Sermon Select

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.

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.

How to Be a Lovable Valentine 2/15/98

Song of Solomon 8:6, 7
Page 998 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Our culture is one noted for synthetics, substitutes, and simulations. When anything of value is made immediately someone will copy it. It is the most common form of flattery. Gucci scarves, Louis Vuitton handbags, Rolex, and Cartier watches, video cassettes, and designer jeans are readily copied. One common characteristic of the fakes is they never meet the standards of the genuine.

Our Lord said, “love.” Many of His followers took Him at His word and did it. The impact and influence was so dramatic that the world tried to copy it. Hoping for the same fulfilling result offered by genuine love, the world has come up even more empty as a result of fake love.

Karl Menninger, co-founder of the Menninger Clinic, one of the modern era’s most outstanding psychiatrist said, “Love is the medicine for the sickness of the world.”

AGAPE is the Greek word translated “love.” We have one word “love” for a variety of emotions, acts, and attitudes. The Greek language being very definitive has several.

One is EROS. They used this word to speak of love that we know as physical attraction between persons on a sexual level. Their word for that emotion was not related to what was meant by AGAPE. We get our word “erotic” from their word EROS.

PHILOS, was the Greek word for a kind of love which we describe by friendship or brotherly love. It is warm affection apart from any sexual attraction at all.

AGAPE, is the Greek word most often translated “love” in the Bible. The word emerged in the Bible era meaning “the ultimate willful act of self- sacrificing for the welfare of someone else.” The AGAPE kind of love is Calvary’s love. The proto-type of AGAPE is the love Christ showed us.

Only when we love Him with a love that is self-sacrificing for His welfare can we get EROS and PHILOS working right.

Tragedy of tragedy is that in our society an attempt is made to define all love by the definition of EROS, that is, sensual, fleshly love. For that reason it is inconceivable that brotherly love can exist without sexual involvement. Or, that self-sacrificing love can be expressed without expecting some sexual favor in return.

Annually American’s celebrate a festival of love called Valentine’s Day. People in England celebrated the day as early as 1446. A writer in an American magazine as early as 1863 noted, “Indeed, with the exception of Christmas there is no festival throughout the world which is invested with half the interest belonging to this cherished anniversary.”

However, it was the Romans who initiated the celebration. In the 200’s a Christian named Valentine lived in Rome under the cruel Emperor Claudius II. Claudius II had Valentine put in prison for aiding persecuted Christians. There he was the Lord’s agent for healing the jailor’s daughter of blindness. Around 270 AD he was beheaded on Palatine Hill, a victim of his loyalty to the Lord.

In 496 AD Pope Gelasius named February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day; a day to celebrate love. Today we continue the custom of sending love notes to special people in our lives. They express our love for others and solicit their love with the expression “Be My Valentine.”

Jesus Christ is the personification of God’s valentine to us. He is a declaration of love embodied. In turn He solicits our love for the Lord. Some Valentine verses are warm and rich with sentiment, some mushy, some humorous. One I like is this.

We went to Cupid’s Garden and wandered ore the land
The moon was shining brightly and I held her little scarf.
Yes, I held her little scarf. Ah, how the moment flies.
The stars shone out in beauty, I gazed into her lunch basket.
Yes, I gazed into her lunch basket and wished I had a taste.
There sat my dainty little charmer, my arm around her jam box.
Yes, my arm around her jam box, this charming little miss.
There was mischief in her eyes and I softly stole a sandwich.

A golden oldie goes like this:
Roses are red, Violets are blue.
Your mother was beautiful, what happened to you.

On a higher note and with more purpose we can better understand the meaning of true Biblical love, by considering how the word AGAPE is used in the Scripture. Note:

Try substituting some of the meanings of EROS in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world…that He felt romantic about it…that He got a tingling sensation down His spine…that He had a friendly spirit of tolerance and brotherhood toward it no matter what it believed…”

The text says He loved so much that “He gave His only begotten Son.” Love is an act of willful, self-sacrificing for the good of another.

