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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > To BElieve or Not to BElieve...

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To BElieve or Not to BElieve...
John 10:22-42
Skip Heitzig

John 10 (NKJV™)
22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.
23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch.
24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly."
25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me.
26 "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.
30 "I and My Father are one."
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.
32 Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?"
33 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God."
34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods"'?
35 "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),
36 "do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?
37 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;
38 "but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."
39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.
41 Then many came to Him and said, "John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true."
42 And many believed in Him there.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

"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?

"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 Sinister Nature of Unbelief (vv. 22-39)

    1. It Protects its True Nature

    2. It Rejects the Narrowness of Christ

    3. It Neglects the Testimony of Scripture


  2. The Simple Nature of Belief (vv. 40-42)

    1. It Evaluates Objective Evidence

    2. It Appreciates Subjective Testimony

Consider This:

  1. What does Jesus use to support His claims? Why do you think this was not enough for the Pharisees? Is it enough for you?

  2. What truth did Jesus plainly state in verse 30? Why would His audience react so violently to this statement? What do most of your friends say about Jesus?

  3. Why was there such a different attitude toward Jesus when He went across the Jordan?

Detailed Notes

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The Gospel of John could be marked with the warning label: "Unbelief is hazardous to your eternal health." To believe or not to believe is the central, vital question. Belief transports a person to ever-increasing realms of joy and glory; unbelief destroys all of that.

This passage closes off the public ministry of Jesus Christ. After this chapter ends, there will be no more public speeches or public miracles, but Jesus spends His time before he leaves nurturing His disciples and preparing them. It is a fitting close to chapter 10; it sums up the book to this point. The theme is unbelief versus belief.

There are two groups in this passage: the group at the Temple in Jerusalem, who come to Jesus but don't believe. They disregard Jesus' miracles and the testimony about Him; and the group in the wilderness where Jesus began His ministry, who believe Him and regard His miracles and the personal testimony. It is a contrast between unbelief and belief. Unbelief is mentioned eighteen times, belief only three times. It is a ratio of reality: the majority of people do not believe.

There is a two-month gap between vv. 21-22. The setting in v. 21 is the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall. Now the setting is the Feast of Dedication in the winter. John mentions this because it is winter meteorologically and it is winter spiritually. The people have an icy, hardened attitude toward Christ. The Feast of Tabernacles is known to us as Hanukkah. It is a non-biblical feast established between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Antiochus Epiphanes (I-the great one) sought to impose Greek language and culture on the world. He tried to force Israel to abandon Jewish beliefs and culture, but they resisted. In 170 BC he conquered Jerusalem, slaughtered a pig on the Altar of Sacrifice and spread its juices throughout the temple. He set up an idol to Zeus and demanded the people worship it, and he put an end to circumcision and the festivals. After three years, the Jewish priests under Mattathias, (the Maccabees), threw out the Syrians, regained their independence, and reestablished the correct worship in the temple. The legend is that the flagon of oil that held one-day worth of oil for the menorah lasted for eight days. This was the last great deliverance for the Jews; it was the kind of messiah they were looking for: a political messiah who would overthrow their enemies.

  1. The Sinister Nature of Unbelief (vv. 22-39)
    1. It Protects its True Nature (disguises itself as something else)
      1. They call their condition doubt
        1. They want to hear His claims (Son of God, God in human flesh, Messiah) again so they can kill him (they pick up stones, and try to seize him.)
        2. Doubt is looking for answers
          1. everyone struggles with doubts about spiritual faith
          2. "Find out how seriously a believer takes his doubts and you have the indexof howseriouslyhetakes his faith" –Os Guinness

