I believe that following Christ, from my perspective, is like the ultimate adventure. It's the ultimate adventure. Yeah, there are ups and downs, there's trials, there's potholes in the road, there are curves I did not anticipate, but what scenery there is. Welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. A few years ago there was a very popular song called I Found Jesus.
It was a song that made a friend of mine rather irritated. He would say, that doesn't even make any sense. I found Jesus, like Jesus was missing or hiding. If anything, Jesus found me. I was the one who was lost. That pretty much sums up one of the more interesting conundrums of the Bible. Does God find us or do we find God? Skip Heitzig will try and resolve that puzzle today here in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition.
But first, let's see what's going on at the Connect with Skip Resource Center this month. Joy in the midst of hardship is a hallmark of the Christian life, but is it really possible? Here's Lenya Heitzig. Sometimes what starts out as a happy trail turns into a really daunting road and we have to figure out how to navigate. A lot of times God's purpose in allowing trials is to give us opportunities to grow to the point where we genuinely experience joy in the midst of trials. Learn how to face trials with courage, wisdom, and yes, joy with Lenya's booklet Happy Trials. And when you give $20 or more today to help keep this Bible teaching ministry on the air, we'll send you a special bundle of three booklets by Lenya. Happy Trials, Don't Tempt Me, and Speak No Evil. In Don't Tempt Me, I hand you the keys to unlock the thoughts, circumstances, and fears that can cause you to give into temptation. And in Speak No Evil, I encourage you to avoid setting fires with your words and instead use them to bring showers of blessing.
Get your bundle of three booklets when you give $20 or more by calling 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. We'll cover more of John chapter one today. So if you find that spot in your Bible, we'll join Skip Heise as he continues with his study. God picked you.
Let that sink in. You're on God's team. You're on the winning team. Instead of going, I just don't know about this whole predestination and election. Get over it and enjoy it. He picked me.
How cool is that? You're on the winning team. Let's shift gears. Let's look at it from a second perspective, not the divine perspective, this time the human perspective, how people choose God. That's also in this story. It's prominent in the story. Philip, first of all, seems to have obeyed immediately.
Jesus said, follow me. Not only is he willing to do that, he wants to tell Nate about it. Nathaniel, perhaps his brother or a good friend, he's thinking, man, Nate needs to meet this guy.
He's got to hear this stuff. So from a human perspective, there's a few elements. Number one, there's investigation. Philip comes to Nathaniel and look at verse 45. Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, we have found him of whom Moses and the law and the prophets wrote Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathaniel said to him, can anything good come out of Nazareth? What kind of a statement is that? What kind of a question is that?
I'll tell you what it is. It's the question of a skeptic. It's the statement of somebody who isn't quite sure that what he's hearing, he believes yet. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? For Philip, faith was pretty easy, much easier than Nathaniel.
And there are some people like Philip, they're just ready to believe. They have no barriers. They have no roadblocks. They just are ready to be plucked. There are other people like Nathaniel that are more resistant, take some investigation. They need room. They need space. They have to work through some issues.
If you know a Nathaniel or if you are raising a Nathaniel in your home, can I just suggest that perhaps you back off a little bit and give that one space and grace to wrestle through the issues and the questions. In fact, help them do that. They'll come out the end much stronger.
You never want to force somebody to say with their mouth what they don't believe in their heart. Jesus showed enormous grace here. Now the question is pretty funny. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? I just want to tell you what that's all about. The people down in Judea, Jerusalem, look down their noses at all the people in Galilee in general.
Galileans were hicks, unsophisticated, mostly illiterate. Now I'm not going to say what that's like. I'm not going to name a city or a state. You all have in your mind some place you go, I know, I know, but I won't name any place.
I've tried that and done that and didn't work out, very well. I don't want to offend anybody. But the Judeans saw the Galileans, all of them, as unsophisticated, backwards hicks. But those in Galilee even had a place in Galilee that was worse than every other place. The armpit of Galilee, that was Nazareth. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Something else that will help you in the story, Nathaniel, the guy asking the question, is from Cana in Galilee, we will discover later. Cana of Galilee is four or five miles away from Nazareth. If you come to Israel with us, I'll show it to you. We drive right through it from Nazareth on the way to the Sea of Galilee.
