Sermon delivered October 3, 1998

Jeff Freeman, Youth Sabbath School

McDoanld Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Where Is The Power?

We have a lamp here that is our life. [Instead of the pulpit in the middle of the platform there is a table with a lamp shining on it. The base of the lamp is surrounded by a cloth so that it seems to be hiding something. There are several cords leading away in different directions. The ends seem to be hidden by a cloth or something.] I know each one of you know about lamps because each one of you have one in our homes. But this particular lamp reminds me of a conversation that my wife and I that we had with someone. It's been a while ago, in a different state, but as were speaking with this friend of ours they made a statement to us that shocked me. They said, "Jeff and Emery, I am twenty six thousand dollars in debt on credit cards." And as this person started to share this with us they were excited about what the credit cards had gotten them. I couldn't believe it! The conversation was not one of desperation: "I'm $26,000 in debt." But one of: "I have $26,000 worth of stuff, and it brings me happiness." Wow! What a scary thought! But as I thought about that conversation I saw someone's life that was energized, that was lit up through happiness in things.

This morning I want us to take a look at this lamp and try to figure out where the power is coming from. As you can see, there are three extension cords up here coming out of the table. Where is the power coming from? So I thought what we'd do is follow this extension cord on this side and see where it leads us. Does it go to the power source? That's the question.

Let's see. [He follows the cord under the cloth and holds up the plug end of it. The lamp is still lit.] Is it plugged in? So whatever is here it was a dead-end road. Is that a fair assumption? Whatever is underneath this little towel... It's a nice motorcycle. It's really nice: It's a Harley Davidson. This particular model is a telephone. But it's a special Harley because this particular Harley to another person as a gift. But just imagine, do people ever put their trust or their happiness into things like a Harley? That really go zoom, zoom? You know, the kind that you can sit on the leather seat and you can sit back and feel the wind run through your hair. Some of us don't have enough hair to run through, but people put their happiness into things.

I had a friend back at Andrews (University) that wanted a motorcycle so bad. All that he could think about was his motorcycle. "If I could just have a motorcycle I would b happy!" He finally got his motorcycle. Within two weeks he came to me and said, "Jeff, I'll be so happy to get rid of my motorcycle!" Because the first time he rode it, it rained so hard that it left bruises on his skin. Because he was riding his motorcycle in the rain.

My friends, if we rely on things for our happiness, it's going to be a dead-end road, every single time.

Some people say, "Well, I don't rely on THINGS for my happiness." Well, friend, do we rely on love to bring us peace? I mean, for some of us, things don't really matter. We are just happy people. But what about being at peace?

I thought we'd follow this cord here. [Again he hold up the plug end of the cord. The lamp stays on.] Is the power here? No, the light's still on. This is not the power. Well, what's under here? Oh! Look at that! A heart. [Shows a large heat.] Love! Love is such a wonderful thing! It can bring us peace. It can bring us a feeling of security. You know, there's someone in the Scriptures that looked to love for their peacefulness. Turn with me if you will to John 4. Does love bring you peace? Does love bring you the peace that everyone looks for in life? John 4 is all about a woman that looked to love to bring her peace. It's all about the Samaritan woman, the woman that for her life light she wanted to feel peace. She looked to love to find that peace. She looked six different times to find that peace. Jesus talked to her personally in John 4:16-18. He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." "I have no husband," she replied.

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true."

This woman was looking for love to provide the peace that she was looking for. Let me ask you, did she find it? Is this where the power is? No. The power is not with love. Love can certainly bring you happiness, at least temporarily.

I'll share a story which is very personal. My father of 23 years as of about a year ago, walked out of my mom's life for another woman. Looking for peace. In the world in which we live today, there are many Samaritan women looking for peace through love. But it's just not with marriages, my friends. Look at our young people. They're looking all over the place for peace. They're looking to gangs, they're looking to friends, they're looking to older people for love, just to feel that peace and have some security. My friends, it's a dead-end road. It's a road that will lead you to despair if that is the only reason for love.

So first, we tend to see people that look to things for peace, for happiness. Then we look for love for that peacefulness. Some of us may say, "We don't do that either! We're happy people to begin with and we feel secure and we don't look at either of these two things." Well, there's still another extension cord.

