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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!)

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The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!) - John 10:1-10

Taught on | Topic: The Good Shepherd | Keywords: sheep, shepherd, Good Shepherd, provision, protection

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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10/31/2010
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The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!)
John 10:1-10
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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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 Shepherd Gathers His Flock

    1. He Comes the Right Way (vv. 1-3a)

    2. He Calls the Right Way (v. 3b)

    3. He Conducts the Right Way (vv. 3c-6)

  2. The Shepherd Guides His Flock

    1. He is the Door to Salvation (vv. 7-9)

    2. He is the Door to Provision (v. 9b)

    3. He is the Door to Satisfaction (vv. 9c-10)

Things for Sheep to Chew On:

  1. What's the best thing about being a sheep in Jesus' sheep-pen? Make a list of the things God has provided for you: salvation, shelter, food, clothes, friends, family, employment, opportunities to serve, your church, your gifts and talents. Keep this list with you this week and add to it as you think of more. Then put it somewhere handy and refer to it when you're prone to worry about God's provision for your future.

  2. How can you tell when it's Jesus calling you or someone else?

Detailed Notes

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Sheep are docile; they follow one another. They are not known for their strength. The Bible uses sheep as an analogy for human beings. Thousands of years ago, everyone understood the analogy; they were a part of the culture. Job owned 14,000 sheep; Solomon sacrificed 120,000 on one occasion; Psalm 100:3 refers to God's children as the sheep of His pasture. Isaiah 53:6 says "All we like sheep have gone astray;" alluding to the fact that sheep are prone to wander.

Phillip Keller writes "Sheep do not 'just take care of themselves' as some might suppose. They require, more than any other class of livestock, endless attention and meticulous care. It is no accident that God has chosen to call us sheep. The behavior of sheep and human beings is similar in many ways[...]. Our mass mind (or mob instincts), our fears and timidity, our stubbornness and stupidity, our perverse habits are all parallels of profound importance." The quality of life for the sheep depends on the shepherd who takes care of it.

This text is divided into two sections: the village scene (vv. 1-6) and the countryside scene (vv. 7-10).

  1. The Shepherd Gathers His Flock
    Village sheepfold was a communal corral, a common enclosure for all the sheep. The shepherd would line up his sheep, put the rod down between sheep to inspect sheep for injury and parasites. In the morning the gatekeeper would let the shepherds in to take their sheep. This sheepfold does not represent heaven (thieves and robbers climbing in), not salvation or the church (flock led out). The sheepfold represents Judaism which kept them safe until the Messiah came. (See John 10:16–"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold;" (Gentiles). Jesus is the Good Shepherd (v. 11).
    1. He Comes the Right Way (vv. 1-3a)
      1. Not a thief who climbs over the locked guarded gate (Pharisees)
        1. Hostile toward the sheep and the owner
        2. Long line of false prophets
        3. True prophets prophesy against the false prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel)
          Jeremiah 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34:1-2
      2. Jesus doesn't sneak in
        1. Came from Heaven
        2. Fulfills over 300 prophecies–Galatians 4:4
    2. He Calls the Right Way (v. 3b)
      1. No branding or external marking
      2. Call sheep with a distinct pitch, tone and inflection the sheep understand
      3. Right speech, words, voice
      4. Many in
    3. He Conducts the Right Way (vv. 3c-6)
      1. He leads them out
        1. Western style - dogs drive sheep
        2. Eastern style - shepherd leads–Psalm 23:2
      2. Jesus explain what happened to the man born blind now healed; he was kicked out of Judaism
        1. Judaism had fulfilled its function of keeping God's people safe and separate from the world
        2. Jesus was doing a new work–Matthew 9:17
      3. Learn to trust the leading of our shepherd
  2. The Shepherd Guides His Flock
    The Shepherd is the door. The countryside sheepfold did not have a gate, but the shepherd himself would lay in the opening. (George Adam Smith)
    1. He is the Door to Salvation (vv. 7-9)
      1. One door; narrow, exclusiveness of Christ
      2. Came to be the Savior of mankind
    2. He is the Door to Provision (v. 9b)
      1. In and out speaks of contentment and provision
        1. In the sheepfold at night for safety
        2. Out in the morning for pasture
      2. Jesus nourishes us
      3. Secret to happy sheep: safety proportional to proximity
    3. He is the Door to Satisfaction (vv. 9c-10)
      1. Thief comes to steal, kill and destroy
      2. Jesus gives us abundant life
      3. Our victory is based on the love of the Shepherd who laid His life down for the sheep

