Back to the Future, 29 December 2013

Big Idea: As we approach the new year, it’s a perfect time to give thanks for this year and prepare for the next.

Today we are in the

2013 is essentially over. Even though we have a few days left, I’ve seen the best sports plays of the year, read about the best movies of the year…it’s as if 2013 is in the rear view mirror.

2014 does not arrive until Wednesday. I’m excited about the Winter Olympics in February, my daughter’s graduation from college in April…but it’s not here yet.

The in-between even reminds me of Advent when we look back to the first coming of Jesus and look forward to His return, muddling in the space between.

Today we are going back to the future. We are going to look back at 2013 and ahead to 2014.

Psalm 8

Last Sunday we looked at King David. One of my favorite psalms written by David is Psalm 8.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:3-8)

It continues to boggle my mind how God not only creates us and loves us, but He also invites us to do life with Him. He woos us into a relationship…and then asks us to rule with Him.

He is so good. He created us. He loves us. He cares for us.

Psalm 136 says

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
(Psalm 136:1-3)

I don’t know about you, but I’m almost always looking ahead…sometimes too far ahead. I need the discipline of reflection, of giving thanks. There are trials and challenges ahead, to be sure, but we are commanded throughout the scriptures to give thanks.

This past week I reviewed some of the highlights of 2013 and gave thanks to God for His goodness.

How has God been good to you in 2013?

2014: The Year Ahead

What is God saying to you about 2014?

I didn’t ask for new year’s resolutions, though they may be similar. I want you to take some time and prayerfully consider your next-steps.

It has been said that we overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. For example, if I asked you to read the entire Bible today, you might feel a bit overwhelmed! How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! If you divided the Bible into 365 bites, you could read through the entire Bible in mere minutes each day. For some of you, that’s exactly what God is saying to you—read My Word!

Two years ago many of us read through the Bible together. In 2013, we’ve been reading the New Testament. In 2014, our Scio Journal is going to focus on the Psalms and Proverbs. You can read and interact on our Facebook page. Please join us!

Maybe 2014 is the year you finally take a risk and invite a friend to our Easter gathering, get to know your neighbors, serve a homeless person, get out of debt, break an addiction, embark on a missions trip, write your first book, forgive an old offense, go back to school…

What is God saying to you about 2014?

In about 365 days we may be together in this same room reflecting upon 2014. How will you live it? How does God want you to live it?

One word that keeps filling my mouth is “intentional.” We can go with the flow, letting the current of life move us downstream toward our eventual death or we can be proactive and seize the mission God has for our lives. He has created you and me to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Listen to the words of Moses in Psalm 90:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (1-2)

You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. (3-6)

We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:7-12)

What is God saying to you about 2014?

We’ve reflected upon the past and looked ahead to the future, which leaves us with today. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I challenge you to be fully present in the moment, not dwelling on the good old days or becoming anxious about the future, but thanking God for His faithfulness, right here, right now. One of the great things about God is He is timeless. He never changes. He is as real today as He was yesterday and will be just as faithful tomorrow.

In the final book of the Old Testament, Malachi, God Himself says

I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (Malachi 3:6)

James, the half-brother of Jesus, declared that

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Great Is Thy Faithfulness!

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

King David, 22 December 2013

Big Idea: The only greater king than David is Jesus. Will He be your King?

Scripture Reading, 1 Samuel 16:4-13

Introduction: Kings

What do you think of when you hear the word King? We struggle in our culture to understand royalty. Most USAmericans probably think of celebrity when words like “prince” or “lady” or “royal family” are mentioned. In England, there is great wealth in Queen Elizabeth’s family, but limited power. Unless something unexpected takes place, we will soon see King Charles, King William, and King George.

Imagine a land where one man ruled. He is sovereign and in complete control. He creates the law and is above it. He has unlimited riches…and power.

Would you prefer to live under such a person or dwell in a democracy like our nation? Why? It depends upon who is on the throne. Today millions are oppressed by dictators in nations such as North Korea. They can submit or die.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we are waiting for Jesus. For thousands of years, the world awaited the Messiah who arrived on the day we celebrate as Christmas. For the past two weeks we have examined agents of God that were forerunners of the Messiah. Each person radically changed history in anticipation of Emmanuel, God with us.

From the beginning of time, God has wanted to pursue us and be our king. Some have called Adam the first king. He and Eve were given dominion over creation in the Garden of Eden. They failed, of course. Two weeks ago we talked about Adam, our first father. He co-created with God but also introduced sin to our world through the Fall. Jesus is called the second Adam because He reversed the curse of death through His own.

