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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > The Truth About Your Neighbors

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The Truth About Your Neighbors - John 9:13-34

Taught on | Topic: Unbelief | Keywords: unbelief, discernment, doubt, neighbors, Pharisees, skeptic

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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10/17/2010
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The Truth About Your Neighbors
John 9:13-34
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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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. Unbelievers Can be Ceremonial (vv. 13-17)

  2. Unbelievers Can be Skeptical (vv. 18-25)

  3. Unbelievers Can be Irrational (vv. 26-33)

  4. Unbelievers Can be Inflexible (v. 34)

Making it More Than a Sermon:

  1. What was your neighborhood like growing up? Did you know most of the kids on your block and their parents? Were most of the people believers or unbelievers?
  2. Do you think the Pharisees had already decided that Jesus was guilty or were they honestly looking for evidence? What's the difference between honest and dishonest unbelief?
  3. When have you been most severely questioned about your faith? How did you do under pressure? If you are ever in that situation again, what would you do differently?

Detailed Notes

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Our neighbors are the people across the street, across town, or across the globe. In this passage, one key issue is involved: a blind man who can now see. His life has been altered by a single touch from Jesus Christ. What does everyone else do with that? Instead of joy, they respond with skepticism, rancor, intractability, and anger.

What does the unbelieving world think of us?
Percent of Americans who would not like the following minorities as neighbors:
Catholics 1%
Protestants 2%
Jews 3%
Hispanics 9%
Unmarried Couples 12%
Blacks 13%
Religious Fundamentalists 13%

"Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that had ever infected the world." –Voltaire
"Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses"–Arthur Clarke
"Christianity is a religion for losers…"–Ted Turner

  1. Unbelievers Can be Ceremonial (vv. 13-17)
    1. Love rituals, ceremonies, practice observances, law, hide behind church, but don't believe in Jesus Christ
    2. They-those who lived in area of the beggar
    3. Brought him to the Pharisees, it was the Sabbath—is this okay?
      1. Mishna-outlined 39 rules concerning the Sabbath
        1. Couldn't walk out of the house if sandals had nails, carrying nails, bearing a burden
        2. Forbidden to heal-only help in a life-threatening situation
        3. Couldn't knead dough or clay-that was doing labor
        4. Couldn't spit on the ground, if spit rolls in dirt, makes a furrow, work
      2. Maimonides - not lawful to put spittle on the eyelids
      3. Everything Jesus did was forbidden by their laws
    4. Jesus healed on the Sabbath seven times
      1. Matthew 12:9-13: man in the synagogue with a withered hand
      2. Mark 1:21-28: demoniac in the synagogue
      3. Mark 1:29-31: Peter's mother-in-law healed
      4. Luke 14:1-6: man with dropsy
      5. John 5:1-16: paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda
      6. John 9:1-7: blind man
    5. People who love policy over people, strain a gnat and swallow the camel–Matthew 23:24
    6. "All religions have been made by men." "Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."–Napoleon Bonaparte
  2. Unbelievers Can be Skeptical (vv. 18-25)
    1. Pharisees not satisfied with personal testimony or eyewitness testimony
    2. Pharisees believe it is not a miracle, not a blind man, a fake healing
      (Fake healings do occur [Peter Popoff exposed by James Randi on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson])
    3. You "say" he was born blind
    4. Give God glory
      1. Could mean: God healed him, but not Jesus
      2. More likely:  Tell the truth (Achan – Joshua 7:19)
    5. Without cautious skepticism and discernment, truth wouldn't have a chance (there is a difference between honest doubt and unbelief)
    6. Threatened to put them out of the synagogue- gr. aposunagogos(according to the Babylonian Talmud, for refusing to abide by the decision of the court)
  3. Unbelievers Can be Irrational (vv. 26-33)
    1. Pharisees irrational
      1. Didn't believe the miracle
      2. Didn't believe the man was born blind
      3. Thought it was a fake healing
      4. Trying to discredit the testimony
    2. Blind man gives a clear, logical argument
      1. God doesn't hear sinners
      2. God heard Jesus
    3. Syllogism - series of logical steps
      1. Only God can heal congenital blindness
      2. Jesus healed congenital blindness
      3. Jesus must be from God
    4. Unbelievers are often guilty of the irrationality they accuse believers of
      1. Can't be a good God in an evil world
      2. So many religions, how can you be right?
      3. Doesn't matter what you believe if you are sincere
      4. Bible has a lot of mistakes, cannot be taken seriously
    5. Christians should be prepared
      1. Outthink the world for Christ!– J.I. Packer
      2. Have a reasonable faith–William Lane Craig
      3. "Precisely because the Christians usually duck and run, the atheists have had it too easy. Their arguments have gone largely unanswered. They have been flogging the carcass of 'fundamentalism' without having to encounter the horsekick of a vigorous traditional Christianity…I am skeptical not only of the allegedly irrational claims of religion but also of the irrational claims made in the name of science and of skepticism itself." ­–Dinesh D'Souza What's So Great About Christianity
  4. Unbelievers Can be Inflexible (vv. 34)
    1. The evidence doesn't matter
    2. Rejecting Christ is not only a matter of the mid, but of the will
    3. Unbelief of a searching heart - "I don't know, but I want to know."
    4. Unbelief of a hardened heart - ask for more and more evidence but refuse to believe

