January 3, 1988
Behold His Glory!
Although the gospels of Matthew and Luke tell the Christmas story with detail, in John 1:14 we find the ultimate meaning of these events. John writes: “… we have beheld His glory ….” That is truly the meaning of the Christmas story.
It is a glory that is discovered in unexpected places.
Who would have expected to discover the glory of God in that young woman of Nazareth, Mary? Jesus was not born of noble parents, not born in a palace. He was born to Mary, the humble maid. Who would have expected to discover the power and glory of God in Nazareth?
Nathaniel asked the question that was everyone’s question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The village was too far from Jerusalem, too far from the temple, too much a mixed race of people, too much a home to unorthodox ideas.
Who would have expected to discover the glory of God in Bethlehem? He would have been sought in the capitol city, in the finest of inns, not in a stable.
The glory of God is still discovered in unexpected places. It can be found in the smiling face of a child. It can be discovered in the care expressed for the sad and lonely. It is renewed in the quietness of some human heart.
It is a glory that leads to unexpected results.
We say that there is no way to teach an old dog new tricks, but the coming of Christ brought the unexpected result of transformed hearts. In that glory we discover the power to forgive the unforgivable.
Father Anthony Kardas escaped from Lithuania in a haywagon as the Russian persecution intensified in his country. After many years as a missionary in Chile, he was assigned in 1973 to the Holy Cross Church near New York’s Times Square.
On Christmas Eve, 1980, Father Kardas was attacked and beaten by two youths, who took his watch and $100. From his hospital bed, Father Kardas, the aging priest who had suffered so much, said, “Yes, it was cruel … but I forgave them ….”
We do not expect peace, but Christ brings peace. The reality of a world in which swords are beaten into plowshares has not yet arrived. But peace does come to those who behold His glory.
We see so much sadness, yet to behold His glory is to discover a special joy. In the most calloused parts of life, in the most disgruntled of humans, the glory of Christ creates the ability to sing our songs of joy for all mankind.
The coming of Christ enables us to affirm, “We beheld His glory.” And having seen that glory, it shines in us and through us. (HCP)
January 10, 1988
When God Said Yes!
There has always been someone to tell me “No!” First it was my parents. When I went away to college, I thought I would be free but the dorm had rules, and the professors had expectations.
When I got married, I knew I would be in charge. Yet even my wife knows how to say “No.”
When the children were born, I was sure that I would have a chance to say “No!” myself. But they said it more often than I, even when they did not say the word. If I decided I needed a new pair of shoes, I could look at theirs, and hear inside myself the “No” which came from their need.
There have been “No’s” around me all my life. That is why the story from Mark’s gospel is so important to me. God said to Jesus, “You are my beloved son.”
This is God’s Yes over Jesus. We could translate those words of God, “You are my son, my loved one. I am so happy that you have done the right thing.”
Jesus heard God’s Yes, and He knew He was approved, commissioned, and appointed.
– Jesus left His home and journeyed down to the Jordan. He was searching for God’s Yes.
– Jesus was obedient and submissive, and that is the second step toward the Yes of God.
– Jesus looked up into heaven, looking in the right direction. His life was focused on the right things.
Are you tired of hearing the No!? Do you long to hear a Yes!?
God is not involved in some cosmic game of hide and seek. He is looking for you. But God only finds those who are looking for Him.
To begin the journey toward a relationship with God, the first step is to acknowledge our need of Him. Then we must be submissive and obedient to that will of God which is made known to us in His word. We can hear God say, “YES!” to us. (HCP)
January 17, 1988
We’re Listening, Lord!
(1 Samuel 3:1-10)
The times from which this story comes are “interim days.” The wanderings in the wilderness are in the past. The days of the glory of David’s kingdom are still in the future.
The tent of meeting is gone, yet the Temple in Jerusalem is not yet a realized dream. The words of God given to Moses and Aaron are remembered only dimly. The fiery pronouncements of Amos or the challenging words of Jeremiah have not yet been uttered.
