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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > A Day, a Donkey, a Deliverer, and a Decision

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A Day, a Donkey, a Deliverer, and a Decision
John 12:12-19
Skip Heitzig

John 12 (NKJV™)
12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!"
14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt."
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness.
18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.
19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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:

"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.

FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help) | Buy series

Outline

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  1. Jesus is More Appealing than _____________________(vv. 12-13)

  2. Scripture is More Reliable than____________________(vv. 14-16)

  3. Following is More Important than__________________(vv. 16-18)

Practicing the Principles:

  1. If Jesus entered the room now, what would you shout? Why would you shout that?

  2. What role does Jesus’ fulfilling prophecy have in your faith? Why?

  3. Consider what “simple” things you could let the Lord use to further His work. Think of a few and present them to Him, not passively (“Let me know, Lord, whenever You want them”) but actively (“I will use this for God’s glory starting today!”).

  4. As Jesus approached Jerusalem, He approaches our lives. What do you suppose His reaction is to what He sees? Rejoicing in our devotion? Weeping over unused potential?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Background
      1. Chapter 12 begins the Jesus' final week on earth
      2. The events of this final week before redemption are highly significant
        1. 1/2 of the book of John is devoted to Jesus' last week
        2. 2/5 of Matthew devoted to it
        3. 3/5 of Mark
        4. 1/3 of Luke
        5. From all gospels: four chapters cover first 30 years of Jesus' life
        6. 85 chapters deal with last 3 ½ years of His life
        7. Of those, 29 focus on the last week
    2. Triumphal Entry: Palm Sunday
    3. After many claims and many signs, for the first and only time, Jesus presents Himself as Messiah
    4. Donkeys
      1. Average lifespan 25-40 (up to 60) years
      2. George Washington owned the first donkeys in America; became a donkey breeder
      3. Favorite pastime: rolling in dirt
      4. Long ears: enable hearing and keep them cool
      5. Not only transport burdens and people, in some areas are used as guard animals
      6. According to the London Times, more people are killed annually by donkeys than die in airplane crashes
    5. Palm Sunday
      1. 10th of Nisan
      2. Date Jewish families selected the sacrificial lamb for Passover
      3. First and only time Jesus presents Himself as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the word
  2. Jesus is More Appealing than Religion (vv. 12-13)
    1. Religious people have come to Jerusalem for the religious feast Passover
      1. One of three mandatory feasts
      2. Celebrated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt
      3. Focal point of their history
      4. Same thing every year
        1. People wanted something more than their religion was giving them: more than endless rituals, prescribed prayers, and the same sacraments and ceremonies
        2. "He sits on the slope and places a blade of grass in his mouth. He looks beyond the flock at the road below. ..For over a week a river of pilgrims has streamed through this valley, bustling down the road with animals and loaded carts. For days he has watched them from his perch… he knew where they were going and why. They were going to Jerusalem. And they were going to sacrifice lambs in the temple. The celebration strikes him as ironic. Streets jammed with people. Marketplaces full of the sounds of the bleating of goats and the selling of birds. Endless observances. The people relish the festivities. They awaken early and retire late. They find strange fulfillment in the pageantry. Not him. What kind of God would be appeased by the death of an animal? OH, the shepherd's doubts are never voiced anywhere except on the hillside. But on this day, they shout. It isn't the slaughter of the animals that disturbs him. It is the endlessness of it all. How many years has he seen the people come and go? How many caravans? How many sacrifices? How many bloody carcasses? … Lamb after lamb, Passover after Passover...He turns his head and looks again at the sky. Will the blood of yet another lamb really matter?" -- from Six Hours One Friday: Living in the Power of the Cross by Max Lucado
        3. "I want my religion like my tea—I want it hot." --John Wesley
    2. Jesus Christ : a breath of fresh air in the malaise of dead religion
      1. "'Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.' He answered and said to them, 'Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?'" (Matthew 15:2-3)
      2. Jesus often hung out with tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes; His most scathing words were for the religious leaders: (see Matthew 23)
      3. Multitudes followed Him
      4. "Common people heard Him gladly." (Mark 12:37)
    3. Passover scene
      1. 256,000 lambs slain; 10 people for every lamb; approximately 2.7 million people
      2. Thousands of people meet him and shout "Hosanna!" Save Now! "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
        1. Psalm 118:26: a Messianic victory song
        2. They are asking Jesus to do for them what religion has not done: bring salvation and deliverance
    4. Jesus: the most compelling figure in history
      1. "I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him." –Napoleon Bonaparte
      2. "I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history."--H.G. Wells
      3. "A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act." --Mahatma Gandhi
      4. "I believe there is no one deeper, lovelier, more sympathetic and more perfect than Jesus, not only is there no one else like him, there never could be anyone like him."-- Fyodor Dostoevsky
    5. Pharisees angered that the people have a longing that they cannot fulfill
  3. Scripture is More Reliable than Opinion
    1. A lot of people: a lot of opinions about Jesus
      1. Prophet (John 7:40)
      2. Not from God (John 9:16)
      3. Sinner (John 9:24)
      4. Prophet (John 9:17) (See Deuteronomy 18:15)
      5. Has a demon and is crazy (John 10:20)
      6. From Galilee, couldn't be Christ (John 7:41)
      7. Three times John recorded there was a division because of Jesus (John 7:43; John 9:16; John 10:19)
      8. What Scripture declares Jesus to be is more important than what anyone believes Him to be
    2. Application of prophecy
      1. Two old testament quotes: (Psalm 118:26; Zechariah 9:9)
      2. The Donkey
        1. During peace, kings rode on a donkey
        2. During war, kings rode on a horse
        3. Jesus is coming as the Prince of Peace, offering salvation through His death
        4. First coming in peace
        5. Second coming to judge and make war (Revelation 19:11-19)
    3. Accuracy of prophecy
      1. "Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.' " (Luke 19:41-44)
        1. Jesus is referring to the Daniel 9 promise of the exact time of Messiah: "Learn and understand these things. A command will come to rebuild Jerusalem. The time from this command until the appointed leader comes will be forty-nine years and four hundred thirty-four years. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and a trench filled with water around it, but it will be built in times of trouble. After the four hundred thirty-four years the appointed leader will be killed;" (Daniel 9:25-26 NCV)
        2. Artaxerxes Longimanus commanded to restore Jerusalem on March 14, 445 B.C.
        3. Sir Robert Anderson in his book The Coming Prince determined: 483 years, based on the 360-day calendar year was 173,880 days. April 6, 32 A.D. (the 10th of Nisan)
        4. How precise is God? Does He keep His appointments? Can you trust Him?
      2. The disciples didn't get it at first
      3. "God's word is alive and working and is sharper than a double-edged sword." (Hebrews 4:12)
      4. Opinion doesn’t  matter unless it is as accurate as the Bible
      5. Scripture that reveals God with pinpoint accuracy is more reliable than anyone's opinion
      6. A God this detailed, accurate, and caring: is He trustworthy?
  4. Following is More Important than Observation
    1. Followers:
      1. Disciples –followers, learners (v. 16)
      2. Eyewitnesses to Lazarus' resurrection (v. 17)
      3. Those who heard the eyewitness testimony (v.18)
      4. Pharisees–the religious elite (v. 19)
    2. Only the disciples believed the Scripture and placed their trust in Jesus
    3. Great to make observations and study the life of Christ: observation should lead us to conclusions, which should lead us to action
    4. What are you doing about Him?
    5. Apply the truth and live it out in obedience to Him
    6. Of all the personalities, the donkey is the most compliant:

