Paul admonished the church in Rome, "...it is high time to awake out of sleep for now our salvation is nearer that when we first believed". Could you be asleep spiritually? Do you clearly see what's going on around you?
This afternoon what I'd like to do is to cover a topic that I hope you'll find most helpful and also in light of biblical admonition, one that falls in the category of exhortation. The apostle Paul was one who many times exhorted the members of the Church of God in those early days and much of his exhortation is recorded in scripture.
When reading the Bible, as certainly God commands us to do, there's a sense of urgency that is transmitted from the words and from the scriptures of almighty God. For all who fear God and want to walk in his ways that sense of urgency has to be embraced and applied on a day-to-day basis.
It's an urgent cry that says, "redeem the time for (because) the days are evil." That's found in the book of Ephesians 5:16 Ephesians 5:16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
American King James Version×. That word - evil - is the Greek word - poneros - which is translated for the most part - hurtful in its effect upon you. And certainly in this day and age in which we're living there are many things that can be classified as hurtful in their effect upon us as men and women. And that's young and old. Everyone is subject to this very thing.
We're admonished in scripture in Isaiah, the prophet, he says in Isaiah's 55:6 -
Isaiah 55:6 Isaiah 55:6Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
American King James Version×- "Seek the Lord while He may be found, . . ."There is coming a time when God is not going to be so easily accessible to people. Even though they cry out to him it's going to be a very difficult time because they're not going to find him.
Now is the time for the people of God to cry out to God, to draw close to Him, to receive the strength and the help we all need as men and women. None of us are able to execute what needs to be done in our own personal lives apart from God Himself. And because we are human, there are different things that crop up in our life from time to time that cause real roadblocks to our spiritual growth and well-being.
A couple of those are apathy and lethargy, because we live in the world today that is apathetic and lethargic. And because we live in this world, it's easy for that to begin to bleed off into our lives from time to time. Maybe not in the whole spectrum, but in certain areas of our life, we become apathetic, lethargic, that could be such as dutiful prayer where we become a little bit lethargic. Days just slip by, get away from us, study of the scripture, things get away from us, because we've let other things more or less crop up in our lives from the world in which we live.
We have admonition in scripture that tells us that this has happened to the Church of God in the past such as in the early stages of the Ephesus church, when they first began. And we see that in the book of Revelation 2:4 Revelation 2:4Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love.
American King James Version×. where it says after starting out so good something happened and all of a sudden they lost their first love. And the admonition was to wake up, get back on track again in your life, and get back to the thing that you're supposed to, your first love. And of course what is that first love?
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength and soul." So therefore, if something else comes in the way, you can see the love of God got diverted into other areas. And so they were becoming a little apathetic, lethargic in their execution of what God had commanded them.
Also a little bit later as a churches progress through the prophetic picture that is pictured in Revelation 2 and 3, we see in Revelation 3:15-16 Revelation 3:15-16  I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot.
 So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
American King James Version×, the last church that is mentioned is called Laodicea. And Laodicea is pictured as a church that has kind of gotten into a quasi state of affairs, a hot and cold which is translated as being lukewarm. They're not full of fire and zeal for the things of God, but they're not against it either. They've just kind of - as we say, shhheewww - cooled down.. And so we're told because of the world we live in, and we know this is certainly reflecting a Laodicean age in which we're in right now, where the love of many is waxing cold. And as it waxes cold, it's going to have an impact upon the people of God unless they recognize this, and as the scripture exhorts us to do, to be mindful and to wake up to what's happening all around us.
And this wake-up call is something very important. As you know our nation was stunned back in December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl harbor. And our nation will suddenly hit with a wake-up call like it had never seen before. It wanted to stay out of this trouble that was going on in Europe and over in Asia dealing with the totalitarian powers of Nazi fascism and also imperial Japanese fascism.
Well this type of thing finally got brought to reality when again December 7th became a reality, and we had to do something. We had to wake up as it were. And it mobilized the whole nation because we were in a fight for our physical survival as a nation. That's how serious it was.
Now a little bit later, on 9/11 in the year 2000, what 2001 was it? How fast time goes by. Here we are 2006. Suddenly two airplanes out of the blue come plowing into the twin towers. And another wake-up call goes out to the people of America.