It is a time of disabling disagreements over the places of worship. It is a time of moral weakness and spiritual degradation. The biblical description is, “The word of the Lord was seldom heard, and there was no vision granted.”
In such a time as this, we are introduced to the story of Samuel. Hannah has fervently prayed for a son. She vows to give him to the Lord. And the child is born. Hannah takes Samuel to Eli the priest and leaves him there to serve the Lord. Samuel is still a young boy and his tasks are menial. He slept near the ark and provided oil for the lamps. He opened and closed the doors of the shrine, and tried to care for the needs of the aged Eli.
Then there is the voice in the midst of the night. Three times the voice comes, and then the vision is granted.
I. There is a persistence about God’s words.
The call of God comes over and over to Samuel. The whole history of Israel is a testimony to the persistence of God. Moses was a stutterer, but God would not excuse him. Jeremiah decided that he was too young, but God gave him messages to speak. Jonah did not like the Ninevites, but God followed him to the depth of the sea.
II. God chooses whom He pleases, not just those with obvious marks of greatness.
You and I would not have picked out that insignificant lad who propped open doors and filled oil lamps as the leader for the future of God’s people.
Fred Gealey, long-time teacher at Southern Methodist University, has a communion meditation on greatness in which he points out that there are no small or great places in the Kingdom of God, only our place. The follower of God takes the roles offered in God’s drama and works at them with every skill he can, not because the places are great or small but because they are our places, given to us by God.
III. The call of God to men needs to be interpreted.
God is not always easy to recognize. The mother of two boys was relaxing after they had gone to bed. Dressed in old clothes, hair in rollers, a towel around her head, she came to their room to quiet them. As she left, one boy asked, “What was that?”
God has a marvelous plan for all his Samuels. What is yours? Have you responded, “I’m Listening, Lord!” (HCP)
January 24, 1988
The Time is Now
(Jonah 3:1-5; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; and Mark 1-14-20)
All three of our lectionary texts have to do with time — a time to repent (Jonah), a time to respond (Mark), and a time to live expectantly (1 Corinthians).
At first glance, the message seems to be different in each case, and there are differences. Yet there is also a common tie betwen them. It is the bond of God’s action in God’s time.
Time is important for all persons. In our land, we live by the clock and the appointment calendar.
A child was lodged in an abandoned well in Texas last October. Time was vital. Many persons worked diligently, digging down in order to rescue Jessica. Some thought there was a limit of about thirty-six hours to bring her out alive. When she was reached after almost sixty hours, the child was alive. Time had been of the essence, for that rescue could not be delayed.
The reality of God and the purposes of God cannot be postponed forever. Time is important.
I. There is a time for repentance and remorse.
The Ninevites heard a call to repentance and accepted that opportunity. What would have happened had they rejected Jonah’s message? We can only guess, but God’s sparing act found in verse 10 likely would have not occurred.
In our own human circumstances, if we go past the proper moment to achieve reconciliation with others, that opportunity may be lost forever.
II. There is a time for response.
Jesus not only announced the reality of the Kingdom, the fishermen responded to that announcement. They joined the movement.
In each human life, there is the opportunity to respond. A gate opens. To step through that opening changes the future. In every church, the same experience occurs. There is a need for someone to proclaim that the gate is open, and there must be a willingness on the part of the community to pass through the gate.
III. There is a time for great expectations.
Paul expected the immediate return of the Lord. That expectation molded his style of life and that of others in the Christian faith.
You and I know that the expectation was delayed, and that a new life had to be fashioned later in the church because of that delay, but we can see that our expectations mold the life we live. Our choices and our beliefs determine that some things are more important than others.
There was a time for Nineveh, a time for Galilean fishermen, a time for Paul and the Corinthians. There is also a time for us, a time that is now. What is God’s call in your life — in this hour? (HCP)
January 31, 1988
The Power of the Word
“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
In the right context, there must be some truth in that saying. Yet words do have the power to hurt and hinder. Words have the power to destroy.
