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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > A Brand New Way of Life!

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A Brand New Way of Life! - John 13:31-35

Taught on | Topic: The Upper Room Discourse | Keywords: new life, love, perspective, upper room, glory

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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4/10/2011
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A Brand New Way of Life!
John 13:31-35
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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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. A New Perspective (vv. 31-32)

  2. A New Relationship (v. 33)

  3. A New Commandment (vv. 34-35)
    1. How We Should Love

    2. Why We Should Love

Pondering the Principles

  1. How does the future glory affect your daily grind? How would those closest to you describe your goals in life—what you really live for?

  2. What identifying marks do Christians display today? If Christians did love one another in a radical way, how do you think the world would react?

  3. What are you best known for?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Disciples and people in general  are naïve about defining what it means to follow Christ—to be a disciple
      1. Many think you add Jesus as another component to your life
      2. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
      3. A Christian is a brand new person, made new by Christ with a brand new way of life.
    2. Background
      1. Last Supper; Upper Room Discourse
      2. Judas has left the room; Jesus concentrates on the remaining, authentic disciples; He tells them what is going to be new about their future
  2.  A New Perspective (vv. 31-32)
    1. Believers are born again (see John 3:3)
    2. Jesus switches from speaking about the betrayal and the betrayer to being glorified
      1. Looking beyond the cross, when He is received up into heavenly glory
        1. Soon Jesus will be arrested, tried, beaten , mocked and crucified
        2. After all the pain mankind could give; Jesus will be home
        3. Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.' "Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23:46)
        4. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
        5. Following Christ should give us this perspective
          1. We often look at the immediate not the ultimate; we consider how hard the road is instead of where that road is leading: heaven
          2. You can be so earthly minded you aren't doing any good
          3. Walk through this world responsibly, but get the view ultimately
        6. Joni Eareckson Tada
          1. In diving accident: quadriplegic
          2. Looks past the wheelchair to future
          3. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)
      2. Looking at the cross
        1. As horrible as the separation from the Father was and the physical pain was, it opens the door of salvation
        2. "Bringing many sons to glory" (Hebrews 2:10)
        3. Brings glory to the Father; it was His plan to send the Son.
        4. "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." (John 17:4-5)
        5. "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
        6. As followers of Christ we need a new gaze and a new goal.
          1. It is not about us; it is about Him and His glory
          2. It is not about my happiness; it is about His glory
          3. It is not about how I feel; it is about His glory
        7. "Many Christians are only 'Christaholics' and not disciples at all. Disciples are cross-bearers; they seek Christ. Christaholics seek happiness. Disciples dare to discipline themselves, and the demands they place on themselves leave them enjoying the happiness of their growth. Christaholics are escapists looking for a shortcut to nirvana. Like drug addicts, they are trying to "bomb out" of their depressing world. There is no automatic joy. Christ is not a happiness capsule; He is the way to the Father. But the way to the Father is not a carnival ride in which we sit and do nothing while we are whisked through various spiritual sensations."—Calvin Miller 
  3. A New Relationship (v. 33)
    1. In a relationship with others, we hear their audible voice, see their body language and facial expressions;
      1. That is the kind of relationship Jesus had with the disciples.
      2. That relationship was about to change
    2. Little children
      1. Jesus was host of the Passover meal; acting as the father would act toward His family
      2. Reveals Jesus' tender care and compassion
    3. Little while
      1. 2 hours later He was arrested; the next day crucified; 3 days later raised from the dead; 40 days later ascended into heaven
      2. It would be too much for the disciples to know that we would wait on His return for 2,000 years.
    4. Up to that point their relationship had been in the flesh; now it will be by faith—a great advantage.
      1. "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7)
      2. Up to this point, the presence of Jesus was localized
      3. Now He lives inside every believer; promises the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will take residence in every believer.
      4. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)
      5. Now the relationship is universal
    5. Relationship of a disciple is one not of sight, but of faith
      1. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)
      2. We long for a relationship like the disciples had
      3. One day we will have that kind of relationship.
    6. Crabs when they are molting are vulnerable between shells
      1. They won't grow unless they get rid of the old shell and grow a new one
      2. It is uncomfortable for them
      3. We are like that when tossed and tumbled through life we want to depend on someone or something; God wants us to lean on Him and trust in Him by faith
  4. A New Commandment (vv. 34-35)
    1. Not a new Commandment
      1. "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18)
      2. καινός – Kainos –new (not by age), fresh; a fresh commandment
    2. How We Should Love
      1. àγαπάω - Agapao- love; not the love of feeling, love of the will
        1. A mature love
        2. Doesn't mean liking
      2. The benchmark: as Jesus loves           
        1. Sacrificial -"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)
        2. Unconditional -"Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34)
      3. When Jesus loves, He doesn't love only lovely people; He loves people who don't love Him back.
      4. Loving like Jesus loves
        1. impossible on your own
        2. As a disciple following Christ, He will never give you an impossible command. If he gives the command, He will give you the ability to do it.
        3. As a disciple you have an unlimited reservoir and capacity to love.
          1. "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:5)
          2. If God's love can flow into our hearts, He will make sure His love can flow out of our hearts.
          3. No one in our circle of relationships should ever be loved starved.
    3. Why We Should Love
      1. All will know we are his disciples by our love for one another
        1. Jesus is giving the world permission to judge us
        2. The world looks at our lives to say we are real, authentic. The love is the evidence
        3. We remind people of God
      2. Love for one another
        1. Love fellow believers, they will know you are the real deal
        2. Like looking at a happy home and wanting to be there
  5. Application
    1. Ask God for a new set of eyes; a new way of looking at things
    2. Embrace the weaning process as he takes us to a place of just trusting in Him fully.
    3. Learn to measure your following of Christ by love (not by how many people love you, but by how many people you love)
    4. The apostle John told followers over and over to love one another. "Because it is the Lord's command, and if this alone be done, it is enough."

