Spiritually Wake Up

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Alarm of Trumpets
Discussing the second coming of Jesus can be a favorite topic among believers. People look for the signs described in Scripture and try their best to estimate when his glorious return will occur. In fact, the Bible contains many more prophecies about Jesus’s second coming than his first when he came as a baby in Bethlehem. A consistent theme we read about is the sound of trumpets being an audible signal of Christ’s return. Matthew 24:31 states, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Then 1 Corinthians 15:52 says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” When the trumpet sounds, it will be too late to wake up if you have been going through spiritual sleepiness or apathy. The sound of the trumpet will either elicit feelings of great joy or great despair, depending on where you have placed your hope and trust throughout your life. But it’s not too late for you yet if you haven’t experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  God’s grace calls us, invites us, and sounds the alarms in our life that gets our attention and wakes us up. Jesus’s resurrection means that we can rise up, and God can resurrect all of us out of our dead life. He can resurrect us out of our old life. He can resurrect us out of our sin, out of our shame, and out of our guilt. He can resurrect us out of our hopelessness; because he was resurrected, we can be resurrected. Reflection/Discussion Question: Does the idea of the trumpets sounding create a feeling of fear, excitement, or something else in your heart?
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Light of Christ
When you truly realize the love, forgiveness, and freedom that God has available for you, you can live your life in a completely different way than you could before. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead does something for us that nothing else in this world ever could. When you begin to realize this truth and what it actually means for you today, it changes everything.  The empty tomb should be the loudest alarm in our lives if we are spiritually sleepy or feeling apathetic because Jesus sacrificially went to the cross for the payment of your sins and was raised to life again, so we could have a freedom from guilt and shame that nothing in this life can take away. We can live in the freedom and understanding that the hope that we have is not dependent on any situation or circumstance that happens in this world. Politics, natural phenomena, and worldly troubles do not weigh us down or inhibit our hope for the future, like they can for those who haven’t experienced the light of Christ. The hope of Jesus is the one hope that can’t ever and won’t ever disappoint. Because Jesus rose up from the tomb, we too can rise up. We can rise up out of everything that holds us back or pulls us down, such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness. God's trying to get your attention and wake you up to the joy and grace you could be living in every day.  Reflection/Discussion Questions: Who in your life needs to be woken up with the light of Christ? What can you do to help them realize this?
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Wake Up and Rise Up
Oftentimes, there are some things or situations in your life that Jesus is trying to use, out of his love for you, to get your attention and wake you up. No one wants to be shaken awake from a deep sleep, but if somebody is asleep in a building and the building is on fire, then you shake them awake because that’s what you have to do. It’s actually the loving thing to do. Maybe for you, this is what God's Word is trying to do in your life right now.  Maybe you're pretending like everything is okay in your marriage, but it's not okay, and you need to get some help. You need to be honest with yourself and you need to cry out to God. He can help you, but you can't keep sleeping. Or maybe you need to have somebody grab you by the shoulders and tell you this struggle you've had has become an addiction. You don't see it but everybody around you sees it, and you keep saying you can quit whenever you want to, but you can't. If you could, you would've by now, but you don't have the power. You need a different kind of power. You need the power of the resurrection. Maybe you are missing a window with your kids that you are not going to get back. You keep telling yourself there's going to be time, but you're not going to get these years back, and your kids desperately need an example of someone who's following Jesus.  You need somebody to grab you by the shoulders, shake you, and say, “You're living like this life is all there is. You’re living like you're not going to stand before God one day. You're living like there's no eternity – that there's no Heaven and there's no Hell.” But there is Heaven, and there is Hell. Jesus actually emphasized and warned about Hell more than he emphasized Heaven, describing it weeping and gnashing of teeth and place of ultimate turmoil. Jesus desires everyone to reach Heaven and we, as his followers, are to help accomplish this desire on Earth by spreading the good news. Reflection/Discussion Question: When have you had to be shaken awake by someone in the past?
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Effectiveness of an Alarm
Ephesians 5:14 says, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Paul wrote this letter to this church in Ephesus, and Paul is quoting from a source in this verse. Part of these words are taken from the propher Isaiah, but Paul is also quoting from a popular hymn of that day. It was an Easter hymn that the early Christians would sing to celebrate the resurrection and to declare the power of the resurrection. Paul is instructing the readers in Ephesians to wake up, because one of the most dangerous conditions is spiritual sleepiness.  In the fourth century, before most people could read or write, early church leaders got together, and they put together a list of sins, so people would know what not to do. We would know this list today as the seven deadly sins. One of those sins listed seems out of place to many of us though, and it's the sin of sloth. Synonyms for sloth that often come to mind are fatigue, laziness, sleepiness, or lethargic. It just doesn't seem that deadly. The best way to understand sloth is to understand it in a spiritual context of sleepiness or spiritual apathy. It is becoming tired spiritually so that the things that should excite you, don't excite you. The things that God's passionate about, you're not passionate about.  How do you know if you've got this condition? How do you know if you've become spiritually sleepy? If celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with fellow believers seems like an annoyance to you, then there's a good chance that your heart has become hard, and your eyes have become sleepy. Do you pick and choose what parts of Scripture you care about? When you're spiritually sleepy, you'll use the Bible to make yourself comfortable. You don't use it to convict you or challenge you, but instead you use it to be a blanket that allows you to go back to sleep.  Reflection/Discussion Questions: Have you become spiritually sleepy? In what ways do you identify this condition in your life?