A word of caution lest Satan twist even that meaning. We are to love Christ with such self-sacrificing love that we obey Him at all cost. If that doesn’t come first, then some persons can conceive of sacrificing their personal moral purity to gratify the sensual desires of a carnal person. This is a form of self-sacrificing for the welfare of another. It is a perverted improper form.

When Christ told us to love our enemies, He was not urging us to have a warm, wonderful, happy relationship with them. That may be impossible. He was appealing to His followers to engage in acts of self-sacrificing service in order to win them. It means to give without expecting in return.

Little Chad was a quiet, shy child. One day he told his mother he wanted to make a Valentine for every boy and girl in his class. Her heart sank. To herself she said, “Oh, I wish he wouldn’t do this.” She had seen how the other children ignored and mistreated him. Walking home from school Chad was always a few steps behind “the gang.” They laughed, talked, and hung on each other, but ignored Chad. He was never included.

His mother decided to go along with him. As he requested she bought the paper, glue, and crayons. For three whole weeks Chad worked every night until he completed the 35 Valentines.

On the big day Chad was excited as he left home with his 35 hand-made Valentines.

His mom knew what to expect so in order to be prepared to cheer him up when he came home she baked him his favorite cookies. This would help ease the pain of his disappointment.

That afternoon she waited with the warm cookies and cold milk. Hearing the children coming from schools she looked out the window. Sure enough, same scene. The group laughing, talking, and hanging on each other with Chad a few steps behind.

As he walked in the house his hands were empty. She choked back the tears.

“Mommy has some warm cookies and cold milk for you Chad,” she said.”

He hardly heard a word as he marched by with his face aglow, and all he could say was “Not a one … not a single one.”

And then he added, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”

This is the kind of self-sacrificing love in Christ’s name that can reach hardened hearts and win them to Christ. Remember our objective is not to win friends for ourselves but to win followers of Christ.

It isn’t a song until it is sung.
It isn’t a bell until it is rung.
It isn’t love until it is given away.

The kind of love the Father wants to harvest in your life has several facets as noted in I Corinthians 13: 4 – 8. Observe: “Love suffers long,” that is, it is patient. This word was always used to speak of patience with people not circumstances. We are to be patient with circumstances also, but this word relates to personal relationships. It is the ability to be wronged and wronged again and having the power to retaliate but never even thinking about doing it. That is love.

Christ at His trial is a perfect example.

II Peter 3:9 says of God “He is longsuffering — not willing that any should perish.”

God has had many opportunities to step on us and He has the ability to do it, but the idea has never occurred to Him. He is patiently giving opportunity to lovingly repent and relate to Him so you will not by your rejection of Christ consign yourself to hell.

The person who during courtship in the name of love insists on erotic love isn’t showing patience. Such conduct reveals that what is being called “love” is “lust,” that is, it is eros not agape. Love can always wait to give while lust can never wait to get.

“Love …is kind.” This is the flip side of patience. Patience endures the injustices of others while kindness pays them back with good deeds. Inherent in the Greek word for kindness is the meaning of being “useful.”

This identifies love as being uncompromisingly courteous. It is a triumph of grace. Love without kindness would be like spring without flowers. Love doesn’t just endure injustice, it pays back with good.

Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies…feel good about them.” He said, “do good to them,” that is, “be useful to them.”

Regarding certain offenses the Bible instructs us: “Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head'” (Romans 12:20).

In New Orleans I was talking with a woman who was fed up with her husbands conduct. I asked, “Have you tried heaping coals of fire on his head?” She said, “No but I tried boiling water.”

In the Bible era fire wood was scarce. As a result it cost to keep a fire going for future use. When the wealthy finished with a fire and left it the poor would often try to slip in and take a coal to start their fire. The text means that when an injustice is done to you don’t treat the offender poorly, show them kindness. Give the needy so many coals that the weight is such that they have to carry it on their head. Heap coals of fire upon the. Be useful to them.

