Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered January 10, 2009 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.

My Favorite Book

Psalms 119:9-11

(RealAudio available)

You know, I'm a skydiver.  I jumped out of an airplane one time.  It was sitting on the ground and I hopped out.  How many of you have ever in your life jumped out of a real airplane up in the sky when it was moving?  Anybody?  3 hands.  4.  First church there were zero.  You're more adventuresome here at second church, I think.  Well, I would never do that.  You couldn't pay me 10 dollars to do that, or a hundred dollars to do that.

There was a 26-year-old skydiver who had 5 hundred and 86 jumps to his credit, and he was stepping out the door of an airplane and he was going to just step out and do his thing.  And there were some ropes on the floor of the aircraft and his feet got tangled up in the ropes and when he jumped out they ended up around his feet and there he was hanging from the aircraft.  He didn't have any way to get loose.  He tried and tried to get loose.  He tried to climb up the rope.  He could not do it.  And he got weaker just hanging there.  The pilot, there was only one other person, the pilot.  The pilot was up there trying to keep the aircraft stable with the man hanging.  It was just a small airplane.  And lo and behold they were running low on fuel.  You know, whenever you go up in one of those things the least you could do is fill up all the tanks.  Fill them right up to the top.  I don't understand some of these pilots.  But anyway, there he was. 

And so they flew back and forth over the airport, and people were looking and they got the idea what was going on, and some of his friends were down there.  And so they got the idea of getting another aircraft, and they flew the second airplane beside the airplane that was in trouble and they had a hunting knife with them.  And they said, “Can you catch this?  You’ve got to catch the knife.”  I hope it was in a sheath or something.  And they flew close and they practiced this several times and then they threw the knife to him and he caught it.  And he cut the ropes.  Pulled the parachute cord and walked away from the landing.  That’s an amazing story, and you know, he was saved by the knife. 

And we’re in a world that is about to self-destruct and we’re entangled in the ropes of sin.  Sin has wrapped its cords around us and we need a knife, and what is the knife, spiritually?  Answer.  The Bible.  We're told this in Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 12.  This is the two edged sword.  We need to always carry a knife with us.  It's a good idea.  And the Bible is our two edged sword.  Psalm 119.  I want to read verse 11, and I want to read the whole verse.  I think the second half of the verse is pretty important.  So look at Psalm 119.  The longest chapter in the Bible.  Takes up the most pages.  I think, actually, Numbers, chapter 7 is longer in words.  Psalm 119, verse 11.  “Thy word, have I hid in my heart.”  And then there's another half to this verse.  What does the second half say?  “That I might not,” what?  “Sin against Thee.” 

So the Bible will keep you from sin.  But sin will keep you from the Bible, too.  So let's immerse ourselves in the Word of God, because I want to be un-entangled with the ropes of sin.  Amen?  Do you?  And I believe the Bible is inspired by God.  It's intended to deliver me, to benefit me personally and so, let me tell you a story about a king.

He was a habitual drunkard, this king, and addicted to other vices which should not be mentioned in a Christian pulpit.  He married off his children like pawns to suit his foreign policies.  He drained the royal treasury to meet his desires for wine and for women.  And this man, he lived about 400 years ago.  This is a fairly modern king, sort of.  He's well known.  In fact, I have never met a Seventh-day Adventist but what he loves this king.  Or she.  He had a very large head, this king did, and a slobbering tongue.  His clothes were always quilted.  His legs were rickety and this uncouth man had eyes that stood out grotesquely. 

Why do all Christians like this man?  Because it's King James.  He delivered to us the first Bible, in 1611.  The King James version of the Bible in the English language.  What a wonderful blessing he gave to us.  I think that's about the only good thing I’ve ever heard that he did.  He probably did a lot of good things.  But today, approximately one million Bibles are distributed every 27 days.  The Bible is translated into 1 thousand 6 hundred and 59 languages.  Between 3 and 4 billion King James Bibles have been printed.  This is a very, very popular book.  All because of King James. 

But there's a problem.  The average person living in the year 2 thousand and 9 has no time to read the book.  That's our problem.  The book is shut most of the time.  We get involved in Facebook.  I'm on Facebook.  How many of you are on Facebook?  Raise your hands.  It's not something to be ashamed of.  Is that all?  It's more than first church.  You're more adventuresome.  We’re involved in Facebook, but we spend very little time with the Book.  This is the Book.  It's more important than Facebook, the checkbook or any other book.  We like to own books, but we seldom read them completely through.  We look at the pictures, we look at the chapter titles and the subheadings.  Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, chapter 12, verse 12, “Of the making of many books there is no end.”  And Gutenberg hadn't even invented the printing press.  So imagine what Solomon would say today.  Today there are approximately 65 million books, different books that have been written.  I wonder what Solomon would say today.

