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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > Two Thirds Is Not Enough

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Two Thirds Is Not Enough
John 15:26-16:15
Skip Heitzig

John 15 (NKJV™)
26 "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
27 "And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
John 16 (NKJV™)
1 "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.
2 "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.
3 "And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.
4 "But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.
5 "But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?'
6 "But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
8 "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 "of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 "of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
11 "of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
15 "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

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

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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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.

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

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

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

Outline

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  1. The Holy Spirit is a Person

  2. The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person

  3. The Holy Spirit is a Discreet Person

  4. The Holy Spirit is a Helpful Person

  5. The Holy Spirit is a Dynamic Person

Personal Questions about the Holy Spirit:


  1. What role does the Holy Spirit play in your life, as described by the names given to Him in this passage? How have you personally experienced these roles?

  2. How does the Holy Spirit take what is Jesus' and declare it to you? What are these things, and how have you benefited?

  3. What are the telltale signs of someone who is genuinely filled with the Holy Spirit?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. The Holy Spirit is the most mysterious, misunderstood, neglected member of the triune Godhead
    2. "Sadly, many Christians settle for two-thirds of God…God the Father is way up there somewhere, aloof and apart from their daily lives. Christ is out there somewhere between them and the Father. The Holy Spirit is some kind of vague force or impersonal power that they hear about but do not know intimately." --Lloyd John Ogilvie
    3. Context
      1. Last night before the crucifixion
      2. Jesus on the way from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane
      3. Teaching His 11 disciples, who are worried, sorrowful
      4. To offset their sorrow:
        1. Jesus demonstrates His love for them (John 13)
          1. Washes their feet
          2. Tells them to love one another
        2. Details His promises (John 14)
          1. He goes to prepare a place for them
          2. He will come again
          3. They can pray to the Father in His name
          4. They will do greater works
          5. Peace
          6. Joy
      5. He warns them: He has enemies who hate His friends
      6. They don't have to face the hostile world in their own power: He will send the Holy Spirit, who will live within them and empower them
    4. Every day, some Christians try to live victorious lives without the power and agency of the Holy Spirit
    5. Not always easy to understand God
      1. Father
        1. We all have fathers, mostly good
        2. We need for our external life
        3. Creator
      2. Son
        1. Some are sons
        2. We understand the parent/child relationship
        3. We need for internal life
        4. Savior
      3. Holy Spirit
        1. We need for internal life
        2. Power and strength
  2.  The Holy Spirit is a Person
    1. Not an "It," a He
      1. In this passage there are 13 personal pronouns referring to the Holy Spirit
      2. Personal pronouns reserved for persons
      3. Not a force
      4. No respectable version of the Bible ever refers to the Spirit of God as "It"
    2. Throughout church history, some refer to the Holy Spirit as a force
      1. Arian heresy: The Spirit of God is not a person but an essence. 318 AD Arius
        (Response: Nicene Creed, 325 AD)
      2. Jehovah witness: "The holy spirit is not an intelligent person. It is the impersonal, invisible active force that finds its source and reservoir in Jehovah God."
      3. Mormons: A separate force God uses to accomplish His purpose
      4. Christian Science (Mary Baker Eddy [Glover Patterson Fry]): The holy spirit is an impersonal principal: the divine science within Christian Science
    3. Holy Spirit has personal attributes
      1. He testifies (See John 15:26)
      2. He convicts (See John 16:8)
      3. He guides, speaks, tells (See John 16:13)
      4. He takes, declares (See John 16:14)
      5. He has a mind (See Romans 8:27)
      6. He has a will (See 1 Corinthians 12:11)
      7. He Shows love (See Romans 15:30)
      8. He prays (See Romans 8:26)
      9. He can be grieved (See Ephesians 4:30)
      10. He can be insulted (See Hebrews 10:29)
      11. He can be lied to (See Acts 5)
      12. He can be quenched (See 1 Thessalonians 5)
    4. "They are reaching out after, and struggling to get, possession of some mysterious and mighty power that they can make use of in their work according to their own will. They will never get possession of the power they seek until they come to recognize that there is not some Divine power for them to get hold of and use in their blindness and ignorance, but that there is a Person, infinitely wise, as well as infinitely mighty, who is willing to take possession of them and use them according to His own perfect will. When we stop to think of it, we must rejoice that there is no Divine power that beings so ignorant as we are, so liable to err, can get hold of and use. How appalling might be the results if there were."--R.A. Torrey
      1. Not: How can I get more of the Holy Spirit?
      2. Rather: How can the Holy Spirit Get more of me?
  3. The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person
    1. Holy Spirit is God
      1. Third person of the Trinity
      2. Co-eternal, co-equal
      3. "And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2)
      4. "Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
        Praise Him, all creatures here below;
        Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
        Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." (Doxology, Thomas Ken)
    2. Throughout history, some have denied His Deity
      1. Sabellias: Modelism (1 God, 3 names to serve His own purpose)
      2. However: The Holy Spirit comes from the Father, is sent by the Son, and dispatched to the world
      3. Oneness Pentecostals ascribe to modelism
    3. "But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.'" (Acts 5:1-4)
      1. Lied to Holy Spirit (v. 3)
      2. Lied to God (v. 4)
  4.  The Holy Spirit is a Discreet Person
    1. Inconspicuous: Doesn't draw attention to Himself
    2. Points people to Jesus
      1. "He will testify of Me." (John 15:26)
      2. "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me;" (John 16:8-9)
      3. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:14)
      4. Like a stage director; spotlight shines on the main character: Jesus Christ
    3. A good test of a group, person, or church: What do they emphasize?
  5.  The Holy Spirit is a Helpful Person
    1. Called "The Helper" in this passage: (See John 16:7)
      1. Παράκλητος; paraklétos - one called alongside to help
      2. Amplified Bible: One who is called to stand by you constantly and take part in anything in which His help is needed
    2. D.L. Moody: Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, "How can I get the air out of this glass?" One man shouted, "Suck it out with a pump!" Moody replied, "That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass." After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. "There," he said, "all the air is now removed." He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by "sucking out a sin here and there," but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.
    3. How He helps
      1. He guides: directs into all truth
      2. We cannot understand Scripture without Him
    4. Inspiration
      1. God enabled select men to write down what He wanted to say
      2. It is complete
    5. Illumination
      1. Bible is a closed book, unless the Holy Spirit shines light on it
      2. "And they said to one another, 'Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?'" (Luke 24:32)
      3. All truth (v.13)
        1. Not generic truth
        2. την αλήθειας the truth
          1. specific truth, centralized on Jesus
          2. The New Testament
  6.  The Holy Spirit is a Dynamic Person
    1. Give us power to:
      1. Testify: "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." (v. 26)
      2. Bear Witness "And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning." (v. 27)
    2. "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'" (Acts 1:4-5)
    3. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Δύναμις; dunamis- power
    4. Peter
      1. Prior to the resurrection and Pentecost: a timid fisherman. He denied Christ before a servant girl
      2. After the resurrection and Pentecost: boldly preaching
      3. "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit," (Acts 4:8)
    5. We are baptized with the Holy Spirit when we believe
    6. We are commanded to continually be filled with the Holy Spirit: "Be filled with the Spirit," (Ephesians 5:18)

