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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > The Holy Hound of Heaven

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The Holy Hound of Heaven - John 16:5-11

Taught on | Topic: Holy Spirit | Keywords: Holy spirit, conviction, sin, righteousness, judgment

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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8/7/2011
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The Holy Hound of Heaven
John 16:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

43 John - Believe:879 - 2009

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

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

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Outline

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  1. His Necessity is Undeniable (vv. 5-7)

    1. Jesus Would be Leaving

    2. The Spirit Will be Leading

  2. His Activity is Unmistakable (vv. 8-11)

    1. Convicts the World of Sin

    2. Convicts the World of Righteousness

    3. Convicts the World of Judgment

  3. His Agency is Unremarkable (vv. 7-8)

More Stuff

  1. How does the Holy Spirit convict people in the three areas we read? What role do you play in all this? What does this say about the relationship between the Holy Spirit and believers?

  2. Christians often pine about how wonderful it would've been to live with Jesus in the flesh. But in light of verse, why is it better just the way it is?

  3. Jesus in the flesh. But in light of verse , why is it better just the way it is? How have you seen the Holy Spirit at work opening minds and hearts of people around you?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. The Hound of Heaven
      1. Poem written in the 1800s
      2. By Francis Thompson
        1. His father wanted him to be a doctor
        2. He didn't want to be
        3. Enrolled in medical school
        4. Addicted to opium
        5. Attempted suicide
        6. Referred to the Holy Spirit as the "Hound of Heaven"
    2. How the Holy Spirit works
      1. Draws people
      2. Reveals their need
      3. Shows that their need is met in Jesus Christ
      4. "The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of the make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units, code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed, "Sub-sequential Internal Non-morality," or more commonly known by its initials as "SIN".
        Symptoms include: Loss of direction; foul vocal emissions; amnesia of origin; lack of peace and joy; selfish, violent behavior; depression or confusion in the mental component; and rebellion.
        The Manufacturer is providing factory authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this SIN defect. The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. There is no additional fee required. Call toll-free the number: P-R-A-Y-E-R. Once connected, please upload your SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician into the heart component.
        As an added upgrade, the Manufacturer has made available to all repaired units direct monitoring and assistance from the resident Maintenance Technician, the HOLY SPIRIT.
        WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids the Manufacturer's warranty, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.
  2. His Necessity is Undeniable (5-7)
    1. Jesus Would be Leaving
      1. Sorrow filled the disciples' hearts
        1. Πληρόω; pléroó - filled to capacity
        2. Anxiety controlled their thought processes
        3. Their best friend is leaving
      2. Not what they expected
        1. Expected eschatology
          1. Before Messiah, turmoil (Roman occupation)
          2. Before Messiah, Elijah-like forerunner (John the Baptist)
          3. Arrival of Messiah
            1. Defeat of enemies
            2. Establish His kingdom
          4. Scattered Jews return to Israel, and Jerusalem established in peace
        2. Jews believed they were between stages 2-3
      3. Focused on what they were losing instead of what they were gaining
        1. Unbelievers do that
          1. Can't give life to Christ, I'll lose my friends; will gain a Friend who sticks closer than a brother
          2. I'll lose my old life; will gain eternal, everlasting, abundant life
        2. "He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."--Jim Elliot
    2. The Spirit Will be Leading
      1. When you lose something, God replaces it with something better: "So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30)
      2. The disciples will need Him
        1. To mitigate their sorrow
        2. To fulfill their calling: "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'" (Mark 16:15)
          1. Enormous
          2. Impossible
  3. His Activity is Unmistakable (8-11)
    1. Convicts the World of Sin
      1. Convinces people that they are sinners
        1. No one looks for a Savior, unless they need one
        2. Only sinners need a Savior
      2. Most people need convincing
        1. Don't admit they are sinners
        2. Don't even like the term "sin"
        3. Deny sin exists
        4. Blame shift
          1. Environment
          2. Genetics
      3. God's job, not yours
        1. When we try to convict, it sounds like condemnation
        2. Peter filled with Holy Spirit: " Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart," (Acts 2:37)
      4. Sin: singular, not plural
        1. Not particular sins: conscience handles that
        2. Sin of unbelief
          1. Most don't see unbelief as a sin
          2. Think unbelief marks them as intelligent
          3. Worst of all sin: prevents forgiveness of all other sins
          4. Only the Holy Spirit can convict of the sin of unbelief
    2. Convicts  the World of Righteousness
      1. The Holy Spirit convinces people they aren't good enough
      2. World has its own relative righteousness
        1. Like degrees on a thermometer
        2. Hope God will grade on a curve
          1. Better than some
          2. "We try harder"
      3. Jesus demonstrated the righteousness God accepts
        1. "Which of you convicts Me of sin?" (John 8:46)
        2. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20)
        3. "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
        4. "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5)
      4. We cannot brag about our own righteousness when we stand next to The Righteous One
        1. When Jesus died, rose, and ascended to heaven it was as if God said, "This is the righteousness I accepts"
        2. Only the righteousness He provides is enough
        3. Paul: "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;" (Philippians 3:7-9)
    3. Convicts the World of Judgment
      1. Convinces that judgment is real
        1. We are liable if we reject God's solution
        2. We are liable if we reject God's righteousness
      2. When Jesus died Satan's doom was sealed
        1. He hasn't been sentenced yet
        2. Those who follow him, end up destroyed
      3. Good to be worried about the coming judgment
        1. It's not good to push away conviction
        2. Those on the Titanic who said to the iceberg warning, "Shut up! We're busy!"
  4.  His Agency is Unremarkable (7-8)
    1. The Holy Spirit convicts using human channels
    2. Make yourself available to His work
    3. Every conversion in Acts uses a human agent
      1. Peter on the day of Pentecost
      2. Saul had a vision
        1. He had "kicked against the goads" (See Acts 9:5)
        2. Heard Stephen's testimony
        3. Witnessed Stephen's death
    4. Although God does miracles, he normally uses human agents
    5. Normal people
      1. Peter: fisherman, high strung, easily angered
      2. James and John: wanted to call down fire from heaven (See Luke 9:54)
      3. Thomas: negative
      4. "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;" (1 Corinthians 1:27)
      5. "You are writing a Gospel, a chapter a day,
        By the deeds that you do and the words that you say.
        Men read what you write—distorted or true;
        What is the Gospel according to you?" -- Anonymous