    The Donkey, by G.K. Chesterton

    When fishes flew and forests walked 
    And figs grew upon thorn, 
    Some moment when the moon was blood 
    Then surely I was born; 

    With monstrous head and sickening cry 
    And ears like errant wings, 
    The devil's walking parody 
    On all four-footed things. 

    The tattered outlaw of the earth, 
    Of ancient crooked will; 
    Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, 
    I keep my secret still. 

    Fools! For I also had my hour; 
    One far fierce hour and sweet: 
    There was a shout about my ears, 
    And palms before my feet. 

Publications Referenced: London Times; Six Hours One Friday: Living in the Power of the Cross by Max Lucado; The Coming Prince , by Sir Robert Anderson; The Donkey, by G.K. Chesterton
Figures Referenced: George Washington; John Wesley; Napoleon Bonaparte; H.G. Wells; Mahatma Gandhi; Fyodor Dostoevsky
Cross References: Deuteronomy 18:15; Psalm 118:26; Daniel 9:25-26; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 15:2-3; Matthew 23; Mark 12:37; Luke 19:41-44; John 7:40; John 7:41John 7:43; John 9:16; John 9:17; John 9:16; John 9:24; John 10:19; John 10:20;  Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 19:11-19

Topic: Jesus' final week

Keywords: prophecy, seventy weeks, Passover, donkey, religion

Transcript

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Would you turn in your bibles to John Chapter 12, the gospel of John Chapter 12.  I'm glad it was a warm welcome because last weekend there is no way you could have had a warm welcome that would warm you up to any degree at all.  That was like the coldest -- I read or heard somewhere that New Mexico was the coldest state in America during that cold spell we had a week and a half ago, that was crazy.  I mean I love snow and stuff but I'm kind of done with it.

So today there are people sitting out side a little bit, who actually one person during first service was outside, it was like warm 27 degrees, you know I mean.  So anyway let's pray together.  Lord it's great to get the family together, it's wonderful to sing songs that are so meaningful they come, they arise out of hearts that are filled with worship, for the most part that is a case here.  Father we do pray that the spirit of God will move this morning.  He already has been we sense it.  We pray more so through your word that it would be direct to us.  We give ourselves Lord to this time and set aside and listen to what you might want to say to us and part of our worship is to pay close attention to what we believe the spirit of the Lord is saying through the written word.  As we encounter the written word we will then also encounter the living word, Christ himself.  That's our prayer this morning in Jesus name.  Amen.

