His now, 21 January 2024

His now
40 Days of Prayer
1 Peter 2:9-10
Series Big Idea: We are beginning the new year on our knees, joining other Alliance churches for 40 Days of Prayer.
Big Idea: You are His now because of Jesus and his work on the cross
When I was a boy, I remember asking my dad when I would be old enough to call him Jim! All of the adults I knew called him Jim, yet I was required to address him as dad.
Years later, I realized it was a privilege to call him dad. To this day, only four people—my sister and our spouses—had that unique relationship with him, a relationship I miss more than words can describe. He was my dad…and I was his son.
It did not take a lot of effort on my dad’s part for me to become his son, but my mom labored to make it a reality!
Most of you have a heavenly dad. It did not take a lot of physical effort on His part for you to become His child, but Jesus labored to make it a reality. You are His now because of Jesus and His work on the cross. You are His son or daughter. You are His. His now.
We’re in the middle of 40 Days of Prayer, joining with Christian & Missionary Alliance churches across the country in a season of devoted prayer…not merely talking to God or talking with God, but doing life with God…doing life with our heavenly dad, His son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit…one God in three Persons, a mystery we call the trinity.
This message is about identity…not who you are, but Whose you are. Much of our identity—for better or worse—comes from our family of origin. Generations ago, if you were a Vanderbilt or a Rockefeller or a Kennedy, people may have assumed you were powerful. The sons of LeBron James are becoming famous for their connection to their father…and are trying to follow in his footsteps. It really means something to be connected, to be related, to belong.  
One of my favorite portrayals of this was in the story of little orphan Annie, transferred from a miserable orphanage to a family of wealth. She went from an outcast to a child of Daddy Warbucks…she became his.
No matter your family of origin, you have all been given an invitation to be adopted as sons and daughters of the most high God. Not everyone accepts the invitation, but those who do experience tremendous blessings and benefits, both now and in the life to come.
One of Jesus’ best friends, Peter, once wrote this to the early church:
…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9, NIV)
There’s a lot packed into those two verses!
First, we are chosen. There’s an endless debate between Calvinists and Arminians, named after John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius. One of the differences is that Calvinists believe God chooses us (unconditional election) while Arminians (no relation to Armenians, of which I am!) believe we choose God (conditional election). Who is correct? We have both in our church family, and both views are welcome in The Alliance.
Do you want to know what I believe? Am I married because I asked Heather to marry me or because she said yes? They’re two sides of the same coin. It’s a dance that requires two partners, like any relationship. There are many scriptures that support both viewpoints, but I think we can manage whatever tension they create and bask in the reality that followers of Jesus are a chosen people.
Second, we’re a royal priesthood. You are a priest! Say with me, “I am a priest.” You don’t need a fancy robe or a seminary degree. You are royalty if you are a follower of Jesus. You are a King’s kid! We are all called to go and make disciples of all nations. It’s not just for professional Christians. Some have called this the priesthood of all believers. It’s a powerful reality I urge you to embrace. Christianity is not a spectator sport. It’s a family on mission, and everyone needs to participate, each in their own unique way using their unique spiritual gifts to glorify God.
Third, we’re a holy nation. We’ve been set apart to live an alternative lifestyle before a dying world, shining the light of Jesus. This isn’t about Christian nationalism or American patriotism. This is the people of God worldwide, set apart for God’s glory.
Fourth, we are God’s special possession. We are His now. We’ve been called out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:10, NIV)
Do you see the contrast, the before and after? Once we were not a people and had not received mercy, but now we are the people of God who have received mercy. How did this happen? Jesus died so we may live
You are His now because of Jesus and his work on the cross. Hallelujah!
So What?
Tragically, many have reduced the Christian faith to “Jesus died so you can go to heaven when you die.” There are elements to that statement which are true, but it’s missing so much. Please allow me to review some basic concepts of the scriptures.
First, heaven is where God is present. It’s not necessarily a place where angels with two wings fly around and hand out harps to people who pray a magical prayer. Heaven is where God is, which is why we can truly experience heaven on earth. In fact, Jesus said to pray that heaven comes down to earth.
Second and parenthetically, hell is where God is absent. It may or may not have eternal flames. The absence of God is more than enough torment, in my humble opinion. C.S. Lewis famously said everyone in hell chooses to be there because we all choose to be present or absent from God in this life, and that choice is honored in the next one.
Third, you were created to have a relationship with God…now. That’s the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. Christians, please don’t sit around waiting to die so you can experience the abundant life. It’s yours now! Obviously the next life will be far better without sin and temptation and suffering, but you were created to have a relationship with God…now. This is why we talk so much about prayer (time with God) and Bible study (learning about God and His people).
The Bible begins “in the beginning God created.” He created our incredible universe, our planet, puppies, dolphins, birds, and even cats! He created you and me and He knew us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139). He has incredible love for us, but our sin is a real problem. You might say God’s allergic to sin because He is holy, He is perfect, He is righteous, He never makes mistakes, yet sin is like poison in a glass of perfectly pure water. It’s intolerable.
Knowing we would sin and screw up, God sent Jesus to earth to die in our place, to pay our penalty, to remove the poison in the water, so to speak. In ten days, the Alpha Course is going to explore the question, “Why did Jesus die?” His friend Peter wrote,
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, NIV)
Many in our culture believe heaven is their destiny because they’re good people. That’s religion. It’s all about what you do, and millions—if not billions—of people are trying to appease the god or gods, hoping their good outweighs the bad. The problem is, God doesn’t grade on a curve! His standard is perfect, and none of us measure up. That’s why Jesus was sent to die so we might live. Religion is spelled d-o. It’s about what we do. The message of Jesus is d-o-n-e. It was done on the cross. Jesus cried out, “It is finished.”
When we follow Jesus, when we confess our sins, when we repent and turn away from our evil living, when we surrender to God, when we believe, a variety of things begin.
First, we become reconciled to God.
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19, NLT)
Second, we can experience freedom from sin.
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6, NLT)
Third, we realize death was defeated.
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57, NLT)
Furthermore, we are adopted into God’s family. Yes, we were made by Him, for Him, and for His glory, but until our sin—the poison—is dealt with, we can’t enter His presence.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:15-17, NLT)
Family, this is just a sample of the things that we can experience because of the cross. We are His now. Our identity is in Him…not our ethnicity, political party, or football team. Our rights are His. We surrender control of our lives, knowing that His ways are higher than our ways.
I want to share with you one final passage of scripture, written by Paul to a church in Galatia, modern day Greece. He writes,
Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. 2 They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. 3 And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world. (Galatians 4:1-3, NLT)
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. (Galatians 4:4-7, NLT)
You’re His now. That means you have the benefits of being in His family as well as the responsibilities. You were bought at a price…the blood and body of Jesus. We are to honor God with our bodies. We are not to become slaves of the world, followers of culture, doing what everyone else is doing. We are children of the King. We are His now. We are children of the light, not the darkness. We are to declare the truth of the gospel in word and deed, shining the light of Christ to a broken, lonely, anxious world.
During these 40 Days of Prayer, it seems appropriate to pause for a time of prayer, giving thanks to God for adopting us as sons and daughters.
As a follow-up to prayers of thanksgiving and praise, my friend, Jim Lange, introduced me to a new prayer last week at our Truth at Work group.
LORD, I want to give You everything You paid for.
That’s a prayer of surrender. That’s a prayer of devotion. That’s the prayer of an orphan who has been adopted into a wonderful family. That’s a prayer that acknowledges Jesus gave everything so that we might have him and be his now…and forever.
I miss my earthly dad. I love him deeply. I’m his son. I represent him as the next generation of “Mr. Schneemann.” I never want to do anything to tarnish the good name of our family. It’s an honor and a privilege to be his. I’m grateful, too, for my mom who brought me into this world and into my family.
I love my heavenly dad, too. I love him deeply. I’m his son. I never want to do anything to tarnish the good name of our family. It’s an honor and a privilege to be His. I’m grateful, too, for Jesus who brought me into my spiritual family through the cross and empty tomb and for the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me, helping me to become like Jesus.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Why are You Here? 26 September 2021

