The Gospel of John

by Rick
The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John the Evangelist is quite different than the others.  Matthew wrote to the Jews, Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Gentiles, but John writes to all the world!  John wrote that we might believe believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we might have life through his name (20:31).  We took a journey in Today’s Word through the entire gospel from March 2003 to December 2003.  These are the messages that Lord allowed me to share from this power-packed gospel.  I pray that these message will be a blessing to you.  Read the Word, Believe and Live!

  • John 1:1-3 Jesus is Our Manufacturer
  • John 1:4,5 Life and Light
  • John 1:14 Jesus Understands
  • John 1:29 The Lamb of God
  • John 1:43 Jesus will Meet you where you Are
  • John 1:44,46 Dismissed, but Still Destined!
  • John 2:10 The Best is Yet to Come!
  • John 2:22 God is spiritual, not sensual
  • John 3:3 & 8 You Must Be Born-Again
  • John 3:16 God’s Greatest Gift
  • John 4:4 The Purpose Driven Life (Part I)
  • John 4: 5-8 The Purpose Driven Life (Part II)
  • John 4: 16-18 The Purpose Driven Life (Part III)
  • John 4:25-42 The Purpose Driven Life (Part IV)
  • John 4:50 Taking God at His Word!
  • John 5:19 Doing what God is Blessing!
  • John 5:20 God Requires Action
  • John 5:24 The Only Record Book that Really Matters
  • John 6:7 Leftovers!
  • John 6:7 (part II) God’s answer to man’s Insufficiency
  • John 6:19 God Shows Up in the 4th Watch of the Night
  • John 6:35 He can Recalibrate our Focus
  • John 7:6 He gets the glory, we get the Benefits!
  • John 7:15,16 God can help you Do It Better!
  • John 7:30 God will bring you Through!
  • John 7:40,41 Let the Thirsty Come and Drink
  • John 7:52 Don’t Judge my Future by my past!
  • John 8:11 Go and Sin No More!
  • John 8:12 The Light of the World
  • John 8:31, 32, 36 Living Discipleship
  • John 9:1-3 When Bad things happen to Good People
  • John 9:25 You have a testimony!
  • John 10:10 Life More Abundantly
  • John 11:4 Lessons from Lazarus (Part I)
  • John 11:15 Lessons from Lazarus (Part II)
  • John 11:17 Lessons from Lazarus (Part III)
  • John 11:35 Lessons from Lazarus (Part IV)
  • John 11:39 Lessons from Lazarus (Part V)
  • John 11:40 Lessons from Lazarus (Part VI)
  • John 11:43,44 Lessons from Lazarus (Part VII)
  • John 11:45 Lessons from Lazarus (Part VIII)
  • John 11:53 Faith in spite of trouble
  • John 12:5,6 Worship in spite of complaints
  • John 12:10 Religion vs. Relationship
  • John 12:14 We are just Donkeys, carrying Jesus into the world!
  • John 12:16 Don’t let what you SEE change what you SAY!
  • John 12:23,24 The Continuation of His Incarnation!
  • John 12:26 Saved to Serve!
  • John 12:31-33 Calvary gave us the Victory!
  • John 13:16 Servant Leadership
  • John 13:34,35 Love, Our Identifying Characteristic
  • John 13:38 God uses Imperfect people
  • John 14:1 Trust is a matter of Choice
  • John 14:2 God’s Mansions
  • John 14:6 The Way, the Truth, and the Life!
  • John 14:15 If you love God, Do what He says
  • John 14:16,17 The Promise of the Holy Spirit
  • John 14:21 Are you an Obedient One?
  • John 14:24 The Power of the Pipe!
  • John 14:27 God’s Peace
  • John 14:30,31 Going down God’s Road
  • John 15:1 Life on the Vine (Part I)
  • John 15:2,4 Life on the Vine (Part II)
  • John 15:5 Life on the Vine (Part III)
  • John 15:7 Life on the Vine (Part IV)
  • John 15:8 Life on the Vine (Part V)
  • John 15:11 Joy vs. Happiness
  • John 15:13,14 No Greater Love
  • John 15:16 You are not a mistake
  • John 15:18,19 Loving the Difficult
  • John 15:26 You + the Holy Spirit = Victory!
  • John 16:7 Jesus was WITH them, but the Holy Spirit is IN us!
  • John 16:12,13 The Holy Spirit’s Role in lives
  • John 16:20 Your Mess is your Message!
  • John 16:24 Prayer – The Difference!
  • John 16:25,26 Progressive Perspective
  • John 16:31 Are you a Believer?
  • John 16:32 Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand
  • John 16:33 Because of Whose you are
  • John 17:1 Give God the Glory!
  • John 17:2,3 The Power over Everything
  • John 17:4 Will the life that you lived speak for you?
  • John 17:11 Too much in Common to be Uncommon
  • John 17:13 The Joy of the Lord
  • John 17:15 Keep on Pressing
  • John 17:17 His Word sets us Apart
  • John 17:20 Jesus prayed for me!
  • John 17:26 Never stop growing!
  • John 18:5,6 Are you ready for a change?
  • John 18:10 Yesterday ended last night
  • John 18:11 The Purpose in the Pain!
  • John 18:12 God will use enemy to bless us
  • John 18:13,14 The Power of Destiny
  • John 18:17 Get back up again!
  • John 18:22 The Power to Take it and Still Make it!
  • John 18:23 Surviving Disappointment
  • John 18:32 The Purpose behind the Issues
  • John 18:37 Stay Humble
  • John 19:7 Be Yourself and Stand up for your beliefs
  • John 19:11 God is in Control!
  • John 19:15 Don’t give the devil any space!
  • John 19:18 Jesus on the Cross (Part I)
  • John 19:19 Jesus on the Cross (Part II)
  • John 19:26,27 Jesus on the Cross (Part III)
  • John 20:1,2 He’s Alive!  He’s not dead!
  • John 20:8 When others look at you, what do they see?
  • John 20:16 When God calls your name
  • John 20:17 He is too Good to keep to yourself!
  • John 20:19,20 Are you ready for a blessing
  • John 20:21,22 Don’t sit down on your Destiny!
  • John 20:28 Are you ready to be real with God?
  • John 20:29 Can you believe without seeing?
  • John 20:31 Believe and Live!
  • John 21:6 Obedience Unlocks Abundance!
  • John 21:7 Changing your Posture and your Practice
  • John 21:9 The Blessed Benefits of Fellowship with the Master!
  • John 21:12 Come and Eat!
  • John 21:15-17 God’s kind of love
  • John 21:19 You cannot honor God doing your own thing
  • John 21:22 You are special and unique
  • John 21:25 The Bible – the #1 All-time Best Seller!

(John 1:1-3 KJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

This morning we begin our quest through the Gospel according to St. John.  John’s Gospel is a bit different than the other three.  Many consider Matthew, Mark, and Luke to be the synoptic gospels.  Meaning that if you want to see the entire story (synopsis), you must look at it through the eyes of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; if they all recorded the event.  Matthew writes to the Jews and makes an effort to present Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.  Mark writes to the Romans and his writings are quick and to the point.  Luke (the physician) writes to the gentiles and records many miracles that the others omit and he is also very detailed.  John, on the other hand, is for everyone.  John paints the picture of Jesus being the Son of God!

Matthew started out by explaining how Jesus came down through forty and two generations.  John cuts to the chase and starts out by explaining that before there was a here or there, a this or that, a sun or moon, there was Jesus.  He wants us to know right off the bat that Jesus was not simply a New Testament prophet.  He was not simply just a good man.  Jesus was in the beginning with God.  Wait  —  so there is no confusion  —  not only was He with God, but He is GOD!  And then, as if to solidify the point, he explains that Jesus was as much a part of the creation as God the Father.  Everything that was made was made by Him!  God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit  —  One God!

So what does this mean to you today? The message this morning is wrapped in the fact that Jesus made you.  Let me put it this way.  Let’s say you were blessed to purchase a brand new Mercedes Benz.  Let’s say that you had this Mercedes for one month and then you had a problem with the engine.  Who would you take it to?  Would you take it to the Cadillac dealership?  Would you take it to the Lincoln dealership?  Would you take it to the BMW dealership?  The answer is no.  Although the Cadillac, Lincoln, and BMW dealerships have great mechanics and they are certified to work on cars, you would take it to the Mercedes Benz dealership.  Why?  Because they are the manufacturers and because they MADE it, they know everything about it.

So what’s the point?  Our text this morning explains to us that Jesus is our manufacturer.  He made us and He knows everything about us.  Although you may be able to go to your friends, your mother, or even your Pastor for some problems, there are issues that rise up in your life that you need to take to Jesus Himself!  Jesus made you and knows everything about you.  You are special to Him and He wants to meet your need.

Are you willing to take your problem to the manufacturer this morning?

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(John 1:4,5 NIV)  In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

After establishing who Jesus is (God) and how He was part of the creation, John then talks about the purpose of His arrival on the earth.  Jesus’ purpose is found in the 4th verse  —  Life and Light.

John explains that Jesus brought “Life” IN HIM!  This word life literally means a ‘God type of life.’  Prior to His arrival on the planet the Jews were bound to a life of tradition and ritual.  Very few were ever endued with the power of the Holy Spirit to actually walk with God.  The Old Testament prophets were anointed by the Holy Spirit, but only for a particular time and task.  Jesus brought with Him abundant life and the power to actually walk in this new life  —  Forever!

He then goes on to explain that this life was the light of men.  The life that Jesus offered was greater than anything the Jewish Law could offer.  This life literally pierced through religion, like light pierces through darkness, and offered a true and living relationship with God.  He had the life and this life was on display (light) everywhere He went.  He could not hide the light, even if He tried.  Jesus would heal folk and sometimes tell them not to tell anyone else, but it did not matter, the Word spread anyway.  Jesus walked the earth as one man, but He was Life and Light everywhere He went.

The 5th verse explains how the Jews dealt with the life and light.  It says that they did not understand it.  In the Amplified Version the verse reads, (v.5 AMP) And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].  This version allows me to see this verse in a different light.  I always knew that the darkness misunderstands the light, but this gives me to know that it also has no power against it.  No matter how hard darkness tries, once your hit the light switch, the light will pierce through the darkness.  Light always wins that battle and darkness has no power over it.

So what does this mean to you today? Jesus came so that you and I could be both Life and Light in a dark, dying, and decaying world.  He came so that we could show the darkness a better way.  And He also gave us the Power to pierce through the darkness in our everyday living when He gave us His Holy Spirit.

Stop for a moment and think about this: when people meet you at work, do they see the life and light?  If I were to meet you this afternoon, would I encounter life and light or darkness and defeat?  God’s will for our lives is that we be Life and Light and if we are not doing that, it is time to make some changes.

You would be surprised the difference a smile and a kind word can make in a dark environment.

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(John 1:14 AMP)  And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.

So far in the gospel according to St. John we have learned that Jesus is God, that He was in the beginning and part of the creation, and that Jesus was both life and light.  This morning we look in verse 14 and learn that Jesus (the Living Word) was made flesh.  You may have read this verse before and might even be familiar with it, but have you really thought about this?  Jesus actually offered Himself to be wrapped up in a flesh and blood suit and live on the earth like us.  The Creator actually subjected Himself to the role of the creation.  The all powerful, everlasting, all-knowing, ever-present God stripped Himself of His splendor to be born in a manger because that is the only way that you and I could be delivered from sin.

John then says that He lived (tabernacled) among us.  God came in the flesh and actually lived like we live.  Imagine baby Jesus in the manger with Mary and Joseph.  Can you see Him there, being rocked to sleep by Mary?  As His eyes close and He doses off to sleep something miraculous happens.  For the first time in eternity, God is sleeping.  The next thirty years of His life on the earth are relatively silent.  We don’t really have a record other than an even that happened when He was 12.  Why?  Because Jesus was living like human.  He was sleeping, sweating, working, building human relationships, and learning to operate in a human existence.  This is important because God wanted to meet us where we are.  God wanted to be able to identify with us, no matter what situation we find ourselves in.  The Hebrew writer said it this way, (Heb 4:15 NIV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we do not serve a strange God.  It means that our God is not distant to us and not unfamiliar with our circumstances.  He lived like we live.  He suffered like we suffer.  He worked like we work.  He dealt with difficult people like often times have to.  He was put in difficult situations like we are.  He got tired and got hungry like everyone else.  He had to pray like we pray.  He struggled with issues like we do.  He was tempted in every way  —  just like we are, yet without sin.

So no matter you circumstance and situation this morning  —  take it to the Lord in prayer.  He understands you and is willing to help you, if you are willing to be helped!

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(John 1:29 KJV)  The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Yesterday we learned that Jesus (God) became flesh and lived (tabernacled) among us.  St. John then goes on to speak of John the Baptist as one who cried out in the wilderness as a forerunner for Jesus Christ.  He himself was not the light, but he testified of the light.  The Levites came to John the Baptist one day and started questioning him.  They asked if he was Elijah and he said, “I am not.”  They asked if he was a prophet and he said, “no.”  Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us.  What do you say about yourself?” John quoted the words of Isaiah, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”  This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.  This is where we pick up our text and the bible says that the next day John saw Jesus coming and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

In a time of ritual sacrifices that offered temporary atonement (covering) for SINS, God sent His Son Jesus to become the ultimate sacrifice for the remission (cleansing) of SIN.  Read this last sentence again.

The blood of lambs, goats, doves, and bullocks could only provide a covering for SINS (plural).  Once a year  —  on the day of Atonement  —  the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies and seek the Lord for a temporary covering of SINS.  The difference here is that John the Baptist announces a lamb (sacrifice) that was sent directly from God Himself.  God would present this lamb unto Himself as a sacrifice that would once and for all cleanse (not cover) us from SIN (singular).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that if you are a Christian, if you have been Born-Again by the Spirit of God, then you are cleansed from SIN.  More than being simply cleansed from the SINS you have committed, Jesus Christ died for SIN itself.  Behold, the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!  He died so that you and I could be free of sin and death.

Do you have unconfessed sin in your life?  Do you have unresolved issues with God? These issues will disrupt your fellowship with the Father, but the good news this morning is that you do not have to stay that way.  St. John later wrote, (I Jn 1:19 KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Confess you sins to God, the same God who came to cleanse us from sin, and you will take in the freedom and the liberty that God wants for you this day!

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(John 1:43 NIV)  The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

As we continue our journey through the gospel according to St. John, we come across a simple invitation to disciple in our text for this morning.  At this point Jesus has just been baptized.  The Holy Spirit has come down upon Him as a dove.  Jesus has left the baptism experience, already picked up two disciples along the way (Andrew and Peter) and now Jesus heads towards Galilee.  Our text says that He (Jesus) finds Philip and says, “Follow Me.”  This is both a simple and profound invitation.

What can we learn from this invitation that will apply to our lives today?

1.  God meets us where we are:  The gospel is simple.  No matter where we are, God can lead us out.  No matter what we are standing in the need of, God can meet the need.  Jesus (humanly) did not know Philip, but He initiated the contact and invited Philip to join Him on His journey.  Likewise, God continually initiates contact in our lives and invites us to join Him in a Godly journey of righteousness, peace, and joy!  No matter where you are this morning (physically or spiritually), God can meet you where you are!

2.  God loves us the way we are:  Jesus did not attack Philip.  He did not seek to immediately convict Him of sin.  He did not lay down a laundry list of items that Philip needed to change before He could follow Christ.  Jesus did not try to clean the fish before He caught him.  Jesus simply asked Philip to follow Him.  Likewise, God loves us just the way we are.  No matter what we have done, we have not done anything that would keep us from His Grace and Mercy.  God says to you and I this morning  —  Just As You Are  —  Follow Me!

3.  God loves us too much to leave us where we are:  Philip would accept the invitation and his life would never be the same.  He would walk with Jesus for the next three years and experience intimate fellowship with the incarnate God.  Philip would be transformed into a powerful vessel in the hands of the Almighty!  Likewise, we can be transformed by a renewing relationship with Jesus.  God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.

God initiates the contact to you and I this morning and says, “I want to meet you where you are, because I love you just the way you are, but I love you so much that I don’t want to leave you that way.  Will you follow me and experience my love?”

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(John 1:44,46 NIV)  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.  “Come and see,” said Philip.

Yesterday we learned about Jesus’ simple invitation to follow Him.  Today we see that Philip accepted the invitation and immediately started telling others about Jesus.  There’s a lesson to learn in Philip’s immediate response to the invitation and his attitude towards evangelism.  Our focus however, this morning, will be on the response of Nathanael.  To better understand Nathanael’s response we must briefly discuss the geography and the attitude of the time.

Geography:  Nazareth was mid-way between the Sea of Galilee and the Great Sea.  It was separated from Jerusalem by Samaria.

Attitude:  Coastal cities were desired locations; Nazareth was not near a coast.  The Jews had a great hatred for Samaritans and Nazareth was on the “Other Side” of Samaria.  In many ways, Nazareth was dismissed of having any possibility of greatness.  Anyone who was from Nazareth was dismissed along with it.

Jesus, the Son of God, was raised in Nazareth.  He lived there from early youth to adulthood.  He would later be identified as ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ not because this was a title of honor, but because the rulers of the time wanted to dismiss his possible divinity.  This helps us to better understand the question, “Can anything good come from there?”  It also helps us understand the answer  —  Absolutely!  With God all things are possible.

So what does this mean to you today? The world may have also tried to dismiss you because of your background.  You may not have been born into a prestigious family.  You may not have been raised in an affluent neighborhood.  You may have been dismissed by the world early in life.  But the Word of the Lord for you this morning is “You may have been Dismissed, but you are still Destined!”

I get excited when I think about this text because I was dismissed as well.  I was a young Dominican kid from Brooklyn and many thought I would never amount to much, but I was Destined.  The bible is full of overlooked, omitted, and oppressed people whom God used mightily.  God regularly does extraordinary things with ordinary folk.  No matter who you are and no matter what people have told you, if you follow Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in your life, you too can accomplish the seemingly impossible.  You can overcome and overtake every obstacle in your life and become the man/woman of God that he has destined you to be.

You may have been Dismissed by the world, but you are Destined by God!

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(John 2:10 NIV)  and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

John’s second chapter starts off with a wedding at Cana in Galilee.  Jesus, his mother, and his disciples were all invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”  Jesus did not want to get involved because his time was not yet come.  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  Jesus instructed the servants to fill some nearby water jugs and they filled them to the brim.  Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”  They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.  He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside.  This is where we pick up our text and he said,“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” This would be Jesus’ first miracle and it would set the stage for many to come.

There are many golden nuggets in this story, but for this morning, we will only deal with one  —  The Best is Yet to Come!

God is God of progression and not regression.  In this first miracle we can see a principle that is repeated all throughout scripture and that is that God saves the best for last.  Solomon  —  the wisest man in the bible  —  said, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Ecc 7:8).

So what does this mean to you today? This means that we should thank God for where we are, but we should also strive to go higher and deeper in Him!  We may not be where you used to be, but we have not arrived at our final destination either.  Determine within yourself that you will not be crippled by complacency and that you will endeavor to be all that God would have you to be.  Seek God’s face, trust God’s Spirit, read God’s Word, and strive to live a sanctified life in Him!

You may feel like your wedding has run out of wine.  You may feel like you have lost the spring in your step and the joy in your heart.  You may be burdened down with the concerns of this world.  You may be going through a tough storm right now, but don’t give up and don’t give in  —  The Best is Yet to Come!

God can turn your Hopeless Situations Around!

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(John 2:22 NIV)  After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

In the last message we discussed Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding at Cana.  After the wedding He went down to Capernaum with his mother, brothers, and his disciples and stayed there a few days.  When it was almost time for feast of the Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  He made a whip out of cords, and drove the sheep and cattle from the temple area and He overturned the moneychanger’s tables.  Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this).  Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”  The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”  But the temple he had spoken of was his body.  This is where we pick up our text for this morning and it says, (John 2:22 NIV) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

No one really understood what Jesus meant by his reference to the temple being raised again in three days.  In many ways the disciples were just like those questioning Jesus and just like many of us today.  They were trying to make ‘sense’ out of everything Jesus said.  Sometimes God does not make ‘sense.’  We can be intelligent, intellectual, articulate, and charismatic, but that will not help us when it comes to connecting with God.  God is a Spirit and when we come to Him we must connect with Him in the Spirit.  God is spiritual, not sensual.  This is why the disciples, although they had walked with God for some three years at this point, were just as lost as the Jews when Jesus made His comments.  The Holy Spirit had not yet been given unto them and they did not understand.  They did understand, however, after Jesus was raised from the dead and they were able to recall this conversation.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s glean two nuggets:

1.  Connect in the Spirit:  If you are a Born-Again believer this morning, then the Holy Spirit lives IN you.  The Holy Spirit is the teacher of the church and you have direct access to the teacher.  He is also the author of the bible and you have direct access to the author.  Ask the teacher and the author to lead, guide, and direct you today and He Will!  Connect with the Holy Spirit in prayer.  He wants to lead you.  Are you willing to follow?

2.  Walk by Faith:  The disciples did not understand Jesus’ comments until after He was raised from the dead.  Even with access to the Holy Spirit, there will be many things in our lives that will not make sense until we look at them in reverse.  I did not know why I went to Kuwait or Bosnia before I went and even while I was there, but I know now because I am looking in reverse.  I am currently in Korea and although I believe I have an understanding of my assignment here, I know that there are some things that will only be revealed to me after I leave.  Likewise, you may be in a difficult situation right now.  God wants you to trust Him and walk by faith and you will look back at this some day and understand the reason for the storm!  Walk by Faith and keep on steppin’.

God wants to reveal unto you His will for your life and whatever He does not reveal to you now, He will in His timing.

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(John 3:3 & 8 NIV)  In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (v.8) “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Yesterday we left Jesus in debate with the Jews about the reestablishment of the temple.  He is now in Jerusalem during the feast of the Passover and a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council, came to Jesus at night.  He said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”  Jesus looked beyond the nice words and dealt with the heart of the matter.  Jesus replied with our first text for this morning, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  Nicodemus was a learned man, but like yesterday’s message, he misunderstands the Master.  He asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”  Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’  And then Jesus explains it further with our second text, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

This is a very familiar text and one that is critical to evangelism.  We could spend several days in these verses, but for brevity’s sake, we will seek to receive two nuggets from this morning’s lesson:

1.  The Requirement:  The requirement is made clear in verse 3  —  you must be Born-Again.  Nicodemus was a religious man, but He did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Trying to understand this requirement with his own thinking, he misunderstood the process.  It is not that we must enter again into our mother’s womb, because this would only produce a second birth of the same kind.  This birth that Jesus spoke of is a different birth than the first altogether.  He went on to explain that the first birth was produced by the flesh (carnal), but this second birth is produced by God’s Spirit (spiritual).  God’s requirement for eternal life is the presence of His Holy Spirit in our lives.  His Holy Spirit come into us and creates a second birth of eternal life.  If you have not met this requirement and are not Born-Again this morning, please humble yourself unto God and repent of your sin.  Ask Jesus to come into your heart and you too will be Born-Again.  This second birth is the requirement of eternal life.

2.  The Result:  Look at what Jesus says next, The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Jesus explains that we can “hear” the sound of the wind, but we cannot honestly see the wind.  What we can see, however, is the results of the wind.  We can see how the wind bends over a blade of grass or picks up a leaf and takes it for a ride.  This is how it is with a Born-Again believer.  Like me for example, I was Born-Again on August 27th, 1995.  If you saw me on August 26th, 1995 and then again on August 26th, 1996 you would probably not “see” a big difference.  I am sure that I looked just about the same.  I am also sure, however, that you would both “hear” the sound of the wind (The Spirit) and the “see” the results of the wind (The Spirit) in my life.  Although I physically did not change, there was a Spiritual birth that changed me forever.  This is the result of being Born-Again into Christ Jesus.

So what does this mean to you today?  If you are not Born-Again this morning, please do not wait another moment.  Accept Jesus Christ into your life today and forever (Requirement).  If you are Born-Again, allow God’s Spirit to well up in you this morning so that the world will both “hear” the wind and “see” the effects of the wind (Result) in your life.

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(John 3:16 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

We wake up this morning (20 Mar 03) having been bombarded with war all day yesterday.  War is imminent and apparent.  These are some of the news headlines this morning:
·         U.S., allied warplanes strike Iraqi artillery within range of U.S. troops in Kuwait
·         Witnesses report huge coalition convoy headed toward Iraq
·         17 Iraqi soldiers surrender to U.S. troops in Kuwait
·         Israelis warned to carry gas masks at all times in anticipation of attack on Iraq
·         More diplomats leave Baghdad

War is what’s on television and radio and is definitely something that we need to keep in prayer.  You and I, however, still have things that we need to do today and a God to glorify!  Not to downplay the situation, but rather to remind us that we don’t necessarily have to start our day like the world.  They can start their day with ‘Good Morning America,’ we can start our day with ‘Good Morning Holy Spirit!’

Our journey through the gospel of John lands us in the most familiar verse in all of scripture (John 3:16).  With everything going on  —  War, death, North Korea, the Economy, and etc.  —  one can easily get bogged down and overcome by events.  This morning, by way of our text, we can be renewed, refreshed, and revived.  There is a wealth of truth in our text and this morning we will seek only to glean three nuggets from it:

1.  God’s compassion for the lost:  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.  Because of the original sin we were all born condemned to hell.  There is nothing that we could have done in and of ourselves to deliver us from this fate.  God’s overwhelming love for all the world  —  all nationalities and ethnicities  —  drove Him to surrender His only begotten (only one of this type) Son.  His compassion was so strong that He was willing to live like us, suffer tremendous agony, and die for our sin.

2.  God’s ‘only’ way of escape:  that whosoever believeth in him. God’s compassion created a way of escape and that escape is found in the person of Jesus.  Salvation cannot be found in any other (Acts 4:12), except the name of Jesus!  Repenting from sin and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life is the world’s ‘only’ way of escape.  If you have not escaped the trap of sin yet, if you are still condemned to hell, today can be your day of salvation.  Tomorrow is not promised.  You can be here today and gone TODAY!  Escape sin, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!

3.  God’s greatest gift:  should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Those of us who are Christians, who are Born-Again believers, who have been born of the Spirit, receive God’s greatest gift  —  Salvation.  We may die a physical death some day, but our text teaches us that our physical death will simply be our graduation from labor to reward, from mortal to immortality.  No matter what is on the news and what is going on in the world.  No matter how hard things may get, and they will get harder in the last days.  No matter the circumstance or the situation you find yourself in this morning, if you are a Christian, you can rejoice in the fact that you have EVERLASTING LIFE!

If you have received God’s greatest gift, you can face this day with a smile on your face and a song in your heart!

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(John 4:4 KJV)  And he must needs go through Samaria.

The forth chapter of John opens with the Pharisees hearing that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.  When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.  Our text says that He must needs go through Samaria.  This is very interesting because this was not the only route and it was not even the preferred route.  The Jews would rather take a route that took three days longer and go through Perea, have to cross over the Jordan and than back again, just to avoid going through Samaria.  The Samaritans were considered a Mixed-Breed of people and the Jews would in no wise mingle with them.  They were former Northern Israelites that mingled with the Assyrians.  Jesus was led of the Holy Spirit to go this route.

This morning’s message is about the sovereignty of God and how He has purpose wrapped up in every aspect of our lives.  Let’s look at three things:

1.  The Purpose in where we are:  Jesus was in Judea and had recently been baptized.  He had a divine appointment with Nicademus and He had already ministered to the multitudes (more than John).  At the point of our text, it was God’s time for Him to move on.

Application:  We are not where we are by mistake.  Our family, our workplace, our community, our friends, are all part of our environment.  God has placed us there on purpose.  We are going to be here for a time and God will move us forward when our current assignment is done.  We must, however, fulfill the purpose in where we are.  Are you being productive?  Are you seeking to do the will of God in the area that He has placed you in?  Are you fulfilling the purpose in where you are?

2.  The Purpose in where we are going:  The bible says that Jesus was going back to Galilee.  As soon as He got there, He healed a blind, lame, and paralyzed man.  God had a purpose in where He was going.

Application:  You may be preparing for a move.  It could be moving jobs, locations, affiliations, or etc.  Once you have fulfilled God’s assignment for your current location and God moves you somewhere else, you can rest assured that He has plans for that place as well.  Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to prepare you for your next God given assignment.

3.  The Purpose in How we are going to get there:  As previously stated, this was not the normal route.  Jesus broke Jewish tradition by going the way that He did because God had a divine appointment for Him with a Samaritan woman at a well.  This woman would become an evangelist and spread the gospel of Jesus throughout Samaria.  God had purpose wrapped up in this route.

Application:  You may know that God is taking you somewhere and may be looking forwarded to arriving at your location (spiritually or physically).  The journey, however, is as full of purpose as the destination.

So what does this mean to you today? Don’t waste this day.  It’s easy to get caught up in CNN and everything going on, but God has placed you where you are for a Purpose.  Every person you meet today, every conversation, every situation, is full of the purpose and the power of God.  Thank God for where you are.  Thank God for where you are going.  Thank God for how you are going to get there!

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(John 4: 5-8 KJV)  Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.  (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

Yesterday we talked about the purpose wrapped up in Jesus’ route, how He deliberately traveled to Galilee through Samaria and how most Jews would never dare go this way for fear of diluting their purity by coming in contact with Samaritans.  Jesus was led of the Holy Spirit and He broke tradition and went took the ‘road less traveled.’  He gets to Jacob’s well  —  which has been called “the most authentic of all the Holy Places in Palestine”  —  and He took a seat.  He was tired from the journey, it was high noon and the sun was burning, and his disciples went to the city to get something to eat.  So here is Jesus, sitting there, tired and thirsty and here comes a Samaritan woman to the well.  This was very unusual because women normally drew their water early in the morning and would never come out to get water at high noon.  The fact that this woman came at this time is an indication that she was an outcast in the community.  Jesus reaches out to her and asks for a drink.  Here is Jesus again, breaking the traditional rules.  Men NEVER spoke to women in public, not even their mother, sister, or wife!  But Jesus did it anyway.  Why?  Because God, before the foundations of the world, scheduled this divine appointment.  This divine appointment was for Jesus to reach out to a woman in a dire situation (we will discuss this tomorrow).  To do so, however, He broke two traditions: 1.  Jews did not speak to Samaritans.  2.  Jewish men did not speak to women in public.

