Sermon Select

Remembering the Foundations 5/25/97

Psalm 11: 3
Page 803 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST was loved, revered, and obeyed by many who worked to build the foundation of this great nation. Their efforts were not without debate, challenge, and conflict.

Our Lord’s intervention in the affairs of state were distinctly evident to the craftsmen construction for the foundation of a new nation. The records of their faith and faithfulness are stored in the archives of our great institutions of learning.

The most memorable section in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ prize- winning novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, concerns a strange disease that invades the old village of Macondo from the surrounding swamp. It is a lethal insomnia like sickness that attacks the entire town. Initially people lose sleep, but the villagers do not feel any bodily fatigue at all. A more critical effect slowly manifests itself – loss of memory. Gradually victims realize they can no longer recall the past. Soon they find they cannot remember the name or the meaning of the simplest things used every day. They cannot remember the identity of other people, even those closest to them. Finally, the dementia is complete and their own sense of identity is erased from consciousness and memory.

One villager, Aureliano Buendia, conceives a way to try to stave off the loss of memory. He writes the name of everything on pieces of paper and pastes them to the objects to recall what they are. All the people begin doing it in their homes. Finally the whole village is marked: table, chair, clock, door, bed, toothbrush, knife, water faucet! Animals, flowers and trees are also identified in this way: cow, goat, banana tree, orchid flower. Alas, what happens when things will be recognized by the label but no one will remember their use?

So labels are made more specific. “This is a cow. She must be milked every morning so that she will produce milk. The milk must be boiled on the stove in order to be mixed with coffee to make coffee and milk.”

Someone puts a sign at the beginning of the road into the swamp: “This is your town, Macondo.” Someone else posts a sign on main street announcing: “God exists!” Soon people fear that in time they will not be able to remember the meaning of the written letters on the labels, and they will be forever lost.

One day along the road from the swamp, a strange old man appears, carrying a bulging suitcase and pulling a cart covered with a black cloth. When the stranger discovers the town is suffering from the plague of insomnia and amnesia, he produces a vial of secret potion and cures the town. People can sleep again. Memory returns to them; life comes again, and people once again look forward to tomorrow with hope.

This moving narrative is a telling parable for all as we think of our nation. In how many ways has America become like those stricken citizens of Macondo? We have forgotten where we came from, and we are confused about who we are and why we are here. We have forgotten what life means and what freedom means.

The core values of our society are worth working to restore. Recently Supreme Court Jurist Anthony Scallio said:

Our nation has – – –

Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”

After his army had been blessed supernaturally with victory over the far superior British forces George Washington said, “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”

While speaking of religion and morality as “great pillars of happiness” Washington said, “…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail, in exclusion of religious principle.”

John Adams, Vice-President under Washington, and our nation’s second president, spent ten years in France and England and compared the atheistic republic of France with the government of America which he considered based on Christian principles. He correctly predicted the republic in France would soon fail and it did. It did not have the right foundation according to him. Then he said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

James Madison, chief architect of the Constitution said, “Religion is the basis and foundation of government.”

John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, noted, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

He further noted the future of our nation depended “upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

There is a quiet awakening to the reality that we have currently gone too far in trying to remove God from society.

Recently it was said that separation of church and state is bad history and bad law. The persons making that statement said it ought to be thrown out. Who said that and with what sense of history and law did he make such a statement.

The Honorable William Rhinquist, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court made that comment.

Consider this conclusion: “The separation of church and state has been carried too an extreme.” Joseph Califano, not exactly a member of the religious right, but architect of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

Speaking of the war against drugs an editorial in “The Wall Street Journal,” March 6, 1996 noted: “Indeed, if we’re going to deploy religious institutions in this war, we’ll first have to get over the idea that the First Amendment means that every mention of religion must be eradicated from the public square. A substance-abuse counselor whose institution gets tax-payer money shouldn’t have to fend off an ACLU suit if he makes prayer part of the therapy.”

Parenthetically, the Supreme Court that banned prayer in public schools consisted of six judges who had no experience as judges but were career politicians.

They completely disregarded previous court decisions.

For example:
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1892, after studying the vital documents of our nation for ten years, made the following ruling: “This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.”

In 1844 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled: “Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament … be read and taught as a divine revelation in the schools? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”

In 1892 the Court ruled: “The morality of the country is deeply ingrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of other religions.”

