Sunday Message Supplement for 1 December 2019: “Awaken!”

Today’s message is based on Matthew 24:36-44 and Romans 13:11-14, emphasizing awareness, which is being alert to and awakened by God’s spirit.

Paul spoke about awakening when he wrote that “it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep” (Romans 13:11a). Jesus also encouraged followers to “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). As these verses attest, there’s a critical need for achieving spiritual awareness.

Awareness is critical because God wants you to grasp a life-enhancing spirituality. It is the personal right and responsibility for each of us to arise and cultivate a conscious striving for a fulfilling life. In religious terms, this can be summarized by the equation God+You=Renew. Renew(al) is your awakening to and striving for a better life. By being alert you can enjoy life more now and be better prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.

The diversions and repetitive routines of life can hinder spiritual awareness. Discouragement and distractions take a toll and can drain your energy and motivation. Moreover, trying to overcome soul-sleep is an inherently stressful process, one that many people choose to avoid because it requires determined effort. No one is immune to grogginess. Even some folks who’ve grown up in church can find themselves sleep-walking, going through the motions of religion without consciously embracing spiritual awareness toward life renewal.

Consider the analogy with waking up out of bed. Many people dread the raspy sound of their alarm clock blaring in the dark morning hour. An angry slap of the snooze bar may briefly delay awakening but the start of the day requires rising to face life’s challenges. Spiritual awareness is also a form of wakefulness. Whether is it an irritating buzzer or warning signs in your life, alarms are intended to be unpleasant otherwise they’d fail to disturb the situation enough for you to make changes. When viewed another way, you can be thankful for whatever awakens you because without getting out of a real or virtual bed you can’t be as productive.

Responding well to an alarm requires that you take action and avoid being late to work, tardy for class, or setting a bad precedent for the kids and grandkids for whom you model personal responsibility and self-discipline. Similarly, for both your wellbeing and those around you, do the right thing and embrace spiritual awakening. Spiritual alarms are going off when you are complaining and blaming, when you feel joyless and unfulfilled, when you are unsatisfied and frustrated, or when you’re angry and raging. Heed these warning signs and partner with God to make changes that will improve your life.

Being filled with God’s essence of love is the critical factor in attaining the best possible life. Having trouble getting what you want? Perhaps you can sense an emptiness that you mistakenly fill with the wrong people, substances and attitudes. Rise above a poorly managed life, one that keeps you soul-sleepy and not fully awakened to God’s promises and possibilities. Through a combination of self-awareness and determination you can rise higher. It takes courage to realize that you may have been spiritually asleep, stuck on a virtual bed from which there’s no escape until you get up and prepare yourself.

There are many ways to stimulate your awareness and generate insight. Suggested practices include prayer, daily reading of sacred literature (e.g,, the Bible), devotional poetry, thought-provoking novels and movies—all variously contribute to your personal renewal and spiritual development. Experiment and find what works for you. Awaken from a groggy, sleepy life and you’ll experience a marvelous, transformative existence in God’s care.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey.

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