Sometimes it's helpful to make a comparison.  We're going to do that today in the gospel of John.  We're going to look at a few different comparisons.  When you compare one thing with another thing it helps you realize how far you've come.  For example, if you were to compare your modern cellphone, the one that you have with the first or one of the first mobile phones.  This was the Motorola brick phone.  And it was quite sizable but if I recall it didn't drop calls but what a difference, what a comparison between your slim cellphone that has apps on it with that thing.  Or if you were to compare your laptop computer if you have on with one of the first computers, what a comparisons we laugh at that and that wasn't long ago.

By the way that brick phone, I found one at antique sale.  Or if you were to compare you modern kitchen appliances with what your grandmother had her refrigerator, what a difference?  When you make comparisons like that you are able to see why one is more preferable than the other and we're going to that in the gospel of John Chapter 12.  There are three comparisons that we look at this morning.

Before we get to that, let me help you frame some of the material that is written by the gospel writers.  We're on Chapter 12 of John, we're dealing with final week of Jesus on the earth.  He lived 33 and a half years.  The final week of Jesus upon the earth begins in Chapter 11, Chapter 12 really is the beginning of that last week of his life.  But you'll notice that we're only in Chapter 12.  So what's important is that John in terms of literary real estate devotes one-half, almost one-half of the entire book to the last week of Jesus on Earth.  Matthew devotes two-fifths of his words in Chapters to the last week.  Gospel of Mark three-fifths, Luke devotes one-third of all of his words to the last week.  That's the focus because that's the week that redemption occurred, the death on the cross and all of those events that lead up to it are highly significant. 

Here's another way to look at it, if you were to tally up Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you discovered there's only four chapters in all four gospels that cover the first 30 years of Jesus life, 85 deal with the last three and a half years and of that 85, 29 are focused upon the last week.  We're now at one of the most significant events and that is the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  We call it Palm Sunday that's the day we think it happened, the week before the Passover, the week before his crucifixion probably was a Sunday.

This event is one of the few events covered by all four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John covered this event.  And there's only a few of Jesus events of his life that are told in all four gospels.  I kind of look at it this way, anytime God repeats something four times, its pretty important.  Sometimes Jesus will say thanks twice like verily, verily.  The disciples knew that meant listen up.  Sometimes God will introduce himself three times, "Holy, Holy, Holy" in Isaiah 6.  But here in the Gospels this story, this event is mentioned four times, he wants us to really get this. 

Verse 12 we begin, "The next day a great multitude that had come to feast when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him and cried out 'Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.'  Then Jesus when he had found a young donkey sat on it as it is written 'Fear not daughter of Zion, behold your king is coming sitting on a donkeys coat.'"  His disciples did not understand these things at first but when Jesus was glorified then they remembered that these things were written about him and that they had done these things to him.  Therefore, the people who were with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness.  For this reason, the people also met him because they heard that he had done this sign.  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing, look the world has done after him."

So we have a day, a specific day I want to tell you about.  We have a donkey, we have sitting on the donkey the deliverer for the sins of the world and we have a decision that Jesus in fact enforces people to make with this presentation.  He has made many claims, he has done many signs.  Now for the first and only time he presents himself as their Messiah forcing their hand to make a decision regarding it.  A day, a donkey, a deliverer, a decision.  Now as I look at it, this is like the worlds luckiest donkey.  Of all the donkeys in the floor wherever that little town across on the Mount of Olives was, this donkey was like the luckiest donkey on his back rides the son of God fulfilling ancient prophecy.

I've always loved this story this is one of my favorite stories in all of scriptures hands down.  I did a little donkey research this week, unknown donkey facts.  Fact number one, did you know that donkey's average life span is between 25 to 40 years.  Sometimes if you take care of your donkey they'll live 60 years of age.  They have a quite hefty life span.  George Washington owned the first donkeys in American and he became a donkey breeder.  Your first president was into donkeys.  Donkeys favorite pass time?  Rolling in the dirt, they love to do that more than anything else that's why when you touch him this clouds goes poof around him of dust.  And this probably explains the personality of Eyor better than any other fact.  They love to roll in the dirt.  Donkeys as you know have long ears for two reasons, it enables them to hear miles away and interestingly enough it keeps them cool, like a radiator it helps keep their bodies cool.

Something else, donkeys are not just used to transport people or burdens.  Did you know that in some places donkeys are used as guard animals?  Now I never knew this, I've never seen a sign "Beware of Donkey", I never thought of donkeys being used but apparently in certain parts of the world to guard sheep donkeys are used.

