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Got Any Blind Spots? - John 9:35-41

Taught on | Topic: Belief | Keywords: believe, belief, blindness, Pharisee, synagogue, worship

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?

Date Title   WatchListenNotes Share SaveBuy
10/24/2010
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Got Any Blind Spots?
John 9:35-41
Skip Heitzig
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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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. The Most Humbling Reality—God seeks for US (v. 35)

    1. Rejection by Earthly Religionists

    2. Accepted by Heavenly Representative

  2. The Most Important Priority—That We Believe (vv. 35-37)

    1. Question about Faith

    2. Question about Identity

  3. The Most Obvious Certainty—Because We Worship (v. 38)

    1. Affirmation

    2. Adoration

  4. The Most Sobering Mystery—The Blind See; The Seeing Don't (vv. 39-41)

    1. Two Kinds of People

    2. Two Kinds of Preference

Making it More than a Sermon:

  1. What's the one blind spot in your life? How is Jesus correcting it?
  2. Why did Jesus wait until the man was ostracized before He sought him out?

Detailed Notes

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Topic: Belief
Keywords: believe, belief, blindness, Pharisee, synagogue, worship

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?

  1. The Most Humbling Reality—God seeks for US (v. 35)
    1. Rejection by Earthly Religionists
      1. Blind man cast out of the synagogue
        1. Kicked out of Jewish life altogether; spiritually and socially
        2. Three levels of being cast out
          1. Stay in your house, isolated for one week
          2. Nidui - Publicly reprimanded, isolated for 7-30 days
          3. Cherem - Indefinite, cast out for life
      2. It is a privilege to be cast out of some places
        1. Martin Luther - believed in the Bible
        2. John Calvin
    2. Accepted by Heavenly Representative
      1. Jesus found him
        1. Kicked out of temple - Lord of the temple goes to find him
        2. Rejected by man's religious-Son of God from heaven finds, accepts him
      2. Rejected on earth, accepted in heaven -Alexander Maclaren
      3. Jesus style
        1. "whoever comes to me, I will by no means cast out"–John 6:37
        2. "the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."-Luke 19:10
        3. Leave the 99 sheep for the sake of one wandering sheep–Matthew 18:12-14
  2. The Most Important Priority—That We Believe (vv. 35-37)
    1. Question about Faith
      1. You! Do you believe? -arrest attention; focus and emphasize spiritual need
      2. Jesus targeted those He healed so that He might be glorifies and other might believe in Him
      3. Faith is more valuable than health. –Matthew 5:29
    2. Question about Identity
      1. The man had been waiting his whole life for Messiah
        1. Show me that I may believe
        2. Ready to believe
      2. Highest priority is that you believe in Jesus Christ –John 3:16
      3. Believe-not to acknowledge God exists, but to commit to, rely on, adhere to
        1. C.H. Spurgeon-98 percent of the people he met— including the criminals he visited in England's prisons—told him that they believed the Bible to be true. But the vast majority had never made a personal, life-changing commitment to Jesus Christ. For them, "believe" was not an active verb.
  3. The Most Obvious Certainty—Because We Worship (v. 38)
    1. Affirmation
      1. Lord I believe
      2. Belief is the beginning of the spiritual journey
        1. Jesus a man –John 9:11
        2. Jesus a prophet –John 9:17
        3. Jesus the Son of God–John 9:38
    2. Adoration
      1. The formerly blind man worshiped Jesus as God
      2. Natural Progression
        1. Blind to spiritual truth; don't even know it
        2. Jesus opens eyes; you believe
        3. Enter life of purposeful worship
      3. Over time our passion and thankfulness can decrease–Revelation 2:4 (Are We Losing Our "Oh!"?–A.W. Tozer
      4. Believing is proof that he found you; worshiping is proof you believe; obeying proves you've been worshiping
  4. The Most Sobering Mystery—The Blind See; The Seeing Don’t (vv.39-41)
    1. Two Kinds of People
      1. Spiritual sight comes to those who confess they can't see
      2. Blindness is a condition of those who arrogantly claim they can see just fine without Jesus–
    2. Two Kinds of Preference
      1. Spiritual sight comes from believing in Him
      2. Unwillingness or inability to grasp spiritual truth
        1. The way, the truth, the life –John 14:6
        2. The way is narrow

Figures Referenced: Francis Jane Crosby; Martin Luther; John Calvin; Alexander Maclaren; C. H. Spurgeon; A.W. Tozer; Helen Keller
Cross References: Matthew 5:29; Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 19:10; John 3:16; John 6:37; John 9:11; John 9:17; John 14:6; Revelation 2:4

Topic: Belief

Keywords: believe, belief, blindness, Pharisee, synagogue, worship

Transcript

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It almost goes without saying that you can't navigate or go anywhere unless you can see where you're going. Sight is imperative to navigation. The problem with going somewhere is being able to see all the things you need to see and not have any blind spots. According to the United States Department of Transportation, every single year 413,000 auto accidents result from problems with blind spots. People not being able to see the whole picture. 413,000 accidents. 160,000 people every year are either injured or killed because they didn't see what was around the blind spot. Some of you have had experiences with that. I know I have. I'll never forget going at a normal freeway speed on the freeway. I always look before I change lanes because I was told that that's one of the big causes of accidents is people who don't do that. So I always look and I always refer to my rearview mirrors. But this time when I looked I didn't see the car that was right there because of the part of my automobile that obscured it. I didn't see it until I was pulling into the lane and I narrowly missed it by about an inch or two. It could've been a horrible accident. By God's grace it wasn't. You know that some people can live their whole life the most obvious thing is right under their nose, but they don't see the whole picture.



There's a story about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, the legendary figures and sleuths in England. They decided to go camping and it was a beautiful night. They were somewhere in England and they cooked a wonderful meal at the campground. They pitched their tent and they retired to bed for the evening. A few hours later, Sherlock Holmes woke up and nudged his sidekick Doctor Watson. Watson opens his eyes and Holmes says to Watson, what do you see, Doctor Watson? Watson said I see stars--lots and lots of stars. And, said Holmes, what do you deduce from this observation? So Watson is thinking boy, I'd better make this good, you know, he's Sherlock Holmes. So he said well, let's see, astronomically I deduce that there are possibly billions of stars and planets and even other galaxies. Astrologically, I can see and observe that Saturn is in Leo. Chronologically, I can deduce that it's probably about 3:15 in the morning. Theologically, I conclude that there must be an all-powerful God who made this and I am very small in comparison to Him. And finally, meteorologically, I can surmise that we're going to have a wonderful day tomorrow. He thought that was pretty good. And he said what do you see, Sherlock Holmes? And Holmes turned to Watson and said you foolish man. You don't get it. It's so obvious. Somebody stole our tent!



