Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered February 23, 2008 by Pastor Don 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.

Your Powerful Potential

Pathfinder Sabbath

Ephesians 3:20,21

(RealAudio Version available)

We are so proud of our pathfinders. I was a Pathfinder, many years ago, back in the 50s, when pathfinders first started, and it was awesome. How many of you adults have ever been a Pathfinder? Let me see your hands. Wow, look at all those hands. That is amazing. It's fun, isn't it? It's a nice thing to do. Pathfinders have a lot of fun, but do you know why we have pathfinders? So that Pam Tuttle, and myself, and the counselors, and instructors can lead them, along with their parents, closer to Jesus and closer to heaven. The purpose of Pathfindering is to find the path that leads to eternal life. Never forget that. That's what it's all about.

And you pathfinders have a lot of potential, and I want to speak today about potential. And some of you that aren't pathfinders will say, "Well, I'm going to listen because I think I have a lot of potential too" and you do. You do.

So, I would like to read a scripture that was read in our scripture reading and launch from that, so if you would come to Ephesians chapter 3, look at verse 20. It says, "Now unto Him Who is able, able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." That's Jesus Christ. He is able. He's able to make you into something of great value.

Now I have something under this pulpit that I would like to bring out. What is the value of this? It's a blank canvas. Would you guess maybe 5 dollars, 10 dollars, I don't know what they cost. I borrowed this from my mother. She paints pictures. She had her 88th birthday yesterday. But I know that if I were to get some oil based paint and put on here, that it would drastically change the value of this. Probably go down. But if Michelangelo, or Rembrandt, or some of the other famous artists were to get a hold of this and they were to paint on it, it would be worth a zillion dollars, maybe. It's just awesome. And your life, pathfinders, is like this canvas. It's white. It's pure. Keep it pure, but let Jesus paint on here His image so that you will reflect His image wherever you go. Does that make sense? That's what you want to do. Do something valuable with your life. Make your life extremely valuable in God's sight. You can do that. Okay?

The potential of a Pathfinder is unlimited. Especially if you find the path to life. I want you to realize that as parents, you do your children a favor by allowing them to join the Pathfinder club. It's a little scary, especially to send them to Oshkosh, because there's what, 33,000 kids up there. But each one wears an armband. And it's a wonder some of the armbands aren’t still on. Anybody still have their armband on from Oshkosh last year, the last couple years? It's amazing. It's a very impressionable thing. And I want you to know that we will keep your children safe. Safe from all harm and danger. They'll come back safe.

I want to share with you something else that's under this pulpit. You never know what's under a pulpit. Pulpits collect all sorts of things. We have a shark. A shark in our pulpit. This belongs to Pastor David Cook. He loaned it to me for this experience. They took; some marine scientists took a shark, a baby shark, and put it in a small aquarium, about the size of this pulpit. From here to here. And they fed it all that it would eat. And do you know how long it got to be? Now how long does an average great white shark get to be. About 30 feet long. About as long as from that flag to that flag. 35 hundred pounds. All muscle. And teeth. And the one that was in this small aquarium got about this big and it stopped growing. It never, ever got any bigger. Why is that? Because of the size of the aquarium. It was in a box, and it would not grow larger than the box.

You all need to let your kids out of the box. And you kids need to get out of the box. Whatever's boxing you in. You may say, “Well, you know, I have all sorts of things that are inhibiting me. I can't be successful. I can’t get the grades that other kids get because I’m in this constraint. We’re poor at our house.” Or, “We live in a single-parent home. My dad isn’t here, I'm living with my mother, or vice versa.” No, you can be what God wants you to be. You can. Through Jesus you can do all things. You have that potential. You pathfinders have a great possibility. Ellen White says, “Let youth take the Bible as their guide and stand like a rock for principle, and they can aspire to any height of attainment.” Do you believe that? You can. Through Jesus Christ in your life. You don't have to remain this size. Now I'm glad that we don't have a full-size great white shark up here on the platform today. That gives me a lot of safety. But you can become anything you wish. And let your environment not box you in. Realize your potential. You were designed to sail the oceans. Like the great white shark. And you were designed to fly to heaven. You were designed for great things, so never limit yourselves, kids.

