Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered December 31, 2005 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.

Starting New

(RealAudio Version available)

Tomorrow the brand new year will enter our domain. What will it bring? Will Terrorism destroy our peace? Will some tragedy end your life? Will your funeral be held this year? Will all the events of the last days come upon us this year? Will Jesus come? Will we be overcome by sin and be lost? We don't know. 2006 is unopened. We can't see around the corner. But God can. "We walk by faith, not by sight" - II Corinthians 5:7(KJV)

Tonight at midnight we begin a fresh new year. The year will be new but will you be new? Will you be any different than you are now? Tomorrow we are supposed to make all kinds of new years resolutions. Beginning Monday you might want to take a look at the parking lot of a local exercise club. It will be packed. By March or April it will have reverted back to its normal quantity of cars. How do we ever change?

Exercise is important but not the most important. 1 Timothy 4:8, For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

If you invest 30 minutes a day in physical exercise it will add 5-7 years to your life. If you invest 30 minutes a day in nurturing your relationship with Jesus it will add Zillions and Billions of years to your life. In just 20 minutes a day you can read the entire Bible through next year.

If you did not get a new Bible for Christmas then go out and get one. Maybe a version you have never read before. Then, each of the new fresh 365 days of 2006 you plan to enrich your life with the power of God through His awesome word.

2006. Could this year be the last one? Could it be your last year? Our church here has experienced many tragic deaths this past year. None of them knew that 2005 would be their last year. We don't know the future. Jesus spoke to a crowd about a tragic accident:

Luke 13:4, 5. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, "Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

In 2001 towers fell in New York City and many were suddenly killed. Last year a powerful Tsunami quickly swept down on thousands of people snuffing out their life. 2005 has been full of tragic events that have taken many lives. Hurricanes, Terrorist activities, pain and death.

Jesus point here in verse 4 is that we never know when a disastrous event will suddenly happen that could take our life. This coming year we could suddenly be faced with an event that will terminate our life. Maybe some natural catastrophe or a National emergency or some evil germs growing in our body. We never know if there will be a collapsing Tower of Siloam in our future. So what is Jesus point? Luke 13:5. ..." unless you repent, you too will all perish."

You might be thinking, I don't want to think about death. But Jesus is saying there is a real possibility that you could die lost unless you repent. We need to think about our life. If you were to die right now would you be saved or lost? Are things right in your spiritual inventory?

Life does come to an ultimate end on planet earth. Jesus urges people to repent. If you are a little sinner or a big sinner Jesus wants you to repent.

Psalm 90:10. The length of our days is seventy years-- or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Psalm 90:12, Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

What is repentance? The Greek word is metanoya. A change of mind. A change of direction. Jesus says we need to repent. Is there any sin that needs to be thrown out of your life? Is there some habit that needs to be overcome? As we leave 2005 behind many people want to square-up with God financially. Maybe their tithe or offerings are not up to date. So they make it right before midnight December 31.

But we can't do that at the midnight of our life. Why not? Because we don't know when our clock will strike midnight. A famous rabbi was walking with some of his disciples when one of them asked, "Rabbi, when should a man repent?" The rabbi calmly replied, "You should be sure you repent on the last day of your life." "But," protested several of his disciples, "we can never be sure which day will be the last day of our life." The famous rabbi smiled and said, "The answer to that problem is very simple. Repent now."

You have never seen the clicking time clock of your life. So Jesus says to repent. That Greek word is in the continuous tense. It means to repent now of your sins and to continue to repent. Sin is deadly.

One day a little boy named Julian fell down while chasing butterflies in a field of tall grass. Soon afterwards, the boy's left eye started hurting. They took him to the doctor. The doctor could not find the source of irritation, so he just gave the boy some ointment and sent him home. Eventually Julian's eye problem went away. However some time later the boy started complaining of cloudy vision. His parents took him to an eye specialist, who was stunned by what he discovered.

Apparently when Julian had fallen a tiny grass seed had implanted itself in his cornea. Slowly the seed had grown and had actually sprouted two tiny little leaves in Julian's eye. The seed had to be removed immediately in order to save the boy's vision.