Greek Terms: Παράκλητος; paraklétos - one called alongside to help; την αλήθειας the truth; Δύναμις; dunamis- power;
Figures Referenced: Lloyd John Ogilvie; Arius; Mary Baker Eddy (Glover Patterson Fry); R.A. Torrey; Sabellias; D.L. Moody
Publications Referenced: Doxology, Thomas Ken
Cross References: Genesis 1:2; Luke 24:32; John 13; John 14; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 1:8; Acts 4:8; Acts 5:1-4; Acts 5; Romans 8:26; Romans 8:27; Romans 15:30; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 4:30; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5; Hebrews 10:29

Transcript

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I trust you brought your bibles this morning.  It's always a good thing to do.  Turn in those bibles to John Chapter 15 and just how about if we stand up and pray together in respect for the Lord that we're addressing.

Father, we stand before you as your people.  You know all about us.  We simply, in this gesture and by our words, commit ourselves to you, not just this time but our very selves, and as Paul said, "We give you our bodies as living sacrifices."  Lord, I pray that you will prepare us, some of us who are sending kids to school and hard to believe two weeks or grand kids.  Prepare us for that, prepare them for that -- meeting new friends, learning new things and the schedules that we'll find ourselves in, in the next school year.

We pray for those who are traveling, Lord.  We know a lot of people are out on vacation.  Give them a great and relaxing time.  Keep them safe and bring them home back to the fold safely.  We commit them to you and we now pray that the very one we're studying, the Holy Spirit, will be our teacher.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.  Thank you.  Have a seat.

I do want to speak to you today about the Holy Spirit.  He is the most mysterious, most misunderstood and I believe in many cases the most neglected member of Triune Godhead.  I confess that I stole the title somewhat today from something I read sometime back.  The title of the message is "Two Thirds Is Not Enough" and I read something a while back by Lloyd John Ogilvie who had one time was the chaplain of the United States Senate and he wrote these words, "Sadly, many Christians settle for two thirds of God.  God the Father is way up there somewhere, aloof in a part from their daily lives.  Christ is out there somewhere between them and the Father.  The Holy Spirit is some kind of vague force or impersonal power that they hear about but do not know intimately."  If that's true in any case in your life, I do pray that will change, and this is a good place to start.

