herefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. but know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. therefore you also must be ready, for the son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. [matthew 24:42-44]
stay awake
what portion of your week would you say you’re awake and ready to wage spiritual warfare? what portion of your week are you ready to give a reason for the hope you have in Christ? what portion of your week are you alert to see and lovingly confront sin in a brother or sister in Christ? what portion of your week are you aware of the emotional state of those around you, to give a needed encouragement at the right time?
it’s only natural—in our flesh—to have times when we’re “on” and times when we “turn off.” when we go to lot family, when we go church wednesday night, when we go to dinner with the in-laws, we’re ready to look out for the needy and encourage the frustrated; but when we get home from work, when we’re out with friends, when we snooze the alarm in the morning as long as possible—then we don’t think we need to be “on.”
this desire to not always need to be “on”—that’s actually right. God calls us to take a sabbath day to rest from our labors. but the rest that God has for us through the Holy Spirit is not only a once a week rest—it is an ongoing rest whereby we cease to need to be “on”—ever! this feeling of being “on” is a readiness created by the flesh, but the Spirit enables us to depend on him instead of the flesh for our readiness. the command in ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit” means to allow the Spirit to fill and move us as the wind fills sails: to be filled with the Spirit means setting down our oars and allowing ourselves to be driven and motivated by the power of the sovereign God whose presence abides in the heart of every believer through his Spirit.
come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and i will give you rest. take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for i am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
[matthew 11:28-30]
Jesus calls us to be awake, alert, and ready at all times, for we do not know the hour of his return—but it is only in depending on the Spirit that we are able to obey that call. our strength is insufficient, but his is abounding; our minds wander, but his is steadfast; our love runs out, but his steadfast love endures forever. let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (hebrews 4:11)
~ stephen hall