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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > When Sorrow Turns to Joy

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When Sorrow Turns to Joy - John 16:16-22

Taught on | Topic: Joy | Keywords: sorrow, joy, promise, confusion, "a little while"

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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8/14/2011
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When Sorrow Turns to Joy
John 16:16-22
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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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. Confusion Can Challenge Joy (vv. 16-18)

    1. The Disciples' Misunderstanding

    2. The Disciples' Means of Handling It

  2. Promises Can Anchor Joy (vv. 19-20)

    1. Concerning Their Reunion

    2. Concerning Their Joy

  3. Sorrow Can Lead to Joy (vv. 21-22)

    1. Delivery is Overshadowed by Maternity

    2. Despondency Will be Overshadowed by Ecstasy

Answer These Questions:

  1. What was the happiest experience of your life? How long did it last?

  2. What things make you the saddest? What is the reason? What helps during those times?

  3. When confused about some biblical truth, what do you do about it?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. There are people like the characters from Winnie the Pooh in the church
      1. "Some people think it's difficult to be a Christian and to laugh, but I think it's the other way around. God writes a lot of comedy—it's just that He has so many bad actors." Garrison Keillor, Christianity Today, 3 October 1986
      2. Nothing more attractive than a Christian with authentic joy: it's infectious
      3. Pessimistic Christians are poor advertisements for the gospel
    2. Theme: how sorrow is turned into joy
    3. Jesus presents many contrasts recorded by John
      1. Death/life
      2. Light/darkness
      3. Disciples/world
      4. Temporary joy/permanent joy
      5. Pregnancy/live birth
      6. Sorrow/joy
    4. Horatio Spafford (lawyer)
      1. Family died at sea
      2. Wrote It Is Well with My Soul
      3. "When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
        When sorrows like sea billows roll;
        Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
        It is well, it is well, with my soul."
  2. Confusion Can Challenge Joy (vv. 16-18)
    1. The Disciples' Misunderstanding
      1. Those closest to Jesus still get confused
      2. Representation of the apostles
        1. Art community portrayal: older, wise men
        2. Biblical portrait of apostles:
          1. When Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem fulfilling Zechariah 9:9: "His disciples did not understand these things at first;" (John 12:16)
          2. "'And where I go you know, and the way you know.' Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?'" (John 14:4-5)
          3. After transfiguration: "Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant." (Mark 9:9-10)
          4. "But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him." (Mark 9:32)
          5. "And His disciples came to Him, saying, 'Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.'" (Matthew 13:36)
      3. When we know and understand there is confidence
      4. When expectations are unmet, confusion mitigates joy
        1. Disciples: He loves us, but He's leaving
        2. Disciples: He talks about His kingdom, but says He is going to die
        3. Us: The Bible says God loves me, but circumstances don't look that way to me
    2. The Disciples’ Means of Handling It
      1. Talked it out
        1. Not afraid to discuss
        2. Not too proud to admit confusion
      2. Some are too proud; they never get answers
      3. Some are too busy; they never grow to maturity
      4. "He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever" -- Chinese proverb
  3. Promises Can Anchor Joy (vv. 19-20)
    1. Concerning Their Reunion
    2. Concerning Their Joy
    3. Promises are more important than explanations
      1. When someone faces the death of a loved one, offer promises, not explanations. (Comforting the Bereaved, by Warren and David Wiersbe)
      2. We don't need reasons, we need resources'
    4. A little while
      1. Jesus used this phrase 8 times
      2. Meaning
        1. Immediately
          1. Upon the resurrection
          2. "Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." (John 20:20)
        2. Imminently
          1. When the Holy Spirit was sent in and upon them
          2. "And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 13:52)
        3. Ultimately: Future: eschatologically when all the believers are gathered in His presence
      3. Relative term: Jesus used it differently at different times
        1. One day: "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also." (John 14:19)
        2. One year: "I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me." (John 7:33)
      4. "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2 Peter 3:8)
      5. If all of history were condensed to 50 years: 5 months ago, the printing press invented; 20 days ago, electricity discovered; 19 days ago telephone invented; 18 days ago, the first airplane; 10 days ago the first radio; 5 days ago the first television; 5 minutes ago, the first jet;
    5. We can endure the present trial when we know it will end
  4.  Sorrow Can Lead to Joy (vv. 21-22)
    1. Delivery is Overshadowed by Maternity
    2. Despondency Will be Overshadowed by Ecstasy
    3. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God's curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (Romans 8:18-23 NLT)
    4. What the world does when sorrowful
      1. Drink
      2. Drugs
      3. Entertainment (35% combat depression by watching TV)
    5. What we should do when sorrowful
      1. Replace your thoughts with His truth
        1. "We must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to talk to us... most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself...You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself." (Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones)
        2. "Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," (2 Corinthians 10:5)
      2. Replace yourself with your God
        1. Not focused inwardly or self-absorbed
        2. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21)
      3. Replace your past with His future: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)

