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Sermon by Pastor Gene

DEVELOPING A HEART FOR OTHERS

Goodmorning and welcome to Straitgate Church. If this is your first time here we are happy to have you with us today.

I heard a story about this guy that was marooned on a deserted island. He had been there for years and finally saw a helicopter in the area. He built a fire and signaled the helicopter to land. The pilot gladly offered to take him off the island and said, "Go get the others and we will all leave together." The marooned guy said, "You don't understand, this island is deserted except for me." The pilot inquired, "Well, what are those three huts over there for?" The marooned guy replied, "The first hut is my house and the one beside it is where I go to church." The pilot asked, "What is the other hut for?" The guy replied, "That is where I used to go to church."

I have heard of church members who cannot get along with one another, but you ought to be able to get along with yourself! Apparently this guy could not even do that. Unfortunately, one of the sad consequences of living in our fast paced society is that we are losing the ability to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship with others. We live far too often on the superficial level. And as a result of this we are finding ourselves more empty and less loved than ever before.

As Christians we should know all about how to love. We claim to follow a God of love. And He has told us to reach out to everyone with the love of Jesus. It doesn't matter whether they are in the church or outside of the church. Love is a mark of genuine Christianity. It is the evidence that we are authentic followers of Jesus. It is not only the basis for fulfilling a caring relationships within the church, but also the basis for effective outreach to those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior. .

We have been talking about developing a healthy Christian life, and we have been looking at the quality characteristics that are evident in healthy Christians. Today we look at "DEVELOPING A HEART FOR OTHERS.". A healthy spiritual life will be found in those who reach out in love both to one another and to those who are without Christ. We must have a loving relationships in the church without neglecting those outside of the church. God calls us to love one another. In fact, the Bible has so much to say on this topic that we could spend the entire day just reading the verses on love. Let me share just a few with you today.

1 John 3:1 For this is the massage that ye have heard from the beginning, that ye should love one another.

1 John 3:18 My children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. v-35 By this shall all men know that ye are my desciples, if ye have love one for another.

It could be no plainer then that. Healthy loving relationships must be built within the church. This is the proving ground for us as Christians. Those outside the church are watching what happens inside the church to see if we really are who we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. And all too often we fall short at this point.

We don't get to choose who is in the church. If the church were our idea, we would have made it full of people who were just like us, who thought like us, agreed with us in everything, and did not irritate us in any way. But like our own family, the church family is not like that. Just as we didn't choose our earthly family, we don't choose our spiritual family either. But we are called to learn to love our earthly and spiritual families. In fact, Jesus said that our love would be the evidence that we are truly following Him. The supreme example of true love is Jesus Christ. He is our example on how to really love. As we read in 1 John 3:16: it says, Hereby perceive we the love of God. because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothern.

God sent His Son Jesus Christ because He loved us. Jesus came and died because of love. He gave the supreme sacrifice the sacrifice of His own life. And now He calls us to love one another with the same kind of love. Let's look again at Jesus' statement in John 13:34: "A new command I give you: that you love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Here is the key. We are not to love just as we love ourselves, but as Jesus loved us. In the old commandment, we were to love our neighbor as ourselves. In the new commandment, we are to love one another as Jesus demonstrated He loved us. This is the new extent, or the new degree of love we are to demonstrate. The question that comes to mind now is, "How did He love us?" The answer to that question is simple. When we look at Jesus' life. Jesus loved us when we didn't deserve His love, when we were not too lovable, because we needed His love. And He loved us sacrificially. Look at John 15:13 It says, Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

This is what John is telling us in our text today. He says that we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. Jesus loved us enough to lay down His life for us. And what makes this love even more incredible is that He did it while we were still in our sin, when we were not too loveable. Consider Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

So, how do we manifest the kind of love Jesus manifested in His sacrificial death? How do we show this love to the world? What is the evidence of this love? The evidence is in good deeds. Love is not only an attitude; it is an action as well. We are told to love with actions, which are good deeds, and we are told to love in truth, which is a right attitude. In these ways we can demonstrate the love of God in practical ways.