Why are You Here?
Series—Fingerprint: Discovering Your True Identity
Colossians 1:16-18; Isaiah 43:6b-7; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 Corinthians 12

Series Big Idea:
You’re a masterpiece created unique and special to glorify God and bless others.

Big Idea:
You’ve been given gifts, passions, and talents to discover, develop and share.

I believe the two most important questions in life are:

Who is God?
Who are you?

Every Sunday is an exploration of the first question. We will never be able to fully know and understand God, but it’s a wonderful journey! How great is our God!

Last Sunday, Pastor Mike addressed the second question. If you are a follower of Jesus, your identity is first and foremost as a child of the Most High God. You’ve been adopted into His family and like the Prodigal Son, nothing you can do can make God love you more than He already does…and nothing you can do can make God love you less. That’s unconditional love. That’s amazing grace!

Once we know who we are—and Whose we are—the next logical question is, “Now what? Why are we here?”

One of the best-selling books of all time is called
The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. What’s your purpose? Why were you created? There are two answers to that question. The first is a general response applicable to each of us. The other is unique for every person.

You were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory. This has been the mantra of our District Superintendent, Rev. Thomas George, for years. Paul wrote these glorious words about Jesus in the book of Colossians:

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:16-18)

All things have been created through Jesus. All things have been created for Jesus.

We could stop right now. You were made by God and for God. You have a purpose. You’re not an accident. But you’re also not God!

As I have said previously, the essence of satanism is not the worship of satan, but the worship of self. We live in a narcissistic, self-worshipping culture. The world says, “It’s all about you. You deserve. You choose. Have it your way. Whatever makes you happy. Truth is whatever you feel.”

It’s not all about you! You didn’t make this world. You didn’t create yourself. You are not in control. You are not God.

This is the inconvenient truth…and the reason there are empty seats in churches around the world today. Surrender and submission to God is offensive to the self-absorbed person who thinks the world revolves around them. Imagine more than seven billion people living for their own pleasures. No wonder our world is so broken!