Publications Referenced: Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne; Christianity Today, Garrison Keillor, 3 October 1986; It Is Well with My Soul, Horatio Spafford; Comforting the Bereaved, by Warren and David Wiersbe
Figures Referenced: Billy Sunday; Carol Burnett; David Martyn Lloyd Jones
Cross References: Job 1:21; Matthew 13:36; Mark 9:32; Mark 9:9-10; John 7:33; John 12:16; John 14:4-5; John 14:19; John 20:20; Acts 13:52; Romans 8:18-23; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Peter 3:8; Revelation 21:4

Topic: Joy

Keywords: sorrow, joy, promise, confusion, "a little while"

Transcript

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Lord, it amazes us that when we speak to You just so simply and so plainly.  And because we come to You on the merits of what Your son has done on the cross, because of Your love for us that instantly the gap that exist between heaven and earth is closed, and You hear us.  And what's more staggering is that You work and act on behalf of us because we do pray.

When we pray, we are simply saying we need You, we depend on You.  We can't live life without You.  We agree with the Lord Jesus who said, "Without me, you can do nothing." The Lord as Paul said we can do all things to Christ who gives us the ability, the strength.

I pray especially for my brothers and sisters who are struggling this morning, some economically, some relationally, others emotionally.  Some because of physical ailments, You know them all.  You know the thoughts that were swirling in our heads last night when we put them down on the pillow and the first thought we had when we woke up today.

We thank of the words of David who said "Search me and know me because you do know us so well."  Reveal Lord anything about us that needs to change.  Lead us in the way everlasting.

Thank you Lord for the past, at the very start of our week, this day, the Lord's Day, where we can learn and get our bearings for the days ahead.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

If life were a Winnie the Pooh episode, which character would you be?  Would you be like Pooh bear himself, the main character?  Friendly, love to eat honey.  Would you be like Piglet?  That was Pooh's best friend.  The shy one, the timid one who would often say, "Oh, d-d-dear!" to a lot of things in life?

Some would be like Tigger, that bouncy, flexible, always having fun character?  Or would you be like Rabbit?  Now, he was small but he was pushy.  He thought he was the cleverest one in the woods.  Of course, so did Owl.  Maybe you would be like Owl.  Owl thought he was the cleverest because he could spell the word Tuesday.  And he also was boring to a lot of the other characters in the story.  Or could it be that you would be like the mope, pessimistic Eeyore, the donkey?  You know Eeyore.  He always had a cloud following him wherever he went.  Life was always a downer.

In one episode when Pooh Bear said, "Good morning, Eeyore!" Eeyore said, "Good morning Pooh -- if it is a good morning, which I doubt.  That is how he lived his life."

Did you know that there are people like all of those characters in Winnie the Pooh in the church?  There are people who like to eat and have fun.  There are people who are pushy and think they know it all.  And there are people who are always on a downer, always negative, always sorrowful.