Finally fact, according to the London Times more people are killed annually by donkeys than die in airplane crashes.  So if you're afraid to fly just think of riding a donkey, it might help you.  Now I don't know if that's really true, that's what the London Times reported but I don't know honestly who honestly who's keeping track of annual donkey deaths around the world.  Nonetheless, those are considered the facts.  This event takes place on a Sunday as I mentioned Palm Sunday that's what is traditionally referred to as.

But it was a special day and you're going to notice that I hope during this little message, it was the tenth day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar.  Why is that important?  On the tenth day of Nisan the Jewish families that was the day they would select the lamb and bring it into the family.  There would be sacrifice on the fourteenth of Nisan the day of Passover.  This was the day the households picked the lamb for sacrifice.  It is not insignificant the for the first and only time Jesus Christ presents himself as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world to the nation of Israel.

Now we're going to notice three comparisons in our text and you'll notice in your worship folder and you have an outline.  And this week I cheated a little bit, I didn't give you the full sentence you have to fill in the blank.  I want you to be engaged.  So jot this down, here is the first comparison.  Jesus is more appealing than religion.  That's the first comparison.  Jesus is more appealing than religion.  Look at Verse 12 "The next day a great multitude..." and I'll describe that multitude in a moment "...that had come to the feast when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him and cried out 'Hosanna Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord the King of Israel.'"

All right these people are religious people, they have come to Jerusalem for a religious feast, the feast is Passover, and we're told back in verse 1.  Passover, one of the three mandatory feasts, that is if you live within a certain range of Jerusalem it was compulsory that you went up to Jerusalem for three feast and one of them was Passover.  Passover celebrated the deliverance of the children of Israel through ten plagues in the book of Exodus that's forced the children of Israel out into the wilderness and into a new land.

Passover was the focal point of their history.  Their calendar revolved around their redemption.  The calendar changed once Passover was instituted.  But it was the same thing every year.  When they went up to Jerusalem, people took the same route every year and the people frankly by and large wanted something more than their religion was giving them.  More than endless rituals, more than prescribed prayers, more than the same sacraments and ceremonies, they wanted something more.  Max Lucado has written many great books and one of his books he calls it the Musings of a Shepherd, one little piece.  It's as if the shepherd one of them is watching what is happening at Passover during the Jerusalem.  I'll read it to you. 

"He fits on a slope places the blade of grass in his mouth.  He looks beyond the flock down at road below.  For over a week a river of pilgrims has streamed through this valley bustling down the road with animals and loaded carts.  For days he has watch them from his perch.  He knew where they were going and why.  They were going to Jerusalem and they were going to sacrifice lambs in the temple.  The celebration strikes him as ironic, streets jammed with people, market places full of sounds of the bleating of goats and the selling of bird.  Endless observances, the people relish these festivities; they awaken early and retire late."

"They find strange fulfillment in this pageantry but not him.  What kind of God would be appeased by the death of any animal?  Oh, the shepherds doubts are never voiced anywhere except on that hillside but on this day they shout."  It isn't the slaughter of animals that disturbs him, it's the endlessness of it all.  How many yeas has he seen people come and go?  How many caravans?  How many sacrifices?  How many bloody carcasses?  Lamb after lamb, Passover after Passover he turns his head, looks again at the sky and says, "Will the blood of yet another lamb really matter."  And that's how a lot of people felt.  They wanted something more than religion.  They wanted reality and that's why so many of them, this crowd gathers around Jesus and say what they said to him.  They wanted something real.  John Wesley used to say "I want my religion like my tea, I want it hot."

In other words I don't want some cold perfunctory, ritualistic, dead religious thing.  I want reality, I want it hot.  Jesus Christ was a breath of fresh air in the melees of dead religion.  There was a time Matthew 15 records that the scribes and Pharisees came from Jerusalem to wherever Jesus was.  And it's an interesting conversation.  It still puzzles me to this day.  They come to Jesus and they say, "Why do your disciples transgress the traditions of the elders; they don't wash their hands the right way before they eat."  And I say I'm puzzled because evidently this group was highly motivated to take a trip all the way from Jerusalem to wherever Jesus was to tell him that, to be like tattle tale. 

"Your disciples don't wash their hands right."  They break the tradition of our religion. What's interesting is what Jesus said to them, he said "Why it that you by your tradition is are breaking the commandments of God."  Now had I been in the crowd, I would have gone, "Yes!"  Finally somebody stands up to these nitwits, who are all about their little tradition and their little religious stuff and hear Jesus saying "We need reality.  We need relationship."  That's why people are more attracted to Jesus, he is more appealing than religion.

