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Be Watchful

Mike Wencel


Watch: Strong:  to keep awake, be vigilant. Thayer: Give strict attention to, be cautious, active, to take heed lest through remission and laziness some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.  Webster:  To keep guard; to act as sentinel; to look for danger.


A.  Christ as an Example of Watchfulness

Matthew 26:36-41 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Why did Jesus instruct them on this particular occasion to watch? One answer might be that Jesus desired for his closest apostles to watch him, so as to observe the agonies he endured, the grace he exercised, and the submission he rendered to His Father's will. He was setting an example for them that he did not want them to miss. If they would watch Him, it would not be something they could easily forget.


B.  Watchfulness Commanded by Jesus to All

Mark 13:32-37  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"


Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

ERV translation (paraphrased):  Wake up! Make yourselves stronger before what little strength you have left is completely gone. I find that what you do is not good enough for God.


C.  Exhortations by the Apostles to Be Watchful

1 Thessalonians 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

Sober: [Vine]: to be free from the influence of intoxicants 

              [Thayer]: to be calm and collected in spirit, to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.


1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 

Sober: [Thayer] to be of sound mind, to be in one’s right mind, to exercise self control, to put a moderate estimate upon one’s self,  to curb one’s passions


D.  Being a Watchman Over the Lost and the Erring

Ezekiel 3:17-21 (God speaking to the prophet Ezekiel) Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul."


E.  Ministers Exhorted to be Watchful

2 Timothy 4:2  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.


F.  Be Watchful with Prayer

Luke 21:36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."


Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Hendriksen notes that the word "all" is used four times in this verse: ■ ALL kinds of prayers and supplications are to be used: public prayers, private prayers, intercessory prayers, prayers of thanksgiving, every kind! ■ ALL seasons are the season of prayer: all times of the day, all conditions and circumstances, all occasions, all states of mind, etc. ■ ALL perseverance: through times of discouragement or defeat when it seems that all is lost, when victory has smiled or when it has failed - let nothing hinder your prayer life. ■ ALL the saints are to be remembered in prayer, those of our own congregations, those of other congregations, those Christians in other parts of the world, missionaries, new converts…


G.  Be Watchful with Thanksgiving

Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

It is important to pray prayers of thanksgiving because it focuses our mind on all the wonderful blessings we have been given, and helps us to be more content with what we have.  We we are content with what we have we can’t be tempted by the allure of more money or more material things – they hold no attraction for us. 


H.  Be Watchful with Steadfastness in the Faith

1 Corinthians 16:13 (ESV) Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.


I.  Understand God’s Word is his Direction to Mankind

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.


J.  Be Watchful for the Incessant Assaults of the Devil

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

The lion is good metaphor for the devil – he is ferocious, he is a predator, he can kill a man’s soul as easily as a lion can kill a man’s body, he has a voracious appetite, he is cunning, he sneaks up on you quietly. 


K.  The Watchful Will Be Blessed

Luke 12:37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.


Revelation 16:15 Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.


L.  Warning Against Not Being Watchful

Matthew 24:48-51 But if an evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming, and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Matthew 25  The parable of the 10 virgins is all about watchfulness and preparedness. 

Probably the most sobering part of this parable is at the end, when the 5 foolish virgins asked to be admitted to the banquet:


Matthew 25:12  But he (the bridegroom) answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.

The moral of the story is pretty clear – two words – BE PREPARED!


Application - Things We Need To Be Watchful Of:

Psalm 102:7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.


Our speech

    Psalm 141:3  Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.  


    2nd Timothy 2:16   But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.



    James 1:12  Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.


False Doctrine / False teachers  

    2nd Peter 2:1   But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.


 Self-righteousness / Pride / Arrogance

    Romans 12:3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.


    Proverbs 29:23  A man's pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.


    James 4:10  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.


 Lust for Worldly Things

    1st John 2:16   For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.


    1st Timothy 6:10   For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.


    Luke 16:13  No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Definition: wealth, treasure, riches).


Infighting in the Church

     Philippians 2:2  Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.


    Romans 12:5  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.


Relationships That Might Supersede Our Relationship With God

    Matthew 10:37  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.


 Our Treatment of Others

    Luke 10:30-37  Parable of the Good Samaritan


    James 2:8-9  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.


 Our Priorities

     Matthew 6:33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.