So what does this mean to you today? God has plans for our lives today.  God knew, before the foundations of the world, who we would meet and what situations we would find ourselves in on 25 March 2003.  Whatever He allows to enter the arena of your life today, embrace it and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit so that you can fulfill your God-given destiny.  Even if it causes us to:

1. Take the road less traveled:
a.      Traveling through Samaria
b.      Breaking with the traditional route

2. Break out of our comfort zone:
a.      Reaching out to the unreachable
b.      Loving the unlovable

You and I do know really know what God has in store for us today.  Are you ready for your Divine Appointments?

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(John 4: 16-18 KJV)  Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.  The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:  For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

We have been dealing with the divine appointment between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well for a couple of days now and will get through the story tomorrow.  There are many golden nuggets in this passage and today we seek to glean a few more.

In verses 16-18 we see a Confrontation with Compassion:
o        Jesus cut to the meat of the matter  —  sin!
o        He confronted the fact that she was not living a life that was pleasing in the sight of God, but was compassionate enough to want to deliver her out of this situation.

Application:  When living a Purpose Driven Life, we need to be strong enough to Confront Sin, but Compassionate enough to relate to sin.  Hate the sin, but love the sinner.  If you are a sinner today and reading this message, God does not approve of what you are doing, but He loves you enough to deliver you from it!

(vv.19-24)  The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.  Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

In verses 19-24 the woman tries to make a Cunning Comparison:
o        She tried to change the conversation quickly and take the attention off of her sin  —  you must be a prophet!
o        She then went into comparing the Samaritans who worshipped on Mount Gerizim and the Jews who worshipped in Jerusalem.
o        Jesus came right back at her and explained that we was trying to make sense of it all, but God does not have to make sense.  God is not sensual, God is Spiritual!  They that worship Him must worship him in the Spirit and not with their senses (body).

Application:  Divine appointments are not always going to be easy, nor quick.  She was cunning enough to do her best to get the heat off of her and get into a “religioius” comparison.  When you are led of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to deal with these deviations from the meat of the matter  —  sinners need to be saved!  We can do so, if we live a Purpose Driven Life and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.

What is it that God wants you to do today?  Whom does He want you to meet?  What does He want you to say or not say?  I don’t know the answers to these questions, but if you and I seek to do the will of God TODAY, we will both find out!  Allow God to use you and He will!

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This morning we wrap up the story of the Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.  We have learned many golden nuggets and seek to glean a couple more as we continue to move through the Gospel according to St. John.  Yesterday we saw how Jesus confronted sin with compassion and how the woman tried to make a cunning comparison to direct the attention away from her situation.  This morning we see how the woman accepts what Jesus is saying and how it changes her life.

Conviction and Conversion:  (vv.25-29)  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.  And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,  Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

o        The woman finally broke down and was now listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  She finally changed her conversation towards righteousness and confessed that she was waiting for the coming Messiah.

o        Jesus immediately took that que and revealed Himself unto her  —  I am HE!

o        Then the disciples came back and the woman took off into the city.  She took off with a change in her heart and a message in her mouth.

Application:  When you allow God to use to you speak to someone, you will literally see ministry take place before your very eyes.  You will see how God’s compassion can overcome the initial rejection of the gospel and then convict and convert the sinner.  You are not in your workplace, family, home, and etc. by mistake.  God has blessed you to be there so that you can be both light and salt in a dying and decaying world.  Our television is a constant reminder that we can be here today and gone TODAY!  God wants us to show the lost the way to righteousness and use you and I to Convict Sin and Covert Sinners  —  to His Glory!

A Compelled Cry:  (vv. 39-42)  And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.  So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.  And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.
o        She could not keep it to herself.  She was compelled to preach and souls were saved, burdens removed, yokes destroyed, and lives changed!  All because Jesus led a Purpose Driven Life and was willing to accept God’s Divine appointment.

Application:  This is two fold:
1.      To the Minister —  if you are the person that God is speaking to to share His light with those around you, DO it!  Allow Him to shine through you and He will.  Accept His divine appointments, even if they take you down the road less traveled.  You will see God bless you to be a blessing to others.
2.      To the Ministered —  if these messages have spoken to you about sin in your life, then ask God to deliver you from it!  Repent and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth.  God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you TOO much to leave you that way!  You too can have a Compelled Cry and watch God use you to His glory!

There is plenty of bad news in the world, especially right now.  God wants to use you to share His good news in your family, community, and workplace.  Are you ready for the assignment?  Will you accept His Divine Appointments?

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(John 4:50 NIV)  Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed.

We pick up Jesus here in the closing verses of John chapter 4.  We spent most of last week learning from His Divine Appointment with the Samaritan woman at the well.  After the two days he left for Galilee.  When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him.  They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.  He visited Cana (where he had turned the water into wine) again.  While He was there He encountered a certain royal official whose son was laying sick (with a very high fever) at Capernaum.  When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.  Jesus said, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.”  The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”  This is where we pick up our text.  Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”  The man took Jesus at his word and departed.  While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. He asked them to tell him exactly what time his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour (1pm).”  Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed.  This was Jesus’ second miracle.

This is a power-packed passage and it is full of golden nuggets.  Let’s seek God for a few nuggets that can apply to our lives today:

1.  The Situation:  This man was a Royal Official.  He could say “go” and people went.  He could say “do” and people did.  This was a man that was IN authority.  He was in control of many things.  A situation, however, arose in his life that he had no control over.  His son was lying at the point of death and he could not do anything about it.

Application:  God has blessed many of us to be in positions of authority.  God has positioned us to where we can have direct control and influence over certain situations.  But like the man in the text, many of us may find ourselves in a situation this morning that we have no direct control over.  You may have a loved one fighting in the war and you can seemingly do nothing about it.  Or you may have a loved one laying on a sick bed like the man in the text.  No matter the situation that we seemingly have no control over, we can learn something from the text this morning.

2.  The Request:  The man understood that he had no control over the situation and sought help from someone who did.  He went to Jesus and begged Him to come and heal his son.

Application:  When we find ourselves in situations that we have no control over, our only recourse is to take it to he Lord in prayer.  The text says that He begged Jesus to come and heal His son.  What is it that you stand in the need of this morning that you have yet to pray for?  Take it to God in sincere prayer and you will see His glory made manifest in your life.

3.  The Word:  Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed.  Later on the man found out that his son’s fever broke at the same time that Jesus said these words.

Application:  When you pray, you need to believe that God will both hear you and answer you.  Whenever He does answer you, you need to take God at His Word.  It is one thing to seek His face in prayer, but another to receive His Word and act upon it.

Are you ready to receive a Word for your situation this morning?

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(John 5:19 NIV)  Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”

Yesterday we spoke of the Jewish leaders being upset with Jesus for healing a paralyzed man on the Sabbath.  They persecuted Him and even wanted to kill Him.  Our text is His reply to their actions.  Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” We have talked about Jesus living a Purpose Driven Life and how He had many Divine Appointments.  This morning, in our text, He makes it plain.  He says that He could do NOTHING by Himself.  This was God in the flesh and He clearly stated that He could do NOTHING by Himself.  Later on in this Gospel we will see that Jesus said that we could do NOTHING apart from Him (Jn 15:5).

So what does this mean to you today? As I read this text the Holy Spirit speaks to me about:

1.  Our Dependence on Christ:  Dependence on Christ is not automatic.  It is difficult because we train our children to grow UP and OUT away from us.  We train them to grow UP and OUT toward independence.  Once we are Born-Again, however, we must then be trained to grow DOWN and IN towards Christ.  Jesus did not make a mistake when He said that He could do NOTHING without the Father and how we could do NOTHING without Him.  That is why He has given us His precious Holy Spirit.  Although difficult, the Holy Spirit is IN us to lead, guide, and direct us; but only if we would let Him.  He is there to operate in our lives if we depend on Him.  He will not force Himself upon us if we choose to ignore Him.  He will convict us of sin, but we must make a conscious decision to depend on Him.  So the first question for us today is, are we depending on God?

2.  Our Daily Possibilities for Ministry:  Read our text again.  You see the words do, doing, and does.  God is always DOING something.  What do you think God does all day?  God is always at work and since He is always at work that means that we always have a possibility to be used of Him in His work.  Jesus said that He could only DO what He saw the Father DOING!  What is God doing in your family, workplace, church, and community?  What is God doing in the lives of those in your office  —  TODAY?  Jesus was in the will of God because He could SEE what the Father was doing and then operate therein.  Instead of asking God to bless what we are doing, we should start doing what He is already blessing!  So the second question is, are we doing what God is blessing?

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(John 5:20 NIV)  “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.”

This morning we pick up where we left off yesterday.  The Jewish leaders are upset about Jesus healing a paralyzed man on the Sabbath.  They persecuted Him and even wanted to kill Him.  Our text is a continuation of His reply to their actions.  Jesus said, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” Jesus was God incarnate (in the flesh).  He lived His life as the ultimate example of Christian living.  That is why we continually seek to learn from His life, so that we can be better for it, to the glory of God.  As we continue to seek to learn golden truths from the Word of God, we will examine three truths in our text:

1.  God’s Motivation Towards Us:  For the Father loves the Son.  We live in a dog-eat-dog world.  It seems at times that hatred, deceit, malice, and guile run rampant.  It was not much different in Jesus’ day.  He was speaking to the supposed Holy and Righteous leaders of the time and they wanted to kill Him.  He was looking into the faces of those that wanted nothing but the worst for Him.  In the midst of this situation, Jesus’ testimony was the God loved Him.  Likewise it is with us.  We might encounter people today that want nothing but the worst for us.  We may have to stand face to face hatred and malice, but we can find comfort in God’s motivation towards us and that motivation is His love.  God loves you and He loves me.  No matter what we are going through, His love is constant.  So if you are in a difficult situation this morning, pause for a moment and rejoice in the Love of God.

2.  God Blesses what we Do::  shows him all he does.  We know that Jesus was the ultimate and perfect example.  Our text says that God showed Him ALL He did.  Now we probably don’t have that testimony because there are a lot of things that we DO that God did not tell us to DO.  The lesson, however, is in the fact that God will bless us when we DO what He tells us to DO.  I keep highlighting the word DO, because our blessing is wrapped up in our actions.  God can tell us to DO something and we can say, “Yes Lord, I will.”  But the blessing will not come until we actually step out on faith and DO it. What has God told you to DO that you have not DONE yet?

3.  God’s Desire for Progression in our Lives:  Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.  Jesus was dealing with the people that wanted to harm Him for what He had done, but He pointed out that God was going to bless Him to do even more.  God is a God of progression and not regression.  God wants us to progressively walk and live in Him.  Thank God for where you were yesterday, but yesterday was finished last night.  This is a new day with new mercies.  God wants to bless you to do even greater things.  Are you ready to progress in Him?

God loves you, He will bless all that you DO for Him, and He wants to take you even Higher!  Are you ready to go?

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John 5:24  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Yesterday’s (8 Apr 03) NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game would wind up being a great one.  At the end, a long road would end for Jim Boeheim; the coach of the Syracuse Orangemen.  After 27 long seasons of tremendous coaching, he finally won the ‘Big Dance.’  It was his forth trip there, but yesterday would be his sweetest.  After 879 games, he finally held that trophy in his hand.  He becomes only the 43rd NCAA Men’s Basketball coach to win the championship.  Out of all the thousands of coaches, only 43 are in this exclusive fraternity.  He did it on the back of Carmelo Anthony, one of (if not the) best players in the country; not to mention the fact that he is only a freshman.

So what does this mean to you today? Well, this morning we are back in the Gospel according to St. John and Jesus is still speaking to the religious rulers of the time.  He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Let’s break this down:

1.  Receptive:  He that heareth my word.  Many hear the word, but never ‘hear’ the Word.  What I mean is that many come to church Sunday after Sunday and Wednesday after Wednesday, but never really hear the Word of God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, because they do not come with a receptive heart.  Often times, you will only receive what you came expecting to receive.  When you read these messages and when you attend a worship service, you should have a ready and receptive heart.

2.  Responsive:  and believeth on him that sent me.  Being Ready and Receptive is only the beginning, you have to Respond to what you receive, if it is going to be of any benefit to you.  Why read these messages day in and day out or why attend worship services regularly, if you are not going to respond to the Word?  This word used here for belief can also be translated ‘faith.’  In the proper context, this text is speaking to unbelievers.  If you are not saved this morning, this message speaks directly to you.  God wants you to repent of your sin.  Hear what God is saying (receive) and also believe (respond) to the Word of God and you can have what was offered to the Jews in the text: 1.  Everlasting Life.  2.  You will not come into condemnation.  3.  You can pass from death unto life. There is no greater message and there is no greater reward.

Jim Boeheim got his name written in the record books yesterday.  His name was listed along with the other 42 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship coaches.  But greater than anything this world can offer, your name can be written in the Lamb’s book of life. Salvation is available to all who would believe.  You can not ride the back of anyone else.  There is no Carmelo Anthony on your team.  This is a matter of personal accountability with God.  Repent of your sin and receive Jesus today.

If you are a Born-Again believer, then this message is also for you.  You can rejoice in the fact that your name is recorded in the only book that  really matters.  You can rejoice in the fact that this world is not your home.  You can rejoice in the fact that when Jesus comes back, you will be caught up to meet Him in the air!  Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orangemen had something to celebrate yesterday, but we have something to celebrate EVERYDAY!

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(John 6:7)  Phillip answered Him, “Eight months’ wages would not be enough to buy bread for each one to have a bite!”

John’s fifth chapter wraps up with Jesus continuing to deal with the religious rulers of the time who had missed His true identity.  He spoke to them clearly, but they still misunderstood the purpose for His coming.  Chapter six opens up with Jesus crossing over to the far shore of Galilee.  A great crowd of people followed Him because they saw they miraculous signs He had performed.  Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with His disciples.  When He looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards Him, He said to Phillip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  He asked this question, but He already knew what He was going to do.  This is where we pick up our text.  Phillip answered Him, “Eight months’ wages would not be enough to buy bread for each one to have a bite!” Andrew spoke up and said, “Here is a little boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”  Jesus said, “Have the people to sit down.”  They sat down on the grass on there were about five thousand men.  Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were seated, as much as they wanted.  He did the same with the fish.  When it was all said and done, they all ate and they had twelve baskets left over.

There are many golden nuggets in this passage, but we will seek to focus on one for this morning  —  What to do when your resources are insufficient! The disciples were overwhelmed with the crowd and then even more with Jesus’ desire to want to feed them all.  When Jesus asked them about buying bread for all these people to eat, He already knew the answer.  The answer was that their resources were insufficient.  Likewise, we may find ourselves in similar situation from time to time.  Whether it be money, time, talent, patience, or etc., we can often times find ourselves in situations where these resources are insufficient.  Surely, some of us are in this situation today.  What do we do?  Well, let’s learn from what they did.

1.  They looked around at what they DID have.  There is no use complaining about what you do not have.  You do have something that God can use to get you to where you need to be and you should focus on that.

2.  They gave what little they had to Jesus.  Bishop T.D. Jakes preached a message some time ago from this text entitled “Leftovers!” You always have something left and Jesus can work with your leftovers.  Whether it be your finances, your job, your marriage, your relationships, no matter what it is, take your Leftovers to Jesus!

3.  Jesus gave Thanks before anything else.  There is power wrapped up in praise.  If you cannot thank God for where you are, then He cannot take you to where you need to be, because you are telling Him that you do not trust Him.  With your actions, you are saying that you situation is bigger than your God.  Jesus gave thanks and so should we.

4.  God multiplied the Leftovers in the Hands of Jesus.  God can do the miraculous in our lives as well, if we would only Trust Him!  He fed 5,000 men (not counting the women and children) with a little boy’s lunch.  Can He not meet our your need this morning?

When your resources are insufficient, go to the SOURCE  —  God Himself!

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Yesterday’s message was from John 6 where Jesus fed 5,000 men with two small fish and five small barley loaves of bread.  The message was about what to do when our resources are insufficient and the answer was that we should go to the ultimate SOURCE  —  God Himself!  This morning I am led to piggy back off of that same message.  Several times yesterday that message ministered to me.  I found myself in several situations where my resources were insufficient.

I began to imagine being there with Jesus as He multiplied the little boy’s lunch to feed the multitude.  I imagined myself watching Him breaking the bread in this hands and then new bread showing up.  Fresh, tasty, nourishing, bread from the Master’s table.  And then what about those fish?  Two little fish fed the multitudes.  Someone once said that every time He popped one head off, a new one grew right back.  Multiplying bread is one thing, but fish are living organisms and have a reproductive cycle that they are ‘supposed’ to go through.  There are natural laws that would prohibit such a miracle.  But Jesus, the author of the law, the grand sum total of all equations, the King of Glory, superceded those natural laws to meet a physical need.  What an awesome God.  The disciples could not have done it if they wanted to.  Even if they had the money, they probably could not have found a place that could have prepared enough food.  Jesus prepared a banquet, on the side of a mountain, all because there was a need.  The people had insufficient resources and the SOURCE made a way.

So what does this mean to you today? Our resources are limited.  We are finite, but God is infinite.  We live in time, but God lives in eternity.  God knows and understand all of this.  He knows that people some times get on our nerves.  He knows that we often times find ourselves at our wits’ end.  He knows that our patience, from time to time, can run thin.  He knows that our heart sometimes grows weary.  The answer to all of this, however, is Jesus!

No matter what you stand in the need of this morning, God can meet it.  No matter what your limitations are, He can overcome then.  No matter what your frustration is, He can remove it.  Will you pause for a moment and take your cares to the Source?

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(John 6:19b NIV)  …they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on water, and they were terrified.

We left off with Jesus having fed 5,000 with two little fish and five barley loaves.  He then dismisses the crowd and goes up into a mountainside to pray.  When evening time came, His disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum.  We know from Mark’s account of this event that Jesus had instructed them to do so.  The disciples were rowing, but they were also looking and hoping for Jesus to catch up with them.  By now it was dark and Jesus had not yet joined them.  Mark’s account let’s us know that it was the fourth watch of the night (between 3am – 6am).  A strong wind was now blowing and the waters grew rough.  They had rowed about 3 and a half miles already and finally, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on water, and they were terrified.  But He said to them, it is I, don’t be afraid.  Then they were willing to take Him into the boat and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.  They next day the crowd on the opposite side of the lake realized that only one boat had left and they knew that Jesus had not left with His disciples.  The crowd then sought out to find Jesus.

Many of us find ourselves in situations like the disciples did.  They were doing what Jesus told them to do, but they still found themselves in the middle of a storm.  To make it even worse, it was the forth watch of the night.  They were alone, tired, weary, and frustrated.  Have you ever been there?  I am sure that many are right there this morning?  Your arms are tired of rowing and you keep looking around for Jesus and can seemingly not find Him.  You feel like you are doing the right thing, but the storm is still raging in your life.

What does this message mean to you today? God wants to make Himself manifest to you, today, but you cannot seek Him with natural eyes.  The disciples were confused because they were expecting Jesus to come in a boat.  The multitude were also confused because they only saw one boat leave and they knew that Jesus was not in it.  The message this morning is not to try to fit God into our meager understanding of Him.  God is bigger and greater than our picture of Him and whenever we try to put Him in a box, we miss Him altogether.

God loves you and wants to make Himself real to you  —  today!  But you cannot limit Him to coming to you in your way.  What if He comes to you through your children?  What if He comes to you through your boss?  What if He comes to you through your subordinates?  What if He comes to you through the weather?  What if He comes to you through this email?  And so on.  Will you receive Him?  The disciples were weary, tired, and afraid, but Jesus said, “It is I, don’t be afraid!”  God says to you and I this morning, “It is I, don’t be afraid!”

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(John 6:35 NIV)  Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

We left off yesterday with the multitude looking for Jesus because they had not seen Him get into the boat and could not imagine that He could walk on water.  When they found Him on the other side of the lake, the asked Him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”  Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.  Then they asked Him a critical question, “What must we do to do the works that God requires?”  Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.”  They then asked what sign God will give to those who believed.  Jesus explained that God blessed our forefathers of the faith with Manna in the desert.  As it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”  Jesus then explained that the Father could give them (and us) the true bread from heaven.  “Sir,” the said, “from now on give us this bread.”  This is where we pick up our text.  Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

We live in the midst of chaotic times (15 Apr 03).  This week is Holy Week and I have not heard anything about it.  Our television and radio broadcasts are inundated with the coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  There is a SARS epidemic spreading throughout the Orient and doctors are clueless as to what to do.  We have not heard much from or about North Korea in a while, but it is still in the back of many people’s minds.  The more we learn of Iraq, the more we learn of the tyrannical rule of a mad man and the plight of a people.  It is easy to lose focus.

The Jews that spoke to Jesus were following Him for the wrong reasons.  They were coming for the fish and the bread Jesus helped them to recalibrate their focus.  They then sought after the Bread of Life.  Many of us have also lost our focus this morning.  Many have allowed the affairs of this world to overtake their lives.  The Word of the Lord this morning is fresh Manna from heaven.  God fed the nation of Israel a daily diet of heavenly bread.  They did not have to store up the bread to hoard it for the next day, God fed them daily.  Likewise this morning, you and I do not have to live our life, nor face this day off of yesterday bread.  God can give us fresh bread from heaven that will keep us and sustain us, as we endeavor to do His will.  Are you ready to receive?

Prayer: Our Father and our God, have mercy on us this morning.  Renew our minds and give us people in our hearts.  Help us Lord to keep our minds stayed on focused on You.  Help us Lord not to allow the affairs of this world to overtake us.  We are hungry and stand in the need of the Bread of Life.  Feed us that we will never grow hungry.  Give unto us that we will never grow thirsty.  We look for our sufficiency in YOU!  We love you and know that you love us.  Help us to be both light and salt in this dying and decaying world.  None of us and ALL of YOU.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Did you receive the Bread of Life this morning?  If so, you are ready for your day.

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(John 7:6 NIV)  Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for Me has not yet come; for you any time is right.”

Chapter six ended off with many disciples leaving Jesus after He was talking about them having to eat of His flesh drink of His blood.  Some thought that He spoke of cannibalism, but they missed it altogether.  Chapter seven opens up with Jesus in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take His life.  When the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles rolled around, Jesus’ brother said to Him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.  No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret.  Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”  We pick up our text here and Jesus tells them,“The right time for Me has not yet come; for you any time is right.”

In the Gospels (especially in John) we see a recurring theme of the contrast between light and darkness, between the flesh and the spirit, between the world and the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to be out in the spotlight, they wanted Him to seek glory for what He was DOING!  Jesus had stated numerous times previously, however, that His will was to do the will of the Father.  He only did what the Father told Him to do.  At the point of our text the Feast of the Tabernacles was near.  His brothers thought that this was a prime opportunity for Jesus to once again get out in front of the people; but they had missed Jesus’ purpose altogether.  Jesus would go to the Feast, but only in God’s timing.

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:

1.  God hates pride:  Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov 16:18).  You cannot operate in the Spirit and operate in pride at the same time.  Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to receive the spotlight, but Jesus always redirected all glory to the Father.  We would learn well from this.  God may bless us to do well and certain things and rightly so.  We should strive to be the Best at everything that we do, but we should always remember to redirect all glory to the Father.  As my Pastor puts it, “He gets the glory, we get the benefits!”  Enjoy the benefits of living a Godly life, but avoid pride if you want to keep receiving them.

2.  God will exalt you, in His timing:  Jesus’ brothers were thinking naturally and wanted Jesus to go right then and there.  Jesus had not yet received clearance from the Father, however.  God rules time and is not ruled by it.  His timing and our timing do not always line up.  We would do good to learn this lesson from Jesus.  We should learn to WAIT until God says it is time before we do things outside of His will.

Do you want to be blessed?  Do you want to be the best at what you do?  If so, avoid the pride and allow God to do the elevating and you will see His glory made manifest in your life.

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(John 7:15,16 NIV)  The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”  Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own.  It comes from Him who sent me.”

Yesterday we talked about God’s timing and How Jesus did not immediately go to the Feast of the Tabernacles, although his brothers thought He should.  Half way through the Feast He did go.  He showed up at the temple courts and did what He normally did, He began to teach.  This is where we pick up our text.  The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”  Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own.  It comes from Him who sent me.”

The message this morning is short and simple.  God can bless you to do whatever you do  —  in His name and to His glory  —  better!

If you were a good teacher before coming to God, the Holy Spirit can anoint you to teach better.  If you were a good mechanic before coming to God, the Holy Spirit can anoint you to repair better.  If you were a good electronic engineer before coming to God, the Holy Spirit can anoint you to design better.  If you were a good cook before coming to God, the Holy Spirit can anoint you to prepare food better.  Likewise, if you were a good husband before coming to God, the Holy Spirit can anoint you to be a better husband; and so on.

The Jews were amazed because Jesus never attended their schools of Theology, but He was blowing their minds.  As a matter of fact, Jesus was teaching the religious rulers at the age of 12.  This was not because of something that the world taught Him, but because the Father sent Him through the University of the Spirit.  If you are a Born-Again believer, then you have access to the Father in the name of Jesus.  You also have the power of the Holy Spirit.  You can pray to the Father in Jesus’ name and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be a better craftsman, laborer, manager, executive and etc.  You can also ask Him to help you to be a better mother, wife, daughter, father, husband, son, and etc.  No matter what you do, you can do it better  —  to the glory of God.

Prayer Father God.  You are a God of progression and not regression.  You anointed Jesus to meet the needs of the people, to Your glory.  Please anoint me to do the same.  I also pray that you bless me to be all that I possible can be in You!  As I go throughout this day and this week, bless me to prosper at all that I put my hands to do and I will be always mindful to give you all the glory, honor, and praise.  In the matchless name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.

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(John 7:30 NIV)  At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His time had not yet come.

Last message, we left Jesus teaching at the Feast of the Tabernacles.  The people were amazed at His teachings, but they were also amazed that the Jewish leadership had not yet apprehended Jesus.  Some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?  Here He is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to Him.  Have the authorities really concluded that He is the Christ?”  Shortly thereafter Jesus makes another statement that proclaims His deity.  This is where we pick up our text.  At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His time had not yet come.

I just got back from a trip and I thank God for traveling mercy.  On this trip, however, it seemed like nothing was easy.  We got everything done  —  to the glory of God  —  but everything took several tries before it worked.  Yesterday seemed to me like a week.  It was a day that did not want to end.  One thing after another seemed to cause me so much difficulty.  All the way through it, however, I was thanking God and keeping my eyes on Him.

So what does this have to do with this text and what does this have to do with you today? Well, the Jewish leadership attempted to seize Jesus, but they could not lay one hand on Him, because His time had not yet come.  This text speaks to Destiny and it speaks to Sovereignty.  See, God knows the end from the beginning.  Knowing that, He both permits and prevents things from happening in our lives.  Let’s use Jesus as an example.  In this passage, God prevented anyone from laying a hand on Him, but we know that later on, He permitted it.  Why?  Because it was part of Jesus’ destiny.

Yesterday was a tough day for me and I know that God could have prevented some of the things that happened from happening, but you know what, He did not! He permitted them to happen.  So what should I do about it?  Should I get mad at God and at the world for having a tough day, NO!  I praise God anyhow and keep on stepping!  As Pastor S.L. Moton puts it, “God can both permit or prevent things from happening in your life.  Whatever He Permits to happen, He has Purpose wrapped up in!”

So no matter what you are going through this morning and no matter how tough the situation may be  —  Trust God!  He will bring you through!

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(John 7:40,41 NIV) On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”  Others said, “He is the Christ.”

As we continue our quest through the Gospel according to St. John, we find Jesus on the last (and greatest day) of the Feast of Tabernacles.  Picture this day, it is the eighth and final day of the feast.  The Jews are fasting and it is hot outside.  They have not had anything to eat or drink for hours.  Many of them are wearing sackcloth as clothes and ashes on their forehead as a symbol of humility while they are fasting.  They are seeking God spiritually, but their physical body wants nourishment and refreshment.  Can you see them?  While they are in this position, out of no where, here comes Jesus.  He stands up and with a loud voice cries out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  This is where we pick up our text, with the response of the crowd.  On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”  Others said, “He is the Christ.”

There is a lot to deal with in this passage.  Let’s just look for a couple of golden nuggets:

1.  The Holy Spirit is the answer to man’s void:  They were physically thirsty and hungry when Jesus made this declaration.  Jesus’ declaration, however, alluded to the fact that God would offer us rivers of living water  —  in His precious Holy Spirit  —  and not just temporary refreshment.  We are all born with a void.  A void that money, sex, drugs, alcohol, women, men, and etc. will never be able to fill.  Like physical water, they can only satisfy us for a time.  The Holy Spirit, however, is our source of continual and everlasting refreshment, nourishment, and power.  If you are a Born-Again believer this morning and you are feeling down, if you are thirsty, if you are hungry, if you are sluggish  —  turn to the refreshing Power of the Holy Spirit that lives within you.  Allow Him to well up in you as a source of Living and Eternal water.  Pray and watch Him manifest His glory in your life.

2.  This answer still remains illusive to many:  Even with all the miracles that they saw Jesus perform, even with all the physical signs and wonders, even with many of the crowd having tasted of the two fish and five loaves that fed 5,000; still many of them did not believe.  Our text says that some still viewed Jesus as a prophet, while others as the Anointed One and His Anointing (Christ).

Who is Jesus to you?  Is He just a prophet?  Is He someone you like to read stories about?  Was He just a good man?  If this is all that Jesus is to you, then you will never taste of that living water and never have your void filled by the Power of the Holy Spirit.  But if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who came as the Son of Man, so that the sons of men, could become the sons of God, and you have repented of your sin and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, then you have access to this living water.

No matter what you stand in the need of today  —  The Holy Spirit  —  the living water, can meet it!  I’ll close with the words of Jesus, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!”

