United Church of God

Your Brothers Keeper

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Your Brothers Keeper

MP3 Audio (4.31 MB)


Your Brothers Keeper

MP3 Audio (4.31 MB)

Do we truly care for one another as ought to with the agape love that God wants us to have?


Well good afternoon, everyone, or good morning, depending, or good evening, depending on where you are the world. It's certainly a privilege to be here, and it's an honor for me to, be able to speak to not only all of you, so many around the around, but also to speak to all of my fellow ministers, to all the brethren here in this immediate area.

I want to share with you something that's very near and dear to my heart in the sermon today. After Cain killed his brother Abel, God searched him out and said, he gave him a chance to see where he was with his heart and attitude, and he said to Cain, where's your brother? And Cain said, I don't know where my brother is, am I my brother's keeper? He showed an utter lack of responsibility and care for his brother. What about you and me? Are we are brother's keeper? If God were to ask us the same question, how would we respond? Would we say, oh, yes, I'm my brother's keeper, of course I am. You know, I see him at church, I say "hi" or I great them, give them a hug or whatever, but are we our brother's keeper? Do we truly care for one another as ought to with the agape love that God wants us to have?

You see in front of me I brought this prayer list, which is a summary of about seventy-four names on here of individuals who have critical illnesses who've asked us all to pray for them, and the reason this sermon is being given is because one has touched my heart very deeply, and my wife's, too. Because the closest person in the church to us, proximity-wise, is Mrs. Matt Fenchel, Lisa Fenchel. And it was only barely, less than two months ago that she found out she had a tumor in her neck, and so she asked for prayers of those locally, and we took it to heart and tried to give her encouragement before she went in for the operation, and you'll be all right, God's going take this out. Found out it was more than just a small tumor.

And so we began to wrestle with God over this issue. We began to say, this isn't her fight alone, and I, we can't say you know God I don't understand, I don't understand. And this is just one person, and many of you have probably wrestled in the same way, but it's the first person that's ever been so close to us, not only proximity-wise, but one that we've known for many years, since she was a student at Ambassador College. And having known her over those years and having known her and her husband very closely here, since they're so close to us in distance, in the east gate area, not far from where we are at this hotel, that if we began to take it as our own, and try to feel the grief and try to feel the sense of pain and try to feel something growing inside of you that you don't want inside of you and knowing the course that you have to take with chemotherapy to stop this dread cancer, and it really hurt and bothered and weighed on me heavily.

But I am supposed to give the sermon today. I've had another sermon prepared. I've been working on it for several months, since we found out last council meeting, and yet, I was moved to bring something because I think it's the first time I've wrestled in this way over somebody's affliction. There are seventy-four people on this list, and I've tried to pray for every one of them. I will admit I can't pray for them with the same type of compassion that I have for somebody that I know so closely, but I do believe, God wants each one of us in our own local areas to be our brother's keeper, and I believe a lot of these people would feel a sense of love and concern and comfort if they knew that more people were struggling for them, especially locally. And I'd also like to extend that to one another. We don't have to be afflicted to pray for one another. We don't have to be hurt to pray for God to bless and keep this person, to continue to provide for them, one another in a congregation.

The ministry, I know, I know I didn't do it as much as I would like, but I would often take the list of all the brethren in the area, and of course, it wasn't a huge area, but when it was, try to break it up and just pray for them. I didn't know what they were going through in some cases everything was fine in their life, but I would just ask God to be with them, bless them, help them to grow spiritually. And what it did it brought them to my mind and brought an awareness, and it is interesting when you talk about prayer, when you talk about doing something for an individual, which will be the two points I bring to you in a moment, it is interesting how Cornelius, an Italian gentile, was found approved and accepted by God because when you read Acts 10, you'll find that Cornelius was extremely generous toward the people, and he prayed to God always.

I would assume he not only just worshipped God and praised him, but that he actually prayed for those to whom he gave alms, but he prayed to God always, and it said, his prayers and his alms have come before God as a memorial. God remembered that. When somebody's not, when we're asked to pray for someone, I try to take it and say, you know what? What if God in heaven is just saying, I want to see if there are two hundred and fifty brethren out there who really care about this person and maybe only two hundred and forty-nine prayed that day, so God says, you know, this disease isn't all about them, this disease is about my people, too. I want to see where they love each other, if they love each other, if they'll struggle for each other, if they'll labor in prayer for each other.

If they feel it right down to their spleen, which Jesus Christ did many times, in a sense of compassion, you read the word compassion, it means feel it right down to your innards for your brethren. What if God is waiting for two hundred and fifty, and you know that day I just, well, you know, I don't have time to pray for that person, so I didn't. God says, sorry, I'm not going to heal them; I was waiting for you.

