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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > What Storm Goers Need to Know

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What Storm Goers Need to Know - John 6:15-21

Taught on | Topic: Trials | Keywords: trials, suffering, storms, walk on water, discipline, prayer, omniscience, will

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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6/20/2010
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What Storm Goers Need to Know
John 6:15-21
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. Weather is Unpredictable (vv. 14-15)

  2. God’s the Captain; You’re Just Crew (v. 16)

  3. Resources Will be Provided (vv. 17-20)

    1. He Knows

    2. He Prays

    3. He Comes

  4. The Sky will Clear (v. 21)

Making it More than a Sermon:
  1. As a child, what was your greatest fear? Why? How does it affect you now?

  2. What power does Jesus demonstrate for His disciples? How have you seen these same resources in your own experience?

  3. Jesus had just performed an incredible miracle—the feeding of the 5,000. What had these disciples forgotten about that miracle that might have helped them in this storm? What do you sometimes forget about Jesus that might help you in tough situations?


Detailed Notes

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Adversity causes some to break and others to break records. The disciples were experienced fisherman encountering a storm different from any other they had ever faced. The spiritual corollary is the storms of life or trials. Everyone experiences the winds of adversity, the waves of worry, the darkness of isolation, and the fear that accompanies the storm. James said to count it all joy when you fall into various trials (James 1:2). Trials can be big or small; emotional, physical or spiritual; brief or enduring. We can navigate these storms and have peace in the midst of them.

  1. Weather is Unpredictable (vv. 14-15)
    1. Boat ride was unexpected
      1. Jesus' popularity at its peak
      2. Jesus came down the mountain to get away from the crowd and to accompany disciples to the boat
    2. Storm arose suddenly
      1. Circumstances change suddenly
      2. Plans change
        1. Paul - Acts 27:14
        2. Job - Job 1:19
    3. This is not unusual, this is life
      1. Man makes plans, God changes them - Jewish Proverb
      2. Rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous - Matthew 5:45
      3. Even Paul despaired of life - 2 Corinthians 1:8
  2. God’s the Captain; You’re Just Crew (v. 16)
    1. Jesus made (constrained, compelled, urged) them get into the boat - Mark 6:45
      1. They didn't want to go
      2. Before this, they were the captains
    2. God brings them into the storm - Psalm 107:25
      1. Not because of disobedience
      2. Not because they were out of God's will
      3. They were in the center of God's will
      4. When Israel left Egypt
        1. God deliberately put them in a trap
        2. God has resources we know nothing about
        3. God can get you out of impossible situations
      5. The most hard hearted, unlovely Christians are those who have never had much trouble; the most Christ-like are those with the most affliction - C. H. Spurgeon
    3. You can make plans; God has editing rights
  3. Resources Will be Provided (vv. 17-20)
    1. He Knows
      1. He saw them from the mountain - Mark 6:47
      2. I can't see God, but He sees me - Job 23:8-10
      3. God knows everything - Luke 12:7; Psalm 56:8; Jeremiah 29:11
    2. He Prays - Mark 6:46
      1. Jesus departed to pray
      2. Jesus prays for the disciples John 17:6-9
      3. Jesus prays for us - Hebrews 7:25
    3. He Comes
      1. Jesus came in the fourth watch
        1. The disciples had been in the storm for hours
        2. He came when they were weary and exhausted
      2. Jesus walked on the water; He came to them on the very thing they feared the most
  4. The Sky will Clear (v. 21)
    1. There is a season for storms - 1 Peter 1:6
      1. The storm won't last forever
      2. God knows when to end them
    2. No time is wasted in the trial
    3. Watch your attitude during  a storm - Hebrews 12:5
    4. When God is done working on us, we'll be headed to heaven
    5. The disciples willingly received Jesus into the boat

