Are You Pressing the Spiritual Snooze Button?

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Are You Pressing the Spiritual Snooze Button?

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A number of years ago I had trouble waking up each morning. The alarm clock would buzz and I'd press the snooze button, which stopped and reset the clock to go off again 10 minutes later. But pushing the button once wasn't enough for me. I'd often press it two, three or even four times. Thankfully those days of continually pushing the snooze button are long gone. I wasn't alone in my problem though. A lot of other people seem to struggle with it too.

Our lives are so often filled to the brim with tasks and duties. At the end of the day our minds are racing as we think about everything we did and what we still need to do. We can't seem to get to bed on time, which in turn makes it hard to get up in the morning. When we finally do arise we're exhausted. We need coffee or energy drinks to get us going. We repeat this process nearly every morning. And each time we press the snooze button one more time before we finally drag ourselves out of bed.

That's what was happening to me, but there was even more to my story. While I was accomplishing a lot physically, I wasn't doing much spiritually. Although I would physically wake up every morning, I was still, in effect, spiritually asleep.

How about you? Are you neglecting your spiritual life, even though you might be getting a lot done physically? Is your life so jam-packed with day-to-day concerns that little or no time is left for the most important parts of life? Are you figuratively pressing the spiritual snooze button over and over again?

We know that physical sleep is essential to function effectively. But did you know the Bible tells us that spiritual sleep can be seriously dangerous (Matthew 25:5-13 Matthew 25:5-13 [5] While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. [6] And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him. [7] Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. [8] And the foolish said to the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. [9] But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. [10] And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. [11] Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. [12] But he answered and said, Truly I say to you, I know you not. [13] Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.
American King James Version×
)? The apostle Paul wrote: "You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 [5] You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. [6] Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

Yes, spiritually speaking, we all need to stop hitting the snooze button, wake up and get going.

You are a spiritual watchman

In several places the Bible uses the example of a watchman in ancient times. Watchmen guarded the agricultural fields from animals or thieves who could damage or steal the community's food supplies.

A watchman was also posted on the top of the walls surrounding a town or city to monitor any potential threat. If danger arose, he would promptly sound a warning trumpet. The town's gates would then be closed and the residents would prepare to defend themselves (Ezekiel 33:3-6 Ezekiel 33:3-6 [3] If when he sees the sword come on the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; [4] Then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet, and takes not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be on his own head. [5] He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be on him. But he that takes warning shall deliver his soul. [6] But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
American King James Version×
).

It was critical that the watchman didn't fall asleep on the job. He had to stay awake and alert at all times. Dozing off even for a few moments could allow an enemy to take advantage of the situation, with devastating results.

We can think of ourselves as watchmen in spiritual terms. Not only should we vigilantly guard our own spiritual condition, but we have the commission to spread the gospel and warn others to wake up from their spiritual slumber as danger approaches (Mark 16:15 Mark 16:15And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
American King James Version×
, Matthew 25:1-5 Matthew 25:1-5 [1] Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. [2] And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. [3] They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: [4] But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. [5] While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
American King James Version×
).

Redeeming the time

Writing to the Christians in the city of Ephesus, Paul admonished them to wash the spiritual sleep from their eyes: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:14-16 Ephesians 5:14-16 [14] Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. [15] See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [16] Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
American King James Version×
).

Likewise, the apostle Peter zealously urged worshippers to "be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack" (1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×
, Contemporary English Version).

The message from both apostles was that spiritual sleep can be dangerous and we must avoid it at all cost. Could you be spiritually dozing by placing other goals and interests ahead of your holy calling? (See Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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; 1 Peter 2:21 1 Peter 2:21For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:
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.) Let's consider for a moment the enormous importance of this great calling from our Creator.

Fulfilling our marvelous calling

God the Father invites us to participate in the most important work in all of human history (Matthew 22:4 Matthew 22:4Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatted calves are killed, and all things are ready: come to the marriage.
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; John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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). Besides having been called to proclaim His greatness, we are to participate in teaching others about the coming Kingdom of God (1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
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; Romans 10:15 Romans 10:15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
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). Moreover, we have the astounding personal opportunity to inherit eternal life and to serve as kings and priests with Jesus Christ for 1,000 years and beyond (1 Timothy 6:12 1 Timothy 6:12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.
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; Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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).

For those God has called now, this is our unique moment! This is our special time! What are we doing about it?

The illustrious Winston Churchill, Britain's prime minister during the Second World War, wrote: "To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour."

Is this your finest hour? Are you completely awake to your marvelous divine vocation? Are you prepared to accomplish your mission, or unprepared? (See Matthew 25:1-10 Matthew 25:1-10 [1] Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. [2] And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. [3] They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: [4] But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. [5] While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. [6] And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him. [7] Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. [8] And the foolish said to the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. [9] But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. [10] And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
American King James Version×
.)

