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MANY CHRISTIANS ARE LIKE STOPPED CLOCKS

A sermon delivered at
The Dormansville United Methodist Church

and
Trinity United Methodist Church
Coeymans Hollow, New York
  22 October 2000

Frank L. Hoffman, Guest Preacher

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Isaiah 11:9
Matthew 6:10
Matthew 26:52
Romans 8:18-25

Galatians 5:22-23
Revelation 21:4

When John Williams asked me on Wednesday to come and conduct the service this morning, I couldn't help but think about the stopped clock in the Dormansville Church.

That clock gave me the subject for today's sermon, Many Christians Are Like Stopped Clocks.

Why?

Because while we say we are Christians and profess our faith, we are unreliable in our reflection of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in our lives every second of every day.

Sometimes we stop being Christians, just as a clock can stop running.

And like a stopped clock, we are considered unreliable to do what we were designed to do.

Have you heard the expression, "to stop his clock"?

It means to kill someone; but in this case it could mean the killing of one's own Christianity.

But there is still hope, for even a stopped clock is accurate twice a day, when time passes by the stopped hands.

These are the times when we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, but then quickly return to doing as we please, and not as God desires.

Just as we can't tell what time it is from a stopped clock, so others cannot count on us to tell them of the ways of God when they look upon us.

When people looked upon Jesus Christ, they knew the will of the Father.

When people looked upon the apostles, they knew the will of Jesus Christ.

When people look upon a disciple of Christ, a Christian, they should see the presence of God, and an example of His desire for how we are to live our lives every moment of every day.

Some may say that's impossible, but it's not, for when we become a Christian, we also receive the Holy Spirit, who empowers us as electricity powers a clock.

The problem is that we all too often switch off the Holy Spirit as we would a light switch.

Let me give you an example.

Last Saturday, we went to a surprise 70th birthday party for a friend of ours.

Another friend rents out an apartment in their home.   She told us that because she had problems with some tenants in the past, she decided to rent to a Christian lady and her son, thinking, "Now I'll have a good tenant."

She said that this "Christian" woman was the most self centered and unloving person she had ever met.

Where was the presence of God, or the Jesus she professed, or the power of the Holy Spirit in her life?

She rejoiced and knew that the Lord is King, just as we sang, but the presence of the Lord in her life seemed to end there.

All our friends saw was the stopped clock of a Christian.

Let's look at another example of stopped clocks.

Isaiah speaks of a day when there will no longer be any hurting or destroying in all of God's holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (11:9).

Paul speaks of the whole of creation groaning and anxiously waiting for the revealing of the sons of God to put an end to the present day suffering.

And he goes on to say, that the fruit of the Spirit within a Christian, should help put an end to all the suffering (Romans 8:18-25).

We also know that there was no death in Eden and that there will no longer be any mourning or crying or pain or death in heaven (Revelation 21:4).

Furthermore, Jesus taught us to pray that this heavenly condition would come to pass in the here and now (Matthew 6:10).

There are so many Christians in the world.  Why hasn't the pain and suffering stopped?

Have our clocks stopped?

Let's take a look at how Paul defines the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and see if it can shed some light on our problem.

22.    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

13.    gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The fruit of the Spirit comes in one gift basket.

We get all the fruit at the same time.

Nothing is left out.

It's all part of the same gift.

It is we who don't want to utilize all this fruit, and when we act this way, it's like telling the Lord we don't like His gift.

It's like stopping our clocks.

Don't you think it's time for us to collectively recharge the batteries in our spiritual clocks so that they don't stop?

When we recharge our self-control battery, we learn to control our emotions.

We no longer hurt each others' feelings, we do the things the Lord desires us to do, and we do nothing to stumble others.

We set the example of Christ on earth.

Our every action should be an expression of what Jesus would do in the same situation.

When we recharge our gentleness battery, we find that we are incapable of being hard or macho as the world tells us to be.

We can no longer knowingly hurt or destroy another living being or God's physical creation.

When we recharge our faithfulness battery, we show the world around us the presence of the Lord in both our words and deeds.

It's just as James tells us, "faith without works is dead" (2:26).

In other words, if our life doesn't reflect the teachings of Jesus, our clock has stopped.

When we recharge our goodness battery, we no longer desire to do the things that are considered to be "bad", even though the world says that "bad" is good.

Our touch, our words, our actions are to be as the healing power of Jesus, for by them, we eliminate the pain and suffering of this world.

We no longer turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering caused by others; we seek to end it.

When we recharge our kindness battery, we find we are befriending each other and those who can't speak or help themselves.

We are kind to the whole of God's creation.

We are kind to our fellow human beings, we are kind to the animals, and we are kind to the environment.

When we recharge our patience battery, we find our frustrations and anxieties leaving us.

We see beyond the present problems to a future accomplishment, and we see beyond each other's sins to the person God desires us all to be.

When we recharge our peace battery, we find that we always seek a peaceful way of accomplishing what has to be accomplished.

We no longer have any lasting anger, but seek ways of reconciliation.

When we recharge our joy battery, we have an inner joy that can never be shaken.

Even when we are unhappy, the joy of the Lord let's us see through it to the joy to come.

But the key comes when we charge our love battery, for it ties together all the others, and helps us continue to function as Christians, even when one of our other clock batteries is running down.

Recently in the news there was a tragic story that highlights the lack of the presence of the fruit of the Spirit.

One bow hunter shot and killed another bow hunter while they were both hunting in the woods.

We can see truth in the words of Jesus to Peter, "...all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).

Nevertheless, I don't believe that God caused this man's death.  Jesus was simply speaking a truism concerning those who live violent lives.

In another instance, a Christian woman who is very close to us, said that if her husband didn't hunt, he would take it our on her and the children.

Let's view the act of hunting in both of these instances in light of the fruit of the Spirit or lack of it.

There was a lack of love for the animals they were hunting, as fellow living souls who were created by the same God who created us.

There was also a lack of love for other humans who could possibly be hurt or killed by such an act.

Such an act disturbs the peace of those who are hurt or killed.

It is definitely not a kind act, nor is it gentle.

It lacks the full fruit of the Spirit, which is to be present in everything we do, not selectively, but inclusively.

Now, we can find all kinds of excuses for what happened, but they can't change the fact of the lack of certain aspects of the fruit of the Spirit.

To drive our cars at excess speeds or under the influence of drugs or alcohol could be classified in the same manner; for others could be hurt or killed.

This is also a reason to be extremely alert even when not under the influence, for our vehicles could cause death or injury.

When I take a passenger in a plane which I'm piloting, or even in a car, I am very aware that I'm taking upon my soul the souls of those who have trusted me to take them safely to their destination.

To not think of these things is to cause our clocks to stop.

The more we dwell upon whether all our thoughts and actions are loving, and bringing joy and peace, or whether we have patience, or whether we are kind or good or faithful or gentle, or have self-control, the more these fruit become part of our instinctive nature, and the more we charge our spiritual batteries.

This is allowing the Holy Spirit to truly be Lord of our lives.

This is a way to make a positive difference in the world.

This is a way of bringing heaven to earth, and of helping others keep their clocks running, too.

Let's us pray...

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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