Summary: God is a light in the darkness of our lives and culture. Jesus highlites three things through his ministry which is evident in all four Gospels: 1) We are ALL God’s children; 2) God loves us no matter what; and 3)Love is the most powerful weapon in the w

I. Hearing the Word of God.

A. We hear the Word of God in our hearts.

B. We each hear differently.

C. Telephone game

D. Disciples never understand what Jesus is saying, but he loved them anyway and they heard and felt that!

II. Accepting the voice we hear in our hearts as the Word of God—A CHOICE!

A. There comes a time in our lives when we must CHOOSE to listen to that small voice in our hearts and make a commitment to Christ

B. Allowing Christ to be the light of our path to show us the way to live, to help us with the decisions we need to make, we have Christ in our hearts doing all this.

C. Jesus contrasts Thomas, who believed because he saw, with those who believe because they experience Jesus in their hearts

1. Thomas was looking for physical proof

2. Got more than he bargained for: “My Lord and my God!” (v.28)

3. Experience of getting to seminary: When I was a freshman in high school I received my first sense of "call" from God. I heard something in the back of my mind tell me, "Eric, you’re going to be a minister to the world." It freaked me out! I ran from it. Throughout high school people kept telling me that I should be a minister because I’d be a good one. When I got into college I found myself at a small Presbyterian church in San Diego looking for a college youth group. Next thing I knew, I was volunteering as a high school advisor and that voice came back: "Eric, you’re going to be a minister." I graduated from college and worked as a paralegal (or lawyer’s assistant) for three years. I applied to law school and was accepted to a school in Washington. Literally, one night in October of 1996 I was filling out my $500 check to the school to reserve my place in the class to begin next fall. I was ready to sign the check and something stopped me. I called up my pastor and asked to meet with him the next day in his office. I sat in his office and told him, "Bob," his name was Bob, "I think I’m supposed to be a minister." I threw his hands in the air and said, "Well, it’s about time you figured that out!" That Sunday he announced to the congregation that I had finally, and he used the word "finally," accepted my call to ministry and the entire congregation laughed! They laughed at how long it had taken me to realize what they had known all this time. Within three months I had applied and been accepted to San Francisco Theological Seminary, I applied and was taken under the care of both my church and the Presbytery (or local governing body) as an "inquirer to the ministry of Word and Sacrament." By January, only three or so months after I had spoken with Pastor Bob I was moving to San Francisco from Southern California to start my graduate studies. God spoke to my heart, but it took almost 10 years for me to hear and act.

D. We have the opportunity to witness Jesus when we listen to the voice deep in our hearts and recognize it as the voice of God! Then we can make that commitment.

E. Provides an opportunity for us to share our witness with one another, helping us grow further in our faith because we can share in each others’ experiences and hear God again—Just like the writer of the Gospel of John was doing (cf. 20.30-31).

III. Accountability as a community of faith to what we hear.

A. In hearing and recognizing God in our lives we become accountable to God’s Words.

1. But there are times when we fail to stay accountable to God, when our attitude toward God changes and we begin to think we can do it on our own, we forget to trust God.

2. We are our own worst enemy! We hold ourselves back from accepting the love of Christ—Good Will Hunting (It’s not your fault!). Our own guilt! We must admit and deal with our guilt, only then can we be released from it and restore our relationship with God.

3. Sometimes when our attitude toward God changes, when our attitude keeps us from experiencing God, we need other people to help keep us accountable to our initial commitment to listen to Christ, to give us that attitude adjustment.

B. Accountability was especially important in John’s community!

1. Persecuted by both Jewish and Roman courts (“fear of the Jews”)

2. Band together—if not, division and disunity would weaken the strength of the community to withstand persecution.

3. Think of the person or people you run to first when you have a problem. What happens?

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