Generations later, God makes a covenant with Abraham—our agent from last Sunday. Like Adam, Abraham was a deeply flawed man, yet God used him mightily. Out of Abraham the nation of Israel was born. God was their king, guiding Moses and the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. Despite God’s goodness and faithfulness, the people begged for a human king like the surrounding nations have, ultimately rejecting God as their LORD.

Today we’re looking at our third and final biblical character, a king. The scripture read moments ago records the search for a new king. Saul is the first king of Israel, but God told the prophet Samuel to find his successor, a shepherd boy who is both an unlikely yet a perfect choice to become king. His name is…David.

David was an agent of God. Few in human history have been more successful than the giant-killing shepherd boy who became the most famous king of Israel and, arguably, the most famous leader in human history other than Jesus. In fact, no person is mentioned more in the Bible besides Christ. To say that David was legendary is a great understatement.

There are three things to know about David.

First, he was immensely successful. Before thwarting Israelite slavery by killing Goliath, he had killed a lion and bear…without a gun (1 Samuel 17)! That was just the beginning. Women met King Saul, dancing and singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands. (1 Sam. 18:6-7)” He was a respected, powerful, magnificent ruler.

The second thing to know about David is he was immensely sinful. Other than Adam and Eve’s infamous fruit snack, David’s lust, adultery, rape, and murder are the most notorious evil in the Bible. It has been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. David is Exhibit A.

The third thing to know about David is he was a man after God’s own heart.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)

He wrote most of the psalms, many filled with praise and others lament and question. He is my favorite Bible character other than Jesus. I love his passion, his honesty, and his musical skills. Many have wondered why a man with such a track record could be considered a man after God’s own heart. Psalm 51 reveals a broken, repentant man seeking reconciliation and restoration with the God he loves.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
(Psalm 51:1-4; 10-12)

David confessed his sins and repented. Despite his great power, he needed forgiveness. He needed a Savior. He needed a King.

King Jesus

For generations people waited for the true King. Not surprisingly, this Messiah was a descendent of King David. In fact, the very first words in the New Testament, Matthew 1:1, says

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

We won’t take the time to read the entire genealogy today, but verses 2 through 16 conclude with the record of

…Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. (Matthew 1:16b)

Jesus was a descendent of King David, though He hardly looked like a king during His thirty three years on our planet. He was born in a barn in a small town called Bethlehem. We know almost nothing about his first thirty years of life. When He goes public, the carpenter’s son teaches, performs miracles, and enters Jerusalem, not on a horse, but a humble donkey. The most surprising moment came when this promised King freely surrendered Himself to executioners who crucified Him, dashing all hopes that this Man was the Messiah who would set the people free from Roman tyranny. Or so they thought.

Although hijacked by Santa and shopping, this season celebrates a king,
the King. He visited our planet once and will return soon to rule and reign over sin, death, and evil forever. Here’s a description of what is to come:

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

(Rev. 19:11-16)

So now we wait for the return of the King. In the very last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, we find these words…

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:12-13, 16)

King Jesus is the root and the offspring of King David, the bright Morning Star. Jesus—the little baby we see in Nativity scenes—will rule and reign forever…with us, imparting to His followers His own glory and a share in His royal dominion. He is coming soon!

But wait, He’s here. We can’t see Him, but some of the greatest things in the world cannot be seen, like the wind, love, joy, or peace. But He’s here. He sent the Holy Spirit to live on our planet. Where? Inside every believer.

It’s easy to look back at the birthday of King Jesus.
It’s easy to look forward to the return of King Jesus.

We struggle with the in-between.

God is called
Emmanuel which means “God with us.” We’ve sung it. We know it. But King Jesus is here…now…in this room. Yes, His physical body left the planet, but He sent the Holy Spirit to live and rule and reign…in us!


In three days we will celebrate the birthday of a King. Will it be just another holiday, a day off work and reason to throw a party, or will it be a time to truly remember the King who became one of us…and who will return soon to rule and reign forever?

This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of a King, I encourage you to do two things:

1. Welcome Jesus into your life, your heart, your home. He is alive and wants nothing more than you—all of you. Kings do not have part-time subjects. Many love Jesus as Savior, but refuse to recognize Him as LORD. He gave everything for you when He died on the cross. He loves you so much, regardless of your past. Jesus is a King who willingly died for His subjects, asks everything in return, but then exchanges our broken, messed-up lives for abundant life filled with hope, joy, peace, purpose, and love. It’s the greatest gift ever!