Greek terms: Πληρόω; pléroó - filled to capacity
Figures Referenced: Jim Elliot, Jack Nicklaus, Gerald Ford, Billy Graham
Publications Referenced: "Important! Recall Notice," Unknown; "The Gospel According to You," Anonymous
Cross References: Isaiah 6:5; Matthew 5:20; Matthew 5:48; Mark 10:29-30; Mark 16:15; Luke 9:54; John 3:16; John 8:46; Acts 2:37; Acts 9:5; 1 Corinthians 1:27; Philippians 3:7-9

Topic: Holy Spirit

Keywords: Holy spirit, conviction, sin, righteousness, judgment

Transcript

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Let's pray.  Lord we believe it is a big deal that you desired a fellowship with us to make yourself known to us.  We think of the words of David who said, "What is man that you are mindful of Him or the son of man that you would visit Him?"  And yet Lord, you have condescended to reveal yourself to human beings, those that you have created in your image.  But how thankful we are that we are among those who have discovered your plan for humanity and we enjoy the salvation that comes to Jesus Christ.  In the midst of the many voices that we hear all week long, we now want to tune in and hear your voice even beyond the voice of the one who is presenting the material.  And pray that it would be your Holy Spirit alive and active through your word that would do the speaking, in Jesus name, Amen.

At my house I have a dog named Mack.  This is Mack.  Mack is a little Welsh Terrier.  And this little dog has more energy than any pup I've ever owned.  This dog is persistent and he loves to run.  He doesn't really like to go on walks at least with me.  I don't take him on a walk.  He likes -- he goes on a gallop quite frankly.  He loves to run at full speed.  And so he thinks he is big enough where when I take him on the run, I'm sitting on a bicycle, he is on the leash.  He pulls me.  This little dog pulls me on my bicycle.  He wouldn't have any other way neither would I.  He can't keep up that pace.  But he will for a long time and then he'll just happily gallop at full speed for a long period of time next to the bike.