Brethren, do we make other people's problems and issues our own, too? And I don't mean to get so involved that you become paralyzed and can't do anything; that's not right. But do we feel for others as we ought? Do we really care for others? Matthew 24:12 tells us the love of many will wax cold at the end because iniquity abounds, because there's a lot of lawlessness and sin, because people have to be careful how you love and whom you love and how you show it, because we live in a very horrible age. We live in an age where all types of things occur. We live in an age where people are afraid to venture out and take a risk in that sense, but Matthew 24:12, we read, and Jesus Christ's Olivet prophecy…

Matthew 24:12. "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."

Has our love, our feelings for one another, is that waxed cold? I Corinthians 12:25-27, the Apostle Paul was talking about the entirety of the church. In this section, he was dealing with the church at Corinth, and as you know, had numerous problems.

I Corinthians 12:25. "That there should be no schism in the body…"

There should be no one trying to cause a split. There should be no one trying to divide, to say, well, I'll pray for them and not pray for the other. There should be no one who doesn't give the care that we need when and as you are able, and we'll see you can have compassion on those that you, you know. I mean if they're a name, I try to pray for them and project and understand, but I don't know them. They're not a person to me; they're a name and an issue. And I try to deal with that, and I try to feel as much as I can, but those that are close to us in each of our church areas, wherever they may be, we have the opportunity to go to God and wrestle with him in prayer for them and in service to them.

I Corinthians 12:25-26. "That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…"

That we feel for them. When they're hurting, we hurt. When they're sick, we feel a sense of loss. That we have to get to the place where we as individuals showing the love of God can have that type of compassion, that type of yearning and we'll see some of the comments that say, talk about fervent in prayer. It talks about working at it. Being active in our prayer. I told God, you know what? I am not giving up. I am not letting up on this. I am going to bother you. Every prayer. I am going to remember this young lady that's close to us, and I am going to remember these other people as time goes on when I have the same closeness to others in the area; I'd do exactly the same thing, but I'm going to remember, and I'm not giving up and help my unbelief and help my doubts, and it's okay to fear, and it's okay to be scared, but I say, I'm coming to you. I am going to be like that importunate widow, and I am going to keep on knocking, and I am going to keep on asking until you answer.

And I think all of us need to say, have I made this my own? You are the body of Christ. It talks about suffering, talks about honoring when others are honored. Talks about rejoicing, can we feel for people, can we be happy for them when good comes to them? Now you are the body of Christ and members in particular, but see even though we are members in particular, we are still a part of something that's bigger than just us individually. People who are hurting need our help. There are many others who aren't on that prayer list. Many others with job difficulties and financial and marital problems and various persecutions and don't forget the people who are on this list are generally individuals who are ill, have some ailment, but what about the mates, what about the families who also grieve and hurt, too? They also need our prayers. They also need our concern. They also need us to give them a pat on the back and show support for them and let them know that we care.

I Peter 4:7-8, and then I will come to two ways that I've learned, and maybe you've already learned this, so maybe I'm merely giving you something that you're already doing and I've just come to, but I hope I can at least help some who may have not come to this point yet because this is the first time that anybody that close to us in both feeling and distance has ever had that type of an ailment and it hurts. It hurts to see someone like that, and I know God, and I tell him, you have a whole lot more compassion than I do, you feel a lot more than I feel, please intervene and please help and he will.

I Peter 4:7-8. "But the end of all things…" Peter said "…is at hand…"

So he thought everything was coming to an end, but notice what his comment is as we see the end time approaching.

Verse 7. "…therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers…"

Watch with prayer, and I'm suggesting we all need to watch a lot more carefully with prayer for those in our immediate areas and all those brethren who need our prayers. Verse 8, he says…

Verse 8. "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins."

Those two areas are what I want to focus in the remaining time of this message.

1. We need to have prayer. I call it fervent prayer.

And secondly…

2. We need to have loving service to those who hurt.

Prayer and loving service, and it may be for others, anyone, as we care for one another. It's interesting in I Peter 4, where he talks about the aspect of fervent. In this particular verse it means increasing. Increasing, fervent charity or love. Increasing love one toward another. I mentioned about Cornelius already, but let's look at James 5, where James talks about individuals coming when they're sick.

James 5:13. "Is anyone among you suffering?"

So this is the first area that we need to be aware of if we are going to care for our brethren, if we are going to be our brother's keeper, we need to have fervent prayer on their behalf.

Verse 13. "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray."

