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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > How Can I Know God?

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How Can I Know God? - John 14:7-11

Taught on | Topic: The Upper Room Discourse | Keywords: knowing God, knowledge, believe

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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5/8/2011
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How Can I Know God?
John 14:7-11
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. Roadblocks to Knowing God

    1. Inaccurate Comprehension (v. 7)

    2. Inappropriate Confirmation (v. 8)

  2. Resourc es for Knowing God

    1. Being in His Presence (v. 9)

    2. Believing in His Person (v. 10a)

    3. Bending to His Word (v. 10b)

    4. Beholding His Works (v. 11)

Pondering the Principles:

  1. How do your background, experience, and knowledge help and/or hinder your concept of God?

  2. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your desire to know God better. What are you actively doing to enhance your experience with Him?

  3. How full is your spiritual tool chest (i.e., do you have a storehouse of spiritual knowledge to draw from that helps you get direction for life and make important choices)? See Matthew 13:52.

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Intellectual knowledge
      1. "Knowledge is Power"—Francis Bacon
        1. If true, this is the most powerful generation in history
          1. More computer power in a musical gift card than on the earth in 1950
          2. As much informational knowledge on one silicone chip as in the entire library at Alexandria, Egypt (700,000 parchments)
      2. The increase of knowledge
        1. If all accumulated knowledge from the beginning to 1845 were represented by one inch then:
        2. From 1845-1945, three inches
        3. From 1945-1975, as tall as the Washington Monument
        4. From 1975-present ever increasing
    2. Spiritual knowledge - knowing God
      1. "The loftiest of all sciences"—C.H. Spurgeon
      2. "Michael Persinger of Laurentian University in Canada  suspects that religious experiences are evoked by mini electrical storms in the temporal lobes, and that such storms can be triggered by anxiety, personal crisis, lack of oxygen, low blood sugar and simple fatigue—suggesting a reason that some people "find God" in such moments. Why the temporal lobes? Persinger speculates that our left temporal lobe maintains our sense of self. When that region is stimulated but the right stays quiescent, the left interprets this as a sensed presence, as the self departing the body, or of God."  (cited by Sharon Begley in "Religion and the Brain," Newsweek May 7, 2001)
        1. They world says, "it's all in your mind"
        2. God employs our minds, but it is much more than that
      3. Until Jesus, people didn't understand God in any kind of manifested form: "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." (John 1:18)
    3. Setting
      1. Jesus and disciples in the Upper Room
      2. Jesus is comforting them before He leaves
        1. He will be killed the next day
        2. This is their final meal
        3. They are fearful and distraught
          1. Jesus is leaving
          2. Jesus will be killed
          3. Peter will deny Him
          4. Judas will betray Him
      3. Jesus and Thomas have had a conversation: "Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" (John 14:5-6)
      4. Now, Jesus and Philip have a conversation
  2. Roadblocks to Knowing God
    1. Inaccurate Comprehension (v. 7)
      1. The disciples hadn't fully understood who Jesus was
      2. John uses "know" four times in this passage
        1. Important word to John, used 141 times
        2. "Believe" used 98 times
      3. John uses "know" in four different ways
        1. Knowing a fact
        2. Understanding the truth
        3. Knowing a person relationally
        4. Having a deeper, fuller comprehension of a person's identity (this is how Jesus uses the term here)
      4. The disciples were acquainted with Him, knew who He was, but didn't fully comprehend His identity
        1. "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" (Matthew 8:27)
        2. Disciples – 3.5 year discovery process
        3. "Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Matthew 16:16)
        4. Disciples knew: He did miracles, spoke well, Messiah, but did not grasp His deity
        5. They will grasp His deity after the resurrection: "And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (John 20:28)
      5. Application
        1. Our upbringing, culture, customs, and worldview form the lens by which we view God
        2. Who you think God is and who God is may not be the same
        3. Important to understand who He is by who He reveals Himself to be
    2. Inappropriate Confirmation (v. 8)
      1. The need for proof
      2. Jesus had tested Philip in the past; Philip failed (see John 6:1-10)
      3. Wanting to see God
        1. Longing to see Him is the basis for our worship; one day we will see Him
          1. Moses: "Please, show me Your glory." (Exodus 33:18)
          2. Earthly worship service will not satisfy, rather they whet your appetite
          3. Longing to see him is at the core of who we are
        2. Longing to see him can be an excuse for unbelief: "If I can see, than I will believe"
        3. Longing to see Him is a root of idolatry
          1. Attempt to bring God to a human level
          2. Worship images
          3. See him in clouds, toast, etc.
  3. Resources for Knowing God
    1. Being in His Presence (v. 9)
      1. It is possible to be around someone and not fully know who they are
      2. Also possible to know God with an open heart and inquisitive mind
      3. Application
        1. Unbelievers – Spend time investigating the evidences for Jesus Christ: "You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 4:29)
        2. Believers – Evaluate the time spent with God
          1. Not time spent for God, time spent with Him
          2. Ephesian church left their first love (see Revelation 2:4)
          3. Don't be so busy about the King's business that you forget the King Himself
    2. Believing in His Person (v. 10a)
      1. Believe in me: speaking to believers
      2. Go on believing, keep it up (vs. 11): present, active indicative tense
      3. Don't just get saved by faith, grow by faith: learn to trust Him
        1. "We hope that your faith will grow," (2 Corinthians 10:15 NLT)
        2. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
      4. Application
        1. Is your faith growing, or is it stagnant?
        2. Is your faith active, or is it in need of life support?
        3. "And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him." And the apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith.'" (Luke 17:4)
    3. Bending to His Word (v. 10b)
      1. Jesus appeals to the words He spoke
      2. Reactions to His word
        1. Hostile
        2. Comfort
        3. "And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:28-29)
        4. "The officers answered, 'No man ever spoke like this Man!'" (John 7:46)
      3. "The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me."  —Martin Luther
      4. One of the strongest signs of a real child of God is that person's hunger to learn more about God.
      5. According to George Gallup Jr., we are a nation of biblical illiterates:
        1. four out of ten Americans do not know Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount
        2. Most Americans cannot name the four gospels
        3. Only three out of ten teens know why Easter is celebrated
    4. Beholding His Works (v. 11) : Not just getting information, but seeing transformation
      1. Wherever Jesus is, He changes lives
      2. God is in the business of working

Publications Referenced: "Religion and the Brain," by Sharon Begley Newsweek May 7, 2001
Figures Referenced: Francis Bacon; C.H. Spurgeon ; Michael Persinger; Martin Luther; George Gallup Jr.
Cross References: Exodus 33:18; Deuteronomy 4:29; Matthew 7:28-29; Matthew 8:27; Matthew 16:16; Luke 17:4; John 1:18; John 6:1-10; John 7:46; John 14:5-6; John 20:28; 2 Corinthians 10:15; Hebrews 11:6; Revelation 2:4

Topic: The Upper Room Discourse

Keywords: knowing God, knowledge, believe

Transcript

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Let's pray together.  Our Father in heaven, we thank you for the opportunity that you've given to us.  To get out of our homes this morning to drive here, to gather together, to hear inspirational music, to fellowship with each other and reconnect after a week and on this day, the Lord's Day, to worship you in a new and a fresh manner.  And it consider what your word says to us and what principles that we're going to glean for our lives.  We humble ourselves before you simply asking that you would reveal who you are to us that we might conform to your image.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Knowledge is power, that's what Francis Bacon, the statesman, scientist said in the 16th century, knowledge is power.  If that is true, then this is the most powerful generation in history.  Our store of knowledge is growing at such an ever-increasing rate and its successibility is instantaneous.  You can get on Google today and find just about anything possible that is worth knowing or even not worth knowing it's there.