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(John 7:52 NIV) They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

As we continue our quest through the Gospel according to St. John, we encounter the temple guards who wanted to seize Jesus, but no one laid a hand on him.  Finally, they went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”  “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared.  “You mean He has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted.  “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?  No!  They concluded that the crowd that followed Jesus did so out of ignorance of the law.  Now Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and knew the law, asked, “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?”  This is where we pick up our text.  They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

I heard a message preached some time ago by Pastor Carl E. Garmon Sr. that was entitled “Don’t Judge my Future by my Past!” This text flows in that same vein.  The rulers of the time were attempting to dismiss Jesus’ future because of his past.  Their dismissal, however, could not derail His Destiny!  Their deterrence could not deny His Deity! The adversary’s plan to destroy Jesus would ultimately lead to his demise and eventually his destruction.

What does this mean to you today? Maybe you did not grow up on the ‘right-side’ of the tracks.  Maybe you were not born with a silver spoon in your mouth.  Maybe you do not come from a long line of preachers, lawyers, doctors, or etc.  Maybe your heritage is not worthy of display in the minds of many.  There are two words that I learned a long time ago that have really blessed me.  The first word is “SO” and the second word is “WHAT!”  People may try to bring up your past to dismiss your future, but there is a small problem with their logic.  They are not taking into account something called ‘Destiny.’

Yes, they tried to dismiss, derail, deny, and even destroy Jesus, but He was destined and so are you!  So when people bring up your past in an attempt to disillusion you, simply say within yourself “So What” and say to them“Don’t Judge my Future by my Past!”

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(John 8:11 NIV) “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8 opens with Jesus at the Mount of Olives.  He began to teach and a crowd gathered around Him to hear what He had to say.  While He was teaching, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.  They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  They were hoping that He would go against the law.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus and the woman were left.  Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”  This is where we pick up our text.  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

There are some interesting twists in this story.  Like for example, if the woman was really caught in the act of adultery, then where was the man she was caught with?  Why would the Pharisees accuse her before the crowd and not the man?  Or why would the so called teachers of the time attempt to interrupt the greatest Teacher with this mess in the front of everybody?  It just does not seem right and it never does.  The adversary is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10).  He will constantly sends people our way to accuse us and seemingly destroy our witness.  The bible teaches us, however, that we have an advocate (1 Jn 2:1) with the Father.  Just like in this text, Jesus is our advocate, our counselor, our lawyer, and our friend.

So what does this mean to you today? Listen, sin is sin.  I will not today, nor will I ever, condone sin.  We have not been saved to sin; we have been saved to serve.  We should all strive to live a holy and sanctified life before God.  But we must also remember that God and God alone is our Judge.  The adversary will constantly accuse us and try to get us to feel that we are not worthy of God and His blessings.  Let me help you out for a minute  —  YOU ARE NOT WORTHY! None of us are worthy of God and what He has done for us, so get over it! God blesses us in spite of us.  Accept His forgiveness and seek to live a life of Holiness!

No matter what you have done and no matter how bad you may feel; repent of your sin, accept God’s forgiveness, and then Go, and sin no more!

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(John 8:12 NIV)  When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus always met people where they were.  He told people that were hungry that He was the ‘Bread of Life.’  He told people that were thirsty to come unto Him in drink.  He told a lady who had just lost her brother (Lazarus) that He was the Resurrection and the Life!  This morning we find Jesus in the feast of the Tabernacles in the Women’s Court.  In this court there were two huge candelabras that held a multitude of candles.  They were lit up after the evening sacrifice.  It is said that its light shined all throughout the city.  It is in this setting that Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s look at a few things:

1.  God knows how to meet us where we are:  Jesus came down to people’s level then and He continues to do the same today.  No matter who you are, no matter your background, no matter you situation, God can meet you where you are and take you to where you need to be.

2.  Jesus was the light of the world:  He came and shined in the midst of darkness and the darkness comprehended Him not.  He came to illuminate the path to righteousness, peace, and joy.  He came to show us the way out of our dark and destructive lifestyles.  He came as the light of the world.

3.  He has passed that light on to us:  He said that whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness (ignorance), but will have the light of life.  We have that light for a couple of reasons:

a.  Individual Salvation:  So that we could have a relationship with God and have the knowledge and power to keep us from walking in ignorance.

b.  Corporate Witness:  So that we could shine in the midst of a dark and decaying world and lead lost people to the only Savior  —  Jesus the Christ!

If you are a follower of Jesus then you ought to be the light in your workplace, your home, your family, and your community.  Can people see the light in YOU?  If not, it is time to make some changes.

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(John 8:31, 32, & 36 MSG)  Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in Him and said, “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure.  Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and truth will free you.”  (v.36)  “So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.”

In John’s 8th chapter, Jesus has been teaching for a while.  Some have believed and some not.  In our text for this morning, Jesus turns to the Jews who claimed to believe in Him and says, “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure.  Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and truth will free you.” Surprised, they said, “But we’re descendants of Abraham.  We’ve never been slaves to anyone.  How can you say, “The truth will free you?”  Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead end life and is, if fact, a slave.  A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will.  The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house.”  And then He said, “So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.”

The Message Bible does such a good job of making this text so plain to us.  Before we gave our lives to Christ we were slaves, simply put.  Slaves to sin and death.  Many of us, like the people in the text, thought that we were OK and that we were somehow going to make it to heaven because we were ‘Good’ or ‘Religious’ people.  I am sure that the Jews considered themselves both ‘Good’ and ‘Religious.’  Our life, however, without Christ is (as Jesus put it) a dead end.  Without Christ we are existing, but not living. Without Christ we are bound and don’t even know it.  Without Christ we are shackled in our minds, our bodies, and our spirit; and the worst thing about it is that we are ignorant to this invisible imprisonment.  Jesus Christ came to illuminate our helpless situation and to show us the way to out!

Our text not only instructs us to come to Jesus, but rather to move beyond salvation towards discipleship.  We must stick with this thing and live it out, then we will be disciples for sure!  We cannot be Christians in name only.  The reality of our relationship must manifest itself in our life and living, so that we truly can be Free! So that we truly can enjoy the Liberty, Vitality, and Fervency that this Christian life has to offer.  Simply put, Jesus came that we might have Life and have it More Abundantly!

Like most things, you will get out of your Christian walk, what you put into it.  Are you willing to stick with this thing and live it out?  Are you willing to give God your all?  If so, you will experience the wonderful power of Christian Liberty, because if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through!

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(John 9:1-3 NIV)  As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that He was born blind?”  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned” said Jesus, “but this happened so the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

John’s 9th chapter opens with a problem for many of us today.  I call it a problem because we like everything to make sense in our lives.  If we serve God, we expect everything to go well  —  and rightly so  —  but that will not always be the case.  The big question is “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Whenever something bad happens we want to immediately make the connection to some area in which we may be weak or lacking.  The truth is however that even Born-Again, Spirit-Filled, Fired-Up believers in Christ; that are living lives that are pleasing in His sight, are going to have trouble.  Being a Christian does not exonerate us from trouble.  Jesus said very clearly that in this world we would have tribulation, but our peace is in knowing that He has already overcome it (John 16:33).

In our text Jesus saw a man that was blind from birth.  His disciples, using natural logic, asked about the cause of the blindness.  Their thinking, like ours is often times, was that someone had to have done something wrong.  So was it he or his parents?  Jesus’ reply was neither, but this happened so the work of God might be displayed in his life. Jesus went on to heal this man and God got the glory from the healing.

There are many of examples of this in scripture, the most famous of which is Job.  Job did not do anything to spur everything going haywire in his life.  God never caused the bad things to happen, but He did permit them to happen.  At the end of his tribulation, however, Job had twice as much as He started out with and we are still talking about him today.  Why?  Because God got the glory out of his trouble.

I can preach and teach to you about God’s healing, provision, direction and protection all day long.  These things may or may not become real in your life by my preaching and teaching.  But if you were ever sick and God healed you, ever in lack and God provided for you, ever lost and God showed you the way, or ever in trouble and God protected you; then that would be more real to you than all the preaching in the world.  The truth is that God permits bad things to happen to good people so that His glory could be made manifest in their lives.

So if you are struggling this morning and going through a storm, hold on God and don’t let go.  This too shall pass and you will be able to give tell your story and give God the glory!

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(John 9:25 NIV)  He replied, “Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see.”

Yesterday we talked about Jesus healing a man that was born from birth.  Well, this sure stirred up some stuff within the religious community of the time.  They began to debate whether or not He healed the man.  They questioned the man and the man told them that he was born blind, but could now see.  They seemingly did not believe the man, so they called his parents in and questioned them.  His parents said affirmed that he was born blind, but could now see.  Since it did not look like they were going to be able to discredit what happened, many started to denounce Jesus because He healed this man on the Sabbath.  They were divided amongst themselves, however, because some of them realized that the healing power of God being made manifest was more important than any traditional practices.  Since they were still divided, they called the man in again for questioning.  They asked him whether or not the man was a sinner who did this.  This is where we pick up our text.  He replied, “Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see.”

So what does this mean to you today? There are many things we can learn from this passage, but let’s two look at two golden nuggets:

1.  The devil will always try to bring out the negative in things:  Here it is, Jesus has healed a man that was born from birth, and all they could attempt to do was discredit the act, instead of giving God the glory.  No matter how well you do in life and how much you attempt to serve God and be a blessing to others, there will always be naysayers.  Don’t let the negativity of the world affect your witness, nor your testimony.  This man was called in twice and was pressured to change his story, but he did not.  He held to the truth and gave God the glory and we would do well in doing the same.

2.  We all have a testimony:  I love this 25th verse.  He did claim to know many things.  He did not claim to have eloquent speech.  He did not quote any Old Testament prophets.  He did not try to say what he did not know, he just simply stated what he did, and that was the he was blind, but could now see!  Likewise, you may not be able to quote the bible from Genesis to the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  You may not know big words or be charismatic in your speech.  You may feel prepared to stand before people.  But you don’t need anything of these things to glorify God in your life.  All you need to be able to do is to tell people what God has done for you, in your own language.  Don’t try to tell someone else’s testimony, just stick to yours and God will bless it.

So this morning and everyday, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to get beyond the negativity of this life and to has the courage to tell people about the goodness of Jesus and all He has done for you!

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(John 10:10 MSG)  A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy.  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

John’s 10th chapter opens with Jesus addressing the religious rulers for their maltreatment of the man that He healed who was born blind.  He basically told them that although they could physically see, they were spiritually blind.  He then goes into painting the picture of His relationship with the people of God as one of a Shepherd and his sheep.  He likens the sheep to being in the sheep’s pen and the Shepherd to being then only one with the legal rights to enter through the gate of the pen.  The watchman will open the gate for the shepherd and him alone.  The sheep listen to his voice and the voice of another, they will not follow.  He goes out ahead of them and leads them in the way He would have them to go.  They follow Him, because they know His voice.  While Jesus was using this analogy, they did not understand what He meant.  Therefore, Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come out and find pasture.”  This is where we pick up our text, and He goes on to say, “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy.  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

So what does this mean to you today? This passage is chock full of golden nuggets.  Let’s seek a few for this morning application:

1.  Sheep are dumb animals:  God made a perfect illustration when He likened us to sheep.  Sheep have a terrible sense of direction.  Sheep keep their faces down while they are eating and they focus on the grass sometimes more than where they are going.  They can easily go astray.  We are just like sheep.  We can so easily get caught up in what we are doing that we miss God’s big picture (destiny) for our lives and are often times easily led astray.  But we can also find power in the analogy of the sheep.  They sheep really don’t need to know where they are going, just as long as they know WHO they are following.  Likewise, even when we are nibbling on our daily grass and seemingly stray East and West, we would do good in hearing the voice of the Shepherd (prayer) and continuing to follow Him!

2.  The Shepherd loves the sheep:  The shepherd ensures that the sheep are in the pen.  While they are in the pen he can provide protection from the wolves, lions, and bears.  If a sheep ever gets out of the pen and wanders away, they shepherd would leave the 99 in search of the 1.  God loves us so much that He wants to shower us with His protection and peace.  He wants us to stay in the center of His will.  If ever we stray, however, He will search us out and make every attempt to lead us home.

3.  The Shepherd wants nothing but the best for the sheep:  The wolves, lions, and bears of the world want nothing more than to eat the sheep and enjoy their demise.  Our text for this morning makes it clear that the purpose of the enemy is to steal, kill, and destroy.  He wants nothing good for us.  The Shepherd, however, has purposed to provide the sheep a better life than they ever dreamed of.

Are you wandering today?  Are you off course?  Have you allowed the enemy to lead you astray?  If so, then you read this message with the voice of the Shepherd and He has come by way of this email to lead you back home.  He loves you and He wants nothing but the best for you.  For those of us who are in the pen this morning, this message is a reminder that God has plans for our life that are better than we ever dreamed of.  As we walk with Him and follow His voice, we will see those plans made manifest from day to day.

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(John 11:4 NIV)  When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death.  NO, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

John’s 11th chapter opens up with mention of a man named Lazarus being sick.  This man was from Bethany and was the brother of Mary and Martha.  This was the same Mary who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair.  So the sisters sent word to the Jesus, “Lord, the one who you love is sick.”  This is where we pick up our text.  When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death.  NO, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Here you have a family that loved God and whom was loved by God.  Whenever Jesus would come to town, He stayed with them and He enjoyed their presence.  Mary, Martha, and Lazarus had a special relationship with Jesus, one that many possibly wished they could have.  Their relationship, however, would not exonerate them from tragedy reaching their home.  Sickness seemingly creeped in through the night and struck Lazarus.  He must have been really sick, because the sisters sent word to Jesus.  This was their desperate attempt to deal with a situation that was bigger than anything they could control.  What was Jesus’ response to all of this?  Did He jump up and immediately run to Bethany?  Did He speak the Word and dispatch healing angels through the air?  Did He send the disciples to work on His behalf?  No, He hung around where He was for two more days.  Why?  Because He already knew what the end of the issue would be and that there was purpose wrapped up in this sickness.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s look at some piratical golden nuggets that we can find in the text:

1.  Being a Christian does not mean that we will never go through any storms.
2.  Whenever situations enter your life that are bigger than your capacity to handle, take it to the Lord in prayer.
3.  When you pray, remember that you are not sending breaking news to God, like a reporter on the front lines.  He knows everything that has and will ever happen to us.
4.  Whatever He permits to enter the arena of our lives, He has purpose wrapped up in.
5.  His timing is not our timing.
6.  Never give up on God, no matter how grim the circumstances may seem!

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(John 11:15 NIV)  “and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.  But let us go to him.”

Yesterday we found out that Jesus received word that Lazarus was sick.  We also found out what Jesus’ response to the new was.  He said, “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  Jesus’ response unveiled the purpose behind the problem and it also resulted in Jesus proclaiming a promise.  So the purpose what so that God would get the glory and the promise was that this sickness would not end in death.  This is important to remember as we continue to walk through this story.

Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  Yet, after He heard this, He stayed where He was for two more days.  Then He told His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”  They did not want to go back there because the religious rulers of the time had attempted to stone Jesus the last time He was there.  Jesus would go anyway.  After discussing the danger, Jesus went on to tell them, “Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”  His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”  Jesus was not talking about natural sleep and his disciples had, once again, misunderstood Him.  So then He told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”  This is where we pick up our text, where He goes on to say, “and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.  But let us go to him.”

Our text unveils another facet of the purpose in the pain.  Not only was God to get the glory, but this miracle would aide the disciples in there quest from doubt to belief.  Jesus had already said that Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death and He also said that he was asleep, but that He would go and wake him up.  The situation was grave.  Lazarus was already dead.  Jesus had spoken these things and He could not make Himself out a liar.  In the midst of all of this, He says, “But let us go to him.”  Thank God for the BUT!  This changes the mood of the story and now Jesus is moving towards the miracle.

WOW!  There is a lot in this passage.  Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets that can apply to our lives today:

1.  Delay does not mean Denial.
2.  God will never go back on His Word.
3.  Some people will be blessed by the testimony you have of the storms you have endured.
4.  Even if your situation, your dream, your marriage, your children, are seemingly DEAD, God can still interject a BUT!
5.  Nothing is too hard for God!

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(John 11:17  NIV)  On His arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

This morning we pick back up with the story of Lazarus.  There story is so power packed that we have taken our time walking through it.  Let’s recap:

  • Lazarus got sick
  • His sisters sent word for Jesus
  • Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.”
  • Jesus hung around where He was for two more days and then takes off for Bethany

So here it is, Jesus finally arrives at the scene and not only is Lazarus dead, but he had been dead for four days.  By this point he was legally dead.  It was the Jewish custom to wait until the fourth day to legally pronounce death, as if to ensure that the person was truly dead.  Jesus arrives after Lazarus’ illness had resulted in life leaving his body.  Jesus arrives after the professional mourners had already mourned his death with the family.  Jesus arrives after they had already prepared the body for burial and wrapped it in grave clothes.  Jesus arrives after the Jews had already legally pronounced his death.  Jesus arrives after rigor mortis had set in and the body had already begun to stink.  It was a terrible situation, but Jesus was now on the scene!

So what’s the message in this mess for this morning?  The message is that God wants Maximum glory out of our situations!  He wants to bless us, but He wants to do it in such a way that there will not be any confusion on who the originator of the blessing was.  God does not want his glory taken by man.  God does not want to heal you so you can the glory to the doctors.  He will do it in such a way that you know the doctors could not have done it.  God does not want to deliver you, loose you, free you, bless you, and etc. and then you give His glory to someone else.  He often times waits until the situation is bigger than human possibility before He manifests His Divine Power!

So no matter who you are and no matter how dead your situation may seem, when God shows up, He can make the world’s impossibilities a reality in your life.  Are you willing to trust God, even when it looks like you should give up all hope?  God can revitalize your dead dreams!  Will you believe Him to do it?

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(John 11:35 NIV)  Jesus wept.

This morning we continue our walk through the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.  Yesterday we left off where Jesus finally arrived at Bethany and Lazarus had been dead for four days and his death was now legally recognized.  Upon His arrival, Martha came out to meet Jesus and Mary stayed at home.  Martha said, “Lord, if you had here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  She misunderstood His statement to be of someone of rising again in the last day, but Jesus spoke on an immediate resurrection from the dead.  Martha then called for Mary to come out and meet Jesus.  “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.”  When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him.  When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews that had come along with her began to weep also, He was deeply moved in His spirit.  He asked where they had laid him and was taken there.  This is where we pick up our text and, Jesus wept.

So what does this mean to you today? What lessons can we learn from this portion of the passage?  Let’s look at two golden nuggets:

1.  It is OK to be real with God:  Both Martha and Mary had the same response to meeting Jesus, they both said, “Lord, if you had here, my brother would not have died.”  They were basically complaining.  There is a song that I really enjoy entitled “I won’t complain!”  But to be honest, sometimes I do.  When we pray it does not always have to be some canned and prepared prayer.  We don’t have to use King James English for God to hear us.  We don’t have to sit or stand or kneel.  We don’t have to have our eyes closed or our eyes open.  There is not set way to pray and there is not set manner in which to come.  Simply communicate with God and it is definitely OK to share with God what you have on your heart.  Both Martha and Mary told Jesus how they felt and what was bothering them and Jesus heard them and had compassion on them.  No matter what your care or concern is this morning, take it to the Lord in prayer and when you do  —  It is OK to be real with God!

2.  Our God is Compassionate and Cares about us:  Jesus cried like we cry.  He shed tears like we shed tears.  He was moved like we are moved.  See, we do not serve a distant and despondent God.  We serve a God that came down and lived like we live so that He could meet us where we are.  He worked like we work.  He sweated like we sweat.  He slept like we sleep.  He loved like we love.  But He also hurt like we hurt.  Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and He also loves us.  So don’t afraid to take your concerns to God.  Remember that Our God is Compassionate and Cares about us!

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(John 11:39 NIV)  “Take away the stone,” He said.

This morning is the beginning of a new week and we seek to glean some more life lessons from God’s Holy Word.  We are still in the story of Lazarus.  I am trying to get through it, but every time I run across a verse it seems to call out to me and ask me to say something about it.  This morning, our text did just that.  We left off on Friday with the shortest verse in the bible, (John 11:35) Jesus wept.  We talked about how it is OK to be real with a compassionate God.  When the people there saw that Jesus shed tears they said, “See, how He loved him!”  But others said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of a blind man have kept this man from dying?”  The true answer to this question is yes.  Jesus could have kept him from dying, but then God would have been glorified in this tremendous miracle that we are still speaking of today.  They finally get to the tomb.  The tomb was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.  This is where we pick up our text.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

I am sure that Jesus could have moved the stone Himself if He had wanted to, but there is a lesson to be learned in His request of them.  See, they did not want to take away the stone because the body was stinking by now.  They did not want to take away the stone because their brother was past help, in their own minds.  They did not want to take away the stone because they had already lost hope.  It had been four days.  Four days of mourning.  Four days of crying.  Four days of waiting on a Jesus that had yet to show up.  By this time they were glad that Jesus was there to comfort them, but they really had no idea that Jesus could turn this hopeless situation around.  Jesus’ request that they take away the stone required faith on their behalf.  This allowed them a part in their own breakthrough.

So what does this mean to you today? Yes, your situation might seem hopeless, beyond repair, and even impossible.  But we serve a God that can turn hopeless situations around.  We serve a God that specializes in our impossibilities.  I have often times said that Desperation is the breeding ground of miracles.  God often places us in hopeless situations so that our desperation causes us to focus on no one but Him.  If this is you today, if you are in a desperate situation, God can still turn your hopeless situation around.  What is the stone in your life that God is asking you to move before He blesses you?  Take away your stone and receive your breakthrough!

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(John 11:40 NIV)  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

This morning we continue our quest through the Gospel according to St. John and we are still in the story of Lazarus.  Yesterday we discussed the family’s requirement in the miracle (taking away the stone) and how we too can be required to participate in our breakthrough.  After Jesus told them to take away the stone, however, their response was not that of immediate action.  “But Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead Lazarus, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”  We have already discussed the significance of the four days and how God’s purpose was wrapped up in it.  God’s purpose, however, had now positioned Lazarus in a place where his family had lost hope and they did not even want to do anything about it.  He was, in tier minds, beyond repair.  He was dead and stinking.  Jesus’ reply did not deal with the condition of Lazarus, but rather the condition of Mary and Martha.  This is where we pick up our text.  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

We can sometimes get into some really tough situations.  We sometimes even place ourselves there and then seek God to get us out.  Now matter how hard, tough, bad, or hopeless your situation may seem this morning  —  it is not over until God says its over!  There is NOTHING too hard for God.  So our breakthrough is not contingent upon whether or not God can do it.  Our breakthrough is not tied to the status of our situation, our breakthrough is tied to the status of our Faith!  Jesus’ reply was tied to Martha’s faith, not Lazarus’ body.  This word “believed” in our text is the same word for faith.  In other words, He said, “If you have faith, you will see God show up and show out!” (my translation).

So no matter where you are and no matter what situation you find yourself in this morning, God can still bless you.  Your situation is not too hard for God.  Your deliverance is not tied to the status of your situation, but rather to the status of your faith.  If you can believe, the Holy Spirit can Achieve!

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(John 11:43,44 NIV)  When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

This morning we continue our quest through the gospel according to St. John.  We have been dealing with the Lazarus account for some days now.  We started off with Jesus saying, when He got word of Lazarus’ condition, “This sickness will not end in death, No it is for God’ glory that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  This morning we can see what He meant by that.  Jesus finally got to the grave yesterday and we know that the body was stinking because it had been dead for four days.  Jesus required faith of Mary, the dead man’s sister.  She operated in faith and took away the stone.  Jesus looks up and says, “Father I thank you that you have heard me.”  This is where we pick up our text.  When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

This entire passage is chock full of power packed application for our lives.  Once again, there are many golden nuggets in our text for this morning, but for the sake of brevity, we will only look at two:

1.  Salvation:  Jesus called Lazarus by name and this was a call from death unto life.  Lazarus, however, had to respond to the call.  Likewise it is with us.  It is not God’s will that any should perish.  God has given us the gift of eternal life and that life is wrapped up in Jesus.  He calls us by name through the mouths of many witnesses.  If we can be honest, however, it took many calls before we ever responded and received Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  If you are not saved this morning, if you have never repented of your sin and accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then this is another call for YOU!  God is speaking to you right now and tugging at your heart and calling you out of your dead and stinking situation.  Like Lazarus, people have discounted and dismissed your destiny, but you don’t have to remain that way.  Like Lazarus, you can respond to the call and receive life in Jesus!

2.  Sanctification:  Salvation is instantaneous, but sanctification is a process.  Lazarus was now alive!  He was no longer and dead, but he was still wrapped up in dead stuff.  He was wrapped up in dead man’s clothes.  He was bound like a mummy from the experience of death.  That’s how it is with us.  When we are Born-Again, yes, we are alive, but we are still wrapped up with dead stuff.  There are many issues that we have to be delivered from.  There are many yokes of bondage that must be destroyed so that we can operate in the freedom that God wants for our lives.  We don’t have to attempt to do this by ourselves.  That is why it is so important to be a member of a church and to receive God’s Word on a consistent basis.  Our fellowship with the brethren will help in the sanctification process.  You don’t believe me?  Look at the text.  Lazarus did not remove the dead stuff by himself.  Jesus sent others to him to help him to attain his freedom.  Hallelujah!

God does not want you to go to hell, He wants you to be saved.  But then after salvation, He wants you to be free!  God wants you to have life and to have it More Abundantly!  Are you willing to receive it?

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(John 11:45 NIV)  Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in Him.

We have walked through the entire Lazarus account.  It started off with Jesus receiving word that Lazarus was sick.  He said, “This sickness will not end in death, No it is for God’s glory that God’s Son may be glorified through it” when He found out.  Yesterday we saw that Lazarus was raised from the dead after four days and then loosed of his grave clothes.  This morning’s text bring closure to the whole matter.  Many of the Jews who had been there mourning with Mary and Martha were present when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  This tremendous miracle served as evidence to them that Jesus was the Messiah and they put their faith in Him.  Jesus’ statement that this sickness was for God’s glory was made manifest.  God did get the glory and the Good Shepherd received new sheep because of it.  But we also have to remember that for these people to come to God and for God to get the glory, there was a family in the middle of the story that had to go through a tremendously painful ordeal.  Lazarus had to experience sickness and eventual death for four days.  Mary and Martha had to experience the loss of the their brother and the hurt in knowing that Jesus had received word, but that He had not yet arrived.  God permitted this tragedy to enter the arena of this family’s life and remember that these were people that He loved.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people, for the glory of God.
2.  When God brings you through a storm, share your testimony, so that God would get the glory.
3.  Learn from other people’s experiences so that God would not have to send you through all the experiences yourself.
4.  It’s never too late for God and it is not over until He says it’s over.
5.  God is always in Control!
6.  Delay does not mean denial!
7.  Whatever God permits to enter the arena of your life, He has purpose wrapped up in!

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(John 11:53 NIV)  So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

Yesterday we talked about how many Jews put their faith in Jesus because they saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead.  Not everyone had this testimony, however.  Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.  The chief Priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  They were afraid that Jesus was going to disrupt their comfortable, but spiritually dead way of life.  One of them, named Caiphas, who was High Priest that year, spoke up.  He said, “You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”  This is where we pick up our text.  So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

So what does this mean to you today?  What golden nuggets can we glean from this text?

1.  In this world we are going to have to deal with trouble and troublesome people (John 16:33).
2.  Not everyone that is IN the church is OF the church.
3.  Religion without relationship is destructive.

God wants to use us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us, but that does not exonerate us from trouble.  Jesus was doing the will of God and being used of Him mightily, but the Sanhedrin still purposed in their heart to do Him harm.  So think it not strange when you are resented for being a child of God.  I know it is hard to believe that some folk will dislike you, just because you are a Christian and are seeking to the do the will of the Father, but this is a reality of our Christian walk.  We find hope, however, in knowing that we do not walk by their feelings, but rather by our faith!  So no matter how folk feel about you, nor how they treat you, keep your faith in God!

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(John 12:5,6 NIV)  “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?  It was worth a year’s wages.”  He did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief as keeper of the money bag he used to help himself to what was put into it.

John 11 closes with the feast of the Passover drawing near.  Many were coming into Jerusalem looking for Jesus, but they were not sure if He was going to show up.  There was a warrant out for his arrest and some thought that He would avoid this place altogether.  Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrives again at Bethany where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived.  They held a dinner in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served the meal, Lazarus was around the table with Jesus, and Mary was doing something special.  Mary took about a pint of pure nard (a very expensive perfume) and poured it on Jesus’ feet and then wiped His feet with her hair.  The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, objected to what was happening.  We pick up our text with his words:  “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?  It was worth a year’s wages.”  He did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief as keeper of the money bag he used to help himself to what was put into it.

It was the custom to spend large sums of money on special ointments that would cover up the odor of the dead.  These ointments, however, were normally applied to bodies after death.  This was a symbolic, pre-anointment of Jesus’ body and preparation for his upcoming death.  Jesus did not have a problem with it because He knew that He would not be with them much longer.  They would always have the poor, but they would soon miss His presence.

What golden nuggets can we apply from this for today?

1.  Some times God will ask you to do strange things.
2.  Follow God’s leadership, even if it takes you down the road less traveled.
3.  Folk are always going to complain about what you do (good or bad).
4.  Seek to please God and not man.
5.  Spend time with God in Worship.

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(John 12:10 NIV)  So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him.

Yesterday we left Jesus at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ house at a dinner held in honor of Him.  While they were having dinner a large crowd of Jews came because they heard that Jesus was there and they also wanted to see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  This is where we pick up our text.  So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him.

The chief priests were losing followers to Jesus at a rapid pace.  They were upset that their temples were emptier than normal and that this “man” had so many followers.  Their jealousy and anger spilled over to Lazarus as well.  Lazarus had done nothing wrong to them.  He did not take any of their followers, he did not speak out against them, the bible does not record Lazarus doing anything against them at all.  But that does not negate the fact that they wanted to kill him.  Why?  Because God had blessed him and raised him from the dead.  God was getting the glory out of his life and the religious rulers were very upset.

