Jesus uses numerous stories and parables to illustrate spiritual preparedness in the last days. He actually names three deterrents to preparedness or watchfulness: "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap".
Dissipation - the indulgence of extravagant and intemperate (no self-control) pleasures or the delving into immoral pleasure. Dissipation includes the excessive enjoyment of: food, sexual pleasure, sporting activities (participatory or non-participatory), surfing the Internet, shopping, hobbies, etc. (none of which are bad in and of themselves) and exploration of immoral behavior (pornography, illicit sex, drugs etc.).
Drunkenness - the use of anything (drugs, alcohol, etc.) to stimulate enjoyment or to numb pain. Under the influence of anything that blurs spiritual vision.
Anxieties of life - This includes anything that you should pray about but don't (child rearing, finances, aging, job, politics, elections, etc.) so you live in a state of worry and anxiety.
A "weighed down" heart needs to lose weight. Just as exercise and self-restraint shed unneeded pounds so they prepare us to live life on high alert or in a stated of readiness. Oswald Chambers sums up this need for discipline in his book Not Knowing Where (p. 102-3):
"You must discipline yourself now, if you do not, you will ruin your life for God. . . . People go wrong spiritually because they stubbornly refuse to discipline themselves physically, mentally or in any other way, and after a while they become that most contemptible and objectionable thing, a petted man or woman, and their own greatest cause of suffering."
Self-denial is not popular in America where there is always something new to be had. The lust for things handicaps ones ability to develop watchfulness and prepare for the coming kingdom of heaven.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Mark 13:24-31; Matthew 24:29-35; Luke 21:5-38
- What is the lesson of the fig tree?
- How will anyone escape all that will come upon the earth?
- Why is watchfulness so important?
- How does one practice watchfulness?
- What characterizes the lives of those who lived prior to the flood?
- How does God reward His watchful servants?
- What are the consequences of not being watchful?
- What characterizes the five foolish virgins? the five wise virgins?
- What is the consequence of not being prepared?
- What is the major difference between the three servants?
- What is the consequence of investing your life well? not investing well at all?
- How does each servant view the master?
- Why do the subjects hate the king?
- What does this tell you about people?
Ask the Lord to reveal your state of spiritual preparedness.