Well how many of you use an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning? And how many of you have ever slept through your wake up call? Yes, Jim’s raising his hand. My husband tried to sleep through his this morning. I had to go back up there and wake him up. My boys a lot of time slept through their wake up call, when they’re supposed to be at school. I’d have to run upstairs and I’d think oh that kid is still asleep. Wake up! I’d say wake up, get up, you’re going to be late for school.
Well I’ll tell you what: there is one wake up call nobody sleeps through. That’s the wake up call of a cry of a newborn baby. Isn’t that true? Those of you parents who have had a baby in your home, that baby starts crying in the middle of the night, nobody turns over and just goes back to sleep. You have to get up. That is one wake up call that always, always gets you up and going and out of bed. And I’ll never forget I couldn’t wait for Jason to be born, my first-born. Oh I was anxious for that. The first time I would hear his cry. The cry of a newborn baby. And oh my goodness Jim and I are there in the hospital and as Jason and as each of our sons took that first breath of life, it was heralded with a cry, the cry of a baby. New life born and Jim and I, tears of joy crying our self. Overwhelmed at the beauty of a new baby. We took him home with us and boy we were sure anxious to have him quit crying. It didn’t take long when we heard that first cry. It became a little old, especially in the middle of the night and we couldn’t wait for him to be able to sleep through the night. The cry of a baby, it tells us new life; somebody has been born.
Wake up call, God gives wake up calls to every single one of us. And some of us we ignore them, we have ear plugs in or we turn over, we pull the covers over our head and we say not now, Lord, go away. I don’t want to hear this call or go call somebody else. We’ve all done that from time to time. Why? We’ll get to that in a minute. But I believe that God gives us two wake up calls in our life. The first wake up call is to each and every one of us, His children. He has a wake up call and He goes to you and He says wake up, arise. Know that I am your Lord; I am your Savior, Jesus Christ. Arise; be born again. New birth in your life. Yes, you were born once as a little baby but you have to be born again now in Me. New birth new life - arise. God says wake up and be born again in Me. Why? He does not want you to perish. He wants all of His children to have eternal, abundant, everlasting life. He doesn’t wish for any of His children to perish and so He goes to immeasurable lengths to show you and to get your attention and to say to you arise and know Me. That’s our first wake up call. I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you’ve even said yes to that wake up call yet in your life. Many of you have, some of you have not.
And then God gives the second wake up call and that is to those of us who have had that new birth, who have been born again. And the second wake up call God gives to us is wake up, arise, I need you. I need you to go. God gives you a wake up call to go into all the world. Maybe that’s just figurative, but to go and to bring the good news so that others will not perish. God doesn’t want any of His children to perish.
So it’s two wake up calls. I don’t know where you are, God does. God knows where you are today, but some of you have regardless of which wake up call, some of you have, you’ve turned over, you’ve pulled the covers up over your head and you’ve said not today or not me. Not today or not me.
Jonah, you know the story of Jonah? Oh yes, you probably heard it somewhere along in your life. Maybe even as a child. In the very beginning of Jonah, God calls Jonah, God says to Jonah wake up, Jonah. Arise, go to Nineveh and call the people otherwise they will perish. Well Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. It was a big city and it was a wicked city and he did not want to do it. And so Jonah, he didn’t just turn over and pull the covers over his head, he actually went out, bought a ticket on a boat and sailed the opposite direction to Tarsus, completely the opposite direction. He ran away from God’s call. He didn’t just ignore it, he ran away from it.
But God didn’t give up on Jonah. He was still determined to use Jonah to save His people in Nineveh. And so God sets out to stop Jonah in the middle of the sea. He sends a storm. And that little boat was just a tossing and a turning.
Now this boat was manned by sailors who we would describe as pagan. They worshipped false idols. And then they see Jonah asleep in the bottom of the boat, and they go down to him. What are you doing asleep down there? Call out to your God; we’re all going to perish. Well, Jonah ignored them. He literally turned over, pulled those covers back up over his head. He didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He did not want God to call him. Not me, not today Lord, this was what Jonah was saying.