Now, I believe all of us want to love and be loved. But sometimes we just don't know where to begin. There are however, some practical ways we can demonstrate our love to one another. First, we can show our love for one another by how we think about one another. The thought is the father of all deeds. The bible says that a person is how he thinks in his heart. If we have critical and judgmental thoughts concerning one another, we can be sure that the love of God will not be manifested by our lives. Loving actions must first begin by loving attitudes. We must give one another the benefit of the doubt. We must see one another through the eyes of faith and hope. In Romans 15:7 we read, Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

We are to receive one another as Jesus received us. When we came to Jesus we were all freely accepted. We must cultivate an attitude of acceptance toward each another. This is one way we can show our love. Another way in which we can demonstrate our love is by how we speak about and to one another. The Scriptures exhort us to speak words seasoned with grace. Words are powerful things. They can either encourage or discourage. they can hurt you or thrill you. Words we speak ought to be words of "encouragement". If you become someone who always has an encouraging word, people will beat a path to your door. Everyone likes an encourager. No one likes a cynical, sharp-tongued backbiter.

Finally, we can show our love by how we act toward one another. We must not love in word only, but also in deed. We need to think right thoughts about one another, speak right words about one another, and do right deeds for one another. Love, you see, is not a feeling it is an action of the will. To give your enemy a cup of cold water is to show love. Sometimes the smallest things are enough. But whether great or small, we cannot show love in a passive way. We must be pro-active in our love. Love is something we do. An act of kindness here, a good deed there, that is what we want. What is it that you can do to show your love to someone else? Begin to do it. It will have a powerful impact. But in order to develop genuine and loving relationships we must be willing to invest the time to do so. Let me challenge you to take the time to do this. Invite someone you don't know to well over or out for lunch or dinner. Get to know them. Call them up this week. Take the time. Invest the energy. It will be worth it. Your love must reach in. Your Love Must Reach Out. Remember, Jesus said that we testify to the world that we are really His disciples by how we love one another. Love testifies. Love liberates. Love also has the power to liberate others around us. When the world sees our love they become more receptive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Love can liberate an entire society of people because they desperately need love. Your love must not only reach in but it must also reach out. It must reach out to those outside the church who do not know Christ.

Several years ago when I lived in Oregon a unique approach to reaching people was fascinating to me. A radio station in town developed an innovative outreach ministry. They began running "God commercials" during their regular programming. During these commercials, they would address a contemporary problem. Somewhere towards the end, they would introduce the idea that perhaps a relationship with God could solve that problem. Finally, they would say something like: "If you would like to know how Christ can relate to your life in this practical way, call this number, # 'People Who Care' are standing by to talk with you and you can call right now." Counselors were standing by to receive the calls. And many lives were changed as a result of this ministry. In fact, a book was written to share the testimonies of those who found Christ as a result of this unique ministry.

While I was fascinated by the details and effectiveness of this ministry, one of the most powerful challenges to my own personal life came from the name itself. The ministry was called, "People Who Care." It struck me that this describes the kind of people we, as Christians, ought to be. We should be people who care. We should be people who care about other people. We should care because Jesus cares. People are important to God and so people should be important to us. Are lost people important to you? You were once one. Are you glad that Christ loved you while you were lost? I am. His love is still reaching out to lost people. But it is reaching out through you and me those who know Him. We are charged with the task of sharing His love with the world.

Matthew 28:18-20 reads: And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. v-19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. v-20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo. I am with you alway, even to the end of the world,.A-men

Romans 10:13 says: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. But is goes on to say in the following verses, -14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Says: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. v-18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath gven to us the ministry of recnciliation; v-19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath commited unto us the word of reconciliation. v-20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

It is as if God is calling to you through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God."

