Jesus Calls Disciples to Extreme Love
Description: Jesus invites us to love in extreme, counter-intuitive ways. He calls us to love our enemies even though they treat us in hostile ways.
Keywords: Gospel, Jesus, God, Luke, narrative, Son of God, Bible, Sermon, Bible Fellowship Church, BFC, Whitehall, Northern Lehigh
Date: February 14, 2016
Speaker: Pastor Tim
Scripture: Luke 6:27-36
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Audio: Listen to this Sermon (time 42:31)
Notes: Read Sermon Notes
Transcript (new way)
“Jesus Calls Disciples to Extreme Love” PASTOR SCHMOYER: (Luke 6:27-36) “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? Even the sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? Even the sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, do good, lend expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and to the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Friends, it’s God’s Word. I like how Jesus begins. Jesus in this whole passage is calling us to an extreme kind of love, a love that is beyond normal, and in today’s passage he’s inviting you to love in absurd ways. It is absurd, isn’t it? It’s ridiculous to consider the fact that we should care about people that are smacking us on the face. When I get smacked on the face, what do I do next? Go around, I take a wide berth around that individual. I avoid their glance, I ignore them, I pay them no mind, and I want nothing to do with them. I don’t want to act the way they act, but I don’t want them to treat me the way that they treated me last go-around. Jesus says turn the other cheek. Jesus says love that person, pray for that person, bless that person. This is an absurd, or as your sermon title says, this is an extreme type of love. And notice how he begins in verse 37: to those of you who hear I say this. Are you hearing this morning, are you listening? Do you care what God has to say to you? It’s very easy for us to receive the things that we want Jesus to say: eternal life, forgiveness of my sin. But for me to forgive the other person? That goes a bit too far. I don’t want to hear that. I want to hear all the good things God has for me, but I don’t want to hear all of the painful things that he calls me to do. And friends, Jesus says to you, if you’re hearing, hear this. I would ask you to just tune your hearts with me. I’ve had a frantic morning running around, running up to Northern Lehigh, running back to my house. My daughter this morning at 6 a.m. is experiencing some digestive issues, if you know what I’m saying. Sorry, Babe. I threw her under the bus. She’s probably watching online right now and not feeling so hot, let’s just put it that way. So I’m getting the kids, I’m grabbing Rachel’s Sunday School lesson to give it to Lea. I’m frantic, my mind is racing every direction, and I need to just pause because I need to hear what this says. And will you pause with me? God, Jesus says if we hear, let us hear this. Can you help us to hear this morning? Can you help us to receive this this morning? Help me to get out of the way and help your Word to say what it says because you say it best, King Jesus. Amen. He talks about three kinds of love. The first of them is extreme love, extreme love, a kind of love that is extraordinary. And what is our mission by the way? We’re here to introduce ordinary people to extraordinary life, ever-growing life. If you want your life to grow, if you want your spiritual life to come alive, it takes extraordinary things and it takes extreme kinds of things, and Jesus is inviting you to an extreme, extraordinary kind of life with an extreme, extraordinary kind of love, and he says to those of us who have chosen this morning to hear from him, he says this: “Love your enemies.” He says later in the passage, verse 32, it’s easy to love people that love us. Isn’t it nice to be nice to people that are nice to you? That’s easy. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. That’s how this world works. Notice how Jesus says it in verse 35. “Even the sinners do that.” I don’t want to be like the sinners. I want to be like the Lord Most High, I want to be a son of the Lord Most High. And he says look, I do this, so now I’m calling you to do this. An extreme kind of love, love your enemy. Do good to those who hate you. Do you ever feel like you’re hated? Someone in your workplace, in your neighborhood, God forbid someone in your own home, hates you. Do you feel hated by anyone, is there anyone that just hates you? You feel that, you feel the tension in that relationship. And Jesus does not say, now avoid them, and he doesn’t say, now it’d be all right if you wanted to go get them. He says this is what you get them with; get them with love. More on that in a little bit. We’re going to come back to that when we get to Jesus, when we get to the third idea. Love your enemies. Think of someone who’s your enemy; think of someone that hates you; think of someone that abuses your good name, who mistreats you, and care about that person, bless that person. When someone says something nasty about you, say something nice about them. This is what bless those who speak ill of you, who curse you. To curse someone isn’t to use foul language. That’s technically not cursing, that’s profanity, and so we have to bone up on our English here. All right? Profanity is using foul language. Cursing is speaking ill or wishing harm to someone. I wish you would drop dead. That’s cursing someone, that’s cursing. To call someone