What happens? They get quite concerned. What's going on? And so immediately and they take action, and they start making the necessary precautions to protect homeland, Homeland Security, and people were rushing to the churches to draw close to God in this time of trial, but after a handful of weeks and months, what happened? People began to go back to business as usual. The churches were no longer filled as they were. Seems like people always run to God when there's trouble. When there's good times, let the good times roll. Who needs God? And apparently that's what happened. The people began to fall back, and we didn't take it and mobilize in the same way we did back on December 7th. So the American people have become a little bit apathetic, lethargic in the seriousness of that wake-up call that hit back on September 11, 2001.
Now the apostle Paul admonished the Christians in his day, and his words are written, preserved for our edification so that you and I will keep something in mind. That we never lose sight of God's admonition and wake-up call to all of us.
And as we approach Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, it would be right and proper and good for us to look at this subject, because in Romans 13, (is we're going to go), and I'd like you to join me there in Romans 13, and to hold your place here because we're going to be using it as the basis of what we're going to talk about. And then we're going to go from other scriptures as they pertain.
But here we are told in Romans 13 that there was a need for exhortation, the apostle Paul wanted to exhort the brethren of the Church of God that were in Rome at that time, and he told them to awake as it were out of sleep. He said that their lives were beginning to reflect kind of a dull sleepiness, and he sensed it. He sensed that they were losing something . An exhortation has to do with giving warning or advice from scripture. And you'll find that in II Timothy 4:2. where the apostle Paul told Timothy, the young minister at that time, he says:
II Timothy 4:2 - " You preach the word. Be (ready) in season (and) be out of season." He said, and do what? He says, ". . .exhort. . ." In other words, let the people have the warning from the scriptures. Help them to understand the sense of urgency that God is trying to convey so that they don't fall into an apathetic or lethargic, lax frame of mind and therefore things slip up on them and capture them unaware.
What we see in terms of the term - awake - carries the connotation is don't be careless or indifferent. It's so easy to get careless and indifferent because we live in a careless and indifferent age today. People don't seem to have that added spark, that added desire to want to do things the right way even from a physical point of view. Now when we bump it up, we have to understand we're called to a spiritual point of view, and that makes it even more so for us to take note.
We are to shake off, as it were, any slothfulness because we live in a slothful age. And you have to be mindful of the fact that if you're not constantly aware of what is going on around you it will infect your mental state of mind. And this is why we have to bring every thought into subjection to Christ according to the word of God because if we don't then other things can get in there, kind of like we jokingly say like Ragou, you know, it's in there, all the ingredients in the so-called sauce.
Well, there's a lot of stuff that can get in here in our mind that we don't want in there, according to the word of God. And that's why it is important to be mindful that we cannot be fatally indifferent to spiritual, eternal things. And that's what we're going to talk about today.
I've entitled this message, "It's Time to Wake Up." It's time to wake up for all of us, because the day and age is moving very rapidly. And as it says here, let's read all this here in Paul, and then we're going to break it down and look more specifically at what this means and how it translates to us as men and women.
Romans 13:11 Romans 13:11And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
American King James Version×- He says: "And that knowing that the time. . ." He focuses in on time. Time is a precious commodity that we have been given as human beings made in the image of God. And here we are told that the time now, it is high time. In other words, this is something that should be top priority on your time schedule of events. And he says: ". . .it is (high) time to awake out of sleep. . ." That if we've been sloppy, groggy, somewhat dozing in terms of our own personal lives that God wants us to wake up and realize the seriousness of the time in which we find ourselves living.
We're not living back in the Middle Ages. We're living at the consummation of man's world. We're living at the day when the scripture talks about all the prophecies that have been proven and have definitely been fulfilled in the Old Testament, ring loud and clear and say all the prophecies in the New Testament concerning Christ's return are also going to have great impact.
And he says in the context of that, ". . .these be the days of vengeance that all things that have been prophesied will be fulfilled."
Verse 11 continued - So we're living in quite an unusual period of time, to say the least. It is not a time to just kind of doze off, but he says ". . . our salvation. . ." that which God has called us to understand and grasp and comprehend, he says: ". . . is nearer now than when we believed. "When we were first coming in as a novice, and a neophyte in the truth of God.
Now look at how the years have passed in your life, my life and what have we done with those years? Have we've really made them count when it comes to our relationship with God and Jesus Christ? I would have to say we should probably all hang our head in shame that we have wasted an awful lot time.
We have wasted time on foolish things, things that are not worth it when it's all said and done. If you were to put it on a scale and say what you have done with that time, I think we would all have to hang our heads in shame before God and say, "God, be merciful to me a sinner for I have truly messed it up."
