Expository Sermon for the Baptismal Service
of Marjorye Garcia and Ivy Hendrickson
by Maylan Schurch
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church 12/2/2017
©2013 by Maylan Schurch
(The audio for this sermon will be uploaded soon.)
Please open your Bibles to Psalm 18.
As Shelley and I mentioned earlier, both Marjorye and Ivy are Pathfinders. I would like to add my thanks to all our Pathfinder staff for the steady, loving and prayerful work you have done for our young people. Pathfinder staff, I am so impressed and so appreciative of your caring, your careful planning, and your apparently inexhaustible patience. Thank you very much.
The little South Dakota church I grew up in was too small to have a Pathfinder club, so I was never a Pathfinder. But out there on the prairie, we did have paths. Most of them were cow paths.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned cow paths before from this pulpit, but I don’t think very recently. Has anybody here ever seen a cow path? They are very impressive. The ones I remember were about eighteen inches wide, and very well-worn. You’d have the grass, and then eighteen inches of flat, weed-less, well-pounded pure dirt, and then the grass would start up again.
I think what’s so fascinating to me about these cow paths is that they are so narrow. I do not remember seeing cows walk in single file. But they have to walk in single file to make those paths as beaten-down as they are. There has to be one cow that leads the way, and other cows follow them. It might be a different cow leading every day, but somehow they find that same path and go that same direction day after day.
So why do cows make those paths? They do it because there is something at the other end of that path that they want to get to, again and again and again. Maybe it’s water. Maybe it’s the supplemental food, the hay bales, the farmer provides for them when they have eaten all the grass in the field.
I called today’s sermon “Navigating the Path.” In the book of Acts, which is a history of the first years of the Christian church after Jesus had gone back to heaven, Christianity was often spoken of as “the way.” It literately uses the Greek word for “road” or “path.” Apparently Christians, and maybe non-Christians who observed them, understood that being a Christian wasn’t just learning some new ideas, nodding your head, getting a diploma, and then going about your daily life as though nothing had happened. Instead, if you were Christian, you were on a walk, on a hike, on a journey. You didn’t stand still—you kept going and you kept growing. You kept maturing, kept getting less selfish and more understanding.
That’s what Ivy and Marjorye are doing, as Christians, as Sabbath school students, as Pathfinders. In Pathfinders, you begin not knowing how to do a certain skill, such as baking or rocketry or tying knots. But as you go along, you learn each skill, and you get your honor patch, and you are a different person than you were before. So Marjorye and Ivy know very well that they are on a path, a path which – if they stay on it – will lead them closer and closer to Jesus.
This is where the Bible passages they chose for this morning come in so handy. Because if we put those Bible passages side-by-side, they will tell us how to navigate our path and travel safely on it.
Let’s look at Marjorye’s verses first. They are the first six verses of Psalm 18. Let’s take them step-by-step, and they will tell us, along with Ivy’s verse, how to navigate the path of life.
But before we even get to verse one, let’s read what comes just before it. Before verse one begins, you see an unusually long introduction to this Psalm. Usually a Psalm’s introduction will be short, something like “A Psalm of David.” But this is a long introduction, and it is part of the Bible. This was written in the original Hebrew manuscripts, and it’s Scripture. And this introduction tells us of a difficult path David had to travel for a while. Let’s look at it.
Psalm 18, introduction [NKJV]: To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David The Servant of the LORD, Who Spoke to the LORD The Words of This Song on the Day that the LORD Delivered Him from the Hand of All His Enemies and from the Hand of Saul.
If you know anything about David’s early career, you know that a good part of it was spent hurrying from cave to cave with his followers, hiding from King Saul, who wanted to murder him. As you can imagine, during this time David did his best to avoid the regular, beaten paths. And as a result, it was a very difficult and dangerous journey he was making.
But knowing this makes Marjorye’s verses even more important. Because I believe they tell me three ways to navigate the path of life. And Ivy’s verse will tell us a fourth way.
So let’s look at Psalm 18, verse one.
Psalm 18:1 – 2: I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
So, what is the first thing we need to know in order to navigate our life path? If you’re taking sermon notes, here comes Sermon Point One.
Get to know the One who walks the path with you.
