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GOD’S CURE FOR MAN’S LONELINESS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, September 16, 2012


I was a member of the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles for twenty-three years. My pastor at the Chinese church was Dr. Timothy Lin. He came to the church from teaching Biblical languages and theology at Bob Jones University. Many things I know today were taught to me by Dr. Lin in that Chinese church, as it once was. Dr. Lin taught me a lot about preaching. He said,

      Among all pastoral duties, the most difficult and most important task is to know, without doubt, the message God intends him to preach each Lord’s Day…Sometimes even by Thursday, the message to be preached is still unclear. If [that] is the case, then the pastor should fast and pray fervently…our spiritual awareness is often unblocked as soon as we start fasting and praying, and the message God intends will become crystal clear. This is speaking from my personal experience (Timothy Lin, Ph.D., The Secret of Church Growth, First Chinese Baptist Church, 1992, p. 23).

Recently God has been so good to us. He has given me one sermon after the other, without any trouble at all. It seems very easy for me to know what to preach Sunday morning and Sunday evening, and even on Saturday night! Some pastors have said to me, “How can you preach three different sermons every week, and still keep the people’s attention?” I can only say that it is by the grace of God! I also think it is so easy to know what to preach because we are fasting and praying every Saturday. Fasting and praying each Saturday has brought God’s blessings, and made it easy for me to know what to preach!

That’s what happened last week. I spent a long time working on the Sunday evening sermon. Yet I had no idea what to preach on Sunday morning. But God seemed to say to me, “Don’t worry. As soon as you finish writing the evening sermon, I will show you what to preach on Sunday morning.” Praise the Lord! That is exactly what happened!

As soon as I finished writing the Sunday evening sermon, God showed me what to speak on this morning. Here’s how it happened. I finished writing the evening sermon and went into my front room to eat lunch. I usually watch Fox News when I eat lunch. So I turned on the television. Strangely, it was on another channel that I never watch. But when I turned it on, George Beverly Shea was singing,

The chimes of time ring out the news, Another day is through.
   Someone slipped and fell, Was that someone you?
You may have longed for added strength Your courage to renew,
   Do not be disheartened, I have news for you.
It is no secret what God can do, What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you;
   With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you, It is no secret what God can do.
(“It Is No Secret” by Stuart Hamblen, 1908-1989).

My wife came into the living room to hear Mr. Shea sing. Then Billy Graham came on and began to preach. This was an old video, made in Denver, Colorado in 1988. I didn’t even know about it when I turned on the TV. Mr. Graham began preaching his great sermon on loneliness. Instantly God told me to preach on that same subject this morning! It was confirmed when my wife said to me, “Robert, you need to preach on that subject next Sunday morning.” Mrs. Hymers very seldom tells me what to do at church – very seldom. When she does, I always listen to her. I have found that she is always right when she does. So, here is my version of Mr. Graham’s famous sermon on loneliness.

Please stand and turn with me to Psalm 102:6-7.

“I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top” (Psalm 102:6-7).

You may be seated. Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) gave a good comment on those verses. Dr. Gill said,

      The Jews had flat roofs upon their houses, and here birds of solitude would come and sit alone in the night seasons, to whom the Psalmist [compares] himself; being either forsaken by his friends and acquaintances; or, being in [sad and lonely] circumstances, he chose to be alone, mourning over his sorrowful state and condition (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume IV, p. 127; note on Psalm 102:6-7).

“I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top” (Psalm 102:6-7).

Many young people feel like that – as lonely as a pelican in the wilderness, or an owl of the desert. It is common today to find college-age young people who feel as lonely as a sparrow on a house top. I have been ministering to high school-age and college-age young people for fifty-four years. I have found that many young people feel an aching loneliness inside. One young person said,

       I want to be special to someone, but there’s no one who cares about me. I can’t remember anyone touching me, smiling at me, or wanting to be with me…I am so lonely I can hardly stand it (quoted by Josh McDowell, The Disconnected Generation, Word, 2000, p. 11).

Thousands of young people feel like that today. Dr. Leonard Zunin, a prominent psychiatrist, said, “Mankind’s worst problem is loneliness.” Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said, “The deepest need of man is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison house of his aloneness.”

