Sermon delivered June 13, 1998

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version

Sugar of the Earth

You have heard in the Bible of a land flowing with milk and salt, haven't you? You're going to study in the Sabbath School lesson today that you are the salt of the earth. Salt is a great thing isn't it? A little bit of it goes a long way. A land flowing with milk and.... What? And honey. Actually, we are to be the honey of the Earth as well as the salt of the Earth. There's a place for both. So I thought we'd just balance out the salt with a little bit of honey today.

I was driving down a bumpy road in Hartford, Michigan, and I happened to see along the side of the road where apparently a delivery truck had bounced and hit a bump in the road or something, and a bag of cement had fallen off this truck. Now, I'm a person who doesn't want to waste a thing. The truck was long gone and it was just there. So I stopped. I thought, I will just... I'm strong enough. I can lift that 94 pounds or whatever it is. I'll just put that in my car and take it home and use it. Otherwise it will just go to waste. And so I stopped and picked up the lost bag of cement. But instead of finding that bag soft and pliable, apparently it had been therefor a while. It had taken on a very hard form. It was as hard as a rock. It was solidified into an unbendable object. And I just left it there.

I thought, our lives are a little bit like that bag of cement. Over time our life takes on the shape of what it has been accustomed to. The wear and tear of life (ware and tare of life?), the things that we are exposed to. The rain, the sunshine sort of sets us in our ways.

If you are expecting to arrive in heaven sweet and smiling, you'd better start smiling now, because you're going to be set in concrete pretty soon. So we aught to be happy Christians today if we expect to be happy Christians there. We have a lot to be happy about. We have Jesus. We have the Truth. Our dispositions are set in concrete very quickly. That's why I like children so much. And your mouth will be marked with smile wrinkles only if you do a lot of smiling in this world.

Now what was Jesus like? It's always a good study, to spend a thoughtful hour every day, studying the character of our Savior, His life. I would like for you to open your Bibles to Luke 10. We're going to look at several windows on what Jesus was like.

Luke 10: 21 Jesus was sending out the different workers and different disciples. "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.'"

So at that time, Jesus was full of JOY. Was Jesus a sad person? No! He was full of joy. I think we want to be like Jesus. Jesus was a very happy person. I think that Christians aught to be the happiest people on the planet. And if you're happy, you need to inform your face about it.

Far too many Christians today look like that as youngsters they were raised on baby bottles of dill pickle juice. Well, we need to be happy. We are not the battery acid of the world. We are the sugar of the world. And let's be sweet.

Now, I go for a nice walk every morning. I hope you do too. We certainly should exercise. And every morning I get out and I'm walking and I hear grand symphonies of magnificent music. The whole way of my walk happy birds serenade me from their lofty perches. This expression goes on whether there's rain or shine, snow or blow, those birds are singing. I heard them this morning. I also heard the lightning and the thunder, and as soon as it died down the birds were still singing. We aught to take a lesson from those birds. If those bird-brained creatures can be happy, I can be happy. God wants us to be cheerful as we go on our way to the kingdom. In fact, in the bible there are over two hundred references to joy and happiness.

Christians aught to be tasty. We aught to be sweet. If Christianity were more appetizing more people would be Christians. So let's make it more appetizing.

Now, it's true that we are the salt of the earth. We must add flavor to the world. And that flavor, I would submit to you, includes sweetness which salt does not add.

I was thinking about a bakery that's located about three miles from here. They use a little bit of sugar, probably, each day or each second. And they use oil. It seems today the only things that are tasty are the things that are bad for you. If you can avoid sweets and avoid fats you're going to do pretty good, they tell you. Well, those are the very things that are the tastiest. And so we have potato chips with no fat but with the full taste.

I believe we aught to have the full taste, the full flavor of Jesus Christ. We should be the desert of the world. We are here to serve up the refreshing flavor of Jesus Christ.