names is bad enough, right? To be called a bad name is bad enough, but to wish harm and to speak out wishing harm on someone, that is worse, and Jesus says when you’re treated that way, when people speak ill of you, you speak good of them. And so here’s maybe a first homework assignment. If I’m going to bless someone, speak good about someone that has spoken bad of me, the hard part of actually doing that is thinking of them in any other way than what you just heard them say about you; forgetting what they said and think, what is there in this person that I can speak well of? I can’t speak well of what they just said, but is there some positive thing in their life that I can say wow, you know what? This person really excels at this, whatever it is. Blessing someone who curses you. Praying for someone that abuses you. Have you ever been mistreated? Maybe someone doesn’t hate you, but they have treated you poorly, they’ve mistreated you, or as the text says they’ve abused you. Pray for that person. That person that isn’t treating you kindly, pray for them. And the prayer is not, God, you’re not allowing me to go get them, so now I’m asking you, you go get them. You rain on their parade, God, you get them. There are moments in biblical history where people have done that, and it was a God-ordained thing. There are even Psalms in the book of Psalms where they’re called imprecatory Psalms where you’re wishing harm on your enemy. It’s God-ordained; it’s God-inspired; it’s there in the scripture. We can’t ignore it, there is opportunity for that. These are opportunities like perhaps, I don’t know, like Hitler, bin Laden. All right. Heinous, wicked, powerful people. God, we pray that you would get them and stop that. There is a time for that. Jesus is not calling you in your interpersonal problems to jump to that end conclusion. There is time for that, but right now the time is pray a blessing on them. God, help them; God, help them to overcome what you’ve helped me overcome. Right? I would have acted the exact same way, except that you saved me, God, and now I’m praying that you would help them to overcome the way you’ve helped me now overcome. See, that’s a changed heart in here. And I think sometimes God allows hardships from outside to touch this tender heart, hardships from outside to pain me so that he can teach me to pray that kind of prayer, that kind of prayer that Jesus prayed. And we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Do you understand? Pray for someone. So he’s given us three assignments already. Do good to them. This is one way in which we love our enemy, do good to them. As Paul says in Romans 12, if someone is your enemy, give them a cup of cold water and bless them in that way. Feed your enemy, help your enemy, do good here, Jesus says, to your enemy. A second way: bless that person that’s speaking ill of me, say something good while they’re saying something bad. And finally, a third assignment, pray for that person. So I’m doing something to them. I’m doing something to everyone around them. I’m doing good. Right, that’s what I’m doing to them. I’m speaking well of them, that’s something I’m doing to everyone around them. And then I’m going to the Father and I’m praying for them. So I’m doing three things about that individual that is my enemy. Now in 29, when they strike me on the cheek, turn the other cheek. I do need to say something here about the end of 28, abuse, and then 29, the person that strikes you. And I need to say this. Okay? This is about being mistreated for the name of Jesus Christ. All right? You’re a follower of Jesus Christ, and because of that someone is mistreating you. Let me prove it. Jump back to verse 22. “Bless the people that hate you when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.” So the whole context of this whole passage is I’m being mistreated by someone merely because I follow Jesus Christ. And so I need to insert something about this. If you are being abused, if someone in your life is mistreating you physically, violently, you don’t take this passage and say, Jesus, I’m going to live this out now and I’m going to continue to be battered. That’s a crime, not against you but against society. Right? That is a crime. This is about being mistreated for the name of Jesus Christ, persecution. And persecution is a crime, but what I’m saying is that domestic violence isn’t what Jesus was referring to. He’s referring to persecution for your faith. And so in this context I would speak to anyone that is silently, quietly enduring. That is a crime against me as well and everyone around you. When you’re being mistreated, that’s a crime, and crime needs judgment, it needs to be punished. Criminals need to be punished. And we can talk more about that one on one. Jesus is attacking my lack of commitment about being persecuted for my Christian faith. I don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb. Jesus is saying, stand out like a sore thumb, and when that sore thumb gets afflicted for its being the sore thumb, praise the Lord; keep on keeping on; love those people. He then goes in verse 30. Okay? “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes from you goods don’t demand them back.” If someone steals from you because you’re a Christian, don’t insist on your rights. Now, here’s the thing, Americans. We’re a culture of rights and we’re not a culture of responsibilities. You tell me what I have to do? Shove off. Who are you? You tell me what I deserve? Yeah, that’s right, now I have it coming, right? We are an entitlement, we are a rights culture. And Jesus says when your rights are infringed, thank the Lord. Don’t claim your rights, give freely. Wow. How are you feeling so far? Happy Valentine’s Day. Thirty-one. All right, let’s move into our second idea. So just one last thing. This is hard, right? This is tough, this is painful. And Jesus says yeah, and that’s what I did for you. So if he did it for us, let us do it for others, and they’ll know we’re Christians by our love. Not by our insistence on our rights: it’s my constitutional right to be a person of faith and don’t get in my way, and we’re not sounding a whole lot like Jesus when we do that kind of stuff, right? We’re a whole lot like Jesus when we say, not my will be done but let your will be done. Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing. That sounds a lot more like Jesus than this. (descriptive gesture) And so I would invite you to just apply this. There are ways in which God is inviting you to an extreme kind of love. Maybe there are some enemies that you’re facing, people that just don’t like you. Maybe there are people that are just really unloveable. All right, apply those kinds of things. And I would just invite you to think of maybe five of those people. Just think of five unloveable people, people that are a pain to you. How can you serve them this week in an unexpected way? It would be unexpected when someone speaks ill of you to say something kind about them. They would not expect that. All right? Maybe do that this week the next time they chide you. You know what? I really do care about you, friend. Let’s do lunch. Something kind that they would not expect. Hopefully one of the persons on your list is not hey, let’s go out for dinner, Happy Valentine’s Day, Babe, and you’re talking about your wife. She expects you and you need to do that, and so go do that. That’s not one of your five this week. All right? Think about that, pray about that; who can you serve. This is our decision point No. 1. Let’s get into No. 2. Verse 31, I’ll draw your attention there. “As you wish that others would do to you, so do to them.” What do we call this? This is what? The Golden Rule, do to others what you want done to you. This is the Golden Rule. Jesus is laying down a new way of thinking. Don’t treat people the way that they treat you; treat people the way you want to be treated. How many of you like getting smacked in the face? Anybody enjoy that? Devon does. Jen, write that down. That’s going to be important later. Okay. No one likes that, and so why would you be doing that to someone else? The way you want others to treat you, you treat them that way. You love when you turn the corner and someone is talking about you. You love that, right? Anybody? You love being gossiped about? So why do you gossip? Why are you tearing someone’s reputation down while they’re not hearing you? If you do have a problem, go to that person and make it right. That’s too hard. It’s much easier to let everyone else know the problem but not that person. The person that actually could fix the problem, the individual I have the beef with? Why would I go to the person that can actually fix the problem? You can go to everyone else that can’t fix the problem, and I’ll tell them how lousy that louse is. That’s how normal people live. And Jesus is saying don’t do what people do to you, do what you want them to do to you. How you want to be treated, treat other people that way. And so I would invite you to follow the Lord in this way. That’s all I could say about this. This is different. So think about the ways that I like to be cared for. Care for someone else that way. Treat someone else kindly because you enjoy being treated kindly; give someone a hug because you love when people give you a hug. If you hate being hugged, give someone a high-five because you like getting a high-five, or a fist bump or whatever, a holy handshake, because we don’t greet each other with a holy kiss, we greet each other with a holy handshake. In Japan do they greet each other with a holy kiss? This is very non-East Asian, right? They don’t kiss each other there. How do the brethren over in Japan greet each other? MR. WEINHOFER: They bow. PASTOR SCHMOYER: They bow to each other. Wouldn’t you love to have someone bow to you? Wouldn’t that be awesome? And then you bow to them, and then they’ll bow to you. How I like to be cared for. We all like to be cared for. None of us like to be ignored, and so don’t ignore someone else. I had to apologize to Dennis one day. Sunday School was just about to begin and I was rushing to get some assignment done, and we walked right past each other and I didn’t stop and say hi, and later I made that right. I said, Dennis, I’m so sorry. I had a one-track mind and I didn’t say hi to you, and so I made that right with him. Do you like to be ignored? No. You like to be recognized, so recognize other people. How do you like being loved? Love other people that way. This is what Jesus is saying in verse 31, that’s all he’s saying. I’ve made the mistake one time when I was a bit immature in my faith, and maybe you’ve done this as well. A Christian who clearly knew what this verse said treated me in a way that I did not appreciate. They went around me to talk to other people instead of coming to me. And so I took this verse and I said, well, they treated me that way, that must be the way they want to be treated. Because they’re living