(4) Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber;
(5) save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
(6) Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
(7) Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
(8) she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
(9) How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
(10) A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
(11) and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
(1 Peter 5:8) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
F. B. Meyer: "The ants swarm in the woods and fields, and rebuke our laziness and thriftlessness. They work day and might, storing their galleries with food, building mounds which relatively to the size of the builders are three or four times larger than the Pyramids. In sickness they nurse one another; in the winter they feed on their supplies. Learn from the ceaseless industry of Nature, and do something worthy before sundown!"
There is a busyness that is deceptive. There is the busyness of the flesh that actually keeps us from being about the Lord's business, and causes us to be "lazy" regarding our spiritual life. It keeps us slumbering spiritually, all the while giving the semblance of being busy and serving the Lord. When we put God off, put off making right in our lives those things He would have us to deal with, put off spending time developing an abiding relationship with Him, put off learning His Word and growing in it, and put off that thing He has been gently convicting us to do or to deal with, we may not realize we are in a spiritual slumber. We know we must be diligent to take care of our families, to work and bring home provision for ourselves and our families and have something to share with others as well. We know we must be busy and diligent to get things done that have to be done, and not let them slide. We may be very good at that, yet be in a spiritual slumber, and not be spiritually awake, alert, and on guard against the schemes of the enemy. We may be busy working in the church or doing many "Christian" duties, and works, all good, but be in a spiritual slumber, actually running away from dealing with the things God wants to deal with in our lives.
When we have a task before us, we gear up for it and prepare. We muster up the strength to do it, and we stick to it even through the fatigue in order to finish it and get it done. J, F, & B commentary says, "The danger requires promptness." There are spiritual dangers we face, even unawares, every day. It requires the effort to be prompt and diligent in the meditation of the Word, in prayer, and in waiting on the Lord. We cannot measure up to the spiritual battles in our own strength. To think we can is very foolish. Jesus warned His disciples that even though the spirit is willing in them to do right, to follow Him, the flesh is very weak, and we must not slumber or suddenly calamity overtakes us.
(33) Peter answered him, "Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away."
(34) Jesus said to him, "Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times."
(35) Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!" And all the disciples said the same.
(40) And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour?
(41) Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
(74) Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the rooster crowed.
(75) And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
We must learn to know our own flesh, its weaknesses, and how many subtle ways it demands to have its way in us, giving a foothold to the enemy to tempt us and lead us down the wrong path, or into sin, or into a deceptive busyness that is not the business of the Lord. To be wakeful and watchful, is to be spiritually alert through prayer and listening to the voice of our Lord in His Word, as He reveals these things to us daily, and to take His side against our own flesh and pride, against the enemy and against everything false. Then we must put forth the effort to respond accordingly, as He shows us what must be acted on. We must be diligent to act on it and not let it slide.
Sleep is very subtle. You wake up in the morning to an alarm, and you are still groggy. Your body is telling you, "just a little more rest, and then I'll get up." But you fall back into a deep sleep and before you know it a couple more hours have passed and you wake up to a phone call telling you you are late! Or you have to get up and hurry and scramble to make up for the 2 hours you just slept through, and you can't possibly get the quality of time you would have had if you had gotten up on time. It is the same spiritually. If we tell ourselves, "I'll take care of it tomorrow." We find ourselves ignoring it and even forgetting it, and the longer we do so the easier it is to do. Suddenly the trial comes and we are scrambling to find the Lord's presence, to find His counsel, and to know what to do. If we had been diligent in the first place we would always be ready to stand dressed in His armor and ready for the battle, ready to face the problem, the temptation, the loss, or whatever it is. If not we are left to our own devices many times and that will always fail to bring about God's purposes in our lives.
Is the Lord drawing you to seek His face? Do you feel that heart tug to spend more time with Him? Do you feel conviction to talk to someone or make something right in your home or in a relationship? Are you being called to pursue a certain path God wants to take you on? Don't put it off, because the opportunity won't be there forever. When God calls us that is the time He will give us the grace to obey. Later is many times too late. We lose the ferver and the will many times, and miss out on what God would have for us.
Rising up out of a deep sleep takes strong will-power and effort. Rising up out of spiritual slumber takes effort on our parts as well, and when the Lord is convicting and drawing and saying to your heart, "arise!" that is the time He will also give you the grace to obey as you yield yourself to Him, and simply say, "Yes, Lord, I give myself over to your strength to do so." There is no gain without effort.
I remember a movie line once where a woman in the movie was always saying, "you have to put forth the effort!" For some reason that line has stuck with me, and when I feel weary, and wanting to lay my spiritual head down and slumber for a time, that line comes back to me again and again, "Ginny, you have to put forth the effort!"
(Colossians 1:29) For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
When the Lord calls us, He Himself works His own energy in us powerfully to do the task. When we work on our own, we become weary. We must continually be built up in Him and strengthened in the power of His might.
Many times when I have a job to do, I tend to put it off and go do a job that I enjoy more...like working in my kitchen, baking or doing something creative, rather than spending time on my hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor or toilet. Many times we look for something we find self-fulfilling or rewarding to do in the church and busy ourselves with that which enriches our social life, rather than that which the Lord is calling us to do. It can take the place of the more important things the Lord is working in our lives, and actually hinder our spiritual growth. We think we are growing spiritually when we are doing something we thrive in and have lots of feedback and reward immediately for it. But maybe the Lord is calling you to do something else that takes time and commitment and a loss of pride, hard spiritual work of seeking His face and struggling in prayer, and waiting on Him, and causing you to give up things that you enjoy for a time, even though good things. We can put ourselves in a spiritual slumber by replacing God's will with other seemingly good works, yet disregarding the very thing He is pointing to, and calling us to, which would require us to give up our fulfilling "works" and doings in order to answer Him in humility and obedience. Maybe He has us in a place we don't want to be, and is calling us there for a time, even though it is not pleasant. We try to escape. We think to ourselves, "I would be much more effective for God if I were in this other place, or able to do so much more if I were over there!" But God has us here, where He is dealing with us, where He is exposing things to ourselves in our own hearts, where He is teaching us humility, love, patience, longsuffering, and where He is wanting to reveal Himself to us and conform us to the image of Jesus. We don't understand, but He is doing a work in us wherever He calls us and puts us. Wherever that is, we must wake up from our slumber, and seek His face, and wait on Him, and find HIS path through it giving up our own, no matter how long that takes. We must not mistake emotional fulfillment with the fulfillment of God's will in our lives. Real growth comes from true obedience to God, denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. He takes us aside at times to work in us to make us, before He can truly use us in the work He has for us.
We must not slumber through this life, just passively going along wherever the waves of life take us. But we must be diligent and wakeful. He has provided all we need for this. His Word gives us the guidance and the knowledge of His will, the washing and cleansing from our own ways and that of the world, and His Spirit provides us the energy, the indwelling strength and power to do so, and to carry out what He calls us to. Now is not the time to slumber. Now is the time to be awake and alert, as the world and the powers of darkness are surrounding us, and to be diligent, putting forth the effort, to stand and to walk unwavering, the path He has before us, setting aside every weight, and running the race, as we wait for His coming.
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