John 21

S) So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. (John 21:11)

“When they finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22)

O & U) Three verses, three observations. First, the number 153; in the margins of my first NIV Study Bible surrounding this verse I found that I had circled the number and wrote the name Curt Arne. I was on the search committee charged with the task of vetting the candidates for Senior Pastor. The board had made its decision and flew the candidate and his family out from Des Moines, Iowa. The process was: the candidate preaches in the morning and in the evening the members of the church vote yes/no. His take on the number 153 was simply that every person is important to God. God does not lump us together for the purpose of inventory. Second, Jesus asks Peter the million dollar question. “Do you love me?” Peter’s denial of Jesus on the night of his arrest, not once, not twice, but three times, is legendary. His denial in a moment of weakness had not disqualified him from service. Being a Christian or as we like to say around here, a Christ-follower is more than just attendance and service. At the very core of our being is our love for Jesus Christ; a profound, powerful, and supernatural love. We love because he first loved us. The third verse quoted above has to do with the sin of comparison. It is a shell game meant to foster pride in our lives. In the process we blurt our “not fair” and accuse God of favoritism, and being less than understanding. Jesus could not be any more precise, “You _______________ must follow me.” (Insert your name). 

L) What a privilege it is to serve GOD in a manner that has eternal consequences not only for the body of Christ but for those outside the fellowship as well. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” John 13:35  NEXT STOP GALATIANS

John 20

Seven Metaphors for Seven “I AM’s”

Our Lord’s meaningful “I AM” (Greek, ego eimi) is found twenty-three times in John’s Gospel (4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1; 5: 18:5, 6, 8). In several of these He joins His “I AM” with seven metaphors which are expressive of His saving relationship toward the world (Hayford’s Bible Handbook p.323).

“I AM the bread of life” (6:35, 41, 48, 51)

“I AM the light of the world” (8:12)

“I AM the door of the sheep” (10:7, 9)

“I AM the good shepherd” (10:11, 14)

“I AM the resurrection and the life” (11:25)

“I AM the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6)

“I AM the true vine” (15:1, 5)

Why are these seven affirmations so significant?  You will remember that the name of God in the Old Testament is Jehovah.  In Exodus 3:14, we find the definition of the name Jehovah: I AM WHO I AM, By using this phrase, “I am,”  Jesus affirms His divinity.  The same God who liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (the I AM) is the Savior, Jesus Christ, who offers us liberty from slavery to sin and from death. . . . . . . . .and that my friends is Good News!!!

John 19 Titles of Christ


The two most popular titles or names Christians use in speaking of our Lord are Jesus, a translation of the Hebrew word Joshua, which means “YAHWEH Is Salvation,” and Christ, a transliteration of the Greek term Christos, meaning “Anointed One” or “Messiah.” Other significant names or titles are used in the New Testament, each expressing a distinct truth about Him. (Hayford’s  Bible Handbook p 323.) 

Adam, Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45)                                                 Handbook  of God (John 1:29)

Alpha and Omega (Rev. 21:6)                                                     Light of the World (John 9:5)

Bread of Life (John 6:35)                                                               Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8)

Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20)                                                    Mediator between God and Man (1 Tim 2:5)

Firstborn from the Dead (Col. 1:18)                                         Only Begotten of the Father (John 1:14)

Good Shepherd (John 10:11)                                                      Prophet (Acts 3:22)

Great Shepherd of the Sheep (Heb. 13:20)                           Savior (Luke 1:47)

High Priest (Heb. 3:1)                                                                     Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16)

Holy One of God (Mark 1:24)                                                      Son of Man (Matt. 18:11)

Immanuel (God With Us; Matt. 1:23)                                       The Word (John 1:1)

King of kings, Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16)                

As we come to the end of the Book of John take a moment to look over the list of Names that are found in the New Testament.         Put on your best cap and select a couple of names that you are not as familiar with.  Look those up and do some digging into the context.    


John 18

S) “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove and he and his disciples went into it” (John 18:1).

O)  The warning and promise of John (16:33) is followed by Jesus’ longest prayer in the Gospels, (Jn. 17). Jesus prays for himself, for the eleven disciples and finishes by praying “for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). As soon as Jesus concludes his intercession he continues to walk out the plan sealed before the creation itself.