So if somebody's afflicted, if you're afflicted personally, pray, but doesn't it make you feel better when others are praying for you? I got a lot of encouragement today. Several came up and said, are you on first or second? And I said, well, I'm first. Well, I prayed for you. And I said thank you, I needed it. I want to let you know I prayed for you today. I said, thank you, I needed that. It makes us all feel good to know someone's praying for us.

As a pastor many times we're called upon. Maybe aroused out of sleep in the middle of the night. Maybe somebody's had a horrible accident and needs our help, and we don't have time to say, I'll be there in a little while. Let me get about an hour's prayer and study in so I can get ready for this trip. No! We jump in the car, and we take off, and we pray along the way, and we think about…and you know what I'm very grateful for? People on the other side of the world have been up and praying, and as they pray for God's ministers all over the world they've been praying for me. Maybe in a general sense, maybe not a specific sense, but in a general sense, that God will give me the strength to do my job and serve his people. We need to pray for one another. He says…

Verse 13. "Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

Now verse 14…

Verse 14. "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."

So anointing for prayers, for people that the maybe be healed.

Verse 15. "And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven."

Verse 16 is interesting…

Verse 16. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another…"

God really wants us, brethren, to pray for others. It's not just a name on a list, and it's nice to send somebody a card, and sometimes we send off a card, and say, well, I did my job, okay, who's next? And it can be discouraging when you see so many people getting afflicted, but we are getting older as a church and as an organization, as a ministry. We really do need to care for one another, and it's awfully encouraging to know others care. I brought a couple of cards along, that they're cards from others to us, to ABC, not to me, to ABC. The students try to send cards. Every time I see somebody on the prayer list, I try to run it off, do triple copies, one for me, one for the card group, Chris Browning, and she and Tonia and other ones make up the cards and have the students sign, and another one we post on the board for them to pray about it. We got a couple of cards back, and I will share those with you at the end at just how much it means for people to be on your mind, to know that you're praying for them and thinking about them. It goes on to say in verse 16…

Verse 16. "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

You know the word for fervent here is energeia. Energy! Be active. It actually is translated, work at it. Take it as your work. Fervent prayer. Different word. It's a different word than hot. There are words that mean hot. Hot prayer. This isn't hot. This is energeia. This means work at it.

Verse 16. "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

And hopefully, with many of us praying for those who are ill in the church, many of us praying for individuals who have needs, that there's going to be one that's righteous, that's going to reach God's ears, and he's going to hear. Luke 18:1-7. This is the example that I mentioned to you. I will just share it once again. Luke 18:1-7 is the case of the unjust judge. The parable of the unjust judge.

Luke 18:1-7. "Then He spoke a parable…" Christ did "…to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…"

I said, you know, God I'm stopping. I'm not quitting. I'm going to bug you. I'm going to keep on asking. I'm going bring this before you everyday. Every time I kneel down. I'm going to say, did you remember her? Did you remember to heal? Did you remember to make that person better? Did you remember to make this person better? I am going to ask you everyday. He goes on in verse 2…

Verse 2. "…saying there was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, get justice for me from my adversary. And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her…"

I am not inclined to do this, but she keeps bugging me about this. I am going to do it.

Verse 5. "…lest by her continual coming she weary me."

So, I will do it, lest she continues to weary me.

Verse 6-7. " Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?"

So God, he may take a while, and I'm hunkered down for the fight. I'm in it for the long haul because there are people who need God's intervention. Are we in it for the long haul with those we know so closely? Are we in it for the long haul with the brethren all over the world who ask us for prayers for cancer for kidney ailments for heart disease, for heart bypasses, for this, that and the other affliction. Numerous ones too numerous to mention. I looked over the entire list of seventy-four, and they're varied. We live in an age where God's people need to be rallying together, need to be pulling together with the love that only God can give within us. Colossians 4:2. I have several translations of it. New King James says…

Colossians 4:2. "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving."

So here's vigilant prayer, earnest prayer. The Living Bible gives this translation…

Colossians 4:2. "Don't be weary in prayer, keep at it, watch for God's answers and remember to be thankful when they come."

Then Revised Standard says…

Colossians 4:2. "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."

And then the American Standard Version says…

Colossians 4:2. "Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving."

And it reminds me of the case where Peter was in prison and prayer was asked for the church because they thought Peter was going to lose his head like James had already done, and so they were praying for Peter, and the angel came and released him, and Peter came, knocked on the door, and Rhoda came running to the door, one of the maids, and she came, and he said, let me in. And, oh, no, I've got to tell everybody. By the way, Peter's at the door and they say, you're mad. We're praying for Peter. We're here gathered.

He's in prison. They didn't believe he would be out. When we pray, we need to expect the answer, and we need to watch for the answer. We need to look for the answer. We need to expect it. They didn't.

