A Message Given By:
Stephen Galvano, Senior Pastor
Rochester Christian Church Ministries International
The title on the bulletin today is unusual. It’s “Love & Garbage.” I know how you felt when you looked at it. I felt the same way. But the Bible is full of human stories of people that were “garbage.” And then because of the grace and the mercy of God, because of deliverance, we were made like unto Him. But the story of the Bible is this—that God has not redeemed us for only a few people to stay and remain redeemed. He has told us that we must pick up the “garbage” which is out there and bring them in and change them from trash to treasures. And this is what the whole message is all about this morning.
We had a powerful worship this morning with the banners. You see the banner over us is God’s love. The enemy hates the presence of God, and the only way we can be set free from bondage, oppression, depression, or evil thoughts is when we start to praise and worship the Lord. Every member of the body has a different way of praising and worshipping the Lord. The banner is a way of praising and worshipping which covers the body. Also, reading the Word out loud is a sword hitting the devil right where it hurts. So, today lets read today John 21:15-17: “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved the third time because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him. ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’” Father, this is Your Word. Your Word is anointed. Anoint the Word into our hearts I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
A few years ago, I was in a seminar where one of the pastors spoke about this. He gave an illustration and in the last several months this illustration came back to my mind. The story was that there were two winos standing on the street corner who saw a garbage truck. And there were two men lying right on the back of the garbage truck holding the garbage down because it was a very windy day. That makes sense. Otherwise the garbage would have gone all over people’s backyards. So, these two winos standing on the corner saw that garbage truck and these two men lying with their back against the garbage. One of the winos said to the other, “Look at that. Someone threw away two perfectly good men.” I know you got the message. The Bible says Jesus Christ came from heaven and His motivation to come upon the face of the earth was not to seek and to save the lost. His motivation was the love of the Father. Because He loved His father, He obeyed Him. Thus when the order came, “Go and save humanity,” Jesus obeyed. However, His mission was different. His motivation was the love of the Father, but His mission was the same mission He left behind for the church to do. He came to seek and to save that which was thrown out. He came to seek and to save that which people call junk. He came to seek and to save that which many in the world calls “garbage.”
The Bible also teaches us that Jesus told His church how to love one another. And He has called every one of us to reach out to others. Reading from the Book of John 21:15: “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said, to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’” Jesus was pointing at John and Matthew. “Peter, do you love Me?” Now, I want you to get the background of this scenario. Peter had met Jesus three times after His crucifixion. But Jesus never confronted Peter with his denials. Now Jesus, because He was such a gentlemen, and He loved everybody, including all sinners and His disciples, said, “Let’s have a good breakfast. Let me show Peter that I love him, even without saying a word.” So when they had dined and their stomachs were filled, Jesus confronted Peter with the truth. “Peter, so far I have not said anything to you about your denial of Me. Now I want to confirm, I want to affirm, I want to encourage you. This is what I really think about you.” So he said, “Peter, truthfully, man to man, do you really love me, more than Matthew, more than John, more than Bartholomew, more than Andrew?” And Peter just simply answered, “Yes, Lord. Lord, you are God. You know my heart. You know that I love You.” And then Jesus said, “All right. Because you answered that way, I want You to start to feed, feed. That’s the first important delegation of the authority I’m giving you, Peter, from Myself to you. I’m telling you to feed My lambs.” He didn’t say, “Let the lambs feed you.” “You, Peter, feed my lambs.”
Then listen to John 21:16: “He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’” This time He didn’t say, “more than these” because Peter had already answered that. “Peter, do you really love me?” You know, we in our Pentecostal and Christian circles once in a while say, “I love you,” or “I love you in love of the Lord.” But Jesus never asked Peter, “Peter, do you love Me in the love of My Father?” No, he said, “Peter, what do you see in me? Do you love me?” I had a lady in our church years ago who could not put a pronoun in front of the word “love.” She’d say, “Love ya.” I know she loved me but she never told me, “I love you.” So one day I was teaching on this passage and in my spirit the Lord said, “Tell this lady to put the pronoun in front of “love.” And say sister, ‘What do you see?’” “Well, I see Jesus in you.” “Then why don’t you tell Jesus that you love Him through me by saying ‘I love you.’” We’re not going to embarrass Jesus if you tell Him you love Him. Be personal. Jesus was saying to Peter, “Now let’s become personal. Peter, do you love me?” “Lord, you know that I love you.” And again Jesus said, “Feed My sheep, my lambs, my sheep.”
