Living Like Christ

Scripture: John 13:34, Matthew 9:36, Mark 10:21
Date: 08/16/2014 
Lesson: 7
"The supreme proof of genuine Christianity is loving our enemies."
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Welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church here in Sacramento, California. We're so glad that you are tuning in. Whether you are listening in on the radio, watching live on our website at '' or joining us on the various television networks, we're just glad that you are tuning in and we look forward to singing songs with you and opening up God's word and studying together today. And, of course, today is no exception. We're going to start with your favorites and the first request is 'fill my cup, lord' - this is a lovely song - #493 - and there were so many requests for this song that I just decided to pick one region of the world so I picked europe.

This is from tonka in croatia - we don't get many requests from croatia so an extra special hello to tonka, alex in hungary, selina and jonathan in the netherlands, and Samuel in germany. So #493 - we'll do all three stanzas. Join with us - 'fill my cup, lord'. Fill my cup - is that your prayer this morning? That God will fill up your cup and make you whole. Our next song you'll find on #147 as we continue working our way through the hymnal singing The Songs we've never heard before and today is no exception.

No one requested this from around the world so I have a sneaky suspicion that if, you know, someone knew it they may have requested it. So we're going to learn it all together today. #147 - 'Christ upon the mountain peak' - and we'll do the first, second, and fourth stanzas. Join with us. Wasn't that beautiful? That second stanza was about the transfiguration.

Did you catch that? There's so many new songs that I know we haven't sung yet and some of those that we have that are just beautiful and the message in The Songs - so we look forward to singing more of these new ones with you. So if you want a head start next week will be the one across the page - #148 - so you can start learning that and we will sing that together next week. At this time let's bow our heads for prayer. Father in Heaven, thank you so much for bringing us here today to study Your Word and to sing together. We thank you so much for blessing us with the Sabbath, that one day out of the whole week when we can just forget about the things that we're working on, that we're worrying about and we can just spend 24 hours with you, resting in your promises.

Thank you so much for loving us, for dying for us, and giving us the hope of Christians that one day soon we will see you coming in the clouds of glory. I pray that you be with those that are suffering. Our hearts go out to the families of the plane crash victims and there are so many other hurting people in this world and I pray that you will just put your arms around them and love them. Be with us now. Be with our speaker as he brings us the lesson study.

In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by, yes, our senior pastor, pastor chris buttery. Well good morning. Good to see you this morning. And thank you for that beautiful music.

Thank you for singing so nicely. It's always a joy to sing to the lord, amen? Amen. We've been enjoying our lesson study - our quarterly lesson study - 'the teachings of Jesus' - haven't we? If there was anyone's teachings that we would want to sit up and pay attention to it would be that of Jesus, would it not? The one who made everything, who knows everything, who created everything, the one who knows what it's going to take for us to be with him forever - we'd want to pay some close attention to his teachings. And that's what we've been doing here for the last few weeks and we want to welcome, also, those that are joining us online, tv, wherever you might be tuning in. We're so glad that you've joined us and we want to let you know about our special free offer, the Bible study 'a love that transforms' - offer #710 - and you want to call in to -866-study-more or -866-788-3966.

Well, here we are studying God's word again. What a joy. And today's lesson - it's talking about 'living like Christ.' Last week was 'growing in Christ' and this week has been about living like Christ. An important lesson, wouldn't you say? Sure. Our memory text - and we'll read that together here - is John chapter 13, verse 34 and it says, "a new commandment I give to you, that you also" - do what? - "Love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

" So that's the new commandment and it probably wasn't - well, I shouldn't say probably - it wasn't a new commandment, really. All throughout - or the listeners of Jesus in that day, all throughout the old testament, understood the biblical injunction to love your neighbor or to love your - the stranger. And so it wasn't really a new commandment but probably new in the sense that there was a new standard. Up to this particular time folk didn't have really a clear image of the character of God. They had an accurate picture of what the character of God was like up to that point but Jesus, now, who was the word made flesh - the one who'd come to reveal The Father - revealed Jesus - revealed The Father in a significant way.

