Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
I'M A "LERT" ON THE ALERT. ARE YOU ONE TOO?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
2 DECEMBER 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Preparation Verse: (James 5:8-9)
You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.
Today, we are going to have a little fun with the English language as we look at God's message for us about how we should be living.
Do you know what a "lert" is?
I don't really think you do, so I'll tell you.
A creature of God, a "lert" is always on the alert for signs of danger, for signs of changing events, and for signs of how others act and feel.
Furthermore, a "lert" is always sure of where they are and of what they are doing, and they rely very much upon God for all the decisions they make.
A "lert" always seems to be full of joy and have peace, and they are very lovable.
You very rarely see them panic, either; for, because they are so alert, they just seem to avoid all the real dangers that are around them.
They are also extremely hard to capture, for they never seem to fall into the traps that are set for them.
But they always seem to be there when you need some comfort or companionship; for as we know, "lerts" are very lovable creatures.
"Lerts" also never seem to get upset about changing events and things not working out as they planned or desired, for they almost seem to understand what will happen before it happens. That's one of the reasons they always seem to be at peace.
And though we don't often see them praying, I know they pray all the time. I also know that their prayers are full of thankfulness, for they really appreciate all that they have.
"Lerts" are really gifted creatures, aren't they?
They seem to be gifted with all the things that have been bestowed upon us; but unlike us, they don't seem to be as forgetful about them as we are.
The church at Corinth was a very gifted church; but like so many of us, they forgot the purpose of their gifts, and even sometimes the Giver.
So, Paul wrote to them to remind them about what they had been given and to encourage them to be more like the "lerts" and less like the rest of the world.
Turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, and let’s listen to the beginning of this letter and see if he isn't talking to us, too:
1. Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2. to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Doesn’t Paul sound like one of the "lerts"?
He is at peace with all in the church, even though he knows that they are not all behaving properly.
By his love and peacefulness, he will attract them more than if he came on with anger.
Let's listen further, as Paul continues:
4. I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,
5. that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,
6. even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,
7. so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
8. who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We can learn much from these "lerts"; for like Paul, before they speak they recognize the effect that their words will have upon others.
Thus Paul is reminding the Corinthians of who they are in Christ Jesus, and encouraging them in their first love, so that when he reminds them of their problems, they will not lose heart or face, but will rejoice with repentance and become even stronger Christians.
And there is something else about "lerts" that is not so true about most humans: they don't act hypocritical before God or others, thus God always answers their prayers.
There are times when God doesn't seem to answer us when we have turned away from Him and then turn back, for He just may be waiting to see if we will hang in there and continue to be faithful.
When things don't work out the way we expect, we have a tendency to blame God when in fact God is just trying to attract our attention to His way for, unlike the "lerts," we are not always on the alert to understand why things are not going as we desire.
Listen to the prayer of Isaiah in 63:15-19, as he sees both with his heart and his eyes all that has happened to his people Israel:
15. Look down from heaven, and see from Thy holy and glorious habitation;
Where are Thy zeal and Thy mighty deeds?
The stirrings of Thy heart and Thy compassion are restrained toward me.
16. For Thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us,
And Israel does not recognize us.
Thou, O Lord, art our Father,
Our Redeemer from of old is Thy name.
17. Why, O Lord, dost Thou cause us to stray from Thy ways,
And harden our heart from fearing Thee?
Return for the sake of Thy servants, the tribes of Thy heritage.
18. Thy holy people possessed Thy sanctuary for a little while,
Our adversaries have trodden it down.
19. We have become like those over whom Thou hast never ruled,
Like those who were not called by Thy name.
Isaiah sees and hears and understands as the "lerts" do; but he has been
living among ungodly people for so long that he has become somewhat discouraged,
for the people no longer seem to recognize a true believer.
I suppose that even "lerts" might become discouraged if they didn't have other "lerts" around who thought as they did, were sensitive to the ways of God, and had unending love and compassion for others and for all of God's creation, including every other human being, every other animal, and for the environment in which we all live.
But "lerts" aren't "wishy-washy" like us, going one way one time and then another way another time. They are consistent, as we should be.
This is really what Isaiah is praying for.
He wants God to intervene in some miraculous way to cause people to return to living Godly lives.
But God has created us with a free will, and we must choose which way we will go.
God will show us the right way. He will do everything He can to encourage us and to attract our attention; but in the end, it is still up to us to decide which way we will go.
"Lerts" recognize the truth, and they are patiently waiting for the results of God's plan. They don't lose hope because things aren’t happening now, nor do they have a lot of anxieties because of the way things are at present.
They just hang on to the peace and joy of the Lord, and wait patiently for His return; and in the meantime, they do whatever they can to further God's purposes.
And "lerts" don't go off and do worldly things in this waiting period. They just hold on to the things the Lord tells us all to do, for He could return at any moment. This is exactly what the Lord Himself told us in Mark 13:32-37:
32. "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
33. "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is.
Then the Lord goes on and gives us an example. Listen to it as we continue:
34. "It is like a man, away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.
35. "Therefore, be on the alert – for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrowing, or in the morning –
36. lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.
37. "And what I say to you I say to all, 'Be on the alert!' "
A long time ago, the "lerts" heard this message, and they have been on the alert ever since.
And just in case you are wondering, people can be "lerts" too.