Greek Terms: καινός – Kainos –new (not by age), fresh
Figures Referenced: Calvin Miller; Marcel de Leclure
Cross References: Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 18:20; Luke 23:34; Luke 23:46; John 3:3; John 15:13; John 16:7; John 17:4-5; Romans 5:5; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2

Topic: The Upper Room Discourse

Keywords: new life, love, perspective, upper room, glory

Transcript

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Let's pray together. Father, we give you our bodies as living sacrifices. It's what we ought to do. We have come from our homes, we have driven to this place and we now submit ourselves before you to the principles of the word that we're about to read and apply. We thank you for your patience with us, just like you were patient with the disciples around the table that evening. And you were committed to their growth. How thankful we are that you are committed to ours. I pray that this service, this time, this moment in our lives would be another installment in our growth, in our development. We might be those people that are pleasing to you as we're conformed more and more into the image of Christ. It's in his name we pray, Amen.

You may have heard about the two New Yorkers. These guys have lived in New York City their whole life. They have never really gone out of Manhattan. All they knew is the big city. But one day with all the traffic in town they just said, "We've had enough," and they decided to buy a ranch in Texas and become ranchers. They knew nothing about ranching except what they've seen on television. So they sold everything, moved out to Texas, were on this land and they decided the first thing they needed to do is buy a mule. They thought, "We have to plow the ground," and they must have seen old movies but they thought, "We got to get a mule."

So they went to a neighboring rancher and asked if he had a mule for sale and he just said, "I recon not." So they were disappointed and about to leave, but then one of them spotted a stack of honeydew melons leaning against the barn. And again, they didn't really know what they were so they just said "What are those things?" And by this time, the rancher, the neighbor saw these two guys are just hopeless city slickers. So he said, "Those are mule eggs. You buy one of those, take it home, it hatches, you'll have your mule."