As you watch Jesus - as they watched Jesus' life - as they watched him going about doing good they recognized and saw who The Father was. And so, there was a new standard - a new standard: "as I have loved you, love others - love one another as I have loved you." That was what was new about the commandment. There was the standard - 'as I've loved you, as I've given for you, and as I'm going to lay down my life for you, love one another as I've loved you.' If we were to, kind of, summarize the lesson here this morning over the course of the week, we would probably suggest that the watermark of true Christianity is being molded by the tenderness, the sympathy, consideration and compassion revealed in Jesus' life. You know what a watermark is, right? The design that's in some papers as it's being manufactured and it's visible only when you hold it up to the light and typically it identifies the maker. And so the watermark of true Christianity is the life of a follower of Jesus being molded and shaped into the likeness of Jesus.

This particular lesson deals primarily with the passive virtues of Christianity - the passive graces of Christianity. There are also the active graces of Christianity like force and perseverance and courage. These are also fruits of the Spirit. This is also reflecting the life of Christ. So if we were to talk about the life of Jesus - and we will here in a little bit and as we have been - we'll talk about the life of Jesus.

We see that Jesus not only exhibited the passive graces virtues but also the active ones - the more aggressive ones, as I mentioned, like perseverance and courage and faith. But this week's lesson we've been focusing on the passive graces - love and tenderness and sympathy and consideration - and that's good too. I was reading an article and it was very interesting. The lady, her name was carol woodle - carol woodle - and - I think I pronounced that right - but she was a person that had a - she was actually a look-alike of oprah winfrey and oprah winfrey, of course, we understand is a big figure and in the limelight a lot and somehow has taken a little bit of a backseat recently, with her new network, but here was carol woodle who looked like oprah winfrey. So every time carol woodle went to the store she would be standing there and, you know, those magazines that sit there and you've got the 'o' magazine and people would look at the magazine and they'd look over at carol and they'd be wondering whether this is, in fact, oprah winfrey.

And people coming up and shaking her hand and one or two, three people in line looking, 'could it be her? Could it be?' And one particular day a lady - an older lady - saw carol, thinking she was oprah, and ran over to her and she was in complete tears and grabbed carol's hand and was sobbing and said her only dream was to ever meet oprah winfrey. And for carol, that did it. For carol, that was it. She decided from that day on she was going to be an impersonator of oprah winfrey and so that's what she decided to do. And if you look at the pictures of carol woodle - just Google her - Google images - you'll see she's nearly the spitting image of oprah.

Now next to elvis there's also marilyn monroe. To look like a celebrity impersonator, the individuals study the make-up, some - and by the way, some impersonators don't look like the actual person. They've got to put a lot of make-up on and wigs and costumes and so they analyze the make-up and the costumes and the characteristics until they're able to imitate them. And they pour over films or read biographies and practice their songs until they've nearly perfected the imitation of that particular person. Did you know that there are about 20,000 - they estimate about 20,000 - professional impersonators in the United States? And that wouldn't include those who just go around pretending to be someone that they're not.

This is professional impersonators. And the reason that there are so many is because naturally, in our society, celebrities are highly esteemed - highly regarded. A doctor by the name of James houran, he's a New York-based psychologist and he studies celebrity worship and he said this - very interesting - he said, "human beings are hard-wired to worship something. And in the absence of organized religion we turn to trying to copy and learn from people that are successful. Wow.

Now there are some impersonators - and only a few - that actually have been able to - actually have been able to become less and less acquainted with who they really are. They've lost their identity. They've practiced and imitated that particular person so often and so many times that they've lost who they really are. They can't figure out who they are. They've lost their identity.

You know, it's one thing to put on spock ears when you're going to a convention, but it's another thing to put on spock ears seven days a week when no one's watching. And that's problematic when you're impersonating someone and you've forgotten who you are. Well, Christians are called to be imitators of Jesus Christ and his character and that's what the lesson is about. And we won't ever lose our identity when we follow Jesus. In fact, our identity crystallizes and our personality becomes more refined and becomes more improved.

We actually become all that we - that God wants us to be as we follow Jesus. Without Jesus we cannot become all that God really wants us to be, but with Jesus he makes us all that he desires us to be. Now there are several Bible texts that talk about the idea of Christians imitating or following Jesus. I'm going to share a few with you and feel free to write them down. I'm just going to go down them on at a time.

Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 1. The apostle Paul says, "imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." And so the apostle Paul told folk, 'look, just follow me - imitate me inasmuch as I imitate Jesus.' If we're a follower of Jesus we imitate him. Ephesians 5:1, the same author said, "therefore be imitators of God as dear children." Then there's Philippians 2:5 - I told you I'm going to go through them relatively quick. We'll stop and look at a few verses here. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:5, "let this mind be in you which was also in" - who? - "Christ Jesus.

" That's right. And so there's the example - the following after - the imitating of Jesus. Peter 2:21 says, "for to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should" - do what? - "Follow his steps:" and in 1 John 2:6, "he who says he abides in him ought himself also to walk just as he walked." That's right. Now turn to Matthew chapter 11 and look at verse 29. We often skip - I don't want to say we often skip over this, but we focus, when we're talking about these verses, we focus in on a particular aspect of these verses - resting in Jesus, taking on his yoke - but notice what it says in Matthew 11, verse 29 - these are the words of Jesus - in verse 28 he says, "come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

" And he says, "take my yoke upon you," - and what are the next words? - "Learn" - learn of me. Copy me. Imitate me. I'm your example. Imitate me - "and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

" Alright - and then just a couple other verses you can write down: Luke chapter 6, verse 36, Jesus said, "therefore be merciful, just as your father also is merciful." The counterpart to that is Matthew 5:48, "be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect." As God is perfect in his realm, God is asking his followers to be perfect here in their realm, you see? And then, lastly, John 13:15 - Jesus said, "for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." And, of course, he was talking there about washing one another's feet. But in the broader sense Jesus said, 'look, as I've done to you, I'm asking you to follow me and do as I've done as well.' And so there are multiple verses in the Bible that speak to the idea of imitating - following the example of Jesus. Often we talk about it but very seldom do we - sometimes we just don't stop and pause and consider the biblical evidence that supports that idea. And now you've got a few texts now that you can refer to and put in your arsenal. Alright, we're going to Sunday's lesson.

We are to be imitators of Jesus and when we do we won't ever lose our identity. It'll be crystallized and our personality will be refined. Alright, Sunday's lesson. How did Jesus live? Or how Jesus lived. How did Jesus live? Jesus' life naturally was a life of unselfish, self-sacrificing love, was it not? That was the life of Jesus.

His priorities centered on others rather than himself. Jesus was outward focused rather than always considering his own needs. When we think of Jesus, his hands were always ready to relieve suffering and trouble that had come to individuals. He cared for those that may have been even considered low - of low value in society's estimation. We think about children.

We think about women. We think about foreigners and lepers and tax collectors. Jesus came near to each one and encouraged each one and lifted each one up and shared his concern for each. So Jesus' life was a life of unselfish love. That was Jesus' life.

And that led Jesus to view people in a particular way. If you look at various verses in the Scriptures, especially in Matthew, and the gospels, you'll read where Jesus saw the multitude and he had - he was moved with what? Do you remember the word? Compassion. Yeah, compassion. He saw the multitude that were like sheep scattered - no shepherd - and he was moved with compassion. And so Jesus' life was a life of compassion.

And the word compassion has this idea of your inner emotions - your bowels yearn. That's kind of odd - I don't mean our bowels don't naturally yearn, but this is the heart - the deepest innermost feelings of a person that is - that's being called out to have compassion on a person - to care for another person. To feel sympathy for; to pity that person. The dictionary defines compassion as 'sympathetic pity and concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others.' So when we think of Jesus we're thinking about his encounter with the two blind men that he encountered on his way into Jericho, who were crying out to have mercy on them and Jesus stopped to consider them. He had compassion on them.

We think about the pleading leper who was asking to be cleansed. Jesus had compassion on him. And then, of course, there was the widow - the widow of nain - and she'd just lost her son and he was being carried in a coffin outside the city and Jesus' happy procession met that sad procession and instead of Jesus and the disciples - or at least Jesus saying, 'you know what, we're pretty happy here. We don't want to be disturbed by some grief.' And passing on the other way, Jesus met that procession and he brought happiness and cheer to that procession insomuch as he raised that widow's son. Powerful story.

So we see Jesus - we see him having compassion - moved with compassion to help and to relieve the sufferings and misfortunes of others. Now I have a Bible verse here, Matthew 20, verse 28, someone was going to read that for us here. Thank you. And we're asking the question, 'how did Jesus live?' How did Jesus live? We've talked about it here but let's just look at a couple of verses here. Acts chapter 10 - we'll go there as well - acts 10:38 - and then we'll come to Matthew 20:28.

