Wake Up!

Bible Book: Romans  13 : 11-14
Subject: Motivation; Faithful Service; Christian Living

Wake Up!

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Romans 13:11-14

There is the story of a teenager who lost a rare and expensive contact lens while playing basketball in his driveway. He searched and searched but could not find the lost contact lens. He told his mother about it and shared that he had searched, and the lens was simply lost for good. The mother went out the driveway and found the lost contact lens in less than fifteen minutes. The son asked, “Mom, how did you do that? I looked everywhere and could not find it!” The mother responded, “Son, you were look for a lost contact lens, but I was looking for $150.00.”

Everyone needs motivation in order to be successful. The Word of God is filled with statements meant to motivate us and get us to the place where God wants us in life and service to Him. Today I want you to look with me at Romans 13:11-14 and consider how Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write words to motivate Christians in divine service and Christian action. Be assured of this, we need these words today in the church of our Lord as much as any time in history.

Let’s look at Romans 13:11-14: “11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (NKJV)

In this text, Paul is dealing with the fact that the Christians in Rome where not taking the duty of being faithful Christians seriously. He was calling on them to consider three important things regarding their responsibility to Christ. In writing this Paul is seeking to stir up and wake up the people of God in Rome before it is too late for them to be effective for the Lord. I tell you with seriousness and a broken heart, that we must WAKE UP right now as Christians in America and around the world. The atheist community is hard at work to corrupt the minds of our youth and Satan has added so many weapons to his arsenal in recent years. Just look at the drug epidemic in America - and around the world, for that matter. In America we are slipping away from God, and our churches are closing their doors in record numbers. Hardly a text can be found in God's Word more appropriate for our generation than the one Paul wrote in Romans 13:11-14.

No matter who we are, we require encouragement and motivation in our lives from time to time. I am reminded of a man who was always late for his dental appointment. One day the nurse called to remind him of his appointment to have a tooth filled that day. He said, “I’ll probably be about fifteen minutes late, is that okay?” The nurse said, “Oh, sure, that’s okay, but we will not have time to give you your anesthetic.” The man arrived fifteen minutes early for the appointment. The thought of not having an anesthetic for his dental procedure cured in lackadaisical attitude and actions.

What will it take to get God’s people to be excited and faithful in this modern age? Paul addresses this issue and what he had to say can motivate us today. First, note...

I. Sleeping

A time to sleep and a time to rest are necessary, but in God’s kingdom work we must be alert at all times. A soldier needs sleep, but he can destroy the entire army if he is sleeping on guard duty. A child needs sleep to do well in school, but no child ever learned anything while sleeping in class. Perhaps the best example regarding the danger of sleeping involves an automobile. Some of the worst traffic accidents in history have occurred because someone fell asleep behind the wheel of a car or truck.

Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome when he tells them that it is high time for them to awake from their sleep. Why is Paul concerned about this issue? Paul says, “…our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Indeed! Each day we live we are closer to the full and complete redemption to be given to us when our Lord returns. For those Roman Christians, to whom Paul penned this letter, time was very short. Many of them were going to be put to death by Roman authorities – they had very little time to complete their mission before meeting the Lord.

So, what is the danger mentioned by Paul? Is he speaking of actual sleep or is the word he used in our text a symbol of something far more important? Paul was not concerned with the sleep habits of the Christians in Rome. He wasn’t against them getting their eight hours of sleep each night.

One thing necessary for people to work, live, worship, and serve God at their best is to have proper rest. Leadership Magazine mentioned a few years ago that up to 45 million people don’t get enough sleep in our modern society. Since 1900 it is estimated that 20% of Americans do not sleep enough (http://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/6084/insomnia-and-laughter/). Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to good health.

Paul is writing here about something far more important than the number of hours that each Christian sleeps per night. Paul was referring to the lackadaisical problem that was appearing in the lives of believers in Rome – and for that matter the apathetic manner of Christians everywhere in the world during his ministry. He wrote something similar in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, when he penned, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” Why was this such a concern to Paul?

