Summary: God uses a variety of wake up calls to get our attention. It is up to us to respond to them.

Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

April 25, 2004

Dr. Marilyn S. Murphree

“Waking Up to Your Wake Up Call”

Acts 9:1-6

INTRODUCTION: Story: A couple was staying at a small motel in rural Georgia. The wife woke up first and began packing, getting dressed and taking things to the car while her husband snoozed away.

“Get up,” she said. “I’m taking some things to the car and I swear if you’re not up when I get back, you’ll regret it.” As she stepped out, the husband got up.

Meanwhile, outside, the wife put her things in the car and went back to the room. Only one problem--she went to the wrong room. She opened the unlocked door to see a man snoring away.

“I SAID GET UP!” she shouted. Then at once she realized that she was in the wrong room and turned around red as a beet and slammed the door.

The dazed man inside rubbed the sleep from his eyes and said, “Man, that’s what I call a wake-up service!”

Wake up calls come to each one of us at various times in our life for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they alert us that we are destroying our life through a rebellious and irresponsible lifestyle. Others alert us to destructive habits that will eventually rob us of our health. Some are calls from God to turn our life around and start living a different way.

Wake up calls come in many forms--some gradually leading up to them over a long period of time and others appear seemingly out of nowhere during a crisis in our life. It is important to listen to wake up calls.

Today’s scripture gives us an example of a man who had been around “religion” for a long time, yet his life had not yet been changed by the “living Christ.” Saul of Tarsus was a very “religious” man who had the best education under the teacher Gamaliel, the best at the time. He was a good Pharisee who knew the scriptures well. He kept the Jewish law and traditions to the letter but he sincerely believed that the new Christianity was dangerous to Judaism. He hated the Christian faith and did everything he could do to stamp it out. He persecuted believers without mercy. Not only was he out to hurt them, but he was out to kill them. Chapter 8 tells us that he was present when Stephen was killed. Verse 1 says, “And Saul was there, giving approval to [Stephen’s] death. Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house to house, he dragged out men and women and put them into prison.

Today’s scripture opens by saying, “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” It was time for a WAKE UP CALL.

Sometimes we think that some people are beyond the reach of God and that nothing can change them for the better. Sometimes we think that about ourselves as well. We say, “This is just the way I am. I have always been this way. My sins are too big for God to forgive. I came from a bad neighborhood, I came from a bad family background. I have heard the wake up call, but nothing is going to change.”

Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture that will apply to us today.

1. Immune to the Gospel: Saul of Tarsus seemed immune to the gospel even though he had heard it. He was a prideful Pharisee. He heard the message Stephen gave before he died. But Saul was self satisfied with his religion. The message of the cross was offensive to him. He thought he didn’t need it, and he did everything he could do to keep this message from spreading. He thought he was doing God a favor by thinking this way and that God would commend him for his actions against the early believers. Despite his zeal and his sense of doing God’s will, he was under God’s rebuke. His thinking was totally wrong.

We often are like Saul of Tarsus in many ways--maybe we do not do such drastic things as he did to harm Christians but we also too often make up our own rules and justify ourselves in our sins. We say, “I don’t see why I have to go to church, I don’t see why I have to receive Jesus as my Savior, I don’t even need a Savior. I can save myself. I live as good a life as “so called Christians.”

Saul of Tarsus did the very same thing--he justified his actions and in his mind he was doing what he thought pleased God. He was getting it completely wrong. He put the blame on others.

STORY: One night at an economy motel, a man ordered a 6:00 a.m. wake up call. The next morning the man woke up before 6:00 but the phone did not ring until 6:30.

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