Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered March 22, 2003 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

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.

Take Time to Grow

Have you been looking at the news lately? Is Saddam Hussein alive or dead? I guess there could be arguments about that, couldn't there? I don't know, but we are living in some serious times. We have war. Baghdad is being bombed. We live with duct tape and plastic. And when you get in that plastic thing, how are you going to breathe? So, you suffocate. It doesn't seem like there are too many answers. I believe that the world is in spiritual decline. We're going down. In fact, all the great nations of antiquity have disappeared. You look back at Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome. World-wide kingdoms that are all gone. They vanished. Not because of poverty, not because of maybe some lack of culture but because they forgot God. Are we forgetting God? We might be. And if we turn our back on God, then we are going to have to face some terrible things.

Today we face terrorism on every side. I think we need our relationship with God strengthened. We must have that connection with heaven because that's our vital link. And we need a daily, quality, unfailing time with Jesus. We need to spend time with our Bibles. Seventh-day Adventists used to be know as "The People With the Book." We still ought to be a people of the book because Jesus Christ is the focal point of the Book.

One day a young man was trying to decide on a life occupation. So, he thought, "I'll just look in the Bible. The Bible will help me." So he closed his eyes and he pointed and he happened to land on Matthew 27:5, which says, So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. He thought, "That's not going to work. I'll do better." The next time He pointed to Luke 10:37. ...Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." And had he done it again he might well have turned to John 13:27, "What you are going to do, do quickly." Is that a good method of Bible study do you think? Is the random search method a good method of Bible study?

How much better it is to sit down and actually read what God has had written through His servants. The Bible is actually a collection of beautiful "love letters" from God, written to you. You ought to read your mail. God loves you. The writer of Psalm 119 admonishes us to delight in its message and to meditate upon its contents. Psalm 119:15,16. I meditate on Your precepts, and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word. Do you remember the Word every day? Do you actually read the Bible? Do you study this Book? Or do you just bring it to church? In order to remember an appointment you probably need to commit. You need to write it in your planner, mark it on your calendar. Set the Book out the night before. And, if you want a more meaningful experience in the Word of God, let me give you some pertinent tips.

TURN OFF THE TV.

Now, some of you may disagree. But, how many of you have more than twenty-four hours in a day? None of us. So, in order to make time for God, we have to commit to it. And so you have to squeeze something else out. How many of you have people say to you, "Well, you know, I just didn't have time to read the Bible today." Well, did you have time to eat today? You make time for what you want to do, don't you? So, turn off the TV and you will have a little more time. And how can you get excited about reading the Bible when you feast on a diet of Superman, and some of these other things? It sort of dulls your appetite for the Bible, doesn't it? If you eat a slice of apple pie, are you hungry for a carrot stick later? It dulls our appetite. So, if you turn off the TV it will help you. You'll have time.

How much time does it take to read the Bible from cover to cover? Well, it's not all that long, really. If you would read the Bible out loud at standard pulpit speed the reading time would be seventy-one hours. If you would break that down into minutes and divide it into 365 days you could read the entire Bible in one year, in only twelve minutes a day. Take time, or better yet, make time to hear God's word.

In John 5:24 are the words of Jesus. Actually all the words of the Bible point to Christ, don't they? John 5:24, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." You have eternal life if you HEAR My word, and you BELIEVE then you have life. So, hear the Word every day.

DON'T RUSH.

Read it. Don't speed-read. I know some of you speed-read, and that's okay. One university student said, "You know, I've read five hundred books through in the average year." Five hundred books? That's a lot of books. Abraham Lincoln concentrated on reading four books through, and one of those was the Bible. And he read them well. It made a difference in his life. It'll make a difference in your life, too. So don't think that you will be a well-read Christian by reading fast food. It doesn't happen that way. You need to take time to extract all you can from it. Assimilate it, chew it, digest it. So, devote some real time to God's Word, and what a difference it will make in your life.

DEVOTE TIME TO GOD'S WORD.

