SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 20110724: "No Greater Love"

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          Courageous acts of sacrificial love always inspire and thrill us. Maybe that's because people are so selfish in their push to acquire the material things they believe will fulfill their lives and grant them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. A friend recently liquidated a lifetime of collecting and acquisition. Amazingly, all his material possessions filled a small box truck and he was given a fraction of the value of his possessions. As the truck drove away, all that was left of his material goods were in his car.

          Why did he liquidate and move away from his childhood home? One of his adult children needed him more than 2,000 miles away, and he left to help her with a life-threatening disease. Besides, she had just given birth and the new-born needed "mommie," but she was distracted by her diagnosis. Leaving all, my friend left to be at his daughter's side.

          This sermon is about laying down your life for your friends and those you love. My ministerial prayer group I meet with has that sort of openness and transparency about it. Pastor Robb McFarland has said openly that we would be willing to lay down our lives for one another.

          Our Pastor's Prayer Fellowship has consistently over the years been there for one another in times of stress, distress and crisis. We made our talents, knowledge and material possessions available for one another. That's a far cry from most denominational ministries with their sectarian competitiveness. Laying down your lives for one another and wanting the best for those around you is what this sermon is all about.


Pastor Phil  <><<









July 24, 2011 - Sheepfold Ministries,

Pastor Phil Roland



JOHN 15:9-14 -  Romans 5:6-8

"Self-Sacrificing Love is an awe-inspiring thing to witness. In a grasping world of narcissists and self-seeking materialists, sacrificial love reminds us that God's love for us is real and available."                           Pastor Phil  


"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."  v. 13


"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8



          A. Begins with Adam and Eve's fall in the Garden of Eden - Gen. 3:21

                "Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and

            clothed them."

                        1. Where did God get the skins?

                        2. An animal had to die, blood had to be spilled to cover sins

                        3. Sacrifice throughout the OT was involuntary

            B. Involuntary system ends at the Cross of Jesus - Romans 5:8

                        1. Jesus came here and chose to die for our sins

                        2. Animal deaths form a trail of blood that leads to the Cross

                        "Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties;                         again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take                                 away sins. 12 But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one

                        sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God." Heb.10:11-12

            C. Only blood covers sin and grants God's Forgiveness - Heb. 9:22

            "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and

            without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

                        1. In human justice shedding blood covers the sin of injustice

                        2. In God's justice our sin causes offense that calls for death

                        3. The soul that sins will die - James 5:19,20

                        "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and

                        someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner

                        from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a

                        multitude of sins."



            A. CODEPENDENT LOVE - A selfish, self-protecting kind of love

            "An unhealthy psychological condition or a relationship in which a person

            is controlled or manipulated by another under-responsible person.

            Codependents are dependent on the needs of or control by another."

                        1. Codependency is Giving without loving

                        2. Children are programmed to give without feeling or thinking

                        3. The CoDep wishes someone would give to them



                        4. CoDeps give on an emotionally Empty Love Tank

                        5. They are emotionally "turned off" and numb

                        6. They are more concerned with things OUTSIDE than INSIDE

                        7. Unhealthy need for the approval of others

                        8. Often pity is misunderstood for love

            B. ALTRUISTIC LOVE - A chosen, self-sacrificing kind of love

            "An unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others."

            "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his                 friends."  John 15:13

                        1. Altruism is giving out of a heart of love for the unfortunate

                        2. Godly Fathers who lay down their lives for their families

                        3. Godly mothers who lay down their lives to care for their                                               infants and small children

                        4. Servicemen and women risk their life for our country

                        5. Police Firemen/women  and EMT workers risk their lives

                                    performing their tasks of rescue involving courage

                                    Eg. 9/11

                        6. No Greater Altruistic Love Illustrations

                            Eg. The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence

                            Eg. A Mother's Marred Hands

            C. GODLY ALTRUISTIC LOVE - Romans 5:8

            "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still               sinners, Christ died for us."