Here in America, did you know that there are over 10 thousand magazines that are published on a regular basis?  10 thousand different magazines.  If you would subscribe to all those magazines it would take you a long time just to read one issue.  We can't do all that.  There's no way.  We can never keep up with all the information out there. 

You know what inflation is?  We’re suffering with inflation here in the United States of America.  Inflation is, basically, my understanding, and Don Van Ornam could correct me, inflation is sort of just an increase in the money supply.  Watering the money down.  It doesn't go as far.  And that drives down the value of all money. 

And just so, as this paper blizzard of our modern age, we have all kinds of papers.  People said with the computer, you're going to have a lot less paper.  Well, I think we buy a lot more paper now that we have computers.  We’re in a paper blizzard.  And this is watering down the value of all the other paper, which waters down all the books that we have.  Water down the value of the Book.  We just have too much to assimilate.  There's too much to read.  Every 60 seconds, there's 2 to 3 thousand new pages, 8 and a half by 11, of information that come out.  Copy machines.  Copy machines, we keep them in good repair, but do they keep us?  I don't know.  The material produced every 24 hours would take 1 person almost 10 years to read.  That's how much new information comes out.

Daniel, chapter 12 and verse 4 says in the last days the knowledge will what?  Knowledge will be increased.  It is being increased.  The Bible is absolutely true.  Ministry Magazine gives advice to pastors every month.  And you know what Ministry Magazine said, and I'm going to quote this.  This is speaking about pastors.  “We must keep our noses above the rising literary tide if we are to keep from drowning professionally.”  You've got to read.  And there's more information than 1 pastor can read.  I probably read an average of 20 hours a week just to keep my sermons going and to keep fresh information for my people. 

I used to have a church member that subscribed to the newspaper and would read the front page every day all the way through.  He said the front page, that's what you're supposed to read and I'll read the rest too, but not as completely.  Do you know, that if you were to read the front page of the Wall Street Journal every day you would probably read the equivalent of several books of the Bible.  If we have time for the newspaper, then we have time for the Word of God, and if you don't have time for the Word of God, get rid of the newspaper.  Get rid of the Facebook.  Cancel the Internet.  Do whatever it takes to make time every day for the Word of God. 

We used to be a people, Seventh-day Adventists did, of the Book.  I urge you to read your Bible through.  I have never read this Bible through.  It's several years old.  It's even been rebound.  I keep it because it has nice large print that I can see, and I don't use one that I've read through because it's all marked up, and it’s marked up too much.  But I have read many Bibles through.  All the way from cover to cover.  I urge you to spend time this year in the Bible.

As Americans we used to be a nation of the Book.  I don't think we're any longer a nation of the Book. 

When I was a kid, our teacher took us from Hartford City, Indiana down to Muncie, and we toured a slaughterhouse.  Have you ever done that?  They used to do that back in the days when we went to school, and I will never forget what I saw.  They took us through each stage.  Well, anyway, they don't do that today.  I don't know if they are allowed to take children to slaughterhouses anymore.  I don't know.  People don't do that. 

But I will tell you what we do here in America.  We won't do that, but we allow our little children to witness a same-sex ‘marriage’.  We have all kinds of things that we allow them to do and it just doesn't make sense.  Crime is increasing.  Lawlessness is rampant.  In many areas it's no longer safe to walk at night.  I'm going to go on a hike this summer, in June, out to northern Montana to see grizzly bears.  I like bears.  And the instructions tell me, don't walk at night.  The night belongs to the animals.  And that's true in the large cities too.  The night belongs to the animals.  The people that are not Christians, that will hurt you.  And lawlessness is increasing.  America, I'm afraid, we are entering a post-Christian age.  I sense that. 

And what is the cause of this?  I think the cause is that we neglect our Bibles.  We spend time watching our TV.  We spend time on the radio.  We spend time listening to our music, but we are not a people of the Book like we ought to be, and I wonder if England has been doing the same thing.  Neglecting the Bible.  Because I read that over a 20 year period of time that 4 hundred Christian churches in England have been converted to Moslem mosques, and that's not just in England.  That is just in London and its environment.  Its surrounding areas.  That is bad. 

We need the Bible.  We're entering a dark period of the history of the world.  A period when sin is very, very much an abundance.  And we need the light of the Bible.  We are told that this Book is our light, a light to our path.

You know, there was a little girl riding a train one day with her mother.  And it was a beautiful sunshiny day and the train man came through their coach and lit the lanterns above, and she watched him do that and she looked out the window and the sun was shining.  It was the middle of the day, and then he lit another lantern and then another one and went on to the next coach doing the same thing, and she said, "Mommy, why is he lighting the lanterns in the middle of the day?"  And the mother said, "Honey, just watch."  Well, a few minutes later they went into a long dark tunnel.  They needed that light.  And I believe that God has provided us with a Light.  Let's use our Light.  It'll keep your batteries from going dead.  This Light will do that.  America is entering a dark age.  Don't let the Bible gather dust in your life.