Figures Referenced: C. H. Spurgeon; Corrie Ten Boom
Cross References: Job 1:19; Job 23:8-10; Psalm 56:8; Psalm 107:25; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 5:45; Mark 6:45; Mark 6:46; Mark 6:47; Luke 12:7; John 17:6-9; 2 Corinthians 1:8; Acts 27:14; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 12:5; James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6

Topic: Trials

Keywords: trials, suffering, storms, walk on water, discipline, prayer, omniscience, will

Transcript

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Well, adversity causes some people to break. And it causes other people to break records. It’s as if they go right into the face of adversity on purpose. There’s one 16-year-old girl who did that recently. You know her name, Abby Sunderland, if you’ve been watching the news or reading the papers. A 16-year-old girl from Southern California, from Thousand Oaks, grew up with her family sailing, grew up in a Christian home, and she had a dream. She wanted to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the world in her forty-foot sailboat. Well, what happened to her dream? A storm happened to her dream. A violent winter storm in the Indian Ocean that happens this time of the year in the Southern Hemisphere and somewhere between Africa and Australia, she faced a storm like she had never faced before: 70-mile-an-hour winds, waves the size of three-story buildings, tossed that little boat around and she had to be rescued. Her father, in the midst of this, and I know a lot of people were saying how can a parent allow their child to have a boat ride like that, I wonder how parents can let their children drive at 16 but that’s a whole other story, they were saying through the whole thing, the whole episode, her father was saying, I know that God is in charge. I know that God is in charge.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been out on a lake or on the ocean when a storm hits but it can be very disorienting. My first experience as a child, my dad loved to fish and he said let’s go deep sea fishing. So we went out of Newport Beach on a little boat and what I was totally unexpecting was something called sea sickness. And I was so unprepared. I was such a landlubber and it was not a great experience. The second time I was out to sea was crossing the English Channel, going from England to France, and a storm came up. I was prepared. I had Dramamine. I took it before. And I was fine. But there were on board some very prim and proper and well-dressed English men and women and it was just hilarious to watch them with their heads over the deck feeding the fish as we went from one side to the other. It was great. The third experience that I had, some of you were with me, when we took a cruise to Alaska some years ago. Going through the Inland Passage a sudden and unexpected storm came and tossed that ship, that big cruise vessel, like it was a little toy boat. And I remember the sound of the metal stretching. You hear it go, unh… and then back again—all night. Well it happened to be the night when you’d dress up and you’d go to a special dinner and that night it was lobster dinner. But because of the storm, half of the people didn’t go to dinner. So those of us who did go to dinner had the lion’s share of the lobster.

We’re about to read of a storm in this chapter that experienced fishermen encountered. They’d been on that lake all their lives. They’d faced a lot of storms. But nothing like this. This was different than everything they had ever faced. The story for us picks up in verse 15: “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.”

We just read about a literal storm. There is a spiritual corollary and I want to talk about the storms of life. After all, this wasn’t just a storm for these guys; it was a trial for them, as well. So whether you call it a trial or a hardship or adversity or whatever, a storm, everyone in this room knows what that is. Everyone here knows what it’s like to have winds of adversity blow. Everybody here knows what it’s like to have waves of worry rise up. Everybody here knows what it’s like to experience the darkness of isolation and the fear that comes with that, just like these disciples experienced. We all have storms. James called them various trials, remember that? James chapter one. You know what he said about them? He said count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Yeah, right! Like who does that? Count it all joy.

And he said when you fall into various trials. You see, trials are different. Some are big; some are small; some are physical; some are emotional or spiritual. Some are brief; some are enduring and long, lasting weeks or months or even years. I believe we can navigate those storms and do a good job of it. I believe we can have peace in the midst of them. But in order for that to happen, there’s some things we all need to know. That’s why I’ve called this message “What Storm Goers Need to Know”.

Some I’m gonna give you four things that I believe emerge from the text, in this text and another text. In fact, why don’t we do that right now? Keep a marker here and turn to Mark chapter 6, or at least put a marker, that’s right, mark Mark chapter 6, because it is the same story told in Mark’s words and, even as John puts in some details that Mark leaves out, Mark puts some details that John leaves out. So John 6 and Mark chapter 6.

