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UCG IA Bible Insights Thursday, May 19 2022

Are you pressing the spiritual snooze button?

Our lives are filled with tasks and other concerns, but where does our spiritual life fit in? Although we physically wake up every morning, we can remain spiritually asleep, unless we are alert to our daily priorities.

by John LaBissioniere

When coping with the pressures of everyday life we can find ourselves accomplishing a lot physically, but neglecting all important spiritual priorities. The Apostle Paul admonished: "...let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

In several places the Bible uses the example of a watchman in ancient times to warn us of the dangers of spiritual apathy. Watchmen guarded the agricultural fields from animals or thieves who could damage or steal the community's food supplies. A watchman was also posted on the top of the walls surrounding a town or city. If danger arose, he would sound a warning trumpet for the town's gates to be closed and the residents to prepare to defend themselves (Ezekiel 33:3-6). It was critical that the watchman didn't fall asleep on the job. He had to stay alert at all times.

We are watchmen in spiritual terms. Not only should we guard our own spiritual condition, but we are to spread the gospel and warn others (Mark 16:15, Matthew 25:1-5). The Apostle Paull admonished the Christians in Ephesus: "...Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:14-16). The Apostle Peter also urged "be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack" (1 Peter 5:8).

We are warned not to place other goals and interests ahead of our calling (Matthew 6:33). Christ related the parable of the 10 virgins to emphasize this point (Matthew 25:1-10.) and James wrote, we need to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22).

An important illustration is found in the book of Ezra. Several decades after the nation of Judah went into captivity, God brought a remnant back to have a part in the most important work of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2). The effort began well with the renovation of the temple's foundation, but it wasn't long before persecution from outsiders began (Ezra 4:1-5, 23).

When faced with this opposition, instead of standing firm against their enemies, the people laid down their tools and stopped God's work, turning their attention to their own interests of building houses, starting businesses and getting married. There was nothing wrong with doing these things, but it should not have been their primary objective. They became so involved with their own personal lives they almost forgot why they returned to Jerusalem in the first place.

God gave the prophets Haggai and Zechariah the responsibility of reminding the people of their mission (Ezra 5:1). "Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 'Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?' Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Consider your ways!'" (Haggai 1:3-5).

The people repented (Ezra 6:14), but the question still remains for us, are we awake to our calling? Do we have a sense of urgency, or do we share the attitude Haggai described: "...This people say, The time has not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built" (Haggai 1:2).

In chapters 2 and 3 of the prophetic book of Revelation, Jesus Christ issued a wake-up call to those grown sleepy and apathetic. Notice this paraphrase of His words: "Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God. If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I'll return when you least expect it, [and] break into your life like a thief in the night" (Revelation 3:2-3, The Message).