U)  Intercession is the act of petitioning God or praying on behalf of another person or group. It is marked by selfless concern for the reconciliation of those separated from the Creator. I am one whose life was impacted by Jesus’ prayer, though it was spoken thousands of years ago. I am a sinner saved by grace. I once boasted, “Who needs God anyway?” To which I can only look back in shame. For a classic example of biblical intercession, see Abraham speaking to God in Genesis 18. In an incredible exchange, Abraham intercedes for the entire city of Sodom.  “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Say, if only ten righteous people can be found?  Or in what can only be described as sublime, Jesus on the Cross asks the Father to forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Who do you suppose is included in the “them” and the “they?”

L) I guess someone could make the case that this was all nothing but a colossal failure; after all Jesus did: the healing, the feeding and let’s not forget that he raised people from the dead.  Surely if anyone could save himself it would be him.  And in the next chapter those very words where directed to the Son of Man.  Not everyone sees the passion of Christ, his arrest, his trial, his punishment and his death on the Cross as a victory. What the world fails to “see” is revealed in vs. 18:4 “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and  . . . “  What unfolds from here on out can only be understood through the lens of faith; the gift of God in Christ Jesus.  Lord, let us not miss the priority of intercession, the importance of obedience and the extravagant love on display as Jesus nears the Cross.  Let us not somehow maneuver around the Cross with its gruesome wickedness, or try to avoid the discomfort that accompanies the conviction of sin or for any other reasons. Nor should we in any way leave Jesus on Roman Cross and deny the resurrection as some have been known to do.  Rather, allow us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.  And behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Bring us out into a spacious place from which we can pursue you Lord with the passion that took our place.  In the Name of Jesus, amen 

John 17

S-- “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:1-5).

O-- Jesus completes his teaching with a warning and a promise.  “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John16:33).  The eleven have been with him since the beginning.  Although Jesus has been preparing them for this moment it is still hard to process.  The progressive revelation of Jesus appears to be by design in much the same way as we see in the OT.  God is fashioning a people for his purposes.  A multitude of names cannot fully describe his attributes, his nature or his majesty.  John has done a masterful job of describing the lessons learned over the past three years. It must have felt like decades since sampling the wine at the wedding in Cana.  One moment…large vats of water and, the next…the finest wine imaginable.  Jesus reminds the reader of his total submission to the Father’s will. From the beginning Jesus sought only the Father’s glory.  Eternal life, considered even today to be a post mortem benefit is expanded to include a relationship with the Father, “that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (Jn. 17:3). The subject of agency is also expanded as Jesus refers to his ministry here on earth as “the work you gave me to do” (vs.4).

U—How refreshing it is to observe someone in the public eye, marked by fanfare and controversy, remain securely anchored in humble submission.  Many would have made Jesus an earthly King but, as is noted throughout John’s Gospel, “his time had not come.”  By the will of the Father, Jesus came and, by the will of the Father Jesus would return to the Father. 

L- “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (Jn. 17:4).  DSC is poised for greatness.  But hear me out.  The world is full of talented people, brilliant people, powerful and wealthy people.  I get that.  We are blessed of God to be a part of His redemptive plans and promises.  There is a reason Jesus recruited the twelve and called them disciples.  It is the responsibility of each generation to follow in like fashion.  Personal and corporate discipleship is not meant for just an elite few.  We believe in the “ministry of all believers.” 

News FLASH: Consider this a personal invitation to a discipleship opportunity called CATALYST.  Tonight at 6:00 PM in the DSC auditorium Pastor Levi will lay out an intensive 4 1/2 month discipleship program.  If you are serving in some capacity here at DSC, let me just say Thank you for your service.  If you are hungry to grow as a Christ follower, or if you feel stagnant spiritually then come out tonight and gauge for yourself if this is for you at this time.     

John 16

John chapter 16 falls into a larger section (13-17) of what are called “the Farewell Discourses”.  Jesus continues to prepare the disciples for his leaving, the coming of the Comforter, and, the unique challenges from within and without the fellowship of believers. Central to his curriculum was the doctrine of Jesus. Of the seven “I AM” declarations we find the “penultimate “I AM”” in John 14:6. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The disciples had not fully understood what Jesus had taught them, but from here on out it would be different. To know Jesus was to know God (INSTE p102).