Here’s the first principal: in a storm, weather is unpredictable. These disciples had no clue what was about to happen. Now I want you to see something. Go back one verse with me for the sake of context in John chapter 6, look at verse 14: “Then those men,” that is all of the folks that were fed miraculously, “when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world. Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” For these disciples, this was completely unexpected. The boat ride. And here’s why. They were on a spiritual high. They had just seen the feeding of 15,000 people miraculously. There was such momentum building. I think I’m accurate when I say that Jesus’ approval ratings were at their highest—their peak. People were so jazzed and thrilled. They wanted to make Jesus their king. It says something in verse 15, did you notice it? It says Jesus departed again to the mountain. That is, He went back up the mountain. Well, you can’t go back up the mountain unless you go down the mountain. So here He was up on the mountain, fed everybody, and now He walks down the mountain before He goes back up. Why does He walk down the mountain? For two reasons: to get rid of the crowds or to get away from the crowd because they have a political agenda He doesn’t want to be a part of and number two, to walk His disciples down into the Sea of Galilee or to a boat there and shove them off so that He can be alone with His Father. So He puts them in a boat.

And look at verse 18: “Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.” See that word arose? I discovered it’s a Greek word that means to arouse somebody from their sleep. It’s a sudden awaking. Do you know what that’s like when you wake up in the morning? Have you ever seen somebody just sort of get aroused from a deep sleep and you say like crazy things and you do weird things. I have a friend, true story, he’s a pastor, his wife was aroused from sleep, she punched him right in the mouth and he fell right out of bed. That was a storm.

The waves woke up; the sea woke up. It was from out of nowhere. It was sudden and unexpected. And, in life, haven’t you noticed that the weather changes quite unexpectedly? Have you noticed that you make plans? You set an agenda. You’ve got it all planned out and then something happens. The circumstance just sort of blows a whole different direction. You hadn’t planned this.

You remember Paul the apostle, he planned to go to Rome, he even wrote that. He goes, I am planning to come and see you in Rome. What he didn’t plan on is getting arrested in Jerusalem. What he didn’t plan on is becoming a prisoner for two years. And though he went to Rome, he didn’t plan on getting there in a grain ship from Egypt as a prisoner on the way to Rome. His plans changed. Now as the boat left harbor, and it was a nice, sunny, beautiful day, something happened in the midst of that boat ride. A storm came. Acts 27 tells us but the weather changed abruptly and a wind of typhoon strength caught the ship and blew it out to sea.

I think of another example. A man named Job in the Old Testament. Man, life was great! Just great! Everything was happening as planned. He had his children around him, he had his health, he had prosperity, prayed for his children, he loved his God and then one day everything changed. All of his children died—in a single day. And one of the messengers came and said suddenly a powerful wind swept in from the desert and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed and all of your children are dead.

About a year ago, my wife went in for a routine checkup. It was routine. That is, until the doctor found a mass and said, um, I want you to clear your decks for the next several months. Things are gonna change. We need to get at that and we need to get at it now. Surgery was scheduled, it was successful, the doctor came out and said it was malignant, it’s gonna require chemotherapy. Looking back on that, you know, here we were, everything is just sailing along until you hear that news and then suddenly, abruptly, the wind changes. You go in a totally different direction. I describe it like having your tickets in hand and going down to a bus station or a train station, you’ve got your itinerary, it’s in your hand. You’ve got your tickets; they’re in your hand. You get down to the bus station or train station and somebody meets you there and says, um, I have different tickets for you. You’re not going where you think you’re going. You’re gonna get on that train, not that train. And so you get on the train with these new tickets, you have really no idea what this about, but you ride that train and you don’t get off of it for about a year. Some for longer. Some never get off that train.

