Beloved, we are living in perilious times. It has been said, and rightfully so, that extreme times require extreme measures. Well, as I look around, I believe that these times can be called extreme, what do you think? Sometimes I look around and think to myself, “The inmates are running the prison!”
JESUS’ EXHORTATION TO THE END-TIME CHURCH: TAKE HEED AND PRAY
We as a nation, as well as the other nations of the earth, are experiencing a financial shaking. What we are experiencing however, isn’t the end, it is only the beginning. Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken (Hebrews 12: 26-27). No man, or government will bail the inhabitants of the earth out of the shaking that is coming. Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). I looked up the Hebrew word translated jealous in this verse. You know what it means? Jealous! The Scriptures say that God yearns jealously over His Spirit that dwells in the believer.
God’s jealousy is over the fact that because His Spirit is in us, we who were unworthy before we came to Jesus, can now become worthy, because God Himself lives in us! We not longer have to live as mere men (1 Corinthians 3:4). Once we were finite, now we are connected to the Infinite One! We no longer have to live fearful lives (2 Timothy 1:7). We can now watch, pray, and live lives worthily. Let me share with you what I mean.
25 “And there will be…on the earth distress of nations…26 people fainting with fear…31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near…34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape (be counted worthy – NKJ) all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:25-36)
The end-time events are coming upon the whole earth (Lk. 21:35 NKJ). For the unbeliever it is a terrible day, for the believer, however, it is a great day (Joel 2:11 NKJ)! But Jesus said if that Day comes upon the believer in an unexpected manner, like a thief, it will not be as He designed it to be. It will be a Day of great, and unnecessary loss.
15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” (Revelation 16:15)
…2 …the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night…4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief…6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6)
There two important truths related to the metaphor of Jesus coming like a thief. The first is that His coming results in one suffering unnecessary loss because they are not prepared. The second is that His coming is unexpected. A thief works effectively because their intended victim is not expecting them. Jesus is not the thief. The “thief effect” occurs because of issues in one’s life that leads them to be unresponsive to the Holy Spirit’s leadership, resulting in their suffering unnecessary loss.
Jesus gives His followers a two-fold exhortation to take heed and to pray.
Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing (dissipation), drunkenness, and cares of this life… (Lk. 21:34).
To be weighted down means to be spiritually dull and unresponsive to God’s Presence. Many believers live lives where for hours, days, weeks, and sometimes longer, they do not respond to the wooing of the Spirit. The longer you go living in resistance to the Spirit, the easier it is to remain resistant.
Dissipation means to live lives of indulgence in illegal pleasure or intemperance seeking to be stimulated. Our stimulation is to come from the Word of God, from prayer and from worship (Psalm 27:4). That is the reason so many in our nation drink alcohol. They want stimulation, but not from God! Jesus says drunkenness weighs our hearts down. Another way to say it is that drunkenness is seeking to escape the pressures of life without connecting with God on the heart level. The Presence of God is to be where we go to escape pressure. We aren’t to be drunk with wine, but instead we are to be filled with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18)
The other dynamic that causes our hearts to be weighed down is the cares of this life. Care and anxieties about one’s life related to provision, comfort and honor will kill intimacy with God. They can be legitimate cares, but Jesus said we aren’t to be concerned, we are to cast our cares over on Him! If He is willing and wanting to carry your cares, why would you want to sit and worry yourself with them?
Watch therefore, and pray always (Lk. 21:36).
The goal of our daily lives should be to be strengthened. To be strengthened means to be counted worthy or to be able to stand without any compromise so that we may receive the fullness of our purpose in God. To stand before the Son of Man (Lk. 21:36): by renouncing and escaping all areas of compromise so that we might stand before Jesus victorious in full obedience. To stand refers to escaping compromise as well as God’s judgments so that we may hear “well done” (Lk. 19:17).
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13)
17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:17)
11 …For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it? (Joel 2:11)
2 But who can endure the day of his coming…(Malachi 3:2)
Beloved, you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass (Lk. 21:36 NKJ). Counted worthy in several translations reads to be strengthened or made capable. Being worthy refers to being one who is deserving or one who is capable. To be counted worthy is to be strengthened or capable to be faithful to enter the fullness of our purpose or to walk in our highest calling – not in our own strength but in the power of the Spirit of God (Isaiah 40:31)!
36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength (be counted worthy – NKJ) to escape all these things (sins of v. 34) …and to stand (in victory) before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
I am not saying that we are worthy in the sense that God owes us anything. No one is “worthy” to receive forgiveness which is a free gift offered because of Jesus’ worthiness. Rather, we are to have a worthy response to God by living free of compromise, thus we are prepared or worthy to walk in the fullness of our calling. To live a worthy response is to sustain a diligent life of pursuit with the goal of living wholeheartedly for God. The opposite of having a worthy response is to waste our time, and money, or to receive God’s grace in vain.
1 …we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. (2 Corinthians 6:1)
Our prayer should be daily, “Lord, help me to stay free from the sin of compromise so that I can walk blameless body, soul and spirit.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless (without compromise) at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God…(1 Thessalonians 3:13)
Beloved, if God Himself lives in you, you can walk worthy of the Lord; you can live a life without compromise, you can fulfill the purposes of God in your generation. It is available, are you going to live a life where you are weighed down, or are you going to walk worthy of the Lord? The choice is yours!