A man came to a college with his son and spoke to the Academic Dean and said, "You know my son is sort of starting late here. I'd like for him to get into school. Is there any way that you could give him a college education a little quicker than normal? Take fewer classes and still get a college education?" The dean said, "well, surely. Of course. No problem. You can get out of what ever you want. You can do that. When God wants to make an oak it takes a hundred years. When he wants to make a squash He just takes a couple months. So it depends on what you want out of it."

My wife and I went down to Keene, Texas to see our grandsons. We hadn't seem them in a while. They came rushing up to me and i thought, "Well, to avoid partiality, I'll just pick them both up at the same time." So, I did. I almost made a mistake because they have been gaining weight. And they almost knocked me over. And I thought, "You know, that's great. They should be gaining weight. They should be doing well." We could tell that they had been sitting at the table.

And you can tell when a Christian has been sitting at the table with the Word of God. It makes a difference. It causes you to be strong spiritually. Are you taking time to grow? Our grandsons had been taking time to grow. We need to take time to grow, otherwise we will be a spiritual dwarf. And God does not want you to lie on a starvation program. This is not a spiritual concentration camp. You are allowed to over-eat on the Word of God. You can do that if you like.

I think many people approach Bible study like they do the Village Market over here at campmeeting time. Have you ever been through there? They have food sales, and they have the Loma Linda and Worthington and Cedar Lake and all those companies have a sample station. You've been there. They've got these little toothpicks sticking out of this little nibbley tidbit, you know, and you go through there and take a sample of each thing. That's what a lot us do in our spiritual worship. We have our hand on the doorknob and we want to spend some time with the Bible. "There's a good verse." And off we go. You can't become a strong Christian by sampling little tidbits of the Bible. You need to get into it.

I met one person at the campmeeting over here, and he said, "You know, I've gone through the sample line several times and I've had my whole meal." That's not the way to do it. You need to make it a daily habit.

MAKE IT A DAILY HABIT

When president Eisenhower was a little boy his mother gave him a gold watch as a present for reading the Bible through from cover to cover. That's great. And it made a life-long habit. You need to make a habit of Bible study.

KNOW THE AUTHOR OF THE BIBLE

A young woman was trying to read a book. She sat down and started reading this book. Finally she laid it aside remarking to her sister that it was the dullest book she had ever tried to read. About a year later she became engaged to a young man. One day she said: "I have a book whose author has the same name as you. Isn't that strange?" He asked, "Oh really. Let me see it." Sure enough. There was the same name that he had on this book. And she said, "What do you think of that?" He said, "That is not strange at all. I wrote that book." She said, "Really?" She went home that night, got the book, started reading it and could not put it down. It was one of the most exciting books she ever read in her life. She read the whole thing through that night. What made the difference? She knew the author. She loved the author.

What would make the difference in your life? If you love Jesus Christ, you'll love His Word.

Do you know Jesus? If so I believe you will find His book of great interest. John 5:39 KJV says: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." In the NIV it says, You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me. So, read your Bible.

READING IS NOT ENOUGH.

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV says, Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. So we need to study the Bible as well as read it. Reading is good but Study is best. Study takes more time. Bible study is like eating supper. There are various way you can eat your meal. You could eat your meal by just kind of gorging along. Maybe you open a tin can and stand there with a spoon eating out of the old tin can and rush off. Or you can sit down at your table with a nice table cloth, fork and spoon and silverware and a candle maybe burning and savor that meal. You can enjoy that meal. That's what God wants us to do with His Scriptures. It's to enjoy it. The Bible is not fast food. Slow down and relish each verse. Isaiah 28:10 KJV says, For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little That's not reading. That's study, Bible study.

STOP WHEN YOU HIT PAY DIRT.

When a verse jumps out at you stop and ponder the meaning. You need to meditate on what you have just learned. Listen to what the Lord is saying to you and apply it to your life. Let it influence your life. Acts 20:32 Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. The Word will build you up. When you build anything and you want it to be solid, it takes time. Our new building out here is being built very solid. It's happening fast, but a lot of people are doing it. I believe the Word will build you up. When you build a structure, build it solidly by getting into the Word.