 The Barcelona M.O.V.E. project was winding down.  Over the past 10 days the miraculous had become the norm.  About halfway into the project the main septic system literally just gave out.  When the project coordinator heard the bad news he remembered something about the last man to be added to the team roster. Bill was the Supervisor for the Water Treatment Plant for the city of Riverside.  He knew exactly what needed to be done. Before leaving for America we dedicated the Annex and the new septic system to the Glory of God.  On a similar note, the director of the Outreach, a young lady named Gaby, had responded to the call of God and literally dropped everything and moved from Germany to Spain.  Through a series of divine appointments God directed her to the Barcelona church. Soon after we arrived, Gaby’s younger brother Samuel arrived to visit his sister.  He was not a believer and he did not think much of the do-gooders from America. He was convinced we would give up and go home.  He said the men just worked and sang and when things got harder the Americans just sang louder. One never knows who is watching and more importantly, what is at stake.  

Did I mention that I had plans to visit my Uncle on the way home?   Two team members had agreed to accompany me. Two things weighed heavy on my heart.  First, I wanted to thank him in person for his generosity to myself and my family.  More than that, I wanted to share with him the Person of Christ. Toward the end of our stay in Barcelona I received a message that a call would be waiting for me back at the farmhouse. I made my way back to the only phone available for miles, the whole time imagining the worst at home. Why the call?  As it turned out, the message did not have to do with my family back home. I picked up the receiver and heard the voice of Pastor Don Smith (our missionary to Spain). My wife had called the church in Barcelona and Don Smith was to pass it on to me. My uncle was found dead in his “pensione” in Nerja, Spain. As I hung up the phone I just sobbed.   Almost instinctively I made my way up to my room and found my bible. I then walked out into the woods that surrounded “our dorms”. No one was around, yet I remember feeling embarrassed; I could not control myself, I just sobbed and sobbed.  I finally found a place to sit and all of a sudden it was as if I had just entered the eye of the storm. A peace came over me as the sobbing began to subside.  Then, I took my cue from what I can only explain as an impression.  . .I opened my Bible to the 14th chapter of the book of John and read the same words that Jesus shared with his disciples. 

Life Application: A simple time line can yield beneficial insight. Start with a straight line and plot significant events in your life. Leave room for events that preceded your birth.  Remember, God has been God far longer than your time here on earth.  Next, add in your faith history.  Look for evidence of the Lord’s “fingerprints” in your life.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fresh perspective of His Grace and Mercy.  The apostle Paul, writing to the church in Rome, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.




John 15

Thirty years prior to the M.O.V.E. mission’s  trip(see Friday’s John 14 Soul journal)  my mother and her two little rascals were trying to make ends meet in Kailua, Hawaii. Recently divorced from her career naval husband we moved to the other side of the island and tried to make a go of it. She was able to find a job that she enjoyed, but soon realized it was not enough to set up house. So, we packed up and headed to Lake View Terrace, California.  Why?  To be close to her sister, my aunt Christine, Uncle Ben and their four children. By the time we settled into the foothills of Los Angeles, we had bounced around quite a bit; which is quite common for any military family. The divorce added two additional relocations. One notable memory of our time in Hawaii was attending Admiral Nimitz Elementary School in Honolulu. On August 21, 1959 the entire school was ushered out to the playground. Our attention was directed to the flagpole and the American flag was hoisted. We were told that the 50th star was us. Truthfully, I was a six year old hustling marbles for a living. This was cutting into my “income stream”.  Soon my hustling days came to an abrupt halt. As I mentioned, we were California  bound. Many years later I asked my mother why we left “paradise’? The first reason was we had no family, military or otherwise. There was nobody on the margin to turn to. If one of us were sick guess who had to stay at home? And second, her two little boys were starting to speak pigeon English. It was time to pack it up and go.  With both propellers a blazing we made the flight into LAX.

