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Watching

Scripture: Matthew 25:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, Isaiah 56:10
Date: 07/29/2006 
We need to be watchful prophetically during these last days. There are many Bible references for us to be alert. For instance, we are to watch and be awake. We are also to watch and pray. And we should watch what the devil is up to.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

I think we are living in very significant, prophetically significant times. Not just because you see the turmoil in the Middle East. Even as short as I’ve lived we’ve seen things flare up there many times, but I guess there seems to be a confluence of so many things at the same time that I believe the Lord is sending us messages and He’s trying to get our attention, but we may not be hearing it because we’re so involved in what’s going on around us. It reminds me of a story of a number of years ago when telegraph service was a little more popular and they used Morse code. A number of young men had gathered to apply for a position in this telegraph office. And while they were waiting to be brought in to interview; in the background noise they could hear the Morse code, dot, dot, dash, dash, dash, dot, dot. Any of you ever do ham operating? Some friends I have still know how to read code. And suddenly, while the young men were visiting and waiting to be called in to be interviewed by the boss, one of them jumped up and ran uninvited into the boss’ office. He came back a few moments later grinning. He said, “I got the job.” They said, “Well, how did you get the job before us?” He said, “Well, you were all so preoccupied with visiting you weren’t listening to what the Morse code was actually saying.” He said, “I was listening to the message and the message said, ‘I am looking for somebody who is alert and the first person who hears this message and comes into the office will get the job.’” And he was listening and he was watching. I think sometimes we forget to stay plugged in to what is happening prophetically and comparing it with the code that God has given us in His word, in His prophecies.

In the Bible we’re told to watch many times. In the scripture reading that we just heard four times Jesus, speaking of the last days, said something. When Christ says, “Verily, verily,” that ought to get your attention. He says something twice: “Verily, verily.” When Jesus does something three times, that certainly; that’s a trinity of emphasis the Lord is giving to something. But how important is it when the Lord says something four times in one passage? And there in Mark 13, speaking of the second coming and the signs of the second coming, Jesus said, “Watch, watch, watch, watch.” The Lord is wanting us to be awake, to be alert, and to be watching as though our lives depend on it because in reality it does. Christians are to be alert. And the message this morning is titled Watching.

I thought it would be good to begin with a definition. The Greek word for watch in that passage there in Mark we just looked at, it comes from the word greguru and it means to keep awake, to be vigilant, to be watchful. And then I went to the English definition for the word watch. There’s a lot here. Watching means to look steadily, attentively, to observe carefully or continuously. To act or proceed with care and caution. To look and to wait expectantly or in anticipation. To act as a spectator, look on. To behave as is demanded or required or appropriate. Watching means the act of or process of keeping awake or mentally alert, especially for the purpose of guarding. To stay awake at night while serving as a sentinel or watcher. To tend a flock for example. To stay alert as a devotional or religious exercise. To keep vigil.

Now there’s several ways I think that we are called to watch in the Bible, and I’m sure I won’t get to them all, but I’d like to start with one that’s very simple. We’re supposed to watch and be awake. This is one of the things that the Lord told us. That many will be sleeping when the bridegroom comes, rather than watching. In the parable of the Ten Virgins. Matthew 25:5, “While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept.” They were to be watching and to wait for the bridegroom, but at that critical moment they were asleep. Because some of them were wise and some of them were foolish, does that mean it was okay for any of them to be asleep? Or does God want all of us to be awake? The fact that it will be that way, and the disciples were sleeping when they should have been watching and praying, doesn’t mean that’s what God’s will is. God does not want us to be children of the night, but children of the day; to be awake and watching.

I Thessalonians 5:5-6, [side comments] Paul said, “You are sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night or the darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” That’s not just any kind of watching. That’s watching and being attentive and alert and clear. Isaiah 65:10, “His watchmen are blind. God has called us who know the truth.” Not only are pastors watchmen, but I believe especially Seventh Day Adventists members are to be watchmen because God has given us a message for the lost sheep of the House of Israel we’re to share. And then he tells us in Isaiah 56:10, “His watchmen are blind.” They’re all ignorant. They're all dumb dogs. And it doesn't mean the word dumb there as in stupid, or an insult. It means they can't speak. They cannot bark. Sleeping, lying dogs, loving to slumber.

The element of surprise is very important in a battle. When you lose the element of surprise you've lost half the war. The devil wants to catch people in the last days by surprise. And if God's watchmen on the walls are awake he won't do it. That's why it says we should not be children of the night, but children of the day. Not only are we to be awake and watching, Jesus said we are to watch and to pray. One of the ways that we watch is pray. Have you ever been in a hospital keeping vigil because someone you love is in a critical surgery, and you don't know whether doctor is going to come out and say whether or not they've made it? I have personally been in that situation and I have been with families, as pastor, who have been in that situation. You ask them, “Do you know what it means to watch and pray?” I tell you, there's a lot of watching and praying that goes on in those waiting rooms outside of the surgery door. Christians should know how to watch and pray. That's because your heart is in it and you are praying for an outcome of life. That's what it means to watch and pray.