So they said, "Okay." And they bought one, they put it in the back of their truck, they're driving down that bumpy country road. It bounces out, it hits the pavement, it opens up, bursts open. They see it in the rearview mirror and they started turning around. In the meantime, a Texas jack rabbit hops up starts eating the honeydew melon. By the time those two New Yorkers come up and see this long-eared creature, one of them said, "Look, our mule egg is opened up. There's our mule, let's get him."

So they started running after this jack rabbit. To no avail they couldn't catch it, it's hopping everywhere. Finally these two city slickers plop on the ground, and one of them says, "We lost our mule." The other guy says, "Yeah, but I don't think I wanted to plow that fast anyway." Hopeless, right?

The disciples that were gathered around the table with Jesus were as naive about their future in discipleship as those two New Yorkers were about ranching. I've discovered a lot of people are naive when it comes to defining following Christ being a disciple. A lot of people just think that when you follow Jesus you add him to your already complicated life, your structured life. "Oh yeah, I need to get religious so I'm going to add Jesus as a component to my life." Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things become new." A Christian is brand new person made new by Christ with a brand new way of life.

Now we're going to discover some of those truths that I mentioned in John Chapter 13 beginning in Verse 31 down to Verse 35. When I was a young believer, someone that I knew walked up to me and said, "Skip, you're brainwashed," and I said to him, "You're absolutely right. Jesus washed my brain," and then I said, "Hey, who washed yours? At least I know who washed my brain. Who is washing your brain?"

Now let me give you a little background so we can hop right in. This is the Last Supper. This is the upper room discourse. Beginning in Verse 31, now that Judas has left the room, Jesus concentrates on the remaining authentic disciples and tells them what is going to be new about their future. There are three things that are new. They're going to have a new perspective, they're going to have a new relationship with him and they were given a new commandment.

I'm going to unpack these verses but let's read them beginning in Verse 31. So when he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God has glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and glorify him immediately. Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek me and as I said to the Jews, where I am going you cannot come so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you that you also loved one another. By this all will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another."

The first thing that a new believer recognizes when he or she comes to Christ is a new way of looking at life. I will never forget hearing a phrase for the first time. I had asked Christ to come in my life. It had been several weeks. I had never read the New Testament before. I just prayed a prayer and I knew I felt different. I knew life was different, but I didn't know how to describe it. And I'll never forget when a friend of mine came up to me not knowing what had happened to me and he wanted to witness to me. He goes, "Skip, have you been born again?" And I said, "Where did you get that phrase?" He said, "Excuse me?" "Where did you get that phrase, born again? Where has that come from? I've never heard that before, that's perfect. It's exactly what happened to me." He said, "That's what Jesus said in John Chapter 3, a man must be born again." I said, "Well he couldn't have come up with a better description, because everything new, the way I look at life, the way I looked at friends, the way I looked at plans, it's all different, it's all new."

Verse 31 marks a change in the tone of the room that evening as well as what he is about to tell them. He has been talking about being betrayed by Judas Iscariot and about the betrayer himself. In Verse 31, the betrayer leaves the room and the dynamic changes. So when he, Judas, had gone out Jesus said, "Now the son of man is glorified and God is glorified in him."

What is he talking about? When Jesus speaks about being glorified or his glory, what is he speaking about? Well he is speaking about a couple of things. First of all, he is looking after the cross when he will be received up in the heavenly glory. He is thinking about what is going to happen after the cross. Soon Jesus will be arrested later on that night, and he'll be brought before trial. He'll be beaten, mocked, they'll drive spikes through his hands, he'll be crucified on a cross but after that it will be over.

All of the pain that mankind could give to him, all of the horrible ways they could treat him, it will be over and he'll be home. And so the last thing Jesus on the cross says is, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." And all of that suffering was passed hence and he was in glory.