And there is no more lonely place for young people than a big city like Los Angeles. Author Herbert Prochnow said, “A city is a large community where people are lonesome together.” A Chinese student once said, “No one understands me. From the moment I wake up in the morning, until I go to bed at night, I feel lonely.” Have you ever felt a little of that? Do you ever feel that no one really cares about you? Do you ever feel that no one understands you, or sympathizes with you? Do you ever feel alone when you’re in a crowd? I have heard young people say that they go and walk around in a mall, just to be around other people. But it doesn’t help! They feel alone in a crowd of happy people. Others are laughing and joking, but they cannot escape from the prison house of their loneliness.

Dr. Lin often spoke of “youth’s loneliness.” He understood it so well, and spoke about it so often, that I know it was something he himself had once felt. He must have felt very lonely when he was far away from home, studying at college in China, when he was young. How about you? Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt lonely and unwanted?

Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) had everything money could buy. John Kennedy invited him to speak at his inauguration as President of the United States.  But Hemingway couldn't make it because he was so depressed.  He said he was so lonely that he felt like “a burned out tube in a radio.” A short time later he committed suicide. When my family and I were in Key West, Florida, we toured the house where he wrote 75% of his novels and short stories. While Ileana and the boys went somewhere else, I wandered back to Hemingway’s house. It was late in the afternoon. It was a chilling experience. It seemed like that house was steeped in depression and loneliness. It felt absolutely demonic, a place where hope and happiness were absent, and a man could go mad from loneliness. A few years later, in Ketchum, Idaho, Hemingway took a shotgun and blew off the top of his head, from the eyebrows up. We were there in Ketchum too, one year when we were on vacation. And again I could feel the demons of loneliness that haunted him, and finally killed him. One of his biographers said, “His death in all its bloody ghastliness remains unforgettable” (Kenneth S. Lynn, Hemingway, Harvard University Press, 1987, p. 593). I myself have never been able to forget it.

Did you know that suicide is the number two cause of death in young people under the age of twenty-five? I had a friend in high school who killed himself as Ernest Hemingway did. He shot himself in the head. Later his mother told me I was his only friend. That tormented my conscience for years, because I didn’t do enough to help him. I felt like I killed him because I never brought him to church. Please don’t make the same mistake I did. Bring every one of your friends to hear the Gospel! I repeat – bring every one of your friends to church to hear the Gospel! Then you will never have any regrets!  "Help Somebody Today."  Sing it!

Help somebody today, Somebody along life's way,
    With friendship extended, All loneliness ended,
Oh, help somebody today!
    ("Help Somebody Today" by Carrie E. Breck, 1855-1934; altered by the Pastor). 

My friend Dr. John S. Waldrip is a pastor. When he was young he said,

      I was in a night spot that was overflowing with young men and women. There I stood, in a crowded room, completely alone and disconnected from everyone else…We fill our schedules with wall-to-wall events…But despite all the activity, we rarely connect deeply with others. We have become a society of acquaintances, more than friends (John S. Waldrip, Th.D., “Cure for the Lonely Heart,” May 2, 2004).

No wonder so many young people feel like the Psalmist!

“I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top” (Psalm 102:6-7).

"Help Somebody Today."  Sing it! 

Help somebody today, Somebody along life's way,
    With friendship extended, All loneliness ended,
Oh, help somebody today!

But God doesn’t want you to be lonely. In the Garden of Eden God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The Christian poet John Milton (1608-1674) said, “Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named not good.” That is as true today as it was back then. God does not want you to be lonely. He said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” – or the woman either! That is why God has provided two cures for loneliness.

I. First, God sent His Son to die on the Cross, to cure your spiritual loneliness and alienation.

When our first parents sinned, they were immediately alienated from God, cut off from God. Adam hid himself from God (Genesis 3:10). Adam and his wife were both driven out of the Garden of Eden because of their sin. They were cut off from fellowship with God. The Bible teaches that their sinful nature passed down to the entire human race. That is why God seems unreal to you. Sin separates you from God. The Bible says,

“Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you” (Isaiah 59:2).

Even today, people wander through the world without God, and without hope. H. G. Wells (1866-1946) was an atheist.  He spent most of his career criticizing the Bible and denying Christ.  But before he died, he said, “I am sixty-five, and I am lonely and have never found peace.” But God does not want you to be in that condition. God wants to restore you to fellowship. That’s why He sent Jesus to die on the Cross, so your sins could be pardoned and you could be restored to God. The Bible says,

“We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).

When you come to Jesus Christ by faith, your sins are pardoned by His death in your place on the Cross – and you are reconciled to God! And Jesus rose physically from the dead to give you eternal life. Come to Jesus by faith and He will save you from sin and alienation from God. I am available to talk with any of you who want to trust Jesus and be saved.  "Help Somebody Today."  Sing it! 

