Sermon Select

Thomas, the Twin

“Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples,
‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him'” (John 11:16).

Jesus Christ called Thomas to follow Him. Because of misunderstanding of him he has been stereotyped with a title second only to Judas Iscariot with negative connotations. He is inappropriately known as Doubting Thomas. A closer look will reveal Him to be Devoted Thomas.

His name appears in many translations as Thomas Didymus. The name Didymus is Greek for Twin. In Didymus can be heard the English word Ditto, meaning the same. It isn’t known who his twin was, whether male or female.

Thomas was a pragmatist. He wanted empirical evidence. He was a show me type person. All of his comments recorded in Scripture occurred in the last week of Christ’s life. His questions were not so much born of doubt as to give occasion for insight. Questioning isn’t bad. Doubting is. He was legitimately inquisitive.

Some persons harbor their tired old doubts and pose them as questions anywhere they are reasonably sure they can’t get an answer. They hope by their seemingly unanswerable questions to appear intellectual. Revealed ignorance is a poor way to try to appear to be smart. Thomas asked his questions where he could get answers. The answers were met with his response of devotion.

In His threefold admonition Christ said, “Ask and it shall be revealed to you.” Thomas’ questions got wonderful answers.

Jesus was encamped along the Jordan when news reached Him that His dear friend Lazarus had died. In an act of seemingly indifference Jesus waited two days before responding to the news. In that delay was wisdom. There was a misconception regarding death in that era. It was believed that the spirit stayed in the body for three days after death before departing. Jesus knowing what He was going to do regarding the death of Lazarus wanted to wait until this period had passed before bringing Lazarus back to life so this old superstition could not be credited.

Bethany, Lazarus’ home town, was only about two miles from Jerusalem. The apostles knew what the mood of the religious leaders of Jerusalem was regarding Christ. They knew His life would be in jeopardy if He went to Jerusalem. Not knowing His reason for delaying going they doubtless were relieved by the fact of His delay.

When Jesus said, “Let us go to Judea again,” the disciples responded: “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” (John 11:8).

Jesus knew His hour had come. His death was immanent. The apostles knew this open act of defiance would incur the wrath of the ruling religious Jews. Nevertheless, Thomas responded: “Let us go that we may die with Him” (John 11: 16).

That was a statement revealing great devotion. There was no wavering or equivocation in that self-sacrificing statement. Unfortunately most readers over look it and remember only a later misunderstood statement by Thomas.

Thomas fought with his fears and by faith won.

He had been there earlier in a teaching session and heard Christ say: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Years lapsed and in recent times missionary Jim Elliot who was martyred by Auqua Indians in South America made a comparable statement: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Thomas was willing to give all and gain all.

Are we willing to pay the price for following Christ?

On the eve preceding His execution Jesus gathered in an upper room with His apostles and taught them: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?'” (John 14: 1 – 5).

Thomas wanted to know “where” and “how.” Jesus answered He was the “way.”

A missionary in Africa contracted with a native guide to lead him to a certain remote village. Armed only with his machete the guide lead the way. They traveled through tall brush and thick jungle. During one of their rest stops the missionary commented, “There is not path. How do you know the way?” The native answered, “I am the way. I know where to go. Follow me.”

Jesus is personally the way. If we follow Him we get where we should be.

After Christ’s resurrection the apostles were gathered in an upper room. For whatever reason Thomas wasn’t there. Let’s let John relate what happened.

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'” (John 20: 24 – 29).

Thomas had such faith in Christ he had learned to doubt his doubts. We must do the same.

Thomas was our proxy in questioning in order that we might not have reason to doubt. He questioned the word of his fellow apostles but he did not doubt the Lord Himself.

We need to employ the technique used by Thomas to deal with doubts. He went where there were people of faith; where the unseen Lord was likely to make Himself known. We need to seek such environments also.

In response to Christ’s invitation to touch His wounds Thomas responds: “My Lord, and my God!” The sullen skeptic glows with shining faith. There is no indication he touched the wounds of Christ, but his faith embraced the truth shown.

Jesus then included us in His response. “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed'” (John 20:29).

We are challenged to walk by faith not by sight.

Everything we say we know and believe, everything, we first accepted by faith. 2 X 2 = 4. We believe by faith. We accepted that long before we could prove it. It is a faith principle. We live by faith. It is just a matter of what the object of that faith is. Let it be Jesus. We not only receive Him by faith but those who reject Him reject Him by faith.

Immediately after His resurrection Jesus gave instruction to the witnessing women to tell the apostles He was going to Galilee. Immediately they went to Galilee. They wanted to be where He was. This was in effect reporting for duty. This warm interchange was a prelude to the last encounter the apostles would have with the resurrected Christ.

On the Mount of Olives as Christ was departing He commissioned His church: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19 – 20).

Thomas took Him at His word. Secular records reveal Thomas went east establishing the Assyrian Church, the Nestorian Church and others. He is considered the founder of the Church in India. There still exists the church known as “The Christians of St. Thomas,” said to have been established by him in 49 AD.

He is said to have suffered much persecution and eventual martyrdom in India. While praying soldiers of King Mizdi allegedly thrust a lance through him.

In giving his all he gained everything.

Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride 11/22/98

Psalm 100:4 – 5
Page 886 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ taught us to pray. In the model He gave us is a symphony of praise and thanks: “FOR YOURS IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER.”

We are so blessed we have reason to pause and thank Him. Let our hearts and voice resound with songs of praise:
“My country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountain side let freedom ring!

Our fathers’ God, to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing,
Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King!”

Our Lord desires and deserves our thanks. Our Pilgrim predecessors modeled it for us.

The Scripture says: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Note, “in everything give thanks.” Our response is a one word question, “everything?” Giving thanks is an act of the will. Feeling thankful is an act of the emotions. The text does not say in everything we should feel thankful. We simply don’t. However, we are inclined to give thanks once we become convinced of the truth in Romans 8: 28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

With that reference point we can give thanks. It must be readily conceded that at times circumstances don’t dictate a spontaneous desire to give thanks. Retrospect often gives reason to have done so.

Consider the Pilgrims progress and see if stages of their advance automatically called forth thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims were political refugees fleeing religious persecution. Having moved from their native England to Holland to avoid further persecution they soon found themselves isolated on the continent of Europe. There children were beginning to adopt the frivolous manners of the Dutch. In this could they give thanks? Yes! However, they didn’t feel thankful. They simply found in it reason to accept an offer by a group of English investors to fund a voyage to the new world. In exchange they promised their benefactors, the Merchant Adventurers, to work for them for seven years.

In July of 1620, they set sail on the Mayflower and the Speedwell. About 300 miles out to sea the Speedwell sprang a threatening leak necessitating a return to England. Could they now give thanks? Yes! However, you can well imagine emotionally they weren’t feeling thankful.

On September 6, 1620, after one aborted attempt, they crowded onto one ship and set out on their 65 day voyage to the new world. There were 44 Pilgrims and 66 persons known as “Strangers.” Their long and arduous journey caused sickness and death. Could they give thanks? Yes, but you can be sure they weren’t emotionally feeling thankful.

Their dread fear on the journey was of the Native Americans and potential deadly conflicts with them.

On November 11 a small party went ashore looking for food. They happened upon a Nauset Indian grave yard where they found baskets of corn which had been left as a gift to the dead. Their gathering of this unexpected bounty was interrupted by the angry Nauset warriors protecting their burial grounds.

At about this same time British merchant ships had captured some Native Americans and sold them in Spain as slaves. One was named Squanto. He worked his way to England and eventually back to his native land. Upon his return he learned all the members of his tribe had contracted a “white man’s disease” and died. He went to live as a “ghost” with another tribe.

On November 10 land was spotted. However, the Pilgrims didn’t land there they sailed on to Plymouth where they were greeted by the friendly Patuxet Indians.

That first harsh winter in their new land only 50 of their number survived. Could they give thanks? Yes! You can be sure they weren’t emotionally feeling thankful.

The next Spring a Native American named Samoset stepped from the forest and in broken English said, “Welcome, Englishmen.” He had learned a bit of English from traders along the coast. After an overnight visit he disappeared. Was it a trick by a scout sent to penetrate their ranks in preparation for an attack? Could they now give thanks? Yes! Still no emotional thankfulness however.

Soon Samoset returned with another Native American. His name, Squanto. The Native American sold as a slave in Spain had learned good English in the home land of the Pilgrims. Could they give thanks now? Yes. Now, they even had reason to feel thankful.

Squanto taught them how to tap maple trees for syrup, what plants were poisonous, and how to plant corn.

Out of hearts of thanksgiving in 1621 the Pilgrims met with 90 Wampanoag Indians for a time of thanksgiving. For three days they celebrated and feasted on clams, corn, codfish, geese, ducks, turkey, eel, bass, barley, venison, and corn bread.

This was the land of the Pilgrims’ pride.

Two years later in 1623 a drought threatened the Pilgrims. Governor Bradford issued a proclamation on November 29 that all the people should gather in the meeting house to “listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye God for all His blessings.” Before the meetings were held rains came and the services became times of thanksgiving.

In 1789 President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation setting the last Thursday of November as a time of giving thanks for the new Constitution.

In 1863 Sarah Joseph Hale, author of the well known poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” persuaded President Lincoln to establish a day of Thanksgiving. The fourth Thursday of November was set.

In 1941 Congress established the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday of Thanksgiving.

President Washington’s proclamation contained in part the following:
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of All Mighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor, to pardon our national and other transgressions, to render our National Government a blessing to all of the people by being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discretely and faithfully executed and obeyed.”

Residents of the Land of the Pilgrims’ pride had reason for giving thanks and they did.

Thanksgiving is an act of the will. It comes from a certain mind-set. What is your mind-set? What ever it is you have trained yourself to have it. You can retrain yourself. For many reasons you will benefit by training yourself to be a grateful person.

King Alfonso XII of Spain was a devout Christian. It was called to his attention that the pages in his court were acting as ingrates and not expressing thanks before their meals. He invited them to a banquet. The table was lavish with varied foods. During the meal a meagerly dressed beggar entered and seated himself at the head table. He ate like a starving man. Got up and walked out without a word. At first there was a murmur among the pages then a critical complaint about the ill mannered stranger who did not express his gratitude.

