Sermon delivered January 2, 1999

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Launching a New Life

Let us Pray: Dear Father, I cannot fill the sanctuary with people, but I can fill the service with purpose. I cannot convince people they are sinners, but I can confess that I am a sinner. I cannot persuade the whole world, but I can proclaim your whole Word. Open our eyes today that we may see Jesus. Amen.

If you are ever going to tap into the unfathomable rejuvenating power of Christ AND you are going to accomplish it in this millennium, now is the year. Only 364 days separate us from that moment and perhaps even less from our own end. Why not launch a new life right now?

I believe that God exists.
If not, then humans are just future fertilizer.  
We are a stir in the slime, a movement in the muck.
Without Christ our globe is a nomadic mud ball. 
Devoid of Jesus we are insignificant clots of accidental  hurting  molecules: 
Zombies zealously zooming to the tomb.

But connected to God our future is inexhaustible. We become eternal, significant and vitalized. The greatest thing you can ever do is connect to God.

Invite Jesus to take up occupancy in your heart. When Jesus enters the old man of sin dies. They cannot coexist. When someone dies we have a funeral to dispose of the corpse. This burial is Baptism which helps us to live a NEW LIFE.

Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If you want to have a dynamic Christian life, there are four essentials. 1.- PRAYER (The BREATH of the Christian) Prayer is the vehicle through which the awesome power of God is conveyed. This transforms the meaningless mass of molecules.

A large heavy truck stalled on the expressway and a man stopped to see if he could be of any help. He soon found that the wheel bearings had frozen up due to a lack of grease. What is so peculiar about that? The truck was an oil company truck which just happened to be hauling grease!

How often we Christians get so occupied bearing the duties of Christianity and the grease of the gospel that we neglect to lubricate our own spiritual bearings. How many Christians are stalled on the edge of a true and deep experience? Stranded there on the side of the road of life. Stalled out!

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Have you ever watched a bird sleeping on its perch and never falling off? How does it manage to do this? The secret is the tendons of the bird's legs. They are so constructed that when the leg is bent at the knee, the claws contract and grip like a steel trap. The claws refuse to let go until the knees are unbent again. I guess if the bird got arthritis he could never get up. The bent knee gives the bird the ability to hold on tight to his perch. When you are on your knees you can't fall.

From sleeping birds we can learn the secret of holding on. That secret is the bent knee, seeking to get a firmer grip on those values which make life worth living. When we hold firmly to God in prayer, we can be assured He will hold tightly to us.

During 1999, seek a closer walk with God. Develop your prayer life. Communicate with Your Forever Friend. God answers EVERY prayer. But not always with a yes. If God said yes to every one of your prayers He would cease to be God. Instead, you would be in charge of the universe.

John 14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. James 5:16 The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

These verses wrongly taken lead to a fallacious a view of prayer.

People think that if we are earnest enough 
                             and believe enough 
                          and claim hard enough 
                            and are good enough 
that whatever we ask will be given to us.

Is that true? Remember one of the most zealous and intent prayers in the whole Bible.... It was prayed by a dying person hanging on a cross.... Matthew 26:39 Going a little farther, (Jesus) fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

God did not say yes even though Jesus was earnest, and believed and was perfectly good. The purpose of prayer is not to get God to do our will, but rather to get God's will done in our life. I would rather be totally surrendered to His will than have my will done.

I would like to suggest that you try Positive Praying. So often we pray for help in quitting Alcohol or sexual abuse. We focus on the problem. Job said: Job 3:25 What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me." He got what he focused on. Instead, try focusing on what you want to be. "I want to be pure."

Someone did a study and discovered that passing vehicles are seven times more likely to run into a police car that is parked by the side of the road IF its blinking lights are on! We tend to move toward the brightest picture in our mind.

So, Don't think about the problem, instead contemplate the resolution. We become what we think. So think positively.

The parent who tells the kids: "Don't play in the street" is painting a picture in the young mind of playing out there on the street. Instead say: "Please stay here in our yard while you play."

