Archive for September, 2022

Welcome to God’s Gym 3/1/98

I Peter 5:10, 11
Page 1770 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ want’s you to spend eternity with Him. Is He the kind of company you would like to keep? Is heaven the kind of place you would like to go? Is it your desire to spend eternity in such company in such a place?

Again I say that is the will of God for you. All that is necessary to accomplish it is for your will to coincide with His will.

“The God of all grace” has personally “called us to His eternal glory.”

The word “called” does not mean He has simply invited us. Even that is a flattering thought. The Greek word translated “called” is KALEO. It means to summons. When a summons is issued by a judge it means cease and desist in what you are doing and comply with the intent of this document. It establishes a priority.

KALEO further means “to call by name.” Thus, God has summonsed you by name to come to heaven. I don’t know how you use God’s name, it may often be in vain, but I know how He uses your name. It is always included in a loving invitation to spend your eternal destiny with Him. The Lord is the aggressor in seeking a relationship with you.

If you know of anyone not on their way to heaven you know someone who is refusing the summons of God All Mighty who wants them to spend eternity with Him.

KALEO expresses God’s strong desire for you. Hopefully your desire is the same as His.

God doesn’t “send” people to hell. They refuse His summons to heaven and hell is the only alternative.

“It is not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3: 9).

The “summons” is personalized and embodied in Jesus Christ. He is the summons. He is the way, the truth, and the life. That seems unreasonable to some. However, we live in a world of exact standards. Certain standards must be complied with before being admitted to college. Citizenship standards must be met before becoming a naturalized citizen. There are always exactly 16 ounces per pound. A foot consists of only 12 inches, no more or no less. Water always boils at 220 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level. A gallon consists of 231 cubic inches. On the music scale “A” above middle “C” has precisely 440 vibrations per second. However unreasonable it seems water always has expressly two parts of hydrogen and one part oxygen. It always has and always will have.

Therefore, what is so unreasonable that God should have a standard for admission to heaven. Some criticize there being only one way. I marvel that there is any way that our all holy God should admit those of us unholy creatures into His perfect heaven.

Here is a bonus. Not only does He want us to spend eternity with Him, He wants to live in time with us. He wants to take up residence in you and provide some of life’s most needed resources and assets. A positive response to His summons results in many blessing, three of which are noted in I Peter 5: 10, 11.

The Greek word translated “establish” is STERIZO. The verb is related to our word “steroid.” The improper use of chemical compounds called “anabolic (up-building) steroids.” Is detrimental to health and can cause an agonizing death. Athletes sometimes use them in their quest for more strength or speed. This is destructive.

As the use of anabolic steroids build up the body but are detrimental, they illustrate the spiritual good done by the Lord when taken into our lives. When God’s supernatural power is injected into our lives He builds us up.

Notice the word “perfect” in our text. He wants to establish us in perfection. Many don’t want His perfection just His relief from pain, problems, and perplexities.

The Greek word translated “perfect” is KATARTIZO, meaning, to repair, fit together, to restore to a useful condition. Do you need any of that action in your life? He is constantly at work in our lives to achieve that end. He uses a variety of means. Often the means isn’t seen as His loving attempt to restore or repair our lives. Suffering is one such means noted in the text. Even that is His attempt to bless us. Instead of our suffering making us better it often makes us bitter. If there is bitterness in your life He alone has the capacity to overcome it.

I may be the last pastor in America to quote Forrest Gump, but there is a scene and line worth noting. Forrest and Jenny, now as adults, revisit paths they traveled together as children. In their wanderings they come to an old house in which Jenny had been reared. There as a child she had been abused and misused. There she lost her ability to love. Enraged, Jenny threw her shoes at the house. She picks up rocks and hurls them at the house. Finally she shatters a window and collapses.

Even with his IQ of 75 Forrest sees a sad reality in the moment as he comments: “Sometimes, I guess there aren’t enough rocks.” Sometimes the rocks of hate, resentment, and bitterness just run out and we still hurt. When there aren’t enough rocks, there is a loving Savior who wants to “establish” us in our agony.