And don't use the Bible to pound other people over the head.  "You realize it says here you're doing wrong, sir, you're doing wrong, ma’am.  You ought to read this."  No, it's for you.  Don't beat people over the head with the Bible.  Don't twist the Bible or misuse the Bible. 

There was a lady that I read about.  Let me quote what she says.  She says, "My pastor husband, Scott, has a sweet tooth."  You know pastors have that.  "And I knew that the chocolate chip cookies that I had just baked might disappear before I returned from running errands, so to discourage him I taped a verse on the wrapped package of goodies."  Beat him over the head with the Bible.  And here's the verse that she taped on here.  "Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial."  That's in First Corinthians 6, verse 12.  She continues writing.  She says, “When I returned, I found half of the cookies were gone and another verse was attached to the package.  This was Proverbs 13:25.”  You can read it sometime.  Well, I can read it for you.  It says, “The righteous eat to their heart’s content.”  Now, don't go write that verse down.  “The righteous eat to their heart’s content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.” 

Twisting the Bible is dangerous.  That's why we have so many churches in America.  We need to read it right.  Accept the words of the Bible, just like they are.  In fact, accept them, do some of you do texting?  These are God's text messages to you.  These texts in here are for you.  Accept them.  Read them for what they are.  In the pages of the Book are hundreds of text messages just for you.  They're just as important, in fact, they're more important than those text messages that you get on your little cell phone.  More important.  So please read them.

President Woodrow Wilson urged, he said, “I ask every man and woman in this audience that from this day on, we realize that the destiny of America lies in the daily perusal of this book, the Bible.”  The destiny of America.  John 6, verse 63, gives you, come over here to John 6, in your Bible, verse 63.  This gives you the reason why this Book is so valuable.  Why this book is so important.  Teddy Roosevelt said, "Through a knowledge of the Bible it is more value than a college education."  Look at John, chapter 6 and verse 63.  It says, "The words," these are the words of Jesus.  "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are" what?  "They’re life."  They’re life. 

I wish America would indeed, I wish that all nations would make this Book paramount.  That they would make this Book as their guide, and then we would see the life of the Bible flow into our nation.  And into our homes.  And into our children.  The Bible brings real life.

Christ's Object Lessons, page 60 says this.  "God bids us to fill the mind with great thoughts, with pure thoughts.  He desires us to meditate upon His love and mercy.  To study His wonderful work in the great plan of redemption, and then clearer and still clearer will be our perception of truth.  Higher and holier our desire for purity of heart and clearness of thought.  The soul dwelling in the pure atmosphere of the holy thought will be transformed by communion with God through the study of the Scriptures."  That's how it happens.  If you want to transform the life then you've got to immerse yourself in the study of the Scriptures.  It just has, there's no other way to do it.  It’ll change you.  So study the Bible.

Acts 17, verse 11 says, it talks about a group of people.  It says, "They were more noble than those in Thessalonica because they received the word with all readiness of mind.  They searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so."  You need to be in the Bible every day.  Every day.  Acts 17:11.

You’ve heard of Orville and Wilbur Wright.  They have this huge museum up in Dayton, Ohio.  Some of us go to Dayton, Ohio now and then and as you go by there on I-75 you can see that wonderful monument there.  And they finally on December 17, 1903, they achieved flight.  At least long enough so that they could say, “We did it.”  It was 59 seconds of airborne and they were so elated.  And so, what they did, they sent a telegram to their sister in Dayton, Ohio telling of this great accomplishment, there from Kitty Hawk, and the telegram, let me read you the telegram.  Very short, says, "The first sustained flight today, 59 seconds.  Hope to be home by Christmas."  Well, their sister was so excited about the success of her brothers.  She ran the telegram down to the newspaper and gave it to the editor and said, “Put this in the paper.” 

The editor read it and he did.  The next morning, the newspaper headline read, “Popular local bicycle merchants to be home for holidays.”  They had missed one of the greatest stories in the history of the United States.  Why did the editor miss it?  Because he just, he would just, “Oh, ok. They’re going to be home.” 

When you read the Bible pay attention to what you're reading.  Pay attention to it.  If you're too casual or you read too quickly you might miss some truth that's likely to affect you in your life.  Maybe God wants you to be in church more this year.  Maybe God wants you to be a different person this year.  Maybe you've been neglecting the Lord this year or last year.  Well this year could be different, and the Bible can help you achieve that.  Read it.  Read it slow.  Take your time.  Especially read the familiar passages slow because you've already got a preconceived opinion on those.  All Scriptures should be read more closely.  Let the deep meaning sink into your heart.  Study the Bible, carefully.  Don't miss any point.