That's pretty obvious, right? If you go camping in a tent and you wake up a few hours later and you see stars, somebody took the tent. All of those wonderful deductions but not seeing what's right under your nose, or in his case, over his nose. We're dealing with that in the text in John chapter 9. There's something very obvious that has happened. A blind man can now see. Everybody in the neighborhood can figure that out. But there's this group of hardhearted Pharisees, these religious leaders. The evidence is there. They can see physically. They're blind as a bat spiritually. They refuse to believe the man has been healed. They refuse to understand the spiritual implications of that mighty miracle. On the other hand, there's the man who was blind. Not only can he see physically, but in our paragraph, we'll notice, Jesus will be able to make him see spiritually because here he comes to faith in Jesus Christ. We begin in chapter 9 verse 35 and we'll finish the chapter down to verse 41. I want you to think though, for a moment, what it was like for this blind man, blind since birth, never able to see anything, what it was like for him to suddenly, instantly, and totally have vision.



For the first time he could see the faces of all of the people he had known only by voice. He saw his parents. He had heard their voices growing up his whole life. He heard the voices of people walking by him as he begged on the streets. Now he can see them. He can see the winding streets of Jerusalem and the throngs of people who have gathered together at the great festival and are now leaving because the feast is over. And the best part? He is gonna come face-to-face and be able to see with his own two eyes the face of Christ. Some of you have heard the name Francis Jane Crosby. She was known as Fanny Crosby years ago. She was blind at six weeks of age. What's notable about her for Christians is she wrote over 8,000 Christian hymns. She's the most prolific songwriter, I think, ever. Blinded at six weeks of age, never was she bitter about her blindness. At an unguarded moment, one of her friends said to her, Miss Crosby, it's a terrible shame that you're blind. God has given you so many wonderful gifts. If only He would've given you the gift of sight. Miss Crosby leaned in to her and said I want to tell you something and I want you to listen to me very carefully. If I had but one petition to ask of God in life, it would be that I would be born blind because it means when I get to heaven, the first face that will gladden my sight will be that of my Savior. Imagine this man, one of the first sights he sees after being interrogated by those Pharisees, is to see Jesus Christ face-to-face.



This is the last paragraph of the chapter and this last paragraph shows the journey, the steps of the journey, from darkness to light. Jesus removes all the blind spots. But it's not just a journey of a man being able to see physically, but being able to see, as I said, spiritually. And this provides a wonderful little biography, if you will. Four stages to everyone's spiritual biography. These are the stages anyone and everyone who comes to Christ will take as they leave spiritual darkness and walk into the light. Have you heard the old adage "seeing is believing"? That's a saying that simply means you can't trust anything that you haven't personally experienced. Now that may be true generally in many cases, but do you know that that's not true spiritually? In fact, just the opposite is true spiritually. You see, spiritually believing is seeing. You'll never see until you take that step of faith in the Savior and what happens is you go oh! Now I get it! Now I understand! I bet everyone here who's come to Christ has had that experience. You believe and then you see. And that's what's gonna happen here.



As we look at these four stages, the first is the most humbling reality, the most humbling reality. And that is that God is the One who finds us. God is the One who looks for us. Let's read from verse 35 on down and then we'll go back over verse by verse. "Jesus heard that they had cast Him out; and when He found him, He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" And Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you." Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains."



It says the man has been cast out. That's the previous verse, verse 34; he was kicked out of the synagogue. And we discovered that everyone's big fear in those days was to be kicked out of the synagogue. If you were here for last week's study, we talked a little bit about that. Because to be kicked out of the synagogue wasn't just to be kicked out of religious life and it wasn't like well I'm kicked out of this synagogue, so I'll go to the other synagogue. You were out of Jewish life altogether--spiritually and socially. And that was the parents of this blind man's great fear. But this blind man's now healed. This blind man's worst fear has become a reality. He's kicked out and it notes that. Jesus heard that they had cast him out. To help your understanding, there were three levels of being excommunicated from the synagogue. Level number one was called shammata in Hebrew and that was when you said something bad about one of the rulers or one of the prominent figures in Judaism. You would be kicked out of the synagogue, told to go to your house for one week. Sort of the adult equivalent of being sent to your room. For one week, you'd live in your house, you couldn't go to work, and nobody could visit you. You were ostracized for a week. You had to think about what you did. That's level one. Level number two is called the niddyu and at level number two, you have now done something so bad that publicly in the synagogue, three different times you would be publicly reprimanded. And for 7-30 days, you would be sent home and ostracized from the community. The third level was the worst. It was called the herem level. At that level it was indefinite. For life you were cast away. No one could help you. No one could work for you. You were virtually an outcast from Judaism.



Now I'll just say this. Here's a man that is cast out, presumably given the third of those three levels. You're outta here. We want nothing to do with you, which would now ostracize him not only from the Jewish community but from his parents. And can I just say what a privilege to be kicked out of some places. Whether it's a synagogue or a church that doesn't really believe in Christ and you really believe in Christ and for that reason you get ostracized--sign me up. That's an honor. Martin Luther was excommunicated in 1521 from his church because he believed in the Bible. John Calvin, excommunicated from his church because he believed in the Bible. It wasn't quite to that extreme but I sort of share their experience. When I became a Christian and I went back to one of the churches in my diocese, I'll never forget, the evening was over, we were sharing with young people about a personal relationship with Christ and carrying my Bible and how to be saved, and I was told by the leader as he closed the door: Leave and never come back. This man was cast out. He was excommunicated. Here's the best part. Verse 35, "Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him." Jesus found him.



Now you know the story. As soon as our Lord healed this blind man, He disappears from the narrative and if you remember last week's message, that entire, long narrative there were no red words in it. It was all the blind man, the parents, the Pharisees, and the neighbors having a conversation. Now Jesus hears about it and now Jesus goes to search for him. And I just want you to note that that's Jesus' style. Kicked out of the temple? Now the Lord of the temple finds him. Rejected by man's religions? Now the Son of God from heaven finds him and accepts him. There's a great story I've always loved about Alexander McLaren. He's also one of my favorite preachers alongside of Charles Spurgeon. This is a century ago. He was a Scottish expositor. Early on in his ministry experience, he was candidating for a church position as their pastor. He was unprepared. It didn't go very well and he failed the interview. Well he walks home very, very downcast. He said it was the lowest day in his life. He goes to the telegraph office and sends a message to his dad with one word on the message: rejected. Rejected. His father immediately telegraphed him back with these words: rejected on earth; accepted in heaven. You might feel really bad that you're rejected but, son, you're not rejected. God has a plan for your life. This man cast out of the synagogue and Jesus finds him.



