Program Air Date - 1-7-01



Here we are, the year 2001 and we welcome you to our first Living Word Program of this exciting New Year. We thank you for choosing to be with us today for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God.

This program has always been committed to doing what God wants, in the way He wants. We accomplish this by collectively singing songs of praise to glorify His name. We also study from His Word, to learn what He wants of us. And we further, approach His throne in prayer, so that we may talk to our creator! So, at this time, let's humbly bow our heads before our God.

In John 14:1-3 Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." Won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing about those mansions prepared for us in Heaven. The name of the song, "Mansion Over The Hill Top."


Now that the crazy holiday rush is over, I hope we have all sat down, taken a deep breath and considered some of the new goals that we want to accomplish this new year. I think that often we plan to fail, mostly, because we fail to plan. In other words, we can do nothing and expect something good or great to come out from it. Obviously, it takes a lot of planning, patience, time, effort, and commitment to accomplish anything worthwhile in this life. As we all know there is nothing in this life worth anything that comes completely free.

Some have misunderstood or taken out of context some of the words of our Lord in the Bible in relationship to planning. In fact, many like to quote the verse found in Matthew 6:34. There Jesus said, "do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." In this verse is Jesus saying don't plan or set goals in this life? Certainly not. What He is trying to say is that we don't focus and worry so much about what will happen tomorrow that we forget to do the things which we need to today.

Another verse which might help us to understand what God truly wants is found in Luke 14:28-29. Here again, we have recorded the words of Christ, as He said, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it; lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him." This verse helps us to see that Jesus knew it was necessary to consider tomorrow and the things concerning it - if we are to be good stewards of what He has asked us to do.

Now, in the same text, go back to verse 27 with me, where Jesus said, "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." So, Jesus was trying to say that part of bearing our cross and following Him is in finding out what He wants and planning to do it. You and I both know, that if we are going to be able to accomplish anything in any part of life - again, it requires good planning and execution of what we determine to be the goal.

So, consider today whether you have made the goals and plans necessary to accomplish great things for your Jesus. If not, then why not begin today taking the time to find out what Jesus wants. Then we can obey His Will and follow His Word, by executing those plans and goals which help us to accomplish it.

Today I will be speaking on the topic of, "Who is my neighbor?," This is our next lesson in the series we are studying which is called "The Lord's Response." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of the next selection is, "My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less."
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Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with our program this morning as we now look into the pages of God's word a bit more clearly. We ask that you will look first of all into the book of Luke, and we're going to be reading in just a moment, several verses from chapter 10, so if you have your Bibles, you need to get them. I hope you will so that we might really draw our study from that as our main text today. As you know, we've been looking at many of the different ideas in the Bible especially the New Testament and the gospel accounts where we have the questions by Jesus. We've also referred to this as the Lord's response. Not only did He at times answer with questions or He Himself ask questions, but even when there were questions asked of Him, in other words, individuals would come to Him and ask Him something. We do find that very often the response that He would give them would be a question to help answer theirs. And if not even that, sometimes He would even give a parable or an illustration rather than just coming out and giving maybe a clear or distinct question or answer rather. He would give some type of an answer that again would cause the individual to think or really consider for themselves what would be true or false in a certain situation. So this morning again that's exactly what we want to look at as we consider a question that was asked by a lawyer as we will read here in just a moment beginning in verse 25 of chapter 10. And this lawyer again coming to Him as the verse says in a way that he might be able to test Him or try Jesus in some way. Now we really don't know the full motives of this man. We don't know if maybe he was just intrigued maybe by the way that Jesus spoke or the way that He answered things or whether he really wanted to trip Him up in some way. We really don't know completely here but we know in some way he was testing Him or really questioning Him to try to find out maybe really if He was the Christ or if He had the ability to know things that He needed to know as far as in relationship to the old law and also the new law.

We'll see that also in our story here as we begin now in chapter 10 and verse 25. Read with me there as it says, And behold a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Now here we see a question. We see a very clear question from a man again who wants to know something. He wants to know how is it that he inherits eternal life. Now this man obviously being most likely of God or at least who was aware of God or the things that God required, even the things of Judaism. Here we see he's asking a question that probably knows the answer to it at least at this point in his knowledge and the things he knows of the old law. And we know that because basically as we look at verse 26, Jesus replies with a question and He says to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" So now, He turns it around immediately and He says, "Well, what do you think the answer is according to what you've read in the law?" Here again referring to the old law, the law of Moses, those concepts from the Old Testament that we're able to draw from what we even have in our own Bibles, those teachings that were there given to those even at Mount Sinai and were used all the way up until the time of Christ. That's exactly what He's asking him here, And again, the reason I say this lawyer had to have been familiar with these things is because in the next verse, that is verse 27, he answers in relationship to what the law said. Notice with me there. He says, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your strength, and with all of your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Here we have a list given of things which are from the old law that again remind us of the great need that we have to love God. Now who knew this? Who gave this answer? Well again, it was this lawyer, this individual who had come to test Jesus.