So what does this mean to you today? A couple of things:

1.  Religion is dangerous:  There are many atrocities performed daily in the name of religion.  The day that changed our recent history (September 11th), was etched in our minds forever in the name of religion.  God never came to institute religion.  God wants us to have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.  Being religious does not save us from eternal damnation.  Going to church, wearing a rosary, putting a fish symbol on your car, wearing a WWJD T-shirt, and etc. do not seal our seat in heaven.  The people in our text were religious, as a matter of fact, they were the religious rulers, but they were still misguided and missed Jesus while He was walking in their midst.  So don’t get caught up in religion, nor religious rhetoric.  Seek an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ!  Repent of your sins and ask Jesus to come into your life and surrender to His Lordship for the rest of your life.

2.  Expect Persecution:  Lazarus was not doing anything wrong, but they still wanted to kill him.  So it is with us often times.  We may not do anything wrong to someone and they still have a personal vendetta against us.  Why?  Because in this world we are going to have to deal with trouble.  It was not foreign to Jesus, nor His followers and it will not be foreign to us.  You can expect Persecution, but the good news is that Persecution does not mean Prosecution!  We might be Persecuted on every side, but in Christ we have the best Advocate (Lawyer) that we could ever have and we will not  —  ultimately  —  be Prosecuted!  That’s Good News!  So no matter what you are going through today, hold on and don’t let go  —  The Best is Yet to Come!

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(John 12:14  NIV)  Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written.

Yesterday we left off with the people wondering if Jesus would show up in Jerusalem for the Passover feast.  They knew that they was a warrant out for his arrest.  Jesus would show up.  He made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding in on a donkey.  He did this to fulfill the prophecy of Zech 9:9.  We celebrate his triumphant entry on Palm Sunday.  As Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem the people took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting “Hosanna!  Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.  Blessed is the King of Israel!”  They threw the branches down to form a path for the donkey to ride upon.  Some even threw their cloaks down, so that the donkey’s hoofs would not even touch the ground.

So what does this mean to you today? We have dealt with this story a couple of times already and this morning we will look at it from another angle.  Let’s look at it from the donkey’s perspective.  What if the donkey thought that all this ruckus was for him? What if the donkey got excited about the people praising him and throwing palm branches down at his feet?  What if he felt more important than all the other donkey’s because Jesus chose him?  And I could go on with these questions.  The point is that the donkey was doing nothing more that carrying Jesus in to the people.  The donkey was being used to carry the “Light of the World” into a dark and decaying world.  The donkey was doing nothing more that we have been called to do.

Just like the donkey, there is a danger of us getting “the big head” while we serve Christ.  We may be asked to read a scripture during our church service, or maybe say a few words.  We may be asked to teach a bible study or a lead a prayer group.  After we fulfill our assignment, many may come up to us and tell us how good of a job we did.  This is where the danger lies.  Thank God for their comments and leave it at that.  God should always get the glory out of our lives and not we ourselves.  If we are not careful, we will start thinking that the praise is for us, when we are merely “Donkey’s bringing in Jesus!”

In Christian service and in all things, we must keep the right perspective!

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(John 12:16  NIV) At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

Can you see the disciples?  Here they are with Jesus entering into Jerusalem.  They are not really sure what is going on.  This is not the first time that they were in Jerusalem, but they had never been received like this.  There was a warrant out for Jesus’ arrest.  The religious rulers wanted to kill Lazarus.  They really shouldn’t even be out in the open in Jerusalem and then here these people are  —  making a scene.  They are throwing down palm branches, and throwing down their cloaks, creating a path for the donkey to ride.  And then again, what was it about the donkey.  Why was Jesus riding in on a donkey anyway?  The disciples were totally clueless, but they kept on following Jesus.  Later on, after the Resurrection, it was revealed unto them what all of this was about.

So what does this mean to you today? A couple of things:

1.  Trust God, even when you can’t Trace Him:  The disciples did not know what was going on, but they did not leave Jesus.  They did not pack up their bags and go home.  They did not allow frustration, confusion, or uncertainty to keep them from their destiny.  They continued to follow God and they Trusted Him, even when they could not Trace Him.

Application:  There will be many times in your life  —  you may even be there right now  —  where you don’t know what is going on.  You may not know why things are going haywire.  Why you are being pulled from pillar-to-post, from place-to-place.  Dr. O.C. Jones said, “Life is change, growth is optional!”  You cannot grow without change.  For God to take you to another level, to places you have never been, to do things you have never done, He often times has to take us through things we do not understand.  Trust God, even when you cannot Trace Him!  He will reveal the Purpose in the Pain, after a while.

2.  Don’t let what you SEE change what you SAY:  The disciples not only kept on following Jesus, but they kept on supporting Him as well.  Yes, many of them scattered during the crucifixion, but they came back.  It was a dangerous time for them, but they still preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and we are here today talking about God because of it.

Application:  You say you are a Christian.  You say you are a believer.  You say you are the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath.  You say you are more than a Conqueror.  Then don’t let what you SEE (circumstances) change what you SAY (confession).  If you live long enough, you will SEE some difficult situations come across your path, but like the disciples, Keep on Keepin’ On!  Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord!  The Best is Yet to Come!

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(John 12:23,24 NIV)  Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies it produces many seeds.”

Jesus has now made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding in on a donkey, as it was prophesied that He would.  This is the last week of His human life (before crucifixion).  The rest of the Gospel according to St. John deals with this last week and Jesus’ preparation of His disciples for His death.  This morning’s text is the first in a line of statements designed to prepare them for what is soon to come.  He says, “The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies it produces many seeds.”

He was speaking of Himself and How He would soon die, so that we would have a right to the tree of life.  He would become this kernel of wheat for us.  While He was living on the earth He did great things.  He healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, the dumb to speak, and etc.  He was God Incarnate.  He was all of God and all of man.  His Divinity made Him capable of the supernatural, but His humanity limited the scope of His ministry to his locality.  Meaning, He could only minister to the needs of people where He was.  He was meeting the needs in Jerusalem, Galilee, Capernaum, but His ministry was only where He was at the time.  When He died and sent us the Holy Spirit.  This one seed gave birth to many seeds.  We are now millions of seeds walking around in the earth, seeking to be used of God to minister to the needs of men.  My former Pastor calls this the “Continuation of His Incarnation!” We are to continue what He started.  We are seed of His seed and the continuation of His work.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your life is not all about you.  It means that, as a Christian, you have a greater purpose.  It means that you have the power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy.  It means that we should walk like Jesus walked and talk like Jesus talked.  It means that we are His representation on the earth.  We are the Continuation of His Incarnation!

Take a minute to ask yourself:  Can the world see Jesus in me?  Can the world see Jesus in the way that I talk?  Can the world see Jesus in the way that I walk?  If not, it is time to make some changes.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you, and He will!

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(John 12:26 NIV)  Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me.

As we discussed last time, Jesus has made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem and is now is his final week of human life, prior to the crucifixion.  The words that He speaks this week will be etched into the hearts of the disciples long after He is gone.  He is preparing them for their role in the spreading of the gospel.  He says, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me.

There are several golden nuggets in the text.  Let’s seek God for a few that apply to our lives for today:

1.  Choice:  Whoever.  God has given us free will.  Eternal life and Life More Abundantly is available to every person on the planet, but those that receive it, do so because of their personal decision.  God does not have grandchildren.  You are not a Christian because your father is a Pastor, or because your mother leads the choir.  You can only be a Christian by way of a person decision to repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord.  The Choice is Yours!

2.  Description:  serves me.  Christian life is a life of service.  The greatest among us are to be servants.  When Jesus wanted to teach his disciples about leadership, he girded up his clothes, went and got a bucket of water and rag, and began to wash their feet.  If you want to describe the Christian life in one word, the word must be “Service!”  You have not been saved to sit, you have been saved to serve!  In what ways are you serving God?  How will you serve Him today?

3.  Direction:  must follow me.  God gave his disciples (and us) specific instructions  —  we must follow Him.  Life in Christ is a selfless life.  It is no longer about US, it is all about HIM!  When we follow Him, He takes us down paths that we never thought we would go, to do things we never thought we would do  —  all to His glory!  Are you following Christ?  How will you follow Him today?

4.  Location and Protection:  where I am, my servant will also be.  If you accept Him (choice), serve Him (description), and follow Him (direction), you then are blessed with His presence and His presence brings along with it, His protection.  The safest place in the whole wide world is in the will of God.  Are you there this morning?  If not, what is keeping you from His presence?

5.  Blessing:  My Father will honor the one who serves me.  Who doesn’t want to be blessed?  We all do, but God’s blessing is tied to our performance.  When we line our lives up with His Word, then we will receive His reward.  When you do God’s Work, God’s Way, you receive God’s Reward!  Are you ready to receive TODAY?

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(John 12:31-33 NIV)  “Now is the time for judgment upon this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.  But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”  He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die.

At the point of our text Jesus is only a few days away from death.  Jesus’ heart was troubled with his impending death.  He said, “Father save me from this hour.  No, it was the very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name!”  Then a voice came down from heaven saying, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”  The crowd that was there heard it.  Some said it had thundered and others said that an angel had spoken.  Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit not mine.”  This is where we pick up our text, as He continues to say, “Now is the time for judgment upon this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.  But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”  He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die.

So what does this mean to you today?  There is a lot here, but we will only look to glean one golden nugget:

Victory:  “Now is the time for judgment upon this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”  Jesus said this in reference to His death.  Later on Paul said that if the princes of this world would have known what the outcome was going to be, they would have never crucified the Lord of glory (I Cor 2:8).  Jesus’ crucifixion gave us the victory.  His blood shed on Calvary broke the back of the enemy.  The prince of this world (satan) thought he was winning the battle, but he lost the war on Calvary’s cross!  Jesus said that it was time for the prince of this world to be driven out and that is certainly applicable to our lives today.  If you are a Born-Again Christian, then you do not have to live your life under the bondage of satan and his hellish imps.  Realize who you are and whose you are!  You are Covered by the blood of Jesus, Anointed by the Holy Spirit, Called according to God’s perfect plan for your life!  No matter what you are going through today, you can walk in Victory because of Calvary!

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(John 13:16 NIV)  “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

John’s 13th chapter opens just before the Passover feast.  The evening meal had been served and Judas had already been prompted of the devil to go and betray Jesus.  Jesus, knowing that His time was almost up and that He was in the Father’s will, got up, girded up his clothes, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet.  He then dried their feet with the towel around His waist.  Jesus said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place.  He said, “Do you understand what I have done for you?  You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set the example that you should do as I have done for you.”  This is where we pick up our text.  He goes on to say, “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Jesus asked these guys to follow him about 3 years earlier.  They left their families, their homes, their communities, and their friends and did as He said.  They followed Jesus everywhere He went.  It is now the eve of His death.  What will Jesus leave with them?  What will He tell them?  They have already eaten the meal and He is about to be betrayed.  What will He tell them?  What will He do?  He gives them (and us) one of the greatest lessons of leadership.  He girds up his clothes, meaning He took off His outer clothing, wraps a towel around Himself and starts to wash their feet.  There are many lessons in this text.  Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets:

1.  Never be afraid to take off your outer clothing (Rank, Position, Title, etc.).
2.  Meet your subordinates at their level and they will be equipped to accept what you have to say.
3.  Never think you are too important to do what they do.
4.  Set the example for your followers.  Show them what right looks like and they will be better equipped to do it.

Christian Educator Dr. Ted Ward defines leadership as a serving relationship that facilitates human development.  When you look at leadership this way, you realize that the leader has the commitment to serve the led and not only the other way around.  As leaders we are obligated to development our led and we should take this responsibility seriously.  So what does this mean to you today? It is a quick reminder that Christian Living and Leadership both equate to SERVICE!

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(John 13:34,35)  “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so must you love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I have done a great deal of traveling over the past month and I just could not seem to get myself back into my normal routine.  I missed sharing these messages very much and I pray that God would continue to put His Words in my mouth (or on my emails in this case).

This morning we pick back up in John’s 13th chapter.  Jesus knows that his earthly ministry is almost over.  He seeks to give His disciples some last minute lessons that would remain on their hearts.  He took off His outer garments and washed His disciples feet.  He then announces that one of them was going to betray Him.  Judas dipped his bread as Jesus had predicted and he left.  The disciples are surely confused about what is going on.  They are probably still wondering who it is that will betray the Master; and know doubt they would want to deal with that person.  But Jesus then transitioned into another life lesson.  He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so must you love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

What was so new about this commandment?  Surely they had been taught to love before, but this was quite different.  See, there are four Greek words for love:

1.  Starge:  A family type of love.  This is how you love your brothers and sisters.
2.  Eros:  A physical type of love.  This is how you are supposed to love your spouse, and only your spouse.  This love was perverted and became erotic.
3.  Phileo:  This is a brotherly or friendly type of love.  This word is the root word for Philadelphia.  That is why that city is called the city of brotherly love.
4.  Agape:  This is the word used in the text and this is God’s love.  A love that can only be given by the Holy Spirit.

Now we can see why this is a new commandment.  Jesus was saying, I want you to love the way that I love.  I want you to live they way that I live.  I want you to speak they way that I speak.  I want you to forgive the way that I forgive.  None of this is possible, however, without God’s precious Holy Spirit.  God’s Holy Spirit enables us to love God’s way.

So what does this mean to you today? If you are a Christian, it means that love is your only identifying characteristic.  It means that people should know you are a Christian by the way that you love.  If you are not living up to this characteristic, it is time to make some changes.

If you are not a Christian, it means that you cannot love God’s way and you know that there is something missing in your life.  It means that you need to repent and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior so that you too can love the way that God wants us to love.

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(John 13:38 NIV)  Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?  I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Jesus is sharing His the last life-lessons of His earthly ministry.  He tells His disciples that He is going to a place that they cannot go, but that they would follow on later.  Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I go with you?  I will lay down my life for you.”  Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?  I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter had a dynamic personality.  When the disciples were out in the middle of raging waters and thought that Jesus was a ghost, it was Peter who spoke up and said, “Lord, if it is you, bid me to come.”  And Jesus told him to come, and Peter walked on water.  When the disciples were asked who Jesus really was, it was Peter that spoke up and said, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God.”  Later on, when they came to get Jesus, it was Peter that drew his sword and cut a man’s ear off.  Peter was charismatic and Peter was dedicated to Christ.  That is why it is not hard to understand Peter’s declaration that he would lay down his life for Jesus.  But Jesus prophesied that this same Peter would disown him three times before the rooster crowed, and this surely would come to pass.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you are not perfect and God does not expect you to be.  It means that you are going to make mistakes, but God already knew all the mistakes you were going to make.  It means that in spite of your shortcomings, inadequacies, faults, and limitations; God chose YOU!  God chose you to be light in your office.  God chose you to be and example of Him in your home.  God chose you to be His servant in your family.  In spite of your mistakes, God chose YOU!

So no matter how unqualified, unskilled, incompetent, or ill-equipped you may feel to share Jesus with the world, God still chose YOU!  Are you ready to let your light shine today?

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(John 14:1 NIV)  “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust God; trust also in me.”

Jesus has had the Last Supper with the disciples.  He has washed their feet.  He has announced that He would be betrayed.  He has told them that He is going somewhere they cannot go and has also told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crows.  Wow!  These guys have been walking with Him for three years and now He is about they leave them and it seems like everything is going haywire.  He is saying things that they have never heard Him say before.  They are all wondering who it is that is going to betray Jesus.  Peter, who has been the most outspoken and fervent of all the disciples, is somehow now going to disown and deny Him three times.  Their fate is uncertain.  Their future unsure.  It is in the midst of all of this confusion and doubt that Jesus speaks these words,“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust God; trust also in me.”

I can just imagine the scene.  Their hearts are racing, their minds are scurrying.  Things are going crazy, but then all of a sudden, they are reassured.  They are set at peace.  It is almost like the scene where the storms were raging and the waves were beating upon the ship and the disciples thought they were going to die.  Jesus said, “Peace, be still.”  When God speaks atmospheres change.  When God speaks confusion ceases.  When God speaks doubt is eradicated.  When God speaks hopeless situations are turned around. The disciples were afraid and they were troubled, but God spoke into their lives.  He spoke, but they had to receive what He said.

So what does this mean to you today?  It means that Trust is a matter of Choice! He told His disciples not to “let” their hearts be troubled.  They had a choice and so do we.  Things may be going haywire in our lives.  Things may be going crazy.  Our fate may seem uncertain and our future unsure.  All we need do, however, is Trust God!  When we Trust God we are saying to Him that we know that He is bigger than our situation and we know that He can handle it.

So the question for you this morning is: Is your God bigger than your situation or your situation bigger than your God?  Your destiny is locked up in your answer.

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(John 14:2 NIV)  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

Yesterday we saw how Jesus spoke peace and comfort into the lives of the disciples in the midst of confusion and doubt.  He is still in that same conversation when He speaks these words.  The word translated rooms in this text is the Greek word (mone).  This word can be translated mansion, room, or dwelling place.  It comes from the root word (meno), which means to abide, in reference to a location, and indicates permanency.  Jesus knew that they would be fearful once He indicated that He would have to leave them.  He had been their source of strength, courage, light, direction, and provision for three years.  They had left their families, their professions, and their way of life for Him.  In this morning’s text He reassured them, and reassures us, that His departure was not meaningless.  He went to His Father’s house to prepare a specific and permanent dwelling place for us.

So what does this mean to you today? Two things:

1.  Encouragement:  I heard a song written about this text that says, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions, and one of them belongs to ME, and one of the belongs to ME!’  We can find encouragement as Born-Again believers in knowing that we have a prepared permanent place designed specifically for US.  Absent from the body, we will be present with the Lord.  When we leave this world people will not be able to say that they lost us, because you only lose something when you don’t know where it is.  Those that I am close to will know where I am and know where you are, we will be in our prepared permanent place.  In our Father’s house!  Yes, One of the them belongs to ME!

2.  Danger:  The danger herein, however, is that we lose focus on ‘present day’ ministry because of ‘some day’ reward.  Yes, we have a prepared permanent place in heaven.  Yes, this world is not our home, we are just pilgrims passing through.  Yes, we have a crown waiting on us.  Yes, we will be called home from labor to reward.  But if you are reading this email, then blood is still flowing in your veins.  Air is still flowing in your lungs.  You are still alive and that is an indication that God is not through with you yet!  So thank God for heaven, but don’t lose focus of your earthly ministry.  Ask the Holy Spirit to use you to do all that you can do for Him, while you are HERE!  Avoid the danger of being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.

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(John 14:6 NIV)  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

As we continue to walk through John’s Gospel we find ourselves in John 14 this morning.  He just finished telling His disciples about the rooms in His Father’s house and how He was going to prepare a place for us.  He then said, “You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  This where we pick up our text.  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The key to the answer is tied up in the question.  Thomas’ question was based upon Jesus’ statement that they knew the WAY to the place where He was going.  Jesus was telling them that they knew the path, the avenue, the route, the road.  Although they fully did not understand it at the time, they knew the way; because they had a relationship with Jesus.  To clarify the matter, however, Jesus made it very plain.  He explained that He is the WAY, that He is the TRUTH, and that He is the LIFE.  This is very important because He did not say that He was “a” way, or “a” truth, or “a” life.  This would have indicated that there are other ways to get to where He was going.  He was going to be with the Father and the text is clear that there are no other ways.  There is ONE way, ONE truth, and ONE life and they are all tied up, tangled up, and wrapped up in Jesus!

So what does this mean to you today? A Few things:

1.  Encouragement to those who have Jesus:  If you have repented of your sin and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, then you know the way to get to where He is, because you know HIM.  When you have Him, you have direction (way), inspiration (truth), and vigor (life).  You can face any obstacle and overcome any hurdle.  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!  No matter what comes your way today, you can handle it because you know the WAY!

2.  Conviction to those who do not have Jesus:  This also indicates that if you have not repented of your sin and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, that you do not know the way.  The good news is that you can.  You do not have to stay that way any longer.  There is a better way and that way is in Jesus.  Repent and Receive Him today!

3.  Clarification for all:  Like it or not, this text does not leave any room for other ways, roads, or paths.  Either you believe the bible or you don’t.  Jesus is the way.  Mohammed, Buddha, Hinduism, Taoism, and others are not the way.  If you are on these roads, God has shown you the true path in Jesus.  The choice is yours.

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(John 14:15 NIV)  “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

In this passage Jesus explains to his disciples that anyone who has faith in Him will do what He has been doing, and even greater things than He did, because He is going to the Father.  He then explains that when He leaves, He would do whatever we ask in His name, so that the Son would bring glory to the Father.  He said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  He then said,  “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

There are several illustrations of our relationship with God in the bible.  The bible paints the picture of His relationship to us as that of Shepherd and sheep, as that of Master and servant, but also of that of Father and child.  What parent does not love their child?  It is out of this love that we establish parameters and guidelines for their life and living.  We tell them what they can and cannot do.  We tell them where they should and should not go.  We tell them what they can and cannot have.  Why?  Because we love them.  This is the motivation of the parent.  The child, however, is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  The child is receiving the instruction.  The child is receiving the guidelines.  The child is receiving the parameters.  The child must then make a choice of whether or not to obey what has been established by the parent.  Some children obey and some rebel.

Many of us understand what it is to be both a child and a parent.  Many of us have experienced both sides of the token.  As a parent we know that we lay out the rules because we love our children.  As a child we know that we sometimes disregarded the rules because of immaturity.  This is the same way with the Father.  Some of us, because of immaturity, have disobeyed and disregarded the Father’s commands, but this morning; love is calling us come back home.  God says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

What did He command?  That we come to the Father, in the name of Jesus, and ask for things in accordance with His will.  That we do the same things that He did while He was on the earth and even greater things than those.  That we allow the God to get the glory out of our lives and our relationships.

Can God get the glory out of your life today?  Do you love Him?  Will you keep His commandments?

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(John 14:16,17 NIV)  “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever  —  the Spirit of truth.”

By now it must be setting in.  Jesus is going to leave them.  He has given them many hints and He has even come right out and said it.  What must be going through their minds?  Maybe if Thomas had to go it would be OK.  Maybe even if Peter had fallen out with Jesus and went his own way, it would not be the same.  But this is Jesus.  This is the ringleader of this Christian circus.  If He leaves, their entire way of life can fall apart.  If He leaves, their tomorrow is uncertain.  If He leaves, what will happen to them?  In the midst of their hearts racing and their mind scurrying, He says something that not only changed their lives, but would also change ours.  He said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever  —  the Spirit of truth.”

Why is this statement so important?  To understand it’s importance, we must understand the language used.  The world Counselor in the text is a Greek word that literally means “One called along side to help.”  The word another in the text is a Greek word that means “Another of the SAME kind.”  In other words, Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another person exactly like me to walk along side you to help you, this person is the Spirit of truth!”  This means that if Jesus provided them direction, the Spirit of Truth would now provide them direction.  If Jesus provided them protection, the Spirit of Truth would now provide them protection.  If Jesus provided…  and I could go on.  God was going to send His Spirit to fill the void that Jesus left in the life of the disciples.  They could find relief in knowing that although Jesus would no longer with ‘with’ them, this new Spirit He spoke of would now be ‘in’ them.

So what does this mean to you today? Everything! The Holy Spirit did not only come to fill the void in the lives of the disciples, but also in our lives.  Yes, they received a God’s Spirit to lead, guide, and direct them; but so did we.  Jesus’ earthly ministry was limited to locality, but the ministry of the Holy Spirit is universal.  You and I, as Born-Again believers, have access to a God-given Counselor that is called along side us to help  —  Every day.  So no matter what you are going through, no matter how difficult it may seem, no matter how hard the road may get, you are not in this thing alone!  You have, in the Holy Spirit, everything you need to make it!  Everything you need to succeed.  Everything you need to be victorious in the world.  When God gave you His precious Holy Spirit, He gave you everything you would ever need.

When is the last time you allowed the Helper to help you?

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(John 14:21 NIV)  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show Myself unto him.”

Have you ever asked God to show you His will for your life?  Have you ever asked God to speak to you?  Have you ever asked God to lead, guide, and direct you?  I am sure that most of us have and God is willing to do just that.  As a matter of fact, there are many biblical promises that assure us that He will.  He speaks to us by His Word, His Church, His Holy Spirit, people, circumstances, situations, and etc.  The question is not does God speak to us, it is one rather of will He continue to do so?  Why should He speak to you if you ignore Him when He does?  You may ask Him to lead you “today” in your morning prayer.  He then whispers to you to speak some encouraging words to your co-worker and you ignore Him because you are trying to get caught up with email.  Or you ask Him to show you the way in a tough decision between a hard right and an easy wrong; and He does.  He shows you, through many people that you should take the hard right, but then  you reason yourself towards the easy wrong anyway.  And I could go on and on.  Why?  Because I have done many of these myself.  I know from experience how easy it is to wander and stray from God’s will.

Our text from this morning is power packed for the “Obedient Ones.”  Many of us have God’s commands.  We know His Word, we hear His Spirit, we know where He is leading us and what we should do.  A great deal of us, however, tend to do the exact opposite.  We talk a good game.  We go to church Sunday after Sunday and Wednesday after Wednesday.  We know what to say and how to say it.  We know how to sound ‘right’ in the presence of ‘churchy’ people.  The blessing however, is never in what we say, but rather in what we DO!  Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”  They key is in that word “obeys.”  Obedience is the key that unlocks God’s revelation and will our lives.  Those that obey what He says receive the second part of the verse, “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show Myself unto him.”  Those of us that obey God’s commands will be showered with God’s love and the next part is critical  —  and God will continue to show Himself unto us!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that if you want God to show you His will for your tomorrow, you need to obey what you already know for your today!  When you OBEY Him in what you know, He will show you what you don’t!

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(John 14:24b NIV)  These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

As we continue to walk through John’s Gospel we see that Jesus is still teaching about His impending departure and the wonderful  —  soon to manifest  —  gift of the Holy Spirit.  He makes another statement about “obedience” and how our obedience unlocks the flow of God’s love and favor upon our lives.  He then says this, “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Jesus explained that He was a conduit through which the Father spoke.  He was the container, but the Father was the content.  Jesus was our ultimate example and He was used on the earth to manifest the Glory of God.

So what does this mean to you today? A lot, but let’s just look at two things:

1.  Manufacturer vs. Distributor:  Just as Jesus did not manufacturer His words, neither are we required to, as it relates to ministry.  Have you ever come in contact with someone who really needed Jesus, but you did not know what to say?  Have you ever seen someone you really needed encouragement, but you could not find the words?  The blessing is in the fact that you don’t have to come up with the words to say.  God has given us, as Born-Again believers, His precious Holy Spirit.  We can pray and ask the Holy Spirit to use us as He used Jesus  —  to bless others through us.  We are not the Manufacturers, but rather the Distributors of God’s Word and God’s Grace.  Is there someone in your office today that needs a few words from God?  Is there someone in your family that’s needs a word of encouragement?  Pray and ask God to manufacture a blessing so you can distribute it to them!

2.  Author vs. Orator:  When you pray and God manufacturers the words to say and you distribute them to His people for His glory, leave it at that.  If they don’t receive it, they are not denying you, they are denying Christ.  You are not the Author, but rather just the Orator.  They are not your words and you don’t have a heaven or hell to put anyone in anyway.  Simple say what God told you to say and move on.  Allow God, who is the Author, to do the Work, behind His Words!  So don’t be afraid to be used as the Orator for the Author, if they reject the Words, they are rejecting God.

Finally, this is the “The Power of the Pipe!” Picture yourself as a pipe connected to God.  He is the source of water.  Water in this illustration is the blessing.  As you allow God to use you, He wets the people through YOU!  God has the water, but He needs the pipes to channel His blessing on the earth. Are you willing to be used as a Pipe today?  Oh Yeah!  One last thing about this pipe.  The Power of the Pipe is that the water cannot pass through the Pipe, without the Pipe getting wet!  When God blesses others through you, you also get blessed.  Are you ready to get wet?

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(John 14:27 NIV)  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus is leaving soon, His death is imminent, His fate is clear.  He has spoken words of instruction and exhortation to His disciples.  He has encouraged them with the fact that He would send ‘another’ Comforter in the Holy Spirit.  After giving them His Words and after giving them His promises, He gives them something that they so desperately needed  —  His Peace!

Our  —  Post 9/11  —  world is full of turmoil.  Usama Bin-Laden is possibly still on the run and still the mastermind behind Al-Qeida.  Saddam Hussein is possibly still roaming the country sides he once ruled with an iron fist.  We have soldiers deployed in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq; just to name a few.  Kim has possibly generated a nuclear capability in North Korea.  At home we have kids killing kids, husbands killing wives, parents killing children, and serial killers killing anyone.  For others it is financial struggle, family turmoil, impending divorce, or broken relationships altogether.

Yes, the disciples were in desperate need of the Peace of God, but I would clearly argue that we are as well.  Not peace with God, but rather the Peace of God.  Peace with God speaks to the condition of our vertical relationship with the Father.  The Peace of God speaks the internal condition of our heart.  You can be a Born-Again believer and have Peace with God, but not enjoy the blessed benefits of the Peace of God.  Let’s seek to glean three quick golden nuggets from our text that can apply to our lives today:

1.  This peace comes from God  —    “my  peace I give you

2.  This peace is different from anything the world can offer  —  “I do not give to you as the world gives

3.  You have a choice in whether or not to allow (let) yourself to operate in fear  —  “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid

What’s your decision today?  Will you accept God’s overwhelming peace this morning or will you continue to allow fear and uncertainty to rule your heart?

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(John 14:30,31 NIV)  “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.  Come now; let us leave.