That would prove to be a watershed moment.  The Cross was coming into view.  Today my wife and I live just a few miles from the dilapidated rock house my mom was able to rent.  But God had more than a roof in mind. It would be decades before I realized that my uncle was the first of a handful of men God sovereignly placed along side of me to mentor me in two critical areas.  First, to fill the gap left by my non-resident father and later to mentor me in the Faith. . . a faith that was still in the future.

One of the many activities my brother and I enjoyed while growing up across the street from Uncle Ben was church; Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Tujunga. Honestly, at the very best, we tolerated church because of the fun things we did afterwards. My mother and aunt relished the quiet when all six of us kids packed into the car and off we went. Uncle Ben . . . imagine. . .  Ernest Hemmingway, robust, hard working, loved his pipe, a storyteller, and he always made time for the novel he was writing.  We never missed a chance to be around my uncle. So, it was fitting that on the day of my wedding that the reception took place in his back yard.  In preparation he poured a slab for the band and for dancing. The place looked incredible.  But, at the same time uncle Ben was packing to leave the country.  Due to a sluggish economy he accepted an engineering position with an international construction firm. 

Over the next ten years, my wife, followed by my children and finally myself, were each baptized into the family of God. As my own discipleship began to take shape it became very clear that God had strategically placed people in my life that would ultimately lead me to his purposes. Which brings me back Barcelona, Spain.  I had planned to visit Uncle Ben at the end of the mission’s project. He had recently purchased a pensione in Nerja, Spain (something he had always talked about doing when he retired).  He had Spanish blood on his “fathers” side, he spoke fluent Spanish, and he loved Spain. In fact, Uncle Ben loved every country and every people group he was ever assigned, which included Saigon, Vietnam, Jubal , Saudi Arabia, Bangkok, Thailand to name a few.  Ironically, he and the family never came back to live in Southern California; only to visit No one ever expected his first trip oversees to be anything but temporary.  I will wrap up my three part illustration tomorrow.  Grace and Peace.

1)    Both John and Paul emphasize the connection which exists between the disciples and their Teacher (INSTE 112). Can you identify people that have mentored you? Are you mentoring someone at the moment?  How can a commitment to a GROWfacilitate the mentoring process?Are you in a GROW group? If not, would you be willing to share your reasons with me? (note, call the office, take me to lunch, jot it down on a COMMCRD Sunday?  

John 14

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord . . . (Psalm 77:11)

I praise God for the wealth of His Holy Scriptures. They are alive, active and powerful beyond human grasp.  John chapter 14 is particularly precious to this sinner saved by grace.  So, I would ask your patience these next few days as I “remember” and sort through the evidence of God’s extravagant grace in my life.  After all, his concern for me began way before my conversion.  I have often tried to wrap my little brain around verse 14 of John 1. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, we have seen the glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Walk in discipleship for any length of time and you are more apt to experience times where the Word of God meets you, the child of God, in a miraculous, even supernatural fashion. 

It was the winter of 1990 and I was thousands of miles from home with a group of twenty men from across America. This was my fourth M.O.V.E. mission trip in so many years which surprises even me since I’m no whiz kid when it comes to construction. But, there I was nonetheless. This particular building project was not a church facility, but a transitional housing for women coming off addictions.

Since this structure was some forty miles outside of any town the element of neighborhood curiosity was replaced with the sounds of crickets. About a mile or so from the project was our lodging.  Today, houses in my neighborhood are considered old.  They were built in the sixties so, they are almost 50 years old. Back to the hills of Barcelona, the farm house we were sleeping in was constructed in the early 1400’s. It had been recently converted into a makeshift dorm for future ministry. It had more wings then Col. Sanders and easily swallowed our little band of missionaries.  There was no reason to be concerned about the plumbing or the electric panel—there was none.   Did I mention the cistern was cracked?

Exercise #1) A few months back our DSC family participated in a campaign called 40 days in the Word.  One of the techniques of the devotional study method was simply to “place yourself” into the setting.  John chapter 14 offers a number of possibilities.  Thomas asks some very pointed questions.  One question in particular signals the lingering confusion amongst the disciples.  Put yourself in the room. Do you understand their reluctance to admit their confusion?  How would you respond today to someone who insists that Jesus is but one way of many ways to the Father?  It’s all here in John 14. See you Sunday. And, I will pick up on John 15 on Monday.