2. Prepare for the return of the King. He will return on a white horse, not a donkey. He will rule the world with truth and grace. Forever. Are you ready?

Joy To The World

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Adam, 8 December 2013

Big Idea: The “birth” and life of our oldest ancestor, Adam, has affected every human being since.


On this second Sunday of Advent, we are waiting for Jesus. For thousands of years, the world awaited the Messiah who arrived on the day we celebrate as Christmas. For the next three weeks we will examine three agents of God that were forerunners of the Messiah. Each person radically changed history in anticipation of Emmanuel, God with us.

Before we look at today’s agent, I want to take a moment and review the story of God. Last week we finished a lengthy series that looked at the Gospel of John verse by verse. In this series we’ll examine the big picture.

What is the Gospel?

This is actually a hotly discussed topic these days. Many will say it is “good news,” which is the literal translation, and that it relates to God’s love for sinners like me. That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. The Bible does not begin at the cross, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, or even at His birth. It began thousands of years earlier.

In the beginning. If you recall, this is not only how Genesis begins but also John.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

What is the greatest thing you have ever created? Parents, your kids don’t count! It might be a song, a building, a business, a painting, or website.

God is an artist, He has given us the ability to be creative, and we are His greatest masterpiece.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

The Greek word for handiwork,
poi÷hma or poihma, means creation, workmanship, what is made.

Scholar N.T. Wright recently said, “It is God’s purpose, God’s mission, God’s aim, God’s project to make this creation a wonderful, flourishing, fulfilled, joyous place full of His love and His glory and His purpose and His wisdom.”

The story of God begins at creation in a garden. He has plenty of angels to lead, but He creates humans in His image with the ability to accept or reject Him, full will. God created humans for relationship. You can’t have a relationship with a robot, at least not a meaningful one. Relationships are forged through love, respect, honesty, and communication.

God’s first agent was a man named…Adam. Adam was born around 4004 BC. Wikipedia lists his birthday as October 23 at 9 A, but I wasn’t around to confirm that! Actually, the date was identified through a study by a group of theologians and scholars in 1630.

It’s really not important when Adam was created, but why. He was created to know God.

Adam was also created to know his wife, Eve, and create children. This is not merely for their benefit, but God’s. His agenda is to see a world filled with people He can love and that can love Him. Adam and Eve become His agents, co-creating with Him the miracle of life and co-ruling over creation. They represent creation to God and are supposed to reflect God to creation.

N.T. Wright says that when God created us in His image, it’s not like looking in a mirror but like an angled mirror so that God’s love and wisdom is reflected out into the world and the praises of creation are reflected back to God.

All of us can ultimately trace our ancestry back to Adam and Eve. In fact, last week the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3 was read, tracing His roots back to Adam.

the son of Enosh,
the son of Seth,
the son of Adam,
the son of God.
(Luke 3:38)

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Genesis 2:25…

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

They knew God and one another and enjoyed life together. They enjoyed creation…and co-creating with God. Twice in Genesis chapter one it says

God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number. (Genesis 1:22a; 1:28a)

Further more, they were to

…fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
(Genesis 1:28b)

Adam and Eve are God’s agents of creation, co-creating and co-ruling with Him in paradise.

The End. Right?

The Garden of Eden was paradise…until satan entered the story, tempted Eve, and paved the way for sin to enter our world and introduce death and destruction. Our forefather failed and we’ve been suffering ever since, both humans and the planet itself, now filled with decay and pain.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
(Genesis 3:17)

Adam was created, walked with God, sinned, was kicked out of the Garden, fathered many children, and…

Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.
(Genesis 5:5)

It’s not the most inspiring story, is it?

Ever since sin entered our world through Adam and Eve we’ve been trying to make sense out of life, struggling to survive in a broken, messy world. For about 4000 years after Adam, God continued to pursue a relationship with humans, some of whom returned the favor and many others who rejected Him.

You might recall at one point He became so frustrated with evil that He destroyed the world with a flood, sparing only the lives of those who entered the ark built by Noah.

From generation to generation, God remained faithful, but nothing could truly address the sin issue. We needed a Savior. Romans 5:14 says that

…death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

Fortunately, about 2000 years ago God took the radical step of becoming one of us to show us what it truly means to be human. Sin has more than tainted the image of God we were created to bear.

