Summary: We need to prepare for the coming of the Lord before it is too late.
I'll never forget one day in my High School English Literature class. One of my good friends, Lee had a habit of falling asleep in class. Well, Lee's desk was right in the middle of the room and our class was the last one of the day, the room was warm, and the teacher wasn't so exciting. Lee fell sound asleep with his head lying on his desk. He proceeded to sleep through the entire class and when the bell rang Lee was still sound asleep. Everyone in the class including the teacher decided to quietly leave the room and watch what happens as Lee wakes up in an empty room and an empty school. There was Lee sleeping on his desk in the middle of the empty room, and suddenly, 5 minutes after class was over he wakes up in a panic, eyes as big as saucers, and bolts out of the room as fast as he could.
Are we ready for the Lord to return? If he were to return today would you have any regrets? And most importantly, would you be ready to meet him face to face? Even as Christians, it’s very easy and very tempting to simply sleep our spiritual lives away. We can get all comfortable that we are members in good standing, that we know the right doctrine, know the words and the places to go and not to go, to say and not to say. And we just simply coast through life.
Today we're looking at Jesus message to one of seven early churches of Asia Minor which are recorded in the book of Revelation. This one is found in Chapter 3 and it is to the church in Sardis. The church in Sardis had been a strong one in the past. It still had a few strong believers. Jesus knew their deeds of the past here and he knows the deeds of every church. The first church of Sardis was in trouble though. It was in big trouble. It's not that it was threatened by any enemies. No one in town was attacking the church. There weren't any pagans or heresies that threatened the life of this church.
Sardis was the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. We don’t know when and how this congregation was founded but it had a famous impregnable fortress and therefore it was a military center of security. Only twice in its history had this fortress been taken and both times were the result of sentries who failed to do their jobs.
So the church was very similar as well. It had no outside threats. No false teachings. It was its own enemy – asleep in the light! It was suffering from its own condition of spiritual deadness. Although there was a lot of church activity going on, it was not because of spiritual life, but because they had a reputation to keep up in the community. They had the name of "Christian" so they must act like a "Christian." But it was only outward behavior, they didn't come to worship because of their great love for Jesus, they didn't tithe their money because of their great thankfulness to the Lord, they did these outward things so others could see. Jesus is returning - What will he find? Verse 1 says it clearly "I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead."
Jesus is ringing the school bell today, he's sounding the alarm, he's turning on the alarm clock. He's saying "it's time to wake up." Jesus is returning and what will he find?
First, Jesus will return and find sleeping people.
He will return and find people sleeping with a job to be done. He says "Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of God." He says to us: “You are sleeping on the job!”
The prophet Elijah slept on the job once. The book of 1 Kings tells us how Elijah stood on Mount Carmel and stood against all the false prophets of Baal, he stood in faith and saw God defeat them as fire descended from the sky that day showed that God is the true God. It was a great victory. (Maybe you can think of a great time in your life when your faith was so strong, when you believed God could do anything. You were bold, confident, trusting in Jesus every day) Soon we have another picture of Elijah. It's found in the next chapter. This time he's sitting in a cave . . . hiding. He is running from the same enemies he just defeated. He is afraid to stand up for his Lord. He's lost his confidence in God. He still believes but he's not willing to act in faith. He's hiding . . . he's sleeping on the job. God finds him and says "What are you doing Elijah?" "You have a job to be done!" What did Elijah do when he heard God's voice when he was hiding in that cave? He obeyed! He walked out of that cave of fear and anointed a new prophet and a new king and once again walked in faith.