Jesus warned His disciples to be watchful about their spiritual condition and alert to newsworthy events. Learn why you should be too.
[Steve Myers] Christ said, "don't let me find you sleeping, watch for my return, keep a sharp lookout, you don't know when I will come." Christ is coming back and now is the time to draw near.
Imagine if God were to send you a direct message. What would it say? Would He say, "Have I got a great job for you," or maybe, "Don't worry, I can take care of that." Perhaps, "Don't forget the milk." Or maybe He'd say, "I can give you peace and security."
Now, He may not have said these directly to you but did you know He has sent you a message? All too often that message is misunderstood or ignored and perhaps even neglected. In fact, you could actually summarize that message in one word. You know what it would be? Watch! Christ Himself said, "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" Now, what did He mean? What are you watching?
Now, it's a word that carries a little bit of responsibility. In fact, maybe a duty and the way Christ said it, a command. In fact in Matthew 24, Christ led up to that one word message when the disciples asked Him a question. They asked Him, "What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?" And then Christ answered, and He said, "Take heed that no one deceives you." Now, probably not the answer they were expecting because He said you could be fooled and He also said this end is going to come. He didn't, he didn't correct them. This age will come to an end, and He went on to say, there's going to be signals that are showing that that time is approaching. Things aren't going to keep going the way that they have. In fact, as we look around this world, what do you find? Well we've got issues, we've got problems, problems with the economy. We see crazy news that we see on the internet, fake news. Perhaps you lost your job. There's inflation. Of course the ever-present pandemic.
We live in a time that gives us times of trouble and confusion. And perhaps you really can see that it just can't go on the way that it's been going. We seem to be on a downward spiral. So it's no wonder that Christ said, "Watch." Watch, so what do we watch? Well, one of the things that He points to is watch world events, watch what's going on in our world because there have been some pretty disturbing things that have been happening. Occurrences and circumstances that at times are almost unbelievable. And Christ pointed to that in Matthew 24 as He answered the disciples questions. He gave a list and He began like this. He said, "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you're not troubled, for these all must come to pass, but the end is not yet." He said, "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." Then He went on, "There'll be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in various places." And we've seen some of those haven't we? We've seen political problems, we've seen military conflicts. You just look at what's been happening between China and Taiwan and what was going on in Afghanistan. And of course, Russia always seems to be exerting themselves and the difficulties we've had in Iran and Venezuela seems to be just falling apart. And of course it doesn't stop there. We've seen environmental disasters, more recently, oil spills that have contaminated our coastlines, accidents that have happened in Russia, nuclear accidents. And then there's fires, terrible fires in California and Oregon, but not limited to North America, in Australia as well. And then of course, pestilence, COVID 19, and then the variants that have followed.
We know these aren't small little things. In fact, Christ said, "All these things are the beginning of sorrows." In fact, things are going to get so bad, and so widespread that Christ said, "Unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved." He called this time The Great Tribulation.
Now He didn't do this to make us fearful. This was not just an exercise in anxiety. We see what's going on and we're going to be frightened and stressed and worried. No, God wants us to know He's in control. So as we watch the events around us, He didn't mean, well you have to watch CNN 24/7 to know what's happening. We don't have to be in some constant news loop. But He did mean to be aware, be balanced, know what's going on. In fact, He said, "Be on guard, be on guard, so that day doesn't catch you unexpectedly." You see, He wants us to realize the best for us is what He wants because He cares about us. And so because He cares, He gives us a warning.
So we have to ask ourselves, "Am I ready? Am I spiritually prepared?" Because that idea of watch includes to be alert, to be alert. Know what's going on in the world around us, the events that we face. Are they fulfilling those words of Christ? And when we see those major shifts, take note, take note. And if we're honest, I think we could say we've seen some of these things. So are you watching? In fact, what are you focused on? How focused is your life? Especially when it comes to those questions of why, why? When we see these world events, it should lead us to ask those serious questions. Not only, well what's going on? But what is life really about? Haven't you wondered?