With Adam came not only life but death. With Jesus, however, His death brought us life. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)


So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)

Jesus can stand as representative for all of creation, and His faithfulness can redeem all of creation, just as He receives the punishment which belonged to all of creation.

So What?

It’s impossible to ignore Christmas in our culture. We are inundated with music, parties, food,…and shopping! I want to give you some homework.

Meditate on creation. Our world is amazing. God made it for us to enjoy.

Take a trip to the Toledo Zoo and
admire God’s handiwork. Stare at a sunset, admire snowflakes, or capture beauty with a camera.

Think about how you and others have co-created with God. Visit the Detroit Institute of Arts. Attend tomorrow’s greenroom gathering in downtown Ann Arbor. Go to a musical concert or just listen carefully to your favorite album. Write a poem, paint a picture, or make a craft. Use your God-given imagination. The arts are a way to the center of truth. Handel and Bach set the Christian story to music. God wants creativity and imagination. He will make this world even more powerful and beautiful. He wants us to put up signposts that redemption and His return is coming.

Reflect upon ways in which you and your sin have damaged your relationship with God…and others. Confess your sins, repent and turn from evil, and bask in the forgiveness of the second Adam whose death brings life.

Wait for the return of Jesus. The true Human is coming back soon to bring healing and wholeness to our broken world. We pray, “Maranatha! Come quickly, LORD Jesus.”

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

The Comparison Game, John 21:15-25, 1 December 2013

Big Idea: There is no reason to compare yourself to others—only Jesus, the One who loves and accepts you.

God wants you. Jesus said to Peter, “I still want you.” He still wants you, regardless of your past.


The comparison game.
We’ve all played it. We look at someone and judge ourselves better or worse, richer or poorer, more physically attractive or not as good looking, more or less mature, talented, smart, …the list is endless.

Am I the only one that does this?!

It used to be the first question asked at a pastor’s conference after, “What is your name?” was “How big is your church?” In other words, are you more or less successful than me based upon Sunday’s attendance. Can you see anything wrong?

I recently heard someone say every
reality TV show is designed to make us feel really good about ourselves or really bad. If you’ve ever watched an early season episode of American Idol you know what I mean. They tend to highlight the best and worst singers, placing viewers in the middle.

This happens among Christians, too. There’s a never-ending temptation to gauge the spirituality of others, either feeling smug and arrogant toward “sinners” or we screw up and feel inferior to others who have their act together—or so it appears. We either commend or condemn ourselves.

Let me remind you once again…

Nothing you can do can make God love you more.
Nothing you can do can make God love you less.

This is how I feel about my kids. They are mine. They will always be mine. I love them. I will always love them. Sure, they will disappoint me, but my love is unconditional. I always want what’s best for them.

When they screw up, there’s no shame. There’s not guilt. There’s forgiveness and grace. At least on my better days!

We are all messed up…but loved. If you don’t believe me, imagine denying Jesus…three times?

Back in John 18, Peter tastes his foot. Three times does exactly what Jesus said he would do—deny Him (John 13:38). These denials are so significant they are recorded in all four Gospels.

Have you ever hurt someone? How did you feel the next time you saw them? Guilt? Shame? Avoidance? Even if the interaction included an apology, it’s often uncomfortable for a while, right?

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (15a)

Jesus had given Simon the name Peter (Matt. 16:18) which means “rock.” If you recall, last week Jesus had cooked breakfast for him and six other disciples. Now the conversation Peter knew was inevitable was occurring. He had denied Jesus three times and it’s time for reconciliation. The aroma of charcoal is still in the air, reminding Peter of that dreadful night.

What is “these?” The other disciples? Fish? The other disciples’ love for Jesus? We don’t really know, but clearly Jesus is engaging the one who denied Him three times. He asks Peter, “Do you love me?” The Greek word for love here is “agape,” the highest expression of love in the New Testament.

Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Peter actually uses a different Greek word for love, “phileo” or brotherly love. This is why Philadelphia is called the city of brotherly love. These words were likely used interchangeably.

Jesus said,
“Feed my lambs.” (15b)

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a workshop led by Dr. Gary Chapman. Some of you may be familiar with his classic book
The Five Love Languages. It is essential reading for everyone. He talks about how each of us speaks one of five primary love languages, though our spouse or others may not and, therefore, we need to discover their love language in order to effectively communicate with them.