All through life He is there to establish us. At the end of life there is dying grace.

I visited a formerly vibrant young woman, a member of our church, in the hospital. She was in what had been said to be the last stages of life. I had been there before. Her former beauty was eroded and her frail body depleted. She was radiant as she spoke, “I have been praying pastor. I am now ready to die. I am ready for God to heal me.” (I thought who wouldn’t be.) Then she caught me off guard as she continued, “I am ready to continue suffering for Him if that is His will.” That is dying grace.

The word for “establish,” STERIZO, has three uses in the New Testament. It is used of:

PERSEVERANCE: It us used to describe Jesus’ going to Jerusalem: “Jesus resolutely set out (sterizo) for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

By perseverance the snail reached the ark.

FAITH: “Paul traveled from place to place … strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18: 23).

Christ confirms the Christian faith by meeting specific needs with suitable strength. The faith He gives is the faith to act.

Three hundred years before Christ, Erathosthenes conducted a significant experiment. He discovered that in the city of Syene at high noon a stick standing perfectly vertical cast no shadow. Later, he also discovered that 500 miles away, at the exact same moment, a vertical stick cast a shadow of 7 degrees. From this he concluded the earth is round. From this he reached the following conclusion. 7 degrees is approximately 1/50 of the 360 degrees in a circle. If every 500 miles is 7 degrees, then the full circle of the earth would be 25,000 miles. Erathosthenes had calculated the earth’s circumference to within a few miles.

Eighteen hundred years later Christopher Columbus sailed out of a safe harbor into an uncharted and foreboding sea. His intent was to sail to India. He too believed the earth was round. However, his calculations were off by 7,000. It took weeks longer than anticipated to reach an unknown destination. He returned to this hemisphere four times and died in 1506 having no idea where he had been.

Today we pay tribute to Columbus but few know the name Erathosthenes. Both had faith. One acted on his faith and the other didn’t. Erathosthenes did nothing with what he knew. Columbus had limited knowledge but in faith he acted on that in which he had faith.

Our God is a God deserving of our faith.

COURAGE: “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father … encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (II Thessalonians 2: 16, 17).

There are hidden heros and heroines in this and other fellowships who, by His strength, are facing suffering victoriously. Every day holds new agony and every night new torturous trials. In it all they, in their frailty, are experiencing victory as our Lord gives them courage.

We become intimidates by adversity and become locked into self-imposed limits. He wants to give us courage to break free of such barriers.

Carl Sandburg captured something of the human spirit in this statement: “There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”

Which spirit prevails in you, the eagle or the hippopotamus? You alone decide.

The Greek word translated “strengthen” is STRENOO, meaning to give power to overcome adverse force. This word further stresses how He gives the reinforcement for life. He gives power to overcome.

Essential road construction offers some obstacles and inconvenience. A veteran operator of one of those big machines sensed his work irritated some people. He decided to try to bring some relief to the tension that inevitably results from traffic backup. He hung the following sign on the front and back of his machine: “The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction.”

That operator knew that, God knows that, and we need to learn it.

Christ told us to be of good cheer and offered this encouragement: “I have overcome the world.” He gives overcoming power. He not only provides it He summonses us to come and get it. His power to life is our greatest need.

Have you ever run out of gas. It doesn’t make you feel like a Rhodes Scholar. The fact that I say that means I have run out of gas. It is a public embarrassment that leaves no place to hide.

The last time I did was on the Marietta Town Square, at 5:15 PM on a Friday. Not a good time or place. As though there is any good place. The only worse place I have ever run out of gas was on the Indian Nations Turnpike in Oklahoma at sundown in a blizzard.

When I gave out of gas I might have called a mechanic to come replace every worn part on the car, but that would not have made it run. I might have changed all four times but that wouldn’t have helped. I might have had it washed and polished but it still would not have run.

My car had depleted its fuel and exhausted its power. There was no way it would function.

Some persons are trying the spiritual equivalent of a new set of tires, parts replacement, or a lustrous polish job, but are still finding life powerless.