I've heard a lot of kids say, "Well, you know, I would be willing to play special music but… but… but. I don't have the time to practice. We don't have a piano. I don't have money for lessons. I don't have this." You know, the only limits to the possibilities of your life tomorrow, are the ‘buts’ that you use today. Don’t use those. Get out of your box.

Look at Moses. Moses was born and raised in a river, you might say. He came from a family that was dysfunctional. He only had one parent, and that was the daughter of Pharaoh. And she raised him, eventually, to become an Egyptian. She didn't raise him to worship the true God. She raised him to become a heathen. So what potential did Moses have? Not much, huh? And yet he went on. He didn't get boxed in by all that. Moses went on to be the great deliverer of his people, because he didn't look at the box. And you can do that.

Hebrews, Chapter 11 and verse 24 says, "By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." Moses got out of the box. And Moses became what God wanted him to be. He became one of the greatest leaders of all times, and I expect when you go to Oshkosh someday… You saw Joseph. Next year you're going to see Esther. And someday you're going to see Moses there, highlighted. He became great. And Pam Tuttle’s goal, my goal, as pathfinders, the goal of your counselors, is to introduce you to Jesus Christ. To introduce you to the path of life.

Joseph came also from a single-parent home. And his mother died when he was just a child. And look what happened to Joseph. His brothers hated him. He was imprisoned. He had a criminal record, and yet Joseph excelled. He became the number two power. The Vice President of Egypt. You can do that. You can do what God wants you to do.

I want to share with the congregation a story. A marine biologist took a great northern pike, which grow to be about 5 feet long at least, and put it in a big aquarium like we have down here in Chattanooga. And they dumped in a bucket of minnows, which is the favorite food of the great northern pike. And he ate them all. Every day this happened. Then one day, they lowered a huge glass cylinder over the pike. The glass cylinder was maybe, 6, 7, 8 feet in diameter, right down in the water. The pike was on the inside in the water, and on the outside, he couldn't see that the glass was there. And so they poured in another bucket of minnows, and he started after them, and the glass was in the way. Always banging into that glass, wherever he went. And after just a few days, a remarkably short period of time, he stopped trying. He knew he couldn't get them. So why try. And so, this great northern pike, his stomach was growling, there was food all around him, and he couldn't get it. He just stayed there in the water, more or less motionless. That night they took the big cylinder out. The next day, they came with more minnows, and dumped them in. They swam all around the pike, and he didn't even bother. He knew he couldn't get to them. He had given up. He had given up.

And I see a lot of young people that give up. Opportunities are all around you. Opportunities are in your face. Just reach out and grab them. But when you give up, you give up opportunities. You give up a chance. And you will never be what you could be. You know what happened to that great northern pike? He died of starvation, surrounded with food. Don't be that way.

You pathfinders are surrounded with opportunities. You have a Bible. Read your Bible. You have a church. Go to church. Worship there. You have a Sabbath school. Go to Sabbath school. Learn more about Jesus there. You can do it. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. That's what the Bible says. That's what the Bible says. Your value is limitless, if you allow God to be in charge of your life.

Well, I want to share another experience, and this is a story that's a true story. Many years ago there was a little country boy. He heard that the circus was coming to town. And he had never, ever been to a circus in his whole life. And he begged his daddy, "Daddy, can I go to the circus? It's going to be here in just a few days." And his dad said, “Son, we can't afford that. It will cost a whole dollar. We don't have that kind of money.” Well, you know how kids are. He kept begging. And finally his dad said, "If you'll get your chores done, and if you'll do all your work, and get everything done, I will give you a dollar and you can go to the circus." And the boy was just delighted. He worked hard all week long, and finally it came time for the circus. His dad gave him a dollar which was the most money he'd ever held in his hands in his whole life. And the little boy went to town. He walked a couple miles, and he could see a big crowd. He could hear the noise, and he finally pushed his way in through the crowd and got to where he could see the circus. And here came the elephants. And here came the white horses with the actors on them. And it was just an amazing thing. As they paraded by he could see the clowns. He could see the animals in their cages. He could hear the lions roaring. He was just a few feet from these monstrous beasts. And it was the most exciting thing that ever happened to him in his whole life. He just relished every bit of it. People were throwing out candy, and he was like it was heaven. Finally, the last of the clowns came by, and the last clown, he took his dollar and gave it to the clown and went home. He missed the circus. All he got was the parade. They were leading to the circus.

