Awake And Watch
John R. Lenegar
    But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:  Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (Mark 13:32-37)
    We  have  just  begun a  new year. Hopefully many people have begun the year l989 with a time  of review and contemplation  concerning the year just past. We do well to look  back at times to periods of our past to see what our present spiritual state may be. A careful examination and comparison of  Bible  teachings and illustrations of what a true Christian should be, and what spiritual  life and conduct  is to accompany that person who is God's child, soon tells us that something is indeed, in today's world,  wrong. There seems to be something wrong in attitudes and practices among the great mass of people lumped together under the term 'Christian'. There appears to be a great lack of joy and zeal among many called Christians concerning the churches, church life, and the truths of God's word, which is  the Bible. The  lack of revival, or even a desire for it seems to be evident. Greater and greater ignorance of God's word seems to grow from month to month, and year to year. Coldness, lack of enthusiasm, and indifference to attendance of God's house on Sundays, let alone any other time, is shameful and appalling. God's word says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish:" Proverbs 29:18. That is one of the things that touches you and I today.
    MANY ARE ASLEEP OR ARE PREOCCUPIED WITH THINGS OTHER THAN WHAT GOD HAS TOLD US TO BE DOING. Even as God spake to  ancient Israel in Jeremiah 7:8-11, He speaks today to a religious  people and their ungodly practices. "Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.
    His words are as true and relevant today as if He had just this minute spoken them. It is my prayer that God will grant us  the ability to see the condition of spiritual sleep that  surrounds us  today, that touches us and robs us of the great  spiritual blessings of God. May He awaken many and move them to put Him and  His church back in proper perspective. Many are asleep spiritually in so many areas their  lives. I want to point out three of those areas in this article.
    Two things seem to be happening to Bible teaching concerning Christian living and its duties.There are those who simply ignore most of what God teaches as His children's proper conduct and service to Him. Most of the time just enough is practiced so that one may say,"I'm doing as much as anyone else". Still others would change the plain teachings about spiritual conduct being reflected in a changed life so that they fit better into the human selfish desires accepted in the world. Sinful personal habits, the toleration of sin, and the neglect of holy duties seem to be the standard of many rather than the exception. It seems that the personal habits of many religious people are characterized by the thinking of, longing for and the pursuit of the things of the world in contradistinction to the things of God. The Lord and His churches in this respect, often take second  place, or worse. Jesus warns us in Luke 12:15 of a truth about totally material things and often times the power that accompanies them. "And  He said unto them, Take heed,  and beware of  covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things  which he possesseth."
    Beloved, many material things are not what make up a happy and contented life. Jesus tells us again in Luke  21:34-35 to watch and not become involved to the exclusion of the vital and important. "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness and cares of this life, so that day come up on you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." The toleration of sin is evident in the lives and situations of many, as well as within many of the churches. God tells us that we are to hate sin, to resist it and to put it away. We do not have to look far, however to see that some of the worst sins, such as adultery and fornication, are often tolerated and exceptions made; things that  ought not even to be mentioned among us. God told the corrupted Corinthian church, and us as well, "Awake to righteousness  and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."  I Corinthians 15:34. Beloved we must not watch sin, listen to sin, or tolerate sin, but that can only be done through the power of God's grace. The flesh always seeks only those things sinful. Instead of being asleep to the temptations and sin around us, we should heed the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but  the flesh is weak." In all things, God and the things of God must have the first priority.
    The neglect of holy duties is evident among the majority of the mass called Christian. If each one were reading the word, praying, and attending God's house as they should be, their profiting would be visible to all, even as their neglect is  visible to God at this moment. I say  to all who are Christians, do not neglect God, His word and ways or His house no matter what others may do or say. Heed the admonition of Romans 13:11-12, "And  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. The night is far spent the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light."
    Conduct and  negligence in this area is shameful and surely must sadden Him Who loved  the church and gave Himself for it.There is negligence in performing three specific duties in regards to the  church;  that of finances, attendance, and propagation.
    Neglect of financing the work of God through His church by tithes and offerings is in direct opposition to the proper way of finance laid down by God Himself. The tithe is often dismissed as something from the past, not relevant for today. It has not only been relevant since its first mention of practice in Genesis 14:20, but has ever been the way of God. Some 1500 + years  later in Malachi 3:8-10 God tells His people, "Will  a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat  in my house, and prove me herewith saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
   'No one can afford to do that', is the usual response. Beloved, no one  can afford not  to do that. Great blessings are not realized because of this sin of not giving God that which He asks for, for indeed it is His to begin with. When it comes to supporting God's house and work, as He ordained it, it is not that many cannot, it is that many will not.
