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Service Archives > 43 John - Believe:879 - 2009 > How to Send Knee-Mail

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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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8/21/2011
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How to Send Knee-Mail
John 16:23-28
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
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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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. Be Confident (vv. 23-24)

    1. Confident in the Activity of Prayer

    2. Confident in the Approach of Prayer

  2. Be Intelligent (vv. 25-26)

  3. Be Compliant

    1. In Your Relationship with God (vv. 27-28)

    2. In the Name of Jesus (vv. 23, 24, 26)

  4. Be Expectant (vv. 23-24)

    1. There Will be Answers

    2. There Will be Joy

Improve Your Connection:

  1. Think before you pray. Whom are you addressing? What do you really want to say?

  2. Pray while taking a walk. You may even want to try singing your prayer (how about in the shower?)

  3. How much do you experience joy as a part of your prayer life?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. Jerusalem's Western Wall (wailing wall) (כותל; Kotel)
      1. People write prayers, stuff papers in the cracks
      2. Email or tweet and others place prayers for you
      3. iPhone app: Send a Prayer: "The only iPhone app that gets you directly in touch with God"
    2. Prayer: honest, real, heartfelt communication between earth (our lives) and heaven
    3. Average person spends 49 minutes a day managing email compared to 3-4 minutes in prayer
    4. Typical reaction when prayer is mentioned
      1. Guilt
      2. Fear (fear of praying in public)
      3. Bored:
        1. Haven't seen many results
        2. Not fun
        3. Use commonly used phrases; rerun rather than spontaneous expression
        4. Solution: pray with new Christians
          1. Haven't learned Christianese
          2. No baggage
        5. "I dare you to pray without using words like 'bless' or 'lead, guide, and direct' or 'help so-and-so' or 'Thy will' or 'each and every' or any number of those institutionalized galvanized terms. I dare you!"—Charles Swindoll
    5. Jesus repeats this message twice in the same night: knows human nature
      1. We require frequent reminders
      2. Everything was about to change for the disciples
        1. Jesus would not be with them
        2. They needed a new dynamic relationship with the Father in heaven
  2. Be Confident (vv. 23-24)
    1. Confident in the Activity of Prayer
      1. Pray to God as a child of God
      2. Invited to ask
        1. 5 times "ask" is repeated in this passage
        2. Ask: to inquire about something; to request something from a superior
      3. "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance but laying hold of God's willingness." —George Müeller
    2. Confident in the Approach of Prayer
      1. Ask the Father directly
        1. Not thru Jesus, but in His name
        2. Jewish tradition: God would listen more to pious teachers or rabbis than to others
      2. "Ask me nothing": 
        1. Jesus would no longer be physically with them
        2. They could go directly to the Father as they had gone to Jesus
      3. Access
        1. In the ancient world, access of mankind to deity was unheard of
        2. Greeks: viewed gods as jealous, hostile, or indifferent toward man (i.e., Prometheus)
        3. Judaism: access through priests; separated by walls, courtyard
        4. Jesus tore the veil, gave access to come
        5. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
        6. "Prayer pulls the rope below, and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly; others give but an occasional pluck at the rope; but he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might."—C. H. Spurgeon
  3. Be Intelligent (vv. 25-26)
    1. Engage the mind
    2. Use the wisdom God gave you
    3. Jesus knew his disciples didn't understand all He was talking about
      1. Anticipates the day they will understand
      2. Disciples understand more after the resurrection when they are filled with the Holy Spirit
    4. Prayer must never become a mindless activity
      1. We don't write meaningless letters or hold incoherent conversations
      2. "When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don't be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!" (Matthew 6:7-8 NLT)
    5. At the time, prayer was formalized
      1. Memorized
      2. Read
      3. Shema: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ‎;
      4. Prescribed prayers
      5. Set times for prayer (9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm)
      6. Prescribed places to pray (synagogue, temple)
    6. Believed the longer, the more flowery, the better (trying to impress one another)
    7. Lord's prayer is a model (See Matthew 6:9-13)
  4. Be Compliant:
    1. In Your Relationship with God (vv. 27-28)
      1. Love Jesus
      2. Believe He is Who He says He is
        1. Incarnation
        2. Humiliation
        3. Resurrection
        4. Ascension
      3. Believers: "Lord, dismiss us now with your peace, except for those who don't know you; keep them miserable until they come to know the Prince of Peace."—Donald Grey Barnhouse
    2. In the Name of Jesus (vv. 23, 24, 26)
      1. Based on His Merit
      2. According to His objective
        1. What Jesus Himself would want
        2. "Jesus gave his followers authority to draw checks on the power bank of heaven. Clearly, however, the checks may only be drawn when the purpose of the check conforms with heavenly policy. It is only when I am acting as Christ's agent that I may pray 'in his name.'"­ John White
  5. Be Expectant (vv. 23-24)
    1. There Will be Answers
      1. We know God will answer
      2. Prayer for Peter's release from jail (See Acts 12)
    2. There Will be Joy
      1. When God answers, we know He is at work
      2. We have a higher level of life, connected directly to God
  6. Application:
    1. "You can do more than pray, after you have prayed. But, you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed."—John Bunyan
    2. Prayer is not a last resort

