Sermon delivered January 15, 2000

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Twenty Minutes to Heaven

What an exciting time to be alive as we approach the Third Millennium! Jesus' coming is closer than it ever was. Before I begin, I'd like to pray.

Dear Father in heaven, please let my words reflect your will for our lives. May the words that are spoken and read uplift Jesus Christ, our Savior. I pray in His name, Amen.

I don't know what the future will hold, do you? But, as it's been said, "We know who hold the future." If you know Jesus, you don't worry.

A lot of things have happened. The Cold War is over. The 1990's ended up very fine. The 1900's were exciting. I lived in over half of the 1900's. And I hope to live a good share of the 2000's. I don't know what will happen in the future. I know that we face, as Christians, formidable challenges. There are many things that are going on. Morally, I think society is going downhill, "going down the tubes" as some people would say. Some so-called Christian churches have abandoned their faith in the unerring Word of God. Some Christian churches no longer believe in the entire Bible. And such a shame.

Twenty-first century Christians are not reading the good old Book like their mothers or fathers used to. As a result, America has a fifty percent divorce rate. In fact, I heard on the news yesterday that marriage is dying in America. Now, that's too bad.

Our Christian ethics are little more than a faint memory. Homosexuality is an accepted alternative lifestyle. Modern media moguls manipulate movies and music to massacre morality. The evil entertainment industry and the United States courts are generally hostile to Biblical Christianity. One million teen age girls get pregnant each year. Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases are out of control. Drugs are in charge of all too many people. We are legally killing "aborting" one and a half million babies every year, and new drugs are coming on the market that will multiply this biological holocaust. Something is wrong, isn't it.

I tell you, there's an answer, and I will tell you what that answer is. But the answer is not the direction we appear to be going.

Public education is academically bankrupt and, in many places, it is physically dangerous to be in school. Prayer and Bible reading and even Bibles are outlawed in the classrooms of this land. We are the industrialized world's most violent society. Sin is politically correct here in America! If you and I are ever going to escape the corruption of these last days we must get back to God. One of the first steps is to return to the infallible Bible. We have thrown our owners manual away. The problem is not one of Bible ownership. We all have a number of Bibles in the back corner somewhere. This is the wrong location. The Bible needs to be in our hearts. That's where God want the bible to be.

II Timothy 3:14, 15. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. What will the Holy Scriptures enable you to do? "To be wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ."

The Bible is foundational to life. From early childhood, Timothy had "learned" the Scriptures, Verse 14. The Scripture were basically the Old Testament, of course. (Torah, Writings, Prophets) In verse 14, "Learned" is the verb form of the word disciple. If you desire to be a disciple of Jesus, get into the Bible.

Let me personally ask you, Do YOU read the Bible? And, why do you read the Bible? Who do you see when you read a verse? Let me be very specific. I'm getting personal here... Let's suppose you happen to read I Timothy 2:9, 10. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

If after reading these two verses, let's suppose your mind begins to picture a teenager who has tattoos on his or her body, or may be wearing something you object to. May I dare to say that this is not quite proper Bible study. Because I feel that when we are reading the Holy Word of God this book, what should we be doing? Helping us to condemn somebody else? This Book needs to be speaking to ME! When you read the Bible, you need to make sure it is speaking to you. Don't read to judge someone else! Read for your own benefit. Our teenagers are struggling. They don't need our criticism. We are not Judges. Are we called to be judges today? NO. God is. "Judge not lest you be judged." Don't dare to take God's job away from Him. Do not lash out at someone else with the ammunition in your gun being forty caliber Bible verses and Spirit of Prophecy Quotations.

Instead, when you read think about yourself. Let those things speak to your heart. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you see how you personally can be more like Jesus from the verses you just read.

After reading I Timothy 2:9-10 You might ask yourself if you are wearing the ornament of good works that God is looking for instead of using your tongue to criticize some struggling teenager. Let's read the Bible to honor God.

Psalm 1:1, 2. Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Verse one instructs us what not to do and verse 2 as to what we should do. Verse two says a Happy or Righteous person will delight in God's commands, in God's word. The virtuous person will Meditate on God's Word day and night. Good people will study God's word. They reflect on its meaning. They apply it to their life.

Verse 1 says that Christians do not seek advise from the wicked. They do not sit in the seat of mockers. They do not hang around where the wicked hang out. And Happy growing Christians do not mock others. They do not criticize others. Don't use the Bible to pound our young people over the head. Instead put the Bible in your head, in your heart. Carry it in your mind. Memorize it. Allow the precious Word of God to change you into the image of Jesus.

