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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Believe It or Not!

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Believe It or Not! - John 12:37-50

Taught on | Topic: Belief | Keywords: belief, unbelief, faith, persecution, light

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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3/6/2011
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Believe It or Not!
John 12:37-50
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. Unbelief is Dangerous (vv. 37-41)

  2. Faith Can Be Dangerous Too (vv. 42-43)

  3. Jesus Shows the Difference (vv. 44-50)

    1. Faith Honors God / Unbelief Doesn't

    2. Faith Brightens Your Life / Unbelief Darkens It

    3. Faith Opens the Door to the Future / Unbelief Closes It


Things to Ponder:


  1. Can you remember being stubborn about something as a child? What was the result of your stubbornness? Did it serve you well? Have you changed much since then?

  2. Why didn't people believe in Jesus? What is the human part in unbelief and what is God's part? Does it work the same way with belief?

  3. How would you describe your heart's condition right now? (Soft and pliable? Slow and cautious? Hard and immoveable?) Which is better and why?


Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. God provided only one way for mankind to go to heaven: through Jesus Christ
      1. John will show us two groups
        1. Those who believe based on what they saw and heard
        2. Those who do not believe despite what they say and heard
      2. John provides a general survey regarding the people who encountered Jesus
    2. According to a survey by the Barna Group, among those who claim to be born-again Christians:
      1. 46% believe in absolute moral truth; more than half do not
      2. Less than 50% reject the notion that you can earn your salvation; more than half believe they can earn their way to heaven
      3. Only a minority of Americans believe in the Jesus of the New Testament
    3. We are entering a transitional section of the Gospel of John
      1. Jesus is entering his private ministry
        1. Intimate time with the disciples
        2. John 13-16, and some of chapter 17 focus on training the apostles
        3. Jesus ends his public ministry in John 12:36: "These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them."
        4. Soon he will be in the upper room with his disciples
      2. John assesses the first twelve chapters; Jesus' 3 ½ years of public ministry
        1. Commentary about the people around Jesus
        2. Commentary about Jesus Himself
  2.  Unbelief is Dangerous (vv. 37-41)
    1. They didn't believe in spite of the preponderance of the evidence
      1. Water to wine (See John 2)
      2. Walked on water at the Sea of Galilee (See John 6:15-21)
      3. Fed thousands with a few loaves and fish (See John 6:1-14)
      4. Healed the Nobleman's son long distance (See John 4:46-54)
      5. Healed the blind man (See John 9)
      6. Healed the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (See John 5)
      7. Resurrection of Lazarus from the dead (See John 11)
      8. 34 miraculous signs recorded in the four gospels demonstrate Jesus' power over death, disease, demons, and nature
    2. Miracles are the suspension of natural law and imposition of supernatural force
      1. "There is no longer either need or room for supernatural beings capable of affecting the course of events in the evolutionary pattern of thought." Julian Huxley
      2. Saw and did not believe; willful disbelief
    3. Unbelief doesn't take God by surprise (See Isaiah 53:1, Isaiah 6:9-10)
      1. God is unshaken and unmoved; we should be unshaken and unmoved
      2. God's purpose isn't frustrated by the agnostic, atheist, or ardent unbeliever
      3. Glorifies Him in the end and accomplishes His purpose
    4. Unbelief has 2 layers
      1. Your own choice, will, decision, response
        1. Shown the evidence, examine, make conclusion
        2. Not a matter of can't: won't
      2. Those who persistently harden their hearts will have their hearts hardened
        1. If you persist in unbelief, God will confirm your decision (i.e., Pharaoh "I will harden his heart" [Exodus 4:21], Pharaoh "hardened his heart" [See Exodus 8:15, Exodus 8:32, Exodus 9:34])
        2. "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:6)
    5. Unbelief is progressive: Willful blindness will be punished by judicial blindness
  3. Faith Can be Dangerous Too (vv. 42-43)
    1. Among the rulers, many believed but didn't confess
    2. Persecution: faith can be life-threatening
    3. Persecution leads to compromise: "put out of the synagogue"
      1. "For the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue" (John 9:22)
      2. àποσυνάγωγος - aposunagogos - away from the synagogue, expelled from the synagogue, excommunicated
      3. Kicked out of the social structure of Judaism
    4. Martyrdom
      1. More Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than in any previous century
      2. More Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than in previous centuries combined
      3. Over 100 million Christians martyred
      4. One out of every 200 can expect to be martyred
    5. Persecution (i.e., in Philadelphia, eleven arrested for street witnessing and received a criminal sentence; hate-crime law disallowed the sharing of the gospel)
    6. Danger: tempted to compromise faith in order that those around us will like us
      1. "Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10)
      2. Secret discipleship impossible
        1. Discipleship will destroy secrecy
        2. Secrecy will destroy discipleship
      3. "The fear of man brings a snare" (Proverbs 29:25)
      4. "Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the LORD means safety" (Proverbs 29:25 NLT)
      5. "Backward Christian soldiers, fleeing from the fight, with the cross of Jesus, nearly out of sight. Christ our rightful master stands against the foe, onward into battle, we seem afraid to go." –George Verwer
  4.  Jesus Shows the Difference (vv. 44-50)
    1. Faith Honors God / Unbelief Doesn’t
      1. If God sent Jesus, to dishonor Jesus, dishonors God
        1. "Whoever believes in me doesn't merely believe in me only, but also believes in the Father"
        2. Jesus and the Father are in joint partnership, when dealing with Jesus you are also dealing with the Father who sent Him.
        3. To say you believe in God, yet reject the one He sent into the world is in effect rejecting God
      2. Honor God: receive Jesus
      3. All the Father ever had to say to us is summed up in Jesus Christ
        "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2)
      4. The World will not honor believers; the world will persecute you if you truly follow Christ
        1. Honor the Father or live to please men
        2. The church at Smyrna; the persecuted church
          "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich);" (Revelation 2:9)
      5. "It's preferable to have the whole world against you then to have Jesus offended with you." Thomas a Kempis
    2. Faith Brightens Your Life / Unbelief Darkens It
      1. Recurrent theme:
        1. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:4-5)
        2. "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12)
      2. We can't be all God wants us to be until we walk in the light of Christ.
      3. Medical science can add years to life. Only Jesus adds life to years.
    3. Faith Opens the Door to the Future / Unbelief Closes It
      1. Jesus gives the eternal consequences
        1. Faith - eternal life
        2. Unbelief - judgment
      2. First coming, Jesus came to save: to be the sacrifice that atones for sin
      3. Second coming, Jesus will come as judge
        1. "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war." (Revelation 19:11)
        2. The standard of judgment is the word He already spoke
      4. To receive Jesus Christ is to refuse judgment; to refuse Jesus Christ is to receive judgment
      5. God commands everlasting life
        1. "And I know that His command is everlasting life" (v. 50)
        2. "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent," (Acts 17:30)