The tempests got harder and more fierce. The storm became even stronger and so the sailors, the pagan sailors they cast lots and the lot fell to Jonah. And so they go to him again and they go what’s up with you? Something says you’re the cause of all of this trouble. And Jonah finally fesses up and he says, yes it’s my fault. I am a Hebrew. I believe in the Lord, Yahweh. And he said it’s my fault. I have run away from Him. If you want to save yourselves, you need to throw me overboard. And the sailors didn’t want even Jonah to perish. Here are the pagan, these pagan sailors; are they not acting more like men of God then Jonah the prophet? They’re praying, they’re praying to the wrong gods, but they’re praying. They’re trying to save Jonah’s life when he doesn’t care about anybody else’s life. And finally when the tempest was so bad, they finally did, they threw Jonah overboard into the water and as soon as they did, the storm ceased. These pagan sailors were like wow, this man serves a real God and the pagan sailors were converted on the spot. And they call out to the Lord, it’s L-O-R-D, uppercase L-O-R-D, which also means Yahweh, the God of Abraham. They started to pray to the God of gods.
Well meanwhile, here’s Jonah in the middle of the sea thrown overboard. And Jonah was down that deep. “Down to the roots of the mountains I sank down.” But God still was not done with Jonah. He still decided Jonah was the messenger He wanted for His people of Nineveh to save them. And so He sends a big fish to swallow him up to save him. And Jonah is there for three days and three nights. And he prays to God during that time and Jonah prayed “yet.” Here he has run away from God, been very rebellious but yet, “God you brought me up out of the pit. When my life was fainting away oh Lord You rescued me that I would not perish.”
Wow, how far away have some of you run away from God? How far away have you run away from God’s call in your life? And God is not done with you, no matter how far away you have run from Him. So after the three days and three nights, Jonah is spit up on the shore of Nineveh and God says to him, “Wake up!” This is the number three time, “Wake up Jonah, arise, go to Nineveh and call the people to Me so they will not perish.” Well Jonah finally gets the message. He goes and he tells the people of Nineveh about God. He says you are about perish. In forty days you will perish. And the entire city of Nineveh, all 120 thousand lives were saved through a very reluctant man of a God. And that was his whole message. In forty days you will perish if you don’t turn back to God. That was it. It was like all of eight words. Doesn’t have to be powerful or intellectual, it just has to be God’s words that we say what God asks us to say. God’s fathomless compassion. He will go to all lengths to reach His children, you and His other children because He loves you so very, very much.
You know Jesus referred back to Jonah. In Matthew, He talked about, He said Jonah, just like Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, so the Son of man, meaning Him Jesus, so I the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Jesus gave His life so that we would not perish. The cry of a newborn baby signals new birth. The cry of Jesus when He was born signaled new birth for the entire world to come for ages and ages to come. The cry, the wake up call of God through a new baby, His son Jesus, who was born to die for you and I so that we might live.
And so here is Jesus crucified and placed in a tomb for three days and three nights, wow. And there is Jesus in the tomb and after three days and three nights, the angel of the Lord comes to him and says to Jesus wake up, arise, arise Jesus. New life. He is brought back to life again. So it is said in John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that you and I, if we believe in Him, we will not perish. You see people are perishing today. Do not doubt it for a minute. Our children, our children are perishing.
May today be a wake up call to you, to everybody to realize that our children are perishing, our seniors are perishing, our people are perishing. How are they perishing, Sheila, you ask? Oh, they are perishing because they are depressed, because they are discouraged, because they have given up on life. They have no hope. Our children, our teens, they are taking their lives in multiple ways through suicide, through cutting themselves, through drugs, narcotics. They are taking their lives because they have given up on life. They have no reason to believe that they can live, that there is life worth living. They have faced a dead end life in their minds eye, a dead end life. But God wants to say to them wake up, wake up! I have a call on you, My child. You don’t need to perish. There is beautiful life. There is life abundant. I want to call you from a dead end life to a never-ending life. That’s what God calls through His son Jesus. We need to let our children know that they do not need to perish. So who will tell them, who will go? Have you ever done like I have done? And put ear plugs in and pulled the covers over my head and when God said who will I send, I did not say oh here am I Lord, send me. I said here’s that person over there, send her; here’s that person over there, send him. But God says no, will you be willing to pray here am I, send me.