If you want to know the answer why, the Bible provides the answers and I'd like to help you find those answers, because it can seem overwhelming. Where do you start when it comes to the word of God? Well, we have a Bible study aid that we've prepared, "What You Need to Know About Baptism." It's something that can really help you. So call us at the number on your screen, or go to beyondtoday.tv, our website, and right there, you can download it or read it for yourself, because this study aid will help you sort out the challenges that you face. It will help you recognize that the things that are going on in this world really come down to spiritual issues. Now we realize we can't control events but God can guide you through life. If you trust Him, you recognize the fact that He wants you to have peace. Have you been baptized? What does that mean after all? What are the biblical guidelines when it comes to a right relationship with God? Well call us at the number on your screen, or go to beyondtoday.tv and get your copy of "What You Need to Know About Baptism." Because when you recognize that, it will help you to recognize what it really means to watch, and how that should look in your life.
Now, of course, Christ warned about watching in a number of different aspects. Another aspect was to watch out for spiritual deception. When we read what Christ warned the disciples about, He warned us when He said in Matthew 24, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and deceive many." And so here He points to another aspect of watching. He said, watch out for spiritual deception. In other words, don't be fooled, don't be deceived, don't get taken in. And that's not only a warning for those disciples of His day, that's a warning for us today. We need to watch. In fact, literally that word that He used, watch, means to stay awake, stay fully aware, be on alert, be intently focused, not to be deceived.
So do you get God's message? And of course, if we do, that means we've got to understand the words of Jesus Christ, understand the word of God, and what the apostles taught. And He warned of a great religious movement. One that would come in Christ's name and it will lead most of the world astray. And so He says, don't get caught up in it. Don't fall for that because it's going to seem religious, it's going to seem right and so we have to be careful. We may feel that that we're religious people, but are we really worshiping God the way that He wants? You got to remember, you're not saved just because you repeat the sinner's prayer. That's not found in the Bible, because if you're not worshiping in spirit and in truth, the fact is you're really not worshiping. Just showing up in church, that doesn't mean you're right with God. What does His word say? And do you follow it?
There are so many clear teachings that are outlined in the word of God. Do you remember the Sabbath? The Saturday Sabbath to keep it holy, what does God's word say about that? Do we know? And what about morality? What about gender roles? What about having integrity and ethics and of course sexual immorality. These things are surrounding us in our world today but we sure can't count on society for the answer. We better look to the word of God. Look to the Bible because if you can ignore biblical teaching, then you are being deceived. In fact we are urged in the Bible, in the book of Isaiah, it says, "Look to God's instructions and teachings." That's where the truth is. In fact it says, people who contradict His word, they're completely in the dark. So if you're not obeying God's word, who are you obeying? So we're urged, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong." And so that should cause us to ask the question, well how well do I really know that word? How well do I know what Jesus taught? Do I really understand His word and more importantly, do I live it? You see, when you begin to look into the faith you'll find it's far different from what is thought to be Christianity today. In fact, that leads us to another aspect.
The third aspect of that idea of watching that Christ talked about, we've got a watch by properly using our minds. You see if you've ever felt that you've been surrounded by laziness, how about, how about mental laziness? That's the kind of world we live in isn't it? I mean be honest, we've paged through our phones one page after another, we're a soundbite kind of a world, I want to get it, I want to get it quick and get it over with. In fact, there's been studies that have been done that show we have that tendency to avoid exerting effort and we become mental couch potatoes. So do you really think deeply, critical thinking, going beyond the surface? Do we waste a lot of time? Do I spend it on the trivial, the temporary, the things that really don't matter that much. I mean, after all we've got the internet. If I've got a question, just Google it. Well, there was an article a while back that was called, "Is Google making us stupid?" And it made the point that we are over reliant on the internet. Now of course if you're looking up how many pints are in a quart or in a gallon, Yeah it's good for a quick answer, that's helpful. But can Google answer life's most important question? I mean, what's the purpose of life? I mean, you Google that you're not going to get very satisfying answers from the net. Ultimately that's something you've got to contemplate, that's something you've got to really dig into. And you've got to answer the big questions for yourself, which means you got to go to the right source. You've got to go to the word of God, to the Bible, to the truth. And so we're told to watch by properly using our minds and use our thoughts in a proper way. Because there's this connection between our thoughts and really changing our lives, real transformation. Changing the way you think will definitely change your perspective and that then will change how you act and Christ oftentimes focused on that very fact, change your mind. You know, that was really the theme of His very first sermon that's recorded in the Bible. And so Christ is challenging us all to change the way we think. And so watching is often connected with staying in a thoughtful frame of mind. Spiritually sober or sober minded, the Bible often says. And so we've got to recognize that. In fact, the apostle Paul warned about not thinking deeply. He said, be on guard, don't be asleep like others, stay alert and be self controlled, have a clear headedness about you.
