On a cold winter evening, a poor, hungry man came into a music store, and he approached the owner of the store and said, "Sir, I'm hungry. I've got this old violin. Would you buy it?" The man looked at it and he said, "Well, I'll give you five dollars for it." And the man said, "I'm so thankful. I'll take the money." He left happily and went to get something to eat. And the owner of the store, Mr. Betts, drew the bow across the strings and a rich tone came out and he lit a candle and looked inside and inside it said “Stradivari, 1704”. And sure enough, it was a famous Stradivarian violin. He sold that violin for approximately 1 hundred thousand dollars a few weeks later. The story was in the newspaper, and eventually the hungry man found out what happened to his violin, and he began to see its true value, and if he had just kept it a little longer, if he had just held on a little longer, he might've had the rest of his life taken care of instead of one meal a whole life.
You know, the point of my sermon today is “Hold on to what you have.” Could it be that we modern human beings have sold priceless treasures for a pittance? Could it be that we are no better off than this man who was selling his whole treasure for five dollars? Don't give up so quickly. Don't give up on your spouse. It's going to work out. Don't give up on your kids. They're going to be okay. Hang in there. Don't give up on God. Hang in there with God. Hold fast.
There are several places in the Bible, where we’re told that we should keep certain things, and I want to examine some of these special, special statements today. We'll be going back and forth in the Bible. We're going to start with Genesis. Genesis, chapter 2. And friend, I think sometimes we are keeping the true things of value for such a limited time. We need to hold onto those things. We need to not trade them and exchange them for the plastic trinkets of worldly pleasure and worldly joys that are made in China or made in India, or wherever.
The first of these special texts that I want us to look at is in Genesis, chapter 2 and verse 15. God looked at Adam and Eve. He took the first man and the first woman and placed them in the garden and then He gave them some instructions, and He told Adam to do what to the Garden of Eden? To dress it and to keep it. But Adam lost it. Butter fingers Adam. He let it slip through his grip. He had it. He lost it. He lived in a paradise. He had eternal life. It was all paid for. The weather was perfect. He had total, vibrant health and happiness, and he was married to the most beautiful woman in the world. Now you would think that God would not have to remind him to keep it. “I will keep this. This is wonderful.” But God did. In fact, I would think that it would take an army of 10 thousand men to pry Adam out of that place. But he exchanged it all for a 10 cent apple. How stupid of Adam. If he just had an I.Q., and yet, you know that Adam's brain power was how many more times than our brainpower. 10 times more intelligent than modern man was Adam and Eve. They were endowed with a perfect brain, straight from the Creator. Because they lost it we were born in the United States. Now, fortunately we were born here. This is not the worst place to be born, but it isn't even good here. When I look at all the crime and all the trouble and the problems, the disease on this old world, I think of Adam and Eve and I wish that they had kept what they had and not lost it.
Are we any better than them? Are we butter fingers? The good things that are left, that God has given us, we allow them to slip out of our grip. For instance, a man has a good marriage. He’s got a happy family, but because of one act of weakness with another woman he loses his whole marriage. He loses his happiness. Where there's a college student, maybe, that in a moment of temptation gives in to the others and says, “Ok, I'll try the drug. You said it has done all this for you, I'll try it.” And ends up with a lifetime of addiction and trying to raise money to support a habit. Maybe the urge comes to you to just try your former vice for just one more time. “I will have a sugar treat one more time. I’ve left that alone, but I will try it one more time”, and the habit comes upon you again, stronger than it ever was before. Too often we let the truly good things of life slip away from our grasp, and I urge you not to do that. Maybe we decide, “Well, I'm so tired this morning. Shut that alarm clock off. Go back to bed. Sleep in. Skip church. I’ll just do it once.” And it begins and you end up a backslider.
Thankfully, Christians can regain the Garden of Eden, amen? Through Jesus Christ we can regain what Adam lost, if we make the best use of our opportunities to keep our walk with Jesus Christ.