In the book of Nehemiah it tells a story. Matter of fact, I could go back to Nehemiah several times because there's a lot of watching that went on. Nehemiah comes, sent by the king of Persia, to rebuild the walls. But he has to rebuild the walls in troublous times. The enemies, and they've got sort of an alliance of three enemies. A lot of the enemies they have in Israel today, too. The Samaritan and the Arabians and their adversaries were wanting to confound their plans to rebuild the city. They were trying to catch them off guard so they could come and destroy the scaffolding or do something to tear the walls down a hand to thwart their work. They wanted to sabotage it. And so Nehemiah 4:7, “It happened, when Sanballat,” that was one of the enemies, “Tobiah, the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gap were being filled.” Their work of building up was successful. “They became very angry.” How does the devil feel about us when God's church is being built up? He's come down with great wrath. “And all of them conspired and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.” Jerusalem's been under attack for years, hasn't it? “Nevertheless, we made our prayer to God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.” It's not enough just to pray. Some people think as long as I pray, but God is asking us to be sensible. He’s saying, “Pray and be awake. Be watching. Be vigilant.” It's not just watching, because that's depending on your vigilance. Watching and praying, we need both.

Matthew 26:40-41, Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He went through His tremendous trial. “He came to the disciples and He found them asleep. And He said to Peter, ‘What? Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch.’” Again, twice now He says it. “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.” Then He shook His head probably and said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” You know, I wonder if Jesus is saying to the church today what He said to Peter 2000 years ago, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” Do you pray, watch and pray? How long do you pray? Maybe when Jesus said, “Watch and pray with me,” Peter said, “Okay, we'll watch and pray,” and he prayed five minutes and drifted off to sleep. Do a lot of us watch and pray like Peter? And the Lord says to us, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” How much time would it be good for us to invest in prayer a day? We sing that song Sweet Hour of Prayer. I don't know, maybe you haven't sung that in a while. Would you feel like lying, if you sang that song? Do we pray an hour? Maybe not all at once, but at least divide that up into three 26-minute sections or something, right? Three times a day pray. That would be three 20-minute sections. My math is no good. Could you not watch and pray with me one hour? Think about that. Jesus is pleading. And He starts the sentence by saying, “What?” What does that imply? Amazement. “Here we are at the very axis of the plan of salvation, I'm about to go to the cross, and I'm asking you to pray with me.” And He says, “What? You couldn't even watch and pray one hour?”

Now, are we at another critical point in history? Would it be appropriate for Jesus to say, “Here you are, the second coming is about to transpire. Probation is going to close. The world needs to hear the message. I have given you the truth. What? Couldn't you pray with me one hour?” Do you think Jesus might be saying that to the church again? “Watch and pray.” And I could stop right here and take a whole other avenue about, how do you pray one hour. Well, you don't sit there and watch your clock and say, “Well, I'm on my knees and I'm waiting for my hour to be up.”

Sometimes our prayers are so narrow and so focused that after we pray for about three minutes we run out of things to ask for. So much of our prayers have to do with us. “Lord, I need this and I need this and I need this. Feed me, protect me, and give me everlasting life.” And we think, “If I've got that I thought everything. Oh yeah, and also my loved ones and family. Yeah, and bless the church.” Do you ever make a prayer list? You make a prayer list; you'll find that it's easy to pray longer than an hour. And your list will grow. Start listing things. Nowhere does it say it's against the rules for you to open one eye and peak when you're praying at your list. So during your hour, you can open your eyes. It doesn't even say you have to be on your knees for a whole hour. Some of us can't deal with that. And sometimes in your prayer, you might have your Bible open while you're praying, and ask God to speak to you and be going through the word. You're watching and pray. So it doesn't just mean kneeling and waiting for the bell to go ding at the end of an hour. And like I said, you might divide it up three times during the day.

But I wonder what would happen to the church, if we really did watch and pray an hour a day. That sort of rhymes, doesn't it? That would be a good slogan for our Empower Church program. Watch and pray an hour a day. Let's say that together. Watch and pray an hour a day. What, couldn't you watch and pray with me one hour? Let's try it again. Watch and pray an hour a day. Is that too much? How many hours, are there? Twelve in the day, 12 in the night, Jesus said. You've got 24 to pick from. You can't count the hours you're sleeping. That's not watching and praying. Jesus said to Peter that doesn't count when he went to sleep, right? So your waking hours. Can we give Him one hour? He’s asking for 10% of your money. Can't you give him 1/12 of your time? One of your waking hours. Most of us don't sleep 12 hours. Watch and pray.