A. A sleeping person cannot See

If we place our minds in neutral gear as we live each day, we fail to see two things: First, we cannot see what God is doing. Second, we cannot see what is happening to our world. We become blind to divine vision and indifferent to satanic activity.

I read a story recently about a man who entered a home in the middle of the night. He went into the room of the parents and took some jewelry while they slept. Then, he went down the hall and kidnapped their twelve-year-old daughter. Thankfully, the girl was able to scream just as the kidnapper was pulling her out the door of the house. The intruder was caught. The only reason the evil man did not get away with his crime was the fact that the parents, and a neighbor, were awakened in time!

Paul had a vision and he saw a world in need of Jesus. He was awake to the danger that faced every living soul. Sadly, I think we are like many of those Roman Christians – we sleep while the world is going out to meet God unprepared. There are few tears for the lost in the church anymore and very few Christians who witness to anyone concerning the coming day of reckoning.

Also, we must ask about what Satan is up to in your church. Oh, you can be sure he is working right there in your fellowship, and among your very best church members. What is God seeking to do in your life and the lives of your fellow believers? You can only know the answers to these questions if you are awake.

In Judges 16:19-20 we read about Samson and Delilah. What did she do in order to ruin the great servant of God? She first put him to sleep! No enemy was strong enough to capture him and cut his hair while he was awake. It was by the use of sleep that she was able, along with her cohorts, to take from the great Samson the strength that God had given him. Listen, dear Christian, Satan is working to dull your senses, to close your eyes, to put you out of commission. No wonder Paul said, “It is high time to awaken out of sleep.”

B. A sleeping person cannot Think

When you are sleeping, you cannot experience rational thoughts. In fact, you often have crazy dreams that make absolutely no sense. You cannot solve math problems, make out a grocery list or decide on vacation plans while you are snoring like a buzz saw.

In the passage we are considering, Paul reminds the Roman believers that time is shorter than they think. He is seeking to awaken them to something they cannot grasp while being spiritually dull and listless.

One of the great dangers of modern Christianity is that we live in a spiritual world that is “cut and dried.” That is, we live in a monotonous, humdrum and unexciting spiritual form or habit. Like a sleeping person, we go through the hours of spiritual activity, but they are mostly meaningless. They do not move us, stimulate us, or excite us.

Someone was speaking the other day about a day at work. He said, “You know, it was three in the afternoon and I sat at my desk wondering what I had done all day. For a couple of minutes I couldn’t even remember what I had done since I got to work at eight that morning. After a period of concentration, I began to recall what I had been doing. Whew! I thought I was losing my mind.” Then he added, “I guess I had been going through the motions and was sort of sleep walking through my work.” Ah, there is the truth, if you ever heard it! And, it is possible for us as believers to do that in our walk and service for God. We are not really awake. We are going through the motions of activity without the Spirit of God empowering us or working in us. It is high time we awoke from our sleep.

Where was Jonah when the awful nightmare in his life reached the crisis point? He was asleep in the bottom of a ship on the way to Tarshish. It was then the great storm arose, and the mariners came for him. It is interesting that while the worldly sailors were fighting a storm, the backslidden Jonah was sleeping! The world is in trouble and many Christians are sleeping away in the storm. We cannot think properly if we are not alert to all God has to say, all that is going on around us, and all that we are to be doing.

C. A sleeping person cannot Pray

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked His disciples to watch and pray. After Jesus had prayed for a time, He came back to find them sleeping. As Jesus agonized with sweat drops as blood, His disciples slept.

Sleeping Christians have no idea how to pray because they are oblivious to the spiritual world around them. That night in the garden, the disciples slept because they had no idea the battle Jesus was fighting just a few feet away from them. If we are not awake to God’s will, we miss the mark in our prayer lives. I’m not trying to go all spiritual on you in this message, but I am saying that people who say they cannot pray are simply asleep in their souls. Look at the world. Look at the hurting people. Look at what Satan is doing to our society. Look … oh, wait! I forgot. You can’t look, because you are asleep!