“Love does not envy.” Another word for “envy” is “jealousy.” Shakespeare called it “the green sickness,” Solomon spoke of it as “rottenness of the bones.” A Latin proverb called it “the enemy of honor.” It is “the sorrow of fools.”

One form of envy is to want what you have. Another is to wish you didn’t have it.

The root word for envy means to “boil.”

Envy and jealousy are not rational passions. They are white-hot emotions set on fire of hell itself. Revenge is foolish and futile.

“Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” To be “puffed up” means to have an attitude of false pride while the idea of parading oneself means to verbalize pride. Our word “windbag” comes from the root word “vaunteth” or “parade.”

This is the flip side of envy. Envy is wanting what others have. To be a boastful windbag is to try to make others want what you have.

“Love does not behave rudely.” This is a reference to Christian etiquette at work. Love is always polite and never disorderly.

“Love does not seek its own.” It isn’t selfish.
It doesn’t seek its own kind.
It doesn’t seek its own way.
It doesn’t seek its own rights.

“Love is not provoked.” The root is the word from which we get our word “paroxysm” which means “a sudden outburst.” Thus, love is never ready to fight.

Love isn’t irritable and resentful. Self-centered people are always touchy.

“Love thinks no evil.” The word “thinks” translates LOGIZOMAI which was an accounting term meaning “to keep a mathematical account.” Love doesn’t keep score. One bad thing about score keeping is that one who always insist on keeping score insists on being the score keeper and the score keeper always wins. This is the same word used to speak of God’s pardoning act toward us.

“Love does not rejoice over iniquity.” Love doesn’t brag over sin. “Eternity” magazine had an article related to Ernest Hemingway in which he said people can sin and get away with it.

He also down played the idea that the consequences to sin was Victorian, prudish, and a religious fundamentalist viewpoint. The article went on to say Hemingway was living proof of this fact. Ironically ten years to the day after Hemingway released that statement he took his own life. Instead of repenting over sin, he rejoiced over it.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “Everybody soon or later sits down to a banquet of consequences.”

“Love rejoices in the truth.” Jesus, the way, the TRUTH, and the life is the personification of “the truth.”

Do you rejoice in Him so fully that you are willing publicly to give yourself to Him as a self- sacrifice?

Agostino d’ Antonio, a sculptor from Florence, Italy, worked diligently on a piece of carriona marble. In frustration over his failure to do anything constructive with it, he discarded it. Other sculptors tried in vain to work with its obstinate composition. Michelangelo saw the massive discarded marble and had it brought to his studio. Painstakingly he began to work on it. Slowly his skilled hands began to release the hidden beauty in it. Eventually his efforts resulted in the classical work of “David” being freed.

The secret of the success was not the stone but Michelangelo. Look at your life! Is it incomplete, perhaps you even have a feeling of being discarded. You are a potential masterpiece. In the hands of Christ He produces nothing but His best from your worst. In love commit yourself to Him.

Love is what drew our beloved Lord from Heaven.

Love it was that took Him to Calvary.

His was love that many waters cannot quench nor can the floods drown it. Love wins in the end.

Can God Bless Your Financial Planning? 11/15/98

Malachi 3: 9, 10
Page 1403 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST loves you and is compassionately concerned about your welfare.

Do you believe that?

Scripture assures us of His empathy: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

Jesus Christ is aware of you and your life-situation and wants to provide for you.

Do you believe that?

Scripture assures us of His commitment to us and our needs. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10: 29 & 31).

Jesus Christ can be trusted. He is worthy of your trust and obedience.

Do you believe that?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Our loving Lord has designed for us an opportunity to demonstrate our trust and dependence. It is a grand test designed to afford you a tangible way to show your love and faith.

First, He gives us the capacity to earn wealth. “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

What ever your earning capacity God has given it to you. Have you ever thanked Him for that ability? It is a gift. Therefore, all you earn is a gift from God. Have you ever looked at your pay check as though it is gift wrapped? It has the signature of the person representing the firm for which you work but it comes from God.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

Summarily that means we are dependent upon and indebted to God.

