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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Plain Truths About the Bread of Life

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Plain Truths About the Bread of Life
John 6:51-71
Skip Heitzig

John 6 (NKJV™)
51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"
53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.
56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.
58 "This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you?
62 "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?
63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.
65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."
66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69 "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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.

"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. True Life Will Come by Death (vv. 51-59)

  2. True Words Are Hard to Hear (vv. 60-63)

  3. True Motives Will be Discovered (vv. 64-66, 70-71)

  4. True Disciples Will Not Leave (vv. 67-69)

Making it more than a Sermon:
  1. When, if ever, have Jesus' words offended you? How did you work through it? How do you feel about it now?

  2. Of all the promises Jesus makes in this section, which ones mean most to you? Why?

  3. How do you think Jesus felt after many of His disciples stopped following Him? How do you think He felt after hearing Peter's words?

Detailed Notes

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Common knowledge includes obvious truths, things everyone knows. Other truths require a special knowledge apart from what others know. The things Jesus shares in this text were understandable truths for Himself and His disciples, but not for the crowds. They were more interested in physical food not spiritual truths.

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life." He was born in the town of Bethlehem; Beth-lechem which means house of bread, or place of bread.

  1. True Life Will Come by Death (vv. 51-59)
    1. Jesus describes his sacrificial death for the life of the world–v. 51
    2. Jesus is not referring to transubstantiation  (the belief that the bread and wine literally transform into the body and blood of Christ at the Eucharist)
      1. The Lord's supper was not yet instituted
      2. Jesus said , "If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;" –v. 51 (that would mean anyone who partook of communion gains salvation; defies the biblical doctrine of grace by faith )
      3. The verb "to eat" is in the aorist tense; once for all completed action; communion is repeated often – Luke 22:19
      4. Jesus is speaking in spiritual terms –v.63
    3. To eat and drink His flesh and blood means to behold Christ and believe in Him; see Him for who He is and place our faith completely in Him; His flesh and blood are the price of redemption
    4. Without the blood, a ministry is lifeless –Charles H. Spurgeon – 1 Corinthians 1:18
  2. True Words Are Hard to Hear (vv 60-63)
    1. Not hard to understand, hard to tolerate; skleros–hard, rough, stiff, harsh
    2. His teachings offended them (came down from heaven; my flesh eat, my blood drink; what if you see me ascend to where I came from?)
    3. His death on the cross will offend them; they wanted to make Him a king by force
      1. He didn’t want to be a politician
      2. He came to die on the cross
      3. He is a stumbling block to the Jews – 1 Corinthians 1:23
    4. Some truths are wonderful to hear (heaven, forgiveness, grace, comfort in sorrow)
    5. Some truths are difficult to bear ( hell, holiness)– Matthew 23:15; John 4:18; Galatians 2:11
    6. What to do when there is a message that is hard to hear? Be open to it – 1 Thessalonians 5:14
  3. True Motives Will be Discovered (vv. 64-66, 70-71)
    1. Disciples are not necessarily believers; mathetes–a student, a learner
    2. Interested in Jesus, because He could perform miracles
    3. Loved his works, hated his words
    4. What these wanted Jesus would not give; what He offered, they would not receive
    5. Jesus did not meet their expectations
    6. Motives revealed as a person backslides into a former way of life – 1 John 2:19
    7. Sometimes people can bluff it until they face the Lord
    8. Hypocrisy is waiting for exposure – Jeremiah 11:20; Hebrews 4:13
  4. True Disciples Will Not Leave (vv.67-69)
    1. Peter has the answers – Matthew 16:16
    2. Marks of a true disciple
      1. Devotion, loyalty–leaving Christ is unthinkable
      2. Satisfaction
      3. Conviction
    3. People lack this conviction about Christ, because they've never met him
    4. Food
      1. Must be ingested
      2. Must be hungry
      3. No one can do it for you