Words also have the power to uplift and to enrich. Words have a power much greater than the credit given in that ancient saying.
The account of Jesus’ sermon at the synagogue cannot be understood apart from the understanding of the importance of words. There is a power in His words that captures the imagination of the people. It startles them, for it is a new understanding of an old truth.
Then the man possessed by the evil spirit cries out, and Jesus’ word convulses the man. The people are not simply astonished, they are amazed! Jesus has coupled His words of truth with a demonstration of His truth.
Jesus exhibits this power in His words because of the quality of His life. And Jesus uses the power of His words to help rather than to hurt.
I. The power of God is most evident when our words help rather than hurt.
The young often live by “put downs.” Yet Christians should be living by building up, giving support to others.
That modern fairy tale which speaks of “cold pricklies” and “warm fuzzies” has a great truth. God offers to all of us the ministry of the healing word.
II. To be most helpful, our words must come from the quality of our lives.
Jesus had that quality. It sprang from His home, where God was real. It developed through His years of study of the Scripture. It was strengthened by prayer with His friends and in the silence of His own soul.
Only when we are about the business of developing our souls can we be the kind of persons whose words are supportive and helpful.
III. Our words and our deeds must be joined together.
We build our churches and announce to everyone that they are welcome. But have we ever invited our neighbor?
We affirm our love for God, only to allow Him to slip to the back of our lives until Sunday morning comes again. We tell one another of our love for our church, but let others support it by their gifts and their labors.
In The Company of the Committed, Elton Trueblood wrote, “The spoken word is never really effective unless it is backed up by a life, but it is also true that the living deed is never adequate without the support which the spoken word can provide.”
The prophet Amos spoke about the absence of food, shelter, and God’s punishment by saying, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”
All around us are persons to whom the Word should be spoken and enacted. They may be amazed or astonished — such is always the case when there is power in the words. (HCP)
February 7, 1988
The Christ Who Meets Needs
The Christmas season is a time when our ‘wants’ often wildly exceed our ‘needs.’ How many have walked through a toy store with a young child and heard, again and again, “But daddy, I need that,” or “Mommy, I really need to have this!” Of course, adults never have that problem — at least not until we get into a car showroom or a travel agency!
Yet there are needs in each of our lives, and Jesus Christ is ready to meet your needs.
I. Christ Meets Physical Needs
In both public and private, Jesus reached out to meet the needs of people. In the privacy of Peter’s home, He healed Peter’s mother-in-law of the fever that plagued her. Soon the crowds were coming to Jesus for healing of their physical infirmities.
In the past, the church has often divorced the physical from the spiritual. Today Christians are becoming more aware that ministry must be to the whole person — including physical needs.
As those who minister in Christ’s name, we must be active in reaching out to minister to the physical needs of those around us. In an era when vast numbers are becoming homeless, when the cycle of poverty banishes millions to lives of misery, when too many suffer from dreaded illness or disability — it is our challenge to offer “a cup of cold water” in Jesus’ name.
II. Christ Meets Spiritual Needs
Although ministry to physical needs is vital, it is not enough. The church is more than a social-service agency; it is the messenger of God’s good news.
Jesus could have stayed in the same place and healed those who came to Him, but He knew His mission was much broader.” He had to move out to new places to proclaim the gospel to new audiences.
Likewise, it is tempting to allow our churches to stand pat, maintain the status quo, minister to those who come to us and ignore the world beyond. If we are to walk in Jesus’ steps, however, we must move out to proclaim the good news to a world in need. (JMD)
February 14, 1988
Touching the Untouchables
Leprosy has been called the most hopeless of all diseases. In his book, Where Is God When It Hurts, Philip Yancey points out that leprosy reverses the pain process. Pain serves as an “early-warning system” for most diseases, allowing us to seek treatment and healing.