I read something that jumped out to me from Christianity Today Magazine, the author said "Some people think it is difficult to be a Christian and to laugh."  I think it's the other way around.  God writes a lot of comedy.  It's just that he has so many bad actors.

Now in this paragraph that we're about to look at, Jesus predicts and experience of sorrow for his disciples as well as joy that will result from the sorrow.  In fact, the joy will eclipse any of the sorrow that they had so that joy would mark their lives.  There are a few things that are more attractive than a Christian who has authentic joy — not fake, not sappy, real joy, nothing more attractive.  It is infectious.

On the other hand, conversely, those who are pessimistic and mope, etcetera, etcetera.  Those are poor advertisements for the Gospel.  There's nothing attractive in that.  A non-believer then say, "I want to be like that."  But genuine joy is hard to beat.

I am generally a joyful person for the most part, but I've had some pretty dark times in life, very low moments where the Lord has had to come in and really do a work of changing and transforming.  An outlook I had.  A behavior I had and transform that period of sorrow into joy.  And that's really the theme of this.  How sorrow is turned into, converted into joy.

Verse 16 we begin.  "A little while, and you will not see Me.  And again a little while, and you will see Me because I go to the Father."  Then some of his disciples said among themselves, "What is this that he says to us, A little while, and you will not see Me.  and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father?"  They said therefore, "What is this that He says, "A little while"?  We do not know what He is saying.  Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, "A little while, and you will not see Me.  and again a little while, and you will see Me"?  Most assuredly I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice and you will be sorrowful.  But, your sorrow will be turned into joy.

A woman when she is in labor has sorrow because her hour has come, but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for the joy that a human being has been born into the world.  Therefore, "You now have sorrow, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy, no one will take it from you."

As I read that paragraph, there are few things that stand out to me in terms of contrast.  Now, throughout the Gospel of John, it's something that I have noticed that there's a lot of contrast that Jesus brings up and John records.  There's the contrast of death versus life.  There's the contrast of light versus darkness.  And here are some more contrasts.

There's a contrast between the disciples and the world.  There's the contrast between something that is temporarily enjoyed or felt and something that is permanently enjoyed and felt.  There's also the contrast of pregnancy versus a live birth.  But the most significant contrast in this paragraph by far is the contrast between sorrow and joy.  In fact, deep sorrow, the kind that would cause somebody to mourn and wail and lament versus the joy that is relational and that is permanent, and that can never go away.

When I read this -- when I read portions of scripture like this, I think of a man's experience, a man who wrote a song you're familiar with.  He was a lawyer who wrote a Christian song so -- please understand, even lawyers can write Christian songs.  And it was a very profound experience that he had and a very profound song that he wrote.  His family died at sea.  He went to from America to England after the event to see a surviving member, but the others had all died in the ocean.  And when he was aboard the ship, going over the exact spot where his family was killed and the captain told them, "This was the spot."  He wrote a song.  "When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll.  Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul."

Can you imagine the depth of sorrow he must have felt especially at that moment going over that spot?  And to come up with those words as if to say, "Yes!"  But there is a transformational joy that is now my experience to say it as well.  It is well with my soul.

As we go through this paragraph again, this time a little more carefully.  There are three stages I want you to see if how sorrow gets transformed into joy.  And I will make three statements about that and these are the three stages.

First of all, confusion can challenge joy.  Confusion can challenge joy.  Now, Jesus makes a statement and we see immediately the disciples are confused and they say so.  Look at the statement then look at their reaction.

Jesus says, "A little while, and you will not see Me.  and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father."  Okay now, for us, that's not difficult to understand, but that's because we have high insight.  We're 2000 years removed.  We look back, we know what happened, we know the predictions, how they we are fulfilled, we get it.  But understand something, they didn't get it.  They are confused.  And they say as much.

