Tag Archives: belief

Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 8

A road trip to Judea! A place where one might get stoned to death! But Jesus says one must work while it is day.

Jesus explains to the disciples why He is going to see Lazarus — and the disciples don’t understand. Let’s read our text again . . .

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, 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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

I love the simplicity and unembellished account here. Jesus says Lazarus has fallen asleep. The disciples respond, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better” (v. 12). They don’t follow the Lord’s euphemism. And John the gospel writer records their misunderstanding.

Jesus then tells them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” (v. 14). Jesus’ use of a euphemism didn’t work. A euphemism is an attempt to communicate bad news in a delicate, less painful way. Now Jesus has to announce Lazarus’ death.

What Jesus says next is astounding! “. . . and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” (v. 15)

Jesus is “glad” He was not there to rescue Lazarus from death?! That made Him happy? Yes! He declares, “so that you may believe” (v. 15).

Belief is a central focus of the fourth gospel. Belief is far more than mere opinion. Belief is life-altering, paradigm-shifting, soul-forming stuff. And there was something much more important than sparing Lazarus from death and his sisters from making funeral arrangements.

But now it was time to go.

We have a Savior who makes decisions. Decisions that sometimes don’t make sense to us. And all that’s left for us to do is . . . believe. (to be continued)




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Posted by on November 15, 2017 in John 11


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What Did Jesus Pray About? (Part 17)

During these posts we are looking at the Lord Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17.  Jesus says much about THE WORLD and the believer’s “place” in the WORLD.  Sometimes that word cosmos means the physical planet, sometimes the people of the planet, and sometimes the pagan system opposing God and the things of God.

We’ve looked at thirteen of the seventeen uses of that word.  Let’s continue our study by looking at #14 found in verse 21 ….

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before 1the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of 2the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for 3the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in 4the world no longer, but they are still in 5the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in 6the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and 7the world has hated them, for they are not of 8the world any more than I am of 9the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of 10the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of 11the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into 12the world, I have sent them into 13the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that 14the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then 15the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of 16the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though 17the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”


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Posted by on November 1, 2017 in unity


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Jonah — Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 1)


I am beginning a new series of messages at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta, Georgia, where I have been serving as interim pastor for the last 10 months.  There will be four sermons, but I want to work my way slowly through this “minor prophet’s” book.

Although there has never been a more reluctant missionary than Jonah, the book gives us much more than simply his running away from God or just a story of his being swallowed by a sea creature.  His story is really verbal orthodoxy being contradicted by behavioral heterodoxy.  He seemed to believe the right things.  But his life did not reflect his professed faith.  Which is a condition, I suspect, which characterizes most (if not all) of us.  Let’s begin looking at chapter one of Jonah and make some observations:

What do we know about the person Jonah?  We learn in 2 Kings 14:

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. 25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher. 

It seems probable that Jonah was a disciple of Elisha and succeeded him as prophet. He lived during the reign of Jeroboam II and was a statesman in the northern kingdom of Israel.

We read that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah . . .”  God commissions him for a task.  If you are a Jesus-follower, you have been commissioned for a task.  What would you say is your TASK for today?  (to be continued)

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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Jonah


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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 7)

We have established the fact that Jesus was a friend of sinners.  We saw that truth in Luke 15 where “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Lk. 15:2).  Other examples could be given that show the Lord spending time with lost people.  He declared that He did not come to “call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Lk. 5:32).

We need waste no time proving that many, if not most, Christians are NOT friends of sinners.  Why not?  What do we fear?  How do we engage ourselves if we are not becoming friends of sinners?  What does it mean to be a friend of sinners?  What are the risks and dangers of such a “life-style”?

The Myth of Godliness

Our dog Scrabble one day stopped eating and drinking.  I mean, completely!  For days — and

Scrabble when he was a puppy.

then weeks!  I took Scrabble to a local pet store and the vet said he thought Scrabble had pancreatitis.  Scrabble still wouldn’t eat or drink.  We had to syringe water down his throat.

In desperation we took our dog to a friend who is a vet and it turns out Scrabble had swallowed three rubber nozzles from some gardening equipment.  We don’t know why.  But they had blocked his lower intestine and he was going to die.  Our vet friend did surgery, removed the three items, and gave us back out dog.  Scrabble is doing fine now, if you’re wondering.

Many of us have swallowed a lie.  That lie, as Steve Brown says, “smells like smoke and comes from the pit!”  The lie is simply this:  We believe that the fewer non-Christian friends we have, the godlier we are.  That is a lie.  Godliness does not come to those who isolate themselves from a lost world.

A simple study of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 ought to shock us out of our stay-away-from-the-world mentality: (to be continued)






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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in discipleship


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Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) Part 24

He’s being shunned, put under God’s judgment, discarded by the highest religious authorities on earth.  In a real sense, the story could end there — with the man born blind’s excommunication from the synagogue.

The Pharisees had made their ruling — he was steeped in sin at birth, was unapologetically lecturing these men of God, and deserved the harshest punishment short of stoning!  But at least he had his sight!

I wonder what was going through his mind as he is alone, kicked out of the synagogue, thrown out with words of judgment and rejection.  I wonder if his new eyes could only look in one direction — down.

And then Jesus came.  I wonder who told Jesus about the man’s excommunication.  And I wonder if they also might have become a follower of Jesus after the event.

At any rate, we read those precious words, “and when he found him.”  Jesus is looking for people.  He is seeking the least, the last, and the lost.  Here He looks for and finds the outcast, the heretic who called Jesus a prophet and the One whose prayer God heard.  He finds him.  Jesus took the time to seek this man out and to engage him in an eternity-changing conversation.

If I had been Jesus, I might have said things like, “I’m really sorry for all the trouble my healing you has caused.  I should have known that doing that on the Sabbath would have gotten you — and me — in trouble!  How’s the vision, by the way?”

That’s not what Jesus says.  In fact, He simply asks the man a question:  “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  John’s gospel, the “gospel of belief” as one commentator labels it, emphasizes the more important issue.  What others deem critical and vital Jesus ignores.  He goes directly to the most vital question: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (to be continued)


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Posted by on April 23, 2017 in belief


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Time for a Great Commercial: Skeptics Anonymous

Interesting commercial.  Why were these people skeptical?  What changed their minds?  How does this commercial appeal to everyone’s desire to “believe in something”?

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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in skepticism


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Time for a Great Quote: The Uniqueness of Jesus

“Jesus Christ is to me the outstanding personality screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-5-02-34-amof all time, all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything he ever said or did has value for us today and that is something you can say of no other man, dead or alive. There is no easy middle ground to stroll upon. You either accept Jesus or reject him.” — Sholem Asch (1880-1957)

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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in jesus


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