James Lindsey - Eastern Russia Convention - 2009

Some of you have heard that I first heard this gospel when I was twenty five years old. I was in university in Washington, my home state, and I had been going to these meetings for some months. I had a difficulty in understanding - understanding how all these people wanted to be together and stay together.

You will remember that it was my next door neighbour who invited me to the gospel meetings, so I decided to go to her apartment and ask her the question. I did not know how to ask the question so I thought about it for a little while and then I thought about glue, and that is how I asked my question. I went to my neighbour and asked her, "What is the glue that makes all these people stick together and stay together?" I was scared and also angry. I was scared because I did not know the answer, and angry because I thought they were hiding something from me.

I was standing by my neighbour’s refrigerator and there on the refrigerator was a photo of all the workers. I pointed to them. She was very nervous in how to answer me. In those days I was very ornery, I misbehaved a lot, I enjoyed seeing her upset. I think it was because when I heard the messages about God, they bothered my heart and maybe I thought it was only fair that she be bothered by my questions. Well I will just bother her. I told her that I would not leave her apartment until she gave me the true answer. She started to shake. I thought to myself, "Good, here comes the answer. What is the answer? What is the glue?"

In a very quiet and humble way she said, "It is love." I laughed at her. I took my hand to her and brushed her away and said, "Love!" Because I already knew what love is because my mother loved me, my father loved me. I believed that came from a loving family and my family was nothing like this. So I said to her, "It is not love because I already know what love is." I said to her, "If it is love then I don’t know what love is." "Well, it is love," she said.

I left her apartment and slammed the door. I found my heart was very hard, and said to myself, "That will teach her." In the United States, in our apartments, some of the walls are made of wood so it is easy to listen through. I slammed my door to my apartment and now she knows I am not happy with her wrong answer. I think I walked two steps into my apartment after I had slammed the door, and now I am going to tell you a true part of my testimony. Something came down on me that pushed me to the floor. Today, I know it was the power of God that pushed me down, I had just caused pain to one of His children. She gave me a true answer and I laughed in her face. It is almost that God spoke to me right there, and these are the words that came into my mind, "James, you do not know what love is." That really hurt deeply but it was a true answer. We have to learn about love. We really do not know what love is until we recognise how much we are being loved by God.

It was in the gospel meetings that I heard about God's love, but during the weeks and the months, I began to recognise how much He was loving me. One Thursday afternoon, I was sitting in my class room at the university. My Professor was teaching a very important lesson. I gathered all my books together and I stood up and walked out on him and went home. All my classmates were looking at me. While I was sitting in the classroom, I realised that all my life God has been loving me. I thought that I knew what love is and only now as an adult, am I finding out how much He loves me. That afternoon, I went to my apartment and sat quietly. I had some very important decisions to make, "Could I love Him because He loved me?"

One time, someone did something to me that was very hurtful. He said to me, "I can do this to you because you are a Christian, because God has commanded you to love other people, so it does not matter what I do to you. You still have to love me. You are also commanded to love God." He said that is what the Bible teaches. I said, "It does not." I said, "I love God and I love you because first I have been loved by God." I John 4:10, “Herein is love. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” We love God because He first loved us. It is at times like this that we learn how much we are being loved.

In this very same chapter, verse 19, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” That was the beginning of a very important change in my life. I realised that God loves me more than my own Father and Mother. We know the love of God is different than any other love, and I would like to give a definition of God’s love. God helps us in our basic needs, and He does not have a reason to do this. He has no selfish gain; God loves us because of what we need done in our lives. Yes, my father and mother loved me, but that love came out of themselves. There was always something about it - they always wanted something in return from me. When my mother got older, she shared with me how many times she had been hurt. She would do for others but they would not return or do something good for my mother. I could tell she wanted to do it freely but there was always something that she wanted to have returned to her. Understand that please, that it is okay, it is human. That is the way love is among us, but that love is to recognise a greater love that has a far greater freedom to it. Makes it possible to do things that we would not be able to do, you can reach out to others and reach out to God without being selfish about it. It is a wonderful freedom, we can love one another with God’s love.

God’s love is a pure and unselfish love. It is very important that we understand that love is not an emotion. Love is not a feeling. Love is not a thought in the mind. Love is action, love is something we do. Love is work. Love is what happens when we make a choice, because I will tell you why. We may not feel in our heart any reason to love somebody. In fact sometimes, I would just like to hate someone - they deserve to be hated. That is how I feel about it, and I can think of reasons to hate. I used to be God's enemy. I was a sinner. I had no strength to do what is right, and He loved me. That is God’s love. He loves all mankind. He loved us when we were at our absolute worst. How can we love another unless we choose and say, "I will love another?" I can’t think of a good reason. I don’t feel like it but my decision is that I will love that person.