I Peter 4:7, “But the end of all things is at hand.” Is that true today? “But the end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious, be sober, and watchful in your prayers.” That's what we’re talking about. You can pray with your eyes open. That's being watchful in your prayers. Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer.” Not just an hour. Be in an attitude of prayer. “Pray always with all prayer and application in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication, not just for yourself, but for all the saints.” Watching and praying. Watching patiently. Part of our watching is persevering. Psalm 37:7, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Part of what's involved in watching is to be patient. Reminds me of the preacher, Morgan, who was pacing the floor one day and a friend said, “What’s the problem?” And he said, “I'm in a hurry, and God isn’t.” Do you ever pray for patience? Do you know what you're asking for when you pray for patience? You're asking God to give you delay, because how do you learn patience? By getting everything quickly? Is like saying, “Lord, give me patience and please hurry up.” Patience is the art of waiting. And it's not learned quickly.

You know, I understand that bats are unusual animals because for their size, they’re not much bigger than mice. Some people think they’re just mice with wings. Mice might live a year. Bats can live up to 20 years. And it’s somewhat of a mystery why they live so long, but one theory is bats have the ability; you ever hold a little mouse in your hand and you feel their heart going [sound effect]? The heart just beats like a hummingbird, very quickly. Bats on the other hand, when they’re flying and they’re active their hearts beat something like a hummingbird, very quickly. But as soon as they roost, as soon as they hang there upside down and they land, they can instantly slow down their heart and rest and wait. And they can actually bring themselves almost to a state of suspended animation. They can take their heartbeat from 180 beats a minute to 3 beats a minute in a matter of seconds. They know how to just [sound] and wait. When they’re busy they’re busy and when they’re not they’re resting. And because of that they live longer.

Revelation 14:12, what is one of the characteristics of God’s people in the last days? “Here is the patience of the saints. Those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.” In the process of watching we are to watch ourselves. That doesn’t mean be preoccupied with your own image. It means keep an eye on where you are. Every now and then it’s appropriate. You don’t want to become so absorbed in yourself that you’re constantly focused on yourself instead of Christ, but there is that aspect of the Christian life where you want to know where you stand. Where are you? Are you growing? My father used to say, “A good driver drives five cars. You’re driving the car in front of you. You’re driving the car behind you. You’re driving the car on the right. You’re driving the car on the left. And don’t forget, you’re driving your car.” And that’s helped me. You’ve got to constantly be aware of what’s going on around you, but don’t forget where you are in that context. Being a Christian is something like that.

Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips.” We’re asking the Lord to help us watch our minds, our hearts, our lips. And I think Christians ought to be guarding like watchmen what we are allowing to come into our minds. I think this is probably one of the single most important things you could do in your own discipline as a Christian, is to guard the avenues to your soul. Matter of fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if there was a secret weapon, a button that you could push, if there was some instant formula that you could mix with water and drink, and if you were to ask, “What is in this instant miracle?” that you could drink that would guarantee eternal life, you know what it would be? Choosing what you allow to come into your mind. That has so much to do with who you are. You are who you are because you are the combined essence of what has come into your senses over your life. And we need to pray that God would help us to have the courage to set a guard, to have a watchman, on our eyes—what we choose to look at, our ears, on the words coming out of our mouths. And even what's going into our mouths, right? It doesn't hurt to watch what you introduce into your body. You're the combined essence of all those things that you take in. That's why he says, “Set a guard, O Lord.” And some things that we have brought in have been like Trojan horses. We think, “Oh, there's no harm in this,” but once it gets into your mind, it turns out to be a disaster.

Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all diligence.” That's speaking to your mind. “As a man thinks in his heart.” “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the springs, the issue of life.” I Corinthians 9:27, Paul said, “But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection.” What do you mean by that? Well, there's a war between the flesh and Spirit, and you've got to pray that the body is subjected to the Spirit. What's the difference between an animal and a man? Animals also have some intelligence and they've got a body. Animals are typically carnally led. They're led by the body, and the mind is there to serve the body. With a Christian is the other way around. The Spirit is to be supreme; the body is to be serving the Spirit. And Paul said, “In order to keep that life sequence, I have to fight.” And all of us do. He says in I Corinthians 9:27, “I keep under my body and bring it into subjection lest that by any means when I preach to others I should be a castaway.”

I heard about burglars in New York City broke into this office building. And you know what the office building was for? It was the headquarters of a building that made burglarproof glass. And the way the burglars got in was by breaking the glass. And the owners of the building in the office said, “You know, we never dreamed anyone would want to break in here so we did not install our own bulletproof, burglarproof glass in our own building. Selling it to everybody else, but we didn't install it so the burglars broke in.” II Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves as to whether you're in the faith.” We need to be watching. “Test yourselves.” Are you growing? “Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you unless you're a reprobate?”

