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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > The Best Way & Worst Way to Live

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The Best Way & Worst Way to Live - John 8:31-36

Taught on | Topic: Christian Walk | Keywords: freedom, disciple, discipleship, abide, slavery, slave, bondage

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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9/19/2010
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The Best Way & Worst Way to Live
John 8:31-36
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. The Best Way to Live - In Freedom

    1. Believing in Christ (v. 31a)

    2. Continuing in the Word (v. 31b)

    3. Knowing the Truth (v. 32)

  2. The Worst Way to Live - n Slavery

    1. To the Slavemaster of Sin (vv. 33-36)

    2. To an Impenetrable Heart (v. 37)

Making it More Than a Sermon:

  1. What do most people think freedom is? How does their view differ from what Jesus says true freedom is?

  2. How does a hard heart keep people in bondage?

  3. In what ways does Jesus make people free? How free are you?

Detailed Notes

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  1. The Best Way to Live—In Freedom
    (Freedom of authentic discipleship; as an authentic pursuer of Jesus Christ)
    1. Believing in Christ (v.31a)
      1. Problem: Jesus says to the "believers," "you are trying to kill me" – John 8:37 and "you are of your father, the devil." – John 8:44; two separate groups
      2. Believe in Him - believe on Him (KJV)
        1. Genuine belief
        2. John 1:12
      3. Believed Him
        1. "believed what He said was true, but not prepared to yield Him the far-reaching allegiance real trust implies," – Leon Morris
        2. Not all faith is saving faith
          1. Demons believe and tremble – James 2:19
          2. Christ did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men – John 2:24
          3. Rocky soil – John 13:5
          4. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith – 2 Corinthians 13:5
    2. Continuing in the Word (v.31b)
      1. Abide- (used 34 times in the New Testament, John uses 31 of those times) - remain in, continue on in something
      2. Real disciples are committed to continuing in His Truth
      3. "Long obedience in the same direction," – Eugene Peterson
      4. Disciple - (mathetes gr.) - learner
      5. How often do you read the Bible personally? How often do you meditate on it? 
    3. Knowing the Truth (v.32)
      1. Deep convictions, guiding principles
      2. In our culture, tolerance is considered most valuable yet Jesus said, "I am the way" – John 14:6
        1. According to Newsweek, 85% of American Christians believe there are ways beside Christ to heaven
        2. Jesus is specifically talking of knowledge of Himself (compare v. 36)
      3. Relationship, not religion
        1. Put faith in Him - free from the penalty of sin
        2. Remain in truth, learn
        3. Know the word - free from the power of sin
      4. We are to be people of the Book
        1. Man shall not live by bread alone – Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4
        2. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly – Colossians 3:16
  2. The Worst Way to Live—In Slavery
    (to a sinful lifestyle)
    1. To the Slavemaster of Sin (vv. 33-36)
      1. We are Abraham's descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone.
        1. The Jews had been slaves over their entire history (Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Medo-Persia, Greco-Macedonia, Seleucid Syrian, Rome)
        2. We are Jewish, we are automatically children of God. We'll go to heaven because of our heritage , "even the poor are sons of kings," – Rabbi Akiva
      2. Worst form of slavery is when sin has a grip on your life, you can't get out of it
        1. A slave is not his own master
        2. Cannot quit
          1. Unable to free self
          2. Gripping lifestyle
    2. To an Impenetrable Heart (v.37)
      1. Hardened heart
      2. Seed fell by the wayside; the wicked one snatches it away – Matthew 13:19
      3. Only the Son of God can free a slave of sin, and He makes him part of the family

Figures referenced: William Wallace, King Edward 1, Leon Morris, Abraham Lincoln, Eugene Peterson, Billy Graham, Rabbi Akiva, Paul Harvey, Charles Spurgeon
Greek terms: mathetes- disciple, learner
Cross references: Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Matthew 13:19; John 1:12; John 2:24; John 8:37; John 8:44; John 13:5; John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 3:16; James 2:19

Topic: Christian Walk

Keywords: freedom, disciple, discipleship, abide, slavery, slave, bondage

Transcript

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Would you turn in your Bibles to John chapter 8 this morning? Last time we were together for the series Believe: 879 the message was called "The Worst Way and the Best Way to Die." Here's a follow-up on that. This is "The Worst Way and the Best Way to Live." Verse 31. Let's read a couple verses from there down: "Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, 'You will [make us free or you will] be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." Let's pray together...