I’m bringing all that to your attention or reminder simply to say that this is not unusual. In fact, this is typical. This is normal life. There’s an old Jewish proverb that goes like this, quite simple, man makes plans and God changes them. Jesus put it this way: the Father causes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good and He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Message is simple: whether you’re saved or not, whether you’re righteous or unrighteous, whether you’re good or wicked, you enjoy good times and bad times. Sun mixed with rain. And even if you’re a child of God, the weather can change suddenly and abruptly.

Even Paul the apostle spoke of hardships that he and his team encountered and he writes to the Corinthians: we suffered under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure so that we despaired even of life. Boy, I’m glad he wrote that because now, when I encounter people who say, shyly, Pastor, I’m so embarrassed. It’s been so difficult for me lately. I’ve despaired of life! I can say you’re not alone. You’re in Paul’s camp. Paul even despaired of life. Paul didn’t think he was going to make it. That’s normal life.

I read something in Reader’s Digest that said expecting not to be treated badly just because you’re a good person is like expecting an angry bull not to attack you just because you’re a vegetarian. Don’t you love that? That angry bull doesn’t share your dietary convictions. And so weather is unpredictable and the disciples are about to find out, He’s not just the God of the free lunch on the hill, He’s the God of the storm. So that’s number one: weather is unpredictable.

Look at verse 16: “Now when the evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,” that is, they got into the boat, into the sea, and they set sail. Question: why did they get into the boat to begin with? Was it their idea? It wasn’t their idea. In fact, I’m sure they did not want to get in that boat. You know why they went in there? Jesus made them get in the boat. And this is the second lesson. In life, God’s the captain. You’re just the crew. So if you have this invictus kind of ideology that says I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul, good luck on that one. When you come to Christ, you give Him the pink slip to your life. The keys. He’s in charge.

Now go back to chapter 6 of Mark. I had you put a marker there. Let’s look at it. You’ll see this. Mark chapter 6 and go to verse 45 of Mark chapter 6. It says: “Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.” See that? He made them do it! The Old King James is even stronger: He constrained them. He compelled them. He urged them. You know that tells me? Tells me they didn’t want to go. Can you just hear it? Um, where are we going Jesus? Just follow Me. Yeah, where are we going? Going to the lake. Ok, well here we are. Now what? Get in the boat. Well you coming? Nope. You get in the boat. Uh, we don’t want to get in the boat! You just pulled off like the coolest trick ever! You fed 15,000 people. We’re sticking to You like glue. Get in the boat! Get. In. That. Boat. He constrained them. He compelled them. He urged them. And He sent them away. He made them go. Do you know why? Because He’s the captain! They’re just the crew. Now up to this point that wasn’t the case. Peter was the captain. Andrew was the captain. They had their fishing business. All those little boats? They were the captains of them. But now Jesus is part of their life and they do what Jesus says. He’s the captain.

With all due respect, if you happen to have this bumper sticker on your car I apologize in advance, please no emails, but if you have that bumper sticker that says “God Is My Co-Pilot,” you might want to take that off. Because you know what? God won’t be anybody’s co-pilot. You might be allowed to come along for the ride but He’s in charge. He’s the pilot. He got them in that boat and He is gonna send that boat out into the sea.

Now why am I making such a big deal of this? Why is this so important? Because it means that when the storm is raging around you, you now have the confidence and satisfaction of saying, God brought me into this storm. God brought me here! Why is this happening? God brought me here! I was reading psalms this week and one just jumped out as if it were prophetic of this very event. Psalm 107: He commands and raises the stormy wind which lifts up the waves of the sea. God does that!

So question: were the disciples in that boat, in that storm, because they were disobedient? Because they were bad little disciples and only bad little disciples have storms in their lives? Were they in that storm because they were out of the will of God? No. And I bring that up because there’s some people who will say, well if you’re a Christian you won’t go through these things. They were in that storm because they were in the center of the will of God. Put them in the boat and He sent them out into the storm. Why would He do that?

