1998 Sermons

Simon the Zealot

Luke 6:15

“Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot” (Luke 6:15).

Jesus Christ called a cosmopolitan group to follow Him as apostles. Among them was a highly unlikely member of a fanatical fringe group of rebels known as Zealots.

Little is known about Simon the Zealot specifically. His political affiliation tells us a lot about him. The Zealots were zealous to overthrow the Roman army occupying their country. Members of the Zealot group were mostly a coalition of lower priests, Jerusalem insurgents, and refugee bandit groups from the countryside dedicated to the overthrowing of the Roman rule. These individuals would resort to any means whatsoever to assert themselves and try to drive the Romans from their land.

They set up their headquarters in the temple and established an alternative egalitarian government.

He was one of two Simons who were apostles. Simon Peter, the unofficial spokesman of the group, had a high profile. Simon the Zealot is highly obscure.

The miracle of what following Jesus does is seen by the diversity in the group. Matthew the tax collector, a publican, worked for the Romans. Tax collectors did all they could to appease and placate the Romans. Their lucrative profession was dependent upon satisfying the Romans. They would do anything to avoid disrupting the status quo.

Simon the Zealot was a member of the revolutionary group that took over Jerusalem and led to the revolt resulting in the Romans destroying Jerusalem. Zealots were fanatical idealists who led the guerilla warfare against the Romans.

There were these two extremes in the group. One dedicated to appeasing the Romans and the other zealous to overthrow them.

In Christ they mutually found a higher purpose in life. In Christ these two opposites became compatible. “Love one another,” was a mandate Christ doubtlessly shared frequently.

If Simon had met Matthew under different circumstances he would likely have killed him.

What attracted Simon to Christ? The Zealots having their headquarters would have observed Christ when He first cleansed the Temple. Perhaps Simon was there, or surely he heard about it. To have seen the dynamic Christ driving out the money changers and overthrowing their tables would have inspired Simon. Seeing such dynamic action he might well have said to himself, “Jesus, you de man!” He would have liked the fire in Christ’s nature as He dispossessed the money changers and shouted down His critics.

He may have heard Christ’s fiery gripping prophetic preaching and liked His fervor.

He may have seen in Jesus one who would lead him into an adventure far greater than the Zealots could hope to offer.

Initially, he may well have thought Christ to be the Messiah who would lead a militant political revolution.

There was some confusion regarding Christ’s role even after His resurrection. It may have been Simon who asked Him: “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1: 6).

An even more challenging question is why did Jesus choose Simon. It was a risky choice. Detractors would have queried of Jesus, “Isn’t this the prophet who has a hot-blooded rebel as a member of His party?”

Jesus chose Simon because he liked the fire in his personality and he wanted him among the twelve. He wanted the dynamism and energy he infused into a group. When Jesus called Simon, like when He called each of us, He never calls us to mute our personality, but He wants us to take all of our attributes and assets and use them, not destroy them. So, Christ wanted this fire in Simon’s personality. However, He didn’t want it vented against the Romans, He wanted it vented toward evil in general.

Christ wanted diversity among His followers. Each added to the mix needed to motivate each other. They had different gifts.

Christ had in His ranks a publican, Matthew, a friend of Rome, and Simon, a zealot, who detested Rome. Yet, they grew to love one another.

It must have been shocking at first for Simon to hear Christ speak of “loving” your enemies. He must have been amazed to hear Christ speak of rendering “unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s…”

It was a personal challenge to hear Christ say, “They that take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matt. 26: 52).

That is what conversion is all about. The Zealot’s heart needed to be changed without dampening the fire burning in it.

Simon never ceased being called the Zealot. This Jewish patriot who chafed under the foreign yoke and longed for emancipation found a new freedom in Christ when he voluntarily took upon himself the yoke of Christ. He never lost his zeal. He merely redirected it.

Christ said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

The word translated “easy” means “well fitted.” Christ is saying the task He has for individuals is well suited for them and enables a person to be productive.

Christ chose Simon because He wanted an enthusiastic, devoted, catalyst in the group. He chose him because he had the capacity for a deep seated devotion to a cause.

Obviously Simon never lost his zeal, his enthusiasm. It was merely redirected by Christ. Christ needs enthusiastic followers. Former Justice of the Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes, noted, “It is faith in something, enthusiasm for something, that makes life worth living.”