Figures Referenced: Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Jerusalem; Paschasius Radbertus; Charles Spurgeon; Ted Malone
Cross References: Jeremiah 11:20; Matthew 16:16; Matthew 23:15; Luke 22:19; John 4:18; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 4:13; 1 John 2:19
Hebrew terms: Beth-lechem–house of bread;
Greek terms: skleros–hard, rough, stiff, harsh; mathetes–a student, a learner

Topic: Truth

Keywords: transubstantiation, truth, disciple, motives, hypocrisy

Transcript

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There are some truths that are, well, we call them common knowledge. Things that everybody knows. It's truths that are most obvious; very plain. 2+2=4. Common knowledge. Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, or at least appears in the eastern horizon to be more accurate. That's common knowledge. Four seasons are in the year--common knowledge. It's pretty common knowledge that the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Most Americans know that. That's common knowledge. The state bird of New Mexico is the? It's common knowledge. The roadrunner.





But other truths aren't so plain, not so obvious, unless you have a knowledge that is special and apart from what others know. An example: there was an artist who had his work, original paintings, in an art gallery and he decided that he would go one day down to see if any of them sold because they hadn't been selling. Art can be expensive. Well when he went down to the art gallery and he talked to the owner, he noticed that there was none of his paintings hanging up in the gallery. Well he was puzzled and he said well what's up? Where are my paintings? And the owner said well I've got some good news and some bad news. Yesterday a man came in with an interesting question. He said is it true that works of art go up in value once the artist is dead? I thought that was an odd question. I said well yeah, that's common knowledge. When somebody dies, their artwork, if they're an artist, goes up significantly. And then the man proceeded to buy all of your paintings. Well the artist was puzzled. And the owner of the gallery said now that was the good news. The bad news is that that man was your personal doctor. So you see the doctor had some knowledge that the artist did not have. It was not common to him.





The things that Jesus shares in John chapter 6 were common, plain knowledge to Him and to His disciples who loved Him. These were truths that were understandable and loved and known. But not for the crowd that had gathered by and large. The crowd that Jesus had fed the day before. They really didn't get it and they weren't interested in some of the truths that Jesus gives in this very chapter. They were all about physical food not spiritual truth and they made that known in this conversation. But Jesus, the Master Teacher, brings out four truths beginning in verse 51 down to verse 71. That's what we want to look at today in our time together. Four important truths that, to Him and to His true followers, would be plain truths about the bread of life. They're in your outline. Here they are in order. Number one, true life will come by death. True life will come by death. That's the first plain truth. Second, true words are hard to hear. Number three, true motives will be discovered. And number four, true disciples will not leave. Those four truths are plainly brought out in this section.





Now I just can't resist this little thought that I was thinking about this week. I don't think it's insignificant that what Jesus said about Himself and where He was born are very similar. Jesus said I am the bread of life; where He was born is the town of Bethlehem, of course. The word Bethlehem comes from two Hebrew words house of bread or place of bread, because Bethlehem was the breadbasket of the ancient world. It's where the grains were grown. It's where the wheat fields were. And so isn't it significant that the bread of life came from a place called the place of bread, the house of bread? As He comes to over Himself for the life of the world. Well let's begin in verse 51 and see the first plain truth of the bread of life and that is the true life will come by death. Verse 51 Jesus is continuing: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man gives us His flesh to eat?" Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum."





Now here's Jesus in an almost shocking manner--very raw--is describing His death on the cross in this section. The sacrificial death as He would give His own body, His flesh, as it says in verse 51, for the life of the world. That's what this paragraph is talking about. Jesus is giving in months to come His own flesh sacrificially on the cross. And that is what He means by it. He's talking about the fact that He's gonna die and life will come through His death.