Well, let’s go to another incident. Go back in your minds to the Exodus when the children of Israel leave Egypt and go to the Promised Land. Now if you remember the story, God not only tells them where to go, but He gives them the exact route on how to get there. And if you look at a map, this always puzzled me; they weren’t given the direct route. The easiest route would be to go up the coastline directly north and turn inland. But God put them in the weirdest route and He brought them to the Red Sea and so, on one side, there were mountains and desert—it was impassable. On the other side, mountains and desert—uncrossable. Before them was a body of water—uncrossable, they thought. And if they ever wanted to get out of that cul-de-sac, they couldn’t because just when they thought, this is crazy, the Egyptian army boxed them in. so you know what God was doing? Deliberately putting them into a trap. You know why? Because God wants to show them that He has resources they knew nothing about, that God can get them out of situations that are impossible to get out of.

And so it is with this storm. I’m sharing this because I believe that knowing that will revolutionize your pain. If you realize, I’m just the crew, God is the captain, He brought me to this place, my captain sent me into this storm, that’s huge. I mean, what makes me think that if I’m a Christian or if I’m a pastor, that my life should be somehow smooth waters, smooth sailing? And yet I know some Christians who have that notion. If I’m a Christian and I’m obedient, only good things will happen. Really? Boy, you’d be like a worthless person if that were true. You’d be such a shallow person if that were true.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon spoke to his congregation these words. I believe, he said, the hardest-hearted, most unlovely Christians in all the world are those who have never had much trouble. And those who are the most sympathizing, loving, Christ-like, are those who have had the most affliction. The worst thing that can happen to any of us is to have our path made too smooth. Isn’t that interesting? So now you know what I might be praying for if you come up and you’re like really a cantankerous person. Lord, send him a storm. Make him a lovely person.

Here’s what I want you to note. You can make your plans and you should. You can set your agenda and you should. But just understand that if you, you write the script, that God always has editing rights. You set the course for the boat; God can always come in and alter the course. And He does. Weather is unpredictable, God’s the captain, you’re just the crew.

Number three, if you get sent into the storm, resources will be provided. Take you to verse 18: “Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles”. The Sea of Galilee is only about seven to eight miles wide and twelve to thirteen miles in diameter, so they were like right in the middle, right? Right in the middle of the lake. “They saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

Now if you put all the stories together, and we will in just a moment, there’s three things I want you to discover about Jesus. Number one, He knows. Number two, He prays. And number three, He comes.

He knew exactly what was happening. Do you believe that? Do you think Jesus was up on the mountain, He’s doing His thing, praying, and He did not know what was happening to the disciples? Is God ever out of the office? Does God ever go, Huh! I didn’t know that. I’m so sorry! He knew exactly. Go back to Mark chapter 6 and watch this. Mark chapter 6 verse 47: “Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.” He saw them? Straining at the oars? Boy, don’t you think He’d have to have pretty good eyesight to see a boat four miles away and now you’re still a little bit more inland on top of a hill? I’ve been on the Sea of Galilee. I can’t see a mile away, a boat, with the haze. And not only to see that there’s a boat, but to have such detail as to be able to see that the people aboard that boat are having a difficult time straining at the oars? That’s pretty good eyesight. In fact, I would say it’s impossible to see that way unless you can see some other way. That’s sort of the whole point, isn’t it? He is God omniscient. He knew exactly what was going on on that boat. He could see it! He knew it—in advance.