Figures Referenced: Tommy Walker; George Adam Smith;
Publications Referenced: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller
Cross References: Psalm 23:2; Psalm 100:3; Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34:1-2; Matthew 9:17; John 10:16; Galatians 4:4

Topic: The Good Shepherd

Keywords: sheep, shepherd, Good Shepherd, provision, protection

Transcript

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Would you turn in your bibles this morning to John's Gospel the 10th chapter.  We've made it all the way to John Chapter 10.  We've been along time in John and as you can see by being in Chapter 10, we have along way to go.  But as for me, my appreciation of the person, work and majesty of Jesus Christ has been so enlarged and enriched that every study for me personally has been very, very worth it.  We're going to look at John Chapter 10 the verse 10 verses today of that chapter.  Let's go ahead and pray together.

Father, we pause and we feel the need before we get in to any study of this book to talk to you about it, that's why we pray first because it's your word.  These are your trues and because we are your people and we are the flock, the sheep of your fold, we pray that we would be delighted and comforted, strengthened, instructed, exhorted by what were about to read and consider.  This is one of the most loved passages by so many of your children.  We pray that we would grasp it and understand what Jesus meant to say to those who are listening and what he means to say to us, in Jesus name, Amen.

You will probably never see a professional sports team when coming up for a mascot to represent their team, you'll probably never see a sheep being used, not going to happen.  If you look at coins or paper money, you'll probably never find when a nation wants to represent its strength or majesty, you'll never see them use a sheep on the front of the coin.

When it comes to protecting property, you don't usually by sheep to do that.  You'll never see a sign for instance on a chain linked fence that says, "Beware of sheep" or "Attack Lamb"

"Lambo" is here and we laugh at that because we know better that sheep or dorsal creatures, they are creatures driven together to act following one another rather than being independent, not known for their strength.  And you should also know that when the bible wants to talk about human beings, it often uses this analogy of us being sheep.

I heard a story of a woman, she was blonde and I know, I know you think you know where this is going, but follow me here.  And she was sick of all the blonde jokes that she would hear at work and she would hear everywhere she went.  So she just got fed up with it.  So she decided she's going to dye her hair black.  She dyed her hair black it looked great and it worked.  There were no blonde jokes that she heard.  Life was good.

One day, she's driving out in the country side and she stops because a flock of sheep is going across the road with the shepherd.  So she stops, gets out, enjoys the view and then finally says to the shepherd, "Hey, if I can guess how many sheep are in your flock, can I have one of them?"  He thought about it.  He said, "Sure, if you can guess how many sheep I have in my flock you can take one, it's yours."

So she said, "You have 257 sheep in your flock."  He was pretty impressed because that's exactly how many he had.  So he said, "Okay, you can take anyone you want."  So she reached down and picked up one of the animals and put it in her car and she was about to leave, started up her car, rolled up her windows, was driving away, the shepherd knocked on the window and she rolled it down.  And he leaned in and he said, "Hey if I can guess what color your hair really is, can I have my dog back?"

See, how that snuck that in that way?  For those of us in the western world, an analogy of a shepherd and sheep isn't too relevant because most us aren't on the farm.  It's not a part of our culture.  Thousands of years ago however, for Jesus to give this kind of a word picture or illustration, everyone instantly knew what it meant because that was part of their culture.  The Old Testament Job, one of the early patriarchs it is believed, had 14,000 sheep that he owned.

Solomon, when he wanted to give a grand sacrifice to the lord in the first temple sacrificed on one occasion 120,000 sheep.  And so, the bible uses this metaphor because it was common to people back then.  It's one of the most loved ideas in all of the bible.  For example, Psalm 100, "It is he who made us and we are his people.  We are the sheep of his pasture."