When a person is freezing to death, I understand that just before at that critical moment when you're about to freeze to death, instead of being cold a sense of warmth comes over you. Some people who were caught on Everest, several of them died, one of them survived. Beck Weathers [?] Was his name. And this overwhelming sense of warmth comes over you when you're at the point of frostbite and freezing to death and you get very sleepy. You may have had a good night sleep and only been awake for a few hours, but when you're about to freeze to death, you can become very sleepy and overwhelmed with a sense of warmth. And it is so easy for those people to give up if they are trying to stay awake and warm. And you know that happens to the church. When we’re freezing spiritually we get this warm fuzzy feeling. It's an illusion of warmth, you're not really warm, you're dying. A lot of people that are in the church freezing to death spiritually; have a false sense of security, and they're going to sleep. And they don't know what it is, and they need to be revived. So you’ve got to watch, find out, take your pulse, take your temperature.

Now this is not a popular aspect of what I'm going to talk about, watching, but it is biblical. Watching others. That you might think, “That’s not good for a Christian to watch others.” Well, I'm not talking about some kind of voyeurism. I'm talking about caring for other people's souls. James 5, there are a lot of verses that teach this. James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” Is it appropriate, at times, if you see someone is wandering from the truth, should we be watching for those who may be wandering? You know, one of my heart aches, and I'm greatly convicted by this, and I think we're addressing it now with the Empowered Church program. People often come, they become part of the church family, and then we get busy. We say, “Praise the Lord, we got that fish in the boat.” And we go out and keep fishing. And sometimes after the fish are in the boat and they're still bouncing around, they can bounce right out. And if you're not watching people slip away. Especially in a big church. If we don't have under-shepherds who are watching different people and caring for one another, folks could go a month. Matter of fact, I've had more than once, people called and said, “You know, I didn't come for a month or two months and nobody called me. No one knew I was gone.” And I tell those people, I said, “Well, you also have to let us know if you're having a problem. We're not omniscient, like God. Help us know.” But we've got to watch each other, don't we? Haven't you known people that have gotten discouraged and said, “I missed six weeks, and no one even called. I was at death's door, and nobody cared.” Some are spiritually drifting. We need to care. We need to watch.

Children need watching. How many agree? And you know, as they get older they want to be watched less. And that's usually when they need to be watched the most. Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a trespass you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourself, lest you are also tempted.” And through this watching, sometimes people are claimed that could have been lost otherwise.

I heard about this man in Africa, and he worked as a diamond mine. And he was watching one day as he was on his way back to his station. This conveyor belt was taking rocks to the crusher to be pulverized and shipped off where the landfill was, and he saw this one hand sized rock. And he thought, “That doesn't look like a common rock.” And he took it off the conveyor belt. It ended up being the 10th largest diamond in the world, as big as a hen's egg, 616 carats. And it was on its way to the crusher, to be thrown in a landfill, but he was watching the belt. They give him a reward of $15,000 just for catching it. It pays to be watchful, doesn't it?

You know God's got some diamonds that have been on their way out the dump. These are people who have great potential, but because we're not watching their slipping through our fingers. But sometimes when you are watching, and you do invest in people who are struggling spiritually, you wonder if it's going to do any good. It does. Sometimes it makes the difference between where they go to be displayed as a gem or they go to the dump. And we have to watch for each other’s souls. You are your brother's keeper. That's what the Shepherd says. He watches the sheep. Watch yourself and watch others.

Hebrews 13:7, “Obey those who rule over you, and to be submissive, for they watch out for your souls as those who must give an account.” Pray for the pastors who are trying to keep up with the big family we have here. Acts 20:35, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.” We need to watch for those who are weak in their faith.

This week, I flew up to the cabin to do some study. I flew back again. When you're flying around Covelo, and I have a small plane that we've had about 14 years now. I always feel guilty when I tell people that I've got an airplane. It's a little airplane. It costs less than some of your cars. How's that? I just wanted to know that I don't have a jet. My father was a pilot. It bothers me a little bit when I share that because sometimes members go, “Oh, you've got a plane.” So when I was flying. A lot of evangelists have jets. I fly myself. It's a little plane, OK? It's bothering me. Anyway, back to this. Around Covelo there's no traffic. Matter of fact, very rarely when you land there is there even another airplane. This week I had to be careful, because there are some fires that are burning up there. You know all the smoke you see around Sacramento? Some of that's not very far from our place. So pray for the fires up there. And I drove by some fire crews. Their planes are bombing. They bomb with the chemicals. [end side one]

