Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

July 16, 2017 Sermon

“NASCAR and Jesus:  Fuel”
Psalm 119:89 - 104
Ted Jansen  July 16, 2017  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        It is an event that people anticipate for days.  They travel from all directions making this gathering their top priority.  They come expecting an event that will finish with a victory for their favorite.  They attire themselves in clothes appropriate for the day.  You sense a buzz of anticipation as people gather in the seats.    
            First is an opening prayer which is followed by the singing of the National Anthem.  Then a few minutes goes by until you hear over the sound system these words, “Drivers, start your engines!”  The roar of the engines coming to life is unmistakable and its sound can be felt in your chest.  The pace car takes the cars on a few slow laps while the crowd anticipates the flag to be waved and the race to begin. 
They all drive past the start line and then as hard and fast as they can until the checkered flag is waved at the end.  Who is the victor of this race?  Who had car problems?  Who had the best crew?  The drama unfolds in the hours after the race begins. 
            NASCAR racing is a weekly gathering that happens from February until November in our American culture.    
 
2.)        How many of you have attended a car race of any kind?  How many of you have watched a car race on TV?  How many of you have read about the races and drivers?  If so then perhaps you might know the answer to these two NASCAR trivia questions.
*Who won the Daytona 500 in 1999?  (Jeff Gordon)  *When was the first Daytona 500 held?  (1959) 
            For the next several weeks we are going to take a look at topics of NASCAR and relate them to our life of faith with Jesus.  So, I invite you to jump in the driver’s seat and come along for the ride.  We will be looking at Strategy, Pit Crew, and today Fuel. 
 
3.)        I have been told that there was a commercial on TV that shows a pit crew pushing a car around the track with the phrase, “Without us there would be no race!”  Then it advertises Sunoco fuel.  This is the official fuel of NASCAR and this commercial communicates a fundamental point of racing.  If you don’t have fuel you have no race.
            I want to share three insights about fuel and NASCAR racing.          
a.)  Without fuel you don’t have power.  Fuel creates the combustion in the engines to make the cars go.   
b.)  All cars have the same fuel.  Sunoco supplies all the cars the same fuel.  You can’t use your own special mixtures; it is all the same.   
c.)  The cars are limited as to how much fuel they can carry.  22 gallons is all they can carry in their tanks.  The cars have to come in and get re-fueled during a race. 
 
4.)        NASCAR and Jesus.  I want you to connect the fuel that cars run on to the Bible that disciples run on.  The Holy Spirit has inspired the Bible and it is our primary fuel for life!  Let’s look at these three insights on fuel as they relate to Jesus and the Bible. 
            a.)  Without the Bible you don’t have power.  God uses the Bible to create internal combustion (fire) that makes your life go. 
            b.)  We all have the scripture available to us.  There is no one here that has an advantage over anyone else.  We can all receive the power from scripture.  We understand that there are some people who don’t have the scripture in their language and we thank God for those who work in those mission fields.  We all have the ability to get scripture in our lives.      
            *You are limited on how much you can receive from the Bible at any one time.  You need to get re-fueled on a regular basis for your life.  It is not a once in a lifetime moment when you fill up once and it lasts for 100 years. We need a refilling each day.
 
5.)        Psalm 119 celebrates the importance of scripture in our lives.  This Psalm is designed in an interesting way. 
            Each section of eight verses is a stanza and each stanza is based on a letter of the Hebrew Alphabet.  As you look above each stanza you will see a symbol and a Hebrew word.  The order represents the beginning to the end of the Hebrew alphabet. 
            This entire Psalm is devoted to communicating the importance of God’s word for the totality of human life.  This Psalm is saying from A-Z God’s word is all you need.   
            “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens…Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you…Oh, how I love your law!... How sweet are your words to my taste...”  (Psalm 119:89, 91, 97, 103)
            These verses remind us that God’s word is eternal, relevant, and enjoyable.
 