How many of you here are pack rats? Anybody here a packrat? You're admitting it? How many of you are married to a packrat? Let me, oh yes, look at those hands. You didn't exactly admit it, did you? We need to be honest. May I urge you all to be spiritual pack rats. Keep what you've got. Don't get rid of it. Build on it. Get more of it. Get more.
Let's look at our second scripture. This is in Exodus, chapter 20. A very significant thing where God says “Keep.” Exodus, chapter 20 and verse 8. You're very familiar. He says here, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” You know, our Creator commands that His children keep the Sabbath. Keep it holy. Twice in the 10 commandments God's finger writes the word “keep”. It's in there twice. That's amazing. He doesn't want us to lose it. So many in this old world have lost the Sabbath. Only a remnant of the people in the world are keeping the Sabbath today. And of the ones who are keeping it, how many are really keeping all 24 hours? Jesus says remember the Sabbath day. It's a special day. Keep the Sabbath. Not just a day of our choosing, but a day of His choosing.
It was easy for my wife and I when we went down to Panama. They spoke Spanish, and the word for the seventh day of the week is what? Sabado. So easy to point out to those people, “Hey, this is the real Sabbath. This is God's Sabbath. This is what He wants you to do.” It's not a day of our choice. It's a day of God's command. And how could anybody keep a day holy that wasn't made holy. Could you keep Monday holy if it wasn't made holy? Can you keep it that way?
It's like a boy, his mother says, “I want you to keep this kitchen floor clean. You take your shoes off.” That would be impossible for him to do if it was dirty. If it was covered with mud, he couldn't keep it clean. You can’t keep something holy that isn't already made holy. I urge you to keep the Sabbath day. Keep Jesus in the first drawer of your heart. Keep your foot from treading on His holy day. Do you really enjoy your reunion with Jesus on the Sabbath? Do you really use this time to read more of the Bible and tuck it into your heart? The day is a special, special day. We lose the blessing that Jesus wants to give us when we treat it like any other time.
Number 3. Psalm 34, verse 13. Come over here to Psalm in your Bible, chapter 34, and verse 13. It says here, “Keep”, and I'm beginning with the word “keep”. “Keep thy tongue from evil.” And how often the first screw that gets loose in a person's head is the one that holds his tongue into place. I don't understand that. That's a sacred harp. Keep it sacred. Our words come out so easily. Christians need to keep them kind and sweet. Never yell at anybody or speak harshly to them.
You know, the Pharisees were guilty of living out of control. They had a law in Palestine that when somebody did something really bad, that was worthy of the death penalty, that they could be stoned. And so they had stoning areas. Complete with rocks and everything, where the culprit would be placed in the middle and then people could have at it. And you know what happened. Many would love to come and watch. They enjoyed it. We don't like to watch violence today, do we? They enjoyed it. And there were many people volunteering to throw stones. In fact, like boys today, they would even practice throwing stones so as not to miss so they could hit the lawbreaker the next time.
God says in His holy Bible, we must keep our tongue and that is possible if Jesus Christ becomes the toungue-keeper. Because you can't keep it yourself. But Jesus can. An X-rated tongue can become an instrument of peace.
Number 4. Come to Ecclesiastes in your Bible. Right after Proverbs. Ecclesiastes, chapter 5 and verse 1. It says, “Guard your steps when you go into the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools.” What is the sacrifice of fools? Have you ever offered the sacrifice of fools? It says go to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools. It's the opposite of listening. That would give you a pretty strong clue there. Be reverent in the house of God. Keep your sacred harp sacred. Keep your words few in the house of God. Attend church. Yes, you should attend. Keep your foot in the church. That's what it says. Keep thy foot in the church. Your foot needs to be in the church, and when it is here, keep it. Keep your voice. And you know every Sabbath check to make sure that your foot is in God's church.
I saw 2 bumper stickers on the back bumper of 1 car. And to show you the incongruity of these 2 bumper stickers, listen to this. The first bumper sticker said, “I attend the first Baptist Church”. Well that's fair, isn't it? And the other bumper sticker said, “I'd rather be boating”. Incongruous. Interesting.