Greek Terms: àποσυνάγωγος - aposunagogos - away from the synagogue, expelled from the synagogue, excommunicated
Figures Referenced: Robert Ripley; Norbert Pearlroth; George Verwer; Thomas a Kempis;
Cross References: Exodus 4:21; Exodus 8:15, Exodus 8:32, Exodus 9:34; Proverbs 29:25; Isaiah 6:9-10; Isaiah 53:1; Isaiah 55:6; John 1:4-5; John 2; John 4:46-54; John 5; John 6:1-14; John 6:15-21; John 8:12; John 9; John 9:22; John 11; John 12:36; Acts 17:30; Galatians 1:10; Hebrews 1:1-2; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 19:11

Topic: Belief

Keywords: belief, unbelief, faith, persecution, light

Transcript

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Let's open our bibles now to John Chapter 12.  And if you're new this morning, you're visiting, we've been doing a series in this gospel.  We've been in it over a year.  We're in week 53 and we're finishing up Chapter 12.

John Chapter 12, let's pray.  Father in heaven, we're your people.  We need you.  We pray Lord that in the midst of this world that is constantly trying to distract us with so many great inventions like email and text messaging and all of those things that we would learn the value of sitting and listening and pondering the truth, that we would learn not to be distracted but focused.  And so, now as an act of our worship, we maintain our seat and we give you our full attention because we believe that your Holy Spirit through the Apostle, John, who recorded the words of Jesus, will speak a message directly to our hearts.  Help us Lord to learn to apply in Jesus' name, amen.