You were made by God. Human life is such a miracle. I wish I knew how many former atheists were established in the delivery room of hospitals! It’s nearly impossible to look at the miracle of life and call it an accident, random chance, the results of something emerging from nothing. For further study, meditate on Psalm 139. You were made by God.

You were made for God. He is before all things. He holds everything together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning. He is supreme. It’s all about Jesus!

You were made for God’s glory. The LORD said to the prophet Isaiah:

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6b-7)

You were not made for your glory. You were made for God’s.

When a painter paints a masterpiece, it reveals the beauty and creativity of the artist. You are a masterpiece. Like me, you are a broken masterpiece in need of restoration, created with a purpose. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

The heart of our church’s mission statement is restoring God’s masterpieces. We were all created—and recreated in Christ Jesus—to do the good things he planned for us long ago. What are those things? I’m glad you asked!

But first, let me say it once again:
you were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory.

I tell this to myself all of the time, especially when I don’t get what I want, when I want it…especially when life feels out of control…especially when I want my circumstances to change…especially when…well, you get the point!

It’s amazing how quickly my perspective changes when I reflect upon this simple mantra.

What are You up to, LORD? How can you get glory through my suffering? How can you be strong in my weakness? How can I decrease and you increase in my life? How can my life reflect You and Your glory? It’s not about me!

These are daily questions. Jesus said,

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

It doesn’t mean that your needs and desires are unimportant, but they’re not the most important. Last Sunday we witnessed four people dying—to their old lives—and making Jesus their priority, their LORD. It’s not a one-time event, though. It’s a daily—hourly—moment-by-moment surrender.

You were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory. We all were!

But while that can be said about more than seven billion people, you are unique among the human population. Your fingerprint is special. There’s nobody else exactly like you…even if you have a twin or triplet! This begs the question, “
Why are you here?”

You are a unique masterpiece created for a purpose.

You’ve heard us talk about a tool called I highly recommend you set aside some time this week and check it out. There’s nothing magical about it, but it’s a helpful assessment that will ask you questions about you. This is one test you can’t fail! God has wired each of us up with a unique personality and heart. We have different abilities and experiences that shape us for loving others. He has also given every believer at least one spiritual gift to use to serve others. Several texts in the Bible talk about spiritual gifts. Romans 12 says,

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:3-8)

We are all different! Nobody has all of the spiritual gifts. We need one another. Every part of the body is important. I need you. You need me. If you haven’t discovered your gift or gifts and started using them, what are you waiting for?! This isn’t a pitch for volunteers, it’s an invitation to join the family, to get engaged, to experience the thrill of being used by God to bless others. It is truly better to give than to receive. Some of you love kids and are gifted to equip the next generation. Some of you can’t stand kids. You didn’t like yourself as a kid! Don’t serve in Kids Church! Please!

But maybe you’re gifted with singing, construction, finances, cooking, hospitality, sports, graphic arts, social media, technology, sound engineering, transportation, …the list goes on and on. We are a family and every member is important. Every member is to do the work of the ministry, …which reminds me of a remarkable scripture one of our elders discussed with me recently. I’d like to invite Doug Oliver up for a brief lesson on Bible translation.

Doug Oliver

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-12, KJV)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-12, NKJV)

As I have often said, the role of the church staff is not to be the professional Christians doing the ministry. It’s to equip you—the saints—for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. I think the confusion behind this has been one of the greatest tools of the enemy to limit and even destroy the Church. If only the professionals could love, serve, make disciples, visit the sick, pray for the needy, and minister, we’d all be in trouble! Our staff would burn out and you’d miss out on the joy of ministry! Peter said,

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

To God be the glory! Keep in mind, too, there were few professional Christians in the early Church…or even today in many parts of the world. I feel extremely blessed to make ministry a vocation, but that doesn’t make me more spiritual than you. It just means God has called me to equip you to discover your purpose and live it out, which is what this sermon series is all about.

God has called us all to minister to one another and the world through our spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences.

We looked at 1 Corinthians 12 in our last series on our core values when discussing First Alliance as a family, but let me remind you…

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And yet I will show you the most excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:27-31)

That most excellent way is what follows: 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter of the Bible.

You were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory.

You are a unique masterpiece created for a purpose.

God has called us all to minister to one another and the world through our spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences.

Take My Life and Let It Be

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Covenant & Kingdom: Temptation, 28 September 2014

Matthew 4:1-11

Big Idea: Jesus was tempted just like us—and He overcame it as we can by remembering who and Whose we are.


In previous weeks we said the Bible is a big book. It’s actually a library of 66 books. We usually study it verse-by-verse, like looking through a microscope. This series will look at it through a telescope, examining the big idea of the Bible.

Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a
double helix is woven in DNA.

Covenant is a sacred treaty in which two parties become one. In ancient times, this always involved the shedding of blood by an animal to imply consequences for failure to fulfill the agreement.