Now I need to say this because it's gonna be asked afterwards so I thought I'd cover it. The Roman Catholic Church, and I was brought up in that tradition, used these verses to teach a doctrine of theirs called transubstantiation which is a word that means to change substance. It is their belief, and I was taught it over and over again, that at Communion, the bread and the wine are literally transformed from one substance into another, from being bread and wine into the literal body and literal blood of Christ at the Eucharist. It was taught by Gregory of Nisus, Cyril of Jerusalem, Pascasius Radbert and a number of other writers on the subject for the Roman Catholic Church. Now I need to say that Jesus did not mean that here. In fact that whole way of thinking is totally foreign to this text. And I'll give you a few reasons why. Number one, the Lord's Supper had not yet been instituted when Jesus said what we just read. Wasn't even on the radar screen. Nobody would've understood if that's what He was referring to that He was referring to that. I mean, why would Jesus discuss Communion with a group of antagonistic unbelievers? That's number one. Number two, Jesus said, and we read it, that anyone who partakes of His body and His blood has everlasting life. If that meant Communion then that would mean that anybody who receives Communion can gain salvation. Hey I want to go to heaven. Why do I got to do? Just go take Communion and you'll have everlasting life. And that would defy the biblical doctrine of salvation that comes through grace by faith. That would be salvation by works. Number three, the verb that Jesus uses to eat and the verb Jesus uses to drink is in the Greek the tense which means a once for all, completed action. It's done. Never to be repeated. However, Communion is something that is to be observed over and over again. It is repeated. As Jesus said, do this often in remembrance of Me, when He referred to Communion. And number four, the text clearly shows that Jesus is not speaking in literal terms but in spiritual terms. In verse 63, Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." Or as the Phillips Translation puts it: the things I have told you are spiritual things. So then exactly what does Jesus mean when He says you must eat My flesh and you must drink My blood? Well all you gotta do is compare two verses that almost are the same except for one variant and you'll get the understanding. Compare verse 54 with verse 40. Verse 54 says: "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Now go back to verse 40: "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." You see that? See how similar they are? So now we have the understanding what does it mean to eat and to drink His flesh and His blood? It means to behold Christ and to believe in Him. To see Him for who He is and to place our faith unquestionably and totally in Him for our salvation. You say well why does Jesus speak of His body and blood? Simple. Because that's the price of redemption. Verse 51: I give My flesh for the life of the world. In other words, true life will come through death and that will be My death on the cross. So that is the plain truth about the bread of life. True life comes through death.





Now this truth is so plain and so precious to the Christian church that for generations, generation after generation, the songs that we sing are by and large filled with the truth of the blood of Christ and the cross upon which our salvation was procured. It seems that Christians so know this truth and so want to sing about it that it's inescapable. Here's a sampling of just some hymns. Lift High the Cross of Christ. Alas and Did My Savior Bleed. Beneath the Cross of Jesus. The Old Rugged Cross. Down at the Cross Where My Savior Died. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Nailed to the Cross for Me. Were You There When They Crucified My Lord. Over and over again the Christian church throughout history says, we get it, that this is the plain truth and we celebrate it in our songs. The true life comes through death.





But it seems that this central and precious truth isn't so plain and so obvious to some, to some churches who are wanting to drain Christianity of its very life source by draining Christianity of the blood of Christ. What I mean is there are churches who will say, well we better not preach too much about the blood of Jesus. We better not sing too many songs about the cross because that's gory and bloody and it will offend people. Charles Spurgeon, whom you know I love to quote, said this about that: there are some preachers who cannot or do not preach about the blood of Jesus Christ and I have one thing to say to you concerning them. Never go to hear them. Never go and listen to them. A ministry that does not have the blood in it is lifeless. It is a dead ministry. It is no good to anyone. And Paul the apostle would have said Amen, Charles Spurgeon! In fact, Paul wrote that first, didn't he? 1 Corinthians 1, he said the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God. So the plain truth is without the cross, there is no Christianity. That's the plain truth about the bread of life is that life comes, true life comes, through death.