And I will tell you this, pathfinders. If you don't get a hold of Jesus Christ, He is the circus. Heaven is the circus. It's where Jesus lives. And I think so often this life, we think, “Oh, it's so exciting”, and it is, but it's just the parade. Don't miss the real thing. You know what I mean by that? Don't miss the real thing. God wants you to be in heaven.

First Peter, chapter 1, verse 14 says. "Be obedient children. Do not conform to the ways of the world, to the evil desires that you experience." Accept Jesus’ plan for your life. And follow Him. Follow His path.

You know, the greatest sin there is, is not reaching your God-given potential. Many of you have sashes that are covered with honors. And some are just starting on your honors. But you have the potential of earning however many honors you want to earn in life. So often, our thinking is, “It's impossible. I can't do the things my parents want me to do. I can't do all these things. I can't make it.” And He says, in Luke 18:27, "All things are possible." We think, “I'm too tired.” And He says, "I will give you rest." We think, “Nobody loves me.” He says in John 3:16, "I love you." We think, “Nobody really cares for me.” First Peter 5, verse 7. "I care for you." “I can’t go on.” He says in Second Corinthians 12, verse 9, "My grace is sufficient for you." You can do it. You're worth a lot. Just don't give up. Keep pressing toward the mark. Keep trying. And God will help you. He really will. You were destined for great things.

One day there was a prairie chicken that found an egg. The egg was just there on the desert floor in the sand. The sand was keeping the egg warm, I guess. The prairie chicken thought, “I think my duty in life is to sit on eggs, so I'm going to sit on this egg.” What would you do if you found an egg in the desert? Would you sit on it? Well, of course not. You'd probably cook it or something. The prairie chicken sat on the egg, not knowing that it was the egg of an eagle. After many days, the egg hatched, and out came an eagle. Raised by a prairie chicken. Joined a family of other prairie chickens. Skirmisheded around there and had a good time. Ate the same thing that they ate. And he thought he was a prairie chicken. Never realized he was an eagle. Well one day, he looked up and he saw this big majestic bird way up there in the air. And he thought, “Wow, that is really neat.” And then one of the other prairie chickens came up to him and said; now you know this story is kind of made up here just a little bit; they said, “What's that?” And one of the other prairie chickens said, “That's an eagle, but you're not an eagle. You could never do that. You are a prairie chicken.” And he said, “Well, okay.” He spent his whole life watching eagles, wishing he could be up there, but never once tried to flap his wings and take off. Never once. The eagle died thinking he was just a prairie chicken.

And you may think, “You know, I'm not much. My parents aren't real important. I'm not very important. I'm not good looking. I'm not handsome.” Hey, don't limit yourself. Forget about the way you look. Think of who you are. You are called by God to be a child of the King of King's. Never limit yourself. You were called to soar with the eagles. The Bible says in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 7, "God created you just a little lower than the angels." You were meant to be something special. Never give up on your goals. Have high goals. Find the path that leads to life. What is that path that leads to life? Jesus said, "I am the" what? "The way." Jesus is the way. So become all that you can be. Pray that God will lead you into what His calling is for your life. And then do that. You may be called to be a carpenter. Or a doctor. Or a teacher. Or a nurse. It's hard to tell what you may be called to do. But whatever it is, do it with all of your strength. Once a task is begun, never leave it ‘til it's done. Be it great or be it small, do it well or not at all. Be your best that you can possibly be. Reach your potential.

Pam, these pathfinders are finding the path to life. I see a lot of them that are older now and they're instructors, they're counselors. They have gone through the entire experience of Pathfindering, and now they're still with it. A lot of you are like that. You're still here. You're still helping others now. You're sharing your faith, basically. That's awesome. And you adults are helping young people to establish their feet on the path that leads to life.

I know that when I get to heaven my Master guide will be there. And who is the Master guide? Jesus Christ. I'm proud to be a Master guide here, but I know that I am not the Master guide. So please follow Jesus. Follow him all the days of your life, and you will be in His kingdom. Get out of the box. Whatever's boxing you in, push aside those walls. Open up to new possibilities, and try, and Jesus will bless your efforts, and you will succeed, through His power, and His grace. God bless you.

Scripture: Ephesians 3:20,21

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 2/29/08