God made a covenant with Abram, promising blessings to him and his offspring in order for them to bless the world.

Covenant is about relationship. Being. Invitation.
Kingdom is about responsibility. Doing. Challenge.

Life is filled with tension between being and doing, relationship and responsibility, being invited into relationship with God while also being challenged to represent Him and bless the world.

As we look at this idea of challenge, of kingdom, of doing God’s work in the world we are going to look at the most important character in the Bible—Jesus.

The story of the temptation of Jesus is familiar to many. After 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, Jesus refuses satan three times. If you’re like me, you may have thought it was easy for Jesus to stand up to temptation because He was God. However, He set aside the God-stuff when He came to earth in order to truly become one of us, to understand our struggles. In fact, Jesus giving in to temptation and seizing superpowers is exactly what satan wanted.

Jesus is able to represent the Father, the King, well because He understood His identity. He knew who He was.

Satan repeats one phrase: “IF you are the Son of God.” Specifically, he attacks Jesus in three areas:

turn stones into bread
prove God’s protection by jumping from the Temple
worship me and receive the kingdoms of the world

What is your greatest temptation? What is your most common sin? Chances are, you are bombarded by one, two, or all three of these temptations.


Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:1-3)

Here we see one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Jesus did not eat for 40 days and was hungry. Surprise!

We all have appetites—for food, love, sleep, purpose…Cravings are not necessarily wrong. In fact, without some—like food—we would die. The issue is how we respond to our desires. It often involves control. We question whether God can be trusted.

Jesus knew God could be trusted and did not seize control in the situation. He was obedient to the Father who called Him into the wilderness for an essential season of prayer prior to selecting twelve disciples. He knew God was good. The Father could be trusted.

What do you crave? Food? Alcohol? A perfect body? Sex? Comfort? Security? Facebook?

There are not all bad, but if they control you, they become your idol, your god.

Perhaps you’ve tried unsuccessfully to rid yourself of addiction. The early church fathers used to say that if you say no to one appetite, you can say no to something else. Dallas Willard said it this way: “Do the things you can so you can do the things you can’t.” Use your will to give up something you can control so God’s Spirit will give you the power over the other.

One example of this is Lent, 40 days of saying no to an appetite to concentrate on your identity as a child of God.

To be honest, addictions can be nasty. It’s not as simple as giving up meat for 40 days in order to destroy all cravings. It’s a step, but others may be necessary, including support groups, accountability, and prayer.

Jesus was tempted, and He responded with Scripture.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)

Jesus had spiritual food upon which He was nourished. He knew the truth and it set Him free.


Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” (Matthew 4:5-6)

Now satan gets nasty. He starts misusing the Bible. Don’t miss this! People often flippantly say, “The Bible says…” What is the context? What did it originally mean? What does it mean today? You can’t pick and choose verses any more than you can pick and choose ingredients in a recipe (oops, I forgot the sugar in the cookies!!!).

Our identity must come from somewhere outside of us. We are prone to seek the approval of others. Instead of waiting to hear the Father say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant,” we want to be affirmed now.

Do people think I’m smart?
Do people think I’m pretty or handsome?
Do people think I’m a good parent?
Do people think I’m a good worker?
Do people like me?
Am I popular?

Approval can be an addiction. The crazy thing is often the people we want to affirm us are only temporarily in our lives. We are tempted to base our value on people that won’t even be in our lives in a few years…or maybe months.

What if we lived for an audience of One?

I struggle with this. I want people to like me. I want you to like me! I want to do things that make you happy…so you will like me! I want this sermon to be great so you’ll think I’m a great preacher and pastor! I’ve been tempted to ignore tough passages of the Bible, speaking only about things that will make you feel good.

But ultimately I have to answer to God. He loves me. He accepts me. I’ve been rejected many times by people—and it always hurts. The voice that really matters is the Father’s voice, and Jesus understood that.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:7)

Jesus did not need to impress satan or win his approval. He was confident in His identity as the Son of the Most High God.


Success. It has been one of the most daunting words for me. Defining success has been a decades-long struggle. I want to be successful. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to do great things for God…and sometimes for my own glory!

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

What is success? Achieving goals? Knowing and doing what God tells you. Sometimes we are obedient and look like failures. The Bible is filled with such stories, but they continued to believe God is good and faithful.

God calls us to be faithful and obedient which does not always look like success in the eyes of the world that celebrates big, popular, and excellent.

I’m not saying winning or success is necessarily wrong, but it can be if it is the source of our identity. If your success in life is tied to your performance, something’s wrong—and for so many this is the case…especially artists. As an artist, I can say this! If I write a song and you don’t like it, I’m tempted to think you are rejecting me, which is idolatry. Some athletes believe if they don’t win, they are…losers—not in a game, but life. When we seek to win for our glory, we have made ourselves lord rather than God. We’ve worshipped the created rather than the Creator.

