READ THE SIGNS 5-6-18
Read the Signs
May 6th, 2018
In our third Scripture reading, (Matthew 16:1-4), the Jewish religious leaders demanded a miraculous sign from Jesus, but He said all He would give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. And what is that sign? Jesus answered that in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights”. But of course, even after Jesus rose from the dead, they ignored the sign. Their cold hearts still refused to believe.
How many of you remember the song that went like this, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind. Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?” Tougher question, how many of you can tell me the name of the band for which this was their biggest hit? (Five Man Electrical Band – on the album Good-byes and Butterflies). Well, anyway, unlike what that hippie protest song suggests, it is actually a good thing to read, and follow, the signs that God gives us.
The Lord laid this morning’s message on my heart as I was driving to Evenglow. There is a spot on Highway 66 just north of Pontiac where the road goes from two lanes to four lanes with a meridian in the middle. If you should happen to split to the left instead of the right, you will quickly see a sign that says “Wrong Way”. If you decide to ignore the sign and keep going the wrong way, you will most likely crash into oncoming car and end up either in the hospital, or the morgue. But very rarely would someone actually do this unless they were drunk or couldn’t read.
However, spiritually there are many who refuse to heed the warning signs in the Bible, and are travelling on the road to destruction. Or as AC/DC puts it, “the “Highway to Hell”. Can’t they read? Or do they just choose not to read the Bible which will warn them about the danger of continuing in the wrong direction? Or are they drunk on earthly pursuits, on immediate gratification, and selfish living? However, like the very familiar Led Zeppelin song says, “there’s still time to change the road you’re on”. But be careful, because the day will come when there will be no more time to turn around and accept Jesus and follow Him. The day will come when you take your last breath on earth, or our Lord returns. And then it will be too late.
If you are among those going wrong way in life, Jesus is trying to warn you. The Bible says He “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Unfortunately, because He has given us all free will, He knows not everyone will follow Him; but He will keep trying to reach you, because it is His desire that you do not perish but have everlasting life (see John 3:16).
And what if you are a Christian, going the right way on the only road that leads to heaven? There will still be warning signs along the way. Even Christians sometimes wander from the path. It doesn’t mean they lose their salvation, but it also doesn’t mean that God turns a blind eye to sin. In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan tells King David that because he had Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed so he could have her as his wife, he will suffer some grave consequences. Starting at verse 9, we read “Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own. ‘This is what the LORD says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.’ Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the LORD by doing this, your child will die.’” Our sins may be forgiven because Jesus died for them, and we have put our faith in Him, but that does not mean they are without consequences. What happens if you run a stop sign when driving down the road, even though you are going the right direction? First or second time, maybe nothing. But if a policeman sees you, you will get a ticket. This will hopefully make you think twice before doing it again. Ignore the ticket and don’t pay it, and you will be in even more trouble. Keep running stop signs often enough, and sooner or later you are going to crash into another car or hit a pedestrian. And then the consequences will be far worse. If we ignore the STOP sign that God holds in front of us when we are tempted to sin, He will continue to take more and more drastic measures to get us to stop. Not because He is mean, but because it is for our own good. Don’t laugh and say, “Well, I’ve never seen Jesus stand in the middle of the road holding up a stop sign”. God’s warning signs, as well as His signs of direction, guiding us in the way He would have us to go, come in ways that speak to us personally. If your heart is open to Him, and your spiritual ears are listening, you will recognize them. They could come as a dream, like King Nebuchadnezzar’s in Daniel 2, or like Joseph’s in Matthew 1. They could come through a variety of occurrences such a job loss, an illness, an accident, or some unexpected news. They could come through something you hear on television or the radio, or see on facebook, or read in a book or letter. Or they could simply come through a message at church or by reading your Bible. Is there something in your life that God is speaking to you about? Are you listening? Or are you ignoring Him?
And finally, what about the signs of Christ’s return? In Matthew 24:3, Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus very plainly told His disciples what to watch for, but He also warned them to be careful not to be deceived by the signs of false prophets. We need to continually pray for discernment, that we interpret the signs God sends us correctly, and that we are not misled by the signs that Satan sends to try and lure us off the right path. So as Third Day sings in their song, “Your Words*”, keep praying “Let me hear your words, above all other voices, above all the distractions in this world.” For as Jesus’ said, “heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Amen.
* "Your Words" by Third Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zaaiFp4RSM
Means you are going the wrong way!
(On the road to hell)
Means to turn around and go the right way.
The only road to heaven is Jesus!
(Put your faith in Him alone)
Means to stop sinning.
(and start living for God)
Means to go and tell others about Jesus!
(share the Gospel)