So it's a beautiful thought that we have a shepherd who takes care of the sheep.  However, in the bible, the nature and the character of sheep is not put in the best light.  For example, when Isaiah wants to write about what we are like and what we need, he says, "All we like sheep have gone astray."  Because that's what sheep do, they are prone to wander.  They are prone to leave the path.

One professor of philosophy said, "The existence of sheep is evidence against the theory of evolution." For he continues, "There's no way sheep could survive if your into survival of the fittest."  They require a constant attention, constant rescue, constant cleaning, constant everything or they'll die.

One of my favorite writings is Phillip Keller who was a shepherd in Canada.  And Keller writes of his own experience and he says, "Sheep do not just take care of themselves as some might suppose, they require more than any other class of livestock and less attention and meticulous care."

It is no accident that God has chosen to call us sheep.  The behavior of sheep in human beings is similar in so many ways.  Our mass mind or mob instinct, our fears and timidity, our stubbornness and stupidity, our perverse habits are all parallels of profound importance.  God calls us sheep because he knows people.  He knows human nature.

Moreover, it says a lot about the shepherd because it's not about -- and I don't want you to walk away from this (00:07:20), I'm just a dumb sheep, but rather, I have a wonderful shepherd.  That was David's thought on Psalm 23, "The lord is my shepherd."  The point wasn't, "I'm just some dumb sheep."  The point was a bragging point.  Look at who my shepherd is.  Look at who's in control of my life because David knew, being a shepherd in Bethlehem that the quality of life for any sheep depends on the kind of shepherd that takes care of you.

I bet you've all known people who've had pets and you wonder why they have them.  They don't care of them much.  They don't walk their dog.  The dog is chained in the backyard and barks all day and digs holes, he is never walked and you wonder why do they have a dog.

On the other extreme, you have people not only have dogs, they adopt them like their own children.  The dogs have wardrobes, monogram sweaters, quaffed hairdos, air-conditioned dog houses.  They go to all the shows and you look at the way some people pamper their pets and you think, "Oh my goodness, that's so extreme."  We mock them, at least I do.

But I have a question for you.  If you were a dog and have the choice of owner A or owner B, which one would you pick?  Owner B hands down, I want a Christ who are going to take care of me and dote over me.  So when David said, "The Lord is my shepherd.  I won't need a thing", his bragging not on his own stupidity but on God's greatness.

Now, we're on Chapter 10 of John, not Psalm 23.  And in John Chapter 10, the first 10 verses which we're going to look at this morning can be divided into two sections and if you'll just take a look at it, if you have a red letter bible, you'll notice that everything's red except verse six, that's the dividing line.

The first red letter section is Jesus giving a point, then there's a reaction, then Jesus said something else again.  And so, I want you to see that this section that we're going to read is divided up into two.  The first, verses one through six is the village scene and verses seven through 10 is the countryside scene.

The first is the shepherd gathering his flock and the second is the shepherd guiding his flock.  Let's go ahead and read through verses one through 10 or verses one through six and see the gathering.

"Most assuredly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs up some other way the same as a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep."

To him, the door keeper opens the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice.  If they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him for they do not know the stranger's voice.  Jesus used this illustration but they didn't understand the things which he spoke to them.

Now it's going to be helpful for you to understand that there were two different kinds of sheepfolds, that's the word used here.  That is a corral, an enclosure, two different types.  One was the village sheepfold and the other was the countryside sheepfold.  This is the village of sheepfold, the first six verses.  And every single village in the ancient Middle East, there was a communal corral somewhere in the middle of town or somewhere by town a communal corral.

That is, if you were a shepherd and your neighbor was a shepherd and your other buddy was a shepherd, you would all put your flocks in one common enclosure.  This is how it would work, you are coming in from the fields at night and you would lineup your sheep to enter the sheepfold.  Your rod would go down and their shepherd's rod kept each sheep from entering and the shepherd would inspect each sheep after looking through its fur and making sure they were no scratches or no parasites that would infect the rest of the flock.  He would lift his rod and the sheep would go under the rod and then he put it back down again and inspects the next and then the next one, etcetera.