6.)        God’s word is eternal.  Whenever the word of God is read, sung, heard, communicated eternity is being experienced in the temporary.  The word of God stands firm in the heavens, it lasts forever. 
            Consider the things that last forever in this life.  Consider the time you invest in doing temporary things.  You do things over and over again like cooking, cleaning, laundry!     
I looked at a web site and in an average life span you will spend 25 years sleeping, 10 years working, 3.66 years eating 35 tons of food, and spending 90% of your time indoors, while walking 110,000 miles. (“30 Surprising Facts about How We Actually Spend Our Time,”  Distractify.com.)
As we consider our time are we investing our time in the eternal?   How are we giving our time for God, our soul, and God’s word?  When we get God’s word and get it inside of us by reading, listening, singing, and studying it you are doing something eternal.  You allow the Lord to shape you.   
 
7.)        God’s word is relevant.  We wonder how relevant things are in this world of rapid change.  We might look at scripture like we do at technology.  If we don’t have the latest “thing” we are out of date.  In some ways that might be true. 
How many of you use an eight track player?  Anyone?  They are not relevant or used in our day to listen to music, we have other means via phones, tablets, etc.      
Can something that has as its “newest” contribution of almost 2,000 years old speak to us with relevance today?  I believe it can.  God’s word speaks to issues of the soul that never change throughout the ages.   
            Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any two edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
            God’s word will speak to your situation, you will find an answer.  Go to scripture.    
 
8.)        God’s word is enjoyable.  Do we experience God’s word as something sweeter than honey like it says in the Psalms?  Do we crave it like we crave a cinnamon roll? 
God’s word is sweeter than an entire box of Krispy Kreme donuts and if you eat the entire box you will not gain pounds!  Wow, that is great!   Scripture brings joy to you.       
           
9.)        Many years ago, a doting groom penned a love letter to his bride. Stationed at a California military base thousands of miles away from his wife, James Bracy's links to the lovely woman waiting for him to come home were their love letters.
But this letter didn't get delivered. Somehow it was lost, lodged between two walls in Fort Ord's mailroom in San Francisco. The letter was lost in the shadows, with its romantic affections of a youthful marriage, sealed with a kiss.
A half century later, James and Sallie Bracy had just finished celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and were relaxing in the living room when "Once in a While," their song, began to play on the radio. Sallie remembered affectionately the 1950s song and how she used to get calls and letters from the man who owned her heart. They joked together knowing there would be no letter or phone call this time because James was at her side.
Meanwhile, a construction crew was dismantling the old post office at Fort Ord, and they discovered a long-forgotten letter from a young army corporal. The crew turned the letter over to Bob Spadoni, the postmaster in nearby Monterey. Spadoni began the process of delivering that letter, tracking down the Bracys through post office records and phone books.
Just a few days after hearing their song, the letter, dated January 28, 1955, was delivered to Sallie Bracy. The letter sent her heart aflutter, tears welled, and she again became a love-struck 22-year-old. "It meant a lot to me then," said Sallie. "It means even more now."
Many years ago God wrote his love letter to us. It's waiting to be delivered, to be opened at just the right time. It meant a lot then, and it means even more now.
(Citation: Drew Zahn, assistant editor, Leadership Journal; source: Jefferson City News Tribune (4-25-01)  From “More Perfect Illustrations”)
            God loves you and God chooses to tell you is though the scriptures. 
             
11.)      A race car needs fuel in order to go.  A disciple of Jesus needs the Bible.  I want to ask a question that Gatorade used as a slogan up to 2013.  “Is it in you?”   The Bible, God’s Word… Is it in you?  Is the Bible in you? 
I encourage each of you who say, Yes!” it is in me, to continue to read, study, meditate, memorize and obey the Lord through His word. 
I encourage each of you who say, “No,” it is not in me, to get the fuel that will power your life the way that God intended.  Here are four ways to “get it in you.” 
Get a Bible.  Make sure you have a Bible that you can read.  Maybe you need to get a different version, or buy a new one, or get it on your phone or device.     
Get a plan.  Decide on how you are going to do to read the scripture.  Read a proverb a day, read a chapter of the NT a day, start with the Upper Room devotional.       
Get a time.  Make a commitment to the Lord to find a consistent time.  
Get started.   Men, Women, Youth, Children, start your engines.  Power your faith with the fuel that will thrill your soul.  Don’t wait any longer.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life.