Now, let's supposed you went to a birthday party and you were to give a birthday card that when you open it, it plays a song you know the kind, maybe happy birthday or whatever.  And the person who receives the card, well, thank you for it, but later on is going to toss it.  When they throw that card away, they have thrown away more computer power than was on the Earth before 1950 in that one card.  Staggering what we have learned from then until now.

You can put as much informational knowledge on a single silicon chip as was in the entire library at Alexandria Egypt, the largest in the world at that time in the Ancient World, 700,000 parchments in that library alone.  You can fit all of that on a single silicon chip.  Someone estimated that if you took all of the accumulated knowledge from the beginning of history until the year 1845 and you were to represent that by one inch, then all of the accumulated knowledge from 1845 to 1945, a mere of 100 years later, would be three inches.

And what we've accumulated from 1945 to 1975 would be the height of the Washington Monument in D.C.  And what we've accumulated from '75 until today is anybody's guess.  Our store of knowledge is increasing.  But that's just informational knowledge.  What about spiritual knowledge?  What about knowing God?  What Charles Spurgeon called the loftiest of all sciences, the greatest of all knowledges knowing God.  I want to talk to you a little bit about that today, knowing God, how can we know him and if we know him, how can we know him better.  And why is it that some don't know him and even disregard him.

I have a copy of the Newsweek magazine from sometime back and on the front is the big letters, God & the Brain.  And it says, how we're wired for spirituality.  Here's a portion of that article.  This is from Michael Persinger of Laurentian University in Canada.  He suspects that religious experiences are evoked by many electrical storms in the temporal lobes.  And that such storms can be triggered by anxiety, personal crisis, lack of oxygen, low blood sugar and simple fatigue, suggesting that a reason some people find God in such moments.  Persinger speculates that our left temporal lobe maintains our sense of self.

When that region is stimulated, but the right stays quiescent, the left interprets this as a sensed presence as the self departing the body or of God.  Do you understand what they're saying?  They're saying, "It's all in your mind.  It's all in your head.  God, it's all in your head.  It's just your temporal lobe firing off."  Now, it's true God employs our minds, our brains.

He expects us to be very active thinkers but it's more than that.  Knowing God involves part of that, but more than that, it's greater and it's more objective than that.  I've always love the story of the teacher who told her class to draw whatever their favorite thing they wanted to draw was and all the kids bent their heads and started working away.  As the teacher went through the classroom and notice one little girl head down very, very intensely drawing.  The teacher smiles and said, "Susie, what are you drawing?"  And without looking up, she said, "I'm drawing God," and the teacher said, "Susie, nobody knows what God looks like," and without lifting her head, without even flinching, she just said, "They will in a minute."

And that could have been Jesus line, because people didn't know God or understand God in any kind of manifested form.  No one has seen God the Bible says at any time, but the Only-Begotten Son who's in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him, declared him, showing him forth.

Now we're in John 14, we're dealing with an upper room, Passover conversation.  It's Jesus comforting his disciples before he leaves, he's going to be killed the next day.  And this final meal, they have already heard enough to cause them some fear and to be distraught.  Jesus said he's going.  Jesus said he's going to be killed.  Jesus said Peter is going to deny him.  That Judas is going to betray him and so they're agitated.  And in the conversation we saw last week, Thomas says, "We don't know where you're going and how can we know the way," and Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the light."

Now, we're continuing the conversation.  And this time, we see that Jesus and Philip, another disciple, have an interchange.  Let's begin in Verse 7.

Jesus speaking, "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also, and from now on, you know Him and have seen Him."  Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father and it is sufficient for us."  Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long and yet you have not known me, Philip?  He who has seen me has seen the Father.  So how can you say show us the Father?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?  The words that I speak to you, I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does the works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves."

I really want to talk about two things that I see here represented in our text that we just read.  Number one, roadblocks to knowing God, there's a couple of them and the disciples experienced both and then resources.  How can we know God better?  Now, let me draw your attention back to Verse 7 and here's the first roadblock to knowing God as seen here and that is an inaccurate comprehension.  In other words, these disciples hadn't fully connected the dots of who Jesus was.

In Verse 7, Jesus uses the word "known".  Now watch that four times it will show up in these two verses.  "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also and from now on you know Him and have seen Him."  Verse 9, "Have I been with you so long and yet you have not known me, Philip?"  Mark that four times in two verses, Jesus uses the word know or known.

Why is that important?  I'll tell you who it's important too, it's important to John, 141 times in the Gospel of John he uses the word "know", it's one of his favorite words.  He wants you to believe in God, believe in Jesus, that's the other big word, 98 times it's mentioned in the book.  But he wants you to know him.  Okay, now without going through all the language stuff, let me just say that John uses the word "know" four different ways in this gospel, this will help you.

Number one, he sometimes uses it to mean knowing a fact just knowing the fact.  Here's the fact, good I know that.  Here's another way he uses it, to understand the truth behind that fact, where that fact is leading.  Number three, he uses the term "to know" in reference to knowing a person relationally.

And number four, to have a deeper, fuller, comprehension of that person's identity.  That's how Christ is using that here.  "You should have known me, Philip.  If you had known me, if you had really known me," now, he is not saying that we're not acquainted relationally.  This isn't Jesus saying Philip, I'm Jesus, nice to meet you.  They'd known him probably better than any other human being for the last three and half years, these disciples had been around him and they were learning who he was but they didn't fully comprehend his identity.  They are still computing all of that in their brains.

Do you recall on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus calmed the storm that the disciples asked the question, "Who can this be that even the wind and the waves obey him?"  That was their question, "Who can this be?"  And they were in a three and a half years schooling process of discovering who this can be.  Until Peter finally says, "I get it," Matthew 16, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  They knew he could work miracles.  They knew he could speak really well.  They believe that he was the Messiah, but they didn't quite grasp the deity part of it because of their background, their upbringing, the idea that God would reside in a physical body was foreign to them.

Now, they will come to that understanding as time marks this on, Jesus will die the next day, three days later, he'll be resurrected.  When Jesus appears to Thomas, Thomas is the guy that connects the dots.  And he says to Jesus, "My Lord and my God."  "My Lord and my God, I get it.  I get it now."