All of the shepherds did that in this communal sheepfold.  Then in the morning, it's time to take them out of the village and out to the countryside.  So, each of the shepherds would come one by one and because they were the shepherds that the gatekeeper or the porter knew being instantly recognized by the porter, he would allow the shepherd who walked into that enclosure.  And then the shepherd would take his flock out of the village, out to the countryside.

Now it's sort of interesting that many commentators try to pin the identity of the sheepfold and take it into different category.  Some say it represents heaven.  The sheepfold is heaven.  I disagree completely with that because we have thieves and robbers climbing over the wall in the story.  I don't think you're going to have thieves and robbers climbing over any wall to getting to heaven.  First of all, you can't climb into heaven on your own.

Some people say this is the picture of salvation or it's a picture of the church.  I don't agree with that either because here in this first section, the shepherd goes to lead his flock out of the fold.  God didn't lead anybody out of the body of Christ.  He doesn't lead anybody out of salvation, so it can't be either of those or any of those.

In its context, it's easy to see and understand what he's referring to.  The fold or the enclosure represents Judaism that has kept God's flocks safe until the Messiah could come.  But keep in mind that in the original documents, there's no chapter break.  There's no chapter nine, chapter 10 and if you read this you'll find that this is part of the last conversation in chapter nine.  He's speaking to the leaders and he says, "For judgment, I have come into this world that those who are blind may see and those who see may be made blind."  Then they said, "What are we blind to?"

all that conversation is because they just kicked a man out of the Synagogue, right?  A blind man who has been healed, they kicked him out of the Synagogue.  And then it says Jesus found him.  So he found the man and he indicts the leaders.

So, Judaism is that religious system that kept God's people until the Messiah could come.  That's what the fold represents.  It's easy to see if you go down to verse 16, Jesus says, "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold."  Speaking of non-Jews, Gentiles the church will be birth in Jerusalem but spread out all over to Gentile world.  "Them also I must bring and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock and one shepherd."

So, this shepherd goes in the morning and finds that flock already in the fold and he leads them out.  The shepherd is Jesus, he is the good shepherd.  In fact, if you look at verse 11 he says, "I am the good shepherd." The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

Jesus does three things as the shepherd, he comes the right way.  He calls the right way and he conducts or leads the right way.  You notice something in verse one, the illustration that Jesus employs, the analogy of a shepherd and sheep begins in verse one on a negative note, not a positive note.  Notice, "Most assuredly I say to you he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs up some other way the same is a thief and a robber."  What is he talking about?  Sheep rustlers, that's what he's talking about.  Those guys who at night would climb over the wall because the gate of that village enclosure was locked and guarded by a porter, hopefully, he had found asleep and they can climb over the wall and steal sheep.

So you have people in verse one that is hostile toward the sheep and toward the owner of the sheep.  And one cannot help but make the comparison to the previous chapter where the Pharisees were hostile to the blind man and hostile to Jesus and they kicked that man out of their fold, they were the sheep rustlers.  You see the Pharisees were the latest in a long line of false prophets.

If you read through the bible in the Old Testament, you discover that many of the true prophets of God speak against the false prophets.  Three of the major books that do that are the Book of Isaiah, the Book of Jeremiah and the Book of Ezekiel, where god speaks against false leaders, corrupt priest, wicked kings, false prophets who say things that aren't true.

One famous passage is Jeremiah 23 where the Lords says through that prophet, "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture.  Declares the Lord."  Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says to the shepherds who tend my people, "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done."

Another famous one is in the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 34 where he says, "Son of man prophesy to the shepherds of Israel and say to them, woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves when they should be feeding my flock."  And so, that is what this analogy is all about; thieves and robbers.  In contrast to them, verse two, "He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep."