An example of His power to overcome was observed in the life of my friend, former Baseball Commissioner, Bowie Kuhn. He lived in a pressure cooker at all times. During his last months before resigning he was under intense pressure. Those who heard him on network interviews listened as reporters tried to put the word “anger” in his statements. Each time he denied it and finally said, “Anger just isn’t in my make up.” There is a reason. The secular press never eluded to it but Bowie Kuhn was a born-again Christian with a practical practicing faith. He has the strength of which Christ spoke.

He gives us strength to face the unknown. Recently my wife and I sat and talked with Tom Osborne, retired coach of the Nebraska National Championship football team. He spoke of the unknown and associated uncertainty resulting from his retirement.

Then he spoke of the uncertain with certainty as he expressed confidence the Lord would guide him. He is being given the power to face the otherwise intimidating unknown.

The Greek word translated “settle” is TITHEMI, meaning to lay a foundation.

No other foundation is laid than that which is Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let Your Light Shine – Part Two

Matthew 5:14-16

Little Gail in church for the first time was amazed by the characters depicted in the stained glass windows. “Who are those people,”  she whispered to her Mother.  “Those are Saints,” replied her Mom.  After church Gail said, “I know what saints are.  They are people the light shines through.” Right Gail!

All colors are caused by objects filtering or reflecting light.  Blue light is one of the shorter wavelengths and is dispersed by the atmosphere that makes the sky blue.

Lives are colored by Christ.  Filter out the bad and reflect the good.

Don’t put your light under a bushel, that is, hide it.

        A)      Unbecoming speech

        B)      Compromised lifestyle

        C)      Complaining nature

        D)      Unforgiving spirit.

“Let your light so shine…”  You are to let.  He is to enable.  We do not have to provide the light, Jesus produces it.

Light is not corrupted by what it shines on.  It may seem God has put you in an extremely dark place.  Where is light needed? Everywhere there is darkness!

James Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”  Its ratification was unlikely because it gave no protection to religion.  A Baptist pastor, John Leland, was going to run against Madison.

At the time Virginia had imprisoned 500 Baptist preachers.  Their crime was simply not being a member of the state church of Virginia.

Leland and Madison met under an Oak tree in Richmond.  Today two streets corner at that spot.  Those streets are Leland and Madison.  There Madison pledged to Leland he would assure him the Constitution would have an amendment added to insure religious freedom if he would not oppose him.  Leland consented and thus the First Amendment resulted, guaranteeing religious freedom.  Unfortunately some modern jurists have failed to read it carefully.  It begins “Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion…”  Notice it restricts “Congress” not individual citizens.   Only Congress can violate the amendment.

Leland’s light shown.  Today many are trying and some with success to put it under a bushel.

“Your light,” not all are alike.  We differ depending on the light we reflect.  There are many rays of light.  As a prism breaks light down into different colors, so various personalities reflect different aspects of God’s glory.  We are not all expected to be alike. Let your light shine in the darkness today.

Let Your Light Shine – Part One

Matthew 5:14-16

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world….”

John the Baptist said of Him:  He is “the true light, which lights every man that cometh into the world.”  (John 1:  9)

Jesus said of you: “You are the light of the world….” The verb tense and sentence structure used in addressing this statement to believers means “You and you alone are the light of the world.”  That means you are rare, purposeful, important, unique, distinct, and valuable.  All are qualities that speak of worth.

Jesus is THE light.  We are lights.  We are stars – He is the Sun.  A star’s light is merely a reflection of the sun.  Christians shine by derived light.  Our radiance is to be gathered from the Son.

This is illustrated by a young, sullen nurse who attended a revival meeting in Columbus, Ohio.  On about the third night she gave her life repentantly to Christ.  On her way home she stopped in a drug store where she was known.  A friend said, “You look like someone has just lit a candle inside you.” “They have,”  she said.  “What I mean,” said the friend, “is you look like you just fell in love.”  “I have,” she said.

