Watch! and Pray
There are many verses warning us to watch and pray, especially in the End Times. So, what are we supposed to be watching? Let's take a look and find out what these very important verses mean together. I've provided links to the Greek and Hebrew words, so you can see the information yourself. I include my comments as well.
Watch Over Your Heart
Matthew 24:42-44 Jesus himself warns his followers to keep watch so that they know when the end is near. Jesus goes through all of the events that would tell us when the end is near: The birth pangs: Deception, wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes; then the increase of wickedness, many false prophets, people turning away from the faith and betraying each other, Christians being persecution and put to death. The Luke 21 version, in verse 8 of the passage gives the warning like this: Watch that you aren't deceived and follow after the false christ.
Then Jesus gives a warning about whose souls will be saved out of all of this: Verse 13 states the one who stands firm to the end. Luke 21 says it this way: "Stand firm and you will win life. NIV" Verse 12 says that because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. In this day of deception, there is much preaching and teaching that "itchy ears want to hear". They skip the part about the Christian persecution and that there will be many martyrs (Luke 21:12-18) -- all over the world -- the U.S. will not be immune to this forever. They tell us we'll be raptured before all of this. So I can see how people who are not 'rooted and grounded' in the faith might fall away from the faith because they have been lied to. No one told them (and they didn't read their Bibles on their own) that Christ's followers will be persecuted and hated (verse 17), and that if they are still living, they will be going through the worst times the world has ever seen. (A post-tribulation rapture study is in the works). Right in this passage, Jesus tells us when he will come back: After the distress of those days. (Matthew 24:29-30).
Then Jesus tells us while no one knows the exact day or hour, we can know when the end is near. (Luke 21:25-29). But he goes on to tell us that people will be clueless, going about living their lives as if nothing was happening: partying, getting married, etc.
The Greek word for 'watch', #1127 in Strong's Concordance has the meaning of being awake, being vigilant and alert, or to live or be alive. In their point 1, it mentions that being awake is the opposite of sleeping (which scripturally often means dead).
Then No. 2 gives us the warning that we pay attention so that we're not overtaken, or led to forsake the Lord Jesus or to fall into sin, or 'be corrupted by errors'. Remember there will be much, deception, false teachers, prophets and false doctrine (as we already see).
Other versions use the words 'be on the alert' for the word 'watch'. It's the same word Jesus used in the Garden of Gethsemane when he was asking the disciples to 'Watch and pray' because he was about to be taken away and the disciples would all run away and desert him. In Matthew 26:36-46 tells us the story. In verse 41 we see Jesus' warning to his disciples to "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation", reminding us that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." We might want to do the right thing, but when push comes to shove, when hard times come, our reactions reveal what's in our heart. And our hearts deceive us. We might think we are so strong spiritually, like the disciples did, when we're really full of fear or looking out for "number 1."
The instances of that word usually goes with the phrase, "Watch and pray" or "Stand firm." If ever there was a time that Christ's followers be people of fasting and prayer it's now!
Is is hard? Yes. But we're to crucify the flesh, not going along with what we want, but doing the will of God; not giving into fear and worry, but humbly submitting to the Lord, and standing up for our faith, maybe even unto death at some point. More on walking by the Spirit in Galatians 5:13-25. Romans 8:5-17.
Matthew 13:18-23 Doesn't the parable of the Sower show us to watch over our hearts, make sure we're rooted and grounded in the Lord Jesus, so that when trouble and persecution comes, we won't fall away, but endure to the end; so that when there are many worries and cares, they won't make us unfruitful; and so that we will produce much fruit for the Lord.
Luke 12:4-7 Is there fear in our hearts preventing us from living the way God wants us to? Luke 12:8-12 Is fear ruling your heart so much that you are not standing up for Jesus and the faith, and the things he cares about?
What else does he tell us to watch out for? Jesus was in the middle of teaching the people, and some guy wants Jesus to settle a dispute for him so he could get his inheritance! Read Jesus' warning in Luke 12:14-15.
He goes on to tell us watch that we're not placing our confidence in the wrong place, trying to save ourselves instead of seeking God's will for our lives. Read Jesus' response: Luke 12:20-21.
In Luke 12:22-24, he goes on to teach about watching over our hearts so they're not overtaken with worry. He gently reminds us that we're his "little flock" and to keep our focus on eternal things, not the things of this world: food and clothing.
