sermon delivered July 6, 1996

by Pastor Don Gettys of McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

TUMBLEWEED RELIGION

Effort and Direction are good things. My wife and I took a wonderful cruise to Alaska in 1996 on the great ship Ms. Ryndam, over 800' long. We thrilled at the coast line and glaciers and whales on our way North. We saw great eagles and a grizzly bear from the deck. Over 60,000 Horsepower pushed our noble ship through the cold deep waters. Had those faithful engines failed we would soon drift to the rocky shore and be wrecked. I will guarantee you that a fantastic trip like that does not happen by drifting along with the wind and waves.

If we drift along like a tumbleweed our end will be much less than we can imagine. When husbands and wives drift apart we call it divorce. When we drift away from Jesus it is called backsliding. The Bible warns us about drifting.

HEBREWS 2:1 "WE OUGHT TO PAY THE GREATEST ATTENTION TO THE TRUTH THAT WE HAVE HEARD AND NOT ALLOW OURSELVES TO DRIFT AWAY FROM IT." (Phillips)

Drifters are either headed DOWN stream or down wind. You are not headed to the fountain springs of life from which all comes to be, but you are headed down to the dead sea!

HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN DRIFT?

Just how does Satan attempt to set the Christian drifting???

(1) A DILUTED CHRISTIAN

If you mix enough water into a certain quantity of MILK you have cheapened that milk. It looks & tastes like chalk water. The old tempter is happy if he can dilute our Christian experience with worldly Ingredients so that we are cheapened and unrecognizable as Christians.

REVELATION 3:15-16 Lukewarm!

Lukewarm Lemonade on a hot humid day is yucky. It's cold has been diluted with the warmth of the day. We want our drinks either hot or cold. God wants us on fire for Him. If not, the second best condition is for us to be cold. But there is little hope for the lukewarm Christian. He is a mixture of the hot and the cold: The Heavenly and the earthly. Diluted!

(2) DETERIORATED CHRISTIANS

Here, the one journeying to Heaven is not into anything sinful or evil but the QUALITY of his walk with Jesus is slipping.

My wife and I used to live in Michigan. It was a great place to be. I really miss the wonderful fruit of SW Michigan. One day we went to look for a new car that we needed. We found a beauty--- a little Chevrolet Vega. They had just been introduced. How nice it was! But something quickly happened. In Michigan when it snows, they have these huge trucks that are packed and stuffed to the gills with the most corrosive Salt in the world. This is spread in great quantities on the roads just for cars to collect in their body panels. Our pretty little VEGA soon came down with CANCER of the fender! In 3 years we finally got it paid for but the cancer had become Terminal. Let's not talk about the trade-in value.

Your hold on Jesus can slip away so fast. HEBREWS 4:14---"Let us hold fast to the faith we profess."

That old Adventist hymn by F. E. Belden: Hold Fast Till I Come. Maintain your hold on Jesus. Keep up the Quality of your daily Spiritual walk.

Well, If the old deceiver can't DILUTE you or Deteriorate you, he may try to

(3) -- DEVIATE you.

II TIMOTHY 4:3---- "The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine..... 4:4--- They will TURN their ears AWAY from the truth and TURN ASIDE to myths.

These Christians turn ever so slightly off the path to life. They "ouch" away a little at a time. Blown off course by every wind of doctrine. Imagine such a forecast: "The winds of Doctrine will be coming down out of the North today at 10 to 50 MPH, very Gusty, blowing with wind chills that will freeze tender growing Christians if not protected....! Christians off course by the blustery winds of doctrine.

Let's say you are going from the Collegedale airport to South Bend Indiana. You only have a compass and your instrument is just 1 off. You will miss South Bend by 10 miles! You might not even see the airfield. Imagine if we make a moon shot from Florida.....1 and the whole moon would be missed!

And in these last days we are charting a course for heaven! We cannot afford to DEVIATE one bit from the Divine guideline, or we will miss the mark.

Do not allow the old tempter to divert you from the path of life. The way to destruction lies very close to the way of life. PROVERBS 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, FIX your gaze directly before you. 4:26 - Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm 4:27 - Do not swerve to the right or the left....

