Last Year, the last sermon that I preached was about Shutting the Gate, shutting off things, disconnecting yourselves from things that would be harmful, from bad habits, from things that would drag you down. Today, the first sermon of this year I would like to speak with you about getting connected to things that will help you to grow, and how you get plugged into Jesus.
Two wealthy well-dressed were wanting to go on a trip, so they went to the train station when the train was being mad up. They stepped into a lovely passenger coach and they took some very comfortable seats. They soon busied themselves talking one to another. The conductor came in a few minutes later and he said, "I need you two gentlemen to move to another car." They said, "Well, why? We like this seat. It's very comfortable. Anybody else have it reserved?" "No." "Well then, we would like to sit here." The conductor said, "Well, you need to be aware that this coach is not hooked to anything. It isn't going anywhere." They gladly switched to another coach.
I think we need to realize that if we're ever going to get to heaven we need to be hitched to Jesus. If you can remember that and forget everything else about this sermon you have gotten a valuable point. Unless you are hitched to Jesus Christ you're not going anywhere. Nowhere at all. And how do you get hitched to Him? Well, we need to talk about that. We need to talk about the blessing of being hooked on to Jesus.
Come over to Ephesians in your Bible. Ephesians 1:19. I'm going to be reading this according to the Phillips translation. ...How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God. That's beautiful, isn't it. There's tremendous power that is available to the Christian if you believe God. But what good is it to have all that power available and you sit on the side track unhooked to the locomotive. You're never going to go. You're never going to reach your destination because you aren't hooked on. You're not connected. And so we need to realize that if we want to go somewhere, we need to tap into that awesome power that is available to the Christian.
We are like the man I heard about who was trying to saw a tree into firewood. He was working so hard that somebody finally said, "I would like to loan you my chain saw." And the man said, "Oh, thank you. I really appreciate that." And so, he used the chain saw for about a half an hour. He'd worked up a big sweat and was so worn out. Finally the man came back and he said, "You know, let me show you what this little cord is for. If you pull this, it starts the engine and then you can really cut the wood." So, then he wasn't so worn out once the saw was running. It's pretty hard to saw wood when you're not connected to the gasoline, and when it's not running.
It's pretty hard in the Christian life to have good works. I want to have good works, don't you? That's one of the goals of my life. Not to save myself, but because I love Jesus Christ I want to have good works. But How do I get that power in my life? How do I actually do that? I need to be connected to Jesus Christ.
I'm afraid there are too many Seventh-day Adventist Christians are like most of us were in the super-storm of 1993. You'll never forget that storm, will you, if you went through it? We were all disconnected, weren't we, most of us from the power? We didn't have any water, some of us. We had no electricity for hours and hours and days and days. We just didn't have it. We were unhooked from the dynamo. We weren't hooked up to the powerhouse.
And, until you are hooked up to Jesus Christ, you aren't going to live a very good life. You're not going to be very successful as a Christian. So, in getting hooked up to Jesus you need to
1)- UNPLUG YOURSELF FROM PAST FAILURES.
If you're plugged into a socket and there's no electricity in there, the first thing you need to do is to unplug yourself from that, from anything that is creating a failure in your life, from your bad past. You need to be unhooked. We don't want to carry a big load of sins around all of our life. We need to be unshackled from those things. And so we need to get forgiveness for those past mistakes.
Come over here to 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. He will purify us from ALL unrighteousness. Will not only be blotted out but we will be purified and made holy.
We were saved 2000 years ago, approximately. Whether we actually reach heaven or not depends on what we do with Jesus Christ. And what you do with Him, not just maybe when you came forward to the altar, but what you do with Him every day. You see, you have two choices: you can pay for your sins yourself, or you can let Jesus pay for your sins.
Now, can you pay for your sins yourself? Is that possible? Yes it is. What would it cost? It would cost your life.
Or, you can let Jesus pay for it. What did it cost Him? It cost Him His life. I would far rather let Him pay for my sins because if I have to pay for them with my life, I don't have another life. And He did. So, let Jesus pay for your sins. Let Him forgive your sins.
And He will. He will forgive them, He will bury them in the bottom of the sea just like when you hit "Delete" on the computer. That is deleted, it's gone, when you empty that trash bin it's all gone. You'll never see it again. That's what Jesus can do. And not only that, He will format your hard drive and download new software into your life, fresh, new, righteous power for holy living. That's what Jesus will do for you.