You know why? Because Jesus made a promise. Whoever comes to Me, I will by no means cast out. They might cast you out, but I will never cast you out. Now this is a beautiful picture of the searching heart of Christ. You remember what He said? He said the Son of Man has come to? Seek and to save those who are lost. Here we find Him seeking that He might save. Just as He took the initiative in noticing the blind man, Jesus now takes the initiative in finding the man who was once blind and helping him see spiritually. That's His style. Even if it's one person, that's His style. I've always loved the parable, you've loved it too, where Jesus told the story of the man who had 100 sheep and he left the 99 for the sake of one wandering sheep. Why do you care about one wandering sheep? You got 99 left--be happy with that! No. There's a lost sheep. I gotta find him. I'm gonna go look for him. I wonder if Jesus hasn't been looking for some of you for a long time. And if you're wondering why are all the things happening in my life, maybe He's just trying to get your attention. He loves you so much, He wants to bring you home--bring you to Him. This is the searching, seeking Christ.



When Jesus found him. I meet people all the time who say I found God, you know, life is really great lately--I found God! I always say well that's wonderful, but I think what you meant to say is God found you. See God isn't lost. Oh, I found God! You were lost. God was there all along. He got a hold of your life. This man was found by Him. So that's the most humbling reality. God searches for us. Now look at the most important priority. Verse 35; notice the very first words out of Jesus' mouth are a question. "He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus said, you've both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you. Now there is a construction in the original language, in the Greek language, with the use of the personal pronoun you. And the way it's constructed, it would be better translated this way: You! Do you believe in the Son of God? To arrest his attention and focus his need and emphasize his spiritual need. You! Do you believe in the Son of God? Why would He ask that? Of all the things Jesus could say to him, why ask that? Why didn't He say hey, congratulations! You're healed! I'm so happy for you! How does it feel to see? Or I'm so sorry you've been kicked out of the synagogue.



The first thing He says to him: You! Do you believe in the Son of God? Do you know why He asks that question? Because that's the most important question in life. That's down to brass tacks. That's the irreducible minimum. That's the highest priority. Do you believe in the Son of God? Understand that the healing of this blind man was only to get to the saving of this blind man. Jesus wasn't just a roving hospital walking around Israel going I think I'm going to heal, let's see--three people today! You! You look like a good guy to heal--I'll heal you. It was never that way. He wasn't some kind of a clinic walking around Israel. He was very specifically targeting individuals that He would choose so that He might be glorified and that others might believe in Him. So the healing was to get to the saving. I've told you before, it bears repeating, your faith is much more valuable than your health. I don't think that comes across any clearer than in this verse in Matthew 18, Jesus is speaking. He said it is better for you to enter into life maimed or lame rather than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into everlasting fire. It doesn't get any clearer than that. Your faith in Christ is the most important thing. That's why, that's why the book was written. That's why we call this series Believe: 879. There's 879 verses. The big theme of the book is believe.



And when John closes the book, he basically says look, Jesus did so many miracles and signs that I didn't write about all of them, but the ones I wrote about were so that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing, you might have life in His name. That's the purpose of the book. Not to give you a Bible as literature course but to promote faith. And so He asks him a simple question. You! Do you believe in the Son of God? Look at his answer. "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Is this guy ready or what? I mean, that, that reply reveals his willingness to believe. He's like a little ball of faith waiting for a wall to stick on. Show me what to believe and where to believe! Who is He, Lord, that I might believe? You got to understand something. This guy's primed. He's ready. I don't know if you've ever met somebody who's just ready to be saved. Every now and then it's a beautiful exception to that rule and I find somebody who is. But he's been waiting for Messiah his whole life. He and all of those in Jerusalem had been waiting for the coming of the Son of God, their Messiah. And so it's like, just point Him out! I'm convinced this guy would've, if Jesus would've said, that guy, he would've gone to that guy, or if He said that guy, he would've gone to that guy. He was ready to believe. Who is He, Lord, that I might believe?



The greatest priority for you in your life, the very highest priority you could ever have is that you believe in Jesus Christ. If you know only one verse in the Bible, it's John 3:16 and it tells us that same message. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Understand the word believe doesn't mean to acknowledge with your brain. Yes, I acknowledge God exists. I believe in God; I always have; always will. That's wonderful. But what does it, how does it show in your life? Because the idea of believe in the original means to commit to, rely on, adhere to, lay all your weight upon, put all your eggs in that basket. Have you done that with Christ? Do you believe in Him? See it's one thing to acknowledge the greatness of a parachute. It's still another thing to strap that baby on your back and jump out of a plane. It's a wonderful parachute. I've always believed and known that this is a great parachute. Really? Is it that good? Will you entrust your life to it? Will you jump out of the plane and completely trust in the greatness of that parachute? Charles Haddon Spurgeon said something that I never knew he said till this week when I was reading. Of course, this was a century ago and Spurgeon said 98% of all the people I have ever met, even those prisoners that I visit in jail, will tell me that they believe that the Bible is true. Of course, now that's 100 years ago in England. Things have changed. But he said 98% of the people I meet tell me that they believe the Bible is true. And yet, said Spurgeon, they have never made a personal, live-changing commitment to the Savior. Which led him to this conclusion: for them, believe is not an active verb; it's a passive verb. Spurgeon comments and he says I would recommend you either believe in God up to the hilt or else don't believe Him at all. Believe this book of God, every letter of it, or reject it. For there is no logical standing place in between the two. Be satisfied with nothing less than a faith that swims in the deeps of divine revelation, not a faith that paddles about the edge of the water. For that is a poor faith at best and not good for much.