John 1:4, 5 describes Christ, the light, as shining in “darkness.”  The word for darkness is “skotos.”  It is used of evil.  It is a summary reference to fallen mankind.  Verse 10 indicates it is synonymous with “the world.”  Darkness, the world, is the antagonist of Christ, the light.  The expression doesn’t simply mean the world behaves negatively toward Christ, it means the world hates the Light.

John said the world didn’t apprehend the light.  It didn’t take it in.  The darkness didn’t defeat the Light.

The Greek word “katalambano” which can be translated as comprehend, or apprehend, or overcome, is a strong word literally meaning an attack by evil powers.  It actually means “to pounce upon to bring it under its power.”  Surprisingly it is in the aorist tense, meaning at a point in time. Here as the aorist verb it is a reference to a single occurrence.  The reference is to Calvary. 

There the two forces engaged in mortal combat and Light won over darkness.

You can let your light shine with assurance of its visibility and potential victory.

The essence of light is to shine.  If it is light, it shines.  All deep convictions demand expressions.  All personal experience of the power of Jesus on our character shows in our conduct.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 16) 

George Washington: Was He a Christian? 7/5/98

Matthew 7:20, 21
Page 1419 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST was a masterful teacher. He desired to communicate those great truths of eternity in such a simple, elemental manner that any one of us could understand them. As he taught on the mountainside he instructed the learned, the wise, the elderly and the mature. He communicated to the children and to the young people and he related facts so that they could make application of them.

Can you imagine there on the mountainside as he was instructing the masses of persons, that perhaps even he gestured toward them, and bent to pick a single blossom and said, “Consider the lily – it toils not, neither doth it spin, yet Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” And watch just then as the birds moved overhead….”Your heavenly Father cares for you as He does for them.”

And then he said, “Not everyone that sayeth unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And then he went further in greater depth and said, “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them I will liken unto a wise man that built his house upon a rock, and the rains came and descended upon it and the winds blew and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.”

Jesus Christ gave insights that are still worthy of our observation today, for the depth of the inclusion of truths therein would take all of our lives to just begin to probe the superficial depths of such statements as these.

He used characters, he used objects to teach lessons. So on this special season of the year, let’s use a personality to evaluate the most important issue that any individual ever confronts, that is, the matter of personal salvation.

Faith of our fathers. What was the faith of the founding fathers of the great nation we are blessed to call The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave today? Consider if you will, by way of illustration, one of the most dramatic personalities in the young life of America. He was our first President, George Washington.

Let’s look at his life, some of the things involved in it. Let’s take from his own lips and from his own pen certain statements that he made to see if we can extract from those truths whether or not he was a child of God, born again.

The Washington Monument rises 555 feet and 5 inches above the mall in Washington D.C. I pays tribute to the memory of the nation’s first president, George Washington.

He was reared near Fredericksburg by a pious dad and Godly mother. In addition tot he Bible the book from which they tutored him most often was “Contemplations, Moral, and Divine,” by Matthew Hale. It is a volume giving spiritual and moral enlightenment.

He was a leader of exceptional capacity and that capacity showed itself in so many ways. In his youth, as a young man at age ll, his dad died. He was the oldest child in the family and it became his responsibility to assume the role of the head of the house. That involved him leading his family in their daily time of prayer together and their devotions around the meal table.

Parents, have you assumed that responsibility? Is there in your home that involvement around God’s Word, that involvement in prayer around the table on which His bounty has been made available?

In his young years the family attended church in Fredericksburg. After marriage, while living at Mt. Vernon he attended Pohick Church. Pastor Lee Massey spoke of his faithful regularity and how his presence and reverence was an inspiration to all. His Secretary, Judge Harrison, noted his consistency in worship even during the war. When possible he would leave the camp to attend worship in a nearby community.

After the war when he returned to Mt. Vernon they attended Christ Church in Alexandria.

One vital lesson taught him by his mother paid dividends all through his life. It was this: “My son neglect not the duty of secret prayer.”