Verse 17, "Some of the disciples said among themselves--" and this is probably how they said it to each other.  "What is this that he says to us?  "A little while, and you will not see Me.  and again a little while, and you will see Me'.  and, because I go to the Father?" Can you hear the tone that was probably in there voice?  I do not get this, "Now you see Me, now you don't--" stuff.  They said, therefore, "What is this that He says, "A little while?"  We do not know what He is saying.

Boy, am I glad that that is written down, because this tells me that even disciples get confused from time to time.  Even disciples go, "Huh?  I don't get it.  We do not know what he is saying."

How many times have you read the scriptures and said the same thing?  "Huh?  I don't get it.  I don't know what it says.  I don't understand what it means."  Boy, that happens to me a lot.  This is what I do every week.  I read to the scripture, I'll pause and I'll ask and answer a series of questions.  This is the job of the interpreter, of the Bible teacher.  What does this mean?  When did it happen?  What is the context?  What event was going on that precipitated this?  What is the reaction?  What's the language?  What is the grammar?  I ask all of these questions to determine the meaning.  But what is paramount to understand?  And what is to be underscored is simply this.  These were the closest people to Jesus on earth and they're still confused.  Whew!  I am glad it says that.  I honestly am.

You know, I think that we have been given a disservice by the art community, with all due respect when it comes to the apostles of Christ.  I've had the privilege to look at a lot of museums and see a lot of art work from some of the greatest artists in the world about biblical scenes and many of them about the Apostles with Christ.  And I noticed most of those paintings portrayed the apostles as older, sometimes balding, grey-headed, wise men wearing big halos like these guys had answers when the truth is most of the time, they didn't have a clue of what was happening.  I take comfort in that personally.  I'll give you just a sampling of a biblical portrait of the apostles.

In John chapter 12, you do not have to turn there.  In John Chapter 12, "Jesus gets on a donkey, rides into Jerusalem."  We remember the story.  He's fulfilling Zechariah Chapter 9:9, the Pharisees understood it, the Scribes understood it, the Disciples didn't get it.  We read in that very chapter that the disciples did not understand these things.

Here is another instance, John chapter 14, Jesus says to his disciples, "And where I am going, you know and the way you know."  And Thomas pipes up and says, "We do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Another example is Mark chapter nine.  This is after the transfiguration where Jesus is transfigured with Moses and Elijah on that high mountain.  And Jesus tells his disciples, "Now what you've seen, don't tell anybody until I have risen from the dead."  And the Bible says, "They kept it to themselves, questioning what the "rising from the dead" meant."

Also in Mark chapter 9, "But they did not understand what he meant and they were afraid to ask him about it."  And then when Jesus gave those stories, the parables of the Kingdom, a Sower and the Seed, the Weed and the Tares, the Weeds etcetera, we're told this.  The disciples came to Jesus and said, "Now, explain to us the Parable of the Weeds in the Field?  Like those were cool stories, we have no clue what that means.  We don't get it."

Well here, they're confused again.  These apostles, the closest ones to Jesus, they do not get it.  And frankly, I am glad it is recorded that they were confused because I am from time to time.  Now confusion challenges our joy.  That is the larger point.  You see, as long as you know where things are going in life and you understand there's a plan, you can see the plan, there's a confidence that is built into that.

But when things aren't going the way you think they should be going, when your expectations have not been met, confusion sets in and that will mitigate against your joy.  Confusion challenges our joy.

Usually, joy is the result of something.  Now I know a lot of people like to make a big deal between the difference of happiness and joy.  But I think for our purposes, we can lump it all together.  People generally get happy or joyful because something happens to them.  "I got a raise!  I am really happy." Or "I got engaged!  I am really happy." Or "I got disengaged!  I am really happy."  Whatever the case might be.  That's because life is flowing according to expectation.  If it fits, you are happy.  If it doesn't fit, if it does not work, you're not.