His message is clear. Either believe it all and believe by really believing or don't do anything--don't believe anything. Make it real or not. That's the most important priority and so He asks him the question: do you believe in the Son of God? Take you now to verse 38 for the third stage and that is the most obvious certainty. The proof that he indeed believes after he makes the statement. Verse 38: "Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" Notice that. Without any hesitation, not well let me think about this, he's not gonna say that because his eyes have been opened by this guy. He's been kicked out of the synagogue. There's talk about him. He says, "Lord, I believe!" Without any hesitation, he affirms his faith and this is where it all begins. This is where his journey of faith begins here. And now notice the next part of that verse. Now he acts like a believer. "He said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him." Now that little phrase gives us insight into how far, how quickly, this man's faith has progressed. I want you to notice something. Go back to verse 11 for a moment. Here's the man talking. The Pharisees are questioning him. What happened to you? Verse 11: "He answered and said, "A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.' So I went and washed, and I received sight."



In that verse, what was Jesus to this guy? A man. Just a guy. Just a man. But as they keep talking about it and ask he further processes it, look at verse 17, "They," those are the Pharisees, said to the blind man, "What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?" He said, He's a? "Prophet." So he goes from just a man to being a prophet. And now Jesus says do you believe in the Son of God? Show me that guy, he says, and I'll believe in Him. Jesus said I'm the guy and he said I believe. So he goes from you're a man, to you're a prophet, to you're the Son of God. And he worshiped Him. He worshiped Him. That's the natural progression of saving faith. You're called by God, you believe in Him, you worship Him. That's your lifestyle. And a worshiper of God is a believer in Christ. But I want you to notice something even more particular than that. You see the word worshiped? Worshiped. It's a word in the Greek language that John uses in his book a few times but it's very narrow in its meaning. There's a lot of different words the Bible uses for worship. This word is the Greek word proskuneo. Proskuneo. It was used in John chapter 4 when Jesus meets that gal from Samaria. You know the story. And Jesus says to her woman the day is coming and now is when men will neither worship in this mountain or in Jerusalem, but they will worship--proskuneo--the Father in spirit and in truth for God is seeking such to proskuneo--worship--Him.



It's a word John reserves for the worship exclusively of God. Fast-forward. John chapter 12. It's now Passover. People from all over the world are swarming into Jerusalem, including Greeks. And it says they came to the feast to worship God. Proskuneo. Worship God. John now wants you to know that this man who believes in Jesus worshiped Jesus in that narrow sense. First He was man, then He was a prophet, then He was the Son of God. Now he worships Him as the God who made him see. It's a very, very powerful transition. And imagine the sheer delight for this guy. First of all, he was blind. Now, like, everything's like really colorful. I can see things. Not only that, I'm face-to-face with the One my people and I have longed for for generations. This is the guy! This is God in human flesh--the Son of God. And the appropriate response is to worship. I'm drawing your attention to this because this is, as I began with, the natural progression of anyone making a spiritual journey. First you were blind. You couldn't see. You were blind to spiritual truth. You were sinners and you didn't even know that you had this blind condition. You're just sort of moping around your life and life is good, but you're blinded. You don't even know your condition. You can't see.



Then one day Jesus opens your eyes and reveals Himself to you and reveals your need to yourself. Your eyes are opened--and you believe. And then that leads to the third. You enter into a life of purposeful worship. The idea of abandoning yourself to Jesus Christ. That's, that's how we all start and that's how we all progress. But there's a problem. The problem with many of us Christians over time is that our faith begins to sort of wear old to some of us. We believe, we come to church, we sing the songs, we buy the Bible. We go to the small groups but the passion, the passion, the thankfulness of being saved, sorta gets lost in the mix of time. To put it in Jesus' own words to the church in Revelation, He said you have left your first love. You don't love Me like you did at first. At one time, we were just so thankful. I'm thankful I'm saved! I'm thankful I'm not going to hell! I'm thankful I left the darkness. I'm in the light--this is awesome! But then we leave that and as time wears on, some of us stop thanking Him for what He did for us and our posture is what are You gonna do for me now? And then He blesses you now. Well what else are You gonna do for me now? The focus all becomes about us. It's all about us.



A.W. Tozer, always a powerful writer, said are we losing our Oh? Now I'll say it the way it was meant to be said. Are we losing our Oh! That response you have when you come to God. Oh! Are we losing our Oh? He asks. When the heart on its knees moves into the awesome presence of God and hears with fear and wonder things not lawful to utter, the mind falls flat and words previously its faithful servants become weak and totally incapable of telling what the heart hears and sees. In that awesome moment, the worshiper can only cry Oh! It's a good question. Have you lost your Oh? And it's far more than crying oh; it's living oh-bediently to Him. Because here's the way it works. Believing in Jesus is proof that He called you and found you. Worshiping Jesus is proof that you believe. Obeying Jesus, conforming to Jesus, proves that you've truly been worshiping Him. It's all part and parcel of the same progress. He calls you. You believe in Him. You worship Him. And the fourth stage is you find yourself confronted with a whole group of people who claim that they see and know everything who are blind as a bat and you're trying to get them to see as much as you have seen. And that takes us here to the fourth and that is the most obvious mystery and that is the blind see and the seeing can't.



Look at verse 39: "Jesus said," this is very sobering, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." Now the leaders who were sorta tagging along Jesus at this point, when they hear this, it's a little ambiguous the way it's worded but they kinda pick up on it. they figure it out. they figure out He must be talking about us. He must be meaning not physically not spiritually. I've come to open blind eyes, but people who think they can see, make them see their blindness. And so, they pick up on it and they say, "Are we blind also?" Verse 40: Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words and said, "Are we blind also?" Now if I'd have been there I'd have said yes! Jesus said to them as much, but much more craftily and deftly than I could ever do. He says to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains." Now I'm gonna add a couple words to that to help round out the meaning. If you admitted that you were blind. If you confessed your own blindness it would prove that you're not living in sin. You're not in that condition. But because you claim that you can see just fine, it proves that you're remaining in it--your sin remains. He's saying two things. Number one, spiritual sight only comes to those who claim I can't see. I want to see but I can't. open my eyes. I confess my blindness. I confess my need. He says number two, blindness is the condition of those who arrogantly claim they can see just fine without Christ.



I can see just fine. I know just everything I need to know. Jesus said really? You won't admit that you're blind, therefore your sin remains. Now you probably already know, but the Bible's filled with this metaphor of light and darkness. We've seen it already in John, but it's all over the Bible. That blindness in the Bible is either the unwillingness or the inability to understand, to grasp, spiritual truth. So in Isaiah 48 God says His people claim that they can see but they're really blind. That's why Jesus says you are blind guides to these leaders. You are blind leaders of the blind and both fall into the ditch. It's why Paul says you were once in darkness but now you are in the light of the Lord. You can see. You're not blind anymore. The only cure for spiritual blindness is faith in Jesus Christ. It is the only cure. I know some of you are thinking that is the most narrow-minded statement I've ever heard. Exactly! It is the most narrow-minded statement you've ever heard. Well that must mean Jesus is the most narrow-minded person. Exactly! If you really read His words in the New Testament, that is inevitable, inescapable reality. He said I'm the only way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me. That's pretty narrow. It's funny--truth does that. Truth can afford to be narrow.



