (See John 5:18-21.)

Detailed Notes

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Mercy is a gift that is wonderful to receive, but harder to dispense. It is not a natural human trait. We admire strength and courage, but have trouble with those who require help. "God helps those who help themselves" is not in the Bible, it's a saying of Benjamin Franklin in "Poor Richard's Almanac."  God is the hope of the helpless (Psalm 10:17), and mercy is one of God's attributes. It is mentioned close to 300 times in the Bible, revealing that mercy is a priority (Psalm 34:6, Ephesians 2:1-4).  Bethesda means place of mercy, but it was not a merciful place, it was a hangout of misery. When the Romans ruled, mercy was considered a weakness, but courage, strength and justice were glorified. According to a Roman philosopher, "Mercy is the disease of the soul." These views are recorded and revealed in Romans 1:28-31. However, Jesus healed the body and the spirit, and He calls His followers to do the same. (Matthew 5:7)

  1. Gather Frequently (v.1)
    1. Probably at the Passover
    2. Judaism far from perfect, but Jesus limited to working through it
      1. Gathering as the Biblical Law required (Galatians 4:4)
      2. Uses it to further the Father's agenda
    3. Get to know the needs of others (Galatians 6:10)
    4. Why do people go to church?
      1. Obligation
      2. Social
      3. For God and His Glory (the Word, worship, contributions)
      4. God can use us to minister to others  (Hebrews 10:25)
  2. Observe Compassionately (vv. 2-6a) How we see people
    1. Pool of Bethesda
      1. 2-3 feet deep
      2. Large rectangular pool
      3. Used to wash animals, especially sheep, before they were sacrificed at the temple
      4. 300 people gathered on most days, 3,000 people on feast days
      5. Underground spring bubbled up, story of an angel stirring water and healing
      6. The people were impotent, sick people, without the strength to help themselves
    2. Jesus saw (idon- to look at, often perceiving more than what you see)
      1. Scanned crowd and came to rest on this one man
      2. Sensitive to needs (Matthew 9:36)
    3. Christian church merciful
      1. Works of mercy (hospitals, orphanages, and natural catastrophes)
      2. Ask God to keep us sensitized to what we see
  3. Confront Honestly (vv. 6b-9, 14)
    1. "Do you want to be made well?"
      1. Used to the lifestyle
      2. Instant healing would mean giving up a good living
    2. "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
      1. Eternal suffering as a result of unrepentant sin would be worse
      2. Not just physical healing, but dealt with the soul
  4. Expect Adversity (vv. 9-16)
    1. Pharisees had become list makers
      1. Man made regulations were added to the biblical regulations
      2. No joy in the healing
    2. Hard-hearted legalists are all about the rules, not mercy and doing good
    3. Ask for eyes to see those hurting around you (Matthew 25:35-40)
Figures Referenced: Charles Spurgeon, Richard Dawkins, JA Finley, St. Augustine
Publications Referenced: "Poor Richard's Almanac," by Benjamin Franklin
Cross References: Exodus 34:6; Psalm 10:17; Matthew 5:7; Matthew 9:36; Matthew 23:23; Matthew 25:35-40; Romans 1:28-31; Ephesians 2:1-4; Galatians 4:4; Galatians 6:10; Hebrews 10:25;
Hebrew terms: Bethesda-place of mercy
Greek terms: idon- to look at

Topic: Mercy

Keywords: mercy, Bethesda, healing, sickness, suffering

Transcript

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There's a magnificent gift that is wonderful to receive; it's a little harder to dispense, and that is mercy. I heard about a poster that was posted on a tree by a convent and the poster read: No Trespassing Violators Will be Prosecuted to the Fullest Extent of the Law. The funny thing about the poster is that it was signed, The Sisters of Mercy. Mercy is not a natural human trait. We typically, at least in the West, we admire strength and courage and we sometimes have problems with those who require our help. I'll never forget growing up my dad said this a lot in my home. He'd always quote, God helps those who? Help themselves. He said it so frequently that it's ingrained in my mind but when my dad said it, what was even funnier, is he used to say this, you know, son, the Bible says God helps those who help themselves. Now there weren't, like, a lot of Bibles in my own, so that was odd to me but I grew up thinking the Bible says God helps those who help themselves. So when I finally started reading a Bible, I expected to have that verse jump out at me and I looked for it and I read it and I thought, huh, it's weird--it's not in here. Like, maybe I don't have a complete Bible. Or maybe it's in some weird version like the New Weird Translation. I don't know where it would be. Well I discovered the Bible doesn't say that at all! In fact, that was a statement made by Benjamin Franklin. It's found in Poor Richard's Almanac, the 1757 edition, not that I read that a lot, I just found that out. In fact, what the Bible says is that God helps helpless people, downtrodden people, and that a characteristic of God is His mercy toward them. For instance, Psalm 110: Lord, You know the hopes of the helpless; surely You will listen to their cries. If you were to go and count up the number of times mercy appears in your Bible, it'd be close to 300. That shows me that it's a priority. Something that appears that many times, that kind of quality, is a priority. Certainly, it is a characteristic of God. Did you know that after the children of Israel sinned with the golden calf in the wilderness and God had a confrontation with them, this is how He introduces Himself: I am the Lord God, merciful and gracious. Isn't