John 13

S- "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of scripture: "He who shared my bread has turned against me. (John 13:18)


O- In his book "The Divine Mentor" Pastor Wayne Cordeiro writes, “Lessons come from every angle. So, get ready! Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. Not all mentors are alive nor do they always know that they are mentoring others.” By definition a mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor, trainer, guide, counselor, etc. A mentor emphasizes "life lessons over life experiences." The setting for chapter 13 is a rather cozy one, the evening meal. This is not exactly your typical stage for an advanced leadership training symposium. But, that is exactly what is shaping up. Under the guise of the evening meal, Jesus mingles with his guests and then proceeds to do the unthinkable - Jesus pours water into a basin and begins to wash his disciple’s feet.


U- Jesus had waited on the Father for the opportune moment to prepare his disciples for what was to come (vs.19). Knowing that they would understand later, Jesus offers them an illustration that at first offends them. "I have set before you an example that you should do as I have done for you (vs.15). Unfortunately, their response is less than encouraging, "His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant” (vs.22).


L- Like the common cold leadership is often passed on to others via contagion. Jesus knew that one amongst them would betray the entire group. It is hard to imagine but identifying the “rat” was not the main purpose of the evening. With time running out Jesus would not be distracted from a teaching moment that would be grasped not only by the disciples but church leaders down through the ages. Each of us is afforded a sphere of influence. As believers this is accepted in humility. "The point is that our lives must be characterized by an attitude of humility and the willingness to serve others." (INSTE John 13:12-20).  We must guard ourselves from all attitudes and activities that would compromise our mission; a tall order to say the least. A critical component of the culture here at DSC is a willingness to be held accountable in the process of growing in Christ-likeness. One way to facilitate this transformation is meeting with like minded believers outside our Sunday corporate service. It is a place to grow and encourage each other to steward our influence wisely. That’s why we call these groups GROW.  Let us help you choose the best group for you.  It is summertime so some groups are in flux.  You can connect with us either by calling the office and leaving a message @661-251-5641  OR leave us a note on the Communication Card that is a part of the Sunday sermon bulliten.  You can drop it in the offering basket or hand it to one of the ushers. 

John 12

S--"Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him. (vs. 2) "So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well." (vs. 10)

O--It is so easy to read right through the most spectacular events in the Scriptures, without any sense of awe or wonder. The strongest opposition to the miracle of Lazarus' return to life comes from those in charge of the religious landscape.  Ironically, it is those most schooled in the OT prophecies whose hearts grow harder as sign after sign shouts Messiah, Messiah.   Perhaps they reasoned that it was not a miracle at all; Lazarus was not fully dead but rather mostly dead? (Speculation inspired by the movie Princess Bride). The significance of the signs were not lost among those considered “common.”  Either way, it was a big nuisance and it had to be dealt with. After all, "on account of [Lazarus] many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him." (vs.11).   Three things serve as keys to the content of John's gospel. Signs: the revelation of God. Believe: the response of man to the revelation. Life: the result which comes from belief.

U--Imagine attending a viewing on Friday and a funeral on Saturday for a close friend. Now, imagine it has been 4 to 5 days and you are at the mall and you run into your friend, who is obviously not dead.   The religious rulers of Jesus' day had an awkward task. How does one kill a man who has already been dead?  But more than that is the realization that the sphere of power exhibited by Jesus now extends over the grave.  Jesus is God incarnate. The first fruit of the resurrection is among us.

L--Lord, you are worthy of all praise, all honor and all glory. Thank you for presenting the gospel to my household. And, for the many people whose lives give witness of your divine power. Help us to live our lives in a manner consistent with the gratitude that fills our hearts.  The prophet Micah offers us a proper banner, “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly before our God.” Micah 6:8.
A few months back a dear friend (Milton Johnson) came very close to death due to complications from diabetes. Today, he is doing well. He is learning to walk again due to the loss of his left foot. He is back in the choir singing praises to God. Milton can shake any venue when he sings the words of Jesus, Lazarus, Lazarus, Lazarus come forth.  I so appreciate this brother in Christ.