Remember, David started composing this song immediately after God had delivered him from his enemies, especially from Saul. So David knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was his strength. God was his rock. Many times, David needed a fortress, and God became his fortress and deliverer.
One of the new year’s resolutions I always make is to read my Bible more. Life gets really complicated out beyond these walls. There are some people who don’t know the path they’re traveling, and some may not even believe there is a path. We need to get to know how God helps people through all different kinds of crises so that we can help guide others toward Him.
We get to know God by reading His Bible, of course, but also through doing what Marjorye and Ivy have been doing – attending Sabbath school, and enrolling in Pathfinders, in other words, spending time with other people, learning about God and His amazing world and His amazing love.
One of the most precious things in God’s sight is a person who knows Him so well that no matter what terrible, discouraging crisis they go through, they know they can trust Him. And just as you can’t really trust a person until you get to know them, you can’t really put full faith in God unless you know a lot about Him.
So this year, go ahead and study the life of David. Walk with him on his jagged, precarious path and you’ll see God at work at every step. Read about Jesus and the path He traveled from the cradle to the cross. Watch how God was with Him and sustained Him.
Now let’s look at something else which will help me navigate my path.
Verse 3: I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.
So what else do I need to know as I find my footing on the path?
Not only should I get to know the One who walks the path with me, but I need to call out to Him.
When Ivy and Marjorye go to school, they both study about history. They learn about Abraham Lincoln, and Eleanor Roosevelt. They can learn a lot from how these people lived and what they said, but those people can’t personally help them with their lives.
But David had a God, and we have a God, who loves to have us call on Him for help. In verse three, David says that when he calls upon the Lord, he will be saved from his enemies. God will intervene somehow, either to remove us from trouble or stay comfortingly close as we go through it.
Now here’s something else we need to remember as we walk our path.
Verses 4 – 6: The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
What’s another thing we need to remember about navigating the path of life?
Not only should I get to know the One who walks the path with me, and not only should I call out to Him, but I need to be realistic about where that path might lead.
David, of course, had just gone through experiences that few of us ever will have to go through. That is, if we live in the United States. But all over the world there are whole nations, whole ethnic groups, that are facing desperate danger from other human beings.
So while we call out to God for help with our own challenges, whatever they might be, we need to pray for people we hear about on the news. We need to get in touch with God.
And we need to remember that no matter what happens to us, no matter how discouraging the future might seem, God will walk the path with us if we call out to Him and ask Him to join us.
Now let’s turn to Ivy’s verse for one more thing we need to know as we find the path God wants us to walk.
2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Here’s one more extremely thrilling promise God has for us as He walks our path with us:
Not only should I get to know the One who walks the path with me, and call out to Him, and be realistic about where that path might lead, but if I invite Jesus directly into my mind and heart, He will begin changing me into a new person.
Haven’t you wished, once in a while, that you could have been born or created in the Garden of Eden? Because back there you would have just the perfect body, strong and acrobatic, with none of the weakness of generations of sin.
But even though we can’t go back to Eden right now, Paul promises us – and Jesus also promises us – that we can change in ways that are really important, because He lives inside us.
In a way, it’s something like friendship. Ivy and Marjorye are friends. They like to talk and text each other, they like to be in Pathfinders together. But the friendship Jesus loves to have with us is even closer than that.
And Jesus proves this in a special prayer He prayed just before He and His disciples walked up the hill to the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s a prayer found in John 17. It was a long prayer. He prays for His disciples, and then He prays for those who would learn about Him because of the disciples – and that’s us. We know about God because Jesus’ disciples faithfully told other people, and wrote Bible books.
And listen to what Jesus prays for when He prays for us.
John 17:20 – 23: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Why does Jesus want to be so close to us? Because He loves us. And because He knows that the only way most people will come to know Him is if His friends introduce Him to them.
Marjorye and Ivy have been doing this this morning. They’ve told you why they think this day is special. They’ve told you that they want to follow Jesus on whatever path He leads them.
How about you? Would you like to follow Jesus more closely from now on, seeking His guidance as you navigate your path? Raise your hands if you’d like to do that. And remember how Ivy was inspired to be baptized by another girl at Sunset Lake. Maybe her baptism and Marjorye’s baptism have inspired some of you this morning to be baptized. If so, come and talk to me about it. I’d be glad to help you just as I helped Ivy and Marjorye.