“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come upon you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and prays always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk. 21:34-36).
The world’s system is turning up the heat and creating an environment that is suffocating the spirit of watchfulness and prayer in many believers today. The consequences of not watching over our hearts will be un-preparedness and an un-readiness that will cause us to miss the return of the Lord, lose out on our eternal reward, and be trapped here on the earth during the tribulation period (the parable of the 10 virgins view).
Many people’s schedules, clocks, and calendars are not set according to a heavenly order. Their priorities are wrong. Many Christians are busy, busy, busy…tired, tired, tired…no time or surrender in prayer, no spiritual nourishment, and no rest. It’s a vicious cycle that is feeding and strengthening the flesh and its desires. This cycle must be reversed for people’s spirits to gain the ascendancy over the flesh in order to move into the flow of God in these last days.
I want to deal with two issues in keeping ourselves watchful and ready for the Lord’s return.
Typical scenario: There are parents, both husband and wife, both with regular jobs, and with school age children. They get their children ready for school in the morning before sending them off, and then stop by the local Dunkin’ Donuts to grab a quick coffee and maybe a bite to eat. They come home from a full day’s work late in the afternoon. The house is messy so Mom cleans and tidies up a little bit while getting some laundry done. Dad has to pick up the car he dropped off at the mechanic shop earlier in the day and then pick up the mail at the Post Office. On the way home he picks up dinner for the family since Mom is too tired to cook. The kids are isolated at home with each one doing their own thing in their own little world. One has his headphones on listening to music, one is playing his video games, while yet another is arguing with Mom about the clothes she wants to wear to a friend’s house this evening that she can’t seem to find.
Then comes the weekend and finally time to catch up on all the other extra chores; time to get a little extra sleep and relaxation; time to indulge a little in some innocent or even not so innocent pleasures.
Day in and day out, weekend in and weekend out, this is how most people live. This is life in America and in some other nations as well for the average family. Much worse and even more stressful for some who have single parent homes or are in abusive, strife-filled situations. And sadly, it is not much different for Christians than non-Christians except for maybe a church service on Sundays.
Life for most people is a constant whirlwind, carving out a living, trying to climb out of debt, or stay out of debt, pay bills, save up for the children’s college education or retirement, remodel the home, etc. etc. etc. This is what many consider normal life. But is it normal? Is it wrong? Is it sinful? Is it according to God’s standards? Can we be less busy and live less tired with less stress? Give more time to prayer and the things of God without neglecting our personal responsibilities? Or is this all a part and parcel of the present culture and world we live in that cannot be changed?
Before we address those questions, notice that in the verse of scripture above, the warning Jesus gave has to do with our hearts being weighed down. That’s the issue. That’s what we have to guard against. What I find is that this kind of busy, hectic lifestyle has a tendency to squash intimacy with God, sensitivity to people, and nullify God’s real purpose for our lives. That is what makes it wrong and below God’s standards. Does it weigh down your heart where you are less watchful and prayerful? That is the question you should be asking.
How can you order your life so that you stay filled, fresh, and on-fire about the things of the Lord? That’s the real issue here. The same order doesn’t work for everyone. We are all living different lives with different schedules. The main point is that you need to get your life and house in order, and put it in a position that is conducive to receiving from the Lord and making your spiritual supply to others.
One of the mistakes people often make is to base all their decisions and order of schedule around money. Solomon, speaking for the common man, said that money answers all things. That, however, is only true when your priorities are in order.
For example, I know of low income families who raised their children in the ways of the Lord, many times doing without, and they are reaping huge benefits from their children now. On the other hand, I know wealthy families who used their money to live in more luxury, but their children are away from the Lord. Their money, which was used for their pleasures, led them away from the Lord’s ways. How are you using your money, and what are your priorities?
Recently I had lunch with a wonderful brother who is a painter. It is a blue-collar job that does not pay real high wages. His wife is a homemaker who home schools their children. If they put their children in public school and the wife got an outside job, they would do much better financially. But their priorities are in order and they realize that money isn’t everything. I admire a decision like that, and I know it pleases the Lord.
The public school system is a gateway to hell for many of today’s children. I know some who have made it through, but I know more that have not. You can’t base all your decisions on money. Too many Christians are materialistic minded and earthly minded instead of eternity minded.
“And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30 – NLT).
