Tag Archives: obedience

Insight from a Blind Man — A Free Sermon Outline! (Part 2)

In this series of posts, we are giving away some of my favorite sermon outlines.  I’ve been preaching since I was about sixteen years old or so (that’s sixty-two years!) and have made every mistake in the book (I go over some of the most common mistakes in my booklet Ten Specific Steps You Can Take to Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!).

We’ve begun to look at my sermon outline on John 9, the most extensively recorded miracle in the Bible. I won’t reproduce the biblical text for you, but my major outline points with a bit of explanation.  We’ve seen the first truth in this text and it is that —

I. Tragedy Has Its Reasons! (vv. 1-5)

Encountering this man “blind from birth,” the disciples ask Jesus for His explanation of this man’s tragedy.  They provide the Lord two possible answers (we do the same to Him, don’t we?), this man’s sin or his parents’ sin.  Jesus responds with letter ‘C’ — “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3).

The second truth that comes from this incredible text is simply —

II.  Obedience Has Its Reward (vv. 6-12).

It does not appear that Jesus engages this man in a conversation, but simply spits on the ground, makes mud, puts it on this man’s eyes, and tells him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam (v. 6).  And he obeys!  Perhaps he knew something about Jesus.  More than likely he didn’t know anything about this wandering rabbi, but something caused him to obey.  Without argument or hesitation.

We can only speculate about this man’s inner thoughts.  When you think about it, there is something quite healthy about desperation.  Or maybe resignation.  After a life of blindness, perhaps this man thought to himself, “What do I have to lose?”

The succinctness of the text is remarkable here:  “So the man went and washed, and came home seeing” (v. 7).  Wow.  Simple obedience — rewarded by God!  The great theologian Ray Charles, blind himself, once said, “My eyes are my handicap, but my ears are my opportunity.”  This man’s opportunity was to do what Jesus told him to do.  “And he came home seeing.”

The interrogations will soon begin.  But right now, this man is seeing.  For the first time.  A “work of God” done by Jesus because this man obeyed.  I wonder what works of God I might be missing by not jumping to obey?  (to be continued)






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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in john 9


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What Did Jesus Pray About? (Part 5)

Let’s continue looking at Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17.  We now read the following:

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 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. I pray for them. I am not praying for the 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 the world no longer, but they are still in the 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.

There is so much in the Lord’s prayer here, isn’t there?  Several truths jump out at me as I think about the words He prayed.  Notice, first of all, that we are the Father’s gift to the Son (v. 6).  The Father “gave” the disciples (and us) out of the world.  Jesus sees us as a GIFT of the Father to Himself.  Second, notice the astounding statement Jesus makes about His disciples:  “and they have obeyed your word” (v. 6).  When?  Where?  When I read the gospels I see complaining, unbelief, dissension, lack of trusting Him to provide for them.  But He saw their hearts.

Please notice, lastly this morning, the undeniable connection between the Father and the Son (vv. 6-8).  Jesus often emphasized His relationship with the Father.  He spoke the Father’s words.  He was doing the Father’s work.  Everything He had came from the Father.  It was the Father who sent Him to the earth.  The unique unity between the Father and the Son was often highlighted by the Lord Jesus, to such a degree that it got Him executed!

A prayer for today:  “Lord Jesus, I praise You for Who You are.  For Your relationship with the Father.  For Your willingness to obey His Word.  Help me today to live as the Father’s gift to You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”  (to be continued)

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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in prayer


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 25)

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has Screwtape, an arch demon, instruct his nephew understudy Wormwood on “the painful subject of prayer.”  Samuel Chadwick, a Methodist minister, said, “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”

There is, indeed, an eloquence to Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2.  His prayer is honest, passionate, thankful, personal.  His prayer is not mere words, but expresses his determination to do what God wanted him to do: to make good his vows to the Lord.

How is Jonah’s prayer received by the Lord?  God shows He accepts Jonah’s prayer by the act of regurgitation!  The Lord has the specially-prepared sea creature get close enough to land to spit out its human clump onto a dry beach.

But has Jonah’s heart really changed?  Or was his life (like ours) a collection of rebellions and capitulations, sometimes doing God’s will and sometimes running from it?

After a hot bath with lots of soap, Jonah has homework to do.  He must learn just enough Assyrian to speak the message God gave him to speak.  And no more.  (to be continued)




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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah — Belief Contradicted by Behavior! (Part 2)

We are working on the “minor prophet” Jonah in this series.  Not only does 2 Kings 14 refer to Jonah as an historical person, but the Lord Jesus as well testifies that he was not simply a “fable with a message” (as some critics have said).

In Matthew 12 we read: 38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 

Jesus refers to “the sign of the prophet Jonah.”  It seems obvious that the Lord Jesus believed Jonah was real, his three days in the belly of the sea creature was real, and the repentance of the people of Nineveh was real!