At age 15 he made a vital decision through prayer. He wanted to join the navy. His mother’s influence was important in the decision. He wrote her: “My dearest mother, I did strongly desire to go, but could not endure to be on board a ship and knowing you were unhappy.” Such regard for one’s mother is admirable. All of us should be glad about that decision for the navy he wanted to join was the British Navy.

His conscientiousness in “the duty of secret prayer” was manifest at Valley Forge in 1777. His officers notices he frequently retreated into a dense grove of trees. They determined he did so to pray. While there praying for his ill equipped and out manned army he was disrupted by noise in the camp. He soon learned it was the South Carolina Militia arriving. The First Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina had voted to give their building fund money to help equip the militia. Their arrival was an anser to prayer.

As a youth he memorized over 100 rules of conduct taught him by a minister. Here are a few examples:
Speak not when you should hold your peace.

Always submit your judgements to others with modesty.

Let your conversations be without malice and envy.

When you speak of God or His attributes let it be seriously.

Let your recreation be manful, not sinful.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

By the age of 15 he was working as a professional surveyor far beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. The wilderness had a strong appeal to him and hardened him for a demanding life physically.

At age 21 he was a major in the Colonial Army. He fought in the French and Indian War. His bravery made him a living legend. In one battle he had two horses shot out from under him. His hat and coat were riddled with bullet holes.

In 1775 when the first shots were fired between the Redcoats and Minutemen at Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress unanimously elected him Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.

Ephesians 2:8-9 instructs us, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Mr. Washington had much about which to boast and we today do well to take great pride in much of that which gives us legitimate reason for gratitude for the character and capacity that he manifested as President of this great land, and prior to that, as a leader and a general of our country.

For he was an individual who gave to his troops an order that they were to attend “divine service” every Lord’s Day. He believed in it and he gave such a command to his troops. He also issued a statement that there could be no swearing or profanity used by his troops. Such leadership and such example as this is admirable and certainly is worthy of emulation by every American today, for we are warned in God’s Word “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” As we see The Day approaching, all the more that regularity in worship becomes God’s children. Regularity in worship is a testimony to devotion to Him. Profanity and swearing have no place on the lips or in the lives of God’s children, and if there are those struggling with such today, you would do well to ask for His help in placing a sentinel at your heart’s door lest there escape therefrom a thought that would prompt the utterance of that which is swearing or profane.

Mr. Washington was a man who showed great courage when he prevailed upon the Congress to establish the chaplaincy for our Armed Services, and he it was who first issued a proclamation in 1777 that there should be set aside a day of thanksgiving and praise to God.

A lifestyle of thanksgiving and praise is becoming to God’s children, but how much thanksgiving does He hear from you? How much praise arises from you? How often do you romance God? Or is your prayer stale and antiseptic or simply a supplication, making your “want list” known to Him?

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice,” says the penman of Philippians. Rejoice! Then an attitude and spirit of joy and rejoicing is evidence of the domicile of the Lord in the life of the believer, for it is legitimately said, “Joy is the banner that flies over the capitol of the heart when the King is in residence there.” When the Lord Christ is in residence in your heart you respond as Mr. Washington urged the nation to do: “in prayer and thanksgiving, rejoicing in His goodness.”

His prayer life, established in his youth, was something that punctuated George Washington’s life all through his life. For this reason, many years later we can read of the prayer that first issued from his lips and later from his pen as he prayed, “Almighty God, we lift our earnest prayer to Thee that Thou wouldst keep the United States in Thy protective grace.”

I’m so thankful that General Washington prayed such a prayer as that, that he let the Lord know that was his desire, that He would, in His grace, keep the United States. We the citizens of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave do well to pray it frequently that He would, in His grace, purge and keep America as only He can, for “it is not by might, but it is by His Spirit” that the soul of the individual is kept and that is true of the nation likewise.

Mr. Washington concluded that prayer with this expression: “Grant our supplications, I beseech Thee, through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Prayer was a prominent part of his life all through his career. Is it indigenous to your lifestyle? Is your life one that incorporates prayer as a daily involvement? Are you a person prone to talk to the Lord regularly in prayer and to let Him know of your gratitude for His goodness and to ask Him to supply the needs that are existent in your life?