With leprosy, however, the disease hampers the pain response system, leaving the body without this natural protection against self-destruction. A leper can be cut, burned, injured without the warning of pain. As a result, the leper loses any hope of healing.
Jesus faced a leper and brought new hope to his life, because He was willing to touch the untouchable.
I. Jesus Touched Despite the Stigma
In the ancient world, no disease was treated with such horror and repugnance as leprosy. Although the disease can be treated and controlled today, in that age there was no hope of a cure beyond a miracle of God.
Leprosy rendered a person unclean. He was banished from contact with society, sent away to live in isolation with others so afflicted. If someone approached, he was to cry out a warning: “Unclean! Unclean!”
Even in the Middle Ages, William Barclay tells us, the leper would be led into the church and a burial service performed for him. Though still alive, he was already considered dead.
The leper bore not only the physical disease, but the terrible stigma of isolation and fear. Yet Jesus reached out and touched him. Even if no healing had taken place, what love and care was expressed in just a simple touch!
The 1980’s have produced a group of modern-day lepers: victims of AIDS. Many have contracted this disease through no fault of their own, such as children receiving blood transfusions, yet they have been isolated and alienated — sometimes even by the church. We must face the question in our own day: will we touch the untouchable, as Jesus did, despite the stigma?
II. Jesus Touched Despite the Consequences
Jesus faced a difficult choice. He knew that once His work was widely known, it would have two consequences: crowds would seek Him out solely for His miracle-working, and the opposition of the religious establishment would be aroused.
Yet here was a leper seeking His help. As David McKenna observes, “What a cost for compassion! Jesus has to give up His ministry in that city for the sake of a single soul.”
There is always a temptation to overlook the individual in need as we look beyond to a larger, “greater” work. But Jesus focused on people — individual people who were overlooked, abandoned, rejected by society. And He touched them, despite the consequences.
Are we — as Christians and as a church — willing to touch the untouchable, to reach out to a world in need, despite the consequences? No matter what it costs? No matter what it demands of us? (JMD)
February 21, 1988
Preparing for the Journey
Whenever I get ready to take a trip I go through a process of preparation. I assemble clothes (usually forgetting socks or ties), supplies, a map and other essentials. That time of preparation makes my trip more enjoyable.
In our text, Jesus stands at the beginning of His ministry journey. The preparations He made serve as a model for us as we seek to prepare for our lives of ministry in His name.
I. He Prepared Through Obedience (v. 9-11)
For thirty years, Jesus had faithfully executed His duties in Nazareth. Now it was time to identify Himself with the Father’s work.
Why did He go to John for baptism? John offered a baptism of repentance, and Jesus had no need for repentance since He had lived a sinless life.
Jesus went in obedience to the Father’s will, to place Himself in the midst of God’s work and humanity’s need.
The new coach was meeting with his team, which had begun grumbling about some practice drills he wanted them to do. But when the team captain stepped out and began to run the drill as the coach instructed, the grumbling quickly stopped as the rest of the team followed. Leadership must model obedience.
Just as Jesus prepared for His ministry through obedience, so must we learn obedience if we are to be prepared for effective ministry.
II. He Prepared Through Trial (v. 12-13)
No one goes though this life without facing some measure of difficulties, and that is especially true for the Christian. Jesus assured His disciples that they would encounter persecution for His sake; if we plan to be bold witnesses for Christ, we will share in that expectation.
The temptations and trials Jesus faced here at the start of His ministry prepared Him for even greater trials He would face in the future. Likewise, God will use the trials that come our way now to prepare us for future trials.
Yet we can have confidence in the fact that we do not face such trials alone. Just as the angels ministered to Jesus in His time of temptation, so God will provide all that we need to deal with the trials we face.
III. He Prepared Through Service (v. 14-15)
Jesus moved out into the fields of service to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom.
It is axiomatic that a person only learns public speaking by speaking. You cannot learn to swim by reading a book. You’ll never learn to ski while safely tucked away in a classroom. While some preparation takes place off the field of battle, the final preparation of a warrior takes place when he enters the conflict.
