Monday, August 13, 2012

Stay Awake this Fall!

I recently preached the whole thirteenth chapter of Mark in one sermon.  I did so to avoid missing the bottom line.  I keyed on this passage-

"Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.  And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Mark 13:35-36 

The bottom line of the Olivet sermon by Christ and recorded in the gospels is for believers to recognize the importance of standing firm in Him, even as opposition comes. In this way, we have to be alert spiritually. Jesus exact exhortation- "stay awake". We have to be ever mindful of our need for Christ. To “stand” in Christ means to trust in Him, rely upon Him, and rest in Him. Standing in Christ is a way of depicting someone who does not trust his or her own ability, but rather wholly believes on Jesus and His righteousness.

In the above passage from Mark 13, Jesus warns his beloved disciples of the terrible persecution they and other believers would endure. They’ll need to be awake and ready for the opposition they’ll receive. We can’t just let life happen, too much is at stake. As summer quickly draws to a close, it is a great time to exhort my brethren to stay awake spiritually. Staying awake is aided greatly by availing ourselves of God’s means of grace and the encouraging benefits of His covenant community. Staying awake means the power of His Word, the encouragement of His people, and engaging in His joyful service.  Don’t let your Fall schedule just happen or it will control you. Find ways to make your time commitments with spiritual priorities in mind.

My recent whitewater rafting trip in Colorado accents the urgency of Christ when He bids his disciples to stay awake. We had a young lady in our raft who didn’t realize how much would be expected of her to row and follow the precise directions of our guide. As we set off she couldn’t follow his commands well and we almost got in to trouble. He pulled our boat aside and looked right at her and said- “do you understand how serious this is that you follow my instructions?” As we embarked again, she continued to have trouble following the guide’s directions and he pulled us over a second time. This time he said- “Are you able to follow my instructions”? Now she was crying and unhappy with the guide. We took off again, but once more found ourselves in some trouble, now lodged between two big rocks with the water crashing around us. The guide shook us free, but in so doing, dumped the struggling young lady in the Arkansas River. Her father grabbed her life preserver, so she was safe, but two of her well-manicured nails did not survive and she had a bloody knee. I expected some compassion from the guide, but due to the serious nature of such a raft trip, he once again confronted her, saying, “You will need to be able to follow all my instructions going forward, can you commit to this? If not, we’ll have to drop you off at a spot up the river where our driver can come and get you.” The stakes were too high for her to not be ready and able to do her part. She struggled to the end and the guide had to lead us to less exciting water at times, but she did improve and we all lived. Jesus tells us Christians- “This is serious, stay awake!” Now, Jesus would never throw us out of the boat, nor is He saying we are God’s children because of our devotion to Him. He is saying to his beloved children- things are going to get rough, you must be spiritually alert. Children of God, you are owned by God through Christ and His work. Don’t be lulled in to spiritual lethargy but rather use this exhortation as an occasion to seek God’s grace and guidance in ordering your life and priorities heading in to the Fall. Let’s stay awake together!

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