From John Robert Seeley’s “Ecce Homo” comes this line: “no virtue is safe that is not enthusiastic.”

About what are you enthusiastic? No virtue is safe unless it is an enthusiastic virtue. Make certain that your virtues are.

From Ephesians 5, “Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” That is a summary of Christ’s life.

We learn from tradition that Simon was later crucified. His zeal for the cross of Christ resulted in a devotion unto death for Christ.

He had heard Christ say, “He that takes not up his own cross and follows Me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10: 38). He was worthy.

Simon the Zealot was among the nameless legion that has faithfully been described thusly: “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:33-34).

Great zeal is depicted in that statement.

Tradition records the zeal of the followers of Christ that was kept alive as long as they lived.

Judas, the defector, committed suicide.

Matthew, author of the first gospel, was slain by the sword in Ethiopia.

Peter was crucified upside down.

James, the oldest son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem.

James the Lesser was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple and then beaten to death.

Andrew as crucified in the Greek city of Patrae, and Simon the Zealot in Persia.

Nathanael was flayed alive in Armenia.

Judas, not Iscariot, died of an arrow wound.

Philip was hanged in Asia Minor.

Thomas was run through by a lance while praying in India.

Simon the Zealot in Persia was crucified for our Lord.

Only one died a natural death and that was John. All the rest were martyred for the cause of Christ.

Now suppose Jesus had not called Simon and he had not become a follower of Christ, into what stream would he have flown into naturally as a zealot? Here is the end result of the Zealots.

In 68 AD the Roman general Vespesian laid a bloody siege to Jerusalem. Jesus had told His followers, “when you see the city surrounded flee to the mountains.” But, with the city surrounded how could you possibly flee to the mountains.

Vespesian had built an earthen rampart all around Jerusalem and he put guards all along the top of the perimeter so that if any individual tried to slip out they could be found. Every morning as the Jews looked from the walls of Jerusalem they could see new crosses on those ramparts where their friends who had tried to escape under the cover of night had been caught and crucified. Then, mysteriously Vespesian’s army withdrew. They had just received the news that Nero had been assassinated in Rome. The law of that day stated that when an emperor’s reign ended all his military commanders were immediately discharged that a new emperor might appoint his own generals. So Vespesian withdrew to Rome and many of the Christians in Jerusalem remembered the words of Christ, “when you see Jerusalem encompassed about flee to the mountains,” and they left and their lives were spared. That nucleus of Christians now outside that realm of destruction were later to become the disciples and evangels to the world itself.

This was a moment for Jerusalem. A grand opportunity for them to lay in food and prepare for the inevitable siege that would come from the Romans. The two years that followed were a time of in fighting. The Zealots came into Jerusalem from the north from Judea. They called their allies from the south and they began to fight with the priestly generals who ruled in the temple, and instead of making this a time of fortifying the city they engaged in infighting. The Zealots and their allies otherthew the priestly generals and then they themselves were over run. Soon the Romans returned. Titus, the son of Vespesian, commanding the Roman legion in 70 AD, laid siege to Jerusalem. Josephus the historian tells of how the people ran threw the streets screaming for their lives as they heard the thud of the battering ram against the walls of Jerusalem. They knew the inevitable had come. Their warring against themselves had depleted their resources so much that Josephus writes and tells us of young mothers actually eating their own infants because starvation was so prevalent, and Jerusalem was destroyed. The Zealots who had lived by the sword now died by the sword.

What was the option for Simon the Zealot? Follow Christ and end up crucified or become one of the ones slaughtered in Jerusalem. Jesus did not want Simon to fight the Romans, He wanted Simon to fight for the cause of righteousness and salvation.

READ: II Timothy 4:7.

None of the faithful lacked zeal. Christ was the object of and fire for that zeal. It may have been Simon the Zealot whose response signaled to the others a proper response. You can do the same today for others.

Youth in America Today 1/4/98

Proverbs 22: 6
Page 961 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ gave new dignity to the home when He, the Son of God, chose it as the environment into which He came when He visited earth.

Marriage was the first institution established by God. Little wonder that it is a primary object of attack today. Thus, with marriage as the basis the home was the institution initially established by God.

One of the most strategic roles played by any human being is that of a parent. It is a challenge to be cherished. Let’s explore some realms of family life you may never have considered. Let’s take a look at youth in America today.

Let me urge you not to stop listening until this message ends. There are points at which it might be very discouraging. The conclusion offers encouragement hope.