Colossians 3:16 (KJV). Let the word of Christ dwell in you. (NLT) Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. That's what God wants us to do.

If you want to be levelheaded, if you want to be wise, then let the Words of the Bible live inside of you. Plant them in the garden of your heart.

What will the Bible do for you?

1 - The Bible will give you WISDOM.

When you daily read the Bible you will be wise. That does not mean you will be another Einstein. But I think your I.Q. will actually increase. What kind of wisdom will you get?

II Timothy 3:15 from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. You will be Wise unto salvation.

2 - YOUR FAITH WILL GROW.

Daily Bible Study will cause your faith to enlarge. Do you Question whether or not God is real? Then read the Bible! John 20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Spending just twenty minutes a day with your Bible will bring a faith in God that you do not now have. An hour would be better. But if you spend twenty quality minutes a day with your Bible, what a difference that will make in your life!

I was driving on Interstate-75 this past week to visit someone in the hospital in Chattanooga. As I came up to Moore Road I noticed an abandoned vehicle parked along the side of the road. As I got up closer to it I could see that it had a flat tire. Now, that's not unusual. The unusual thing about this vehicle was that not only was the front tire flat, but the back tire had gone flat sometime before and the driver had placed the spare tire, that little ridiculous looking donut tire, on the back of the car. There was no spare tire, no recourse for a flat. The driver had burned up all his options. As I went on by I saw that the flat tire was totally destroyed. Apparently the driver had continued driving until the rubber was flopping against the inside of the fender and the car was running on the metal rim of the wheel! It looked like the driver just continued on. Here was apparently a person who did not value preparation. He did not value readiness. There was no reserve there. He had burned all his bridges.

I want to ask you, are we as Christians running through our spiritual life on our little donut-like spare tire? Is that what we're doing? Running on fumes in our gas tank. There's not stockpile. We need to build into our lives some spiritual reserve and some strength. You do that by immersing yourself in the precious Word of God every day. Why not live your life with a spare reserve of spiritual strength? Stockpile some power into your life by immersing yourself in the precious Word of God. Daily Deposit extra goodness into your character by regularly reading from the Bible. Meditate on its rich promises.

3 - POWER will come from Bible study.

II Timothy 3:16, 17. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. You're going to be thoroughly equipped, empowered for every good work.

That's what the bible will do for you. Have you been wanting to quit some bad habit, but can't? How do you get that power? You get that power to do every good work through the Bible. That's where you get the power. And if you say, "I'm living a life with no power" that tells me that you are not into the Word like you should be, because this is where the power comes from. So, you need to go to the Bible. It will equip you to do "Every" good work. You can get the victory. You can be a fully equipped Christian. It can happen to you.

4 - Notice in II Timothy that Scripture will CORRECT you.

It's sort of like an airplane that has an automatic Pilot. This can be a small fine-tuned device that constantly guides that aircraft. You cloud be flying from Chicago to Tampa, and that will just keep you on course, minutely correcting you the whole way, just guiding you right down there. You never feel those little corrections, but they're taking place. Always on track, always focused, always pointed toward your goal. What keeps you that way? The automatic pilot. It nudges you. It keeps affecting the way you are going. And that's just like the Bible. When you read the Scripture every day, when you study the Bible every day, this Word will keep you on track. It keeps affecting the way we think, the way we draw conclusions, and the way we make the daily decisions of life. It's just through minor ways it affects your thinking and eventually, immersing yourself in this Book, will direct you all the way to heaven. This is the way to get there. And that's why, we as Christians, we should never turn off our automatic, Spiritual, pilot. The Bible will uplift your thoughts. I think we need to get back to the Bible.

5 - THE BIBLE WILL STRENGTHEN YOUR MIND

Diligent Bible study will increase the horsepower of your mind. I have heard many stories about college students who made better grades when they set aside a daily time to really study their Bible. "The mind will enlarge" through Bible study. "There is nothing more calculated to strengthen the intellect than the study of the Scriptures." - Steps to Christ, p. 90, E G White. This is beautiful. Nothing. You mind will enlarge. Your mind will be strengthened. Do you want to strengthen your mind? Immerse it in the Word of God. It'll do it.

The book you want to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. The Bible will uplift your thoughts. Jesus' whole education was undoubtedly based on the study of the scriptures. Can we improve on education by leaving the Bible out of our schools? The Bible will give you true Knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

I must warn you about the Bible. It's shocking reading in certain places! It is much like life. You will see things that will leave you flabbergasted. Some stories in the Old Testament will irritate you. You may Question God when you read of Him making that teenage rascal Samson into a superman, while later on you will read about how God rewards saintly Job with boils. You're going to say, "This doesn't make sense." But there's a lesson in that.

