This is a Word about our response to the Word and whether or not we are “asleep”. That is a word for today...and tomorrow...and next week...and next year...to the end.
Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38)
And He *came to the disciples and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40-41)
Let me begin by stating that this isn’t a word to make anyone feel guilty, I understand busyness, work, family, health problems, life seeming to spiral out of control, exhaustion. But the question is….”Who has the answer to EVERY situation in which we are faced?”.
I grieved when I read those words again in Matthew 26. Picture in your mind standing with Jesus and hear Him say those words TO YOU! When we are tired, stressed, have anxiety, etc. our human flesh wants to crawl under the covers and get away from the problems, when in fact, what we need to do is press into the Word and receive insight, direction and refreshing! Ponder on this truth, GOD GAVE US THE ANSWER TO OUR PROBLEMS BEFORE WE EVEN KNEW WHAT THE PROBLEM WAS!
Do you need refreshment today? I know that I do, every single day. I know I need Him to even get out of bed in the morning. Why? With me, it can be for several reasons, and it can be any or a combination of tremors or pain every day. If I haven’t slept good it can even be enough to receive energy to get up and deal with the tremors and imbalance. I don’t tell you those things to have you feel sorry for me, I don’t feel sorry for myself. Actually I consider myself one of the most blessed people in God’s kingdom! To even have another day means that there is something important He has for me that day. And maybe He has something important to do THROUGH me that day to bless someone else!
“Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” (James 3:11) Wow, have you ever really considered this question? Seriously! I sense the Holy Spirit challenging me to allow Him to search me and see if any bitter water has seeped in, because if there is bitterness, frustration, fear, hurt, etc. in me, I am not allowing the fresh flow of the Spirit to lead and guide me. Have you ever considered the implication on a minute to minute existence? I see it after I experience the negative, but how do we not allow the negative to creep in and affect us?
I think the only biblical answer to that is found in James chapter 1. Verses 1-8 pretty much describe the above question. But the answer is in verse 4, “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4) There are two applications for endurance here, one is to endure/persevere in pressing into the word, prayer, reading of scripture, and the other is to endure “to the end” with our eyes on Christ and being salt and light to the world no matter what circumstances we are in.
Listen to the words of Jesus regarding the latter, ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Revelation 2:7) ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ (Revelation 2:11) ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17) ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;’ (Revelation 2:26) ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne’. (Revelation 3:21)
I am overwhelmed right now and find it hard to even continue. Beloved, God is serious about His love for you. How serious are you and committed to your walk with Him? Look again at the above scriptures, consider the consequences of becoming lax and “sleeping”! Disobedience is a sin and the cost of the choices we make today will have eternal consequences!
Many today are so focused upon their own wants and comforts that they have not even considered that there will be a day when we stand before the Lord to answer for everything we have done in this life. Many do not even have an understanding of the rewards (or lack of) that we will have on that day.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21) The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came and died on the cross and rose again to give us life more abundantly than we could ever ask or think!
The Holy Spirit often reminds me of King David before he officially became king. King Saul had become jealous of David after David had slain Goliath. Then to make it even worse, King Saul sinned and the prophet Samuel had to tell him that God had removed the kingdom from his control. (Please stop and read I Samuel 15) King Saul’s response? Go onward in the strength of his OWN might and act like everything was ok and gather an army to pursue and kill David!
What does this have to do with our subject of “being asleep”? Well, King Saul was “asleep” to God and pursued life in his own power and strength. That is exactly what you and I do when we continue to push ourselves to make things work for our good without the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is willing to help us, but we are so focused on ourselves that we totally tune Him out, just as King Saul did when Samuel informed him that he no longer had any authority in the kingdom.
When you and I walk away from immersing ourselves in the Word of Life and continually being filled with the Spirit, we too lose authority. Especially since the Holy Spirit lives within us, this strikes me as even more serious than we might think. We are actually choosing to walk apart from God! We also lose the ability to understand and discern things correctly and make many errors in judgment because the authority that we had was that of the Holy Spirit and we have broken that relationship because of neglect. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:14-17)
Another example of “being asleep” is when we are so full of our own pride and doing our own thing and think we know it all and think we are invincible. If the Apostle Paul had been such he would not have had a ministry! He would have been dead! When Paul was saved in Damascus he was attending the synagogue in Damascus with the Lord’s disciples there and declaring that Jesus was the Son of God. In Acts 9:22-23 we read, “But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him,” (Acts 9:22-23) But because Paul, and those around him, were alert we are told of his escape in verse 25, “but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket”. The disciples were "alert" to what the Holy Spirit was revealing to them and took action. If Paul (still Saul at the time) was still full of pride he would not have been willing to be hidden in a basket and be dropped over the wall!
