I would like to speak with you this morning about cast iron toothpicks? Where is that in the Bible? Do you have some at home in the kitchen? Do you need any?
Sleeping at the wheel is a good way to keep from growing old. And sleeping at the wheel of spiritual life is a good way to avoid eternal life. In Romans 13:11, 12, which is our scripture today, the Bible says, And do this, understanding the present time. That is the first thing we are supposed to do. Understand the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. This is the second thing. We need to wake up. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. So number three is for us put aside the deeds of darkness and the fourth is to put on the armor of light.
You know, it is such a shame that here we are in the Last days and yet we are lethargic lax, and lukewarm. It is time for us to be red-hot, zealous, and on fire! We are slumbering. The Bible says we are. It says we need to wake up from our slumber. There is a saying that we sometimes need toothpicks to keep our eyes open. Some of us need cast iron toothpicks. We are sound asleep. But Jesus says the hour has come to wake up! The hour is here! Now, the early church expected Jesus to come back at any moment. They lived with the urgency that came with the understanding that they were living in the very last moments of time. And that has been almost 2,000 years ago now. And sad to say, the expectancy has grown dim. We live like time will keep on going and going almost indefinitely. But it won’t.
Come back here to Zephaniah 1:14, 15. The great day of the Lord is near. It is near and coming quickly. Listen, the cry of the day of the Lord will be bitter. It will be a day of wrath. A day of darkness and anguish. A day of trouble and ruin. It is going to be a great day! And it is coming soon. It is coming quickly!
God says WAKE UP! We need to be awake. And frankly, we Christians are actually asleep. We are asleep at the wheel. Right here in our town we are asleep. Some of the members and officers of this church are asleep. Physical sleep is good and productive. But spiritual sleep is deadly. It will kill you. It results in eternal death. Instead of praying “If I should die before I wake...” we ought to be praying: “Lord wake me up before I die!” We need to be awake.
Look at Luke 12:37 in your Bible. It says Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching. Are we watching? Yes, we are watching... but WHAT are we watching? TV? Instead we should be watching Jesus. We ought to be immersed in our Bibles. Did you read the Bible before you came to church today? I want to promise you that I read the Bible everyday.
“Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures, and who have received the love of the truth, will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive.” [GC 625 ]
Instead of watching many are spiritually sleeping. We need to be wide awake in these times. We have all taken driving trips. Have you noticed that often we get the sleepiest during the final leg of our journey? This old earth has been on a exceedingly lengthy 6,000 year trip. We are finally nearing the final destination. Don’t get sleepy! And what is the final destination? Destruction and Self-Destruction. God will come and destroy those who are destroying the world. See Revelation 11:18.
We do not know exactly when Jesus will come. Look at Mark 13:32, 33 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Remember the sign of the Christ’s coming? The small black cloud in the eastern sky. What if it took a month, from when we first saw the cloud to when Jesus actually arrived? A one month notice. If that were the case, don’t you think Woman’s Day magazine would have a big article on how to cook for His Return. Ladies home and Journal would feature a spread on how to decorate your home for the Second Advent. People Magazine would announce how celebrities might dress for the celestial event. Woman’s World might feature a story on how to lose ten pounds before Jesus comes. Gourmet Times might feature one on ‘Getting ready for Heavens Menu: How to cope with Your last chance to eat pizza, meat, fish, and so forth.’ You know, I think it is best that we don’t know when Jesus is coming. We just need to be ready.
Look at Obadiah 15. The day of the Lord is near. This is preached all through the Bible. It is nearer than when you first believed. And I happen to think it is very near.
Just before the world disintegrates God will pluck off His waiting saints. Those who are wide awake, waiting and watching. Ever since Jesus ascended back to Heaven God’s people have expected that Jesus might return any moment. We call it the Blessed hope. Of the twelve disciples after Jesus ascended to heaven, only Peter did not have the “Blessed hope”. Peter knew he was going to die before the coming of Jesus– see John 21:18-19 and II Peter 1:14.
There have always been signs of Jesus coming. But they are coming thick and fast now. The second coming, like a super-storm, is casting it’s shadow ahead of its arrival. We have seen the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the setting up of the United States of Europe. We shudder over the rapid spread of Extremist Muslim terrorism.
Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:3-6. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
There are all kinds of signs of Jesus coming. The influence of Rome is steadily growing in power. If we get just one more Roman Supreme Court Justice then Rome will have a majority. Gangs are rampant and crime is organized. The big cities are desperately wicked. China and India are awakening (See Joel 3:10). And of all things America the great Superpower -(Revelation 13:11ff) seems to be declining. Some of our largest manufacturing companies are near bankruptcy letting thousands go unemployed. Our national debt is now $8 Trillion! Where is all this leading? Is America poised for a major depression? Is the Mark of the Beast about to come?
Luke 12:40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. And Romans 13:11, our text, says that those who are wise will understand the present time. We ought to know the signs of the times. What are our times like?
Perhaps you have heard all the uproar over the new term for Christmas trees lately. Holiday Trees. Why do they want to rename the Christmas tree? The secularists are trying to eliminate Christ from Christmas. Shame on us! I heard this week that the International Red Cross is considering eliminating the cross as its symbol and perhaps replacing it with something less religious like a Crystal or something. Shame on us! Our condom nation will soon experience God’s condemnation. God almighty is on the way. He will consume sin and sinners.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 ...that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming
This blatant secularism ought to wake us up. Each passing day we pitch our tent closer to eternity. If we listen closely we can almost hear Jesus footsteps on the sidewalk leading to our heart.