You've all heard of Ripley's Believe it or Not, yes?  So he started in the 1918.  Robert Ripley was a syndicated cartoonist.  He would draw pictures and he was an explorer and a lover of all things odd and unusual, so he started Ripley's Believe it or Not.  Well, he really surged forward when he hired a man by the name of Norbert Pearlroth who spent the next 52 years of his life, six days a week, ten hours a day in the New York Public Library digging up facts, odd and unusual facts.  And it went from a comic strip to something in newspapers, magazines, television and now, around the world, 37 Ripley Believe it or Not museums filled with unusual things and if you're into that, that's the place to go.

So I have a little test to take, a little true or false, a little Believe It or Not test for you.  In Tokyo, a bicycle is faster than a car, believe it or not?

Participants: Believe it.

Pastor Skip Heitzig: You believe it.  Well, it's true.  Actually in Tokyo, Japan, if your trip is under 50 minutes, it's faster to take a bicycle than to get in a car.

The Sahara Desert is the largest desert in the world.  Do you believe it?  You don't believe it?  How many believe it?  Honest show of hands.  Believe it, raise your hand.  How many of you don't believe it?  Okay, so what is the largest desert?

Participants: It's Antarctica.

Pastor Skip Heitzig:   It's Antarctica.  Antarctica is considered the world's largest desert.  It has no measurable rainfall, precipitation, liquid precipitation, no real life forms and it's considered the world's largest desert.  The Sahara's the world's largest hot desert they say.

Here's another one.  The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows.  Do you believe it or not?  You believe it.  Well, you're right.  She has no eyebrows.  They painted her that way because in the Renaissance, it was fashionable for women to shave their eyebrows completely off.  Weird, I know, but that was the Renaissance.

Here's one.  It's illegal to drink beer out of a bucket while sitting on a curb in St. Louis.  Do you believe it?  Yeah, you think -- that's the truth everywhere, right?  There's actually a law on the books in St. Louis, an old law that has never been changed that states exactly that.

Here's another one.  French fries originated in France.  Do you believe it?  No.  They originated in Belgium.

French dressing originated in France.  Do you believe it?

Participants: No.

Pastor Skip: No.  Did you know that the French actually hate French dressing?

Here's one.  During your lifetime, you will eat the weight of about six elephants.  Do you believe that?  You do?  Well, some of you love to eat.  It's actually true.  The average human being in a lifetime will eat 60,000 pounds of food or the equivalent weight of six elephants.  I know some that would eat seven elephants.

A dog's sweat glands are in its paws.  Do you believe it or not?  I heard yes and no.  It's true.  They're in its paws, not on the skin, not on the armpits, on its paws.

52,000 Mazdas are being recalled because of spider webs.  Do you believe it?

Participants: Yeah.

Pastor Skip Heitzig:   You do?  Okay, yes, because you've seen the news this week.  That's actually true.  I could've have caught you on another week.  This week, 52,000 Mazdas were recalled because they said spider webs are clogging the fuel lines.

One final question, true or false, God provided only one way for mankind to be saved and that is through Jesus Christ alone.  Do you believe it?

Participants:: Yes!

Pastor Skip Heitzig:   Amen.  That it the truth.  Well, we come to the last section of John Chapter 12, this last section of John 12.  John shows us two groups of people, some who believe it and some who do not believe it when it comes to Jesus Christ.  What we have here in this last paragraph is John's general survey of people who listen to and watch Jesus while he was on the earth and they're simply divided into two camps, some who believe and some who didn't.

So this is his poll.  He says, "Look, these people didn't believe in him.  Look these people did believe in him."  I think it's good for every generation to take a poll and to notice the poll of those people in their culture who believe and who don't believe in Christ.  It might astound you to know that George Barna, one of the foremost researchers in what people believe, comes up with this, and I quote, "Of those who say they are Born Again Christians in our country, 46% believe in absolute moral truth."

What that means is the flip side of that is more than half of all people who claim to be Born Again Christians do not believe in absolute moral truth.  I'll further go on.  "Less than half of those who say they are Born Again Christians reject the notion that you can earn your salvation."  The flip side of that of course is more than half of those who claim to be Born Again Christians say that you can work your way or earn your way to heaven.  All of that to simply say there's only a minority of Americans who believe in and follow the Jesus Christ of the New Testament.