Whenever I am home he'll follow me from room to room to room until he gets his run.  He's all about the run, the chase.  He's the hound of the height six.  I really want to speak to you today about the hound of heaven.  No disrespect to the Holy Spirit.  There was a poem written in the 1800s called "The Hound of Heaven".  It was written by Francis Thompson.  Francis Thompson was a medical student.  He was going to be a doctor.  His dad wanted him to be a doctor.  He didn't really want to be.  But he was in medical school went through the motions.

But eventually, he dropped out.  Hit the streets of London.  Became a drug addict in the 1800, addicted to opium and became suicidal.  Attempted taking his life a couple of occasions it was unsuccessful.  But he eventually wrote a long poem, 182 lines called the "The Hound of Heaven".  He speaks about how he ran from God and he ran for years and went here and went there.  The God was always patience and faithful to draw him back and that God the Holy Spirit was the hound of heaven.  That's what I want to focus on today.  Last week, we looked at several verses in John chapter 15 and 16 to speak about the person of the Holy Spirit generally.

But now, I want us to look at something more specific and that is how the Holy Spirit works at large in this world.  He's about doing one thing, drawing people, showing them, revealing to them the need that they have and the need is met in Jesus Christ.  I suppose if we were to put that chase in a modern terminology, computer terminology, it would sound like this, the maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured regardless of the make for a year due to serious defect and the primary and central component of the heart.  This is due to a malfunction and the original prototype unit's code name Adam and Eve resulting in the reproduction of the same defect and all subsequent units.

This defect has been technically termed to get this sub-sequential internal non-morality or more commonly known by its initials SIN.  Symptoms include loss of direction, foul vocal emissions, amnesia of origin, lack of peace and joy, selfish or violent behavior, depression or confusion in the mental component and rebellion.  The manufacture is providing factory authorized repair and service, free of charge to correct the sin, S-I-N defect.

The repair technician Jesus has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cause of these repairs.  There is no additional fee required.  Call toll free the number P-R-A-Y-E-R.  Once connected, please upload your sin through the repentance procedure.  Next, download atonement from the repair technician into the heart component.  As an added upgrade, the manufacture has made available to all repaired units, a facility enabling direct monitoring and assistance from a resident maintenance technician the Holy Spirit.  Warning, it continues.  Continuing to operate the human unit without correct, voids the manufacture's warranty, exposing the unit to dangers and problems to numerous a list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.

The one who is doing the convincing that we need to recall is the Holy Spirit.  Is the Holy Spirit who basically comes along and says, "There's something wrong with your unit, you need to do something about that."  So we're going to look at that today and we're going to look at a few verses in particular.  Honing in on what we look at last week.  We begin in verse five where Jesus is speaking saying, "But now I go away to Him who sent me and none of you ask me where are you going?  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow is filled your heart.  Never the last 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 of righteousness and of judgement of sin because they do not believe in me of righteousness because I go to my father and you see me no more, of judgement because the ruler of this world is judged."

First of all, when it comes to have a Holy Spirit of God works in this world, his necessity is undeniable.  Those disciples would need Him, would need the Holy Spirit in days they had.  Did you notice when Jesus said, he said, "Sorrow has filled your heart.  I told you these things and sorrow has filled your heart."  The word fulfilled is the word in Greek plēroō and it means to feel something so full that you can't fit anything else in it.  So imagine pouring water into a glass to the brim, it's completely filled up or putting gasoline in your car.  So it's so fulled that it starts to bubble out a little bit.  That's plēroō.  That's filled to the max.

So the idea is that anxiety had so control their thought processes or to put in Jesus words sorrow has filled your heart.  You can think about anything else, why?  Because Jesus said He was leaving.  He's leaving.  Their best friend is leaving them the one that healed their families the one that calmed their storms, the one that turned water into wine, the one that gave them free lunch in Galilee.  The one that said, "Go get that fish and you'll find a coin in its mouth and you can pay the IRS this year with the money you find there," handy guy to have around.  He's going.  And besides, all that he's done for them, they just loved Him and He's leaving them.  And here's the big idea, they don't understand that this is now what they have expected.