How do we respond?
To the ceremonial: make it all about Jesus.
To the skeptic: be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. – 1 Peter 3:15
To the irrational: bone up on apologetics
To the inflexible: stay away from them. Don't cast your pearls before swine.–Matthew 7:6
You can have a satisfied mind and a peaceful heart. –Thomas Aquinas

Publications referenced: What's So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza; New Yorker Magazine;
Figures referenced: Voltaire; Arthur Clarke; Ted Turner; Napoleon Bonaparte; James Randi; Peter Popoff; J.I. Packer; William Lane Craig; Thomas Aquinas;
Cross References: Joshua 7:19; Matthew 7:6; Matthew 12:9-13; Matthew 23:24; Mark 1:21-28; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 14:1-6; John 5:1-16; John 9:1-7; 1 Peter 3:15;
Greek Terms: aposunagogos-put out of the synagogue

Topic: Unbelief

Keywords: unbelief, discernment, doubt, neighbors, Pharisees, skeptic

Transcript

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There were two Native Americans standing on Plymouth Rock in 1620, the day William Bradford and his crew sailed the Mayflower right up on the shores. And as Bradford and all of the pilgrim forefathers dressed in their English regalia walked down the plank toward the shore, one Native American turned toward the other and said well, there goes the neighborhood. Very truly more than they must have thought at the beginning, the neighborhood has changed. And that day opened the door for people from every culture throughout the generations to come to this country and be neighbors of one another. We can't always choose our neighbors. I know we'd love to. Somebody once said, it must've been a realtor, before you buy the house, check the neighbors. I want to talk to you today about your neighbors and your neighborhood and I mean the sea of humanity that is surrounding us. The people of this world. The people that are all around us whether they are across the street or across town or across the globe. They are the neighbors in which you and I deal with.



Now to do that, to look at that, we want to look at a section of Scripture in the book of John that perfectly illustrates a neighborhood. It's a neighborhood setting. There's a blind man. His parents will be introduced. His friends and neighbors are there and they go to the local spiritual authorities, the Pharisees. All of that is in their neighborhood. The key issue in this neighborhood, on this day, in John chapter 9, is that one man who was blind can now see. He's been changed by Jesus Christ. The rest of his life, presumably, he'll be able to see normally, joyfully. His life has been altered by a single touch of Jesus Christ. The issue becomes what is everybody else gonna do with that? Now thinking people would say well everybody's gonna rejoice with that. Everybody's gonna hallelujah--sing the hallelujah chorus. When is the last time they and their neighborhood saw anybody blind instantly healed? Seeing this, I'm sure they're gonna be so excited. Ha--wrong. Far from that, the exact opposite happens. We see a group of people filled with skepticism, with rancor, intractability. They are angry because of what happened. That's the real neighborhood that they're in.