Acts chapter 10, verse 38 - talking of Jesus' baptism when he was anointed with the holy spirit. You remember the experience of Jesus at his baptism? The Bible says the heavens were opened, he heard his father's voice that says, 'my beloved son in whom I'm well pleased.' And the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove. He was anointed the Messiah - the Christ - which means 'anointed one.' But here in acts chapter 10 and verse 38 it says, "how God anointed Jesus of nazareth with the holy ghost and with" - what friends? - "Power:" - and how did he use that power? - "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Here's the evidence of God being with a person. God is with that person when that person is doing good and relieving the sufferings and needs of others the best they know how. Matthew 20 and verse 28.

"Even as The Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." So Jesus' life - thank you - Jesus' life was centered on serving. That's it - serving others, benefitting others, blessing others. I want to just share a few quotes from my favorite book. The book is 'the Desire of Ages' - talking about the life of Jesus. And this inspired commentary - talking about the childhood of Jesus and there are a couple of chapters that are poignant - that are powerful.

One is - one chapter is 'the conflict years' - talking of Jesus' home life and how he grew up. But just let me read these statements. There are two: one's on page 70 and one's on page 87 and they just summarized the life - the heart of Jesus. It says, "Jesus lived to relieve every case of suffering that he saw. He had little money to give but he often denied himself of food in order to relieve those who appeared more needy than he.

To those who were in need he would give a cup of cold water and would quietly place his own meal in their hands. From his earliest years he was possessed of one purpose: he lived to bless others. That was the heart of Christ and Christ was revealing the heart of who? God The Father. You saw - Jesus said, 'you've seen me you've seen The Father. And all that I'm doing comes from The Father.

' He lived to bless others. Just powerful. I remember I had just given my life to the Lord and the pastor said, 'if you're going to grow in Jesus you're going to have to have morning devotions. You're going to have to spend time with Jesus.' And I was like, 'what is 'devotions?' I don't - a devoted life I understand, but what are 'devotions?' And he said, 'well, you just spend time with the Lord, you pray, and you open the Bible and read and I encourage you to read the life of Jesus. And so I was also shared the book 'Desire of Ages' at that time - read it with the gospels.

And I've got to tell you, it was transformational. I mean, just spending time studying the life of Jesus, looking at how he lived and what he did for others, I mean, just unbelievable. When I got through the gospels and 'Desire of Ages' I asked, 'well what should I do now?' So I just went back again - I did that seven times. I mean it's just fantastic. You've got to read the gospels and you've got to spend time in 'the Desire of Ages.

' But Jesus lived - he was possessed of one purpose. He lived to bless others. Is our life a blessing to others? You know, when you think about nature - some elements in nature - they live to - they purely - they live purely just to benefit others. Think about, for example, the sun. The sun exists for what purpose? Because it wants to be the biggest and brightest thing in our solar system? No.

There's a purpose for the sun. What's the purpose - the sun's purpose? To provide light - that's right - to bring warmth to planet earth. Trees - think about trees for a moment. They provide - they live to provide shade. They live to provide a home for birds, squirrels, some animals, even some insects.

They also provide oxygen, yeah. The arbor day foundation - according to the arbor day foundation, they said a mature, leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as ten people inhale in a year. Just a single tree. Mature tree. A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings.

That's what another group said. So trees and sun and other objects live, not for their good but for the good and benefit of others. And when we see nature, we see these things - we see the character of God revealed and when we look at Jesus, whose life was like the sun and like the tree and he lived to benefit and bless others. So that's how Jesus lived. Let's go to Monday's lesson and let's talk here a little bit about a story that Jesus taught in Luke chapter 10.

Jesus was continually trying to educate his disciples and those that followed him how - what it meant to follow him - what it meant to live for Jesus. And so in this particular story he wanted to illustrate the kind of love that he was sharing - that he was communicating to others. And this is the parable of the good samaritan and we read the story in Luke chapter 10 and it's verses 30 to 37. I think we know the story pretty well but the lead-in to the story is a lawyer came to Jesus tempting him - trying to trip Jesus up - and you can go back to verse 25 - he said, "master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said, "what is written in the law?" They were actually suggesting that Jesus didn't uphold the law like he ought to. It seemed like he was diminishing the law and Jesus responds, 'what does the law say?' And the lawyer repeated to - the shema - I believe it's called - yes, the shema, which is a confession of faith recited by devout jews back then.