 

Improve Your Connection:

    1. Think before you pray. Whom are you addressing? What do you really want to say?
    2. Pray while taking a walk. You may even want to try singing your prayer (how about in the shower?).
    3. How much do you experience joy as a part of your prayer life?

Hebrew Terms: כותל; Kotel--western wall; Shema: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ‎;
Publications referenced: "The Fight: A Practical Handbook for Christian Living," by John White
Figures referenced: Charles Swindoll; George Müeller; C.H. Spurgeon; Donald Grey Barnhouse; Tony Evans; John Bunyan
Cross References: Matthew 6:7-8; Matthew 6:9-13; Acts 12; Hebrews 4:16

Transcript

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Let's turn in our Bibles this morning to John chapter 16, ready to pray?  Let's get it done, let's pray.  Lord thank you that we have the ability to talk to You so freely like this that there's an instant connection with heaven from earth into Your ears from our mouth.  It staggers us that the God of Eternity will take the time to listen but You do, You can, You love it.  Lord with the cool evenings of laid and I've been thinking of what it was in the very beginning in the garden when God walked with His creation in the cool of the day.  Thank you for walking with us everyday this week and bringing us to this point as we inaugurate and celebrate another week on this the Lord's day, we commit our week, our lives, our experiences, our hopes, our dreams, our failures it's committed to You Lord once again.  They're all safe in Your hands.  We anticipate Your spirit would speak to us and as an act of our worship.  We sit and we listen and we give You Your Spirit through the word of God, the focus of our attention in Jesus name, Amen.

If you ever make it to Jerusalem, you will notice something that is practiced there to centuries old tradition that is to go down to what's been called the Wailing Wall.  It's really the Western Wall of the temple enclosure where people go and they write little prayers on pieces of paper and they stuff them the cracks of the Western Wall and so you'll see an entire wall with as far as the person can reach little pieces of paper that are stuck in the cracks.

That practice has a new twist to it.  You can now write on your computer your prayer, e-mail it to Jerusalem and there's an outfit who will print it out and put it on the wall for you.  You can even twit your prayers.  Get this, you can use Twitter, has to be 140 characters or less and they'll also print it out and put it on the wall.  I even found an iPhone app that will put you in touch directly with Jerusalem, it's called Send a Prayer or the Kotel which is the wall in Hebrew and they will put that prayer on the wall.  I loaded it on my iPhone.  I could have brought it to show you.  But, here's the marketing tag line, it says "The only iPhone app that puts you directly in touch with God."  Hard to beat that as a tag line, right?

Well, we really don't need to e-mail our prayers to Jerusalem.  We don't nee to twit them across the world.  We don t even need to write them down and stuff them in any wall, anywhere.  What we do need is honest, real, heart-felt communication between earth, our lives and heaven.  We need that.  We need not as much e-mail as we need "ne-mail"(ph).  That's what the name it is messages is called "How to send ne-mail?"  I did a little bit about research this week about e-mail.  Guess how many e-mails were sent on an average day on earth?  How many e-mails do you think go out?  To 294 billion e-mails per day are generated.  That's 2.8 million per second.  That's 90 trillion per year.  The Average American will spend 49 minutes per day managing his or her e-mail.