Here's the second one: true words and hard to hear. Now watch this, verse 60: "Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" A better translation would be: who can tolerate it? And I'll show you why in a moment. "When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?" Alright, you see the word hard? This is a hard saying? It's the word scleros in Greek. If you have a medical background, you're familiar with the word. Scleros--hard. It means rough, stiff, harsh. It does not mean it's hard to understand. It means it's hard to tolerate, hard to take. If I may paraphrase, they said, this is a hard sermon to take. I don't like what I'm hearing! This is offensive. Now Jesus knew that. And look at verse 61 and 62: "Does this offend you?" He said. "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?" Now what does that mean? What does that mean? Well what Jesus just said offended them and a number of things offended them. One thing He said that offended them was I came down from heaven. That offended them. I came down from heaven. Because they said wait a minute, we know your mom and dad in Nazareth! What do you mean you came down from heaven? Now He says My flesh you must eat, My blood you must drink, and that offended them. That's hard. It's intolerable. So He goes, hey, does that offend you? What if you saw the Son of Man ascend to where He was before, the very place I said I came from? Now here's what's gonna happen. In the next several months, Jesus will go to the cross and He will die on a cross. That will really offend them. He will die, He will rise, and He will ascend into heaven. That's not what they wanted. Back in verse 15 it says this crowd wanted to make Him a king by force. They wanted to make Him a politician by force. And so Jesus escaped their crowd. Jesus didn't want to be a politician. He came to go to the cross--to die on the cross. That's not what they wanted. That's why the Bible says that Jesus Christ is a stumbling block to the Jews. He did not fit their description. So, in essence, what He's saying is hey, if what I just said bothers you, wait till you see what I do next. I'm gonna go to the cross and die and rise from the dead and ascend to where I was. I'm not gonna be here for political purposes. Now I'm bringing this up to make the greater point. There are some truths that are hard to hear.





Now there's some truths that are easy to hear. There's some truths that are wonderful to hear. There's some truths that I love to preach. Whenever you preach about heaven, you know that people are gonna really find it easy to hear. Yeah--tell me more about heaven! If you preach about forgiveness, that's easy to hear. It's wonderful to hear and I love to speak about forgiveness. If you preach about grace, I love to preach about grace. I'd love to do it every week. If you preach about comfort in sorrow--easy to hear, wonderful to hear.





But then there are some truths that are hard to bear. That would even be deemed offensive if your life isn't aligned biblically. Example: to preach on hell will offend people. Some people. Doesn't offend me. I don't plan on going there. But it can be very offensive to some people. That there is a holy God who has a standard of righteousness. If you, if you preach on false doctrine, false prophets, false believers. If you admonish people toward holiness. To some that could be offensive.





But you gotta understand something. Though there were some who were offended in what Jesus said in the text that we just read, this sermon is mild compared to other sermons Jesus Himself preached. Like the one He preached to the religious leaders, the Pharisees, in Matthew chapter 23. I won't give it all to you but here's a snippet: Jesus said to them, Woe unto you scribes, Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert and when he becomes one you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. Ouch! That would be hard to hear if you're a religious leader. Or go back just a few weeks to the woman at the well of Samaria when our Lord said to her you've had five husbands and you aren't even married to the man you're living with now. Gee that would be hard for her to hear, don't you think? I mean, she knows that. Maybe she's trying to work her way through that and forget that past and here's a guy who knows it and brings it up again. That'd be hard to hear. Here's another example: when Paul rebukes Peter at Antioch. Now watch this. This is in Galatians chapter 2, Paul says when Peter came to Antioch I had to oppose him publicly speaking strongly against what he was doing for it was very wrong. That'd be hard, don't you think, for Peter to hear? Paul, this young upstart, rebuke him publicly? I had a guy come up to me a few weeks ago. He said you know, when I first came to hear you, I did not like you because I didn't like what you said because every message I heard from you, you're talking about being committed to Christ and totally surrendered and absolutely sold-out and I didn't like that. And I said well good, at least you got the message. Now to his own admission, he was not a committed believer at that point. He since thinks differently. But you know I've been, I've been accused in the past of getting information about people during the week. Like somebody calls me and feeds me information about their husband or something and then here I am on Sunday preaching directly to that one person. Or, and I kid you not, some guy said you know I actually thought you were following me around town, looking and seeing what I was doing during the week and then preaching about me on Sunday. Because to some people, the Spirit of God brings a level of conviction that is hard to bear.