          3. Doubt is not the opposite of faith
          4. Doubt presupposes faith
          5. Doubt works its way through difficulties and finds a faith that is reasonable and satisfying
      2. Jesus calls it unbelief
        1. Unbelief doesn't care about the answers
        2. Unbelief decides against faith
        3. Keeps away at all costs what would produce faith
        4. "There are none so blind as those who will not see." –Matthew Henry
    2. It Rejects the Narrowness of Christ
      1. They picked up stones to stone Him
        1. Jesus "For which of the good works" (καλà- kala - noble wonderful beautiful)
        2. Because He made Himself out to be God.
          1. Bread of life–John 6:35
          2. Living Water– John 7:37
          3. Light of the World– John 8:12
          4. "Before Abraham was I AM" (John 8:58)
          5. "If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24)
      2. People don't want to believe Jesus is the only way
        1. 67% of the world's population do not believe in Christ
        2. Analogy of God on the mountaintop
          1. Convenient for unbelievers
          2. No founders of religions would accept it (John 14:6)
          3. Systems fundamentally disagree with each other
          4. Cannot be true
        3. Analogy of a maze
          1. Different paths lead in different directions
          2. Only one correct path
        4. Jesus said "Enter through the narrow gate" (Matthew 7:13-14)few find it because the path is too narrow for most
    3. It Neglects the Testimony of Scripture
      1. Jesus answered them with the Word -Psalm 82:6
      2. Jesus regards the unity and inerrancy of Scripture
      3. How the unbelieving world regards the Bible: a good book, but wouldn't want to live according to it.
  2. The Simple Nature of Belief (vv. 40-42)
    1. It Evaluates Objective Evidence
      1. Untainted by bias
      2. Jesus performed signs and miracles
      3. Not a blind leap in the dark (like Soren Kierkegaard claimed)
      4. Based on evidence –Hebrews 11:1
        1. Uniqueness of the Bible (66 books, over 40 authors, over 1500 years, about controversial subjects, yet all in agreement)
        2. Fulfilled Prophecy
        3. Resurrection of Jesus Christ
    2. It Appreciates Subjective Testimony - Of John the Baptist
      1. "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29b
      2. Called Jesus the Son of God
      3. Said Jesus existed before John
      4. That they were cousins adds weight to his testimony

Christianity is a universal experience. For two thousand years Jesus Christ has been changing lives. Christianity is narrow. It is a personal relationship with a personal God.

Greek terms: καλà- kala - noble, wonderful, beautiful
Figures Referenced: Matthias Maccabeus; Antiochus Epiphanes; Judas Maccabeus; Os Guinness; Matthew Henry; Soren Kierkegaard; Frank Morrison
Cross References: Psalm 82:6; John 1:29; John 6:35; John 7:37; John 8:12; John 8:24; John 8:58; John 14:6; Hebrews 11:1

Topic: Belief

Keywords: belief, unbelief, narrow gate, doubt

Transcript

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How many of you remember 1994, the famous lawsuit with McDonald's over their hot coffee, remember that?  Yeah.  It happened here in town.  By the way, a friend of mine owned one of those McDonald's, so I kind of got a first hand view of it.  But what was interesting is after that lawsuit, warning labels became very prominent, not only in cups of coffee, I think if you get a McDonalds coffee theirs is like flashing neon lights that say, "Hot coffee."  And it's pretty big and bold and a lot of items are like that, there are warning labels that tells us what to do and what not to do.

Well, I decided to go around the house and look at a few items that I had and read the warning labels.  So this is from a chainsaw that I had in my garage.  Is that okay?  But it does say this warning, "Do not operate chainsaw while upset."  This guy saw one too many movies I think.  And then I went into my refrigerator and my favorite hot sauce is called, "Marie Sharps Hot Sauce it from down in Belize it says, "Warning, must be strong to handle this sauce.  Keep out of the reach of children."  That's a good one.  Then it says, "Do not play tricks on the weak or elderly with this sauce."

So then I went on the internet and found a website called, "101 dumb warnings."  Literal warnings on real products but you get the idea.  One brand of hair color said, "Do not use as an ice cream topping."  Yeah, there are a lot of people doing that.  On a car sunshade, you know the kind that you unfold and put in your windshield in the summer says, "Remove shade before operating vehicle."

Did they think we're idiots?  One blow drier had a warning, "Do not use while sleeping."  And I'm tired to get my blow drier and go to bet on a Rowenta iron, a warning label said, "Warning, never iron clothes while on the body."  And then finally from a mattress company came this warning, "Warning, do not attempt to swallow."  What a mattress?  Maybe kids in the youth camp might do that, but I don't know how many people would try that.