It was Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 5 and Leviticus 19:18. And he said, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself." But he realized that he didn't love his neighbor as himself and so he tried to justify himself by asking Jesus the question, "and who is my neighbor?" Back then the squabble amongst the jews and the religious leaders - because a lawyer was a religious leader. He was the protector of the law, the one who educated people regarding the law. The squabble was not so much the samaritans being their neighbors - they understood that they were not their neighbors. The gentiles, they were not their neighbors.

The outcasts of society, they certainly weren't their neighbors. But what about the class of people? Maybe this class was their neighbor. Maybe this one was. And so that was the argument. And Jesus was about to blow the lid off their preconceived notions and ideas.

"Who is my neighbor?" - And in this particular story Jesus shares, he highlights - clarifies - what it means to be neighborly and answers the question 'who is my neighbor?' Verse 30 says, "a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and" - what happened? - He "fell among thieves." - He was robbed. He was left half dead. And as he was there dying a priest and a religious leader - a priest and a levite came by and they passed by on the other side. One completely ignored him. The other one got curious, looked over, and went on the other side.

They probably were just coming back from serving in the temple in Jerusalem and to touch someone who was half dead - that meant they would have to go through a bunch of ceremonies to be ceremonially clean so they could serve again in the temple and so it was too much for them to do and it was inconvenient so they passed on by - didn't care - "but a certain samaritan" - verse 33 - "a certain samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him," - there's that word again - compassion - "had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee." And so here you've got a man who's left half dead on the road. It's very likely he was a jew. His own people passed him by - the religious leaders at that - walked by him and a samaritan - one who was despised by the jews - stopped, took pity on the man - had compassion for him - compassion moved him to take action, because compassion always does that - it always moves a person to take action. Compassion moved him to take action, he spent his resources, cared for the man, put him on his own beast of burden, took him to an inn - even told the innkeeper, 'if you spend more for his care, I'll repay you when I come back through.

' Did he go the extra mile? Yeah. He didn't just say, 'here's a band-aid. All the best.' He did what needed to be done to get the man back on his feet, did he not? Sure, he did all that he could to help him - to be a neighbor. So Jesus asked the question, 'so who is the neighbor?' The two that said that they were religious or the one that actually did something good for someone in need? It was the samaritan and the lawyer couldn't even say samaritan, he just said, 'the one that helped him. That one.

' And so neighbor - the neighbor - to be neighborly - to be a neighbor - or neighbor just simply means 'near one'. Our neighbors are all of those who stand in need, are they not? Whether they need help physically or whether they need help spiritually, every person on planet earth is our neighbor irrespective of color, nationality - irrespective of religious affiliation, political party - it doesn't matter, everyone is our neighbor, especially those who need Jesus. We need to come near and help individuals come to know Jesus. So this was the lesson of the parable: the samaritan took care of the jew - the one who didn't - the jews didn't treat the samaritans well at all. And do you think the samaritan took that into consideration? If he had taken that into consideration, what would he have done? He would have moseyed on by, right? He would have just kept on going.

But he didn't take that into consideration. You know, a lot of times when we are poised to help somebody and we consider who may need the assistance, sometimes we may ponder what that person - how that person may have treated us or what they may have said to us or how they've treated a family member. And because they may not have treated us well or a family member - our spouse or our children - but they need help, we'll justify our not helping because of the way they've treated our family member or even ourselves. The samaritan could have easily justified himself and moved on but he didn't. He stopped and helped someone who, given the chance, would have spat on him because he was a samaritan, but he helped him nonetheless.

The lesson of the good samaritan is one of impartial kindness irrespective of how a person treats you, irrespective of what they may have said to your spouse or your children - whatever theological tenants they hold to - whether they have a conservative worship experience or a liberal one, everyone is our neighbor and each one needs to be treated as we would want to be treated. That's the golden rule, is it not? That's the golden rule. Jesus taught here about a man who gave a man a hand up. He didn't give him a hand out, he gave him a hand up. He left him there to - he gave him a good head start and the guy was to kind of tend for himself afterwards - but he gave him a hand up, not necessarily a hand out.