Let's say all you have is 3 minutes a day to spend with God's Word. Try to spend one minute reading from the Bible and the other two minutes thinking about what you just read, pondering it, meditating on it, applying it to your life. Do you know what the word Meditate really means? It means, to "chew the cud." Cows do a lot of meditation, don't they. You have all watched a cow meditating, chewing the cud. When you meditate on the Bible you are mulling it over in your mind and eventually you transfer it from your mind into your heart where you can assimilate it.

MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE.

We can do that. David said in Psalm 119:11 KJV Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.

You might say, "I can't memorize anything. I can't even remember my Social Security number. Well, they tell us that we only use ten percent of our brain anyway. God can help you tap into the hidden resources a little better. Students at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo are required to repeat the Koran from memory in order to pass the entrance exam. It requires three whole days to recite it in full. It is about the same length as the New Testament. And all these Muslims have to do that to graduate from that Muslim university. So, get into the Word and memorize it. You can do it. God will give you the help, the strength.

THE BIBLE IS LIKE THE TREE OF LIFE.

It's about as close as you can get to the Tree of Life. The leave on the Tree of Life are for healing. And the leaves of this Book healing and strength and power. One author put it this way: "The Word of God....is spiritual food. To study it is to eat the leaves of the tree of life.... The Word of God contains divine nourishment, which satisfies the appetite for spiritual food." - Evangelism, p. 138. So, the Bible is like food, isn't it.

The very life of the Creator is in the pages of your Bible. 2 Peter 1:4 KJV makes a statement: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature. How do you become a partaker of the divine nature? By the Bible. That's exactly right. Before Adam and Eve fell, what gave them eternal life? They kept eating of the fruit and leaves of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. As long as they kept eating they would keep living. And as long as you keep eating of the leaves of the Tree of Life, the Bible, you will keep strong as a Christian. You will keep your eternal life.

Just so, as long as you continue to read & study the Bible you will continue to get real life from it. The Bible is designed to be just like food. So, if you eat three times a day, maybe you ought to feed on the Word three times a day. That might help. I urge you to sit at God's table with your open Bible every day. Acts 17:11 (NIV). Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

A modern author has said it this way: "The mind will enlarge if it is employed in tracing out the subjects of the Bible, comparing scripture with scripture, and spiritual things with spiritual. There is nothing more calculated to strengthen the intellect than the study of the Scriptures. No other book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the faculties, as the broad, ennobling truths of the Bible. If God's word were studied as it should be, men would have a breadth of mind, a nobility of character, and a stability of purpose that is rarely seen in these times." Steps to Christ, p. 90.

It's a wonderful thing to read the Scriptures. Isaiah 40:8 says The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever. So, if you want to last a long time associate with God's Word. Assimilate its fiber into your very being.

When my wife and I were first married we decided to get a new car. If I have a new wife I should have a new car. So, we went around shopping. And we finally found a 1965 Corvair Monza. It was beautiful. It had everything on it. It had a radio and a heater and a tilt steering wheel. It had wire hub caps with spinners! We loved our shiny new car. But it did not stay that way. Soon it began to wear out. Prematurely our car began to use lots of oil. A cloud of blue smoke followed us around. The salt from the Michigan roads soon began to eat actual holes in our car. The car did not last long. It was not fun driving a box of bolts when a shiny new car pulled up beside us. Eventually we had to get rid of that car. I don't know where it is today. It's probably been recycled. I will tell you that each of us is heading the way of that Corvair Monza. Aren't we? Only what you do for Jesus Christ will last. And you need to build God's Word into your daily life. It's eternal.

I like to rad the Bible every morning. And I'm even reading the Bible when I'm eating my breakfast. You could be watching TV, or you could be reading. You might even use that time to visit with your wife. You can do this. Take the time to read the Bible every day. You could read it through. Several of you are doing that.

Jesus gave wonderful advise: Matthew 4:4 (NLT). "The Scriptures say, 'People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.'" So, eat better food than you've been eating. Crunch into the Bible. Masticate it. Enjoy it. Assimilate it. Let it be a part of your every fiber and your every being. And when you're eating from the eternal Word, you're eating from the bread of life, and you're taking tome to grow. And you're going to grow more like Jesus.

Hymn of Praise: #74, Come, Thou Almighty King
Scripture: Responsive Reading # 754
Hymn of Response: #290, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

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