Summary: A sermon to challenge believers to a closer walk with the Lord.

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"Higher Love"

John 21:1-25

John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

INTRODUCTION: Let me introduce my message today a comment about the events of this past week. Most of you, like me, were taken aback at the decisions handed down by the SCOTUS in the past few days. With the exception of one major cable network almost all the national media have hailed these decisions as victories for the gay community and so-called equal rights. I could spend some time today speaking specifically to this issue but I believe that there is something larger at stake that needs to be addressed. I believe the day is coming, (maybe not in my lifetime), when Christians will be called upon to make a confession of their faith, to take a stand for what they believe and that those of us who believe strongly that things like adultery, homosexuality, gay marriage and other similar behaviors are morally and Scripturally wrong, will face ostracism, shunning, and other social and personal consequences. Some of you are hearing this and thinking, that this will never happen but how many of us would have ever thought that in the space of just a few short years we would be having this discussion at all? If this does happen and you are asked to confess what you believe, how will you respond? Will it be a declaration of faith or a denial?

Cassie Bernall: A young Christian who stood firm

When Cassie Bernall so boldly proclaimed her faith in Jesus Christ, her God didn't save her. The words that came out of her mouth cost her life, and people are asking why a young girl would put herself in harm's way for a religious belief? Even if she did believe in Jesus, why didn't she lie about it? All she had to do was shut her mouth and she could have walked away still breathing. Didn't she think of her family, of her friends, of herself? So many of us walk away from this tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, with many unanswered questions. However, one thing is clear: The two young killers had a bone to pick with some of their classmates, namely, athletes, minorities and Christians. Yes, Christians. Authorities in Colorado have clearly established that the two alleged killers were anti-jock and anti-minority, but only in the last few days has the nation really considered that they were anti-Christian, even anti-faith. Undoubtedly, many have died because of their profession of faith, but rarely is martyrdom displayed so clearly as it was at Columbine High School. Pressed with the questions, many Christians would say that they would die for their faith, but few are taken to task on this issue. On April 20, Cassie Bernall was taken to task. When the gunman asked her if she believed in Jesus, she without hesitation replied that she did. The gunman did not like her response, so he shot and killed her. We cringe because we do not understand this predicament. Shouldn't God protect those who have placed their faith in Him? If God really does exist, why would He allow His child to suffer like this? This is a legitimate question. To find an answer, we would have to ask Cassie's grieving family and friends. They would tell you that Cassie is now in the arms of her heavenly Father because He wants her there. The task that He had placed her on Earth to accomplish was complete even though from our perspective we think it was cut short. If Cassie were given another opportunity to reply to the gunman she would not change her response because she now understands that God is holding her more closely in heaven because she held so closely to Him on Earth. Her act of courage was not in vain because the world saw the beauty of her faith and the glory of her God.

Kent Del Housaye - Director of Public Relations Phoenix Seminary Scottsdale, AZ

I. Peter's Declarations

a. Significant profession

Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

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