Standing In The Gap
Intro: I heard about a guy named John who had a serious memory problem. One day John ran into a friend he had not seen in a long time. He greeted him and said, “Bill, do you remember what a bad memory I had?” Bill answered, “Yes, I certainly do.” “Well, it’s not bad any more. I went to a seminar that taught us how to remember things. It was great, and now I have a wonderful memory.”
Bill answered, “That’s great! What was the name of the seminar?” “Well,” John said, “wait a minute, my wife went with me. I’ll ask her.” He turned and saw his wife nearby.
Then he turned back to Bill and said, “What’s the name of that flower with a long stem and thorns and a red bloom?” “Do you mean a rose?” Bill answered. “Yeah, thanks,” John said. “Hey, Rose, what’s the name of that seminar we attended?”
. Some people are forgetful.
. At one time in my life I was taking Ginko-biloba for my memory. I t never really did me much good, I kept forgetting to take it.
. Our lives get busy and we forget things.
. Tomorrow is Memorial day. A day of remembering.
. Many people seem to forget what Memorial day is all about.
. For many,It’s a time for picnics and ball games and the first big day on the lakes.
. It is all of that and more but the reason for the holiday is so important. It is a day to stop and honor and remember those who have given their lives so that we can have picnics and not worry about a suicide bomber.
. A day to remember those who have died for our freedom to assemble here this morning.
. Christians are being persecuted all over the world but because of the heroes that we remember on this holiday, we do not have that persecution here in America.
. Just two days ago, Christians were mobbed in Israel, Christian churches were burned by reported radical Jewish sects.
. Thank God and our heroes that has not come to our great country yet.
.As you drive around America, you can find memorials to our heroes everywhere. I would like to share a story on one of them this morning.
. World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold. A squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet.
The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding his return.
The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft.
This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
. Butch O’Hare was one of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have stood in the gap between freedom and tyranny and have given their life for our freedom.
. In march 1775, Patrick Henry was at the Second Virginia Convention and he made a motion that Virginia form a standing army to fight in the revolutionary war. In his speech to the other elected officials, he said this:
“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death”
. I believe that is the heart of all the heroes who have died for our country ever since.
. These people who stand in the gap between liberty and tyranny.
. Our scripture this morning is just one verse but it speaks volumes about standing firm for something.
. The prophet Ezekiel is writing to the people of Israel. He is warning them about what will happen if they don’t turn back to God and continue to worship and obey him.
. He wrote of their impending destruction and exile.
. In verse 30, here in Ezekiel 22, he writes that God is looking for someone who will stand up for what is right and be the hero that is needed.
. 30“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.
. The people of Israel had turned away from God. They had become a people if sin and debauchery.
. They had enjoyed freedom and peace as long as they were living and being the nation that God had intended them to be.
. God said that He could find “no one” to stand in the gap.
. Thank God, we have had so many through the history of our nation who have willingly stood in the gap for our freedom and for what is right.
. In the Declaration of Independence, the framers wrote:
. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
. The Jewish people had these same God given rights that are in our Declaration of independence.
. God had given them their freedom from bondage in Egypt. He had brought them safely through the desert into a land that was flowing with milk and honey as they had squandered the rights that God had given them and He was taking his hand of protection off of them.
. All because no one would stand up for what was right and true and just. No one would stand in the gap.
. The Nation of Israel and Judah were both eventually defeated and sent into exile to other nations.
. All of this happened because there was no one to stand in the gap.
. While we honor our heroes for protecting our liberties, which include our religious freedoms, we are need of people who will stand in the gap for our faith. For the Christian faith.
. Folks, I am afraid that we are going down the same path to destruction that the Israelites walked.
. We as a nation are losing our Christian heritage.
. If we do not have brave individuals who are willing to stand in the gap and fight for our faith, our future is bleak in this country.
. On March 9, 2008, our President said this in a speech:
. “We are no longer a Christian Nation”
. He went on to say that we are a nation of Jews, Hindu, Muslim, etc.
. He is right in pointing out that we are a diverse nation, but he is wrong when he said that we are no longer a Christian nation.
. We were founded on principles of freedom of religion that were derived from the God of the Bible.
. We get our freedom from God, this is where our unalienable rights come from. No the government.
. We are becoming so concerned that we do not offend anyone that we let our faith become trampled under the guise of tolerance.
. Folks, we need some Heroes to stand in the gap for our faith. To model the Christian faith and be prepared to defend that faith.
. The apostle Peter tells us how to do this. How to stand in the gap.
. 1 Peter 3:13-17
.Peter started this chapter giving instructions to wives, then he moves on to husbands. He then gives instructions to all Christians on how to stand in the gap.
. 13Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?
14But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.
15Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
16But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
17Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!
. Peter writes that we are to be courageous.
. In verse 14 he writes that we should not be afraid of threats from unbelievers. Be strong, be courageous.
. Then in verse 15, he gets to the heart of the matter.
. Look at verse 15 again.
. 15Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
. Be ready to explain your faith. Be ready to share with anyone this hope that you have. Share your faith.
. Tell them about God.
. There was this little boy who was drawing a picture. His kindergarten teacher asked him what he was drawing. He said he was drawing a picture of God. She said, “But no one knows what God looks like.” He answered, “They will when I’m done.”
. Share Jesus with people so that when you are finished, they will know and understand who He is.
. Then Peter gives us our method of sharing our faith.
. Look at verse 16 again:
. 16But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
. Share your faith lovingly. That’s what we always teach here at the creek. Love other people. You do that through telling the about Jesus in a gentle and respectful way.
. Modeling God’s love as you love them.
. There may be a price for standing in the gap folks.
. Some will not accept what you tell them.
. Some may ridicule you and even try to hurt you in some way.
. Look at how Peter ends this section of scripture.
. Look at verse 17 again:
. 17Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!
. Our military stands in the gap for our freedoms here in this country; we must stand in the gap for our faith here in this country and around the world.
. Tomorrow, Remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
. Always remember the one who sacrificed His life for our salvation.
. We must be strong and stand in the gap and defend what we know to be true.
*** To my Christian brothers and sisters, thank you for taking the time to read this sermon. I ask that you take another second and score this for me. I am always open to feedback so that I can continue to grow in the proclamation of God’s word.
May God bless you as you continue to strive to walk worthy of His calling.
Sources: The Holy Bible, NLT
Illustrations from sermon central