Chapman has discovered there are five languages of apology:

a. Expressing regret with "I'm sorry that I..." but explain what and why you are sorry without "but" in the apology; erase the but! Luke 15:21; Psalms 51
b. Accepting responsibility. "I was wrong..." 1 John 1:9. This is the first step in teaching children to apologize
c. Making restitution. "How can I make this right?" Luke 19:8
d. Genuinely repenting. "I don't want this to keep happening." Acts 2:38
e. Requesting forgiveness. "Will you please forgive me?" Psalms 51:2

Not long ago my wife and I read about the importance of restitution. Often just saying “sorry” is insufficient; further action is required. This is clearly the case with Peter. Jesus could have simply said, “Peter, are you sorry for denying me?” and Peter could’ve said, “Yes” and the story would have ended, but Jesus wants more than an apology; He wants Peter to take action and feed His lambs.

Last week was about fish. This week Jesus talks about lambs. Jesus is the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23) and He wants Peter to be a good shepherd, too. He wants Peter to take care of
His lambs. Jesus Himself is the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, including ours and Peter’s.

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said,
“Take care of my sheep.” (16)

It’s amazing that after such a dramatic failure, Jesus would entrust His sheep to Peter. He would entrust the responsibility of His mission to this knuckle headed disciple and his ten ragamuffin colleagues.

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,
“Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said,
“Feed my sheep. (17)

Three denials, three questions, three response, three commands.

Notice the heart of the question is love for Jesus. If you are going to do anything for Jesus, you must love Him first. It’s so tempting to “do great things for God” and lose your first Love in the process. It’s easy to play religious games and fail to know and love Jesus. Sadly, I say this from experience. Each day I need to examine my own heart and my love for Jesus and let my “ministry” and life flow out of it.

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (18-19)

Jesus may be referring to crucifixion. It is believed that Peter was sentenced to crucifixion for his faith in Jesus, yet refused to die a similar death and asked to be crucified upside down.

Jesus’ invitation to His disciples back in John chapter 1 was simple: “follow me.” In chapter ten He said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

This is what it means to be a Christian. It is not about how often you attend church or how much of the Bible you have memorized. The true measure of your faith is how you follow Jesus. It might lead to martyrdom and death as it did for Peter.

The problem is we are easily distracted. We start comparing ourselves to others that are less mature and we commend ourselves. We get prideful when we should be looking to our perfect Example, Jesus.

It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others that are less mature—or more mature, in which case we condemn ourselves. One of the great hindrances of coming to God with child-like faith is shame. We know how we’ve screwed up and we wonder if God still loves us. The story of Peter is a great reminder that we’re sons and daughters by birth, not worth. Jesus says, “You’re mine. you’re forgiven. I love you I’m with you.”

If you get nothing out of this message, get this: ignore the temptation to play the comparison game. You will always lose. Revel in the fact that Your Daddy loves you. Period. Don’t commend yourself. Don’t condemn yourself. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. Listen to His voice and obey.
Follow Jesus.

John concludes with three final things.

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” (20-21)

Here we see Peter is still competing with John.

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (22-23)

Like the rest of the chapter, this is an interesting thing to include. Again, we’re quite sure the disciple Jesus loved was…John, the author of this Gospel. Of course, Peter and John both died.

Notice how Peter plays the comparison game and Jesus’ responds twice with the same question: “What is that to you?”

Have you ever envied someone else’s life? Have you ever wished you could be in their shoes?

Jesus has one invitation for you. He says,
“Follow Me.” He doesn’t say be religious, join a church, or be a professional Christian. He doesn’t say to follow Billy Graham. He doesn’t necessarily say sell everything you have and move to Africa. He says to follow.

What is He calling you to do today? It may look different than what He is calling me to do. It may look different than what He called you to do in the past.
When we compare ourselves to others, we take our attention off Jesus.

Next, John says,

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

John states again the truth of his experience and testimony. This is not a novel. It is an historical record of real events and a real Person. He takes a solemn oath of truth. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus never wrote a book? In fact, we only know for sure of one thing He wrote and that was in the dirt in the midst of religious people accusing a woman of sin (John 8).

Finally, he recognizes the impossibility of recording everything Jesus did.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (25)

Jesus was and is larger than life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And with that, we conclude the Gospel of John, the good news biography of Jesus Christ!!! He experienced Jesus like no other. He suffered as a result, but appears to have no regrets. He wants everyone to know—even us 2000 years later—that Jesus is good. Jesus is God.

Unlike other biographies, we don’t have to rely exclusively on second-hand information. Jesus is alive and He wants your life to become a book in which His love is written on your heart. He doesn’t want you to compare yourself to others, but rather follow Him.

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