One of our roadblocks in really knowing who God is, knowing Jesus is all the baggage that we bring into the relationship.  The baggage of our upbringing, our culture, our customs, our worldview and all of that forms a lens by which we view God.  That's why a person will say things like, "Well, I have always pictured God like," or, "My view of God has always been," that's their baggage, that's their lens.  Here's the point, who do you think God is and who God really is may not necessarily be exactly the same.  They may be miles apart.

It's true for any of us so that's why it's important to understand who he is by who he reveals himself to be.  He's been doing that for three and a half years with these men and obviously, they didn't quite pick it up yet.  So that's number one, inaccurate comprehension.

Here's number two, second roadblock, an inappropriate confirmation.  In other words, well, I want proof.  I want some visible physical manifestation.  That's all I need.  Look at Verse 8, "Philip said to him, 'Show us the Father and it's sufficient for us.'"  Yeah, that will be like sufficient for anyone.

Do you kind of understand where Philip is coming from?  Jesus, you keep telling us you're going.  You keep telling us you're going back to where you came from.  You keep talking about you and the Father being one.  You keep bringing the Father up.  It looks like we're going to be losing you soon.  If you just show us God the Father, we'll be happy.  That's all we need.  It will be sufficient.

There's something to understand about Philip.  We've met Philip before in the Gospel of John.  Do you remember when Jesus was feeding the multitude to thousands of people that came to Galilee and Jesus did the miracle to feed them?  Before he fed them when all of those people were gathered around, the Bible says that Jesus turned to Philip and asked him a question.  He said, "Hey Philip, come here.  Where can we buy bread that we can feed all of these people?"  And the Bible says, because Jesus needed the answer to that.  He did it to test him and Philip failed the test.

"Philip, where do we buy bread that we can feed all of these people?"  Immediately, Philip's little accountant left-brain, pragmatic thing kicked in.  He starts computing.  He says "Jesus, I figured this out.  We're going to need 20,000 bucks, 200 dinar(ph), eight months wage for a common person's labor."  And that won't even cover the cost of all these, but I figured it out.

That's not the right answer.  The answer is staring you in the face, Philip.  His name is Jesus.  He's going to do it.  That's the Philip we're dealing with here.  So Philip says, "I want to see God."  Now, do you understand that that longing that Philip has and probably all the other disciples had it.  This longing is the basis at least in part for our worship.  It's the basis for our worship.  We worship in faith but we worship with the faith that one day we're going to see God face to face.  That's our promise.  That's our longing.

Moses, you recall prayed something very similar.  He said, "Lord, just show me your glory."  Now why would Moses ask for that?  Think of all of the manifestations Moses had seen.  You've seen the burning bush.  He'd seen the Red Sea part.  He had seen a heavenly GPS system with a cloud and the fire leading them throughout the wilderness.  That'd be enough because now it's not enough.  Show me your glory.  And that brings up something very important no matter how sophisticated we are or spiritually well-informed we are at our very core, that's what we want these believers to ultimately see God.  Which means all of the worship experiences we have now on the Earth, no matter how good they are will never satisfy you.  They weren't meant to satisfy you.  They were meant to wet your appetite.

"Whoa, I've gone to this cool worship thing.  I flew all the way across the country.  It was the greatest worship experience, cool."  Are you done now?  Are you satisfied with that like for the rest of your life?  No.  What's your appetite for when you see him visibly, physically face to face.  Here's an example.  When I travel and I take pictures of my family with me, if they're not with me, I take a picture or representation of them.  When I get really lonely because I've been gone for like a week or two, a couple of weeks, I'll look at the picture, a little two-dimensional image.  And then I'll even talk to them on the phone.  I don't hang up the phone, close up the picture and go, "Okay, it's all I needed.  I can stay away now for another year or two."

No, talking on the phone and looking at the picture simply accentuates my loss for them.  I want to see them more than ever.  So longing to see God no matter what experience we've had is at the very core of who we are and that's the anticipation and the reason we now worship now in faith waiting for the day when our faith will become sight.

But something else, this longing to see God is often an excuse for unbelief.  You'll see a non-believer will say, "Well, I agree with Philip.  All I want is to see God.  You can produce God and let me see God then I'll become a believer.  I'll worship him."  But I've never seen God.  I've never heard God.

I think I've told you before about the atheist who is having a conversation with a believer.  The believer happened to be a Quaker and the atheist said, "Have you ever seen God?"  And the Quaker said, "Nay(ph)," that's how they would say no, "Nay."  "Have you ever heard God?"  "Nay."  "Have you ever felt God?"  "Nay."  "And have you ever smelled God?"  "Nay."  "Hah!  Then how do you even know there is a God?"

Well, the Quaker was a little befuddled by that but he thought he would turn the argument around and he said to the atheist, "Has thou seen thy brain?"  "Well no."  "Has thou ever smelled thy brain?"  "No, of course not."  "Has thou ever felt thy brain?"  "No."  And the Quaker smiled then said, "Then how does thou know that thou even has the brain?" It's a very rudimentary argument, but I think it packed the punch nonetheless.

Something else about this desire that Philip has in Verse 8, this longing is part of the root of idolatry to make an image, some representation of God that physically represent him.  If only God could be visible, if only I could take transcended God and bring him down to my level, a human level so that I can relate to him and I'll carve an image with little eyes on there, then the nose, then the mouth and I'll worship that.  It's the basis of idolatry.  It's the root of idolatry.  It's what people have done for thousands of years and even the Children of Israel had all around them in the Old Testament.

And I think that's one of the reasons people today will say, "I look at the clouds and I saw Jesus.  You see Jesus it just looks like Jesus."  "Well, I've never seen Jesus, I would know."  Or, "Look at this piece of toast, there's Jesus' face in the toast or the tortilla.  There's Jesus in the tortilla."  Or an overexposed reflection of a fender on a car and I have seen it all.  It's their desire like Philip to see God.  This then form two roadblocks.  I need proof and I can't connect the dots.

Now, let's look at the resources.  There's four principles I want you to notice to help us know God and if you know God to know Him better.  Number one, by being in His presence, Verse 9, Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long and yet you have not known me, Philip?"  Now listen to this statement, he's proclaiming his deed in an unmistakably clear manner again, "He who has seen me has seen the Father.  So how can you say, 'Show us the Father.'"

Now, these words of Jesus, besides being a statement of his deity, I think they are tinged(ph) with sadness.  There's a pathos in them.  I've been around you so long.  We've shared so many intimate moments in the last few years and you still don't know me.  It brings up an interesting point.  It's possible to be around someone and not fully know who they are.  I've heard married couples tell me this, "We've been married this many years, but I feel like I really don't know him or haven't known him until now."  They've been around Jesus for three and a half years.

Cute little story.  Years ago, we had the privilege of going to a World Series, two games back in Atlanta, Georgia when the Braves played the Yankees '96.  And we rode the team bus, they Yankee team bus, because one of the pictures used to fellowship here got us the seats and got us the tickets.  We're driving back to the hotel after the game, the Yankees won that night.  They were all high.  My son, Nate, sits down among the whole team and next to him sits one of their coaches, the great Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, Nathan didn't have a clue who it is.  Sitting right next to him, right in the bus, talking it up and dad know who it is.