Now, this section that we're dealing with is important.  It's transitional and when I say it's transitional, it's because the public ministry of Jesus Christ is ending.  The private ministry of Jesus Christ is about to begin, Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17, the crowd is shut out, it is personal, it is intimate, it is with the disciples alone and God the father.

So the public ministry of Jesus ends in Chapter 12 of Verse 36.  Notice it says that he departed and was hidden from them.  That's over with.  Jesus now turns toward his disciples, this private ministry.  And in between these two big sections, John gives a summary statement about people who believe and people who don't.  And there are three principles I want you to notice in this summary section this morning.  Number one, unbelief is dangerous.  That's the first principle.  You'll see it with me in a moment.  Number two, belief can be dangerous also.  And number three, Jesus shows us the difference between faith and unbelief.  We want to look at those three things.

Let's begin in Verse 37 of John Chapter 12, "But though he had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him that the word of Isaiah, the prophet, might be fulfilled which he spoke, 'Lord, who has believed our report?  To whom is the arm of the lord been revealed?'  Therefore, they could not believe because Isaiah said again he has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn so that I should heal them.  These things Isaiah said when he saw his glory and spoke of him."

There is in those verses encapsulated the first principle, unbelief is dangerous.  Isn't it amazing to read they did not believe in him even though John says they had all of the evidence for faith right before their eyes?  They saw all of the science, all of the miracles, the preponderance of evidence weighed on the scales and said believe Jesus Christ, but they did not.  Many of them walked away from him in midstream we're told back in John Chapter 6.  They did not believe.

What things did Jesus do?  Well, he turned water into wine.  He walked on the water, the Sea of Galilee.  On the other side, he took a few loaves and fish and blessed it and broke it and fed thousands of people with it.

He healed a nobleman's son in a long distance miracle saying, "Go back home.  Your son lives".  He heals a blind man in Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 of the book of John.  There's a paralyzed man in John Chapter 5 at the Pool of Bethesda, and that's only in John alone.  Then there's the crowning miracle of Jesus so far, and that is the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead.  And yet we read they did not believe.

Now, if you were to count up Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, you would discover 34 such miraculous signs occur in the gospels where Jesus demonstrated his power over nature, he demonstrated his power over disease, over demons and over death itself.

Now, just so you know, when we say miracle, we mean a real miracle.  We don't mean the kind of miracles that people say, "Oh, the sun rose this morning.  Wasn't that beautiful?  That's a miracle."  No, it's not.  It happens everyday according to natural law.  God put it in order but it's natural.  A miracle is where God intervenes in natural law by supernatural forces.  It's the suspension of natural law by God enacting something supernatural, and these people that we're reading about saw all of these signs.  They were unmistakable that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and people should put their faith in him.  So to not believe in him in the face of that evidence simply demonstrates the depth of human depravity.

Oftentimes, people would say -- I bet you've heard it, "Oh well, I'd like to believe what you believe but I just can't believe that stuff."  And the way they say it, it almost sounds like they're just a little too smart.  They're just a little smarter than you are.  They would love to believe it but they got that extra degree that you didn't get, so they can't believe that.  And I often will ask people who say that.  "I'll tell you what, let's just say that I could prove to you that Jesus was the Son of God and the Bible is to be believed.  If I could prove it to you, would you place your faith in Christ today?"  "No."  Okay, then you better rephrase your statement.  It's not "I can't believe."  What you really mean quite honestly is "I won't believe.  I refuse to believe as an act of my will."

Some years ago, Julian Huxley, you'll recognize that name, he was an evolutionary biologist who died in 1995.  He was called, nicknamed "Darwin's Bulldog" because he just went voraciously after any opponent to the Evolutionary Theory.  He said, "There is no longer need nor room for supernatural beings capable of affecting the course of events in the evolutionary pattern of thought."  I'll paraphrase that, "I don't believe in miracles.  They're impossible.  They never happen.  They never will.  We know better now.  No room in my thinking for it."