Regarding money we play the “I wish” game.

I wish the credit card had never been invented.

I wish I had started saving for retirement sooner.

I wish I had invested more wisely.

I wish I had planned better for my children’s education.

I wish I had not gone into debt so heavily.

I wish I had bought less and saved more.

I wish I had started tithing and giving more to the cause of Christ before now.

All of these areas relate to a phase of stewardship. Stewardship involves your saving and investment plan, planning for children’s education, providing for retirement, avoiding improper debt, as well as giving to the cause of Christ. Too often the message of the church regarding money just relates to giving to the church. Many folks are so unaware of God’s design for over all stewardship they get their finances in a big league mess.

In an audience of this size there are persons from every strata of wealth ranging from poverty to significant wealth. Some of that which is to be shared will apply to each segment. Many of the illustrations won’t relate directly to everyone but the principles illustrated will. Learn the principles and don’t be preoccupied with whether they relate to rich or poor. Biblical principles relate to all of us regardless of our financial position.

Some He trusts with wealth. Some He trusts with little. For each there is a burden, a challenge, and an opportunity. We would do well to pray the Proverb: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8,9).

What are you going to do with what He has entrusted into your care. The word for it is stewardship. It relates to everything He has put in your trust. Everything! It doesn’t refer to simply one tenth. It relates to ten tenths, that’s 100%.

What are you going to do with it?

-Some people evidence selfishness and either spend it upon themselves or some one or thing they like. Provide for your own. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Tim 5:8).

However, if you properly budget you won’t have to rob God to do it. Don’t spend God’s money at your own discretion. “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

-Some want to get all they can and can all they get. Saving is proper by God’s standard. We have a classic example: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6 – 8).

There are plenty of ants to model for us. It is estimated there are 7,600 types of ants constituting a world population of over 5 quadrillion. They all have the habit of thrift and savings in common.

It would amaze most people to total all the money that passes through their hands. Your income is likely more or less than $50,000 annually. Therefore let’s use a hypothetical income that represents no one. If a 40 year old husband and wife have an annual income totaling $50,000 more than $2.5 million dollars will pass through their hands by retirement age.

How much of that will you invest in the cause of Christ about which you feel passionately? How much will be frittered away?

Findings noted in “The Millionaire Next Door” indicate we would be better off it we developed the mind set of a millionaire. The authors found that most millionaires had rather have wealth than the appearance of wealth. 36% of the millionaires own a car that is more than three years old.

50% of them had never spent more than $29,000 for a car.

Seven times as many millionaires own a Sears card than an American Express Platinum card.

More important than how much you make is how you manage it. One person said my problem isn’t overspending but under depositing.

It is Biblical to wisely save to provide for your future. Don’t be selfish.

“There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt” (Ecclesiastes 5:13).

-Some persons in their haste to get more money violate a warning found in Proverbs 28: 20, “A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” A modern English translation makes it easier to understand this passage: “Avoid get rich quick schemes.”

Don’t rob for your own benefit. Next to robbing God robbing Billy Graham would be next.

Reputedly, Dr. Graham came down from his mountain home near Black Mountain, North Carolina to pick up a few items at a grocery store. As he was coming out a would be robber held a gun on him and demanded his wallet. As Dr. Graham handed it to the robber it fell open exposing his drivers license with his name and photo.

The robber looked at it and exclaimed, “Are you Dr. Graham, the real Billy Graham?”

Upon hearing a yes the robber handed it back saying, “Here Dr. Graham keep your wallet, us Baptists got to stick together!”

-Some want to save it and let those they love inherit it. Some deprive themselves of comforts in order to have a better inheritance. That is admirable to a degree. Because of the aging of one strata of people and the emergence of another over $10 trillion will be passed on to a younger generation within the next 10 years. Two things will likely result.

Estate taxes will eat up much of it. In 1932 when the laws regarding estate taxes were passed President Franklin Roosevelt said, “Estate tax is a means of the redistribution of wealth.” That means the government takes a large part of a person’s estate and gives it to who or what ever they desire.