Forgiveness does not mean that I will never make another mistake. If I'm clothed with His righteousness, that doesn't mean that I will never have never have to use spell-check, for instance. But I will over the years get better and better. I will be more and more like Jesus.
So, unplug yourself from past insufficiencies and focus on Jesus Christ. When I focus on Don Gettys, I begin to think, "You know, I'll never be saved." When I look at my botched up life, all the flops and the mistakes that I have made, I think, "There's no way I'll ever be saved." But when I look at Jesus and I focus on Jesus Christ, I think, "There's no way I can ever be lost because His righteousness is perfect, it fits the bill, it pays the bill. I am saved through Jesus Christ. So we need to keep our confidence alive by looking at Jesus and not looking at our own life. So, unplug yourself from anything that is hindering you in your spiritual life.
2) PLUG IN TO REAL POWER (transformation)
Come to Ephesians in your Bible. Ephesians 2:4-5. Here's how you get the transformation. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -it is by grace you have been saved. So we need to get plugged in to real power, don't we. What is it that makes us alive? It's God's rich mercy. That's how you get real life. Right now, you have a dead life. If your life is dead in the water, and you think, "I need some life here. My life was nothing in the year, 2002." Then you need to get plugged in to Jesus because this text say that is what makes us alive. It's His power. That's where the transformation comes from.
How do you get plugged into Jesus?
So, how do you have good works? What is the work we are supposed to do? Come over here to John 6 in your Bible. Here Jesus tells us what work we are supposed to do. We have a work to do. What is that work? John 6:29. Jesus answered, "The work of God is this; to believe in the One He has sent." So, what is our work? To believe. Is that hard work? It's not difficult. It's not challenging. Although, maybe it is challenging to actually believe in Jesus, to actually trust in Jesus, is our work. You trust that the chandeliers are going to stay fastened to the ceiling. Nobody is sitting underneath them. I'm about the only person who is about under one of them. We trust them, don't we. They've been up there for twenty three years. I think they are going to stay up there. A lot of churches have their chandeliers over the people. Somehow, I never liked to sit under one of those. Trust. Do you trust Jesus Christ with your life? Do you really trust Him? That's our work. It's to trust Him.
And so, we need to make sure we are connected to Jesus Christ.
3) GET TIGHTLY CONNECTED TO JESUS
We need to stay connected. to Jesus Christ. And you need to be connected tightly. One of my jobs at home is to take care of the Christmas tree. I don't know how that job fell to me. I don't decorate it, because it always looks good. I didn't do that. My wife does that. But my job is to make sure all those lights are working. I get the thing all set up. I unwrap it, you know. Invariably those crazy lights won't all work. You plug them in and, that one works, and that one, and then there's a whole dead area. I will tell you that it's enough to almost break my preacher-patience. It is very difficult. Half of the string won't even be lit up. The other half will be working. I don't know what's the matter. How can you have one string and right in the middle that half doesn't work and the whole thing is plugged in. I don't know! So, the thing doesn't work. There it is, dead. I know that one of those three thousand bulbs in that string is not tightly connected. I don't know why they put so many bulbs in those strings. It must be at least three thousand of those wretched things. One of them is not plugged in tight.
And so, I start down the string. Each one is all entwined around these little limbs, you know. And it's misery. Finally, the last one you come to, that's the one. Why couldn't it have been the first one? I don't know. But anyway, that's what happens and so we must make sure that each bulb is tightly connected. It's not just enough to be on the string, it's not just enough to be on the pew, you need to be connected to Jesus Christ. Solidly connected, tightly connected to Jesus.
I'll tell you some things that will break that connection. Drugs, tobacco, alcohol, abuse. There are so many things that will break that connection. We get to ding things we are ashamed of. Pretty soon we slink out of the church. We stop attending. Don't do that. Come over here to John, the sixth chapter in your Bible. John 6:29. Here Jesus tells us what work we are suppose to do. We have a work to do. What is that work? John 6:29. Jesus answered, "The work of God is this; to believe in the One He has sent. So, what is our work? To believe. Is that hard work? It's not difficult. It's not challenging. Although, maybe it is challenging. To actually believe in Jesus, to actually trust in Jesus, is our work. Do you trust that the chandeliers ar going to stay connected to the ceiling? Nobody is sitting underneath of them. I'm the only person that is about under one. We trust them, don't we. They've been up there for twenty-three years. I think they are going to stay up there. A lot of churches have their chandeliers over the people. Somehow I never liked to sit under one of those things.