To listening youth, as you hear certain parts of this message don’t give up on yourself, your peers, or think all adults have. We haven’t. Some of today’s youth stir optimism in the hearts of many of us.

As you hear of trends among youth today thank God He has created you as a unique individual. You are not shackled by heredity and environment. Both influence us dramatically, but our all wise and loving God has given us a free will to choose. That supersedes and overcomes both heredity and environment.

A Princeton research group recently posed the following question to a broad based random sampling of persons.

“What do you think is the biggest threat facing American society?” The collective response reveal, “Youth of today pose a greater threat than any foreign power.”

The second question: “Do you think youth of today will make the world of tomorrow a better place?” Two-thirds of the Americans interviewed said, “NO.”

Third question: “What three adjectives describe the youth of today?”


To youth listening, don’t quit listening now. Many of you who don’t fit that profile would, however, agree it does fit many youth. Unfortunately it may be a description of most.

Incidents such as those in Pearl, Mississippi, Paducah, Kentucky, and Santa Claus, Georgia raise serious questions. Appropriately question number one is “WHY?” What is causing trends among today’s youth that has resulted in some social scientists predicting that the dawning of the new millennium will be greeted by youth gangs controlling the streets of America?

Current conditions are appalling among students. In the last six months 24% of 13 year olds, and 60% of 17 year olds have attended a party where marijuana was available.

34% of 13 year olds and 75% of 17 year olds have friends who are a regular drinkers.

19% of 13 year olds and 51% of 17 year olds have seen drug sales on school grounds.

8% of 13 year olds and 27% of 17 year olds have class mates who died because of drugs or alcohol overdose. WHY? Let me share four contributing factors.

1. A criminology professor at Northwestern University says video games makes killing of human beings look like fun. Violent movies and TV stimulate the same impulses. The alleged shooter in Paducah, Kentucky named the film that inspired his actions.

2. Teaching relativism, that is, there are no moral absolutes, is causing the inability among many youth to express moral reservations about anything. Teaching multiculturalism and “values clarification,” as amazing as it may seem to many, has made it difficult for youth to express objections to human sacrifice, ethnic cleansing, and slavery. Educators who have been in the field for a number of years have seen a dramatic shift in attitudes toward these topics.

One philosophy professor found that up to 20% of his students were unable to say that what the Nazis did in World War II was wrong. Students couched their disapproval of mass killings in terms of personal preferences.

Not only is the holocaust viewed through eyes of tolerance and without being interpreted by moral absolutes so is the horror of slavery. It is a matter of preference. Whose preference? Have you ever heard of slaves preferring it?

The concept of relativism, that is, there are no moral absolutes, has a flip side also.

Whereas, slavery, mass killing, ethnic cleansing, and abortion are looked at objectively environmentalism and animal rights evoke a definite moral stand.

Amazing as it may seem, a growing number of professors are finding an increasing number of students who will not condemn slavery or the Holocaust readily assert that treating humans as superior to dogs and rodents is immoral.

A commitment to tolerance, relativism, there being no moral absolutes, is inhibiting many students from saying that some behavior is just plain wrong. If it isn’t considered wrong it is therefore permissible to do it. This is resulting in an increase in aberrant behavior such as killings in public schools.

3. A second factor is music. Don’t stop listening until the point is fully developed.

A study has been conducted involving three groups of mice.

Each group was tested as to how long it took them to work their way through a maze. Each group took approximately 10 minutes. Then the following was arranged.

-One group listened to no music.
-One group listened to the classical work of Mozart 10 hours a day.
-One group listened to hard rock 10 hours a day.

At the end of one month they were tested again.

-The group that listened to no music could now work their way through the maze in approximately 5 minutes, half the original time.
-The group that listened to Mozart solved the maze in 1 1/2 minutes.
-The group that listened to hard rock required 30 minutes.

4. The third case rests with parents.

A normal child is born with a brain weighing approximately 3 pounds. It consists of about 100 billion brain cells called neurons. No new ones are grown. Each brain cell is connected to thousands of other brain cells by electrochemical structures called synapse. Unused brain cells and connectors wither away and can not be revived.

Synapses form the wiring of the brain like a electrician wires a house. They allow various areas of the brain to communicate. Synaptic activity is the interaction of these cells causing the brain to function. The number and organization of connections in the brain influences everything from the ability to recognize letters to manage complex social relationships.

