I am God’s Watchman. Which Means I need to Repent and I Have Work To Do (Ezekiel 33:7-11)

Sermon for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost (9/28/14)

Text: Ezekiel 33:7-11

Theme: I am God’s Watchman. Which means…

I need to repent and…

I have work to do!

            Back when there was no such thing as FM or XM radio, back when radio stations closed down and didn’t broadcast at night, Lt Kermit Tyler noticed that the radio station was broadcasting as he drove into work in the wee hours of the morning. This was not completely out of the ordinary; sometimes the radio stations did broadcast all night so that aircraft from the mainland could hone in on these little islands in the middle of the vast Pacific at night. “There must be a new batch of planes coming in,” Lt Tyler thought to himself as he pulled into work at the aircraft tracking center at Fort Shafter in Hawaii in the wee hours of the morning of December 7th 1941.

Shortly after 7am, knowing that a squadron of planes was coming in from the mainland, Lt Tyler would say four little words that would secure his place in American history books: “Don’t worry about it.”

Two inexperienced, practicing radar technicians had seen a large group of aircraft headed straight for the Hawaiian islands. They did their duty and called it in. Lt. Tyler, on only his second day on the job, alone in the office except for one private answering the phones said, “Don’t worry about it.”

As I’m guessing you’ve realized by now, that group of planes was not bombers coming in from mainland America, it was the first wave of the surprise Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor that hurled us into WWII.

Pearl Harbor is just one very real example of the importance of watchmen knowing what they are supposed to be doing and doing it.

Watchmen serve a vitally important role. Whether it’s a guy holding a torch on top of a stone wall in the middle east or a guy staring at a radar screen on an island in the Pacific, a watchman doing his job is the difference between being prepared and being unprepared, between victory and defeat, between lives saved and lives lost. People hire and appoint watchmen so they are never caught unprepared… Continue reading

Christians Cling to the Still Small Voice of the LORD (1 Kings 19:9-18)

Sermon for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost (8/31/2014)

Text: 1 Kings 19:9-18

Theme: Christians cling to the still small voice of the LORD

The final sermon in a series entitled What Do Christians Look Like? 

           Oh to be a fly on the wall on that mountain, on that day – to see the looks on the faces of thousands of people standing there in complete shock and awe – to see the looks on the faces of the prophets of Baal – to see the look on face of Ahab, king of Israel as the fire of God rained down from heaven.

            Elijah, the faithful prophet of God, stood on top of Mount Carmel vindicated. He had spent his entire career beating his head against the stone hearts of King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, and the rest of that stubborn nation called Israel. He had spent his entire life trying to convince them that worshipping the false god Baal was wrong. As a result, he had spent most of his life hated and persecuted because of stubbornly sinful hearts. And now there could be no doubt, right? There was no way in the world that Ahab and the rest of these Israelites could deny that Elijah’s God was the only true God.

            Elijah, the faithful prophet of God, stood on that mountain and he saw a light at the end of the long dark tunnel of his life. Elijah stood on that mountain feeling the relief that comes when you finally make it over the hump. He stood there confident that it would be relatively smooth sailing from here because God had done it – he had proved his existence and his power in an indisputable way. Staring at that black crater in the ground where just moments before stood an altar of twelve stone and an ox, all soaked in water, Elijah felt happy and proud and confident and committed.

            To say that Elijah’s faith in his God was strong that day wouldn’t do justice to what he was feeling. I mean even the stones were burned up by that fire that fell from the sky! His God of power and might had given him a stunning victory that day, and his faith was riding high on that awe-inspiring display of authority by his God.

            As he gave the command and watched the Israelites round up and kill all the prophets of Baal, some optimism must have sprung up in his otherwise pessimistic heart. For years he had failed to break through these people’s thick skulls, but here they were, finally listening to him, finally taking steps to rid themselves of their terrible, sinful idolatry.

            As the temperature started to drop, the wind started to pick up, and the storm clouds started to gather on the distant horizon – signaling the first rain in 3 ½ years – Elijah’s face must have hurt from smiling so much. How many times had he told the Israelites to repent of their sins, turn to God, and they would see just how much he could bless them? And now, finally, they were listening, they were crying out together their confession, “The LORD – he is God. The LORD – he is God,” and the long withheld thunderstorm of blessings were on the horizon.

            Elijah, the faithful prophet of God stood on that mountain and he believed. He believed in his amazing God. There wasn’t a shred of doubt in his mind, standing on that mountain, that his God was God, his God was in control, and his God could and would work all things out for the good of those who love him.

Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal is one of those great moments in history when God reached down from heaven and proved, unequivocally, that he is everything he says he is. It’s a moment we would expect would create a lasting impact on everyone who witnessed God’s amazing supremacy that day. It’s a moment we would expect would create true and lasting faith – faith that could carry those witnesses through the toughest of times because they had seen firsthand that there God was in control.

That’s what we would expect. We, who love a good fairytale ending, would expect that this moment of victory would be the “happily ever after” stamp on the end of Elijah’s life, but that’s not what happened… not even close. Continue reading