I mean, two plus two doesn't equal three, never equaled six, or eight, or 13 and a half. It always equals four. That's the nature of truth. Jesus speaks the truth. And that's the premise of the whole chapter. He says in verse 5: I'm the light of the world. As long as I am in the world, I'm the light of the world. Spiritual sight comes through believing in Him. But this group, these leaders, are arrogantly asserting that they have spiritual knowledge. You can't tell me anything! I know all things! We are Pharisees. We know everything--comes with the job. They are blind. There was a Marine who had two stints of active duty in the Middle East. One in Iraq; one in Afghanistan. He was in between those assignments and his next assignment and he decided to take some college courses to better himself. One of his college professors was an avowed atheist. Very, very arrogant--cocky. One day during class the professor, in front of the class, put his head back and said God, if You're real, I command You to strike me dead within exactly 15 minutes. The class fell silent. You could've heard a pin drop. The professor waited, smiling, smirking, smiling. Ten minutes went by. He said God? Are You listening? Are You real? Are You up there? Come on. He just kept mouthing off--very. That's an example of this kind of arrogant refusal to acknowledge that you're in the dark about anything.



Well. As I said, the Marine was in class. He listened to this. At about minute 13 or 14, about one or two minutes left, he walks up to the platform, doubles up his fist and cold cocks the professor right in the head, knocking him out on the floor. Knocked him off the platform. Just--bam! Knocked him out. Well the Marine quietly goes back to his seat and the class is stunned. I mean, they'd never had a day like this in school. Like the best day of their life! Never seen anything like this. The professor wakes up and says what on earth just happened--why did you do that? And the Marine said to him, well God was too busy today protecting American soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff, so He sent me. I don't recommend that in school. But I do want you to understand that Jesus virtually does the same thing verbally with this statement. He's dividing them and consigning them to the judgment they thought they had escaped by being Pharisees. By saying you remain in the state of sin or darkness. Because they wouldn't admit their spiritual blindness, their sin remains.



I opened up the message talking about Fanny Crosby, Francis Jane Crosby, who said the first face that will gladden my sight will be that of my Savior--can't wait for that. I want to close this message by what another blind woman said, Helen Keller, an American author. She was also asked the question. It's a shame isn't it that you can't see? Helen Keller responded well, it's better to be blind and see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing. These Pharisees had two great eyes. They could see everything physically; they were blind as a bat spiritually. This man who was blind could now see physically and now he believes in Jesus Christ and is a worshiper of Christ and can see it all. The most important thing happened that day and that was the healing of the heart.