Trust. Do you trust Jesus Christ with your life? Do you really trust Him? That's our work. It's to trust Him. And so we need to make sure we are connected to Jesus Christ. And we need to make sure we are tightly connected to Jesus Christ. We need to stay plugged in to Jesus Christ. You need to be connected and you need to stay connected. And you need to be connected tightly.
One of my jobs at home is to take care of the Christmas tree. I don't know how that job fell to me. I don't decorate it. It always looks good. But I didn't do that. My wife does that. But my job is to make sure all those lights are working. Do you men ever do that?
I get the thing all set up. We unwrap it you know. We store the Christmas tree and then we set it all up. Invariably those crazy lights won't all work. You plug them in and well, that one works, hat one works... And then here's a whole dead area. And I will tell you that it's enough to almost break my preacher patience. It is very difficult. Half of the string won't even be lit up. The other half will be working. I don't know what's the matter. How could you have one string and right in the middle that half doesn't work and that one doesn't. I don't know!
So, the thing doesn't work. There it is, dead, and I know that one of those three thousand bulbs in that string is not tightly connected. I don't know why they put so many bulbs in those strings. There must be at least three thousand of those wretched things. And one of them is not plugged in tight.
And so I start down the string. Each one is all entwined around these little limbs, you know. And it's misery. Finally, the last one you come to..that's the one. Why couldn't it have been the first one? I don't know. But anyway, that's what happens and we must make sure that each bulb is tightly connected. It's not just enough to be on the string. It's not just enough to be on the tree. You need to be connected to Jesus Christ, solidly connected, tightly connected to Jesus.
I'll tell you some things that will break that connection. Drugs will break it. Tobacco, alcohol, abuse, there are so many things that will break that connection. We get to doing things that we're ashamed of and pretty soon we slink out of the church and we stop attending. Don't do that. You're doing something good. You're sitting in a Christian church. You come here to be fed. You come here to gain some spiritual strength. Keep that up. Don't quit what you are doing. Make sure you ar tightly connected to Jesus Christ, and you will get results. You will bear fruit.
An apple tree bears fruit because it is connected to the earth. Those roots go down in there. Have you ever tried to put a tree our by the roots? Have you ever hooked your tractor onto a little stump and you think, "I can pull that thing out." Have you ever tried that? You probably won't do it unless it's rotten. Those roots go way down. They're tightly connected to mother earth, and we need to be tightly connected to our heavenly Father. And then we're going to get somewhere in this life.
Romans 12:9 says, ...cling to what is good. That's an amazing little statement. Adam and eve... God married them and He said, "...and shall cleave unto his wife... (Genesis 2:24 KJV) This is much the same idea. Be tightly connected to Jesus Christ. [Cleave: Hebrew: dabaq; to impinge, cling to, adhere]
I went up to Indiana Academy for the one hundredth anniversary of Indiana Academy. It was this past October. And on Sabbath afternoon we went out to see my Aunt Esther, who lives in Arcadia, Indiana. We were there, visiting with her and I asked, "Aunt Esther, you know, you're a gobbly woman. It's been a pleasure to be your nephew all these years. What advice do you have for me? How can I get what I need to get spiritually?" She said, "Don, you've got it. Just don't lose it." Well, you know. I've thought about that. That's some good wisdom. It's easy to lose what you have, isn't it. So, we need to stay connected. We need to stay plugged in. That's point number four.
4) STAY PLUGGED IN TO JESUS.