I just want you think about that statistic.  The Average American will spend 49 minutes per day managing his or her e-mail.  Do you think the Average American Christian spends 49 minutes per day managing his or her ne-mail?  Do we pray that much everyday?  No, here's the stats sadly, the Average American will spend three maybe four minutes per day in prayer.  That's on a good day by the way.

Doing 15 to 30 minutes a week compared to 49 minutes a day with e-mail.  No, I'm not saying that so you'll feel really guilty.  I'm not saying that so you'd start spouting a lot of stuff into the ears of God but I am saying that my aim is that we would see what Jesus says about it and we would be raised to a whole new level of life as He describes it.

Let's go to John chapter 16 and let's begin in verse 23.  It's been an ongoing message that our Lord has been giving to His disciples on this final night before His arrest.  Verse 23 Jesus speaks, "And in that day you will ask me nothing.  Most assuredly I say to you whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you.  Until now, you have asked nothing in my name.  Ask and you will receive that your joy maybe full."  These names I have spoken to you in figurative language but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 

In that day, you will ask in my name and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and believe that I came forth from God.  I came forth from the Father and have come into the world.  Again, I leave the world and go to the Father. 

Whenever you mention prayer, there are some typical reactions that people have.  Number one is guilt.  I mentioned that.  People feel guilty that they don't pray more than they pray.  Let's just face that.  We all wish we have a more dynamic prayer line.  A second reaction people have is fear, oblivion fear.  And that's typically the fear of having to pray especially in public with somebody else listening to me because the fear is my prayer might not sound as cool as their prayer. 

There's another response.  However, when you mentioned prayer, some people automatically think of the word boring and perhaps that's because they just really haven't seen much results in terms of prayer in their lives or the whole activity doesn't sound very fun to them so they think boring.  It's my contention that prayer is not boring but that we're boring in prayer that in prayer we often just sort of slide into commonly used phrases that we use over and over again so that our prayers honestly sound like rerun rather than a spontaneous expression in the ears of the Lord. 

I don't know if you've ever listened to a brand new Christian prayer but if you haven't go find and try that.  It'll spice up your prayer life.  I will never forget being in New York at a retreat I was asked to speak at and I was speaking to a young man.  He was a meddle worker, iron worker from Manhattan, thick accent, thick New York accent.  He worked on a high rise buildings as a welder and so we talked and I said let's pray.  I prayed and I said what are you praying?  And he goes, "I don't know how to pray."  I go, "Just try, just talk to God.  Go ahead."  Here is his prayer.  "Yo, God I really need Your help here Lord."  And it sort of went on like that and I thought "Yeah.".  Now, that was cool.  It was so refreshing because this guy, like a lot of new believers hasn't learned how to do it yet.  They don't know Christianese(ph) yet.  They haven't had all the baggage that a lot of us have over the years. 

One author writes this, "I dare you to pray without using words like bless or lead, guide and direct or help so and so or thy will or each and every or any number of those institutionalized galvanized terms.  I dare you."  In this paragraph, John chapter 16, Jesus speaks about talking to the Father, asking the Father, praying to God.  Now, He has already done that in chapter 14.  It's very similar, it's the same night, it's the same message.  Why does He repeat Himself a little bit?  It's a little bit more unfolding and a little bit more dynamic and there are more details.  But, why does Jesus do a twice in the same night?  I think it's because He knows human nature.

Number one, we need frequent reminders of the stuff and number two, every thing's about to change for His disciples, everything.  They're going to wake up the next day and Jesus will not be with them again.  He has been arrested.  They're going to need a new relationship, a ne dynamic with their Father in heaven.

