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F.A.Q.
John 13:36-38
Skip Heitzig

John 13 (NKJV™)
36 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward."
37 Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake."
38 Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

"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. Questions from a Confused Follower

    1. Lord, Where?

    2. Lord, Why?

  2. Answers from a Confident Savior

    1. Your Faithfulness is Expected

    2. Your Future is Assured

    3. Your Failure is Anticipated

Pondering the Principles:


  1. Look up and meditate on these Scriptures: Deuteronomy 4:7 and
    29, Psalm 91:15, Psalm 145:8, Isaiah 65:24, and Luke 11:9-13. What do
    these verses tell you about the God you talk to?

  2. Test your listening abilities: Listen to a story in a group and ask
    different people to recall it. How do the details differ from person
    to person? In what ways do you selectively listen to God? How
    could your questions be clouding your ability to listen to God's answers?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. God answers questions
      1. "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3)
      2. The Holy Spirit lives inside us
      3. The Word of God directs us
    2. An interruption by Peter turns into a conversation between Peter and Jesus
    3. Peter is prominent
      1. Speaks more than other apostles
      2. Addressed by Christ more than the other apostles
      3. Rebuked by Jesus more than other apostles
      4. In lists of apostles, Peter is always first on the list (Judas is always last)
    4. Frequently asked questions
      1. Lord, where are you?
      2. Lord, why did you let this happen?
  2. Questions from a Confused Follower
    1. Lord, Where?
      1. Peter's question reveals his self-centeredness
        1. Jesus spoke about glorifying God, loving one another, demonstrating the reality of who we are by our love for one another
        2. Peter's focus is that Jesus said He is leaving
          1. Not "Show me how to glorify the Father"
          2. Not "Show me how to love"
          3. Peter didn't care as much about those
      2. How are we just like Peter?
        1. The Lord tries to reveal profound, life-changing truth
        2. We don't hear because we are focused on our own immediate need
    2. Lord, Why?
      1. The disciples argued about who would be the greatest
        1. Peter viewed this news as a test
          1. Peter wanted to pass
          2. Jesus had revealed one would betray Him
          3. Like when Jesus asked "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (Matthew 16:13)
          4. Peter wants to prove he is not the betrayer
        2. Mark 14:27-31 "If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" (v. 31)
          1. Peter felt misjudged
          2. He thought himself so loyal, he would never do that
        3. Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew Peter: He predicts exactly what would happen
      2. When we get spiritually puffed up, we think we won't blow it
        1. Like the mother whale told her baby: "Once you get to the top and you start to blow, that's when you get harpooned."
        2. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12)
        3. Overconfident
  3. Answers from a Confident Savior
    1. Your Faithfulness is Expected
      1. Jesus is going back to heaven, Peter can't follow now (cryptic answer)
        1. What good would a direct answer do?
          1. Peter isn't grasping the answers
          2. Jesus had told the disciples directly, and Peter said No! (See Matthew 16:21-22)
        2. Jesus' answer reveals Peter would go later
          1. You can't come now
          2. In the meantime, just be a follower
      2. After Jesus rises from the dead and is about to ascend: "Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, 'Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' And He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'" (Acts 1:6-8)
      3. Don't worry about the end times, worry about the meantime
      4. We can't go to heaven yet
        1. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:2-3)
        2. We have a purpose to fulfill here: God has a plan and a purpose
          1. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
          2. We should tell God: "Here is my life: Show me what your will is for me right here, right now."
    2. Your Future is Assured
      1. You shall follow me afterward
        1. According to church tradition, Peter died in Rome in 67 AD; crucified upside-down, because he said he wasn't worthy to die in the same manner as the Lord
        2. Peter followed Jesus in life, in death, and in glory
        3. Certainty: you shall, not: I hope you make it!
      2. Salvation should be a sure thing for those who follow Christ; if you follow Him today, you should know you will follow Him into heaven
        1. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life," (1 John 5:13)
        2. "And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'" (Luke 23:43)
        3. Like ticketed and standby passengers at the airport
          1. Ticketed are relaxed
          2. Standby hover and unsure
          3. Both might make it, the difference is confidence
      3. Will Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:21)?
        1. You need to be sure of it
        2. How can you know? Because Jesus said so: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
        3. "If you believe in Christ and are damned, I shall be damned with you." —C. H. Spurgeon
    3. Your Failure is Anticipated (Your imperfection in following Jesus is anticipated)
      1. Jesus asked "Will you lay down your life for my sake?"
      2. Jesus laid His life down for Peter, not Peter for Jesus
      3. Jesus predicts his failure
        1. Peter will deny he even knows who Jesus is
        2. "While he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'" (Luke 22:60-61)
      4. God knows all about you.
        1. When you fail, Jesus is not surprised
        2. "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14)
      5. Jesus predicted Peter's rising: "And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.'" (Luke 22:26-36)
        1. Like football player Roy Riegels; ran wrong way, but the game was only half over
        2. Do you feel you've failed the Lord at some point? Want a do over?
        3. Even Peter had a deep and dark failure
        4. "They shall mount up with wings like eagles," (Isaiah 40:31)