that great? That's in the Law; that's in the Old Testament. We come to the New Testament and we find that same theme where, in Ephesians, Paul says, ok, we were once dead in trespasses and sins and we went the wrong way and we sinned and we did this but then he says, but God who is rich in mercy. Again, I love that description of God. In John chapter 5, we see a good picture of mercy. In John chapter 5, Jesus comes to a man at a place called the pool of Bethesda. Now Bethesda is a Hebrew word that means the house of mercy. That's what it meant. The pool of Bethesda--the place of mercy. But as you go through the text, it doesn't really sound like a very merciful place because of the people that are there and what's going on there. It's not really a house of mercy. It had become a hangout of misery as people are wallowing in their longstanding illnesses without any hope at all. Into that scene walks Jesus. Now something you need to know about the ancient world. A couple thousand years ago when the Romans ruled that part of the world, the whole world actually, mercy was not high on their list of characteristics. In fact, the Romans considered mercy to be a weakness. One Roman philosopher said mercy is the disease of the soul. That's because Rome glorified courage, strength, and justice. It was not a merciful world, it was a merciless world. Paul describes it in Romans 1 as filled with maliciousness, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful. Into that world steps merciful Jesus, touching a man, healing a man's body and spirit, and we discover that He commands anyone who follows Him to do the same. Blessed are the merciful, Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount. And those who have been changed by Christ will become merciful people. it will follow that if you are following the One who is merciful, that that characteristic is just gonna show up in a son or a daughter of God. Heard a great story about the American Red Cross. This is years ago. They were collecting supplies for the crisis in Biafra, you may remember way back during that era, and they were collecting money and supplies. Well a box came into the distribution center one day, American Red Cross Collection Center, and on top of the box was a note and it read: We have recently been converted. We want to try to help now. We won't ever need these things again. Can you use them for something? Inside the box were a stack of Ku Klux Klan robes. Those white, hooded robes that the Ku Klux Klan wears. They had been converted, this group, and were sending them to the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross thought it appropriate to cut them into strips and use them as bandages to heal the African nation. Very appropriate. Beautiful act of mercy. Now we're gonna look at chapter 5 verses 1 through verse 16 this morning and we're gonna look at the model of Jesus in showing mercy and we're gonna find there are four steps I've outlined, four steps are in your bulletin, of how to meet misery with mercy. First is to gather frequently. Now that might not make sense to you at first but I think you'll get it as we go through it. Look at verse 1: "After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." We don't know what feast it was, but it was one of the three feasts that people went to Jerusalem for. We can only guess, our best guess, is that it's Passover. And so people would gather from all over the nation to go to Jerusalem and worship. It was like their church. And Jesus was there as well. Now here's what you need to know. Judaism was far from being a perfect system two thousand years ago. And yet Jesus limited Himself to working through the channel of Judaism. He was dedicated in the Jewish temple. He was Bar Mitzvah-ed in the Jewish temple. He went to synagogue service on the Sabbath, we see frequently in the Gospel stories. And Paul the apostle said in Galatians 4, God sent forth His Son born of a woman, born under the Law. So He's keeping the Law. He's gathering together as the biblical Law required. Gathering with His people. But He will use this gathering to further His Father's agenda, to preach the gospel, to heal a man, to show mercy to someone. My point is simple. The perfect place for us, as believers, to begin a journey of mercy is among other believers. As we gather frequently, we're gonna find that we're in touch with all sorts of needs that has an opportunity for us to share. God's flock needs mercy. Charles Spurgeon said some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect: that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks and so do God's people. now what does that have anything to do with mercy? Simple. When you gather frequently in church, like you're doing now, and then later on, maybe in a home group or in a men's Bible study or women's Bible study, in those groups or in this kind of a setting, when you get to know people you'll find out that some of them need spiritual things. Some of them need emotional things. Some need financial help. And all of those will provide an opportunity for you to show mercy to the body of Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 6 verse 10, therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, but especially to those who belong to the family of believers. So the point is simple. You want to show mercy? You don't have to go anywhere else than your own backyard at first. Just the family of believers that you gather together with. Which brings up a question. Why do people come to church? There's a lot of answers to that question. So let's personalize it. Why do we come to church? And again, there's probably a whole list of answers that could be given. Here's a few suggestions. One reason people come to