Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered November 15, 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.

A Dish of Vanilla Ice Cream

Philippians 2:3-5

(RealAudio Version available)

I want to talk with you this morning about ice cream.  Probably none of you like it.  Yeah, don't raise your hand.  Back when I was a kid, which I don't know if any of you were alive back then, but ice cream was cheap.  There was a little boy that went into a hotel.  They had a restaurant in the hotel, and he was hungry for some ice cream, and so he went in and sat down at the table, and the waitress came and put a glass of water on his table and a napkin and some silverware and said, "May I help you?"  And he said, "How much is an ice cream sundae?"  She said, "50 cents."  So he got in his pocket and dug around and brought out all of his change and was counting, and the waitress became a little bit impatient with him, because there were many other customers, and here he just wanted a 50 cent bowl of ice cream, and finally she said, "Well?"  And he said, “How much is a bowl of just plain ice cream?"  She said, "35 cents."  So he started counting again, and going through his money and she was very impatient.  She said, "I need to wait on some other tables."  And he said, "Just give me a bowl of plain ice cream."  So she brought it.  He ate it.  She put the ticket on his table.  He took it and paid the cashier and left.  And after he was gone, the waitress came to the table to get the dirty bowl and noticed some neatly lined up coins right there, 2 nickels and 5 pennies.  His 15 cents for her tip.  He could've had an actual, something really, really nice.  But instead he had something kind of plain, because he had her in mind.

And you know, that's what I would picture Jesus doing.  Jesus would do something like that.  To save back so that we could have our tip.  This little boy was Christ-like, and that's how each of us should be.

Come to the book of Romans in your Bible, the 15th chapter, and the first 2 verses.  Romans 15.  It says, “We who are strong ought to bear with the feelings of the weak and not please ourselves.  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good.” 

So what is the job description of a Christian?  We ought to be looking out for somebody else.  We live in such a selfish day and age today.  Somebody loses their job and we need to go over and help them out.  Help them find work, and we’re not here in this old world to consume it all upon ourselves.  We're here to help our neighbors.  Just like Jesus would do if He lived in Collegedale.  We are not islands.  We’re all interconnected, and we need to be helping one another, and we live in some pretty serious times, as you know. 

I think somebody said, and this can't be true, but 5 hundred thousand jobs were lost in America last month.  I thought, "That is unbelievable."  I know we’re in pretty serious times.  We have a financial crisis that's probably the worst in my lifetime.  I never remember anything this bad.  The worst since the Great Depression.  In fact, I'm getting e-mails.  Some of you are bringing me by things saying we are tanking.  The depression will be even worse than 1929.  I don't know.  I am not a prophet, so I can't tell you, but I know the times we are in are very serious, and hundreds of thousands of jobs are gone.  The future of even General Motors, is at risk.  Maybe a few more months.  I don't know what's going to happen.  Government bailouts are about as numerous as the leaves in your yard at this time of the year.  Foreclosures are causing many people to move in with their kids or move in with their parents.  People are hurting.  Food prices have skyrocketed, and the bottom line for Christians is, it’s time to help.  We need to help one another, right?  We had somebody come to the church this week needing assistance and our assistance fund is getting real low, and we said, “Well, we can’t help you with much,” you know. 

Times are bad, and Jesus treated others like He wanted to be treated.  That's how we need to treat each other, and when Jesus had food He shared it.  When Jesus was hungry, He fed 5 thousand.  He had their needs in front of His needs, and I think we need to be cognizant of the needs of other people.

You know, we want to be like Jesus.  A song is not a song until its sung, and a bell is not bell until you ring it, and love is not love until you share it, and you're not a Christian, unless you're acting like Jesus.  Unless His character is shining out in your life. 

Matthew, chapter 7, verse 12, Jesus gave us some gold.  We call it the Golden Rule, and it says; in fact, look here, in Matthew 7.  Do you have this one underlined in your Bible?  This is a wonderful rule.  Matthew, chapter 7 and verse 12.  "Do unto others what you would have them do to you."  What's the first word?  ‘Do.’  Let me just preach on that word ‘do’ for a minute.  Preachers have to take little tiny things sometimes and extrapolate them out.

The Golden Rule begins with who?  With you, doing something.  Now let's suppose that you are a father, and you have some children, and before you can expect your children to treat you nice, you must treat them nice.  You must be nice to your children before they will be nice to you.  So sit down with your kids, and I want you to say this.  "From now on, I want you to act exactly how I act.  Okay?  I am not so much concerned with you doing everything that I tell you to do, but I  want you, I will hold you responsible for acting exacting like I act.  So the next time I'm driving and somebody cuts in front of us and slams on their brakes and almost causes us to wreck, I want you to observe my reaction and that's how I want you to react in life.  When people do bad things to you at school or whatever.  Somebody messes you up.”  I want you to say to your kids, now this is part of the Golden Rule, "The next time that big neighborhood dog comes over and leaves a big load on our sidewalk again, I want you to watch how I react to the neighbor, and that's how I want you to act when things happen to you.  The next time the telemarketer calls, I want you to listen carefully to how I speak with them, and that's how I want you to treat people when they interrupt your life." 