Reggie goes, "Hi, I'm Reggie Jackson from California."  Nate goes, "I'm Nate Heitzig from Albuquerque."  He didn't know who he's sitting next to.  It's possible like here to be around someone and not know who they are.  But at the same time, it is possible to know God when you have an open heart and an inquisitive mind, you can know Him.  And the disciples are in that process of knowing Jesus.  And as I mentioned, Thomas will eventually say, "My Lord and My God," he'll make that discovery.

Now, if you're an unbeliever today, let me just challenge you to spend a little bit of your time investigating the evidences for the faith in Jesus Christ.  So it actually becomes something your interested in and you even dare to seek the Lord, because the Bible makes a promise, "If you seek the Lord with all of your heart, you'll find Him."  He will be found by you.

Second, if you're a believer this morning, here's my challenge.  Start evaluating your time, not in so much what you do for God as time you spend with God.

You see, sometimes we make the mistake of, "I'm so busy working for God," you can work for God all the time.  You can be a pastor of a church and not even know Him.  The church at Ephesus have this wonderful thing going and a problem going at the same time.  Jesus writes him a letter in Revelation.  He says to the church at Ephesus, "I know you work hard, you labor, but I have something against you.  You've left your first love."  Remember that?  You're working, you labor but you've left your first love.

You know what their problem was?  I'll paraphrase it.  "You guys are so busy about the King's business that you have actually forgotten the King Himself."  How about just taking a tad bit more of your time to be with Him, to fellowship with Him by being in His presence.

Number two principle, by believing in his person.  And what I mean by that because it's -- I already believe in God, learning to trust Him more.  Verse 10, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?"  And then look at Verse 11, "Believe me that I am in the Father."  Okay, stop and think about that.  Who is Jesus speaking to when he says believe me?  He's speaking to believers.  They are disciples.  These aren't atheist.  He's not trying to convince them to get saved.  They already believe in him, they are disciples, they are followers, "Believe me."

And in Verse 11, the word "believe" is present active indicative, in other words, "Go on believing, keep it up, let your faith grow."  You see, you don't just get saved by faith.  You move on in the Christian life by faith by learning to trust Him more and more.  That was Paul's desire.  He writes to the Corinthians, II Corinthians 10:15, "We hope that your faith will continue to grow."  Is it?  The writer of Hebrews declared, "Without faith, it's impossible to please Him and whoever comes to God must first believe that he is and second that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  Are you diligently seeking Him?

There is a skeptical physician treating a patient who is a strong vibrant believer.  And the doctor confessed after the surgery that he performed on his patient.  He said, "You know I believe in God.  I guess I believe in Jesus.  I'm not conscious that I have any real doubts.  But I don't know if I'm saved.  I struggle with this whole faith thing."  The patient said, "A week ago doctor, I believed in you as a very skillful physician.  I believed that if I got sick, you'd help me.  But two days ago, I let you cut into me and give me some medicine that I didn't understand, but I entrusted you with my life completely."  You can see the difference.

It's one thing to believe as a patient, if I get sick, that guy is going to help me or could help me.  It's another thing to say, "I'm sick now, help me.  I surrender.  I entrust my life to you."  So here's my question, is your faith growing or is it stagnant?  Would you describe your faith as very active, very alive or needing life support?  One of the greatest prayers you could ever praise with the disciples pray.  Now get this, in one occasion, Jesus told the disciples, "You guys need to forgive people."  Well, what do you mean by that?  Jesus said, "If somebody offends you seven times in a day and comes up to you and says to you, 'I repent.'  You have to forgive him."

Okay, that's pretty amazing.  Imagine somebody walking up to you slapping you in the face, and then after he's going, "I'm sorry."  You go, "Okay, I forgive you.  Don't do it again."  Twenty minutes later, bam!  Slaps you up again and says, "I'm sorry."  Now by that time, by number two, you're going to go, "You know what, don't you ever do that again."  By the third time, he slaps you and says, "I'm sorry."  You're going to say, "I'm not going to forgive you because that's not real repentance."  You know what Jesus said, "Even if he says to you I repent, forgive him, even seven times."

You know what the disciple said when Jesus said that, you know what they said, listen, you'll relate, "Lord, increase our faith."  It makes sense, doesn't it?  You say, "I don't have that kind of faith.  Help me on that one.  I'm not doing good on that one.  Increase our faith."  That's a good thing to pray.  Lord, increase our faith.  So being in His presence, believing in His person, there's a third way that can help you know God, bending to His word.

Notice in Verse 10, in the second sentence, "The words that I speak to you, I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does the works."

Jesus appeals to the words they had heard him say for the last three years, sermon on the mount, the upper room discourse, all the magical wonderful promises that Jesus gave during that time.

You know that whenever Jesus spoke and the Bible records the reaction of the crowd, sometimes they were hostile, sometimes they were very comforted, I mean no one was ever unmoved after he gave the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7.  After he finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at his teaching for he spoke as one who had authority and now this describes.

Listen to this on another occasion, the elders sent the police to arrest Jesus.  The police come back to the elders empty-handed and go, "Where is he?  We sent you to get him."  And the police said, "No one ever spoke the way this man does."  "Oh, didn't you bring him back?"  "Wow!  He could speak.  His words were so powerful."  So Jesus is appealing to the words that he spoke.  You've heard what I've said the last few years.  You've heard and seen the power of those words.  If you want to know God, read his book.  If you want to know God, read his book.  When you read his book, you'll start knowing God.  His personalities revealed in the book, his will is revealed in the book, what he hates is revealed in the book, what he loves is revealed in the book, how he works with people is revealed in the book.

You'll read stories about men and women in the book who encountered God.  You'll read poetry in the book of people who worship God.  You'll read letters in the book of people who spoke to and spoke from God to people and all of that will form for you and for me a profile, if you will, of who he is.  You'll come to know God through the Bible.  That's why Martin Luther used to say, "The Bible is alive.  It speaks to me.  It has feet.  It runs after me.  It has hands.  It lays hold of me."  If you want to know God, read his book.

I believe one of the strongest signs of a real Child of God is that person's hunger to learn more about God.  "All right, I read the Bible once a year, I'm not really into that kind of stuff, I don't know, but yeah, I've got it to read it all the time." Really, boy I don't know.  My heart cry to this day, is that I can know him and I love reading that book.  I love reading his work because he speaks to me in it.

George Gallup, Jr., you're familiar with his name.  He's a pollster, he polls Americas, ask what they thought about this and that over the many years.  He called America a nation of biblical illiterates.  Want to know why?  He says, "Four out of ten Americans, only four know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.  Most Americans cannot name the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."  Some of us think it's John, Paul, George and Ringo, that's how bad we are.  "Only three out of ten teenagers know why Easter is celebrated."  Then of the clue, only three out of ten know why Easter is celebrated.  You want to know God, read his book, bend to his word.  That's how he speaks.