As Jews living 2000 years ago and in around Israel, they had in their minds most did an idea of what would happen when the Messiah would come.  The result of a 4-stage series of events or I'll call it Eschatology, an unfolding of end time events that they expected with the Messiah's arrival.  Number one, they thought that before the Messiah actually comes, there will be a period of upheaval turmoil in the land which they saw is being fulfilled with the Roman occupation.  Number two, prior to the Messiah's arrival and Elijah like forerunner would come on the scene announcing the coming of Messiah to them, that was John the Baptist that's why so many people were interested in John's baptism.

Number three, the Messiah would arrive.  And when he arrived, he would defeat his enemies.  He would establish his kingdom.  And number four, scatter Jews from all over the world would return to Israel and Jerusalem would be established in peace.  The disciples believe they where somewhere between stage two and stage three.  John the Baptist had come.  The Messiah had come.  Next was the setting up of the kingdom.  But Jesus said he was living, not staying, living.  It didn't compute to them, that didn't make sense.  So sorrow has filled their heart.  This is not what they have expected.

But here's what I want you to notice, these disciples are focusing on what they're about to lose rather than what they're about to gain.  They're so bumped out and so filled with sorrow because Jesus said, "He's going," but they're not even registering what he's told them in terms of what they're going to receive the Holy Spirit, the helper is coming.  It's to you advantage that I go.  If I go I'm going to send the spirit to you.

How many times do you meet people who do exactly that?  They focus on what they're losing or have lost rather than that what they're gaining.  I've met unbelievers who said, "Well, I can't get my life to Christ.  I might lose my friends."  Yeah, but you'll gain a friend who's that closer than a brother.  I can't give my life to Christ, I'll lose my old life.  Yeah, but you'll gain eternal life, everlasting life, abandon life.  Think about what you're gaining.

Some of you have heard of Jim Elliot that legendary missionary to the Alka-Indians.  Probably the most famous thing he ever said was a simple sentence.  It goes like this, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."  I'm leaving boys, but the Holy Spirit the helper is going to come.  And Jesus said, "He will abide with you forever."

By the way, if you do lose something, I believe God is in the business of replacing it with something better.  You may not know one at a time.  But Jesus put it this way, everyone who is left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my namesake will receive a hundred fulled and inherit eternal life.  These disciples are going to need the Holy Spirit desperately in days to come to mitigate against the sorrow they're now feeling.  But secondly because the task that Jesus sent to man is enormous.  Right before Jesus leaves, he's going to say, "Go into all, the what? "Go into all the world," never thought about that go into all the world and praise the gospel to whom?  Every creature, that's an enormous task.  That's a big job. 

In fact, let me put it in another way, it's an impossible task.  It's like me telling you if you're standing in -- at a duct in front of a sailboat me saying, "Make that sailboat go forward by blowing Him into the sails."  Go ahead, try it.  You can do that all day along and that sailboat ain't going to move.  You don't have what it takes to make that thing go.  Go into all the world and preach the God with every creature.  They don't have what it takes to do that on their own and that's the point.  I'm living but another is coming and he has a job to do through you in the world.  Sounds impossible, they can't do it without spirit.  So his necessity is undeniable.

Second thing I want you to see is that his activity in the world in unmistakable.  Verse 8, when he that is the spirit, when he has come, he will convict the world three things, of sin, of righteousness and of judgement.  If you were to take out the word convict and replace it with the word "convince", that would be another way of looking at that verse.  He's going to convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgement.  Then he explains verse 9, "Of sin because they do not believe in me, of righteousness because I go to my father and you see me no more, of judgement because the ruler of this world is judged."

Now, we just breezed over those verses last week.  I like to unpack them because right there is the kernel of the activity of the spirit of God in this world.  First thing he does is convict the world of sin or here's another way of putting it, the Holy Spirit will convince people that they're sinners.  Now why would he need to do that?  Simple, no one will ever look for a savior until they think they need one.

