Youth ministry programs
The Healing Power of Love

Who would not want to be an all-star. At whatever we do. When we become a member of God's all-star team, we are brought together into a team of believers. So what qualifies us to be on this team?

As shared in the Children's Sermon Jesus took the entire law, 18 thousand words of guidance, and reduced it to just 37 words as recorded by the disciple Matthew. Jesus said: Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Jesus clearly understood what the healing power of love was for a troubled world.

Christ's two laws seem clear. Let's start with the second commandment. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presents this second commandment a little differently in, what we know as "The Golden Rule". It is a teaching present not only on Christianity but also in the Talmud, the Koran, and in the Analects of Confucius.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

As described in the Children's sermon, one of the qualifications to be on God's team is to take the Golden rule seriously and apply it to the actions of our lives. This commandment is easy to understand but what about that first commandment to "Love the LORD your God with all your mind and heart and with all your soul." How do we do this? Let start with Love God with your mind. Inspired by Psalms 119 Clara Scott wrote the song "Open my Eyes that I may see". As the song suggests, we cannot know God without opening our eyes and seeing, as described, "glimpses of truth thou hast for me".

Now lets think about "knowing God in a different way. Think of the last time you received a birthday card from someone you know. There are two messages on the card. One is prewritten on the card. It is a message chosen by the sender. But there is a second message, a more personal written message, composed by the sender of the card. Both messages have great meaning.

Similarly seeing the beauty of nature, of the world around us as God created it: this is like the message imprinted on the card received. But to know God requires more than an observation of his creation.

Where do we find a personal note from God? This search requires effort on our part. There are personal notes from God for each of us but we must take time to look for them.

During the battle of Vicksburg in the Civil War a young union soldier was wounded and taken prisoner. While in the hospital he found a New Testament. As he read, his mind was moved by the words of Jesus. He understood that Christ's words were calling him but wasn't ready to commit his life to the faith, not quite yet.

He fell asleep and was awakened by a hospital orderly, who advised that another POW was dying and wanted someone to pray with him.

He went to the dying soldier, held his hand and bowed his head saying a prayer of condolence and hope. When he lifted his head, the POW had died but with a smile on his face. Daniel Whittle was that soldier and stated that he came to accept God's call through that POW's request that he pray with him.

Whittle learned through his experience in the POW hospital that with God... life is not waiting for a storm to pass; it is about dancing in the rain.

But there are still two more requirements in the first of Christ's commandments. We are to love God with not only our mind but with our heart and with our soul. To love God with our heart references our affection for God. We have just completed the celebration of Holy Week when we are reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He suffered a painful death for each of us.

In 1707 Isaac Watts published the hymn "When I survey the wondrous cross".

Watts hymn begins by expressing our love for God and Christ's sacrifice and it ends with the phrase "demands my soul, my life, my all". What is the soul that Waats is giving over to God? The definition of soul means the place where we make decisions that decide our lifestyle and behavior.

To love the Lord with all your soul means to love Him in the way we live and in the lifestyle we adopt.

I would like to close with a story, shared by one of our teachers .He said: "I began teaching at the Stony Brook School when you guys were in the ninth grade. The year you graduated Barbara became pregnant. We knew that the salary for a teacher in the public schools was almost twice the salary I was making. So we decided that I should look for a job in the local public schools.

I was offered a job and made an appointment to meet with the headmaster of the school to advise him. I arrived for my appointment and was asked by Dr. Gee's wife to take a seat in the parlor of their home. While seated, I looked around at a modest home, filled with artistic touches. However, as I glanced around the room one thing, in particular, drew my attention.

The room was very neat and clean except for two marks on the carpet in front of a lounge chair across from me. I didn't dare get up to inspect. A short time later Mrs. Gee approached me and sat down on another chair in the room. We chatted briefly, asking me about my wife's pregnancy. Finally a time came when there was a pause and I diplomatically mentioned the marks on the floor. Mrs. Gee responded, "I get asked about those marks all the time. It is not dirt or stain in the carpet. The carpet is worn there because my husband kneels down and prays for about 45 minutes every night ... right there. He prays for every faculty member by name and each of their wives ...and for every student by name. He knows the names of all 210 students.

Mrs. Gee paused and said, "Could I get you some coffee while we are waiting?"

I replied, "No, I don't think so. I think I should get back to Barbara."

The next day I called the principal and advised that I would not take the teaching job I was offered. Our teacher remained at the school for another 35 years before retiring about ten years ago. He will be the first to tell us that the power of prayer works in many ways. When we learn the best way to love God with all our mind, all our heart and all our soul , it is then that we become confident that storms of life will pass us by and , when it rains,we will dance through the raindrops.

If you are interested in reading the full, fourteen minute sermon given on April 8, 2018, please contact TimFerguson@christianyouthgroup.org.


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