Now imagine what the disciples were thinking.  Okay, He says He loves us, but He says He's leaving.  I am confused.  Or He keeps talking about His kingdom, His kingdom, His kingdom, but He's going to die on the cross?  How does that work?  Can you relate to any of that?  How many times have you said, "Okay, the Bible says God loves me, but with my circumstances, it just doesn't look that way?  I know Jesus talks about abundant life but with what I am going through, I am not experiencing it.  I am confused."

I was up going around the internet looking at different blogs this week, ran across a few psychological blogs and dealing with this whole issue of confusion and state of mind.  And there are all these psych students kind of weighing in.  And one person decided to be very honest in this forum and talked about his confusion.  And then he said, "I am fuzzy.  That's how my mind is much of the time.  There are distracting thoughts that are constantly pulling me all over the place which leaves me feeling frustrated and confused."  But then he said, "There are times of clarity where my mind is sharp and clear and I understand where I am going."  And he says, "I am happy.  I am not happy when I am confused, I am happy when I'm clear in my thoughts."  And many students weighed in on what that meant and no real conclusion to it all.

But that sort of serves the point here.  There's a confusion.  And when that confusion comes, the joy is very hard to get a grip on.  So, what did the disciples do about it?  Look at verse 17.  They said among themselves, "Stop.  Huh!"  What did they do with their confusion?  They talked their confusion out loud.  They weren't afraid to say to each other, "Hey, Peter, John, James, I don't get it.  Do you understand what he said because I do not see it?"  They were not too proud to ask the question and admit their confusion.

Now I have met some people who are too proud to ask questions, thus, they never get answers.  I've met people who are too busy to discuss spiritual matter so they never grow to maturity.  There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "He who ask a question is a fool for five minutes.  But he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever."

These disciples did not get it, they're confused and they talked their confusion out loud to one another.  That's healthy.  That's good.  Confusion can challenge joy.  Here's the second.  Promises can anchor joy.  Now I want you to watch this.  To me it is quite stunning actually.  Verse 19, Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me.  and again, a little while, and you will see Me."  Most assuredly -- anytime you read that or if you have the Old King Jimmy verily, verily -- it's a profound statement of importance.  What I'm about to say boys, is important.  Now he makes a promise.  "Most assuredly I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.  and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy."

What is stunning to me is that Jesus does not explain in detail what he had just said that they don't understand.  He didn't say, "Okay.  Here's what I meant by "A little while and a little while."

"So here's the deal.  Here's the eschatē."  He didn't do that.  No real explanation.  Instead, he gives them a promise.  In fact, the first part of the promise is not very good.  The second part of the promise is great but the first part is, Okay.  I know you are sorrowful now and you are confused.  It is going to get a lot worse.  You're going to get so sorrowful that you're going to want to weep and lament while the world rejoices.  But, here's the second part.  "Your sorrow will be transformed, changed, converted, turned into joy."

I've discovered something throughout the few years I've been alive.  Promises are more important than explanations.  We Americans want everything explained to us.  We're not happy until it is explained.  We want an explanation.  "Pastor, explain to me why God would allow this."  "Okay.  Well, duh, duh--" "That is not good enough.  I want a real explanation."

One of the best books I ever read by Warren Wiersbe and his son David about how to minister the people with broken hearts, bereaved hearts, they've lost children or parents or spouses cautions the minister in this book not to try to offer long explanations of why God would allow this to happen.  "At least do not do that." he says at first.  You can do it later on when they're ready for it.  But at first, in a crisis, give them a promise.  Don't give them an explanation.

Wiersbe writes, "Even if the minister can give a rational explanation for this tragedy, explanations do not heal a broken heart.  People live on promises, not on explanations.  We don't need reasons, rather we need resources."  So here's Jesus and He gives them a promise of future joy.  It's bad now boys, it is going to get worse but its going to get really good after that. Now He gives them a promise of future joy and it all hinges on a little phrase.  And what is that little phrase that is repeated eight times in this one paragraph?  It is the phrase "A little while."  He keeps using that and they keep using that and then Jesus used it eight times, the phrase "A little while."  You're going to be happy in a little while.  It is going to get really bad but in a little while it is going to get really good.  So what does that mean?  When is a little while going to happen?