You blink, you'll miss it. So because Nazareth and Cana were so close to each other, there was a rivalry going on. I'm sure that the high schools battled each other in a lot of games. So you can just hear in the family, oh, Nazareth.
I played them back in high school. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? He asked. Moses didn't write about Nazareth. The prophets didn't say anything about Nazareth.
The Talmud and the Mishnah said nothing about Nazareth. That's investigation. That's stage one.
Here's stage two. It's belief. It's when you come to faith. Verse 47, here's what I want you to hear. Verse 47, here's the meeting. Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said, Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom there is no deceit.
The word indeed is aletheos. It means in truth, or you're genuine. You're the real deal. What you see is what you get.
You wear your heart on your man. You say honest things. You are a true blue Jew, an Israelite indeed. I know all about you. Then Jesus shocks him when Nathanael says, Well, how do you know me?
I love this. Jesus answered, Before Philip called you, before that whole conversation, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered and said to him, Rabbi, you are the son of God.
You are the king of Israel. That was the moment he believed. That was the moment he believed. That's the moment that divine election and human decision transacted right here.
Just that flash. Now, we don't know what the fig tree thing was all about. Most people think it was a place that nobody knew about. He thought a private place where he meditated and meditated and maybe he was asking God questions and dealing with issues. It was private. He had a private experience under some fig tree with God that no one knew about until Jesus said, I was privy to that. I know all about that fig tree thing. And that's why he goes, you're the son of God.
You're the king of Israel. I've watched people who are like Nathanael, resistant at first. They've got issues, they've got questions, they struggle, but I've also watched them in a split second. Just some light goes on in their heart. They just suddenly get it and they turn to Christ. That's belief. Here's the third stage, revelation.
You investigate, you come to faith, and then you grow a little bit. And I just want you to see how this is hinted at in verse 45 when Philip finds Nathanael. And notice what he says, we found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Philip is amped at this point. He's amped and how the scripture predicted the Messiah and he sees it all.
He grew up Jewish. It's like, I get it. I see how the whole Bible fits together. And there comes a point in every believer's life when they fall in love with that. They fall in love with the Bible. They can't get enough of it because they see how it all fits together and how it speaks so clearly about the issues of life. And they're entering into that, not just faith, but revelation.
They're growing in the word. I've quoted often what Charles Spurgeon used to say. He said, a Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to somebody who's not. It's well worn. It's been read. It's been used. It's been applied.
It's been outlined and underlined. That's a good phase. I hope you never get out of that phase. I hope you never say, yeah, I used to read the Bible a lot. I was in the phase. I got to tell you, I've been doing this for a number of years, reading and studying and exegeting and teaching, and I'm still right in the middle of that phase. The Bible is the most exciting thing.
Martin Luther used to say, the Bible has hands. It grabs hold of me. It has feet. It runs after me.
Here's the third or fourth phase I should say, and we'll close here. Adventure. From a human perspective, when you come into that relationship with Christ, you are entering into something that you have never dreamed about. It will end in heaven eventually, but until then, you are in for the adventure of your life. Look at verse 50. Jesus answered and said to him, Nathaniel, because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.
You think that fig tree thing was cool? Stick around. You haven't seen anything yet. What does he mean? Well, in chapter two, Nathaniel and the other disciples will be with Jesus when he performs his first miracle in Nathaniel's hometown of Cana, turning water into wine.
Blow him away. It'll blow him away. He'll enter into a whole new realm of faith. He'll witness 36 other miracles that will be recorded in the New Testament. Nathaniel will watch blind eyes, able to see again, deaf ears, able to hear again, dead people get up and live again. That's what Jesus meant when he said, greater things will you see. What does that last verse mean? What is that all about when the Lord says, most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man.
This is what I think Jesus is doing. I think Jesus is reaching back 2000 years in history to Genesis 28, to a story Nathaniel was familiar with as a Jewish young man. In fact, could it be that under the fig tree, he had been meditating on Genesis 28?