Then in John 21:17: “He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved the third time because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him. ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.” Notice that Peter was grieved, but it was not a remorse. The word “grieved” means conviction. He was convicted, because now Jesus actually penetrated Peter’s eyes. You know that you can win people’s souls when you look them right in the eyes. Peter was not saddened. He was not disturbed. But he was grieved in his spirit, because he didn’t believe that Jesus believed him. He was hurt. He was saying, “Jesus, you are convicting me. I think I love you more than my wife or my kids. I love you more than fishing. I love you more than my fellow disciples. Lord, I came back. I know I blew it three times. Lord, what I felt was that I was the strongest, but I was actually the weakest. I told you before, Master, that I would never leave you. I would never forsake you, but somehow the devil came into me, and I denied you three times. Please Lord, will you please receive me?” You see, Jesus did not say this to rebuke him. Jesus was never that type of person. He loved everybody. He confronted people only with the truth. And the Bible says that Peter didn’t say yes or no. He said, “Lord, only you read my heart. I cannot deceive you and I cannot convince you. You know my heart.” And Jesus left him simply with the same message. “Feed My sheep.”
I want you to notice from this passage that before Christ Jesus would entrust Peter with His flock, He did ask first of all, “Peter, do you love Me?” You see, we cannot feed the flock without love. We must love Jesus before we can love His people. And unless we love Jesus with all our hearts, when we talk to people we are not going to give them our love. That’s why we need to love every one and see the Jesus in them. Jesus is not going to come back in the form of a person as He was. The only place Jesus is today is in every one of us. And we need to love the Jesus that is in us. That is why you cannot make believe that you love the church when you absent yourself from the body for weeks and months at a time. You cannot tell your wife you love her when you never show up for dinner at night. You cannot tell your kids you love them when you do not provide for them. You see, Jesus confronted Peter. Truth is always confrontational. And truth is integrity. It’s who we are as people of God. Do you now that the world today is tired of hearing sermons? They want to see sermons. And that’s what Jesus was trying to tell Peter. “Peter, don’t worry about theology. Don’t worry about how to express yourself. You just love Me. And when you love Me, love will flow out of you, and people will see Jesus in you. They will not see Peter. They will see Jesus.” That’s why today we don’t need to be impressing anybody. We are wasting our time if we do, because we are nothing but garbage before the Son of God. Isaiah years ago said, “All my good works and all my good deeds are before Your presence like filthy rags. We stink and smell without Your loving grace, and Your loving deliverance, and Your loving mercy upon Your people. Without You, Lord, we are nothing.” Praise the name of the Lord!
We’ve been told to witness, to minister to people. We all have been given the charge, every one of us, to help people with that garbage. All of us have received a mandate from the Lord Himself to help people with their garbage. All of us say, “Don’t bother me with your garbage.” However, this is a down-to-earth message. I want you to understand what God is saying to me the best I know how, with simplicity. God has told me to pick up my neighbor’s garbage. Keep in mind that every one of us have been given the charge to help with people with their garbage.
Let me define love. For me to stoop down and pick up somebody’s garbage, I am motivated either by God or by selfishness. Mother Theresa was in Calcutta. She was ministering to the lowest of the low in the ghetto of Calcutta. And one of the American journalists was there taking pictures and following her around. And when he saw this 80-pound lady trying to clean up the bruises and the leprosy and the cancer of this big Indian man, he looked at her and said, “Mother Theresa, I don’t know how you could do that. I would not do that even for a million dollars.” She stood up from her feeble knees, but with power and authority, and said, “Sir, me neither. I would not do it for any reason except that God has mandated me to care for His sheep.”
So what is love? Love is defined as caring enough about someone that you are willing to help them with their garbage. You cannot convince me today, that there is no garbage in your life. I have a lot of it. And I thank God when somebody comes to me and says, “Let me help you with your garbage.” We are not so big that we don’t need any help; trust me. We need more help than probably the average Christian. We have to put up with this and that; we have to hear this and hear that. And I believe love is caring enough about someone that you are willing to help them with their garbage. All of us can say that since our lives have been restored, we have gone into the “trash” business. It doesn’t matter what people say outside. “Are you hanging around with a druggy? Are you hanging around with a man or lady that have been divorced ten times? Are you hanging around with a person who is a former big mouth?” You know all the garbage that people have laid on us and we have laid on people. But I thank God, church, when Jesus came into my life, He redeemed my soul from hell and corruption. Praise the Name of the Lord! He changed my life. And when He called me and when He called you, He called us into the “trash” business. Don’t be ashamed to hang around with someone who willingly wants to come out of his or her lifestyle. There might be someone who is homosexual, and you know and they know, and the whole world knows. But you say, “Come on, Jesus set me free and He can also set you free.” You don’t see the prostitute hanging around here, but we need them to come. A few years ago, we had a “Friend Day” here. We had over a hundred new people coming to our church. And some of these people smoked. One of the so-called sophisticated deacons (or should I say demons?) said, “Pastor, you had better tell these people not to smoke on holy ground.” I said, “I thank God when I see a cigarette butt out there, because it shows me that some sinners have come home.” Praise the Name of the Lord!