But God is desirous that we wake up, acknowledge where we fall short. He's willing to forgive us. He's willing to blot that out. But if we say we have no sin, that will wide awake and we're walking in light, when in reality, parts of our life are dark. We're walking in darkness as the scripture says, and if we do that we lie and the truth is not in us.
The scripture comes out very clear and goes on to say, ". . .It's nearer now than when we believed because the night is far spent and the day is at hand." Yes, what God is purposing is drawing closer and closer with the passing of every day. Do we sense that urgency? As God sees it, as God feels it, as He is trying to convey this through His Spirit to us.
Then he goes on to say:
Romans 13:12 Romans 13:12The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
American King James Version×- "... therefore cast off the works of darkness..." And we're told in the book of John that men love darkness because their deeds are evil. You and I are told to come out of darkness and into his marvelous light. We've been translated into that marvelous like. It goes on to say: "...let us put on the armor of light.
Verse 13 - "Let us walk honestly (as) in the day; not in rioting (and) drunkenness, (not in) chambering and wantonness, (not) in strife and envy (envying.) In other words, not to get caught up in the vices and the problems of the world. And the world is sinking in morality very fast. And I'll have more to give you in other sermons coming up to show you just how terribly fast it is moving on a downhill stroke.
Verse 14 - It says: "But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provisions for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts or the desires and that means inordinate desires thereof."
Now, let's take a look and ask ourselves some very important aspects as we break this very important section of scripture down. Why we need to be awake? Why do we need to be awake? What is Paul emphasizing? Time. Time is a critical component for all of us. We don't know how much time almighty God has so graciously bestowed upon each and every one of us. Time is in His hands. And He's given us time, and we all hope and pray that we will have many days, many years, but only God knows the final outcome in these matters.
So knowing that the time is short, it should speed us up with an urgency and a desire to make the most of the time, what ever that time is, now, with God's blessing. We know the time is fleeting according to James 4:14-17 James 4:14-17  Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.
 For that you ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
 But now you rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
 Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
American King James Version×. That's James 4:14-17 James 4:14-17  Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.  For that you ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  But now you rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.  Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
American King James Version×in which James reminds us that our life is like-what? Just like a vapor. It is here, and it flies right by.
How many of us right in this room today can just remember, it seemed like just yesterday you were in grade school, high school, college, you are out and now look at you. Grandkids, we say, "Where did all this go? How come it went so fast?" It went by one day at a time, and it was gone before you knew . And we have to make the most of that time as the scripture says, because in II Corinthians 6, hold your place here please in II Corinthians 6, take note of this, it tells us in II Corinthians 6:1, it says:
II Corinthians 6:1 - ". . . whereas workers together with him, beseech you (also) that you receive not the grace of God in vain." It says:
Verse 2 - "For as he said, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in. . ." It says here, " the day," but it should be translated, "a day." It goes back to the prophecy in the book of Isaiah. This is "... a day of salvation (have) I have succored you: and behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is a day of salvation." And it is for the first fruits of God, those called at this time now have been given insight to understand this very important calling. This is revealed to us in the pages of scripture through the holy days and the plan of God. And so we see that this is our day, our time. The rest of the world will have a different time, a different schedule that God will work with them. He is no respecter of persons, but wants all to come to the knowledge of the truth, but they're not at this time able to do that. They don't know what they're doing. Just as Jesus said on the cross with he died. He made the statement, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do."
Now in their minds they knew exactly what they were doing. They were killing this upstart who claimed to be the Son of God. What they didn't know was that He was really the Son of God. And that He had to die to provide the way of escape that all of us need so desperately, to provide salvation through His one precious death and His shed blood for all of us. That's what Passover is all about.
Then we're told our salvation draws near. And, yes, it is. And most people do not grasp and comprehend what are we talking about when salvation is discussed? They think it means going to heaven when you die. And they don't realize there's much more here involved when it talks about salvation And it is nearer because God's revelation tells us that as we move through it, the corridor of life, we begin to discover how truly our own mortality is ever before our eyes.
The living know that they shall do-what? Go to sleep. They'll die. But the dead know not anything until the time of restoration when God will call forth all mankind in their time, in their order, and bring them forth to a glorious resurrection of the first fruits and then a glorious resurrection of the great white throne judgment for the vast majority of mankind.
We are reminded that in Hebrews 9:27 Hebrews 9:27And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:
American King James Version×, " . . . it is appointed unto man once to die." Because of what happened in the garden of Eden, and the path that was chosen by our original parents, we have all been indoctrinated, and we've all been implanted with the seed of rebellion in our natures. We've all gone down that wrong path, and it has brought about wages that we have earned.