                        1. Godly altruism people give out of Christ's Love

                        2. They gave that others might live

                             Eg. The Four Navy Chaplains of WWII, 1943

                        3. They give love freely w/o compulsion, duty or obligation

                        4. They do not do for others what they could be doing for                                                themselves

                        5. They do not "enable" another person to remain in a                                                       destructive lifestyle or situation

                        6. They are balanced in their giving and receiving

                        7. They give w/o expecting a self-deserving pay-off

                        8. Demonstrates a Love for humanity, even enemies

                        9. Godly Altruistic Love willing to die even for enemies

                             Eg. American Revolutionary War Illustration

                        10. Amazing Love?  Jesus did showed it to us!

                        11. Have you received Him and His Amazing Love?


John 15:9-14 (NKJV)
9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.


Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


















Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty.

At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson's home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered General George Washington to open fire on the Nelson home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and mill were destroyed. For over a year, he lived in forest and caves, returning home only to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion.

Kenneth L. Dodge, Resource, Sept./ Oct., 1992, p. 5.



There was a teenager who didn’t want to be seen in public with her mother, because her mother’s arms were terribly disfigured. One day when her mother took her shopping and reached out her hand, a clerk looked horrified. Later, crying, the girl told her how embarrassed she was.
Understandably hurt, the mother waited an hour before going to her daughter’s room to tell her, for the first time, what happened.

"When you were a baby, I woke up to a burning house. Your room was an inferno. Flames were everywhere. I could have gotten out the front door, but I decided I’d rather die with you than leave you to die alone. I ran through the fire and wrapped



my arms around you. Then I went back through the flames, my arms on fire. When I got outside on the lawn, the pain was agonizing but when I looked at you, all I could do was rejoice that the flames hadn’t touched you."

Stunned, the girl looked at her mother through new eyes. Weeping in shame and gratitude, she kissed her mother’s marred hands and arms.

(Source: Randy Alcorn. From a sermon by Billy Ricks, Suffering, 2/27/2011)



Boarding the SS Dorchester on a dreary winter day in 1943 were 903 troops and four chaplains, including Moody alumnus Lt. George Fox. World War II was in full swing, and the ship was headed across the icy North Atlantic where German U-boats lurked. At 12:00 on the morning of February 3, a German torpedo ripped into the ship. "She's going down!" the men cried, scrambling for lifeboats.

A young GI crept up to one of the chaplains. "I've lost my life jacket," he said. "Take this," the chaplain said, handing the soldier his jacket. Before the ship sank, each chaplain gave his life jacket to another man. The heroic chaplains then linked arms and lifted their voices in prayer as the Dorchester went down. Lt. Fox and his fellow pastors were awarded posthumously the Distinguished Service Cross.

Today in the Word, April 1, 1992.


American Revolutionary War Illustration:
In the days of the American Revolutionary War there lived at Ephrata, Pennsylvania, a Baptist pastor by the name of Peter Miller, who enjoyed the friendship of General George Washington. There also dwelt in that town one Michael Wittman, an evil-minded man who did all in his power to abuse and oppose this pastor. One day Michael Wittman was involved in a case of

American revolutionary War, cont.


treason, and was arrested and sentenced to death. The old preacher started out on foot and walked the whole seventy miles to Philadelphia to plead for Wittman’s life. He was admitted into Washington’s presence and at once begged for the life of the traitor. Washington said, "no, Peter, I cannot grant you the life of your friend." The preacher exclaimed,

"My friend, he is the bitterest enemy I have." Washington cried,

"What? You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in a different light. I will grant the pardon."

And he did. Peter Miller took Michael Wittman from the very shadow of death back to his own home in Ephrata; no longer as an enemy, but as a friend.




















In 1980 a young man from Rwanda was forced by his tribe to either renounce Christ or face certain death. He refused to renounce Christ, and he was killed on the spot. The night before he had written the following commitment which was found in his room:

I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made - I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions are few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And, when he comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me.... my banner will be clear!






"At a certain moment, a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped. When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my "deathbed." Call it my "bed of life," and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.

"Give my sight to someone who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of another. Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain. Give my blood to the teenager who has been pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play. Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week. Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve so that someday a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her windows.

Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my other humans. Give my sins to the Devil. Give my soul to God. If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you."



It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, "What will you give me if I release you?" "The half of my wealth," was his reply. "And if I release your children?" "Everything I possess." "And if I release your wife?" "Your Majesty, I will give myself." Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn't Cyrus a handsome man!" With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, "I didn't notice. I could only keep my eyes on you- -the one who was willing to give himself for me."