Those opposed to rebuilding the foundations employ a red herring technique. Perhaps most persons don’t know what the expression “red herring” means, but in the event anyone doesn’t let me explain. Years ago in England prisoners who escaped were tracked with bloodhound dogs with a very sensitive sense of smell. On occasion an accomplis of an escaped prisoner would drag a fish, a red herring, along the escapees path to divert the dogs which would follow the stronger trail and be diverted.

A red herring today is to accuse those who advocate rebuilding the foundations of being reconstructionist and wanting to revert to Old Testament lifestyle and law making America a theocracy. What they are getting at is always emphasized by their references to stoning certain people. This red herring seeks to divert attention to the extremes of the Old Testament era civil law.

I don’t knowingly know a person who wants America to become a theocracy. I don’t. I don’t think Theo does either. He established ancient Israel as a once and for all example.

What these persons forget is there were three types of law in the Old Testament era.

One was CEREMONIAL LAW. This involved animal sacrifices, rituals, feast days, etc. Most Christian’s believe these were types and symbols used to speak of the coming of Messiah and were fulfilled with the coming of Christ. Ceremonial laws have been fulfilled.

A second kind of law was MORAL LAW. It is this basic law as typified in the Ten Commandments that is still germane.

Another is CIVIL LAW. These were the laws governing crime and punishment. They did include stoning as a means of capital punishment. They were intended for Israel just as our modern laws are designed for our nation. They were applicable then but not to us now.

Most modern Christians know the ceremonial law to be fulfilled and the civil laws of the Old Testament era to be past. It is however the ancient civil law that is used as a red herring by those who say there is a desire to return to a theocracy.

It is the law of morality that is needed today.

It is not the job of the church to change society. It is the job of the church to change individuals who change society.

Here are some personal aspects of the foundation on which individuals can work.

A. Bible study. This right is greatly restricted in school but it is still a privilege in homes. Do you have a personal Bible study program? If not start one.

B. Prayer. I wonder if all who complain about prayer being removed from schools have a good personal private prayer life.

C. Morality. It is incumbent upon us personally to govern ourselves morally. Start with a better understanding of the Ten Commandments and a commitment to know and obey them.

Personal discipline must be reignited.

D. Home mentoring. Not all children are getting insights and information regarding moral values. Horace Mann who directed the development of the public school system in America in the 19th Century said, “…our system earnestly inculcates all Christian morals; it founds its morals on the basis of religion; it welcomes the religion of the Bible…”

Though that was the intent the design has been lost. It must be taught in the home.

E. Public worship must regain its place of primacy and the pulpit its principle mission.

The pulpit must teach\preach the Word of God as the authoritative, divinely inspired, supernaturally authored Word of God.

People must discipline themselves to engage in regular worship as a public expression of devotion.

Christ Still Asks: “Do You Love Me?” 4/20/97

John 21: 1 – 17
Page 1590 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST often endures our embarrassing abuse, denial, and betrayal only to come back compassionately to restore us to an even more meaningful love relationship with Him.

On the eve of His crucifixion His disciples showed no staying power when pressure was applied by the accusing Romans who came to arrest Him in Gethsemane. They became instant mutineers. They betrayed, denied, and abandoned Him. They were a disgrace to their declared devotion as they fled for their lives.

Before we become too condemning we would do well to review our own record. When was the last time you passed the test of stick-a-bility? Has there been a social setting when Christ’s modern day accusers were so in control of the moment that you, feeling the heat, betrayed Him? Have you been caught in a circumstance where you were the minority and rather than lose social or business acceptability you forsook Him? Has there been a time recently when you found it easier to be Politically Correct than Biblically right.

The disciples who deserted had made impressive prior commitments to Him. Only hours before, Peter said, “‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you!’ And so said all the disciples” (Matthew 26: 35).

What a commitment! What a shallow commitment!

Commitment is essential in order to achieve anything. However, behind public commitment must be the personal resolve to fulfill the intent.

Commitment is the capacity to carry out the intent of a decision long after the emotion that inspired it has faded.

I have seen many make life-changing commitments. Some have made dramatic commitments resulting in radical lifestyle changes. I am inspired each week to look into a sea of faces of those who dare to be different – people of commitment.

I appeal to you not to refuse to make a wholehearted commitment to Christ because some do not live up to their commitments. Many do.