See, the true shepherd doesn't have to sneak in, he just uses the front door, they're his sheep.  The porter or the gatekeeper recognizes the shepherd.  And that's the point Jesus came the right way because Jesus is the true shepherd.  He came from heaven to the earth.  He came after the prophesying 300 plus predictions in the Old Testament of what the Messiah, the shepherd of Israel would be like, where he would be born.  He fixed the messianic description as being the son of David, born in Bethlehem, born of the royal line or as Paul said in Galatians, "When the fullness of the time had come, God sent fort his son born of a virgin, born under the law" as if to say he is the true shepherd who comes the right way and uses the front door.

Look also at verse three a little more carefully, not only does he come the right way but he calls the right way for Jesus says in this analogy, "He calls his own sheep by name."  Remember how he said in that communal sheep enclosure, you have all those different flocks that are all together?  So if your were to look in, you would know which sheep is which and who belongs to whom.  In fact, the shepherd wouldn't instantly know what sheep is his, there are tons of them.  There were no brandings or external markings in those days.

But, what the shepherd would do is he would come to that sheepfold in the morning and he would sing out or speak out a sweet little particular voice that he was used to calling his sheep with.  Now you know what that's like when you call your dog, you don't talk normal.  "Hey boy--", whatever voice you have, your dog recognizes that voice am I right?

Each shepherd had his distinct pitch, tone and inflection that the sheep would recognize as being their master.  The sheep may not be the brightest animals, but they can understand their master's voice.

I read a story this week a very interesting story about a shepherd down in Australia who was accused of stealing a sheep a single sheep.

Well, he protest and said, "I didn't steal that sheep.  That sheep was mine to begin with.  I simply recovered, found my lost sheep."  The other guy said, "No, that's my sheep.  He stole it from me."  So they took it to court, it's a very unusual case.  And the judge didn't quite know what to do with this.  So, he summoned the sheep in to the court room, I kid you not.  And after all, you get the testimony of a sheep, that's how you close the case.

And basically, that's what he did.  The judge said to the plaintiff, the one who made the accusation, "Go outside the court room and call that critter."  He goes outside gives his call, the sheep does nothing except raise his head and look really scared.  And then he said to the defendant, the one who was accused, "Now you go outside and call the sheep."  And he called in his particular voice and the sheep perked his head up and run toward the real owner, and that sealed the deal.  And the judge simply said, "His sheep knows him.  Case dismissed."  And so, that's how the shepherd would get the sheep out of that fold and out into the pasture.  The right speech, the right words, the recognizable tone of voice.

Here's how that is fulfilled.  When Jesus Christ came to this earth, many in Israel did not recognize him.  He called as their shepherd, he spoke to them, but the bible says he came into his own, and his own did not receive him.  It means his own nation, his own people, and his own group.  He came into his own folks and they didn't recognize him, they didn't hear his voice.  They didn't pick up his pitch, his tone, his intonation.

Now that wasn't true of everyone, some, the true sheep had been looking and anticipating for this shepherd to come all along.  Zacharias was one, Elizabeth was another.  Simeon was another.  Anna was another.  Marry, Joseph, John the Baptist, Zacchaeus, that short little tax collector who was up in the tree.  This blind man in this story, Lazarus, Mary, Martha and eventually the thief on the cross will all recognize this is the one and placed their faith in him.

Look a little more closely at the third verse, he says, "He calls his own sheep" by what?  By name, did you know that shepherds used to have nicknames for individual sheep in their flock?  See, the shepherd intimately knew his flock.  He hung around them all day long.  He was with them, he watched them.  He smelled them.  He'd put them in the enclosure everyday, every night.

So he got to know the idiosyncrasies and diverse personalities of each of the sheep.  And because of that and studying them, he would give them nicknames.  He might call one, "Long Nose."  He might call another one, "Black Ear."  He might say to another one "Fluffy" or to another one "Slowpoke" because he knew them and he would call them by some individual nickname.

And all of this is to speak of the personal nature of shepherding in ancient times.  A name is a personal thing.  When somebody speaks your name and isn't it funny you can be in a crowd and there's noise in the crowd, you don't really hear anything in particular but if someone across the room even just speaks your name, you hear it.