Am I fair in asking you to do this, you parents?  Is this fair?  It better be fair, because your example is what Jesus is looking for.  Do unto others what Jesus would want you to do to Him.  Do unto others.  So I want you to go home and say to your kids, "The next time I'm out there hammering and I hit my thumb with a hammer, I want you to pay very close attention to the words that I say and how I act, and that's how I want you to act." 

And you may say, "Pastor, you're too hard on me.  You can’t expect that."  Let me tell you something.  As a father or a mother, your kids will not so much do what you say, they will do what you do.  So Jesus’ Golden Rule is absolutely true.  They are emulators.  They’re watching you, so make sure your example is what it ought to be.  Jesus’ Golden Rule begins with your actions.  Do unto others what you would have them do to you.

A few years ago, before Jesus was born, about 20 years before Jesus was born, there was a rabbi, Rabbi Hillel, and he made this famous statement.  He said, “Do not do to your fellow, what you hate to have done to you.”  And about 50 years later, when Jesus was 30 years old, He twisted that statement around and said it like, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  Do you see much of a difference between those two statements?  They're basically the same, aren’t they?  Or are they?  No, they’re not the same at all.  It's entirely different. 

I want you to imagine a baby who is born paralyzed.  Can’t see.  Can’t hear.  Mute.  Paralyzed.  And that baby grows up and at the age of 30 the baby dies, and the family brings the little one to the Lord.  At 30 years old he might not be little any longer, I don't know.  They have the casket there.  The preacher standing at the pulpit.  He’s preaching the sermon for this boy who lived 30 years.

The pastor stands up there and says, “You know, we mourn the loss of a great man.  Not once in his whole life has he ever lost his temper.  Not once in his whole life has he ever cheated anybody.  He's never had a speeding ticket.  He's never stolen anything from anybody.  He's never once uttered a curse word.”  Would the pastor’s words be true?  Yes, they would.  That 30-year-old man actually lived up to the words of Rabbi Hillel's famous quote, “Do not do to your fellow would you hate to have done to you.”  A living vegetable can fulfill that, but that's not true with Jesus’ words in the Golden Rule. 

Matthew 7, Jesus says, “Do unto others what you would have them do to you.”  That is a statement of action.  You've got to get out of bed to follow the Golden Rule.  You have to take action to follow the Golden Rule.  There has to be a positive good in your life done to somebody else before you can follow the Golden Rule, and that's what Jesus wants.  Jesus’ religion requires you to give liberally, to love lavishly, and to be grateful and to offer assistance to the needy and to help the helpless.  Christian love really means treating others the way that God has already treated you, and God treats us pretty good, so you need to treat others like God has already treated you.

Dr. Carl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist, he gave a lecture one time on mental health.  There were hundreds of people in the audience and after the lecture he said, “Now are there any questions, please raise your hand,” and a person raised their hand, and he said “Yes.”  And the person said, “If I feel like I'm about to have a nervous breakdown, what should I do?”  Well, everybody thought he would say, “Well, go see your local shrink, and they'll help you.”  He didn't say that.  He said, “You go home, you lock your house, and you go over across the railroad track, and you find somebody that needs help and you help them and get involved in their life, and you won't have a nervous breakdown.”  I think so often we have nervous breakdowns, because we’re consuming all the things upon ourselves.

Look over here at Luke.  Luke, chapter 4 in your Bible.  Luke 4, and verse 18.  Here is Jesus’ job description.  Do you know that Jesus had a job description?  Notice what it is.  Luke 4:18.  "The Spirit of the Lord has consecrated Me to preach the good news to the poor."  To go on the other side of the railroad track.  That’s the Goodspeed translation.  “He sent Me to heal those with broken hearts.  He sent Me to release the captives.  He sent Me to give new eyes to the blind.  He sent Me to set people free from their heavy burdens.”  That's the Jack Blanco paraphrase.  Jesus ever lived to help others.  That's why He came.  And that ought to be our job description.

Picture the moment that Jesus was hanging there on the cross.  He was battling the devil.  He was right in the midst of the great controversy.  He could have stepped away from that.  He could've called the forces of heaven to come down and rescue Him but He did not do that.  What were His thoughts?  You can find them over in John.  Come over to John, chapter 19 in your Bible.  John 19, and verse 25, 26, and 27.  “Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, and when Jesus saw His mother there and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Dear woman.  Here is your son.’  And to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’”  That's what Jesus did.  He wasn't thinking about His wounds.  He had blood pouring out of His hands, blood dripping from His feet, blood coming down from His head.  He was in pain.  He was hanging on the cross, suffocating, you know what a cross does, and here He was, concerned about His mother.  Wasn't that awesome?  When Jesus saw His mother down there at the foot of the cross,  He appointed somebody to take care of her.  Jesus never forgot the needs of others.  Not even in His excruciating pain.