It's a striking story. It should be. Now let's just leave that for a moment. Let's consider our neighborhood. What is it like in our neighborhood? What is it like with people who live next door to you and around us? What do we, in our American neighborhood, what are we dealing with? Have you ever wondered what unbelievers think about you? What does the unbelieving world, by and large, think of us--the Christian world? I found a little article in a newspaper, dug it out, and we have it on the screen. It's a little bar chart that shows something interesting. Notice it says percent of Americans who would not like the following minorities as neighbors. This is from the paper. This is from a poll. 1% say they don't want Catholics living next door. 2% said Protestants. They don't want Protestants living next door. 3%, they didn't want Jews. 9% Hispanics. 12% unmarried couples. 13% blacks and equal with that on the very bottom, notice who's there: religious fundamentalists. What that is saying is that, in our poll, we've discovered that the world doesn't want you living next door to them--because you're crazy. You're one of them.



Now actually this is helpful to us. It's helpful to know this because it shows us what we're up against, what is around us. It gives us a little picture and helps us give understanding to where we're at. I find it very helpful. It shouldn't surprise us, either. Throughout history men and women have said some pretty stark, outlandish, vitriolic things against Christians. Now if you're mildly religious, you're ok. If you're mildly religious and you sort of believe that there's a God and you attend church every now and then and it's just sort of a cultural thing, no problem. But if you cross over the line, the line being no, no, Jesus Christ personally means more to me. In fact, I love Him and I live my life for Him, you're in a different category altogether. Throughout history, men have said things about Christians. Voltaire, being one of them, the French philosopher said Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world. Then Arthur Clark, an author, British author, said religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses. And who can forget media mogul, who started CNN, Ted Turner who said Christianity is a religion of losers. Losers. And, he said, and I quote, I'm looking forward to dying and going to hell. Ok. Because that's where I'm headed, he said. Heaven is perfect. Who wants a place that's perfect? How boring is that! And he spoke of hell and he said at least we'll have a chance to make things better because hell's supposed to be a mess.



There's just a few quotes of just a few people. There's thousands more, trust me, about what they think about us. Multiply what you just heard thousands and millions, even, of times. Now what I want to do today in looking at our section of Scripture, and we have a pretty ambitious section, verse 13 down to verse 34 today. We want to look at four characteristics of the unbeliever. Four characteristics of the unbeliever that are seen in this text. I want to make clear that these four characteristics are not true of every single unbeliever at all times. Nor are these the only four characteristics that unbelievers exhibit, but there are four that are mentioned in the text and they are true of unbelievers. First of all, unbelievers can be ceremonial. That is, they can be religious, devoted to ceremonies, even hiding behind the ceremony while not believing in Christ. Verse 13: "They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes," so you know what's coming. "Then the Pharisees also asked him again," they've already asked him once how it happened. They ask him again, "How he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see."



I really like this previously blind man because his answers are very clear and concise and simple. How did this happen? He put mud on my eyes, told me to go wash, I can see--that's what happened. "Therefore some of the Pharisees said, "This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" And there was a division among them. They said to the blind man again, "What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet." Now this represents the religious unbelievers of the world. They love rituals. They love ceremonies. They practice them. They love observances and laws. And I'm not just speaking about people of other religious persuasions that don't believe in Jesus. I also mean there are plenty of people who sit in church week after week who hide behind the ceremony of being a church member and singing songs and performing rituals who also don't believe in Jesus Christ. Both of those groups are included. Notice in verse 13 the pronoun they. "They brought him who was formerly blind to the Pharisees."



Number one, who are they? And number two, why'd they bring him to the Pharisees? They are evidently the people who lived around the area where this guy was begging. They saw him. They were friends. They were neighbors. They saw what happened in their neighborhood when Jesus walked through the streets that day in Jerusalem. And they brought the man to the Pharisees. That's because it was a Sabbath day, John explains in the very next verse. And because it's a Sabbath day, we gotta check with the Pharisees to see if this is ok. Because I don't know if you can do this on the Sabbath day. So they wanted to check it out with the Pharisees. In Jesus' day, there was something well known to those people. It's called the Mishnah. The Mishnah, a collection of writings, going on for quite a long time, outlawed or outlined an entire section of their writing devoted to the Sabbath day. There was a whole tract or a whole book just about what you can't do on the Sabbath. 39 different kinds of work were forbidden on the Sabbath.