Virtually every medical student in their course of study will develop the symptoms of one or more of the diseases she or he is studying in their textbook! They never even got near the germs! We become what we think. So pray positive prayers. Pray to become more like Jesus. Instead of praying "Lord, help me overcome my temper" pray: "Lord make me patient and composed." The first key in launching a new life is prayer.

2 REGULAR, MEANINGFUL BIBLE TIME. (The FOOD of the Christian) - (Jeremiah 15:16). Job 23:12 "I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread."

Eat some exhilarating food in 1999. The Word of God is exciting. Did you know that the Bible refers to a man who had a bed 13.5 feet long and 6.5 feet wide?- Deut. 3:11. Now that would be a fairly large man. There is a story of a man who got a hair cut once a year and the waste weighed six and a quarter pounds! (II Samuel 14- Absalom) For me that would be a lifetime record! Great value enriches the Bible reader from the spiritual life that surges out of its chapters. II Timothy 3:15-17 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Bible is our spiritual food.

Do you plan to eat in 1999? How many meals? At least once a week? How many feasts will you enjoy from the Bible? If the King James seems like Brussels Sprouts, then try varying the menu to include other accurate and fascinating translations. Your knowledge of God will increase in the proportion to the amount of food you eat. Too many Christians look like they have spent time in a Spiritual concentration camp! Plan on reading your Bible all the way through this year. Let's eat in 1999!

#3 WORK for God. This is the bodies EXERCISE. You probably made a new year's resolution to get more exercise. How about spiritual exercise. Paul Harvey said, "Too many Christians are no longer fishers of men but keepers of the aquarium."

See Matt 4:19. "Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men."

   If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; 
   If you wish to enrich years, plant trees; 
   If you wish to enrich Eternity, plant Jesus in the hearts of others.

"The fact that nine in ten Americans are not committed Christians is worthy of our deepest concern." -- George H. Gallup in Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 4, 1997.

Acts 26: 17,18 "I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

If you want to come alive in 1999 then try helping someone else. Over this Christmas our family went down to the Community Kitchen in Chattanooga to serve breakfast. We arrived at 6:15 AM where a crowd of cold hungry folks waited. Their obvious needs quickly justified our coming.

One lady came to the serving counter and as I dished up some hot oatmeal and toast on her plate she said: "I had another seizure last night." I noticed a fresh cut on her forehead. I said: "God bless you Ma'am." She said: "He already has... I woke up alive this morning. I was not frozen, or hurt."

Another had just been evicted because his company had downsized and he lost his job and everything he had. We tried to share some of the love of Jesus with them. If you want to launch a new life in 1999 then exercise your spiritual muscles for Jesus. Go on a Maranatha project yourself. Deliver food to a person in hunger. Use your car for transportation. Work for Jesus.

4 Daily Surrender to Christ. James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Submit to God and resist the devil. Yield your will to Gods will and defy Satan's efforts. Every day you must give your all totally into Jesus hands. Oswald Chambers said: "Freedom is the ability not to insist on my rights, but to see that God gets His." Put God first in 1999.

You may say: I don't have time to study the Bible and pray and witness. So how do we find time? The answer is that we don't lose time in doing these things. We gain time! How's that? Because God can solve problems instantaneously, a problem that we might work on for months before solving.

A very busy person can't afford not to pray. It is like tithing. Tithing doesn't make you poorer, it makes you more prosperous. This is one of God's paradoxes. Whatever we give to God, He gives back better.

Launch a new life in 1999!  Now is the time.
Another year is dawning; dear Father, let it be, 
   In working or in waiting, another year with thee. 
   Another year of progress, another year of praise, 
   Another year of proving thy presence all the days. 
   Another year of service, of witness for thy love; 
   Another year of training for holier work above. 
   Another year is dawning; dear Father, let it be, 
   on earth, or else in heaven, another year for thee. 

      Frances Ridley Havergal (1836 1879)

Opening Hymn: 1 Praise to the Lord
Scripture: Responsive Reading- 792 (From Psalm 16, NKJV)
Closing Hymn: 492 Be Like Jesus


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