When you are in church, you are in the presence of the President of the universe. Worship is not something we observe, it's something we do. In Roman Catholicism, you go to observe worship. Protestant churches ‘do’ worship. Your here worshiping the Inventor of everything in the universe. The Thomas Edison of the universe is here, so we act appropriately when we’re in His presence. We are reverent. Let your thoughts be attentive. Come here to receive a blessing from God and give your best to Jesus. Come here to become more like Jesus, and don't offer the sacrifice of fools.
Let me talk about the sacrifice of fools just a minute. What is it? It's when church people come to worship God and instead they end up being makers of noise in His sanctuary. Just outright uncontrolled tongues. Speaking their own words in the presence of God. It's okay to worship Him. To sing praises to Him. To pray to Him. To preach about Him. To read about Him. These are fine. But to just talk our ordinary language or to sit here and sit in the pew and instead of being into the Scripture, to be thinking about what you’re going to do Sunday. “I'm going to be out on the boat. I hope it doesn't rain.” And this and this and that. Let's put God first when we worship. God says the irreverent, basically, are fools.
Let's go to the next one. Revelation, clear in the other end of the Bible, chapter 14, and verse 12. Here is a very familiar verse to Seventh-day Adventist Christians. Revelation 14, verse 12. It says, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints.” So this is talking about the saints. Patient endurance on the part of the saints and then it describes who the saints are. Who are they? It says those who obey God's commands, and remain faithful to Jesus. They keep the commandments of God and they’re faithful to the faith of Jesus. They have the faith of Jesus. And you can count all the churches in the world, basically, on 1 or 2 hands that actually keep all the commandments. Or even believe that they can be kept. Because remember, one of the commandments, the fourth one says remember the seventh day of the week. So, well, we don't do that, so -- so I believe this is speaking, certainly, of Seventh-day Adventists Christians.
Why should Christians keep the commandments, by the way? Not to acquire salvation, but because we are saved. Because we do have a Savior. Because we love our Savior. We love Jesus. That's why we keep His commandments. That's why you men do the dishes. Because you love your wife. Love is a great motivator, and I believe that the United States is in the process of wiping the 10 Commandments away from the land. At least in our public monuments. They're disappearing from America, and it's too bad, and when we throw out God's law, we reap rampant lawlessness.
Did you know, and I’m going to throw out a fact here that you won't believe. Did you know that one out of every 31 adults in America is either in jail or on parole? Now let me repeat that. You say, “Well, you said that wrong.” Well, I'm quoting. The references are here. “One out of every 31 adults in America is either in jail or on parole.” (Economist, 4-4-09 p. 40) We are worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. We are a wicked, lawless society. Our world is bad. There's a lot of sin out there.
Now ‘texting’ is not sin. I'm not referring to that. I was a ‘texter’, years ago, back in 1978 when I became a ham radio operator. The Morse code. We were texting everybody, you know. But ‘sexting’ is not right. There are so many opportunities for sin today. Avoid it. How long can a lawless people avoid the last day judgments of God? The earthquakes? The floods?
Number 6. And this is more important, probably, than any of the other ‘keeps’ that I'm going to be reading, or the ‘holdfast’, is in Proverbs, chapter 4. This one is the most important one. Proverbs in your Bible, chapter 4, and I want you to mark, if it isn't marked in your Bible, verse 23. It says, “Above all else”, this is the most important one, “Above all else, keep thy heart. Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” Depends on what version you’re reading. “Keep thy heart.” What does that mean? It means, your heart is your mind. Keep your mind. As you think, so you are. If you think about Christ, you will become more like Christ. If you think about dirty magazines and the pictures, you will be drawn to dirt. You will be diminished and reduced. We become like the things that we think about. Don't fill your mind with junk if you want to become a wearer of the crown of life someday. As a people we are renting too many violent videos that are filled with swear words. There’s swear words in those things. Are we getting used to that? We’re filling our minds with too much of that which will destroy us. You know that what you eat, you become and what your mind eats it will become. If we associate with pigs, we will have to get used to mud. Porn will rape you of all Christ-likeness.