These are warning labels, there's an even more important warning label that could be affixed to the Gospel of John, especially, this last portion of the 10th Chapter, it would read as, "Warning unbelief is hazardous to your eternal health."  Unbelief is hazardous to your eternal health.  The title of today's message is, "To believe or not to believe."  You can tell that I stole the title from a very famous line in literature.

Act three, scene one of Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, he says, "To be or not to be, that is the question."  In that scene, Hamlet was actually contemplating suicide. Should he suffer through his life or should he end his life.  To be or not to be, that is the question.  Well, Jesus wouldn't agree with Shakespeare or Hamlet.  The real question, the vital question is to believe or not to believe, that really is the central vital question, because belief transports a person to ever increasing realms of joy and glory and unbelief destroys all of that.

We begin today in verse 22 of John chapter 10.  We'll read all the way down to the end of verse 42.  The final section closes of the public ministry of Jesus Christ.  After this chapter ends, Jesus for the next several months until his crucifixion will not give public speeches will not do public miracles, but he will spend the time now nurturing his disciples and preparing them before he leaves.

And this is really a fitting close to Chapter 10 because it sort of sums up the entire book up to this point.  The theme of this section is, "Unbelief versus belief."  Unbelief versus belief, and really the theme of John is, "Believe."  And that's the word he uses almost 100 times and you'll see here seven times in just this section that word comes up.  Its verse 22, we start, let's read all the way through it.

Now, it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem and it was winter.  And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch, not our coffee shop, but the Solomon's porch.  And then the Jews surrounded him and said to him, "How long do you keep us in doubt?  If you are the Christ tell us plainly?"  Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe, the works that I do in my father's name, they bare witness of me, but you do not believe because you are not of my sheep.  As I said to you my sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.  Neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.

My father who has given them to me is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of my father's hand.  I and my father are one."

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.  Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from my father for which are these works do you stone me?"  The Jews answered him saying, "For a good work, we do not stone, but for blasphemy because you, being a man make your self God."

Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, I said you are gods.  If he called them gods to whom the word of God came and those scriptures cannot be broken.  Do you say of him whom the father sanctified and send into the world?  You are blaspheming because I said, "I am the son of God?"  If I do not do the works of my father, don't believe me, but if I do, though, you do not believe, believe the works that you may know and believe that the father is in me and I am him."

Therefore they start again to cease him, but he escaped out of there hand.  And he went again beyond to Jordan, to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there he stayed.  Then many came to him and said, "John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this man were true."  And many believed in him there.

We have 21 verses, we have two groups; one group is in Jerusalem, at the temple.  The second group is out in the wilderness where Jesus began his ministry.  The first group comes to Jesus, they don't believe him, the second group comes to Jesus they believe him.  The first group disregards all of the miraculous signs that Jesus had done and the personal testimony about him.

The second group regards both the miraculous signs and the personal testimony.  There is thus a contrast, the comparison between unbelief and belief that is set up.  Something else to note, unbelief occupies the greatest portion of textual real state in our passage.  There's 21 verses, 18 of those verses described those who are in unbelief while only three describe those who believe.

And though John is simply making the contrast, I think we have here a ratio, if you will of reality.  In reality, even in our world, a majority of people do not believe in Christ.  A minority, Christians believe in Jesus Christ.  Something else to know before we jump right in, there's a two month gap between where we left off in the last message and where we begin in verse 22.

Two months exist at least between verse 21 and 22 because in verse 21 all the way back through chapter 8 that setting takes place during the feast of--do you remember what it was the feast of tabernacles, do you remember that?  Okay.  Feast of Tabernacles, that's it.  I know there's many message ago.  Feast of Tabernacles that takes place during the fall time of the year.  This takes place a couple of months after that during the winter months the Feast of Dedication.

But let's begin, let's start looking at the difference between belief and unbelief, first of all, the sinister nature of unbelief and the simple nature belief and there's some hallmarks, characteristic if you will that form the nature of what unbelief is.

First of all, unbelief protects its true nature.  What I mean is, unbelief often ones to disguise itself as something else.  And not just say "I'm unbeliever," they want to call it, well, I have doubts.  Now look at this, verse 22, it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem and it was winter.