Paul talks about that. He says in Romans that it is what? The wages of sin have produced death. Death is in this world, but it is not God's desire to allow it to sustain or stay in this world. He's going to destroy it in the process of time.
He tells us that the night is far spent. And what does that translate to? Well it translates to the fact that the world we are living in is drawing to its final close. That the time of man's day is drawing to its conclusion and the bursting forth of the kingdom of God is on the horizon.
And when Jesus comes back in power and glory and honor, we are going to see something very wonderful happen, a transformation of this whole, entire world. And what human beings have talked about, God is going to produce. Human beings talk, but they do not produce the right result. Only God can. And notice what it says in I John 2:8 John 2:8And he said to them, Draw out now, and bear to the governor of the feast. And they bore it.
American King James Version×. He says:
I John 2:8 John 2:8And he said to them, Draw out now, and bear to the governor of the feast. And they bore it.
American King James Version×- "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past,. . ." You see, the area of our past conduct. We lived in darkness. ". . .and the true light now shines." We now have access to the true light, and what does light do? It dispels darkness. God is cleansing our minds. He's cleansing our hearts and our spirits, and showing us what truth is all about. How it relates to the character of God, Himself, and how God is unapproachable light, the scripture says, and that He is one of the most dazzling, beautiful creation, if you could use that term, what's the best word to describe God? He is the Eternal One. He radiates like the sun. He's beautiful like diamonds and jewels, and He just sparkles in everything He does. He radiates powers and auras, and I'm lost for words at how to describe this great God that we are privileged to serve.
That's why when you think about that, it's a thought that God wants you to embrace, and that's why He gets angry when He says, "Don't make any idols or anything, any statues and try to palm those things off as God. They don't even come close to representing who God is and what He is like." This is what we have to keep in mind. This is the fear of God that shows acknowledgment and reverence to this great God that has made us in His image.
No, we live in a world today that is far from the truth of God. We hear a lot about God, just as the scripture says. There is a form and ceremony. They have a form and ceremony of God, but they deny the power thereof. They don't want to hear about God ruling in the kingdoms of men. That's what Daniel said He does - He rules in the kingdoms of men. He is bringing to pass the prophecies of His word, just like He said He would. He lets this individual go so far, just as long as that individual is going to bring to pass what God wants. If that individual starts going in a different direction, God can cancel that person just that fast and move to another direction. And when it is all said and done, God weaves His wonderful promises, and all these things come to pass, and not one fails. That's going to be the historical record. Not one thing that God has said will fail. The word is out of His mouth. It won't return until it has accomplished His purpose.
That's what God wants us to keep in our mind, that He is working with us, kind of like that country song Alan Jackson, you know, "We're a Work in Progress." We're a work in progress. We're the first fruits of this wonderful work in progress that God is making. Aren't you glad you're not a monkey from a tree? Aren't you glad you're not a bird? Beautiful birds. Aren't you glad you don't have to go all around through life going: squawk, squawk, squawk...(bird like sounds), squawking like a bird or a crow.
You were made in the image of God, male and female. What a blessed privilege that is. Of all the things as beautiful as they are, as wonderful that God has created, there is nothing like the sons and daughters of God made in His image. He thought so. That's why He was willing to die for us. What are we willing to do in return? He tells us in scripture that we should respond accordingly, because the night is far spent. It's hastening to a close.
If we look around today, just as the scripture says, the prophetic clouds are gathering. And as those prophetic clouds gather, what are they telling? They're rushing toward fulfillment. And if all the things that happened and transpired in Old Testament times, everything that was prophesied concerning Christ's first coming, happened exactly like it was supposed. What's it going to be like concerning the second coming prophecy? Because when you read the book of Revelation, which we're supposed be reading right now, it says this is the book that has a special blessing for all read it. And yet we've got individuals who claim to be the ministers who'll stand up in pulpits and tell the people that they pastor, "You don't have to read that book. That book doesn't mean anything. It's done away. It's been finished. It's all been in the past." They're literally spiritually cutting the throats of their people. What a terrible thing when people need to have answers to the questions that plague them and bother them today.
II Peter 1:19 - "We have (also a more) a sure word of prophecy..." according to the scripture, ". . . wherein you do well to (that you) take heed (as unto a light that shines in a dark place.) And you do well that you see this shining like a light in a dark place ". . . until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your heart:
Verse 20 - "And knowing (this first), that there is no prophecy of scripture that is of any private interpretation.