Wake up, Christian. It’s time for us to awaken so we can see, think and pray like God wants us to at a time like this.

So, we've thought about sleep, now notice secondly...

II. Stirring

In verse 12 of our text, Paul says that we must “cast off” the works of darkness. This means that we must be stirred – shaken – awakened. I have been a preacher of the gospel for more than 50 years, and I can say without equivocation that there has not been a time in my ministerial life when I believe the people of God have needed a stirring movement from heaven any more than right now!

A. Get Rid of It

The words “cast off” in the text means to remove something – to get rid of something. One might imagine that this means to cast off the night clothes and bed covers. When we awaken from sleep that is what we do. We rid ourselves of the bed coverings and sleep garments so we can get on with the day’s activities. Certainly Paul is alluded to this imagery in the text.

We can ascertain that there is still more meant by the words “cast off ” that Paul used. We find the one Greek word used for the two words in the text in numerous places in the New Testament. Let’s just look at one of them.

In Hebrew 12:1 we read, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…” The writer to the Hebrews was using the idea of a runner who is preparing to run a race. In this passage, he uses the very same word Paul used in our text today. A runner is “stirred” in body and soul to run a race with efficiency and success, so the first thing he does is remove any garment that might encumber his effort. You have never seen a person running a marathon in an overcoat! Likewise, we are being called to stir ourselves so that we might rid our souls of any thought or action that has the potential of slowing us down in our effort to serve the Lord properly and effectively. I was a runner for many years, and I often ran thirty to forty miles per week. Before starting off on a ten-mile run, I had to dress properly, stretch correctly and then pace myself over the long run. Paul is reminding us a Christians that we are runners for Christ. We are to remove encumbering items, stretch out our souls, and make every necessary adjustment so that we might keep moving with God and for God.

What do we need to get rid of in order to serve God better? Think on that for a moment. It is interesting in our day to observe church members and their faithfulness or lack thereof. Any event, activity or interest that comes along easily becomes more important than being faithful to God in worship and Bible study. A child’s ballgame or soccer game can take out grandma, granddad, mother, father, brother, sister, and all their friends for a Sunday morning trip to a sports event. Sure, if this was a one-time national championship, that might make sense. But what I’m seeing today is people doing this every week for weeks on end, and it is often for a nine, ten or eleven-year-old child. The child, and other family members, are being taught that God takes a backseat to every other interest in this world. No wonder we can’t win this generation to Christ.

We must “stir” ourselves and get rid of things that prohibit us from running the race for Christ as we should. I know that what I’m saying is not popular. It may even hit some people right between the eyes. When the doctor sticks a needle in your arm, it hurts; however, it can save your life. Stir yourselves and rid your lives of those things that keep you from serving God. Wake up before it is too late to do so.

B. Get On With It

Hebrews 12:1-3 reads, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

We are not only told to get rid of that which ensnares us but to “run with endurance the race” before us, and to do so by looking unto Jesus who endured the cross. You are to do this lest you become “weary and discouraged in your souls.” Ah, there it is again. “Weary!” What are we likely to do when we are weary? Sit down, do nothing and probably fall sleep!

In the text found in Romans, which we are considering today, we are told to “walk properly.” This means that we are to have a walk and life that reflects the Lord who saved us. This has to do with our influence and example to others who may not know the Lord. Paul writes that we are live in the light of day and not like those who do evil deeds in the darkness of night. Dear people, don’t you know that the world looks at us and sees that we are in many ways no different than they who do not know or claim to know the Lord. If we do not live awake and stirred in our service for God, we have no witness, no example and no positive influence on those who are perishing without a Savior.