And we just need to talk a little bit about that when we're talking about helping others. It's just as wrong for a person, through bad choices they make, that put themselves in a needy position, thus becoming a burden on others to help them as it is simply to neglect to help the same person in need. Should I say that again? I'm going to say that again. Actually, I'll read that again - I wrote it down because I knew I'd forget it and it was pretty powerful as it was coming to me. "It's just as wrong for a person, through the bad choices they make that put them in a needy position, to expect help from others and to be a burden to others, as it is to neglect to help the same person in need.

" So the lesson here is treat others as you would want to be treated, right? Not 'do not do to others what you yourself dislike.' Jesus didn't deal with the negative here, he dealt with the positive. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And he certainly didn't teach 'treat others as they treat you.' It's easy to treat someone well when they've treated you well, is it not? Yeah, it's easy for us to do that. And it's easy to treat someone poorly if they've treated us poorly. But Jesus said, 'treat others as you would want to be treated.

' We love God as much as the person we like the least. A couple of Bible verses here - someone has 1 John 4, verse 20 - John 4, verse 20 - right over here. Fabulous. Turn with me to John. We'll look at a couple of verses over there.

Before we get to 1 John 4:20, look at 1 John 2:4. Notice what the writer says. He says, "he that saith, I know him" - that is, 'I know God.' - "And keepeth not his commandments," - and what are the commandments? To love God with all - to summarize it - to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself - he that says I know him but does not do this - does not love God supremely and does not love his neighbor as himself is a what? "Liar, and the truth is not in him." We only love God as much as the person we love the least. Look at 1 John 4 and verse 12 and then we'll come to verse 20, "no man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

" And so the love that we express toward others comes from who? God. And it reveals that God's love is abiding and dwelling in our hearts, you see. Okay, 1 John 4 and verse 20. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" That's a powerful verse, isn't it? It speaks for itself. Our default setting is easy to - it's easy to dismiss a person who irritates us.

It's easy to loathe a person who mistreats us. And so the need here is for, not an external change, but for a heart transformation and that comes - you know sometime nearly every day, doesn't it? Someone challenges you, tests you, rubs you the wrong way. It's not good enough to say, 'well I'll be at church on Sabbath' or 'I'm paying a faithful tithe' or 'I'll treat them well next week.' At that very moment we are called upon to say, 'lord, change my heart because right now I'm not liking this person very much. You don't have to like the way they've treated you. If they've mistreated you, you don't have to like that.

But we're called to love that person, respect that person, see in them the potential as if they've given their lives to Jesus - what they could become transformed by Jesus. Alright, we go to Tuesday's lesson, 'loving service.' We're directed to the story or the parable in Matthew chapter 25 of the sheep and the goats. Loving service. 'Many people wish to serve God,' someone said, 'but only in an advisory capacity.' And I hope that that's not our experience. They want to tell God what needs to be done.

'Why don't you do this and do that?' Rather than doing what God has asked us to do. And in Matthew chapter 25 we're told and we're shared - it's been told us here - and Jesus shares with us that, in essence, we are his hands and his feet and his mouth - you've heard it before. We are his ambassadors, his missionaries, the ones who care for others while Jesus is not here. We are his hands and his feet. And in this particular story Jesus - well, let's look at this here - verse 31 - Jesus is talking about his return and the judgment and he's talking about the goats and the sheep being separated and the King says to those on his right hand, which are the sheep, "come.

..inherit the Kingdom prepared for you" - verse 35 - why? - "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?" - Or a stranger, etc. And verse , "and the King shall answer and say unto them, 'verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'" Unto me. And this would just be talking about those - the brethren that followed Jesus or our professed Christians, this would be all of humanity - all of humanity are God's children when it comes to the way he loves the world and his views concerning mankind. What's the basic message of the parable of the sheeps and goats? Sheep and goats? Who was on the left? The goats because they didn't do those things to people in need.

They didn't - and then they didn't do it to Jesus, obviously. What's the basic message of the parable? Well, the way we treat others is the way we would treat Christ. It kind of builds on what we were reading here in 1 John 4:20 - the way we treat others is the way we would end up treating Jesus. I mean, that's pretty heavy stuff - pretty, pretty heavy. There's no other word for it.