Figures Referenced: C. H. Spurgeon; Roy Riegels
Cross References: Psalm 103:14; Isaiah 40:31; Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 16:13; Matthew 16:21-22; Matthew 25:21; Mark 14:27-31 ; Luke 22:26-36; Luke 22:60-61; Luke 23:43; John 3:16; John 14:2-3; Acts 1:6-8; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 John 5:13

Topic: The Upper Room Discourse

Keywords: questions, Peter, pride

Transcript

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As we like to do, let's pray before we begin our study. Lord we pause before we unpack these verses that we're given the night Jesus met with his disciples in that room for supper. We pause Lord because it's our belief and we're about to encounter the very words of the living God preserved for us in the person of Jesus Christ. And Lord these principles are life changing truths, they're comforting truths. And we understand your love for us on a whole different kind of level when we understand these verses. I pray to encourage your people Lord especially those who are feeling weary because of life and the way that they may have failed you in the past. I prayed the strength in the hands that hang down and give strength Lord to their ability to stand during this time.

Lord we thank you that we have these PA system that's able to broadcast outside and show a picture next door in the hub and our satellite campuses, we're just so grateful Lord that we're a part of your plan in this world and in this community, in Jesus name, Amen.

If you have children, you know the kids like to ask questions and as parents you learn how to answer their questions throughout life. I went to a website called Frequently Asked Questions that kids have about life and often asked their parents. Questions like, "Why do I have a bellybutton? Did Eve have a bellybutton? Where do hiccups come from? Does God have a beard? Why do people need to sleep? Why do penguins have wings if they can't fly? Why is the sky blue? What was God doing before he made the world? If God made us, then who made God? How do fingernails grow?" If you're a parent you got those answers nailed down, right?

Frequently Asked Questions, some businesses, advertisers, schools, etcetera, will provide a lists of frequently asked questions that they can give to people so the people might readily know what they're about, what they offer, what they product is like. And sometimes when you call businesses they will have voicemail that directs you to frequently asked questions or frequently asked for options. Now, have you ever wonder what it would be like if God had voicemail? It might sound something like this, "Thank you for calling heaven, for English press one, for Spanish press two, for all other languages press zero. Please select one of the following options. Press one for request, number two for Thanksgiving, press three for complaints, press four for all other inquiries. I'm sorry all of our angels are busy helping others right now. However, your prayer is important to us and will be answered in the order that it was received. So please stay on the line. If you would like to speak to the Father press one, to the Son press two, to the Holy Spirit press three."

"To find out if a love one has been assigned to heaven enter his or her Social Security number and then press the pound key. If you get a negative response try area code 666, for reservations to my Father's house, press the letters J-O-H-N and then the numbers 3-1-6. For answers to nagging questions about dinosaurs, the age of the earth, where Noah's Ark is please wait until you arrive. Our computer show that you've already prayed today, please hang-up and try again tomorrow. The office will be closed for the weekend to observe a religious holiday. Please pray again on Monday after 9:30 AM. If you're calling after hours and need emergency assistance, please contact your local pastor. Have a blessed day".

Now compare that with what the bible actually promises like in Jeremiah Chapter 33 where God says, "Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you know not."

God has given us his Holy Spirit living inside of us, he has given us the word of God to direct us and the combination of those two mean that God is in the business of answering questions. And we come to a conversation in the upper room in John Chapter 13. Really, it's not a conversation as much as an interruption by Peter that turns into a conversation. It only occupies three verses, verses 36, 37, 38 of John 13, between Jesus and Peter. Peter asked two questions of Jesus, I would say they're frequently asked questions by all believers. And Jesus gives two answers, and those two answers formed three principles that we're going to consider this morning.