church is they feel they need to do it. It's their obligation. It's their obligation. It's a duty. I feel like I should do it. It's funny. I'll be in different places around town and somebody will recognize me and one of the first things, so often, out of their mouth is, I haven't been to church in a long time! Well you didn't need to tell me that. That's fine that you did. We can get confessional if you want to. But I know I should--I really should! Now that's how a lot of people go to church: they feel like they should. So they come and when they get here it's like, is it over yet? You know, they can't wait for it to get over or some don't wait for it to get over they just get up and get out in the middle of it. A second reason people come to church is to meet people. it's social. They figure church is a good place to meet good people. not always but generally that would be true. But it makes perfect sense if you're looking for a wife or a husband or friendship. A good place with good people is a good thing to do. A third reason, this is a higher motive now, to come to church would be simply for God and His glory. To render Him praise, to read His Word, to proclaim His worship, to contribute to His work. Very fine motivation. But let me suggest a fourth reason that is almost as noble as the third. And that is we gather so that God can use us in that gathering somehow, that we'll meet one or two people that need something that I can give to them. I can be an agent to be used by God. Hebrews chapter 10 verse 25, let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching. Not long ago I met a man in our fellowship, a dear man, who lost his wife. He was so broken up. I mean, his world fell apart for good reason. I mean, his life's mate was gone. He didn't know how to handle it and he was in such depression and such despair and I remember talking to him, praying with him, and I felt deeply for him and as weeks went by I didn't see a whole lot of improvement. Weeks went by; I didn't see a whole lot of improvement. One day, I'll never forget where and when, he walked up to me with a smile on his face. I said, what gives? You look happy. He goes well I'm gonna introduce you to a friend I met here. And this other man, this friend, had also lost his wife some time way before that, and had been so tender and compassionate and merciful and encouraging to that guy. Mercy happened as they got together. So gather frequently, Jesus did, gathering for worship in the temple. Here's the second: observe compassionately. Mercy begins by how we see people. look at verse 2: "Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches." Now in about a week, some of you here will be standing at this exact spot. It's been excavated in Jerusalem. "In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity," a sickness, for "thirty-eight years." That's just a hopeless picture. Thirty-eight year lingering disease that brought him there. "When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" Just a word about the pool of Bethesda because I want you to get the picture in your mind. It was a large, rectangular pool about two feet, maybe three feet, deep, we are told. It was used to wash animals in, especially sheep, before they went up to the temple for sacrifice. Now we don't know how many. It says a great multitude of sick people. One source that I read said probably, on a normal day, there were fewer than 300 people at this huge pool. But on feast days like this, where people would gather from all over in Jerusalem, there probably would've been around 3,000 people. Now it doesn't take much imagination to envision that sight of wasting away humanity and the stench that would come with it from animals, sheep as well as people, gathering around that spot who couldn't do much else than just sit. A very desperate place. If you've ever been into a third world hospital, you have some clue. I was at a hospital, hospital, in Africa. I was shocked to see in one little bed, and there was several beds in one room, but in each bed were two patients. They didn't know each other but they were two patients because they didn't have any room anywhere else. So they shared a small bed, rubbing up next to each other. And their families were sleeping on the floor with stoves and food, cooking food, for their family. Well Jesus steps into this place and if you have a King James Bible, I don't know if you have the old King James, it says a bunch of impotent folk, that's the word used, impotent. Now for obvious reasons, that's been scratched and it just says, in my version, a multitude of sick people. But impotent is actually a very good, accurate description because the word means without strength to help yourself. That's the idea. If Ben Franklin was right that God helps those who help themselves, then this whole group was doomed because nobody could help themselves. They were impotent--without strength to help. Why were they gathered at this pool? Well evidently, there was some subterranean spring underneath that bubbled up, caused movement of the water, and because of that a story circulated around town that it was an angel that would come and move things around and if somebody got there, the first person to get there, would be instantly healed. It says in verse 6, "Jesus saw him lying there". The word for see is the most common New Testament word. It's ido, it's orao in its conjugal form, it's a very common word. It simply means to look at but often it carries with it the idea of perceiving something beyond what you see. That you're seeing something but you're understanding more than what you see. And that's why it says in verse 6, "When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" so can you picture it? Jesus steps