I find it fascinating that Jesus often hang out with tax collectors, sinners they are called.  Prostitutes, but the most scathing words that come from Jesus' lips were for religious people.  Don't you find that interesting?  In fact religious leaders, the religious elite, classic example is Matthew Chapter 23, 24 Verses are devoted to scathing word.  I'm just going to quote a few of them to you.  Here they are and I quote, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men neither do you go in nor do you allow those who are entering to go in."  "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites for ye devour widows houses, and for a pretence you make long prayers."  "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites for ye travel land and sea to make one proselyte, and when covert him, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."

Ouch?  That's why you can see Jesus didn't have a whole lot of space for this dead empty religion that didn't provide anything in terms of reality for people.  So you'll notice a multitude came to the feast and when he was in Galilee multitudes followed him.  They were clamoring for this.  They were hungry and thirsty for this.  Mark puts it this way, "And the common people heard him gladly.  Jesus was a breath of fresh air."

Now this a great multitude came and I'm going to give you a little hint here.  Passover was a big deal, one source that we read, one source tells us that during one Passover around the time of Christ, 256,000 lambs were slain in Jerusalem for one Passover.  According to ancient Jewish law, there were ten people required for every one lamb that puts the population in Jerusalem in roughly 2.7 million people plus, crowds of people.  Jesus, and I'm going to put all the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John together -- Jesus gets up in the morning in Bethany walks toward the ascent of the Mount of Olives, behind him gathers a crowd of sizeable multitude.  As he gets to the very top of the Mount of Olives, another crowd that has come out of this city is there to meet with him.  So there are thousands of people because of what is happening with Lazarus and now Jesus presenting himself on this donkey.  And the people cried out one word "Hosanna."  And also some said "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel."  They are quoting Psalm 118, A messianic victory psalm, straight out of the scriptures.

Now the word Hosanna means simply save now or bring salvation now.  It was not a praise it was a prayer, it was a desire.

They are saying "Do for us what our religion has not done for us all these years.  Save us, bring salvation, deliverance and bring it now."  That's what they cry out.

I still find that Jesus Christ, the most compelling figure in history.  Now I've been saved since 1973 and I've read through the Bible on several, several occasions.  And I still will stop often in my reading in the New Testament because I am just drawn and compelled and amazed at Jesus Christ. 

He is the most significant person in all of human history and I discovered I'm not alone in that assessment.  I read several different quotes I'm going to give you just a few.  Napoleon Bonaparte said "I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ was no mere man.  Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison.  Alexander, Cesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded great empires.  But Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love and to this day millions would die for him."  That's one ruler looking back at that one leader, Christ. 

Here is another from H.G. Wells.  A historian and an author he wrote War of the Worlds and other books.  "I am an historian, I am not a believer but I must confess that as a historian that this penniless creature from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of all history.  Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history."  Mahatma Gandhi said of Christ, "He is a man who is completely innocent and he offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others including his enemies and became the ransom of the world."

And finally one of my favorite authors, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Russian Novelist writes, "I believe there are no one deeper, lovelier, and more sympathetic and more prefect than Jesus.  Not only is there no one else like him, there never could be anyone else like him." 

And you see this is what angers these Pharisees.  When in the last verse of our text he said, "Look, the whole world has gone after him." because they saw that within the hearts of these people grew this longing that they couldn't fulfill.  They were going after Jesus.  So that's the first comparison, Jesus is more appealing than religion. 

Here is the second comparison, jot this down.  Scripture is more reliable than opinion.  Scripture is more reliable than opinion.  Now there are a lot of people around Jesus and there must have been a lot of opinions about who he was.  Just in the gospel of John, just in John alone, John records the reaction of several people and here is just the sampling.  In John Chapter 7 some said, "He's a prophet."  In John Chapter 9 some said, "This man is not from God, others in that Chapter said, "This man is the sinner."  Also in that same Chapter again they said "He is a prophet."  John Chapter 10, some were saying, "He has a demon and is crazy."  Other said, "This couldn't be the Christ because he is from Galilee."

Three times in John's gospel is this phrase, "And the people were divided because of Christ..." or there was a division among the people because of him.  Now question, were any of those opinions accurate?  Not really, I mean the closest one is when they said he is a prophet that harkens back to Deuteronomy 18 when Moses said, "Another one will come a prophet like me, you will listen to him."  That's a reference to Christ.  But all of these were opinions and the point I want to make is that what scripture declares him to be is much more important and reliable than what anyone believes him to be. 

Twice in our paragraph are quotes from scripture, you'll notice in verse 13 they say, "Hosanna save now, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."  That's a quote right out of Psalm 118.  Look at verse 15 or let's go in verse 14, "Then Jesus when he had found a young donkey sat on it as it is written, 'Fear not daughter of Zion.  Behold your king is coming sitting on a donkeys coat.'" He is quoting a scripture that is probably 500 to 600 years old that Jesus on this day, the tenth of Nisan is fulfilling.