by this verse and they treated me that way, so clearly they want to be treated that way. Was that mature on my part? No. I should have went back to the top: Love your enemy, pray for that person that speaks ill of you, bless them, and do not speak unkindly of them. And I did not apply God’s word. I took that verse and I twisted it for my own immature purposes. It doesn’t say treat people the way they want to be treated. It says treat people the way you want them to treat you. So I would ask you to take out your connection card again, and the second check box is this: “I will identify and meet needs that make the greatest impact for others.” You want to be blessed, you want to be impacted, you want people to care for you; and so in what ways can I make the greatest impact to help someone else and to meet their need. Let’s get into point No. 3. We’ll wrap it up. “Love people in ways that God loves.” So we’re not only saying the way that I want to be loved, but look at the way that God loves people and love people the way that God loves them. You’ll notice the flow in verse 32. “If you love people that love you, what is the benefit to you?” Even sinners do the same, they love those who love them. Verse 33. “If you do good to those who do good to you, what is the benefit to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what is the credit to you? Even sinners lend and get back the same.” What he’s saying is do you want to be like the sinner who treats people nice when those other people treat them nice; and it’s just tit for tat, you scratch my back, I scratch yours. Do you want to live in only those kinds of one-for-one relationships? They scratch my back, I scratch theirs; then they scratch my back, then I scratch theirs. Even sinners do that, even non-believers do that. Do you want to live just like every other non-believer or, verse 35, do you want to live like you’re a son of the Most High God? Verse 35. “Love your enemies, do them good, lend expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” So the question in this whole passage from 32 to 36, the whole thing is do I want to act like every other Joe Blow non-believer, or do I want to act like my Heavenly Father. Which one do I want to be in the boat with? Do I want to be in the boat with everyone bound to hell, or do I want to be in the boat that’s on its way towards heaven? I want to act like my Father in heaven instead of acting like everyone else around me. And so I’m not just going to scratch people’s backs because they’re going to scratch mine. I’m going to scratch people’s backs, I’m going to help people, bless people, love people because the Father in heaven wants his kids to act like him. Yesterday a bunch of you met my sister Becky. She is from the Ephrata church. Not Ephrata. She lives in Ephrata. She’s from the Terre Hill Bible Fellowship Church. So she was up here, and a bunch of you said she and I sound alike, we talk in similar ways, have the same kind of voice pattern. Well, why do two siblings talk similarly? Because the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. Our mom and our dad talked that way, and then so we learn, we grow watching how our parents did it. In your life how many of you swore, when I’m a parent I’m never going to do that the way my parent did that? And then the baby comes and you’re on the spot, and you end up doing exactly what your parents always did even though you swore you would never parent that way. Why? Because we follow the example of the people that went before us, we follow the example of Mom and Dad. And that’s what’s going on here. Am I going to follow the example of all the sinners around me, or am I going to sit in the household with my Heavenly Father and allow his character, his attitudes, his affections for those who are ungrateful and evil, am I going to allow his character to rub off on me. Am I going to stay with my Heavenly Father, my dad, long enough that his way of doing things rubs off on me. One day Jesus was on the spot. The Pharisees were abusing and attacking him, and he said in John’s gospel, You are just like your father, the devil. Now, that went off like a lead balloon. They did not receive that well. He was right, it was the thing that was most needed in that circumstance. He was not cursing those who cursed him. He was helping them to see what they were acting like, and he said you’re just like your father, the devil; you’re acting the way he acted. And I guess I have to ask myself a question. If Jesus was in this room, if Jesus could speak into my heart, what would he be saying now? You are acting, you are loving just like the way every other sinner loves people, or would he come and would he say, would he speak with that gentle, quiet, powerful voice: I really see you loving people the way our Lord Most High loves people. I would hope that it’s that, right? I would hope that he would say, the Father is rubbing off on you. You’re really starting to act like our dad. I would hope that our Heavenly Father could say, Well done good and faithful servant. You’re acting like Papa. I hope that he can say that about you. Now, I’m in a very delicate position. I’m your pastor, and sometimes I have to say you’re loving the way that the sinners love. You’re not genuinely loving the hard-to-love person the way our Heavenly Father loves. And sometimes I get to celebrate with you. You excelled, you did just what Jesus called you to do. And if Jesus could speak into your heart, which would he be saying