Verse 21 - The prophecies came through God's inspiration, working upon individuals through the power of His holy Spirit.
So we see that God's hand is at work. His hand is going to accomplish His will, His purpose, and that brings us to how we ought to walk. And as Passover and unleavened bread approach, and looking at the world around us, we need to stop and consider very seriously how have we been walking this past year? Because this is, again, a yearly exercise in which we ask ourselves how have I used the very precious gift of time that God has given me? Did I walk with Him more? Did I walk with Him less? Did I pray to Him more? Did I pray to Him less?
Did I appreciate and thank Him for the many blessings that He has given? Or did I just accept those blessings and never said thank-you. Like today we live in the day and age where people just accept things, and never even have the courtesy to say, "Thank you."
How very, very serious a time we are living in. We are told to cast off the works of darkness back there in Romans, and we want to look at that again. In Romans 13:12 Romans 13:12The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
American King James Version×:
Romans 13:12 Romans 13:12The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
American King James Version×- " And because the night is far spent, and the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." In other words we need to be combat ready, if I may use the term. We have to wear the material that will help us in our daily battle and struggle in living life as God-fearing men and women.
Now, I would hope and pray, and I can only put it in this context, that none of us are deliberately, in any way, practicing sin. But at the same time, it would be an error to say that we are sinless as we sit here today as a body. If we say we have no sin, we lie, and the truth is not in us. We have all strayed from the path, not deliberately, but because of the human weakness of our own natures, we stumble, and we falter from time to time. The point in question is, do we follow the example of David? Do we quickly get back to God and acknowledge where we have fallen, where we have gone wrong, and ask God to help us and to restore us again with the joy of His salvation? Or otherwise would we rather, if I may use this expression, would you rather shake yourself to get back on track, or would you rather have God shake you? I think the former is the better way to go for all of us. Because when God arises he's going to shake this earth, the Bible tells us and people are going to go absolutely bonkers. They're going to go ballistic. They're going to go crazy. They're not going to know what to do.
The scripture constantly admonishes us to consider our ways. The world has encroached upon all of us, maybe in more ways than we realize. And that's why it's time to wake up. That's why I've entitled this message this way, because for all of us we need to take an instock, inhome analysis of ourselves. What do we allow into our life now that just ten years ago we would not have done? We just would not have done it. Has something softened us, weakened us, invaded our spiritual lives? Only we as individuals can answer that question.
And if it has happened, do we see it for what it is, do we acknowledge it for what it is, and do we run back to God and say, "Oh, God, unsin me? Take this away from me. Cleanse with the precious blood of Christ because I'm lost without You." This becomes a very important issue.
What are we supposed to get rid of? Well, notice some of the things. Other texts also add to this. I'm going to give you some things here to consider. It says revelry, drunkenness, lewdness, lust, meaning an inordinate desire, strife, envy, other scriptures like Galatians 5 talks about the works of the flesh which are adultery, fornication, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfishness, ambition, dissension, heresies, murders, evil desires, covetedness, anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, lying, and you say, "Wow. Have I been involved in that?"
At the answer is, "We all have." Not deliberately, but vicariously.
Now some of those things that I just mentioned you are in Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
 Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×, and Colossians 3:5-8 Colossians 3:5-8  Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:  For which things' sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience:  In the which you also walked some time, when you lived in them.  But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
American King James Version×. Now, here's the point. I said vicariously because have you been to the movies lately? Do you have a television in your house? What are the themes of those programs that many times we have all watched? Murders, adulteries, fornications, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, filthy language, it crops up doesn't it? They just keep moving it in a little bit more, pushing the envelope to see it.
It's not that you sit there and say, "Oh, I want to listen to this program. I want to hear the dirty language." I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about, you sit there and watch program, and you think, "Well, this is a decent program." All of a sudden, from somewhere out of there, BANG, a four-letter word is slipped in there. And you say, "Surely, they'll bleep it out." They don't bleep it out anymore, because it's culturally acceptable, and people are beginning to become addicted to this stuff .
Hard to believe that people actually will dial-up phone and say, "I'll pay money for you to talk dirty to me." I mean, that shows how off-the-wall the human mind can get. They'll pay money for something like that. And that's supposed to be a turn-on? That's a turn-off. That's how God looks at it. It's a turn-off.
Well, my point is being this: unless we view everything in life according to what God says: "Come out of her my people." Now this is not a diatribe against television. It's not a diatribe against movies. Please understand. There's a balance here.