I’m a very competitive person. A few years ago on an elder retreat we had some competitive games of doubles ping pong. It was not televised on ESPN, but there were some close games. Unbeknownst to the others, my team was winning every game, and I was quite pleased…until my team lost. I hid it, but I was inappropriately overjoyed during the victories and agonized in the defeat. When we were done, I confessed my hidden sin to the others, exposing my wicked, prideful heart.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of this is the comparison game. Someone recently said all reality TV is designed to either make us feel good about ourselves or bad about ourselves as we compare ourselves to the winners and losers.

I’m probably most insecure about other pastors, especially pastors of large churches that have written books and speak at conferences. A part of me secretly—well, not now!—wants to be a Christian celebrity, be invited to speak in front of large crowds, and “do great things for God.” Do you see the shadow motive? God wants us to be involved in His mission on earth, but He wants us to serve Him rather than the other way around. Our motives are critical, though there is no such thing as completely pure motives!

Would you like a remedy? Try this:
choose to lose.

If an argument is going a certain way―choose not to have the last word. Lose the argument.
Choose relational harmony over winning an argument.
If youʼre playing golf or a board game or basketball―make the point of playing to bless your opponent and donʼt care if you win. Play for fun.
Go above and beyond at work but donʼt let anyone know. Chose to lose the opportunity to get credit for extra work.
Another way you can address this issue is to anonymously give—money, time, expertise. Give without seeking credit or reward. The Father is watching!
The Father was watching Jesus in the wilderness…with approval.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” (Matthew 4:10)

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:11)

We’re not exactly sure what those final five words mean, but they’re pretty cool! Jesus passed the test. His preparation to begin His public ministry was complete, at least the wilderness part. He knew who He was. He had just heard the Father say at His baptism, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

Luke’s gospel account of the temptation of Christ ends with these words:

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)

Jesus passed this test, but it was hardly the end of temptation. He experienced every day of His life as we do.

So What?

Where you are being tempted. Is it your appetite? Your ambition? Affirmation? What way do you need to intentionally press into your identity as Godʼs child?
Your Daddy loves you. He’s nuts about you! He is so near you. He believes in you. He’s proud of you. Don’t forget Whose you are. You are a King’s kid!
Is there any desire in you for the accolades of men and women around you?

If so, take the words of the Father spoken over Jesus in the gospels and substitute your name for Jesus and allows those words to sink into your heart. 

The desire of approval is the commitment to remove shame. Shame in the world's eyes is removed by acclaim. We long for things that shout down the voice of shame. What is the alternative to acclaim for shame? Allowing the Word of God to speak and give faith.

"You are my son/daughter and I love you and I'm proud of you.” If He said it over Jesus it is true of us. 

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:9-13)

appetite: give us this day our daily bread
affirmation: lead us not into temptation
ambition: Yours is the kingdom, not mine


Ideas for this series taken from book of the same title by Mike Breen and

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

We Are In Christ, 5 January 2014

Big Idea: Our identity can be found in ourselves, our world, or in Christ.

Who are you? Few questions are more important.

When you meet someone for the first time, how do you introduce yourself after you provide your name? An American? Married? Engineer? Mom? Athlete? Geek? Hunter? Fisherman? Musician?

What three words best describe you?

We tend to think what we do determines who we are. The opposite is true. Who we are determines what we do.

This idea was reinforced this past week in an article I read about swimmers.

In Rolf Dobelli’s book,
The Art of Thinking Clearly, he explains how our ideas about talent and extensive training are well off-track:

“Professional swimmers don’t have perfect bodies because they train extensively. Rather, they are good swimmers because of their physiques. How their bodies are designed is a factor for selection and not the result of their activities.”

Did you catch that?

You are not who you are because of what you do, but what you do is because of who you are—your identity.

As we begin the new year, it’s a great time to reflect upon our identity.

Who are you?

I can ask who you think you are, but a more important question is…

Who does God say you are?

You are not your occupation, your IQ, your education, your income, or social status. You are a human being created with value, dignity and worth.

In the first book of the Bible, we see God’s plan for us.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; 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 1:26-28)

You and I were created by God in His image and likeness. We were made to mirror God to the world. When we love, forgive, speak truth, and are generous we reflect His character to others. The goal is not for the world to know us, but Him.

The question should not be “how does this make me look?” but “how does this make God look?” That’s worship, imaging God.

We are not God, but we’re also more than just an animal with thumbs.

We were created to rule over creation.

We were blessed. We didn’t deserve or earn blessing, but that’s God’s grace. We have been blessed to bless others.

Many think identity is about what they do, but
our identity is received, not achieved.

You are not more or less valuable than anyone else, healthy or sick, rich or poor, born or unborn. This is unique about our faith, the belief that all are image-bearers. Your net worth has nothing to do with your self worth.

This is why we don’t believe in racism, sexism, classism.

God says we are cherished children, which begs the question…

Who does satan say we are?

Personal evil is real, a created angelic being who rebelled against God named satan. He wants to steal, kill and destroy. In Genesis 3, he lied and deceived Adam and Eve and destroyed them…and us. The power of a lie is contingent upon whether or not it is believed.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
(Genesis 3:1-5)

Here we see identity. Satan tempts them to be like God. We were already created like God! Our identity is received from God, not achieved by what we do.