Of course there is that well-known tradition related to George Washington and the cherry tree. It’s been told and retold so many ways one couldn’t help but wonder what really happened, and was there a cherry tree at all and did it get cut down?

George Washington had scarcely been buried when right down the road living at Woodbridge was a minister by the name of Mason Weems who wrote a book about the life of George Washington. It went into 70 printings. But it wasn’t until the fifth printing of this book entitled “The Life and Magnificent Actions of George Washington” that the story about the cherry tree occurred, for there was a lady who lived near the senior Washington family that brought the story to Rev. Weems after George’s death, and after all, the truth is now known from that ancient chronicle, George didn’t cut down the cherry tree. But little George did skin the bark off all the way around it and that’s just as good as chopping one down in the first place, because that would surely lead to death of the tree, and George did express that truthfulness, “Father, I cannot tell a lie.” He confessed and that kind of truthfulness followed his presidency, for what revolution do you know of in the history of mankind like unto the American Revolution that was led by a general who was victorious in battle and on the field of conquest and then came back to be the leader of that country who freely and willingly relinquished the power and the authority of government. Tito? Castro? Mao? Lenin? Stalin? Kruschev? Mussolini? Hitler? All clung, or cling, to power with selfish greed and tenacity, but the benevolent bigness of a young life grew into adulthood and he gladly laid down the sword of battle, went back to Mount Vernon and took up the plow for the fields of fertile soil in that country.

A great leader he was. He had much over which he could boast, but it is by grace ye are saved, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any person should boast. And if today you are mistakenly seeking to earn, merit or deserve God’s favor, learn from the scriptures which say, “Not everyone which sayeth unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven.”

George Washington’s works were admirable and certain deserving of our consideration, for as a young child his parents trained him up in the way he should go and that should be the diligent devotion and the absolute commitment of every Christian parent. For that reason, as an adult general when his troops had to move into Canada, he said to that army, “With prudence, policy and a genuine Christian spirit, we can look with compassion upon their error and not insult them.” Such was the nature of Mr. Washington. Even in war, even on an imposing army to have the benevolent attitude and gratitude for them. Seeing the error, divorcing it in his own thinking from the person, not wanting to insult the person and yet wanting to correct the error. The same needs to be true in the life of God’s children today – prudence, policy and a genuine Christian spirit.

There was a contemporary of Mr. Washington – Thomas Jefferson – a man of note, a man with a very fluent pen who produced many of the vital documents of our country and saw a number of them amended to correct certain things that certainly would not be in keeping with the Word of God.

Mr. Jefferson, unfortunately, at one stage in his life became known as a rationalist. That is, he believed man had matured to the point where he no longer needed God, but could, with his own reason, resolve the issues of life. A Rationalist.

This so moved and so impressed George Washington that in his second farewell address he spoke to the issue and he said, “Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to progressive government, religion and morality are indispensable supporters.” He continued, “Reason and experience lead us to conclude that political principle cannot exist apart from religious principle.”

What happened in America just a few years ago? One young man involved in an experience that lives in infamy, called Watergate, Jeb MacGruder, said, “Somewhere between my moral values and my personal power I lost my integrity.” Exactly what Mr. Washington said could not exist occurred in the life of our country and consequented in one of the most cataclysmic occurrences our government has experienced, for a segment and a period in American history, when there was an effort to exist apart from religious principles. In the life of an individual and in the life of a society there has to be that stability that comes as a result of religious principle predicated upon and rooted in the Word of God.

That’s true in the life of a person and it is true in the life of a country. There must be reason and experience to teach us that it is God’s Word that must form the foundation of our ethics and our morality.

George Washington, as a man of leadership in our country, afforded us much of our heritage for which we can be thankful. For him advocating and encouraging the citizens of a young country to engage in prayer and thanksgiving, we can thank him.