And the only people that think they need a savior are people who know they're sinners.  They have to be convinced, I need help.  I'm a sinner who needs saving.  So the Holy Spirit will convince people of their need for the savior by convincing them that they are sinners.  Now, I discovered most people need convincing of that.  Because most people don't admit that they're sinners.  In fact they don't even like the term sin.  They hate that word.

By enlarge the world denies that sin exist.  I'm not a sinner. I might have a hang up.  I might have few issues but I don't have sin.  Or they will blame their behavior on something or someone else like their environment.  I am the way I am because of what my parents said to me.  They made me eat spinach when I was five years old.  And I've never been the same since.

So there's a shifting of blame.  Or they want to blame their genes.  I don't mean their Levi's.  I mean their genetics.  I have a propensity to anger.  It's part of my genetic structure.  It's not my choice, it's who I am.  There's an enormous amount of blame shifting and it takes the Holy Spirit to convince people of their need by convincing them that they're sinners.

I had a man to come up the other night, Wednesday night, sweet man.  He's a big guy, strong.  I'm glad he was sweet.  He said that he'd been coming for a while but it was until recently that is God is just doing something really deep inside my life.  It was a conviction of the Holy Spirit.  He was describing.  So I've been here.  I've heard many messages before but recently I feel something much deeper.  That is the conviction that only the Holy Spirit can bring.

And by the way, that is his job and not yours. Your job isn't to convict that they're sinners.  And if you try to do that it's kind of just come off sounding like condemnation.  There was a little 13-year-old girl named Elizabeth Brinton.  She sold get this, 11,200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  Boxes 11,200 and she broke the records.  Somebody said "How did you manage to sell that many boxes to people?"  She said "It's not that hard.  You've got to look him in the eye and make him feel guilty."

And my work with Girl Scout cookies it doesn't work with the gospel.  It's not your job.  it's the job of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction.  The case in point Peter filled with the Holy Spirit posed Holy Spirit coming on the day of Pentecost.  He spoke to the crowd.  And while he spoke listen to what it says.  And when they heard these words, they were cut to the heart.

Another translation says they were convicted in their hearts.  They weren't convicting their hearts because Peter was a masterful sermon maker.  He was a fisherman.  He was just kind of learning this stuff.  They were cut to the heart because the Holy Spirit was convicting the world of sin and they said "Brother what must we do?" that day 3,000 people were saved.  And I want to notice what it says in verse eight and verse nine.  Notice it's saying in a singular, not in the plural.  He will convict the world of sin, not sins and verse nine of sin, not sins because they do not believe in me.

Rather than just convicting the world of particular sins of bad behavior like murder or adultery or stealing or speeding, I've discovered the conscience if it's working correctly it does a good job of handling those things pretty well in most people.  But rather the Holy Spirit will convict a person of sin, singular and especially the kind of sin that the conscience will never convict a person.  And that is of unbelief.

Unbelief, the world doesn't think unbelief is a sin.  If you ask a nonbeliever, do you think your unbelief was a sin against God?  No.  Do you think murder is a sin?  I can agree that murder is bad but I don't think unbelief is bad.  The world doesn't that as a sin.  In fact many worldly people see unbelief is a badge of honor.  You've heard it.  You know I really like to belief like you because you're just so simple minded.

Me?  I'm a little more intelligent than the average bear.  I like to believe that.  I really would love to believe that but I'm just too smart for that stuff.  So they see their unbelief is something to be sort of enshrined.  They're proud of it.  But it's actually the worst of all sin because it's unbelief that prevents the forgiveness of all other sins.

Of sin because he said they do not believe in me.  Only the Holy Spirit can convince a person that unbelief has to be dealt with.  By the way, if you happen to live with anybody who's under conviction or work around or be around somebody in close proximity who's under the conviction of the holy spirit, be sure to let us know so that we can support you in prayer.

If you're around a person under the conviction of God and they're just stubbornly fighting him, they can act horribly and say hostile things to you.  It's hard to live around those who are living under conviction.  True story.  There was a professional golfer who was playing at tournament with Jack Nicholas, president Gerald Ford and Dr. Billy Gram.  This is year's ago.

