God has an encouraging word for you and me today through the Bible-based preaching of Dr. Don Wilton and a message called We Are Family. As we open up God's Word to the book of John, chapter 1, beginning in verse 35 in just a moment, know that we're open to pray with you right now at 866-899-WORD.
That's 866-899-9673. And now today's teaching from Dr. Don Wilton. Well, let's go to the Lord and pray together. Would you join me as we pray? Father, you always make a way for us. How grateful we are to you. Lord, it's as though when we think about you that you know everything about us, and you most certainly do. You're a wonderful God, and we are so amazed that you would have loved us so much that you sent your only Son, the Lord Jesus, to come down to this earth and to be born in Bethlehem, and then to minister and to show us the way, and then to go to the cross and be crucified, taking upon yourself the sin of the world. And then by the power of God being raised up, Lord, thank you that you've made the way for us.
We're so grateful for the blessings of life. So Lord Jesus, please speak to us now. You've already done so as we've worshiped you. Lord, as we welcome so many, even at this moment, worshipping by television and live streaming and Facebook and YouTube, people online everywhere. Thank you, Lord, for the hundreds who write letters every week and who share, who go to the web and who partner with this family.
It's so encouraging. Lord, for those who are on campus in celebration and in Genesis worship today, how can we ever thank you, Father? We are family, and you have blessed us as a family together. We pray this prayer now with great expectation in our hearts. In Jesus' name, amen. Please open your Bibles with me to John's gospel. I'm going to be in John and chapter one. You have to go to John chapter one in an incredible passage.
I want to read this to you. John chapter one, and I'm going to begin at verse 35. Take a look at what happened here in the Bible. John chapter one and verse 35. The next day, John was there again with two of his disciples.
By the way, that's John the Baptist. John was there again with two of his disciples. And when he saw Jesus passing by, he said, look, behold, the Lamb of God. When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, what do you want? They said, Rabbi, which means teacher, where are you staying?
Come, he replied, and you will see. So they went. They saw where he was staying. They spent that day with him.
It was about the 10th hour. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and had followed the Lord Jesus. The first thing he did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, we have found the Messiah, the Christ, and he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, you are Simon, the son of John.
From now on you will be called Cephas, which being translated is the name Peter. So may the Lord write that word upon our hearts today. Two things I want to tell you that I cherish, and I think I'm going to get mutual agreement from everybody. Number one, I cherish my own family.
I really do. Most of you know something about my family. Karen and I are blessed with three wonderful grown children.
I always have to think when I call them children, because they're not. Our oldest son is 40, and you know, our three grown children, they are, they'll always be. We love our family. We love our daughters-in-law. We love to get together. Now, I'm one of those family like yours. We all have our stories, don't we?
Lots of stories. You know, we remember the growing up years. You know, we can say things as a family to each other that I'm not sure you would always say those things just anywhere. We've learned over the years to resolve conflicts in our family.
That's where we learned to do it. There's nothing like home, family, you know, mom's cooking, the humor. It's in our family that our family circle where you see best expressed unconditional love, unconditional love. Over the years, we've learned to say sorry to each other and just get over it and forgive one another.
We look beyond the blemishes and the mistakes. We're always accepting. There's always room at the table.
It's never too much. I cherish my family. You cherish yours. I cherish, secondly, my church family.
This is a family. So, I'm talking about First Baptist Spartanburg here, this place where God has placed us and you identify with your church family. I love the fact that our church is a family church.
We work jolly hard at that, people. Yes, we're the church where everyone invites anyone to come to First Baptist to encounter the living one. But we pray all the time that God would give us a heart and a value for every person, from the littlest to the oldest. And everyone's welcome here.
It's quite a thing. Every week, we meet and add infinitum gatherings and planning and praying. And our goal always is to provide for everyone, everyone, this family.