Could be. Genesis 28 is a story about a young man named Jacob who stole the birthright from his brother Esau and he was found out and so he ran away from home. He fled in the middle of the desert and he was so tired. He was so unprepared for the journey.
He felt so abandoned by God and man. It says he fell asleep on a rock. He put his head on a rock and you got to be really, really tired to fall asleep with your head on a rock.
But he fell asleep. And at night he had this vision. And it was a vision of angels coming down out of heaven to the earth and going up that ladder that he saw back up to heaven. So he sees all of this traffic from earth to heaven and heaven to earth on a ladder. He wakes up the next day and he went, whoa, God is in this place. God is in this place.
And I knew it not. And he named the place Bethel, the house of God. But notice that Jesus says, you will see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man. That is Jesus himself.
What is he saying? Simply this, Nathaniel, I'm the link. I'm the ladder. I'm the only mediator between God and man. And you're going to see that in the days ahead.
You're going to see that. There's only one way to make contact with God. There is only one way for a human to make contact with God, and that is through Jesus Christ. And when a person comes to him, they're in for an adventure. I was in Spokane some time ago and I was boarding a plane at the airport and I saw a banner on the wall. It grabbed my attention. It said, buckle up. You're in for an adventure.
It was a Southwest airline ad advertising flights from Spokane to Reno. Buckle up, you're going on an adventure. I don't think going to Reno, though I have nothing against it, is like the adventure of a lifetime.
But I do think that that fits right here. In essence, what Jesus is saying to Nathaniel is, buckle up, buddy. You're going to have the adventure of your life. You're going to see such things and it's as if all of heaven will be open to you. I believe that following Christ, from my perspective, is like the ultimate adventure. It's the ultimate adventure. Yeah, there are ups and downs.
There's trials. There's potholes in the road. There are curves I did not anticipate, but what scenery there is.
Let me give you a challenge for the new year. If you're a Christian today, you already know what the ultimate destination is. You know where the flight is going to end up. That's going to be where? You're going to end up eventually in heaven. You said that with a little bit of heaven. Heaven. That's the destination.
That's the ultimate landing spot. Can I just suggest that you enjoy the ride until you get there? Just learn to not live this way, head down, hands clutched, white-knuckled. Just, okay, the worst thing that will ever happen to you is you're going to die and go to heaven. So enjoy the scenery a little bit more. Head up, look around.
This isn't what I expected. What's going to be next? What's the Lord going to do?
It's an adventure. I know I'm speaking to a few Nathaniels this morning. Jesus knows you. He knows all about your questions and He knows your thirst to find Him. It could be that you've come and you've just sensed something different here. So I'm around people who really believe and feel that Jesus is alive. He's among us. But you've still got those issues.
You've still got those struggles. I don't know. I've heard about this stuff. What happens if my wife told me to come but I don't know. My mom.
Here's what I suggest. I love the answer that Philip gave to Nathaniels. Just come and see. Come and see. Come check this out.
Yeah, but what? Just come and see. Just come and see. Yeah, but I'm not. Well, just come and look and see.
I love that response. If you do, come and see. If you do respond to Him, you're going to discover a couple of things. Number one, you're in for like the ultimate adventure, but you're going to also discover that He's been waiting for you there all along.
All along. He's been there. He has made a choice before you got there.
And some of you maybe are struggling and saying, well, you talked about that whole election thing, Skip. Maybe He didn't choose me. Maybe I'm not one of the chosen ones. I can prove to you that you are. You come and receive Christ as your Savior and Lord, and you will discover that He has chosen you from the foundation of the earth.
You'll discover it. Well, maybe I'm not ready to do that. Well, maybe you're not chosen. Well, that's not fair. I mean, what if I? Well, great. Why don't you come? Well, don't push it on me now. I don't know. Well, then maybe you're not chosen.