Again, notice according to the series we've been covering. Here a question was asked by the lawyer. A question was returned by Jesus and then a question was again asked by the same man, or answered again by the same man in relationship to what Jesus had said. So we see a lot of use again of questioning and how really effective this was in helping the individual for themselves to consider a situation and then really to understand the answer on their own without Jesus even having to maybe say specifically what it is. It caused a person to really use their own judgment and wisdom to know what God would have them to understand in any given matter.

Now if you continue with me though, you'll see that there is something else that comes out of the conversation. It doesn't just stop there where the lawyer says, "Well, I'm satisfied." Because Jesus obviously in the next verse acknowledges that what he said was correct according to the old law. It says there, at least in the words of the Lord, You have answered rightly. Do this and you will live. So then another answer that is given. Another answer to really the answer of the question that Jesus had first given to this lawyer. And what had He done? He had answered right according to what? Answered right according to the old law, and that's why here Jesus commends this man and says, "If you'll just do these things that you have acknowledged, then truly you'll be acceptable. You will be right before your God." We know that this was a time that was still under the old law. Even Jesus Christ as He spoke during these times here in the gospel accounts was under the old law. Why? Because His blood had not yet been shed. He had not died on the cross so that the new covenant could be sealed. The new covenant that we are of today. So this man's answer was correct. It was correct because he was under the old law and still required to serve the old law, but that wasn't the end of it because the lawyer comes back with another question that really he takes from the answer that he gave to Jesus when Jesus had questioned him.

Notice in verse 29 as it says, But he wanting to justify himself said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" A question here: Who is my neighbor? If you'll remember the last point that he made in His answer was that we also were to know our neighbors, to love our neighbors, to care for them. And then the lawyer said, "Well, who is my neighbor?" Maybe he was thinking, "Have I done this? I've done these other things. I've loved God and these other things seem easy to him, but have I really loved my neighbor? Who is this neighbor that I should love or treat rightly or care about or really consider as one who is worthy of knowing the Lord more, of knowing God more?" And then again we know that Jesus answers his question and really answers the question not again just verbatim with a short phrase but He answers it in a way that again causes this man to consider himself what the answer should be and he does that by reading that and really discussing the parable that we refer to as the good Samaritan, a very beautiful parable that we're reminded of the story where there was a man who was on the road. And as we read there in verses 30, we see that he was one who was beaten, who was stripped, all of his things were stolen, his clothing even, and he was wounded and left for dead basically on that road. And then the story unfolds as we continue in verse 31 and we see that there was a certain priest that came along the way. Now let me remind you here, this man was of Jericho who had been beaten and harmed, and we see that basically at least he was traveling on that road and would have either been from Jerusalem or Jericho, very likely an individual who possibly was a Jew, or one who was a follower or knew at least of what God had wanted. But then this High Priest who was truly one, rather not a High Priest but a priest here, who was truly of God who should have known what God wanted. This man sees the situation and when he sees it, notice what it says there in verse 31. This certain priest passed by on the other side. Now we've all done that before. Maybe we've seen somebody coming in the mall that we're mad at or we've been angry at or maybe we see somebody on the road that really we don't like, and we act like we're looking the other way so we won't have to wave at them. Well here we see this priest who saw the situation, saw this man suffering and moaning and possibly crying out for help. But what does he do? It says there that he passes on the other side to try and stay away from him, maybe acting as if he didn't see what had happened, or even if he saw it, he just looked and then went on his way. He didn't care enough. Again, a priest, one who was supposed to be one carrying out the laws of God for the people on behalf of the people.

Notice next though in verse 32, another one is mentioned there, a Levite. Notice the Levite was the priestly tribe. So again, a very religious individual, one who at least knew what God had wanted. But this man here also came. He looked, it says. He looked at the situation that had taken place, but again as this response says, he also passed by on the other side. He avoided the situation. He saw a man in need, possibly one of his own brethren, someone that he was aware of, that he knew, but now again, what took place? He went the other way. He wasn't willing to help. Things that you and I are often guilty of even in our day and time. But then notice as the story goes on, in verse 33, a certain Samaritan. Let me remind you now that those from Jerusalem, Jericho, the Levite, the priest here, these would have been individuals that would have skulked at Samaritans. Why? Because Samaritans were considered as a mixed breed, people who really weren't pure as far as being pure Jews. They were mixed from other groups, other different nationalities, and because of that they were looked down on and considered really as worthless in many ways. They were very much considered that they were not those who were purely of God. And because of this though, we find here in this story that Jesus uses this I believe to make a very clear point. As sometimes it was even the Samaritan who really was an outcast from those at least of the Jews who is now the one as it says here, who when he saw him, he was moved with compassion, as it says there in verse 33. What a beautiful, beautiful answer. What a beautiful lesson that we find here. The answer that this man has is that compassion was in his heart and what does it cause him to do? He went to him, in verse 34, that he bandaged his wounds, he poured oil and wine. He put him on his own animal. He carried him into the city to an inn and then he was willing to pay for everything, that this man had need of, as he was put there in that place and had nothing because it all had been stolen.

