Picture of Pastor Crutcher

Sermon delivered January 18, 2003 by Pastor Kent Crutcher

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

New Beginnings

Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Mark. There is an exciting story here that teaches so much on it's own. We could spend the whole day on this one story. But we will not be able do that because we're going to connect it with another story.

Mark 4:35-41 That day when evening came, he said to His disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him,"Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be Still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to His disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him."

This story is a great example of the ability of Jesus to save. It could also illustrate lack of faith and our habit of waiting till the last minute to call upon God, so many other things. But it illustrates even more than this. Turn to another story. Luke 19. Here we find another story. This story happens at a later time. Jesus is preparing to enter Jerusalem. We call it The Triumphal Entry.

Luke 19:29-36. As He approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you , and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, "Why are you untying it?" tell him, "The Lord needs it."

Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as He had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"

They replied, "The Lord needs it."

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As He went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

Now what does the story of riding an untamed donkey have to do with calming the Sea of Galilee? Turn back to Luke 5. This is the story of the calling of some of the disciples.

Luke 5:1-11. One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around Him and listening to the Word of God, He saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."

Simon answered, Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets."

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" Later, we read that these men left their nets and followed Jesus.

Why did they men follow Him? Stay tuned in next week for Pathfinder Sabbath to find that out. But for now, what does the story of catching fish, have to do with riding an untamed donkey and calming the storm on the sea of Galilee have to do with each other? For the answer, we need to go to the beginning of the Bible. Turn to the Book of Genesis chapter 1. Rush Limbaugh, a Republican political commentator, used to introduce his radio show by saying, "America held hostage." This was his feeling when the Democrats were in control. When the Republicans took control, he changed his opening statement to, "The way things ought to be."

In order to find out how things really ought to be, we need to turn off the radio and turn to the beginning of the Bible. Genesis tells us how God created things to be.

Genesis 1:26-28. Then God said, "Let us make man in Our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

In the beginning, God created us to be in charge of nature. We were to have dominion over all the Earth. Throughout the Scriptures, we find reference to the wonderful way things were supposed to be. Turn to Psalm 8. David puts it so beautifully.

Psalm 8:3-9. When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet; all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea., all that swim the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!" The way it was supposed to be.

Paul adds something to this. Paul, in Hebrew, quotes the psalmist, David and then adds this at the end of what we just read. ...In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. Hebrews 2:8,9

He's right. In the beginning, God created man to have dominion but man broke his relationship with God and this power was lost. The stories of the storm, the donkey, and the catch of fish are just a small samples of stories in the Gospels that show Jesus demonstrating the power that Adam and Eve were supposed to have. Yet, Jesus said in John 5, "I, of myself can do nothing." He was using power that was supposed to be available to us. Jesus came to live the life that Adam could have lived if he had stayed connected to God. Having dominion of nature was just one aspect of this life.

But that first human couple pulled the plug on their relationship with God. Suddenly we find them hiding from Him wearing camouflage. They now know of things they were never meant to know. They have first hand knowledge of sin and guilt. They begin to die. They are afraid of God. The face to face relationship that they had taken for granted became a fearful idea. They now despised the work that it took to survive. They now knew sorrow. The sorrow from the death of one son and sorrow for having raised a murderous son.

But God had good news! Before the foundation of the world, He had planned on giving his children a chance for a new beginning. He had devised a plan to restore them to the relationship with Him that He desired, a plan to restore things to they way they were meant to be. Yes, God knew that we would pull the plug on our relationship with Him. So He devised a plan for us to be restored to full power.

Every time that Adam and Eve sacrificed a lamb from their flock, they were reminded of this plan of restoration. They were reminded of the way things ought to be and of how they would be once again.

Around this area when we have a storm, or even when we don't have a storm, it is not uncommon for the electricity to go off. Our response to this phenomenon is quite interesting. The power company is inundated with our phone calls informing them of our plight. "Have you heard? The power's off." "Oh, really? Yes, we've gotten a thousand calls already. The power os off." We scrounge around the dark house looking for flashlights, fresh batteries, candles. Where are the matches?" We start hauling in fire wood. Any alternative power source becomes vastly important. Then, when the lights begin to flicker back on, we hold our breath. "Is it going to work? Is it coming back?" If it doesn't, we at least have hope that someone is out there in the dark freezing rain trying to restore our power. When it finally does come back on again, "Extinguish the candles. And this time I'll put the flashlight where I will remember where to find it next time. And, set our digital clocks to stop that crazy blinking." We get so wrapped up at the loss of electricity.

What would happen if we had to wait more than hours to have our power restored? What if we had to wait years? Would we still be frantically trying to get electricity? Or would we eventually revert to a more primitive lifestyle and simply recall the good old days of electricity as we go on about our daily lives, dealing with our daily problems.