Here's the fourth and final way and we close by beholding his works.  Verse 11, "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me," or, "Believe me for the sake," or, "On the evidence of the works themselves."  You guys have heard what I've said.  You guys have seen what I have done.  So let's apply it because we don't have much time left.

One of the ways to know God isn't just by getting information but by seeing transformation.  We see wherever Jesus is, he changes a life.  Let me just tell you that I have the privilege of seeing and hearing testimonies of changed lives all the time.  A couple of months ago, I get a phone call from overseas and one of our soldiers stationed overseas calls me and goes, "I've been listening to you on the internet, I've got to confess to you.  I was raised in a Christian home.  I'm a pastor's son.  I don't think I believe in God.  I don't think I believe in Jesus."  He had so many arguments for the faith and it swallowed him up, and besides that, he was losing his marriage he said.  He just had a can of worms.

Without going through all of the story, let me just say that today, he's reconciled with his wife and walking with his God.  And I've got to watch that transformation over the period of time.

God is in the business of working, doing things, find out what he's doing, look at it and observe it and marvel at it.  Do you want to know God?  Hang out with Him.  You want to know God?  Learn to trust Him more, let go more, surrender more.  You want to know God?  Read his book.  You want to know God?  Check out what God is doing, but let me say, "Let your highest priority in life to know God."

I'll close with a story.  Here's a carpenter, a very good carpenter who was getting older and decided, "I'm going to retire.  I'm going to relax."  So we went to the boss and he said, "I'm done.  I quit."  The boss said, "Boy, I hate to lose you.  You're such a skilled craftsman.  Do me one favor.  Before you completely retire, I want you to build me just one more house, just one more house.  Will you do that?"  He said, "Oh okay, I'll do it."

It was his last house.  His heart wasn't in it.  He applied poor, shoddy craftsmanship, inferior materials just threw it together.  When he's all done, the boss walked up to him with the front door keys and said, "I'm giving you the house," not knowing how he built it.  "I'm giving you the house."  "You've been so good.  You worked so hard.  It's my gift to you.  I'm letting you have this house free of charge to live in."

Well now, the guy realizes, "If I had known that at the beginning, I would have built very differently."  You're building your life one choice, one day at a time.  How you're doing with that?  How are you building that?  What are your priorities?  Is it knowing God?  Is it to be conformed into his image?  Is it to get as ready for heaven as you possibly can, so that when you go there, it's like, "Oh, right, I heard about this place."  I kind of want to get to heaven and say, "Oh I know about that, I remember that, I read that."  "Oh yeah, I recognize that guy, it's more like home."  Build your life one day at a time.