Now, why does John say that?  Why does John say it was the Feast of Dedication and it was winter?  He says it first of all because it was winter physically.  Meteorologically, that was the weather pattern, it was the winter time.  But, all he would have to say is it's the Feast of Dedication everyone reading it who is Jewish would know.  It always happens in the winter time, 25th of Kislav every year.  But I can't help but seeing--John I think does this a couple of times where he takes a physical reality into spiritual reality, because by this time the attitude the people toward Jesus Christ was very I see cold, hardened, aloft.  They were on the where path.  They wanted to end his life.  We have seen that mounting attitude grow.

So, it was the Feast of Dedication and it was winter, physical climate as well as spiritual climate.  He mentions that it's the Feast of Dedication.  The Feast of Dedication also known as the Festival of Lights occurs every year, close to what we called today Christmas but it's a different festival.  We know it is Hanukkah.  Jesus is in the temple during the Feast of Hanukkah.  It was an 8-day feast.  A little background will help you understand I think the impact of what John is writing.  Hanukkah, Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication was a non-biblical Feast.  It wasn't like Passover or Pentecost or Tabernacles.

It was something that was not part of the Old Testament but it was a festival that begun between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  There's a 400-year gap between the end of the Old Testament beginning of the new that 400-year intertestamental period was very significant.  This is what happen, during that period there was a Syrian ruler named Antiochus, who gave himself a name Epiphanes which means the great one, literally as "I the Great One".  He had a problem with humility.  He love all things Greek and such to impose Greek culture, Greek language, Greek everything on the people of the Middle East.  He thought he would go in to Israel and force them all to abandon their Jewish beliefs and become Greek in culture.  Well, they resist it.

So in 170 BC, he conquers Jerusalem.  He slaughters a pig on the altar of sacrifice spreading swine juices throughout the temple the most uncultured thing anybody could do in Judaism, right?  He sets up an idle in the temple area to Zeus demands that everybody worship the false image of Zeus.  Puts an end to circumcision, puts an end to all the festivals.  And this goes on for a few years until a group of Jewish Priests to south of Jerusalem known as Hasmonean Priests under the leadership of Mattathias they were Maccabeans, decide they're going to rebel and revolt.

After three years of gorilla warfare, Mattathias and he's sons, one of the son's named Judas Maccabeus is successful.  Throws out the Syrians, gains independence, reestablishes correct worship in the temple and they set up a festival called the Festival of Lights.  It' was an 8-day feast.

And here's the legend, the legend says that there was only one of oil that was to last one day to light that seven branch candle stick or manora that in the temple remember that?  Only one day's worth of oil.  Miraculously, the story says it lasted for eight days, so it became an 8-day festival still celebrated that way today called "Hanukkahm," and Jesus is walking in the temple during that time.

Now, why does John give us that information?  Because what happened with Judas Maccabeus is that was the last great deliverance the Jews knew in their history.  A guy came and over through their enemies and became their temporary military-political messiah.  And it's as if John wants us to know that that's the kind of messiah they were looking when Jesus was walking to the temple.  They were sick of the Roman bandage, the Roman oppression.  We want a messiah like that one.  We want a political-military ruler like that one.

And so, they came Jesus and in verse 24, notice the question and say "How long do you keep us in doubt if you are the Christ tell us plainly."  It sounds like it's an honest question.  I submit to you it is not an honest question.  They simply want Jesus to say what he has always said to them.  He has claimed he was the son of God.  He claimed to be God in human flesh.  He claimed to be their messiah loudly, repetitively, clearly and they want to hear it again because they want to kill Him.

I think I know that because twice in the story we read, they either pick up stones to kill Him or they try to cease Him.  They're simply looking for a way to arrest Him because they don't think He's the one who's going to pull it off for them.  But they asked Him the question, how long will you keep us in doubt?  They call their condition doubt.

Jesus calls their condition what it really is unbelief.  He says twice, once in verse 25, I love this, Jesus answer them "I told you", aren't you love that?  "How long will you keep us in doubt, tell as I told and you do not believe.  The work that I do in my father's name they bare witness with me, but you do not believe because you are not of my sheep as I said to you.