Okay, it's one thing to say that 2000 years removed from the miracles themselves, but it's quite another thing to be the very people that saw what Jesus did and still they did not believe.  So John says that.  Here's a group of people, they didn't believe in him.  No matter what Jesus did, they didn't believe in him.  Now, John quotes two passages from the Old Testament.  Did you notice that he quotes Isaiah the Prophet twice, once in Chapter 6 and the other in Chapter 53?  Actually, 53 is first, "to whom is the arm of the Lord been revealed," and then in Chapter 6, he quotes twice out of Isaiah.  Why does he do this?  It's simple.

John wants to show us that men's unbelief didn't surprise God.  He knew about it all along.  In fact, he predicted it way before they came on the scene.  That'd be fun to tell an unbeliever, wouldn't it?  "Hey, God knew all about you and your unbelief before you're ever born."  So the ardent unbeliever, the shake-the-fist-of-God unbeliever, the agnostic, the atheist doesn't shake God.  God didn't go, "Oh!"  In fact, it simply proves him right and ultimately accomplishes his purpose.

That's why John quotes what Isaiah the Prophet said.  But there's a danger in unbelief, and this is what I want you to see and they're easy to see.  It's easy to see as you compare two verses.  Verse 37, "Although he had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him."  That's an act of their will.  Look at Verse 39, "Therefore, they could not believe because Isaiah said again he has blinded their eyes and he has hardened their hearts lest they should see with their eyes..."

In other words, follow me closely, their unwillingness to believe eventually became their incapacity to believe.  You know, unbelief is a two-layered cake.  Think of it this way.  The bottom layer is human choice, human will, my decision, what I think about God, what I think about Christ.  Whatever you put on that layer, God will come along and put another layer on top of that and strengthen and fortify the first layer.  So if you say, "I don't believe in God; it's my choice."  Great.  God will say, "I will come along and I will put my layer of strength and I will confirm that."  That's the idea of "I will harden the heart."  We've studied all about this on Wednesday nights with Pharaoh. 

Remember, God said to Pharaoh -- God said to Mosses, "Mosses, I'm going to harden Pharaoh's heart."  But first, we read that Pharaoh hardens his own heart and then again hardens his own heart, and then again hardens his own heart until finally God says, "Okay, now I'm going to harden your heart.  If that's the perpetual decision you make, then I will fortify the decision that you have made."

Now, I got to tell you something.  I believe that if you make a decision for God, toward God, and you confirm or harden your heart toward him that God will also come along and strengthen and confirm that.  But the opposite is also true.  Those who persistently harden their hearts will have their hearts hardened. 

I'll put it to you in poker terms, if you don't mind.  It's like you step up to the table and you say, "I don't believe," and God says, "I see that unbelief and I raise it a hundred dollars.  I'm going to confirm the choice that you have made."  That is why we're told in the Bible in the words of Isaiah the Prophet, "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near."  If you have any feeling at all or spiritual sensibility, move toward him because unbelief is dangerous, and that's the first principle.  It's dangerous because it's progressive.  What starts out as your unwillingness will end up as you're being incapable of believing.

The second principle I want you to notice, and that is in Verse 42 and 43, not only is unbelief dangerous, faith can be dangerous as well.  Look at it.  Nevertheless, even among the rulers, many believed in him.  Now, stop.  So far, that sounds great.  "Yeah, finally, a breath of fresh air, somebody's believing and I love it."  Hold that thought.  "But because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him lest they should be put out of the synagogue, for they love the praise of men more than the praise of God."

Have you ever thought of your faith as being dangerous?  Probably not unless you lived in a country where you were persecuted for your faith quite a bit because you see, if you live in such a place where to believe in Christ might mean death, then you suddenly realize my believing in Jesus Christ can be hazardous to my health.  There's actually a danger involved, the persecution that leads to a second danger, and that is compromise.  That's what's going on here.

Now, I'm going to jog your memory a little bit.  Remember back in Chapter 9?  It might have been four or five years ago when we were in Chapter 9.  If you remember the man who is blind that Jesus healed, and then the Pharisees talked to him and his parents came in and they had this discussion, it says in Chapter 9:22, "Therefore, if anyone confessed that Jesus was Christ, he was put out of the synagogue."  That's when the law went into action, remember that?  So we also told you that those words 'put out of the synagogue', five words, it's just one simple Greek word, 'aposunagogós' which literally means to be un-synagogued.