But which movie would you rather go see? Go see the something that your family members are with you, and you get barraged and hit with four-letter words? Or would you rather watch the March of the Penguins? The March to the Penguins is going to teach you a whole lot more.
Just plain, simple movie on creation, to watch these penguins walking around like this, down in the Antarctic, covering that little egg, doing what God ordained emperor penguins do. And you sit there, and you just marvel at it. The hand of God at work. And you say, "Wow."
But unfortunately people are not all that interested in March of the Penguins. They would rather see the march of something else instead. Something vile, something filthy, something sick, and that seems to be what is happening in our day and age today. And that's why we're told "put on the armor of light" because you're in combat mode.
Now you have to watch as you go to movies, as you watch television. There's always a good side to everything. Remember it's not the thing that is wrong. It's how a thing is used. Man has this wonderful proclivity of taking something good that God has given and twists it and makes it wrong.
Now in this particular case what we see is that people today are being hypnotized, literally, by this stuff. It's a form of entertainment to them. Instead of entertainment it should be viewed objectively and stand back and say, "Where are they taking me with this? What's the motive behind this?"
They've given all these Oscars right now for this particular movie of two cowboys out there in Montana somewhere, and you know, it's this place up on the mountain where something goes on that shouldn't be going on. Oh, well, they got Oscars, and Academy Awards and all this stuff. Oh, this is wonderful. Who wrote that theme for that? Oh, it's one of those guys. It's one of those guys who wrote the theme, and he's promoting his cause. Instead of promoting righteousness, they promote unrighteousness, and that's the day and age in which we live.
I don't want to get any more specific than that; I think you have enough wisdom and discernment to know these are things that are not acceptable in the eyes of God.
So God is telling us that we are to put on Christ, by first of all, arming ourselves because we're in a combat battle. You know something that I saw here recently, to share with you, but it is an interesting little excerpt. This was done on a public television channel, showing how lions hunt water buffalo in Africa. And what they do is quite unique. Of course, they've got the king of the beast, they're the male, all he does is protect the pride. Interesting that this is called - a pride. Satan is the one who is lifted up in pride. So the lion group, lionesses and their cubs and what have you is called the pride.
And in this particular situation, what they do is when they go out to hunt, they go out as a group, and of course, once they get a kill, the lion, the male gets the first dibs on the food. Now, here's the interesting part, when they go to hunt, and I'd never quite seen this before until this demonstration, it was a National Geographic Special, and what they did, they showed how these lionesses, it's the ladies who do the actual hunting for the pride, and they go out and they circle this water buffalo group, creatures. And what happens is that they target one specific one. Here's a scripture that says, "Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour," they're out there seeking which one of those buffalo is going to be the evening meal.
Then, here's the interesting part, they start a procedure whereby they go around and around, and they'll attack the herd, and the herd will push them back. And they'll attack again, and they'll push them back, and they'll go around and around and around, the whole point being this, they keep pressuring the herd, pressuring the herd, until the herd makes a mistake. When the herd makes its mistake, BANG!
How many times have you and I made mistakes in life because we were under pressure and we finally caved under pressure. Satan knows how to attack. He knows where your weak spot is, and he will pressure and pressure and pressure until he can succeed in his attack. So therefore it is important that we don't allow him, or as the Bible would use the expression, "Don't give place to the Devil."
All right, that's just a little side note, but it does show one of Satan's tactics. He creates pressure. Have you noticed that the world we live in has become like a pressure cooker? Have you noticed that people say, "Oh, boy, for the good old days when you could kind of sit on your porch and relax, what happened to those days? Shhiccckkkk - They're gone. Everybody's so busy now. Everybody is pressured, pressured, pressured. Who's creating the pressure? Who's out there seeking whom they may devour? This is why you and I have to be combat-ready according to scripture, to put on Jesus Christ; we did that when we were baptized. Galatians 3:27 Galatians 3:27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
American King James Version×, and we're told to keep developing the character of God. It is critical.
But we are to make no provision for the flesh, it says. Now how do we understand that? It's basically this: We have the responsibility not to feed the flesh. You feed the flesh; you get the wrong result. You feed the spirit; you get the right result.
You know it's like everything else, if you don't make the right deposits in your checking account, if you don't keep putting money in, you're just always taking out all the time, sooner or later it goes zero balance, nothing in there. Well, in the same way, if we ourselves allow ourselves to feed the flesh, rather than the spirit, then what ends up happening is that we end up becoming spiritually delinquent, and we live merely for the moment, for the flesh, and that's what Paul is warning us against.