Now something about Peter, as you read through the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John you discover that, that Peter is very prominent. Peter speaks more than any of the other apostles. Peter is addressed more than any of the other apostles by Christ. Peter is rebuked by Jesus more than any of the other apostles. Whenever there's a list and there are four lists in the New Testament of the apostles the 12, Peter is always number one on the list. And Judas is always the last on the list.

Now we want to begin this morning, really backup in Verse 31, even though we're going to study Verse 36, 37 and 38. I want to begin a little bit back to get the flow of the context to understand the conversation once again. Verse 31, "So when he Judas Iscariot had gone out Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him."" If God is 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 love one another. By this, all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another."

So Jesus has been speaking up until now here's comes the interruption. Simon Peter said to him, "Lord where are you going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I'm going you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow me afterward." And Peter said to him, "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for your sake." Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for my sake? Most assuredly I say to you, the rooster shall not crow until you have denied me three times."

Two questions, two answers, three principles, question where, the question why. Frequently asked questions, we often say, "Lord, where?" And usually our questions, "Lord, where are you? "Where are you when I need you?" Or the question why, "Why Lord, did you let this happen? You could have stopped it." Lord where, Lord why.

Let's look at the first question and notice how it is phrased, "Lord, where are you going?" Now stop right there. Whenever anyone asks a question, it reveals something about that person, this reveal something about Peter. And in this question, "Where are you going Lord?" This reveals I believe Peter's self-centeredness. Now follow me on this. You read what Jesus has said to all of those people in that upper room, He's talked about glorying God, He's talked about loving one another, He talked about being able to share the reality of who we are with the world by our love for each other. Of all of those things that Jesus said, it's interesting that Peter focuses in on none of them. The only thing he focuses in on is that Jesus said he was leaving. Peter didn't go, "Oh, excuse me Lord, you talked about glorifying the Father, show me how to do that, I really need to know that."

Or, "Lord you just spoke about loving one another. I have a real tough time loving these guys. Would you help me? Would you show me how?" Now the first and only thing he said is, "Lord, where are you going?" Now why does he do that? Why does he focus on that thing that Jesus said and not the others? Well it's pretty simple. He didn't care about all the others, he didn't care about the stuff that Jesus said as much as he cares that Jesus said he's going to leave.

Let me give an example in my own personal life. When I was a kid, I distinctly remember my parents and they would go out in dates and go away for little short periods of time. But when I was a little kid they once announced to us boys, that they were taking an anniversary vacation alone apart from us to Hawaii. I remember not liking to hear that. I had some questions for them. I said, "Where are you going?" Like this, "Where are you going?" They said, "We're going to Hawaii." "How long are you going to be there?" "A couple of weeks." "What am I going to eat? What am I going to do while you're gone?"

You see, these were questions that I asked because I was worried about me. In other words I was saying, "Life is really good when you're here to take care of me." That's what it's like for Peter, "You're going somewhere? Where are you going?" That's the idea of this question. How many times have we been just like Peter? Just like Peter. Here is the Lord trying to reveal very profound life changing truths to us, like He was doing to Peter and the rest there that night. But we don't hear those truths. We're so focused on our own immediate need that his voice gets drowned out and we only pick up on one little thing like this.

I heard about a man who decided to go on a diet, and he was very serious about this. He was so serious that he even changed the route that he would go to work. And he use to drive every day by a bakery, said, "I can't do that, it's too tempting," because he would stop there everyday and have breakfast. He said, "I'm going on a diet." He was serious about it. Changed the direction in which he would drive to work, but one day he comes to work with a gigantic coffee cake, and everybody in the office looked at him and scolded him because he came with a coffee cake. And it's like, "Wait a minute. I thought you were on a diet?" And he said, "Now hold on, I know what you're thinking. This is a very special coffee cake." He said, "Today when I drove to work, I had forgotten that I changed routes and drove by that bakery. And as I drove by the bakery, I saw this coffee cake in the window as I drove by. And I thought, this can't be an accident. So I prayed. And I said, "Lord, if it's your will that I have that coffee cake then would you provide me a parking space right up in front of the bakery."" And he smiled and he said, "I'm sure enough." The eighth time around the block, there it was. Now, do you think he was praying in earnest when he was praying that? Was he praying to listen to God's voice? No, he was thinking about one thing and one thing only, that coffee cake and how he can get it.