Who are you?

Our new series on the book of Ephesians seeks to address this simple yet profound question, both in terms of who you are as an individual and who we are as a church, the Body and Bride of Jesus Christ.

Where: Ephesus

Have you been to Ephesus? I have not, but I know many things about it. First, it was the most important city in what is now western Turkey. It was a harbor city at an intersection of major trade routes which means…commerce, people, culture, diversity. Although Ann Arbor lacks a harbor, we have I-94, M-14, US-23, and nearby Detroit Metro Airport. Ephesus had a great pagan temple dedicated to Diana, a Roman goddess, one of the seven great wonders of the world. Ann Arbor has a great temple dedicated to…football (and an occasional hockey game!). Like our town, it had a huge library that is still visited today.

The church in this city flourished, though it later received a warning in Revelation 2:1-7.

The city had about 250,000 people which is about the population of the Ann Arbor area. Luke’s grave is there. It was a central hub for the early church.

The gospel transformed one of the greatest cities in the world.

They have dug up about 10-15% of the city. The streets are marble despite being thousands of years old.

They are unearthing New Testament homes, some of which are quite large, some with large great rooms to entertain and practice hospitality.

A 25,000 seat amphitheater is still standing. You can stand at the bottom, drop a coin at the bottom, and hear it at the top.

From: Paul

Paul wrote this letter, possibly around a.d. 60 while in a Roman prison. He knew Ephesus well as it was his base of operations for about three years of evangelism.

Some have said they like Jesus but not Paul. However, as an apostle, Paul speaks under the authority of Jesus. If you don’t like Paul, you can’t like Jesus!

To: Audience

Although we can summarize and call Ephesians a letter from Paul to the church in the city of Ephesus, his intended audience seems to be broader. Unlike other letters written to specific churches to address specific issues, this message is more universal and this letter was likely passed among various churches in the region. It may be the letter referenced in the book of Colossians as a letter to Laodicea. This makes it especially relevant for us since he is not reacting to unique circumstances but declaring God’s truth to multiple generations.

Paul does so with great precision. Paper was scarce, so he packed a tremendous amount of information in 155 verses. Despite their brevity, it took John Calvin about 700 pages to describe them and Dr Lloyd Jones five times as many! It’s as if Paul compressed a huge piece of theology into four pages like a zip file on your computer or even a loaf of bread that grows and expands when you let it sit.


In a word, Ephesians is about grace. In two words, our identity
in Christ.

In Christ

We can find our identity in our job, family, nationality…or in Jesus. The Bible uses the word “Christian” three times but the phrase “in Christ” appears more than two hundred times! We’re not going to look at each today, but I want you to see nine that appear in the first thirteen verses of chapter one. We are

faithful in Christ (1:1; remember who you are, then you’ll know what to do)
blessed in Christ (1:3)
chosen in Christ (1:4)
made blameless in Christ (1:4)
we can know the will of God in Christ (1:9)
reconciled to God in Christ (1:10)
we have an inheritance in Christ (1:11)
our hope is in Christ (not your job, friends, family!) (1:12)
we have the Holy Spirit in Christ (1:13)

These are only nine of thirty things we’ll see we have in Christ.


Who are you? Who are we? From now until Easter we will examine these questions as we journey through the book of Ephesians. I encourage you to read through it—along with Psalms and Proverbs which we are using as the content for this year’s Scio Journal on our Facebook page. One of our Life Groups at 11 AM will provide opportunities for you to reflect and interact on these scriptures about identity.


Some ideas from

J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
Mark Driscoll,
Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
GLO Bible

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

Son of God, John 10:19-24

Big Idea: We are sheep in desperate need of the Good Shepherd, the Son of God.


We are continuing our series, The Gospel of John, a biography of Jesus written by one of His closest friends, John. Two week ago the scene had Jesus offending the religious leaders by healing a blind man on the Sabbath, something that was considered work by the scholars who knew the letter of the law but had no clue about the spirit of the law. They were envious of Jesus, His miracles, His teachings, and most of all the crowds He was attracting. Their insecurity continually rises from jealousy to rage as we will see yet again in a moment.

Last week we began John 10 where Jesus uses the common metaphor of a shepherd and sheep to illustrate Himself and His followers. The sheep of the Good Shepherd—mentioned in Psalm 23—know, listen and obey to the voice of their Shepherd.

It’s critical to understand a sheep before we move into today’s Scripture. Sheep are not the sharpest tool in the shed. They’re not the most brilliant animal on the farm. They aren’t the wisest beast in the field. They aren’t the smartest creature at the zoo. You get the idea!

Beyond their lack of intelligence, a sheep is weak and vulnerable. They cannot run fast. They don’t have poisonous venom, sharp teeth, or even dangerous claws. In other words, without the shepherd, they are one thing…dinner for a hungry animal!

In the first half of John 10, Jesus speaks of His Father—God the Father—and the authority given to Jesus by the Father. This infuriates the religious Jews all the more. It is here that we begin.