We will eventually discuss Jonah’s being swallowed by (perhaps) a specially-created sea creature in a subsequent post.  But the point right now is that Jonah was real, historical, and served as a point of comparison for the Lord Jesus!

There were probably a number of aspects of being a prophet of God that were attractive.  Some were not.   And being called to go to the hated Assyrians with a message from God could not have been more unpleasant for Jonah.

We don’t know how “the word of the Lord came” to Jonah, only that it did.  It was undeniable and not open to debate.  But the certainty of the command does not automatically lead to an obedience to the command, and Jonah flees.  We will look at Jonah’s response in our next post.

A prayer for today:  “Lord, thank You for the historical nature of the story of Jonah.  Help me today to listen to Your Word — and to do what You call me to do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.” (to be continued)

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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in Jonah


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 6

ו Waw

41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-6-49-59-am
    your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
    for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
    for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
    for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
    for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
    and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
    because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
    that I may meditate on your decrees.

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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in trust


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 1

Psalm 119

א Aleph

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-6-15-54-am
    who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart
they do no wrong
    but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
    that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
    in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
    when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
    as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
    do not utterly forsake me.

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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in God's Word


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Insight from a Blind Man (a Study of John 9) Part 6

screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-5-21-21-amAfter giving His brief talk on working while it is day, the Lord Jesus did something that most of us find gross.  He spat on the ground.  My parents taught me not to spit in public.

When I taught in India a few years ago, I was a bit shocked to see women spitting in public!  But Jesus was intentional.  And the man born blind must have been a bit surprised to hear the sound of Jesus spitting on the ground.

The Lord then mixed His spittle with the dirt screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-5-38-28-amon the ground, making some mud.  He put it on the man’s eyes.  Why would He do such a thing?  Some commentators suggest that, in that day, such a mud compact was thought to be helpful.  I believe Jesus did this so that when the man “came home seeing” people would easily connect his healing with this action by Jesus.

Jesus tells the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam.  Why does John tell the reader that this word means “Sent”?  Well, the man has been sent, hasn’t he?  “Sent” implies a mission — and this mission, as difficult as it must have been for the man born blind to complete it, would change his life!

Could not the Lord of Glory, the Second Person of the Divine Trinity, simply have spoken the man’s vision into being?  Could He not have simply touched the man’s eyes and said something like “Be opened!”?  Of course, He could have.  But the man is given a simple command — and he obeys.  There is something quite attractive in such simple obedience.  “The man went and washed, and came home seeing.”

The Bible’s succinctness in telling this story cries out for elaboration.  And I have heard that cry!  I’ve written out a fictional account of this miracle, trying to fill in the details.  If you are interested in my re-telling of this story, please drop me an email ( or state your interest in the comment section below.

The question for us today is simple:  What command has Jesus given you that you simply need to OBEY? (to be continued)





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Posted by on March 18, 2017 in john 9


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Time for a Great Cartoon! (Unconditional Surrender!)

Screenshot 2016-01-05 19.19.36

“Unconditional surrender” — A great description of what ought to mark the Christian’s life.

Why ought the believer unconditionally surrender to the Lord?
(1) If He is Lord, He deserves our obedience, our worship, our service.
(2) Because He is Lord, He knows better than we do. Following His Word makes perfect sense IF it is true (which it is).
(3) We need to recognize that our sinfulness gets in the way of our listening to and following the Lord.

May I ask you, where are you unconditionally surrendering to the Lord?

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Posted by on October 2, 2016 in surrender


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The Joy of Unit-Reading #34 (the First Epistle of Peter)

Unit-reading (reading an entire book of the Bible straight through) is one positive way of getting the flow of a book.  Today’s book is I Peter and has many challenges for the believer.  Peter goes into some detail about our salvation and the inheritance awaiting us in heaven!

Screenshot 2016-02-18 05.55.26 Do I show an inexpressible joy in my life?  Do I live in this world as a foreigner?  Am I making every effort to rid myself of sins?  Am I craving the spiritual milk of the Word of God?

A number of other questions might occur to you as you read through this challenging epistle.

One takeaway:  I say I believe the truth — but do I OBEY it?  My faith in God is shown by my obeying what He tells me to do.

Screenshot 2016-02-18 06.04.13

My prayer:  “Lord, help me today to get rid of sins and to crave what ought to be craved!  And keep me from being anxious about what this day brings forth!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

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Posted by on April 3, 2016 in unit-reading


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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 119): Part 11

כ KaphScreen Shot 2015-05-10 at 10.08.07 AM

81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
    but I have put my hope in your word.
82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
    I say, “When will you comfort me?”
83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
    I do not forget your decrees.
84 How long must your servant wait?
    When will you punish my persecutors?
85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
    contrary to your law.
86 All your commands are trustworthy;
    help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
87 They almost wiped me from the earth,
    but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your unfailing love preserve my life,
    that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 10.09.41 AM

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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in the book of Psalms


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