to you right now? Which of these is your kind of love? Love the way that the enemies love, love the way the sinners love, love the way the Lord Most High loves. What is true of you? Just get out the litmus test, take the test. Where is the balance in your life? Do you love in ways that God loves? Notice verse 35. “You will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and to the evil.” When was the last time you bought someone a present, you gave them a gift, no strings attached, and they did not thank you for that gift? It hurts, right? You went to a lot of effort, you expended some money, you took time out of your life to go do that and bless them, but they did not receive that with thankfulness. They were, verse 35, ungrateful. And you have the opportunity to lambaste and say, You ingrate. Which is just a really nasty way of saying you were really ungrateful, but ingrate sounds much worse. Ingrate. And this is what Jesus is saying. The Lord Most High does good and treats people kindly even though they’re ungrateful. The Father knows they’re going to be ungrateful, he knows the ends from the beginning, and he still is kind and blesses and gives and is generous. And I would ask you, the next time you’re treated with ingratitude, the next time you love and it’s not reciprocated, the next time you love someone and they really don’t pick up on your extravagant love: All right, God, I’m choosing to be like you. I’m choosing to just keep on loving even though it’s not reciprocated. I’m just going to keep on keeping on, I’m going to just keep on being like my Lord in the heavens because he does it without expecting anything in return. He does not do it in order for us to demonstrate our gratitude. Now, does that mean we should continue being ungrateful? No. We ought to be grateful, we ought to give thanks to the Lord, and we ought to give thanks to each other as we receive their love, and we ought to reciprocate and give back to those people the love that they’re expressing to us. But when it is not reciprocated, I’m going to choose to act like my Father in heaven instead of acting like all the sinners that would give them what for and let them have it for not reciprocating. He’s also, the end of verse 35, kind to the evil. And this is where I want to camp out with you as we wrap things up. God is kind to evil people. A question for you. Before you became the excellent specimen of Christian love and doctrinal fortitude, before you are what you are, you are what you were, was there ever a time in your life where God was kind to you, the evil one? I wasn’t ever evil. I was always this fine specimen of Christian, walking and living and loving. No, you weren’t, and no, neither was I. The scripture teaches that we were at that time enemies of God, and we were children of God’s wrath. And here in the text how does God treat you and I? Well, we know from experience and we know from the text, the text says he was kind to us who were evil. And we know from our own experience we were God’s enemies. And Romans 5:8, “God demonstrated his love towards us in this way; while we were his enemies Christ died for us.” See, God was kind to you and to me. He loved us while we were ingrates and while we were evil, and all he’s doing is asking you to do to others what God did to you; to pay it forward, right, to pass it on to the next. You received forgiveness from him, and now you extend that forgiving kind of love to other individuals. Let’s comb through the text once again and see how God demonstrated his love towards us. “While we were his enemies Christ died for us.” Verse 27, “Love your enemies.” Did Christ love us? Well, Romans 5:8 says while we were his enemies he died for us. Love your enemies. Christ did that, God did that, and now he’s calling you to do it. “Do good to those who hate you.” Was Jesus hated in his earthly ministry? On Palm Sunday — just a couple weeks from now — on Palm Sunday what were they saying to the Lord Jesus mounted on that donkey? What were they saying? Hail, King of the Jews; hail, Son of David; hail, hallelujah. “Worthy is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” they all exclaimed, taking off their garments, laying them down at his feet as he marched into the city mounted on the donkey. And yet five days later, four and a half days later, same crowd, before Pontius Pilate what is the crowd now saying? Crucify him! Now, you can’t say that nicely. There’s no way in which you lovingly say, crucify him! You have to say it angrily. And so they were hating him, and yet he did good to them. Verse 28. “Bless those who curse you.” Remember what the Pharisees and Sadducees did. They were spitting on him on the cross. “He saved others; why can’t he save himself?” They’re speaking evil of him. And yet with love, with love he speaks kindly and gently. He speaks to them, and he speaks to his Father in prayer, and that’s what the next is, pray for those who abuse you. There is no abuse like being nailed to the tree while everyone looks at you hanging naked on a cross while you suffocate to death, and they laugh and they scorn, and what does he say? What does he say to the Father, how does he pray? Oh, God, now it’s time; get them good. What does he pray? “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they’re doing.” And I wonder if we pray to the Father about our enemies with that kind of love. Oh, no. We pray: God, get them; God, stop them; God, allow this to stop. And yet we don’t choose to pray what the