We have left ourselves open and vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy and the more we try to “fix” the problems, the worse they usually get, leaving us exhausted and in despair. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” (Psalm 42:5,11;43:5)
Remember above that I stated that God gave us the answers we need before we even knew the problem? Well, He also gave us warnings to keep us away from those problems! I’ve listed a couple warnings that are especially applicable to our topic today for us to ask God to search our hearts and see where we stand today.
“Wake up! ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God’.” (Revelation 3:2) ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.’ (Revelation 3:3)
“How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9)
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest”— (Proverbs 6:10;24:33)
There is another reference in scripture that Jesus used to warn His disciples about “sleeping”. This one is even more dangerous than any other. This is being spiritually asleep that we are deceived regarding our salvation. This particular scripture makes people uncomfortable. It probably causes more discussion about its meaning than any other in scripture. So please read with me the following:
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)
Notice that in the beginning of the parable Jesus makes the distinction that five of the virgins were “foolish” and five were “prudent”. Why were five of them foolish? They had lamps but did not have oil for their lamps. Oil refers to the Holy Spirit. If one doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, they are not saved, as only those who have been reborn will be filled with the Spirit. And we know, that when filled with the Spirit, He is always with us to give us what we need.
I believe that the main reason many are confused about this parable is that there are both believers and non-believers, and they are together going to meet the Bridegroom. If we are not carefully listening to the Spirit we might be lead to believe they are all believers. Dear ones, this is the picture of the church today. Many are mixed into our midst WHO ARE REALLY TARES. Jesus warned us in scripture that we can’t remove the tares yet because it could damage many of the true believers, but God knows those who are His. (Matthew 13:24-30)
The five foolish virgins represent people who we deem “good”. They have good morals, help the poor, are benevolent, they care about others, but they don’t understand that there is One who is greater than all and do not see any reason that they should repent of sin and be obedient to God and worship Him. They think they are ok and will get into heaven because of the good deeds they do. But notice, what Jesus responds, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’
In several other parables Jesus gave other examples of the tares among us. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus explains, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ “
Why does Jesus say never? In Matthew 13:20-21 Jesus tells us that the seed sown on the rocky places represents the person who hears the word with joy but it is only temporary. This person never develops an intimate relationship with the Lord, the cost is too great, much like the rich young ruler who was not willing to give up his wealth to follow the Lord. (Mark 10:21-22) Jesus knew that his god was his wealth, it was his IDOL. The word even says that Jesus felt a love for him, but that love wasn’t returned because he could “do good things” but only what he desired to do and he didn’t wish to do as Jesus told him.
My dear friends, are you growing weary and allowing the chaos of the world to steal the joy of the Lord in your life? I agree that things are not looking good and it could be very easy to become fearful and hopeless. But as I read scripture, it has always been this way! The past couple of hundred years have produced lifestyles that looked good because of all the “new” comforts that were provided. But in actuality, temporal things became most important and it lolled us into a state of unfulfilled lust that has brought great destruction in our lives! Because of all influences and progressive means of transportation, communication, etc. we have become “flesh minded” instead of Godly minded!
I’m not saying that everything is bad. What we have to be careful of is the importance of it in our lives. How easy it is to “unwind” in front of the TV and ignore time with our children. How easy it is to work 12-14 hour days and miss our children’s sports events. We become “me focused” and are asleep to the needs of our own families. You may even argue that you go to church on Sunday (or Saturday). But is that the only time you really spend with the Lord and your family? Is God the CENTER of your life, of your home? When God is at the center we are balanced and not living chaotic lives because we are dependent upon Him and drinking from the fountain of living water. We are resting in His word, we are obedient to His plan, we are submissive to His commands and instructions.
Abba Father, I thank You for Your word today which is a wakeup call for each one of us who are called by Your name. Show me where I have fallen “asleep” and allowed my ways to surpass Your ways in my life. Show me where I have veered off the path that You have chosen and lead me back to the straight and narrow road. I am so convicted as I read the words of Jesus to His disciples in the garden because they kept falling asleep! Forgive me Father for falling asleep when You have called me to pray and intercede for a brother or sister! Yes, indeed, the spirit is willing but my flesh is so weak. I thank You that in my weakness Your strength is made abundant and is all sufficient! I love You so much! Continue to mold me on the potter’s wheel that I may become more like You. All these things I pray in the blessed name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.