Romans 8:12 Romans 8:12Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
American King James Version×- "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Verse 13 - "(If) you live after the flesh. . ." in other words, you just go about your normal pursuits of living life, and you don't take God seriously in the equation of living life, He says, all you'll end up doing is you'll end up dying. And that's what the world is doing: they live; they die. Maybe that's why they came up with that old expression: eat, drink and be merry, for why? Tomorrow we die. They see no hope, no future. Only through God do you see a future and a hope because He gives us one. ". . .but if you through the Spirit. . ." Notice, with the help of God's Spirit, ". . .do mortify the deeds. . ." in other words, a wrong thought comes into the mind and God's instantly showing you, you don't want to go there. You kill it. You stop it right then and there. You wipe that thought out. You don't, no, I'm not going to go there. You hold onto that thought, and feed that thought, it's going to feed the flesh. It just creates the process and moves a little bit further down the road. So here you're told, ". . .if you do that, if you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live."
Now that's part of what the Days of Unleavened Bread are all about, coming out of sin. Getting out of the habit of breaking God's law and His commandments, because that's what we've all done in the past. We've all had the habit of breaking God's laws and commandments, and to show how Laodicean things are in our day and age, if somebody were to tell you, or you would tell them, first of all, that you keep the Sabbath, the seventh day, and they'd say, "Oh, well, I keep the first day of the week." And they might answer this, they say, "And after all, it really doesn't matter."
Well, that's a watering down, that's a lukewarm, what do you mean? You want to worship, well why don't you worship on the day God said.
Well, it doesn't matter. Well, it does to God. And it should to you. This is what the scripture is advising a us. It's counseling us in these matters.
So we have the aid of God's Spirit involved, and God has promised in I Corinthians 10:13 that He would never allow anything to come so bad against you that it would break you spiritually. He knows your breaking point. You know, everybody has a breaking point. You could only go so far. And God says I will never put anything on you or allow anything to come on you greater than you can bear.
Now sometimes people think, "Well, this is unbearable." Well, compared to what? God is one was promised that He would never put anything that would just devastate a person so bad that they could never function again.
Now let's take a look at I Peter 4:7 because this has a very important application. I Peter 4:7. Here we are admonished on the following:
I Peter 4:7 - It says: "But the end of all things is at hand:. . ." and because of that, it says: ". . . be you therefore sober,. . ." notice that means have a high degree of alertness, that's what sobriety means in the term you're sober; you're very much alert, and notice, ". . .watch unto prayer." As you're watching, as you're looking, and evaluating things in your everyday life, make sure you're praying about these things because what you see is not always what it is. You may see something and think it's a certain way, but when you pray about it, all of a sudden God's Spirit puts something else into your mind and you say, "Oh wait a second, wait a second here, there's more here than meets the eye."
Because God's Spirit, remember, is a Spirit that does what? "Shall show you all things," it says. It'll shall show you prophetic applications of things, and it'll lead you the way God is directing the affairs. Otherwise, it's just a guess. It's just speculation. And that's what human beings do. They guess; they speculate; but God knows the outcome. And God tells us to be sober and to watch unto prayer. Now we know that we are to watch for what reason? So that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things.
There's things coming that we don't want to be a part of. But it's an admonition from scripture to inspire us and encourage us to do the right thing, not to panic us. It's not designed to scare the daylights out of us so that - pant, pant, pant, pant; God's going to get us, so we'd better do this now. That's not what God wants. He wants us out of what He has revealed as Jesus said, "Behold I've told you all things ahead of time that you might believe. That you know that I have your best interest of heart. That I'm trying to show you what to escape, to avoid the minefield that's gonna blow up and cause mass confusion in the minds of people. But God is not the author of confusion. He's the author of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and He shares that for us and gives us that understanding. So we see here a very important application that we need to ask ourselves as we draw to conclusion how serious are we in this regard of waking up? It's time to wake up.
Are there areas in our lives personally that we need to really wake up and get on the stick? Or as our English cousins would say, "It's time to get crackin'." Time to get crackin' and as we see these events moving closer and closer to the end, you and I cannot afford to be indifferent about spiritual things. We can't allow the Spirit of God to become something that is looked upon in a careless manner. We need to value the Spirit of God. We need to stir up the Spirit of God. We need to thank God for His Spirit because without that Spirit, all you've got to rely on is your human spirit, and that's not enough. We have to be guided and directed in the knowledge of the things of God. And only God can administer that to us, but we have to ask. You have not because you ask not. And you've got to make sure you're always asking with the right motive at heart, because if you ask amiss, it ain't going to happen, folks. Plain and simple.