Some of you are confused. You say I don’t know what God wants me to do. But I think that’s sometimes just an excuse. It is for me. Sometimes I know good and well what God wants me to do. How many of you have heard God in the middle of the night call your name, tap you on the shoulder, whisper in your ear. And you have not yet said yes, you’ve slept through that call, that wake up call. Some of you are convinced you are not worthy, you’re not capable, you’re not qualified.
Well I ask you today if God can use pagan sailors and a weak kneed prophet like Jonah to save a hundred and twenty thousand people in the city of Nineveh, can He not use you? He can and He does and He wants to and He will. All you have to do is say yes. Some of you say I feel like I’m ready to collapse, I’m weary, I’m tired, I don’t have the strength to get out of bed much less go and save the world. Well it’s not just saving the world, but it’s saving maybe just one person. Just one person. God knows. He’s talked to you; you know what it is He wants you to do so that people will not perish.
Galatians 6:9 says, “Do not become weary in doing good. For in due time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” People are perishing so I say to you today arise! Arise! Wake up! Who else is going to save the children? Who else is going to save the people around us who are perishing if not you, if not me? Who else? It may be as simple as saying a prayer.
My father’s father, my grandfather was a simple farmer and while he was tilling his land one time, he was getting ready to plant the seed for the harvest. He said a prayer and it was a bold prayer for him. You see grandpa had always wanted a child who would be a preacher and he had four children and it was obvious that none of them were pastors or going to be preachers. And even though my grandmother was beyond child bearing years grandpa prayed and as he tilled that ground as he was behind the plow he prayed and he said ‘God grant me one more child; a child who will be a preacher; a child who will be a preacher for You.’ Well it was a miracle when my grandma became pregnant for the fifth time. She wasn’t supposed to. By medical terms, she was not supposed to be able to have another child. And my dad was born, the cry of a new baby, the birth of a new child. Do you think grandpa told my grandmother? Do you think he told my father about his prayer? He told absolutely nobody. He hid it deep in his heart. It was between him and God alone.
And even when my dad was five years old, and my uncle Henry came to visit home from furlough from China, he saw my father out at the gate, the farm yard gate, and he tousled his hair and he said ‘so you’re Robert, your going to be a preacher when you grow up.’ Grandpa still didn’t tell anybody. And the next day at lunch my dad said ‘dad, I prayed last night that God would make me a preacher when I grow up.’ Dad always wondered why there was a little tear that slid out of grandpa’s eye but grandpa never told dad about his prayer.
It was not until my father was ordained and installed as a pastor for the first time in a church in Chicago that this old farmer, who’d never gone more than a few miles from his farm, got on a bus and went to Chicago. And as my dad, he didn’t expect to see his own father, my grandfather there, but as dad went down that aisle, he saw much to his surprise, his father standing at the back of the church. And my grandfather’s gnarled farmer hands leaning on his cane, as dad came towards him, grandpa reached out to him and he said ‘Robert, you, you’re an answer to my prayer. I prayed God would give me one more child who would be a preacher and here you are.’ How many millions of people, how many lives have been saved, spared from being perished because my grandfather said yes and prayed. That’s what God called him to do and my father said yes I will be a preacher. He said yes, send me, send me, I will go.
So people, what would happen if we all took out our earplugs, threw back the covers, jumped out of bed and said yes to God. Arise, God says to you today, arise. My people are perishing. Arise, arise.
Lord Jesus Christ, You have called us and oh we do not feel worthy. We don’t even feel willing sometimes but oh Lord You need us because lives depend on it. You need us. So first of all, we say yes to that first wake up call. Yes Lord, yes Lord like those sailors on the ship, we believe in You. You are the Lord of lords. Yes we believe in Jesus that He arose. He arose from the dead to bring us never ending life. And we say yes to that second wake up call. We say yes. We say today, here am I Lord, here am I, send me, Amen.