Just as Jesus stepped into action, so must we. The final preparation for effective ministry is to start ministering. We must step into action.
God calls each of us to prepare for ministry, and He calls each of us to put that preparation into action. (JMD)
February 28, 1988
The Paradox of the Kingdom
A commentator recently noted the most inherently contradictory phrase in the English language is: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”
There are other things that seem contradictory but aren’t. They are paradoxes — things which seem as if they should be false but are nevertheless true.
In this text, Jesus is sharing with His followers the paradoxical nature of the Kingdom of God. What may seem foolish from our human perspective is, in fact, God’s truth. If we wish to follow after Jesus, we must deal with these truths.
I. Kingship Comes Through Suffering
The common understanding of Messiah among the Jewish people was that of a great ruler, a military and political leader who would lead Israel in throwing off Roman oppression and inaugurating a new kingdom greater than David’s. The Christ (Greek for “Anointed One”) would subdue or destroy the Gentiles and make Jerusalem the center of the world.
So when Jesus started discussing His own suffering and death, Peter reacted harshly — this can never be so! And Jesus was forced to rebuke this beloved follower in strong language: he was uttering Satanic ideas. Satan seeks his aims by power and conquest; Christ would accomplish His purpose by love, suffering, even death.
Satan calls us to seek worldly glory; Christ calls us to a willingness to suffer and sacrifice on His behalf.
II. A Crown Comes Through a Cross
No one can say that Jesus ever tried to lure followers by soft-pedaling His demands. Some contemporary preachers offer a “health and wealth” theology which suggests faith leads to a life of pleasure and prosperity. Jesus, by contrast, clearly says that those who follow Him must expect to take up a cross.
Jesus links the cross with self-denial. To deny one’s self is to say “no” to self and “yes” to God. He lives, not for his own purposes, but for God’s. He has literally nailed the old life to a cross and been raised to a new life in Christ.
III. Life is Saved by Losing It
If I cling to my life — dominated with concern for my own pleasure, my own good, my own desires — I will one day find my life to be empty. If, on the other hand, I lose my life in service for Christ, I will find it in an even greater way than I dreamed possible.
A fourth-century monk named Telemachus, who had been living the life of a hermit in the desert, one day sensed God’s call to serve in the city among the people. He journeyed to Rome, which by this time was officially Christian.
Although much had changed about Rome, one thing remained from heathen days: the arena. Although Christians no longer were devoured by wild beasts for the amusement of spectators, the crowds still came to see the gladiators fight and kill one another.
Telemachus made his way to the arena and stood among the tens of thousands but, unlike the rest, he was horrified at the human carnage underway. He left his place in the crowd and made his way to the scene of battle, stepping between the gladiators to momentarily stop the slaughter.
The crowd booed lustily, and the old man was pushed aside. Again he stepped between the gladiators, and now the crowd hurled stones. Suddenly a sword was lifted into the air and plunged downward into the body of the hermit monk.
As Telemachus lay lifeless in the arena, the crowd grew silent. A man of God had given his life to stop barbarism. As people came to realize what had happened, they began to file out. The Roman games came to an end that day, never to resume. Gibbon, the famous historian of the Roman empire, asserted, “His death was more useful to mankind than his life.”
Are you willing to yield your life in service to the King who gave His life for you? (JMD)
March 6, 1988
The Foolishness of the Cross
(1 Corinthians 1:22-25)
Night-owls may have enjoyed watching the David Letterman show on occasion. I can’t normally stay up that late, but when I do I enjoy watching a feature called “Stupid Pet Tricks.” In this segment, pet owners bring their pets on stage to perform a variety of bizarre tricks — lifting weights, playing volleyball with a balloon, balancing items on their noses, and so on. It is utter foolishness, but fun.
To the Jew or Greek hearing the gospel for the first time, it must have seemed utter foolishness. Their cultural preconceptions formed a barrier to truly hearing the gospel. The same can be true in our lives.