It's personal.  Somebody calls you by name.  One of my favorite songs is written by Tommy Walker, a friend of mine whose out in Los Angeles.  He wrote the song, "He Knows My Name."  "He knows my every thought.  He sees each tear that falls and he hears me when I call."  I was with Tommy some years ago in the Philippines and he sang that song at a crusade, there were thousands of people from Manila there.  And the people and the crowd began to weep as they heard the song and they all knew the song.  They sang the song with him.

It was like the national anthem to them.  They said it was their favorite Christian song because they felt like in a huge metropolitan area like Manila where there are so many millions of people and you feel like you're just a face in a crowd, the idea that there's a God in heaven who knows my name and calls me by name is so comforting.

So, he comes the right way.  He calls the right way and look at the third, he conducts the right way.  The end of verse three, Jesus says, "And he leads them out", he's taking them out of this fold.

And when he brings out his own sheep, verse four, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice.  If they were by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him for they do not know the voice of strangers.

It's a picture of a shepherd conducting his flock, leading his flock out of one place to another.  If you have any experience with sheep in the west here, and some do, very few do but some do.  You understand immediately that the Western style of shepherding is very different from the Middle Eastern or eastern type of shepherding.

Here in the west, people use if they have sheep, dogs to drive the sheep.  But not in the east, in the east, a shepherd leads, not drives; leads the sheep.  He will go out first, the sheep will follow him and he'll take the path to make sure it's the right path, there's no presuppose that the sheep would fall over and that the path is going to take the sheep to a place where they're going to have food and water.

It's going to be peaceful, it's going to be nourishing.  That's the thought behind Psalm 23 when David writes, "He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside the still waters."  He conducts, he leads the right way.  He has the right style of leadership, not driving them like the Pharisees, but leading them like God said he would send shepherds to do.

And this is what I think is important in context.  What Jesus is saying by this analogy is just explaining to the crowd and especially the leaders what just happened to that man who'd born blind who is now healed.  He had been kicked out of Judaism.  The fold of Judaism had fulfilled its function.  It had kept the people of God safe, kept the people of God separate from the world.  And that was fulfilled, that was over.  It was time for a new fold with a new flock and this man was part of that.

It's a new order.  I'll use another analogy Jesus employs.  He says, "You can't put new wine into old --" what?  Wineskins for Jesus said, "The wineskin that is old will crack and burst and you'll lose all the new wine.  Now you have to put new wine in new wineskins.  And Jesus here is saying, "I'm going to do a new work.  I'm leading that man out of the fold and I'm going to lead him in to my fold.  I'm his savior.  I'm his shepherd."

There's a great point there, learn to trust the leading of your shepherd.  If Jesus Christ is indeed your shepherd in leading your life, then trust him.  If he's leading you out of something it's because he wants to lead you into something else.  And some of us we don't get led very well.  The Lord tries to lead us when we dig our hills in and we're just dragging along the road.

Maybe he's leading some of you out of a bad relationship, a sinful relationship.  It's because he's leading you into something else.  Maybe he's leading you out of a false religion because he's leading you into something else.  Maybe he's leading you out of a bad business partnership, it's because he's leading you into something else.  Trust the direction and the lead of your shepherd.

Now it says in verse six, Jesus used this illustration, it's what it was.  But they did not understand the things that he spoke to them.  Now, why did John include that?  Well it's very simple.  Remember back in the previous chapter?  He said, "For judgment I have come into this world that those who are blind may see and those who don't see me may see, those who say they see would be made me blind."  And the Pharisees said, "What are we blind also?"

And John is now saying in effect, "Uh-huh.  You didn't get it."  Jesus just gave you a simple analogy that any of his followers would have gotten and enjoyed and applied but they are scratching their heads going, "Huh?" which proves the whole point that they were blind.

So verse seven, now there's a shift, verse one through six, the shepherd gathers his flock, here's the guiding of the flock.  Jesus said to them again, "Most dastardly(ph) I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All whoever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them, I am the door, if anyone enters by me he will be saved.  He will go in and out and find pasture.