Then King Alfonso spoke, “Bolder and more audacious than this beggar have all you been. Every day you sit down at a table supplied by the bounty of your Heavenly Father, yet you ask not His blessings or express your gratitude.” Gratitude to our Heavenly Father needs to be expressed far more than we do.

Find ways to say thanks. A little boy visiting his grandmother tried to show his thanks by making her a cup of coffee. It was undoubtly the worst cup of coffee she ever had, but she didn’t indicate it. As she was finishing she saw three of the child’s three little green Army men in the bottom of her cup. Before she realized it she blurted, “What is the meaning of this?”

The child replied, “You know, Grandmother, like it says on TV —- ‘the best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.’”

Hans Selye in his book, The Stress of Life,” says research proves gratitude is the healthiest of emotions and revenge the most unhealthy.

Colossians 2: 6, 7 gives a model of proper praise and thanksgiving: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6, 7).

Three things are noted in this text in present voice, meaning we are to continue to do them.

They are:
EDIFICATION. In the word can be heard our word edifice which is a building. If you edify someone you build them up. When a person has the right regard for others there is no difficulty in “esteeming others better than self.” This is no self-put-down.

ESTABLISHMENT – “in faith.” Faith creates a spirit of praise. Train yourself to give thanks. Your day may begin and continue in a certain manner, but thanks can lift you up. Even though I clutch my blanket and groan when the alarm rings each morning, Thank you Lord, that I can hear it.

Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible, Thank you Lord, I can see.

Even though I curl up in my bed and offer resistance against rising, Thank you Lord, I have the strength to rise.

Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when one sock is missing, toast is burned, tempers are short, Thank you Lord for understanding friends and family.

Even though my table doesn’t look like one in a magazine and the menu is at time unbalanced, Thank you Lord, I have food.

Even though the routine of my job is at times monotonous, Thank you Lord, I have a job.

Thank you Lord for the gift of life.

You can find something for which to thank the Lord. Consider: a good yawn with a stretch. That’s so good. It deserves a thanks. A reachable itch that can be scratched. Knowing the answer to the quiz show question and answering before anyone in the room. A parking meter with time remaining on it. Hearing the laughter of a friend.

Have you thanked God for your financial and physical resources?

“…it is He who gives you power to get wealth…” (Deuteronomy 8: 18).

Sacrifice your ego and thank Him.

What would be your answer if the Lord were to ask you, “What have you done with the resources I have given you?”

One reason our Lord ask us to give in His name is to allow us to demonstrate our faith. When we give we acknowledge it all comes from Him and we are dependent upon Him.

Often it is said, “The church is always asking for money.” Not so, it is the world that constantly asks for money. The check-out clerk at the grocery store always asks for money. The mortgage company always wants money.

If you are like most folks each month you get a number of letters with windows containing bills. Are any of them from the church?

Who withholds a portion of every dollar you earn? It is not your Heavenly Father, but your Uncle Sam.

There are no free-lunches except at church. The price of admission and the cost of a seat hasn’t gone up in ages. The church offers free counseling, hospital visits, and a free newsletter without a subscription notice asking for money.

When a loved one dies the funeral home wants money. There is no charge at church.

You have to pay taxes to provide your child free public education, but your church Sunday School provides free Christian education at absolutely no charge.

The church requires no membership dues, no annual fee and never sends a bill. No other organization in the world operates that way.

The church exists to lovingly provide the love of Jesus. Any money given is voluntary and goes to provide ministries in His name. It constantly provides ministries without looking to see if the recipient has given anything or not.

EFFULGENCE – “abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

The Bible speaks of a “sacrifice of praise.” Sometimes we don’t feel thankful but we give thanks. When you praise someone or express thanks you sacrifice your ego. In giving thanks we are saying you did something for me and I grateful.

Have you thanked God for the people in your life? Have you affirmed your spouse, children, siblings, and friends? Have you sacrificed your ego enough to say “thanks.”

The people around you are all “possibilitiarians.” That is, they have the possibility of becoming someone wonderful. You can encourage them on their pilgrimage.

It is estimated that 6 of every 10 people who attend church come with a burden. What atmosphere do you help create to encourage them?

The text says we are to be “rooted.” That is perfect passive, meaning there is a time when we become once and for all rooted. That moment is when we trust Christ as Savior. Have you thanked God the Father for Christ? Has this expression of thanks been in the form of faith in Him as Savior? What do you believe?

Don Quixote said, “I have never had the courage to believe nothing.”

Stress Management 7/19/98

Psalm 37:1 – 7
Page 826 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ was God in flesh and blood. He was called “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.” We do well to learn from His example as well as His teaching. On an occasion when He was depleted from ministering to others He left the demanding crowd and went off by Himself. Even He knew He could not minister out of a bleached out body and spirit. He learned to take minute vacations as well as to retreat.

On an occasion the disciples came to Him and said the whole world is here to see you. He walked away. He just walked away. Sounds impersonal and disinterested doesn’t it. He knew His limit and limited His public ministry in order to be renewed Himself.

Ours is a stressful society. The other day I saw a teenager zoom onto the parking lot at a funeral home going at least twice the appropriate speed while talking on a cell phone. I thought, “Has life has become so urgent and so stressful as to demand this.”

