Sermon delivered January 10, 1998

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Bible quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Great in '98

A man in the northern state of Maine was working with Dynamite one day when suddenly there was an explosion which blew off his arms and blinded him for life. After months of suffering the man finally began to feel better. But he could never do something he loved to

He almost cried whenever he thought about not reading ever again. He was blind and had no hands to cope with braille. Then one day the idea came to him to attempt the reading of the little bumps with his tongue. Hours and days later he still could not make out even one letter. One night he determined he would not go to bed until he could make out one letter. Just before the dawn, with bleeding lips and a bleeding tongue, he had mastered one letter!

It took thousands of hours to learn the alphabet. After many months he was able to read. Since then he has read the entire Bible through Four Times!

Is the reading of the Word of God precious to you? John 5:24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." By reading and studying God's word you infuse in your life the power of the Almighty. You partake of the divine nature. You feed on God's manna. As you sail through the waters of 1998 you must take the Bible with you.

A ship was wrecked. As the sailors were making their escape in small boats, suddenly two of them jumped overboard, swam back and entered the ship. They soon reappeared with something in their hands. They had forgotten to take their compass.

Fellow Christians, as you set sail into the great, unknown sea of the New Year, remember to take God's compass with you. It contains sure and explicit directions. His compass alone will guide you to the safest harbors.

When you are setting a course strictly by compass, how often should you look at it? Once a week? Look at the advice in Acts 17:11- Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Isaiah 30:21- "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it."

You may read the Bible and think that it does little for your life. You may read it for family worship and think that it runs like water off your teenagers' back. But, like a log tossed on a frozen lake, God's word may appear to be rejected and ignored, but someday, when the cold, hard heart thaws, the "log" of truth sinks in and becomes a part of that life.

Psalm 119:11- "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." If you keep reading you will be changed. If you want to be great in 1998 then you must get into the Bible. Do it every day.

A man attended an evangelistic series. When visited afterwards and invited to join the church he refused. He said he got enough out of the series of meetings to last him all of his life. He might as well try to eat enough breakfast at one time to last a lifetime. Get into your Bible in 1998 every day.

I have read the Bible through several times. I enjoy reading it in a different version each time. The KJV, the NIV, the NSAB. However I must caution you that some so called Bibles appear to have a confusing influence. This is predicted...

Amos 8:11,12- "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine through the land-- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.

With billions of Bibles in print, how could that ever be? They're not all the word of God. The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek and a smidgen of Aramaic, which nobody can read. Therefore it is paramount that you own and use a version of the Bible that faithfully translates the meaning that the inspired writers intended. You may want to choose the KJV, or the NIV or some other accurate version.

Benjamin Franklin was a unique and intelligent person, but he liked to argue a point. At times he would be almost overwhelmed by the logic of his friends. He would say: I know I am right. Give me a day or two and I will bring you the proof. At that he would rush home and set up some type and add to the Bible by printing in new words that would support his point.

Then with a gleam in his eye he would rush over to his adversary and say: "What ever you may think, you cannot get away from the fact that the Bible supports my arguments." Since the men didn't know their own Bible, he won the argument.

Today there are about as many Bibles in the world as there are people. But some of the new Bibles are not what you might expect. With so many new versions and paraphrases out there, the Christian must be vigilant and judicious in selecting a suitable Bible.

The Living Bible, the Message, the Good News Bible, the Contemporary English Bible, the Reader's Digest Bible, the Cotton Patch Bible, and many many more. There are Bibles for Children. There are Bibles for Hillbillies, liberals, and women's liberationists.

There are study bibles and life application bibles. There are Bibles for Women, Bibles for teenagers, Bibles for retired people, Bibles for parents, Bibles for Singles, and I suppose some day there might be Bibles for dieters, Bibles for Bald men, Bibles for who knows what. It goes on and on.

As a result of all this, do you know that belief in the Word of God is actually declining? People buy these Bibles but when they sit down to actually read them, they begin to wonder if they are indeed reading God's word.

In our church you see the pulpit is centered on our platform. The position of the pulpit tells you something about the belief of the church. Here it means that Bible Preaching is central.

