During the divine service and evening plenary on Saturday, December 30th, speakers offered powerful messages for the over 4,000 people who gathered on the last full day of the 2023 GYC conference in Portland, Oregon.
The speaker for the divine service, Jermaine Gayle, Senior Pastor of the University Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Lansing, Michigan, preached a sermon titled, “When the Devil Empties his Wallet,” a metaphor that he would consistently come back to throughout the message to illustrate how much the devil is willing to “pay” for the worship of God’s people.
He identified the devil as “the most diligent preacher in America right now,” and gave the example of the devil’s actions toward Jesus in Matthew 4. Having been led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, the biblical narrative says that Jesus was “tempted by the devil.” And though the devil used every tool he could, from tempting Jesus with food to promising Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world,” he could not get Jesus to worship him.
Gayle dug deeper into the anatomy of the devil’s strategies, saying, “He never comes with this temptation to worship first. He always works his way up to it.” In essence, he starts by tempting Christians into small compromises, then tempting them into doubting God, and ultimately “throwing yourself down” into sin.
Gayle highlighted four key areas that the devil is willing to “spend on” to receive worship from the children of God. “He is willing to pay a high price,” Gayle said. These four things are “the king’s palace; the king’s college; [his] kitchen; and his kingdom,” based on the experiences of Daniel and the three Hebrew boys in Daniel 1.
Making comparisons to today, Gayle explains what the devil will use to get young people to compromise. Things such as job promotions, education in secular institutions, unbiblical dietary styles, and loyalty to people and places not of the kingdom of God are all part of the devil’s toolbox.
Alluding to the beginning of his sermon when Jesus fought the devil with scripture, Gayle said, offering the solution, “We need the Word of God. The Word of God needs to be our foundation.”
Walters: “The Miracle of Mission”
Sam Walters, the speaker for the evening plenary sessions, spoke for the final evening plenary and posed a significant question to the crowd: “What are you planning to do?”
The final sermon of his “Miracle” series was titled “The Miracle of Mission.” In it, he called the young people of GYC to action.
He encouraged everyone to “devise and come up with a plan” based on what God has inspired in them and to “lay these plans at [Jesus’] feet.” He reminded the audience that they are created in the image of God, according to Genesis 1:27, and urged the young people to “use your power of individuality and respond to God’s great love for you, to think about this, and to do something.” He ended by giving tips on creating a plan for service and mission. First, commit your way to God. Second, do your best in the work that lies nearest you. Third, watch for the indicators of His providence.
By doing these three things and being watchful of the devil’s strategies, Walters said, GYC youth and young adults can confidently return to their homes and do great things for God in 2024.