We today need to take God’s Word at its face value and praise Him at all times. We can do it in one of several ways. We can discount every thought that comes to our mind and praise God through clenched teeth, or we can realize that we should, and do, have reason to praise God, but not have the spirit with which to do it and to cower into a position of weakness; or we can go full speed ahead, driven by blind bitterness; or we can pray, “Lord God, my heart is broken, my spirit is contrite; this is about to kill me. Though circumstances are grievous, I praise You, I thank You, that You, who have promised, are faithful and I claim and cling to Your promises as a drowning individual clings to a life preserver; I am reliant upon your Word, I am dependent upon Your spirit to sustain me.” With that kind of an attitude, all persons at all times can and should praise Him and offer thanks unto Him.

The willingness of the individual to rely upon Him in all circumstances was illustrated by Mr. Washington. On occasion, he wrote an acquaintance by the name of Joseph Reed and in that letter he said, “I have scarcely emerged from one difficulty until I am plunged into another. How it will end, God in His great goodness will determine. I am thankful for His divine protection.”

Is that the way you feel? When difficulties come, when adversities arise? Is that the spirit you manifest? Is that the inclination of your heart?

Washington was dependent upon God for his temporal blessings and well he might have been, for historians record that in one day’s activities on the battlefield, when Mr. Washington was leading his out-manned, out-trained and out-equipped troops against the British, so furious was the battle and so rigorous was his activity that he actually ripped the buttons from his coat and it flung open and waved in the breeze as he engaged in battle. That night, when he removed that coat, there were in it 19 different bullet holes, the battle had been so furious, the calls had been so close, and Mr. Washington said, “I don’t know how it will end, but the great God in His goodness will determine. I will thank Him for His divine protection.”

God in His mercy has spared your life more often than you might be prone to admit. God in His grace and in His goodness has let His spirit overshadow you. By His mercy He has protected and provided for you. Do you acknowledge it?

Mr. Washington was dependent upon the Lord God for temporal blessings and he was willing to acknowledge and to thank God for those temporal blessings.

Modern-day historians have dug deep and have tried to find those things that would discredit him and mar his life. They have done much to put a blight on the image of President and General Washington. They tried extensively to do so as they have to all our founding fathers, but the life of George Washington was one not given to ceremonial religion, but to practical faith, for you see, as an infant, he was christened according to the rites of the English Church. He was reared in that church. The Episcopal churches and the Presbyterian churches both take great pride in some of his identity with them, particularly the Episcopalians, but it is not identity with a denomination that determines salvation.

There are many of our friends in Christ who are Episcopalians and Presbyterians and various other denominations who have been, by God’s grace, born again. They are genuinely children of the King. But just as there are some Baptists who are saved and some Baptists who are not, so there are some in every denomination who are and who are not, thus validating and substantiating the reality that it is not a denomination that saves one. So the mere fact that Washington was identified with a denomination says nothing of his salvation. The fact that you are a Baptist does not mean that you are going to heaven. If you are a Baptist because you’ve received Christ as your personal Savior, asking Him in the process to cleanse you, to control you, to keep you, if you’ve submitted to Him as Savior and you are seeking to serve Him out of a heart of gratitude as a consequence of it, you, regardless of what denomination you are in, are a child of the King.

But how about Mr. Washington? Was there a time, a moment, an occasion when he received Christ as His Savior?

A few years ago, my wife’s grandfather died at the age of 97. He was a Baptist preacher, George Knight by name, in Louisiana. He had very, very few possessions, and those items of a religious nature were given to us. Recently I was going through some of those old papers and I found an old newspaper published in Denton, Arkansas, the title of which was “The Baptist and Commoner.” In it an intriguing first person account of an individual who was related to a Baptist preacher by the name of John Gano. Mr. Gano was the first pastor of the First Baptist Church of New York City. He was also a chaplain in George Washington’s army. Mr. Gano’s first person account is as follows:

“After General Washington had personally received Christ as his Savior, he came to me and he said, ‘I’ve been listening to you preach, Gano, and I have been investigating the scriptures and I am persuaded that immersion is the baptism spoken of in God’s Word; therefore, I command at your hand baptism.” And Mr. Gano states that there were 42 persons gathered at the creek bank that day: Judges Beall, of Corsicana, Virginia; Weaver of Savannah, Missouri among the 42 witnesses, as pastor Gano and General Washington walked into the creek and there, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, he was immersed to evidence his faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as his personal Savior.