What we are going to do for the Lord we must do quickly. Time is of the essence. That is exactly what Paul is talking about in this text. Our work for the Lord may end at any moment, with our death or His return. We want to be found faithful to the end, so we must “get on with it!”

So, we've consider sleeping and stirring, but now look at the word ...

III. Shining

Paul writes that we are to walk “as in the day,” which means to be in the light – shining in the light of His glory. We are to reflect the Lord – His glory – His goodness! We are to “put on the armor of light!”

A. Shine forth His Purity

Note that Paul makes clear reference to our living in the light of purity. Paul writes in verse 13, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust…” The life of the world has always been one of “party” and “pleasure.” The party is not a reference to simply having a good time, but a reference to a party of drunkenness and wild times. If you think that our generation is worse than those before us, think again. Paul was writing about the tendency in his age of people to give themselves over to the use of narcotics, mostly drink, in order to “feel” good.

A recent report revealed that more Americans are hooked on drugs, including prescription drugs, than any time in our history. We are finding it difficult to cope and drugs and alcohol have become the cure-all for many people. In fact, the drug problem in America is so bad that deaths caused by the overuse of drugs has begun to lower the average age of death. After watching the lifespan of Americans increase year after year, we are now seeing that life-span decline because so many people are dying long before God intended.

There is a problem – alcohol and narcotic drugs don’t cure a heart that needs God. Paul knew that what Christians need is to be filled with the Spirit of God and dressed in His armor. Jesus said that believers are to act in ways to show forth the glory of God. We must be dressed in His armor to reflect His light. There simply is no substitute for being filled with God’s Spirit – only His Spirit can keep us awake, available and advancing into enemy territory.

B. Shine forth His Peace

Note also that Paul tells us to get rid of envy and jealousy. Sadly, many churches deal with leaders and members who are in conflict with each other. Rather than reflecting the peace of God, they reflect the war that comes from Satan. Listen to me, carefully! Satan loves to see a church in conflict. He wants the pastor, staff, leaders and members to fuss, fume, and fight. He delights in this because it tarnishes the armor and deflects the glory of God. Churches need to have a service for Peace and Love. In that service there ought to be a time when members go to one another and apologize and renew their love for each other. You might think this is a ridiculous idea, but I’ve called for this publicly in more than one revival in the past, and I've seen what it can do. When people begin to hug, forgive, and pray together, there is a revival of peace. Tears of joy are shared. God is glorified. Jesus is uplifted. The whole body of Christ is stirred and is reflecting the glory of God when God's peace fills His people.!

If we don’t get rid of conflict, pride, envy, and jealousy in our churches, we will never see genuine revival take place. We must forgive each other. We must ask for forgiveness where we have been critical of another Christian. We must bury the hatchet – handle and all! Let God’s peace shine through us and we will sense an empowering, renewed love and joy. Don’t live in denial, acting as if all is well when you know it isn’t! Go to those who have hurt you, or to those to whom you've been unkind and open your heart in love. Watch what God will do!

C. Shine forth His Personality

Lastly, Paul says to “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh…” Just as Paul told us to cast off our bed clothes, he tells us to put on our heavenly clothes. We are to dress up in the nature and personality of our Savior. We are to shine for His glory to the world.

In essence, Paul tells us to…

Wake Up

Get Up

Clean Up

Dress Up and

Stand Up

Don’t you think it is time we did these things? Every true Christian knows that we need to wake up before it is too late.

Conclusion

Let me close with a true story from the life of the great missionary, David Livingstone. Some people heard about the great work David Livingstone was doing in Africa, so they wrote to him the following: "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you." It is said that David Livingstone wrote back, "If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."

God is looking for some men and women in Christ who will wake up and serve Him walking through a valley, climbing a mountain, wading through deep waters, stepping through fire – or even carrying a cross up a lonely hill. How many today are willing to step out and renew an alert, awakened heart to Christ? Or perhaps, to wake from your sleep and give your heart to Jesus who walked up the hill called Calvary to die in your place.