The Bible is a down to earth book about life. You will see yourself reflected in each page. You will learn how to face life. And zigzagging through it's pages is none other than Jesus. The golden thread through each verse is Christ. Jesus said in John 5:39 (KJV), "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." If you want to learn more about Jesus, you need to get into the Bible.

6 - THE BIBLE IS A LIGHT

Psalm 119:105 (KJV) states: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Keep that light on. There was a little girl and her mother who were riding a Steam Train? The small child saw the trainman coming through the car lighting the lamps. She asked: "Mommy, why is he lighting the lights? It is the middle of the day, the sun is shining. Why is he lighting the lamps?" The mother smiled and said, "Wait a bit and you'll see." In a few minutes the train plunged into a long dark tunnel. Then the little girl saw the wisdom of the lamp lighting process.

Friends, the Bible contains thousands of verses that you may consider unnecessary. You don't see any purpose in all those verses, verses that you can't understand why God has gone to all the trouble of lighting each of those lamps of truth. It doesn't make any sense. But some day you are going to enter a long dark tunnel. Maybe it will be a tunnel of pain, or bereavement or temptation... Whatever it is and whenever it comes then you will see the value and appreciate the verses that appear so ordinary today. So, Keep reading your Bible. You are a different person than the last time you opened it's pages. That's why you need to keep reading the Bible.

The Bible is our owner's manual. It's ultimate source is the Creator Himself. Our manufacturer wrote the Book! We need to read THE BOOK!!

There is a big difference in the books that men make and the Book that makes men! The Bible will revolutionize your very life. You will never be the same. So spend time with this treasure.

If your Bible is covered with dust and neglected then you are a surface Christian. You are a dwarf. The superficial student of the Bible will eventually apostatize (See 6T 133). Superficial Christianity is about as inadequate as you entering the Indianapolis 500 with a tricycle! You wouldn't stand a chance! You don't stand a chance of being a solid growing strong Christian today without the Bible. It's like going on a tricycle. If you want to be a winner and have power to really live the Christian life, then spend quality regular time with God's powerful Word. Watch that power rub off on your life. Discover the Power! Discover Jesus. We went up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and had a big Pathfinder Camporee. It's theme was, "Discover the Power." You can discover the power because it's there. There is no lack of power. There's a lack of discovery.

Hebrews 4:12 (KJV), For the word of God is quick, and POWERFUL, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,

Do you know what makes it so powerful? I hold in my hand a powerful flashlight. This is powerful. I'm going to light it up. See how bright that is? Can you see that? I'm going to shine it up here on the wall. Do you see that? (Hardly any sign of light shows.) Isn't that great? It's got two triple-A batteries in it. I've got another flashlight with two triple-A batteries in it. I'm going to shine it up on the wall. (Tiny bright red spot shows on wall and moves around as Pastor Gettys moves the light.) Can you see that? I'll shine it on that dark smudgy place there. (It can still be seen.) What's the difference between these two lights? One is a regular tungsten light and the other is a laser light. They both have the same batteries, the same amount of power. The difference is direction. The coherent laser light is focussed. The flashlight just goes everywhere. The difference between lasers and a light from an ordinary bulb is Direction. I could shine this laser light all the way over to the gymnasium! A regular light bulb sends light out in all directions. A laser sends parallel beams all in the same direction. All focused on the same point. If you want some real power in your life, you need to be focussed. Every beam coming out of this laser light is parallel. Every beam is focussed. You need to focus your life on the powerful Word of God. It will focus you one Jesus Christ and you'll receive power. You'll do things you never thought you could do before. The same amount of power. You see the difference? The Word of God is like a laser beam. Each of the sixty six separate books inside your Bible is pointed in the same direction. Focused on Truth. Focused on Jesus. They bring out Jesus in every page. Let the Bible take aim at you and discover the power it really has.

YOU CAN TRUST THE BIBLE.

Psalm 12:6, 7. (Clear Word) "The words of the Lord can be Trusted. They are as genuine as silver that's been refined seven times. The Lord will protect us and keep us safe. His word can be trusted forever."

If you want to win the race of life, then Get off your tricycle and step up into the powerful supercharged Word of God. What a difference it will make in your life!

Opening Hymn: #245 More About Jesus
Scripture: John 17:14-17
Closing Hymn: #286 Wonderful Words of Life

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