Jesus is now ending this great passage and about to transition into another about the vine and the branches.  He says something in these few words this morning that we would do well in listening to.  He tells them that His time is drawing near and that the prince of this world (satan) was coming.  Then He uses a word that I love in this context  —  BUT!  That changes the connotation of the conversation and draws the attention off of satan and back on to Himself.  He says that He is going to do exactly what the Father wants Him to do and that the world (us) would know that He loved the Father because of it.  He was speaking of His impending death on the cross.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s look at two golden nuggets:

1.  satan has no power over God:  satan did not take Jesus’ life, Jesus freely gave it up for us.  The adversary has no power of over God, nor His people.  Yes, He is the prince of this world, but we are citizens of heaven.  Yes, he has power in this world, but we have power that comes from above.  Don’t mistake what I am saying, satan is powerful and he and his hellish imps has cause tremendous havoc in this earth, but we have the power of the Holy Spirit and the power to overcome all the power of the enemy.  In and of ourselves, we are helpless against his attack, but wrapped, robed up, and tangled up in Jesus, we are more than conquerors.  So no matter what you are going through today and no matter how powerful the attack against you  —  submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

2.  Sometimes God’s path for our lives takes us through some things we don’t like:  Jesus said that He was going to do exactly what the Father commanded so that we would know that He loved Him.  We know that He loved Him, because He did something that He did not want to do.  Make no mistake, Jesus (in His humanity) struggled with the cross.  If He struggled with going through such and ordeal, who are we to think that our life would be free from struggle and strain?  Yes, sometimes God’s plan for our lives will take us down roads we don’t want to go down, but go we must!  We can find relief, however, in the fact that God does not send us down these roads ourselves.  We have a great cloud of witnesses in our brothers and sisters in Christ and we have the Holy Spirit.  So no matter how tough, nor how difficult the road before you seems today  —  You Can Make It!  You Can Take It!  You are a King’s kid and you have the Power of the King!

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(John 15:1 NIV)  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardner.”

This is a brand new day with brand new mercies and this morning we start off a brand new week.  In our journey through the gospel of John we are also embarking upon a new chapter.  Jesus has already had His last meal with the disciples, He has already taken off His outer garments and washed their feet, He has already spoken comforting words to them about His departure and the soon to come gift of the Holy Spirit, so what would He now say?  He knows that in a few short hours He will be stretched out upon Calvary’s cross, but for now, He is still with them.  As He continues His final instructions to His disciples He paints the picture of the vineyard.  He gives them an illustration about something He knew they could relate to.  He opens up His illustration with these words, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardner.

The disciples were very familiar with the grape vine.  They could immediately picture it in their minds.  They could see the luscious and full grapes hanging from its branches.  They could see the length of the vine and how it seemingly went on forever.  Jesus then likened Himself to the vine, but with one disclaimer, “I am the true vine.” This was another statement directed towards His deity.  The disciples still did not really understand who Jesus was yet.  Jesus was not “a” vine, but rather “the” true vine.  Jesus was not “a” way, but rather “the” way.  Jesus was not “a” door to eternal life, but rather “the” door.  Jesus, in this statement, once again affirms His deity.  A vine is the source of life and nourishment to the branches.  A vine is the vehicle by which the branches grow and bring forth fruit.  The vine represents the branches’ only chance at survival.  Without the vine, the branches shrivel up and die.  Jesus is the True Vine.

His Father, He says, is the Gardner.  The one who wakes up in the morning with the vineyard on his mind.  The one who goes out to tend to the branches.  The one who prunes and cuts and snips away the things that will hinder the growth and the production of fruit.  The Father, yes, is the gardner.  We will discuss both of these further in the upcoming days.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s seek to glean a couple golden nuggets from the text:

1.  Being connected to Jesus is our only chance at living God’s life and brining forth fruit in the earth.

2.  Life on the vine is not free of cutting, snipping, and pruning.

So as you enter into this new week, remember that we must be connected to Jesus and that the Father will sometimes prune us to help us to bring forth more fruit!  Have you been pruned lately?

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(John 15:2,4 NIV)  “He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful… Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.”

As Jesus continues His final instructions to His disciples in His illustration of the vine and the branches, He gives them a warning, a reality check, and a promise.

A Warning:  He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit.  Jesus illustrates the Father as the Gardner and the tender of the vine.  He paints the picture of Him coming by and loving the vine (the church) so much that He cuts off the branches that are hurting it.  The branches that are receiving the same nourishment and care as all the others, but are doing nothing with it.  The branches that are taking in, but not producing out.  The branches that are becoming agricultural leaches along the spiritual vine.  The branches that are within themselves sterile, but pose the danger of sterilizing all others around them.  The branches that bear no fruit, He cuts off.  Not that He did not provide them the same care and opportunities as the others, but that they, within themselves, do nothing with it.  Are you this branch this morning?  Are you connected to the vine, but remain fruitless?  If so, the mere fact that you are still reading this email and breathing God’s air, is evidence that God is not through with you.  But you must realize, that it is time to make some changes.

A Reality Check:  while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  Now here comes that loving Gardner again.  He comes upon a branch that is fruitful.  It has full and luscious grapes, leaves, and sprouts hanging from it.  This branch looks great to the untrained eye, but the Gardner knows that for it to produce more fruit, some of the excess leaves and even sprouts from this branch, must be cut off.  The word ‘prunes’ in this text can also be translated cleanses.  The Father comes by to cleanse and to cut the things in our lives that, although outwardly pleasant, will keep us from producing more fruit.  Are you fruitful for Christ?  Are you allowing God to use you for His glory?  If so, get ready to be cleansed and cut along the way!  Life in Christ does not exonerate us from the cutting that can sometimes be painful.  But the blessing is that there is Purpose in the Pain  —  So that we will bear More Fruit!

A Promise:  Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.  After He gives the warning and after He gives them a reality check, He gives them a command to remain in Him and a promise that He would remain in them.  Yes, God’s path for our lives will sometimes take us down roads that are painful.  Yes, the pruning, cutting, and snipping will sometimes be uncomfortable.  But no matter what and no matter where  —  God is still with us!  Remain in Him and He will Remain in YOU!

Take a personal inventory with the Warning, take heed of the Reality Check, but also take hold of that Promise!

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(John 15:5 NIV)  “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I am him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Have you ever bought a full, juicy, and delicious cluster of grapes?  Imagine a huge cluster that is seemingly busting out of the plastic bag.  You get home and put them into the refrigerator and somehow forget about them.  A couple of weeks later you go to grab a drink from the refrigerator and just behind the drink is this bag of grapes.  You look at them, but they do not look as appealing as they once did.  They do not make your mouth water any more.  They are drying and shriveling.  The bag is no longer full and the grapes are no longer juicy.  This is what happens to grapes when they are disconnected from the vine.  They are no longer connected to their source and they will inevitably deteriorate.

Jesus, in this morning’s text, paints two pictures.  A picture of a branch that remains connected to the vine and produces “much fruit” (many clusters of juicy grapes) and the a picture of a disconnected branch that will inevitably wither and die because it can do literally “NOTHING” apart from the vine.

So what does this mean to you today? This mornings message is simple and clear.  Life in Christ, even with its irritating attacks from the enemy, is a life that is full of fruit, because we are connected to the true source of righteousness, peace, and joy!  Life outside of Christ, even with its apparent earthly rewards, is a fruitless life that leads to NOTHING.

The prodigal son illustrates a branch that walked away from the source and soon found that he was helpless and hopeless.  He turned back to this father and was restored into the fruitfulness he should have remained in.  Are you that prodigal son or daughter this morning?  Have you walked away from the vine and find yourself fruitless?  Take a moment, stop your busy schedule, and repent. Turn back unto God and allow Him to restore your relationship with Him to a life of fruit bearing and blessing sharing.

If you are connected to the vine, allow Him to bring forth fruit through you today.  Someone you come in contact with today will need a fresh taste of the Joy of the Lord.  Let them pick it off of your branch  —  through a kind word, a smile, or however you are led to share your fruit.  God’s fruit is too good to keep to yourself!

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(John 15:7 NIV)  “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

Do you remember the Genie in the bottle cartoons where whoever opened the bottle was guaranteed three wishes from the Genie?  I remember as a kid wondering what my three wishes would be.  I also remember my third wish always being, “I wish I could have more wishes.”  I am sure that I am not the only person who has secretly wished for an open ticket to request whatever we wanted.  At first glance, that is what this verse looks like to the Christian.  It looks as though Jesus was saying that life in Him means that you can have anything you want, period.  That you had Carte Blanche access to your desires.  But further investigation reveals something a little different.  The last part of the verse is contingent upon the first two  —  Remaining in Him and His Words remaining in them.

Jesus told them that if they would ‘remain’ in Him.  This word means to abide, to tarry, not to depart, to take up permanent residence.  He then told them that His ‘words,’ which in this case is The Word, should remain in them.  So, in other words, this verse could read, “If you take up permanent residence in Me and allow my word to take up permanent residence in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”  Why is this different and why is this important?  Because when we take up permanent residence in God and walk with Him, we progressively lose our identity in Him.  The more we walk with Him, the more we act like Him, the more we talk like Him, the more people will see Jesus in us.  His Word also has a transforming power.  Paul said that our minds could be literally ‘renewed’ by the transforming power of the Word of God.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you can fulfill that childhood fantasy of having that endless stream of wishes fulfilled.  It means that you can literally have whatever you want, but only when what YOU want is what GOD wants for your life.  Walk with God and allow His Word to transform your life and you can ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you!

Are you being transformed by the power of God’s truth?  If so, Great!  Keeping walking with God.  If not, it is time to make some changes.

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(John 15:8 NIV)  “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to by my disciples.”

We have seen Jesus transition in His illustration of the Vine and the Branches from “No Fruit,” to “Fruit” and then to “Much Fruit.”  He then unveils here the underlying reason behind the snipping, cutting, and pruning.  The reason why the Gardener takes the time to walk the vine and carefully tend to it.  Why the Gardener always has the the Vine and the Branches on His mind.  Why the Gardener wants to see every branch bring forth fruit to its max potential.  It is all because the Gardener then  —  gets the glory.  When the vineyard is overflowing with grapes, when the vineyard is busting at the seems with fruit, when the vineyard it full and ready for the harvest, that is when the Gardener is most pleased with His work.  At that point, He can look and see that His time investing in each branch, was not in vain.  Jesus is the Vine, He is the means by which each branch is connected and receives nourishment.  The Father is the Gardener, who has taken the time to carefully prune the branches that produce fruit and cut away those that do not.  We are the branches.  At this point, after the snipping, cutting, and pruning.  At this point, after the painful process of going under the Gardener’s knife.  At this point, after the Gardener has labored with us as the branch.  It is at this point, that we stand there  —  full of juicy and luscious grapes  —  ready for the world to receive.

So what does this mean to you today? Today’s message is crystallized in something that my Pastor often says,“God gets the glory, but we get the benefits!” When we endure the sometimes uncomfortable and possibly even painful process of the Gardener, we are able to bring forth “Much Fruit” in our lives.  It is then that God can get the maximum glory out of our life and living.  Yes, all glory goes to God, because the Gardener is responsible for the vineyard; but we still get the benefits, because the branch is full of grapes.

Do you want to bring forth “Much Fruit” in your life?  Allow God to prune you into the person that He wants you to be.  When He convicts you of sin, repent.  When He shows you that you are going down the wrong road, turn.  When He tells you to change your conversation, change.  What changes has God asked you to make lately that you have ignored?

Allow Him to get the Glory and you will get the Benefits!

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(John 15:11 NIV)  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

As we continue our journey thorough the gospel according to St. John we come across another ‘purpose filled statement.’  He has painted a clear picture for us of an abundant life in Christ.  We have walked through the vineyard and looked at the vine through the eyes of the Gardener.  We have seen the Gardener give personal attention to each branch.  We have seen Him cut off the branches that were not producing fruit and carefully prune the ones that were.  We have seen branches grow from the ‘fruit,’ to ‘more fruit,’ and then to the ‘much fruit’ stage.  Why the analogy?  Why the illustration?  So that His Joy would be IN us and our joy may be complete.

Let’s be clear that Jesus said Joy and not Happiness.  His Joy is a fruit of His Spirit and a result of an intimate relationship with Christ.  Happiness is a word that comes from the English word Happenstance, which can also be translated Circumstance.  Happiness, therefore, is tied to our circumstances.  Happiness is a result of happenings.  Joy, on the other hand, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is a constant in the life of the believer and not a fluctuating condition.  The best the world can offer is happiness.  That is why those that do not have God ride the constant roller coaster of emotional and spiritual conditions.  They may be up today and down tomorrow.  Up this week and down the next.  Life is Christ is not intended to be this way.  When we remain connected to the vine and have a constant supply of what we need to grow and prosper and bring forth fruit, we enjoy the blessed benefits of being rooted and grounded in Jesus.  Joy is a constant in our lives because the Holy Spirit is IN us.  Whenever a difficult situation happens, we can tap into our eternal source of Joy, the Holy Spirit.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God wants you to enjoy His Joy!  It means that no matter what you are going through this morning you can  —  if you have been Born Again  —  tap into the Joy of the Holy Spirit and Re-Joice in spite of difficult situations.  The world can never Re-Happy, but we can always Re-Joice!  Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoice!

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(John 15:13,14)  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Once upon a time there was a land filled with human desire, sexual immorality, and constant deceit.  Many of the people of the land enjoyed their way of life, while others knew that there had to be some better way.  The ones that wanted out would attempt to do so, but the land was surrounded by a seemingly eternal river, an unpassable and treacherous obstacle.  Embedded in the river were piranha, alligators, water moccasins, and every other dangerous water creature.  Many would come to the edge and stare to the other side.  The other side seemed like a land of prosperity and peace.  The other side seemed like the answer to their present day troubles.  The other side symbolized deliverance from their uncompromising surroundings.  One day a young man built up enough courage to jump in.  He took a deep breath and took the leap that no one else had the heart to take.  He leapt straight in to the ferocious waters.  All of a sudden, out of no where, comes another man.  This man looked like every one else, but there was some special about Him.  He jumped in behind the young man and picked him up upon his shoulders and carried him to the other side.  The boy was ecstatic.  He was thrilled.  He made it, he thought.  But he really did not make it on his own.  He made it, riding the shoulders of another.  He was basically transported to the other side.  As he looked down, the man that carried him to the other side was dying.  He was lying at the side of the river bank, bleeding to death.  He had delivered the boy, but sacrificed his own life in the process.  Can you see him?  He is cut all over and bleeding to death.  Can you see him?  He is gasping for air, but can seemingly find none.  He is dying right before your very eyes.  He then says to the young man, I did this for YOU!  I gave my life for YOU!  Enjoy this new land of prosperity and peace.  Enjoy the life that I died to give you.  Now what if…  after all of this, the young man decided to jump back in the river and attempt to go back?

I know that going back after such an ordeal sounds ridiculous.  Going back after such a scene sounds absurd.  But that is what many do every day.  Our text says that there is no one on the planet that has Greater Love than that one that laid His own life down for His friends.  He goes on to explain who His friends are  —  the ones that DO what He Commands!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that Jesus dies so that you would have a right to the tree of life.  It means that Jesus died so that you would have life and have it More Abundantly.  It means that Jesus died to transport you from the place of eternal death to the place of eternal life.

Are you His friend?  Will you do what He commands?  Or will you ignore Him and walk right past the dying man on the river banks and get right back in the water?

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(John 15:16 NIV)  “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit  —  fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

Jesus has painted a vivid picture for his disciples about the vine and the branches.  They now understand how, as branches, they must stay connected to the vine, because the vine is the source of everything they need.  They understand that they are commanded and commissioned to bring forth fruit and not to be agricultural leaches along a spiritual vine.  But then Jesus says something that they may not have been expecting.  He says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit…” I imagine some of them thinking back three years when they came in contact with Jesus.  I am imagine Peter thinking of his life as a fisherman and how Jesus came and turned his world up-side down.  Or about Matthew, who was a Tax-Collector.  He did not have many friends and he was despised in the community because of his shady profession.  Or of… and I could go on.  The point is that Jesus did not choose them there, three years earlier, but well before that.  Jesus is the vine in this illustration and He paints a picture of the Vine making the decision of when and where the branches will go.  The Vine strategically places each branch along its trunk so that it will be best suited for bringing forth fruit.  The Vine knows how much water to send to the branch and where it will do most good.  Yes, Jesus is the Vine and the vine chose them and appointed them to bring forth fruit  —  fruit that will last!

So what does this mean to you today? David said, (Ps 139:16 NLT)  You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  You are not where you are by mistake.  You are not sitting at the computer you are sitting at by happenstance.  You have been strategically positioned along the vine to bring forth fruit  —  fruit that will last!  God chose you, way before you every chose Him!  He chose you and knew all about you and knew exactly where to place you  —  so you would bring forth fruit!

Are you fulfilling His plan for your life? Are you bringing forth fruit where you have been positioned or are you complaining about you spot along the vine and are waiting to be moved?  He placed you there for a reason, you might as well ask Him to help you to be the best little branch along your part of the vine.  The Gardener is coming and He is looking for full and luscious grapes.  Will He find any when He gets to your branch?

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(John 15:18,19 NIV)  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.”

As we continue our quest through the gospel of John we transition from that great passage about the vine and the branches.  After painting such a vivid picture of life in Him, what would Jesus say next?  After instructing us to life a progressive life in Christ, Jesus then transitions to these words, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.” Wow!  What an abrupt departure.  From a focusing on the vine, the branches, and the Gardener; from focusing on bringing forth big, juicy, luscious grapes; from focusing on growing in Christ; to realizing that the world hated Jesus and they will, in many cases, hate us as well.  The transition is from focusing on life in Christ and realizing that our life in Christ, must be lived in the world.  Yes, we are citizens of heaven, we are anointed by God’s Spirit, covered by God’s blood, called according to God’s purpose; but the harsh reality is that we still live in the world.  Our end may be heaven, but for now, God wants us to glorify Him in the earth.

The world is full of jealousy, hatred, and deceit.  The text says that Jesus chose us out of the world and that is why it hates us.  Have you ever had a friend or a peer that you were equal with on something?  You and this person were just about the same in this area.  But then, all of a sudden, you got better.  You started growing and learning and progressing and basically left that person behind.  Have you ever experienced that?  What was the other person’s reaction?  Many people deal with this the way the world normally does, but resenting the better that has progressed, because they themselves have not.  Many in the world cannot stand Christians.  Especially with their perky attitudes and their constant smiles.  I testified yesterday that I was full of hate before coming to Christ.  I used to come to physical training at 5:30am in Kuwait and when Leo Jacobs would show up, he always had a smile and kind word.  I did not like him for that.  I thought it was too early in the morning to be smiling.  This may sound foolish, but that is the world.  Some folk with hate you, just because you are a Christian.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s seek to glean two golden nuggets:

1.  Don’t expect preferential treatment:  The world hated Jesus and we should not expect any better.  Some will resent us, just for being Christians.

2.  Love, in spite of:  They hated Jesus, but Jesus still loved them.  Folk may not like us and they may even treat us wrong, but that does not give us license to do the same in return.  When we love them back, in spite of the way they treat us, we exhibit God’s love and show them that Jesus is the answer to the world’s problems.

Is there someone that always gets on your nerves?  Show them the love of God today!

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(John 15:26 CEV)  “I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father and shows what is true.  The Spirit will help you and will tell you about me.”

As we continue our quest through the gospel according to St. John we find ourselves in the middle of a discourse about the world and real expectations about their treatment of Christians.  Jesus tells His disciples not to expect better treatment than He received, and we know what happened to Him.  He tells them that they hated Him and that they will also hate them.  They hated Jesus without reason and many of the disciples would receive the same treatment.  This was a dangerous time in their land.  Jesus was about to die and all those who named the name of Christ who be hunted down.  In years to come Christians would be burned alive at the stake.  Emperor Nero would fill up coliseums with people coming to see Christians eaten alive by lions and tigers.  He had his men to sew fresh animal flesh to their human flesh and then loose them into the arena to be chased and eaten by these animals.  Jesus’ words were an attempt to prepare them for such treatment.  But then, after going on and on about bad treatment and what to expect, He says, “I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father and shows what is true.  The Spirit will help you and will tell you about me.”

Jesus warned them, but He did not leave them without hope.  Jesus prepared them with words, but then better prepared them with a promise.  Jesus told them of the only agent that could connect fallen man with a Holy God.  Jesus told them of the only agent that would give them the strength and power to overcome the circumstances in the world.  Jesus told them of the Counselor, the Comforter, the Promise  —  the Holy Spirit.  Jesus gave them the answer to the equation.  The world is going to hate you, yes!  But you + the Holy Spirit = Victory!

So what does this mean to you today? Many Christians in other countries like India, Kuwait and Syria (just to name a few) are literally dying for what they believe in.  But even for those of us who are not persecuted by firing squad, or beheaded, or stoned, or flogged; the world may still be a cruel place.  The world is still full of disappointments and despair.  The world is still full of desperation and doubt.  Jesus’ words for us this morning is that He has given us the answer to every equation, when He gave us the Holy Spirit.  If you are a Born-Again believer, then God’s Spirit lives IN you.  You have the power IN you to make it, you have the power IN you to take it, and no matter how hard the opposition  —  you have the power IN you to break it!  No matter what you face today, no matter how difficult, overwhelming, or insurmountable it may seem; God has given you the Power (in the Holy Spirit) to overcome it!  You + the Holy Spirit = Victory!

Does the Holy Spirit live in you?  If so, you should be ready for this day and everyday.  Are you ready?

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(John 16:7 CEV)  “But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you.  That is why I am going away.  The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave.  But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.”

Jesus has walked with His disciples for three years and is now telling them that He must go.  He explains to them the perils that they will have to face in this world, for His name’s sake.  He explains to them that they will get unfair and unjust treatment, often for no reason at all.  He explains that some people will not like them, just because they identify themselves with Christ.  I imagine that these words of warning had to be a lot harder to receive, knowing that Jesus was about to leave.  The same man that Had come to them where they were and led them into a new life was leaving.  Jesus interrupted a fishing session and invited some to become fishers of men.  Jesus interrupted official government business to invite a tax collector to follow Him.  Jesus led these men and led them well.  He took care of them.  He ensured they had a place to sleep, food to eat, and something to wear.  He protected them from danger.  Jesus was a good leader.  He sat them down from time to time and taught them how to live a life that is pleasing to God.  He sat them down and instructed them in the way of righteousness.  He would then get them up and take them out of the classroom environment to get some Hands-On training.  They physically saw Him raise people from the dead, cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.  They learned from the best.  But this same Teacher would now have to go.  Wouldn’t you want to know why?  Wouldn’t you want to know the purpose of His departure?  The answer is in our text for this morning:  “But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you.  That is why I am going away.  The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave.  But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.”

Have you ever wondered would it would have been like to walk with Jesus, talked with Jesus, learn from Jesus?  I sometimes imagine walking with Him to a cemetery in Bethany where a man had been dead for four days.  His body is already stinking and his family has given up hope.  Jesus comes to the grave site and I imagine being there when He called this man (Lazarus) back to life.  Wow!  Yes, it would have been awesome to be one the disciples and experience the Life of Christ, but there were only 12 disciples and there are Billions of people on the planet.  Not everyone could walk with Jesus on the earth, but His death, burial, and resurrection would give us all (the entire world) access to the Holy Spirit!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we need to pause for a moment and think about what it is that we received when we were Born-Again.  The Holy Spirit came so that we could enjoy everything the disciples enjoyed with Jesus  —  and more!  Jesus was WITH them, but the Holy Spirit is IN us!  Do you know what you have?  When is the last time you allowed Him to sit you down and teach you like Jesus did?  When is the last time you tapped into this eternal source that is literally living IN you?

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(John 16:12,13 CEV)  “I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand.  The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth.  The Spirit doesn’t speak on His own.  He will tell you only what He has heard from Me, and He will let you know what is going to happen.”

Jesus’ death is drawing closer an closer.  He has told his disciples so much and there is so much more that He would like to say, but He knows that they have human limitations and that there is only but so much that they could retain.  No problem, however, but He would send the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit IN them, would allow Jesus to continue His teaching, and leading, and guiding, and directing, even after He was gone.  The answer was and still is the Holy Spirit.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s seek to glean a few nuggets from the text.  The Holy Spirit:

1.  Shows:  “The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth.  “Jesus often did Hand-On training with His disciples.  He lived with them and showed them what to do and what not to do.  The Holy Spirit would pick up this ministry for the entire world.  The Holy Spirit came to literally show us which way to go.  To show us how to live a life pleasing to God.  To lead, guide, and direct us into the full truth.

Note:   Many want to know how to hear from the Holy Spirit.  As His sheep, Jesus said that we would know His voice.  If you are struggling with this, one quick way to know that something is not from God, is if it does not agree with the bible.  The Spirit of God will never lead you contrary to the Word of God.

2.  Receives:  “The Spirit doesn’t speak on His own.  He will tell you only what He has heard from Me.”  Jesus had so much to tell them, but He did not have time and He also knew that they could not retain it all.  He did have time, however, to continue this conversation through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit IN us, allows God to commune with us and talk to us, as His children.  Our text teaches us that the Holy Spirit only says what He hears.  He receives (first), then He transmits.  Good lesson for us as well!

3.  Prepares:  “He will let you know what is going to happen.”  The Holy Spirit came to illuminate our path and to lead us in the way of righteousness.  God will often times prepare us by giving us glimpse of our future.  The preparation, however, requires faith.  After God gives you that glimpse, what are you going to DO about it?  Preparation is the fruit of faith because it requires us to start action before manifestation.

What has God shown you lately?  Have you received it in your heart and started to prepare for it?  If not, it is time to make some changes!

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(John 16:20 MSG)  “Then fix this firmly in your minds: You’re going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party.  You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness.”

Jesus told His disciples that His time was drawing near.  He told them that in a little while they would no longer see Him anymore, but then after a little while longer, they would see Him again.  They were confused and had no idea what He was talking about.  They asked themselves about it, but no one understood.  This is when He spoke our text for this morning.  He was preparing them for the upcoming turmoil and sadness in their lives; but the good news is that this sadness would develop into gladness.  He then used the analogy of a woman in labor.  He said that a woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish, because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  He then said, “So it is with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again an you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy!”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that sadness, grief, and pain play an important role in your life.  How could you view Joy, Happiness, and Delight, if not upon the backdrop of sadness, grief, and pain?  The sadness in our lives makes the gladness that much more precious.  Are you going through pain this morning?  Are you stressed out?  Are you dealing with a bunch of mess?  Then don’t give up and don’t give in!  In this world of constant changes, hold to God’s Unchanging Hand!  He will see you through this!  He will bring you out, in His timing!  This is all part of your development and destiny.  Your Pain is your Power!  Your Stress is your Story!  Your Mess is your Message!

If you want the baby, you better keep on pushing!

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(John 16:24 LITV)  “Until now you asked nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be full.”

Jesus has told them that He would have to leave.  Jesus has told them that He would send the Comforter (The Holy Spirit).  Jesus has told them that they would have to endure pain in this world and that the pain they endure would develop into joy.  Now He gives them the key to access that joy  —  Prayer!  He says, “Until now you asked nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be full.”

Up to this point they had not asked for anything in the name of Jesus, because Jesus was still with them.  Jesus explains to them that, based upon His name and what He was about to do  —  give His life for humanity and for sin  —  that they could directly come to the Father in His name.  Not only could they ask, they could expect to receive.  Why?  So that their joy would be full.

I often times say that I want to make it to heaven, but I also want to enjoy the ride.  God does not want us to live a humdrum, dreary, and tedious life; He wants us to be examples of His righteousness in the earth.  How can we do this?  By being full of His joy!  Prayer gives us access to this unspeakable and inexhaustible joy!  This reminds me of a poem about prayer that I think really illustrates this point.  I don’t know who wrote it, but it sure has blessed me along the years.  It’s called “The Difference.”

I got up one morning,
and rushed right into the day,
I had so much to accomplish,
that I didn’t have time to pray.

As the day went on,
heavier came each task,
I wondered, Why Lord, don’t you help me?
He said, child you didn’t ask.

Hour upon hour,
the day toiled on, gray and bleak,
I said Lord, Where are you?
He said, well, you didn’t seek.

I finally tried to come into God’s presence,
I tried all my keys at the lock,
I cried, Lord why don’t you let me in?
he answered, son, you didn’t knock.

So I got up this morning,
and paused before entering the day,
I had so much to accomplish,
that, I HAD TO TAKE TIME TO PRAY!

Have you prayed this morning?  Are you humdrum or joyful?

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(John 16:25,26 MSG)  “I’ve used figures of speech in telling you these things. Soon I’ll drop the figures and tell you about the Father in plain language. Then you can make your requests directly to him in relation to this life I’ve revealed to you. I won’t continue making requests of the Father on your behalf.”

Jesus has used all sorts of figures of speech.  He has talked to the them about the Father’s mansions and how is going to prepare a place for them, about the communion between Him and the Father, about the upcoming unfair treatment of the world, about the vine and the branches, about a woman in labor, and many others.  The disciples really did not understand what this all meant.  This was a bit confusing.  But then He said something that they could understand plainly.  He said that they could soon make requests directly to the Father in accordance with what Jesus had revealed to them.  Up to this point, Jesus had been making requests on their behalf.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s look at two golden nuggets:

1.  Progressive Perspective:  The disciples did not understand many of the figures of speech and many of the miracles until Jesus was dead and gone.  Many of what they had experienced did not make sense until much later on in their lives.  The same thing happens to us many times.  We are commanded and commissioned to walk by faith and not by sight (II Cor 5:7).  Why such a command?  Why a commission to walk in accordance with what we cannot see?  Because this Christian life is better seen through spiritual and not physical eyes.  As we progress through our Christian life, our perspective of God and what He has commanded and destined us to do is better revealed.  I call this Progressive Perspective.  Are you at a crossroads this morning?  Are you at a point in your life where you need to make a decision, but cannot physically ‘see’ the way?  Then pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you through His eyes.  It may not always make sense now, but in time, it will!

2.  Pointed Prayer:  The disciples lived in a time where the law commanded that only the priests could go before the Lord and only the High Priest had access to the indwelling presence of God in the Holy of Holies inside the temple.  For about 3 and 1/2 years now, Jesus has been the disciples priest.  He has made requests to the Father on their behalf and He has led them in the way of righteousness.  The time was near, however, when they would have access to the Father directly.  What this means to us is that Jesus has already come, lived, suffered, bled, died, and been resurrected from the dead.  He is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us (Ro 8:34).  So if you are a Born-Again believer this morning, you have a right to pray directly to the Father in the name of Jesus.  One of your blessed benefits is Pointed Prayer!  When is the last time you took advantage of this benefit  —  a benefit that Jesus died to give you?

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(John 16:31 NIV)  “You believe at last!”  Jesus answered.

