Though there is no given time that Christ will return, we must be ready.What does it mean to watch and be sober? Prioritize where you focus your attention.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright? Well, I trust so, and I’m feeling great, praise the Lord. Oh my, I’m so glad just to feel good and be alive, and to be able to be with you to share from God’s Word. What a privilege it is. This old man said that he felt pretty good because he got up and looked in the obituary column to see if his name was there, and if it wasn’t there, he went back to bed. Well, anyway, it’s great to be alive and to serve the Lord, hallelujah!
Come with me to 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5. We’ve just finished talking about the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fact that because He is alive and He is coming back, there’s real comfort. Comfort is not in what people tell you; comfort is in the presence of a Person, and the Word of God brings you in touch with the person of the Lord Jesus through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. I’m talking to somebody who has a hurting heart today. Go to your Bible, get to your knees, let the Holy Spirit speak to you, and enjoy again the presence of your wonderful Lord, and find for yourself that there’s real comfort in healing the hurting places in your heart. When you get with the Lord in the Word through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit of God, revealing Christ to you, comfort one another with these words, the living Word of God that reveals Christ to you. Yes, He’s coming again, and we’ll see our loved ones.
I’ve thought often recently about my mother. I don’t have any memory of what she looked like; of course, I’ve got pictures of her. She was a very nice-looking, attractive lady, to be sure, but I don’t have any memory of her. But you know, I’ve been thinking, talking about the second coming of Christ. The dead in Christ shall rise first; those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him, and so there’ll be a great company of the redeemed with the Lord Jesus as we rise to meet Him in the air. Oh, what a reunion that will be!
I’m sure we’ll look first for the Savior. Our gaze will be riveted upon the altogether lovely One, the Bright and Morning Star, the Lord Jesus. But then, I suspect that we’ll be looking around for folks who were dear to us and whom we have loved and lost awhile, as they’ve gone on before us. That’s going to be a great reunion. There’s going to be a meeting in the air in the sweet, sweet by-and-by. “I’m going to meet you over there in the land beyond the skies and such singing we will hear never heard by mortal ear. It will be glorious, I do declare, I’m going to meet you at the meeting in the air.” I am.
See, to have this thing real to you as you think about it, pray about it, meditate on it, seek the presence of your living Lord, meditate on His Word…all of a sudden, that prospect becomes the most glorious possibility in all of your existence. He’s coming again, and you’re going to meet Him. And if, perchance, you go by way of the undertaker, well, you’ll be among the first up. “The dead in Christ shall rise first.” And then, you’ll be united with your loved ones. Yes, we’ll know our loved ones. “I shall know,” says the Apostle Paul, “even as also I am known.” You’ll be able to recognize your loved ones. They’ll have a body adapted to glory. It won’t be an earthly body; it’ll be a body adapted to glory. But it will be they. They will be recognizable, and you and I will have all eternity to fellowship together with our Lord and with our loved ones, and with the saints of all the ages. Great comfort in all that, isn’t there?
Well, he says, “Of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you for you yourselves know perfectly that the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, “Peace,” and “Safety,” then, sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief; ye are all the children of 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. For they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that be drunken, are drunken in the night. But let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Wherefore, comfort yourselves together and edify one another even as also ye do.”
I read that whole section of 11 verses because it does hold together. He says, “You don’t have to know the times and the seasons, because, number one, the date is not published. “The day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night,” but you don’t have to be surprised by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. You’re not children of the darkness, but of the light. And so, he said, “Let us not sleep, but let us watch and be sober. Watchfulness and soberness: “Watchfulness” means “be alert.” “Soberness”: As I have told you the last few days, that word “sober,” comes from a compound of the words “saved,” and “mind.” Have a saved mind! And so, he says, “Don’t be sleeping. Don’t let life pass you by.” But he says, “Watch and be sober.”
What does it mean to watch and be sober? Well, he defines the word “sober”: put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation, and live for the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s a quick summary of Verses 8, 9, and 10. Now, why does he say “watch?” The Lord Jesus used that same expression, didn’t He? “Watch what I say unto you.” I say unto all, “Watch.” “Watch, therefore, for you know not the day or the hour when your Lord cometh,” said our Savior. He brought the disciples to Gethsemane and he said, “Tarry here and watch with me.” He said to Peter, “Peter, you’re the one that bragged that you would die for me. Here you are, sleeping. Couldst thou not watch with me one hour?” What does it mean?
Number one, it means giving priority attention to the plan and purpose of God over against any other claim on your life. You’ll want to think about that in relation to yourself. It means giving priority attention to the plan and purpose and will of God over against any other claim on your life. “Watch, therefore,” He said, “for you know not the day or the hour when your Lord cometh.” You’ve got to be ready. “Be ye also ready,” said our Savior.
John, for example, said, “Now, little children, abide in Him, that when He shall appear, we shall have confidence before Him and not be ashamed away from Him at His coming. It has to do with prioritizing my attention. What do I pay the most attention to? I think it goes without saying that whatever captures your attention determines your lifestyle, and ultimately, your destiny. If you think about a thing long enough, you’ll do it, and what you think about all the time becomes that for which you are willing to risk the whole bundle. God said that to me a while back as I was meditating on Isaiah 26:3: “Thou would keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusteth in Thee.” As a result, there’s perfect peace.
But as I thought about it, I turned the verse around and saw the obverse truth as well. Whatever your mind is stayed upon is that which ultimately you trust. Whatever your mind is stayed upon, fixed upon, is that upon which ultimately, you will trust. You’ll risk the whole bundle on whatever your mind is fixed upon, whatever you think about all the time. You see, that is that part of it.
So, here, he said, “Watch.” Why? Have this matter uppermost in your thinking. The will of God, the purposes of God, the plan of God, the imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ…have that prioritized in your thinking. That’s one thing.
What else? I think it has to do with an active participation through prayer in what God wants. Our Lord Jesus said, “Tarry ye here and watch with Me.”: Active participation in the will of God. If you are sitting around sleeping, you are not participating in God’s will and in God’s program; that’s for sure. “Awake, thou that sleepest and rise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,” says Paul. Every different Epistle has some reference to getting going, and waking up. “Let us not sleep,” and so on. You find that in this very chapter: “Let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober. They that sleep, sleep in the night. They that are drunken, are drunken in the night. We are children of the light. Watch and be sober.” So, that means active participation, not simply passive agreement to the truth of God, but active participation in the will of God.
And then, I think it means exclusive relationships that exclude other matters that would hinder anything that is not God’s will, excluding anything that is not God’s will. What do you think about that? You see, “to watch” means that you prioritize your attention, you are actively participating in the will of God, and you are excluding anything that would interfere with that process. Watch.
Then, he says, “Let’s be sober.” A saved mindset: let your attitude and your entire frame of reference as you look out upon life itself, be brought to Calvary. You know, we are the products of our own biases and prejudices and presuppositions, are we not? You know, it’s like the old grandma who said, “Never trust a man with a moustache or beard.” Well, there are quite a few trustworthy people who have what we call a “hirsute adornment”: a moustache or a beard. So, that’s a stereotype, isn’t it? We become the products; our whole attitude toward life is the product of our presuppositions and our biases and our prejudices, and that ultimately controls our destiny. So if you’re going to be what the Bible calls “sober,” it means that the whole perspective, the frame of reference, the basic attitudes need to be brought to Calvary and subjected to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning work. A saved mind means “bring your biases, bring your prejudices, and bring your stereotypes, and bring your attitudes, and bring your preconceived notions…bring them all to Calvary and let Jesus work them over. We’ll get back to that the next time we get together.
Father God, have your way with us today. Help us to put your will first in our attention. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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