This verse doesn’t even talk about sin, which I will also mention later. None of these things listed – eating, drinking, buying, selling, farming (building), and planting – that people were doing in Lot’s day were wrong in themselves, but the people were so absorbed in them that they had no time for spiritual matters.
There is great financial pressure today. The temptation to make quick money, even sometimes through questionable means, is very strong. You need to be assured that if God is first in your life He will take care of you (Mat 6:33). If you learn to follow the Spirit of God He can teach you how to profit in all things, and that includes financial affairs. But if you choose to follow the system of the world and try and keep up financially with all the world’s demands, you will miss God.
The supreme call of the hour is to prepare yourself for the glory of the Lord and the harvest to come, and to be watchful and ready for the Lord’s return. Get your house and priorities in order. Get filled with the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Win souls, win souls, and win more souls! People are eternal and far more important than possessions. Put yourself in a position to be the witness God has called you to be. Remember that busyness is not always a sign of effectiveness.
This is another issue that stops Christians from being watchful and having a spirit of prayer and readiness for the Lord. I want to continue being very practical and honest with you as I share my heart. At this writing, I’ve been saved for 35 years and preached my first message back in 1983. I’ve watched my generation be raised and I’ve watched my generation raise their children. There is great failure today in this area of raising our children in true holiness and the fear of the Lord. This is why many of our children are being lost to the world (For more insight please refer to my book, My Son, My Son).
Chewing gum was a big no-no in school 50 years ago. Today it’s drugs, rampant sexual promiscuity, and even murder. The standard has fallen. The Church has followed the world and lowered her own standards. As a result, the home has lowered her standards. The course of generations is always affected by sin and the choices of the previous generation. If not for the mercy of God, many of us would be casualties too. But when one knows better, when one has been enlightened, there is great responsibility to walk in that light and a great accountability to the Lord.
I have been a guest in other ministers’ homes and got up to use the bathroom in the nighttime and observed the minister’s teenagers watching pornography on the television, or nowadays on computer. I’ve heard the music that minister’s kids listen to today and I am appalled. I’ve been in the homes of local church deacons and elders and have observed very suggestive magazines, novels, and videos that I would never have in my home. I have seen a level of rebellion and disrespect in today’s children that was almost unknown in my generation. What is going on? Strong godly leadership in the Church and in the home is at an all time low.
As a leader in the church or in our home, we not only have a great responsibility as gatekeepers to watch what comes into our own lives and homes, but also over those the Lord has entrusted to us. One day we will give account to the Lord for the souls entrusted to our care (Heb 13:17). We must be thorough in holding up the standard so people can keep out the spirit of the world and sin from their lives. I’ve seen leaders make very unwise choices in this area simply because they under-estimate the power and gravity of sin and its effects.
Since the young generation is the future of the Church and the nation, let me give you an example in this area of how a little leaven can leaven the whole lump. That is, a little sin, a little poison, a little cancer, can destroy the whole body or the entire life. It can set a person’s life completely off course.
One day when our son was 12 years of age he came home from youth group and told me how his youth pastor had found one of the other kid’s iPods and discovered worldly music on it. One mother said that it’s not so bad, and it won’t hurt for them to listen to a little secular music. A parent who says that has no understanding of how the devil works.
My wife had a word from the Lord she received in a dream. The dream was a prophetic warning for a large church we were preaching in. In the dream she saw music coming out of a CD that was bringing devils into the church. Music has power to transmit that kind of influence.
This sort of thing is happening everywhere in churches especially among the young people. But again, the responsibility lies with parents and the spiritual leadership in churches. What kind of example are we setting? And what kind of training are we giving them? Are we entertaining them, or are we really preparing them spiritually to be a soldier for Christ in this life?
I’m amazed at how we downplay the spirit of the world in our churches today. I’ve seen pastors get up and promote rated R movies and not think anything of it. I’ve seen women who have been part of the church for years dress so scantily. I’ve seen supposed Christian youth concerts where teens are bumping and grinding to the music (for those of you who don’t know what bumping and grinding is, it is the equivalent of having sexual intercourse with your clothes on). And what do most Christian leaders do about things like this? Absolutely nothing. Why? Because they are afraid to offend people. They would rather offend God and please the devil. I know I’m being strong here, but it’s time to speak plain about these things. We are losing a generation.
We are living in the end times. Holiness and the fear of the Lord are to be major emphases as we approach the rapture of the Church and the Lord’s return.