Now, let met just frame the context for you.  It's always helpful to know the context before we read the text.  This is the last night before Jesus will go to be crucified.  He is on the way at this very moment that we are reading from the upper room toward the Garden of Gethsemane where he will be arrested.  He's with 11 disciples.  He is teaching them.  They are worried.  They are sorrowful.  He has told them that he is leaving and sorrow has filled their hearts.

So to offset the sorrow they're feeling, because they don't want Jesus to leave, he does a few things on that night.  First thing he does is demonstrates his love for them.  Chapter 13, he takes off their sandals, he washes their feet and he says, "As I have done to you, you should do to one another.  Love one another.  I love you."  And then beginning in Chapter 14, he detailed several promises to them.  He says, "Let not your heart be troubled."  And he goes to tell them that yes, He is leaving but He is going to prepare a place for them and come again and receive them to himself.

He also tells them about prayer that whether he is there or not, they can talk to the Father in his name and get anything that they will need.  He also says, "Greater works than I have done, you will do."  He also promises his peace and his joy.  And then as if to balance all of those promises, he warns them.  He says, "You're my friends, but you got to know that I have lot of enemies and my enemies hate my friends, so just a heads up on that" which would probably emotionally cause them to sink a little bit deeper.

And so immediately now and what we're about to read, he wants them to know that they don't have to face the hostile world on their own, by themselves, in their own power, but rather he will send the Holy Spirit who will live within them and empower them to handle whatever comes their way.  With that in mind, we begin in Chapter 15 Verse 26.

"But when the helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.  And you also will bare witness because you have been with Me from the beginning.  These things I have spoken to you that you should not be made to stumble.  They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think he offers God service.  And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.  But these things I've told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.  And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you."

"But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, "Where are You going?'  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.  Nevertheless, I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all of truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whenever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you of things to come.  He will glorify me for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you."

I heard about men years ago who wanted to buy a chainsaw.  He went to a hardware store.  The salesman showed him several models, but then took off the shelf the best one.  According to the salesman the latest technology, and then came the promise -- the sales pitch.  The salesman said, "Let me tell you something about this chainsaw.  This can cut 10 cords of wood per day."

So the man bought it, took it home, came back to the hardware store the very next day, exhausted.  He said, "I don't know.  Something is wrong with this thing.  I work hard all day long and at best I only cut three cords of wood.  Now, I've got to tell you something.  With my old handsaw, I could do four cords a day.  I only did three with this thing."  "Huh?" said the salesman.  "That's weird.  Let's take it out back and see why."

So the salesman took it to a woodpile out back and pulled the cord.  The engine started, you know what they sound like, chainsaw -- and the customer heard it, jumped back and said, "What's that noise?"  Can you imagine cutting three cords of wood with a chainsaw and never starting it?  Can you imagine how exhausting it would be to put that much labor with an implement like that?  And yet, Christians every single day try to live victorious Christian lives without the power and the agency of the Holy Spirit.

It's not always easy understanding God, I'll admit that.  Some of us I think kind of get God the Father concept.  We've all had fathers and most of them have been good.  There's a few bad ones out there, bad eggs.  But for the most part, we've had good dads who provided.  So we get the concept of God as father.

Jesus, God the son, we kind of understand that because some of us are sons and we have fathers, all of us have, so we understand the relationship.  But when we come to the Holy Spirit, what is that all about?  It's not always an easy gig to understand.  At the risk of sounding simplistic, let me put it to you this way.  We need God the Father for our external life.  He created all things.  We need God the Son Jesus for our eternal life.  He is the savior who washes off our sins.  We need God the Holy Spirit for our internal life.  He is the source of power and strength.

Now, today, there are a lot of verses we want to cover, and so I just want to give you some principles that emerge generally from this, about the Spirit, sort of form a composite portrait of Him, if you will.  And then next week, we can select another smaller section of what we read today and look at it more in-depth.  But there are some things about the spirit.  If you don't know already or you need to be reminded of, here is a good place.  First of all, the Holy Sprit is a person, He is a person.  The sprit of God is not an "It" but a "He", a "Him".

In the section we just read, there are 13, I counted them, personal pronouns when Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit -- He will do this, He will do that, He will do the other thing, Him -- personal pronouns.  As an example look at Verse 7 of Chapter 16, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  And when He has come, He will convict," and so forth.