Well, I'm glad you asked.  Indulge me.  Let me explain that there are three options.  You can pick which ones you think suit you the best or suit the text and the context the best.  I'll tell you what I think.

Number one that this was going to be fulfilled immediately Jesus in a few hours would be arrested in the garden of Gethsemane.  They would become sorrowful.  The next day Jesus would die on the cross.  They would be extremely, lamentably sorrowful.  But three days later, He's going to rise from the dead.  And when they see Him alive from the dead, they're going from sorrow to joy in an instant.  It could mean that it's going to be fulfilled rather immediately.

That is exactly what happened.  When Jesus appeared to them in the upper room, the Bible says in John 20, "As He spoke, He held out his hands for them to see and He showed them aside.  They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord."  So, it did happen immediately.

Number two, here's another option.  Many believed that Jesus wasn't meaning that this would be fulfilled immediately but rather imminently, soon but not immediately, eventually but not immediately.  And this is how it's interpreted.

Jesus would die, rise from the dead.  He'd be with them on earth for 40 more days, the Bible tells us.  Then he would leave, right?  He descended into heaven.  They were standing on the Mount of Olives watching Him go -- all the way up in to heaven and they would not see Him anymore in the flesh after that.

But, though they were bummed out that Jesus left them, their joy would be rekindled when as Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would be sent to them, to be in them and upon them.  And as they would minister around the world and the power of the Holy Spirit, that would bring them joy which also happened.

In Acts 13, "The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."  So could it be that Jesus meant it would be fulfilled immediately?  Could it be that He meant it would be fulfilled imminently?  Here's another possibility, that this will be fulfilled ultimately or eventually, futuristically or if you want another term "Eschatologically".

Not immediately, not imminently, but eventually.  Well, that also is true.  In the end, when all believers are gathered and we see the Lord, there will be a sense of joy that is amazing, we'll be absent from the body, we'll be present with the Lord.  So if that is the case, then "A little while" means our lifetime.  And in fact, even the entire church age.  I know what you're thinking.  "That didn't sound like a little while to me.  That sounds like a long hall, not a little while."

However, consider the kind of joy Jesus says we're going to have would be permanent.  Look at Verse 22, at the very end.  "Your heart will rejoice."  Now, watch.  "Your joy, no one will take from you."  Now, I would venture to say that that promise couldn't be fulfilled with the first two options but it could be with the third.  I mean Jesus says has risen from dead, and He's alive right now.  But I still know many Christians who know that He's alive and live very sad in sullen lives.  Or if it means the Holy Spirit, I know many believers.  they all have the Holy Spirit living within them.  Some are experiencing the power from time to time of the Holy Spirit but still lack a sense of joy.  But the third is definitely true.  When you're in heaven with the Lord and He wipes away every tear, and there is no more sorrow, you will have a joy that will be permanent and everlasting and no one can take it from you.

Also consider this, the term that little phrase, that recurrent eight time phrase, "A little while", that's a relative term.  Would you agree?  And let me explain.  I discovered that that phrase appears four different times in the New Testament Gospels.  Jesus said the phrase four times.  He may have said it more, but it's recorded four times that He used the phrase "A little while".  Now, listen to this, in one instance, in the couple of chapters before John 14, Jesus uses that phrase.  Let me read it to you.

John 14:19, "A little while and the world will see Me no more."  Now that meant that night.  He was on his way to be arrested.  He would be crucified.  "A little while" meant like a day.  But in John Chapter 7 which happened a year before this event, Jesus says this, "I shall be with you a little while longer and then I will go to Him who sent me."  So do you see, in one instance, A little while means one day.  And another instance, "A little while" means a year?