Lord prayed in the garden. “Let this cup pass from me. But, Father, not my will be done, let your will be done.” And so he prayed for those who abused him. Verse 29. “One who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well.” And remember our Lord while he was on trial. Remember how the chief priest said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And how our Lord replied gently, and the guards struck him, and then they struck him. And then after that they took him to Pontius Pilate who instructed him to be beaten, and they whipped him 39 times. Why? Because our Lord turned the cheek to us, his enemies. He treated you with that kind of love; now treat your enemies that way. Now keep going in verse 29. “The one who takes your cloak, don’t withhold your tunic either.” They’ve taken away your outer garment, now give them your inner garment. And remember our Lord. When the guards nailed him to the tree, what did they do? They took off his cloak, they took off his tunic. There our Lord hung stark-naked on the cross, and they threw dice at his feet to decide which one of them would take his cloak. And did our Lord stop that? The omnipotent God, did he stop this abuse? No. He prayed, he blessed, he bled, he died for you, for me, for the nations. And our Lord loves you this way, and so now you love the world that way. They will know that we are Christians by our love. And so our last connection point. If you would take out your connection card, our last check box: “I will join Christ” — see, I’m not asking you to do anything that the Lord did not do for you. “I will join Christ in giving myself up to love the undeserving.” Notice it says to the ungrateful, to the evil. They don’t deserve your love. And yet God loved you while you did not deserve it, and so get out there and love. It’s Valentine’s Day. We’re going to love those who love us, and I’d ask you this week to pay it forward and love people who are unloveable, love people who treat us painfully, love people who hate the name of Christ, and care for them and shepherd them and tend to them, and perhaps by God’s grace they will see your demonstration of love and they will come to a commitment with Jesus Christ through your sacrificial, unexpected love for them. Friends, let’s pray. God, we love you, and we know what your scripture says. We love you because you first loved us. And we have the power and the integrity, and we have the direction and we have your Holy Spirit, and we can love others because you first loved us. Help us to get out there and do it. This faith of ours isn’t just me and you one on one, a private walk all by myself. No. This is a very public walk where Jesus says the world will know that my gospel is true when my disciples love the way that I love this world. Lord, help us to care the way that you care, help us to lay down our lives for the sake of your good news the way that you laid down your life. Let us join you in caring for our enemies since you cared for us while we were at that time enemies of God. I pray for anyone in this room that realizes maybe even right now, I’ve never experienced God’s love in that great way; I’ve never been a recipient of God’s forgiveness. And friend, he wants to extend that to you, he wants to be kind to you, and yet all it takes is a simple prayer to begin this beautiful relationship with God. It takes a prayer, and if you’re ready to begin the walk of following God, and here are all these people that are excited to have you join God’s family. He your Father, us your brothers, your sisters, and he would love for you to join his family even now. He extends a simple statement of belief: Whoever confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, that person will be saved. And I’d ask you to decide even this moment to put your trust in what Jesus did for you. He loved you to this great extent. Would you come to him and receive his love? And so if you want to pray, it’s just talking, praying is talking, and God can hear our thoughts, he can hear what we think, as well as he can hear what we say. Just along with me in the quietness of this still moment would you pray with me? Jesus, I believe that you are the Savior of the world. I believe you came to save me, but I’ve never asked you to do that, and today I’m asking. Would you forgive me of my sin? I’ve done wrong against God. I have done too many things to count, sins; where I was angry with people, where I used your name carelessly, where I lashed out and harmed people. I lied, I stole, I cheated. I am not a good person, and, God, I would ask that you would forgive me. Come into my life, be my Savior and be my Lord. Help me to do what’s right, help me to obey you and to love with this extreme kind of love, to care for people the way that this calls me to care for people. Only you can empower me to do that. Would you help me to do that now? Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sin; I believe that you came back from death to life; and I’d ask that you would bring this dead heart to life. This spirit within me that’s dead, would you bring me to life, I pray? Friend, if you asked the Lord for that, he will do it. It is the one prayer he always says yes to. Welcome to God’s family. Now, God, as we, your people, have heard your word, now we’re going out to have to now do this. Easy to hear, hard to do. Would you empower us to do it for your glory and for the witness of your fame in this land. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.