This is what has happened with Spiritual power. Many have been content to recall the good old Bible times when God seemed closer to man, and are then content to go on about life. "I wish we had that now, but, oh well, I've got to go to school." Jesus came to reinstate our desire for full Spiritual power, for the way things were meant to be.

Yes, Jesus showed us what it was like to be in control of nature. He also showed us what it was like to be free from guilt. How many times did He utter those awesome words, "Your sins are forgiven?" And then He would breed hope in their heart that they did not need to be bound in sin; "Go and sin no more." Even as He was dying on the cross, he showed us how far His forgiveness could go, "Father forgive them..." Wow! A chance for a new beginning!

He even showed us that death would not be a part of His restored kingdom. Jesus showed us that man was never meant to die, by raising people back to life. His own resurrection proved that He had the keys to the grave. The grave is not the end! There is a chance for a new beginning.

God created us to have a face to face relationship with Him. That is so hard to imagine. H.M.S. Richards once wrote,

Can you imagine? Since God never changes, it would be safe to assume that He wants that now as much as ever. In fact, God desired such a close relationship with us that He became a human for a few short years just to have that face to face once again. While Jesus was here, He taught us about how to have a closer relationship with God. When He taught His disciples to pray, he told them to address God as their Father. That was amazing in itself. "You mean we can call Him, Father?" But Jesus went farther than that. Jesus had a choice between two Greek words He could have used. He could have chosen the Greek word for father, "Pater," form which we get the word "paternal" and "patriarch." But Jesus chose the word, "Abba." A much more informal word for Father. Our closest translation is, "Daddy." Now we might be scandalized if someone came up here and prayed, "Our Daddy who art in heaven..." "Who's he talking to?" But, that's what Jesus actually said. We are to have as close a relationship with God as we are to our own loving Dads. God desires to restore us to having that close a relationship with Him again!

2003 is well underway. What will it bring? It appears that we're starting this year out on a brink of war. All you've got to do is look at the news a little bit and your heart can go up into your throat. Prophecies are being fulfilled at such a rate that it is common place. We don't even notice it. It is easy to see why most of the world is wondering how it will all end. But Christians need to be less concerned with how it will end and more excited about the possibilities that a new beginning will bring. In these troubled last days, we need to keep our eyes upon Jesus. Then our hearts will be filled with the same kind of peace that Jesus felt when the disciples shook Him awake and the storm was all around and He asks, "What are you worried about? Where is your faith?" I want to have that kind of peace in 2003.

"Oh it's so easy to be satisfied with what we have and to just aspire to a little bit more, when Jesus can give us the whole thing. Let's don't be content with the way things are now, but with the way things ought to be should be our desire.

I believe with all my heart that this New World will be established sooner than we can believe. If time is to be cut short, Jesus is at the door! But even closer than that is the opportunity that He has made possible for us to begin the experience of restoration. We must start now. Many of you may have made a new year's resolution to have a closer relationship with Jesus. You've told me about that. "I want to pray more. I want to study through my Bible this year." If you are like me, you have already failed in some of the things that you had desired to do. Maybe you haven't read as much of the Bible as you thought you would by now. Maybe your prayer life is basically the same as it was last year, or maybe a little less. Maybe your earthly relationships are still getting in the way of your Heavenly ones instead of complementing them. But, don't throw in the towel like someone who resolved to do a new diet and then ate a box of Krispy Kreme Donuts. You know what happens. "I blew it. I guess I'll wait until next year and resolve to do it again." No! We can't afford to wait until next year. Paul says that a relationship with Jesus takes a new day's resolution, not a new year's resolution. We must resolve every day to restore our relationship with Him. If you fail today, start again tomorrow. Is your life the way it ought to be? Mine's not. And I'm not proud of it. But, you know what? I can start again. I can start tomorrow, first thing in the morning. And try t get on track with Jesus once again to establish that relationship with His help. No, our lives are not what they ought to be. We have this in our life, and that in our life. We were raised this way, or that way. We've made this wrong choice and that wrong choice and are now paying the consequences for those choices. But guess what. There's a chance for a new beginning. It starts every day. Restoration can begin, now.

I find myself needing to quote David often as I speak with God. David says in Psalm 51, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation..."

The book of Lamentations has a beautiful verse, Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return...

I found a beautiful verse in Lamentations yesterday. Lamentations 5:21 says, Restore us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may return... That's what I want.

Jesus gave us a glimpse of the way things ought to be. I want to begin my relationship with Him again today so that He can restore me to the way I ought to be.

Hymn of Praise: #73, I Will Sing With the Spirit
Scripture: Genesis 1:27,28
Hymn of Response: Caroliers from Spalding Elementery

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