But you'll discover that if you come to Him, He will in no wise cast you out, He said. There's a beautiful story about a huge rock that was cut out of the quarries in Carrara, Italy, and sent to Florence, Italy, for one of the masters to take it as a project and make a sculptor out of it. And it was brought to Florence. The problem is it had a crack running through it, a fissure, an imperfection. And one sculptor looked at it, Donatello, the great master, and said, nah, it's flawed.
I can't work with it. And one after another just rejected it till it finally sat for a long time in an empty yard, a lot, vacant lot. One day, another artist came along, looked it over, saw the crack running through it, and said, it's perfect. This is what he said, there's an angel trapped inside of it, and I must let it go free. And so that young artist, Michelangelo, worked for two years on that piece of stone.
And on January 25th, 1504, he unveiled his masterpiece known as David, that wonderful statue that you've seen, at least in picture, that you can see still today in Florence, Italy. You know what I think? If you just let God get ahold of your life, what He can do with you, no matter what flaws that we all have when we come to Him with, if you just let Him shape and mold and put you in the ultimate adventure. Well, if you'd like to experience that ultimate adventure in your life, but aren't sure what the first step is, we can help you with that.
Give us a call, won't you, at 1-800-922-1888. We'll explain exactly what it means to live your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. And now, let's check in with Skip and Lenya. You know, Skip, a lot of times we feel that we're sinners, and because we're sinners, there's this God that's like, I don't know, the Ten Commandments, and He has a robe and lightning bolts, and He's out to get us. And while God hates sin, He loves sinners so much that He sent His Son. And so sometimes we get stuck with just seeing God in that judgmental role and not looking at the great love of God, the mercy, exactly, and the compassion that He has for us. Share a thought or two on how we should respond to that revelation of God's great love.
A couple of great verses have come to my mind is when Jesus said, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save those who are lost. The other one is where John declares that God didn't send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Without Christ, there is condemnation.
The Bible says God is angry with sinners every day, so the world already stands in a state of being condemned, and we're born in sin, we're born in that state. But God sent Jesus to avert condemnation, to change judgment into redemption. And when a person realizes that, it is like a veil is lifted, and I've seen that in the simple proclamations at Billy Graham Crusades, where he'll over and over again say, God loves you, God loves you.
He'll say that a lot in his messages historically, and people are surprised. And I think that the reaction we should have to that is, first of all, to acknowledge that and receive Christ. If God loves us through the person of Christ, then receive Christ. As many as received Him, to them He gave the power, authority, right, to become Christ.
And I think that that's what God wants us to do, to become children of God. And then second of all, when you realize that— and if you go through your day, and I hope that even this is a reminder to listeners as they're driving or listening in the hospital or at home—is to thank God, to stop and say, thank you that you love me so much. In Psalm 116, David says, What shall I render to the Lord for all of His benefits? I'll take the cup of salvation and thank the Lord. Bless the Lord. Thank Him for His benefits. You're so good to me, Lord.
And I know that parents love to hear their children's thank yous. Our Heavenly Father does too. That's beautiful. It kind of reminds me of your testimony, in the sense that the anger of God is answered or assuaged in the atonement of Christ. And as you heard the gospel shared, you know, you knew that you were a sinner, but as you listened to it, I think you said something like, Lord, you're getting a bad deal. You're offering me your love. And I've been such a, you know, creep—I don't know, I don't want to put words in your mouth—such a human. And so it's beautiful that it's the love of God that compels us and draws us closer to Him, in spite of what we've done. Yeah, we've seen that. Haven't we all, on a human level, when you take somebody who's not secure as a person, and you reach out to that person, and you show love to them, and how they respond, sort of like sunshine getting to a flower, or water to a parched plant?
They just come alive, and God's creation comes truly alive when they realize and appropriate His love. Well, that's important for all of us to remember, so thanks a lot, guys, for sharing that. And to wrap things up today, if you'd like a copy of today's teaching, it's available on CD for just $4, plus shipping, when you contact us at 1-800-922-1888, or when you visit ConnectWithSkip.com. Be sure to come back and join us again next time, as we continue with our series through the book of John, called Believe 879, right here in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times.
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