          Father, we pray that we might know you above all else that that would be our passion, our master passion.  As Jesus cried out in his own prayer that they might know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I pray for those of us who know you already and I pray that you take us to a deeper and more intimate level.  I pray for those who may not know you.  Lord I pray that you bring them to a level of knowing you, of having a relationship with you by faith and then walking with you closer everyday.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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10/25/2009
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Believe:879
John 20:30-31
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Is your faith in need of bolstering? Do you find yourself saying "Help my unbelief?" The book of John presents a unique, up close and personal look at the life of Christ, focusing on Jesus as God Incarnate. As we dive into a thorough study of each of John's 879 verses, we'll walk with disciples who were eyewitnesses of His ministry, His death, and His resurrection, and we'll experience abundant life in His name.
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11/1/2009
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The World's Most Important Word
John 1:1-5
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It may be difficult to say what the most important word is in any language, but not for the Apostle John. He begins his gospel with the identification of Jesus as, "The Word." Starting with the very beginning of beginnings, John shows us the fundamental truths about the Jesus that he writes about in the rest of this book. The language is simple and unmistakable and yet the truths presented are deep and extremely profound. Let's see how John presents Jesus and Who Jesus is according to one who was closest to Him.
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11/15/2009
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Step Into Son-Light
John 1:6-13
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I love early mornings when sunlight first comes up over the eastern sky. But if you’ve ever had the experience of the sun suddenly shining into your eyes (like when you turn westward while the sun is going down), it's not so pleasant. Most people wince when light is shined in their eyes. Jesus is presented here as being "the light of men" and "shining in darkness". But the world cries out, "Turn off that light!" How can Jesus enlighten your life and how will you respond to Him?
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11/22/2009
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One of a Kind!
John 1:14-18
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It is a mistake to think of Jesus as "one among many" options in the pantheon of deities. He is unique, matchless, unrivaled, singular, and incomparable. From His birth to His Resurrection, there is no one who even comes close to the majestic Christ. Jesus was One-Of-A-Kind! Let’s consider four distinct ways that Jesus was unique and what these mean to us today.
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12/6/2009
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The Greatest Man Meets the Greatest Lamb
John 1:19-34
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Everyone is good at something, maybe even great at something. Maybe you're a great artist or a great mom or even a great leader. Jesus said that John the Baptizer was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11). But John knew Jesus to be the greatest One ever—past, present and future - the Sacrificial Lamb sent to remove sin. Today we discover from John the Baptist how to witness for Christ and we look at the identity and the activity of this most unusual man.
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12/13/2009
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Are You a Follower-Really?
John 1:35-42
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You can't make it through much of the Bible without coming to the word Disciple. Just the four Gospels alone use this term 228 times. Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher: one who observes, learns, and practices what the teacher shares. We now come to the first time John uses this term in his book. So today we assess ourselves by asking, "Are YOU a follower?" Lets look at five characteristics of the first disciples of Jesus and see if they’re reflected in our lives.
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1/3/2010
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Finding the God Who Found You
John 1:43-51
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When the first disciples encountered Jesus, they chose to follow Him--only to discover that they had already been chosen by Him! Without getting drowned in that theological tide pool, let's consider and marvel at how both of these realities work together. The Bible teaches that God sovereignly elects people for salvation while at the same time teaches our responsibility to believe in Christ. Let’s see how both Philip and Nathanael encountered Jesus for the first time.
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1/10/2010
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The Wedding Guest
John 2:1-12
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How cool (and also potentially scary) would it be to have Jesus as a guest at your own wedding! The unnamed couple at the village wedding of Cana had that privilege. Jesus was the wedding guest who brought the best gift. His first miraculous sign was performed while celebrating that marriage. But far more than just attending a nuptial party, Jesus demonstrated who He was in relation to four entities: His mother, the moment, a miracle, and His men.
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1/17/2010
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Trouble in the Temple
John 2:13-22
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A hymn by Charles Wesley begins, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child..." It’s a beautiful song with a beautiful thought. However, Jesus is anything but gentle and mild in John chapter two. Here in the temple at Jerusalem, He displays His righteous anger as He overturns tables and beats the religious businesspeople with whips! But Jesus was using this trouble in the temple to predict a greater sign—the triumph of His own physical temple—His bodily resurrection!
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1/24/2010
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Uncommitted!
John 2:23-25
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These three verses are some of the most unusual in the New Testament. They describe a scene in the life of Jesus that explains His popularity and fame. The response of people to the miracles of Jesus is understandable. What is not readily understandable is Jesus' response to the interested and excited crowd. Though they believed in Him, He was not too energized over their kind of faith. Understanding this will help us to understand Jesus and His mission.
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1/31/2010
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Nick at Nite!
John 3:1-8
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The meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus at night is one of the most famous and compelling stories in Scripture. This man's inner curiosity and spiritual thirst drove him to want to know more. What he heard puzzled and astonished him, but he heard from Jesus' own lips the only way to be saved. Jesus' words here divide all of humanity into two groups: those who are born again and those who are not.
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2/7/2010
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Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition!
John 3:9-21
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For years ABC has aired two different versions of a show called Extreme Makeover. One is a total body makeover designed to enhance the physical beauty of a selected individual. The other is a Home Edition that rebuilds or adds to a struggling family's residence. But only Jesus can give the soul a makeover; only Jesus can ready a person for eternity. Here Jesus answers Nicodemus' question of how a person can have the New Life that comes from the New Birth.
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2/14/2010
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God's Valentine
John 3:16
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Today we take a look at the Bible's most famous verse and probe its depth while preparing to take the Lord's Supper together. Though most everyone knows this verse, John 3:16 is much more than just a slogan; it is a summary statement of God's love through Jesus Christ. This single verse of scripture gives us the salient truths of God's plan of salvation in abridged form. Let's consider God's great plan for us as we unpack it phrase by phrase.
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2/21/2010
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To Grow Up, You Must Grow Down!
John 3:22-30
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"They that know God will be humble, and they that know themselves cannot be proud!" That's what British Puritan John Flavel once said. And that’s how John the Baptist once lived! John the Baptist and his followers provide some great applicational fodder for how Christians should get along and humble themselves before one another and God. For any Christian believer who wants to spiritually grow up and grow strong, he must first grow down.
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2/28/2010
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The Nail Everything Hangs On
John 3:31-36
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Imagine if everything you valued was in a sack, hanging on the wall from one nail. It surely must be a strong nail, or you're lost! If life could all be boiled down to one thing or one word or one most important principle, what would it be? What is the irreducible minimum for everything and everyone? John answers that here, saying that Jesus Christ is the nail that everything hangs on. He determined what has been and what will be. Thus our knowledge of Him and relationship to Him is paramount above everything else.
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3/7/2010
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Refreshment!
John 4:1-14
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You know the feeling of swallowing ice-cold water on a hot day or after a savory meal—it's refreshing! That cool, invigorating sip revitalizes you from the inside out and makes you say, "Ahh!" Well, that experience is not limited to the physical realm, but is even more satisfying in the spiritual realm when dealing with Living Water. Jesus came to give thirst-quenching spiritual life to every parched soul on the planet. When was the last time you drank deeply?
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3/14/2010
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How to Lead People to Water
John 4:10-30
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The world is thirsty and doesn't even know it, or won't admit it, or will look to be satisfied by everything else but Jesus Christ. So your job and mine is to lead them to water (living water, that is). Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman illustrates perhaps the best approach for personal evangelism to be found anywhere. Leading someone to the place of spiritual satisfaction is a process that rests upon two pillars—the pillar of attitude and the pillar of approach:
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3/21/2010
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What God Really Wants
John 4:20-24
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Worship conferences, worship seminars and worship experiences abound within the landscape of the American church, but in all these there's something that seems to be always lacking—worship is confined to the activity of singing songs. When the subject is brought up in this chapter, Jesus talks plainly and openly about true worship: what it is and what it isn't. Let's explore these few verses to discover what God is seeking after and how to be part of fulfilling that.
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3/28/2010
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Spiritual Farming 101
John 4:28-42
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Farmers live for the harvest season--a time when their crops are taken in and profits are made. But crops don’t grow on their own. Seeds must be sown and plants must be garnered by a whole group of active farm workers. God is the head Farmer and we are His farmhands, all working together to produce a bumper-crop of people who believe that Jesus is the Savior--Are you in?
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4/18/2010