Watch out For False Prophets and Teachers:
False Prophets: Matthew 7:15-20
Watch and Pray so That You May Be Able to Escape All That is About to Happen.
Watch and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen. Does that mean escaping and going up to heaven in the pre-trib rapture? I don't believe so. I could be wrong, but I believe that a careful, prayerful study of God's word, setting aside extra-biblical materials, will reveal that the rapture happens near the very end, after the Great Tribulation.
The Luke passage of the same story tells us to be careful that our hearts are not weighed down with the anxieties of life or partying. We are not to live in fear and worry. The Spirit gives us a sound mind, focused on the will of the Lord.
Is it escaping from death, to a safe place? Maybe, but maybe not. To me, the warning in Luke is to "watch and pray that you may be able to escape all the end times deception and stand before Jesus. See it here: Luke 21:34-36.
Does that mean that we will always escape the coming persecution and all of the events that are now coming upon the earth. I believe it means that we'll be able, with God's help, to not get caught up in the deceptions and follow the ways of the world and run after the AntiChrist and his system. Yes, sometimes, if it's God's will he will send an angel to help us escape physically, or provide some other way to get away. But it cannot mean that we will always escape physically because Jesus promises Christians will be persecuted. That's what we're to expect. Christians will not be able to ESCAPE everything. There will be massive Christian martyrdom, imprisonment, etc.
The 'watch' command is connected to the phrase and to stand before the Son of man. To me, that tells that its talking about spiritually escaping eternity in hell, and the deceptions and demonic forces that are present on the earth.
As we rely on the Lord, he will help us be patient, stay faithful. He is coming! He will right all wrongs in the end.
If it's God's will for you, you will go. When others to see that you really believe, and are willing to lose your life for your faith, maybe God will save some others also, through your persecution or death. Why do I say that?
All those Christians who have already been beaten, murdered for the cause of Christ did not escape, but they will escape eternal hell. Which is more important? When we see things from an eternal viewpoint, it all makes more sense. We can be patient in our present sufferings, with God's help, because we look forward to what's coming after the Lord Jesus comes back.
Check out the Faith Chapter. It's actually very encouraging when you look beyond your present suffering: Hebrews 11.
The slave is not greater than the Master. They persecuted Jesus and the early church followers, and they will do the same to us. Many will be raped, thrown in prison, tortured, killed.
When you suffer for being a Christian be glad that you are counted worthy to suffer for the cause of Christ.
When you suffer for being a Christian be glad that you are his child.
When you suffer for being a Christian be glad that you have a reward waiting for you. See also Hebrews 11:6.
Here's the Strong's info of the hebrew word for watch used here. #69 Watch One of the words they use is to be circumspect. In other words, "being aware of spiritual dangers", and being careful that you don't trust everything you hear. It gives the idea of being in a watchful state spiritually, as opposed to listlessness, because of the great trials that will be taking place all over the earth at that time (many feel, as I do, that we're already in the "birth pangs").
Do you think the Lord might be saying that he wants us to be careul in every season, or at all times, watching over our hearts so that we escape the Great Deception. We're not to get caught up in the cares and worries of this world so much that we forget about loving him and loving others. Yes, it's good to be prepared for the present and coming events that will come on the earth, but the safest place to be is being one with the Lord Jesus. More on worry in Luke 12:22-34
Being careful that you're keeping yourself stained from the world's views and agenda, but serving the Lord instead.
Being ready and waiting for the Lord's soon return. Having your “house” in order. Staying repentant and humble and obedient. Not sleeping, nor taking it easy as you complacently only care about yourself and your family and friends. There is much work to be done for the kingdom. There are many who are lost and deceived.
Right after those verses, he says specifically, "Watch" or Be careful that your hearts are not weighed down . Read it for yourself in Luke 21:34-36. He wants our hearts to be right with him, and to be about his Father's business (Luke 12:47-48).
He wants us to keep alert (spiritually), being dressed (clothed in Jesus' righteousness? Romans 3:21-26) and ready for service, and our lamps burning. We are to be ready at all times, because we don't know when he'll be coming. Luke 12:35-40. Being a faithful servant: Luke 12:42-46.