Two of my church members are bookbinders. People bring their old worn out Bibles to get them rebound. There is a question to ask here: Wouldn't it be much more economical to just go out and buy a fresh new Bible? So why rebind the old worn out Bible? Because a New Bible isn't their Bible. When you read your Bible for many years you become attached to it. It is like a part of You. It becomes so by reading it, studying it carefully, marking favorite verses as you go. Remembering the position of a favorite passage on the page.

We live in a throw away age. Everything seems disposable. But when you connect with the Word of God you take on eternal value. You are not disposable in God's sight. Like a master bookbinder, God will rebind you and remake you.

I Corinthians 15:51-53 "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

There are only two things that are certain in this life: Death and Taxes. You can avoid eternal death by saturating yourself with the life in the word of God.

John 6:** "The words I have spoken to you they are spirit and they are life. These words are life.

Isaiah 40:8- "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."

When you connect your life to the Word, you too will become something that will stand forever. I wish we really grasped the significance of this verse.

So often we try to get by with so very little of the Bible. Just a tad here or a bit there. And we wonder why we are Christian dwarfs.

My Grandmother Jordan in Hartford City, Indiana used to have a dwarf tree in her living room. It grew in a shallow pot that sat on her stereo cabinet. She had to know just how LITTLE food or water to give that tree so it would not grow and yet enough to keep it from dying. She claimed it was quite an old tree, yet that tree was only about 8" tall.

I have seen folk who were baptized maybe 2 or 3 years ago or even longer that remain spiritual dwarfs. Stunted by a lack of spiritual food. Some have been in the way for 10 years and yet they haven't passed the first grade in their Christian experience. Why? They don't study their Bible or any other religious books. Spiritual weaklings. Dying from hunger.

Get your Bible out. Read it. Study it. Mark it. Get overweight on it! Imagine suffering from spiritual malnutrition when you are surrounded by eternal food.

Education (EG White) page 126- "The creative energy that called the worlds into existence is IN the word of God. This word imparts power; it begets life.... It transforms the nature and re-creates the soul in the image of God."

Satan wants to keep you from the Bible. It seems that Life is so busy the Bible gets squeezed out. Let's say that the height of my Bible represents all of the technological advancement from Noah's flood to 1940. Now on that same scale we add the development from 1940 until now... Do you know how high the chart would be? Almost 40 stories tall!

With so much knowledge to learn, the very book we need is pushed off to the side. Listen to this: "As a means of intellectual training, the Bible is more effective than....all other books combined!" Ibid, p.124.

Plug into the free dynamic power of the Bible. But be careful! It is a wonder that our federal government has not required a warning label on Bibles: They put labels on everything else! Go to some stores and you will even find an ingredient label on distilled water!

A Bible label might say: "Warning, this book is habit-forming. Regular use causes loss of anxiety, decreased appetite for lying, stealing, hating. Other symptoms include sensations of love, joy, peace and Christlikeness!"

If you are tired of the same old life of failure and spiritual weakness then you need to spend time with God, reading His word. If you really want to be great in 1998 you must connect yourself to God's power.

James Dobson tells of an NBA rookie who played on the Chicago Bulls' team in the prime days of superstar Michael Jordan. During a certain game Jordan scored an astounding 68 points. The rookie sat on the bench astounded at this feat. During the last minute of the game the coach graciously sent him out on the floor. He made a single free throw during the final seconds of the contest. When he was interviewed in the post game show, the rookie was very pleased with himself. He said: "Together, Michael Jordan and I scored 69 points!"

We are all rookies and Jesus is a Legend. When you put yourself on His team there is no way you can lose. Together, you and God are a majority! -Dobson, Life on the Edge, page 34.

How do you get on His team? You sign up when you give your heart and your life to Him.... Fresh every morning. You actually align yourself with the eternal God when you assimilate His Word into your life. Be Great in 98. Get into God's Word this year. In its pages You will find a beautiful Saviour... Jesus Christ!

Opening Hymn  #7.
Scripture reading: Responsive Reading 754
Closing Hymn # 554 O let me walk with thee


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