I have to get on the radar, especially when you get near Sacramento. There's a lot of traffic. You go right by Sacramento International Airport. I’ve got a little bitty plane; they've got great big planes. They could do you some damage. One time I flew into the wake of a jet. You know what the wake is? The air after the jet has gone by, even miles later, is spinning. It will just about flip you over, the wind turbulence. So I call in to the traffic control when I’m flying around these places. I say, “Here I am. I’m little bitty, 5-2-Echo-November. Here's my frequency.” Or they'll give me a frequency. And they watch me. And they're keeping me, especially when it's smoky out there I can't see where the other traffic is. And I am so thankful. I mean, I'm not going, “I don't want anyone watching me. I don't need anyone watching me.” I'm thankful they're watching me. And yet there are people in the church that say, “I don't want you judging me. I don't want you watching me. Stop meddling in my business. That's between me and the Lord.” Have you ever heard people talk like that? We are to care about each other. Yes, even meddle a little bit when it comes to your spirit. Not the gossip. I'm talking about caring about someone else's soul. And if you see somebody that is floundering spiritually we should invest in them. But we've got this attitude; in America we’re so independent. We don’t want nobody in our business. We all want to be left alone. We talk so much about freedoms, and the respect of privacy. And we have been so bombarded with that, especially in our culture, that when you talk about Christians watching out for each other spiritually it almost seems invasive. But we should care, and we should watch. I think a lot of people have been lost to the Church of God because we all are minding our own business. We are watchmen on the walls.

Hebrews 12:14-15, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness. Without which no one will see the Lord. Looking carefully,” can I say watching, “lest anyone fall short of the grace of God. Lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble. And by this many become defiled.” Sometimes because we don't watch many are defiled. It becomes contagious. And of course, there's a time to watch what the enemy is up to. We've got an enemy out there. Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil is going around as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour.” Not only do you need to be watching and caring for each other, we need to be watching what the Devil's up to. Especially when he's quiet. That's when you need to worry.

You know what pickpocket does. A good pickpocket? They often work in teams, and one of them will go by the target and create some distraction. And while they're creating the distraction the other one is picking the pocket from behind. I'm embarrassed to tell you, but you already know, I used to be a thief. And one of the things I would do what I was operating with my friends; I'm not trying to be a bad influence on your children; was, I would go into the store with a friend named Jay Samuels from Brooklyn. By the way, Jay is in prison right now. I just found out a couple of weeks ago. A lot of my old friends are. Praise the Lord I’m not. Jay would go into the store and he would make a big ruckus. He’d start complaining. When you’re loud in a public place like this everybody turns to look. And he would create a distraction. And while everyone’s turning and looking at Jay, especially the security are looking at Jay, I would take a steak or something and put it in my clothes and head out the door. And I never got caught because it created a diversion. The devil does that. Now they’ve got cameras, kids, so don’t get any ideas. They’ve got it on tape. Didn’t have that back then. He creates diversions to get everybody to look this way and he is sneaking up from behind. You know what I’m in the practice of doing? When I see the Christian world looking this way I think, “Someone ought to be looking over our shoulder.” Because the devil’s no fool. He tries to create this diversion and get everybody focused off in this direction.

And you know, that’s what’s happening right now, I think, in the Middle East. The whole Christian world is looking at the Middle East with the wrong glasses on, and they’re waiting for Israel to somehow get into a total World War III with the Arab world. They’re going to scrape little; bulldozer the place where the Mosque of Omar is, the Dome of the Rock. And they’re going to start rebuilding the Jewish temple. And they’re waiting for this charismatic businessman, antichrist person who is half-human, half-devil, to sit there in this temple that’s going to be rebuilt. There’s this whole diversion. And while that’s happening, I’m looking over here and I hear on the news last week where the Pope gets on television and he makes a proclamation, a special prayer for Israel, and another letter comes out. Where he’s again pushing this ecumenical agenda. And others are saying, “We need to look to the Pope to help broker peace in the Middle East.” And these are things that aren’t’ making the headlines. It was just a fleeting bit of news. Any of you catch that? Some of you saw that? You’ve got to be watching for what’s going on. The Devil’s great at creating diversions. Watch the enemy.

There’s a Jewish proverb that says, “Beware of still water, a still dog, and a still enemy.” When these ancient falconers would hunt with their birds. They had these trained falcons. They’d take them out and they’d catch their small game. Sometimes the falcons would fly so high that; they could see three miles, but when the bird gets up a mile you can’t see it anymore. But they kept another little bird in a bamboo cage, called a shrike. And if the bird tender, the hunter, if he wanted to know where his falcon was he didn’t look in the sky. He watched the shrike. And he could look at the head of the shrike because it instinctively knew to watch it’s natural enemy, the falcon. And so no matter where the bird went the shrike was always like this; kept his eye on it the whole time. And so the falconer always knew wherever the bird’s head was that’s where his bird was.