How do you love with a choice? Love will give, love will care, love will listen, and love will forgive. These are four works of love. I am so thankful that God gave to me that He cared for me, that He listened to me, that He forgave me - four works of love. Look how you feel when someone will give to you, and care for you. If only someone would listen to you, and when you repent and say you are sorry, it is so wonderful when someone will forgive you.

We have a song in America that says, "What this world needs is love." It will sing about it, It will talk about it, but God is love. We must have God’s Holy Spirit in our lives and let Him love you. You will find yourself enabled to love one another, those four works of love, love will give. John 3:16, that verse is quoted more often than any other verse in the entire Bible. Look at what that verse says, "God so loved the world of mankind that He gave." Love will give. God gave His only son to us, and God continues to give. All of us here are being loved by God in many, many ways. He gave us life, He has given us breath. We have a world to live in. He has given us a body, given us a soul, given to us a spirit. God has given to us a lot.

God will care, love cares. Matthew 6:1, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth that thine alms may be in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly." A very good piece of scripture - it talks about alms, it is like mercy, it has to do with a feeling of pity. We could look at somebody and maybe think of how it would be like if we were them, seeing them in their need. You feel for them and it is like if this happened to me, if I fell in the ditch. However it is better to stay where we are and think of what we would appreciate or want done to me if I was in their position. Somebody could come to me and help me, that is different to saying they need help over there - when we realise what we need then it helps us to understand what others need. That is why we are moved in our hearts to love another. We do unto others what we want others to do unto us. There are times in my life when I just wanted someone to listen. Many times, I just wanted someone to care for me, for someone to give me some time, or just to give me a chance.

One time, I went to a large gathering in the City of Portland. I really didn’t know what they were going to talk about. I just saw it on a piece of paper as an advertisement, so I just went to listen at the back of the room. There was a man in the front who was speaking, and he had a lot of things to talk about. He asked one question, "If at any time in your life you could be loved, would you appreciate that?" Nearly everybody raised their hand, but nobody had the answer and nobody seemed to be loved like that. That is exactly the way Jesus loved us, and He continues to love us. Personally I want to dwell in that love, I want to be in fellowship with Him and with His people.

So in this reference, there is a feeling of pity towards another person. We sense in ourselves a need to do something, we can think about it, we can have some feelings about it but love will do something about it. Jesus encouraged us just to do it, and He said do not do it like some who do it so they can be noticed by others, hearing the sound of a trumpet when someone would do a good thing. It was done in public for all to see, that men would notice what was done, and would admire you for helping another person. The motive is selfish gain, really not God's love. We want to love in meeting the needs of others, not do it for selfish reasons. You know what it does not matter if no one sees it. It does not matter - I am just meeting a need. If people see it or not, I am not doing it for that reason. We just need to do what needs to be done at the right time. Jesus did many, many things with a great crowd around Him because it was the right thing to do at the right time for that person. He was loving that person even though there were people around to see it. He did not do it so that someone would play a trumpet. He did not do it just because there was a crowd to watch. He was not doing it so someone would stand up and applaud but love met the need of that other person. Love will give and love will care and Jesus cares for us.

We cannot save ourselves. He is our Saviour. We cannot get out from under the slavery to sin. He is our deliverer. He enables us to walk through life in a safe way, Jesus is God’s choice of the way to walk. In this world I am lost but in Jesus, I have found the way. I am not lost anymore. I know what road I am on. It is the highway of God, it is the way of holiness. I am following Jesus and it will lead to where He is today. He is sitting on the right hand of God in heaven. I know that is where I will be when life is over. He loved me and gave Himself for me. He loves all of us and He has given Himself for all of us. When we recognise Him for who he is, it is time to pray.

I remember when I was going to those gospel meetings, it was time to start praying. It was so hard for me to pray. I lived alone. I would pull across the curtains at night, still could not pray. Nobody is watching. It is just hard to bow down before the true and living God. It was time to talk to God and love will listen. God loves me because He listened to me. You will know God for yourself when you pray to God. He will listen to you like no man has ever listened to you. You can share things with God that you would never share with another person. You can tell Him everything. When it is all over, He will love you, and He won’t hate you for all you have said and done.