The thief does not come except to steal, to kill and to destroy, I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.  Now the second time that Jesus talks, the scene has shifted.  The camera pans from the village now to the country side.  It's no longer morning when the shepherd calls his flock.  It's probably mid-day when the flock is out in the pastor grazing.

Now we have little bit about question posed or at least a little bit of a problem.  Jesus refers to himself in the first part and later on after this as the shepherd.  Look at verse 11, it says, "I am the good shepherd."  But now, it would seem as if Jesus is mixing his metaphors because he says, "I am the door."  First he says, "I am the shepherd", now he says "I am the door."

Now, what I want to get across to you is that it's not a mixing of metaphors.  A shepherd is a door and I want to explain that.  Remember, I said there are two types of enclosures, the one in the village, the one in the country?  Village had a high wall, had briers on top to keep it a little more secure, had a gate that swung and it could be locked at night and there was a gatekeeper who admitted the shepherds every morning.

But out on the country was a little more primitive.  There were sheepfolds but they were low walled enclosures, just a few piled up stones and there was an opening but no gate that swung a narrow opening.  One time, a scholar named George Adam Smith, Old Testament scholar was visiting the land of Israel.  He got a tour guide.  The tour guide showed him a shepherd, it was toward evening and the shepherd wanted to show where he places his flock at night out on the country side.

So he shows him the sheep enclosure and he says, "I place them in here, my flock in here every night and they're perfectly safe."  George Adam Smith said, "What do you mean they're perfectly safe?  There's no door, they can get out."  And the shepherd, he wasn't a Christian, he was a Muslim Arab.  He said, "Well, I am the door."  He said, "What do you mean you're the door?"  He said at night, I lay down to sleep in front of this opening and I become the literal door so the sheep can't get out unless they would to crossover my body and they're too scared, they won't do that, and wolves can't get in because they'd have to cross over me and I've got a club."

So the shepherd is the door.  When he's out in the countryside where he leads his flock at night, he becomes the door.  So, it's not a mixing of metaphor, the shepherd becomes the very door.  What is that -- you see the door too; verse nine, "I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved."  He's the door of salvation.

How many openings, doors do you think the sheepfold had?  One, he didn't say, "I'm one of many doors."  Now the analogy is perfect because he says, "I am the door.  No one gets in this enclosure unless he comes over me or through me."  So, it's a perfect application of what Jesus has always thought in the gospel of John, the narrow way, the exclusiveness of Christ. 

You see, if God sent Jesus out of heaven and he came to the sheepfold the right way, he came to be the savior of mankind sent by God, why would he come if there were many doors, if there were many ways, if there were many ways to God?  Why didn't he just stay up in heaven and enjoy himself and because everybody's leading, going to the same place no matter what they believe.  No, he came that people might be saved through or by him.  That's why he says on verse eight, "All whoever came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not hear them."

Then look again at verse nine, after he says, "He will be saved, the door of salvation.  He will go in and out."  That's a metaphor for contentment, for provision, go in and out and find pasture.

So here's the idea, the shepherd would lead his flock into the sheepfold at night and out of the sheepfold in the morning for pasture.  That's the idea, in and out.  And when he took them out, he brought them to green pastures, still waters, abundant food sources because he's taking care of them.  He's providing for them.  Even as Jesus Christ nourishes us, his sheep, right now we're being nourished by the very trues of the word of God that speak of his infinite care.

Now if you're a sheep, there's the secret to being a happy one.  If you don't want to be too happy of a sheep, just sort of stay at a distance from your shepherd, wander around a little bit, thank God the shepherd have known as much as I know, I'm a sheep.  Just sort of wander around and find your own way and make your own idea.  But if you really want to be a happy sheep, safety is directly proportional to proximity.  The closer you live to your shepherd, the more you are nourished and cared for by him and are safe because of him.

Now, we'll finish it up in verse 10, "He's the door to our satisfaction."  He says the thief in comparison does not come except to steal, to kill and to destroy.  "I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly" or literally that they might have it to the brim or in super abundance.