We mentioned Job. Remember Job? In chapter 23, he said something that’s profound. And I know you’ve experienced it. He’s in the heart of his deepest struggle, deepest trial, and he writes this: I go forward and I can’t find God. I go backward, I cannot perceive Him. I look on the right hand, the left hand, He’s not there. Ever had that experience? You’re in a trial, you’re looking for God, you’re wanting His peace, you’re wanting His presence—nothing. So you know what Job finally says? He goes, I’ve looked everywhere for God. I can’t find Him. But then he says, but He knows the way that I take and when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

Did you get that truth? I can’t find God! I can’t see God! But God sees me and I’m ok with that. He knows everything. That’s a good thing to think about. What does God know? God knows? Everything. God knows everything. Jesus said that God knows the number of the hairs of your head. Now for some, that math is getting easier every year but God knows that. God knows that. David said, in effect, God knows when we cry. He said that God puts our tears and stores them in a bottle like a little memorial. He knows every time we’re sorrowful and every tear that is shed. God knows that. Jeremiah, or I should say God through Jeremiah, said I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of goodness and of peace, to give you a future and a hope. God knows everything. And that’s the first resource we have is knowing that, even if I can’t see or feel God, though He’s not apparent, He is certainly aware. He knows.

Second, He prays. You say excuse me? That’s right. Jesus prays. And if that’s all new information for you, then you’re about to be wowed because you’re gonna see it. Now go back to Mark chapter 6 verse 46 where it says, “And when He sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.” Question: what is He praying for? Well, in all honesty, we don’t know. We’re not told what He’s praying for. But can I say I bet you at least part of His prayer is for the disciples. I mean, if He can see that far and He knows what’s going on in the boat and the struggle that His friends are having and knowing what He does in John 17, remember when He prays for His disciples, Father I pray for those that You have given Me, for they were Yours and You gave them to Me, I pray for them. I’m sure He was praying for His disciples. In fact, He might have been praying for them right down the line. Lord, I pray for Peter. He’s about to say something really stupid. And then I pray for Andrew because he’s gonna follow suit. And I pray for Thomas because he’s just like so bummed out, he’s shaking his head, the whole boy. He’s probably been praying for every single one all the way down the line.

Now I have a question. How would you feel if you knew that Jesus was in the next room praying for you? Would that like bolster you? Would that like give you courage and confidence to like, I can handle this? If you knew that? You know how it is when somebody comes up to you that you know and love on earth and goes I’ve been praying for you and you go, oh, that’s awesome. But what if you knew Jesus was praying for you? Well that’s the news flash. He is. You see it says in Hebrews, the writer of Hebrews, chapter 7 verse 25, writes this: Therefore He [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through Him because He always lives to intercede for them. Intercede means to pray on behalf of. That’s what Jesus lives for! He’s at the Father’s right hand and He lives to pray for you. I mean, every trial you have, every situation, Jesus is talking to the Father about you. And can I add if anybody knows how to pray, it’s Him. After all, as God He became a Man. He knows what suffering is all about. So when He talks to the Father about your pain, it’s because He knows it firsthand.

He knows, He prays, here’s the third resource: He comes. He comes to them in the storm. Verse 19: “So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Now I have a question. See if you remember this back from Mark, if you have your hand there you’ll know the answer. When did Jesus come to them? What part of the night? What watch of the night? Fourth watch. Now why did Mark tell us that? I’ll tell you why he told us that. He wants you to know how long those disciples had been out there. You see, they left at probably sunset, it was evening and the sun was setting, got dark. And the night is divided into four watches. Watch number one is from 6pm to 9pm. Watch number two, 9pm to midnight. Watch number three, midnight to 3am. And fourth watch of the night, from 3 in the morning to 6 in the morning. That’s when Jesus came to them. Fourth watch of the night. You know what that means? It means they’d been out on the Sea of Galilee rowing, struggling, suffering from between 8 to 12 hours. When they were near exhaustion, at the very end of their wits and could go no further, fourth watch of the night, Jesus showed up. Now I’m sure if they could’ve voted, they would’ve said, could You please come the first watch of the night? But He didn’t come the first, nor the second, nor the third. But He came between 3 in the morning and 6 in the morning. They were exhausted. They were weary. He came in their extreme case but He came nonetheless.