So, let me give you, based on this paragraph four dynamics of sending effective ne-mail.  Number one, be confident.  Be confident when you pray to God as a child of God you can be confident.  There's a word that is repeated five times in our text.  It's the word "ask".  Here's Jesus inviting His disciples five times to ask.  The word "ask" means to inquire about something or to request something from a superior.

No, that's where we spend the book of our prayer life, our prayer experience, our three to four minutes a day.  I would venture to say that we spent the majority of it asking God for stuff.  And what's beautiful to me is Jesus doesn't rebuke His disciples.  He didn't say, "You guys are always asking for stuff.  You're so selfish."  Now, He says, "Come on men, ask.  Do this."

George Miller used to say, "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance but rather laying a hold of God's willingness.  Never think that prayer is like forcing your way into God's presence and prying something from His hand.  He's the one who made the first call and says, "Come, ask."

Further, notice He says, "Ask the Father."  You disciples don't have to go through Me anymore, you go directly to the Father in my name.  Now, let me give you some background that I think will be helpful.  There was Jewish tradition long ago where they believe that a pious teacher or rabbi like Jesus was could ask God for things and he would get them more than anybody else.  That God would listen to that person more than He would listen to anybody else.  But, what Jesus is teaching them is they have direct access. 

He's saying, "Guys, I don't want you to picture God the Father up in heaven with His arms folded saying, "I'm busy.  I'm listening to Billy Graham, okay?  I don't have time for this."  He's really important people for Me to listen to.  Go through my secretary if you want an audience with Me."  Rather you have direct access.  Be confident. 

In verse 23, He says, "And in that day, you will ask me nothing."  What does He mean by that?  That's pretty simple.  All these years, you've been asking me everything.  I've been with you everyday.  You'd wake up in the morning, you'd asked Me a question.  Go to bed at night, you'd asked Me question.  That's going to change.  I'm leaving.  I'm assenting to the Father.  I won't be physically with you any longer.  In that day, you won't ask Me for anything.  You go directly to the Father just as you have asked from Me and come to Me you now can go directly to your Father.  You have access. 

I want you to think about that for just a moment, "access" because in the ancient world, accessibility of mankind to deity was unheard of.  Let's go to the secular round for a moment.  The Greeks believe in many gods and goddesses.  As you know, they have a belief system where there were the gods in a realm and then mankind on the earth.  It was their beliefs system that the gods were either jealous of men, hostile toward men or indifferent of men all together.  There's even an old story in Greek mythology that has a god named Prometheus taking pity on mankind and giving them the gift of fire because he was generous and when Zeus found out that Prometheus had dared to stoop to the level of helping mankind, Zeus commanded that Prometheus be taken to a rock in Adriatic Sea bound by chains and commanded vultures to tear out his liver. 

So, the idea in the mind of the Greeks that the gods have any kind of communication with man at all was unheard of.  Even in Judaism, there was an access.  You have to go through a priest.  You could run into the temple that was avail that separated the Holy of Holies were God hung out and the rest of the temple.

There were walls and court yards.  In fact, there was a wall in the temple that said, "Death to any gentile passes this point."  So, when Jesus died on the cross and tore the veil of the temple in a fact saying, "You now have access.  You can come as you are."  What happened on the cross in the tearing of the veil is exactly what Jesus is saying in His words, "Come directly to God."  Go directly to the Father. 

I grew up with the belief system.  Unfortunately, the thought that God was rather harsh, bent on justice and not to compassionate so that if you wanted to ask God for something, you really couldn't go directly to God.  You had to go through some other saint or Mary, His mother.  After all, who would refuse His own mother?  That's what was told me. 

That's the very opposite of what were told here.  In fact the writer of Hebrews os understood this concept.  This is what he said, "Therefore, let us come boldly before His thrown of grace that we may receive grace to help in time of need."  He didn't say come timidly or come shyly or come fearfully but come boldly.  Some people think though, "Well, God is so busy.  I don't want to bother Him.  He's listening to important people like Billy Graham and the Pope or the pastor. 

I love how Charles Haddon Spurgeon used to talk about prayer as being a bell.  Remember those old bell towers?  The bell up top and the rope is down below and the people would ring the time or announce the church was about to start, Spurgeon said this, "Prayer pulls the rope down below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God."