Peter is zeroing in on the absent coffee cake in his life. Frequently asked question number one, "Lord, where are you?" Because it reveals He's going to do something for us. Second frequently asked question, "Lord, why?" And notice how Peter says this, "Lord, why can I not follow you now?" That's the question, notice it's followed up by a statement, "I will lay down my life for your sake."

Now do you recall that in that upper room on that night, the disciples had gotten into an argument, we mentioned this twice now. And it was the argument about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God. Can you imagine the bickering back and forth? "I'm going to be." "No, I'm going to be." "No, I'm going to be the greatest." They were arguing about that. It's my belief, it's my hunch that Peter views this as a test, and he is determined, he's going to pass the test. For you see, Jesus had already predicted to these fellows in that upper room that one of those disciples was going to betray Him. They didn't know who that was at this point. Peter is thinking, "Okay I get it, I get it. This is a test like Caesarea Philippi when Jesus said, "Who demands say that I am?" And I got the answer right. It's one of those deals.

I'm going to prove that I am not the betrayer. And so he said, "Lord, why can't I follow you? I'll lay down my life for you." Thinking that Jesus is now going to say, "Congratulations Peter you are the greatest, you will be the greatest in the kingdom." That's not what he heard. What he heard is Jesus make a prediction that he would betray Him.

Now, it's always good when you have an eyewitness account to compare any other eyewitness accounts and we have a parallel to this in Mark Chapter 14. You don't have to turn there, let me just read it to you. I've selected the verse in advance, "Then Jesus said to them --. " Now, this is after the upper room, they're on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of me this night for it is written. I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. But after I've been raised I will go before you in the Galilee." Peter said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be." That's pretty bold thing to say when your buddies are around and Jesus just said, "All of you guys are going to fail me tonight." For Peter to say, "Ah, excuse me Lord. Yeah, you're right. They probably will. But I won't. Not going to happen." Jesus continues, "Assuredly I say to you, that today even this night before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." But Peter spoke more vehemently, "Even if I have to die with you I will not deny you." And so they all said, "Likewise."

I imagine that Peter when he heard Jesus make this prediction, he felt very well misjudged. He probably thought, "Lord, you don't really know me, do you? I'm so loyal to you. I would never do what you say I would do. I would never do that. Don't you know me? Don't you know how much I love you?" Well not really was the issue. Jesus knew Peter, better than Peter knew Peter. And He predicts exactly what's going to happen. But Peter here in our text asked a question and makes an assertion. As if to say, "It will never happen to me, I will never deny you."

Next time you think you are so spiritual and you'll never blow it ever again, you might want to remember what the mama whale once said to the baby whale. She said, "You know sweetheart? Once you get to the top and you start to blow that's when you get harpooned." Or to put it in a bible verse, 1st Corinthian Chapter 10, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." Peter's gotten to the top, he's become prominent, his voice is heard in the New Testament, and he is so confident. Trouble is he is overconfident. He doesn't see the mistake that he's about to make. So two questions, frequently asked, "Lord where?" "Lord why?" Now Jesus gives answers and let's unpacked these answers in terms of three principles when we don't have answers in life.

Principle number one and we'll look at this in depth, "Your faithfulness, your present faithfulness is expected." Look what Jesus says. After Peter asked the first question, "Lord, where are you going?" Verse 36, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now." Okay, stop right there, "Where I am going." Where is Jesus going? After He dies on the cross, after he rises from the -- where is he going? He's going back to heaven. He's going back home, back to His Father's house. "Peter I'm going there, you can't follow me there right now."

You noticed that Jesus' answer to Peter is a little bit cryptic. He doesn't answer him completely or directly, He doesn't say, "Now Peter, I'm going to the paradise of my Father's house. In fact tomorrow I'm going to be crucified. Three days later I'm going to be resurrected. I'll be hanging around here for 40 days. Forty days after that, I'm going to ascend to the right hand of my Father's thrown. You Peter, in 67 AD will die just outside of Rome and at that moment you'll follow me to my Father's house." He didn't given that complete information, all He says is, "Where I am going you can't follow me now." Here's my question, why does Jesus answer Peter's question cryptically rather than completely and directly?