Others fail miserably and are motivated by their failure to renewed resolute commitment that changes them into becoming inflexibly faithful.

Let’s review the aftermath of the disciples’ disgraceful debacle in Gethsemane.

Peter, the bold spokesman for the group in the upper room, left Jerusalem after the crucifixion and went back home to Galilee. Critics of the big fisherman say he gave up and quit. I am persuaded that was not true. The resurrected Christ told the women to whom He appeared to go tell the disciples that He was going before them into Galilee.

Where had Peter fished all of his life? Galilee! When Peter said, “I’m going fishing” what he was saying was, “I am going where Jesus said He would be.” Let’s pick up the drama at that stage. The account is full of illustrative and figurative details. Observe them with me and learn from them.

Fishing can be fulfilling or frustrating. The mother of two young children said to the 12 year old son, “Take your little sister down to the pond fishing.” Reluctantly, but obediently he did only to return a short time later with his little five year old sister. “Why didn’t you stay longer?” asked his mom, “did your little sister make too much noise?” “No,” he said, “there was no need to stay after she ate the bait.”

It helps to get the mood and mentality of the moment in order to understand the event. The disciples had fished all night without catching anything. An unsuccessful fisherman is not a happy camper. There is only one thing more frustrating to a devoted fisherman than not catching anything and that is being embarrassed by being asked if you caught anything. Here they were, casting their nets and mumbling about their miserable state when someone on shore shouts a question: “Have you caught anything?”

Doubtless with a bit of colorful negativism the response was, “Nothing.”

Then the shore side stranger gives them instructions of what to do. “Cast your net on the right side of the ship…” (John 21:6). Some must have thought, “Wise guy. If you know so much about where they are, why aren’t you out here catching them?”

Doubtless there was a moment of deja vu. Where had they heard that before? Right here on the same sea at a happier moment Christ had given them the same instruction and it worked. Again they tried it and caught so many fish in their net they could hardly pull it in and were fearful it would break, it was so full.

Then it dawned on Peter who that was on the shore. Though it was impossible by human standards, it was Christ. The resurrected Lord was actually there with them.

Peter was the first to recognize him. Strange as it may seem to us, they were, in accordance with the custom of the day, fishing nude. Peter threw his cloak around himself and jumped in and started to swim toward Christ. Imagine the exhilaration of the moment. Christ who died was now alive. Peter’s mind began to hyperventilate.

“This is the Christ I saw feed the five thousand on these shores. This is my Lord who walked on these waters. This is the Jesus who healed along the banks of these waters. Here He, this very one, stilled the storm with only a verbal command. This is the Christ — the Christ — the Christ I denied three times.” At this point his approach to Christ must have slowed.

Finally, Peter and the other disciples, who had in Gethsemane formed a post graduate class in failure, gathered on the shore with Christ. Then there was – – –

Now let’s begin to observe various parts of the interchange and see their significance.

Jesus said, “unto them, come and dine” (Vs. 12). The expression “unto them” is dative of advantage, meaning it was to their advantage to do as invited. Whatever Christ asks us to do is always to our advantage.

In the Greek text, “come” is a participle of exhortation. It was the strongest word of instruction He could use.

It is plural and thus the invitation was to all the disciples.

The appeal to “dine” is in the imperative mood, noting it as a command.

It is aorist tense, inferring it was to have future results.

The active voice stresses that each must do it for himself.

These same principles are inherent in all of Christ’s invitations to us.

In the AKJ verse 12 reads, “And none of the disciples durst ask Him, who are you?” “Durst” is old English for “dared.” They knew it was Christ.

There is significant symbolism in the menu.

Christ had a fire built (Vs. 9). Biblically, fire always spoke of judgment. Jesus pictorially walked to the fire, typifying the fact He, too, was their, our, judgment on Calvary.

Ultimate destiny is something most think about often and dismiss immediately under the guise there is plenty of time to deal with that later. Tomorrow! Today, it the Holy Spirits word.

We can deal with Christ now as our Advocate, that is the One who before the eternal tribunal will determine our destiny. Or we can reject Him and stand before Him in that moment as our Adversary.

“He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

If you want proof of Christ serving as the Judge of destiny the celebrated resurrection is that proof.

I had conversation with a Universalists recently. That is a person who believes people are given a second chance after death to be saved. He spoke warmly of God’s prevailing grace that has no end. I marvel over and rejoice in God’s grace. However, Universalism denies God’s justice which is as much a part of His nature as grace.