down, there's a couple thousand people at least, and His eye surveys this mass of suffering, needy, hopeless humanity, and then His eyes rest on one individual and He looks at him and He knows something about him and then He goes to him. My point is that mercy begins by how we see--how we see people, how we see their condition. Matthew chapter 9, when the multitude came to Jesus at the Sea of Galilee, it says and He saw the multitude and when He saw the multitude, He was moved with compassion. Same idea--mercy. Because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. And so what He did was based upon how He saw. Two little boys were talking and one of them said, I hate to wear glasses all the time! Something a boy would say. His friend said, I don't know, if those glasses were like my grandma's glasses, I think I'd like to wear glasses all the time because my grandma, he says, is able to see when somebody's hurting or tired and she knows exactly what to say. And I asked her one day, grandma, how is it that you're able to see like that all the time? And she said, it's the way I learned to look at things the older I get. The other little boy was sort of befuddled with that and said, you're right. It must be her glasses. Well may God give me those same glasses. I often find in my prayer life asking God to make me sensitive because we see a lot around here, we see a lot of suffering, we do lots of funerals, but to keep us sensitized to what we see, as Jesus saw this man. And by the way, it's this example that we find in this chapter and other places in the New Testament, the gospel story, of Jesus showing mercy and healing people that has caused Christians ever since this time to engage in what we call mercy ministry. Reaching out to the poor, reaching out to the sick, mission work around the world, orphanages, hospitals. It's sort of ironic, isn't it, that while unbelievers are spouting off their questions to the church like well how can a God of love allow suffering to exist, they're just sort of standing around asking those questions. But the Christian church is the one building the orphanages and the hospitals and the feeding centers and the clinics. An example is Haiti. If you look at Haiti, just what happened a couple months ago and yes, I know that movie stars and everybody started responding, in fact, Richard Dawkins, the very outspoken atheist, decided that he would get an atheist group together to raise money for Haiti to show people that atheists are good people. Ok, fine. Then he wrote a letter boasting that they had collected, get this, $10,000. Ok, listen, you know, a dollar toward something is good, but he raised $10,000 and I thought, if I were Dawkins, I'd never want to admit that because in the same period of time, just one Christian organization that I work with, raised like $100 million dollars for Haiti. And that just shows that Christians, like a groundswell, will raise up when there needs the time to be shown mercy. I love that--I love that about the body of Christ. I was in Iraq years ago when the first Gulf War, after the first Gulf War, I was there carrying some of your presents, 32,000 of those shoeboxes that you pack every year. So we brought in about six semi-trucks, 32,000 shoeboxes, to the children of Baghdad and around Iraq. Well when we got there and we're unpacking these things, I was there. On my team, a Canadian was there, a Lebanese man, a couple others, and they wanted to know who we were, what we had, and why we were there, especially since the U.N. said nothing can go in. so they wanted to know why we were there. Well one of the people we met with was the minister of religious affairs for all of Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein. And we said, sir, we want to make it very clear. We are not here in the name of the American government. We're not representing America. We're not here in the name of the Canadian government or the Lebanese government. We are here in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who told us that we should love people that He created in His image and share that love with your children. And we told him why we were there, told him a little bit about the Lord, his remarks I'll never forget. He looked at us and said, do you know that until now we have always believed that it's the Christians of the world that hate us. Isn't that a statement? Isn't that an amazing statement? Why would he think that it's the Christians of the world who hate him? Hate them? Because he had equated the Western culture with Christianity. He thought, they're all Christians, they're all against us, Christians hate us. He said, now, sir, I realize it's the Christians who love us. That's what we wanted to leave with that man and it was left with him. Here's a third: confront honestly. As you gather frequently and you have the opportunity to show with people mercifully and you observe what's going on in their lives and you have compassion, there may come a time and there probably will, when you have to confront that person who is suffering and in need with something at a deeper level. Look at verse 6 again: "When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" What kind of a question is that to ask a sick dude? Look what he said. "The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." So he's been in this condition so long and now he's blaming everybody else. "Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked." But back to verse 6. What kind of a question is that? I have, I've been doing hospital visitations for 25 years. I have never once asked a patient, would you like to get out of here? Duh! So why would Jesus ask that? Verse 6 is a clue. Notice it says, he "knew that he already had been in that condition