Within the brain there are various areas assigned specific functions. One area, the occipital lobe, is assigned the job of identifying what we see, another, the temporal lobe, processes spoken language, the temporal lobe also processes hearing, one area assesses whether we are in danger, and another of the several regions of the brain is where our capacity for social interaction is determined.

The neurons composing the brain are all formed before birth. Though there are no new neurons after birth it is then the wiring and re-wiring begins. That is, the synapses begin to connect.

At birth a baby has about 50 trillion synapses.

At eight months of age the number has grown to over 1,000 trillion synapses.

Are you ready for this? By age twenty the number has decreased from 1,000 trillion to only 500 trillion.

The decline coincides with the time when hormones kick in.

An infant’s brain is not simply a miniature adult brain. Certain regions of it are not developed at birth. Synaptic connections have to be developed.

For example, if a child cannot hear at birth that part of the brain doesn’t develop. The synaptic connections simply are not made. Even if by artificial means the child is later enabled to hear comprehension is difficult because that part of the brain is not developed. If a child is born deaf and doesn’t hear human speech by age 10 they will never understand language. That part of the brain isn’t properly developed and never will be.

The same principle is true of sight. Doctors now remove congenital cataracts from infants as early as possible. They now know that unless they do the neural connections between the eye and brain will fail to develop properly. If not corrected early on sight will never be right. If this isn’t accomplished by age 2 the child will never be able to see.

Early childhood experiences have a dramatic influence on the brain-wiring process. They can cause the final number of brain synapses in the brain to increase or decrease by as much as 25%. Which area may fail to develop is determined by a persons experiences in infancy.

Young parents, please hear this. As there are specific parts of the brain developed by sound and sight so there are certain parts of the brain are only developed by touch. The parietal lobe processes touch. Even a minimum of 15 minutes a day of being held and stroked three times helps develop those portions of the brain related to emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Remember like sight and hearing if they aren’t developed in infancy it is difficult for them to ever be developed.

CAT scans of the brains of children reared in the emotionally deprived environment of Eastern European child houses, such as in Romania, are revealing. Cat scans of those reared without loving human touch show the portion of the brains associated with social interaction is not developed.

This may be hard, but it is a hard fact American parents need to face. By not properly loving, reading to, talking to, holding and stroking children the part of their brains associated with social interaction isn’t developed. This makes them candidates for anti-social conduct as being seen across America. They can kill without emotion. They can destroy and have no remorse.

Listen carefully to the news reports you hear that describe the offender as showing no remorse.

These behaviors are not senseless. They arise from children adapting to and reflecting the world in which they have been raised.

The cost to society resulting in large part from parents not loving, holding, and caressing their children is staggering.

Between 1993 and 1996 the number of admissions to Youth Detention Centers increased from 15,762 to 23,284. The number held for 90 rose from 78 to 4,476.

Parents are participants in the deeds of their children. It is either for good or bad depending upon how they relate to them in infancy. Hear this: Same care-giver nurturing is essential to proper development. That includes social development. Like sight and hearing if this isn’t developed in infancy it can never be fully developed.

A child must have the opportunity to form a comfortable and secure relationship with a care-giver in order to promote their healthy emotional development. Parents, that means you need to devote time and expressive love to your children starting at birth. Parenthood requires being responsible for giving consistent love and emotional support to infants.

Our grandmothers were right when they said hold your child and talk to it. Now science is catching up with grandmother.


Young people remember these are contributing factors found in your heredity and environment. However, you don’t have to be controlled by your environment any more than a person has to be absorbed by the stream in which they swim. God has given you a free will and His Spirit to overcome these challenges.

Youth not given emotional support that developed the portion of their brain controlling social interaction have a challenge. It is a challenge which can be met, though with difficulty. You can willfully assert good moral judgement with proper help. Just as hearing aids and optic surgery help children born without sight or the ability to hear so the Lord Jesus Christ can help you gain moral victories.

Satan has four goals:
To deceive, discredit, discourage and defeat.

Finding the Will of God 1/25/98

Acts 11: 1 – 14
Page 1611 Come Alive Bible

[Text to Be Read: Ephesians 5:17]
Page 1712 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST said, “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12: 50).

The happiest, most content, most fulfilled person in all the world is the person doing God’s will. That being true, one of the most important things in all the world is knowing God’s will.

