The Lord’s Table: Bible Study/Prayer meeting
(Every Wednesday 6-7 pm in the Chapel)
St Paul’s Church
The Anglican Church of Canada
30 November 2011
Theme: Wisdom and Love Topic: Keep awake
Reading: Mark 13:24-37
24 ‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he* is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert;* for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
The opposite of awake is asleep. Awake/asleep in this case implies being alert or dead in the spirit as the case may be. We are awake when we are the light and salt of the world- Christ’s ambassadors. Why are we being reminded to keep awake? The text began with several signs of the second coming of Christ and ended with the charge: Keep awake! This indicates that we should be careful not to allow our love for God and others grow cold, whether the signs of Christ’s second coming are there or not. It means that we should be fervent in prayer and in loving God and our neighbors so that when Christ comes, He will find us working and living for Him. In this study, we will look at ways that our Christian faith can grow cold; and discuss strategies to rouse ourselves up to spiritual alertness and acts of love to God and our fellow mankind.
1. What is your understanding of the charge- keep awake?
37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
2. Why will Christ ask us to keep awake?
42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day* your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert;* for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.
3. In what ways do we fall asleep and what is the remedy?
5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.* 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered* us into the hand of our iniquity. 8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity for ever. Now consider, we are all your people.
4. How do we keep awake?
40Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;* the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
1 Corinthians 1:4-9
4 I give thanks to my* God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of* Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-24
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters,* you do not need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4But you, beloved,* are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. Final Exhortations, Greetings, and Benediction 12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters,* to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, beloved,* to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets,* 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound* and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
5. List the rewards for keeping awake and dangers of falling asleep.
2 Chronicles 7:14
14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
45 ‘Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves* their allowance of food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 47Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 48But if that wicked slave says to himself, “My master is delayed”, 49and he begins to beat his fellow-slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. 51He will cut him in pieces* and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Christ has charged us to keep awake so that whenever He comes, He may find us faithfully serving Him. As we neither know the hour nor the day of His return, let us be alert- fervent in prayer and diligent in serving one another.
Lord, we cannot be alert in our own strength. Teach and enable us to live our lives knowing that You can come at anytime. Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. May He fill us and keep us ever ready for your second coming through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.