So Jesus looks beyond the suffering that he is entering into in the future glory. He is going home. The writer of Hebrews in Chapter 12 of that book, Verse 2 said, "Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and now has sat down at the right hand of the thrown of God." I want to make a point with that. Following Christ should give us this kind of a perspective. You see, all too often we are looking at the immediate in our lives and not the ultimate. We're looking at how hard the road is right now instead of considering where that road is ultimately leading, Heaven. I can get through this. There is glory beyond this. Have you ever heard somebody say, "Oh, you Christians, you're so heavenly minded. You're no earthly good." Well, the reverse can also be true. You can be so earthly minded you're not doing anybody any good.

And the key is to walk through this world responsibly but get the view ultimately, the glory that will be revealed afterwards. I'll tell you about a person that you know of whose whole life has been changed by this kind of a gaze, a heavenly gaze. Her name was Joni Eareckson it is now Joni Eareckson Tada. She lived most of her life as a quadriplegic. She was in a diving accident as a young swimmer. Paralyzed, quadriplegic, she is able to look past the wheelchair with joy because of this truth and she will often quote Romans 8 where Paul said, "For the suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us." She is waiting for that and marching through this line.

So Jesus is looking beyond the cross. That's his perspective. But something else, he is not just looking after the cross, he is looking at the cross as being glorified. So often when he spoke about being glorified, the bible says he is speaking about his death on the cross. Now why would that be a picture of glory? It's simple, as horrible as that is going to feel and be in his life and the separation from the father and the physical pain, by that event he'll open a door of salvation, and as it says also in Romans 12, "Bringing many sons to glory."

So that was the glory. It will bring glory to the Father because that was the plan of the Father in sending the Son. So now a door is open for salvation. So Jesus, looking all the way through history, 2,000 years seeing you and you and you and you and all of us who believe come to Him and enjoy heaven with Him, that was glory to Him.

I want you turn two chapters, a few chapters ahead. Turn over to John Chapter 17. Look just a couple of verses with me put all of these truths together as He is praying to the Father. This is after the upper room. This is right before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, John Chapter 17 Verse 4, look at what He says, "I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which you given me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me together with yourself with the glory that I had with you before the world was."

Now skip down to Verse 24 and notice this, "Father, I desire that they also whom you gave me," who is that? That's us. Well, that's the disciples and everyone through history including us who are his disciples, his followers. "I desire that they also whom you have given me may be with me where I am that they may behold my glory which you have given me for you loved them before the foundation of the world."

Part of the joy that was set before Jesus was being able to look down through history and see all those who would believe him. He first tasted that when he was even on the cross and said to one being crucified next to him, "Today, you'll be with me in paradise." So here is the principle, as followers of Christ, we need a new perspective, a new gaze thinking all the way down to the future, to our glory and a new goal and while we're living on this earth we don't make it about us, but about Him and His glory. It's not about my happiness, it's about His glory. It's not about how this makes me feel, it's about does this magnify Him. That's the new perspective.

I'm going to read something to you that I read this week. It's quite convicting, written a few years ago by Calvin Miller. He writes this, "Many Christians are only 'Christaholics' and not disciples. Disciples are cross-bearers. They seek Christ. Christaholics seek happiness. Disciples dare to discipline themselves and the demands they place on themselves leave them enjoying the happiness of their growth. Christaholics are escapists looking for a shortcut to nirvana. Like drug addicts, they are trying to drop out of their depressing world. There is no automatic joy," writes Calvin. Christ is not a happiness capsule; he is the way to the Father. But the way to the Father is not a carnival ride, in which all we do is sit and do nothing until we're whisked through a variety of spiritual sensations. We need a new perspective, to gaze future, the goal to glorify God here and now. That's number one, a new perspective.

Number two, a new relationship. Now before I read the verse, do you notice how often we as evangelicals speak about having a relationship with God? We do that a lot, don't we? We tell people, "It's not religion. It's a relationship, a personal relationship with the living God." Now as true as that is and I still believe that. You got to admit, it's a very different kind of a relationship than we have with anybody else. When you have a relationship with a person, you sit across the table from them and have a conversation with them and eat lunch with them, you're hearing their voice audibly. You're seeing their body languages they communicate, their facial expressions. That's the kind of relationship that disciples in that upper room have had with Jesus for three and a half years. All of that is about to change. And they're not quite ready for it.