And sometimes that’s what we’ve got to do. We need to be looking at the word and the prophecies to find out what’s going on.

Watching and warning. Turn in your bibles to Ezekiel 33:1. “Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon the land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman.’” They’d pick somebody to be the watchman. “And when he sees the sword coming upon the land.” Let me just give you the picture here. In Bible times, especially when there was eminent war, they would want to have watchmen. And they would put them on the wall in a position of visibility. And they would keep an eye on the horizon. They didn’t come by aircraft back then. They usually came by ground, right? And when an army moved there was a cloud of dust. And you could see them approaching, usually miles away. Sometimes they could even hear0 the ground rumble. You remember that story where the Assyrian army fled because they heard a rumbling and they thought Israel had hired the Egyptians and they fled in panic. So they’d hear this rumbling of this army, with all of these horses and chariots moving. So the watchman’s up on the wall and if he sees the enemy approach; the people had to be able to flee to the city because people didn’t farm in the city. People farmed in the suburbs that surrounded the cities. And every few miles they had a fortified city to flee to in the time of war. And the watchman’s job was everybody’s life could be in his hands, because if the army was approaching and he did not give warning they would overtake the people still in their fields, unprepared, and they’d lose their lives. Not to mention some of their valuables. And so the watchman’s job was blow the trumpet, give it a certain sound because some trumpet sounds meant 5 o’clock and all’s well. Remember the watchman’s on the wall. Any of you remember the English watchman? They’d walk through the city at night and they’d ring their bell. At 12 o’clock they’d ring it. At 3 o’clock they’d say, “3 o’clock and all is well,” the town crier. And that meant you could sleep peacefully, everything’s fine. Any of you remember those days? You probably don’t remember that far back, but I mean you remember reading about them. And those were the town watchmen. People could rest, especially when we were at war with the British. The town crier was very important.

Well, the watchman had a call for “all is well” and they’d give out the times. But then they had a signal for “warning, army approaching.” It was an alert. If he did not warn them when they were coming there were serious consequences, for him and the people listening. “When he sees the sword coming,” an army coming, “on the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes it will take him away, his blood is on his own head.” In other words, the responsibility for his death or capture is his own problem. He heard the warning and he did not do anything. “He heard the sound of the trumpet, but he didn’t take warning; his blood’s on himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and doesn’t blow the trumpet.” Suppose the watchman sees the sword coming and says, “Oh no, army coming! Wah!” and he runs and he doesn’t even give the warning. That’s happened before, too. They panic and they don’t even do their job. The bible says, “If he doesn’t blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he’s taken away by his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel: therefore you shall hear the word from My mouth and warn them for Me.”

And He goes on to say; what is it you’re supposed to say? “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die!’ if you don’t speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his sin; but his blood I’ll require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he doesn’t turn from his way, he’s going to die in his iniquity; but you’ve delivered your soul.” That’s why Paul said towards the end of his ministry, “I am innocent of the blood of all men.” Why did he say that? “Because I have faithfully blown the trumpet. I have given warning.” Now, I’ve had people read this verse before and they say, “Doug, does this mean that everybody that I meet through the day, I’m to take them by the collar and shake them and say, ‘You’re wicked! You’re dying! Repent!’” Well, first of all, you’ll get arrested if you do that. Who are you supposed to warn? How many are you supposed to warn? Well, God brings people into our sphere of influence every day and through our lives. And the Holy Spirit impresses us to say a word to this person or that person.

This week, while I was up in Covelo, just to give you an example. I can’t stop everybody I meet on an airplane and go up and down the aisles and say, “Are you saved? Repent. Are you saved? Repent. You’re not? You’re wicked. Repent.” That’s not what God’s calling us to do. But sometimes someone will sit down next to me. That’s my target for that time. You know what I’m talking about? This week when I was up there in Covelo; I have no Internet service up there because the phone barely works. And, praise the Lord, we finally got, they’ve got this satellite service now where you actually get Internet service through a little dish. It’s not for TV. It’s just for satellite. So the company sent up these installers, all the way from Sacramento, four and a half hours. These two guys pull in my yard and they get out of their truck. I hope they’re not watching. The first thing they say. They’re driving through marijuana country. The number one cash crop in Mendocino County is pot. First thing they say when they get out is, “Hey, you got any pot?” And these guys looked like that’s what they do. And so I said, “I’m sorry guys. You’ve come to the one piece of property where you’re not going to find it growing around here.” They were really disappointed. They got the satellite installed and the Internet working for me. And as they were leaving, before they left I said, “Let me show you a neat website,” and I took them to the Amazing Facts website and there’s my picture. And they said, “Oh wow! Hey that’s you! You’ve got TV programs.” And so I said, “Well let me give you a couple of books.” And they started asking me about the DaVinci Code and Mary Magdalene. I said, “Hey, stay right here.” I ran in and I got a Mary Magdalene book and I brought it back. I felt, I used to be one of those guys that smoked pot. But for the grace of God, that was me. And I felt the Lord wants me to say something to them.