Notice again these things that took place. Jesus here used a story in order that this man himself might understand. But then notice what Jesus did in verse 36. In verse 36 He said, So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? Notice again that Jesus goes back and asks a question after He tells a story. So He tells this whole story and then again as a question and in the form of a question, He really uses that to answer what the man had originally asked. And notice what the answer is that this lawyer gives in verse 37. He says, He who showed mercy on him. He didn't go back and say it was the Samaritan, because we know he would have had a problem with Samaritans. We know that being one who was more of the Jewish faith, he would not have really even wanted to mention that word, like a dirty word in his mouth. But here again, we see that he says, "The one who showed compassion." See, he realized the bigger picture here. He realized that what Jesus was saying as He Himself had even realized that it didn't matter who it was, whoever showed great compassion and love and care and concern for another, that is a true neighbor. And notice here that it wasn't just something that this man talked about. It wasn't something that he said, "Well, I want to be a good neighbor. I would help them." It wasn't like the priest who said, "Well, if I had more time I would do it." It wasn't like as it says here, the Levite who says, "Well, I'm going to go home first. Then I'm going to come back and help." It wasn't like that but he immediately, immediately responded to the need of another. He showed the love, compassion and even opened his pocketbook which is sometimes so hard for many of us, in order that he might help another. And in these things, we find such great encouragement because here again the answers were given by beautiful questions, responses again, as we have considered from our Lord.

Now if you'll notice the last statement that Jesus made after He gives this answer, this answer that the one who showed mercy. The last statement He makes there in verse 37 is, Go and do likewise. Twice here, as the man said that we should love the Lord our God with everything that we have, every part of ourselves, whether it is the physical or the spiritual. And then He says, the neighbor portion, Make sure and go and do it. And if you do these things then obviously God is going to be well pleased with us. And the same is true for us today because you and I know that God expects us to do the very same thing. He expects us to have that love for others and to know that if we really act on that love, then people will know that yes, we really care about others and that we really feel that they are our neighbors. They are worthy of us. They are those that we not only love and care about, but they're ones that we prove through the things that we do.

We also know that in the book of Matthew chapter 22 that another idea was given there by a lawyer also where this same concept was given, probably the parallel to what we've just read where here not only the idea of love the Lord your God is the first and greatest commandment, but He said the second is like unto it, in verse 39 of chapter 22, and He says to love your neighbor as yourself. You see, Jesus very clearly wanted us today as well as those of that day to understand that it was very important to understand the question and to answer it properly when we wondered who our neighbor was. Our neighbor is anyone of any class, of any color, of any creed. Those are the ones that we must care about, that we must help, that we must be big enough to open our arms, our hearts, and to help again in any way that we might be able to.

Again, this same Jesus back in the sermon on the mount in chapter 5, to me, gives so many beautiful examples of how we reach out to those who maybe we wonder if they are our neighbors or not. In fact, if you'll look there in chapter 5 of Matthew, we find here in verse 43 the concept that we should love our neighbor and love our enemies. There it says of old, we were to hate our enemies. But here it says we are to love our enemies. You see again, another step. Who was our neighbor? Even our enemy. Why? Because we should treat them as God would also treat them back in verse 38, we see the concept where it said, Go the second mile, and then it goes on to say that if someone asks something of you, and he asks a shirt of you, give him your coat also. There again, the same idea. What should we do to prove to people that they are our neighbors? Then we should do again anything that we can to help them. How do they know that we are of Christ? Because again, we have proved to them that.

In chapter 6 and verse 1, it says there, When we do charitable deeds, we do them for God. You see, we do them for God. Who do we do them to, as it says in Matthew 25? We do them towards others when they are sick or are needing food, or in prison, we do it to them and when we do it to them, we do it to God. So when we wonder again the question, "Who is our neighbor?" We can find the answer very clearly in the word of God and our neighbor is everyone that we come in contact with and everyone that we show God's love to.
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Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.

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May we all strive to better acknowledge who our neighbor truly is, so that we may show this world Christ in us, through the things we do for others.
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