Some stirred the bell for they pray so languidly.  You've made people like that, "Oh, God we come before You…" others give only in occasional jerk on the rope.  You know that type.  Only in an emergency, "God help."  He continues, but He who communicates with heaven as the man who grasps the rope and boldly pulls continuously with all of his might.  Get the picture?

So, that's the first dynamic, be confident.  We give you the second dynamic, be intelligent.  Engage the mind.  use the wisdom that God gives you.  Look at verse 25, "These things I've spoken to you in figurative language but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language that I will tell you plainly about the Father."  Let's stop right there.  Do you remember last week study?  It's all in one chapter but we're breaking it up.  So, I just want to remind you, Jesus says, "You see Me now, late on you won't see Me and then you'll see Me again because I go to the Father and I go -- we don't get what He just said.  What do you mean now you see Me, now you don't?  You'll be sad then you'll be happy?  We have no idea what you're saying.  Jesus addresses that.  I'm speaking to you in figurative language.  The time is coming.  That's not going to happen. 

Go to the next verse, verse 26, "In that day, you will ask in my name and I do not say that I shall pray the Father for you for the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and I believe that I came forth from God." 

Now, Jesus knew that these disciples didn't understand everything He was talking about.  They were wondering about it.  But, He anticipates the day when they will understand everything He's talking about and He says, "In that day, you will ask in my name and I do not say that I shall pray the Father for you.  You can go directly." 

In that day, you'll understand.  You don't understand now, in that day you'll understand.  He anticipates the day when they'll get ti.  Do you realize that the disciples would understand more than after the resurrection of Christ when they're filled with the Spirit than they did even while He was physically in their presence?  And so, He anticipates that they will pray intelligently on that day.  They'll get it.  Here's the principle, prayer must never become a mindless activity.  We should always pray intelligently.  Some people think, "Well I'll just repeat the phrase over and over, glory, glory, glory, glory -- hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah."  No pray intelligently.  You wouldn't sit down and write a letter without some kind of cohesion to it, you wouldn't write a meaningless letter, you wouldn't talk to somebody to on the phone and just babble everything you just see in your – "I, I'm looking at the window now, grass is green, trees -- birds just flew by, cool, oh and here's a cup of coffee."  You wouldn't talk like that.  You would think through it would be meaningful conversation.  Don't pray in autopilot.  where your mind is on hold and your mouth is on automatic and it's like turning on he hose and letting it run.

This is what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount, "When you pray do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them for your father knows what you need before you ask then."  Now why did he say that?  He said that because religion at his time and at that time, it was Judaism, had degenerated to such a low level in their prayer lives -- well let me describe it to you.  At that time prayer was pretty formalized.  There was no spontaneous expression.  Prayers were either memorized or read.  And sort of like, "Now I lay me down to sleep on steroids."  There was the Shema, hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, the Jewish declaration of faith other than prayer.  But so many would pray that just droning the words without real meaning and others like it.  It became formalized.

Also, there were prescribed prayers.  Now get this, prayers had been written and sometimes memorized for just about every occasion.  When you light a fire you say a special prayer, if there's' lightning outside -- like there was it about, I don't know 2 in the morning or last night if you were awake -- you'd say a special prayer.  When it rains you say a special prayer.  If you see the ocean you see a special prayer usually hallelujah.  If you see a lake or a river you say a special prayer.  If you enter a city or leave you leave a city, there were prescribed prayers for all of those events.  Sound good, sound like you're trying to bring all of life under the preview of prayer.  But again it'd become something you just spout off, prescribed prayers.

Also at that time, there were set times of the day that you should pray.  9 in the morning, 12 noon, 3 in the afternoon and prescribe places.  Oh yeah, you can pray anywhere but the best place to pray is the synagogue and the best place to pray is the temple.  Even still when you go to Israel today the tour guides tongue and cheek though somewhat meaning at -- they'll tell you this, "When you're in Jerusalem make sure you pry, go down to the Western Wall and pray.  Because though you can pray anywhere in the world and God would hear it, Here it's a local call."  They like to say that -- "It's a local call".  You know because this is the place God decided to hang out so here it's a local call.  Let me tell you something, since Jesus died and rose from the dead and the Holy Spirit is living within you wherever you pray, it's a local call.  But they had these prescribed times and places.