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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10/17/2010
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The Truth About Your Neighbors
John 9:13-34
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Those of us who are Christians live in a sea of unbelievers who work with us, live next to us, shop where we shop, and send their kids to the same schools. Some have a mild case of unbelief disguised by religious practices. Others are more demonstrable in their agnosticism or atheism. Let's watch a local Jerusalem neighborhood struggle against faith in spite of clear evidence.
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10/31/2010
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The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!)
John 10:1-10
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This is one of the most beloved passages to be found anywhere in Scripture. But it's not a stand-alone passage: The healing of the blind man in chapter 9 was more than a miracle. It was part of the process of Jesus forming His flock. The leadership had cast the healed man out of the synagogue. Jesus found him, accepted him, saved him, and placed him in His own fold.
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11/21/2010
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What's So Great About the Good Shepherd?
John 10:11-21
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"What's so great about being a Christian?" some people ask. The answer lies in the kind of care, provision, and protection we get from Jesus Christ, our Shepherd. Have you ever stopped to make a list of the benefits that are yours as a follower of Christ? Consider this short list of advantages that you, as a child of God, have. When was the last time you thanked Him for being your Shepherd? This would be a great week to do that!
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12/5/2010
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To BElieve or Not to BElieve...
John 10:22-42
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"In all unbelief there are two things: a good opinion of one's self and a bad opinion about God."— Horatius Bonar. It's true, isn't it? Humanism is man-centered and rejects God's existence or His relevance. But Jesus appealed to two things: the plain evidence of His supernatural works and the testimony of those who witnessed them. Jesus here asserts His deity, and the reaction is predictable—some believed while others did not believe. Which camp do you fall into?
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1/9/2011
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The Great Physician's Patient Dies
John 11:1-16
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When a doctor loses a patient on the operating table, there is a deep sense of remorse and sadness in the surgical theater. Doctors are trained to save lives but sometimes even the best trained physicians are unable to control complications that lead to death. But here we discover that Christ, the Great Physician, not only knows that His patient is sick--He allows him to die! Here are three principles about Divine Medicine that we can all learn.
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1/16/2011
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A Tale of Two Sisters
John 11:17-32
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In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote his famous work, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story before us is set in Bethany near Jerusalem and highlights the personal relationship that two sisters had with Jesus Christ. Their broken hearts provide an excellent platform to consider how Christ deals with people in grief and loss. Let's actively probe not only their responses but ours to the incredible promise Jesus makes.
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1/23/2011
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The Strangest Funeral Ever
John 11:33-44
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According to one source, there are approximately 2 million funerals in America per year, which means that about 5,479 funerals take place every single day! Most of those funerals are pretty typical: a formal service followed by an interment. But the funeral service we're looking at was really different--and not just because of a resurrection. Here Jesus does three things that are pretty normal for most people at a funeral, but strikingly odd for Jesus.
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1/30/2011
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What to Do with Jesus?
John 11:45-57
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Any lawyer can tell you that whenever the star witness is a resurrected corpse, you have a pretty good case! But Lazarus being alive from the dead doesn’t seem to persuade everyone. And so the big issue becomes what shall we do with Jesus? The decisions made here set the clock in motion for an impending hate crime—the crucifixion of Christ. But from heaven’s vantage point, this is all part of God’s plan for redemption. Let’s see the responses and how we can make a difference.
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2/6/2011
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A Meal to Reveal the Heart
John 12:1-11
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If you were to step into the home of Simon at Bethany (Mark 14:3) on that night, you would've seen Jesus and His disciples along with Lazarus and His two sisters reclining at a low table for a meal in honor of Christ. But if you were to step into the hearts of those people, you would discover they were all very different from each other. Those inside the house and outside represent the gamut of feelings about Jesus—from adoring love to intense hatred. What a complicated meal!
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2/13/2011
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A Day, a Donkey, a Deliverer, and a Decision
John 12:12-19
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2000 years ago, on the final Sunday of Jesus’ earthly life before His crucifixion, He did the most unusual thing—He sat on a donkey and was carried into the city of Jerusalem in parade fashion. This formal presentation of Him as Deliverer was both profound and predicted. What’s the significance of such an act as this? What overarching principles emerge for us today? We’ll dig in and discover them, but today you’ve got to write them down yourself:
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2/20/2011
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Living the Right Life
John 12:20-26
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If this sermon was a book and I wanted to sell lots of copies, the title would cause it to fail. Now if it were entitled "Living the High Life" or "Living the Successful Life," then I may have a winner. But many have lived with both success and riches who didn't live right! So what is the right life? Or to frame it with a better question: What kind of life is most pleasing to God? Through a series of paradoxes, John gives us the answer—it wasn't the answer most people are looking for!
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2/27/2011
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Cross-Culture
John 12:27-36
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The term cross-culture emerges from the social sciences and typically refers to interaction of one culture or language with another. But that's not how I'm using it today. I'm thinking of it in the biblical sense, the salvation sense. Jesus' whole life was immersed in the culture of the cross and He referred to His impending death on the cross as "His hour." Let's consider today the culture of the cross of Christ: what it meant to Jesus personally and the world ultimately.
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3/6/2011
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Believe It or Not!
John 12:37-50
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Most of you reading this are believers. Some are not. Both are dangerous positions to take but for different reasons—vastly different reasons! This paragraph in John's Gospel is the summary of all that has been written, from chapters 1 through 13. It reviews the two different responses people have to Jesus and then gives us Jesus' own synopsis on faith and unbelief. Today you will be able to understand the real differences and consequences of faith and unbelief.
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3/13/2011
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A Night Unforgettable
John 13:1-5
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Some days are frozen in time because of the magnitude of an event. You will always remember September 11, 2001 and where you were when the towers fell. The night America bombed Baghdad or the night John Lennon was murdered may be permanent memories captured in your mind. This was the final night Jesus spent with His own disciples and it would be unforgettable. Let’s discover how what seem like ordinary moments can be extraordinary appointments.
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3/20/2011
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Basin Theology 101
John 13:6-17
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At the final Passover meal that Jesus shared with His closest friends, He gave new meaning to the bread and wine, using them to point to His upcoming sacrificial death on the cross. Today we share Communion as a church family and reflect on that meal, as well as the lessons Jesus was teaching His first followers. After dinner Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash the feet of his students and taught them life principles about stooping, cleansing and serving.
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3/27/2011
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Betrayed!
John 13:18-30
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Relationships can withstand an enormous amount of pressure, but betrayal is sure to end most. The old English word means to hand over or to deliver. Think of it: while Jesus was about to deliver the world from sin and its destruction, Judas was about to deliver the Savior over to His enemies. If you've ever felt betrayed by someone, this study will have special application to you.
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4/10/2011
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A Brand New Way of Life!
John 13:31-35
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To follow Jesus is to have a brand new way of life. When these twelve men sitting around the dinner table started hanging around Jesus, they had no idea just how new and different their lives would become. At this final meal on that last night, they were still learning just how new their lives should be. (Jesus can still teach old dogs new tricks!) As present-day followers of Christ, let’s consider three aspects of life that become new once we become His disciples.
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4/17/2011
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F.A.Q.
John 13:36-38
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An old Persian Proverb reads, "It's harder to ask a sensible question than to supply a sensible answer." Many times our questions to God are reactive—based on a sort of knee-jerk reaction to painful circumstances. Peter asked Jesus two questions of this sort. But whenever we ask God questions we must hang around to get the supplied answers. The questions Peter asked are similar to ones we frequently ask. Let's consider and apply Jesus' outstanding answer
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5/1/2011
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A Theology for Messy Lives