Do you believe that God is pleased when people smoke? Do you believe that God is pleased when people gossip? Do you believe that God is pleased when people have a wrong attitude or when they don’t obey? Why do we try to put a degree on sin? Sin is sin! Look at your attitude this morning. You might be in church. You might be giving your tithe. You might even be in the ministry. What is the difference between the cigarette smoker and someone with a rotten attitude? Let me say this personally, and I believe you will agree. The so-called trash of yesterday has become my most treasured treasure. And that’s what God wants to do with the people out in the streets. You know why, because God is in the recycling business. All of us, no matter who you are, have been recycled by the blessed Holy Spirit! He came to us and gave us a new breath of life. He has healed us. He has redeemed us. He has taken us in and bought us with the precious Blood of Jesus Christ. Praise the Name of the Lord!
There is saying that says, “God is not through with me yet. I’m still under construction.” Last week I went to see our building on St. Bridgets Drive. Many of you saw it when we got it. It was trash. That building is now our treasure. Everything is brand new – ceilings, floors, bathroom, kitchen, walls, lights, doors. I said, “Wow, look at the transformation.” That’s what it is, the Transformation Center. Seeing it inspired me in preparing this message. God always brings things together for His purpose. That encourages me. I don’t about you, but I’m still under construction. God is polishing me up. I have so many things in my life that need to be chiseled away yet. My mouth needs to be chiseled. My eyes need to be chiseled. My hands need to be chiseled. My feet need to be chiseled. Let me tell you, we are still under construction, every one of us! I always love to sing the old song, “Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.” “Fall afresh on me today. Do a work of regeneration and transformation. Do an operation in my life, Oh God. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Make me, fill me, use me and change me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.”
Many people don’t concern themselves with the trash problem. The reason why this church is not filled twice on Sunday morning is because we don’t understand what Jesus taught to Peter about feeding His lambs or feeding His sheep. Many people don’t concern themselves with the trash problem. I have a neighbor who, when my grass is a little higher than his, doesn’t tell me. He cuts it for me. What a message! He cares about my trash. He’s concerned about my trash. That’s why he’s one of my best friends. I’ve lived there 14 years and we’ve always been close. And when I’m away on a trip, he comes to check my house and my pond. Once I threw a bag of garbage in my pond. He said, “Do you know there is a bag of garbage in your pond?” I said, “What’s a bag of garbage in the pond?” He said, “It’s not natural garbage.” So, I had to pick it up. Listen, some people are not concerned about other people’s trash. I’m not there yet. However, most people only become concerned about the trash problem when it blows in their backyard.
What am I talking about? What am I saying? I’m saying simply this: even as church leaders and as a Christian, I have always sympathized with people’s needs. You know that people’s needs are many. I had a couple visit me this week. They want to get married. I don’t know who they are. And I was unable to say yes or no. I said, “Give me three days and I will let you know.” In light of this teaching, I want to be concerned about the trash problem. Let me speak truthfully. In the past, I used to sympathize. Their garbage was not in my backyard. People used to be on drugs and I’d say, “Oh, that’s too bad. Let’s pray for them.” And then I would forget about them. People were divorced, “Oh, too bad.” Then I’d forget about them. People who were alcoholic, “Oh too bad.” But you know when the trash came in my own backyard, then I understood. I understood. I understood. When someone comes to my office now to talk to me, I know what he or she are telling me. I weep. I understand. I want to help them pick up their garbage. I don’t need to say much more on that. But let me say, my brothers and sisters, our society is crying out for the church to offer Biblical deliverance and divine guidance to their trash problems. They know all these social programs cannot help. They know that all the money in the world cannot help their trash problem. They know all the worldly counseling cannot help fix their marriages, financial distress, or any habit they might find themselves in. No wonder the Psalmist says, “I will lift my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. I looked to the left and to the right and there was nobody there.” Even David when he was being pursued by the enemy said, “Oh God, there is no one that can help me. Look at the man who lay for thirty years at the Pool of Bethesda hoping that somebody would help him into the waters. The angel came only once a year to move the waters, and the first one to reach the water would receive healing and deliverance. One day Jesus passes by and says, “What are you doing?” (You have to catch the whole Scripture in order to understand the meaning of this teaching.) The man said, “Master, I’ve been waiting for so many years, but there is no one to help me.” Church, there must have been hundreds of people around him. But there was nobody that was able to discern his trash problem. That’s why there was nobody there that was able to help him. No wonder the Psalmist says, “I will lift my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord who hath made me; who understands me; who knows my garbage; who knows how many garbage pails I have; who knows my many garbage bags I have laying in my backyard. Only He can help me out.” But God helps through us, through the church and through the believers.