Also, it was believed that when you pray -- the more flowery the prayer and the longer the prayer the better.  So they would try to impress each other in their public expressions adding adjective after adjective before the name of God.  One recorded prayer I found lists 16 adjectives before God is even mentioned.  So something like, "oh, wonderful gracious, merciful, sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent, loving and Lord.  There was a preacher who used to pray like that, he'd pray long, flowery prayers using words that most people never really understood and this happened week after week after week and there was one wee Scottish lady in that church who was in the choir who got so tired of this.  And if you know the Scots, they just like to be upfront and speak their minds so this Pastor begins to pray this long prayer and she grabs he's rope tugs at it and says, "And just call Him Father and ask him for something."  I would say Amen to that prayer if she prayed it.  Just ask him for something.  Jesus says that here, ask.  Think about it.

Pray intelligently.  Prayers should be as natural as talking to someone.  Jesus gave us the motto -- when you pray say, "Our Father who art in heaven, holy is Your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done."  He have us the pattern of prayer that was done in a natural manner.  Be confident, be intelligent and here's the third, be compliant.  Be compliant, when you talk to God -- talk to God in God's way.  Would you agree with this?  -- That the prayer that God accepts is the prayer that God directs.  If Jesus says, "Boys, here's how to do it," and for them to go, "No, I don't really want to do it that way, I got my own way."  No, be compliant.  Let me explain that, I want to unpack that though.  If you go with me to verse 27 you'll get a hint.  He says, "For the Father himself loves you because you have loved me," notice that "and have believed that I came forth from God."  Notice that.  He is assuming that those who talked to God will be in right relationship with God and that right relationship means they loved Jesus and they believed He is who He said He is.

Further more in the next verse he explains, "I came forth from the father, I've come into the world again I leave the world and go to the Father."  Boy there's a lot in that verse.  First of all he said, "I came forth from the Father."  It means you believe in his incarnation that He came from heaven to the earth.  the virgin birth at Bethlehem.  He wasn't just born.  he came forth from the Father.  It implies that when you pray you believed that that he was incarnate as the son of God.  Notice also, and have come into the world.  it implies you believe in his humiliation.

He came among sinful men and women and suffered the death of the cross.  And then finally he says, "I leave the world and go to the Father."  That implies you believe his resurrection.  His ascension into heaven and His eventual exaltation so these disciples believed all of that about Jesus and they'll really believe it later on and that's the basis of their approach, so let me boil it down.  The first real condition for prayer and this precedes all the others.  This is the first real condition.  is that you are a believer.  You're a child of God.  Yeah, anybody can spout of words to God but I can talk a wall and I won't get any results.  A lot of people say, "I pray."  But the first prerequisite, since prayer is a family privilege, is that they are a child of God.  I find it interesting that Donald Grey Barnhouse -- who used to pass through the 10th Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia -- would often close the church services by praying, "Lord dismiss us with your peace except for those who don't know you."  And then he would pause and he would say, "Keep them miserable until they know the Prince of Peace."  Can you imagine?  That's got to be one of the coolest prayers ever especially for a pastor.  Keep them miserable until they come to know the Prince of Peace.

That's the first prerequisite--you are compliant.  you come to Him believing about His son -- not only compliant in your relationship but compliant in your approach.  I'm only going to touch on the next little five here because we dealt with it in chapter 14.  But three times in this section Jesus talks about approaching the Father in My name.  He says, Him speaking, "In My name," "Approach the Father in My name" "Ask in My name," "Do this in My name."  And that's why pray and we say at the end of our prayers, "We're paying this in Jesus name."  Please don't see that as a magical thing that tack at the end of your prayer.  "Oh yeah, I almost forgot -- in Jesus name." -- That's where the magic happens, that's the abracadabra phrase, all I got to do is tack that on.  Or some people think it mans I'm done now.  "I pray this in Jesus name over and out I'm hanging up now."  It's not what it means at all.  neither of those.  To pray in Jesus name simply means, "I pray based on his merit".  "What He has done", "I'm coming to you Father on the merit, the work, in the name of Jesus Christ who paid for my sins on the cross."  That gives me access, He gives me the access.