Adults often manifest a martyr complex by overextending themselves. It is as though there is a guilt complex by persons who think they can relieve the guilt by abusing themselves. We seem to have developed a “Society for the Admiration of the Stressed Out.”

Stress is a subject Christians need to address. UPI just released the results of a study made by three sociology professors at the University of New Hampshire that shows Georgia ranks third, behind only Alaska and Nevada, in stress.

Stress related diseases are higher in Georgia and the other two states than the national average. Georgia ranked number 8 in alcohol related deaths and alcoholic psychoses.

Family stresses are given as the reason for the high stress level in Georgia.

We need to manage to control stress for economic reasons also. Stress-related pain is estimated to cost American businesses some 700 million workdays and $60 billion a year.

Stress results in a chemical or hormonal imbalance caused by heavy demands made on the body. It is a major contributor to cardiac disease, hypertension, peptic ulcers, arthritis, and numerous other maladies, all with a common denominator —- excessive stress.

Researchers estimate that 60% to 70% of all illness is stress related.

Dr. Hans Selye, M.D. is perhaps Canada’s most celebrated scientist. He founded the International Institute of Stress. He concluded stress induced diseases are on the increase in our society because the changing environment creates great demands on mind and body. He wrote:

“Stress can and does affect every aspect of life. Though it is necessary and unavoidable, too much of it produces staggering changes in intellectual and emotional attitudes as well as in health.”

Dr. Selye and his colleagues stated that though undue stress is adverse to good health and performance stress it is also the spice of life and the absence of stress is death. It is a stimulus that motivates us. We thrive on properly balanced stress. Such is called eustress.

To control stress it is essential to be attentive to the early warning signs. There are four, check yourself on them now and often:
Physical – upset stomach, dry mouth, muscle aches and pains.
Cognitive – loss of the ability to concentrate, being forgetful or humorless.
Emotional – being short tempered, sarcastic, or demoralized.
Behavioral – uh-oh, drinking more coffee or alcohol, eating more sweets, or over sleeping, and compulsive exercising.

Just the normal every day demands are enough to devitalize a person. When it happens what can a person do? Therapy for such a time is noted in Psalm 37.

I. DO GOOD (VS. 3)
Enter the training school of duty. Don’t sit in despair. When stress comes your way reach out to help someone.

In the poem “The Shoes of Happiness,” Conrad the old cobbler dreamed the Master would visit him. Expectantly he waited. Each time someone came by or entered his shop he excitedly responded hoping it was Christ. He didn’t come. A beggar came and Conrad gave him shoes. An old woman came stooped beneath a load. He refreshed her and gave her food. A lost, teary eyed child came and he returned her to her parents. His Divine guest didn’t come. However,
Then soft in the silence a voice he hears.
‘Lift up your heart, for I kept my word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times my shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with the bruised feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
I was the child in the homeless street.’

Christ said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

The Hebrew text reads: “Be silent in God” or “Hold still before God.” This implies a troubled mind, an agitated state of being, a person perplexed, mentally extended, emotionally exhausted, and physically depleted. It depicts one with a great cloud over his or her spirit.

These words are addressed to two groups:
(1) Persons suffering from a guilt conscience – convicted, sin weary unbeliever.
(2) Distracted and distraught believer experiences trials.

There is an active and a passive rest.

ACTIVE rest is being engaged in work, doing God’s will. This enables one to get your mind off yourself and yourself off your mind. This requires involvement but with detachment.

PASSIVE rest involves unplugging and setting aside time to be alone with God. This is the interior fountain of active goodness.

This is difficult for those of us enthusiasts.

A well known psychiatrist has written, “Repose in God is the secret of power.” Psychologically there is a reason. We use only a small percent of our mind. It is divided into the conscious, fore- conscious, and subconscious. In the routine of a busy day the conscious mind is used. The fore- conscious mind is the seat of the imaginative and contemplative faculties. Poems, music, prayers, insight and creativity of all forms rise from here. It is there that great enterprises are given birth. There God and man meet.

Dr. Selye notes prayer is one of the three most effective treatments for stress. Don’t neglect this vital factor.

We are like birds looking for a tree in which to nest, but every tree in the forest has a woodsman’s mark on it awaiting the cutting. Every tree that is, but one. That one is illustrative of Jesus.

I have been reading a delightful little book recently entitled: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” The sub title is: “And All Stuff Is Small.”

We tend to get up tight when someone cuts us off in traffic or slows down just enough to get through a green light but too much for us to make it. Steam rises from our collars. This often slows us down at least .6 seconds. That’s small stuff. Give yourself a break, don’t sweat the small stuff and remember —– all stuff is small.

REST IN THE LORD. He is personally our royal chamber.

HIS POWER – I have omnipotence on my side.

HIS PROMISES – COROCOVADO, a massive statue of Christ rises over Rio, Brazil in a striking manner. It can be seen from all over the city and for miles around. It is often obscured from view by clouds, but it is there. So God’s promises remain.

HIS PURPOSE. He is to be glorified in us. Learn the happy art of passing all praise on to Him. The intended end of life is not happiness, but duty. God has a purpose for you.