I. The Jews Demanded Signs
“I’ll believe it when I see it” was their motto. Over and over in Jesus’ ministry, the crowds flocked to Him to see the miracles. They wanted signs they could observe — a big show.
Yet God does not submit Himself to our demands. One of the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness was to perform a spectacular miracle so that people could confirm His Messiahship. He refused to cater to such appeals.
In our era of show business spectaculars, there is always the temptation to substitute style for substance; to yield to the crowd’s desire for signs.
II. The Crowds Demanded Wisdom
For the Greeks, philosophy was the road to God. They wanted a God they could understand intellectually. And the very idea of the cross was an intellectual affront. The idea that God — who was utterly remote from men, uninvolved in human affairs — would take on human flesh and live among us! It was an absolute absurdity.
Both Jew and Greek were, at the heart of the matter, seeking a God to whom they could relate under their own power. They wanted to be self-sufficient. Yet while the Jew demanded signs and the Greek wisdom,
III. God Demands Faith
The message of the gospel is that we find God, not through our own effort, but through God’s gracious revelation of Himself in Christ. Knowledge of God comes only through faith.
That cross, which seemed such foolishness to human minds, is at the center of God’s revelation of Himself. We receive Christ through faith alone. To those who accept their own limitations and accept God’s love through that cross, it becomes the very power and wisdom of God in their lives. (JMD)
March 13, 1988
The Way to Life
When a person enters the airport, they pass through a screening device prior to going to the gate. If a person has anything metallic on them, these detectors will announce it with a very loud sound.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if at the door of our sanctuaries there were instruments that could detect anything dangerous on us as we enter into worship?
I recall setting off the alarm one time in a very busy airport. The guard asked me to empty my pockets and pass through again. I did that, thinking it was just my keys, but the alarm sounded again. By this time the folks waiting in line behind me were becoming a little nervous.
I allowed them to pass in front of me and tried again, this time emptying everything on the tray that I could think of that was metal, including my belt buckle. Finally and fortunately, I passed through the detector without an alarm.
After I had successfully passed, I noticed a crowd, just over to my right, who had been waiting to see if I would make it through. They gave a little cheer as I successfully negotiated the detector!
What do people sense and feel as they enter to worship? Is there a possibility that we are entering into worship with things that are dangerous to us? Paul understood the result of sin and the potential in God’s grace.
I. Our Efforts Result in Death
We live in a self-help generation. There are more how-to books on the shelves today than ever before. The message behind the vast majority of these books is that the person needs to take control of his life and to fix that which needs fixing.
The common fallacy is the belief that each person has a capability to repair or fix that which is broken. The Bible says that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and that our transgressions will cause us to be separated from God.
The effect of carrying unforgiven sin with us in our baggage is like a time bomb waiting to go off. It will be destructive to our life and to the lives of those around us. Transgressions not dealt with always lead to death.
There was an aircraft accident which could have been easily prevented. When the investigation was completed, it was discovered that someone had seen a part not correctly installed. Instead of reporting the problem to a mechanic, the person decided not to do anything about it. In the rush of schedule and the pressure of time, they decided that things would be alright. The tragic consequences of this was the aircraft lost power in flight and crashed, with the lives of those aboard lost.
It is a tragic thing for our generation to say that we can correct all that is wrong with our lives. We must recognize our sins and turn them over to the One who is able to correct them. His willingness and ability to save is summed up by the word, grace.
II. God’s Way Leads to Life
If a person decides to heed the warning of the detector, they are allowed to travel on the journey. The task for us is to understand the purpose of giving up our own ways and turning to God’s ways.
When a person flies, there is only one flight plan that is filed for the aircraft. That flight plan directs the course for every person on board. While each passenger remains an individual, they join with a host of others in reaching a common goal as they allow the pilot and flight crew to direct the course of the aircraft.
In life we discover many people trying to “do their own thing.” The result of this kind of action is a course leading to sheer destruction.