John 14:1-6
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Life can be pretty messy sometimes: plans fail, people leave, money diminishes, and taxes rise. There are plenty of reasons to be troubled these days but there are better reasons not to be! Life was about to get real messy for those disciples around that Jerusalem dinner table. At times like that, there are some basic instructions we need to fall back on so our hearts inside us won't be swallowed up by the mess around us.
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5/8/2011
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How Can I Know God?
John 14:7-11
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What a thought—that a mere human can know God! The agnostic asserts this is impossible. The atheist insists that the very idea is an arrogant and purely metaphysical pursuit. But one of the reasons Jesus came was to reveal God's character and nature clearly and perfectly! Let's consider two roadblocks to knowing God and four resources that help us know Him better.
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5/29/2011
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Privileges of God's Employees
John 14:12-14
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Most companies have benefits for employees: things like overtime pay, health insurance, and sick pay. In 2 Corinthians 6:1, Paul calls us "workers together with Him" (NLT renders it "God's partners"). We have been called to a high and lofty task—to be His representatives here on earth. You might say we're part of the "family business." So what has God called us to do? And how has He provided for us in terms of resources? In short, what are the benefits of being God's employees?
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6/5/2011
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Four Part Harmony
John 14:15-18
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Some of the best moments on American Idol aren't the solo performances, but when all the singers join together and blend their voices in harmony. There's nothing sweeter than well-trained voices blended together in first, thirds, and fifths. Spiritual harmony is much the same—when believers blend with the triune Godhead there is an alignment that results in a deep sense of fulfillment. And what is the note we are to sing in this spiritual song? It is the note of loving obedience!
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6/12/2011
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Promises, Promises!
John 14:19-26
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Someone once mused, "Promises may get friends, but it's performance that keeps them." No wonder God has so many friends! He makes promises and keeps them. On this final night that Jesus spent with His friends, as both sorrow and confusion assailed them, Jesus made several promises that would sustain them in the days, months, and years ahead. What about you? Will you dare to trust the promises of God? It's the only way to see if they really work.
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6/26/2011
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Peace Where You Least Expect It
John 14:27-31
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On countless American gravestones this epitaph could be written: Hurried, Worried, Buried. What a sad way to live! Fear, anxiety, and distress have literally become part of our national culture. Odd, isn't it? Though we have such abundance in this country, most don't experience abundant life—especially as Jesus described it. Sure, everyone has his or her share of trouble and anxieties, but let's consider one of the greatest gifts Jesus gives to followers—the gift of peace!
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7/3/2011
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Life-Lessons from Grape-Growers - Part 1
John 15:1-7
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My parents grew grapes on their little plot of land in Southern California. There weren't many, but enough for me to know that getting fruit at harvest depended on three things: the solid connection of branch to vine, the vigilant care of the workers, and the consistency of those things over time. Jesus, walking with the disciples toward the Garden of Gethsemane, gives life lessons to His men using the familiar example of growing grapes. With that analogy in mind, let's consider the three ways our relationship to God is described by Jesus.
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7/10/2011
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Life-Lessons From Grape-Growers - Part 2
John 15:8-11
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As we grow older, we mature. In our spiritual lives we should become spiritually mature. The Bible calls it being fruitful. Spiritual fruit is the indication that we're truly connected to Christ. But there are others, as we'll see today. Last week we examined how the relationship with Christ is described (Connected to Christ, Cared for by the Father, and Consistent Over Time). Today let's consider how this relationship is demonstrated. When we're rightly connected to God we'll be:
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7/17/2011
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What a Friend We Have in Jesus
John 15:12-17
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We can get through almost anything in life with friends to share our sorrow and divide our grief. A Chinese word for friend is peng-yu and it has a much fuller meaning than in English. It means "one who brings completion and sums up beauty." The ancient Hebrews saw true friendship as an ideal to pursue and a blessing to enjoy. In these final moments with His followers, Jesus uses a most tender term for their relationship—they were friends! What does that friendship look like?
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7/24/2011
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Why Does Everyone Hate Me?
John 15:18-25
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There is a flipside to being a friend of Jesus. That's true of any friendship. Whenever you ally yourself and make friends with someone, you will incur some enemies because of it. Likewise, some who don't like Jesus won't like us either—and we discover there are quite a few who don't! Let's find out why, and how we can raise our heads high and prevail.
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7/31/2011
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Two Thirds Is Not Enough
John 15:26-16:15
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We love God the Father who created us and God the Son who redeemed us, but what about the Holy Spirit? We hear His name a lot, but who is He? What exactly does He do? What does He want from us? The Holy Spirit is the "quiet One," active in the life of believers but sometimes not acknowledged as being vital. Oswald Chambers noted, "The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a guest in a house. He invades everything!" Today, we consider Him and His role in our lives.
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8/7/2011
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The Holy Hound of Heaven
John 16:5-11
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Having understood Who the Holy Spirit is (Person not just power; Deity not just dignitary) we now find out what He does in the world of unbelieving people. Since the greatest gift God ever gave to the world was His only Son (John 3:16) it stands to reason that the greatest sin one can commit is to reject the Son (John 16:9). How does the Holy Spirit both sentence the world as prosecutor and lead people away from judgment? And what role do we play in all of this?
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8/14/2011
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When Sorrow Turns to Joy
John 16:16-22
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The flamboyant baseball-legend-turned-preacher Billy Sunday stated, "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere!" That's not to say that life is all laughs. Hardly! Jesus anticipated His followers' deep sorrow. He predicted it. But He also assured them that their experience of sadness would be eclipsed by a greater experience of lasting joy.
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8/21/2011
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How to Send Knee-Mail
John 16:23-28
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Today you can be anywhere in the world and send or receive messages digitally via email. Sending email has eclipsed traditional mail for years now. Sending knee-mail is similar (you can be anywhere)—but with better results! You don't need wifi or a modem; you don't need an electronic device or a computer. Before Jesus left His disciples, He wanted them to get "online" with the Father and stay connected through the simple yet powerful means of prayer.
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9/4/2011
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I've Fallen, but I CAN Get Up!
John 16:29-33
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I would rather fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail! So said President Woodrow Wilson. Our Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and is not surprised by our weaknesses. We all fall and fail, even though we may commit to standing strong. What can we learn about ourselves and our God in such valleys? Even more, what kind of restoration can we hope for after our bout with failure?
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9/18/2011
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Holy Eavesdropping
John 17:1
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Imagine if you could sit and listen to Jesus talking to His Father—what would Jesus say to Him? In this prayer (which comprises all of John 17) we step onto holy ground. His instruction to His followers is now over. His preparation of them is done. He now turns His attention heavenward to talk directly to His Father about Himself, about His disciples, and about His future church. This prayer is unique for four reasons:
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9/25/2011
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The Gifts That Keep On Giving
John 17:1-5
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It's possible to give without loving but it's impossible to love without giving— Richard Braunstein. Part of God's nature is that He shows His love by His generous gifts. "For God so loved the world that He gave..." (John 3: 16). Here, in the opening lines of Jesus' prayer to His Father, He requests a gift from His Father and acknowledges three other gifts—two given to the Son by the Father, and one given by the Son to us. These are the gifts that keep on giving!
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10/2/2011
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How Followers Are Formed
John 17:6-10
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Okay, so which is it? Did I choose God or did God choose me? Perspective is everything! If you look at it from the divine viewpoint, you'll say God chose. If you're looking at it from a human viewpoint, you'll say we do the choosing. But why can't both be true? I suppose you can sit around, scratch your head, and try to ponder such imponderables, or you can sigh happily and say with a grateful heart, "I'm elated that He chose me!" But you should also ask yourself another question while you're at it—What am I going to do about it now?
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10/9/2011
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Missionaries or Monasteries?
John 17:11-19