Perhaps you’ve read that many places, but I’ve never seen it any other place, but the reality is, according to that minister, George Washington received Jesus Christ personally as his Savior. That’s the only reason that one of these days you may be blessed to walk the streets of gold and see the General, the President, as a happy, proud child of the King.

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, at the death of George Washington, said of him, “He was a sincere believer in the Christian faith and a truly devout man.”

Can that be said of you? Is that statement relevant and practical and applicable in your life currently? “Sincere believer in the Christian faith and a truly devout person.”

It happened on a day when George Washington, with all of his goodness and all of his goods, came to a conclusion, a resolute persuasion, “There’s one thing needed in my life and that thing is the Person, Jesus Christ,” and in faith he receptively responded to the Lordship of Jesus Himself.

One of these days you’re going to be spoken of as a memory. One of these days you’re going to be a personality of history. Will there then be the earthly record of you, individually, having received Jesus Christ. Not giving lip service and merely parroting, “Lord, Lord” but submitting to Him as your Lord, relating to Him, openly demonstrating that.

General Washington was a man of great dignity, of great reserve and modesty and yet he, through the investigation of the scriptures came to the conclusion that immersion was the baptism spoken of in the Word of God and that it was right in the sight of God and in the presence of witnesses to bear witness of faith in Christ as Savior, and he boldly, openly took that stand.

Ready for a Good Fight

Do you ever draw out of your mental archives experiences of your youth? Do it. You will be amazed if you let your little boy or girl self come out and play in your memory. Did you have a childhood nemesis? Most folks did.

John was my adversary; a real bete noire.

John and his mom moved back to our little home town. His dad had died or something. Kids don’t always get the details.

Mom often told me just before I went off to school not to hit John Vail or say anything bad about him. The instruction always ended with, “You know what the Bible says about how we are to treat orphans.” I really didn’t, but since mom said it and it came from the Bible I figured that meant to be nice to him.

That was hard to do. What mom didn’t know was John Vail was a fighter. A brash little dude at that.

It was common in that era for boys to fight. They didn’t do it because they were mad and though it often resulted in a real whipping it rarely ended in anger. It was as natural as playing marbles, tops, mumbly peg or some other exotic game. In reality it was simply a right of passage.

I didn’t like to fight. I wouldn’t even hang around and watch my friends duke it out. Never did like it, but neither did I like the idea of being a chicken-liver or wimp. That was before the age of the wuss. 

John was there every afternoon when school let out. He was a cocky little guy with a David complex. Guess who was Goliath he felt obligated to take out. I was his target to be picketed on. Perhaps he knew I didn’t like to fight or maybe he knew what my mother told me about what the Bible said and he could pick on me without fear of retaliation.

I never could get mom to tell me about how little orphan boys were supposed to treat us. Obviously his momma wasn’t versed on this feature of the Bible either. If she taught him anything about loving one another he had it worked out in his mind that I was the one to do the loving and he was another, which I was supposed to love him.

One afternoon I backslid. He pushed me over the line and I forgot all about what the Bible said about how we are to treat little orphan boys. I whipped up on John Vail real good, and then walked him home — my new friend.

Somewhere in all of that I guess my temperament was being forged for life. I never have liked confrontation. I have always tried to avoid it, but when necessary, I never have cowered away from it. 

This memory of John Vail is infrequently awakened when a conflict occurred that demanded addressing.

As adults our “fights” are rarely ever physical, rather they are conflicts of a different kind and degree, often ideological. 

The apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight.” His reference was not to how he fought, but to the worth of the cause for which he fought. His statement did not simply mean he had fought well, though he had. It meant he found a cause worth fighting for, the “good fight,” and fought it well.

Those live most fully who have found a cause worth fighting for and have given themselves to it. Be sure your cause is worth fighting for.