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August 15, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Alert and Sober Today

“so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.”

1 Thessalonians 5:6

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Eternal Life

  For several years, I watched cardiac monitors at a hospital.  I worked the night shift, from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.  My basic job was to keep patients from dying from lethal heart rhythms.  I had to know the difference between irregular heart beats that meant nothing important, and those other beats that signaled death could come soon.  I would notify the nurses who would go to the patient’s room and check on the patient.  Did I mention I had to watch up to thirty two monitors at a time?  At times, I either got sleepy, or involved in one monitor, or started thinking about other things.  Fortunately, I had computer back up with alarms.  I noticed that the computer did not always catch all the bad heart rhythms, but it was nice to know it was watching also.  In that job, I had to be sober and alert every night, and press a button on the computer monitor to record any unusual heart activity I saw.   At any moment, I had to be ready to identify a lethal heart rhythm.

       In 1 Thessalonians 5:6, Paul draws a conclusion with the words “so that.”  Often, God wants us to understand how certain facts must determine our behavior.  For example, when we see a red traffic light, we stop the car.  We understand the fact that the light is red.  We then draw a conclusion that we must stop to be safe.  God teaches us facts in Scripture so that we might understand the commands of Scripture, and His will for our lives.  So many people do not read their Bible, and so have great ignorance about God’s will for their lives.  In this verse, God wants us to live according to His will, and He spells out that will for our lives.

       Paul commands that we should not sleep as others do.  Paul does not mean, obviously, that we are never to close our eyes and rest from our labors.  No, he means that spiritually, we should not lose sight of the day of the Lord in the future, including the return of the Lord Jesus to this earth.  As believers, we must not imitate the world.  So often, Jesus warned the crowds to be ready for the appearing of the kingdom of God, and used the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).  Only the prudent virgins were ready when the bridegroom appeared.  Jesus warned the people not to be drowsy and fall asleep.  Likewise, Jesus reminds believers today to be ready for the day of the Lord, and Son of Man coming in glory.

       God commands us to be sober (“γρηγορῶμεν“) and alert (“νήφωμεν“).  Paul uses the term sober in the same way Jesus used the same term in Mark 13:34.  Jesus told the story of the man who took a journey, and put his slaves in charge of his house.  Jesus warned that the slaves should not be asleep when the master returned, because he may return at evening,  midnight, when the rooster crows, or in the morning.   Paul also used the term alert.  He meant that we should be spiritually alert to the coming of the day of the Lord.  In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter uses this same root word to remind us to be alert so that we will be ready to face our adversary, the devil, who prowls around seeking someone to devour.

        So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

     ●  Strong bonds of friendship form when we live for Jesus every day, expecting Him to come to the clouds.

    ● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we remain sober and alert, never falling asleep spiritually.  Sometimes, we need our friends to wake us up spiritually.

     ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we watch ourselves and our friends grow drowsy, and finally fall fast asleep spiritually.  Together we can stay awake, ready for Christ to appear. 

Application for Today

        Today, I want to be alert and sober, and keep my friends in Christ awake also.  Are you awake, alert and sober today?