Just think about it. I celebrate churches that, you know, they just focused in on young people. So, everything's about how they connect. This story here, this encounter, is about family. And I've asked myself the question, why do you suppose that God would want us to know that this man made it a priority to go to his brother first? I'm going to tell you folks something, which you all know.
There are a lot of you that will agree with me. You can have the most wonderful family. I mean wonderful, but when just one of your family members doesn't know Jesus, it's a tough thing, man.
You can have a Christmas where all your family come home for Christmas. You've got one brother who doesn't know Jesus. And it's a missing link.
There's something out. And every one of us here can talk about a sister, brother, dad. How many of you have got a dad right now? You say, man, my dad doesn't know Jesus. I've known over the years wonderful dads who, happy every week, they send their wife and children to church, but not them. So when it comes to values and the things of God that's missing, there's a kind of a, you're fine as long as you keep it at a certain level, but as soon as you, even praying grace at the table, there's one sitting there saying, there's just, it's a rub. And some of you, and I love you, some of you've got family members that won't come to your home for Christmas anymore. Because you're all Christians. They don't want any part of that.
And it's caused a fracture. Lord, I just want to pray for somebody right now. I just see people. We all are families. There's somebody right now who's really hurting because of a family member.
They so desperately pray that that family member would know Jesus. Show us something today. Please, Jesus.
In Jesus' name. Now watch this. I want us to look at this family, okay? Let's look at this. So this is a story in John chapter 1 about two brothers.
All right? So this could be a brother and a sister. This is a story about two brothers. So they both grew up in a place called Bethsaida. Bethsaida, which roughly translated the house of fish.
All right? There are some other translations that you can put. Bethsaida is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee in what you and I would know today as the Golan Heights. It's just a stone throw from the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Actually, where the Jordan River comes in, that's where the town of Bethsaida goes back centuries. And there's so much you can say about it. But these two boys grew up in a religious Jewish home.
So I can tell you one thing about that. They grew up understanding the Jewish religious customs and laws. They grew up with a reverence. Undoubtedly, they sat at their mother's feet and she pointed them. They observed the Sabbath. They went to the synagogue. They participated. They understood.
They were taught everything. But evidently, when they were grown, one of them came to know Christ before the other. So let's just look at these two. First of all, there was Andrew. Let me tell you a couple of things about Andrew. All right? First of all, his name means the man.
You probably know that. The word Andrew is really from Andrea in the Greek. Roughly translated means man. Interesting that their parents would have given their son that name. He was the brother of Simon, Simon Peter. We know from Matthew chapter 4 and right throughout the scripture that Andrew grew up fishing. He was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, grew up probably as a boy. They ran around and took great joy in sneaking up and cutting the fishermen's nets every now and again and thinking it was very funny.
Got a jolly good hiding for it, I'm sure. But became a fisherman. Andrew was a fisherman by trade. And the Bible says that when John the Baptist made his appearance, that Andrew became intrigued. He was a disciple.
He was a follower of John the Baptist. All of us love to listen to preachers and people who share the gospel and say, man, I love to listen to people like that. You know, I love to listen to Dr. Charles Stanley, for example. He's one of my great, great friends.
A precious man wrote the foreword to my book that's coming out, Saturdays with Billy, that we're so excited about. And I love, you know, I can tell you I'm a follower of Dr. Charles Stanley. That doesn't mean to say like Jesus, but I listen to him. When he speaks, he ministers to me.
And there are many others like that, that I love to listen to. So he was a follower. He was a fisherman. He was a follower. But the Bible also tells us he became the first disciple of Jesus.
Why the Bible wanted us to know that? He was the first one. Jesus said, follow me.
I'll make you fishers of me. Andrew said, that's me. He was number one.
He was number one. We also know that after all said and done that you may be interested to know that Andrew became a missionary. In fact, he served more specifically in Scythia, in Eurasia after Jesus was crucified and had a great impact. But ultimately, Andrew became a martyr for his faith. You may be interested to know that Andrew was crucified. And he was crucified with ropes. He would not let them nail him like Jesus.