So the law was, "If you believe in Jesus, we're going to un-synagogue you, de-synagogue you, or excommunicate you formally so that you have no social status or standing in the community whatsoever."  That was the fear that was going on in their minds here.  That kind of persecution led to many of them who believed to compromise.  That's the danger.  That's why I say faith can be dangerous, too.

Okay, let's reel this in a little bit.  Did you know that last year, last year alone in the world, 160,000 Christians were killed for their faith in Christ, 160,000?

Did you know that the 20th century from 1900 to the year 2000, there were more martyrdoms, Christians killed for their faith, not voluntarily blown themselves up, killed for their faith in the 20th century?  Then in all previous centuries combined from the 1st century to the 19th, all of them combined, there were more on the 20th than all of them.  Guess how many were murdered?  Guess how many were killed?  A hundred thousand believers were killed for their faith in Christ during that time.  Excuse me, I got the figure on.  I'm way up 100 million Christians were killed during that century.

The same statisticians tell us that if you put all believers in the world together into one group, it's estimated that one out of every 200 people can expect to be martyred in his or her lifetime.  Now we're dealing with something that for us is just philosophical.  If we rein it in, we don't see that kind of persecution, that kind of martyrdom in our country.  I mean, you believe what you believe and then most people will leave you alone and say, "Good, put a bumper stick on your car.  I don't care.  I'm not into that".  But I do believe that is going to change in this country.  I think we're already sensing that.

Not long ago, there were 11 people in Philadelphia arrested, including two women in their 70s along with nine other people arrested in Philadelphia for sharing the gospel on the street -- street witnessing, they were arrested, and they face imprisonment because of a longstanding Pennsylvania Hate Crime Law.

Okay, now I want to get to the real crux of this, and that is the danger of believing.  And this is foundational to us as human beings.  If you are a human being, and I know you are, you'll all be able to relate to this.  We have a fundamental desire as human beings to be accepted, to be loved, to be liked.  Nobody likes to be unpopular.  Nobody goes out of their way to get people to hate them deliberately.  We all want to be liked.  We all want to be loved, so here's the temptation.  Faith is dangerous simply because it places me in a position to want to compromise what I believe in, in order to get other people around me to like me.

So I might not be as strong in my faith for Jesus Christ because they will say bad things about me and they won't like me and I'll be shunned, or in this case, put out of the synagogue.  Paul the Apostle asks a question and then he answers it.  Let me read it to you in Galatians 1.  Paul says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God?  Or am I'm trying to please men for if I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

I'll paraphrase what he says.  I think he's simply saying, "I don't really care what anybody thinks about me or my life.  I care about the approval of one person only, and that's Jesus Christ.  What he thinks about me is infinitely more important than what anybody else thinks about me."  So that's the idea here.

So this group in Verse 42 and 43, they're trying to pull off something impossible.  You know what that is?  Secret discipleship.  Did you know that's impossible?  Secret discipleship is a contradiction in terms because what will eventually happen is the discipleship will destroy the secrecy or the secrecy will destroy the discipleship.  If you're a disciple, you won't be secret.  They tried to do it for they love the praise of men more than the praise of God.  I think you know.  If you don't, you should know what Proverbs 29 says, "The fear of men brings a snare," or in a more modern translation, "Fearing people is dangerous as a trap but to trust the Lord means safety."

Back in 1871, a song was written.  You'll recall it, some of you, "Onward Christian soldiers marching us to war..." how many of you have ever heard that song before?  "With the cross of Jesus going on before..."  Somebody suggested perhaps that could be rewritten as such, "Backward Christian soldiers fleeing from the fight with the cross of Jesus nearly out of sight.  Christ our rightful master stands against the foe, onward into battle we seem afraid to go."

So two dangers so far, the danger of unbelief, and that is unbelief is progressive.  And number two, the danger of believing is that persecution can lead to compromise.

Now we close with the words of Jesus in Verse 44 through 50, and he shows us the difference and he, too, holds out those who believe and those who do not believe, and he's weighing them in the balances and showing us what the consequence will be of one of the other.  Verse 44, "Then Jesus cried out and he said, 'He who believes in me believes not in me but in Him who sent me.  And he who sees me sees Him who sent me.  I have come as a light into the world that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness.  If anyone hears my words and does not believe, I do not judge him for I do not come to judge the world but to save the world.  He who rejects me and does not receive my words has that which judges him.  The word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day, for I have not spoken on my own authority but the father who sent me, gave me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that His command is everlasting life.  Therefore, whatever I speak just as the father told me, so I speak.'"