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How can you leave your mark on the world? Most everyone wants to be remembered for some contribution made to society. Well, Jesus wants us to do that, too. In fact, He prays for that. God wants you to make an imprint on life's road so people will say, "Hey look! God's kids were here!" We can't do that by isolating ourselves. We have marching orders!
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10/23/2011
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Listen Up! Jesus is Praying—for YOU!
John 17:20-26
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What's God's general will for you? Look no further than this text! Now as we listen to Jesus pray for us, we also find what our priorities in life are to be. These words are the "Last Will and Testament" of Jesus Christ. So pay close attention and you'll get it right from the heart of Jesus Himself.
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10/30/2011
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I've Got It Under Control
John 18:1-11
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Sometimes life appears to be spinning out of control. Events happen we didn't plan for, people do things we didn't expect, we find ourselves in places we never thought we'd be in. But though you can't always control what happens to you, you are responsible for what happens in you (attitudes and responses). What do we really believe about God's authority and power in our lives? Is there ever a time when God can't say, "I've got it under control"?
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11/20/2011
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The Darkest Night!
John 18:12-27
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On a dark spring night in Jerusalem, it seemed everyone was against Jesus Christ. The religious system had long been opposed to and jealous of His burgeoning ministry. The mock trial designed to get rid of Jesus was only going through the technical motions to achieve their end. And Peter, Jesus' closest friend, was in a downward process of disassociating himself from Him. But in the midst of the darkest night, the sunrise of God's grace was beginning to shine!
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1/8/2012
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A King, a Kingdom, and a Courtroom
John 18:28-40
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What kind of a King is Jesus, and what is the nature of His Kingdom? And what does it mean to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done"? These are the questions faced in the text before us. As Jesus nears the cross, a nation denies His reign over them, while a Roman ruler questions Him and then cynically admits his own confusion and despair.
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1/22/2012
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How Do You Handle Jesus?
John 19:1-16
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Pontius Pilate was like every other person who has ever lived. The fundamental question of his life was, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22). Everyone has to deal with Jesus, to decide about Him and His claims. In one setting, we can see how one man (Pilate) was influenced to deal with Jesus in three different ways. These three ways are how many people today still choose to deal with Jesus Christ.
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1/29/2012
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Execution of a King
John 19:17-22
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Regicide is the official word used for the execution of a king. Most countries reserve the stiffest of punishments for subjects or assassins who would kill their royalty. John records the execution of the King of kings on a Roman cross outside the city of Jerusalem. But the rest of Scripture reveals that it was more than an execution; it was sacrifice that brought salvation. The next few weeks, we will consider the cross in depth and what it means for the world and for us.
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2/5/2012
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The Cross on the Billboard of Eternity
John 19:23-24
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Did you know that the cross of Christ was always God's plan from the very beginning? It wasn't a reaction to mankind's rejection of His Son, nor was it an accommodation to a Roman and Jewish miscarriage of justice. It was according to "the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). Today we will take a journey back and connect the dots of God's unfolding plan of the cross throughout the ages.
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2/12/2012
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How to Love Your Mother
John 19:25-27
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A mother's love for her children is distinctive and irreplaceable. To watch a child suffer is crushing and almost intolerable for any mom. In this touching scene revealed in three verses, we not only see Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of her Son's cross, we also learn how Jesus cared for His mother. Even from His place of extreme suffering, Jesus was thinking of others and His love for Mary is noteworthy for us.
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2/19/2012
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iThirst
John 19:28-29
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The world is filled with Apple's i-technology, which delivers on its promise to make connectivity and information readily accessible. But there is a deeper need within everyone, a thirst to be right with God, that no app or gadget can fulfill. How ironic that Jesus, the great Thirst-Quencher, would Himself be thirsty. It was part of the great exchange—His temporary thirst enabled yours to be quenched eternally!
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2/26/2012
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It's Done!
John 19:30
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While Jesus was doing His greatest work, He uttered His greatest words! Through the excruciating pain of a tormenting death, Jesus gave the most meaningful statements worthy of careful consideration. John records three of Jesus' seven statements uttered while on the cross. The sixth—and perhaps the most hopeful—is the one we consider today.
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3/4/2012
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Death Under Control
John 19:31-37
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Watching someone you love die is always a heart-wrenching experience, especially when the victim experiences great suffering. For the apostle John, the death of Jesus was likewise difficult-but he saw a glimmer of hope, a silver lining in the dark clouds of death. This death was long ago anticipated and was being carefully monitored from the control center of heaven. Today we see why that's important.
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3/11/2012
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Disciples on the Graveyard Shift
John 19:38-42
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You can find an unending supply of books, pamphlets, and articles on discipleship in Christian churches and bookstores. Many of them will be predictably regimented and conventional, giving solid biblical references and calling Christians to ardently follow Christ—all great stuff. But not everyone's spiritual journey is identical. Some disciples are unexpected, and so is their story. Here are two disciples of Jesus who've been in the background and now step forward to care for the body of Christ after His death. Let's allow their story to inspire us.
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3/18/2012
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A Not-Quite-Empty Tomb
John 20:1-10
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There was a lot of confusion happening on the first Easter morning. The resurrection had happened but it was neither expected nor accepted by all at first. Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples what she saw, and they ran to check out her report. What they saw was compelling evidence of a resurrection, but only one of them really connected all the dots. Let's see why.
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3/25/2012
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Hope Rekindled
John 20:11-18
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When people grieve, they usually run the gamut of the emotional spectrum, from denial to bargaining to despair to anger to eventually hope. Mary Magdalene was in hopeless despair as she stood weeping by the grave of Jesus. The resurrected Christ deals tenderly with this woman as he reveals Himself to her and conveys hope for her future. Let's glean some principles for dealing with brokenhearted people.
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4/1/2012
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From Closed Doors to the Open Road
John 20:19-23
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Our relationship with Jesus isn't a secret to be hoarded; it is a story to be heralded! The disciples were seated behind closed doors (sounds like a lot of churches). Jesus wanted them out, giving away what they had been given. Let's see how these early followers went from panic to peace, from perplexity to purpose, and from protection to power. It's a great journey. Are you up for it?
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4/8/2012
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Rise Up!
John 20:24-31
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The apostle Thomas has been noted for his skeptical attitude. In fact, we refer to a skeptic as a "doubting Thomas." In this message from John 20, we consider four ways Thomas was able to rise up from doubt and become a joyful follower of Jesus.
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4/15/2012
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Gone Fishing! (Relating to a Risen & Returning Lord)
John 21:1-14
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I am not a great fisherman. I don't do it often and when I catch something, it's pure luck! My dad was the opposite—he loved it and was great at it. At least seven of Jesus' disciples were fishermen and here we see them plying their trade after the resurrection. Some beautiful lessons can be discovered about how to live while we wait for Jesus to come back for us.
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4/22/2012
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I Failed! Now What?
John 21:15-19
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One of life's harshest realities is failure. The very sound of the word seems harsh to our sensibilities. We even harbor the age-old axiom, "Failure is not an option!" But failure is an option; in fact, it's a certainty. But discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to victory. In a post-resurrection interview, Jesus restores Peter with a fresh commission. If you have failed in your spiritual experience (and who hasn't), these principles will inspire.
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4/29/2012
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Final Instructions
John 21:20-25
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As John closes off his singular testimony of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he features some closing words of Jesus and Peter about himself (John). These final sentences provide some instructions for us as we await Christ's return. How should we live in light of who Jesus is, what Jesus did, and when Jesus will return?
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There are 95 additional messages in this series.