We don't pray to the Father in Buddha's name, Mohammed's name, Moses' name or Mary's name but in the name that is above all names.  the name of Jesus because he's the one who did the work.

If it didn't mean more than that -- not only that I pray based on His merit but I'm praying according to His objective.  If I bring you a message in somebody's name, it's as if I'm representing that person to you.  To pray in Jesus' name you say, "Lord I'm praying this because I'm pretty confident this is something Jesus himself would want.  And don't you agree?  If you're asking the Father for something that you're reasonably sure Jesus would want, you're going to have a whole lot of confidence when you pray that prayer.  If you're thinking, "I don't know if Jesus would want this -- I mean I've asked for a brand new Hummer super charged -- I don't know if that's exactly what Jesus wants for my life but that'd be really cool."  You're not going to have as much confidence to pray in His name is to pray with His objective.  Now, do we always know what Jesus wants when we pray?  No we don't.  That's where we leave it with God.

But I will say this, the more you know the bible you're going to get a better idea of God wants and what His will is, and what His will is and what His mind is and what He likes, loves, doesn't like doesn't love.  So you're going to approach God differently.  I read something I want to read to you this morning.  One of the best books ever I would recommend for a Christian is called, "The Fight" by john White.  And he has a little section on prayer and he speaks about this little phrase that Jesus tells his disciples to pray to the Father in my name.  this is what he says, "Jesus gave his followers authority to draw checks on the power bank of heaven clearly however, the check may only be drawn when the purpose of the check conforms with heavenly policy."  That's the idea.  "It is only when I am acting as Christ's agent that I may pray in Jesus name."  So be confident, be intelligent and be compliant.  Here's the fourth dynamic, be expectant.  Be expectant, I prayed in the name of Jesus and because I prayed that I live in expectation now.

I had a conversation with Dr. Tony Evans -- he's a preacher down in Texas and just a couple of years ago, and he said that he was asked to pray at a public event in Dallas.  Then one of local preacher to open up the event in prayer, he said, "I'd love to do it."  He was all prepared.  Well when got to the event they said, "Dr. Evans we want you to pray but we don't want you to use the name of Jesus in your prayer.  There are a lot of people here, a lot of different belief system and we don't want to offend anybody so just pray generically but don't pray in Jesus' name."  Then he says, "Well then I won't pray."  Because let me ask you something, do want this prayer to work?  Or do you want somebody as mouthing things off because you want a God present here.  Because if you want this name to work and you want this pryer to work then you want a child of God who's in right relationship to God by faith who will pray in the name of Jesus and things will get done.  Otherwise you don't what me to pray.

So here's a man who would say that because he would pray in expectation and so Jesus says in verse 23, "In that day you will ask me nothing most assuredly I say to you whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you."  That's the promise, that's the expectation.  Again verse 24 "Until now, you have asked Me nothing in My name, ask and you will receive that your joy may be full."  Let me tell you about a little story you can chase it down alter on.  It's in Acts Chapter 12.  Here's the dynamic, Peter has been arrested and he's in jail.  The church gathers together in the house of John Mark's mother to pray for Peter.  So a bunch of Christians praying to get Peter out of jail.

You know what happens?  Peter gets out of jail.  An angel come springs him out of jail, the shackles fall off from his hands, Peter goes all through the prison gates, goes to the house where their having their praying meeting and -- knocks on the door then a little girl named Rhoda answers the door.  She sees Peter there and instead of opening the door she runs back -- kids do this -- they ran back in the house and say, "Peter's at the door."  And this is what they say to him -- listen to their faith they've been praying, "God bring out of jail please."  They go, "You're out of your mind!"  I don't know what you call that.  I really wouldn't call it prayer.  There's one much expectation there and it's like saying, "I pray for rain everyday."  Really do you carry an umbrella?