So it is very important. We need to remember, too, that as Paul remembered all of those in the congregation, Paul said in the Colossians, I pray for you always. You are in my remembrance. I remember you always in my prayers, and how the brethren were asked, pray for the ministry. We need to pray for one another. Ministry needs to pray for one another, to ask God to help and strengthen and guide and lead us all and help us to do what's right and help is in the many miles that our ministry drive and how wearing and tiring it was, and I know after I had been away from Canada for about thirty years, twenty years, let's see, close to twenty years, and I went up there over thirty years. I went up as a new newly-wed, and I came back a second time as a grandpa to do the same type of circuit that I did as a newly-wed, and it was okay. God was there, and he strengthened us, but boy, on the way home, all I could picture was that rocking chair with the legs…well, I could just picture…I didn't think about it all day. All day long I went from one church to the other--Toronto, Buffalo, Toronto, Buffalo, whatever, and when I was on my way home, all I could picture is that rocking chair. Many times I just got in, loosened by shirt and sat, and then I recovered on Sunday and then on Monday was ready to go again.

God is able to strengthen us and guide us and help us, but we have an older ministry, many covering many, many miles. Pray for God's ministry; pray for one another. Pray for each other. I mentioned about this side bar on compassion. The word for compassion means to have feelings with, to yearn for, to hurt for, and you'll find fourteen, I believe it's twelve cases, it talks about Jesus Christ and how he had compassion for the multitudes. He had compassion for the people who were sick. He yearned for them. He hurt for them. The Greek word has to do with going down to your spleen--your innards. Hurting down to your innards for these people who were sick and afflicted, and I believe we can do that more intensely for those that we're close to. I believe that those that are names on this list, we try to hurt for, but I believe God expects every local congregation to really hurt for their own, and to really beat up the prayers for their own specifically and strongly.

The second area, then, that I want to cover, two areas...

1. Fervent prayer.

The second area is…

2. Loving service

Because it's one thing to say, I'll pray for you, be you warmed and filled, goodbye. That's one area is to pray for them, then the other is the follow through. I John 3:14. We read what the apostle John, certainly the best friend of Jesus Christ from what we can discern from the scriptures. I John 3:14 we read…

I John 3:14. "We know that we have passed…" or are passing "...from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death."

So there is a love that God expects of us one toward another.

Verse 16. "By this we know love…"

How do we understand the love of God?

Verse 16. "... because He laid down His life for us.

How does God love us?

John 3:16. "For God so love the world that he gave…"

And he gave his most precious, priceless Son, Jesus Christ on our behalf. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for us, but if we love each other, we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren because he laid down his life for us. In verse 17…

1 John 3:17. "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels…"

That's that same word. Your…

Verse 17. "…bowels of compassion…"

You hurt right down in the inside.

Verse 17. "…from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"

I am pleased to say brethren that I know rally to help people. They send meals over. They go over and help out in any way they possibly can and that is so encouraging and so helpful to the entire family. You know, sometimes we say, I don't know what to say to somebody. You don't have to say anything. You know, sometimes just being with the person as a counselor, grief counseling, just being there. You don't have to say a word. Just being there along side of someone. They feel your strength. They feel your encouragement.

They feel your help because many times we don't have the words to say, but as we are able in cards and letters and phone calls.

I had a lady in Canada, a deaconess, who was known all over the world because when she heard somebody was sick, she wanted to find out more about it. She would get on the phone and call, and fortunately, her husband worked for Hallmark Corporation, and she had lots of cards available to her, and she sent cards all over the world of encouragement, not just a short card. She would take it to heart and write people encouraging notes because she cared. Gifts, visits, hugs, support.

One thing that's good to do as far as caring and showing this loving service is find out about that disease. Find out more intensely, what's going on with this person, so you could know, and what treatments they have to have and what they're going to be going through so you can understand and feel for them along the way. And of course, help out in any way, meals, whatever you can do, and just saying, if there's anything I can do, let me know. If I can help you, let me know. You know that sends a message of loving support. It sends a message of loving kindness. It sends a message of loving service to them, and you don't just say it, you mean it. You mean it.

Verse 18. "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him."

We talk about follow through. It's one thing I pray for you. It's another thing I do what I can for you. That's why I believe in each church area God expects us to take care of our sick in each church area. It's good to pray for everybody. We do that, but the compassion comes from being able to have a yearning for and a sense for and feeling for. We know of churches that have fasted for other people when they're sick. Just because of the compassion they had for those individuals, God expects us to do the same.