Now, we start to get the perspective of Jesus.  Indeed the perspective of God that He sees time differently than we do because I would say, "Yeah, in a little while."  I would think like five minutes.  That's a little while.  A year, that's not a little while especially if you're like two years old.  That's half a lifetime.  But we understand that to God, time is completely different because He's outside the time-space continuum, he's an eternity.

In fact, what did Peter say?  1Peter 3:8, "A thousand years with the Lord is like one day."  And one day is like a thousand years.  You know, we get all jazzed.  "There's a new iPod out man, this is like so cool."  And God must go, yawn.  I mean everything is like so new and so cool and so innovative.  And the latest is this and you know, we live in this period of history but if you were to just begin to see it from God's perspective -- and this might help.  Somebody tried to take world history and condensed it into a 50-year span of time, 50 years all of history.  This is his perspective.

Five months ago, the printing press was invented.  20 days ago, Ben Franklin discovered electricity, 19 days ago, the telephone arrived on the scene, 18 days ago, two high school dropouts invented the airplane.  10 days ago, the radio was first invented, five days ago, the TV was invented, and five minutes ago, the first jet airplane took off.

To God, in eternity, a millennium is a little while.  I heard about a man who prayed something like this, "God, it says here in your book that a thousand years is like one day to You.  And I also read here in your book that you own a cattle on a thousand hills, so like a billion dollars is like one dollar to you.  So God, could I just have a dime?"  And the Lord spoke to Him out of heaven, "Yes, my son.  Wait just a minute."

Perspective changes things.  From eternity's perspective, a lifetime is a little while.  Now, here's the principle.  We can endure the present trial when we know that it's going to end.  And that's the comfort Jesus gives to His disciples.  You guys are sorrowful, you're about to enter a dark night of your soul.  It's not always going to stay this way.  You're going to be lifted from sorrow, to joy in a little while.

Let's look at the third and then we'll close.  Not only does confusion challenge joy, not only do promises anchor joy, but sorrow can lead to joy.  I know we want to avoid sorrow, but it can lead to joy.  Verse 21, "A woman, when she is in labor has sorrow because her hour has come, but as soon as she has given birth tot the child, she longer remembers the anguish for joy that a human being has been born into the world."  Therefore, you now have sorrow.  But I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

That's a little illustration, right?  That's a little parable of child birth.  And the parable is based on the principle.  And the principle is found in Verse 20.  It says, "Your sorrow will be turned into joy."  And then Jesus says, "It's like this.  And everybody would be able to relate to it."  It's like a woman having a baby.  Now, the point is simple in the parable.  Having a baby really hurts a lot.  There's pain and there's anguish, and there's sorrow.  And men kind of don't get that.  So Carol Burnett tried to help us.  She said, "Men, if you wanted to try to relate, it's like taking your bottom lip and trying to pull it back on and stretch it over your head and you get an idea of what pregnancy and having a baby is like."  I tried that once.  It wasn't good.

It hurts a lot.  I don't know if you've gone through the Lamaze classes like I have.  When we were having Nathan, that was the big buzz, everybody went through that.  The idea – Lisa once told me, this is the perception I had is that, you know, it's just so natural and it's holistic and it's so good.  You can just teach her to breath right.  It's just going to be wonderful.  It didn't work.  With all due respect if you've into Lamaze, for us, huh-huh honey.  And I'm the cheerleader and then I get bopped in the head by my wife in the middle of it, shut up!  This really hurts!

I read this verse differently now.  Here's the point.  I always want to get back to the point.  The point is this.  despondency will be overshadowed by ecstasy just like maternity gets overshadowed by delivery.  That baby is born and as that baby takes form and grows, all of that pain, all of that suffering, all of that anguish, gets pushed back.  She doesn't even remember it.  What she sees in front of her is the pay off.

Now, does this refer to the resurrection, does this refer to the coming Holy Spirit, does this refer referred to the Second Advent, because all three are true, right?  When Jesus rose from the dead, they were reunited.  When the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ, He's called came upon them, they were further united.  And one day in glory, will be ultimately united.