Do you have expectation that anything is going to happen?  So they're praying for Peter, Peter gets out, Peter comes in the house finally and they still had a hard time believing that it was Peter.  Here's God answering their prayer and they have a difficult time believing that God answered the thing they asked for.  So be expectant.  Jesus said ask it will be done, do it in my name, come directly, come boldly, do it the agenda that I would come to the Father with and it will be done.  And then finally in verse 24, "That your joy may be full."  Let's tie the bow in the package.  Last week we saw that Jesus said your sorrow will be turned into joy.  One of the ways sorrow gets turned into joy is by a healthy prayer life.  You see -- how does prayer make a happy preacher?  Easy number one, when God answers your prayer you the god has a work.  Your joy and crisis.  But number two when you realize what we're talking about here is a higher level of life before you realize, I am connected directly yo God.

I don't have to go through a saint, I don't have to go through a special person, I don't need an earthly ambassador.  I am speaking there words -- their in the ears of the father directly, I have made an instant contact between heaven and earth and I got to tell you something.  When you realize that and you practice that, life is lived at a higher level.  Then we go to New York City.  I want you to go to Rockefeller Center.  Over by Rockefeller Center there's this great statue of Atlas.  It's enormous 30 feet tall.  He's buff right?  And he's sort of crouched down, muscles, lower legs and upper body and he's holding the world on his shoulders.  Just strong buff holding the -- like this but it's -- you know he's pushing it up but he's ding it.  So it's impressive.

But on the other side of street of Saint Patrick's Cathedral and at Saint Patrick's Cathedral is a motif of Jesus holding the world in him with one hand.  I love the comparison.  And here's my question.  What side of the street do you want to live your life on?  You want to live it over here going, "I'm holding the world up its tough."  Okay, have fun, see you, have a good life.  Or do you want to live over here where you realize God made the world, he made me and he's capable of holding my world in his hands?  You know when you live over on this side of the street, you're living life like -- when you live over here it's like --.  I don't want to sound simplistic, I don't want you to think you just spout off a few prayers everyday and you're just smiling your way through life.  Every thing's good all the time, I'm a Christian.  I'm not an idiot.

Here's Jesus saying your sorrow will be turned in tot joy, implying that you have to have sorrow for it to get converted into joy.  That's part of life.  But I want to close with something that was said years ago.  John Bunyan wrote it and he said, "You can do always more than pray after you pray but you can never do more than pray until you prayed."  Please don't after this day see prayer as a last resort.  I hear it all the time -- "there's nothing left to do except pray." -- Oh goodness.  That's where you begin.  you're never more powerful than when you are on your knees and prayer.

Father, it's because we believe that that we're talking to you right now in this open and free manner.  Thank you.  Thank you for the gift of the open channel.  Thank you for the gift of the phone linen the direct access to heaven.  And we come to you in the name of Jesus asking you that our lives would be lived at a whole different level, a higher level.  You're inviting us, you're compelling us, you're calling us.  I think to the words of that song that keeps bouncing of the walls of my brain.  oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Lord, save us form the Atlas Syndrome form trying to balance our world and our struggles on our own shoulders.  Yeah, we have to live life, we have to be engaged in life, we have to make decision, life isn't hard, we don't always know the answers but when we realize that there's another way to live where you can hold our world firmly in your hands.  And we lived believing that and we talk to you as if that is a present reality.  We live differently.  caused that to happen, developed that in us, we prey that with all confidence -- we know it's I the name of Jesus and so we do.  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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8/14/2011
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When Sorrow Turns to Joy
John 16:16-22
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The flamboyant baseball-legend-turned-preacher Billy Sunday stated, "If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere!" That's not to say that life is all laughs. Hardly! Jesus anticipated His followers' deep sorrow. He predicted it. But He also assured them that their experience of sadness would be eclipsed by a greater experience of lasting joy.
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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.