Verse 33, "Little children," -- pause right there. How cool is that? The only time recorded in the gospel where Jesus said that is here, "Little children." He is the host of the Passover meal. He is acting as a Father who would act toward the children in His family, but this reveals the tender care and compassion of Jesus. He calls his followers, "Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek me and as I said to the Jews where I'm going you cannot come and so now I say to you."

What does he mean by a little while? Well, in about two hours he is going to be arrested. The next day he is going to be crucified. Three days later he is going to rise from the dead. Forty days after that he is going to ascend into heaven and they're going to see him no more.

In fact, when they're on the Mount of Olives and Jesus ascends into heaven, you know what the disciples are doing? Well you know what they're doing, they're doing this. They're just gazing up. So an angel comes by and goes, "Hey you men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus whom you saw going to heaven will come back in like manner." Okay, hold that thought. If the disciples in the upper room would have really known what Jesus was saying, they would have blown a circuit. If they would have understood that Jesus will die, that's not what they expect, they expect a kingdom that's why they're arguing who is going to be the greatest in the kingdom, we told you that before. If they knew that Jesus was going to die and ascend into heaven and for the next 2,000 years they and everyone else is going to be waiting for him to return, they would have just gone --. That's so not what they wanted to hear. That's what Jesus is telling them. "I'm only with you a little while longer and you'll see me no more. And where I'm going you cannot come." And I'll explain a little more of that. We'll pick that up next week, but that's what he is saying to them.

Here is the point. They're entering into a new relationship with Christ, yes? So far it's been in the flesh. Now it's going to be by faith. Now he reinforces this thought throughout the evening's meal and throughout this upper room discourse. In Chapter 16 for example, Jesus says to these same men, "It is to your advantage that I go away." Can I just say if I was in that room I would have said, "Pardon me. Excuse me. That's not true. It is not for my advantage that you go away. It's for my advantage that you stay with me always. Just like this where you can work miracles and I can hear your voice and see your face and eat meals with you." But he said, "It's to your advantage that I go away," and he continued and he said, "Unless I go away the Counselor, the Holy Spirit cannot come, but if I go I will send Him to you." Now think what that means.

Up to this point the presence of Jesus was localized. Wherever Jesus was, that's where He was. Isn't that profound? In other words, if He was in Jerusalem He wasn't in Galilee. If He was in Galilee He wasn't in Jerusalem. But by him going back to the Father, He can send the Holy Spirit to live inside every believer. In fact, he promises the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will take residence within every believer. So that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst. He is universal rather than localized. It is to your advantage that I go away. My point is simple. The relationship of a disciple is one not of sight, but of faith.

Second Corinthians 5, "For we walk by faith and not by sight." Now admittedly, we long for what the disciples had, we long for sitting around a table with Jesus and being able to hug Him and see His expression and hear what He is saying, and one day we'll have that. But until then He is going to wean us off of sight, off of what we're leaning on and onto a life of faith.

I read an article this week about lobsters. He said, "Why were you doing that?" Lobsters don't keep one shell. They molt about every year. They discard their old shell and they grow a new shell. Now, if they were to stay in their old shell and not abandon it, it's protective, it protects them, but it would become a prison and in fact it would become a casket. They have to get rid of the old and they grow a new one. But in that in between vulnerable period of time when they get rid of the old shell and they're growing the new shell they are very vulnerable. They are tossed by the currents of the sea, cartwheeled through the ocean. There are things like coral that are very sharp that could cut them to pieces. There are schools of fish that would love to make them part of the food chain. But they won't grow unless they get rid of the old shell and grow a new one. I bet the first time a lobster loses its shell if it could speak, it would say something like, "I miss that old shell. Things look pretty good in that old shell. I want my old shell back." But they'll never grow unless they discard it, though unprotected for a period of time and grow something new.