Jesus lived for about 33 1/2 years.  He was baptized when He was about 30 and ministered for about 3 1/2 years.  John spoke to us about the fist three years of His ministry in chapters 1-11.  Chapters 12-21 (almost half the book) deal with the last week of Jesus’ life.  Almost one third of the book (237 of 879 verses) deal with the last 24 hours.  John wrote this almost 60 years after it happened, but he still remembers all the vivid details.  He uses the word “Believe” 98 times in this gospel.  This is the purpose of the book.  The last verse in chapter 20 says, (John 20:31 KJV)  But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.  He wrote 21 chapters, with the aim of us believing in Christ!

The last message we had from John explained how Jesus had spoken in figures of speech, but was now ready to address them in plain language.  He said, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”  The disciples said, “Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions.  This makes us believe that you came from God.”   “You believe at last!”  Jesus answered.

The disciples had seen Jesus turn water into wine, heal a nobleman’s son, heal a lame man, feed 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread, walk on water, heal a blind man, and raise Lazarus from the dead  —  and now they believe!  They believed because Jesus spoke to them in plain language, He met them where they were and spoke to them in a way that they could understand.  This is my ministry.  My ministry is to take God’s Word and put it in plain language.  My ministry is the bring the world of ‘wasness’ into the world of ‘isness.’  My ministry is to bridge the generational and cultural gap between the biblical characters and today’s people.

So what does this mean to you today? The purpose of John is for us to believe.  The purpose of my ministry is for you to believe.  Have you heard God speak to you in plain language?  Do you understand that God loves you and wants the best for you?  Are you a believer?  If so, then live your belief!  This is an active term.  Live out your living belief  —  today and everyday  —  for the glory of God!

Pause for a moment and remind yourself that you are not a doubter, you are not a wanderer, you are a Believer!

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(John 16:32 KJV)  Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

Yesterday we saw how Jesus spoke to His disciples plainly and how they believed.  This was the purpose of John and really the purpose of Jesus’ ministry.  After accomplishing much of what He was purposed to accomplish with His disciples, it was time to accomplish what He came to do for the entire world  —  conquer sin on the cross!  He told them that the time had come for Him to finish His task.  He would do this, however, without the fellowship of the disciples.  Although they claimed to love Him and be there for Him no matter what, they would leave and leave Him alone.  The only one that would even show up at the cross would be John.  But the message of this verse is that people will leave you from time to time, but God never will.  This same verse in the Message translation reads, ” In fact, you’re about to make a run for it–saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me.”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the world is fluid and ever-changing.  It means that folk are fickle, folk are fake, folk are phony, and folk will  —  from time to time  —  fail you; but God is Faithful!  People say they will be there and never show up.  People say the love you and then leave you.  People say they care but abandon you in the worst times.  I am not a negative person and I don’t want to sound negative, but I want to illustrate the point that even the most well-intentioned people on the planet can fail us from time to time!  Only God has never failed and never will!  So don’t give up on people, but rather keep focusing on God!  God will help you to forgive people and continue on in spite of your ever-changing environment!

People come and people go, seasons change, the weather changes, your outlook changes, your body changes; life is full of change!  God is our only constant.  God changes not!  Are you frustrated this morning?  Do you feel alone?  Are you upset with resent changes?  Look to God like Jesus did.  The disciples were not there, but God was and He is there for you this morning!  Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand!

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(John 16:33  CEV)  I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world.

Many consider this statement the conclusion of the Lord’s sermons.  After this He will transition into the preparation for the cross.  He has shared many things with them.  Some things they understood now and some things they would understand later.  But there was purpose wrapped up in everything Jesus said.  He did not speak idle words.  In our morning’s text I see three things that apply to our lives today:

1.  God’s Purpose:  “I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me.”  Jesus took the time to teach His disciples and ensured that some of them recorded His Words for many reasons, but one purpose of the bible and God’s teachings is PEACE!  We live in turbulent times and in a turbulent world.  The Global War on Terrorism is still raging; we have troops deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Africa, and others; Hurricane Isabel is about to hit North Carolina; we just had a Typhoon here in Korea last week that has left over 100 people missing; the world is a turbulent place.  We need the Peace of God if we are going to be light in a dying and decaying world.  God wants you to have His peace and that is why He left you His Word!  Do you have His peace this morning?  If not, pause for a moment and pray and ask God to overtake you with His peace, the peace that passes all understanding!  God’s purpose is for us to have Peace!

2.  Man’s Problems:  “While you are in the world, you will have to suffer.”  Jesus knew that the disciples would have to suffer.  The only disciple that would die a natural death was John (the writer of this text).  All the others were persecuted and killed.  Even with all the things I just mentioned that are going on in the world, there are many other things that drive closer to home to us everyday.  Things like backbiting, slander, hatred, prejudice, ill-treatment, and many more.  In this world we will have tribulation.  Being a Christian does not exonerate you from having to deal with Man’s Problems!

3.  God’s Proclamation:  “But cheer up! I have defeated the world.”  Thank God that He did not leave us without the final part of this verse.  Yes, we have to deal with a turbulent world.  Yes, we have to deal with conniving people.  But thank God that He has already defeated the world!  This means that the spiritual forces that operate behind the scenes and try to cause our light to dim are really already defeated.  The message of the gospel is not that we are going to win in the end, but that we have already won!  We are already victors!  We are already champions in Christ!  Yes, you may be dealing with trouble this morning, but the bible says to you  —  Cheer Up!  Jesus has already won the fight.  God’s Proclamation reminds us that we already have the victory!

No matter what you are going through this morning, you can make it!  You can take it!  Not because of who you are, but because of whose you are!

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(John 17:1 KJV)  These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.

Jesus is done with His long discourses and He has just about finished what He was sent here to do.  The hour has come for Him to die.  After he gave His disciples His last will and testament, He looked up to the Father and said, “Father, the hour is come; glorify they Son, that they Son also may glorify thee.”  Now I could take this and talk about how Jesus Spoke Up, Looked Up, Lifted Up, and God Picked Him Up and helped Him through it.  I could break this down and expound upon each point of emphasis; but I am not led to do that this morning.  The simple message of this verse is that the Son asked the Father for help in doing what He had to do.  In other words, “Help me to get through this so that you may get the glory out of my life!”

So what does this mean to you today? The bible is not a history book, nor a text book to study, but rather a life book to live.  We can do the same thing that Jesus did.  Jesus had a hard task at hand and He asked for help, with the purpose of giving God the glory through it.  You may have a big test coming up.  You may have a big project due this week.  You may have a big recital you are helping the kids to prepare for.  You may have a big conference you are running.  You may have a briefing packet that is due today.  Whatever you situation, you can come to God in prayer.  No matter what it is, no matter how big or how small.  Take it to God in prayer.

Follow the pattern that Jesus followed:  He prayed for help, but kept His focus right  —  that the Father would get the glory out of the Son!  Ask God to help you today and every day, but always remember to give Him the glory for it, when He does.  When people praise you for the performance, make sure you praise God for fulfilling the promise!

Simple prayer:  “Lord, Help me to do what I have to do  —  Today!  And I promise to give you the glory through it!”

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(John 17:2,3 KJV)  As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Jesus is through with the long discourses and is now making pointed and powerful statements that will resound in the ears of the disciples long after He is gone.  There are two points of emphasis that I feel led to illuminate for our consideration this morning:

1.  Power over all flesh:  This was an impossible claim for a man to make, but Jesus was not just a man.  This is the same claim made in Matthew 28.  Jesus has the power over all flesh, all people, all creatures, all creation, and all created beings  —  to include satan and demons.  All means All!  Imagine that for a moment.  Jesus conquered the flesh.  He lived on this planet for 33 and 1/2 years and never rolled His eyes at anyone.  He never cursed anyone out.  He never looked at a woman the wrong way.  He never had to bite His tongue.  He never lied!  He never sinned!  Not even once!  Jesus has the power over all flesh and over all things.  He came and lived like us, was tempted like us, hungered like us, to be able to genuinely relate to us!  He conquered sin so that He could help us do the same.  So if you are struggling this morning with that reoccurring problem, that thing you can’t seem to beat, that thorn in the flesh; take it to Jesus.  He has the power to conquer it and deliver you from it, in such a way that it would never come again.  We all struggle with issues, but sometimes we struggle with stuff that we have the power to overcome and that power is found in Jesus!  He has the Power over everything!

2.  Eternal Life:  Based upon the fact that He conquered sin, He can then give us eternal life.  He conquered the one thing that separates fallen man from a Holy God.  He came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world, and He did!  Those that go to hell now, do so because they refuse to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  He came to give us a way to eternal life and that way is clear  —  through the Blood of Jesus.  Many people work hard, toil, sweat, hustle, plug away, and labor all their lives for the supposed ‘Good Things in Life.”  We want a house on the hill with a white picket fence.  We want the nicest cars and the finest clothes.  Don’t get me wrong, I want that stuff two.  As a matter of fact, God has already given me much more than I imagined.  But the point is that the greatest gift in the world is Eternal life.  Bigger than houses, better than cars, Eternal Life beats anything this world has to offer.  So if you are not a Christian this morning and do not have eternal life, you need to reevaluate your priorities.  What is keeping you from God and why is that so important?  If you are a Christian this morning, then you can find Hope and Encouragement in knowing that you have Eternal Life in Christ!  You may lose your job.  Someone may hit your car.  ISABEL may have damaged your house.  But your eternal life is still there!  Thank God for Eternal Life!  That makes the everyday routine things seem exactly just that  —  routine.  Eternal Life, the greatest gift of all!

Overcome your problems through Jesus’ Power and enjoy your Eternal Life in Him!

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(John 17:4 MSG)  “I have glorified you on the earth by completing down to the last detail What you assigned me to do.”

Jesus had been speaking to His disciples for quite some time.  In the last two messages He has been speaking to the Father.  In our text for this morning He says, “I have glorified you on the earth by completing down to the last detail What you assigned me to do.” Although the mock trial, the false accusations, and the cross were still ahead of Him; He could look back and say (without a shadow of a doubt) that He had done everything the Father wanted Him to do.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s look at three things:

1.  Obedience:  Jesus obeyed the Father down to the last detail.  Life in Christ is not a life of rebellion nor insurrection, it is a life of Obedience.  Humility has been defined as courage under control.  Jesus was courageous and so should we be, but we should have the discipline that He had to control that courage and walk in humility and love.  Are you doing your own thing this morning?  Did you get up with your own agenda?  Have you prayed yet?  You cannot obey orders you have not received.  Seek God for direction in your life and then Obey what He says!

2.  Service:  Someone said, “Love isn’t love ’till you’ve given it away!”  Jesus took off divinity and clothed Himself in humanity.  Jesus gave up heaven for the earth.  Jesus humbled himself to a life service.  What a powerful weapon in the Hands of a mighty God!  God can do great things with men and women that are surrendered to service in his Army!  Have you signed up yet?  Are you registered with God’s Selective Service?  If so, are you serving or just cheering for those that are?  Jesus served all His life.  God does not call us to Sit, but rather to Serve!

3.  Testimony:  What a powerful testimony Jesus had.  Paul had a good one as well.  He said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).  What will your testimony be?  When you have cried your last tear.  When you have sang your last song.  When you have prayed your last prayer.  Will the life that you have lived speak for you?

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(John 17:11 CEV)  “Holy Father, I am no longer in the world.  I am coming to you, but my followers are still in the world.  So keep them safe by the power of the name that you have given me.  Then they will be one with each other, just as you and I are one.”

Yesterday’s message came from verse 4.  In verses 5-10 of this passage Jesus is talks to the Father about their oneness and about the disciples.  He prays for the disciples and acknowledges that the Father gave them to Him in the first place.  He then says the words of this morning’s text.  There is a lot of truth wrapped up in this verse.  We see in the text that we are called to be citizens of heaven, but we still have to live in the earth.  We see that our protection comes by the power of the name of Jesus.  But our focus for this morning will be with these words: “Then they will be one with each other, just as you and I are one.”

As followers of Christ we are called to be One, just as Jesus and the Father are One!  We must agree that the pattern is right, even though the material may be flawed.  What I mean by this is that we must agree that God’s plan for the Universal Church is that we would all be One, even though we may not see that in the earth today.  Diversity is good and useful.  We are all unique creatures.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Our uniqueness, however, does not give us license for division.  In the Body of Christ we fuss and fight over the most insignificant issues.  We separate because some clap on the 1st and 3rd beat and others on the 2nd and 4th.  We separate because some like drums in church and others don’t.  We separate because some wear robes and others wear suits.  We separate because some wear suits and others wear jeans.  And the list goes on.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we all need a reminder from time to time that all Born-Again believers have the same Daddy!  We are all part of the same family.  We are all covered by the same blood.  We are all anointed by the same Holy Spirit.  Differences in race, age, gender, worship style, doctrine, and others divide us into denominations; but let’s never forget that Jesus Christ is the Common Denominator!  If we have Jesus in Common, then we have too much in Common to be Uncommon!  God’s plan is for us to be One with each other.  Let’s make an effort today and everyday to see that come to pass!

If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.  It is time to make some changes!

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(John 17:13 CEV)  “I am on my way to you.  But I say these things while I am still in the world, so that my followers will have the same complete joy that I do.”

For the last few messages we see Jesus praying to the Father in the presence of His disciples.  He wants them to hear what He is saying and then recall this prayer after the crucifixion.  He wants them to know that He was in total peace and total joy, in spite of the circumstances.  He wants them to recall this so that they can do the same.  He knows that 10 of the remaining 11 will be killed and the 11th would be exiled.  He knows that they will have to put up with torture and persecution.  He knows that they will have to deal with unfair and unwarranted treatment.  Jesus knows.  And because He knows He prays this prayer in their presence with the purpose being  —  that they might have the same complete joy that Jesus did.

So what does this mean to you today? I have often times said that I want to make it to heaven, but I also want to enjoy the ride.  I do not believe that it is the will of God for us to be saved, but miserably saved.  I have met many a Christian that live miserable lives.  They complain about everything and allow themselves to live in a high-stress environment.  Jesus knew what the disciples were going to have to deal with and He knows the same about us.  He knows how people treat us.  He knows how some talk about us.  He knows about the backbiting and the slander.  But He still desires for us to have the same complete joy that He had in the midst of uncompromising circumstances.

Are you upset this morning?  Are you going through a difficult time?  Jesus was facing something far worse and most of us, but He still had joy!  Take a moment to pray and allow the Joy of the Lord to well up in you this morning and become your strength!

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(John 17:15 KJV)  “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil.”

This morning we are still in the middle of Jesus’ prayer to the Father.  He is praying for His disciples.  He knows what their fate is.  He knows how the world will treat them.  But He also knows that He has poured His life into them for three years.  He also knows that He has invested time, energy, and resources into their lives.  He also knows that He would be leaving them behind to continue on His ministry.  With all of this in mind, He prays, “I pray not that thou shoudest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil.” His prayer was not that they get translated to heaven.  His prayer was not that they be instantly delivered from every problem.  His prayer was not that they go to sleep that night and wake up in glory.  He prayed that they would stay in the world, live long lives, and be used of God for his glory.  His prayer was that the Father would keep them from the hand of the enemy, so that they could fulfill their destiny and so that the gospel would go to the entire world.  We are learning from John the Evangelist, who was one of the disciples.  We are reading the words that He remembered Jesus said.  The church is the church today, because of the legacy of those original 11.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God is not always going to take you out of difficult situations.  It means that God is not always going to shelter you from trouble.  Yes, He will keep you from evil, but the road to our destiny sometimes leads through the town called trouble.  He has invested too much in our lives, not to put that investment to use.  He has given us His power and with His power, we can overcome trouble and not allow trouble to trouble us.

The message this morning is that God wants us to live full and fruitful lives.  God wants us to be examples of Godliness on the earth.  God wants people to see a difference in a dying and decaying world.  So He is not always going to take you out of the tough time, just because you don’t like it.  He will protect you from evil, but keep you through trouble.

Are you troubled this morning?  Are you looking for an easy way out?  The only way out is forward!  Keep on marching.  Keep on praying.  Keep on pressing.  Keep on moving!  God will keep you as you press forward today!  He won’t take you out, but He will keep you through it!

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(John 17:17)  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

God told Moses in Exodus 30 to prepare a special Anointing Oil.  He told him to take a gallon of olive oil and to mix it with myrrh, cinnamon, cane, and cassia.  He was to then take this special oil and anoint the tabernacle and ark of the covenant.  I can imagine this man in the middle of a desert, inside the tent (tabernacle) anointing the table, the lamp stand, the altar, and everything in there.  He was doing this as a special ceremony so that everything that was anointed by the oil would be sanctified (set apart) and holy to God.  God then told him to use this special oil to anoint Aaron as the High Priest.  To take this oil and symbolically set Aaron apart for such service to God.  Fast forward now into the New Testament.  Jesus came in contact with the religious leaders who are continuing on these ceremonies, but they did not receive Him.  Jesus came to those who were supposed to be set apart for God, but they were missing God altogether.  At the end of His earthly ministry, He looks up to the Father, prays for His disciples and says, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”  Jesus was saying, “Father, set these men apart for this special service, not with the oil, but with your Word!”

Although we still use the anointing oil today as a symbolic form of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, to set apart men and women for the work of the ministry, inward sanctification is a process that happens through the continual adherence to the Word of God.  The more you receive these messages and obey them, the more you read your bible and apply it to your life, the more you allow the Word of God to become your guide, the more you are sanctified through God’s truth.  You are set apart for Him and for His service.  So don’t read God’s Word like a text book to study, but rather a life book to live.  The more you live it, the more you are set apart by it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you are special, you are unique, and God wants to use you for His service.  You may never wear a robe.  You may never preach from the pulpit.  You may never participate in a ‘ceremony.’  You may never stand before a crowd.  But God’s Word for you this morning is that if you allow His Word to take root in your heart, you are as much a Priest as Aaron.  God can use you today to share a smile with someone that is down.  God can use you today to share a hug with someone that is hurting.  God can use you today to share a kind word with someone in despair.  The bottom-line is that God can use YOU!

His Word sets you apart.  Are you ready to be used?

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(John 17:20 CEV)  I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me.

There is a song I enjoy that says, “Somebody prayed for me, they had me on their mind.  They took the time to pray for me.  I’m so glad they prayed.  I’m so glad they prayed.  I’m so glad they prayed for me!  My mother prayed for me..”  I have also heard many people testify in church about how they lived godless lives for many years, but they made it, because of the prayers of their mother, or their brothers, or their spouses.  I joined the Army on July 17th1990.  While I was in Basic Training Iraq invaded Kuwait and the war would soon follow.  I was the first to join the military in my family.  They were concerned, but since I joined in peace time, their concern was not that strong.  When the war started, however, my family held numerous prayer meetings for me.  I remember how good it felt knowing that ‘somebody’ was praying for me.  And then even to this day, I thank God for blessing me with a Godly wife who lifts me up in prayer daily.  I enter each day knowing that I have prayed, but also knowing that ‘somebody’ has prayed for me.

So what does this all mean to you today?  It means that our text teaches us that Jesus not only prayed for the disciples, but He also prayed for everyone that would come into the faith because of them.  In essence, Jesus was praying for US!  Not only did Jesus pray for us (past tense), but Jesus is still our Advocate (1 Jn 2:1) with the Father and the Holy Spirit makes Intercession (Ro 8:26) for us.  What this means to you today is that you can face this day with confidence, knowing that you have been prayed for!  I have prayed for you, because I pray for all of those that receive this message.  Jesus prayed for you when He spoke these words.  The Holy Spirit prays for you, making intercession on your behalf.

No matter what is on your calendar.  No matter what is on your plate.  No matter how hard the test, you can make it!  Why?  Because you have been prayed for!  You can leave this computer knowing that ‘Somebody’ has prayed for me!  They had me on their mind.  They took the time to pray for me!  What a comfort I pray that you will find in knowing that you have been prayed for!

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(John 17:26 MSG)  I have made your very being known to them– Who you are and what you do– And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them.

Jesus had been praying to the Father on behalf of the disciples for a while.  He closes His prayer with this last verse of John 17.  What golden nuggets for our lives can we find in His closing remarks?

1.  The more we know God’s Word, the more we know God:  Jesus made the Father’s very being known to His disciples (who He was and what He did).  We did not walk with Jesus and were not privy to these conversations.  What we do have, however, is the record in the Word of God.  So the more we know God’s Word, the more we know God.  The Word of God gives us a vivid picture of our multifaceted God.  We learn about His character, attributes, and nature.  We learn about His love, compassion, and grace.  We learn about His anger, irritation, and fury.  The more we read God’s Word, the more God is revealed to us.

2.  The more we know God’s Word, the more we are transformed into His likeness:  You cannot come in contact with Jesus and remain the same.  The disciples walked with him for 3 years and were changed.  They were not the same men at the end of Jesus’ ministry that they were at the beginning.  Likewise it is with us.  The bible says that we were created in God’s image, yes, but we have to be transformed into His likeness.  Our mind must be renewed in many areas so that we can literally act like God and not the way that we used to.  This is accomplished through the Word of God.  We come in as a caterpillar, but are gradually transformed into living butterflies for God!

3.  The more we are transformed; the more God’s love can show through us:  The more we walk with Him and talk with Him, the more we become like Him and the more He can bless others through us with His love.  God is love and He wants to show His love through His people for His glory!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should never give up.  Keep reading and studying God’s Word.  Keep reading devotionals like this one.  Keep praying and attending local services.  Keep pressing towards the mark.  We have not arrived, but we are on the path.  God’s Word helps us know Him better, transforms us into His likeness, and allows His love to permeate through us!  Don’t ever stop learning, growing, and being transformed into Godly butterflies!

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(John 18:5,6 KJV)  They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.  As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

We dealt with that long prayer for several days.  When Jesus had finished praying, He led His disciples across Kidron Valley and went into a garden.  Judas brought some Roman soldiers and temple police, who had been sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees.  They carried torches, lanterns, and weapons.  Jesus already knew what was going on, but he asked, “Who are you looking for?”  They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Jesus said to them, “I am.”  As soon as He said that, they well backwards and fell to the ground.

There are 8 standard “I AM” statements in the gospel according to John.  Jesus said: I am the Bread of life; I am the Light of the world; I am the door; I am the Good Shepherd; I am the resurrection and the life; I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and I am the Vine.  In these seven statements Jesus likens himself to ‘something.’  Then several times Jesus said, “I Am!”  This is a direct reference to Jesus being “I am that I am” (Jehovah the Lord!).  With the 8thI am statement, Jesus likens Himself to the Lord God.  See, the word “he” that you see in the text is not in the original language.  Jesus simply replied to them, “I Am” and they fell on the ground.  They were looking for Jesus of Nazareth (the man), but Jesus replied ‘I Am’ (the Lord).

So what does this mean to you today? It means you can talk about God all day long.  It means that you can leisurely think about an unknown and unseen God without powerful results.  Like the men in the text, they were looking for ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’  But whenever you come in direct contact with Jesus the Lord; you can never be the same.

Do you have an issue this morning that you are struggling with?  Is there a character flaw in your life that you would like to see changed?  When you look in the God’s Spiritual mirror, do you like what you see?  If you are ready for some changes, you can take it to the Lord in prayer!  I say Lord, because you must surrender yourself when you come in contact with Jesus as Lord.  You can casually talk about God in the office and you might casually mention Him at home, but when you really come in contact with the Lord Jesus, you will fall back and fall down and walk away changed!

Are you ready for a change?  If you are willing, God is able!

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(John 18:10 CEV)  Simon Peter had brought along a sword. He now pulled it out and struck at the servant of the high priest. The servant’s name was Malchus, and Peter cut off his right ear.

We left off yesterday with the Roman soldiers and temple police haven fallen to the ground when Jesus identified Himself as deity (Lord Jehovah).  Jesus than asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” “We are looking for Jesus from Nazareth,” they answered.  Again Jesus replied, “I am.  If I am the one you are looking for, let these others go.”  This is where we pick up our text and Peter pulls out his sword and cuts Malchus’ right ear straight off.

This may sound a little awkward and maybe even bizarre, but we have to understand Peter.  Peter was the same guy that  —  when the disciples were afraid in the fourth watch of the night (3-6am), in the middle of raging waters, in the middle of the sea, and they thought they had seen a ghost  —  yelled out to the ghost and asked if he was Jesus.  It did wind up being Jesus and Peter then asked to able to go to Him and he did.  There were 12 in the boat, but only Peter walked on water.  This is the same guy that  —  when Jesus asked his disciples where they stood as far as there perception of Him  —  said “You are the Christ.”  He recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah.  Peter was the leader of the group.  This is the same guy that would later preach the first New Testament sermon and 3,000 souls would be saved.  Peter was aggressive.  Peter was a hard-charger.  Peter was a go-getter.  Peter was always speaking up and always out front.  So it is easy to see how he pulled out his sword and cut this guy’s ear off.  Peter was trying to do something good, but he was messing with Jesus’ destiny and our salvation.  He was not in the will of God.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that sometimes we can do things we ‘think’ are good, but they wind up being wrong.  We can be sincere, but sincerely wrong.  Sometimes we operate in the flesh and do what our human impulses tell us to do, but God has commanded us to walk in the Spirit.  We all, like Peter, make mistakes, but we must not allow those mistakes to cripple us and keep us from our destiny.  Peter recovered from this and so can we.

Have you recently made a mistake?  Did you operate impulsively and do something or say something you would later regret?  Well, allow God to pick you up and dust you off this morning.  You can recover.  Yesterday ended last night!  Today it is time to move forward!

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(John 18:11 BBE)  Then Jesus said to Peter, Put back your sword: am I not to take the cup which my Father has given to me?

In our last message Peter pulled out his sword and cut of the ear of one of the men coming to get Jesus.  He was sincere, but sincerely wrong.  Jesus then tells him to put his sword back because He is determined to drink from the cup that the Father had given Him.  Other gospel writers tell the account of Jesus going to Gethsemane to pray with Peter, James, and John (His inner circle).  He prayed for three hours and even sweated drops of blood.  The entire time He was struggling with His will (humanity) and the will of the Father (divinity).  He ends the struggle with these words, (Mat 26:39b CEV)  “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup. But do what you want, and not what I want.”

You can see now how Peter’s actions did not line up with the will of God.  Jesus had already prayed and God had already given Him peace about it, but Peter was interfering with the will of God.   So what does this mean to you today?  Let’s look at it through two sets of eyes:

1.  Through the eyes of Jesus:  Jesus was the one in the middle of the situation.  Jesus did not want to have to drink form this cup.  This clearly illustrates the futility of humanity.  If Jesus (the God-man) had to struggle with issues, then who are we to think that we will not?  God will place many undesirable and unattractive cups in our path.  Our desire to please God must outweigh our desire to please ourselves.  If it does, then we will drink from the ‘cups,’ no matter how difficult that swallow may seem.  Are you in a difficult situation this morning?  Are you starting off this new week in Gethsemane?  Are you struggling with the will of God vs. your will?  Your next step is clear.  You will do whatever you deem most important.  If you really love God the way you say you do, you will drink from that undesirable and unattractive cup and watch God bless you.  Or you can walk away from the cup and forfeit your destiny. The choice is yours!

2.  Through the eyes of Peter:  Peter was the one trying to help out someone else because He did not want to see Him go through this situation.  Sometimes God is dealing with people and allowing them to reap what they have sown, but we get in the way.  We try to help them, but we are really interfering with God’s plan.  Do you have a love one that is struggling this morning?  Pray for them, but before you act on their behalf, make sure you are led of God. You want to help them and not hurt them by derailing them from the Purpose of the Pain!

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(John 18:12 ALT)  Then the detachment [of soldiers] and the commanding officer [or, Chiliarch] and the attendants of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him.

Can you picture the scene?  Jesus had just finished sharing His heart with His disciples and had prayed to the Father.  Judas shows up with a clan.  He tells them that he would go and kiss the one that they needed to arrest.  He comes and kisses Jesus and Jesus calls him friend (Mat 26:49,50).  We know that Peter cut one guy’s ear off and Jesus told him to put his sword away.  Then we look at our text and we see the great lengths that were taken to supposedly seize the King of Glory.  They showed up with a detachment of soldiers, the Commanding Officer, and the temple police.  All of this for one man?  They came and tied Him up and arrested Him, all without a warrant and without a charge.

My good friend Elder Leo Jacobs reminded me yesterday about our passage that Jesus called Judas “Friend” and had earlier called Peter “Devil” (Get thee behind me Satan)…  From the natural stand-point Judas should have been called the Devil and Peter should have been called Friend; but not from God’s perspective.  He said, “From God’s perspective, our friends are those who usher us into the “WILL” of God… Jesus came from heaven to die… this would have been nullified had it not been for Judas… It was Judas who pushed him into the WILL of God.  Often Judas looks like an enemy, much like Joseph’s brothers, but seldom do we see what they meant for evil, God meant for our good!

There was a little old lady who needed some food.  She had run out of money and was praying to God that He would provide her something to eat.  Some little boys in the neighborhood heard her and mocked her and her God.  They developed a scheme.  They pooled all their monies together, went to the grocery store, purchased a bunch of food, and took it back to the lady’s house.  They placed it on her porch, rang the bell, and ran into the bushes.  They lady came out, saw the food, and praised God!  The kids came out and said, “God did not get you that food, we did!”  She replied, “Think again!”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that sometimes God uses the adversary and insurmountable situations to bless us.  You may feel like a pawn on God’s chess board this morning.  You may feel like the devil is throwing everything at you (like they did Jesus in our text), but the kitchen sink.  You may feel like attacks are coming from every side.  But God can use those same attacks and those same attackers for your good!  Just keep your eyes stayed on Jesus and God will see you through this and every situation!

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(John 18:13,14 CEV)  They took him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.  This was the same Caiaphas who had told the Jewish leaders, “It is better if one person dies for the people.”

Yesterday we left off with the flamboyant arrest of Jesus.  The clan then took Him to Annas.  Annas was a High Priest who had been deposed his office, probably due to something he had done.  His son-in-law (Caiphas) was made his successor.  Although he no longer legally operated in the office, he still held the title.  Once you were High Priest, you were so for life.  Many still considered Annas to be the man with the power.  So they took Jesus to Annas first and then to Caiaphas.  This would be the first in the string of mock trials; all without a warrant and all without a charge.

What lessons can we learn from Jesus standing before two High Priests in His road to the cross?