At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (19-21)

Jesus is the most divisive Person that has ever walked the face of the earth. He is the most controversial Figure in history. Some thought He was a demon and others divine.

When Paul went to Athens, some believe and some do not believe.

Jesus explained why a few verses earlier from last week’s text.

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (4-5)

These religious leaders do not hear the voice of the Good Shepherd even though He’s right in front of them!

Blue Like Jazz Author Donald Miller notes several things about these people.

1. “They have a strong pre-conceived notion as to what the Christ will look and like like, and Jesus isn’t fitting that notion at all.” Jesus isn’t a member of their club. He dresses differently, talks differently. He’s doesn’t interpret the Scriptures the way they do, likely with a self-serving agenda.

  1. 2. “He threatens their power.” This is obvious. It’s also relevant to us. It was Jesus that said the first shall be last, to save your life you must lose it, and a host of other radical, uncomfortable things.

  1. 3. “These are zealous men.” All law, no grace…to the death…literally!

  1. 4. “…they would likely be threatened with physical retribution from their own community if they followed Christ.” How often do people succumb to peer pressure?!

  1. 5. “They are people who want clarity.” As Miller says, “They don’t like all this vague hippie talk coming from Jesus.” Everything is black and white to them.

6. “Jesus likes their enemies.” He loves sinners. They love Him! There are two common ways groups can form and unite—the first is to demonize a common enemy and the second is to take on a victim mentality, causing everyone to feel like the world is against them. If Jesus is a friend of sinners, He certainly cannot join their tribe.

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (22-24)

Winter in Jerusalem is cold! It is 3000 feet above sea level.

This feast is also called the Festival of Lights. It is not found in the Old Testament because it celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucids in the second century BC. It is known today as Hanukkah! Jesus celebrated Hanukkah.

They ask, “Jesus, who are you?”

Who do you say that I am?

For hundreds of years the people were awaiting a liberating king. They were expecting God’s Anointed to free them from the tyranny of the Roman Empire. The people were awaiting a Messiah.

Jesus often revealed Himself to others in private settings but He resisted publicly proclaiming Himself the Messiah because the people were expecting the Messiah to come as a warrior and overthrow the government. They couldn’t imagine Him coming to suffer and die. The Messiah will, actually, come and rule as the King of kings, but that remains in the future!

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (25-27)

Jesus says His works prove His identity. Actions speak louder than words.

The brand on the sheep is obedience.

Sheep hear His voice.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (28-30)

Did you catch that promise? No one can snatch them out of God’s hand. That’s great news! Remember, though, who Jesus is talking about. It’s not just anyone but those who follow Him (verse 27).

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

I love this question! Jesus is playing with them. He knows the source of their rage. It’s His claim to be God that made them hysterical, and even though He dances around the issue and doesn’t explicitly say, “I am God,” the message is clear and affirmed by His audience.

“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (33)

God became man, yet they accuse Jesus of being a man who made Himself God.

There are many liberal Bible scholars that deny that Jesus was God, or that He ever claimed to be God. They can accept that a man named Jesus was a good teacher and perhaps could even do a miracle every now and then, but they fail to see Jesus as God. It was, of course, this very claim that put Jesus on the cross. Jesus claimed to be God, and then proved that He is God by conquering sin and death, resurrecting from the dead.

Jesus responds…

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came — and the Scripture cannot be broken — what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. (34-39)

Verse 34 quotes Psalm 82:6, a reference to judges that act on behalf of God as His representatives.

Verse 35 notes that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” He is affirming the authority of the Bible.

Jesus is in full control. Repeatedly in his Gospel, John describes Jesus’ ability to escape from the raging Jews that want to kill Him. It was not yet hIs time.

God is sovereign. That means He is in control. Even at His trial He was in control. He created everything so it stands to reason that He is sovereign over creation, time, and space. He was on a mission to die for us, but it was not yet time.

Our passage ends rather simply.

Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place many believed in Jesus. (40-42)

Jesus just shows up and people believe. In many circles it was popular to believe, but that was always subject to change. We read that many followed, but many later deserted Jesus, too…especially as He died.

Yet many died for their belief. Throughout history millions of men, women and children have willingly surrendered their lives simply because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

What about you? Who do you say Jesus is? Do you live it or just believe it in your head? Maybe you’re like the religious leaders, finding it easier to judge others rather than examining your own life. Perhaps you have mental belief about Jesus, but your mouth remains closed for fear of rocking the boat and losing friends.

I’m humbled by the thought that one of Jesus’ best friends betrayed Him, another denied Him three times, and others doubted He was raised from the dead.


Whether you know it or not, we are all stinky sheep. We are weak, vulnerable, and very limited in the wisdom department. Left to our own devices, we will die. That’s where Jesus come in. Where religious is spelled “D-O,” what you do, Christianity is all about “D-O-N-E” and what Jesus has done for you. He died on the cross in your place and my place. Like a good shepherd, He sacrificed everything for dumb sheep like us. Today we celebrate that sacrifice. We celebrate not only His words, but His actions. Unlike celebrities in our culture, He didn’t gain fame and notoriety for His own sake, but rather to willingly be butchered in one of history’s most horrifying forms of torture so that we could experience grace, forgiveness, hope, purpose, and joy.