I see people at our campmeetings passing out mimeographed sheets of information. And I wonder, who are we winning? I'd like to ask the members of our church, why they joined. I see them out in the lobby, and I ask, "How come you joined the McDonald Road church?" And of course I expect that they will say, "Well, we appreciate the good preaching." But alas, most of them tell me, "You know why we really joined this church is because of its friendly way." The people are friendly here. And why are they friendly? Because Jesus Christ is in their hearts. That's why this is a warm church.

I don't believe we should be hilarious. I do not believe that in the pulpit we need to run competition with the entertainment industries of the world. What we need to be doing in our pulpits is uplifting Jesus Christ. Then I think the sweet warmth of loving, friendly people do a lot to attract people to Christianity.

Now what was Jesus like? Here's another little window on Jesus. Revelation 1: 13-16 "and among the lampstands was someone 'like the son of man,' (and of course it was Jesus) dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance."

I guess what impresses me most here about Jesus is ... I know what the sword is: it's the word of God. I know what these symbols mean, but what impressed me the most as I read this is his face. It's as the sun shine, shining. Whenever Moses went up to the mountain and was near God, his face started to shine, too. I submit to you that everybody in heaven will have a shining face. Now we may not have much to make our face shine in this world, but if we expose ourselves to our Savior our face is going to shine. We're going to be bright and cheerful. Jesus' countenance was as the sunshine, glowing and beaming. A religion that makes you look sick will never cure the ills of this world. We need to brighten up a little bit.

A bitter world can only be bettered by sweet happy Christians. When the world looks on your face they should see reflected there the joy of Jesus Christ, the character of Jesus Christ.

The Bible does not say that Jesus' face was like the moon, it was like the sun. It wasn't like a dark cave, it was bright. It was not stern and forbidding, even children would come up to Jesus. It was not something that would repulse you, but something that would attract you.

And you can be like Jesus. You can never be God, but you can be more radiant, and you can smile more. How can you be joyful? Proverbs gives the answer, and as you might guess, it requires a major change for us who are used to being grumpy, perhaps, to be cheerful. Proverbs 15:13 "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." What is it that makes Jesus' face beam? Because he's happy. He is a person of joy. He really is. A cheerful heart develops a continual feast (verse 15). There's a lot that the Bible has to say. And when Jesus lives within your heart is going to create a smile on your face. You can tell who the Christians are by looking at their face.

Like in Matthew 6:16 This makes another statement. This talks about the hypocrites and their fasting. "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Like in Matthew 6:16 This makes another statement. This talks about the hypocrites and their fasting. "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do...." How How do the hypocrites look? Sort of somber, gloomy, dark. They don't have Jesus inside. Christians aught to be the most cheerful, sweet, happy human beings on the world. Ministry of Healing p. 251 - EG White. "It is a positive duty to resist melancholy as much a duty is to pray." Wow! "If we are heaven-bound, how can we go as a band of mourners groaning and complaining all the way to out Father's house?" We can't do it can we? A church is in a bad way when they ban happiness from the sanctuary.

Proverbs 16:20 (KJV) "... and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he." I think a scowling face repulses people, but a warm, sweet smile is like a magnet.

If Christianity is ever going to convert the world it will have to attract the world. Honey attracts a lot more than vinegar. Don't fence your happiness in. Let it shine out of your face. Loosen up and smile.

Smiles are not patented. You don't have to have to pay a royalty every time you smile. So go ahead and do it.

Lavish your smiles on your wife, on your family, on your husband. Let them see you have a happy person in the home.

Let's notice another window on Jesus in Luke 4. Jesus was attending church one day. Notice verse 16. Luke 4:16 "He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day (that's the seventh day of the week, Saturday) he went into the synagogue, as was his custom." He went to church on the Sabbath! If that's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me. I can go to church on the Sabbath day. I was His custom to be in church on Sabbath. Do we ever have a record that Jesus went camping on the Sabbath? Now for you campers, we have first church. You can come to church and Sabbath School, then change your clothes and get out into nature and go camping, spend all Sabbath afternoon, all Saturday night, all day Sunday if you wish. That's great! If you go camping as a church group, have a sermon, have the Sabbath School lesson with you. Jesus' custom was that He went to church.

