Friday, June 19, 2015

For Love of my Neighbor

(Message preached 2/17/2002 at Forest Glen Baptist Church, Chicago, IL) Listen Here:

"Hmmph! I don’t love you anymore!" In one minute I arrive home from work to the cries of "Daddy!!" And after I give my first directive to her my daughter Christina changes rather quickly. "Hmmph! I don’t love you anymore!" She likes to use that phrase as a weapon when she doesn’t get her way. At first, Benjamin tried this tactic on us, and it shocked me for a bit. I guess it was a surprise, to hear such words from my own child. But I didn’t change my battle plan with him, nor do I with Christina, so I expect it will soon become a thing of the past. 

Some people never get past that juvenile use of words, even taking action that children might never dream of. Their love never matures to the point where such a statement might be considered wrong or even out of place in the adult society. They might not couch it in the same words, but all the same, the meaning has not changed. As Christians, we must show a mature use of both language & love for the watching world. But how do we do that? What might show to the world that we are truly showing love for one another and our neighbor?

Theme: How do we show love to our neighbors (and continue to do so), which requires trust, in the day & age (post 9/11) which we live? God provides many examples of mature love in both the Old and New Testament. One example is found in Ruth 4:13-17.

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
14 Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.
15 "May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him."
16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse.17 The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, "A son has been born to Naomi!" So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

The Lord allows this faithful neighbor Ruth, the honor of being a part of David’s line, and ultimately of the Lord Jesus!
9 ‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.
10 ‘Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God. (Lev 19:9-10)

1616 rG« 1 sojourner. 1a a temporary inhabitant, a newcomer lacking inherited rights. 1b of foreigners in Israel, though conceded rights.2

God provided in the Old Testament a form of welfare system for foreigners & widows & the needy of Israel. Contrary to the popular belief of some people, the God of the Old Testament is not a God of anger, while the God of the New Testament is a God Love. The Scriptures plainly say of the Lord Jesus, God in the flesh, that (Heb. 13:8)Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. That means that God does not change. The God of the Old Testament is also a God of Love. And we have seen that demonstrated in the previous reading about gleaning grain. Let’s look at the Lord’s own directive.

25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
26 And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"
27 And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
28 And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; ado this and you will live."29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"30 Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and 1beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.

31 "And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 "Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:25-37)

 A. T Robertson calls this, "A vivid and powerful picture of the vice of Jewish ceremonial cleanliness at the cost of moral principle and duty."3
33 "But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,
34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
35 "On the next day he took out two 1denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’
36 "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands? 37 And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."0

There are two reasons why the Samaritan might not have stopped.
He was not a Jew. How did the Jews feel about Samaritans & vice versa? Look up Ezra 4:3–6, 11ff; John 8:48; Acts 10:28
He was traveling. Have you ever been on a road trip for business or pleasure? Maybe you were traveling to Milwaukee, or Rockford on business, or maybe you were on a family vacation. You’re just humming along the road, listening to you favorite tape or CD and ... wait a minute. What’s that up ahead.. You see a car on the roadside with the hood up. Ever just drive on by. Oh I’m sure he’s got Triple A. Or maybe the car was abandoned, no one is there anyway. You drive by. Someone was in there. Oh shoot, a moral dilemma. If I stop I’ll be a "good Samaritan" but I’ll be late for the meeting. Or whatever else you were planning for. You rationalize it away. Maybe this is a scheme to get me to stop my car, and this guy will pull a gun on can’t be too sure these days. Meanwhile, the guy’s car has become a speck in your rearview mirror. Whew! Glad that’s over. Back to my music...
Time & Money folks, that’s what it takes when you stop. This man took his time and money to help a fellow in distress. He showed a mature Love. Paul shows us numerous times what it takes. In the book of Acts he was in a city called Lystra, when he heals a man.

9 This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well,
10 said with a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he leaped up and began to walk.
11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us."
12 And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.

18 Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
20 But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.
21 After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

How could people who were going to sacrifice to Paul & Barnabas, quickly turn to stoning them? (The people were not really interested in Paul & Barnabas, they were playing follow the leader– 1st the priest of Zeus and 2nd the Jews of Antioch & Iconium)

Why did Paul return to Lystra? What motivation did he have? (To encourage the brethren and show Love to the townspeople) Where else did he go? (Derbe, Iconium, and Antioch – Followup: Where were the mob inciters from?)

The stoning of Paul was a necessary evil. Verse 23 states that Paul & Barnabas appointed elders in every church. This is the first recorded instance of that occurring in the Scriptures. God was showing Paul that he would not always be there for the churches and that it was time to begin leadership training.

Paul later relates his experience here and elsewhere in II Corinthians 11:23-29.

23 Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;
27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often cwithout food, in cold and exposure.

28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

What are the driving factors behind Paul’s torments? (Love of God and neighbor)

14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."0

613 individual laws from the Old Testament Law summed up in one statement? You bet! You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Look at the lives of Paul & Shelley Somsel, and their comrades; José and Carol Garcia . On Feb. 8th I received 2 e-mails from these friends.

"On Fri. we will be heading out to Seattle for a long week end. We will be visiting Gary and Joan Allyn (Gabe's 3rd set of grandparents, also our co-workers), Tiffany Wilson (a former and future co-worker), and Rory and Patty MacLean (Patty had a great impact on Shelley in Pakistan in '93). The Allyn's will leave to go back home (Pakistan) a few days later. Remember them in your prayers as the say good bye, prepare to go, and adjust once they arrive. They will have a lot of responsibility since only a few are going back before summer."

"One more minor detail...we thought the skin saga was over for awhile, but we were wrong. A little over a week ago a strange bump appeared on Carol`s neck. The local doctor referred her to a dermatologist. Fortuntately there is one in Iguala (2 hours away), much closer than the oncologist was in Acapulco. It turns out it was only a new mole that will need to be watched, but Carol also showed her 2 other suspicious lesions, one which she has had for years. (The oncologist was taking a wait and see attitude, but at the time of the visit to the dermatologist the lesion appeared to be ulcerated). It is highly suspiciuos for basal cell carcinoma, the same cancer that was in her leg. Today both lesions were removed. Results will be ready in one week."
What is the motivating factors behind these two couples and the ministry? (Love of God & Love of neighbor)

"Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
10 "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
11 "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

While it’s debatable whether the end times are upon us, it’s clear that evil has shown it’s ugly head in our time. For this reason Christ’s words are a call to moral vigilance. Don’t let your Love grow cold. Don’t let your love grow cold.

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