Friday, March 7, 2014

"Watch and Pray!" -- Jefferson, Edwards, and Jesus

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Friday, March 7, 2013:  Mark 13:14-37

32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”  Mark 13:32-36 (NKJV)

It was Thomas Jefferson who said, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."  He spoke of guarding against governmental tyranny -- unwavering vigilance to maintain temporal freedom.  His advice is absolutely valid as concerning this present life.  But Jesus tells us of a bigger and more important picture.

Jesus speaks of eternal judgment.  This does not make sense to carnal man.  People tend today to think only of present pleasure -- immediate gratification -- living the "good life."  Why worry about eternity?  Perhaps that's why so many people today are suffering from depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.  Paul addresses this, "If in this life only we have hope...we are of all men the most pitiable." (I Co. 15:19)

Jesus speaks of His return at the end of the age.  He says that we are to "Watch and pray" -- to be vigilant.  This is a theme throughout Jesus' teaching.  I will try to summarize it this way:

1.  Eternity is nearer than you think.

NO ONE knows when history will end.  Only the Father.  This life will be over before you know it!  As Christians we must live as citizens of heaven all the while living fully engaged here on earth.

2.  Live your life as if Jesus were coming back this afternoon.

Jonathan Edwards, the greatest theological America has produced, wrote and lived by 70 resolutions.

No. 5 says, "Resolved never to do anything I should be afraid to do if it were my last hour of my life or before the last trumpet blew."

No. 7:  "Resolved to think much on the brevity and how short life is."

No. 15:  "Resolved to live each and every day at all times with the things of Eternity always on my mind and heart."

3.  When He comes, there will be judgment.

It is inescapable.  Jesus Himself said that we will give an account for "every idle word!" (Matt. 12:36)  Paul said, "For we must ALL appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (II Co. 5:10)

I do not believe this judgment is with respect to heaven or hell, but rather about REWARDS.  Jesus tells us that we need to be ready for His return!

4.  Don't grow lazy in your walk today just because the going is rough.

Jesus speaks of falling asleep.  Every father and every mother knows that they must remain vigilant concerning the spiritual and moral well-being of their children.  If a parent falls asleep, there is an enemy always ready to fill the void.

Similarly, spiritual laziness is a disease that opens the door to great loss. When we let down our guard, the devil will attack.

One closing thought:  this is more than personal.  There are winds blowing in our day that threaten to tear apart our world.  This is not pessimism.  It is recognition that the foundations of Judeo-Christian culture are eroding fast.  Never has it been more important for God's people to WATCH AND PRAY.  This is more than eternal vigilance to preserve temporal liberty.  It is unending vigilance to be ready for eternal judgment.
Jesus' last words in this passage: "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"

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