In the movie Braveheart, the hero is William Wallace. William Wallace is rebelling against the rule of England, something we as Americans can relate to historically. The archenemy of William Wallace is the King of England, nicknamed Longshanks because of his stature. It was Edward the First, if memory serves. They became bitter rivals--archenemies. Edward the First was a cruel, horrible man who wanted nothing more than to capture William Wallace. As the movie progresses, so does their hatred toward one another. At one point in the film, when William Wallace, gathering all of his troops together for one of several battles in the film, he addresses his men. And he says to them something like: if ye fight, ye may die. If ye run, ye will live--for awhile, that is. But let's let our enemies know that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom. Pardon the accent. I give it my best shot. At any rate, as the movie goes on, William Wallace is captured. He's betrayed by a friend, captured, brought before a mock court in England, big court, outdoor court of people, and an executioner who's gonna kill him. As he's brought to the crowd, they mock him, they kick him, they spit on him, and the executioner looks him in the eye and he says if you beg for mercy, I'll make a quick end of you. If you don't, it'll be a long, torturous death. Above the court, in his room, is Longshanks, Edward the First, King of England, on his deathbed, window open, wanting to hear the last word before he dies of William Wallace begging for mercy. Wallace didn't do that. When the crowd dies down, so they can hear his confession, he doesn't give a confession. He musters up just enough strength to shout out one word: Freedom. And that's the word Longshanks hears before he dies.


Freedom is a powerful word. It's an even more powerful reality. Nations have gone to war for freedom. Our nation was built upon freedom. July 4, 1776, you know it well, 56 men signed The Declaration of Independence. And, among other things, they said we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We've always believed that that's the best way to live. We believe that the best way to live is freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want to do it. But here's the tragedy and it's a sad one. We live in a country filled with people that enjoy political freedom while at the same time they are spiritually enslaved. They don't really enjoy true freedom. The best way and the worst way to live. What's the best way? You know I was walking through a store the other day and ended up in line. I was buying a few groceries. And whenever I'm in line, I always look at the magazines that are next to me. I just look at them--I glance at what the headlines are. And one caught my attention. There was an article that said "3 Ways to Total Fulfillment." I knew that magazine would sell. That's what people want. Everybody has some idea of what would bring them total fulfillment, absolute happiness. If I only had this much money. If I only owned that thing. If I was only married to that person. If I was only not married to that person. Whatever it might be.


There was an Englishman who said true happiness is when you come home and find your slippers warmed by the fire. A Frenchman overheard him and said you English are so unromantic. True happiness is dinner out with your beautiful wife in a fine restaurant. A Russian was overhearing them speak and he said you're both wrong. True happiness is when you are in bed at night and you get a knock on the door at 2 in the morning and it's the Secret Police and they say Ivan Ivanovich? You're under arrest. And you say to them oh sorry, Ivan Ivanovich lives next door! It's all a matter of perspective. Speaking of perspective, that's what Jesus gives us in this paragraph. Divine perspective. What is the best way and what is the worst way to live. We begin with the best way. In verse 31 and on down. I'll sum it up for you. The best way to live your life is in freedom of genuine discipleship. Let me state it another way. If you're truly an authentic pursuer of the Lord Jesus Christ, that's the best way to live. I believe that with all my heart. Now there's a few stages to that. I want you to notice them. Gratefully, the Scripture has them here laid out for us and they're in your outline. Believing is the first--believing in Christ. First stage to freedom. Second, continuing in His Word. You'll get freer and freer. And finally, knowing the truth. All of those form the freedom of genuine discipleship. I'd like you to notice. It says in verse 30. Let's go back one verse: "As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him," stop there.


We have a bit of a problem because Jesus is addressing believers. They believed Him, it says. And I say it's a problem because Jesus says, you're trying to kill Me. That's in our paragraph. You're trying to kill Me. What believer would want to kill Jesus? What kind of a believer is that? Moreover, as the conversation continues, our Lord will say to the same group you are of your father, the devil. We'll save that for next week. What kind of a believer is that? So that's why I say we have a problem. And now you could solve the problem by saying, verse 30 and 31 says a bunch of people believed Him, but it was shallow, superficial faith. There's another way to look at it. We're dealing with two separate groups in two separate verses. Verse 30 is one group; verse 31 is yet another group. I want you to notice something. In verse 30 it says, "As He spoke these words, many believed in Him." They believed in Him, or King James, on Him. They lean completely on Him. That's genuine belief. John chapter 1 verse 12: as many as believed or received Him, to them He gave the power to become children of God as many as believe in His name. But notice the next verse. It doesn't say they believed in Him. It says, "Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him." In isn't there. Those Jews who believed Him. In other words, they only accepted His message--what He said. They liked what they heard but it wasn't saving faith. They went hmm... that's good. I think I might believe that.