Here's what I want you to see.  There's a big difference between doubt and unbelief.  You see doubt is looking for answers.  Unbelief didn't care about the answers.  Now, I think that everybody struggles with spiritual reality.  Everybody I think as spiritual doubts even the greatest biblical heroes and non-biblical heroes have.  How many of you on a show of hands have ever struggled with doubts about your spiritual faith at all?  You struggle with it, great put your hands down, I'm glad.  How many of you never in your life ever wants struggle?

Okay.  So am glad you said that because it shows you're; human.  You're not some robot that you've actually thought through struggle with and that's okay.  As Guinness great thinkers said find out how seriously a believer takes his doubts and you will have the index of how seriously he takes his faith.

See, doubt is not the enemy of faith.  Doubt is not the opposite of the faith.  Doubt implies faith.  Doubt presupposes faith.  In fact, doubt works its way to the difficulties and finds at the end a faith that is reasonable and satisfying.  Doubt does that.  Unbelief is different.

Unbelief decides against faith and at all cost keeps anything that would in gender or produce faith completely away.  Matthew Henry put it perfectly.  There are none so blind as those who will not see, that's unbelief.  These people in Jerusalem didn't believe in Jesus twice as you don't believe that's the problem.

So, first of all it protects its true nature, disguises itself as doubt.  Second, it rejects the narrowness of Christ.  Look at the verse 31, the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from my Father for which of these works do you stone me?"  When he uses the term good, it's the Greek word "Kalo," it means noble, wonderful, beautiful.  Think of all the compassionate things Christ did, healing people.  Opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, raising people from the dead, curing them of Leprosy and diseases, so many noble, wonderful, good works.

They replied "For a good work we do not stone you but for the blasphemy because you being a man make yourself God."

Oh, they got it. Oh, they understood exactly what Jesus was saying here and have been saying about Himself in the past.  Jesus could've been any more plain.  He told them clearly and repeatedly who He was.

Here's sampling, back in John Chapter 6, Jesus said I am the bread of life, whoever eats of this bread will live forever.  In John Chapter 7:37, if anyone thirst let them come to me and drink.  Out of this inner most spin will flow rivers of living water.  John 8:12, I am the light of the world he who follows me will not walk in darkness.  Again in John Chapter 8, He said before Abraham was I am.  And then He said "If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins."  He told them very plainly that he was it, he was the one, the guy they had been looking for.  The Messiah, the son of God and they repeatedly rejected the narrowness of his claim.  That's a characteristic of unbelief.  Have you ever heard something like this?

Well, I just can't believe that Jesus Christ could be the only way to God.  Ever heard that?  I hear it a lot.  I know you hear it a lot.  If you live in the real world, you hear it.  It is true 67% of the world's population, over 4 billion people do not subscribe to what we believe.  So, they look at us and go, "So what's up with you guys?  Why are you so arrogant?  What makes you think you have a corner on the market of truth?"

And so, what unbelieving people love to do is drop the analogy of the God of the mountain top.  See, it's like this they say God is on top of a steep mountain.  He's up there and down below are all these people in the world.  All wanting to get to God and they take various paths but all lead the same place up in the mountain to God.

So, on one side of the mountain, you might have somebody curving up a windy path and the other side a more direct route, and everybody down below is so hang up on their path not knowing that all paths leaded them the same place.

What's wrong with analogy?  What's wrong with that analogy is it's convenient for unbelievers to have it but none of the founders of the religion they're talking about would ever agree with that.  For instance, if you were to go to Muhammad and say "Muhammad I believe that all paths leads to God, do you agree?"  What do you think he say?  He'd say "Absolutely not.  He taught his follow us to fight against anyone who believe that."  If you went to Moses--let's just take the three.  He said "Moses do you think--I know there's a lot of pagans that hang around out there.  Do you think all paths leads to God?"  He'd say "I said before you this day, life and death, therefore, choose life."