You can listen to the podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Identity, John 8:12-30, 11 November 2012

Big Idea: Jesus was clear about His origin and identity. Are you?

Last week a friend on Facebook posed this question: What is the most important question every person must address?

I believe there are two essential questions:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who am I?

Many people stumble with both questions.

Who is God?
Who are you? Really.

Identity is a tremendous issue in our culture. Children are raised without knowing their dad...or mom. We tell kids how wonderful they are, yet they reach adulthood and realize not everyone gets a trophy in the real world. Many draw their identity from their sexual orientation, believing that it defines them. Others see themselves through the lens of their business card, what they do, their career.

Fill in the blank: I am _______________________.

Jesus was secure. He knew who He was. He was aware of His origins, His background. As J. Vernon McGee said, “Jesus came to not only redeem man but to reveal God to man.”

Several times in John’s biography of Jesus we see Him revealing His identity, beginning with “I am.”

He said previously “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35, 48, 51)

He will later say

I am the gate (Jn 10:7, 9)
I am the good Shepherd (Jn 1011, 14)
I am the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25)
I am the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6)
I am the genuine vine. (Jn 15:1, 5)

I am the beginning and the end.

Today’s passage beginning with John 8:12 uncovers another thing about Jesus. Let me set the scene beginning with verse one. Jesus is in the temple courts surrounded by people. A woman is brought in by the religious leaders who caught her in adultery. They try to trap Jesus and, instead, He traps them, declaring that the first stone to punish this woman should be thrown by the one without sin. Everyone walked away except the woman and Jesus who, ironically, was the only one qualified to stone her. Instead, He tells her to go and leave her life of sin.

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.” (John 8:12)

Genesis 1...let there be...light! God saw that the light was good...

God speaks light into existence.

Energy cannot be created and cannot be destroyed.

Everything comes out of Him.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36)

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

Jesus created light. He is the light. He will forever be the light.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:22-23)

Sometimes we don’t want the light in our eyes because it’s invasive. We want just enough light to see in the dark, but not so much that we can be clearly seen. We want God to be our night light. He exposes all of the sin, deceit, lies, and brokenness.

The light isn’t judgment but freedom and forgiveness. We saw in the verses prior that the light did not consume her, but it covered and forgave her.

He wants to be the light to expose our pride, arrogance, and sin in order to transform, love, and forgive us.

The more comfortable you are in the light, the closer you are to God.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

This doesn’t mean we’re perfect, but that we stop hiding.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. (1 John 2:9-11)

John heard Jesus say, “I am the light of the world.” In the light, there is love. In the light, there is forgiveness and compassion and life.

John Piper notes four things about light:

  1. the world has no other light than Him
  2. all the world needs Jesus as their light
  3. the world was made for this light; creation was made for this light to fill it; it exposes sin and enables us to see everything good in its true light; the light of Christ is native to the world, not foreign.
d. one day this world will be filled with the light of Jesus and nothing else

I can’t wait! Continuing onto verse 13, things take something of a detour.

The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” (John 8:13)

They are accusing Him of boasting.

This is from John 5:31-32 when Jesus said, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.”

The next 17 verses follow their accusation.

Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. (John 8:14)

  1. He knows from where He came.

You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. (John 8:15)

2. He does not judge man according to the flesh.

But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” (John 8:16-18)

3. The Father testifies.

How would you respond to this line of reasoning? There was a voice from heaven that verified this (Mark 1:11).

Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come. (John 8:19-20)

These are deeply offensive words Jesus uses. It should have incited a riot, but His time had not yet come.

God is sovereign and in control of all things, including time. It doesn’t always appear that God is in control, but that just speaks to our limited perspective.

Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:21-24)

Here Jesus reveals more of His identity. He begins by predicting His crucifixion and then says He’s from heaven. He was sent by the Father.

He also speaks clearly about our two eternal options—sin which leads to death, and belief which leads to life.

We live in a dying world. Billions around us are literally dying in their sins. This is a tragic reality that provides incredible opportunities for us. The light shines brightest in the darkness.

“Who are you?” they asked.

“Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. (John 8:25-30)

They refuse to believe He is the Son of God. These are the type of statements that ultimately led to His crucifixion.

But look at the last sentence. Many put their faith in Him, not because of His miracles, not because of His personality, but because they heard and believed the Truth.

Jesus is the light. Do you know Him? Are you reflecting His light to the world? If you are truly a Christian or “little Christ,” there must be light in your life, a light that reflects the Son, much like the moon at night.

For some of you, here’s the real challenge:

Are you willing to enter darkness in order to shine, or do you prefer to shine your light close to other lights?

Sundays are a time when we gather. The lights are joined in songs of worship, fellowship, and study of the Bible. This week we will scatter and take the light of the world to the world. Our world desperately needs it!

Credit: some ideas from “I Am the Light of the World” by John Piper

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