Now as I tell them to you, you'll kind of get the picture quite easily. Number one on the Sabbath Day, and this is just a smattering, on the Sabbath day you couldn't walk out of your house if your sandals had little nails in them to hold the leather together because you're carrying nails, thus you are bearing a burden on the Sabbath. So if you walk out with slippers--fine. But if you walk out with sandals with nails holding the pieces together--you've broken the Sabbath--because you're bearing a burden. Number two on the Sabbath Day, it was forbidden to heal. So if a man had a broken arm, you couldn't set the arm. In fact, the law said on the Sabbath, only if it's a life-threatening situation can you handle it and if it is a life-threatening situation, you can only do what is necessary to keep the person alive but you can't better the person. I don't know you'd balance that. Number three on the Sabbath day, you can't knead. Knead. Knead dough or knead clay because you're working. That's labor. That's one of the 39 regulations that the law forbids. Their law, not God's Law, their law. Number four on the Sabbath day, and again I'm just giving you a smattering of the 39, you cannot spit on the ground. You go well that's kind of weird. Yeah, it is. The best part is yet to come. You know why you couldn't spit on the ground? Because if you'd spit on the ground, the spittle might roll in the dirt. And if it rolls in the dirt, you are now guilty of making a furrow in the earth. And that's plowing and that's work. I kid you not. So Jesus did all of those things and this guy is healed. Oh moreover, one of their sages was very clear about mud and spittle on the Sabbath day and that was their sage Mymonates who said and I quote, as to fasting spittle, it is not lawful to put so much as upon the eyelids.



So here Jesus comes, on the Sabbath, makes mud--psh--spits in the ground, kneads it up, and sticks it in the eye. Every single thing He did was forbidden. And they better check with the Pharisees because it might not be ok. Ok, Jesus heals on the Sabbath. This is one time He does it. Do you know that in the New Testament Gospels, He does it a total of 7 times? As if He deliberately chose the Sabbath Day to do many of His healings. This is just the one time. I'll give you the other times. Matthew chapter 9 there was a man in the synagogue in Capernaum with a withered hand. It was the Sabbath Day. Jesus healed him on the Sabbath Day. Mark chapter 1 there is, in the synagogue in Capernaum, a demoniac or a man who's demon-possessed, and they're watching to see if Jesus is gonna heal him. It's interesting that in the synagogue is the demon-possessed man. You never know who you're sitting next to in church. Number three, Mark chapter 1 again, Jesus goes to the house of Peter because Peter's mother is sick with a fever and on that Sabbath Day, she's healed. Luke chapter 13 is another story of a woman who has a bent-over condition for 18 years she's been bent-over. On the Sabbath Day, Jesus heals her. Another time, Luke chapter 14, there's a man with dropsy, which means his arms and legs were swollen. He lived in Jerusalem. On the Sabbath Day, Jesus healed him. And the sixth time, before this one, is John chapter 5, the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. On the Sabbath Day, Jesus walks into that area, finds that man and heals him and creates a huge stir on the Sabbath Day in Jerusalem, making it very clear that Jesus really didn't care a whole lot about their man-made regulations--at all. Because He did it so deliberately and here's the point. People can be very devoted and very committed and very religious and love their ceremonies and still be unbelievers. Jerusalem was filled with them.



Here's question: who wouldn't want to see a blind man healed? Who wouldn't get so excited and stoked because a blind man's healed? Who wouldn't? The people who love policy over people. Policies are more important than people. They strain at a gnat, Jesus said, and they swallow a camel. They're careful about the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. And by the way, it wasn't even God's Law! It's just stuff they made up and threw in the pot and made people keep those values. But they were very, very spiritual people. I've discovered something about spiritual people over the years. I've discovered that spiritual people can say some pretty vicious acrimonious things and can do some pretty, pretty nasty things. All in the name of God and spirituality. Napoleon Bonaparte, I don't agree with a lot of what he said, but I agree with this. He said all religions have been made by men. That's true. It's man's attempt to create a system by which that man or woman can get to God. All religions have been made by men. And then he said religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. That couldn't be more true in this case. The Pharisees were keeping everybody quiet, everybody under their grip, and these people were so afraid to do anything or allow anything unless they would check first with Mr. Pharisee and see if that was ok because it was the Sabbath Day.



