Last Sunday I asked a question or I made a statement and the statement I made was when you think you have all the answers, you don’t. And if you go to our website at hourofpower.org you can listen to that message, and while you’re on there you can listen to the interviews and you can listen to some of the music and it’s a wonderful opportunity to grow spiritually. In fact we have study questions on many of the sermons, if you wish to look at them in a group setting and you can go through the questions and it’s a beautiful experience to do as a family or with some friends or some colleagues.
But this morning I have another statement I wish to make. And the statement I wish to make this morning is when you think you’re all alone, you’re not. Now I’m not talking about aliens, okay. We’re not talking about those things that are out there someplace maybe. Nor am I talking about the big brother where everyone’s watching and therefore you’re not really alone. Even though there’s probably some truth to that. But I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that when you think you’re all alone, you’re not. I’m talking about a spiritual thing this morning that God is everywhere, though no matter where we go, no matter what we do, God is only a whisper away.
Now I’m going to read today from the Power for Life bible, and in the Power for Life bible it’s on page 1125, and if you don’t have a Power for Life bible, you’ll want to look at John 14 and I’m going to read verses 15 through 17.“If you love Me, says Jesus, keep My commands and I will ask the Father and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him but you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you.” The words of Jesus Christ to us relevant for us today and forever. They’re real. Jesus said this during His last supper. It was the night He was arrested and within 24 hours of making this statement along with several other teachings that He gave, He was arrested, He was imprisoned, He was crucified and He was buried. These are the statements and the setting upon which this statement is made. And Jesus knows what He is saying. He says, “If you love Me, keep My commands.” Now it was only three days earlier on a Tuesday of the same week that Christ made this statement to us. The statement was very clear and precise. What are the commands that we are supposed to adhere to from God? And Jesus said it is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength.” That is the summation of the commands of God, “and the second is like unto it, love your neighbor as yourself.” And that’s what we have been called to do. If you’re feeling alone today, if you’re feeling lonely, if you feel like you’re far away from God, it’s really quite simple to get back to Him. Jesus says it this way: “Keep My commands. Love God, and love others.” And so if you want to feel closer to God, the first thing you can immediately do is find ways to be able to express the love that God has for you by loving others.
CK Barrett one of the tremendous scholars of the 20th century said this, he said, “John never allowed love to develop into a sentiment or an emotion. Its expression is always moral and is revealed in obedience.” Let me say it again. “John never allowed love to devolve into a sentiment or an emotion. Its expression is always moral and is revealed in obedience.” And as such, God expects us to express love in obedience to His commands to love others.
So what does that mean? Well as a congregation, or as a church, that means we find ways to be able to make a difference in our community. And we’ve looked and discovered that there is a tremendous need in our school system today for reading programs, and for tutoring and for helping after school programs. Because of the budget cuts that have taken place in our community in Garden Grove here, in fact we’re doing this currently at Lampson Elementary School; we have a reading program now for the young people there, to encourage them to read. And we give bicycles away as an incentive to encourage these young people to read. And we’re doing that. And the other thing we’re doing is we’re creating a tutor mentoring program for these same young people because after school they don’t have after school programs anymore. Their parents are working, they’re going home to a dark house and they’re getting in trouble and they’re failing school. So we’re creating a tutoring program to help the kids not only be entertained after school, and taken care of, but to learn and to get good grades and as they get good grades, they get accepted into colleges and suddenly their self esteem is enhanced and they do something with their lives and we make a difference. And that’s what the church is here to do and that’s what the church is all about making a difference in people’s lives.
And this ministry is not just a local congregation but it’s an international ministry with offices around the world in Hong Kong and Russia, in Australia, in Switzerland, in Germany. I could go on, New Zealand and Canada. I could go on. And as a result, we have obligations to the world and that’s why we have our China initiative where we’re bringing possibility chairs, wheelchairs to people who can’t walk, who are disabled, who do not have the freedom of mobility. To people who make less than a dollar a day. To people who could never afford a wheelchair. And we’re continuing to bring water to communities that don’t have clean drinking water and we’re providing educational opportunities to young people and children in that community that don’t understand what that is. We’re reaching out and we’re doing what Christ has called us to do to love one another, to love our neighbors, to love our friends. That’s why we have a group right now in Nepal. As I speak, my two sons and my daughter in law, along with about 20 other people are in Nepal and they’re giving eye glasses to people who otherwise could not read. They’re sharing the love of Jesus Christ in a pure, beautiful, honest, demonstrative way because love goes beyond just an emotion and a feeling. It was never devolved to that. Not in the bible. Instead it is always moral and revealed in obedience.