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Everyone Needs a Faith-Lift!
John 4:43-54
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Like any muscle in our physical body, our faith too must be exercised in order for it to develop. Faith is developed in virtually every circumstance in life, but especially in hard times. Peter put it best, "These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold" (1 Peter 1:7). Let's look at a real-life story of one who came to Jesus in his trial and had his faith lifted to a higher dimension.
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4/25/2010
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Healing Misery with Mercy
John 5:1-16
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One of Jesus' most distinguishing characteristics in His earthly ministry was His mercy toward people who were hurting. This is not astonishing, for the prophet Micah announced that "God delights in mercy" (Micah 7:18). Jesus standing among the squalid misery of sickness and hopelessness while at a feast in Jerusalem is a perfect setting to show how Christians can show mercy to a world in misery. But be warned: not everyone will be sympathetic to your cause!
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5/23/2010
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Like Father, Like Son
John 5:16-24
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The most important question you could ever ask is not, "Who am I?" but rather, "Who is Christ?" That was the supreme question Jesus presented to His disciples when He said, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15). Jesus made the most astonishing claim ever when He confronted the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem here in John 5. What do these claims have to do with us today? Absolutely everything!
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5/30/2010
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Everyone Lives Forever
John 5:25-29
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My mom used to wake me up early every morning with her sweet voice saying, "Rise and Shine!" It took a few times but I eventually got up out of bed. As Jesus declares that He will be in charge of the future judgment, He too will usher the call to everyone who has died to "Rise up!" But not everyone will rise up to shine; some will rise up to suffer. Let’s consider three inevitable and unalterable truths about the future for all of us: We will all die, we will all be judged, and we will all rise again to live forever... but where?
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6/6/2010
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Why Should You Believe?
John 5:30-47
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The theme of John's gospel is "believe." The whole reason he wrote this book is so that people who read it will believe in Jesus (see John 20:31). But why should they believe? And even more applicable, why should we believe? After all, the events of the New Testament are over 2,000 years removed from us today. Jesus' confrontation with the religious leaders in John 5 tells us why we should believe. Like a skilled lawyer, Jesus calls upon four witnesses to testify to His claims and these four give the reasons for our believing in Jesus Christ.
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6/13/2010
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Lessons From a Picnic
John 6:1-14
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This story ranks in the "top ten" of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ. In fact this is the most famous of all His miracles as it alone is recorded by all four gospel accounts. But this is far more than a Sunday school tale. This extraordinary picnic was not just a free meal for five thousand folks; it provided lessons for both ancient and modern disciples. Here are four profound truths that emerge from this lakeside lunch.
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6/20/2010
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What Storm Goers Need to Know
John 6:15-21
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Have you ever been on the ocean in a raging storm? If so, you know that a well-trained crew follows an immediate protocol until the storm is over. Their knowledge and experience about violent weather are invaluable for those who want to survive. Using the story of Jesus walking on the waves to His disciples, let’s discover a few things about the stormy trials of life.
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7/4/2010
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The Right Thing, The Wrong Way
John 6:22-29
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Our text reads that crowds of people came "seeking Jesus." That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And yet Jesus challenges them as to their motive because they were seeking Him (the right thing) in order to satisfy themselves only (the wrong motive). Let’s consider three monumental truths about how people interact with spiritual things in general and Jesus Christ in particular. Let’s also reconsider the starting point for anyone who wants anything to do with Christ.
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7/11/2010
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Wonder Bread!
John 6:30-50
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The Hostess Company has for years advertised that its Wonder bread "helps build strong bodies 12 ways" and that just two slices has the calcium of eight ounces of milk and the fiber of 100% whole wheat. Wow! The crowd that Jesus was speaking to would have loved that! But our Lord presents something to them far greater than what they were wanting. He knew what they needed.
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7/18/2010
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Plain Truths About the Bread of Life
John 6:51-71
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Mark Twain once remarked that "A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still lacing up its boots!" This section of John's Gospel has generated much confusion and misunderstanding. Even Jesus' original audience had trouble understanding His meaning, and when they did, they found the truth was difficult to bear. These "hard truths," however, are "the words of eternal life" (v. 68). Let's look at these four realities today.
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8/1/2010
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Seeing Jesus Through the Fog
John 7:1-13
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There was always a fog surrounding Jesus! It was a fog of uncertainty, of unbelief, and of conflicting opinion. He was misunderstood about both His mission and His message. His friends, His family, and His foes were often bewildered about who He was and what He was doing. That remains true even today. But in this passage our view becomes clearer. Jesus had clearly defined objectives that He reveals here and they are extremely practical for us today.
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8/8/2010
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Follow Jesus But Don't Be Religious
John 7:14-24
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Jesus clashed with religious leaders more than any other group of people. He went against their spiritual grain and challenged their legalistic ideas. Christ made it clear that He hadn’t come to establish a new religion but rather to show the way to God His Father. He didn’t give people another “system of beliefs and practices”; instead He said that He Himself was the way, truth, and life. In this public confrontation, we learn how to follow Christ in truth and not be religious.
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8/15/2010
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Standing by a Waterfall (Dying of Thirst)
John 7:25-53
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All the diverse and assorted experiences offered by this world can never satisfy the deepest longing of the human soul. What we really want isn't what we really need. The rest of John chapter 7 illustrates this truth. In the midst of a crowd of people clamoring for deep spiritual satisfaction stands the only One who can provide it. He offers them the drink that really satisfies and all but a few refuse it, preferring rather to die of thirst. How painfully ironic!
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8/22/2010
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Scribbling on the Ground
John 8:1-11
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Can you imagine what a surviving copy of Jesus' autograph would be worth today? Or what about a letter to His disciples? The fact is, there is no existing document or copy of anything Jesus ever wrote. We only have this story of Him scribbling something in transient dust on the Temple stones. Though John doesn't tell what Jesus wrote that day, his account does reveal a lot about Jesus Himself and how He interacted with three different kinds of folks.
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8/29/2010
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Blinded by the Light
John 8:12-20
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When the sun shines right in your eyes, your immediate inclination is to squint, turn away, or put sunglasses on. Light can be blinding! Though light penetrates our world, providing illumination and energy for our very existence, big doses of it can be difficult to handle. That's true spiritually as well. Jesus, by His teaching and work, illuminated this world darkened by sin. Some rejoiced in that light, able to see where they were going. But others, who'd been so accustomed to spiritual darkness, could only wince when Jesus was around.
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9/5/2010
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The Worst Way & Best Way to Die
John 8:21-30
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One person put it this way, "Death is the big flaw. Sometimes we can postpone it, lessen its physical pains, deny its existence—but we can't escape it!" Since that is universally true, why don't people take death seriously enough to plan for it? While we are alive in this world, everyone should be thinking more about the next. But what's the best (and worst) way to die?
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9/19/2010
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The Best Way & Worst Way to Live
John 8:31-36
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Everyone has an opinion on what "The Good Life" is. For some, it's financial independence. For others, it’s autonomy from government control. For still others, it’s the ability to do whatever you want whenever you feel like it. Jesus offers a different kind of freedom and a better brand of life. Here Jesus tells us what the best way to live really is: It’s the freedom to be a genuine disciple. And He tells us what the worst way to live really is: It’s the slavery of a sinful lifestyle. Today consider how free you really are and what areas of life you may still be in bondage to.
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9/26/2010
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The Devil's DNA
John 8:37-47
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Your body has 100 trillion cells. Inside each one is a nucleus and in each nucleus are DNA molecules. DNA is like an instruction manual for life with densely coded information telling each cell what to do. A simple paternity test would prove that my father was really my father. Here Jesus gives His audience a spiritual paternity test that reveals their spiritual father to be the devil himself. No matter what your physical ancestry, you can always tell one's spiritual heritage.
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10/3/2010
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Who IS This Guy?
John 8:48-59
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Jesus had friends and He had enemies. But besides those, He also had some "frenemies" (enemies who pretended to be friends). To this crowd who at first pretended to believe (v. 31) Jesus is both confrontational and controversial. This paragraph highlights three possible identities of Jesus: two of them were his enemies' accusations and one was Jesus' own claim.
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10/10/2010
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Life Hurts! Where's God?
John 9:1-12
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"Why is there so much pain in the world?" is the most frequently asked question ever! We hate it when we, or those we love, are in pain. Today we see Jesus confront a hurting world. As we do, consider these words by Elizabeth Elliot (whose husband was murdered): "If God is in charge and loves us, then whatever is given is subject to His control and is meant ultimately for our joy."
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10/17/2010