Now many of your neighbors in this world are just like this. They are spiritual people. They are religious people. They are devoted people. They're cultured. They're wise. They're sincere. They're sweet. They're well-meaning and they are unbelievers because they don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That's what this issue is about. In the midst of this religious neighborhood steps Jesus Christ who changes a man and everybody has to deal with it. Number two, I want you to notice, that unbelievers can be skeptical. That doesn't surprise us. They usually are. That's their skepticism that keeps them as unbelievers. Verse 18: "But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered them and said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself." His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." So they again called the man," they keep bringing the guy in! "Who was blind, and said to him, "Give God the glory! We know this Man [that is Jesus] is a sinner." He answered and said, "Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know; that though I was blind, now I see."



See what's happening? The Pharisees are not satisfied with this man's personal testimony. They're not even satisfied with eyewitness testimony of those who saw this thing happen. Now they want to bring in the parents to testify because they're suspicious. They still can't believe this guy was blind. First they didn't believe it was a miracle. Now they don't believe he really was blind. This must be a set-up. This must be fake. This is a fake healing. This is some kind of a stage event so that people in the neighborhood will follow Jesus. By the way, their suspicions are not unfounded. There have been a lot of fakes when it comes to faith healing throughout history. I don't know if you remember a few years back, several years ago in the 80s, is that a long time ago? When Johnny Carson hosted the show. Somebody came on the Johnny Carson Show named James Randy, called The Amazing Randy. He was a skeptic. He didn't believe in faith healers and he, on national television, uncovered an evangelist named Peter Popov. Incidentally, Peter Popov is still on the air. How? I don't know. But Peter Popov in his meetings would walk through the crowd and kinda go like this and he would, you know, it's sort of stage this idea that God is revealing something to me and he'd say the woman in the third row, you with the yellow shirt, and name her address and her illness and some personal things about her life. And everybody--wow--they'd get amazed. Like this guy's amazing. Peter Popov. The Amazing Randy showed what really had happened is everybody who comes to the meetings gets interviewed. What's your illness? What's your name? What's your address? They put a radio transmitter in the ear of Peter Popov and somebody in the back has a microphone and says to him, third row, yellow shirt, here's the address of the lady, her name is. This is her illness. And he called these things out as if God was speaking to him and he was uncovered on national television. Again, the most amazing thing of it all is he's still followed and still watched and has a sizeable ministry.



Look at verse 19. That's the idea. I want you to see something. "They asked them [the parents] saying, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind?" Did you get that? He really wasn't blind--you say he's born blind, but this is one of those stage acts like the televangelists, huh? That's what they're accusing him of. Well they press it. Go down to verse 24. "They again called the man who was blind, and said to him, "Give God the glory! We know this Man is a sinner." What does that mean? It could mean don't focus on this Jesus character, focus on God. If you have sight, if you have been healed, God did it and not Him. But I think it means something else. When he says give God the glory, what they're saying is tell us the truth. Come clean. And I say that because they're simply saying something very biblical. Back in the book of Joshua, you'll remember the incident, Joshua chapter 7, there was a guy named Achan. Remember Achan? Ok, so you don't remember Achan. If you remember Achan, do this. Ok. Because eventually he really was Achan, after they stoned him, but... In Joshua chapter 7 Achan had stolen some of the plunder of war after the fall of Jericho. And he covered it up and he hid it and he didn't come clean, didn't tell the truth. Joshua finally approaches Achan and he says in Joshua 7, give the glory to the Lord God of Israel. Tell me what you have done. Do not hide it from me. And that's exactly what I think these Pharisees are saying. 'Fess up. Tell us the truth. Were you really blind? You said you were. They say you were. That's not the truth. Tell us now the truth. Give God glory by speaking truth.



They are total skeptics in the face of personal testimony, parental testimony, eyewitness testimony of friends and neighbors. The proof is staring them in the face with this man who is healed and they are unconvinced.



Now I want to throw something in right now. Skepticism, though a trait of unbelievers, cautious skepticism is not a bad trait for anybody. The Bible calls it discernment. We could use a good dose of that. If we didn't have discernment, and if there was no cautious skepticism, there'd be Peter Popovs all over the place and no truth would have a chance. In fact, when I was in college in my undergrad studies, I had professors who were very smart and very confrontational against my faith. And it caused a crisis of skepticism. And it was unnerving and unsettling for me, this young college student now all of these unbelievers and their arguments. I didn't know what to do. Happened to be one of the healthiest things that could ever happen to me because it put me on a serious study of truth and I emerged from that period of skepticism and searching and study; I emerged stronger, more stable, more in love with Jesus, and more capable with dealing with unbelievers. I got a call on Friday from a young man, a long distance phone call from Japan; he wanted to talk to me because he was at the lowest of the low. He had a pretty sketchy past life. He was raised in a Christian home. His dad was a pastor. He grew up, he said, abandoning the faith because he did some serious study and his mind wouldn't let him believe. He was grappling with things. And, actually I think where he was at was ok, and I think he's gonna be ok. I want you to see that there is a difference between honest doubt, honest skepticism, and unbelief. And you're seeing unbelief develop right before your eyes.