There is only one path that leads to life. Imagine seeing it. I read about it in this thrilling book called Early Writings, p. 14, "I saw a straight and narrow path cast high above the world. On this path God's people were traveling to the heavenly city. If they kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, who was just before them, they were safe."

But soon some grew weary and said the city was a great way off and they expected to have entered it before now. If they took their eyes off Jesus they found they were in total darkness. Then they lost their way and fell off the path of life down into the dark and wicked world far below.

Satan has many switchmen on the Railroad of life who are ready to sidetrack us from the path of life. Our prayer must be: Jesus Saviour, Pilot Me!

PROVERBS 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

JOHN 15:5-6--- I AM THE VINE and ye are the branches... Without me ye can do Nothing!

When I was a boy in Indiana my grandmother Carson lived about a mile away. One day my mother and sister and I walked over to visit. My Uncle still lived at home...Uncle Bob. One of his interests was catching TURTLES. Huge Snapping turtles. He found them in ponds and swamps and brought them home in gunny sacks. They were left loose in the garage out back which had a dirt floor. When the restaurant in our little town wanted some for their famous turtle soup he would take them outside and cut off their heads and clean the meat and deliver it.

I grew up a vegetarian and the sight of all this amazed me to no end. This particular day he had just left for the restaurant with a load of fresh turtle meat. There beside the rusty trash barrel where trash was burned was all the remains in their glory. I had been warned not to play around there. But this was investigation!

It was the large turtle head that finally captured my attention. As I stood there looking at that poor innocent head I wondered just why my Uncle had told me not to get near it. Since it was cut off and dead what danger could there be?

The turtle head had its mouth wide open. Flies were buzzing it like jealous starved vultures. I got a stick about the size of a good ball point pen and put the stick in that gaping mouth. SNAP!!!! The stick broke in half and I jumped backwards. That thing was dead but it did not know it!

I've thought about that many times since that day. As Christians we can thrash around and act like we are alive, but if we are cut off from Christ we are dead. Without Jesus we can do nothing except maybe snap out at people. Branches detached from the vine are D-E-A-D!

As Christians we must be connected to Jesus. That living connection will be the most precious thing in the world. When we are Detached from Christ we are like a mighty Corvette with great potential but out of gas. It might as well be a plain little metro or VW Bug.

JOHN 15:5 (read again)-- Remain in Me. Almost a dozen times in the first 10 verses of this chapter Jesus says the most critical thing for Christians is to Remain in Him. Stay connected to Jesus in a living daily relationship. This is a living union. All else is death.

As a lad in Indiana there were many many spiritual lessons. One day I walked over to my other grandmothers house. Our two yards joined each other. There my grandfather was walking toward the barn with a clean pail in his hand. Naturally I followed him not having the slightest idea what was about to happen. He walked right into the hen house and snagged a large hen with a hook mounted on the end of a long pole.

Once outside my Grandfather took the chicken by the head and swung it around and around. In a moment the head separated and the chicken hit the ground running. You never saw such a sight. It bumped into the garage and then the barn. We had to dodge that thing running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It was dead but it did not know it!!!

How many Christians today are cut off from Christ (The head of the church) and yet they still continue to run around. They are spiritually dead. Stay connected to Jesus. A city cut off from its power has a black out. A Christian cut off from Christ is powerless. Bible study and prayer strengthen the connection. So does attending Sabbath School and Church.

It is high time to stamp out Tumbleweed religion. We roll along the desert of this world at a fast pace. Thousands of people rolling aimlessly along like rolling stones driven by the changing winds until the day that we come to a fence or a gulch and it is all over. And there they wait, heaped up in a pile ready to be burned up. There is no future to drifting.

Do you know why we drift away? A TUMBLE WEED drifts and rolls along because it has lost its connection with the source of life. Its roots are not attached. The answer to last day deception and decay is to work on the connection to Christ. Strengthen it.

HEB 2:1 May we pay the greatest attention to the truth we have heard and not allow ourselves to DRIFT away from it.



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