As a people, I think it is high time we keep our minds focused on Jesus Christ. We need to focus our minds on something that is wholesome. Organic. Good for us. There's no G.M.O.s in here. Good stuff. Focus your mind on the best. Keep your minds out of the gutter by looking up into the skies from whence cometh your Redeemer and your salvation. If you think about a sin long enough you'll probably end up doing it. Mind pollution is more dangerous than air pollution. The government is concerned, now, about global warming. We finally admitted it, but the biggest thing we ought to be concerned about is mind pollution. Endangering our hearts.
Our mind is like a basket. The things that we look at, we listen to, that we think about, all go in that basket. You wouldn't throw junk in your mind, would you? None of us want our drinking water polluted with oil sludge and detergent suds and bacteria. We wouldn't want that. Turn your heart over to Jesus and let Him purify it and only take in what is wholesome.
Number 7. Come back to the last page of the Bible. Revelation 22 and verse 7. “Behold I am coming”, what? “Quickly. And blessed is he who keeps His words.” The words of this prophecy. In this book. Blessed is that person. If you keep the words of the Bible you will be blessed. If you do. Keep it. Keep it where? Not on the shelf. Keep it in your heart. That's where you want it to be. Memorize it. Like the truth of another bumper sticker that I saw. “Prepare for your finals. Study the Bible.”
There was a little girl that went with her mother to a huge crowded auditorium for a program and she got separated from her mother in the crowd and the mother became very concerned. Went to the security guard and said, “My little daughter, her name is Mary, she's missing. Can we put an announcement over the P.A. system?” And so they did. The announcement went like this. “If there is a little girl named Mary Moore in the audience, who is lost, will she please raise her hand now so that her mother can find her.” Everybody looked around and no little hand went up. Well the mother contacted the police. They searched for blocks around the auditorium. Finally the meeting was over. People were leaving. The mother was watching, and as the crowd was going out, these hundreds and thousands of people, the mother saw her little girl coming. She'd been in the meeting the whole time. She ran over to her with tears of joy and threw her arms around her little girl and said, “Mary, why didn’t you raise your hand when they asked for Mary Moore, who was lost, to raise her hand. Why didn’t you raise your hand?” She said, “I wasn't lost. I knew where I was the whole time. Mommy, you were lost.” Let's not lose our relationship with Jesus Christ. Let's keep it strong. What do you say? Revelation, chapter 3, verse 10 and 11, “Hold fast to that which you have.”
You know when they take the roll up yonder, you ever sing that song? “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.” When they take that roll, you will be there, yourself, if you hold fast to Jesus. Don't let go. If you don't have a hold of Him, get a hold of Him. Let Him get a hold of you, and then hold fast. Don't let Jesus slip between your buttery fingers. Don't lose what you have.
My wife shared a dream with me. We don't share all of our drains. They don't mean much. But this dream was very significant and I wrote it down. My wife dreamed that she was in heaven. Now that's a good dream. And she was up there in heaven looking for me. And after many hours of searching and not finding me, she bumped into someone who said I was upstairs looking for her.
We live in uncertain times. I want to be there. I want my wife to be there. I want my family to be there. I want you to be there. Jesus wants you to be there. Let's be there. Hold fast to your faith in Jesus Christ. Hold fast till He comes. Can you do that? How many will commit your life to Christ and hold onto Jesus? Do you want to do that? Raise your hand. I do. My hand is up. God bless you.
Let's sing our closing hymn. “Hold Fast Till I Come.”
Dear Father in heaven. Someday that roll will be called up yonder, and we will be there if we have held fast to Jesus. His truth. His word in our lives. Forgive the times when we have not held on tightly and may we be dismissed with that hope and that joy and that assurance in our heart that someday we will see Jesus. We pray in His name. Amen.
Hymn of Praise: #92, This is My Father's World Scripture: Revelation 3:10-11 Hymn of Response: #600, Hold Fast Til I Come
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 5/8/09