If you were go to Jesus say "Jesus you know you're really great and you say some cool stuff but I think all paths leads to God."  Would Jesus agree with that?  Let's say He said that "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life and no one comes to the Father except through me."  What I want you to see is that these religious systems and the founders of these systems all fundamentally disagree with each other and the systems themselves contradict each other.  So they can't all be right at the same time.  They can't all lead at the same place.

A better analogy wouldn't be the mountain top analogy.  Let me give you another one, a maze analogy.  And if you've ever been to a maze, maybe even a corn maze, right?  Do you have little paths cut out or if you've ever been to some of the old huge mansion in the East Coast or in Europe where they have these huge hedges and mazes and they're quite fascinating.

Well in a maze, you have different paths that lead in different directions.  You might have one with dead-ends.  You might have two paths that parallel with each other, for a long time, one eventually dead ends keeps going.  You might have one path that goes all the way toward and almost into the very center of the maze before it stops.  But there isn't a maze only one correct right path.

Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate for wide as the gate and broad as the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it, but small as the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life and few find it."  Few?  Why few?  "Hey, Jesus, how come few find it?  Is it because there is not enough room in heaven?  I'm sorry we're all booked up."

So many people can't fit them all in or I like you but I don't like you.  No, the reason that few find is because the path is too narrow for most.  I read a story about a teenage boy who just got his driver's license, a very dangerous combination and I know this from personal experience.  This teenage boy took a wrong turn and went down a one way street, the opposite direction, the wrong way down a one way street.

So all these on coming traffic is coming his way and he's dodging and finally a policeman sees him and pulls him over, and says, "Where are you going?"  He says, "I don't know officer but I must be late because everybody else is already coming back.  Do you ever feel that way?  You feel that way that you as a Christian holding the set of beliefs that you and I do that we're going down through on coming traffic.  Everybody is going the opposite direction we're just sort of like go in this direction.  Jesus said it's a narrow way.

Look at verse 34, Jesus answered them, now notice what he does, he goes right to the bible.  He answers them, "Is it not written in your law, I said you are god.s"  That's a direct quote.  If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came and the scripture cannot be broken.  Do you say of him, whom the father has sanctified and send into the world, you were blaspheming because I said, "I am the son of God?"

We have a third characteristic of unbelief.  Unbelief neglects the testimony of the scripture.  Jesus goes right to their Old Testament and he quotes a text scripture that would validate his ability to make the kind of claims that he makes.  It's Psalm 82, where the lord speaking to the writer Asaph, the Lord says, "I have said, you are gods, the Hebrew word Elohim, Gods."

Now God is speaking to people that are other than God, they are human beings.  Probably, he's referring to the judges of Israel, remember the judges, there's a whole book about them in the Old Testament.  These were God's representatives.  Have I not said you are gods?  And so, he quotes that to them.  He is speaking to people God is speaking to people less than God in a human level giving them the terms as representative gods.

So here's what Christ does, it's a typical, rabbinical argument arguing from the lesser to the greater and here's this argument.  If men in some sense can be called gods then how much more appropriate would it be to give the designation to someone who is authentically sent from God and who is the son of God.  That's his argument.

Now, some of you might be mystified at the term, "Son of God."  I've heard this argument, Jesus never said he was God, he said he was the son of God.  Well, the son of God is one who has the same nature as God.  He is not the -- I mean, you and I are sons and daughters we're children of the living God by faith.  But when the bible calls the term, "Son of God", it applies uniquely to Jesus because he has the same nature as the father.  That's why he says, "I and my father are one."  They understood and they picked up stones to kill him because they said, "You being a man are making yourself God."  The son of God is a term of deity.

Then look at verse 35, I love this, look what's in parenthesis and the scripture cannot be broken.  Hey, question, do you think Jesus had a high view of scripture or a low view of scripture?  High view of scripture, well, he did.  The way Jesus speaks of scripture, he says, "Oh and by the way it can't be broken, it can't be set aside, it can't be nullified, and it can't be broken.  What I want you to notice is that Jesus regards the unity of scripture and the inerrancy of scripture by saying, "The scripture cannot be broken."  Did you know that Jesus repeatedly in Mathew, Mark, Luke and John refers to the Old Testament as the authoritative word of God.