You've got it. Don't lose it. As a kid, I used to look at all these old people, you know, with all the wrinkles and everything. Every church has some of those. We may even have one here. I don't know. And I used to think, "They've got it made. They've lived all their life. And they've had all these years to get it together. They're pretty well immune now from temptations. See, these old folks don't have any problems. The main problem is their health, but spiritually they're all tightly connected to Jesus. They don't lose it. Now, I want to tell you that I've been getting older over the years, and I've noticed that the temptations still come. And I have also noticed several older folks lose their way, stop attending church. Somebody came into my office this week that are not going to be coming any more. I said, "Why not?" I mean, here's this man that is in his seventies. He's been and Adventist all of his life. He's not going to be coming any more. And he told me some things. If you've got it, don't lose it. Stay connected. Stay tightly connected to Jesus. Stay plugged in to Jesus Christ. Over the years, don't lose out on what you've got.
You know, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Come over here to that text in John 15. This is so beautiful. I want you to count the number of times that Jesus uses a certain word. In the King James Version it's "abide," in the New International Version it's "remain." I'm going to read John 15:4-8. And you count the number of times it says "bide" or "remain." "Remain in Me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the Vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.
"I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples."
How many times? Eight times! "Remain in Me." Remain. Jesus does not warn against dying, He warns against not abiding, not remaining. You see, if you are connected to the Vine, then you're going to have fruit. If you are severed from the Vine, you are no longer remaining in the Vine. Often times we have vines hanging here on the walls of our church. Little wreaths, grapes, in order to be produced, have to be connected to the stalk, to the vine. Otherwise there will be no fruit. And if you want to have fruit in the year 2003, you need to remain in Jesus Christ.
And, Jesus will give you a new heart. He really will. Once we are truly in love with Jesus Christ, our whole life will be changed, and we will naturally want to please Him. We're going to find out all kinds of interesting things. We read His Word, and we find out, we discover here, "O, I didn't realize Jesus wrote the Ten Commandments. Because He wrote them I want to keep them." That's not legalism; that's loveism. We keep them because we Love Him. And we're excited. We read in her all about Jesus. We read that He went to church on the Sabbath. God loves the Sabbath, so we're going to keep the Sabbath. That's the reason we do these things. We keep reading and we discover that Jesus ministered to other people, so we get busy and take an office in the cradle roll or the kindergarten or someplace. We get busy and help other people. We do projects and benefit others.
And then we get to reading along in the Bible and we want to find out "O, Jesus wants to live in me. I must be His temple. So I'd better take care of this temple. I'd better keep it clean. I'm going to start exercising. I'm going to stop doing this and stop doing that, and start doing this." That is the relationship that the Christian need to have in Jesus Christ.
Come over here to Romans 10 in your Bible. Romans 10:9. Here is as simple a statement as there is in the Bible on how we are saved. We are not saved by our works even though we do have works. Romans 10:9. ...if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. If you do what? If you confess Jesus is the Lord and you believe that Jesus is the Lord you will be saved. That's how we are saved: by believing. That is our work: to believe. His work is to save us. And if you trust Him, you will be saved if you believe in Him.
If you come to Jesus, you ask Him to unplug you from anything that is hindering you, holding you back, you confess your sins to Jesus, you ask Jesus to forgive your sins, you fall in love with Jesus, you get plugged in to Jesus, you make sure it's tight, and you stay plugged in to Jesus, you're saved. That's all that it is. Our part is to fight the connection battle, His part is to fight the fruit battle. He produces the fruit because we're connected to Him. Our job is to stay connected to Jesus. Don't worry about the fruit. That fruit is going to come. You can't stop it from coming. It is going to come and in great quantities if you are connected with Jesus Christ. So, stay plugged in to Jesus. Stay plugged in.
I read something very interesting from the book, Testimonies to Ministers by EG White. Page 367: "No human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God and maintains a vital connection with Him." As long as you have faith in Him and you maintain that vital connection to Him you're righteous. That's how we get righteousness. Jesus gives it to us. It's so simple to get. Believe in Him, maintain your connection with Him. You've got it. Then don't just lose it. Stay plugged in. Stay plugged in.
Did you ever try to use an electric drill without it being plugged in? You can't do it. We need to be plugged in because we don't operate on our own. We need that power. So ask God to give you a new heart, to give you a new life, and to give you new power to live the Christian life, that you want to live to honor Him and He will do it. You get plugged in to Jesus Christ and you'll forever be transformed.
Hymn of Praise: #27, Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart Scripture: #800 Responsive Reading Hymn of Response: #241, Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee 971011#424
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last updated m/d/2002 by Bob Beckett.