Leon Morris has a helpful note in his commentary: The section is addressed to those who believe and yet who do not believe. They were inclined to think that what Jesus said was true, but they were not prepared to yield Him the far-reaching allegiance that real trust implies. The first step to freedom is believing Christ. But. But not all belief, not all faith, is saving faith, would you agree with that? Not all faith is saving faith. Didn't James say that? The devils believe and they tremble. And do you remember a few weeks, a few months, back in John chapter 2? Remember it said in John chapter 2 many believed Him when they saw the signs that He performed, but Jesus would not commit Himself to them. In other words, they believed Him--He didn't believe them. They were false believers. Also, Jesus describes this kind in a parable when He said these are those on rocky soil. They receive the Word with joy, but they have no root. They believe for awhile, but in time of temptation they fall away. No wonder Paul told his readers test yourselves and see whether you are in the faith. Examine yourself. Do that this morning. Let there be a little self-examination. Are you an authentic, true believer? Like Morris says here a far-reaching allegiance of real trust in Him. That's the first step. Abraham Lincoln was called the great emancipator. Jesus Christ is the greatest emancipator. And the way He sets people free is their initial point of contact, believing Him, leaning completely on Him. That's the first step.


The second step is continuing. Notice in verse 31, "Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." Now there's something you're gonna discover about John. John loves that word abide. He peppers it all through his writings, the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John. In fact, the whole New Testament uses the word abide 34 times. John takes 31 of those, leaving 3 for everybody else. He loves the word abide. Now Jesus said this. What does it mean? It simply means to remain in or to continue on in something. Now what Jesus said is if you do that, if you are continuing on, remaining in My Word, notice what He says you will be. You are My disciples indeed. It's an old way of saying you will for sure, for real, be My disciples. Authentically. You will be real, authentic disciples. So here's the point. Real disciples are people committed to continuing on in the truth. So the first step to freedom: believing. You make initial contact. But you can't stop there. You don't stop with a raised hand. You can't stop with tears rolling down the eyes. You can't stop with people coming forward and saying a prayer and go yay! That's just the beginning. You don't stop there. You now continue. It's what Eugene Peterson calls a long obedience in the same direction, isn't that a great phrase? A long obedience in the same direction. As soon as I received Jesus Christ, I've told this story a bunch of times, I was watching Billy Graham, at the end of the message he always said this, he said it to the crowd that came forward, he said it to the audience on television: and make sure that you go to church this Sunday. And you know what? He didn't even need to tell me that because I wanted to go. I was so amped at that point on learning more than I knew. I wanted to grow from that point on, it wasn't like had enough--I wanted more. I was just getting started on a long obedience in the same direction.


By the way, you know what disciple literally means? Learner. Learner. Mathetes is the Greek word. It means learner. Question: does that describe you? Are you in learning mode? Are you in learning mode? Is your life still wide open and it's like tell me more, I want to grow, I want to learn, or are you the type that you sort of narrowed that embrace down, I'm mature now, you can't tell me anything? Well, that's a shame because real learners is what Jesus is talking about. Authentic disciples are those who continue on and remain in the mode of learning. Ask yourself a couple questions. How often do you read the Bible personally? Not at church--personally, where you crack it open and you read through it. Second question: how often do you meditate on it? Where you'll not just read it, you'll actually take a little chunk, break it apart, ask what it means, how is that related to the next and to the previous, and how does that apply to my life, where you're actually chewing on a little section, meditating on it? Do you own a Bible? Your own copy of the Bible that you read, that you write in, that you mark up on. All of those are important things in continuing.