And another interesting, just giving you a little insight so you can read about this. Do you know that Andrew hung on that cross for three days and the entire time he was dying on that cross, he never stopped preaching. He preached the whole time. Can you imagine that?
I can't even wrap my mind around that. Bible tells us a fair amount about Andrew. In John chapter 6, we know that he was there when Jesus fed the 5,000. Andrew was there. We also know in Mark chapter 13 that when Jesus did all his teaching about the doctrine of about last things, end times, how the world's going to end, Andrew's mentioned. He was right there sitting at the feet of Jesus. We also know in John chapter 12 and verse 20 and so on that when Jesus predicted his death and Andrew was right there, the Bible tells us that. Well, what about Peter?
Let's just switch. Just a few little snippets about Andrew. What about Peter?
What about this brother that he went to? Well, Peter's name? The Rock. So you had the man and the rock. Two boys, huh?
I'll tell you. The man and the rock lived in the same house. Of course, Jesus made that designation. He was the brother of Andrew.
We know that. By the way, who was the other disciple from Bethsaida? Philip.
There were only three of the disciples who came from Bethsaida. Philip. Philip, Andrew and Simon came from Bethsaida, this little fishing village not too far from Capernaum. He was a fisherman. Peter was a fisherman.
We know that. Jesus said, follow me, lay your nets down. He was the disciple of Christ. He was called the beloved disciple. He was a leader. He was the leader. Everybody said who was the leader of the disciples.
I don't think anybody had any question about the fact that this man became the leader. He was the pillar, the pillar of the disciple group of people. He was the strong man.
Some people called him the Incredible Hulk and all other kinds of stuff. He was an interesting character, but he was also a great preacher. In the book of Acts, after Pentecost, who was the one who stood up and began to preach Jesus?
It was Peter with the 11. He stood up right there on the southern steps of the temple in front of all those people with all the nations coming in and out. And he said, men and women, let me tell you about Jesus. This is Peter. He was a visionary. Many times through the Acts of the Apostles, you read about the fact that God worked through him and gave him great spiritual visions. He was the water walker.
I love that. You know, how can you not talk about Peter other than he's the water walker? I mean, I think that's a mark of distinction, don't you?
That beats getting a Ph.D. I mean, you look at Peter, you say this is the guy that got out there and walked on water. I think that's a pretty good thing on his resume. But he was also the coward, you know, this bombastic man. He was the coward. He denied Jesus right there at the foot of the cross.
So he became the ultimate discipleship lesson because even though he denied Jesus, Jesus went back and found him right there outside of his hometown, right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Never once chastised him. Never once got out his finger and pointed at him. Never once said, I'm telling you, I'm going to get you. You abandoned me.
You let me down. You sinned. Jesus never did this. You know what Jesus did? He said, do you love me, Peter?
He said, go and feed my sheep. Forgive the interruption. We'll be back with more of today's message. We Are Family from Dr. Don Wilton in just a moment.
But oh, how we take comfort in that reality that Jesus loved Peter so much that even after he denied him three times, he gave him the way to be restored and build that right relationship with Jesus. You can do the same. Love to talk with you. Pray with you at 866-899-WORD.
That's 866-899-9673. Or meet us online at www.tewonline.org. Right now you'll find a wonderful, exciting new resource from Dr. Wilton, a brand new book.
Here's Dr. Don to tell you all about it. What an incredible privilege to be the friend and pastor of Dr. Billy Graham for so many years. That's why I have just written Saturdays with Billy. This is not a biography.
It is my experience with this most precious man who has changed my life and the lives of thousands of people around the world. You want to get a copy right now, Saturdays with Billy. I do hope you'll call us about your copy. The number is 866-899-WORD. That's 866-899-9673. Or you can order your copy on our website at www.tewonline.org.