So here is Jesus, final words before his public ministry ends and his private ministry begins and he holds up faith and he holds up unbelief and he compares both of them and he says, "Here are the consequences of one of the other.  Number one, faith honors God; unbelief dishonors God."  That's the point when he says "He who believes in me believes not in me but Him who've sent me."  In other words, if you believe in me, you're not just believing in me alone but also, along with believing in me, you're believing in the one who sent me.  In other words, we are so together on this.  There is such a partnership that my Father and I have on this thing that you can't separate the purpose one from the other.

Now this is important because in effect, there's a crowd of people around them, Jewish people who were saying, "We believe in God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob".  Jesus is saying, "You say you believe in God but if you reject me, you reject God because it was that God that sent me into the world for you."  That's the point -- belief and faith honors God; unbelief dishonor's God.

Here's the larger point.  If you place your faith in Christ and you trust him and you follow him, you will honor God because that is the whole purpose, for God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son.  Listen to this, the writer of Hebrews Chapter 1 Verse 1 says this, "God who at different times and in different ways communicated to our ancestors, to the prophets, has in these final days spoken to us by his own son, Jesus Christ."  In other words, everything God ever wanted to say to people on planet earth, he said finally through Jesus Christ.  That is God's answer for humanity.

"The world will not honor you but if you lived to honor God," as we've already read in John a couple verses back, "him my Father will honor."  So here's the choice we have to make.  If you're going to follow Christ as his disciple in this world, understand the world won't love it.  The world will persecute you, so you have to decide which road am I going to walk, which side am I going to be on.  Let me give you a little encouragement.

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus wrote seven letters to seven churches.  Remember that?  I call them postcards.  They're just little few words to each church.  The second postcard he writes is to the Church of Smyrna.  They were being persecuted simply because they love Jesus and followed him and were vocal about it.  They started losing their jobs so they became poor.  Many of them lost their lives because of it, so Jesus writes them a letter:

Dear Smyrna, I know your works.  I know your tribulation.  I know your poverty, but you are rich.  You see the difference between the world's evaluation of that church and Jesus' evaluation of that church?  Yup, you've been beat up and boy, are you poor on a human level, but I got to tell you something, you are so rich because you've honored God.  You can be either a wealthy poor man or a poor rich man.

I've met a lot of rich people.  I look out and I go, "Poor thing, so empty, so vapid in their life."  I've seen people who have nothing but they're so rich, same with this church.  So number one, faith honors God; unbelief dishonors God.

Second, Jesus speaking, "Faith brightens your life; unbelief darkens your life."  One verse, Verse 46, "I have come as a light into the world that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness."  Now you know this.  We've covered this.  This is a dominant theme, isn't it, in the Gospel of John?  It comes in the first paragraph, the first introduction to the book.  "In him was life and that life was the light of men."

Then we come to Chapter 8, one of the seven 'I am' statements of Jesus, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life."  In other words, faith brightens your life; unbelief darkens it.

I never forget when I pray to receive Christ.  Back in 19 -- that long ago, I remember distinctly feeling something.  It's not like the ground shook.  It's not like angels went -- but I felt like the room was brighter.  I felt like I could just see things clearer.  I felt like I could walk on air.  "I knew this was right."  My life was so much brighter.

What do you do when you come home and it's dark?  You open the door and it's dark in the house, what's the first thing you do?  Flip on the light.  Will you live in a dark world?  What do you do in a dark world?  Flip on the light, follow the light, walk in the light, follow Jesus Christ because I got to tell you something.  Like a flower in darkness, it can't ever become what it should until it's brought into the sunlight where it blossoms.  Human beings can never become what God wants him to become until they step into the light of Christ.  I've said it before, medical science can add years to your life but only Jesus Christ can add life to your years, so that's the truth, Baby Ruth.  Faith brightens your life; unbelief darkens it.