1.  The Futility of Humanity:  If anyone should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah it should have been the High Priest.  The High Priest had the right heritage (descendants of Aaron), wore the right clothes (the priestly attire), and had the right authority (the only ones allowed to go into the Holy of Holies).  You would think that they would have recognized the King of Glory.  You would think that they would have known the scriptures enough to know that they prophecies were being fulfilled with Jesus.  The Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Priests, and now two High Priests all missed the Messiah.  What does this mean to you today?  It means that God is not impressed by titles and not concerned with outward garb.  He is a Spirit and He is concerned with our inner man.  Humanity will fail us from time to time, but God never fails.  People will miss it, but God will always show up!

2.  The Irony of Life:  Jesus was not taken to the lowlifes of the city.  Jesus was not taken to the shady characters of the town.  Jesus was erroneously arraigned and convicted without a charge and it went through the Priestly office.  Sometimes the most likely people to bless us will curse us and sometimes the most likely people to curse us will bless us.  There are many ironies in life.  This is another reason why we should seek to look at life though the lens of Christ.  When we look at circumstances through God’s eyes we can look behind the mess and see the message.  We can look through the problems and see the purpose!

3.  The Power of Destiny:  Jesus was born to die.  He was to restore our broken relationship with the Father and this could only be done through the shedding of blood.  There was purpose behind every action and every word in Jesus life.  Even two High Priests  —  one of which even said, “It is better if one person dies for the people.” —  could not keep Jesus from the cross.  So sometimes your life will not make sense.  Sometimes circumstances will occur that clearly should not have.  Sometimes the people that should clearly help you will not.  In the midst of these circumstances we must remember that everything happens for a reason.  Nothing just ‘so happens.’  Whatever God permits to enter the arena of your life, He has purpose wrapped up in!

So even when those who should bless you, don’t, keep looking to Jesus and keeping pressing toward Godliness!

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(John 18:17 MSG)  The young woman who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “No, I’m not.”

Yesterday we saw that they took Jesus away to see the High Priests.  Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.  Peter was standing outside the High Priest’s house and the other disciple went in.  When the other disciple came back out, he talked to the girl at the gate about letting Peter in.  When Peter walked past her she asked, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “No, I’m not.” Now this may not seem like a big deal, but you need to understand what happened earlier that evening.  Jesus was talking to His disciples and telling them what was going to happen to Him.  He also told them that they would all scatter and leave Him alone.  When Jesus said this, (Mat 14:29,30) Peter spoke up, “Even if all the others reject you, I never will!” Jesus replied, “This very night before a rooster crows twice, you will say three times that you don’t know me.”

Peter was the guy that walked on water.  Peter was the guy that identified Jesus’ deity.  Peter was the guy that just cut the guard’s ear off when they came to get Jesus.  Peter was a man of faith and Peter was a man of action.  But here it is, Peter denied Christ to a girl!

So what does this mean to you today? There is a lot that we could focus on, but let’s just focus on one word  — Failure!

Failure has always been a dirty word for me.  The word “can’t” is not part of my vocabulary.  I look forward and not backward.  I seek progression and not regression.  I work hard and believe God.  And by the grace of God I have been reasonably successful thus far in life.  But there comes a point where we must all deal with failure.  Peter was the leader of the disciples and would later lead the New Testament church, but before he could fulfill his destiny, he had to deal with failure!  Solomon said it this way, (Prov 24:16)  Even if good people fall seven times, they will get back up.  But when trouble strikes the wicked, that’s the end of them.

Successful people in life are not the ones that never fail, but rather the ones that recover from failure. Peter denied Christ three times (just like Jesus said he would), but He later on preached the Pentecostal sermon and 3,000 souls came to Jesus.  Failure can only cripple you if you allow it to.

Are you struggling with Failure this morning?  Have you messed up lately?  We all do, but those that want to be used mightily of God, get back up again, allow God to dust them off and get back in the fight.  So no matter how bad you messed up, no matter how bad it seems, you are still alive and you can still make it!  Blood is still flowing through your veins and air is still flowing through your lungs.  This is evidence that God is not through with you yet!  I will close with the words of Donnie McClurkin, “We Fall Down, but we Get Up!”

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(John 18:22 MSG)  When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”

Yesterday we left off with Peter denying Christ to a young girl.  After this, Peter stood outside with the servants and the police.  Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teachings while Peter was outside.  Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly in public. I’ve taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together.  Everything has been out in the open.  I’ve said nothing in secret.  So why are you treating me like a conspirator?  Question those who have been listening to me.  They know well what I have said.  My teachings have all been aboveboard.”  This is where we pick up our text: when he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”

Let’s be honest for a minute.  When we think of Jesus, most of the time, we think of the miraculous Jesus.  We think of the God-man that stopped a funeral precession when He met a woman who was at her wits end.  Her husband was dead and now she was enroute to burying her only son.  Jesus had compassion on her and raised her little boy from the dead.  We think of the God-man who looked out at a vast crowd that had followed Him (5,000 men, not counted the women and children) and had compassion upon them when they were hungry.  He took a little boy’s lunch (2 fish and 5 loaves of bread) and fed the entire crowd, until they were full.  We think of the God-man who showed up at His friends’ house (Mary and Martha) after their brother had been dead for four days and whose body was already stinking.  He had so much compassion for them that he cried.  He went to the tomb and raised Lazarus from the dead and loosed him from his grave clothes.  We think of the God-man who walked on water and met the disciples in the fourth watch of the night (3am-6am), when they were tired, frustrated, and fearful.  He met them where they were and invited on of them to walk on water with Him.  We think of the God-man who met a woman in church who wanted to straighten herself up, but she couldn’t.  She had been bent over for 18 years, but Jesus healed her that day.  Yes, we often times think of the miraculous Jesus, the powerful Jesus, the wonder working Jesus.  But what about the Jesus that was whipped for us?  What about the Jesus that was beaten for us?  What about the Jesus  —  like our text connotes  —  that was slapped for us?  This was also part of His life.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that life in Christ is not always full of water walking and crowd feeding.  Life in Christ is not always full of healing the sick and raising the dead.  Sometimes life in Christ means drinking from that uncompromising and unpleasant cup.  Sometimes life in Christ means surviving the storms and enduring the pain.  Sometimes we are saying the right things and are in the center of the will of God for our lives and the world still reaches out reach out and slaps us across the face!

Paul said it this way, (II Cor 4:8,9 CEV)  We often suffer, but we are never crushed.  Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up.  In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again. Have you been slapped this week?  Have you been beaten this morning?  Are you struggling to survive the storm?  Jesus made it through this and so can we.  When the world slaps you, the Holy Spirit gives you the power to take it and still make it!

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(John 18:23 CEV)  Jesus answered, “If I have done something wrong, say so. But if not, why did you hit me?”

I am back in Korea now and I thank God for a safe return.  Our last message dealt with the world reaching out and slapping you in the face from time to time.  The morning after I sent out the message I found out that my promotion board (which convened in April-May) will reconvene, due to possible irregularities in the board process.  My initial reaction was “Well, no big deal.  I am sure they will back-date the promotions.”  I then followed the web link and read the entire message, to find out that this would not be the case.  I share this because I was disappointed and frustrated with the system.  I am still human and my mind filled with questions for God.  “God why me?  Why did this have to happen on my board?  Why my year?  What are you trying to tell me about the military? And etc.”

In our text for this morning Jesus said, “If I have done something wrong, say so. But if not, why did you hit me?” That is how I felt.  I work hard and I seek to be best at what I do, and this board process reached out and slapped me.  Now this may seem trivial to some of you, but I share it because I was disappointed and the point is that we all have to deal with disappointments from time to time.  We have to learn to play the hand that we have been dealt and still win!  It left a bad taste in my mouth at first, but halleluiah anyhow; life goes on!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that sometimes bad things happen to good people.  It means that frustration molds determination.  It also means that we can be real with God and tell Him when we are disappointed and upset.  God wants us to be open and honest and He will meet us where we are.  Those that are able to deal with disappointment and struggle are those that will be successful in life.  Abraham Lincoln overcame poverty.  Franklin D. Roosevelt overcame child paralysis.  Booker T. Washington overcame racial discrimination.  Albert Einstein overcame being diagnosed as retarded as a child.  Moses overcame a stutter.  Joseph overcame persecution by his brothers.  Daniel overcame the lions den.  Paul overcame three shipwrecks.  And I will overcome this small disappointment.

No matter what has happened to you recently and what issues you face this morning, God can see you through.  Even if you did not do anything (seemingly) wrong, like Jesus in our text and you feel like you have been hit by the world; lift up your eyes to God and allow Him to see you through this and every disappointment in your life!

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(John 18:32 CEV)  And so what Jesus said about his death would soon come true.

This morning we continue our journey through the gospel of John the Evangelist.  We last left Jesus with Caiaphas.  When Caiaphas was through questioning Jesus, he sent him to his son-in-law (the other High Priest) Annas.  After being questioned by Annas, Jesus was taken to the Roman governor’s (Pilate) house.  By this time it was early in the morning.  They had erroneously tried Jesus in the middle of the night and found Him guiltily; but once again, no charge was ever brought against Him.  No witnesses came forward.  No testimony was filed.  Pilate came out and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”  They answered, “He is a criminal! That’s why we brought him to you.”  Pilate told them, “Take him and judge him by your own laws.” The crowd replied, “We are not allowed to put anyone to death.”  This is where we pick up our text.  And so what Jesus said about his death would soon come true. Jesus had said that He would be lifted up as the serpent was lifted up.  It was the Roman custom to crucify criminals and Jesus would hang on a tree, to fulfill prophecy.

Let’s look at the life of Jesus for a minute.  He was born in Bethlehem, traveled to Egypt as a baby, and was then raised in Nazareth.  The Father gave Him the dirty dozen disciples.  They included a hot head, a doubter, a political extremist, one that never said anything, and one that was always saying something; just to name a few.  Jesus setup shop in Capernaum and ministered throughout all of Galilee, Jerusalem, Samaria, and even back home in Nazareth.  To the untrained eye, His life would seem aimless.  He was here and there, doing this and that.  And then there is this night that would never seem to end.  He is betrayed by one of His disciples, another disciple cuts a man’s ear off, He is taken from mock trail to mock trail, and He winds up in the hands of a Roman Governor who does not want anything to do with Him.  But even through it all, our text reminds us that this all happened for a reason!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that maybe your life may seem a bit aimless to the casual observer.  Maybe you have been from place to place, country to country, or relationship to relationship.  Maybe you have been up and down, here and there, east and west, north and south.  Maybe you get frustrated at times with you ever-changing environment.  Maybe you want to make sense out of all of this.  The Word for you this morning is that everything happens for a reason.  There is no such thing as luck (good or bad).  Whatever God permits to enter the arena of your life, He has purpose wrapped up in.  This will not change your yesterday, but it can change your perspective of your today and tomorrow.  Are you ready for this day?  Are you ready to accept whatever God will permit?  Are you ready to receive all that He has for you?  No matter what happens, God already knew, and because He already knew; He already made provisions for you to make it through it!

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(John 18:37a MSG)  Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?” Jesus answered, “You tell me…

Jesus finally made it before Pilate.  Pilate asked Him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”  Jesus said, “Those are your words.”  Pilate said, “Your people and your high priests turned you over to me.  What did you do?”  “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you.  If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews.  But my kingdom is not here.”  This is where we pick up our text.  Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?” Jesus answered, “You tell me…

Twice Pilate asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews and twice Jesus averted the question.  Jesus never went around boasting about Himself, nor His accomplishments.  He never stated a laundry list of the miracles He performed.  He never exalted Himself to others.  He never sought to bring glory to His undertakings.  Jesus was the God-man.  He was God in the flesh.  He lived a sinless life.  He healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the blind to see, lame to walk, deaf to hear, and dumb to speak.  Jesus was a walking testimony, but He never sat around trying to make Himself look like one.  He was questioned many times and He often replied, “That’s what you say.”

What can we learn from Jesus’ attitude this morning? We learn that we must remain humble if we are to stay in the center of God’s will for our lives.  We learn that we do not need to draw attention to ourselves.  We learn that our actions will always speak louder than our words.  We learn that when we please God privately, He will reward us publicly.

Jesus is the King of the Jews and even better than that, He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords; but He never needed to say it to be it! Who are you?  What has God blessed you to be?  Are you a loving mother?  Are you a good teacher?  Are you a dedicated worker?  Are you a committed leader?  Are you an anointed Pastor?  No matter whom you are and what God has blessed you to do; you ought to do it with all you might and seek to please God thereby.  You don’t need to; however, go around boasting in who God has blessed you to be.  The Scriptures say, “God opposes proud people, but he helps everyone who is humble” (I Pet 5:5).

So as you enter this day, stay humble, stay dedicated, stay committed, and watch God continue to bless you in all that you put your hands to do!

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(John 19:7 CEV)  The crowd replied, “He claimed to be the Son of God! Our Jewish Law says that he must be put to death.”

A lot has happened to Jesus since yesterday’s text.  After questioning Jesus Pilate said, “I don’t find this man guilty of anything!”  Since it was the Roman custom to release a prisoner for the Jews during Passover, Pilate asked, “Do you want to me set free the king of the Jews?”  The crowd shouted, “No, not him!  We want Barabbas.”  Now Barabbas was a terrorist.  They opted to release a terrorist instead of the King of Glory.  Then Pilate gave orders for Jesus to be beaten with a whip.  The soldiers made a crown out of thorn branches and put it on Jesus’ head.  Then they put a purple robe on him.  The crowd came up to him and said, “Hey, you king of the Jews” and began to hit him with their fists.  Once again Pilate went out.  This time he said, “I will have Jesus brought out to you again.  Then you can see for yourselves that I have not found him guilty.”  Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.  Pilate said, “Here is the man!”  When the chief priests and the temple police saw him, they yelled, “Nail him to a cross! Nail him to a cross!”  Pilate told them, “You take him and nail him to a cross!  I don’t find him guilty of anything.”  This is where we pick up our text and the crowd replied, “He claimed to be the Son of God!  Our Jewish Law says that he must be put to death.”

You have probably heard the story of what was done to Jesus many times; but we will never hear it enough.  We need to be reminded, from time to time, of the persecution, ridicule, and pain that Jesus endured for us; the entire time, never doing anything wrong.  They whipped Him with a cat of nine tails 39 times.  They pushed the crown of thorns in his head and blood was dripping down his face.  They clothed Him with a purple robe and mocked Him as the King of the Jews.  They came by and arbitrarily punched Him in the face.  And then, if all of this were not bad enough, they nailed Him to the cross.  This was the most brutal form of execution.  And what was the reason for all of this?  They never found Him guilty of anything.  The answer is in our text, “He claimed to be the Son of God!” His only crime was that He disclosed His true identity.  He was persecuted for being Himself.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the servant is not greater than the Master.  Just like our Master was persecuted for being Himself, we will  —  from time to time  —  experience the same.  Some folk will not like you for being honest, open, a person of integrity, dignity, and stature.  We operate in a world where deceit, dishonesty, trickery, and fraud are a way of life.  As Christians we will naturally ‘stick out’ because of who we are.  The message to you this morning is not to allow the world to change your identity.  Jesus never wavered.  He knew who He was and He stuck with it.  We must do the same.  If you don’t drink, then don’t drink, even if your boss offers you one.  If you don’t smoke, then don’t smoke, even when all your coworkers are smoking around you.  If you don’t cuss, then don’t cuss, even if it seems like the norm.  If you don’t cheat on your spouse, then don’t cheat, even if that is what everyone else is doing.  And I could go on.

Jesus was persecuted for being Himself and we will be as well; but never back down and never give in.  Be yourself and stand up for what you believe in, even if it causes you pain!  Our sufferings down here are not worthy to be compared with the glory we will receive up there!

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(John 19:11 CEV)  Jesus replied, “If God had not given you the power, you couldn’t do anything at all to me. But the one who handed me over to you did something even worse.”

In our last message we saw how Jesus was tried and convicted for being Himself, for revealing His true identity.  When Pilate realized that Jesus had not really done anything wrong, he was terrified.  He went back inside and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?”  But once again, Jesus did not answer.  “Why won’t you answer my question?” Pilate asked. “Don’t you know that I have the power to let you go free or to nail you to a cross?”  This is where we pick up our text.  Jesus replied, “If God had not given you the power, you couldn’t do anything at all to me…”

Pilate attempted to explain authority to Supreme Authority.  Pilate attempted to explain power to the one with All Power.  Pilate attempted to explain position to the one with the Highest Position.  Anything that Pilate had and any authority that he had been given had been given to him by God.  God could have killed Pilate in an instant for authorizing the death of Jesus, but He did not, because there was purpose wrapped up in this problem.  Jesus could have called down a legion of angels and eradicated the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin, but He did not, because there was promise wrapped up in the pain.  Pilate boasted that he had the power let Jesus go free or to nail Him to the cross, but Pilate was just a peon on God’s chess board.  Pilate, and his authorization of the execution, was just a necessary stop along Jesus path to destiny.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we need to always remember that God is in control  —  period.  Every second of every day of every month of every year  —  God is Still God!  Now we may not like the circumstances.  We may not understand why the Pilates in our lives seemingly have the power to apprehend us and send us to and fro, but we must remember the power behind the power.  All authority (righteous and unrighteous) is God-given.  God uses the righteous and the unrighteous to usher us into His perfect will for our lives.  God can use a Prison Warden to send us into isolation, as much as He can use a Pastor to send us into consecration.  In both instances, God is attempting to get us into His perfect will for our lives, so that we can fulfill our destiny.

So don’t make the mistake of thinking that God is not in control of your situation, just because the person with the temporary authority over you is not a Christian.  God can use them just like He can use anyone else.  Any power the Pilates in your have over you and any decisions they make concerning your destiny, are decisions that God allowed them to make.  If He permitted it, then He has purpose wrapped up in it.  So rest assured this Monday morning  —  God is in Control!

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(John 19:15 MSG)  They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!” Pilate said, “I am to crucify your king?” The high priests answered, “We have no king except Caesar.”

After yesterday’s text Pilate wanted to pardon Jesus, but the Jews shut him down.  They threatened him saying, “If you pardon this man, you’re no friend of Caesar’s.  Anyone setting himself up as ‘king’ defies Caesar.”  Now Pilate knew he was in a bind and he led Jesus outside.  He sat down at the judgment seat in the area designated the ‘Stone Court.’  It was the preparation day for Passover at high noon.  Pilate looked out and said, “Here is your king.”  This is where we pick up our text.  They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!” Pilate said, “I am to crucify your king?”  The high priests answered, “We have no king except Caesar.”

In this morning’s text we see Pilate’s dilemma.  Even when he wanted to let Jesus go, the Jews threatened to tell Caesar on him.  He wanted to do right, but crumbled under the pressure.  I don’t fault Pilate because Pilate was a Roman.  He was not a man of God.  But then what about the high (chief) priests?  These people were supposed to know better.  They were the ones that had the Word of God.  They were the ones that were waiting on the coming Messiah and when He came, they handed Him over to the Romans.  They were the ones with the robes.  They were the ones that preached in the synagogues.  They were the ones that supposedly had it all together.  The final statement in our text is what hit home me, a bunch of supposedly Holy men cried out, “We have no king except Caesar.”

So what does this mean to you today? As I share this with you, I know that you are not a Jew under Roman captivity.  I understand that you are not a high priest with alleged religious regalia.  I realize that you are reading this story and attempting to identify with it for your life today.  With that in mind, let’s look beyond the people (Pilate and the priests) and let’s look at a principle.  Don’t give the devil any space in your life.  If you give him an inch, he will take a mile.  If you give him a foothold, he will create a stronghold.  If you give him your attention for 5 seconds, he will have your mind for 5 minutes.

What do I mean?  Well, Pilate was convinced that Jesus was innocent and possibly even the Son of God, but he was already too far down the wrong path to turn back.  He could make the turn, but he was afraid of the consequences and the lash back from Caesar.  Pilate’s actions are understandable, but still not excusable.  As men and women of integrity, we must follow our heart and not what is always popular.  But the heart of today’s message lies in the proclamation of the high priests.  These were the supposed religious men of Israel.  These men were the ones designated to hear from God and they missed it altogether.  They allowed pride to set in when Jesus had more followers then them and it all went downhill from there.  Pride led to anger, anger to deceit, deceit to malice, and etc.  It culminated with men of God declaring, “We have no king except Caesar.”

So be careful what you allow yourself to get into, because the devil will make it increasingly more difficult to get out of it!

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(John 19:18 CEV)  There Jesus was nailed to the cross, and on each side of him a man was also nailed to a cross.

In yesterday’s message we saw how Pilate had gone too far and could not turn back without serious repercussions.  He finally gave in and handed Jesus over to be nailed to a cross.  Jesus was taken away and He  —  with His battered and bruised body  —  had to carry His own cross to a place known as “The Skull.”  In Aramaic this place is called “Golgotha.”  This is where we pick up our text.  There Jesus was nailed to the cross, and on each side of him a man was also nailed to a cross.

I know you are busy and have many things to do today.  I know your schedule is probably running through you head as you read this email.  But please pause for a moment to think about this text.

Our Savior had the last supper with His disciples, washed their feet, and then prayed for hours.  He prayed for Himself, His disciples, and for all believers, before they came and got Him.  They tied Him up and arrested Him like a dirty criminal.  They dragged Him from mock trial to mock trial under the cover of darkness.  They ordered a skillful torturer to take his cat of nine tails (a long leather whip with nine lashes on it that had bits of metal and bone tied to it) and hit Jesus with it 39 times.  Every time he hit Him once, it was like 9 lashes.  Every time the lashes hit His back, the bits of bone and metal sunk in.  When the torturer pulled it back, he brought with it, pieces of Jesus flesh.  He repeated this tremendous punishment 39 times.  They punched Him in the face.  They put a hood over His head and slapped Him and asked Him to prophecy who it was that hit Him.  They twisted up a thorn branch and drove it into His head as a supposed crown, in mockery of Him being the King of the Jews.  Blood came dripping down His face.  They then took this battered and bruised body and made Him carry the same cross that they would soon nail Him to up Golgotha’s hill, yelling at Him and mocking Him along the way.  As He looked out at the crowd, no doubt He saw some of the same faces that were praising Hosanna, Hosanna, just a few days prior.  His disciples had scattered, the people had turned on Him, and they sentenced Him without one witness and without one crime.  They beat Him silly.  And He is now carrying His cross.  He finally makes it up the hill and they then take the cross He was carrying and lay Him down on it.  They stretch out His hands, take those huge (railroad-like) nails and drive them through His flesh.  Have you ever heard a large hammer?  Can you hear the sound now?  Bang, bang, bang, bang, as they drive through our Savior’s hands.  Can you imagine?  They then bring His feet together and repeat the process.

Why all of this?  Why this pain?  Why this torture?  Why this crucifixion?  It was all for YOU!  Think about that for a minute.  Jesus looked beyond all that pain and looked forward 2,000 years and saw your face.  That is what kept Him through it all.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that whatever we go through, it pails in comparison to what Jesus went through for us.  If you are in pain, He knows about pain.  If you are dealing with problems, He knows about problems.  If you are hurt by two-faced people, He experienced that too.  He went through all of that, so He could meet you where you are and identify with your every struggle.

No matter what you are going through today, Jesus went through worse and He is ready and willing to help you get through yours; so that He can use you to meet the needs of others.  After everything He did for you, what will you do for Him today?

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(John 19:19 KJV)  And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Nazareth was on the main road between Damascus and Egypt.  Many travelers passed through Nazareth, but not many stopped there.  It did not have much to offer.  It was not a coastal town and therefore did not have a fishing industry.  It was not a crossroads and therefore was not a trading town.  It really did not have much at all.  The Nazarene’s did not like the travelers passing through their city anyway.  They had a special dislike for Roman soldiers.  Many Nazarenes would take their trash and  —  instead of taking it to the normal trash dump  —  they would throw it on the side of the main road.  This way, when the Roman soldiers and other travelers came by, they were repulsed by the city and kept on going.  Because of this, Nazareth came to be known as the City of Trash.

Jesus was called many names and titles throughout His ministry.  He was called Master, Lord, Rabbi, Teacher, Son of David, Son of man, Son of God, and Jesus of Nazareth (to name a few).  Those that addressed our Savior as ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ identified Him with the City of Trash.

So as we look at our text and we can see the paradox in the statement written above His head on the cross “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  From one extreme to the other.  When the high priest saw the inscription on the board, he told Pilate, “Do not put, The King of the Jews, but, He said, I am the King of the Jews,” but Pilate would not change it.  Pilate did not know it, but He crystallized Jesus’ ministry in that one statement.  He came from the lowest of lows to go to the highest of highs.  He came from the City of Trash, so He could identify with all the filth in our lives.  He came form the City of Trash so that He could reach all of us born on the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’  He came from the City of Trash so He could reach out to the thief, the adulterer, the whoremonger, the backbiter, and every other shifty character.  He came from the City of Trash and was taken back to the City of God so that He could run the gamut of ministry.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that it does not matter if you were born in the cities of trash of this world or the most righteous of families.  It does not matter if you have never stepped in a church or were raised in the church.  It does not matter if you feel like you are not worthy or if you make the mistake of thinking you are.  Jesus can relate to the full spectrum of humanity.  So whether you are from Brooklyn like me or from Beverly Hills, Jesus can come to you at your level and take you to where you need to be.  You know where you have messed up.  You know all the things you have done that no one (on the earth) knows about.  You know who you are when no one else is around.  Jesus also knows and He is willing to reach you right there, pick you up and take you higher.  Why? Because He is both Jesus of Nazareth and the King of the Jews!

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(John 19:26,27 MSG)  Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.”  Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.

And so they raised the cross with Jesus on it.  As the cross was moved from the horizontal to the vertical position, so shifted the weight from his body to his pierced hands and feet.  They positioned the cross into the hole prepared for it.  They dropped the cross down into the hole, rattling Jesus’ bones and sending a surge of pain all throughout His body.  It was high noon, but darkness fell all over the land.  The sun and the Son could not shine at the same time.  Jesus’ body is wracked with pain, blood is dripping from the nails, he tries to pull himself up with His hands and it hurts, he then tries to hold Himself up with His lower body, but seemingly can’t.  As He struggles with this excruciating situation, the crowd is yelling at Him and mocking Him.  What a sight.  Can you see Him?  He is there, in the midst of the worst possible scenario, and then here comes Jesus’ mother, His aunt Mary (wife of Cleophas), and Mary Magdalene.  They come and stand at the foot of the cross.  This is where we pick up our text.  Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.”  Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.

The disciple standing next to Jesus’ mother was the writer of this gospel, John the Evangelist.  He is the only disciple that showed up at the cross.  Jesus looks out in the midst of darkness (it was dark in more ways than one) and is still concerned with ministry and people.  In the middle of His pain and plight, He is concerned with the welfare of His mother and looses her to the care of His beloved disciple.  Instead of whining, murmuring and complaining about His situation, He has compassion on some else.

I could go on about this, but what does this mean to you today? It means that there will be many dark situations in our lives.  We will have many Golgotha experiences where we feel like God has forsaken us and we are in darkness and despair.  But God’s desire is to meet the needs of the needy through Christians.  He wants us to allow Him to share a kind word, a smile, a hug, or any form of compassion and concern with those that need it; in spite of our current circumstance.  The blessing is that as we allow God to meet the needs of others through us, our need are supernaturally met.  As we allow God to comfort others through us, we are comforted.  As we allow God to pick up someone else through us, we are picked up.

So who will you allow God to reach through you today? Yes, you may be struggling with issues, but issues will always be a part of life.  If you waited until you did not have any issues to be compassionate to someone, you would never do it.  Allow God to share a compassionate word with someone today and watch Him bless you for it, even in the midst of your need.

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(John 20:1,2 CEV)  On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran to Simon Peter and to Jesus’ favorite disciple and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb! We don’t know where they have put him.”

Jesus died a brutal death on the cross for all humanity.  They took the body down from the cross, wrapped it in linen cloth, together with spices, and placed it in a borrowed tomb that had never been used.  Joseph of Arimathea (the owner of the tomb) and Nicodemus prepared the body.  They were in a bit of a hurry because they did not have much time, remember that they had to be done by 6pm.  This would mark the beginning of the next day and the Sabbath.  They could touch no dead thing on the Sabbath.  And so they finished, the tomb was sealed, and they left.  This is where we pick up our text.

She would soon find out that the body was not taken, but Jesus had been risen from the dead!  That empty tomb would become the Good News of the gospel for all eternity.  That empty tomb would become the spring in the step of Christianity.  That empty tomb would become the fuel in our fire, the air in our lungs, and the wind beneath our wings!  Without the empty tomb there is no Christianity.  Without the empty tomb we have no hope.  Without the empty tomb our message is just a story.  Paul said it this way, (I Cor 15:14 CEV)  “And if Christ wasn’t raised to life, our message is worthless, and so is your faith.”

I am currently in Japan and yesterday we went on a tour.  Part of the tour included a Buddhist temple.  Many visitors came to this temple to see a huge (over 100ft. tall) wooden statue of Buddha.  I sat in the back of the temple and thought to myself, “how many people are lost following this inanimate object?”  Another person from our group came by and quipped, “that’s a whole lot of firewood.”  I don’t want to seem crass, nor make fun of anyone’s religion, but the fact is that these statues are dead and my God is not!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we serve a living Savior and a risen Lord!  It means that since the tomb was empty and Jesus had conquered death, we can – through the power of the blood of Jesus – do the same.  Mohammed is in his tomb; Gandhi is in his tomb; Buddha is in his tomb; but Jesus is not!  Since we serve a living Savior it means that we have a living Hope! We can pray to a living God!  We can worship a living king!

Christianity is not a dead religion and we do not serve a dead Lord.  We have a Living Hope in this dying and decaying world.  When people look at you today, when they talk to you on the phone, when they come by your house or your office; will they see that Living Hope?  If not, it is time to make some changes!

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(John 20:8 CEV)  The disciple who got there first then went into the tomb, and when he saw it, he believed.