So God, out of love and concern is telling us He does not want us to be any aspect of our lives lethargic or apathetic. Could you imagine God in His service to us - how do you view God in this - flip the coin. Do you want God to be - ooooohhhhhhh - lethargic, apathetic toward His service toward you? Or do you want a God in heaven above to be alert, to be on top of things, that when you cry out to Him, you know He's there? He's right there to hear your prayer, and you want His best answer to the question that you're struggling with?
Now these are important issues that we have to look at. I John 1:8 John 1:8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
American King James Version×, 9. We read that in verse 8 before:
I John 1: 8 - "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Verse 9 - "If we confess our sins,. . ." and that's part of what this whole period of self examination is all about right now. We're in the process of confessing our sins to God. Have we been indifferent? Have we been lax in areas? Do we need to shore up our defenses? Do we need to polish up the armor of light so that we can let God's Spirit work and flow more effectively in us? It says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness". He's there to help us do what? To keep His commandments and do those things pleasing in His sight.
Because unrighteousness is the opposite of what righteousness is. And the righteousness is defined as keeping the commandments of God. Psalms 119:172 Psalms 119:172My tongue shall speak of your word: for all your commandments are righteousness.
American King James Version×.
So God is teaching us how to live by His law. That's part of the New Covenant teaching. It's being written in our minds. It's being written in our hearts, so that we understand how we are to conduct ourselves.
Well, it's time to wake up any way you slice it. The world in which we live, we have another year by the grace of God set before us. We need to be excited each and every Sabbath as we come before God to rejoice in our time together as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not something to take for granted. This is something that Satan would love to destroy, and we have to jealously guard it. It is an oasis of truth, something where God again, as I said earlier to you, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. That's why, again, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, God commands that so that we hear when we hear, it inspires us and encourages us and makes us realize our God is real. And that our God is going to do what He said He's going to do, and that's signed, sealed and delivered. No human being can alter that fact.
And so we find very wonderfully given from the word of God that as individual men and women, we are to be children of the day, not the night, to clean up our lives if there's any dark spots, any night spots, any places there that are unacceptable. We're to put on Jesus Christ more and more and let that light shine just as He said. We're to put that whole armor on. We're to walk properly, to stay away from things that are wrong.
You know, the world we live in can hypnotize you if you're not careful. Have you ever been on the highway, driving down the highway, your eyes wide open and yet you were asleep? For a split-second. Does that ever happen to you.? It's happened to a lot of people. I've experienced it, you know. The technical term for it, it's a myoclonic jerk. That's what it's called. That's the technical term. Myoclonic jerk.
You're driving down the highway, and all of sudden you do this jerk, and you suddenly come back to reality. Where was I? You know. I thought I was awake, driving down the highway. They call it highway hypnosis, that you just keep your eyes riveted in one spot all the time, this will happen to you. So they tell you always to keep your eyes moving. It breaks up that monotony so you don't fall prey to that.
Well, think about how people today are hypnotized through television. Their eyes are focused on one thing, and they're constantly blitzed and bombarded by this stuff. And a lot of the things that are on there today, once they get in there, it's hard to get it out. And so what God is telling us, just like that myoclonic jerk, it's time to jerk yourself back to reality and see exactly what's going on around you.
This is not entertainment, folks. This is something we have to see objectivity-wise through God's eyes, and what God sees, He says it isn't very good. What a merciful God we have, though, in spite of all this. All this stuff that goes on in this world. You can have all this evil and still God blesses in spite of the evil.
Think of it, if you will. He told Abraham, He says, you know, "If you can find me ten people in that wicked city called Sodom and Gomorrah," He says, "I won't destroy it." Think of it. He'd let all that evil go if ten righteous people could be found. They couldn't even find ten. And so the city was blitzed, and it became history and a testimony to all mankind. And so here we are living in a world in which God says, "Do you have eyes to see? Do you see where I bless for those who are doing what I've commanded to do. Do you see where those are suffering terrible things because they're walking a path contrary? And as free, moral agents, they can do that.
We'll have more to say the next time I talk to you on the topic on why God delays His intervention on certain things. I think you'll find that interesting. But that'll be for another time. So with that we'll say, "Goodbye for today."