Here's the third thing Jesus would say about faith and unbelief as he's showing us the difference.  Faith will open your door to the future; unbelief will close that door permanently.  Verse 47, Jesus continues, "If anyone hears my words and does not believe, I do not judge him."  Now before you get all excited and go, "Oh, I love that verse.  I don't judge him.  I'm going to circle that."  Hold that thought because what he means is the first time I came to this earth, which is what we're reading about, I didn't come to judge, but that's the first time.

"I do not judge him for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world."  That was his purpose as a savior.  "He who rejects me and does not receive my words already has that which judges him and the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day for I have not spoken on my own authority but the Father who sent me gave me a command, what I should say, what I should speak, and now I know his command is everlasting life.  Therefore, whatever I speak just as the Father told me, so I speak."

Here's our Lord.  It's simple.  He's saying let's play this way out into the future.  Here's the consequence of faith.  It's called everlasting life.  Here's the consequence of unbelief, not everlasting life -- judgment.  You say, "Yeah, but Skip, you just said he didn't come to judge."  You're right.  The first time Jesus came to this earth, he came to die on a cross not as a judge but as a savior.  But I got to tell you something, the second time Jesus comes, he is definitely coming as a judge.

Revelation 19 John, the same author looks up and sees a vision of Christ coming.  He writes in Revelation 19, "I saw Heaven open and behold the white horse and He who sat on him is called faithful and true and in righteousness he judges and makes war."  And what is the standard by which Jesus will judge humanity, and he says he will in other places, it's the word, His words.

So take all of the red words in Mathew, Mark, Luke and John that have been translated and retranslated into 2,223 languages and dialects for the last 2,000 years and distribute it around the world and that will be the standard of truth by which Jesus Christ will judge a person.  So let me boil it down to the irreducible minimum, the bottom line.

To receive Jesus Christ is to refuse judgment.  To refuse Jesus Christ is to receive judgment.  He says, "I didn't come to judge.  I'm not doing that now.  I've come to save but if you refuse that, there will be judgment."  There's something that was startling to me as I read this.  It's as if I've read it for the first time, and that's in Verse 15.  Notice, "and I know that His command is everlasting life."

Isn't that interesting?  We've always thought that it's an invitation.  He invites you to have everlasting life and He does.  "Behold, I stand at the door and knock."  That's an invitation.  But it's also a command.  You say, "Why would He give us a command?"  Well, if you're a parent, you know the answer to that.

I remember as a kid, my mom would say, "Skip, it's time for dinner."  I wouldn't go.  I wouldn't come in.  I'd be playing.  I'm not going to drop -- I'm playing.  This is fun.  I'm with a friend.  I don't want to go in and eat dinner.  Now, if I don't eat dinner, I'm going to die.  I don't care.  So my mom would have to change from the invitation sometimes to speaking my name, my full name -- first, middle and last name in a certain kind of commanding pitch that I knew I better get inside.  This is not an invitation; this is a command.  And it wasn't because she didn't love me, it's because she love me.  I had to eat food to survive.

God invites, God commands, and Paul stood on the Areopagus, Mars Hill in Athens and he said to the people of Athens, "In the past, God has overlooked all such ignorance but now, he commands that all people everywhere repent."

So God gives an invitation and a command to come, step out of the shadows, step into the light to believe in Christ that's honoring God, that's brightening your earthly existence and that's opening the door for your future.  It's dangerous to believe.  You might be hassled.  You might be persecuted.  It might tempt you to compromise but it's far worse to not believe.  That's far more dangerous.  It closes the door to any kind of hope forever.

I close with this.  Years ago in the shipping industry, there were two compasses aboard ships, one on the deck and one far above on the mast.  There was a passenger aboard the ship who noticed that a sailor went up to climb all the way up to the mast and got the reading and shouted it down below.  So he said, "Why do you have two compasses?"  The sailor smiled and said, "Let me explain something to you.  This is an iron vessel.  It creates its own magnetic field.  So the compass on the deck is good for general observation, so the captain has the idea of where we're at and where we need to go."  But he said, "The one on top of the mast is above the influence of what's going on down here."  And he said, "I'll tell you this, we always steer and direct our ship by the one on top."

I suggest you live your life that way because I got to tell you something, your compass in this world is going like this.  You're on the world telling you to live like this, believe this, do that, don't do that.  No matter what you see or where you turn, on television or radio, your compass is going -- go for the one on top, that God's truth would direct your life because it's still true, father knows best.

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