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” JESUS CHRIST.

Serving the Lord is a challenge – it is difficult.

Suffering for the Lord is demanding – it is more difficult.

Waiting on the Lord is the most severe discipline – it is THE most difficult.

Waiting on the Lord does not hint of passive indifference but active perseverance.
WE ARE TO WAIT – – – –

A. CONFIDENTLY. Vs. 7 “…wait patiently…”
This means to trust God to do His part when we are perfectly sure we have done ours.

We can do this if we will:
1. Pay attention to God’s rules regarding our minds and bodies. Various people have different mental stamina. Physically fatigued bodies can’t fight spiritual battles. What affects the body influences the brain.

2. Maintain a good conscience. This even influences our cholesterol. Diet has about a 10% influence on cholesterol. High adrenalin causes high cholesterol. Our mental attitude dramatically influences our adrenalin level. A good conscience can lower both.

3. Regularly feed your mind on God’s Word. Don’t expect God’s blessings while you are in a state of disobedience.

4. Cast every particular care on the Lord. “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). The word “cast” means to toss them to Him. If you do they are no longer in your hands. Let go of the stressors.

5. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” Employ His strategy of gratitude. This enables one to do the best of things in the worst of times.

6. Engage in prayer. Dr. Selye notes prayer is one of the most effective treatments for stress.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 6 – 7).

Ask God to give you the strength to change what needs to be changed, the ability to accept what can’t be changes, and the wisdom to know the difference.

B. CHEERFULLY. Vs. 7 “…fret not because of him…” We often fret and fume as though there is no eternity, no day of reckoning. The ultimate end of the wicked is described:

He shall “be cut off” (vs. 9); “not be” (vs. 10); “perish” (vs. 2).

C. COMPLYING. Vs. 34 “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way…”

Years ago there lived an elderly couple in a modest cottage on a tiny island in the Great Lake area. They lived alone in isolation without any neighbors for many miles. Their remoteness and isolation concerned their friends, Dr. and Mrs. Roy L. Smith. One day the Smiths had a council of love and decided to invite the couple to come and live out their days with them. The next day Dr. Smith and one of his daughters went by boat to the remote island where the couple lived by themselves. To the gracious invitation came the reply, “Of course, we can’t accept the invitation, can we, dear?” The couple then led Dr. Smith through the yard and along a winding pathway until at last they came to a clearing with a carpet of green grass bordered by beautiful flowers. In the center of this little clearing was a tiny mound with a snow white cross at its head. The old man put his arm around his wife and said, “We can’t leave our island home, for you see we lost a son here.”

Likewise, no matter what happens, God will never leave this floating island in the sky called, planet earth, because He lost a Son here!

He will never leave us or forsake us. You can wait on Him.

How to Become Re-Energized 7/26/98

I Peter 5: 10, 11
Page 1771 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST has personally summonsed you to heaven. Not only does He want you to come to heaven He proposes to give you strength for the journey.

Have you ever seen a bee trapped in a car or house? It may buzz against a window until it finally winds down. When a bee leaves the hive it carries only enough fuel reserve to get to a predetermined destination and back. If it becomes trapped it runs out of energy and can’t fly. Have you ever felt that way and needed to be re-energized. I read that if you find a bee in that condition and dissolve sugar in water and offer it to the bee it will drink and be re-energized enough to return home. Once while dining at Mt. Vernon, the former home of George Washington, I saw such a bee on the window sill by our table. I dissolved sugar in water in a spoon and offered it to the bee. Slowly it drank for the longest time. Then it took off, buzzed around a bit, flew back and stung me.

It may be we appear to respond to the goodness of the Lord with such ingratitude. Don’t forget, “Thanks” is also prayer.

Our Lord desires to ESTABLISH – STERIZO, the believer. That is, He wants to build up the believer. This word has three basic meanings in the New Testament.

I. PERSEVERANCE “Jesus resolutely set out (sterizo) for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

From the beginning He saw the ending of His life. As He approached Jerusalem He was very mindful that His hour had come and Calvary awaited. He had no ambition for the agony of crucifixion as is evidenced by His withdrawal to Gethsemene. He had no appetite for the spiritual warfare Gethsemene afforded. Yet, He resolutely determined willfully to go to Jerusalem. He needed strength to fight against natural human reluctance. Each step along the road to Jerusalem represented a separate act of the will. Each separate act of the will represented a triumph over the reluctance of the flesh. In Him, in this act, was true heroism. Every one of His footprints is worthy of our study. From His example we learn.

A. We should never shrink from the path of duty regardless of the obstacle. Once you know what is right, do it regardless of the cost.

It was said of Joan of Ark, “She set her path and went down it like a thunderbolt.”

“The way of the LORD is strength for the upright, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity” (Proverbs 10:29).

God wants His will done. When we know His will and engage in doing it His resources are our assets. It is like swimming in a river. You can swim faster and with greater ease going with the flow of the stream. Swimming against the current is much more difficult.

B. Such uncompromising commitment should not expect any hospitality or help from a hostile world. It does inspire a hostile world.

Before the fall of the Communistic Soviet Republic Christians were severely persecuted. One house church grew in numbers in spite of this. They had to meet in secret to avoid disruption and potential persecution. On a given Sunday they would come to the meeting home in small numbers at a time. It often took hours for all to assemble so as not to attract attention to their gathering.