Part of Christian stewardship goes beyond the grave. Estate planning can enable a person to save dramatically on inheritance tax and give more money to the cause of Christ. By virtue of being on the board of a large national Christian organization, I had occasion to be with a group of millionaires hearing an estate planner lecture. I guess I was there because they wanted a token not wealthy person present. After the lecture one multi-millionaire privately asked the estate planner can you show me how to give more money to the cause of Christ?” They can.

Let me share a word of caution regarding a second thing. Wealth without a vision is a burden. If persons inherit wealth without knowing how to manage it grief results.

Get this, 95% of those who inherit great wealth die poor.

Solomon amassed a fortune. His great fear was his heir would not know how to manage it. Sure enough in one generation one descendant squandered his entire fortune.

“For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children” (II Corinthians 12:14).

Leave your heirs a proportionate inheritance but don’t rob God to do it.

-It is estimated by retailers that the average teenager spends $90.00 a week of discretionary income. It is hard to conceive of that as reality when so many have so much less. However those who target teens as a market have studied the issue thoroughly. Teens, it is a blessing to have such discretionary funds, funds you can spend any way you want. However where ever you fit in the $90.00 a week scheme don’t spend God’s money on yourself.

-One of several reasons God instituted the tithe is to give us occasion to prove to ourselves and to Him our unselfishness. How are you doing?

Our government has set a poor model for us. As a result of their deficit spending every child is born with a $64,500 tax debt. That is derived at by dividing our government debt by the number of people. They have spent money they didn’t have and built this enormous debt.

In our rush to have things before we can afford them we have done the same. Financial advisor, Larry Burkett said, “Credit has become a means to push God out of His place in helping us make decisions. As long as you can rely on credit, you don’t rely on God and the result is almost always a disastrous plunge into debt.”

Most of us have to use credit. How it is used is important. Avoid using it for items that depreciate. When it is used for an item that appreciates it is an investment.

A recent Gallup Survey noted that 56% of all divorces result from tension over debt. Don’t put your marriage under this undue stress and tension.

A recent Wall Street Journal described money as “an article which may be used as a universal passport to everything but heaven, and as a universal provider of everything except happiness.”

Exercise self-control regarding things you want. Galatians 5:23 lists “self-control” among the fruit of the Spirit.

According to Malachi 3: 10 there are three pragmatic reasons for tithing:
-PROVISIONS. “That there may be meat in My house.”

It is to provide for the cause of Christ. Are there ministries unprovided, materials unavailable, and messages undelivered because God money intended for those purposes was spent by you for what you decided to use His money?

The cause of Christ is retarded by our failure to fund it. Among church attenders, those who attend weekly contribute 3.4% of their income to charitable organizations. Those who attend only a few times a year contribute 1.4% of their income.

-PROOF: “I will … open for you … and pour out a blessing…”

It is as though God is challenging us to test Him.

Conversely, verse 9 says there is a “curse” on those who don’t obey His command. That in part is what is wrong with America, some churches, and a lot of individuals. This is a part of the text often skipped.

-PROFESSION: It shows our confidence in God as our provider. It reveals we are willing to relinquish part of what He has provided us with back to Him as an indication of our trust of Him.

If you do not know Christ as Savior and Lord this message may well have seemed secular and even carnal. Trying to get your financial profile right with God before first getting right with God yourself is unreasonable. As the Scripture notes: “I do not seek yours but you” (II Corinthians 12:14). Before following God’s plan for your finances declare your desire to follow His plan for your life.

Years ago a Native American heard this explained and responded. “I see that your God does not want my beads, blankets, and horses but me. Your God is very wise for when He has me He has my beads, blankets, and horses.”

Hello, How Are You? 10/11/98

Numbers 6: 23 – 26
Page 208 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ gathered with His bewildered followers on the eve of His execution for His last time with them. Confusion and fear held them in a firm grip as He spoke. Much of what He said is contained in John 14 – 17. In that hostile environment His talk was punctuated with such words as “joy” and “peace.” He spoke often in various settings of His followers as being “blessed.” That is us.

