Welcome to God’s Gym 3/1/98

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By perseverance the snail reached the ark.

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

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

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

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

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

Our God is a God deserving of our faith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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