I've heard it said that people don't care what you know until they know that you care.  And that's true, and that's what Jesus did.  Everywhere He went, He was healing.  He was preaching to them, but only after He healed them.  After He fed them.  After He cared for their needs.  Do people know that we care?  I hope they do.  I hope you have a habit of going down to the food kitchen.  I hope you have a habit of raking leaves.  You know, we have a lot of elderly people in this church that can’t get out and rake their leaves.  Would anybody dare count all the leaves in Collegedale.  In the city limits of Collegeville, how many leaves do you think are lying on the ground about now?  A hundred thousand?  I don't have any idea, but I know that there's a lot of elderly people, and I believe that we need to have rake, will travel.  Now is the time for us to be doing something for our young people to put them to work and to benefit the older people.

In Vietnam, a lot of our Seventh-day Adventist servicemen went to Vietnam.  Most of them were vegetarians.  Most of them were conscientious objectors, and they were cheerful despite the fact their drill instructors were yelling at them and cursing them, and years ago, several of our folks were chosen to be white coats.  Do you know what a white coat is?  They chose them because they knew that Seventh-day Adventists don't sue other people.  We have a reputation as Christians, and many Seventh-day Adventists were sent to the front lines in Vietnam, and many of them lost their lives trying to rescue people and many of those names inscribed on that Vietnam wall of memory are Seventh-day Adventists.  They died for their country.  They died to help somebody else, and we have many troops today that have volunteered to go over and to defend America, and these Adventists are known as a people who are Christ-like.  We have a peace loving church.  A peace loving people.  We vote.  We do our part to be good community neighbors.  We help others, and that may even involve helping the neighborhood wacko.  Every neighborhood has a loco, and you know who that is, and they need our help as well.  We need to be a people who help people.

Look at Philippians, our scripture reading.  Come over here to Philippians in your Bible.  Philippians, chapter 2, and verse four.  It says, "Stop looking after your own interests, but practice looking out for the interests of others.”  Treat one another with the same spirit that Jesus had, in other words.  That's what we want to do.  We have a wonderful Savior, and we need to do His work.  He's wanting to work through us.

You know, we don't need a sign on our forehead that says ‘Christian,’ or a big badge that we wear, ‘I'm a Christian.’  “Did you know that?  I'm a Christian.  Look, see, it says so right there.”  You don't need a sign over your door that says ‘A Christian lives here.’  This is a Christian family.  They'll know you're a Christian by what you do.  That's how people know.  By your service.  By your love to them. 

In my ministry, one of the hardest questions that I've ever been asked is, “Why does God allow all the pain in the world today.  Why doesn't He do something about it.  Why does God allow all the suffering in the world today?  Why doesn't He act?”  But there's a harder question than that.  And that question would be, if God would ask you that same question.  “Why do you allow the people in your neighborhood to go hungry?  Why do you allow people in your neighborhood to have leaves that are un-raked?  Why aren't you out there helping?  Why do they suffer and you're able?”  Jesus set an example for us, and that example is to do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.

You know, God loves us and the most successful people in this life are not the people that end up retiring with the largest 401(k)’s or I-R-A’s.  The most successful people in this life are not the ones who have polished, politician type demeanor to their life.  Or drive the fanciest car.  The most successful people are those who are the most Christ-like.  Those who are not afraid to serve others.  Those who will show kindness to others.  It's not how talented you are.  It’s what you do with the talent you have.  So help someone.  If their house is for sale, and it won't sell and it won't sell and it won't sell, is there any way you can help them?  Is there anything you can do?  Now is the time to be helping.  We’re living in what I would call a major recession.  We need to be helping people.  The time is now.  Let's share together.  Jesus was the most unselfish, kind, helpful person that ever lived.

I want to read you a quotation from the ninth volume of The Testimonies.  “If we would humble ourselves before God and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be 1 hundred conversions to the truth where now there is but 1.”  1 hundred, compared to 1.  If we would do what?  If we would be kind and unselfish and loving and courteous and pitiful.

May God help us to be that way.  Our goal in life is to be like Jesus.  To do unto others as we would like them to do unto us. 

Let's sing our closing hymn.  In The Heart Of Jesus.

Hymn of Praise:  #565 For the Beauty of the Earth
Scripture: Philippians 2:3-5
Hymn of Response:  #577 In the Heart of Jesus

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 11/24/08