This one goes over here to this towel. [The plug isn't plugged in.] Is this where the power is? The light is still on. [Holding up a cardboard "Ten Commandments.] The Ten Commandments! There are many people in life that after they've tried for the things of happiness, they've tried to be at peace, they've come to the Ten Commandments and say, "HA! There's my life! I have the abundant life right here in the law. I don't need anything else. I've found it all." Turn with me to Acts 8:32-35 (Our Scripture reading) The story of the eunuch is one that all of us have heard about. All of us have studied up on the eunuch and how Philip had talked to him and they came up to a lake and they went through a baptismal service together. But my friends, have you read the verses before all of that? Verses 27,28. (Philip) started out, and on his way he met the Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship,

He had traveled the long distance, a once in a lifetime visit to worship. That's something. Have you ever asked yourself what you're worshipping? As you look at the eunuch, he went to Jerusalem to worship something. But as you read the rest of the story he didn't find what he was looking for. While there in Jerusalem the people preached the Law. People preached the Ten Commandments and said, "In these you can find the abundant life. This is all that you need." And we can say that, because as you study up what was taking place in Jerusalem, if this eunuch had been worshipping with Christians, what would he have heard about? What would this eunuch have heard? If he'd been worshipping with Christians, he'd have heard about Christ. Later on in the reading from Isaiah 53:7... That was all about Jesus Christ, and he didn't know who it was all about. He was confused, who is this writer talking about? Is he talking about himself? or someone else?

This eunuch believed in the Law. I'm not knocking the law, but if we look at the Law, and say this is all we need, going to come to the dead-end road. We're going to be lacking.

< Have you ever met people that follow the Law and hate doing it? You know the kind. I remember when I was in high school. I'd run up and down the halls until I saw a teacher, and then I'd stop and walk real slowly. How many of you drive your car above the speed limit and when you see a cop car you slow down. The law is not for us! Except when we're trying to prove something.

These three different places where we look for the power are all dead-end roads. So where is the power to the lamp? It's kind of a tricky thing. Here's another extension cord, and it goes right back to the cross. [There's a big cross on the platform behind the speaker.]

Have you ever asked yourself, "What power is in the cross?" What power is there in this raw idea of a wooden torture tool? As we look at the power of the cross, let's look at these Bible characters again.

Let's go back to the Samaritan woman, John 4. Keep your finger in Acts. But in John 4, after Jesus had shared with the woman that she had already had six tries at finding her love, her peacefulness, Jesus gives her some more counsel. Verse 25 The woman said, "I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." He will hold the answer to my peaceful quest. He will be able to guide me to true peace and understanding. Jesus gives her these words (verse 26) Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he (the Messiah)." I who speak to you, died for you. I who speak to you have come to save you from your desperate search for peace. He held that power. He held that focus that this woman was looking for.

What about the eunuch? Going back to Acts 8, did the eunuch find out what the power was? As you read through the story it's exciting because (verse 30) Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. (31) "How can I" he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" Do you understand what you are reading? By all means, I don't understand unless someone helps me understand. He had just been worshipping. He'd just gone to the capital and yet all he came away with was the belief that the Commandments were all that he needed. Well, Philip did something exciting. verses 34,35: The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. The good news about the risen Lord! The good new about the cross. My friends, the eunuch found out where the power was. The eunuch was excited. The eunuch was so overwhelmed that when he found a lake he said, "I'm convicted by the power of the cross, pleas baptize me. I accept the Truth."

Philip takes him down in the water and dips him under and when he comes back up, Philip is gone. What would you do? You had been standing in the water, and you had been put under the water, and he's gone! I like what the eunuch did. Acts 8:38,39 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Forget about Philip leaving. I have found the Power. Forget about this man vanishing in front of my eyes, I have found my source of light. I have found it! That's all I need.

Do you think he continued to keep the Ten Commandments? You can be sure of it. Because He was convicted.

My friends, I share these two stories with you to ask you this: If you believe in the power of the cross, if you truly believe in the power of the cross, what are you going to do with it?

You know, it's been quite while since I preached, and I forgot one of my illustrations for this motorcycle, so if you will humor me, I want to go back to this motorcycle. But there is a Bible character, named Judas, that really focused in on THINGS. He focused in so clearly that all that he could think about, all that he could see is THINGS. When the woman came and washed Jesus' feet, all he could see was not his Lord and King was having His feet washed, but that this woman was spending the money when he could use it for something else. How did he deal with the power of the cross? He went up to a mountain and killed himself. He gave up. I can't handle this! My friends, what are we going to do with the power?

Judas had the same power that you and I have right before us today. The Samaritan woman, she experienced the power that Jesus only can give. The eunuch, he experienced the power. The three of them made choices afterwards. What's your choice going to be? My friends, the power of the cross is what each and every one of us needs. The power of the cross hold the abundant life that each one of us search for. He gives us the ultimate happiness. He gives us the ultimate love. My friends, He guides us to keep the Ten Commandments. He does it all! All we have to do is believe in the cross.

Opening Hymn: #526, Because He Lives
Scripture: Acts 8:32-35
Closing Hymn: #309, I Surrender All

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