Here's the third step: knowing. Believing, continuing, knowing. This is where you don't just continue and learn stuff. Now you have deep convictions formed that are guiding principles in your life. Verse 32: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Do you realize how foreign that sounds in this post-modern era? In our day and age, any search for absolute truth has been abandoned. In fact, post-modernists are absolutely certain that nothing is absolutely certain. That's about all they're certain of. I'm absolutely certain that nothing is absolutely certain. And that's why the highest virtue of any person living today, the highest, you get straight A's, the world'll give you a clean report card, if you say my highest thing in life is tolerance. I tolerate every ideology and every thought, whatever--you'll get straight A's if that's your posture. If you want to flunk their evaluation of you, just say this: I know the truth. I know the absolute truth. Hmm. So narrow. Such a shame. So pitiful that you're that ignorant as to say I know the truth. But Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Now I'd like to just say that's the thinking of the world but it's crept into the church. Newsweek magazine put out an article that said 85% of American Christians believe there are other ways to heaven other than Christ. 85%. Oh, I'm a Christian but... that's just for me. Jesus is my way--might not be their way or your way. There's a lot of ways.


There's one way. Jesus Himself did not say I am a way. I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. He Himself narrows it down. Verse 32 is one of the most famous verses in Scripture. Did you know that on the seals of great universities and colleges this verse is often inscribed on many of them? Sometimes the whole verse; sometimes just the section the truth will set you free and you know what they mean by it? What they mean by quoting this verse is that academic knowledge is the freeing journey in life. Learn stuff. Get degrees. Truth will set you free. Now I'm frankly surprised that they would dare to put that in their seal because they ought to know better. Every college professor should know that you can't take a text out of its context. In fact, there's a little saying. I may have learned it in college: Any text divorced from its context can become a pretext--which is a false premise. Jesus is not speaking about academic knowledge or acquiring facts. He's speaking specifically of the knowledge about Himself, knowledge about Christ--that's what's liberating. How do I know that? Well, compare two verses that are complementary. Verse 32: You will know the truth and the truth will make you free. Compare that with verse 36: "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." Did you get that? It's not about acquiring academic information. The context He's talking about spiritual liberation. Liberation. That's what He's talking about and it comes through Him.


By the way, here's a good moment to pause and again compare the difference between religion and Jesus. I came out of religion. It was very restrictive. Very legalistic. It was always about the rules. Then I stepped into Christ and the first thing that struck me is man, this is liberating! It's about a relationship with Him not about a legalistic set of laws. Here's how it works. Here's how it works. You first put your faith in Him. You believe in Him. You trust in Him. As soon as you do that, you are instantly freed from the penalty of sin. Instantly. But then you stick with it. You remain in it. You continue on with it. And you learn and as you learn, you learn about God, you learn about humanity, you learn about yourself, you learn about marriage, you learn about how to do business. And the more you learn and continue in it, then you come to know certain things, deep-seated, unshakeable convictions are formed in the heart. These guiding life principles. And you find yourself free from the power, the grip, of sin. Not just the penalty, the power, the grip. And there are more levels and more levels. Listen. I'll tell you right now. Whatever level you're at right now as a Christian, you've got to know there are more levels to go to. There's higher growth to go to. There's more freedom you experience. There's more things to know.


So as we continue in His Word, we do that. It happened to me the first or second week I was a Christian. I'll never forget it. I'm two weeks old in the Lord. I'm reading the New Testament. There are lots of habits and practices from my old life that I hadn't gotten rid of because I frankly didn't think I had to. And then I started reading the Book and when I read the Book I went, wow, uh-oh, hmm. And I knew instantly that there were things I needed to stop, that weren't pleasing to God. So true, authentic disciples are those who continue to learn and they form those life principle convictions; it's called knowing. And we step into more and more freedom. We are people of the Book. We are Word-oriented. Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy, said man shall not live by bread alone but every word of God. Paul said in Colossians let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Those are not verses given to preachers but to disciples. Learners. That's how we know the truth--we abide. So that is the best way to live: being an authentic disciple of Christ. You believe in Him, you remain in Him, you learn and you know and with that knowledge of Christ comes the ability to be freer and freer and freer. That's the best way to live.


Let's now look at the worst way to live. It's in the slavery of a sinful lifestyle. Verse 33: "They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, [we] have never been in bondage to anyone," just keep that little statement in your mind. We've never been in bondage to anyone. "How can You say, 'You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly," every time He says that it's like heavy duty, ok? Verily, verily, is the King James' way of translating it. Originally it's Amen, Amen, I say to you. Whenever Jesus said that it's like, dudes? Listen up. This is really important. So "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." Now our country, the United States, we know something about slavery. It's one of the blotches on our historical record. We look back at the time when 12 million slaves were brought out of Africa and we took 650,000 of them into our country. That's a blot on our record. And because of that we have learned to hate slavery, rightfully so, and to love freedom, rightfully so. But the Jews also knew something about slavery but here was the difference. They themselves had been the slaves. They had been in bondage their entire history. Let me name a few. They were slaves in Egypt. They were slaves in Babylon. They were enslaved by Assyria. They were enslaved by Medo-Persia. Later, Greco-Macedonia. Later, the Salusis or the Syrian Empire. And presently, the very time this conversation is going on, Rome was their slave master. They were under the bondage and yoke of Rome.