You know, the honey bee, the diligent honey bee will fill their cells with the sweet nectar.  They have that honeycomb all filled up.  You don't see them doing it much.  You see a bee around now and then, but they are filling up their cells with honey.  You need, every day, to be filling up the cells of your heart with the nectar of the Word of God.  With the sweetness of Jesus.  That's what you need to put in there.  And that's not just for your husband.  That's for you.  That's not just for your kids, that's for you as a parent.  It's for all of us.  We all need to be immersing ourselves in the Word of God.  Filling up our heart with the sweetness of Jesus.  Others might not see you sitting there filling up your life, but they’ll see it in your life.  The power of the Bible.  It's not in the ink.  It's not in the paper.  It's not in the leather.  It's in the words.  The words are life.  They really are. 

So sink your teeth into the Bible.  There's no substitute.  You get the Little Friend.  You get the Junior Guide.  You get all the Insight.  You get the Review.  You get the quarterly.  No substitute for the real thing.  One day somebody gave me a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy.  And I could hardly read it.  It was almost unreadable.  Go to the real thing.  Go to the source.  Don't go to other people's ideas.

Romans chapter 10 and verse 17 says, “Faith comes by,” what?  “By hearing.  And hearing by,” what?  “By the Word of God.”  Get your kids into the Bible and they'll have faith. 

Now I have an idea for you.  I don't know if you've ever thought of this idea.  I would like for you to go buy a brand-new Bible, and I would like for you to read it this year for one of your kids.  Now let me explain myself.  Let's say your kid is named Frank or Sally or whatever.  Read a new Bible.  Read it through once.  Maybe several times.  This might take a year, or two or three.  Dedicate the Bible, you’re going to give this Bible to that child when you're done with it.  Dedicate that time to that child.  Before you open that Book pray for that child.  And then as you read that Book, you fill the side margins, fill those side margins with notes about that child.  Of how you're praying that this text will be fulfilled in their life.  "Today, I prayed that the promise in this verse might be yours."  And tell them about all this.  Write notes in there and then when you're through, a couple or 3 or 4 years later, you give that marked Bible to that child and place it in their hands.  Your son.  Your daughter.  And it'll change their life.  It'll change your life.  Just try that.  Try that.  The marked Bible.  There's power in a marked Bible.  Why not mark it up for your kids.  And then when you get through with that child go to the next child.  And if you’re a grandparent, do it for your grandchildren.  Why not?

There was a little boy that was born blind.  Finally, a surgeon said, “I think I can help him.”  So they did an operation, took off the bandages, and lo and behold, he looked around the room.  He saw his mother's face, saw the doctor, he said, “I can see everything.  This is wonderful.”  The first time in his life he had ever seen.  His mother took him outdoors and he looked up and saw the sky and the trees and saw birds go across and he could see shadows.  He said, “Mommy, why didn’t you ever tell me about all this?”  She said, "I tried to but you couldn't understand."

You know, it's that way when you try to understand the Bible with your spiritual eyes shut.  You're not going to get much out of it.  Unless your spiritual sight is open, you can't fully appreciate the beauty of God in this Book.  Psalm 119, verse 18.  "Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold the wondrous things out of Thy law.”  Out of Thy Book.  You need to have your eyes open when you're reading this book.  Psalm, chapter 1 and verse 2, says, "His delight is in the law of the Lord and in this law he doth meditate day and night."  You need to meditate. 

You know what the word ‘meditate’ means?  It means ‘chew the cud’.  That's what the word ‘meditate’ means.  That's the base meaning of the word and if you have stood watching a cow chewing her cud you understand what God wants you to do with the Bible.  He wants you to consume it, to eat it, to masticate it, to make it a part of you, to swallow it, to digest it, to assimilate it and make it a part of your very, very being.  And you'll grow from it.

I believe that a preacher's sermons are probably doubled in their effect when he preaches to a congregation that is a Bible reading congregation.  It makes the sermons better.  It doubles the power of the preacher to have a congregation that reads the Bible.  So study it carefully.  Think of it prayerfully.  Ponder its mystery.  Slight not its history.  Spend that thoughtful hour and be enriched by its power.  And this year, allow the waters of the great reservoir of all truth and wisdom to irrigate your thirsty soul and you will be changed.  I guarantee it.  God guarantees it.  Get into the word this year.  Okay?

Let’s sing our closing hymn, Give Me The Bible.

 Hymn of Praise: #21, Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
Scripture: Psalms 119:9-11
Hymn of Response: #272, Give Me The Bible

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 1/16/09