Yet, much of our conduct and conversation gives the impression we have little joy, peace, and experience few blessings. Listen the next time you speak to someone with such a simple greeting as, “Hello, how are you?”

Two common negative responses are often heard. One: “So far, so good.” This sounds like the response of a person on safari in a predator infested jungle. Things have been going pretty good so far but at any minute I expect an attack resulting in catastrophe.

Further translated, “God has taken care of me so far, but at any minute I expect His provision and protection to expire.

A second even more negative response is, “Tired!”

It is 9:00 AM and a healthy individual says, “I am tired.” Causes you that have a “I can’t wait until 3:00 PM” attitude to cycle back and see just how much more tired this person is.

In the Old Testament era followers of Jehovah were taught a special prayer which gave cause for optimism. It is often called the equivalent of the Lord’s Prayer in the Old Testament. It is called the Aaronic Benediction.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace” (Numbers 6: 24 – 26).

God taught us this prayer. Blessing is His idea. A simple response to the greeting, “Hello, how are you?” should well be, “Blessed.”

The prayer in faith expects God to draw near and enfold one in His grace. To pray it is to live expectant of blessings not of dread as expressed in “So far, so good.”

The praying of this prayer is a way of saying, “Yes, Amen!” to God’s promises.

“The Lord bless you and keep you” speaks of present blessings and future care by the Lord. He will “keep you.”

He will “make His face to shine upon you.” On Mount Sinai the Lord in His shining brilliance revealed Himself to Moses and gave to Him the Ten Commandments. It was revelation of His will. This expression, “Make His face to shine upon you” refers to Him revealing His will.

“The Lord lift up His countenance upon you” is a term expressive of a smile. May God find such pleasure in you as to smile and reward you with peace.

The prayer speaks of blessing, presence, and the smile of God. It is not a persons idea it is God’s idea. It is what He wants for you.

Now back to the response to the innocent greeting, “Hello, how are you?” Why in light of the provisions of this prayer do so many people respond “Tired?”

This question concerns the medical community as well as the faith community. Dr. Richard Clark Cabbot of the Mayo Clinic led a team that studied the issue of “How to help people overcome that tired feeling.”

Parenthetically, there are times when we are all legitimately tired. It is a legitimate wonderful condition if the fatigue is the result of energy and effort well spent.

Vince Lombardy, the highly successful former coach of the Green Bay Packers, said, “Happiness is to be lying flat on your back exhausted from an effort to achieve victory.” That is a celebration of honest and honorable fatigue.

However, the doctors of Mayo Clinic in their study were concerned with the chronically tired persons who has no physiological reason for always being tired. They concluded four things to help overcome this negative state of being. They are: WORK, PLAY, LOVE, AND WORSHIP.

The Clinic was so impressed they had a logo designed using a cross with four equal arms each of which represented one of the four: WORK, PLAY, LOVE, AND WORSHIP.

Consider them as daily antidote to having that “tired feeling.” It is a prescription from a highly respected medical source.

The way in which it should be done is found in Colossians 3: 23: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

Put yourself into your work as though creating a work of art to be viewed by the Lord Himself. Often a worker finds himself under the supervision of a boss that just can’t be pleased regardless of the effort and excellence. This verse relieves the pressure. If you do what you do to an audience of one, that one being the Lord, and He approves and others don’t you don’t get depressed. If you do what you do to the same audience of one, the Lord, and He approves and others applaud you don’t take off on an ego flight. You didn’t do it for them you did it for Him.

This I refer to as THE LAW OF EMOTIONAL EQUILIBRIUM. It helps you keep your balance.

An Italian Duke was walking through his formal rose garden when he came upon a young gardener cutting roses and placing them in a uniquely beautiful carved wooden box. “What are you doing?” he inquired, not knowing the box had been hand carved by the young gardener. “I am pruning the roses and placing them in this chest.” “Does such a menial task demand such craftsmanship,” asked the duke. “No, sir,” came the reply, “but my nature does.”