a long time". Jesus is honestly confronting a man who had become so used to this lifestyle that Jesus is saying, are you sure you want to change? Here's some insight. J.A. Findlay, a biblical scholar, said in those days, for a man to be instantly healed would mean that he would give up a good living. Been living off the contributions of people around him and he's down here but he's looking up at the streets and he's able to watch people carrying burdens in the hot sun, working for next to nothing, laboring under the slavery of the Romans. Are you sure you want to be made well? Jesus asked him. I was watching television not too long ago about how panhandling has become like an alternate way to bring income in. that some people do it as a profession--not everybody--but some that hold the signs will work for food, I saw one sign that said atheist will convert for food, this special said that some of these people are making $300 a day doing this. Again, I'm not saying everybody does that, but this broadcast said there's a lot of people they found that did. And so the question is appropriate. You sure you want to change? It's gonna change everything. It's gonna bring responsibility with it. Go down to verse 13: "But the one who was healed did not know who it was," that is, who had healed him, because he was in the temple and Jesus left, "for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." That's striking. What could possibly be worse than a lifelong suffering, a 38-year suffering from a debilitating disease? What could be worse than that? Sin no more, lest something worse come upon you. What could be worse than that? I'll tell you what could be worse than that. Eternal suffering that is the result of unrepentant sin--that could be worse. You get the picture? This disease has robbed you, sir, of the best years of your life but unrepentant sin will rob you of eternity. That's a confrontation. I'm sure no one ever spoke to this man like this, like Jesus did. But Jesus loved him, listen, Jesus loved him enough to not just make him feel good physically and give him a handout, but to also, at some point, deal with something much deeper and that is his soul. That's mercy. That is mercy. Mercy is shown by preaching the gospel. Mercy is shown by caring for souls, not just broken bodies. That'll put you in the hot seat like nothing else when you reach out to a person. At a funeral, St. Augustine once said, if I weep for the body from which the soul is departed, should I not weep for the soul from which God is departed? That's the most merciful thing you could ever do to a person is to get past the physical needs down into the spiritual because there's no other message like the gospel that can bring healing. And people who are dying need to know about eternal life. We had a woman in our church. She used to come up all the time and she'd say, Pastor Skip, would you pray for my son? And we'd always pray for her son. And such a great mom to want prayer like every week. Well one night, I think it was a Saturday night, it might've been a mid-week study, she came and she said, I really need prayer for my son, especially tonight, she said, he's running with the wrong crowd. And he was. That night, we found out later, her son had been shot in the head. The bullet didn't kill him, lodged in his brain, but it didn't kill him. If that bullet would've traveled a few millimeters in either direction, he'd of been dead. But he lived. Two weeks after that, he was in church. He came forward at an altar call and he said to me, I know I'm here because of God's mercy on me. That's why I'm here. Now I want to discover what His plan is for my life. And so that's the whole point. Jesus takes it from this level down to the deepest possible level and it was a confronting sort of a question and a confronting thing to say. Number one, you sure you want this? And then number two, this issue of his soul--sin no more. Ok, so what happens when we do this? Let's just say we're gonna do this, we're gonna keep our eyes open and we're gonna start observing people at a deeper level and how we can help them. We're gonna gather frequently so that we can do that. We're gonna, if need be, confront honestly. What's gonna happen? Well it won't be a piece of cake, you can expect the fourth and that is: expect adversity. Expect adversity. Not everyone is going to understand your love in showing mercy to people, especially if you bring in the spiritual element of bringing the gospel in. You're gonna have some enemies. Look at verse 9: "And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked," that's the first sentence. Here's the second one: "And that day was the Sabbath." You know why John put that there? Because it now marks a change. It marks a change against Jesus because He did this. It's sort of like if this were a movie script, the music would change right about now and go, "And it was Sabbath,"… Now watch. "The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, it's the Sabbath! It's not lawful for you to carry your bed! What a bunch of meatheads! I mean, don't you think they should be so… when was the last time they saw a miracle? When was the last time they did a miracle? Or healed anybody? A guy can walk, he's been paralyzed for 38 years--it's the Sabbath. You can't carry that. "He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, 'Take up your bed and walk.'" They said, "Who is the Man who said to you, 'Take up your bed and walk'?" But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath." Oh goodness gracious! Don't you see it's their understanding of the Sabbath that kept them from rejoicing that a man can walk? No wonder Jesus just unleashed at these dudes. He said, woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! He