The last time I checked, personal pronouns are only reserved for persons, not inanimate objects, not a force, but for persons.  Unless of course it's a boat or a storm, we tend to call them a she and give them names.  But other than that, it's for persons.  Personal pronouns are for persons.  Think how weird this sounds, "The wind blew yesterday.  The wind he was strong."  You don't do that.  Or, "I need air on my tires because air she keeps my car going."  You don't use personal pronouns for a force.

Here's what you got to know, there is not one version of the scripture that is respectable, responsible version of the Bible that ever refers to the Spirit of God as an "It", but always as a "Him" or a "He".  The Holy Spirit is a person.  I tell you that because throughout church history, there have been those who have said that the Holy Spirit is an 'It", a force, a presence, not a being, not a person.

It began in 318 A.D. by a guy named Arius who said the Spirit of God is not a person but an essence, an essence that God uses.  That upset the church so that in 325 A.D., a council came together at Nicaea.  You've heard of the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed that was crafted in response to what was known as the Arian Heresy.  It denied the personhood of the Holy Spirit.  And Since Arius, there have been others who have followed his cue -- the Jehovah Witness for example, denied the personhood of the Spirit and they say, and I quote, "The Holy Spirit is not an intelligent person but an impersonal, invincible active force that finds its source and reservoir in Jehovah God."

The Mormon Church teaches that God has a physical body that God was once a man who became a God, and by the way, all the Mormons can become gods someday, like God.  They say that God has a body of flesh and bones and blood and He has the perfect eternal physical body, and that Jesus is His literal physical son conceived by sexual intercourse.  Lucifer was Jesus' brother, they say, literally.  The Holy Spirit was a separate force that God uses to accomplish His purposes.  Christian Science is another one founded by Mary Baker Eddy Glover Patterson Frye.  She had a problem with man.

Marry Baker Eddy said that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal principle.  The Holy Spirit is the divine science within Christian Science, just a force.  Yet, here we read personal pronouns and personal attributes.  I just want you to notice if you look back in Verse 26 of Chapter 15, and notice it says that concerning the Holy Spirit, "He will testify," it means to speak or to reveal or give testimony.  Look at Chapter 16 Verse 8 again, "He will convict."  Go down to Verse 13, "He will guide.  He will speak.  He will tell."  Verse 14, "He will take and He will declare."

It was some personal attributes of a person.  He will do these things that only a person can do.  There's more, in the New Testament the Bible says that the Holy Spirit has a mind -- the mind of the Spirit, Romans 8:27.  The Holy Spirit has a will, 1 Corinthians 12:11.  The Holy Spirit is said to show love, Romans 15:30.  He is said to pray or intercede for us, that's Romans 8:26.  As a person, the Holy Spirit can be grieved, Ephesians 4:30.  He can be insulted according to Hebrews 10:29.  He can be lied to, Acts Chapter 5.  He can be quenched, 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5.

Now, a force can't do those things or have those things done to it.  You can't say, "I grieved electricity today.  I lied to gravity.  Atomic force cannot love you."  You can't say, "I grieved my plants today.  They're really bombed out of me.  Now, I guess they have to turn over a new leaf.  I couldn't resist."  Those are attributes reserved only for people or persons.  The Holy Spirit is a person, not a human person, but a person nonetheless.

Now, I think that not only do cults err in this, but I think sometimes, we, evangelical believers, often err when it comes to the spirit.  I'm going to explain by reading something to you that was written over a hundred years ago by Reuben Torrey, R.A. Torrey, one of the greatest books ever on the Holy Spirit.  He writes concerning believers, "They are reaching out after and struggling to get possession of some mysterious and mighty power that they can make use of in their work according to their own will.  But the Holy Spirit is to get hold of them.  We must rejoice that there is no divine power that being so ignorant as we are, so liable to err, could ever get a hold of a and use.  How appalling might be the results if there were."

So the issue becomes then, listen carefully, not "How can I get more of the Holy Spirit?" but rather, "How can the Holy Spirit get a hold of more of me."  It's an issue of surrender to Him.  The Holy Spirit then is a person.

The second thing to note in our text is the Holy Spirit is a divine person.  Now, nothing will heighten your respect more for the Holy Spirit than to realize this person is God, the third member of the Triune Godhead, coeternal and coequal with God the Father and God the Son.  He's a divine person.  He appears in Genesis Chapter 1 when God created the heavens and the earth, and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.  And he is seen and mentioned throughout the scripture.

There's a hymn that was crafted to sort of embody this.  We still know it and sing it today.  It was written back in 1673, if memory serves.  It's called the Doxology of Praise, "Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; praise Him, all creatures here below; praise Him above ye Heavenly Host; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."