Question, why is he sitting on a donkey?  Why a donkey?  Do you just say, "I'm tired."  Well he just got up, it was the morning.  Did he say, "I've always wanted to be on a donkey, I love donkey rides."  Now he is doing this John says to fulfill what the prophets said that the Messiah will come, the king will come riding on a donkey.

Now the full scripture comes to us in Zackariah 9, verse 9 and it's stated this way.  "Fear not oh daughter of Zion.  Rejoice oh daughter of Jerusalem for behold your king is coming to you.  He is lowly and riding a donkey, he is just in having salvation on a 'the full of a donkey.'"  And John lifts part of that verse or paraphrases that verse and says that Jesus fulfilled it.  Why a donkey?  For this reason.  Whenever a kings rode in a parade fashion on donkey it was during times of peace whenever it was times of war they would ride a horse.  Jesus wasn't coming as their great deliverer, victor I'm going to wipe out the Romans.  He is coming as the prince of peace offering peace through the salvation by the death that he would die within a week.  He came at peace, that's his first coming, he came as the prince of peace.

Now when he comes the second time, Revelation 19 says, he's going to ride a horse a white horse and that is because it says in Revelation 19, "He comes to judge and to make war." two different comings.  But there's something else going on and to me this is like the one of them most favorite verses of scripture.  This doesn't just show us the applicability of all testament scripture to the life of Christ but the accuracy and reliability of it.

Now I'd like you to turn, keep a marker here or finger here turn back one book, that's all one book Luke, turn to the book of Luke Chapter 19.  Luke Chapter 19, "It's the same event with an added detail by Luke about this coming of Jesus into Jerusalem."  Luke Chapter 19.  In Verse 41 he is now descending the Mount of Olives.  He's going down on this donkey, he stops and he weeps over the city.  Verse 42 notice Jesus said, "If you, even you had only known on this day what would bring you peace but now with this hidden from your eyes.  Then he predicts the Fall of Jerusalem."  He said, "You should have known this day, this is the day you should have known about."  And he predicts the Fall of Jerusalem because they didn't know the day, now look at verse 44.  "They will not leave in you, that is Jerusalem one stone upon another because you did not know the time of your visitation."  What's he talking about?  What day is he referring to because he's obviously holding them accountable to know this day?

And then he mentions the time of your visitation, this is what he is referring to.  He is referring and I'm going to need your brains on this one.  You've got to follow me on this one.  You've got to really think and engage to.  Jesus is referring back to a promise, a prediction made in the book of Daniel Chapter 9 that says the exact time the Messiah will come.  He is holding them accountable for not knowing the day.  In Daniel 9 the angel Gabriel comes to Daniel the prophet and he says this "Seventy sevens."  Literally, seventy sevens or 490 years are determined for your people -- that's the Jewish people and for your holy city that's the City of Jerusalem to finish the transgression, to make and understand, to bring reconciliation for inequity, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint them most holy, 70 periods of 7, 490 years.

Now watch this, I'm going to read it to you.  This is Daniel 9 and I'm reading in the new century version for ease.  "Learn and understand these things," the angel says to Daniel.  A command will come to rebuild Jerusalem, the time from this command until the Messiah comes --or the anointed leader --will be 49 years and 434 years.  Or I did the math, a total of 483 years.  After this the Messiah will be killed.  Okay stop, what did we learn so far?  The angel says, "Daniel, from the time that a commandment comes to rebuild Jerusalem which had fall to the Babylonians and was destroyed to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah will be 483 years.

Okay.  Now we have information because we know in history the exact date when the commandment was given to restore and build Jerusalem.  It was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445BC it's well attested to in history.  That means we should be able to count four hundred and eight three years from March 14, 445BC and come up with the coming of the Messiah.

Now there was a guy named Sir Robert Anderson who wrote a book called "The Coming Prince" where he documents all that I am saying.  And I'm saying it in brief fashion, it's a whole book about it.  Sir Robert Anderson was knighted for his work and he was the head of Scotland Yard at one time.  So he took the calendar, the Jewish calendar based on the Babylonian calendar of 360 days, not 365 days.  And he discovered that 483 years is 173,880 days precisely.  He calculated it it's in his book.  That means that from March 14, 445BC, if you were to count a 173,880 days you should find something significant.  Well he did, he counted a 173,880 from March 14, 445BC and it happened to fall in our calendar on April 6, 32AD.  You know what date that was?  This day, this day the tenth of Nisan when the lambs were presented to the household when Jesus Christ for the first and only time allowed this kind of public parade of his Messiahship into Jerusalem.  On this exact day Jesus came.

Now here's my question to you.  How exact is God?  How precise is God?  Does God keep his appointments?  Is God ever late?  Can you trust this kind of God?  That's really the bottom line issue.  Now the disciples who were there seeing all this, they didn't get this at first until after Jesus ascended into heaven and was glorified look at verse 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first but when Jesus was glorified then they remembered that these things were written about him and that they had done these things to him.