Now notice down in verse 22 how close-minded they have become. "His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He [Jesus was the Messiah, that's the idea of Christ], he would be put out of the synagogue," excommunicated. Put out of the synagogue. Five words. In Greek it's one word: aposunagogos. If you believe in Christ, you will be aposunagogos. You know what that literally means? You'll be un-synagogued. You'll be de-synagogued. We'll push you out of national Jewish life and excommunication from the synagogue. That's what it means. Now I'll explain a little more about that next week. However, according to the Babylonian Talmud, again writings of the Jews, there were 24 offenses that were listed whereby a person could be excommunicated from the synagogue and one of them included refusing to abide by the decision of the court. In other words, whatever we say goes. The decision of the court goes. Our little religious court. If you disagree with us on any point, we can kick you out of this synagogue. So we have determined Jesus isn't the Messiah. Whoever believes Jesus is the Messiah will be excommunicated from the synagogue. And they were afraid of that.



I love verse 25. It seems that this man himself wasn't afraid. "He answered and said, "Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know; that though I was blind, now I see." Overriding and ignoring their skepticism, he gives a very, very simple, uncomplicated, personal testimony. Here's my testimony. I was a blind guy. Now I'm a guy who can see things. That's what happened to me. That's so beautiful. And irrefutable. I honestly get a bit tired of long-winded testimonies that glorify one's past. Yeah, I was a murderer and a drug addict and I drank 40 gallons of alcohol a day and then I did this and I ran the Mafia and it's like, they want a stack up how bad they were rather than how good God is. The best testimony, the only testimony I'm interested is this: I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now I see. That's all of our testimony.



Third thing I'd like you to look at is that unbelievers can be irrational. They're skeptical, that's a given, but they can become irrational. Verse 26: "Then they said to him again," they keep bringing him back, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?" Now I've already answered that like 5 times. "He answered them, "I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?" Ooh. Getting a little sarcastic, are we? "Then they reviled him and said, "You are His disciple, but we are Moses' disciples." Oh, the pride that rings in those four words. "We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from." Now it's pretty obvious that this blind man now healed is losing his patience with these Pharisaical interrogators. They keep asking him the same questions. He gives them the same answers, so it's obvious they're not listening to what he has to say. Why should he say it again? Now do you see what's happening? And he understands--he gets it. They're asking me the same thing so they can find a discrepancy in my testimony. Lawyers are good at doing this. Now tell me again what you did. Well last time you didn't use that word--you said that word. And you used it in the past tense. And they'll parse it. They're looking to discredit his testimony. So just follow it so far. Number one, they first didn't believe a miracle even happened. Number two, they didn't believe he was born blind, that it was something they made up. Number three, they thought it was a fake healing, a staged healing. And now number four, they're trying to discredit or find a discrepancy in verbal testimony. They just keep getting at this guy and this guy's losing his patience.



So they say we know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we don't know where He's from. Look at verse 30: "The man answered and said to them, "Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know," this is the healed man speaking now. He's telling them. Listen to his lecture: "Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing." Do you hear that clear, lucid, devastating argument? It's so logical. In fact, it's a, he's giving them a lesson in logic. He has a major premise and he has a minor premise. Major premise: God doesn't hear sinners. We know that. Minor premise: God obviously heard Jesus because I can see.