“What is your name?” the duke demanded, “you shall be flogged for such impudence.”

“My name sir, is Michelangelo.”

It is little wonder that having a nature demanding such excellence in little things resulted in a life of mastery in major things. He was doing that menial carving as unto the Lord and found great pleasure in it.

Here comes a part you got to like —– PLAY.

Unplug, recreate, and enjoy amusement. Allow yourself to relax and laugh.

Stress, prolonged fatigue, negative emotions, and a pessimistic outlook flood the body with toxins. They release chemical toxins within your body. Don’t make your body a toxic waste dump by depriving it of play.

Health is no laughing matter but it does help if you laugh.

The body is under a biochemical onslaught. Mounting research makes it clear that one’s attitude and emotional state are impressively vital to the preservation of health and recovery from illness.

“Exhibit A” is a stress-sensitized person. Such a ones response to everyday stress has the same flush of biochemical release as during a major threat. This biochemical rush suppresses the immune system to various infections and diseases, according to psychological research. Hormones released by stress promote ulcers, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and strokes.

Conversely, a positive, optimistic, jovial spirit releases health inducing pain killers and a “feel good” mood. These chemicals known as endorphins and enkephlins when released into the body by the brain are a morphine-like substance that act as a good natural anesthesia and relaxant. A person senses his or her highest level of well-being when they are at work. PLAY! For your health sake play.

If God smiles, and our text says He does, so should we. The Bible says, “[God] will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy” (Job 8: 21).

That means you may yet experience a growth spirt in your funny bone.

Solomon, the wisest of the kings, wrote there is a “time to laugh” (Ecc. 3: 4). In praise of the Lord the Psalmist wrote, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126: 2).

Infect people around you with “cheer-germs.” Those who catch the disease will find their load lighter and their Christianity brighter.

Try giving yourself away. A lady when asked what she had been doing said, “I’ve been trying to get something for my husband.” Came the reply, “Did you have any offers?”

If you try loving and giving yourself away there will be lots of offers.

A short version of Jesus’ summation of the law is simply, “You shall love…” He went on to say, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind'” (Matthew 22:37).

Don’t look upon God with suspicion. Release yourself to love Him.

Additionally He instructed us to love our neighbor as our self.

Studies show babies are not born knowing how to love, but with the capacity to receive and experience love. They learn to love from how their parents love them. Perhaps you missed it. Maybe bitter circumstances have made it difficult to love others. It is at this point God, the Father, steps in to show us love. We then learn how to love from the Father. He has demonstrated His love for us. He has shown us the true meaning of love by loving us.

We are slow learners. Here it is right in the Book: “We love because God first loved us” (I John 4: 19).

John follows this up by alerting us to our opportunity to show God’s love for others by the quality of our love: “For he who does not love his brother which he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (I John 4:20).

Babies learn to love by receiving the love of their parents. We learn the highest law of love by experiencing the love of the Lord Jesus.

We put into practice our love by doing for others what God has done for us. We learn to accept people with all of their faults and failures just as God accepted us.

If you dare to love people you are going to be hurt. If you don’t you are going to be sick. Hadn’t you rather be hurt than sick?

Not long ago, a magazine article about Roseto, an Italian- immigrant village in eastern Pennsylvania that became famous for its residents’ low levels of heart disease was researched. Despite hard lives and high-fat diets that included plenty of lard (because olive oil was too expensive to import), the heart- attack rate among Rosetans was less than half the U.S. average. Well, that was then. In the past three decades, the town’s heart disease rate has risen to approach that of any other place in over stressed America. What made the difference? Some doctors believe Roseto actually lost its heart. Earlier in the century, Rosetans lived with as many as four generations of family crowded into a single home. Residents worked together, socialized together, and were extremely dependent on one another. Then came your basic American prosperity: better-paying jobs, big homes on the outskirts of town, and television. According to researcher Stewart Wolf, M.D., there was a “conspicuous social change from family-centered attitudes toward more self-centered, materialistic concerns.” As people grew apart, they also developed more heart disease. Is it possible to find other ways of achieving the close community and personal intimacy the Rosetans had long ago? According to Dr. Dean Ornish, it isn’t just possible, it’s vital. In “Love & Survival,” Ornish issues a powerful call for doctors and everybody else to start considering love, intimacy, and emotional and spiritual growth to be as important as any high-tech medicine in preventing and treating physical illness. American society is facing an epidemic of “emotional and spiritual heart disease,” Ornish says, that is every bit as harmful to our bodies as cholesterol and other risk factors.

