First Sunday Of Advent: Are You A Morning Person?
Are you up at the crack of dawn or is the middle of the night your favorite time? For some people, dragging themselves up in the morning can seem like an almost impossible task, while others seem to bound out of bed with unfathomable energy.
You may find that you are creative and motivated late into the evenings or that your energy begins to flag any time after 8pm.
Research shows we are actually genetically predisposed to be either a morning or an evening person. (According to chronobiology the study of time in living things), cells in everything from plants to people work on their own internal ‘clock’.
Around 40% of us work best when staying awake later and sleeping in. On the bad side of things, this can mean early starts for the 9-5 workday can feel like a rude awakening for many.
Whether you are a morning or an evening person, we are told that there are a few steps you can take to make the most of your natural schedule and adjust your body-clock to the working day.
Get enough sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of 7-9 hours of sleep for most adults. However, teenagers may need up to 11 hours, whilst for those over the age of 65 it could be as little as just 5 hours a night.
Choose cardio over coffee
There are numerous mental and physical benefits to exercise, but starting early could boost your energy even more effectively than caffeine. For morning people, this means making the most of your early energy. For evening people, on the other hand, exercise provides a kick-start for the day ahead.
Plan your productivity
We all have those annoying errands and admin tasks that seem to be forever put off until later. If you work best early in the day, use this motivation to get them out of the way first thing. Leaving them until later when you are likely to be less productive won’t do you any favours. For later workers, set aside an hour of time in the afternoon when you can blast through these tasks more quickly. Trying to drag yourself through them early in the morning will only waste time.
Bin the alarm clock
Particularly if you’re not a morning person, the abrupt awakening of a traditional alarm can trigger a release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Instead, try using an app which plays gentle bird-song or perhaps invest in a daylight lamp, which wakes you up gradually by mimicking the natural morning sunlight.
Pay attention to how you feel
Everything from our body temperature to the menstrual cycle can also influence how productive we are. Listening to your body can help you make the most of your time and learn when you are more likely to do different tasks to the best of your ability.
Stay in a routine
Eat, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even if you are one of the 5% of people who can function effectively on less than 5 hours sleep, leave time to unwind and put down any electronic devices before bed. It is important to plan your daily routine around what works most effectively for you.
Now today is the first day of Advent season. Advent being a season, in the liturgical year, where we observe a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Christ at Christmas and the return of Christ at the Second Coming.
Saint Paul tells us, in our readings for today, that we “knowing the season that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep.” as a Christian we should all be morning persons. We should be up and alert knowing that the Lord is returning at any moment. We should be preparing for His coming.
Saint Paul forces us to face this issue head-on. Paul challenges his readers to “understand what the season is, to understand what time it is.” (Romans 13:11). Do you know what time it is? It’s time to wake up! Why? “Because salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (v. 11). That’s a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus is coming, and each day brings us closer to that great world-shattering event.
In light of that, Paul tells us to wake up, put off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. The long night is fading away, the sun is peeking over the eastern horizon, Jesus is coming soon!
Christian, do you know what time it is? It’s time to wake up and get dressed!
In light of the return of Christ and the lateness of the hour, how should we then live? Our text suggests three answers to that question.
I. There Is Something We Must Know
“And that knowing the season; that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed, and the day is at hand.” (vv. 11-12a).
What “time” is Paul talking about in verse 11 and what “hour” does he mean? He means that this present age is sinful and dark and ultimately passing away (Galatians 1:4). It won’t last forever (1 John 2:17). Colossians 1:12-13 uses the image of darkness and light in many places to explain what happens when someone becomes a Christian. They are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Do you know what being saved is like? It’s like living in the darkness for twenty or thirty or forty years and suddenly the lights come on.
What time is it right now? Check your watch and see. Now read verse 11 again and answer the question.
What time is it? It’s time to wake up. You sleep at night. You don’t sleep during the day. All of us understand what that means. It’s hard to sleep during the day. It doesn’t feel right. It’s not natural. Day is for waking and working; night is for sleeping and dreaming.