I wonder if that describes your life as God's flock.  Does abundant life describe you?  Notice he says, "I come that they might have life."  He didn't say, "I have come that they might have bummer and have bummer more abundantly."

But by looking at some people's lives, you would think he may have said that.  Remember how I said that shepherds often gave nicknames to their sheep based on their personalities and idiosyncrasies?  If God were to give you a nickname based upon your personality and idiosyncrasies, what would it be?  Would it be words like, "Grumpy?"  That's my sheep, that's Grumpy, he's always grumpy.  There's my sheep Wanderer, he's always kind of wandering around doing his own thing.  Or would it be Loving, Trusting, Hopeful?

"I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly."  Let me put it a little more directly.  If as God's sheep you find yourself constantly complaining about your luck in life, it is an advertisement to everyone else watching you saying, "I follow my shepherd but don't you follow my shepherd or you're going to end up just like me."

But if on the other hand, it reflects this quality of life, the satisfaction of life.  What an advertisement that is to follow the shepherd.  So many people would line up to follow that shepherd as they see the flock, as they see the sheep.  Eric Butterworth is an author who wrote a book "Chicken Soup for the Soul."  You may have read the book, it's very popular.

He gives a great little illustration in the book.  True story, a sociology professor sent his students out for a project into the slums of Baltimore to find 200 young boys, 200 of them and they were assigned to write an evaluation of what they thought their future would be in these slums.  200 were found, 200 were interviewed, they looked at their lives and almost without deviation, the reports came back the same; hasn't got a chance, no hope and this condition hasn't got a chance.

That was the study.  25 years later, same college, another sociology professor finds this study from 25 years earlier.  And now he's wondering, "I wonder what happened to those 200 young boys who are now men?"  He sends his class out and their assignment is to find those 200 boys who have grown up and are now men, find out what they're doing.

What they did and they discovered that though 20 of them had moved or had died, 176 of the 180 that they talked to, 176 out of 180 had very successful lives.  They were successful business people or they were lawyers or doctors, you get the drift.  And that was astonishing because the first report is, "Hasn't got a chance."

Well now the professor in the sociology department is very curious he goes, "You got to find out why."  So they went back and they started interviewing them and almost without fail, the answer came back, "Well there was this one teacher that changed everything for me."

So they found the teacher, she was old, old lady but still very lucent.  And the sociology professor said, "You have to tell me, I'm writing this up.  You have to tell me what your secret was to changing these lives."  She smiles, she was very flattered, a sparkle in her eye and a big smile she said, "Honestly, I didn't do anything special.  I just loved these boys.  I just loved these boys."

And the conclusion of the professor is their success was based on the love of one single teacher, amazing story.  Our victory, our success is based on the love and care of one shepherd, the shepherd who laid down his life for the flock.  And you know why he is so good at shepherding?  Because he knows what it's like to be a sheep.  He came into our fold and laid his life down.  And that's why when John the Baptist saw him he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, he takes away the sin of the world."

Our father, how humbled we are, how grateful we are to be a part of your flock.  You called us out of whatever fold we were in and you brought us into a new one, yours.  You're the owner, you're the shepherd.  And though using that analogy certainly is saying something about human beings, it says much more about your capability and our need for you even as sheep are completely contingent animals, completely dependant beings.  Help us to see our needs to depend fully upon your care, upon your leading.

Thank you that you opened the door for salvation.  Thank you with that open door comes the provision, the green pastures, all that we need and you know what we need better than we do and the abundant life, so that any sheep under your care must say, "This is the life."  May we reflect that in Jesus name, Amen.

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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10/24/2010
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Got Any Blind Spots?
John 9:35-41
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When you drive, you encounter "blind spots"—it could be part of your own car or it could be a tree that hides traffic on the other side. Those blind spots hinder both progress and ultimately, safety. When Jesus healed a blind man in Jerusalem, the same man was also healed of his spiritual blindness. But others who thought their spiritual perception was keen were as blind as a bat! As we consider this story, can you think of any blind spots in your spiritual journey?
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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.