“That Disciple Whom Jesus Loved”

“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.'” (John 21:7)

Although there is some debate about just who “the disciple whom Jesus loved” might be, verse 2 of this chapter tells us that on this occasion, the only ones present were Peter, Thomas(Didymus), Nathaniel, James, John, “and two others.” The traditional view that this is John’s humble way of referring to himself makes sense. But that phrase portrays a humble posture, which all of God’s people would do well to adopt.   Continue reading

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“America’s Verse” — “Judge Not” (Matthew 7:1-5 sermon)

If each of us in our church shared our favorite football teams this morning, I’d think the Carolina Panthers might be at the top of the list. We also have a few die hard Washington Redskins fans, like Josh Peterson and Chuck Riddle! But there is one team that has had such a national following for so many years, that they came to be called “America’s Team” — the Dallas Cowboys (Cliff Spicer’s team!). Like them or not, over the years they have been more popular than any other team, and have sold more merchandise than any other, so they have come to be known as “America’s Team.”

There are some things like that, which are so popular in our country, that you can call them “America’s” something or other: McDonalds is probably America’s restaurant. Baseball is America’s pastime. And I believe that there is a verse, which, for better or for worse (and I would submit to you that it is generally for worse) has become “America’s verse.” And that is the verse which opens Matthew 7, where Jesus tells His disciples: “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged.” I have heard these words quoted SO often — and I imagine that you have too — that I think you can make a pretty good case that this just may be America’s favorite verse. For some people, it’s like the only verse they know and quote: “Judge not!” “We’re not supposed to judge!” But unfortunately, when many Americans quote this verse, they misapply it, because they don’t really know what it means. Let’s look together at what “America’s verse” does and does NOT mean: Continue reading

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Written That You May Believe

“But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

John 20:31 is known as the “thesis” or purpose statement of the Book of John. He specifically indicates that this book was written so that people might believe in Christ. Consequently, it also tells us something about the work of scripture, and the way we should use it.  Continue reading

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Blessed NOT To See?

“Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29)

Sometimes those of us who are alive today may wish that we had lived in Israel in the days of Peter, James, and John, when the Lord Jesus was physically walking here on earth. How amazing it would have been, to have seen Him feed the five thousand, listen to Him teach, or to raise Lazarus from the dead! But the words of Jesus in John 20:29 indicate that WE may actually be the more blessed ones: Continue reading

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The Personal Confession

“Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28)

Following his initial doubts about the resurrection of Jesus, when Thomas saw the living Christ, he then made this great confession: “My Lord and my God!” Continue reading

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“Do Not Be Unbelieving”

“Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’” (John 20:27)

The rebuke Jesus gave to Thomas after he expressed doubts about His resurrection is probably a pretty good word for some of us today. Thomas doubted the report the other disciples had made about Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus told him that he should not “be unbelieving, but believing.”  Continue reading

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“Seeking Him First” (Matthew 6:33 sermon)

This week I finished reading a book I had always heard about, but had never read: Herman Melville’s The White Whale or Moby Dick. In it he tells the story of Captain Ahab, who was obsessed with killing the great white whale which had caused him to lose his leg. For every ship he met as he led his own boat around the world in search of the whale, he had one question: “Hast seen the white whale?” Once Ahab’s ship passed another which had an amazing catch; their boat was full of whale oil; their crew was all dancing and drinking and celebrating, and as the ships crossed paths, they invited Ahab to come over; they were holding a bottle and a glass for him. But monomaniac Ahab had only one question for them: “Hast seen the white whale?” The other captain hadn’t; he said he didn’t even believe there WAS such a whale. Ahab immediately commanded his crew: “Forward! Set all sail!” He had only ONE aim: the great white whale, and the great white whale only. He had to eat, drink, sleep, wear a cloak in the storm to stay alive — but all of that was just the means to the end: to kill that white whale. Nothing else really mattered.

That kind of singular focus is rare in our day, when we tend to be so “scattered” and tossed between priorities and events. Or if we ARE focused on one thing, it is often the WRONG thing: money or sports or so-called “success” or some other very temporary worldly thing. But Jesus has a word of challenge here in Matthew 6:33, where He commands us and all who would be His followers:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Continue reading

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