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The Truth About Your Neighbors
John 9:13-34
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Those of us who are Christians live in a sea of unbelievers who work with us, live next to us, shop where we shop, and send their kids to the same schools. Some have a mild case of unbelief disguised by religious practices. Others are more demonstrable in their agnosticism or atheism. Let's watch a local Jerusalem neighborhood struggle against faith in spite of clear evidence.
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10/24/2010
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Got Any Blind Spots?
John 9:35-41
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When you drive, you encounter "blind spots"—it could be part of your own car or it could be a tree that hides traffic on the other side. Those blind spots hinder both progress and ultimately, safety. When Jesus healed a blind man in Jerusalem, the same man was also healed of his spiritual blindness. But others who thought their spiritual perception was keen were as blind as a bat! As we consider this story, can you think of any blind spots in your spiritual journey?
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10/31/2010
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The Good Shepherd (and a bunch of happy sheep!)
John 10:1-10
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This is one of the most beloved passages to be found anywhere in Scripture. But it's not a stand-alone passage: The healing of the blind man in chapter 9 was more than a miracle. It was part of the process of Jesus forming His flock. The leadership had cast the healed man out of the synagogue. Jesus found him, accepted him, saved him, and placed him in His own fold.
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11/21/2010
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What's So Great About the Good Shepherd?
John 10:11-21
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"What's so great about being a Christian?" some people ask. The answer lies in the kind of care, provision, and protection we get from Jesus Christ, our Shepherd. Have you ever stopped to make a list of the benefits that are yours as a follower of Christ? Consider this short list of advantages that you, as a child of God, have. When was the last time you thanked Him for being your Shepherd? This would be a great week to do that!
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12/5/2010
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To BElieve or Not to BElieve...
John 10:22-42
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"In all unbelief there are two things: a good opinion of one's self and a bad opinion about God."— Horatius Bonar. It's true, isn't it? Humanism is man-centered and rejects God's existence or His relevance. But Jesus appealed to two things: the plain evidence of His supernatural works and the testimony of those who witnessed them. Jesus here asserts His deity, and the reaction is predictable—some believed while others did not believe. Which camp do you fall into?
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1/9/2011
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The Great Physician's Patient Dies
John 11:1-16
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When a doctor loses a patient on the operating table, there is a deep sense of remorse and sadness in the surgical theater. Doctors are trained to save lives but sometimes even the best trained physicians are unable to control complications that lead to death. But here we discover that Christ, the Great Physician, not only knows that His patient is sick--He allows him to die! Here are three principles about Divine Medicine that we can all learn.
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1/16/2011
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A Tale of Two Sisters
John 11:17-32
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In 1859 Charles Dickens wrote his famous work, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The story before us is set in Bethany near Jerusalem and highlights the personal relationship that two sisters had with Jesus Christ. Their broken hearts provide an excellent platform to consider how Christ deals with people in grief and loss. Let's actively probe not only their responses but ours to the incredible promise Jesus makes.
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1/23/2011
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The Strangest Funeral Ever
John 11:33-44
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According to one source, there are approximately 2 million funerals in America per year, which means that about 5,479 funerals take place every single day! Most of those funerals are pretty typical: a formal service followed by an interment. But the funeral service we're looking at was really different--and not just because of a resurrection. Here Jesus does three things that are pretty normal for most people at a funeral, but strikingly odd for Jesus.
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1/30/2011
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What to Do with Jesus?
John 11:45-57
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Any lawyer can tell you that whenever the star witness is a resurrected corpse, you have a pretty good case! But Lazarus being alive from the dead doesn’t seem to persuade everyone. And so the big issue becomes what shall we do with Jesus? The decisions made here set the clock in motion for an impending hate crime—the crucifixion of Christ. But from heaven’s vantage point, this is all part of God’s plan for redemption. Let’s see the responses and how we can make a difference.
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2/6/2011
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A Meal to Reveal the Heart
John 12:1-11
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If you were to step into the home of Simon at Bethany (Mark 14:3) on that night, you would've seen Jesus and His disciples along with Lazarus and His two sisters reclining at a low table for a meal in honor of Christ. But if you were to step into the hearts of those people, you would discover they were all very different from each other. Those inside the house and outside represent the gamut of feelings about Jesus—from adoring love to intense hatred. What a complicated meal!
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2/13/2011
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A Day, a Donkey, a Deliverer, and a Decision
John 12:12-19
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2000 years ago, on the final Sunday of Jesus’ earthly life before His crucifixion, He did the most unusual thing—He sat on a donkey and was carried into the city of Jerusalem in parade fashion. This formal presentation of Him as Deliverer was both profound and predicted. What’s the significance of such an act as this? What overarching principles emerge for us today? We’ll dig in and discover them, but today you’ve got to write them down yourself:
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2/20/2011
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Living the Right Life
John 12:20-26
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If this sermon was a book and I wanted to sell lots of copies, the title would cause it to fail. Now if it were entitled "Living the High Life" or "Living the Successful Life," then I may have a winner. But many have lived with both success and riches who didn't live right! So what is the right life? Or to frame it with a better question: What kind of life is most pleasing to God? Through a series of paradoxes, John gives us the answer—it wasn't the answer most people are looking for!
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2/27/2011
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Cross-Culture
John 12:27-36
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The term cross-culture emerges from the social sciences and typically refers to interaction of one culture or language with another. But that's not how I'm using it today. I'm thinking of it in the biblical sense, the salvation sense. Jesus' whole life was immersed in the culture of the cross and He referred to His impending death on the cross as "His hour." Let's consider today the culture of the cross of Christ: what it meant to Jesus personally and the world ultimately.
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3/6/2011
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Believe It or Not!
John 12:37-50
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Most of you reading this are believers. Some are not. Both are dangerous positions to take but for different reasons—vastly different reasons! This paragraph in John's Gospel is the summary of all that has been written, from chapters 1 through 13. It reviews the two different responses people have to Jesus and then gives us Jesus' own synopsis on faith and unbelief. Today you will be able to understand the real differences and consequences of faith and unbelief.
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3/13/2011
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A Night Unforgettable
John 13:1-5
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Some days are frozen in time because of the magnitude of an event. You will always remember September 11, 2001 and where you were when the towers fell. The night America bombed Baghdad or the night John Lennon was murdered may be permanent memories captured in your mind. This was the final night Jesus spent with His own disciples and it would be unforgettable. Let’s discover how what seem like ordinary moments can be extraordinary appointments.
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3/20/2011
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Basin Theology 101
John 13:6-17
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At the final Passover meal that Jesus shared with His closest friends, He gave new meaning to the bread and wine, using them to point to His upcoming sacrificial death on the cross. Today we share Communion as a church family and reflect on that meal, as well as the lessons Jesus was teaching His first followers. After dinner Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash the feet of his students and taught them life principles about stooping, cleansing and serving.
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3/27/2011
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Betrayed!
John 13:18-30
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Relationships can withstand an enormous amount of pressure, but betrayal is sure to end most. The old English word means to hand over or to deliver. Think of it: while Jesus was about to deliver the world from sin and its destruction, Judas was about to deliver the Savior over to His enemies. If you've ever felt betrayed by someone, this study will have special application to you.
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4/10/2011
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A Brand New Way of Life!
John 13:31-35
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To follow Jesus is to have a brand new way of life. When these twelve men sitting around the dinner table started hanging around Jesus, they had no idea just how new and different their lives would become. At this final meal on that last night, they were still learning just how new their lives should be. (Jesus can still teach old dogs new tricks!) As present-day followers of Christ, let’s consider three aspects of life that become new once we become His disciples.
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4/17/2011
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F.A.Q.
John 13:36-38
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An old Persian Proverb reads, "It's harder to ask a sensible question than to supply a sensible answer." Many times our questions to God are reactive—based on a sort of knee-jerk reaction to painful circumstances. Peter asked Jesus two questions of this sort. But whenever we ask God questions we must hang around to get the supplied answers. The questions Peter asked are similar to ones we frequently ask. Let's consider and apply Jesus' outstanding answer
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5/1/2011
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A Theology for Messy Lives
John 14:1-6
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Life can be pretty messy sometimes: plans fail, people leave, money diminishes, and taxes rise. There are plenty of reasons to be troubled these days but there are better reasons not to be! Life was about to get real messy for those disciples around that Jerusalem dinner table. At times like that, there are some basic instructions we need to fall back on so our hearts inside us won't be swallowed up by the mess around us.
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5/29/2011
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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.