If you’re feeling lonely, if you’re feeling far from God, find a way to love your neighbor. Anything. If you need help with that, you can come here and we can help you do that because that’s what we’re all about. “If you love Me keep My commands, said Jesus, and I will ask the Father and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the spirit of truth.” God will give you an advocate. In the King James Bible, they called it a counselor. In the different translations they refer to a comforter and an intercessor. And whenever you read a bunch of different translations and they have a different word for one word, that’s an opportunity for you to become an entomologist. You know what an entomologist is. That’s a person who studies words. And this is a really good word in the bible to study. The word in Greek is paraclete. That’s what it means. It’s a paraclete. And when you go and you study the word any single one of those words would qualify because its one of those very difficult words to translate and therefore different translators will choose a different word in an attempt to create a translation. Now let me tell you from my Greek experience what paraclete means: someone who is called in for their expert opinion or advice. How about that? Here’s the food for thought. A paraclete or the one that Jesus Christ is going to send us, the comforter, the advocate in some ways can be looked at as; in fact this whole text in some ways can be looked at almost in a trial kind of a fashion. How many people ever watch Court TV or watch different trials on television? Hopefully that’s as close as you have to get okay? Hopefully that’s as a close as you have to get. If you have to go to a trial it is not a fun thing. And if you have to go to court, it is not a fun thing. But what happens in trials and I don’t know this from personal experience, mind you, I only know this from watching it on television is that the lawyers will call in their experts and their witnesses. And the experts will begin to testify about certain things and the witnesses will say what they saw, and at the end of the trial the judge makes a conclusion after hearing all these people who were called in as to what actually took place. And in some ways I think this is much the same thing. Jesus Christ, remember, knows that within 24 hours He’s going to be tried by Pontius Pilate, by Herod. And He’s going to be condemned. And the only experts that are coming in on His defense is Himself. I tell you the truth, He says, I tell you the truth.
At the same time He tells us that He is going to send in an expert witness and in many ways we’re in this trial of life where we someday come face to face with God. And He asks us what’s your defense? Why should I let you in here? And there’s really only one good reason. And the reason and the answer is because Jesus invited me. Jesus sent me an invitation and that’s why I’m here and that’s why I stand before you today. Jesus said, “If you love Me keep My commandments and I will ask the Father and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the spirit of truth.”
Now what’s interesting is it says the world cannot accept this spirit of truth, this advocator because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you. I’ve got a couple pictures to show you and the reason I want to show you these pictures is because it helps us understand what we mean by the world not being able to see something. The first picture I have here is two pictures in one, actually. How many people see a vase? Raise your hand. Okay most of you see a vase. How many people see two silhouettes? How many see people see both, now that I’ve mentioned it? If you don’t see both, look at the black and you’ll see the silhouettes, and if you look at the white, you see the vase. Two ways to see the exact same picture. Some people see nothing but the silhouettes, other people see nothing but the vase.
Now let me show you another picture. Some of you are probably familiar with this. This is a picture of my wife. How many people see a beautiful young maiden? Raise your hand. How many people see an old hag? Raise your hand. That is not my wife. My wife is the beautiful young maiden. There are two pictures there. How many people can see both? Some of you can. Now, if you’re having difficulty seeing the young maiden, here’s what I want you to do. Put your hand up and cover the mouth of the old hag. And you can see the jaw line of the young maiden, and you can see the eye of the old hag is really her ear. And now you can see the young maiden. You see it? A lot of you needed assistance, in fact most people seeing this for the first time need assistance. Very few people can see both, the old hag and the young maiden. But with some assistance, with some guidance, we can see both.
The world cannot accept Him because they simply cannot see Him. And what’s interesting is the spirit of truth, I think again its one of those words that needs greater clarification in Hebrew the word is alethia and I think a better translation would actually be a spirit of faithfulness, a spirit of trustworthiness, a spirit of steadfastness. Because we have to realize that no matter what we do, no matter where we go, no matter how lonely we become, no matter how far we go to be alone, when you think you’re all alone, you’re not. Because the spirit of God is everywhere and no matter where you go He is there because Jesus has clearly stated that He will send us an advocate to help you, to be with you forever, and that He lives with you and will be in you. And so He’s only a whisper away. A small little prayer and the truth of God’s goodness and the reality will become as crystal clear as the vase and the two faces, as the old hag and the maiden, as God’s love for you today.
And what happens in life, what happens in our world today is that so many people are going through life and all they see is this one picture. They don’t see the whole thing. And not until you call in the advocate, the intercessor, the paraclete, the counselor, the holy spirit of God are our eyes opened because He gives us the direction, the guidance, He says that’s the ear, that’s the chin, that’s the jaw line. And all of a sudden our eyes are opened and we see the reality of the goodness of God in so many things we would never have understood before.