    It is often difficult to get people to come to one  service, let alone two or three. There are times that  people are providentially hindered. The reasons for that are known only to the Sovereign and Eternal God: The reasons for people not coming who do not wish to come are also known to the Sovereign and Eternal God. God tells us in Hebrews 10:23-25, "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not  forsaking  the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
    The neglect of propagating the church is  an area also sadly lacking the attention and efforts  of  God's people. Propagation comes through love and prayer to the One who gave the  church and ultimately adds to it as it pleases Him. Our attitude as time for a service comes around should be that of the Psalmist  in Psalms 122:1 when he says, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." Should God reach down today and take some of us, I wonder if we could  again  say with  the Psalmist in Psalms 26:8, "Lord I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy honour dwelleth."? There is no more important organization on the face of the earth. The church is the storehouse for God's work. The church is  the pillar and ground of truth. The church is the depository and disseminator of the truths of God's word. There should be great thanksgiving to God  for His church, as well as faithful attendance to its services, and prayer for one another and that God would add to it.
    Many live as though they think that prophecy is going to happen after they live their lives, have what they want, and pass on in peace. We are all part of God's prophetical panorama of continuing prophetical fulfillment. Prophecy is simply  the forth telling of history not yet come to pass. It  progresses daily. Many, however, are asleep as to the coming of the Lord, His wrath on the ungodly, and the future accounting of every saint to the Lord at the Bema seat judgment.
    To be sure, the exact time of the coming of the Lord is uncertain as far as we are concerned, but well known and on time as far as He is concerned. Several people in the past year made the foolish mistake of proclaiming the exact time of Christ's coming as to the day and time of the year. The entire point was missed. The point is that God's children are to be so living and conducting themselves  that they are always watching in the respect of being ready for His coming. The early Christians looked for Him in  their lifetime as I am looking for Him in mine.  It is not a state that we are to become so occupied in that we neglect every other aspect of life and duty, but we are to live as to be always expecting His return. Matthew 25:13 says, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day, nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." The idea of "watch" is to be sober, busy about proper duties, while we  are aware of the times and seasons spiritually. How blessed it will be for those to be found living properly and watching for the Lord when He comes. We are told  in Luke 12:37-38, "Blessed  are  those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down at meat, and will come forth and serve them. And  if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants."
    In this day of the teaching of the brotherhood of man, a toleration to the exclusion of a sharp difference to be noted between the saved and lost, has occurred.  Much other "new age" thinking through television and other media has lulled many into a sleep of forgetfulness as to God's wrath and  its recipients. Many seem to forget and lose their burden for those without Christ and their coming eternal  destruction. The Bible reminds us that Jesus will come and, "In flaming fire take vengeance on them that know not God,  and  that obey not  the gospel of our  Lord  Jesus Christ: Who  shall be punished  with everlasting  destruction from the presence of the Lord, and  from the glory of  his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired  in all  them that believe  ..." II Thessalonians 1:8-10. Beloved, it is our duty and responsibility to witness and to warn people as God gives us the opportunity, whether they accept the gospel, or not. Even as Ezekiel was told  to warn Israel  I believe that we must  remember the difference between us and the lost and give them warning.
    Many live today as though there will be no accounting to the Master at a future time, or that it will only be a formality. The Bible describes that  time as a serious time. Romans 14:12 says, "So then everyone shall give account of himself  to God." The time will come when every Christian shall stand  at the Bema seat judgment and give account of what he, or she has done in the flesh whether good, or bad. Reward,  or loss of reward will be the issue and that will  not be a thing to be passed by lightly. II Corinthians 5:10 and 11a say, "For we must all appear  before  the judgment seat of Christ;  that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord  we persuade men;  ..."  With that in mind beloved, we should live our lives in such a way that  they reflect Him who has called us. Our works and motives to those works should be pure and out of a love  for  the Lord  Jesus Christ.  The advice of the Lord to His church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:11 should  be earnestly heeded all the more in these days prior  to His coming, "Behold I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
    Beloved, let us look again at ourselves,  the church and the coming events that will affect every living soul and the dead as well  on this earth.  There must be a  turning in the present  course of neglect,  or there  shall be a great sorrow and loss experienced by many.
    Priorities must be changed and God and the things of God restored to the place of preeminence.
AWAKE AND WATCH! that you may have joy, peace and contentment now and before the Lord. I Thessalonians 5:5-6 says "Ye are the children of the light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
    If  you are reading this and you are unsaved, you have nothing from which to draw comfort, not even the hypocritical actions of religious people. The only future awaiting people without a right relationship to God  through Jesus Christ is  eternal separation and suffering. May God open your eyes and understanding with the gift of rebirth from above and bring you into a life of service to Him in spite of  what others say, or do.
(From - The Walnut Creek Messenger - Spring 1989)

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