"And He stood up to read." And He read a section from the prophet Isaiah. And He said.... "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down." (John 4:18,19) He did the opposite of what we'd do. Usually when we preach, we stand up. He sat down to preach a sermon. What He preached we really don't know. We don't have a record of that sermon, but somebody took some notes, and it's interesting to tread the notes. The note is in verse 22: "All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips." In his sermon His words were pleasant, they were gracious. He spoke with cultivated manners and warmth and love.

Now, there are times to speak the straight testimony, and He did to the Pharisees and to others. But in His home-town church, which He desperately need to convert: you convert more people with honey than with vinegar. And He spoke with love that day. However, love did not win their hearts. What did they do? They took Him out. They were going to lynch Him. They were going to throw Him over the cliff. They were going to kill Him. He never did convert His home-town. But He realized that if it were ever going to happen, sugar would do a lot more. And so, His words were gracious to them, but they did not reach them.

If you are ever going to reach your wayward husband, or your rebellious son, or your rebellious daughter, you will reach them far quicker when you have something sweet to attract them with. I don't know about you, but I'm drawn a lot more by something sweet than I am, like for instance brussels sprouts. I sort of like brussels sprouts because I know that they are doing me some good.

A family of skunks waddled through the woods one day, and they came up to a paper mill. Now, if you've ever driven by a paper mill, I think you get the drift of what I'm going to say here. I think the wind began blowing some of that smell over to the skunks. The baby skunk said, "What is that awful smell? That smells almost like dead fish and some of that other stuff." Mother skunk said, "I don't know what it is, but whatever it is we've got to get some." You know, for trying to attract skunks to our church, then let's drag out all the rotten church garbage that we can find and put it out there for public display. Let's mimeograph it, but if we're trying to attract beautiful Christians to our church I believe what we aught to do is to hold Jesus in front of them with His beautiful truth.

His grace, His love: I want to be more like Jesus. I want to speak more like Jesus in my home and in my pulpit. I want to vocalized the happy, gracious words that Jesus has. Some people's talk is like the devil's halitosis. Unless you can be sweet, you aught to keep silent. Invite Jesus into your heart. Jesus is to the sour grumbler what mouthwash is to the one that has bad breath. He makes us sweeter.

John McNeil said, "Since I became a Christian I am happier when I am unhappy than when I used to be happy."

I want to be the sugar of the earth.

Do you know that sweet people live longer? The Bible hints at this in Proverbs 17:22 (KJV). "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth up the bones." Now medicine doesn't always taste good, but merry hearts do taste good. Your white blood count actually goes down during a time of sadness. If you have grief that comes into your life, be careful, you're liable to catch a cold. You're liable to get sick. A lack of joy depresses the immune system. This is from a study done by the University of Colorado. Dr. J.A. Scharfenberg reports the results of a study that was done on happy people and on sad people. They had 7,000 people that they kept track of for nine years. They discovered that those with a happy nature lived longer. Christians have fewer automobile accidents, fewer heart attacks, less sickness. The average Christian lives five years longer and the reason is that they follow Jesus Christ. So let's spread the joy of Jesus.

Susie burst into the kitchen. "Mommy, what are you making?" "I'm making a casserole for Mrs Smith." "Why?" "Because," she said, "She has lost her daughter." "Well, why do we have to make food?" "Because, Susie, when people are sad they can't manage simple things like casseroles. Susie, you are a smart girl and I know that you can do something and think of some way to help to take care of Mrs. Smith's broken heart." With that, Susie left the room. A few minutes later Susie knocked on Mrs. Smith's door. Mrs. Smith noticed the neighbor girl and she opened the door. And Susie saw the sadness on the face of her neighbor. "What can I do for you, Susie?" said Mrs. Smith. "My mommy says that you lost your daughter and that you are very, very sad with a broken heart." Then Susie held out something in her hand, and it was a band-aid. "This is for your broken heart." And Mrs. Smith placed Susie's band-aid in a picture frame where she would see it often. Every time she walked past that picture frame she gained a little strength to deal with her broken heart. Susie's unconventional gift became a symbol of healing. And I think we should be the sugar of our neighborhood. We need to be a band- aid delivery service.