I remember the night that I bowed down before God. I started to share everything I could out of my heart. I said to myself, "What are you doing this for? God knows everything anyway." It is really important for us to open our hearts and have the humility to share all with God. We really need to know, "Will He still love me when I share all this with Him?" There is a lady living in Washington State. She wants to talk. It seems that nobody wants to listen to her. Well, I don’t want to listen to her either. Love will listen, so I asked myself the question, "When are you going to love her? You talk about love in meetings like this. You know God listened to you so why don’t you listen to her?"

My third year in this ministry, I was with a man called Mike. We were on our way to visit a person. He said to me, "We are going to do something different this afternoon. We are going to this person's home. We are going to give them a good listening to. We are not going to say anything. We are going to listen." Several years later with this other lady, I mentioned I decided to give her a good listening to. We picked a place and we picked the time. I prayed to God for help to listen to her like He had listened to me. His grace in me would enable me to listen for I wanted to listen with the love of God in my heart. We were sitting together and the conversation began. I thought to myself, "I wonder what we are going to hear today? Nobody else wants to listen to her. Here it comes." I listened with a genuine listening. She started to talk and then she stopped. She turned red. She just burst into tears, and she cried and cried. I got a box of tissues for her. I thought to myself, "What does she want to tell me?" The time to visit was almost finished and all the tissues were gone so I said to her, "What did you want to tell me?" She said, "Nothing. You were listening. That is all I wanted - that someone would listen to me." We had to schedule another visit, but love will listen.

God will hear your prayers. He listened to me when I poured out my heart. That night I began to repent. I realise love will forgive. It was good for me to share with God the things He already knew. I shared with Him the many sins that were in my life. Jesus came into the world to take away sin. In the gospel meetings, I heard of the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. I know that He died a punishment death. It was a death that I deserved because I misused all the things that God had given me. My life, using my body for wrong purposes, hating and being mean to other people, never really loved my Mother and Father like I should have, didn’t know how to love my brothers and sisters. I really did need God's love in my life.

I felt the love of God forgiving me when I asked God to forgive me for my sins. I understood that the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary made it possible for me to be forgiven. So there are a lot of things go on in the human soul all the time, lots of thoughts in our minds, lots of feelings in our hearts. Sometimes it is just hard to go forward. Sometimes, we don’t know how to make that next step so we choose to love. With that, we take a forward step. Sometimes in taking that forward step makes us come closer to God Himself. Maybe a step forward in prayer, a step forward when we read His word, we step forward when we stoop to help another person. Others have basic needs in their lives, and we want to help meet that need - nothing selfish but realising that God has loved us so much and now I love Him and I love my fellow man.

My Mother was very sick for 6 years before she died. She was in and out of the hospital many times. We thought she was going to die on many occasions. I knew of all people on the earth, she loved me the most. I also know that God has loved me in a very special way. Because Mother was going to die so often, we cried a lot. It was almost like a play, a dress rehearsal. Time would pass and she would get very sick again, so she was in the hospital, bed very low to the floor. My sister had to go on her knees to talk to her mother who lay on the bed. Mother was very weak and could hardly talk. She said, "Do you know that I have loved you children more than any other mother has loved her children?" I have learned that all mothers love their children. My mother does not know how much. She does not know how much God loved her, so it is hard for me to answer her. "I love you more than any mother loved her children." I told her lots of mothers in the world love their children too. She said, "Yes, but I have loved you more than anyone has loved their children." She knew I could not believe her and because she knew that she was not going to tell me any more. She had more to tell me, so she started all over again to say the same word. I still did not believe what she was telling me because I knew a greater love, but there she lay, so weak. The third time again, the same words. By this time, I am crying and my sister is crying. I finally said, "Yes, that is true." She said, "I have something that I want to tell you. I have something that I want you to do when I die. Will you do it?" I said, "First, what is it?" She said, "No, will you do it?" I did not want to be mean to her, so I said, "Yes, I will do it." "After I die, I want you children to love one another." That is the only thing that our mother asked us to do after she died. Nothing about the big house, nothing about the house full of furniture, nothing about the money, anything valuable, nothing mattered. She understood it was important to love, but even though she understood in a very limited way, it made us realise that God has an unlimited love.

Too many people look back on life with regret but you will never be sorry for every time that you chose to love. God was not sorry that He sent His Son into the world. Jesus has no regret about bringing salvation to all mankind, the greatest love that any person will know in their lifetime. I Corinthians 13, "In this life, we have faith, hope, and charity but the greatest of those three is charity," which is God’s love.