We are naturally inclined to claim the results of our own work. The truth of scripture is that everything we are or will be is God’s.
A farmer was seen plowing very hard on Sunday morning. The pastor came down on his way to church, stopped and leaned on the fence. The farmer walked over and paid his respects.
“Morning preacher, how’re you doing?”
“Good morning, Jessie. Good to see ya this morning. God sure has a beautiful field you are attending to here.”
“Yeah, preacher, but you should have seen it when God had it by Himself!”
We think so much of our own workmanship. Are we taking that stance in regard to our salvation? Is our salvation the result of our own work or is it God’s grace?
There is an amazing stage of maturity that every young person goes through. There is a time in life, as they are becoming an adult, when they realize what an amazing change is taking place in their parents. From being completely and totally incompetent, uncouth, and uncool, parents suddenly become skillful interpreters of fife. The transition hasn’t taken place in the parents, but in the child.
We must go through that stage of maturity with the Heavenly Father. (SNW)
March 20, 1988
Heed the Warning?
It amazes me that, in the midst of a stock market going crazy, a drop of billions of dollars gave very little sadness or corporate grief. There seemed to be a “Well, we will get it back in just a few days” type of attitude.
At the same time, the headlines say that we are having people shot at and our navy folks are destroying oil rigs, yet many have a nonchalant attitude.
What is this feeling of not being vulnerable? Are we immune from pain? Is there a feeling today that we cannot be hurt? Is there a feeling that everything is going to be fine, because we have enough to take care of things?
Every automobile has an instrument panel. There are some with indicator lights that come on when there is a problem. Some have needles that point from full to empty or hot to cold. Some have buzzers, but in every automobile there is a system to tell the operator whether or not things are in the right range. When the needles go to empty or a red light comes on, a decision must be made.
There have been instances where people concluded the indicator was the thing that was broken and not the automobile. They assumed it was a false signal. Sometimes our autombile can function fine even though there are warning signs. Are the signs true or false signals? Do you know whether something is really wrong or is it just an indicator failure?
Some of us operate as if all the gauges are fine as long as they give good signals. The indicator must be wrong as soon as there is a bad signal given.
Some people fail to heed a warning.
I. The Bible Does Not Give False Warnings
There is a story that we all learn as children called The Boy Who Cried Wolf. It is the story of a young boy who found that he could get attention by yelling a warning, even when it was false. Everybody got stirred up and he enjoyed being the center of attention. When there really was a problem and he cried the warning, no one listened. He had given the false warning too many times; no one believed him anymore.
The Bible doesn’t give false warnings. Jeremiah came to the people and warned that unless they changed their ways God would act. He would create a new way of communicating His love and grace to the peoples of the world. The people of Israel failed to heed the warning God had for them.
God doesn’t give you false warning. He intends for each one of us to make the choice to follow Him. It is within our freedom and right to say no to Him, but the Bible clearly states if we choose not to follow God, we will suffer away from His presence for the rest of eternity.
II. Our Hope is to Believe the Message of God
God provides all that is necessary for our salvation. He gives a clear indication of what is wrong. He provides the hope that is beyond all earthly hope. When God made the New Covenant, He made it possible for all of us to reach the intention He had from the very beginning for all His children.
Automobiles are made to work. There are occasions when things go wrong. The test of driving an automobile is to believe and act on information given from the gauges, the warning lights, the indicators. If we don’t act on what we are told then we are heading for disaster.
That’s also true of life. If God gives us a message, a warning, and we don’t act on it, then our lives may be headed for disaster. The Bible gives us a clear message: we are to choose God. The covenant He has provided for us is in Jesus Christ; if we choose Him, He will always be faithful and keep His covenant. (SNW)
Outlines in this issue are presented by Harold C. Perdue, Pastor of First United Methodist Church. San Angelo, TX; Sam N. Wilson, Pastor of First Baptist Church, Tampa, FL; and Michael Duduit, Editor of Preaching.
January 3, 1988