From a Biblical standpoint our eternal destiny is defined by God’s grace in time only for “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Bread was provided by Christ. Bread had always symbolized basic provisions. Christ “gave” it to them. This is emblematic of His provisions for us. His provisions make us operative.

Fish were also provided. Fish were a longstanding symbol of productivity.

Judgment always comes first. The fire was foremost.

Next, He provides provisions that enable us to act. He makes our productivity possible.

Sitting there, the eyes of Jesus and Peter must have given darting glances to one another. It is hard to face our disgraces. Finally, their vision met and locked on and Jesus spoke, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these?” (Vs. 15). “These?” “These” what? Speculation varies as to what the reference might have been. Perhaps it was a reference to – – –

Nearby, Peter’s fishing fleet rocked idly on the sea. They represented considerable wealth. A gesture toward them might have accompanied the question.

Never has the Christian community had greater cause to ponder this question. Our blessings are abundant. It is OK to have material possessions. Wealth is enabled by God. The question relates to priorities. Do we love Him more than the things He gives us?

Though we are citizens of a progressive society, we must not forget that paganism is often progressive. There are certain basic perils of progressive paganism: MATERIALISM, SCIENTISM, SENSUALISM, SOCIALISM, AGNOSTICISM, AND PANTHEISM.

Christ’s question might have related to loving Him more than other people love Him. Peter had boasted earlier of loving Christ more than the others. At Christ’s arrest they had deserted Him.

Do you love Him more than that?

There is a slight twist to this that needs application. The question might have referred to loving Him more than we love other people. Often, approving of Jesus means being disapproved by other people. Ouch, that hurts.

Many Christians live with the attitude: “I came, I saw, I concurred.” Capitulation is not a becoming characteristic of Christianity.

If loving Jesus gets you into hot water, be like the tea kettle — when up to its neck in hot water, it sings. Praise Him.

Now in consideration of the climax of this brief beach encounter, remember Peter had denied Christ three times.

John, the inspired penman who wrote this book, actually finished his account at the end of chapter 20. Then the Holy Spirit moved him to add this post script of chapter 21 to help us see the validity of a return and renewal of relationship with Christ as dramatized by Peter.

Jesus used the name “Simon.” It was his name before Jesus dubbed him “Peter,” the Rock. It indicated a stage of unbelief. It was a reference to Peter’s departure from fellowship.

Two words are used for “love” in this interchange. They have completely different meanings.

AGAPAO, is the Greek word for selfless love being issued from a pure motive. The prototype is God’s love for us.

PHILEO, is the word for brotherly love, fellowship.

To understand this interchange let’s use the Greek words. Got them? Agapao means selfless love. Phileo, means fellowship.

Jesus first asked Peter: “Do you agapao Me?” (Vs. 15). That is, “Do you keep on loving Me with a Divine type love?”

Peter responded, “Yes, I phileo You.” Meaning, “Yes, I am back in fellowship.”

Peter didn’t directly answer Christ question: “Do you have selfless love for Me?” Peter’s response was, “I have brotherly love for You.”

As though Peter had not heard correctly, Christ repeated the question. Peter’s response is the same.

Then Christ used Peter’s term for love and asked, “Do you phileo Me?’ That is, “Are you really back in fellowship?”

Peter’s use of the term “Lord” was the key. It implies submission and commitment.

In response to the three answers of Peter, Christ charged Him each time.

First Christ said, “feed my lambs.” This was an exhortation to minister to immature new converts.

The next two times Christ said “sheep.” Peter was to minister to mature and immature believers.

In His second response Christ actually said, “shepherd My sheep.”

The first and then the final time Christ said, “feed My sheep.” Food for His flock is the first and last need.

Shepherding (guarding) is the central action.

The third inquiry prompted Peter to say, “Lord, you know all things.” This is true. Why then did Christ question Him? To afford Him an opportunity to publicly profess His faith.

That is our reason for public invitations.

After this and other encounters with the resurrected Christ these cowering disciples became changed people. At the peril of their lives they went out and changed the world. Their transformed lives is one of the best proofs of the resurrection. People would not risk their lives to defend a lie or for that matter a disgraced dead man. He was alive and that gave their lives purpose. It does the same for people today.

He is Immanuel, God with us — daily. He still asks, “Do you love me?” What is your answer?

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.