So here's a question: what do you do when there's a message that isn't so easy to hear that is hard to bear? Quick and easy answer--be open to it. Be open. 1 Thessalonians 5: We exhort brethren warn those who are unruly. That's a military term--unruly. It means to be out of rank or disorderly or insubordinate. From time to time, I discover in my own life that I'm out of rank and I'm insubordinate and I'm not walking properly and I read something or hear something in a message, it gives me right back where I need to be. That's why I need to be open to it. Because we're not perfect people and sometimes our parents would stroke our hair and say good boy, it's ok. But not always. Sometimes I've felt the same hand on the backside in a firmer manner than the stroke on the hair. That also demonstrated their love.





Here's an example. Years ago on the radio there was a guy named Ted Malone. He had a radio program. He was the storyteller on the radio and a poet. People loved him. Well there was one sheepherder out in the backwaters of Idaho who said, he wrote a letter and said, Mr. Malone, would you mind on one of your broadcasts striking the note A, like A on the piano, so I can hear it? He said I have a violin but I'm not close to a piano. I can't tune it. I love playing my violin. There's no way that I can tune my instrument. Now this is before the modern age. Today there's a tuner on your iPhone--an app for 99 cents. This is way before that. So Mr. Malone obliged him and played the note A, recorded it, broadcast it over the airwaves. Two weeks later he got a letter from the same shepherd saying thank you. Now I'm in tune. Now that is exactly what hard words can do. They get us back in tune. They recapture the missing note. And I find that all God's people need it. So true life will come by death. True words are hard to hear.





Here's the third plain truth: true motives will be discovered. Verse 64 Jesus continues: "But there are some of you," now He's talking to disciples generically, not the twelve particularly, but disciples generically in that large crowd, "there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." Now watch this. Verse 66: "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more." That's a frightening verse. And if you skip down to verse 70: "Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve"? Now He's speaking to the twelve, not the crowd of disciples, the twelve, "and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve."





Think about the word disciple. It appears in our text. It said some of the disciples in verse 66 said this is a hard saying and Jesus said to some of them, disciples, you don't believe. Now here's what you need to know about the word disciple. When you see the word, it doesn't necessarily imply somebody who believes in Jesus because the word disciple, in Greek, is mathete, it simply means a student, a learner, a student who would attach himself or herself to a teacher for whatever reason. I'm interested in what this teacher has to say. I'm the student. I'm the pupil. I'm being mentored by that person. It says nothing about motive, nothing about devotion, nothing about love, nothing about belief. It's just somebody who is attracted to a teacher.





Now in verse 66, when it talks about disciples of Jesus, it's speaking about people in that crowd who were interested, attracted, in Jesus because He could do miracles. We have already seen and belabored that point in past studies. And this is how it would work. Every time Jesus did a miracle, His ratings went up. Every time Jesus gave a sermon, His ratings went down. They loved His works. They hated His words. Did a miracle? Up. Said something? Down. You know that's the, that's the thing about Christmas that I think about every year. You know why the world tolerates Christmas and even loves Jesus in a manger? Yeah. It's like take Him and put Him back in the manger where He can't say anything. Because when He grows up and makes demands and commands, He is intolerable to most people--many people. They loved His works; they did not like His words. They were thrill seekers; they were not truth seekers. They did not follow His teachings and when He started teaching things and what they heard was tough, they're done with Him. They wanted a political ruler, a king who would deliver them from Rome's bondage, but He didn't come for that. What they wanted He would not give and what He offered they would not receive. Ok.