I believe that it is our calling to pick up trash, wherever we find it. White trash is good trash. Black trash is good trash. Yellow trash is good trash. Brown trash is good trash. Don’t say, “Well, I go to a church that has some white trash there. We don’t get along.” That’s not what Jesus would say. “Well, I go to a church that has some black trash there. You know these people never change.” Jesus would never say that. “You know that church in Gates where the pastor has been there a long time? Nothing ever changes there.” Jesus would not say that. Jesus told Peter, “Peter, you cannot feed my sheep until you have a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, you die to yourself and you become born again in your spirit. Then when you see people, you don’t see them with your naked eye, but you see them with the spiritual eye. You see them with compassion and love; you see them the way God sees them.”
When Jesus chose His disciples, He chose twelve. One of them was Judas Iscariot. And Judas’ heart was not toward Jesus. He was after money and a position in the government. The Bible says that Jesus was hated by almost everybody. His mother loved Him, but only one of His disciples stayed with Him in the end. Talk about loyalty and about love. The rest of the disciples did not have love. The one who sticks close to you is your friend. Finally, Judas went to the Scribes and Pharisees and he said, “I’m ready. I’m fed up with this Jesus. He deceived me. He told me He was going to be the king of the Jews. I’ll sell Him to you and I’ll show you who He is. And they gave Judas thirty pieces of silver. Judas went to Gethsemane. He kissed Jesus and they arrested Him. Then the news went out, and Judas heard that they had convicted Jesus of Nazareth. He would be crucified at noon of that same day. Judas did not have a revelation from God. He had remorse, not conviction. And when he heard that Jesus, an innocent man, was about to be crucified upon his testimony, Judas went back to the priests at the Jewish temple and said, “Here, take your money back. I have betrayed innocent blood.” And he threw the money at the steps of the temple. Now the priests said, “We cannot take this money and put it back in the treasury because this is blood money. This is money of redemption. This is money that is costing somebody his life. Let’s buy a piece of property, which was prophesied by the prophets, especially Jeremiah who said, ‘They bought a piece of the field called the potter’s field.’ There we can bury every useless man, every useless woman, every stranger.” I hope you get the message. I remember a little town where there was a pottery maker. There was a small house, but with a big wasteland around the house. The house has big doors and windows. The potter makes the clay jars and when they become broken, he takes them and throws them out of the window. After years and years, you find all around the potter’s house broken and useless jars. Jesus redeemed even the broken jars. Jesus with the thirty pieces of silver redeemed all the garbage that people have thrown away in potter’s field. So were you redeemed. So was I – redeemed for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus Christ has redeemed potter’s field with His precious Blood. Jesus has bought back the potter’s field where you were thrown as a misused, broken vessel. And when the world told you that you were useless, you were cracked, you were no longer useful, Jesus came and said, “I will redeem your potter’s field with My precious Blood.”
Jesus has redeemed potter’s field with His precious Blood. Halleluiah! Praise His Name! If you feel that somehow you have been discarded and thrown in the potter’s field and have not been redeemed, you can come and pray and receive your redemption. Don’t tell me the prostitutes don’t belong in here. Don’t me that the drug addicts don’t belong in here. Don’t me that criminals don’t belong here. Potter’s field is big. Jesus wants everybody to come in. Glory to God!
If you have not received Jesus as your Savior and you feel like a cracked vessel, you can pray and ask Jesus into your heart. You are not garbage. You are treasure! Praise the Name of the Lord!
If this message has stirred your heart to ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, we would like to hear from you, pray with you and do whatever we can to help you. You may reach Rochester Christian Church Ministries International at (585) 247-4444, or through our website: www.rccm.org.
Pastor Stephen Galvano
Rochester Christian Church Ministries International