They're playing a tournament.  At the end of the tournament, somebody asked that professional golfer "hey what was it like playing golf with the president in billy Gram?"  This man said "I don't need Billy Gram's stuff and religion down my throat."  Well what was weird about that he's come to find out the entire golf game Billy Gram never brought up God or religion at all.  But the fact that he was there playing and this man knew who Gram was and what he stood was just enough to bring that conviction to the surface.

I don't need stuff and religion down my throat.  So the activity of the Holy Spirit in the world is to convince people that they're sinners number two, to convict the world of righteousness.  And then it says of righteousness verse ten "because I go to my Father and you see me no more."  Let's unpack that.  The Holy Spirit is going to convince people that they're not good enough as they are that their own righteousness won't cut it before God.

The word has a relative righteousness their own brand.  For most people, their righteousness is like a thermometer.  You know the ascending degrees on a thermometer and they'll categorize everybody according to degrees.  So in many people's minds and criminals, they'll be -- you know like way down low.  They have maybe 20% righteousness.  They're bad.  They're convicts.  They're in prison.  Maybe they did something really bad.  But you know there's a glimmer of hope in their life so let's give them 20%.

But then there's -- those were better than the convicts.  They had a little bit better.  We'll give them 40.  Then there's still better man and better woman, maybe they're up to 60 or 80% then it's at very of the thermometer's God he is 100%.  Nobody can match him.  But this same people are banking the God in eternity is got great on a curve and that probably if you make 75% or above you passed.  You go to heaven.

So this people who see relative righteousness, we'll say "we'll I'm not perfect.  That's God.  But I'm not as bad as those people."  So their motto in life, even they're very religious is like -- it's like the Avis Rent A Car motto, we try harder.  How do you get to heaven?  We try harder.  I'm going to righteous.  I'm going to be good.  It's a self righteousness.  The Holy Spirit will convince the person.  It's not enough.

That relative righteousness is not enough because here's the deal.  When Jesus hit the scene when Jesus Christ came, he preached and presented -- demonstrated a whole different kind of righteousness.  In fact, he even said "which of you can convict me of sin?"  No one could.  They tried, they couldn't.  He preached the Sermon on the Mount.  It's lovely sermon but boy there's enough in it to make one go.

I don't match up.  This is what he said in the Sermon on the Mount.  "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes in the pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."  And they would have thought "really?"  Because the scribes in the pharisees are like the best.  Unless my righteousness is better than theirs I don't go to heaven?  Then in the Sermon on the Mount toward the end he said "therefore be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

If I had heard that I would say "I'd lost hope.  There is no hope."  I cannot match that standard of righteousness.  I feel now like how Isaiah felt when he saw the lord and said "Woah!  It's me I am undone."  Have you ever stood next to somebody who was an expert in something you're boasting about or practicing?  Let's you're in conversation, you say "yeah I've been into this whole new thing lately" and then standing next to you is like the guy who invented it.  Awfully embarrassing.

The closest thing I can think in my life is I was asked to speak at the Cove.  the Billy Gram Training Center at some years ago and my topic was evangelism.  I'm okay with that.  I can talk about that.  But not when Billy Gram is in the audience.  And not afternoon I was at his house.  he says "I'm coming to not hear you speak."  And I thought "no, please, don't do that."

But he showed up. So it's a whole different feel to speak about how to do evangelism when the world's greatest evangelist is sitting with you.  And to make it worse right before I spoke, the moderator that evening said "skip we believed that everybody here is saved necessarily because they come to the Cove."  We'd like you to call people to faith to do ultra tone like really.  So now transfer into what we're talking about.

We can't brag about our righteousness when you're standing next to the righteous one.  Anymore than you can brag to NASA about "look I've made a paper airplane.  Ain't that cool?"  Then cut it.  So it's a holy spirit's job that will convince a person, you're not good enough on your own.  This righteousness won't cut it before God and the standard is the life of Christ.

So here's the deal.  Jesus said of righteousness because I go to the Father and you see me no more.  What does that mean?  Jesus died on the cross for our sin, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.  When he ascended into heaven at the right hand of the thrown of God, it is as if God was saying "this is righteousness I will accept."  Here is standard.  This is the righteousness I will receive under my presence.