Peter and another other disciple started for the tomb (most believe this other disciple to be John).  They ran side by side until John ran faster than Peter and got there first.  He looked in saw the strips of linen cloth lying inside the tomb, but he did not go in.  When Peter got there, he went into the tomb and saw the strips of cloth.  He also saw the piece of cloth that had been used to cover Jesus’ face.  It was rolled up and in a place by itself.  This is where we pick up our text.  The disciple who got there first then went into the tomb, and when he saw it, he believed. John is speaking of himself here.

John first looked in, but Peter first went in.  Peter looked around and had sight, but when John just took a glance, he had insight.  Peter was still wondering what was going on.  His mind was probably racing, thinking, “Where is the body?  What happened?  Etc.”  John believed immediately that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead and that Jesus had conquered death!  Peter saw with his eyes, John saw with his heart.  When he saw it, he believed!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the world is packed with those that see and wonder and those that see and believe.  Let’s get two quick golden nuggets from this for us today:

1.  We must see:  John believed when he saw.  Not necessarily physically, but spiritually.  The question then is; what do you see?  When you receive these messages, when you read your Word, when you go to church and here the preacher, what do you see?  Do you sit there and wonder if these things are true (like Peter) or do you receive it in your heart and believe it in your spirit (like John)?  Take a moment to think about your spiritual condition.  Do you believe the bible?  Do you believe that Jesus was raised form the dead?  What do you see?  Without faith, you cannot please God!

2.  We must help others to see:  Once we ‘see,’ we have a responsibility to help others to ‘see’ the same.  Others should ‘see’ us enjoying life and rejoicing in difficult times.  Others should ‘see’ us prospering and having healthy marriages and families.  Others should ‘see’ the love of God in our hearts so that they might have a desire to ‘see’ for themselves.  When others look at you, what do they ‘see?’ If you don’t like the answer to that question, it is time to make some changes.

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(John 20:16 KJV)  Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

Yesterday we left off with Peter and John in the tomb.  They left to go back to the other disciples.  Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb.  While she crying she stooped down and saw two angels inside.  They were dressed in white and were sitting where Jesus’ body had been.  One was at the head and the other was at the foot.  The angels asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” She answered, “They have taken away my Lord’s body!  I don’t know where they have put him.”  As soon as Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there.  She did not know who He was.  Jesus then asked her, “Why are you crying?  Who are you looking for?”  She was still clueless.  She thought He was the gardener and said, “Sir, if you have taken his body away, please tell me, so I can go and get him.”  This is where we pick up our text.  Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

It is easy to understand why Mary Magdalene was crying.  Jesus had cast seven demons out of her and delivered her from internal torment.  She followed Jesus after her deliverance and ministered to Him financially.  She was with a group of women that accompanied Him on his last journey to Jerusalem.  She was there when the crucified my Savior.  She saw as they lifted up His bruised and battered body.  She was an eye witness of what He did for us.  She was there that Sunday morning to continue to express her gratitude to God by brining the spices to anoint Jesus’ body.  When she saw the empty tomb she was humanly distressed.  The hurt, pain and disappointment where all alleviated when Jesus called her name. She did not recognize Him at first.  Her sight was blinded by her pain.  All she could remember was the disfigured Jesus she saw hanging between two thieves.  But when Jesus called her name, she immediately turned to him and said, “Master!”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that Jesus comes to us in similar fashion today.  He knows when we are distressed, disillusioned and disappointed.  He knows when we are in pain and at our wit’s end.  He knows when the hurt is too much to handle.  He comes in often times and we do not recognize Him.  He sends someone to our office.  He has someone call us on the phone.  He quickens someone to send us and uplifting email like this one.  And so on.  He attempts to communicate with us in many ways.  But when all else fails, He calls our name! Has Jesus every gotten your attention by calling your name?  He might be calling your name this morning via this email.  He might be calling your name this morning via your situation.  He might be calling your name!

If He is calling your name to get your attention, what will your response be?  Will you ignore Him and go on with your life or will you reply like Mary Magdalene did and say, MASTER?  Once again, the choice is yours!

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(John 20:17 CEV)  Jesus told her, “Don’t hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God.”

In our last message we saw how Mary Magdalene’s hurt, pain and disappointment where all alleviated when Jesus called her name, causing her to call Him “Master!.”  After this realization, after this life-changing experience, after this revelation of the Risen Savior; Jesus says, “Don’t hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God.”

Mary had just received the Good News of the Resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus shared this with her, because He needed to get the Word to the disciples.  He manifested Himself to her to relieve her pain, but the secondary purpose was to relieve the pain of the others.

I remember as a kid hearing on television, “Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door.”  For the world to come, however, you would have to tell someone that the mouse trap was built.  What if you had the cure for cancer, would you keep it to yourself?  Or what about AIDS, or the common cold; would you keep the cure to yourself?  Let’s look beyond the morale lines, what if you somehow came into 100 Million dollars, would you keep it to yourself?  No.  You would probably tell someone (or a lot of people for that matter) of the Good News in your life.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God has come to use with the same purpose that He came to Mary Magdalene  —  to take away our pain, but with need that we go and share this news with others.  We have something better than the mouse trap, cures, or money; God has given us eternal life in Jesus Christ!

Will you share your Good News with someone this Monday morning?  You don’t have to be a preacher and you don’t need a soapbox.  You can share it with a kind word, a smile, a hug, or etc.  The world is thirsty for affirmation, you would be surprised how much of a difference a kind word can make in someone’s day.  That kind word can open the door for you to tell them about your Good News  —  Jesus!  Like Jesus told Mary, “Don’t hold on to me! … But tell…” He is too good to keep to yourself.

Enjoy this day and this week.  You can have something and someone that money cannot buy!

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(John 20:19,20 MSG)  Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”  Then he showed them his hands and side. The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant.

Mary Magdalene did not hold on to Jesus for herself.  She went and told the disciples the Good News: “I saw the Master!”  The disciples received the information and gathered themselves together, but they were afraid of the Jews.  They knew that they had already killed their leader and they were afraid for their own lives.  They came together and locked themselves inside of a house.  Our text says, Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”  Then he showed them his hands and side. The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Fear will cripple you:  They walked with Jesus for three years.  They saw first hand all the miracles He performed and the power of the enemy He exhibited.  He had empowered them to do the same, but they allowed fear to cripple them to the point where they were locked in house, afraid for their own lives.  Fear is one of the most effective tools of the adversary.  Fear excites satan, Faith excites God!  What are you afraid of this morning? What is hindering your growth in God?

2.  Jesus will meet you where you are:  Jesus entered without opening any doors.  He supernaturally appeared to them in the midst of their fear and bondage.  They were locked up, but Jesus came in the lock up to free them and He will do the same for you.  We serve a God that will talk through walls to meet you where you are.  He will go to great lengths to come down to our level so that we can ‘see’ Him.  Are you ready for God to meet you where you are?

3.  Jesus is compassionate:  Jesus was frustrated with them many times over the years for not operating in faith.  Here they are once again.  Not only did He conquer death in resurrection, but He sent them word with Mary Magdalene and they were still afraid.  Jesus could have walked through the walls and said “Ye of little faith,” but He did not.  He had compassion on them and showed them His hands and side, so they would know He was not a ghost.  Are you afraid this morning?  Jesus will come in and show Himself to you!

4.  Jesus will meet your immediate need:  Jesus knew they were afraid.  He dealt with the immediate need  —  they needed peace.  Jesus said, “Peace to you.” What is your immediate need this morning?  Call upon God and experience a supernatural change in your life.

5.  You can never come in contact with Jesus and remain the same:  The disciples… were exuberant! They were exceedingly happy.  They threw a party.  Why? Because they came in contact (again) with Jesus.  When God blesses you, you will never be the same again!  Are you ready for a blessing?

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(John 20:21,22 MSG)  Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”  Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said.

I was unable to send out the Word yesterday because I was traveling to the US.  I thank God for traveling mercy and for brining us here safely.

In our text Jesus has just showed up to the disciples in their moment of fear.  He spoke Peace to them showed them His hands and His side, causing them to be exuberant.  Jesus then repeated His greeting and gave them a commandment, “Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”  He then breathed into them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

So what does this mean to you today? A couple of things:

1.  Whatever God equips you to do, He expects you to do:  Jesus came to reconcile the world to Himself.  He came to pay the penalty for sin.  He was God incarnate.  We are the ‘Continuation of His Incarnation.’  We are to continue His ministry.  He blessed them with gifts and power and He expected them to use what He gave them.  The words “I send you” are not a recommendation, but rather a commandment.  God invested a lot into those men and He expected a return on His investment.

Application:  What has god entrusted you with?  What has God invested in your life?  Where has He ‘sent’ you?  Whatever He equips you to do, He expects you to do.  He has expectations of you.  Have you been living up to those expectations or are you simply fumbling and bumbling your way through life?  These are questions that must be answered if you want to fulfill you destiny!

2.  Whatever God expects you to do, He equips you to do:  Jesus would not send them out ill equipped.  Jesus would not ask them to do something He knew they could not do.  The mere fact that He commanded them to do it was evidence that they could.  Jesus equipped, enabled, and empowered them; before He ever employed them in the ministry.

Application:  What has God equipped you to do?  Can you sing?  Are you compassionate?  Do you show mercy to those that misuse you?  Are you loving?  Can you teach?  Etc.  His expectation of you is tied to what He has placed inside of you.  We do not serve a cruel God who would expect us to do something we cannot do.  If He is expecting you to do it, it is because you can!

Don’t sit down on your destiny!

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(John 20:28 CEV)  Thomas replied, “You are my Lord and my God!”

A few messages ago we learned how Jesus appeared to the disciples where they were and they believed.  Thomas wasn’t with them when this happened.  They others told him that Jesus appeared to them, But Thomas said, “First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side.  I won’t believe unless I do this!”  A week later the disciples were together again.  This time, Thomas was with them.  Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group.  He greeted his disciples with “Peace” again and then focused His attention on Thomas.  He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands!  Put your hand into my side.  Stop doubting and have faith!”  This is where we pick up our text.  Thomas replied, “You are my Lord and my God!”

What do you think God does all day?  Think about that for a moment.  We have busy schedules, hundreds of emails, several ongoing projects, and etc.  But what does God do all day?  Well, He speaks to His people!  He meets their needs.  He thinks about us!  The Psalmist asked, “What is man that you keep him in mind?” (Ps 8:4a).  We are on God’s mind.  God thinks about us.  God has plans for us.

God heard Thomas when he said that he must “see the scars and touch them with his own finger” to believe.  The bible is full of teachings on faith vs. sight, on believing without seeing.  God could have written Thomas off because of His doubt, but He is also a compassionate God who thinks about us and sent Jesus to make a special trip to meet Thomas where he was (physically and spiritually).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God is thinking about you.  It means that you are on His mind.  He hears your complaints and your concerns.  He understands you inside and out.  He made you and is acquainted with all your ways.  Be real with God this morning.  Tell Him where you are spiritually.  Tell Him about your doubts and your struggles with faith.  Tell Him if you are having a hard time believing what the other disciples (your brothers and sisters in Christ) are telling you about Jesus.  Tell Him that you want a personal encounter for yourself.  Be real with Him and He will be real with you.  He will make a special trip to meet you where you are.  He wants you to cry out like Thomas did and say, “You are my Lord and my God!”

Are you ready to be real with God?

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(John 20:29 KJV)  Jesus saith unto him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Yesterday we saw how Jesus was thinking of Thomas.  He heard his concerns and his doubts and met him where he was.  This caused Thomas to cry out, “You are my Lord and my God!” What a wonderful blessing.  Thomas cried out to Jesus as Lord of his life because of what he saw, but Jesus then said, “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Thomas walked with Jesus for three years.  He saw Him stop a funeral precession and raise a little boy from the dead.  He saw Him cause a blind beggar to see.  He saw him cause a man who had not walked in 38 years to walk.  He saw him take Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, and cause him to live.  He saw him take a little boy’s lunch and feed 5,000.  He saw Him walk on water.  Thomas was an eye witness to many of the wonderful miracles of Christ and yet, he would not receive Him as Lord (Supreme Authority) in his life until he physically saw Him after the resurrection.  Well, Jesus met His need and Thomas finally called Him Lord.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that this text calls us blessed for not having seen and yet believing.  God calls us blessed for not having been there, but still conquering doubt.  God calls us blessed for picking up His Word, 2,000 years after His death, and believing everything it says.  Yes, God calls us blessed because we are believers.  We believe that Jesus was born of a virgin.  We believe that Jesus lived a sinless life.  We believe that Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the blind to see, lame to walk and dumb to speak.  We believe that He was crucified on the cross for our sin.  We believe that God raised Him from the dead on the third day with all power in His hand.  We believe in the Holy Spirit, the giver of life.  We believe that Jesus is coming back again to judge the living and the dead.  Yes, we are blessed!  Why?  Because we are Believers!

You do not have the opportunity that Thomas had to eradicate doubt with a physical Jesus.  Your doubt must be eradicated by faith. Can you cry out, “You are my Lord and my God” to a God you cannot see?  If you can, the bible calls you BLESSED!

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(John 20:31 KJV)  But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

In February of 2003 we finished walking through 1st and 2nd Peter.  In March of 2003 we started our journey through the gospel according to John the Evangelist.  We have learned a great deal from John’s writings over the last nine months.  As we enter into this 1st day of December and the beginning of a new week, we finally get the purpose statement for the book.  John was not a historian.  He purposefully did not set out to record everything Jesus did.  He was selective in what He wrote.  The previous verse says, “Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book.”  He did not record it all, but he did record what we needed to receive.  In our text for this morning, he lays out the purpose of the writing, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

John uses the word “believe” 98 times and “live” 36 times in this book.  Matthew wrote to the Jews, Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Gentiles, but John to the entire world.  John wrote that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that believing, we might have life!

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s deal with the two fold purpose of the book:

1.  Believe:  Many people I speak go to great lengths to explain to me what they “don’t” believe about the bible and about Jesus.  God did not call us to be “non-believers,” but rather believers!  The Holy Spirit sat down with John some 60 years after Jesus had come and gone to write these things to us, so that we would believe.  We are to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, the dumb to speak and the deaf to hear.  We are to believe that he was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, taken from mock trial to mock trial, found guilty of nothing, but still condemned to death.  We are to believe that He was beaten, bruised, but never broken.  We are to believe that He hung on a cross from 9am to 3pm, that the sun refused to shine from noon to 3pm because the Son was shining!  We are to believe that he hung His head and gave up His life for our sin.  We are to believe that the Father raised Him from the dead on the third day and He is coming back again to judge the living and the dead.  Question:  Are you a believer?  These things were written so that you might believe!

2.  Live:  Based upon our belief in whom Jesus was and is; contingent upon our faith in the Son of the living God, we receive eternal LIFE through Christ Jesus.  John wrote these things, not only so we would believe.  Not only so we would go to church.  Not only so we would put a fish on our car.  Not only so we would wear a WWJD bracelet.  Not only so we would put CHRISTIAN on our dog tags.  No, John wrote these things so that we would believe, but that believing, we would LIVE!  God wants us to LIVE with our head held high.  God wants us to LIVE victorious in every area of our lives.  God wants us to LIVE with His joy and His love.  God wants us to LIVE in prosperity and peace.  Yes, the Holy Spirit wrote these things through John so that we would LIVE!  Outside of Jesus, we are simply existing, but not living.  Do you have life this Monday morning?  If so, why not act like it?

John wrote so we would Believe and Live!  Are you a believer?  If so, then enjoy your God-given Life this day and this week!

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(John 21:6 CEV)  So he told them, “Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish.” They did, and the net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat.

The 21st chapter of John opens with the disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberias.  Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John (brothers) and two other disciples were there.  Peter said, “I’m going fishing!”  The others said, “We will go with you.”  They went out in their boat.  They fished all night long and did not catch anything.  Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize who he was.  Jesus shouted, “Friends, have you caught anything?”  “No!” they answered.  This is where we pick up our text.  So he told them, “Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish.” They did, and the net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat.

This passage is chock full of golden nuggets.  Let’s seek to glean some that will apply to our lives today:

1.      When we don’t sense the presence of God, many naturally go back to their old routine (fishing).  Jesus was gone and Peter led them to go back to fishing.  What is your fall back plan?  What do you secretly keep in the back of your mind as a plan if this Christian thing does not work out?  Whatever it is, it will not work, because God started a work in you and He will finish what He started.  They used to be expert fishermen, but they could not catch a thing!  Don’t look back, look forward!

2.      Jesus will meet us exactly where we are.  Jesus came to the coast of Lake Tiberias and manifested Himself to them in progressive stages.  He stood (presence), He shouted (proclamation), and He performed a miracle (power).  God loves us so much that He comes to us, no matter where we are and what we are doing and then makes every attempt to show Himself to us, even when we do not recognize Him.  What is your Lake Tiberias?  Where have you gone, that is away from the presence of God?  God will meet you right where you are, so He can take you where you need to be.  Are you listening?

3.      Obedience unlocks Abundance.  Their attempts at fishing were futile.  All night long they fished wish no results.  Hour after hour their frustration grew.  Here comes Jesus and gives them specific instructions to let down their net on the right side of the boat.  When they obeyed the specific instructions, they caught more fish than they could drag up into the boat.  What instructions has God specifically given you?  Your prosperity or lack thereof is riding on your decision to either obey or disobey His instructions.  When you do God’s work God’s way, you get God’s results!  Are you ready to obey?

Has God met you on your Lake of frustration this morning?  If so, listen to His instructions, obey them, and you will prosper!

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(John 21:7 CEV)  Jesus’ favorite disciple told Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon heard that it was the Lord, he put on the clothes that he had taken off while he was working. Then he jumped into the water.

Yesterday we saw how the disciples followed Jesus’ instructions and it netted them a multitude of fish.  They did all of this without really recognizing whom it was that gave them the instructions.  John (Jesus’ favorite disciple) immediately knew who it was.  When he told Peter that it was the ‘Lord,’ Peter immediately changed what he was doing.  He changed from work to worship.  He changed from residing in the presence of his friends to wanting to get into the presence of God.  The realization of the presence of the Lord brought about a change in Peter’s life.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you can never come in contact with God and remain the same.  His presence causes change.  His presence causes transformation.  His presence causes renewal, revival and regeneration.  When God shows up in your life, He expects things to change.  Let’s look at a couple of things that Peter changed:

1.  He changed His Posture:  Peter had stripped off his outer clothes while he was fishing.  He was postured to work, but he had to get postured to worship.  He put his clothes back on before he attempted to enter the presence of the Lord.

Application:  God is not your cousin, nor our buddy.  God is God!  I know we live hectic lives.  I know we have more on our calendar than we can handle.  I know the frustration can build, like it did while they were fishing.  But when we realize that the Lord has visited us, we should immediately prepare our hearts and our minds for Him.

2.  He changed His Practice:  Peter was busy fishing.  Peter was in the process of helping his buddy’s lift of the heavy net, full of the catch.  Peter could have easily gotten caught up in the abundance of the fish and missed the fish-giver Himself.  But when Peter realized that Jesus was at the shore, he immediately stopped what he was doing and changed his direction.

Application:  Our daily activity can easily send us down the wrong path from time to time.  We can easily get caught up in pursuing promotion and approval and forget about God.  When God shows up in our lives, however, He expects us to recognize Him and move in His direction.  He expects us to change.

You cannot have growth without change.  For God to grow us, He has to change us; but that change will require a willingness on our behalf.  Are you willing to change your posture and your practice in the middle harvesting a net full of fish?  If so, God will bless you with more fish down the road.

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(John 21:9 CEV)  When the disciples got out of the boat, they saw some bread and a charcoal fire with fish on it.

For the last couple of days we have dealt with a miraculous catch of fish.  The disciples (expert fishermen by the way) had been fishing all night to no avail.  Jesus came on the scene, gave them some instructions, the followed them, and now they had a net full of fish.  The disciples started to bring the boat back to the seashore.  Our text says, “When the disciples got out of the boat, they saw some bread and a charcoal fire with fish on it.”  Jesus told his disciples “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”  Peter got back into the boat and helped drag the net to shore.  There were one hundred fifty-three large fish in the net, but still the net did not rip.  Jesus said, “Come and eat!”

Imagine the scene.  A few minutes ago they were tired, frustrated and hungry.  Jesus pops up on the scene, gives them instructions, and their obedience to His Word has produced a full net.  Their frustration is gone; they are excited about the catch and are looking forward to enjoying some of the fish.  Jesus did not have to tell them to bring the boat and the fish back to Him, this was a given.  They followed His instructions to get the fish, but they internally knew that they should bring the fish back to the fish giver and thank Him for it.  As soon as they bring the fish back to the fish giver, they see that He already had a fire burning and fish on it and bread to go with it.  Where did this come from?  From the giver of the fish Himself!  Jesus then told them to bring some of the 153 fish that He blessed them with and they enjoyed it all together!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that God is our provider.  God is our source.  God can and will show up in the midst of our frustration and hunger and bless us with abundance.  He does expect us; however, to come back to the seashore, bring some of the fish back to Him, so that you can both enjoy it together.  Now God does not need your fish.  As you can see in the text, He already had fish, bread, and fire; but He asked them to bring their fish so that they could enjoy the blessed benefits of fellowship with the Master.  Your fish might be your finances, family, health, relationships, etc.  Whatever God has placed in your empty net and caused it to be full, we should always remember to bring the net back to the source and enjoy it with Him!

What’s in your net this morning?  Have you gotten caught up in the blessings of the net and forgotten the source in the first place?  If so, it is time to make some changes.

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(John 21:12 CEV)  Jesus said, “Come and eat!” But none of the disciples dared ask who he was. They knew he was the Lord.

Last week we were dealing with a miraculous catch of fish.  We saw how the disciples had toiled all night long.  Their efforts were fruitless until Jesus came on the scene.  Jesus’ Word blessed them with a full net.  Without Jesus asking them to, they commenced to bring the catch back to Him.  When the get to the shore they realize that He already had fish.  Not only that, He had a fire going and bread to go along with it.  Even still, Jesus did not attempt to eat alone.  He gave them an invitation to bring some of their fish and eat together!  Jesus said, “Come and eat!”

So what does this mean to you today? Several things:

  1. Whatever fish are in your net came from God anyway.
  2. God does not need your fish.  He is the provider Himself.
  3. God does want us to bring whatever fish (talents, time, treasure) He blesses us with and present them back unto Him.
  4. When we couple our fish (gifts) with God’s fish (power) we can have a tremendous fellowship.

Is your net full this morning?  Is it full of children, finances, a good job, a great position, tremendous talent, etc.? God does not want you to bring the net back to Him to steal the fish, but rather so that you could enjoy the fish together.  God wants to be a part of your family, finances, friendships, job, etc.  God wants to spend time with you around His campfire so that He could enjoy you and so that you could enjoy Him.

Will you accept the invitation this Monday morning?  Before you get too busy this week, God says, “Come and eat!”  If you ever want another full net, you have to spend time with the fish-giver!

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(John 21:15-17KJV)  So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Jesus seems to ask Peter the same question three times.  Upon further investigation, however, we can see that it was not the same question.  Our English language limits us in this passage because we only have one (general) word for love.  The Greek language has four words for love.  They have a word for brotherly love (phileo), family love (starge), physical love (eros) and God’s love (agape).  The first two times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him with God’s love (agape).  Peter’s response was, “Lord you know that I love you with brotherly love (phileo).”  The third question, however, was different.  Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him with brother love (phileo).  This is where our text says that Peter was grieved.  He was crushed.  He was hurt and he answered, “Lord you know that I love you with brotherly love (phileo).”

Why was Peter hurt and upset the third time?  I believe it was because he then realized his limitations.  He realized that although Jesus loved him with God’s love (agape), the best He could give Him in return was brotherly love (phileo).  Peter was hurt because he realized the limitations of humanity and the frailty therein.  Peter would later on be able to love God with God’s love in return, but He had to wait until the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to the New Testament church.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we do not have to wait.  It means that God’s love (agape) is a fruit of the Spirit.  God’s Spirit enables us to love God’s way and also enjoy all the other benefits of the Spirit’s fruit (joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control).  So if you are a Christian and you have been Born-Again, then you can operate in the Supernatural love (and all the other fruit) of the Spirit.  It is good to be grieved like Peter was when we realize our human limitations, but it is also good to know that we are not constrained to them.  God sent us His Holy Spirit so that we could have faith that transcends feelings and carnality.

Do you love (agape) God?  If so, you should also be able to share God’s (agape) love with all you come in contact with today.  Enter this day with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.  God lives in you!

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(John 21:19 CEV)  Jesus said this to tell how Peter would die and bring honor to God. Then he said to Peter, “Follow me!”

After Jesus asked Peter the three “Do you love me” questions, He said, “I tell you for certain that when you were a young man, you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go.  But when you are old, you will hold out your hands.  Then others will wrap your belt around you and lead you where you don’t want to go.”  Our text tells us that Jesus said this to tell how Peter would die and bring honor to God in his death.  History tells us that Peter died some 34 years after this statement.  He was crucified like Jesus, but up-side down.

Peter was the guy that always spoke out of turn.  Peter was the guy that had the fire and the zeal.  One time the disciples thought they saw a ghost on the water and were afraid, it was Peter that spoke up and said, “Lord, if it is you; bid me to come.”  Jesus said, “Come” and Peter wound up walking on water.  Another time Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  Some answered, “Some say you are Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  Jesus then asked, “Who do you say that I am?”  Once again, it was Peter that spoke up.  He said, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God!”  When Judas betrayed Jesus and the solider came to get Him, Peter pulled out a sword and cut a guy’s ear off.  When the Holy Spirit was manifested on the Day of Pentecost, it was Peter that preached the first New Testament sermon and 3,000 souls got saved and baptized.  Yes, Peter was full of fire and full of zeal.  In His death, however, Jesus tells Him that he would simply hold out his hands.  The others would lead him where he did not want to go and Peter would not put up a fight.  Why?  Not because he was not physically able to, but rather because he was much more spiritually mature.  Peter progressed from doing his will with zeal and fire, to doing the will of God will grace and wisdom.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you and I were raised to grow “Up and Out” away from our parents towards total independence.  When we come to God and are Born-Again, we must grow “Down and In” towards Christ towards total dependence on Him.  Spiritual maturity means doing His will, even when we don’t want to.  The young Peter would have fought those guys tooth and nail when they tried to crucify him, but the older (more mature) Peter, simply held out his hands and allowed them to take his life for Christ’s sake.

Are you still fighting for your will?  Or have you walked with God long enough to allow your faith to transcend your feelings?  The closer you get to God, the less you think of yourself.  As you grow, the more you will be able to do His will.  The text says that Peter would die and bring honor to God.  You cannot bring honor to God doing your own thing.

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(John 21:22 CEV)  Jesus answered, “What is it to you, if I want him to live until I return? You must follow me.”

After Jesus told Peter that he would die and that his death would bring glory to Him, Peter asked, “Lord, what about him?”  He was asking this of John.  Jesus answered, “What is it to you, if I want him to live until I return?  You must follow me.”

If I bring up the name Michael Jordan, you don’t think of four things, three things, or two things; most people immediately think of basketball.  The same with Tiger Woods and golf, the Williams Sisters’ and tennis, Wayne Gretzky and hockey, Pele and soccer and etc.  Dr. Joel Gregory calls this the power of the ‘One Thing’ life.  He mentioned it in a sermon about Paul and how Paul was focused.  Biblical names always meant something.  Your name was indicative of your character, attributes and nature.  Peter was formerly known as Simon (the unstable man), but Jesus named him Peter (the rock).  In our text Peter was not acting like his name, he was acting like his unstable past.  Peter would later on be focused and that is exactly what Jesus commanded he should do.  “You must follow me.”

God can use us mightily when we surrender to His course for our life and living and stay on that path.  Worrying about someone else’s life, their financial situation, their marriage, God’s use of them, etc. can derail us from our destiny.  We must be focused and steadfast in living out God’s plan for our lives.  Jesus did not have the same plans for John that He did for Peter, but so what?  He did not have the same plans for Peter that He did for John.  This realization was a blessing to me some time ago.  When I first gave my life to Christ I was enamored by the ministry of Bishop T.D. Jakes.  I wanted to dress like him, preach like him, and so on.  One of my brothers told me, “God did not give you what He gave T.D. Jakes,” my heart sunk when he said that, but he then said, “and He did not give T.D. Jakes what He gave YOU!”

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you are special and unique.  No one else has your fingerprint, voiceprint, footprint, etc.  You are unique and God has unique and detailed plans for your life.  Don’t get derailed by focusing too hard on others, stay focused on God’s road to your destiny and He will bless you for it!

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(John 21:25 CEV)  Jesus did many other things. If they were all written in books, I don’t suppose there would be room enough in the whole world for all the books.

Our journey through the gospel according to John the Evangelist started back in March and this morning we come to its last verse.  Thank you for walking through this book with me.  My prayer is that we apply what we learn.  If we do not apply it, our learning is in vain.  That is why I end every message with “This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!”

John was not writing about something that he heard, he wrote about what he saw with his own eyes and felt in his own heart.  John (the beloved disciple) closes the gospel reminding us that everything is not in the Bible.  When I say, “Everything is not in the bible” and I get funny looks.  Well, the Bible does not tell us how to change a tire or load Windows XP on a computer.  No, the Bible does not contain everything, but it does contain ‘Everything We Need’ to live a victorious life on the earth.

The Bible is the #1 All-time best seller.  More people have read it than any other book in history.  The bible is a compilation of 66 books (1,189 chapters, 31,173 verses, and 774,746 words) written by 40 authors.  The Bible began with the creation account of Genesis 1,2, written by Moses about 1405 b.c., and extends to the eternity future account of Revelation 21,22, written by the Apostle John about a.d. 95 (about 1500 years).  During this time, God progressively revealed Himself and His purposes in the inspired Scriptures.  The Bible is the infallible, inerrant, and inexhaustible Word of the Living God!

I’ll close with the words of John F. MacArthur Jr. about God’s Word:

“This book contains: the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.  Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.  Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, and practice it to be holy.  It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.  It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.  Here heaven is open, and the gates of hell are disclosed.  Christ is the grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.  Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.  It is a mine of wealth, health to the soul, and a river of pleasure.  It is given to you here in this life, will be opened at the judgment, and is established forever.  It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and condemn all who trifle with its contents.”

Do you accept the Bible for what it is?  If so, do what it says and receive God’s Favor!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!