Sometimes true motives are discovered as a person backslides into a former way of life. It's a shock when that happens to some of us. It's a shock because man, they were here, they were singing songs alongside of us, they were carrying their Bible. In fact, some of them carry big, huge Bibles that you gotta put in a wagon, they're so big and you're thinking, man, that guy's so spiritual! He can't even lift that Bible! They may even be on staff at a church. They may even be on pastoral staff. You ever think about Judas? Judas was on staff with Jesus. Man, he was one of the twelve closest disciples, apostles. Jesus said one of you is a devil and He's referring to Judas Iscariot. I want you to listen to what John writes not here but in another book he writes, 1 John chapter 2 verse 19, the same author says this: they went out from us but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But their going out showed that none of them belonged to us. Did you get that? Their heart was eventually discovered. Their motive was eventually discovered. True motives will be discovered. Not always here. Not always here. That's sometimes. At other times, people are so good at bluffing it, it will not be known until eternity when they stand before God Himself that that person was a hypocrite. And here's why. We don't always see it because no human can ever fully see into another human's heart. Only God can. And Jeremiah said in chapter 11 of his book, O Lord, You examine the deepest thoughts and the hearts and the minds. Hebrews chapter 4, the author says nothing in all creation can hide from Him. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all. See hypocrisy is like this terribly insidious disease that is only waiting for the day of exposure. And sometimes the day is here and sometimes the day is there--on the other side.





There was a man who left church one Sunday after the sermon and he's going out to the car and he's grumbling about the sermon. He didn't like it. Maybe it was one of those hard word sermons. He's grumbling about the sermon, gets in the car, grumbles about the sermon, then he grumbles about the traffic he has to put up with, then he grumbles because the day is so hot. Then he goes home and his wife serves him lunch and he grumbles about the food and then he says to his family, well let's pray before the meal. Now his little son's watching this. You can imagine what a little boy is thinking especially when his father bows his head. He goes Lord, thank You for today. Thank You for the message and thank You for this food. And then said Amen. So the little boy said Daddy, excuse me, but when you were fussing about the sermon and the day and the traffic, did God hear that? Well now the father's embarrassed. He goes, well, yeah. And then the little boy said and when you thanked God for the food and the day and the sermon, did God hear that? And he said yes God heard that. And so the little boy would naturally ask this question: then Dad which of those did God believe? Which of those did God... who's the real you, Dad?





Let's go to the fourth and final truth, plain truth from the bread of life, and that is that true disciples will not leave. Now a group of disciples decided we're done, He's speaking hard words to us, we don't like His demands, He's not giving us manna, He's not giving us the miracles we wanted, these aren't our expectations--we're done. So He turns the twelve now, from the majority to the minority. Verse 76: "Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him," so glad it was Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." I'm so glad Peter answered this question, you know why? Because Peter always gets a bad rap, bad press, from people and preachers. I'm convinced in heaven there's gonna be a long line of preachers waiting to apologize to Peter for all the dumb things they said and I'll be in that line because I've said them, too. But I notice that when Jesus asked questions to His disciples, Peter has the answer. The other guys are kinda looking around and going, uh... I don't know. An example: Caesarea Philippi, who do men say that I am? And they all answer differently. Then Jesus said who do you say that I am? And it was Peter who said You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And he says as much here. Peter answered. Peter's answer reveals the true heart of a disciple, true marks of a true disciple. Mark number one: devotion. Devotion, loyalty. He says to whom shall we go? A true disciple sees leaving Jesus Christ as something unthinkable. Unthinkable. Where else are we gonna go? Now the reason that Peter is so devoted and so dedicated is no other person in Peter's life, no other prophet, no Pharisee, has ever done for him what Jesus did for him. His life changed since he met Jesus. Where else are we gonna go?



Would you ever go back to your former way of life before Christ? Does that ever cross your mind? You know, because sometimes the devil will tempt new believers and he'll say, remember what it was like before this whole religious thing? Remember that? Remember how many friends you had? Remember how much fun you had? And you go yeah! I did have fun! I did have friends! And you know what that's called? It's called selective memory disorder because for some reason, when the devil brings that up, he doesn't want you to remember all the times you woke up so lonely, so filled without any kind of meaning or any kind of purpose, and you were crying out for help and crying out... he doesn't want to remind you of that. Peter said where else am I gonna go? That's mark number one: devotion.