Now, I find a verse that I think ties a bow in this better than any verse and scriptures, that's of Romans Chapter 8.  Let me read it to you, "All of creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  And even we, Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us also grown.  We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full right as children including the new bodies He's promised us."  And so, whatever you're in right now, the Lord wants to lift up your eyes and say, "In a little while, things will be different."

Here's a question as we close, "What are you doing when you're sorrowful?"  I mean really just think about what you do typically when bad news gets delivered to you?  Because I have to tell you, the world copes with sorrow in a number of ways.  Typically, they drink it through or they take drugs to get them selves through or they try to entertain their way through it just soak in entertainment.  You know I was flabbergast when I read this week that 35% of Americans report their method for combating depression is to watch television.  That's like saying, "I want to get my disease cured by getting re-infected.

So what do you do?  What should you do when you're sorrowful?  I'll give you three bullet points to walk home with.  Number one, replace your thoughts with His truth.  And if ever thoughts go through your mind and try to derail you in the track.  You know what that's like.  Some of those voices are strong.  The disciples' voice their thoughts, Jesus try to replace with His truth.  He's a promise.  There are 7487 promises in the Bible that God may demand, enough to get you through a lifetime.

Dr. D Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a medical doctor who went in to the ministry and he writes about depression.  This is what he says, "We must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to talk to us.  Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself.  You have to take yourself in hand, address yourself, preach to yourself, and question yourself."  He was basing that on taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and replacing your thoughts with God's truth.

So that's number one, replace your thoughts with God's truth.  Number two, replace yourself with your God.  When we are sorrowing, we are self-absorbed.  All of the energy we expend during a time of sorrow is typically focused inward.  Why am I feeling this way?  How do I get out of this?  We are self-absorbed and self-consumed.  And the cure is to turn from inward to outward, replace yourself with your God.  What did Job do when he heard his family was all killed, all of his children, and his property?  It says, he fell down and he worshipped.  He said, "Naked I've come in to this world, naked I'm going to leave.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."  He replaced himself with his God.

Third and finally, replace your past with His future.  Don't live in the past.  "Yeah, but I feel --", it's over.  You can't fix it.  Let it go.  Don't live in the past.  Paul said, "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead."  What lies ahead?  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death nor sorrow nor crying.  The former things had passed away.  "When's that going to happen?"  A little while.

In the scope of eternity, a little while.  It might happen this week.  And I don't mean by that, you might die and go to heaven this week.  I mean that God may deliver you this week from just that thinking, that problem into a whole new arena.  But either way, a little while.

The worst thing I can think of in life from my perspective, the worst possible experience is to grow old as a non-believer.  As non-believer, as you grow older, just this is what happens, you will go from sorrow to sorrow to sorrow, to ultimate and eternal sorrow.  As a believer, whatever sorrow will be turned into joy.  And you can even have it now as you frame it in the right perspective.  That's enough to make any Eeyore get turned into a Tigger.

          Heavenly Father, we know what lies ahead.  We know what promise you have made, many of which we have already experienced.  And therefore, we have a solid and confident joy.  It's not fake.  It's authentic.  Lord, I pray that You would save us from a false sappy kind of put on joy.  I just fall so flat, but to have a transparent and authentic, and that's infectious.  That's attractive.  That's an advertisement for the Gospel.  But thank you for these promises and help us Lord to replace our thoughts with your truth.  Our self with You, our past with the future You have promised for us 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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8/7/2011
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The Holy Hound of Heaven
John 16:5-11
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Having understood Who the Holy Spirit is (Person not just power; Deity not just dignitary) we now find out what He does in the world of unbelieving people. Since the greatest gift God ever gave to the world was His only Son (John 3:16) it stands to reason that the greatest sin one can commit is to reject the Son (John 16:9). How does the Holy Spirit both sentence the world as prosecutor and lead people away from judgment? And what role do we play in all of this?
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8/21/2011
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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.