Now, I will admit to you that the word Holy Ghost isn't the best translation, it's an old translation.  I suggest you don't teach your young children about the Holy Ghost, but the Holy Spirit would be a better term to employ, or they're going to get spooked by God.  It's like the little girl who went to church and she heard that hymn being sung and afterwards she said to her parents, "Why do they want to exclude the West Coast," and her parents go, "What?"  She said, "When they sang that song, 'Praise Father, Son and the whole East Coast."  I couldn't compute the ghost part of that.  It works for a song but for modern times, and I think more accurately reflecting the truth of scripture, He is the Holy Spirit, a divine person.

You should also know that throughout history, those who have denied the personhood of the Holy Spirit, that the spirit of God has also been denied deity by some.  In A.D. 200, an individual from Libya, actually a priest by the name of Sabellius, taught that God is not three persons in one.

But just one God that goes by three different names to serve His own purpose -- that God is sometimes the Father, the same being as sometimes the Son, the same being as sometimes the Spirit.  These three names are three forms of God.  It's known as "Modalism", three different modes of God.  But we read here when Jesus speaks, Verse 26 as an example in Chapter 15.  He speaks of the spirit of God as coming from the Father, simultaneous, not in modes, but simultaneous from the Father, sent by the Son and then in Verse 8, dispatched to the world and He is active within the world.  The Holy Spirit is divine.  The Holy Spirit is God.  He is active in the world.  He comes from the Father.  He is sent by the Son.

Now, there is some doubt amongst some about this.  One is Pentecostals, for example, teach the idea of Sabellius that God is one being in three different modes.  But let's just kind of put a seal on it and move on.  Turn with me to Acts Chapter 5.  There is a scripture tucked away there that is sometimes not really noticed, unfortunately.  I want you to notice it.  Acts Chapter 5 will seal the deal on this.  And if you have a pencil out and you're not opposed to writing in your Bibles, it's all the better because I'm going to have you circle two things.

Verse 1, this is the early church now, "But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.  And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and he brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet.  But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?  While it remained, was it not your own?  And after it was sold, was it not under your own control?  Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?  You have not lied to men but to God."

And if you were to draw a circle around, "You've lied to the Holy Spirit," in Verse 3 and then in Verse 4, "lied to God" and connect the two, it's easy to see the appositional connection.  When you lie to the Holy Spirit, you lie to God because the Holy Spirit is God, and Peter had no problem putting those two things together.  The Holy Spirit is God.  He's a divine person, part of the trinity.  Do I understand it completely?  Do I get the trinity?  No, I don't.  I will admit that to you freely.  But I also want you to know I don't lose any sleep over it because I cannot unravel all the mysteries of the Trinity, so what?

How do you describe the indescribable?  How do you fathom the unfathomable?  It delights me that there is so much of God I don't understand because it makes me realize how much higher and transcendent He is than me.  Yeah, I suppose if I could understand God and you could understand God, we would be God.  So I get what it says, I don't completely get how it works, but the Bible describes one God manifest in three persons, all of them being God, coequal and co-eternal.

The Holy Spirit is a person.  The Holy Spirit is a divine person.  Here's the third thing that emerges from our text.  I want you to look at the Holy Spirit is a "discreet person".  Or here's another word, "inconspicuous", the idea of he doesn't draw attention to himself but he is pointing people to someone else, and that is Jesus.  I want you to notice that.  In Verse 26, again, a key verse, "When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me."  "And then when the Holy Spirit is in the world," Verse 9, "He'll convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment:  of sin, because they don't believe in Me, Jesus"  In Verse 14, "He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you."

The Holy Spirit is sort of like a stage director for a play.  He has got the spotlight and He doesn't shine it on Himself, "I'm the director, you ought to know me."  He rather shines it on the main character, Jesus Christ, and wants all the applause to be given to the main character as if to say to the audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jesus Christ," that's what the Holy Spirit does.  It's all about Jesus, not all about Himself.  You never read about the Holy Spirit saying, "Oh, wait a minute.  I want a little more face time.  I want a little more notoriety here."  He always discreetly points the way to Jesus because He's about glorifying Jesus.

On our building here on this campus, as well as buildings around the city, at night, we have lights and we have lights so you can see your way around when it's dark.  But the way the lights were designed were not so that you would really be drawn to the light fixture.  I haven't yet met many people who said, "That's a really cool light fixture."  Maybe an electrician might do that or an architect.  But the purpose of the light is to shine on the building and I've had people say, "Oh, I love the entrance to this building," that's what they notice.  That's the purpose of the light -- to get you to focus on what the light is focused on, not itself.