The greatest deception perpetuated by Satan is that happiness and gratification can be found apart from God’s will. Momentary kicks, yes. But not lasting happiness. For kicks apart from Christ always – ALWAYS – have a kick-back.

If knowing God’s will is so important and results in such blessings, how can you know God’s will? Momentarily I will share six Biblical principles involved in finding God’s will. First I want to warn there are some persons who are blind guides offering to guide the blind. Beware of these.

1. Those who have made up their minds what they are going to do but are looking for somebody to agree with them; and thus, console themselves that they are right because of this agreement. They often look for a minister who agrees with them. If one doesn’t, they turn to another. If a friend doesn’t, they continue to look for a confirming friend.

2. Another type is the person who has fouled up his or her own life and is now ready to counsel everyone else on how to do it. These persons can be recognized by these traits.
a. They have goofed-up their own lives.
b. They have a minimum understanding of grace.
c. They are nosey about other people’s business.
d. They believe they are experts because of their experience.

These persons are guilty of sticking their nose in other people’s business.

-It begins at the moment of salvation and ends at death.

-All of God’s will is in keeping with the principles, commands, techniques, promises, doctrines, and declarations of the Bible. God will never contradict His written Word — NEVER.

-For the lost it is simple — God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet 3:9). “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ…” (I John 3: 23).

-For the saved it is simple — Ephesians 5: 17, 18.

To find God’s will, apply a basic principle of math. To find the unknown, start with the known.

Remember such problems as: 2X = 10. What does X equal? The answer is 5. To find the unknown, always start with the known. For the lost, it is to receive Christ as Savior. For the saved, it is to live a Spirit- filled life. Before you look for the more complex aspects of God’s will, it is essential that these two “knowns” be complied with.

In Acts 11:1, seven principles are found to have been used by Peter in proving that what he had done was God’s will. These same seven need to be applied in our search for His will.

What Peter had done violated four basic, ritualistic taboos. Therefore, the religious leaders “contended” with Him. The word means they kept on persecuting him. This was no academic debate; it was a verbal war. Peter had:
-Eaten with a Gentile. That simply wasn’t done.
-Ate Gentile food.
-This Gentile was a Roman.
-He stayed in the house until after dark.

In light of their contention, Peter “explained” his actions. The word means he kept on explaining it in historical order. He shared seven principles used to convince him this was God’s will.

“I was in the city of Joppa praying…” (vs. 5).

Prayer is essential in the search for God’s will. It is making a humble request of the Lord. Prayer is not a system of rationalization. Prayer, though essential, is not enough alone. Other factors must converge.

Peter said “I observed it intently and considered… (vs. 6).

The word literally meant “to put your mind to something, to ponder.” This meant to think through intently and in detail for a long while. It is a reference to objective thinking. That is, thinking apart from emotions.

Peter did not have the Word like we have today. Therefore, before the Word was written it was rarely miraculously spoken. Peter heard the Word three times before it sank in.

Prayer, the first principle in seeking God’s will must be combined with a knowledge of the Word. A certain “sweet thing” might feel she is in love with “Mr. Wonderful” and decides to pray about it. She is a Christian and he a non-believer. She prays, “God, if you don’t close the door, I will know it is your will for me to marry him.” No door is closed so she assumes it to be God’s will for them to marry. It isn’t. She didn’t even need to pray about this decision. God’s will is already spelled out in His Word on this subject. In effect, God closed the door long before she prayed. II Cor. 6:14 is the closed door. It says simply that we should not be unequally yoked. That’s the closed door. THINK!

While Peter was praying and considering the vision three men suddenly appeared with a special request (vs. 11).

If circumstances suggest something contrary to God’s Word, they are not of God.

Verse 12 shares a strategic principle. It is this. The Bible was not yet fully authored; and thus, Peter didn’t have the New Testament as his source of instruction. Today it must be ours. He had God’s Word vocally. We have it written. The vision was equivalent for him as the Word is for us today. The fact “the Spirit told” him to go is equivalent to the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit through the written Word today.

The Holy Spirit will NEVER lead anyone to do anything contrary to the written Word of God.

In verses 13 – 15 Peter and the men compare notes. This takes us back to the principle of thinking. As they compared notes, their insights dovetailed. This convergence was of God.

Peter recalled the Word of the Lord.

“I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8).

Under pressure it is the Word of God you know that gives stability.

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.