If we were to state this in a syllogism like we did last week, a series of logical steps, we would put it this way: number one, only God can heal congenital blindness; number two, Jesus just healed congenital blindness; number three, Jesus must be from God. It's very simple and very logical but boy this guy's walking on the edge as he gives these Pharisees a lecture. Here's the point I want to make here. Very often, not always, but quite often, unbelievers can be guilty of the same irrationality that they accuse us believers of having. They can be guilty of it. And they will approach with some supercilious piety like well we're smart, you're dumb because you believe in God--let me lecture you. Again, not always but quite often. So many times engaging in the conversation with unbelievers they approach the conversation with cliché arguments and overused arguments. They come with a bent; a presupposition. One of them we covered last week. Well, there can't be a God because there's bad things that happen in the world. That's what they, that's the lens with which they approach the conversation. Or another one: well there's so many different religions in the world and so many different beliefs and so many different sincere people. How can you say you have a corner on the market of God? Or another one: you know I think everybody should be able to choose their own way. Whatever they feel, whatever they want to do, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody and they're sincere. Or another one: well the Bible was just written by a bunch of old guys who didn't know each other and there's gotta be a lot of mistakes in it and you can't really take it seriously like God did something. That is what they often are predisposed to when you first meet them. This is the reason we must do as J.I. Packer says we should do. He said we need to outthink them. Outthink them.



We need to employ what William Lane Craig beautifully calls reasonable faith. Reasonable faith. Not just well I believe just because I believe and I've always believed and it's just in my heart. You gotta do better than that. Reasonable faith. There's a great book out and I recommend it to you. It's by Dinesh D'Souza. It's called What's So Great About Christianity? It was on the New York Times list. And he says this. Here's just a snippet: Precisely because the Christian usually ducks and runs, the atheists have had it too easy. Their arguments have gone largely unanswered. They have been flogging the carcass of fundamentalism without having to encounter the horse kick of a vigorous traditional Christianity. I am skeptical not only of the allegedly irrational claims of religion but also of the irrational claims made in the name of science and skepticism itself. Amen to that. And his book is a good step in equipping.



Number four, let's close this up. The last verse. Unbelievers can be inflexible. Now this man tells them since the beginning of the world there hasn't been anybody healed and he goes through this little lecture. Now listen to their response. "They answered and said to him, "You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?" And they excommunicated him. "And they cast him out." They put down the gavel and said you are no longer a part of this community and he was pushed out of the synagogue in verse 34. Have you ever met an inflexible unbeliever? It doesn't matter what you say. It doesn't matter how much evidence you give them. They don't believe. And they won't believe. Don't confuse me with the facts. That's an inflexible unbeliever. So verse 34 is all about they're unable to counter his irresistible logic. They can only respond in a personal ad homonym attack. They're not about to be lectured by a beggar. Who do you think you are? You're a sinner--that's why you were blind for so long! You're lecturing us? And they cast him out. You know, rejecting Jesus Christ is not always a matter of the mind. It is often really a matter of the will.



Now a lot of people want to make it about the mind. I'd like to believe that, but I can't. I can't because I'm confronted with real life. And I'm a smart person. I deal with reality. And because I deal with reality and you obviously don't, I'd like to believe in that fairy tale but I can't believe because I'm smart. Dig a little deeper through that smokescreen. You'll discover something quite differently. I've on more than one occasions engaged people and said if I could prove to you that Jesus was who He claimed He was, and I always say I'm not saying I can but let's hypothetically just say I could prove to you, unmistakably, that Jesus was who He claimed He was and the veracity of Scripture, that the Scriptures are reliable and very unique as a document and indeed hold and are the very Word of God. If I could prove that to you, would you then believe in Jesus Christ? You know what they always tell me? No! Not always. I've had a few say yes I would. Good--let's talk. But often it's no! And when they say no to that, I know it's not a matter of the mind, it's a matter of the will. They're saying not I can't believe but I will not believe. It's an inflexible unbelief.



See the unbelief of the searching heart is one thing. The unbelief of a searching heart is I don't know but I'd like to know. That's a true agnostic. I don't know but I really want to know and I'm searching to find out and if you can give me compelling evidence, I'll believe. That's the belief of a searching heart. That's different from the unbelief of a hardened heart. You can give a hardened heart evidence and they'll want more evidence. And give them more evidence; they'll want more evidence and more evidence--never satisfied. They have said I will not believe. They're predisposed. So what do we do? What do we do in a situation with these kind of neighbors? Well if you look at these four sections, take them one by one, first of all to those neighbors who are merely ceremonial and it's all about the ritual and the religion and the ceremony, when you talk to them don't make it about that. Make it all about Jesus. Don't get sidetracked into one denomination believes this; one denomination... but what does Jesus say? Who is Jesus Christ? Do you have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Second to those neighbors who are skeptical, well 1 Paul 3:15 works fine here. Those skeptics, Peter says that we should be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that lies in us. If somebody's skeptical: why are you skeptical? I was a skeptic once. Let me tell you my story.