One Sunday evening their worship was disrupted by a banging on the door and then it burst open. Swiftly Soviet soldiers entered with guns ready. The commander ordered everyone to put their hands over their heads. He then threatened their lives but offered a reprieve. Those assembled had committed a capital offense punishable by death. Any person who would renounce their faith could go free. Slowly at first one person slipped out of the room. Then a couple and finally a few more.

The officer in charged closed the door and said, “Keep your hands in the air, but in praise of our Lord Jesus Christ. A few weeks ago we were ordered to raid a worshiping group. We stayed and were converted to faith in Christ. We are your brothers, but we have found only those willing to die for their faith can be trusted.”

Had you been in that room how would you have responded? The faith of the faithful inspired faith in others. Thereby, they were re-energized.

C. Such resolute response impresses and inspires others. Immediately before Christ started out for Jerusalem He had exhorted His followers to “Take up your cross and follow me.” Their interpretation of that exhortation was afforded. His personal example was a glossary to help their understanding.

Dean Alford, referring to his grave as an “inn,” that is, motel, asked for this inscription on his tombstone: “This is the inn of a traveler on his way to Jerusalem.”

The world is begging the Christian community for an exhibit of courage. Such courage as that which will fight to swim up stream against the current public opinion; courage that had rather eat an honest crust than fair sumptuously on fraud; such courage that will set its face like flint on the straight and narrow road of righteousness.

When the Romans landed at Dover they burned their boats. They had come to conquer or die trying.

With like determination, Paul wrote, “This one thing I do…” With singleness of purpose every believer should ask for, receive, and use the strength promised to stand true to the Lord.

By perseverance the snail reached the ark.

II. 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. He never asks us to go elephant hunting with a fly swatter.

Neither will He outfit us to kill beetles with battleships.

Recently health care professionals met at Harvard Medical School for a course called “Spirituality and Healing in Medicine.” Their study centered around two groups of research to the faith- health connection. Ninety-nine percent of the doctors believe there is an important relationship between the spirit and the flesh.

The prayers of others for the sick was the subject of one study. Nearly 400 people participated in a California study regarding the effects of the prayers of others for heart patients. Half of the 400 were prayed for by others and half were not. Neither group knew they were being prayed for. Those who were prayed for had half as many complications and had a much lower rate of congestive heart failure.

Personal faith was the object of a study by Dartmouth Medical School. They tracked how patients’ personal prayer life influenced their recovery from bypass surgery. After six months a restudy was done. Among those who didn’t pray the death rate was 9%. Among those who did pray the rate dropped to 5%. NONE of those who had a deeply spiritual life died.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center studied 1700 older Americans and discovered that those who regularly attended religious services had stronger immune responses than those who did not. Blood tests showed those who regularly attended had a higher level of immunity against disease. Thus faith is indicated to be good for one spiritually and physically.

The recommendation was that patients should mix standard medical practices with their personal faith. We should have known that. After all it is in the Scripture.

In the Book of James “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14).

Why don’t we do this? In reality we do. Here is what it means. In the Greek language there are two words for anoint. One is CHRIO. In it you can hear the root for the name Christ, Christo. It means the anointed one. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed by having oil placed on their brow in a ceremony.

The other Greek word is ALEPHO. It meant to massage or knead with oil in a manner bread is kneaded. In effect ALEPHO means to massage. This is the word used by James. Olive oil has long been highly regarded as having medicinal qualities. In the story of the Good Samaritan he anointed the assaulted man with oil. In Psalm 23 reference is made to “anointing my head with oil.”

What James is saying is use the best medicine known and pray. You will then have done all God expects of you. Therefore, trust Him and the result will be His will and thereby He will be pleased.

Our responsibility in matters of health is to exercise faith in prayer and use the best medicine available. There is strength in faith. Strength to even heal.

“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).

Here the Scripture speaks of strength to face a life of suffering. There are hidden heroes 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. At the end of life awaits dying grace. Encouragement follows strength as heat does fire.

There are people here who would been overwhelmed were it not for the strength supplied by the Lord. Some have had enough grief to overcome ten persons but have been sustained by His strength.

Strength is found in:
PATIENCE: “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Are you ever confronted by a situation that demands patience? The next time it occurs think of it as an occasion in which our Lord is trying to strengthen you. The capacity to relax and wait on the Lord should be thought of as a state of being you can access at any moment and not something reserved for later on. You can relax NOW.

Being more relaxed involves training yourself to respond differently to the dramas of life. In doing so you turn your melodramas into mellow-dramas. You have trained yourself to respond like you do presently. Now you can engage in re-orientation and retrain yourself.

Consider life a classroom and patience the course of study. Consider this process of developing patience. Set a thirty minute period of time and say to yourself in advance, “During this time I won’t let anything bother me, I will be patient and wait on the Lord for solutions for everything that comes up in this thirty minutes.” This will strengthen your ability to be patient. This process is one where success feeds on success. The more successful you are in stringing thirty minute periods of time together the more successful you will be in exercising patience. You will develop strength through the Lord.