So God will impress you through His Sprit who He wants you to talk to. The Lord had impressed me. If I had said, “Oh man, a couple of potheads. I’m not wasting my time on them.” I was once one of those potheads. Their blood is on my hands. “What do you do, Doug?” There are people that God has brought into your sphere of influence in the past and you’ve failed to witness to them, now are you forever doomed? No, you repent and you ask God to forgive you and then you ask God to help you be a faithful watchman from this point on. It doesn’t mean there’s no mercy for those things. That’s not the unpardonable sin. But God is calling us to share our faith with people. Because wouldn’t it be a tragedy to know that there are folks who could have eternal life; that God, through the Spirit, brought into, providentially brings them into your influence. He gives you the message; He impresses you by your spirit, “Say something for me to this person.” But because of inconvenience or because you’re afraid of rejection, because of cowardice. And you know, you might blow your trumpet and they may not read the book, they may not accept Christ. You can’t help it. You can pray for them. You’ve delivered your soul. You’ve done your job.

The Bible says before Jesus comes the gospel will be preached in all the world and then everyone will believe. It doesn’t say that. “The gospel will be preached in all the world,” Matthew 24:14, “for a witness.” Most will not believe. Their blood’s on their own heads. But they’re going to have an opportunity, right? And so God has called us to be watchmen on the walls and to warn the wicked to turn from their way. Not only tell them to turn or they’ll die, but they can live. It’s a message of good news. That’s why the Lord said there in Ezekiel, “Turn ye, turn ye. Why will you die? If the wicked turns, he’ll live. Deliver their souls from death.” Now that’s a message of hope. So we want to watch and warn. Isaiah 58:1, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” God wants us to; and it doesn’t mean you have to shout all the time. It means be clear. Sometimes we’re so nebulous about what the message is, what sin is, what God is asking from us. The popular gospels out there are often just kind of social positive thinking gospels. They don’t talk about sin, repentance, confession, conversion, new heart, new life, holiness. The trumpet needs to be given a clear, certain sound so people know what’s expected of them.

Last night; Karen said amen so I’ll use her for an example. She asked me to get; Nathan had a birthday party this week and so Grandma and Grandpa came over and we had a little bit of, just before Sabbath had a little bit of cake and ice cream after dinner. And so Karen said, “Doug, can you grab the ice cream?” And so where would you look for the ice cream? Wouldn’t you look for the ice cream in the freezer? And so I looked in the freezer. We’ve got a full freezer and so I’m looking in there and I’m looking and I’m thinking, “I know if I don’t find it she’s going to say, ‘What’s the matter? Are you blind?’” And so I’m looking and looking and I don’t see anything that looks like ice cream. And finally she said, “I’m sorry, Doug. I wasn’t clear. It’s in the microwave.” Now who here looks for their ice cream in the microwave? It was so hard; I understand now. It was so hard and so frozen she had to actually soften it so you could scoop it. You ever have that problem where it freezes too hard? You know, we are kind of having an artic chill go through Sacramento right now, and so our freezer is over-freezing things. You’ve got to be clear! That’s right. Well, I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening with the ice cream. You’re right; I should have been watching. My fault, as always. I should have known to look in the microwave for the ice cream.

Isaiah 62:6, “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night.” Speaking of Jerusalem, that’s the church. We are not to hold our peace, day or night. In the good times, in the bad times, we shouldn’t become complacent. “You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent.” We’re to be watching and working for the Lord, amen? This is going back to our story of Nehemiah. While they’re trying to build up the city of God; and that’s us building up the church, building up Jerusalem, Zion. You are God’s people. “It happened that when our enemies heard that it was known to us that they had plotted against them, that we all returned every one to his work on the wall.” And the bible says that they were working with a trowel in one hand and with a sword in the other; or a spear in the other, so that they could be watching for the approach of the enemy and yet still working to build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Luke 19:13, in the parable of the ten servants He gave the various amounts to it says, “He called his ten servants, and delivered to them ten pounds, and he said to them, ‘Occupy till I come.’” What does that word occupy mean? Trade, be involved, be using your time well. “Occupy, stay busy, till I come.” So we’re not to just be sitting on a tower somewhere with our arms folded watching. We’re to be watching and doing what? Watching and working. We’re to be involved in activity, productive activity for the Lord. Matthew 24, Jesus speaking of His faithful servant, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master has made ruler over his household, to give them their food in due season?” We’re not only to be watching, we’re to be involved working, doing God’s business.