Listen, if God has you in a storm, He has His eye on that boat and He has His hand on those waves. And He’s not gonna allow anything to happen to you that you can’t handle. Question: why did Jesus walk on the water? Was He showing off? Did He come to impress them? Did He walk up to the boat like hey this is pretty cool, can you do this? I don’t think He did that. I don’t think it was for that reason. It wasn’t just to wow them. This is what I believe. Jesus came to them on the very thing they feared the most. The storm. They feared the storm. They were afraid of the storm. They’d been on this lake but there was no storm like this. They thought they were going to die. They were afraid. Those waves were big and that boat was about to toss over and… it’s interesting that Jesus came to them on the very thing they feared the most. It was that thing that became the footpath of Christ to them.

Now I know we all hate storms. We all dread the idea of a possible surgery, of a possible death of a loved one, of the loss of any kind, but I also know, from experience and from talking to thousands of people, that in the darkest moment, on the very thing they fear the most, often they find Jesus in the deepest presence. Never experienced God like I have then! And He came. Corrie ten boom was part of a family that sheltered Jews in World War II. They were arrested. She was put in a concentration camp for that. She said, if God ever sends you on stony paths, He’ll provide good shoes. I would rewrite that for our purpose and say if He ever sends you in a storm, He provides great boats. He’ll provide you the resources that you need. He knows, He prays, and He comes.

Well let’s finish this up. Look at verse 21 of John chapter 6. Here’s the fourth point. The sky will clear. The storm won’t last forever. “Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” That storm didn’t last a week or a month or a year. Some storms do. This one had a beginning and it had an end. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about storms, it’s that God knows when to end them and have the sun come out so that you can go… It doesn’t mean you’ll never have another one, but He knows how to time them. They’re seasonal.

Now there was one guy on that boat ride named Peter, right? He was on the boat, wasn’t he? Am I right? Peter was riding in that boat. Well Peter wrote, years later, a letter in which he said, we rejoice though now for a season you are in heaviness because of many trials. You see, it’s not perpetual—it’s seasonal. There’s a season for them. There’s a time that they begin and a time that they end. Did you notice verse 21? It’s another miracle really. It says immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. Isn’t that interesting? They put Jesus on the boat and it’s like, whoa, we’re here! You know what that tells me? The hardship, the trial, they didn’t waste any time in that. They didn’t waste any time. Now I hear people say well if only I didn’t have this in my life, I could do that. I don’t think you waste any time if God has you in a time of trial and adversity. I think He’s quite able to get you to the right destination at the right time and you will not be wasting any time.

Now that leads me to end this sermon with sort of a caution. Watch your attitude during a storm because, as I mentioned, a storm is very disorienting. And it tends toward, not only asking why, but it tends toward complaining, why Lord, why me, why now, why this? And that questioning can lead to despising which can lead to bitterness. Watch your attitude during a storm. When the writer of Hebrews talks about trials he says: my son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Don’t become so impatient and so embittered and so angered and so indifferent that we say things like God this is getting old, this is enough, right? Well it sorts of brings up the question, why a storm anyway? I mean, why does God put me in the boat, send me out to the storm, change the weather, change it, why does He do all that? Answer: it’s pretty easy. Because He’s still working on you. I don’t know if you know this or not but you’re not perfect. You’ve got a lot of growth to do… amen? So because of that He’s gonna always be working on you. In fact, I would say this. When He’s done working on you, you know what’s gonna happen to you? You’ll flat line. You’ll go right to heaven. I know you’re thinking God keep working on me, Lord just keep working on me. Oh and He will. And He will do it without your counsel. He’s a committee of One. And He knows everything that’s going on and He knows everything you’re going through and He knows exactly what’s best for you. And so you go for the ride. You go for the ride. And you worship and you rejoice because what makes you different from an unbeliever is they go on the ride and they have no point of reference. It’s just a bad thing that happens to everybody. But it’s timed and planned and prescribed for you.