So what was the last time you really got out your Bible and read it? That's part of staying alert to your own spiritual condition because God really wants you to dig into His word and really develop a relationship with Him. And that means thinking about it. That means meditating on it, because God wants us to be well-informed. And of course that's where His word comes in. It's going to provide the framework that you need for a godly perspective, that way you can get your spiritual act together. Now to begin to do just that might seem difficult, but God wants you to have peace.
The Bible is a big book and I'd like to help you to start. It starts with a full commitment to God, which means you need to learn what baptism is all about. So we have a study aid, "What You Need to Know About Baptism." You can call us at the number on your screen and we will send you a free copy of, "What You Need to Know About Baptism." Or you can go on our website, beyondtoday.tv, there you can read it or you can download it and read it at your convenience, because if you ever thought baptism is about catechism, it's not, it's not about confirmation. Baptism is actually connected to watching. By taking that step of baptism, it's recognizing you're committed to God. It's a way that you can make your spiritual wellbeing the priority in your life. Because if you've never been immersed, if you've never had hands laid on you, now's the time to learn what the Bible really says about baptism. You can receive the Holy Spirit of God, and with His spirit, you can develop the mind of Christ. That's how to really put your mind to work and truly watch. So order your free copy of, "What You Need to Know About Baptism". It'll really get you on the path to having a right relationship with God.
Now there is another aspect of watching that Jesus Christ told us about. Oftentimes when He spoke and He taught, He connected watching with praying. We need to be sure we watch and pray and there is so much that we can pray about. We can pray about the things that are happening right now, we can look to the future and some of those worries and concerns, and we can talk to God about these things because watching helps our praying, and praying helps our watching. And of course, when you look through the Bible, we're not talking about just a quick mealtime prayer, or maybe a sleepy time prayer at bedtime. No, Christ gives us caution. He says, "Be careful." We need to put those two things together, watch and pray. And in Mark Chapter 13, He said this, "Take heed, watch and pray." The living Bible says, "Stay alert. Be on watch for my return." Christ said, my coming can be compared with that of a man who went on a trip to another country. He laid out to his employees work for them to do while he was gone. And he told the gatekeeper watch for his return. He said, "Keep a sharp lookout. You don't know when I will come, at evening, at midday, early dawn or daybreak." Christ said, "Don't let me find you sleeping. Watch for my return."
You see Christ used that, that idea to help us to recognize Christ is coming back and now is the time to draw near. And so when we recognize the circumstances around us, there's so much to talk to God about and He wants to hear from you. He knows, He knows your life. He knows and He cares about it. He loves you and wants the best for you. Even though the apostle Peter said, "The end of things is at hand" and we are so much closer to that today than when Peter said those very words. He told us to "Be serious and watchful in our prayers." And so in a way God's saying step away from the ways of this world, it's time to unplug, unplug from this fast paced internet world that we live in, this world of technology and stop the screen time for a little bit and draw closer to God.
See the solution is draw close to God. These times that we live in they need us, they show us we need that relationship with God and we need to put our life into His hands. So as we watch and we pray it reminds us that that's a part of the equation because it also reminds us, yeah we talk to God, we communicate with Him through prayer. But the fact is we also have to listen. We have to listen because God does have a message for us. We can find it throughout His word that He wants you in His family, He wants you in His kingdom, He wants you to be a spirit born member of His divine family. And that's why we want to help you come to a relationship with God.