We're a lot like that. We get tossed and tumbled through life and it could be very scary and we want the protection and we want to depend on someone or something to hold us up, to prop us up. And God is all about weaning us off of those props and onto just trusting Him by faith. That's the new relationship, new perspective. New relationship, the third is a new commandment he gives, marching orders you might say.

Verse 34, "A new commandment I give to you," Judas has just left the room. The betrayer is gone. He is turning to the authentic disciples and giving them their future marching orders. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you so that you also love one another. By this all will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another."

Now if you're like a Bible geek, if you're really a Bible student, you're thinking about now, "Wait a minute, this isn't a new commandment." In Leviticus 19, that's an Old Testament book, God says, "You will not bear a grudge against any of the sons or daughters of your people, but you will love your neighbor as yourself." That's an old commandment. The word for 'New' in this verse that we just read is the word 'Kainos' in Greek. It doesn't mean new in terms of chronology or age. If that were the case Jesus would have said the word 'Neos,' not Kainos. Kainos means -- here is a better translation, 'A Fresh Commandment,' or 'A renewed commandment,' I give to you. Love one another. They've just seen a display of love. He washed their feet. And He said, "You've seen my love. You've been with me for three and a half years. I want you to love like that."

Now you know what the word 'love' is, right? If you were to guess the Greek word for love here, what would you say it is? Agape, you got it right. Agape, Agapao, it's not the love of feeling, it's the love of the will. It's not the warm, fuzzy emotions that you have, it's I choose with a mature kind of an approach to show love to that person. That's Agape, Agape love. It doesn't mean liking by the way. Can I just be honest with you? I'll be very confessional, right from my heart. I don't like everybody I meet. You don't either. That's honesty. But I'm called to love, to demonstrate love. I don't even think God likes everybody. I know he loves the world but people that are God haters and slur the name of Christ and do evil. Do you think God goes, "I only have such a warm, fuzzy emotional feelings for --," not at all, but he loved the world that he gave his Son.

Agape, love is a mature kind of love. And it has a qualifier. He didn't just say, "I want you guys to love." Now he says, "I want you to love like this. Notice how we should love. Love one another as I have loved you." Now that's the benchmark. That's pretty high. How do you measure love? You measure it by flowers, gifts? How many times you can say, "I love you" in one day? Those are good reminders. I read about a man in 1875, Marcel de Leclure who wrote the words "I love you" 1,875,000 times or 1000 times the calendar year being 1875. You might hear that, especially some of the gals and go, "Oh, that's so romantic." Don't get your hopes up he hired somebody to do it.

So Jesus says, "I want you to love but not just love without a qualifier. I want you to love like this as I have loved you." Well that's a whole different ballgame, because number 1, Christ's love is sacrificial. John 15, "Greater love has no one than this, that He would lay down his life for His friends." That's sacrificial love. Number 2, its unconditional love. When Jesus was on the cross the first thing he said as the enemies were gloating over Him is, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing." So here is my point. When Jesus loves, He doesn't love lovely people, deserving people, wonderful people, He loves people who don't love Him back. He loves sacrificially, He loves unconditionally.

Okay, if you're honest you might be thinking about now, "This is impossible." For me to copy Jesus and love like He does, it's impossible. And I confess, I agree with you, it's impossible on your own but as a disciple following Christ He would never give you a command that's impossible. You think He's going to give you a command He is going to give you the ability to do it, right? Does that make sense? Do you know that as a disciple of Christ, do you know that you have an unlimited reservoir and capacity to love? Do you realize that? The Bible says, "That God had shed forth His love or poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit," that's Romans Chapter 5 Verse 5, "He has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit." So here is the point, if God's love can flow into our hearts, God will make sure that His love can flow out of our hearts to other people, which means no one in our circle of relationships should ever be love starved. He has given us that capacity.