In my files I found a poem by Helen Steiner
Rice penned in my mother’s hand writing.
Where there is love the heart is light,
Where there is love the day is bright.
Where there is love there is a song
To help when things are going wrong.

Where there is love, there is a smile
To make things seem more worthwhile.
Where there is love, there’s a quiet peace,

A quiet place where turmoils cease.
Love changes darkness into light
And makes the heart take ‘wingless flight.’

Blessed are they who walk in love,
They also walk with God above.
And when man walks with God again
There shall be peace on earth for men.

This is the fourth necessity for avoiding “that tired feeling” according to the research by Mayo Clinic doctors.

Two ancient factors distract us from worship:
One is TRIVIALIZATION. We, like the ancient Gnostics, have made God in our image and refer to Him as the “Old Man,” or the “Man Upstairs,” or even the “Big Guy.”

The name Gnostic means “one who knows all.” That bunch of know it alls from the first century talked about God. They expressed their opinions regarding Him. They didn’t talk to Him or worship Him. They talked to each other a lot about God but they didn’t talk to Him.

The second is TRIBULATION. Roman persecution in the first century distracted the people from worship. It was not popular to be a follower of the crucified Christ. It was not lawful to be a Christian. This caused economic discrimination, social ostracism, imprisonment, and martyrdom.

John, the beloved disciple of Christ, encountered the Gnostic philosophy that trivialized God and personally experienced tribulation. His tribulation resulted in him being imprisoned on the Island of Patmos. There, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he worshiped and penned the Revelation. Therein he teaches us of worship and to worship.

The Book of the Revelation begins, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day…” (Rev. 1:10).

On the last page of the Bible, after momentary distraction by angels, he refocuses on the issue and exhorts us “Worship God” (Rev. 22: 9).

By the time our study comes to the final entry in the library of 66 books called the Holy Bible, our minds are bursting with knowledge and our hearts burning with desire.

Why then aren’t things better in society and particularly in the Christian community? Could it be that we have become modern Gnostics talking much about God and little to Him. Motivated to work for Him but failing to worship Him. Perhaps we have even read the revelation searching for knowledge regarding the lamp stands, seals, bowls, and beast without getting the central message. That is “worship God.”

Perhaps we even come to our main hour of worship each Sunday bleached out emotionally and depleted physically by the activities of Saturday. Perhaps we have even adopted the world’s calendar and now schedule things on the Lord’s day that interfere with worship. Are some paying tribute to persons on the Lord’s Day when they should be giving it to worship? That is an unpopular thing to say, but if a representative of the Lord doesn’t say it the trend worsens.

A clarion call to worship and an unequaled example is found in the book of the Revelation.

The only way we can stay alert to the reality of God in Christ ruling and saving is in the act of worship.

The only way we can be trusted to say anything about God that is close to true, to do anything for God that is halfway right, is by repeated singing, praying, listening, and believing with the elders around the throne, where the scroll is unsealed and the gospel read out clear and strong in worship.

If we absent ourselves from worship or treat it as marginal on our social calendar we become dominated by the world rather than directed by worship.

Worship is the primary means we are give to orientate ourselves to God’s will. Therein and thereby we are energized. When we truly worship the Living God then – – – –
“The LORD bless you and keep you; [His protection is ours.]
The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; [His provisions are ours.]
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace” [His peace is ours.] (Numbers 6: 24 – 26).

Hello, how are you? BLESSED!