Now that's how it works.  The longer you spend reading this book and going through it, I tell you what, every time I find fulfilled prophecy and there is some much of it here.  I marvel at the accuracy of it and the reliability of it.  It's absolutely astonishing to me.  Hebrew says the word of God is sharper than any two edged sword, it's living and powerful.  So that's the great point here.  Scripture is more reliable than opinion.  Now forgive me but when somebody says, "Well my opinion about God and my opinion about Jesus --"stop, stop, stop.  I don't care bout your opinion, until your opinion gets as accurate as this book."  But when it comes to your opinion about God and for that matter, my opinion about God, it doesn't mean anything.  Scripture that reveals God and reveals Jesus accurately with pinpoint accuracy is more reliable than anyone's opinion including all of theirs on that day.

Here is the question to walk away with before we get in to our next and final point.  A God that is this accurate, a god that is this detailed and this caring, is he trust worthy?  Is he?  So say he is trust worthy, okay he is trust worthy you can relay upon him.  So whatever you're dealing with and going through in your life just remember back to this, he can handle it, he sees it all in advance.

Here's the third and final comparison following is more important than observation.  Following is more important than observation.  Now I didn't know this until I really studied this paragraph this week.  But there are four groups that are mentioned.  Four separate groups that were observing this whole event.  First group is the disciples, they're mentioned in verse 16.  The disciples are followers of Christ.  They are learners that are what disciple means.  They are learning and they're following this Jesus for three, three and a half years now.  That's verse 16

The second group was a group of eye witnesses who were present a few days before when Lazarus was raised from the dead.

They saw it, they were with Martha and Mary standing in front of the tomb when Jesus said, "Lazarus come forth."  And they saw that dead guy walked and they told other people about it, that's verse 17.  Therefore the people who were with them, when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness, they told other people.

The third group is in verse 18.  They are the people who heard what the second group told.  Wow, I just heard that this Lazarus guy is alive that this Jesus guy raised him from the dead.  They were there, that's verse 18.  For this reason the people also meet him because they heard that he had done the sign.

Now there's a fourth group and that's verse 19.  And those are the Pharisees, the religious elite we've have studied them before.  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves and they're looking at these three groups of people gathered around Jesus.  And the Pharisees said, "You see you are accomplishing nothing.  Look the world has gone after him."  I chuckle at this because if you recall back when they had that little council meeting of Sanhedrin this was their biggest fear. They said in Chapter 11:48, "If we let them alone like this, everyone will believe in him."  Now they're kind of going "Okay, we blew it, we lost it's over everybody believes in him."  Look everybody is following him.  Now that wasn't true, everybody was observing him, everybody was excited in the moment, and everybody was very emotional.  But of all of those four groups that were watching this, it was only one group that believed in the scripture and placed their trust in Jesus and that was those disciples.  That was the only group.

Here's my point.  It's great to make observations, it's great to study the life of Christ and observe certain facts about Him.  But observation should lead us to conclusions which should lead us to actions.  What are you going to do about it, what are you going to do with Jesus Christ?  There are a lot of people who study and underline and take notes and are a part sort of the function of the event of Christianity all short of applying truth to their lives and living it out in obedience to him, that's following Christ, that's being a disciple.

So today is the day of your visitation for some of you.  Just as God engineered that donkey in that exact date, I believe God has engineered it for you to be here at this morning, it's no coincidence.  "Oh, no, no, I was invited by a friend."  Yeah that what it seems like, you were put here by God.  "Oh well I really didn't want to come with my idea but I -- I got stuck in traffic so I decided I'd stay."  Okay cool, you've got an appointment with God.  It's the day of your visitation.  This is the time perhaps that God has for you.  What will you do about it?  You know what's interesting about the story and I close with this.

Of all of the personalities in the story, the donkey is the most compliant one.  Isn't that interesting?  Because typically we associate donkeys as being really stubborn.  Donkey is just like he will come along from that town to this town, Jesus will sit on him he will go down, and he's the most compliant one in the story.  What a lucky donkey.

G.K Chesterton, a great author, I recommend his writings to you.  G.K Chesterton wrote a little poem imagining what it was like to be this donkey.  And if you don't mind I'll close with it. 

"When fishes flew and forests walked and figs grew upon a thorn some moment when the moon was blood then surely I was born.  With monstrous head and sickening cry and ears like errant wings the devil's walking parody of all four-footed things.  The tattered outlaw of the earth with ancient crooked will, starve, scourge, deride me I am dumb I keep my secret still.  Fools! For I also had my hour, one far fierce hour and sweet: There was a shout about my ears, and palms before my feet."

That donkey on that day carried the deliverer while people were making their decisions, what's your decision?  What's your decision concerning Christ?

Let's pray.  Father in heaven, we bow our heads because you're the king of the universe.  We close our eyes to not have any other distraction before us or movement.  And we think about what we just heard and we are amazed at not only how one scripture relates to another.

