Summary: See what it means to receive a spiritual wake up call from Jesus.
One of the tragic moments in American history occurred on December 7, 1941. Pearl Harbor was attacked. The attack took place on a sunny Sunday morning. Over 2400 lives were lost and five out of eight battleships were sunk. The sad part of that whole event was the fact that we had advance warning and ignored it. A minimal contingent of soldiers was on duty at the time. Most offices on the base were closed and many servicemen were on leave for the weekend. New technology, including a new radar mounted at Opana Point, were in place, at the time of the attack. The incoming Japanese attack planes were detected by the radar and reported, but were mistaken for an incoming group of American planes due from the mainland that morning. While on practice maneuvers outside the harbor that morning, an American destroyer spotted a Japanese submarine attempting to sneak into the harbor. The submarine was fired upon, immediately reported — and ignored. Despite these and other warnings, Pearl Harbor faced great loss that day. The losses and ill preparedness came because warnings were ignored.
(Adapted from contribution to Sermon Central by John Shearhart)
Many tragedies could be averted if the warning signals are acknowledged.
• Many heart attacks could be prevented if individuals heed the tightness in the chest.
• Many cancers could be defeated if we observed the early warning signs.
• Many marriages could be saved if we caught the early tension spots.
• Many bankruptcies could be avoided if we notice the early signals.
Today, we look at a church that ignored God’s early warning signs. They were on the verge of death. God warned them of the approaching danger. Can we learn from them? The church was Sardis. Look at their story. “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’ Rev. 3:1-6
Jesus, the one who has perfect power and authority, saw the spiritual condition of the believers at Sardis. In addition, he warned them of the approaching danger. Jesus gave them a wake up call. What is involved in such a call? Could it be that he is giving a wake up call today? If Jesus is giving a wake up call, what is involved?
Let’s see what we can learn about this concept from the church at Sardis. I share a simple two point outline. First, there must be an assessment of the condition. Then there must be an appeal to action.
I. First, there must be an assessment of the condition. Jesus did this with the church at Sardis. His assessment lead him to issue a strong warning. This is similar to what occurs when you go to your doctor for a physical and he issues a sharp warning concerning your health. You may have high blood pressure. Your doctor will recommend that you altar some lifestyle habits in order to bring the blood pressure under control. The believers at Sardis had been to the doctor for their annual physical and came away with a bad report card. What was the report? Look at your Bibles.
A. In verse 1 we read “I know your reputation as a live and active church, but you are dead.” They had an appearance of spiritual life. They had a reputation for being alive; however, they were dead. Appearances are not always what meets the eye.
Joke/illustration: One Sunday morning an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt and boots that were very worn and ragged. In his hand he carried an old hat and an equally worn out Bible.
The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and accessories. As the cowboy took a seat, the others settled down in areas away from him. No one greeted, spoke to or welcomed him. They were all dismayed at his appearance and did not attempt to hide it.