Well, I can offer you two reasons. Reason number one, what good would it do anyway? Peter really was not listening to the words of Jesus. They were either going over his head, he wasn't grasping them. Because if you remember on another occasion, when Jesus was very complete and direct and said, "I'm going to Jerusalem, they're going to kill me and three days later I'm going to rise." Peter said, "No Lord, not so. It will never happen to you. We're not going to let this happen," that's Matthew Chapter 16. So Peter really wasn't in a place where he's really grasping what our Lord is saying. But reason number two, above and beyond that is this answer, reveals an expectation that Jesus has for Peter, "You can't follow me now." He's not saying, "Peter, you can't ever go to heaven." He just saying, "Peter you can't go now. You go later, you just can't come now."

Now as a parent, you can relate to that. How many times have you had to tell you children, "Not now, but later." "Mommy, can I go to the store?" "Not now, later." "Daddy, can we go on vacation?" "Not now, we'll go later on the summer." "Can I drive?" "Not know, but later." "When can I start dating?" "Not now, but later."

Now the truth is, those kids are going to grow up and enjoy all of those things. But what you're telling them is, "Right now, just enjoy being a kid." "Okay Peter, you're a disciple, you're a follower. You can't go now. You'll go, but in the meantime just be a follower." Now, when Jesus raises from the dead He's about to ascend into heaven, the disciples including Peter. This is Acts Chapter 1, "Say Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" "Okay, we've been waiting long enough, you've been hanging around for 40 days, is this now the time where we get our positions and our promotions and you establish the kingdom?" And Jesus said, listen carefully, "It's not for you to know the times and the seasons that my Father has put in His own authority, but you will be my witnesses and Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the other most parts of the earth. In other words, don't worry about the end times, worry about the meantime. God will take care of the end times, study it all you want, get excited about it. But don't get so hang up on it that you forget about the meantime, "I have an expectation of you disciples, Peter as well. To be occupied now, presently until I come."

Here is how I want to apply this. We love to talk about heaven. We love to sing about heaven. We love to comfort people who are on their deathbed and going to heaven. That's good. But we can't go to heaven yet. "What do you mean we can't go to heaven yet?" We can't, we're not ready for it. Jesus said, "I'm going to prepare a place for you, but we can't go yet." You say, "How do you know we can't go yet?" "Because here you are in church, on earth, and God have you here for a reason. And until you fulfill that reason He's not letting you go to heaven. Oh, you'll go there one day. Some of you might go this week. Some of you might not go for many more years. But you can't go now until you're finished with what God has for you here."

Now, it's a very fundamental but profound point. If God's purpose for your life was merely to get you to heaven, that's a big thing, but if it was only that? You know what would happen the very minute you accept Christ? You just kill over dead. He said, "Good, he is saved." "Quick get him out of here, get him to heaven." The way our UltraCalls would look very different wouldn't they? Instead of counselors we would have undertakers in the prayer room, just sort of dragging people up more to heaven. But, the fact that you and I are here shows that God has a plan and a purpose in the meantime as we look toward the end time.

Here's my challenge to you this week, Romans Chapter 12 Verses 1 and 2, that's your homework for this week. Go home and practice Romans Chapter 12 Verse 1 and 2. Those two verses read this way, "I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God that you present your body as a living sacrifice to God holy and acceptable, which is your reasonable service. And don't be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That you might prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Plainly put you say, "God, here's my body, here's my life, show me what your perfect acceptable will is for me right here right now." And that's the principle that comes out of this answer of Jesus to Peter, "Your present faithfulness is expected. Where I am going, you can't come now."

Here is the second principle, your future is assured. Your ultimate future in heaven is absolutely assured. You'll notice the second part of that answer, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you shall follow me afterward." According to tradition and church history, it was 67 A.D. when Peter died at Rome. They were going to crucify him in the common Roman method of execution, but Peter said, "I'm not worthy to be killed in the same manner as my Lord." And so according to tradition, Peter was crucified upside down.