Help somebody today, Somebody along life's way,
    With friendship extended, All loneliness ended,
Oh, help somebody today!

II. Second, God gave us the local church to cure our emotional loneliness.

I don’t believe that God wants to save you, and then leave you alone in this cold, unfriendly world. I liked part of Billy Graham’s sermon. But I don’t think he said enough. He said to trust Christ and be saved from spiritual alienation and loneliness from God. But he needed to say more. He needed to say that Christ also came to build His church, to save you from emotional loneliness. Christ said,

“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

God provided the local church as a place of fellowship and joy – where your emotional loneliness can be cured.  "Help Somebody Today."  Sing it! 

Help somebody today, Somebody along life's way,
    With friendship extended, All loneliness ended,
Oh, help somebody today!

When you graduate from high school or college, everyone says, “Keep in touch” or “I’ll see you soon.” But it doesn’t happen. If you ever see them again it will be 40 or 50 years later – and you’ll hardly recognize them! But you never graduate from your local church. Even when you die you join each other in paradise! That’s why I wrote that little song Mr. Griffith sang a moment ago,

The big city people just don’t seem to care;
   They’ve little to offer and no love to spare.
But come home to Jesus and you’ll be aware,
   There’s food on the table and friendship to share!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
   It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!
(“Come Home to Dinner” by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.; to the tune of
      “On the Wings of a Dove”).

Sing the chorus with me!

Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
   It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!

But it won’t cure your loneliness if you just come for a couple of hours on Sunday morning! Oh, no! That’s why many churches can’t win young people from the world because they close down their Sunday evening services! I can’t think of anything more foolish! Can’t they see that’s what killed the mainline denominational churches? It killed the Methodists and Presbyterians. And it will kill those foolish independent Baptist churches that close their Sunday evening services! It won't kill your church right away, but it will kill it within a few decades.  Young people must come back on Sunday night or their loneliness will not be cured. And they need to be with the people in church on Saturday night as well. Dr. Lin used to say, “Make the church your second home.” He was right. That’s why many hundreds of Chinese young people poured into the church when he was the pastor. Revival came, and his Chinese church became like the church in Jerusalem. They were “praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

And one more thing. If you really want this church to heal your loneliness, bring someone with you the next time you come! Yes! Bring a friend or relative with you the next time you come – maybe even tonight! One Chinese boy who has been here only a few weeks, heard me say that last Sunday morning. He brought a friend with him when he came back Sunday night! That’s the way to cure your loneliness. Start thinking about helping somebody else! The very first thing Jesus said to His Disciples was, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Go fishing this afternoon! Go and get a friend or relative and bring them with you tonight – or next Sunday at the latest! “I Will Make You Fishers of Men.” Sing it!

I will make you fishers of men,
   Fishers of men, fishers of men,
I will make you fishers of men
   If you follow me;
If you follow me, if you follow me;
   I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me.
(“I Will Make You Fishers of Men” by Harry D. Clarke, 1888-1957).

When you are busy bringing others to church you won’t have time to be lonely!

How many will say, “I’ll do it, pastor. I’ll try to bring someone with me the very next time I come to church.” Please raise your hand. Dr. Chan, come and pray for them (prayer). Sing that chorus again!

I will make you fishers of men,
   Fishers of men, fishers of men,
I will make you fishers of men
   If you follow me;
If you follow me, if you follow me;
   I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me.

Bring someone with you to have fun at the birthday party – to eat lunch or dinner with us, and hear the Gospel! “Come Home to the Church.” Sing that chorus one more time!

Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
   It’ll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!

"Help Somebody Today."  Sing it! 

Help somebody today, Somebody along life's way,
    With friendship extended, All loneliness ended,
Oh, help somebody today!

God, help them to do it! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here) – or you may
write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Psalm 102:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come Home to Dinner” (by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.;
to the tune of “On the Wings of a Dove”)/
“I Will Make You Fishers of Men” (by Harry D. Clarke, 1888-1957)/

"Help Somebody Today" (by Carrie E. Breck, 1855-1934; altered by the Pastor).


THE OUTLINE OF

GOD’S CURE FOR MAN’S LONELINESS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top” (Psalm 102:6-7).

(Genesis 2:18)

I.   First, God sent His Son to die on the Cross, to cure your
spiritual loneliness and alienation, Genesis 3:10;
Isaiah 59:2; Romans 5:10.

II.  Second, God gave us the local church to cure our emotional
loneliness, Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:47; Matthew 4:19.