So the Holy Spirit is like the floodlight that makes Jesus plain to people, understandable to people so they can see him and glorify him.  So the Holy Spirit is a discreet person.  By the way, here's a good test of any group, any person, any church to find out are they really filled with the Spirit.  What do they emphasize?  Do they emphasize Jesus?  Is it all about Jesus in that group, in that church with that person?  Good indication they're filled with the Spirit.  If however, there is undue attention given to the Holy Spirit over and above Jesus Christ, it might be an indication it's out of balance.

See, if a person walks up to you and the most important thing on his or her mind is, "Do you speak in tongues?" or is it, "Do you love Jesus Christ?" because that, as I read it, is what the Holy Spirit is all about -- pointing people to Jesus.

Here's the fourth thing I want you to notice and I'll draw your attention out of Verse 7, Chapter 16, the Holy Spirit is a helpful person.  Jesus calls Him twice in our passage the "Helper".  I want you to notice it in Verse 7, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth," because he said, "I have a lot of things to tell you but you can't handle them, and I know that you're sorrowful.  Nevertheless I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you."

Now, we've looked at that word before in previous studies, a couple of weeks back, actually a few months back, not far away from here but it's been a while.  The word helper, "paracletus", one who is called alongside to help is the idea.  He's a helpful person, the paracletus.  I looked this up in the amplified version -- Amplified Bible, and when it came to the word helper, this is how it translated.  I think it's so beautiful, "One who is called to stand by you constantly, and take part in anything in which his help is needed?"  Isn't that a beautiful description of how the Holy Spirit works?  "One who is called to stand by you constantly and is ready to take part in everything in which his help is needed."

God knows that you and I need all the help we can get, and He has dispatched the helpful person, the helper, the paracletus, the Holy Spirit.  Do you ever feel like, "I need help"?  Do you ever feel like, "This world is so overwhelming sometime -- the temptations and the trials, the pressures that I receive"?  Or, "That sin is just so massive I can't handle it."?  What's the key?  What's the secret?  I believe it's this, it's the Holy Spirit, be filled with the Spirit.

Let me give you an example, it's actually not original.  Dwight L. Moody, I've told you about him, a hundred years ago, he was speaking about the Spirit of God and he held up a glass to his congregation -- empty glass.  He said, "How could I get the air out of this glass?"  And someone in the audience said, "You could suck all the air out.  You could pump it out with a vacuum."  Moody said, "That won't work because in creating a vacuum, it will shatter the glass."  And a few other ideas were proposed.

Finally, Moody said, "Actually, it's quite easy to get the air out of this glass", he took a pitcher of water and filled it up with water.  And then he applied it and he said, "The secret to a victorious Christian life isn't trying to suck out one sin at a time, but to be filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit.  There's no room for anything else."  Beautiful example, he's a helpful person.  He will be our helper.

Look at Verse 13, this is how he helps, "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide or direct you into all truth; for he will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."  You and I cannot understand scripture unless the Holy Spirit unlocks the meaning, opens the meaning of the scripture to us.

I venture to say that when you started John, what, two years ago now?  There were some things about John's gospel you did not know, that you know today, and the reason you know them whether God used a book or a sermon or not, is the Holy Spirit by whatever gifts it means unlock the meaning of the passage to you.  He illuminated it to you.  He gave you bite-size chunks of truth and you go, "I get it."  Have you ever read through a scripture that you've read through before, but then suddenly at this time, you get it?  You go, "I understand that."  You know what's that called?  Illumination.

There are two words you need to know.  One is inspiration, the second is illumination.  Inspiration is what happens when a select group of men were filled with the Holy Spirit and God enabled them to write down exactly what God wanted to say in the scripture.  That's over.  That isn't happening anymore.  The scripture is complete.  But illumination is going on even today when you read the inspiration and the Holy Spirit unlocks it to you.  Martin Luther said, "The Bible will forever remain a closed book unless God opens and explains to us the scripture."  The two on the Road to Emmaus said, "Our hearts burned within us as He spoke to us and opened up the scripture to us."  That's illumination.  They got it.  He'll guide you into all truth.

Now, a little point I want to make before we go on to the last description of the Holy Spirit.  There is an article that is missing from your Bible and mine.  Probably, most versions have it missing and I think it's unfortunate.  Look in Verse 13 and you'll notice it says, "He will guide you into all truth," right?  Is that what yours says, "all truth"?  That could be interpreted as generic truth, all truth, any kind of truth.  But in the original language, there is an article.  It's a definite article before the work truth which is the word "aletheia" in Greek, and in Greek it reads, "aletheia."