So Peter followed Christ in life, he followed Him in death, and he followed Him in the glory. And please notice what Jesus says. Notice the certainty in His voice when he says, "You shall follow me afterwards." Not, "Oh Peter, I sure hope you make it. Peter, you ask a lot of stupid questions." And if you can get over a lot of those hang ups and issues and if you ever really do become the first Pope, well then maybe you'll make it into heaven Peter." No he says with absolute certainty no hesitation, "You shall follow me afterwards." Here's my point, salvation should be a sure thing for those who follow Christ. We shouldn't be ambiguous about it. If you are following Jesus Christ today, you believe in Him, you ought to know that you're going to follow Him all the way into heaven.

Now John, who is an eye witness of this, wrote a little book in the New Testament called 1st John. And in Chapter 5 this what he said, "I'm writing these things to you, so that you may know that you have eternal life." You ought to know it. You ought to be fixed. No hesitation. What did Jesus say to the thief on the cross with that little meager faith that thief have, He said, "Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."

If you're traveling, you go to the airport. You notice there are basically two types of passenger. Number one, there's the confirmed ticketed passenger. Number two, there's the standby passenger. I don't know if you ever flown standby. I hate it. But I can be in an airport and I can tell who are the ticketed confirmed passengers and who are the standby passengers. It's pretty easy to tell. Ticketed confirmed passengers are relaxed for the most part. They sit down. They read a book. They sleep. They talk to one another. They grab a bite to eat. Not so with standby passengers, they hover and they kind of move around frigid to look. Because they don't know if they're going to get on that plane or not, they hope so but they don't know. They want to get to their destination but they're unsure.

So the difference, even though they both might make it to the same destination, is confidence. One has a ticket, one hopes to get the ticket. I think you catch my drift. If you knew that within this week you're going to stand before God, this life would be over. Would you be nervous about that? "Wow, what He's going to say to me? "Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord," or will He say, "Depart from me, I never knew you."" If there is one thing you need to be sure of is this, you need to be sure of it. "Well, how can I be sure? How do I really know?" The same way Peter knew, the same way the thief on the cross knew, because Jesus said so. "For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." If you trust Christ, if you follow Christ, if you're His disciple today, you'll follow Him all the way into heaven.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was so sure about his salvation he said, "If you believe in Christ and are damned, I shall be damned with you." So all I am saying is that if you're not sure, before you leave today, make sure you are a ticketed confirmed passenger.

Let's look at the third and final principle that emerges from the answer of Christ to Peter that's in Verse 38 and here is the principle, your failure is anticipated. Let me put that in another way. Your imperfection in following Jesus is anticipated. Listen to the words of Jesus to Peter the apostle, Jesus answered him verse 38, "Will you lay down your life for my sake?" It's an interesting interaction here. Peter says, "I'll lay down my life for you." If I were Jesus I would have said, "Excuse me Peter, that's my line. I'm going to lay down my life for you, not you for me." So he says, "Will you lay down your life for my sake? Most assuredly I say to you, the rooster shall not crow until you have denied me three times." Here Jesus predicts his failure. Was Jesus right of wrong? Of course he was right. Did Peter fail Jesus? Yes. Within a few hours, Peters going to deny that he even knows who Jesus is, "I don't even know the guy." It's going to be a bitter night for Peter.

Now Luke tells us the rest of the story. We're told in Luke Chapter 22, "While he was still speaking --," that is Peter saying, "I deny him." "While he was still speaking the rooster crowed and the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus said, "You will deny me three times."" What a look that must have been. When their eyes connected, how did Jesus look at Peter? We're not told, but I don't think he scowled or scorned or kind of that look like, see. I think it was a compassionate, caring, "I told you Peter I tried to prepare you for this. You must be feeling horrible and so embittered because of this." He looked at Peter, and Peter remembered that Jesus said, "You will deny me three times."

Now listen, God knows all about you, He knows all about your imperfections, He knows all about your failures, He knows all about your foibles and they don't surprise Him. Was Jesus surprised when Peter denied Him? Did Jesus give him a look like, "Oh, I can't believe you did that." When you fail the Lord, do you think God ever lets you and goes, "--? You mean you have that sin in your life? I never knew that, that sort of changes the whole thing now." Nope, He's not surprised by it.

Psalm 103, this Psalm has writes, "He understands how weak we are and He knows we're only dust." I remember first reading that text, it was so comforting to me. God knows how weak I am and He knows that I'm just dust. Have you ever seen dust on the floor? Dust on your furniture? Do you have a high expectation of dust? "You be good dust now. You be perfect dust now. You clean your self up." God knows our frame and He remembers that we are dust.