A sugar, I believe that Christians let the car out that is trying to pull out in front of you. Christians will motion the car to come ahead. Christians do not experience road rage. Christians don't shove when they are standing in a slow line. They don't honk at a slow driver when the light turns green. Christians invest time building up other people. Christians smile more than other people. Christians are the happiest people in the world.

Now, God is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4 says that love is kind. And Christians are the kindest people. I will always remember my home-town church in Hartford City, Indiana. We had a doctor, and elderly man that came to our church, Dr. Charley Aukerman. Maybe some of you know him. As a seven-year-old youngster, I was very impressed with Dr. Aukerman. I don't know what kind of doctor he was. I don't know anything about him except one thing: he was kind. He was the sugar of the earth to me. Every Sabbath he brought a pocket full of special candy. After church he always let us have a piece. Now you're probably asking how many cavities do you have, Pastor. Well, I have one filling. I guess it didn't hurt me. I have fond memories of Dr. Aukerman because he was nice to me. I don't remember too many of the old sour saints in that church, but I remember Dr. Aukerman.

What I think we remember as adults of our childhood are the people that were kind to us. Be tender with youngsters. They need your example. They need an example of what Christianity is all about. I think the sense of sweet joy is the balancing pole that helps to keep us stable as we walk the tight rope of life. We need that.

John 15:11 Jesus says, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." Why was the Bible written? That our joy may be complete.

Sweet happiness is the sunshine of the mind, and when you open your mouth to speak make sure that what comes out is more like warm sunshine on a cold day than like the frost that comes out when you open the freezer door. Be cheerful.

Give this lonesome world a smile.  
     We stay at longest but a little while.  
Hasten to be happy or lose the chance 
     to give the gentle word a kindly glance.  
Be sweet and tender without a frown or pout.  
     This is what true Christianity is all about. 

Martin Luther said this: "The devil is a chronic grumbler and a Christian aught to be a living doxology."

Psalm 144:15 (KJV) "...Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." If God is your God then be happy. Only sugar can make lemons into lemon aid. Smiling will not crack your face. Lazarus was not called out of the grave by some hollow, mournful sounds. It was a voice of joy and cheer. There will be more souls in heaven that are led there by Christians who wear heaven on their face than by those who bear the look of death.

Proverbs 15:30 "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." You can't help but look cheerful when Jesus is in your heart. You're going to be happy.

When you see all your sins drowning in the blood of Jesus you're going to be happy. They're dead, they've drowned to death. Let's make this church the happiest, sweetest place on this planet. A place where dear hearts and gentle people are not afraid to come. And if Jesus is in our hearts I believe sunshine will be in our soul. Remember singing that song as kids? That sunshine will be in our soul, and it'll shine out, and people will see it and they will be attracted to it.

I was walking yesterday morning and noticed the little flowers were all aiming at the sun. They were attracted to the sun. And if you want people to be attracted to you, then you need to be a little bit sunny.

What good is sugar when it's still inside the bag? When you bring it home you need to open it. And let's get into circulation. Let's spread the sweetness of Jesus Christ. Let's spread His truth because we are living in a dying world. I believe that Jesus' coming is very soon. And I believe that people need to be won to Jesus before it's too late. The way we win them is by giving the truth with a smile. Christians, let's go out and serve the last message and serve it well and in a tasteful way.

Openning song: #240 Fairest Lord Jesus
Scripture: Matthew 5:13
Closing song: #358  Far and Near the Fields are Teeming


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