Mark number two: satisfaction. Of a true disciple--satisfaction. He says You have the words of eternal life. Now here's the very words that some were saying we can't tolerate. Not a true disciple. A true disciple will go that's life! These are the words of eternal life. Peter is fulfilled when Jesus spoke. The Greeks used to say that a man will always be unsatisfied with human food once he's tasted the nectar of the gods. After I came to Christ my old life seemed so flat and boring and insipid and dull. And when I had been walking with Christ for the first few months and I was just starting to get like, well this is like awesome, this is like a natural high, and somebody said hey man, why are you into that? Come back and do this kind of stuff again. I thought why would I ever go back to ramen noodles now that I have steak and lobster? That is so unsatisfying. You, Lord, have the words of eternal life.



And here's the third mark of a true disciple: conviction. Conviction. Look what Peter says in that final little verse, in verse 68, or verse 69: "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Is that an arrogant statement? You know it would be considered arrogant if he were to today, living, standing up in a public forum, for him to say I believe and I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. You know what people would say to him, don't you? They'd say Peter, there's a lot of people in this crowd that don't hold your convictions. They believe in a lot of other things. You can't say that! Well if it's true Peter can say it. And that's why Peter said it. Peter said it not because he was arrogant but because he had encountered Christ. And Jesus changed him and he knew what he was talking about.



The reason many people lack this kind of conviction concerning Christ is they've never met Him. It's funny how much a person can be an expert about Jesus Christ and an expert about Christianity and they've never met Christ. Well you know many Christians just think this and that and this and that and this Jesus really was... and they go on. They're like these experts--they've never met Him. It's sort of like a kid. You show them a meal and they say, I, I, I don't want that. I hate that! Well have you ever tried it? No. I just know that I hate it. And I've never tried it because I hate it. Well, wait, wait, wait. You can't say you hate it unless you've tried it. True disciples not only try it, they feast and they would say those very words that would offend some, they're life to me. The words of eternal life.



Now something about food as we close. Food, to have any value, has to be? Eaten. What if you just look at it and go that's marvelous. This lunch looks really good. But you never eat it. Then it will do you no good. So food, to have any value, must be number two, you have to be hungry before you eat it. If you walk out of a restaurant and somebody offers you food, chances are you won't eat it because you've been eating something else. You have to be hungry before you partake of this bread.

Number three, you have to do it personally. Nobody can do it for you. You can never say I'm so hungry, would you mind eating my lunch? Because you don't get nourishment by proxy. And nobody gets into heaven or gets saved by proxy. You can't grab onto somebody's coattails and because my parents believed, I must be a Christian. Doesn't matter if your parents believed. You have to believe. You have to come. You have to partake.

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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6/20/2010
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What Storm Goers Need to Know
John 6:15-21
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Have you ever been on the ocean in a raging storm? If so, you know that a well-trained crew follows an immediate protocol until the storm is over. Their knowledge and experience about violent weather are invaluable for those who want to survive. Using the story of Jesus walking on the waves to His disciples, let’s discover a few things about the stormy trials of life.
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7/4/2010
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The Right Thing, The Wrong Way
John 6:22-29
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Our text reads that crowds of people came "seeking Jesus." That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And yet Jesus challenges them as to their motive because they were seeking Him (the right thing) in order to satisfy themselves only (the wrong motive). Let’s consider three monumental truths about how people interact with spiritual things in general and Jesus Christ in particular. Let’s also reconsider the starting point for anyone who wants anything to do with Christ.
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7/11/2010
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Wonder Bread!
John 6:30-50
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The Hostess Company has for years advertised that its Wonder bread "helps build strong bodies 12 ways" and that just two slices has the calcium of eight ounces of milk and the fiber of 100% whole wheat. Wow! The crowd that Jesus was speaking to would have loved that! But our Lord presents something to them far greater than what they were wanting. He knew what they needed.
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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.