So the holy spirit convinces people that they're sinners and needed a savior convinces people that their own righteousness isn't enough but the one that Jesus will provide for them is enough.  And only the spirit of God can do that.  He did it in the life of Paul.  We're going to be taking a tour at the journeys of Paul the apostle.  Paul the apostle, a very religious Jewish Zealot rabbi wrote these words in Philippians.  "Everything that was dear to me, I count as lost for the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ for whom I have suffered the lost of all things and counted as rubbish that I might be found in him, not having my own righteousness which is of the law but the righteousness that comes by faith in Jesus Christ."  What's the idea here?

He was sinner and needed a savior that his righteousness wasn't good enough.  He needed what Christ would provide for him.  And number three notice how convince or convict the world of judgment and the verse 11 of judgement "Because the ruler of this world is a judge."  So Holy Spirit's job to convince people that judgment is real and their liable for judgement.

That if they reject, the solution for their sin.  If they reject the righteousness the God provides then the inevitable consequence will be the judgment of God.  And that is proven to them by what happened to Satan when Jesus died on the cross when Jesus died on the cross, Satan tried to throw everything he could at him.  He was unsuccessful.  And when Jesus died on the cross effectively splitting or destroying Satan's hold on people, Satan's doom was sealed.

You say "it was?"  Because for the last 2,000 years since the cross happened, Satan has done a pretty goo job at messing up our world.  That's right.  That's because he has been sentenced yet, that's coming. That's coming.  But the point is just as Satan was destroyed effectively on the cross, everyone who follows him is going to end in the same way and that is the judgment of death.  I always think it's healthy when a person gets a little worried about the coming judgement of God.  Then he wants cavalier about -- I don't care what happens when I die.

I'm ready to face God.  I've many questions to ask him.  I get a little skitters.  I'm going to go move five feet away.  I just don't like lightning strikes.  I've had an FBI agent on my office some time back and he's very interesting.  He just said to me you know I'm on the SWAT Team and I've had guns pointed at my head a number of times. I've stood in the face of death in many occasions because it was until recently that I'm suddenly afraid of dying.  I'm afraid of what's going to happen to me when I die.  And then he quickly turned to me and says, "That's kind of weird, huh?"

And I said, "No, it's not weird."  And he goes, "Wow.  It makes me feel like a pansy."  I said I think it's one of the best things I've heard.  I think it's one of the healthiest things is to feel worried about what's going to happen to you when you die.  I was able to talk him through that and through that let him to Christ, faith in Christ, to do something about that feeling of judgment because when a person pushes away the conviction of the Holy Spirit, "I don't care about that."  It's not a good sign.

Did you know that before the Titanic sank that somebody wired the ship and warned them that they were huge iceberg masses, ice close in the area.  The operator on the Titanic wired back this words, "Shut up!  We're busy."  Now think of those words for anyone on the Titanic "Shut up, we're busy."  How many people today, you talk to them about God, "Shut up, I'm busy."  Shut up, I want some fun, go away.  So the Holy Spirit has a task to do.  The disciples need him.  That's undeniable.  His activity is to convince the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment.  I want to close with this thought.  His agency is unremarkable.  You see the Holy Spirit is going to do the work of convicting but he's going to use normal, unremarkable people, you and I.

Look at verse 7 and verse 8 and we'll close with this.  Nevertheless, I tell you the truth it's 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.  Those 11 disciples gathered around him at that moment, you and then follow that up with verse 8, when he has come and the implication is come to you.  I'm going to send him to you and when he's come to you then he'll convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.  In other words, it's the Holy Spirit doing the conviction but he's going to use us as the agents of that, our words, human channels it was always verdict you could do all this work in the world, you and I making ourselves available for him to do that in the conversation you have at Starbucks, at school, in the neighborhood, on the phone with relatives, that's how we'll do.