He will guide you into all the truth.  Not just generic truth, but specific truth that is centralized on the person of Jesus Christ.  I believe that's a reference to the New Testament.  Even as Jesus promised his disciples that the Spirit of God would bring to their remembrance everything Jesus said which enabled them to write it down.  The Spirit will guide you into all the truth that is central to the person and work of Christ.

Now, here's the fifth and final remark on the Holy Spirit.  Not only is He a person, not only is He a divine person, not only is He a discreet person, not only is He a helpful person, but finally, He's a dynamic person.  He gives you and I the dynamic, the power to pull off, to live a way that would be impossible otherwise.  He gives you a dynamic above and beyond what is naturally afforded to you.

I'll take you back again to Verse 26, if you'll indulge me.  Look at it a little more carefully, Verse 26, "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.  He's going to speak to you about Me.  He's going to reveal to you who I am."  That's what the Holy Spirit is going to do, "He's going to bring testimony into your life about Me, Jesus."  That's just step one, that's phase one.  Look at the very next verse.  We don't want to skip that.

"And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning," that's phase two.  "The Holy Spirit is going to bring testimony to you about Me, then the Holy Spirit is going to bring testimony through you about Me -- to other people."  Now when that happens, when by the power of the Holy Spirit were able to represent Jesus to this world, it's not going to be a pretty picture as seen by the very next thought, Verse 1 of Chapter 16.

You see in the original, these chapter headings were not there.  "These things I have spoken to you that you will not be made to stumble.  They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.  And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me."  The hatred of the world will be a direct result of your testimony, but the ability for you to give a testimony with any kind of power, with any kind of togetherness is because of the Holy Spirit testifying in you and then through you.

Okay, here's the promise.  I'll expand on it a little bit.  Chapter of Acts, Jesus now has died, risen from the dead.  This is before he ascends into heaven.  This is what he says to his disciples, "John truly baptized you with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now, and you shall receive power."  "Dunamis" is the Greek, a dynamic, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth."  If that were in modern terms, we would say, "You'll be my witnesses in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Illinois, New York, Europe, wherever you go and whatever your face will see, you'll receive power.

Now, Jesus gave them marching orders.  Remember the great commission?  "Go into all the world."  But when he gave that commission according to Luke in the last part of the Gospel of Luke, he said, "Wait in Jerusalem until you receive power from on high."  So here's the message.  Go, but don't go yet until you get power, then go.  Wait first, and when you got the equipment, then go.  Don't go without it.  Otherwise, you'll be like the guy with a chainsaw.  Wait, get the power, and then go into all the worl."

Years ago, there was a captain, a valiant captain.  His sword was dreaded by his enemies.  The king wanted to know why the sword was dreaded by his enemies so he demanded to see the sword so that he might examine it.  He looked it over and said, "I don't see anything great about this sword.  I don't know why anybody would be afraid of it.  It's just a sword.  I've seen thousands like it."  And he gave it back to the guy to take it back to the captain and he told the captain what the king said.  The captain smiled and said, "King made an error.  He only examined the sword.  If he would have looked at the arm that wields the sword, he would then understand its mystery."

Sometimes you look at people that God use and you go, "I don't get it."  I saw one internet posting that said, "I don't get Skip."  It's because you're only looking at the sword, dude.  A lot of times it's not that sharp, but you fail to look at the arm that wields the sword.  And I'd say the perfect example from scripture is Peter.  Here's Peter before Pentecost, before the Resurrection.  Peter was a timid fisherman.  He couldn't even give his testimony before a servant girl.  I imagined all the other guy disciples and said, "Dude, you caved in before a girl.  You couldn't even stand up for Jesus in front of a servant girl."

Compare that Peter to Peter boldly preaching in Jerusalem in the books of Acts.  What happened?  Two things, the Resurrection and Pentecost, and the bible say as much.  It says, "And Peter filled with the Holy Spirit."  That's the secret.  You are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.  If you're a believer, that has happened, that will never change.  If you're a believer, the Holy Spirit is living inside of you.  But Paul says and uses the present tense, "Be filled with the Spirit," in Ephesians, "Be constantly being filled with the Spirit."

So before we go today, let's stand and ask the Lord to fill us afresh with His power.  Let's stand and we'll pray together.

Lord, again as we stand in Your presence, closing this time together as we have begun, honoring You, standing in Your presence, we ask You, that You would fill us afresh with the Holy Spirit that He would use more of us, take more of us.  Lord, we can't live life like this on our own, this kind of life, this life victorious over sin, boldly before the world.  There's a lot of the world's population that just have a tough time getting out of bed.  How could we ever possibly live with the dynamic such as described by Jesus and the apostles?