PURITY: One of the knights of the round table, Sir Lancelot, reputedly said, “My strength is the strength of ten because my heart is pure.”

“Truly God is good … to such as are pure in heart” (Psalm 73:1).

The word “pure” meant to be free from contaminants. Pure water was unpolluted water. The word was applied to an item being “tested by the sunlight.” Items were brought out into the bright sunlight and inspected to be certain they were free of contaminants.

Our lives should be lived with us being mindful we are constantly under the spotlight of the Son of God for His inspection. It is by His standard we are to measure our lives.

JOY: “…the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

The Hebrew word translated “strength” in this passage, MAOZ, means fortress or stronghold. To maintain a joyful spirit is to live in a spiritual fortress. The devil and his allies do not like to be around a spiritually joyful believer.

The Psalmist said it well: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

“The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior” (II Samuel 22:3).

IN CHRIST: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom 5:6)

Even though we have the power, the ability, the strength, to live as we wish we do not have the power, the ability, the strength to live as we should. We need supernatural power, strength, to do this.

We who are powerless to do anything on our behalf regarding our eternal destiny have a Helper in the person of Jesus Christ. He exercised His power on our behalf by dying for us. Thus, He became the payment for the debt of our sin.

Does Your Faith Need Stirring? 9/6/98

II Timothy 1: 6, 7
Page 1736 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ complimented His followers of every era by describing us as “salt” and “light.”

For many life has grown tasteless. For many life is being lived in spiritual darkness.

This has been described as the era of the “Age of the Sellout” in which everything is for sale. Honesty and integrity are traded off like chattel for money and power.

Whether it is the “Age of the Sellout,” or the “Age of the Fallout,” or the “Age of the Blowout” it is our age and a grand time to be salt and light.

Whatever it is it is a grand time to be what the world needs: spiritual salt and light. I pray for persons who are members of this church knowing your task to be to saturate, penetrate, and infiltrate society with the tasty additive of spiritual salt and illumine a spiritually dark society with the light of the gospel. If you are a member my prayers follow you every day as an encouragement to be all God has designed you to be.

Ours is a spiritually challenging society. However in a day even more difficult Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote a young minister named Timothy words relevant to us:

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:6, 7).

Pitch your mental tent over that text and camp out under it for life.

At the time of this writing Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting decapitation. The mad emperor Nero had set fire to a large section of Rome and blamed the Christians for it. Believers were being rounded up and executed. Word spread throughout the Roman Empire as to what was happening in Rome. The word reached Troaz where awaited the young apprentice minister Timothy. A shiver must have gone through him when he heard of what awaited his mentor, Paul, and other believers.

He needed the encouragement contained in our text. Today I need it. Self-confession would prompt each of us to acknowledge our need for the wonderful gifts listed. First a —-

I. CHARGE “Stir up the gifts…” (Vs. 6)
We don’t know what gifts Timothy had but we do well to consider the “gifts,” that is the ability our Lord has given us. Every believer has spiritual gifts.

Most of us have memories of a fire on the hearth in our home or of sitting around a campfire.

Nights around a fire are a storehouse of memories. Are you one of those who can’t resist poking a fire. At a campfire are you one of those who inevitably ends up with a stick in your hand poking the fire. Are you an artist with a poker with the ability to create various patters as the dancing patterns of the flames and embers vary.

The expression “stir up the gifts” translates the Greek word ANAZOPUREO. ZOPUREO refers to embers in which the fire has abated. The prefix ANA means “to kindle again the flames of the fire.”

There is a modern English translation of beauty: “Shake the ashes off the God-given fire that’s in you.”

There is fire in embers. Often they need stirring in order for the flame to blaze. Fires feed on oxygen. By stirring them we give them additional fuel and they flame up. Don’t be surprised or discouraged if the spiritual flame in your life has died down. Neither be content or complacent – stir up your gifts.

Has your fervor been chilled and your zeal chilled. Are you spiritually in the game or on the sidelines. Do you have gifts and abilities not being used for the glory of the Lord. Every criticism that can be levied against the church in America is attributed to Christians not using their gifts. Shake off the ashes. Rekindle the flame of faithfulness. Let the Lord use you.

Paul and Timothy were willing to be used even at the risk of life. Respond to the charge – STIR UP THE GIFT OF GOD WHICH IS IN YOU.

Jesus wants to be your Master. Life without a spiritual master is like an orchestra without a conductor, a team without a coach, an army without a general. Now noted are four gifts.

II. COURAGE “Not of fear,” that is of, “cowardliness or timidity”
It is not craven fear but courage that comes from continual consciousness of the abiding presence of Jesus Christ.

Courage is the result when fear meets faith.

The word translated “fear” refers to cowardliness or timidity. A careful reading of I Timothy reveals some of his basic character traits. He was young and inexperienced, he was sickly, and of a shy temperament. This is not the profile of a great leader. Yet, Timothy became a great leader. Natural limitation had superimposed on them supernatural capacity. Natural liabilities are overcome by spiritual gifts being used fully.

Abraham Lincoln lived during a trying and turbulent time in our nation’s history. On the table beside his death bed was his well worn Bible. The gilded edge was well worn from use. Indentions at one point marked what was a passage to which he often referred. It is good for us also: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

Are you fearful of international terrorism. Of a spiraling unstable stock market, of the moral malaise in America, or a plethora of personal problems. Those fears didn’t come from the Lord. In light of that can you figure out their source.