So here is Jesus, anticipating the failure of one of His chosen apostles, the great Peter. But that's not the end of the story. As Jesus predicted Peter's fall, Jesus predicted Peter's rising again. And again in the account of Luke, Jesus said these words to Peter, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked for you that he might sift you like wheat, but Peter I pray for you. And when you have returned to me, strengthen your brothers." Jesus anticipated Peter would fall, but Jesus anticipated Peter would return and use that failure to mount up and learn from the failure and strengthen his brothers and sisters around him. "When you are returned to me, strengthen your brethren." I love that.

Let me tell you a story from 1929, now F.Y.I., I wasn't alive then. In 1929 at the Rose Bowl in California, there were two teams that squared off, Georgia Tech, University of California. One of the players for California was a guy named Roy Riegels. And in the first half of the game when Georgia Tech fumbled the ball, Riegels grab the fumble, recovered it, and started running toward the touchdown line.

The problem was, he was confused and he ran the wrong direction. He was actually running to make a score for Georgia Tech rather than his team California. Well one of his teammates saw the mistake that Roy had made, run after him as quick as he could, tackled his own teammate, 65 yards away from making a touchdown for Georgia Tech. The next play, Georgia was able to score the touchdown, Riegels felt horrible. He let down his team, he help score a goal for the opposite team. The question going around the stands at that game in 1929 is what is the coach for California going to do with Roy Riegels, one of the star players in the second half? At half time when the teams were on the locker room, Roy Riegels was in the corner, towel around his neck and he was just weeping like a baby. He had let everyone down. And then the coach made this announcement, "The players that played the first half will open the second half." Riegels look up and said, "Coach you can't mean, for the life of me I can't do it, I've ruined your life coach, I ruined everything for our team." The coach smiled and said, "Roy, the game is only half over."

Now, I got to tell you. Nobody played football like Roy Riegels played football in the second half of that game given a second chance. And here is Jesus, "Peter, you are going to fail me. I know all about you. I know all about your imperfection. But Peter, the game is only half over. I have a job for you to do." Do you feel like you failed the Lord at some point in your life? You fumbled the ball? You scored a touchdown for the other team perhaps? Your life isn't what it should be, what you wanted it to be.

True story, a man looked at the newspaper one morning and was shocked to discover his name was in the obituary column. That surprised him. He didn't even know he was sick, little as dead. So he went down to the newspaper and he complained, "Hey, you made a mistake. I'm alive and you put my name as dead." And they apologized, but the man was insisting, he said, "Do you know what this going to cost me? And the business I might lose because of your mistake?" And finally the editor said, "I tell you what, I tell you what I do for you. Tomorrow I'll put your name in the birth column and give you a second chance." Do you want to do over? Jesus is all about do over's. This is Peter and Jesus knew that even Peter would have a deep and dark failure, but it's all about the do over.

Listen, let failure be your teacher not your undertaker, didn't have to bury you. Mount up with wings as eagles and go forward with His grace.

Father in heaven, we love this story. We understand Lord what Jesus was getting across to His men that night. He expected their faithfulness to occupy, to not worry about following Jesus now into heaven. That they get there later and what an assurance that was to hear you shall follow me afterwards. But Lord even you know how weak we are and how imperfect our following of you is. How many times we blown it. And we felt so bad and we felt so ashamed. And some of us felt so surprised and shocked. It didn't shock you, it didn't surprise you. You know our frame. You remember we're dust. And I pray for those especially who are falling in battle or scarred up because of their own failures. I would pray that they would not cash in and walk away. I pray that you would cause them Lord to mount up and to learn from their mistake. And to now, be restored and return unto you and strengthen their brothers and sisters. In Jesus name we pray. 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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4/10/2011
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A Brand New Way of Life!
John 13:31-35
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To follow Jesus is to have a brand new way of life. When these twelve men sitting around the dinner table started hanging around Jesus, they had no idea just how new and different their lives would become. At this final meal on that last night, they were still learning just how new their lives should be. (Jesus can still teach old dogs new tricks!) As present-day followers of Christ, let’s consider three aspects of life that become new once we become His disciples.
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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.