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What About The Empty Seat (LHCOC)

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What About The Empty Seat?

1 Samuel 20:16-18

Introduction:

1.                   You may be wondering, “What is the empty chair for”?

2.                   Before I answer that question, I want you to think about how loud an empty chair can speak in the workplace or at the home.

3.                   At the workplace:

a.                   An empty seat may mean that you are going to have to do double duty.

b.                  It may mean that you are going to be able to get more work done because the person who is usually sitting there is not going to be there to distract you.

c.                   It may mean that the person was fed up and quit.

4.                   At the home place:

a.                   It may mean that the children have grown up, married and moved out.

b.                  It may be that the family member who usually sat there is deceased.

c.                   It may be that the chair just is not comfortable any more.

5.                   You may say – I am not at work and I am not at home – what does this have to do with church?

a.                   We will not discuss reasons like someone is sick, someone had to work, etc., but these would be reasons why someone is not here.

b.                  Let’s look at some reasons why this seat may be empty today. 

Discussion:                             [It may be empty because…]

I.                        SOME WENT AWAY

A.                They moved away.

1.                  New job.

2.                  Move closer / farther away from family.

B.                 They passed away (Rev.14:13)

1.                  Death will come to all, but it comes sooner to some.

2.                  We have many memories of those who once sat with us but have since passed on and are not here anymore.

C.                 They are on vacation.

1.                  It’s that time of year again.

2.                  School just let out; many are on vacation.

[This chair may be empty because…]

II.                        SOME ARE FALLING AWAY

A.                Maybe you have been here, or maybe you are here now whether you know it or not (i.e. in the process of falling away).

1.                  Sporadic attendance, very little focus on spiritual things, no social activity with Christians, too much time with non-Christians, etc.

2.                  All are symptoms of starting to fall away, and are a recipe for disaster.

B.                 Having the wrong priorities is part of it (Mt.6:33).

1.                  God demands and deserves first place in our life.

2.                  We have heard the excuses:

                                                                        a.                   “But you just don’t understand, the sale was only for today, I had to go or else I would miss it.” 

                                                                       b.                   “I was too tired” (from staying up late the night before).

C.                 Riding the fence is part of it (Mt.6:24)

1.                  To ride the fence is to “sit in the middle.”

                                                                        a.                   Despite the fact that many understand and know God should be first, they try to “ride the fence,” i.e. they try to mix the world with Christianity.

                                                                       b.                   Jesus said that would not work (cf. Mt.13:22 – thorns)

2.                  Many who try to ride the fence may justify missing services to themselves by saying, “I be ok, it is just one time” or “I will not make it a habit.”

D.                A poor attitude also contributes to it (Rev.3:15-16).

1.                  In the Christian life, there are three “spiritual temperatures”:

                                                                        a.                   a burning heart, on fire for God (Luke 24:32),

                                                                       b.                   a cold heart (Matt. 24:12),

                                                                        c.                   and a lukewarm heart (Rev. 3:16).

2.                  The lukewarm Christian is comfortable, complacent, and does not realize his need.  They may make statements like: “I am here enough,” or “I am here more than so and so.”

[This chair may be empty because…]

III.                        SOME FELL AWAY

A.                The Bible clearly teaches that one can fall away from God (Jesus told a parable about it – Mt.18; Paul told of who had already fallen away – Gal.5).

1.                  Can we think of people who are not here today because they have fallen away?

2.                  Well, what contributed to their falling away?  Let me suggest just a few things.

B.                 Worldly things have caused some to fall away (Josh.7:21)

1.                  Israel was going good until they disobeyed God.  A man by the name of Achan caused Israel to be defeated as they went to attack the city of Ai. 

                                                                        a.                   What did he do?  [READ VS.21]

                                                                       b.                   He took some things he was not supposed to, and as a result he and all his family suffered – death.

2.                  What is sad is that many today have fallen away because of their own wants and desires (material possessions, drugs / alcohol, fornication), and as a result, the whole family has suffered or is suffering.

C.                 Worldly people have caused some to fall away (2 Cor.6:14, 17)

1.                  People we may look up to, people who may be popular, people who we may trust…all can make us fall away from God.

                                                                        a.                   No matter how nice, how caring, or how smart, if someone does not have interest in spiritual things, they will eventually drag the Christian away into apostasy.

                                                                       b.                   So many times do we hear people say, “I know what I am doing, I can handle it,” only later hearing them say, “you were right, I was messing with fire and I got burned.”

2.                  As a general rule, the unbeliever will pull down the believer.  Whether this is between a husband and a wife, or between a close friend, usually the Christian is broken down by the non-Christian.

                                                                        a.                   You may say, that is not always true, I know, but don’t miss the lesson… how many are not here today because of the influence of worldly people?

                                                                       b.                   "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1Cor.10:12).

D.                Worldly influences have caused some to fall away (Heb.10:26ff; Mt.7:13-14).

1.                  While worldly things and worldly people are both connected with influence, what I am speaking of specially is falling away into unbelief or denominationalism.

                                                                        a.                   It wasn’t until a year after I became a Christian that I heard of someone leaving the church to go to a denomination.

                                                                       b.                   I could not believe it, how could someone be a part of the church they read about in their bibles, verifies everything they do by the NT, go to a church that you cannot read about in the Bible, and cannot verify half of what they do in the pages of the Bible?

2.                  Worldly influences do cause people to fall away.

                                                                        a.                   Some may be too far gone.

                                                                       b.                   Others may feel they are on the right path, but actually they are on the wrong path.

[Lastly this morning, why is the chair empty?  It may be because…]

IV.                        SOME ARE LOOKING AWAY

A.                Like the priest and the Levite, we see someone who is dying, and instead of helping the person like the good Samaritan did, we turn away and see a erring member or a non-member as someone else’s problem.

B.                 Some feel they are not spiritual leaders (Gal.6:1).

1.                  We hear someone say, “That is so and so’s job,” or “I cannot make a difference.”

2.                  We must step up to the plate; everyone cannot do the same thing, but everyone must do something.  We have some wonderful encouragers in this congregation.

C.                 Some see no need to be urgent (2 Cor.5:11).

1.                  We hear people say, “They will be alright,” or better yet, “They made their bed, and now they will lie in it.”

2.                  Is there ever a time when someone is “living” in sin and they be alright.

D.                Some claim to be unaware of how to help (Mt.18:15ff).

1.                  “I do not know what to do.”  Given, some cases are tougher than others, but many times we know what to do but just don’t do it.

2.                  Call, card, visit, letter, DVD, dis-fellowship.

                                                                        a.                   Make a point of contact.

                                                                       b.                   If this does not work, take someone else with you to make the contact.

                                                                        c.                   If this does not work, let it be known to the church.

Conclusion:

1.                   While this list may not be complete, we can see why some are not with us today.

2.                   What about your seat?  Is it empty often without reason?

3.                   An empty seat speaks volumes.  It may be telling the…

a.                   Preacher, your sermons aren’t important

b.                  Teacher, who needs your class?

c.                   Husband or wife who is not faithful, “Church services aren’t important”

d.                  God, “I had better things to do; I really did not need you.”

4.                   Do not have that attitude friend, because if you feel you do not need God now, you will need Him eventually.

5.                   What can we do to help?

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