So where did they come off then saying, we've never been in bondage to any man? When weren't you in bondage to any man? This is classic denial. You ever spoken to an alcoholic and you try to intervene and they will say I can stop anytime I want? I'm not an alcoholic. Classic denial. What do they mean when they say this? They simply mean this. we may have been in political bondage; we've never been in spiritual bondage. Why? Because we're descendants of Abraham. We're the chosen race. We're the Jewish people. And because we're the Jewish people, we're automatically children of God. That's what they thought. And because we're automatically children of God by being descendants of Abraham, we're going to heaven. Because of our heritage. The rabbis taught them that. Rabbi Akiva said even the poor could be proud that they were sons of the kings because they were sons of the patriarchs. We have Abraham as our father. We've never been a slave to anyone. Now Jesus answers that and says to them this: Listen. The worst form of slavery isn't being in Egypt for 400 years, isn't being in Babylon for 70 years. The worst form of slavery is when sin has a grip on your life and you can't get out of it. You're enslaved to the principle of sin. It's the worst way to live.


You see, a slave is not his own master. He's owned and controlled by someone else. He can't quit. He can't say I don't like you--I quit. He can't do that. No option. Unable to free himself. Gripped by the power of slavery as it was in those days. Sin is like that. It's just like that. Criminologists have discovered this. It's interesting, the more I read, criminologists who study criminal behavior will tell you that many who are paroled or pardoned, many of them will go right back to the crimes that got them in trouble to begin with. It's become such a gripping lifestyle, it's unshakeable. Always going back to the mire. One of the best illustrations I heard about the power of sin is from radio personality Paul Harvey. Remember Paul Harvey? The rest of the story. You remember that, some of you do. He had a great illustration about how an Eskimo kills a wolf. Here's his words. First the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood and then another until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and he discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh, frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder, the wolf licks the blade into the Arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf doesn't notice the razor sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue or that his thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more and more until the dawn finds him dead in the snow. Sin is just like that. It tastes good. It tastes good! Doesn't the Bible say it tastes good? It's pleasurable for a season. There's an allure to it. But it reaches those tentacles and that grip becomes tighter and tighter and it can absolutely destroy a life. It's the worst way to live--under its grip.


Now I'm gonna make something that my English teacher would kick me out of class for. That's the worst way to live. You know what could make the worst even worse? Is when you are under the grip of sin and you have a hardened heart. You don't listen to anybody's advice. You don't open the door to any good spiritual counsel at all. You have a hardened heart. Look at verse 37 and we'll close. "I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you." Their hearts were so hardened, they just rejected everything Jesus said whenever He said it. Doesn't matter. You know what they're like? They're like the seed that fell by the wayside. Remember that parable? You got the sower. The guy's out there sowing seeds and Jesus said some of it fell by the wayside or the roadside and Jesus said the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in the heart. Do you know that type? As soon as you even mention anything that smells like gospel or Christ, they immediately turn off to it. Don't want to hear it. You know the type? You might be married to the type. And if so, our hearts go out to you and we'll pray for you. You might be the type. You have learned so well the art of deflecting truth that you sort of pride yourself at being impenetrable. You're so good at being hard and you can hear truth and it's like eh, whatever. Feel no conviction, have no remorse for sin, have no sense of need. Charles Spurgeon said nothing good can come out of a stony heart. Insensitivity is a deadly sign. Frequently it is the next stage to destruction.


Listen, it doesn't have to be that way. Does not have to be that way. If you can even this morning hear the faintest call of Christ beckoning you to come to Him. Maybe at one time that call was loud and clarion and clear but you've become so good at closing off truth that it's still there, but it's like He's so far away. You know what the Bible says? Today, if you can hear His voice, harden not your heart. If you can hear just the faintest call, open your heart. Don't harden your heart. Now just indulge me for a moment. I want to finish this up. Verse 35 and verse 36: "And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you [will] be free indeed." They understood this analogy. 2,000 years ago, where there were slaves in households, slaves had no rights. Sons did. They were the heirs of the dad. They had the inheritance. Slaves, they could be booted out anytime. Jesus was the Son of the Father. He was the inheritor of the kingdom. And what He is simply saying is only the Son of God can free a slave of sin. You can't do it on your own. Only Jesus can do it. And when Jesus sets a slave free, you know what He does? He turns that slave into a family member. We become adopted, the Bible says, into His family. You become a son of God, a daughter of God. Only the Son can do that. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.