All through the bible when God calls somebody He calls the busy. God calls workers to work. If you’re going to hire somebody are you more attracted to somebody who is employed or unemployed? They say if you want to get a good job be employed. Because once someone’s unemployed your first question as an employer, “Why are they unemployed?” Amos was tending figs. Peter, James, and John were fishing when Jesus called them. Matthew was at his booth. Elijah was plowing. God calls people that are busy. Gideon was threshing. And so we should be busy doing what lies closest at hand. Whatever the work is, God has given you to do, do it with all your might. If he's got something else for you to do, you're faithful in that which He has given you, He’ll give you something more.

And final point. We should be watching the signs. God has given us signs, prophetic signs, so we can know where we are. Matthew 16:2-3, “Jesus said to them, When it is evening, you will say, it's going to be fair weather for the sky is red. And in the morning it will be foul weather for the sky is red and threatening. Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you can't discern the signs of the times. We should be watching the signs that God is giving us prophetically. Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent man foresees evil,” he looks ahead and he sees it coming, “and he hides himself. But the simple,” they're not watching, “they pass on and are punished.” When the watchmen also saw a thunderstorm coming, he prepared for it.

I heard a story one time about a fishing vessel that came home. The fishermen, sometimes they go off on these whaling excursions and the wives would be seeing the ship approaching. They'd be watching for it and they'd come down. They'd meet them at the docks. This one fisherman, he saw all the wives were gathered on the dock and he couldn't wait to see his wife. And he got off the boat and all the wives run and they meet their husbands, they hugged them, and they welcome them home. And his wife's not there. He was a little disappointed by that, but he went up to the house and she said, “Oh, honey, I'm so glad to see you. I was waiting for you.” And he said, “Yeah, but the other wives were watching for their husbands.” And we should be there at the dock, so to speak. God wants us to be watching and waiting for Him. To be alert, to be praying, to be in a sense of expectancy, not only watching where we are, watching where others are to make sure that as many as possible are in the kingdom when Jesus comes back.

Luke 21:28. Do you see the signs of the times? Do you see things happening? Look at the fulfillment of prophecies. Everything from the natural disasters, the sea and the waves roaring, hurricanes, tsunamis, men's hearts failing for fear, wars and rumors of wars, pestilence. People are still worried about others getting nuclear weapons. And you wonder if some of these people that are not hesitant to be suicidal, if they get a nuclear weapon, what would they do? And Jesus had said this is the context in which the final events are going to happen. I think that we can look at the signs of the times and say we are living in that day when everything is in place, and Jesus could come any time. No one knows the day or the hour. And I'm not going to even go there. I think if we knew the day, and the hour we'd all wait until the last-minute to get ready. We need to be ready right now, friends, and to be watching, amen?

You know, there's a song that we don't sing very often, and I'd like to ask us to sing it. It's not a slow song. It's a song to be sung by an army with encouragement and energy. Number 598, Watch Ye Saints. Is that your desire, that we be faithful watchmen, watching for others, watching for the Lord, and watching unto prayer? Is that your prayer, friends? Let’s stand together and we'll sing that.

[verses]

I wanted you to especially hear the lyrics in some of those verses there. We're going to sing the last verse in just a moment, but before we do again, I'd like to extend an appeal. I'd like to trust that God's Spirit has spoken to you. It is so important that we don't repeat the mistakes of past even apostles, God's people, of sleeping at the critical moments. If the Lord commands us to be awake, is it possible for us to be awake? Would He ask us to do the impossible? If He asks us to watch and to pray for our own souls can we do it? He’s asking us to watch for others who may be drifting away and wandering from the faith, can we do it? You know, this holy watching that God is calling us to do, it doesn't come by drinking more coffee. It comes by the Holy Spirit waking us up and reviving us. And we need to ask the Lord to give us that Holy Spirit, to wake us up and help us see what is really going on. Is that your prayer? For your own souls and the souls of those around you. I don't want to have their blood on my hands, amen, friends? Let’s sing verse five together.

[verse]

Father in heaven, we know that this message is important to thee, otherwise you would not have said so many times, watch, watch, watch. Watch for the coming bridegroom. Watch for your own soul’s sake. Watch for those who may be drifting. Be sober and watch the enemy. Lord, we pray that you’ll wake us up. Bring into our lives whatever is needed to revive us, to help us to sense the times in which we’re living. I pray that we can be faithful and that our lives can be in harmony with your will. Beyond that, Lord, we're praying that you'll use us as watchmen on the walls, to give the trumpet a certain sound and to bring revival in our house and to those around us. Thank you that Jesus is coming. And it’s in His name we pray, amen.

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