Now here's a question for you, if Jesus is wrong about that, how could you trust him with anything else?  How could a person ever say, "I trust in Jesus my Savior but I don't believe the bible is the word of God.  Well then you're not following the same Jesus I'm talking about.

Show me your view on the bible and I'll show you your view on Christ.  He says "And the scripture cannot be broken".  But one of the hallmarks of unbelief is to neglect the testimony of scripture.  It goes something like this, "Well, the bible is man-made, a bunch of books written by a bunch of guys who were well-intentioned but they contradict each other and it's a long time ago and it's very inspiring and it's probably good to own a bible because you can press flowers and write names of your family in it but you don't live by it.  That's how the unbelieving regards the bible.

In the state of Indiana, there are six state parks that have hotels in the state park.  And because the hotels are in the state parks and the Gideon Society wants to put a bible in every hotel room, the Department of Natural Resources, pressured by the ACLU, have decided to affix a warning pamphlet to the Gideon bible, so that when you pull up the drawer in the hotel to get a Gideon bible if you left yours at home, there's a warning pamphlet that says and I quote, "Warning: Literal belief in this book may endanger your lie and health." And the pamphlet advises that the bible is a violent, racist, sexist, fable.  Classic unbelief not doubt but unbelief.

That is then the sister nature of unbelief as seen here in these verses.  Let's look at the second.  Let's look at faith.  Let's look at belief.  Verse 40, "And he went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first and there he stayed."  This is where Jesus began his ministry when John the Baptist baptized him.  Then many came to him and said John performed no sign.  Now, they're comparing John the Baptist to Jesus.  John didn't do any miracles, this guy did.  But all the things that John spoke about this man were true and many believed in him there.

There are two reasons why they believed and it's quite simple – belief is simple.  They believe in Jesus first of all because of the things he did -- the science and the miracles that he did.  They saw blind people seeing and they thought, "We've never seen that before.  No other guy we've ever seen could do that."  That was a tip-off.  The second was the testimony of somebody of somebody they respected and that was John the Baptist.

So, there are two issues I want you to see about belief.  Belief evaluates objective evidence.  See skip what he mean by objective evidence.  Something that is objective isn't tainted by my prejudice or bias.  It's observable, it's universal.  Something subjective is what I experience and what I believe.  But there's objective evidence.  Jesus performed signs.  Nobody else has performed those kinds of signs.  That's evidence to them.  And belief will evaluate objective evidence.  What I want you to see is this – faith is not some blind leap in the dark.  That's what used to say.  You just take this jump, this blind leap into faith.  Note, it's not presumption, it's based on evidence.

Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.  By the way, everybody has faith.  Everybody has faith.  Do you know it takes faith to drive a car?  You may not know how electrical systems and automobiles work or air and fuel mixture or fuel injection, you might not understand that, but you believe that when you sit in the car and you put the key in that little hole and turn it to the right, it's going to go -- start.

It takes faith to eat at a restaurant.  And some restaurants require more faith that others.  Yeah, you believe that they're going to give you a good meal they're not going to poison it.  There's nobody back there trying to kill you.  It's going to nourish you.  You're going to get a good deal.  You believe that.  It takes faith.  It takes faith to go to the bank and cash a check.  You've got a paycheck.  There's no intrinsic value in that piece of paper but you're believing that the company who wrote that to you will keep their promise and the bank will respect that promise and give you cash for it.  It takes faith to do that.

Even the atheist has some modicum of faith.  It's faith that is reasonable faith.  To go to a doctor takes faith.  You never saw him go to school.  She uses big words so she must know what she is talking about.  So?  You can go the internet and get big words.  But it says "MD".  Well, you hope it doesn't mean mentally deficient than it means Medical Doctor.  But you are entrusting your life to somebody that you don't intimately personally know.  There's nothing objective to it but it is reasoned because you did ask people and their testimony and his or her qualifications as seen in other procedures.  It's enough for you.  You believe it.

Well, there's some objective things about Christianity that if you evaluate it makes sense.  It's reasonable.  And I know what time to go into.  It's been months on that.  But just the uniqueness of the bible, the bible has 66 books written by over 40 authors, written over 1,500 years about controversial subjects like the problem of man, the origin of the universe, the eternal nature of things, all of these controversial subjects by all of these authors, and yet, they all agree with each other.