We're responsible - we're not responsible - or rather, yes, we're not responsible for fixing all the ill around us, but we are responsible for doing what we can with what we have when we can do it, you see? You've probably heard the story about the kid who was on the beach and there were a whole bunch of jellyfish that had been washed up on the shore and he was - an older gentleman was walking the beach line - he was throwing the jellyfish - the young kid was throwing the jellyfish back into the water and the old man was watching this scene and the young man would pick up a jellyfish and throw it in the water. Another jellyfish and throw it in the water and the elderly man came over to the young man and said, 'what are you doing?' He said, 'well, I'm trying to save all the jellyfish.' And the beach was just littered with all these jellyfish. The old man said, 'there's no way you're going to make a difference.' With that the young kid picked up one of the jellyfish, threw it back in the water and he said, 'well, I made a difference to that one.' And that's what Jesus is asking us to do - to make a difference where we can. We're not individually called to fix all the world's problems. We can't do that.

But, individually and collectively, God's children can make a massive, massive difference. By the way, this teaching is not about - this story is not about great achievements either, but the spirit in which the work is done. If you go to Matthew chapter 7, there's a group of people when Jesus comes back and they're saying to him, 'lord, lord have we not done?' - We'll read it here together - Matthew 7:22 and 23 - Matthew :22 and 23 - it says, "many will say to me in that day, 'lord, lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?" So here are a bunch of people who've done a lot of good things and Jesus says to them, in verse , "and then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.'" So this is not - Jesus is not teaching salvation by doing good things for those in need. That's evident because the surprise of the saved ones demonstrates that they loved not to earn merit or gain merit. They said, 'when did we do those things?' We don't know.

Their left hand didn't know what their right hand was doing. Some folk are shaking their own hands for the good things that they do, but the encouragement is to not let your right hand know what your left hand does and vice versa. Just do it because Jesus is asking you to do it. And be happy to do it. Jesus is teaching salvation - Jesus teaches salvation through faith but a faith that works by love and purifies the soul.

That's what we're talking about here. Let's move to Wednesday. We were on Tuesday. We're going to Wednesday and let's talk about this sticky issue of loving your enemies. Loving your enemies - I want to tell you a quick story about an iranian lady.

Her name is ameneh bahrami - ameneh bahrami - and she lost her sight. Because she had suffered burns to her face, her scalp, and her body in an attack that was carried out by a man because he was mad. And the reason he was mad is because she refused to marry him. When she came from - where she comes from she had the legal right for the victims to ask - where she comes from the victims have a legal right to enforce a law - an eye for an eye law - it's eye for an eye - no pun intended. It's qisas - qisas - eye for an eye law - eye for eye retribution.

And so blinded and disfigured by the acid thrown into her face, ameneh found herself standing above her attacker in a hospital operating room as a doctor was about to put several drops of acid into one of his eyes - eye for an eye retribution - it was legal to do - it's legal to do that in iran. She'd been completely disfigured by this man because she said 'no' - he wanted to marry her. Good thing she said 'no', right? Man. There she was standing over him as a doctor was about to put acid into his eye. So what did she do? The man was on his knees.

He was weeping because he knew what was about to happen. The doctor realized that ameneh wasn't comfortable and asked whether he should proceed. With tears in her eyes she said, 'no.' She said 'no. I have forgiven him.' This gripping scene was broadcast on iran's state television. Ameneh bahrami demonstrated what it meant to forgive your debtors.

Love your enemies. Luke chapter 6 - let's go over there. We've got a little bit of ground to cover in a short time so I'm going to move over some of the notes I've got here, but let's go to Luke chapter 6, verses 27 and 28 - someone has Luke 6:32 to 35 - right here. Thanks Michael. Luke 6:27 and 28 - in what practical ways is love toward our enemies manifested? In what practical ways? Let's read 27 and 28 together.

It says, "but I say unto you" - this is Jesus - "which hear, love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." So an enemy can show - enemy can show enmity in three ways: hostile attitude - that's number one - they can hate you. They can share abusive words - curse you - and then have abusive actions - manifest abusive actions towards you - that's 'spitefully use you and persecute you.' But Jesus asks us to respond with three manifestations of love to counter the way that a person would have been treated. And that's in Luke chapter 6 and we're looking at verses to 35. Jesus says 'love your enemies.' Michael, would you proceed to read? Thank you. Luke 6, verses 32 through 35, "but if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the most high. For he is kind to the unthankful and evil." Amen. So the response here is to treat individuals that treat you poorly with dignity and respect.