You may slip into some sin and be sitting there saying to yourself, that didn't harm me. But sin has a way of implanting itself into our hearts and there it grows and eventually it will do permanent damage to our spiritual life. Sin will blur our vision of Jesus. If sin has taken root in your life you are in danger. Jesus says you must Repent. Only Jesus can remove the root of sin that will fester and surely destroy your soul.

1 John 1:9(KJV). If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Repentance includes a whole lot. Repentance means that I own responsibility for my part in what was unsatisfactory behavior. I accept responsibility for my part in what is and what will be new behavior.

It is responsible action. It is not punishing ourselves for past mistakes, hating ourselves for past failures, and depressing ourselves with feelings of worthlessness. Repentance is burying the past and choosing to live in new ways that will not repeat the old unsatisfactory situations.

Let's suppose you have a bad habit that if held on to will keep you from heaven. You want to get rid of it. How do we begin to change a bad habit? Where do we start? Repent! META - NOYA. - Change - Mind. Metamorphosis means change. The only way you can change your behavior is by changing your thoughts. Proverbs 23:7(KJV), For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.

Repentance is not only saying, "I'm sorry." It is also saying, "I'm through." Repentance looks upon things past with a weeping eye, and upon the future with a watchful eye. -Robert South Falling into sin doesn't condemn anybody to eternal death, but staying in sin does. A visitor at a fishing dock asked an old fisherman who was sitting there, "If I were to fall into this water, would I drown?" The fisherman had a good answer. "Naw," he said. "Fallin' into the water doesn't drown anybody. It's staying under it that does."

Acts 3:19. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

If 2006 is to be a new and refreshing year then it can only come to you personally if you repent of your sin. Repentance brings refreshing. When the soul has laid down its faults at the feet of God, it feels as though it had wings. - Eugenie de Guerin

I like to walk in the woods. Let's suppose that one day on my walk I see an old bent hermit cutting down boughs to make up a bundle. Finally he had enough and proceeded to tie them up. When he tried to lift the pile to his shoulder he found it very heavy, so he laid it down again. Then as I watched he cut more wood, and heaped it on top of the first pile and tied it and then tried again to carry it off. This he repeated several times; always adding more to the load, after trying in vain to raise it from the ground. Finally the pile had accumulated far beyond his strength to raise. His feeble frame tottered beside the burden. His strength ebbed away; after one final attempt to lift the pile, he fell dead beside it.

You would say: "How stupid". But in that brainless behavior is an exact representation of those, who, become aware of the burden of their sins, resolve to repent, but soon grow weary, and, instead of lessening their burden, increase it every day. At each trial, they find the task heavier than before. They keep repeating the same sin hoping that they will someday overcome it. Thus they go on adding to their burden till it grows too heavy to be borne; and then, in despair of God's mercy, and with their sins un-repented of, they lie down beside the load of sin and die.

So what is the answer for a new life in 2006? Give your past load of sin to Jesus. Ask Jesus for power to live the Christian life one day at a time. Jesus will set you free.

Romans 6:17,18, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Once a little river said "I can become a big river". Soon it came to a big rock but after much pushing the little river made a way around the rock. Next was a mountain. But after much effort the little river cut a canyon through it. Finally it came to the edge of a vast desert. "I won't let this desert stop me" said the little river and pushed across the desert. However the hot sand soaked up its water until it became still and quiet. Only a small puddle remained. The river said: "I can't do it". But then the little river heard a voice from above: "Stop pushing. It is time to surrender. Let me lift you up and take you over." The sun lifted the little river up into a huge cloud. The wind carried the little river to the other side of the vast desert where it rained down on the faraway fields making them fruitful and rich.

All our efforts apart from God will not get us very far. Someday a vast desert will loom before our path. It may be sickness, or a deep habit or loss. All our strength will not take us through it. When the desert comes, stop pushing and surrender to Jesus. His mighty power will lift you up and make you fruitful in ways you never imagined.

If you really want 2006 to be different than 2005 then you must turn your life over to Jesus.

Romans 7:24, 25. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Youth Specialties 2001.  
NIV Application Commentary on Luke.

 Hymn of Praise: #23,  Now the Joyful Bells are A-Ringing
Scripture: Responsive Reading #760
Hymn of Response: #625,  Higher Ground


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