So order our free study aid, "What You Need to Know About Baptism." You can go to our website at beyondtoday.tv and download a free copy or read it right there online, or call us at the number on your screen, because it's baptism that really marks the beginning of a commitment to follow God. You're saying, God, you are my God, and I'm going to follow you, I'm going to live your word, I'm going to follow your commandments. And you know with Baptism, you receive the holy spirit by the laying on of hands.
God wants to forgive your sin, He wants you to get rid of guilt out of your life, He wants to give you peace. So if you haven't been baptized, and you haven't been baptized in a biblical way, now's the time. Now's the time to get right with God. Now is the time to discover what a real relationship with Him is really all about. And certainly as we consider what God has in mind for us, this world can certainly weigh us down. We can be faced with the challenges of the difficulties that surround us. We see what's happening in the events around the world but we also have our personal challenges, our personal difficulties and trials. And then of course there's the distractions as well. Sometimes it's easy to get off course and to put God on the back burner but Jesus Christ also encouraged us in Luke chapter 21 verse 34, He told us this, He said, "Don't let your hearts be dulled."
In other words, don't be weighed down. You don't have to be discouraged and depressed, you don't have to be troubled by the cares of this life. And certainly the everyday worries can bog us down, it can trip us up, but Christ says, "don't allow that to happen." When you have a relationship with Him, when you draw close to Him, you don't have to be weighed down. And so He says, "don't be too busy with these worldly things," but instead He says, "be ready, be ready." And so He gives us an outline. When He says watch, He begins to show us this is a way we can draw closer to God and have that relationship and be spiritually ready for the return of Christ. And so we can follow those instructions Christ gave. He said, "Watch world events." Watch world events. And as we keep our eye on these things that are happening around us, how should that impact us? Well it should move us. It should motivate us to stay close to God and if we're not close to God, now is the time to draw near to Him.
Now Christ also said there was something else we needed to watch. Watch out, watch out for spiritual deception. That means I've got to ask myself, why do I believe the things that I believe? Why do I do the things that I do? And do those actions really match with biblical teaching? Well that means I've got to get out this word, and I've got to start reading this word and I've got to start to begin to understand it and ask God for understanding and get out that Bible and really search it for myself, and then begin to use my mind. That's part of watching, to use your mind.
We're told we have to have the mind of Christ. Well how much of my thinking actually matches Christ's thinking? Am I really changing my human way of thinking into more of a spiritual way of thinking, changing my thoughts to his thoughts? You see, that's the challenge.
And we're also told to watch and pray. We can pray and ask God to impact our thinking, and then our actions. You can put your life in the hands of really the only one that can truly make a difference into the hands of our Creator, God. Now remember God wants you to have a confidence. We don't have to be full of anxiety and fear. We can have a confidence from God that can't be shaken no matter what's happening in the world around us, no matter the circumstances, no matter what's occurring around us. In fact, you can have a clear cut direction in your life. A different perspective, a new perspective, a spiritual perspective, and God wants you to understand His plan for you and through repentance and baptism you can have His help for today and hope for tomorrow. God does have a hopeful message for you. Stay close to Him and watch.
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet offered on today's program, "What You Need to Know About Baptism." Does God want you to be baptized? Find biblical answers to common questions about baptism like, is there a right way to be baptized? What is the relationship between grace, faith and law? And should children be baptized? Order now, call toll free, 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. God wants you to take the road to eternal life in his family, and your first steps are repentance and baptism. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine. Beyond Today Magazine brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family. Call today to receive your free booklet, "What You Need to Know About Baptism", and your free one year subscription to Beyond Today magazine, 1-888-886-8632 or go online to, beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you're looking for a church that encourages living with the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. We're a community of believers dedicated to seeking the truth and preaching the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. We'd like to welcome you to come and join us on this spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.