That's www.tewonline.org. Now back to today's teaching with Dr. Don Wilton. That's what he said to Peter of all people. So this great discipleship lesson and ultimately of course Peter became a martyr and we know that Peter died.
Peter was crucified upside down and he died a terrible death for the cause of Christ. And so it's in this context that this incredible passage takes place. It's a fantastic story. So let me read it to you again.
You ready? Let's read this again. Let's do something unusual here. The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by he said, look the Lamb of God. And when the two disciples heard him say this they followed Jesus. Turning around Jesus saw them following and asked what do you want? And they said, Rabbi where are you staying?
Jesus said come and I'll show you. And they went and they saw where he was staying. They spent that day with him.
It was about the tenth hour. Now Andrew, Simon Peter's brother was one of the two that heard what John had said and followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his own brother Simon and tell him we have found the Messiah. That is the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.
Three action words here. First, it was the first thing he did. And I'm telling you folks where you and I have got to start, right in our own family, first he found him. By the way, when your brother, your dad, your mother, when you grow up and your family begins to leave home, you've got one of your family members who don't know Jesus, you've got to go find them. As a general rule, people who don't know Jesus are not just going to say, oh I just think I'd love to go back to my family and hear about Jesus.
In fact, in some cases they can be awfully aggravated by that fact. He found him. The third operative was a family member.
I mean it's just so precious. What did he do? He did three things. It's very simple, he did three things. Number one, he invited his brother.
Folks, I'm going to tell you something. I think the single most difficult people to share the gospel with, to invite our family members, that's the hardest thing in the world. I think Jesus wanted us to know this. He went and invited his brother. I could read all kinds of things into this. By the way, Simon, Simon Peter, I don't think he was a walkover. This was one, listen, if he was a pretty rough customer after he met Jesus, what do you suppose he was before? I could just see Andrew saying, you know, hey, I'm going to go and find my renegade brother, you know.
I think, I don't know, it doesn't say it, but I wouldn't be surprised. Andrew was a little bit nervy about this, man. My brother's going to bite my head off. He's done it before, he'll do it again. Peter was a bombastic.
Who knows? You know, listen, when people don't know Christ, the language that comes out of their mouth, like it can be. He invited his brother. Number two, he accompanied his brother. He accompanied him. He took him with, come, let me go, hey, brother, come on. He brought him, he accompanied him. And number three, he introduced him. Simon, this is Jesus. Jesus, this is Simon.
It's so, I mean, it's so there. He invited his brother, he accompanied his brother, and he introduced his brother. And that invitation to you, that willingness on our part to accompany you and introduce you and connect you with more ways to love Jesus is available at the other end of 866-899-WORD.
That's our phone number, 866-899-9673 or online at tewonline.org. But before we get away, our pastor wants to share these perhaps most important thoughts as we close out today's broadcast. Are you ready to give your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ? Why don't you pray this prayer with me right now? Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner, and I know that Jesus died for me on the cross. Today, I repent of my sin, and by faith, I receive you into my heart. In Jesus' name. My friend, I welcome you today into the family of God.
This is exciting news. And by the way, don't go away, because I'll be right back in just a minute. If you just prayed with Dr. Wilton moments ago to give your life to Christ or rededicate your life to Jesus, we are so excited to rejoice with you and to also walk with you in the next steps of growing in your faith. Dr. Wilton has unique resources he wants you to have, but you need to call and let us know that you gave your life to Jesus or rededicated your life to Christ today. 866-899-WORD is our phone number. That's 866-899-9673. Or meet us online at www.tewonline.org. That's www.tewonline.org. While you're there, we'd love to have you get connected with us on our social media and especially sign up for the free email from Dr. Wilton online right there at www.tewonline.org, a powerful written word from the word of God, insight, application to how we can see God's word change our lives and truly encourage us every day. I hope you'll join us tomorrow as we bring the completion of We Are Family this latest message from Dr. Don Wilton on the encouraging word. The Encouraging Word
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