But how accurate and reliable your word is the Bible is.  One of the classic truths the Bible is unlike any other book in literature.  And that following Christ is the smartest move because we see even mathematically the very day described by Daniel for it was Jesus held the nation accountable.  Jesus walked in or came in to Jerusalem sitting on a donkey, fulfilling Daniel's prophecy, fulfilling Zachariah's prophecy, fulfilling Psalm 118, showing us that the revelation of your word is far more important than the opinion of any man or a women or a documentary on television.

So Lord here we are confronted like they were then with a choice, will Jesus become our Lord or will we relegate him to the realms of religion and belief systems, myths that people have?  If you're here today and maybe up to this point Jesus is, this has just been sort of a religious experience, you go to church.  You had children so you think they need to be in a good environment.  You come, you listen, you sing, you're involved to a point.  But it's just like religion, there's no reality, there's nothing authentic, nothing compelling about Jesus that you follow him. 

Now it's your opportunity this day of your visitation to change that and to make Jesus the center of your life and do like these disciples commit to him and follow him and believe His word and believe and trust Him.  If you want to do that, if you want to see that change in your life or maybe you at one time followed Christ but you haven't been lately and you need to come back to him.

As our heads our bowed, as we're praying and we're about to close, if you want to commit your life to Christ I want to pray for you as we close.  I need to know who I'm praying for so I'm going to just lift your hand up in the air, just lift it up high, just keep it up there for a moment and I'll acknowledge you.  God bless you ma'am and you sir toward the front and you.  And you up to the side, up to my right, yes ma'am I see your hand.  In the back, couple of you in the back, couple of you right in the middle up front.  In the family room, anyone else, raise it up high, move it around so I can see it, God bless you in the back.  Yup a couple of you, I miss you, I'm glad you move it around.

Father, we pray for every hand because every hand is attached to a life a real life.  Someone that's important, someone that you died for and you want to give new life.  I pray, we pray for all of them that you strengthen them in the commitment that they are making.  A commitment to come to you for the first time or to come back to you and to walk with you and to be forgiven and live in newness of life to trust this God who is so accurate.  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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12/5/2010
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To BElieve or Not to BElieve...
John 10:22-42
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"In all unbelief there are two things: a good opinion of one's self and a bad opinion about God."— Horatius Bonar. It's true, isn't it? Humanism is man-centered and rejects God's existence or His relevance. But Jesus appealed to two things: the plain evidence of His supernatural works and the testimony of those who witnessed them. Jesus here asserts His deity, and the reaction is predictable—some believed while others did not believe. Which camp do you fall into?
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1/9/2011
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The Great Physician's Patient Dies
John 11:1-16
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When a doctor loses a patient on the operating table, there is a deep sense of remorse and sadness in the surgical theater. Doctors are trained to save lives but sometimes even the best trained physicians are unable to control complications that lead to death. But here we discover that Christ, the Great Physician, not only knows that His patient is sick--He allows him to die! Here are three principles about Divine Medicine that we can all learn.
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1/16/2011
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A Tale of Two Sisters
John 11:17-32
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In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote his famous work, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story before us is set in Bethany near Jerusalem and highlights the personal relationship that two sisters had with Jesus Christ. Their broken hearts provide an excellent platform to consider how Christ deals with people in grief and loss. Let's actively probe not only their responses but ours to the incredible promise Jesus makes.
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1/23/2011
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The Strangest Funeral Ever
John 11:33-44
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According to one source, there are approximately 2 million funerals in America per year, which means that about 5,479 funerals take place every single day! Most of those funerals are pretty typical: a formal service followed by an interment. But the funeral service we're looking at was really different--and not just because of a resurrection. Here Jesus does three things that are pretty normal for most people at a funeral, but strikingly odd for Jesus.
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1/30/2011
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What to Do with Jesus?
John 11:45-57
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Any lawyer can tell you that whenever the star witness is a resurrected corpse, you have a pretty good case! But Lazarus being alive from the dead doesn’t seem to persuade everyone. And so the big issue becomes what shall we do with Jesus? The decisions made here set the clock in motion for an impending hate crime—the crucifixion of Christ. But from heaven’s vantage point, this is all part of God’s plan for redemption. Let’s see the responses and how we can make a difference.
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2/6/2011
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A Meal to Reveal the Heart
John 12:1-11
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If you were to step into the home of Simon at Bethany (Mark 14:3) on that night, you would've seen Jesus and His disciples along with Lazarus and His two sisters reclining at a low table for a meal in honor of Christ. But if you were to step into the hearts of those people, you would discover they were all very different from each other. Those inside the house and outside represent the gamut of feelings about Jesus—from adoring love to intense hatred. What a complicated meal!
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2/20/2011
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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
Skip Heitzig
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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
Skip Heitzig
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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
Skip Heitzig
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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
Skip Heitzig
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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.