So the best way to live? Freedom of a genuine disciple, believing, learning, continuing, knowing. Worst way to live? Bound by the slavery of sin, impenetrable in your heart, hardened your heart to truth. That's the worst way to live. And that's the worst way to die like we mentioned a couple weeks back. Ok. Perhaps, I'm speaking to some believers. You love Jesus. You've committed yourself to Christ. That's a given. You still struggle with certain areas. They just seem to have a tighter grip on you than other things and you've been trying to break free of that for a long time. I understand that, too. Like the little girl who fell out of bed one night. She was two or three years old and she screamed when she hit the floor and her mom came in and picked her up and put her back in bed and said honey, how did you fall out of bed? She goes I don't know, Mommy, I think I stayed too close to where I got in. know what I'm getting at? A lot of people commit themselves to Christ. They just sort of stay right there at that door. Stay close to where they got in. Close enough to the world instead of just leave that behind, keep going, keep continuing, keep learning, keep knowing, keep being set free more and more and more.

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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7/18/2010
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Plain Truths About the Bread of Life
John 6:51-71
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Mark Twain once remarked that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still lacing up its boots!" This section of John's Gospel has generated much confusion and misunderstanding. Even Jesus' original audience had trouble understanding His meaning, and when they did, they found the truth was difficult to bear. These "hard truths," however, are "the words of eternal life" (v. 68). Let's look at these four realities today.
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8/1/2010
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Seeing Jesus Through the Fog
John 7:1-13
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There was always a fog surrounding Jesus! It was a fog of uncertainty, of unbelief, and of conflicting opinion. He was misunderstood about both His mission and His message. His friends, His family, and His foes were often bewildered about who He was and what He was doing. That remains true even today. But in this passage our view becomes clearer. Jesus had clearly defined objectives that He reveals here and they are extremely practical for us today.
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8/8/2010
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Follow Jesus But Don't Be Religious
John 7:14-24
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Jesus clashed with religious leaders more than any other group of people. He went against their spiritual grain and challenged their legalistic ideas. Christ made it clear that He hadn’t come to establish a new religion but rather to show the way to God His Father. He didn’t give people another “system of beliefs and practices”; instead He said that He Himself was the way, truth, and life. In this public confrontation, we learn how to follow Christ in truth and not be religious.
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8/15/2010
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Standing by a Waterfall (Dying of Thirst)
John 7:25-53
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All the diverse and assorted experiences offered by this world can never satisfy the deepest longing of the human soul. What we really want isn't what we really need. The rest of John chapter 7 illustrates this truth. In the midst of a crowd of people clamoring for deep spiritual satisfaction stands the only One who can provide it. He offers them the drink that really satisfies and all but a few refuse it, preferring rather to die of thirst. How painfully ironic!
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8/22/2010
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Scribbling on the Ground
John 8:1-11
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Can you imagine what a surviving copy of Jesus' autograph would be worth today? Or what about a letter to His disciples? The fact is, there is no existing document or copy of anything Jesus ever wrote. We only have this story of Him scribbling something in transient dust on the Temple stones. Though John doesn't tell what Jesus wrote that day, his account does reveal a lot about Jesus Himself and how He interacted with three different kinds of folks.
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8/29/2010
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Blinded by the Light
John 8:12-20
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When the sun shines right in your eyes, your immediate inclination is to squint, turn away, or put sunglasses on. Light can be blinding! Though light penetrates our world, providing illumination and energy for our very existence, big doses of it can be difficult to handle. That's true spiritually as well. Jesus, by His teaching and work, illuminated this world darkened by sin. Some rejoiced in that light, able to see where they were going. But others, who'd been so accustomed to spiritual darkness, could only wince when Jesus was around.
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9/5/2010
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The Worst Way & Best Way to Die
John 8:21-30
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One person put it this way, "Death is the big flaw. Sometimes we can postpone it, lessen its physical pains, deny its existence—but we can't escape it!" Since that is universally true, why don't people take death seriously enough to plan for it? While we are alive in this world, everyone should be thinking more about the next. But what's the best (and worst) way to die?
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9/26/2010
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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.