January, February, March 2004

Want to learn more about John? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: The Unique Purpose of John's Gospel (Luke 1, John 20, 21)
If you have been studying these lessons with me for a long time, you know I love studies on specific books of the Bible. Our lesson quarterly more frequently covers Bible topics than Bible books. When we study topics, we change from a God-inspired order of presentation to a human-inspired order of presentation. Of course, the Holy Spirit inspires modern human teachers, but I feel on stronger ground when the order comes more directly from God. For these reasons, I am delighted this quarter we will be studying the book of John - one of the most important books of the Bible. This week we are introduced to this great book. Next week we begin a serious study of John. Let's jump in and introduce ourselves to the book of John!

Lesson 2: Jesus is the Best (John 1:1-18)
If you were writing an account about the life of Jesus, how would you begin? Most people would begin chronologically: with His birth. Others might start with His most exciting miracle and then tell how Jesus came to that point. Still others might begin with the cross, and with that introduction go back and tell His entire story. John does none of these things. Let's jump into our study of his gospel to find out how John introduces us to the greatest story ever told!

Lesson 3: Something Better (John 2)
Last week we learned that God became a human and lived with us. (John 1:14) This God, Jesus, is not only your Creator, but by recognizing and receiving Him into your life you can become a child of God. (John 1:10-13). This week John begins to take us on a journey that will not only reveal who Jesus is, but help you to better understand your God. John's first two stories are about wine and violence. How does that lead us in the right direction? Let's dive into our study and find out!

Lesson 4: Grace is All-Inclusive (John 3 & 4)
John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It is an offer of eternal life to "whoever" believes in Jesus. This week our study of John continues with the stories of two people who crossed Jesus' path. Proving the truth of "whoever," one who comes to Jesus is a rich, exalted Pharisee named Nicodemus. The other who comes to Jesus is poor, despised Samaritan woman. Let's jump into our study and find out how Jesus approaches these two!

Lesson 5: The Struggle to Be Real (John 4:43-54)
How do you like detours? Our study last week had Jesus headed back to Galilee. On the way He decided to take a little rest at the well in Samaria while His disciples were rounding up lunch. While at the well Jesus bumped into a Samaritan woman with an attitude and ended up converting her and holding a two-day evangelistic series! John 4:41-42 tells us that many Samaritans believed that Jesus was the Messiah. This was the beginning of the church in Samaria. What a great detour! This week our story picks up with Jesus making it back to Galilee. Let's plunge into our study!

Lesson 6: Putting the Past Behind You (John 5)
People often ask me to pray for them to be healed or helped. Some who I pray for are healed. Others are not. On what basis does God choose who to heal? John 5 gives us some insights into this issue and into the power of God. Let's jump into our study and see what we can learn!

Lesson 7: The Sacred and the Common (John 6)
One of the blessings of Bible study is that the Bible is not like any other book. It is like an onion, the teachings of Jesus have many layers. Bread is simple food. But Jesus, in sharing bread has a multi-layered spiritual lesson for His listeners and for us. Let's jump into our study this week and consume our bread lessons!

Lesson 8: The Good Shepherd (John 9-10)
Have you ever been frustrated because you could clearly see something and others could not? John chapters 7-8 show us the frustration experienced by Jesus. Jesus faced, even from His own family, doubts about His divinity. Hostile spiritual leaders directly challenged Jesus' claim to be the Messiah. They all seemed to be unable to see the truth. We continue our study of John by picking up the story of a man who could not see anything other than the truth. Let's jump into our study of John!

Lesson 9: A Devoted Soul and an Impending Cross (John 11-12)
This week I attended the National Religious Broadcasters convention. While there I was invited to a pre-release showing of Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ. This is a movie about the last hours of Jesus' life on earth. You should see it when it is released to the general public - not because it is a joy to watch - but because it reveals, like nothing else I have ever seen, the tremendous sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins. It will break your heart. It broke mine. This week our study in John is the event that precipitated the determination of the Jewish leaders that Jesus must be killed. Let's jump into our study.

Lesson 10: True Greatness (John 13)
How important is your "image?" When we bought our first house I recall my neighbor asking me, "If you are a lawyer, why are you living here?" How about that for a boost to the old "image!" Later, I stopped buying new cars and bought a bigger house instead. It seemed the Lord would lead me to these great (but not great-looking) auto deals. These cars saved me lots of money, but whenever I had to drive to a meeting with people I did not know very well, I hoped no one would see my car. It was so bad that one essentially homeless church member asked me "Why do you fool around with a $200 car?" Why, indeed? The image that concerned me was that I drove poor cars because I was a lousy lawyer and this was all I could afford! Jesus has a lesson on "image" for us in our study today. Let's dive in!

Lesson 11: The Spirit "Replaces" Jesus (John 14-15)
My wife teaches the early grades in a Christian school. In the last year or so, a large number of her students have left the school because of a breakup of their home. In each case, the child became anxious about the future. Like everyone else, they enjoy the comfort of things being "the same" and they fear change. They do not want a parent to leave. John 13 ends with Jesus telling His disciples that He is leaving. They want to come along, they want the fellowship to continue. But, Jesus says, "no." Let's plunge into that conversation and consider how Jesus deals with their anxiety. What are His instructions for an immediate future without Him?

Lesson 12: Jesus Lays Down His Life for His Friends (John 18-19)
This week we turn our study to the last hours of Jesus' life here on earth. It was Satan's last opportunity to win the battle between good and evil. The full forces of his demonic efforts were turned on Jesus. How Jesus withstood these forces encourages and guides us in dealing with problems in our lives. More importantly, contemplating what Jesus suffered for us reveals His incredible love and care. The Passion of The Christ is in theaters in the United States right now. If you have not already seen that film, you should do so as part of your study of this week's events. Meanwhile, let's turn to the Bible to see how John reports the story!

Lesson 13: The Power of the Resurrection (John 20 & 21)
I hope that you, like me, have now come to love the book of John. What a blessing! The bad news is that this is our last study in John. The good news is that our study is the most joyful event in the history of the world. Jesus, our Savior, is resurrected from the dead! Let's jump right into our study of this triumph of good over evil!

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