Then there's prophecy.  No other holy book has prophetic literature like the bible.  The bible speaks about events, predicts events before they happen, names people's names before they were born, talks about kingdoms rising and falling before they existed, and then there are things like the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I've read the testimony of many unbelievers who wanted to overthrow Christianity, who took a hard look at the resurrection of Christ, Frank Morrison being one of them, an unbelieving British lawyer, and he gave his life to Christ as he examined the objective evidence.

The second thing about belief, it appreciates subjective testimony.  These people down by the Jordan River knew John the Baptist and John the Baptist said some things a bout Jesus and they said, "You know what?  What he said is right.  It's true."  What things did John the Baptist say about Jesus?  Well, he said this, "Behold, the Lamb Of God, who takes away the sin of the world".  John the Baptist called Jesus the "Son of God".  John the Baptist said of Jesus, "His sandal strap I am not worthy unloose" and the he said, "He was preferred before me because he was or existed before me".

John was older that Jesus and John the Baptist says, "He was before me".  Just a reminder, you know that John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins, right?  That means they hang out together.  They went to the feast together.  Every family reunion they were together.  To me, that adds a little bit of weight to John saying who Jesus was.  How many of you would ever say if your cousin, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"  Here's John the Baptist who knew Jesus as a relative and made a testimony about him and these people said, "Yes, that subjective testimony turns out to be right".

Here's how I want to end this.  Christianity is a universal experience.  2,000 years ago, it's a long time ago, Jesus walked this earth and changed people's lives, and if Christianity was valid, you expect people to have their lives changed.  But since 2,000 years ago up until the present moment, Jesus Christ is still changing lives.  I see the evidence all around the people who were one way and they're lives get changed.  But it is narrow.  And Jesus said, "Enter the narrow gate.  Not ponder the gate, not contemplate the gate, not argue about the gate, not have a class discussion on the gate.  Once you're all passed that, now it's time to enter the gate" because at the end of the day, it's a personal relationship with a personal God with the persons that he made.  That's what he wants.

So, will you heed the warning label?  Unbelief is hazardous to you eternal health.  Well, if you believe in Jesus Christ and he is your savior, I want you to stand to your feet just now.  And as you stand into your feet, we're going to pray together.  We're standing up more that just stretching and get ready to go after a long message, some might think, but we're getting ready and standing before the Lord as his army, people who love him, who will go out against oncoming traffic, not trying to hit all the cars, not being obnoxious, but graciously shining the light knowing that because we're facing an onslaught of people going in the other direction.

And so it requires strength.  It's going to require grace.  But light shines in the darkest places and during the Christmas season when people are playing these Christmas songs and even humming some of the words that glorify the Lord is maybe the only time in the year when the window is open in their heart that allows us to meet up with them and share the truth with them.

Let's pray for that.  Father, we stand as your ambassadors.  We stand as ones being sent out into darkness.  Because Jesus said if we follow him, we wound never be in darkness but have the light of life.  I pray that we'd shine that light this season, that we would be good ambassadors, that we would be generous and gracious representatives.  Help us to do that.  Help us to keep you front and center this Christmas season.  And we stand up saying we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the redeemer of mankind, 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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10/31/2010
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The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!)
John 10:1-10
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This is one of the most beloved passages to be found anywhere in Scripture. But it's not a stand-alone passage: The healing of the blind man in chapter 9 was more than a miracle. It was part of the process of Jesus forming His flock. The leadership had cast the healed man out of the synagogue. Jesus found him, accepted him, saved him, and placed him in His own fold.
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11/21/2010
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What's So Great About the Good Shepherd?
John 10:11-21
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"What's so great about being a Christian?" some people ask. The answer lies in the kind of care, provision, and protection we get from Jesus Christ, our Shepherd. Have you ever stopped to make a list of the benefits that are yours as a follower of Christ? Consider this short list of advantages that you, as a child of God, have. When was the last time you thanked Him for being your Shepherd? This would be a great week to do that!
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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.