Summary: A sermon in a series about how God warns us when our sin is going to damage us, our lives, or our relationship with others.
When I was an intern here in 1998, the automobile I drove was called a Plymouth Breeze. I’m not sure how that happened. Never planned on buying a Plymouth Breeze. I’m not sure anybody does. Nobody says, “I want to save up my money for a Plymouth Breeze,” but there are cars like that on the road. It just kind of happens and you’re driving this car and you find out why you never planned on buying one. I had a lot of problems with that car. Something was always going wrong with it. One day I started the car and the “check engine” light began flashing at me, and I didn’t know what was wrong. I mean, I went over and opened the hood, which wasn’t easy on that car, but I got it open and I’m staring at the engine. But that’s about really all I knew how to do, right? Just stare at the engine. Unless there is a big on-off switch underneath there, there is not much I can do. I tightened some things and got back in the car. (I) looked at the dashboard and that light is still blinking. I needed to do something. I didn’t have any money to do anything with, so, you know, I just kind of lived with it for awhile. But it gets annoying—that blinking light. People get in the car with you and they’ll say, “Do you know your check engine light is on?” “Yeah, I knew that.” My wife gets in the car… “When are you going to do something about the check engine light?” “I’m going to do something. I’m going to do something.” Finally, I did. I just had enough of the blinking light and I’m like, “I’ve got to take some action here. Something needs to be done about this.” So here is what I did. I got a piece of black electric tape and I tore it to the appropriate size and I just covered that blinking light. (Laughter) Problem solved. No more blinking light. A month goes by, another month. I forget that there is even a blinking light behind the black electric tape and everything seems to be fine—until we’re driving home from the grocery store. The car is in drive and I’m giving it gas but it’s not going anywhere. Uh…it is something called a transmission. That was the problem. See, the manufacturers of the car designed it in such a way that when the engine was having some problems, when there were some signs that something was wrong or going to become wrong, that check engine light would begin to blink. And when that check engine light comes on, it’s a call to action. Now you can ignore it. You can cover it with tape. You can pretend like everything is okay. But it is not to your advantage to ignore the blinking light on the dashboard of your car. When that light comes on, you need to do something about it. If you do something about it now, it could save you a small fortune later, a lot of stress down the road.
And in our lives, God has what I’m going to call in this series an “Early Warning System.” He has these blinking lights that begin to show up on the dashboard of our lives to get our attention, to help us realize some areas that need some help. And when those lights come on, when God sends us His warning signals, it is an invitation to us to take action, to get some help, to spiritually wake up, to make some changes. Yet a lot of us cover it with electric tape.
Maybe…maybe right now in your life there are some early warning signals. There are some blinking lights that are flashing, some areas—maybe a marriage, maybe in your family, maybe your spiritual life—where God is trying to get your attention. So in this series we’re going to talk about God’s Early Warning Systems. God tries to draw our attention to areas of our life that we need to ask for His help (in) or we need to make some changes.
As we talk about God’s warnings, there are a couple of distinctions I want to make early on. One, there is a difference between commands and warnings, right? The commands in Scripture, like the Ten Commandments, are clearly established rules. Warnings come to us at the time in which we’re close to breaking one of those rules or commands. If you’re a parent, you understand the difference between a command and a warning. In your home maybe a command is, “You don’t lose self-control.” So that is a clearly established command. But there will be times when you’ll give your kids a warning because you can see they’re getting closer and closer to losing self-control. I’ve got a child or two that struggles with self-control at times, so we have some warning signs in our house. One of the things I’ll do to my kids when I see them getting closer to losing self-control is…you’ll see me do this…and this means, “You’d better lower the intensity level. You need to bring it down a thousand real quick.” So I’ll give them a little warning sign here. The other thing you’ll see me do occasionally in public is…I’ll do this. I’ll do this. Now that doesn’t mean, “Do you want to go fishing when we get home?” That’s not what it means. It means, “You better reel it in, sister. You better reel it in really fast before you get yourself in trouble.” And you have these warning signs. Another warning sign we have in our home is…that one. (Laughter) And, you know, you don’t want to lose it when other people are looking, but it is effective from time to time. (Kyle laughing) I’m just playing. Don’t send me a note. We don’t really do this to our kids. We do this! (More laughter)