March 27th

Watching for the Lord

32Truly I tell you, this generation (those living at that definite period of time) will not perish and pass away until all has taken place.  33The sky and the earth (the universe, the world) will pass away, but My words will not pass away.  34But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose; 35For it will come upon all who live upon the face of the entire earth.  36Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.  Luke 21:32-36 AMP 

In this passage Jesus was talking to his disciples about the last days before his return to earth.  He highlighted their need to be alert and on guard against distractions that could dull their hearts.  The danger of not staying alert was the possibility of not being “accounted worthy” of escaping the tribulations to come and not being able to stand in Jesus’ presence on judgment day. 

Jesus used the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 to illustrate the need to be ready for his return.  Five of the virgins were wise and took oil to refill their lamps in preparation for the groom’s arrival at a wedding feast.  The Five foolish virgins did not take extra oil.  When the groom was delayed, the foolish virgins had to go buy oil later in the night.  Jesus explained, "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' 12"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' 13"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour”  (Matthew 25:10-13 NIV) 

Our goal as Christians should be to go in with Christ into the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), just as the wise virgins did with the groom in the parable. This is where we as the body and bride of Christ will be united with Christ as the groom. The unparalleled intimacy we will enjoy with God is symbolized by the marriage analogy.  We don’t want to miss this awesome event! 

Jesus pointed three things that we need to guard ourselves from in verse 34 that will help us prevent missing the marriage supper.  Specifically we should not:

  1. Allow our hearts to be “overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence”
  2. Be given to drunkenness
  3. Allow “worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life” to distract us

Notice how self-indulgence can produce overburdening and depression.  This comes from the certain giddiness, headache and nausea associated with the self-indulgence.  I’ve seen all of those traits exhibited in the various sex addicts who have contacted us through email over the years.  Vehicles such as pornography offer unprecedented means for traveling deep into self-indulgence.  The self-indulgence affects our minds by corrupting our ability to think rationally and morally.  It handicaps our ability to properly discern right from wrong.  It literally makes us silly (giddy) and sick (nauseous).  The end result is that we descend into depression and hopelessness (overburdening), feeling like we’ll never get free of the slavery of addiction.  

We can, of course, reverse this downward spiral through our faith in Jesus Christ.  He can heal our mind of the self-indulgence effects and get us on the track to freedom.  Additionally, one of the traits that the Holy Spirit will grow in us is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  In cooperation with God, our responsibilities are to arrest the habits of self-indulgence by vigilantly “keeping watch” and to pray for the “full strength and ability” to walk in obedience to the Master.  If we do so, we will be ready for the Lord when he returns. 

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, thank you that you are preparing a place for me in heaven right now, and that you are going to return to earth.  Please forgive me for entertaining any sin in my life and cleanse me of its effects on my mind.  Please sharpen my discernment and my alertness for your return.  I commit myself to staying “on watch” for you, Lord.  Please grant me the full strength and ability to walk in obedience, be worthy of escaping the tribulations to come and to stand in your presence.  Thank you, Jesus!  I look forward to your return with anticipation and joy!  In your name I pray, Amen.”