When Anglo-Saxon cave dwellers communicated with stick figure drawings on cave walls the depiction noting fear was of a wolf with a strangle hold on the throat of a sheep. Inordinate fear exerts a choking influence on life.

Consider the spirit of those who might well have been dispirited as described in the Phillips Translation of II Corinthians 6: 10 & 4: 8,9: “We are penniless, and yet in reality we have everything worth having … We are handicapped on all sides but never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand alone; we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out!” WOW, what determination! What confidence! What courage! What determination!

There is a little sign you might consider making a homemade version of: D.I.M.T.T.

That stands for “Determination Is More Important Than Talent.
God did not give them a spirit of fear. Neither has He given you one. He’s given —-

III. CHARACTER “Power” or “A spirit to inspire strength”
Drawing from American history we conceive of George Washington as a man with a spirit to inspire strength. The reason he had it was it was a gift given him by God. That strength of character inspired a nation. The legend of the chopping down of the cherry tree lives. What if when asked if he had chopped down the cherry tree young George had responded:
“No, Dad.”

“Son, I think you are lying.”

“No, no, no, I assure I did NOT chop down the cherry tree.”

“Son, I saw you out there with the axe. Your punishment will be much worse if you lie to me. Now tell me the truth.”

“Dad, I answered your question truthfully. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions. While my answer was legally accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, Dad, I did cause the cherry tree to be lying on the ground. To do this was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgement and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. I know my answer to you gave a false impression. I misled you, my own father. I deeply regret that. I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors.

First, by my desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. I was very concerned about protecting Mom from this shock. What I did, Dad, was use a saw to cause the cherry tree to fall. Only after the tree was already down did I go get the axe to chop off individual branches. So, I chopped off the branches, but sawed down the tree. Therefore, legally I told the truth.

I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of this fallen tree and to return our attention to a solid family relationship.”

That kind of character does not result from the gift of “power” to develop character.

In the mid 1930s the word character began to be devalued and personality emerged. Character traits, such as, courage, honesty, and loyalty were replaced by personality traits such as assertiveness, self- confidence, and introspectiveness.

Today sophisticated thinkers tell us good and evil are not actually categories but subjective and transient points of view that vary from person to person. Arm your mind by reading the right works. Youth, if given a choice of a book on which to write a report choose books like “Lord of the Rings.” It will help empower your mind.

This power is here depicted as power to —–
A. Be Saved (Vs. 9) “who has saved us.”

B. To Suffer (Vs. 8) “share with me in the suffering.”

“…if we suffer with Him we will also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2: 12).

Everyone, that is, everyone suffers. You may have been laboring under the misconception that you are the only one who suffers. If you have been thinking this is your distinction among humanity it isn’t. Believers and non-believers alike suffer. Being a Christian means you have the capacity to go beyond the breaking point and not break. This is inherent in the power given you by your Savior. With Him suffering takes on purpose. Use your pain for your gain.

If you know someone whose faith you admire you know someone who has suffered.

C. To Be Sanctified (Set aside for His use) (Vs. 9) “called us with a holy calling”

IV. COMPASSION “Love” (Vs. 7)
A. For His Word

B. For His Will

As a college student I memorized this verse by Henry van Dyke:
With eager heart and will of fire
I sought to win my great desire.
‘Peace shall be mine,’ I said, but life
Grew bitter in the endless strife.

My soul was weary, and my pride
Was wounded deep, To heaven I cried,
‘God give me peace, or I must die.’
The dumb stars glittered no reply.

Broken at last I bowed my head
Forgetting all myself I said:
‘What ever comes, Thy will be done.’
And in that moment peace was won.

Any experience that brings us to that sublime experience is worth the price of admission. At the moment of trust endurance that last is given.

C. For His Work

V. CONTROL “A Sound Mind” or “Self- discipline”
When Christ is in control we are under control.

He gives us the capacity of controlling ourselves in the face of PANIC or PASSION.

In matters of PANIC He can keep us from running away.

In matters of PASSION He can keep us from being swept away.

We must treat ourselves as a force needing controlling —-
-A collection of energy needing direction.
-A composite of emotions that must be managed.
-A combination of appetites that have to be curbed.

There is nothing wrong in our society or in the lives of individual citizens that can’t be corrected if Christians stir up these gifts within each of us.

Approaching is a time of decision. Will you in the moment of decision determine to stir up the gifts of love, power, and a sound mind?

On my birthday I was given an Iron Man watch. There is a setting on it “CHRONOS.” It is a Greek word for running time. It is used for clocking the length of time required for something.

There is another Greek word for time, KAIROS. It refers to a decisive time, a moment that requires an important decision. Outside the stadium at Olympia was a statue to the god KAIROS. It stressed that the athletes had to seize the moment, to act decisively before the moment of opportunity passed. KAIROS is linked with the idea of responsibility.

KARIOS, time, has come. Seize the moment, take advantage of this opportunity to act responsibly. Here and now determine to “Shake the ashes off the God-give fire that’s in you.”