You know that every conversion in the Book of Acts that there's a human agent involved in bringing the gospel and bringing conviction.  Think of Peter on the day of Pentecost.  It says they heard what Peter spoke.  Peter was the speaker.  It was the word of God but Peter was the agent, simple Peter, the fisherman.  It says they were cut to the heart.  Now some of you might be thinking, "Yeah, what about Saul of Tarsus?"  I mean he had a vision.  That was in a human agent.  That's true.  He had a vision of Christ but remember what Jesus said.  He said, "Saul, Saul, it's hard for you to kick against the goads."  You know what goads are.  Those are things that prick an animal.  He was speaking of the goads of conviction.  It was Saul of Tarsus who heard Steven give a testimony and he wants Steven and he heard Steven and he watched him die.  And seeing that brought conviction.

Listen, look at this man die for Christ, for what he believes.  That brought conviction to his heart, Jesus that it's hard for you to kick against those goads, isn't it?  So on all of the cases in Acts we see the Holy Spirit working powerfully but through normal people.  God has miracles.  He always has and always will.  He can send visions and dreams.  I've heard of Muslims who have come to faith around the world.  There hasn't been an evangelist but God has given them a vision or a dream and they receive Christ because of that.  But normally the Holy Spirit will use human beings to bring the conviction of sin, and righteousness and judgment.  That's the normal means through the believers of human channels.

Have you ever thought of what it was like or what it would have been like to receive Peter's resume?  I mean because these guys were unimpressive, the Apostles.  Oh what would Peter's resume read like?  Let's say Peter says, "I want to join your mission group.  Here's my application."  Okay, let's see your resume.  It says here Peter that you like to fish a lot and that you're pretty high strung and it says here by others who have written about you that you get angry very easily.  In fact, it says here that one time you actually cut off a guy's ear trying to protect God.  I don't think we can accept you on our team, Peter.  Next, and let's say the next resume is James and John, they're brothers so they're together.  Boy, this is very troubling.  I read here that you once wanted to nuke an entire village in Israel.  Do you remember the story they said about the Samaritan village?  Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven and destroy them?

This doesn't look good.  Do you guys have ties to Al-Qaeda?  Are you terrorists?  You wouldn't want to work on our team. Or what about Tomas' resume?  Well, this does not look good, Tom?  It says that you're the party pooper of the bunch.  We do not want you.  You're so negative.  You get my point?  All of these people that were gathered around Jesus at the time we're unremarkable.  They were normal.  You look inside the Holy Spirit's toolbox you may find a brilliant one here or there or an articulate one here or there, a talented one here or there but mostly you just find us.  God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.  What's their secret?  The Holy Spirit, active daily, in those chance encounters you have but what you say and what you do.

Somebody once said, yeah there are four Gospels but there's actually five Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and you.  And that author said, you are writing a gospel, a chapter each day by the things that you do and the words that you say.  People hear what you say and they see what you do so what is the gospel according to you?  according to your words, according to your life, a lot of people won't read the Bible.  They're not going to like to pick up this book and start reading necessarily.  But they're going to read your life.  If the Holy Spirit is in you because you're filled not with sorrow but filled with the Spirit.  You know if you bump a pitcher what comes out?  Whatever is inside the pitcher?  If people bump you in your life what comes out?  Whatever you're filled with, if you're filled with anger that will come out, if you're filled with frustration that will come out, if you're filled with the Holy Spirit that will come out, Father made that be so.

May the spirit of the living God occupy that position where we so need him, so depend on him and you're so faithful to convict, to convince, to do what we can do, convince the world, worldly people, those apart from your covenant that their centers, the need of a savior, that their own, we try harder mentalities and enough to cut it.  You need the righteousness that you give and then if not there is a certain judgment because the ruler of this world who lies to everyone his faith is sealed, his doom is secure.  And like leader, like follower.  We cannot do that, Lord, only you can.  Would you do that?  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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7/31/2011
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Two Thirds Is Not Enough
John 15:26-16:15
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We love God the Father who created us and God the Son who redeemed us, but what about the Holy Spirit? We hear His name a lot, but who is He? What exactly does He do? What does He want from us? The Holy Spirit is the "quiet One," active in the life of believers but sometimes not acknowledged as being vital. Oswald Chambers noted, "The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a guest in a house. He invades everything!" Today, we consider Him and His role in our lives.
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8/14/2011
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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.