We admit we can't, and we don't want to run on empty and we don't want to use a chainsaw without power.  We don't want to live our lives without power.  We understand as we read the text of scripture that it's not some kind of weird power that makes us act crazy, but it's the idea of being controlled by the living God.  And to be filled with the Spirit is sort of like a hand that would fill a glove.  It's not about the glove.  It's about the hand doing the work.  Would You so occupy our lives so as to do Your work through us?  As the testimony has come to us, now do Your work through us.  Fill as afresh.  Fill us anew for your glory.  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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5/8/2011
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How Can I Know God?
John 14:7-11
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What a thought—that a mere human can know God! The agnostic asserts this is impossible. The atheist insists that the very idea is an arrogant and purely metaphysical pursuit. But one of the reasons Jesus came was to reveal God's character and nature clearly and perfectly! Let's consider two roadblocks to knowing God and four resources that help us know Him better.
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5/29/2011
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Privileges of God's Employees
John 14:12-14
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Most companies have benefits for employees: things like overtime pay, health insurance, and sick pay. In 2 Corinthians 6:1, Paul calls us "workers together with Him" (NLT renders it "God's partners"). We have been called to a high and lofty task—to be His representatives here on earth. You might say we're part of the "family business." So what has God called us to do? And how has He provided for us in terms of resources? In short, what are the benefits of being God's employees?
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6/5/2011
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Four Part Harmony
John 14:15-18
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Some of the best moments on American Idol aren't the solo performances, but when all the singers join together and blend their voices in harmony. There's nothing sweeter than well-trained voices blended together in first, thirds, and fifths. Spiritual harmony is much the same—when believers blend with the triune Godhead there is an alignment that results in a deep sense of fulfillment. And what is the note we are to sing in this spiritual song? It is the note of loving obedience!
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6/12/2011
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Promises, Promises!
John 14:19-26
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Someone once mused, "Promises may get friends, but it's performance that keeps them." No wonder God has so many friends! He makes promises and keeps them. On this final night that Jesus spent with His friends, as both sorrow and confusion assailed them, Jesus made several promises that would sustain them in the days, months, and years ahead. What about you? Will you dare to trust the promises of God? It's the only way to see if they really work.
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6/26/2011
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Peace Where You Least Expect It
John 14:27-31
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On countless American gravestones this epitaph could be written: Hurried, Worried, Buried. What a sad way to live! Fear, anxiety, and distress have literally become part of our national culture. Odd, isn't it? Though we have such abundance in this country, most don't experience abundant life—especially as Jesus described it. Sure, everyone has his or her share of trouble and anxieties, but let's consider one of the greatest gifts Jesus gives to followers—the gift of peace!
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7/3/2011
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Life-Lessons from Grape-Growers - Part 1
John 15:1-7
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My parents grew grapes on their little plot of land in Southern California. There weren't many, but enough for me to know that getting fruit at harvest depended on three things: the solid connection of branch to vine, the vigilant care of the workers, and the consistency of those things over time. Jesus, walking with the disciples toward the Garden of Gethsemane, gives life lessons to His men using the familiar example of growing grapes. With that analogy in mind, let's consider the three ways our relationship to God is described by Jesus.
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7/10/2011
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Life-Lessons From Grape-Growers - Part 2
John 15:8-11
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As we grow older, we mature. In our spiritual lives we should become spiritually mature. The Bible calls it being fruitful. Spiritual fruit is the indication that we're truly connected to Christ. But there are others, as we'll see today. Last week we examined how the relationship with Christ is described (Connected to Christ, Cared for by the Father, and Consistent Over Time). Today let's consider how this relationship is demonstrated. When we're rightly connected to God we'll be:
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7/17/2011
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What a Friend We Have in Jesus
John 15:12-17
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We can get through almost anything in life with friends to share our sorrow and divide our grief. A Chinese word for friend is peng-yu and it has a much fuller meaning than in English. It means "one who brings completion and sums up beauty." The ancient Hebrews saw true friendship as an ideal to pursue and a blessing to enjoy. In these final moments with His followers, Jesus uses a most tender term for their relationship—they were friends! What does that friendship look like?
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7/24/2011
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Why Does Everyone Hate Me?
John 15:18-25
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There is a flipside to being a friend of Jesus. That's true of any friendship. Whenever you ally yourself and make friends with someone, you will incur some enemies because of it. Likewise, some who don't like Jesus won't like us either—and we discover there are quite a few who don't! Let's find out why, and how we can raise our heads high and prevail.
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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.