God wants us now to participate in this work of telling others about how to have peace with God! But how do we do this? We find the key when is says that He has given us the message of peace. We have been given a message to share. We have not only been given grace but the secret of grace. We have been given a message that sets others free. We have been given a message that pardons. We have been given living message. It is living because we have experienced its power. It is living because we have been set free by believing it. This message is the truth of the gospel. It is the truth that anyone who believes in Jesus can be set free. It is the truth that there is no sin too black that Jesus cannot forgive it. It is the truth that there is no problem too complex that Jesus cannot solve it. It is the truth that our neighbors can be saved. It is the truth that our relatives can be saved. Now it should be obvious to any of us that a message must be spoken.

Someone once observed that many Christians are like the Arctic River, frozen over at the mouth. Unless we speak this message of reconciliation, others will never hear it. The greatest tragedy of all would be to have the truth that sets men free, and never share that truth with them, and we will not share it if we do not care whether people come to Christ or not. We must become people who care. Our hearts need to be changed. We need to see with God's eyes and feel His heart toward those who don't know Him. Again, this means that we must invest the time and energy to reach out to people. We can't simply sit back and expect it to happen. People need people to show them the way.

A minister and his wife were leaving an office building on highway 70 and encountered a man who appeared in distress. He was Asian, and didn't speak English very well. As he tried to explain himself, it became apparent that he was looking for the Division of Motor Vehicles. He pointed the way and told him that if he traveled east he would find it on the left. As they got in their car to leave, his wife suggested that they should get him to follow them and take him to the DMV. He pulled up beside him and invited him to follow them to the DMV, an invitation he gladly accepted. As they drove down 70, they had to pass the DMV and turn around at one of those jug handles in order to cross 70. The minister concluded that the man would probably have not found the DMV had they not taken him to it. He was very grateful.

It occurs to me that this is what is missing all too often in our evangelistic efforts. We shouldn't simply point people to Jesus, we must show them the way. After all, we've been there ourselves.

A man fell into a pit and couldn't get himself out.
A SUBJECTIVE person came along and said: "I FEEL for you, down there."
An OBJECTIVE person came along and said: "It's logical that someone would fall, down there."
A CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST came along: "You only THINK that you are in a pit."
A PHARISEE said: "Only BAD people fall into a pit."
A MATHEMATICIAN calculated HOW he fell into the pit.
A NEWS REPORTER wanted the exclusive story on his pit.
A FUNDAMENTALIST said: "You DESERVE your pit."
CONFUCIUS said; "If you would have listened to me, you would not be in that pit."
BUDDHA said: "Your pit is only a state of mind."
A REALIST said: "That's a PIT."
A SCIENTIST calculated the pressure necessary (lbs./sq.in.) to get him out of the pit.
A GEOLOGIST told him to appreciate the rock strata in the pit.
AN EVOLUTIONIST said: "You are a rejected mutant destined to be removed from the evolutionary cycle." In other words, he is going to DIE in the pit, so that he cannot produce any "pit-falling offspring."
The COUNTY INSPECTOR asked if he had a permit to dig a pit.
The COUNTY TAX ASSESSOR came along and figured the taxes he owed on the pit.
A PROFESSOR gave him a lecture on: "The Elementary Principles of the Pit."
An EVASIVE person came along and avoided the subject of his pit altogether
A SELF-PITYING person said: "You haven't seen anything until you've seen MY PIT!!"
A HEALTH AND WEALTH PREACHER said: "Just CONFESS that you're not in a pit."
An OPTIMIST said: "Things COULD be worse."
A PESSIMIST said: "Things WILL get worse!!"
JESUS, seeing the man, took him by the hand and LIFTED HIM OUT of the pit. May God make us like Jesus People Who Care about one another and about those who don't know Jesus. Let us pray shall we.

Father God, we come to you today on bended knees and pray that you will give us a heart of love. One that will reach out to others that need you in their life that dont know you. There may be one that is so stressed that just a little Godly love will turn their life around. There may be one that doesn't know you but a little love will lead them to where you are, as the minister lead the man to the DMV, we need to lead others to where you are. Be with us as we go our way today that we will make a difference, in Gods holy name we pray A-men

Pastor Gene

You know nothing, until you've known the love of God