said, for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin but you've neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. What's their deal? Why are they saying this kind of stuff? Why are they, they're so hung up on this? Well they had become a group of list-makers. You know what a list-maker is? He makes a list. You didn't do that right; you didn't do this right. Well, that was ok but I… that's a list-maker. Legalist. They didn't start that way, you need to know that the Pharisees especially started as the most noble, pure-hearted group of people, simply wanting to keep God's Law to the best of their ability. But as time wore on, they started adding man-made regulations to biblical regulations of the Sabbath. For example, according to their law, their law, you couldn't look into a mirror on the Sabbath. You know why? Because they, here's their rationale, if you look into a mirror on the Sabbath and you see a grey hair on your head, you'll be tempted to pluck it out. And that's labor. It's not labor in my book--it's good news. Here's something else: you couldn't wear false teeth on the Sabbath. Now I was blown away to find out 2,000 years ago they even had false teeth! But some of them had them and you couldn't wear them on the Sabbath because if they fell out, you would want to pick them up and to pick them up is to be bearing a burden on the Sabbath. So you had to go around for a whole day… … Give me kiss… And so they tell this man, you can't carry your mat--it's the Sabbath. According to their law, anything that weighed more than the combination of two dried figs was considered a burden to bear. And so they nailed him. It's the Sabbath. Point is this: they turned into a bunch of hard-hearted legalists, list-makers, and they couldn't even rejoice that good had been done. The most vicious people in the body of Christ are those people that make it all about rules. They don't care about showing mercy or doing good. You can do that but I have my rules and you better keep my rules. And they'll find some strange Bible verse pulled out of the hat to justify their behavior. They find no joy in helping others or being merciful unless it's according to their rules. The last few years we've reached out to the AIDS community in New Mexico, helping those people affected by AIDS, either because they have the disease or their family members. Well you'd be surprised at the interesting response we get from both sides, either the AIDS side, why is the church helping us, and people who are Christians, why is the church helping them? We've reached out to inmates over the years. We have a pastor who faithfully goes in and trains inmates, wins them to Christ, disciples them. When they get out of prison, they go to our School of Ministry, many of them, and we hire many of them. That just angers some people. so risky! Yeah it is. I want to take that risk. I've stood up for people and stood next to people and brought people in that I believe are men of God that have something to say but it can be very controversial. It doesn't go according to 'my rules'. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25? He said, and I will say to them, I was hungry and you gave Me to eat, thirsty and you gave Me to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked, you clothed Me, I was in prison and you visited Me. And they will say to Me, when were You ever naked and hungry and all of that stuff? I never remember that. Jesus will say, you know it well, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, you have done it unto Me. But that's not so if you're a list-maker, if you're a legalistic person who hates grace. It would sound more like this: I was hungry and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger. I was in imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release. I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance. I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health. I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God. I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me. You seem so holy and so close to God but I am still very hungry and lonely and cold. As we close in prayer today, let's ask the Lord to give us new eyes to be able to see those who are hurting around us, to reach out physically as well as spiritually, and also to pay no attention to those among us who are too narrow to care.

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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3/28/2010
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Spiritual Farming 101
John 4:28-42
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Farmers live for the harvest season--a time when their crops are taken in and profits are made. But crops don’t grow on their own. Seeds must be sown and plants must be garnered by a whole group of active farm workers. God is the head Farmer and we are His farmhands, all working together to produce a bumper-crop of people who believe that Jesus is the Savior--Are you in?
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4/18/2010
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Everyone Needs a Faith-Lift!
John 4:43-54
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Like any muscle in our physical body, our faith too must be exercised in order for it to develop. Faith is developed in virtually every circumstance in life, but especially in hard times. Peter put it best, "These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold" (1 Peter 1:7). Let's look at a real-life story of one who came to Jesus in his trial and had his faith lifted to a higher dimension.
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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.