2 Timothy 3:1 says But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. Listen to some recent headlines: A 12 year old boy has been given a life sentence for beating a 6 year old girl to death. [Daily Mirror, 2005] Attacks on Teachers rose by more than 50% last year [Scotsman, 2005]. The Video “games” we allow our children to buy are teaching them awful, evil things.
Another headline says: “Slavery is worse now than it was under the Roman Empire.” Slaves are cheap and more plentiful than ever. [Independent, 2005]. Women are being sold into sexual slavery. [Irish Times, See global-ethic.org]
Matthew 24:12 says because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Europe is mostly secular with hardly any practicing Protestants. Practicing Muslims in France now outnumber practicing evangelical Christians by 12 to one. [The Week, 9-30-2005 page 10]
The world’s Oceans are in complete crisis. Ninety percent of the large fish in the oceans are gone! [Newsweek, October 17, 2005 p. 48] The number of Category 4 and 5 Hurricanes, the type which destroy major costal cities, has doubled since the 1970's. What used to be an once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe is now an annual event.” [IIW Dec, 05] I’m not sure they should rebuild the houses there in that same low, swampy land.
Mark 13:29 says So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
Another headline: “Information Overload Lowers IQ.” The flood of e-mails, cell phone calls, text messages can lower IQ twice as many points as smoking marijuana. [University of London research. The Week, 5-13-2005 p. 24] Knowledge is increasing, but at what expense? (See Daniel 12:4)
In 2004, 771,605 people were arrested in America for having or using marijuana. More arrests than for all violent crimes combined! [USA Today Nov, 2005]
Earthquakes are more numerous and powerful. “The earthquake that caused the tsunami in South and Southeast Asia was so powerful that it sped up the Earth’s Rotation. It also rocked the planet on its axis causing the entire earth to tilt.” [The Week, January 21, 2005, page 21]
Luke 21:11 predicts that great earthquakes, famines and pestilences will be in various places, and that fearful sights and great signs shall come from heaven.
“Signs of a most startling character appear, in floods, in hurricanes, in tornadoes, in cloud bursts, in casualties by land and by sea, that proclaim the approach of the end of all things. The judgments of God are falling on the world, [and here is the reason why:] that men may be awakened...” [RH 11- 8-1892]
How can we sleep in such a crisis hour? I don’t know. One day a farmer’s barn caught on fire. You know barns burn big and bright? Have you ever been to a barn fire? I have. Well fire trucks came and people flocked around. Finally the fire was out. Even an ambulance came to take someone who had been injured to the hospital. After it was all over someone wondered where the farmer and his wife were. They were in bed, sound asleep! If the tongues of flame are falling all around you in the form of the Holy Spirit power, part of the later rain, and you are still sleeping, you might be lost. Spiritually dead! Ephesians 5:14-16 says Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
We have gone over many evil and destructive events that are signs of Jesus’ eminent return. But another sign, a good one, is found in Matthew 24:14: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
We are experiencing something rare in evangelism. Right now, practically anyone can go over to India and hold a series of meetings and have many baptisms. There is a wonderful responsiveness to the Holy Spirit. This is an indicator that the latter rain just might be falling there. I hope you will become involved in this outreach. There are several organizations. One is Global Evangelism/Share Him with the Carolina Conference. [www.sharehim.org] Come back from some meetings and tell us what happened!
Jesus Himself told a story about the church in the last days. In Matthew 25:5, While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. Notice that while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and all slept. The all slept. Only the midnight cry woke them up. Have you ever thought what would happen if one of our early SDA pioneers who died 150 years ago would suddenly wake up and watch the evening news. That man would rush out the door fully believing that every sign of Jesus coming was fully evident.
What must we do because of all this that we have heard. 1 John 3:3, And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
The doctrine of the Near Second Coming of Jesus is one of the most wholesome of all. Because we know Jesus coming is near we will live a pure life. It is time to clean up our life. That habit that so easily besets us must be squashed. Those filthy TV programs must stop. That poisonous stuff that you see on the internet must not continue. We must be a pure people. We will soon be walking on holy soil up in Heaven. Let’s live a holy life here and now in preparation for Heaven.
Romans 13:13, 14 says Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness [No Adventist Christian needs to be drinking alcohol., not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Clothed with Jesus! Let us be wide awake in these last days. We need more than cast iron toothpicks to keep our heavy eyes open. We need Jesus to light a fire in our hearts. To wake us up. We need to be ready and stay ready. We must get our family ready and neighbors ready. Jesus is coming soon!
Do you believe that? That is why we are Seventh-day Adventists. And now in this Christmas season, we recognize that by His first coming, he has prepared the way for His Second Coming. And what a grand and glorious day that will be! And what a privilege to be a Christian living in this day and age. May God bless us and help us to be ready, today and always, for the soon coming of Christ.
Hymn of Praise: #XYZ, XYZ Scripture: Romans 13:11-12 Hymn of Response: #604, We Know Not the Hour
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last updated 12/11/2005 by Eric Koester.