Number three to those neighbors who are irrational, well you're gonna need to bone up a little bit on your apologetics. Let me encourage you to do that. Move beyond whatever stage you might be at spiritually and get a good dose of apologetics under your belt. I'll tell you why. Life is fun then. Having conversations with unbelievers is fun as you watch the Lord open up doors in their mind and heart. Number four to those neighbors who are inflexible, hard-hearted, continually reject, repeatedly dig their heels in? Stay away from them. Stay away from them. That's what Jesus said. Don't cast your pearls before? Swine. Don't keep throwing out the treasure of the gospel only to have that completely trodden time and time again if that's the kind of person you're dealing with. I want to close with a true story. It was written up in the New Yorker magazine. A man who lived in Long Island, or as they say Long Island, a man who lived in Long Island and worked in New York City bought a very exquisite barometer. He had sent away for it, it came in the mail, he opened it up. Something bothered him. He noticed that the little arrow was pointed to the section of the barometer marked hurricane. It's a beautiful day--it said hurricane. So he shook it and he banged it (never do that with a nice barometer.) But he did it. It didn't unstick from saying hurricane. So he immediately wrote a letter to the company he bought it from berating them for sending him a faulty barometer. How dare they--and just gave him a piece of his mind that he couldn't afford to lose. He wrote it. The next day when he was going to his work in New York City he put it in the mailbox. When he came back to Long Island that night, he discovered that not only was his barometer missing but his house was missing. It was September 1938. The worst hurricane ever to hit Long Island--that destroyed homes and one was his.



He didn't believe that a hurricane is coming. It can't be true! Bang, bang, bang. Shake, shake, shake. That is the fate of the unreasonable, inflexible unbeliever. There is a storm coming called the righteous judgment of God. When God has given time and evidence and ability to find truth. But if a person pushes and pushes and says no, there's a hurricane coming. Doesn't have to be. Thomas Aquinas said within every soul there's a restless thirst for happiness. You can have a satisfied mind and a peaceful heart. And I've known many, many smart people who have questioned the Christian faith only to become devoted, committed followers of Christ. So you're not the first with all those questions. You can have a satisfied mind and a peaceful heart. And that thirst that you all have, that we're all born with, can be satisfied.

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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9/19/2010
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The Best Way & Worst Way to Live
John 8:31-36
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Everyone has an opinion on what "The Good Life" is. For some, it's financial independence. For others, it’s autonomy from government control. For still others, it’s the ability to do whatever you want whenever you feel like it. Jesus offers a different kind of freedom and a better brand of life. Here Jesus tells us what the best way to live really is: It’s the freedom to be a genuine disciple. And He tells us what the worst way to live really is: It’s the slavery of a sinful lifestyle. Today consider how free you really are and what areas of life you may still be in bondage to.
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9/26/2010
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The Devil's DNA
John 8:37-47
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Your body has 100 trillion cells. Inside each one is a nucleus and in each nucleus are DNA molecules. DNA is like an instruction manual for life with densely coded information telling each cell what to do. A simple paternity test would prove that my father was really my father. Here Jesus gives His audience a spiritual paternity test that reveals their spiritual father to be the devil himself. No matter what your physical ancestry, you can always tell one's spiritual heritage.
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10/3/2010
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Who IS This Guy?
John 8:48-59
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Jesus had friends and He had enemies. But besides those, He also had some "frenemies" (enemies who pretended to be friends). To this crowd who at first pretended to believe (v. 31) Jesus is both confrontational and controversial. This paragraph highlights three possible identities of Jesus: two of them were his enemies' accusations and one was Jesus' own claim.
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10/10/2010
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Life Hurts! Where's God?
John 9:1-12
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"Why is there so much pain in the world?" is the most frequently asked question ever! We hate it when we, or those we love, are in pain. Today we see Jesus confront a hurting world. As we do, consider these words by Elizabeth Elliot (whose husband was murdered): "If God is in charge and loves us, then whatever is given is subject to His control and is meant ultimately for our joy."
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10/24/2010
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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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