To be equipped and ready, you have to fully follow Jesus Christ's example of loyal service to our Heavenly Father. We should live energetic lives of faithfulness, obedience, patience, sacrifice and endurance just as Jesus did (Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:21Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
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; Luke 22:42 Luke 22:42Saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.
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; 1 Peter 2:21 1 Peter 2:21For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:
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).

Having been given this extraordinary responsibility, we have no time to take a spiritual siesta. We have to stay spiritually bright-eyed, attentive and alert. As the apostle James wrote, we need to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22 James 1:22But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
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).

The work that needed to be done

We can't be like some people of ancient times who walked away from God's calling when His work needed to be done. An important illustration is found in the book of Ezra.

Several decades after the nation of Judah went into captivity, God rescued a remnant of Jews and brought them back to their native land. He wanted them to have a part in the most important work of rebuilding the center of worship—the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2 Ezra 1:1-2 [1] Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, [2] Thus said Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
American King James Version×
). The effort began well with the renovation of the temple's foundation, but it wasn't long before persecution from outsiders began (Ezra 4:1-5 Ezra 4:1-5 [1] Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity built the temple to the LORD God of Israel; [2] Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said to them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as you do; and we do sacrifice to him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up here. [3] But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said to them, You have nothing to do with us to build an house to our God; but we ourselves together will build to the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us. [4] Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, [5] And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
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, Ezra 4:23 Ezra 4:23Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.
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).

What was the result? Instead of courageously standing firm against their enemies, the people laid down their tools. They stopped doing God's work and quickly turned their attention to their own interests. They built houses, started businesses and got married.

Of course there was nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves. But it was not supposed to be their primary objective. Forsaking their most important goal, the people nearly forgot why they returned to Jerusalem in the first place. But God didn't forget! And He wasn't going to let His work languish and fail.

He assigned the prophets Haggai and Zechariah the responsibility of reawakening the people to their mission (Ezra 5:1 Ezra 5:1Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even to them.
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). Haggai rebuked the former captives over how they abandoned their God-given responsibilities. "Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 'Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?' Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Consider your ways!'" (Haggai 1:3-5 Haggai 1:3-5 [3] Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, [4] Is it time for you, O you, to dwell in your paneled houses, and this house lie waste? [5] Now therefore thus said the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
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).

Awake, alert and watchful

Thankfully, the people repented, and God cleared the way for them to finish the work (Ezra 6:1-14 Ezra 6:1-14 [1] Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. [2] And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written: [3] In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be built, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof three score cubits, and the breadth thereof three score cubits; [4] With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house: [5] And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought to Babylon, be restored, and brought again to the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God. [6] Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be you far from there: [7] Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place. [8] Moreover I make a decree what you shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, immediately expenses be given to these men, that they be not hindered. [9] And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: [10] That they may offer sacrifices of sweet smells to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. [11] Also I have made a decree, that whoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. [12] And the God that has caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed. [13] Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. [14] And the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
American King James Version×
). But the question still stands for you and me: Could we be guilty of a fault like that of the people in Haggai's day? Are we really awake to our divine calling, or are you and I so caught up in our day-to-day tasks that we are essentially saying, as the people said then in Haggai 1:2 Haggai 1:2Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.
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, "The time has not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built"?

Make sure you're not pressing the spiritual snooze button. Make sure you're not just telling yourself that you'll get busy doing God's work tomorrow, the next day or the day after. If we're self-absorbed and too busy with physical concerns, that day will never come.

Just as God urged the people in Haggai's age to faithfully carry out His work, He encouraged the Church in New Testament times. The apostle Paul pressed the brethren in Rome to wake up from their listless spiritual condition. He said, "It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (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.
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). Paul also reproved some brethren in Corinth who became spiritually sluggish by entreating them, "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin" (1 Corinthians 15:34 1 Corinthians 15:34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
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).

Are you awake, alert and watchful? Are you attentive and listening receptively to God's Word? Are you striving with God's help to overcome sin? In chapters 2 and 3 of the prophetic book Revelation, Jesus Christ issued a spirited wake-up call to those grown sleepy and apathetic. Notice this paraphrase of His words:

"Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God. If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I'll return when you least expect it, [and] break into your life like a thief in the night" (Revelation 3:2-3 Revelation 3:2-3 [2] Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found your works perfect before God. [3] Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you.
American King James Version×
, The Message).

The alarm clock is ringing

Does Christ's rebuke apply to you and me? Are we spiritually asleep? Are we continually pressing the spiritual snooze button? If so, what does He want us to do to shake off the cobwebs in our minds and wash the sleep from our eyes?

"Here's what I want you to do: buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see" (Revelation 3:18 Revelation 3:18I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
American King James Version×
, The Message).

The passage continues: "The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you" (Revelation 3:19-20 Revelation 3:19-20 [19] As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. [20] Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
American King James Version×
, The Message).

The alarm clock is ringing. Do you hear the sound? Don't press the spiritual snooze button. Wake up! Make this your finest hour as you carry out the work God has called you to complete!