Now why should we do it? If there is the standard, there is the new commandment, "love like I love," why should we do it? Look at what he says, Verse 35, we close to this, "By this," now what's this? Love like Jesus. "By this, all will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another." Boy, that's a scary verse. Let me explain what I mean when I say it's a scary verse. In effect, Jesus is giving permission to the world to judge us. He is saying, "Listen, I'm letting the world look at your lives so that the world can say, "These people are real. They're authentic, they really follow me."" And the evidence is because of their love for one another. "By these shall all know that you are my disciples by the love." And how else are they going to tell? How else is the world going to know that we're the real deal? Is there a bumper sticker? "By this, shall all men know you're my disciples by the bumper stickers you put on your chariots or your cars."

Listen. By the way some us of drive, we should not have bumper stickers. Is it by our T-shirts? It is by the theology we can stuff in our brains? No, it's by love. I read a story about a ten year old boy in the city New York, Broadway. His nose was plastered up against the store window. He was gazing inside, it was cold outside. He had no shoes on. An old lady walked by and said, "What are you doing?" He said, "I'm asking God for shoes."

Well you know what she would do and she did it, she brought the young man inside. Asked for a basin of water, washed that little boy's dirty soiled feet, bought him a few pairs of socks, bought him a pair of shoes, and was about to walk out she felt a tug on her coat. She looked up and it was the little boy looking up and he said, "Excuse me, are you God's wife? You remind me so much of God by what you just did to me." Boy how wonderful it must be when people say, "You must be related to God. You got to one of His sons or daughters by the way that you love." That's a telltale sign.

There's something else I can't resist before we close. Notice what he says at that end of that verse, if you have love for what? Not for the whole world, but if you just start with one another, if you just begin loving other fellow disciples, fellow believers. If you just do that, they'll know you're the real deal. I don't know about you, but when I was kid I had some family issues, and lot of them were my attitude frankly. But whenever there was family dynamics that weren't really good and whether there was an argument or a fight or an imbalance in our home, I remember looking at other families and thinking, "I wish I was a part of that family. I want to be a part of that family. I want to be a son in that family. I love the way they love each other. I want to be part of that group." That's the idea here that the world with all of its dysfunction would look at people like us loving each other. And they would say, "I want to be a part of that family. I want to be a part of that group."

Well I've given you three new things that Jesus gives to His disciples that night. If you're going to be my followers you need a new perspective, a new gaze into the future, a new goal in this life living for the glory of God. You need a new relationship. You're going to have it. I'm going to wean you off of sight and onto faith. And finally a new commandment to love with that benchmark love, that is like mine.

Now let me give you three bullet points to walk away with since I've given you three points. Number one, asked God for a new set of eyes, not literally of course, but just a new way of looking at things. So that when you look at your treasures, what you own, the people in your life, in what you do, you would see it differently a new perspective. You'd learned to gaze at the end of the road and live in the interim part of the road for the glory of God. That's a new perspective. Ask God for new eyes.

Number two, embrace the weaning process as he is taking you and I to a place of just trusting in Him fully. Embrace that.

And number three, learn to measure your following of Christ, your discipleship, your Christianity by love. Not by how many people who love you, but how many people you love. And I find that they work in tandem. The more people you love, you're like a magnet. You're irresistible. You love more, they will love you.

Let me tell you as I close about a church tradition. We don't know this for sure but it's a long standing tradition that says when the author of this book of John, John the apostle himself was an old man, after he had left the aisle of Patmos he was taking back to Ephesus where he spent his final days. Run a hundred years of age. He couldn't walk. He had to be carried everywhere by his disciples. So they would pick him up and they would take him to church and everybody wanted to hear a word from the apostle John. And then his last days according to church tradition, he only said one thing, and he said it often. They would raise him up and they say, "John, tell us something." And he would say, "Little children, love one another." They bring him to church next week, "John, tell us something." "Little children, love one another." And the next week, and the next week, finally somebody said, "Why do you keep saying that?" And this is what he said, "Because it is the Lord's command. And if this alone be done, it is enough."

Isn't that great? If you just do that, if we would just love one another, imagine the power and impact we would have in this community and in this country.

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