Should we be wasting time on petty arguments and earthly entanglements and getting ourselves in big messes? Is the Lord saying he wants us to interpret the Times and get focused on God's will, not getting caught up in things that won't matter for eternity. Luke 12:54-59
The Great Deception: Jesus gives a specific warning for us to not listen when someone tells us to go out to see Jesus or in a certain room or place.
Remember, when Christ returns, we won't have to "go" anywhere. Those in Christ will automatically be with him. Colossians 3:4 . Did you catch the encouragement in that passage? Setting our minds on things above, not on earthly things. The Lord is telling us to be done with those things that are not of the Spirit: Verses 5-11 and instead put on his grace and compassion, his humility and gentleness and patience. We're going to need it for these coming intense trials. There's no time to mess around with our lives!
Watch, or Be on Guard, Against Hypocrisy
Luke 12:1-3 One day, everything will be made known, our words, our motivations. Does what we say match our words and actions? Does it match our calendars and schedules and budgets? Are we truly living for the Lord, or have we gotten complacent listening to the messages of the world to "take it easy", "enjoy life", "Look out for Number 1".
Live in a Right Way...in Undivided Devotion to the Lord
1 Corinthians 7:25-31 I think these verses help us get the right focus, and pay attention to the truly important things. In context the chapter is talking about big decisions, such as marriage vs. singleness, divorce and separation, remaining a slave or gaining your freedom, and different situations we're in. To me, it's kind of saying these are not the all-important things. Is our own status or happiness or comfort the most important thing? Aren't the more important things living in peace (v. 15) being a light to save others (v. 16) Keeping God's commands (v. 19) being responsible to God (v. 24) sparing ourselves from unnecessary troubles and commitments (v. 25-28). Why? Because time is short -- now, more than ever before! (v. 29)
What if you knew that in 48 hours Jesus would be coming back? (I'm not saying he is, as I believe biblically there are some things that have to take place first). How would you spend your last day on earth? Or maybe if you knew Jesus would be returning for his children in one week, or one month, or even one year? How would you spend your time? What would be important? What would you focus on? What would be on your To Do List? Maybe an easier question is what we would NOT focus on: Are our feelings and discomfort really so important that they should take up so much time? This passage tells us that if we're sad, live as though we're not. Is there really time to mope around and feel sorry for ourselves? Jesus is coming back! When we're really happy, does that mean we ignore the discharges the Lord gave us to do? (Telling others). Are we concerned about the things the Lord is concerned about?
Those things we have our heart set on...the new gadget to "make life easier" or because it "will make you happy". Is that really how God wants you to spend your money in a world that is passing away shortly? If we do purchase something, we're to live as though it wasn't ours to keep. What would that look like? Using it for God's purposes? Using it to help someone else? Sharing it with the poor? Giving it to a brother or sister who really needs it? Verse 31 tells us we are not to be engrossed when we use the things of this world. Facebook anyone? Movies? Techy gadgets? Games? Shopping? Sports events? More on this subject: 1 Timothy 6:6-10
Idea: Keeping an account of our time in 1 hour blocks, or even 15 minute blocks might give us a better idea of where we're wasting time on not-so-important things, just like keeping an account of our spending shows us where we could cut back. 1 Timothy 6:11 tells us who to live: Pursue righteousness, godlines, faith, love, endurance and gentleness, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous, and stay from all those time-wasters, such as gossip and false doctrine. Let's be disciplined with our time and money as we go along in the fight of faith. 1 Timothy 6:12-21
Maybe our weekend entertainment would not be so important. Are two vacations really necessary in this late hour? Do we really want to spend all that time on our hobby? Is there something that we could be doing that will count for eternity? Maybe for you your ministry is involved in those things. I can't answer that for you. The Lord knows our hearts. He knows our motivation and what is important to us. Is there a ministry that needs your attention and priority? Could certain "lost sheep" in your life use a little extra attention and care? Have you been holding back telling the gospel to someone who seems ready to hear it because it never seems like the right time? 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 tells us to keep in mind that this world and all that is in it will not last! Let's focus on what is to come and saving as many as possible, being a light and living in a right way unto the Lord (v. 29-31).
When we see the 'abomination that causes desolation' that is described in Daniel, scripture gives those living in Judea specific instructions: Flee to the mountains, and don't to back to your house to get anything; and Pray that you don't have to go in the Winter or on the Sabbath. Read the whole chapter of Matthew 24.
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