Do good. To speak well of them even if they curse you. Bless them and intercede for them - pray for them when they persecute you and spitefully use you. The Christian's answer to antagonism and hatred is overcoming evil with good - Romans 12, verse 21. Naturally, we're not to put ourselves in a dangerous position.

We should remove ourselves from an abusive situation if need be. But we are not to treat others the way they might be treating us. And isn't it interesting? Jesus, in Luke chapter 6, verses through 35, talks about the need to live above the low standard of the world because even criminals help each other. He said, 'if you're helping someone who's helping you, what good is that? Even criminals, they'll help each other.' If we don't love in a superior way, what's the value of Christianity? That's what Jesus is asking. If you're just loving others because they're loving you, what good is that? But when you're loving others who aren't treating you well, now - now we're talking.

Now there's a manifestation of divine love - love that we do not naturally possess. And that leads us to Thursday's lesson, 'how to live like Jesus.' John chapter 15 and verse 5 - I'm going to have someone read that for us here. John chapter 15 and verse 5, thank you. We'll come over to you in just a moment. How can we ever hope to live like Christ? First, all his biddings are his enablings.

When Jesus commands us to do something, inherent in that command is a promise - a promise for grace - a promise for power to live above the hurt and the - the hurt that you may have experienced. First, all his biddings are enablings and every command is a promise. Number 2, he will work in us if we allow him to. Philippians 2, verse 13 says - tells us that God will work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure but we must be willing to let him do that. He'll work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure.

And number 3, we must abide in Jesus. John 15, verse 5. "I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." So as we abide in Jesus like the branch abides in the vine and the living sap moves through the vine to produce the leaves and the fruits of that vine - the fruit of that vine - so we are to be connected to Jesus - abide in him - allow his - the life-giving love of Christ to fill our hearts. And that happens through the Holy Spirit, you see. We can only love our neighbor as Christ gives us this love and we can only love like Jesus if we abide in him.

A couple of quick statements I want to read in closing. One is from 'the thoughts from the mount of blessing' page 76. Notice: "the standard" - or - "this standard is not one to which we cannot attain. At every command or injunction that God gives, there is a promise; the most positive underlying the command. God has made provision that we may become like unto him and he will accomplish this for all" - notice - "who do not interpose a perverse will and thus frustrate his grace.

" So if we simply just interpose a perverse will - we say we don't want to do it and we frustrate his grace - then we're blocking the channel for God's grace and love to flow through us, you see. The next statement is from 'Desire of Ages' and this is on page 668 - it'll help us out a Little bit more. "All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ and if we consent" - if we consent - that's give permission for something to happen - that's it - "he will so identify himself with our thoughts and our aims, so blend our hearts and our minds into conformity to his will, that when obeying him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses." If we but consent. God's grace and his love is already flowing and being poured out.

And if we but simply consent - if we don't block what he wants to do in our lives - how do we do that? By simply saying, 'no.' By simply saying, 'no.' But if we consent, Christ will identify himself with our thoughts, our aims - blend our hearts and minds to the conformity of his will. It's amazing what God's grace can do. I was sitting listening to an individual tell a story of an individual that she had met and would come across quite frequently and his lifestyle was alternative - he had some weird hair and some weird piercings and all types of weird things. And the Holy Spirit spoke to her and he told her, 'I want you - I want to use you to love that person - that man - I will love that man through you.' And her first response was 'I don't know if I can love that person.' God said, 'I'm going to love that person through you. The idea is you just need to consent.

And so she poured out love upon that young man and as I was talking to her she was just very enthusiastic about what God was doing. This man's - this guy's life was changing because of the love - the sympathy and compassion and goodness that she was heaping on this man. The color of his hair went back to normal. He started looking normal. He started looking like a young man all because she took time to allow God to love this man through her.

Living like Christ signifies loving like Christ, because Christ is love. May we love like Christ because Christ's love is flowing through us. I want to thank you for joining us as well, all our viewers. And please, don't forget to call in and receive your free offer, the Bible study 'a love that transforms' - offer #710 - and you want to call into -866-study-more or -866-788-3966. Thank you for joining us.

God bless you each. I trust you've been blessed and encouraged this morning.

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