Galatians 6:2.  "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

Let their problems come on your shoulder, too. Let them know you're going to bear that battle with them, that you're going to go through it with them and for them.

Verse 9. "And let us not grow weary while doing good…"

Don't give up. Don't quit!

Verse 9-10. "…in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all…"

We have people on the prayer list that many times we don't know that they're members or not. In some cases, they're not members for our church, but they're people who ask for prayers, and we can do good for all, as much as we are able. But he says…

Verse 10. "…let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."

God wants us to be beating up our prayers on their behalf. He wants us to be showing loving service to them in anyway we possibly can to encourage, to back, to support. He wants us to do what we can. The ministry cared for one another in trouble. When the apostle Paul was in prison, a man named Epaphroditus risked his life to take some food stuffs and supplies to the apostle Paul. He almost died after he got there. He gave up his life almost for the service of the apostle Paul, and Paul was so glad that he recovered because he said, I didn't want to have one sorrow upon another because this man came, gave up his life, didn't die thankfully, but almost, to do a service to me.

Galatians 5:13, along this line of loving service. We read this one scripture…

Galatians 5:13. "For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh…"

We have freedom. We have freedom from sin not freedom from law. We have freedom; we're free to be able to serve God and serve fully and completely, but he says…

Verse 13. "… but through love serve one another."

That's where this concept of loving service comes from. By love, serve one another. In the book of Romans, Paul tells us 13:8, I won't go there, but Romans 13:8, Paul said…

Romans 13:8.  "Owe no one anything except to love one another…"

You owe your brethren loving service, as you are able.

In conclusion, can we do this? Are we spiritual enough to do this? Does anyone of us possess the ability within ourselves to really care with compassion for others? To really give loving service with nothing expected in return? Well, yes, we can. You see, we may have the help of God Almighty. We can have the love of God abiding in us. We can know that he loved the world so much he gave his only Son. And we can know one beautiful scripture in 1 Peter 5:7, where Peter wrote…

1 Peter 5:7. "...casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

God cares. When Jesus Christ comes back, he's going to separate people. He's going to say, come on you blessed, welcome into the Kingdom of God because when I was sick, you visited me. When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was in prison, you came to me. When did we do that Lord? When did we see you sick or thirsty or hungry or when did we see you and do this? And Jesus Christ said, when you've done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.

Fervent prayer. Loving service. God takes notice. And you know what brethren? You can make a difference. I can make a difference. We can make a difference in this list of seventy-four people. We can make a difference in the lives of individuals before our God, beating up our prayers, showing him that we have loving concern, and we fulfill the scripture Jesus Christ said, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one toward another.

I want to read to you two cards as I conclude. One comes from a lady in Pittsburgh, Mrs. Irene Schnippert. She wrote to ABC and said…

"Dear Friends, Thank you for taking the time to let me know that I am in your prayers for a quick recovery. I know God does answer our prayers. It has been a long trial, however, I did make it to church last Sabbath and made out very well. I even got to stay for the social. Thanks for the beautiful personal card. It's so nice knowing so many people care."

I'm going to read you another one. This one comes from a father of one of our ABC students who had cancer, prostate cancer. And he writes…

"Thank you for the very nice card that was sent to me some time ago. It's so happy to know that there are some caring young people left in this world."

And then he said…

"You too Mr. Taylor."

Because we have Mr. Taylor as one of our youngest ones, seventy-two years of age.

"Thank you for the comforting thoughts and messages. My best wishes to all at ABC. In Christian Love."

Brethren appreciate knowing others out there remember them in fervent, heartfelt prayer, and in loving service. So, let's join our brethren in their sickness, in their affliction, in their ailments, in whatever issues they have in their lives. Let's help them fight the good fight of faith.


  • mr_allinger
    Christ said: "If you have done it unto the least of these my brethren...you have done it unto Me". Christ also said "other sheep have I not of this fold"...please pray that many of the Gentiles who are presently under the satanic delusion of the false teachings of islam would receive enough LIGHT from the Source Of All Light...that outshines the sun, (i.e. The Son) not only converting Saul of Tarsus, but also fixing and using the Islamists for His glory, doxologically speaking. Can you possibly imagine what kind of impact the conversion of the prophet mahomet back in the 6th century to Christ would have had on the mohammedian culture, or in our time frame...osama bin laden of saddam hussein would have had on the united arab republic and the volitile Middle East situation. Look at the impact Constantine's conversion to Christ had on the Roman Empire! Remember, Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers (i.e. not warmakers) for they shall be called the children of the Highest Holy One, El Elyon! In Acts 2, there were people from 14 different geographical regions of the world on the Day of Pentecost...Arabia was one of them. WWJD, I Chorintians 13
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