I want to tell you a story. I was with my wife this week at her doctor’s and he saw that I was a motorcycle enthusiast, so he goes, I want to tell you a motorcycle story. I go, oh here it goes. He said there’s a couple, they’re from Colorado, they’re motorcycle enthusiasts, husband and wife, they love each other, devout Christians. She’s a photographer. They love to travel around. She takes pictures. They’re on a ride and there’s this big truck in front of them. If you’re a motorcycle rider you know you want to get away from that truck. So the driver’s looking for a time to pass the truck. Eventually he says now’s the time. He accelerates, not knowing that on this little highway, in that lane was a stalled, parked vehicle. And as he passed the truck full force, his motorcycle, hit that car. They flew up in the air, hit the ground, ambulance came, took them to the hospital. Now they survived. They’re fine today. But while they were doing a CAT scan on the female passenger, they discovered on the CAT scan a stage one ovarian tumor. Stage one. They never would’ve discovered that tumor had she not had a CAT scan. She never would’ve had a CAT scan unless they were in that accident. And you have to understand, that couple was thanking God they had a motorcycle accident to spot that at that time to treat it successfully.

Now the disciples do something very smart. Verse 21: “Then they willingly received [Jesus] into the boat”. Yeah, that’s a smart thing to do. Whenever there’s a storm, get Jesus in the boat! Right? Because the boat ain’t sinking if He’s on board, right? It’s Jesus. So good to see You, come on board! Right? Is it worth sailing through life without Christ? Some of you are sailing around, you’ve got your plans, everything’s good, weather’s good, sails are good. You’re fit. You haven’t been in the storm yet. Not the one that’s coming. You don’t want to go without Jesus in the boat. If you haven’t invited Him into your life, now would be a great time to do that.

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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4/25/2010
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Healing Misery with Mercy
John 5:1-16
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One of Jesus' most distinguishing characteristics in His earthly ministry was His mercy toward people who were hurting. This is not astonishing, for the prophet Micah announced that "God delights in mercy" (Micah 7:18). Jesus standing among the squalid misery of sickness and hopelessness while at a feast in Jerusalem is a perfect setting to show how Christians can show mercy to a world in misery. But be warned: not everyone will be sympathetic to your cause!
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5/23/2010
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Like Father, Like Son
John 5:16-24
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The most important question you could ever ask is not, "Who am I?" but rather, "Who is Christ?" That was the supreme question Jesus presented to His disciples when He said, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15). Jesus made the most astonishing claim ever when He confronted the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem here in John 5. What do these claims have to do with us today? Absolutely everything!
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5/30/2010
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Everyone Lives Forever
John 5:25-29
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My mom used to wake me up early every morning with her sweet voice saying, "Rise and Shine!" It took a few times but I eventually got up out of bed. As Jesus declares that He will be in charge of the future judgment, He too will usher the call to everyone who has died to "Rise up!" But not everyone will rise up to shine; some will rise up to suffer. Let’s consider three inevitable and unalterable truths about the future for all of us: We will all die, we will all be judged, and we will all rise again to live forever... but where?
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6/6/2010
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Why Should You Believe?
John 5:30-47
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The theme of John's gospel is "believe." The whole reason he wrote this book is so that people who read it will believe in Jesus (see John 20:31). But why should they believe? And even more applicable, why should we believe? After all, the events of the New Testament are over 2,000 years removed from us today. Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders in John 5 tells us why we should believe. Like a skilled lawyer, Jesus calls upon four witnesses to testify to His claims and these four give the reasons for our believing in Jesus Christ.
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6/13/2010
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Lessons From a Picnic
John 6:1-14
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This story ranks in the "top ten" of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ. In fact this is the most famous of all His miracles as it alone is recorded by all four gospel accounts. But this is far more than a Sunday school tale. This extraordinary picnic was not just a free meal for five thousand folks; it provided lessons for both ancient and modern disciples. Here are four profound truths that emerge from this lakeside lunch.
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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.