Why does Paul say that the long night is over and the day has come? Because the coming of the Lord is at hand. How near is it? Very near indeed. One person, when speaking on the Second Coming, often told the story of a grandfather clock whose chimes rang every hour, once for one o’clock, twice for two o’clock, and so on. One night the clock malfunctioned, causing the chimes to ring thirteen times. A little boy heard it and raced through the house yelling “Get up, everyone get up! It’s later than it’s ever been.” How true that is. It’s later than it’s ever been, and this year we’re closer to the coming of Christ than ever before.
Jesus gave a series of signs that occur before He returns. And we are seeing these signs increasing even today.
1. Wars, Violence and Lawlessness
Watch for wars—big wars, little wars, ethnic wars, wars of all sorts and escalating violence and increasing lawlessness—which will increasingly affect all of the world
2. Drought and Famine
Drought and famine—lack of rain and lack of food—will stalk the earth on a massive scale never seen before. Yes, these things will become much, much worse.
3. Earthquakes and Other Natural Catastrophes
God prophesies that earthquakes and other natural catastrophes will increase as we approach the end of this age.
4. Disease Epidemics
A plague of disease epidemics are worrying public health officials all around the world. CornaVirus, is only one the most discussed of these “new” diseases—Aids, the ebola virus, “mad cow disease” and many others are worrying public health experts worldwide. And many old scourges of humanity (malaria and tuberculosis to name just two) are reemerging as super, drug-resistant diseases that ignore penicillin and other drugs that were formerly used to combat them! Of course, degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease and diabetes continue to affect greater numbers of people, as our food and water supplies become increasingly tainted unhealthy chemicals, ingredients, and pollutants of our technological age.
5. The Rise of an Aggressive, Fundamentalist Islamic Power
In the time of the end, the Bible predicts that there will arise, in North Africa or the Middle East, a charismatic personality who will be able to unify, harness and lead a powerful block of nations in which Egypt will have a key role. (Daniel 11:40, 42-43)
6. An Ascendant European Union Seeks Global Primacy
Watch Europe! Revelation 13 describes the revival of a great military power. The symbolic language that the Apostle John used—about a fantastic beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns—depicts a recurring, evil political system which has greatly oppressed and heavily influenced the peoples in Western civilization, and through them, the entire world.
7. A Powerful Religious Figure Leads a Religious Revival
One of the definite “signs of the end-times,” which will herald the close of this present evil age, is the arrival on the scene of a great false religious leader, called in the Bible the “false prophet” (Revelation 19:19–21). This religious leader will possess great charisma, and will exercise a very powerful influence over a political power—the soon-coming “Beast” (Revelation 13, 17, 19). He will be the long-prophesied, influential head of a great, militant church in Europe. Together, this combination of personal charisma and awesome power to influence others, will have an enormous effect on the future of the nations of the Western world.
8. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God Preached to All Nations
Jesus mentions another sign that must happen before His Second Coming. “And this gospel of the kingdom”—the Good News of the coming Kingdom or world-ruling government of God, based on God’s laws—“will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations.” This Gospel is good news, but it contains a warning. Every nation on earth, not just a few, will hear about this as a “witness,” not to convert them, but as a testimony of God’s future intentions.
9. Faith Again Becomes a Matter of Life or Death
Watch for persecution of Christians and the Church of God that keeps the Commandments of God (Revelation 12:17; 14:12). Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to… kill you” (Matthew 24:9). Here He is speaking to His people, His genuine disciples. The Apostle John gave the Church a test that can be used to determine who is a bona fide Christian and who only masquerades as one. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4).
10. A Crisis Strikes Jerusalem
Watch! The modern nation of “Israel,” populated by the descendants of the biblical tribe of Judah (plus significant remnants of Levi and Benjamin) will suffer serious military losses with part of its territory occupied by enemies just before the Second Coming of Christ.
11. The Abomination of Desolation
When the city of Jerusalem is attacked and conquered, the foreign occupying power will begin what the Bible calls the “abomination of desolation.” What is that? Jesus Christ describes this abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15–20. Start with verse 15: “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’ [a loathsome contamination], spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place… then let those who are in Judea [today known as the modern state of Israel] flee to the mountains.” The people in Judea are instructed, when they see this terrible abomination of desolation, to flee to the mountains.
12. The Collapse of the English-Speaking Nations—The Great Tribulation
Before the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom, watch for the decline and eventual conquest of the English-speaking nations by their enemies! The biblical terminology for this event is “The Great Tribulation.”
13. Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord
Next—after the Great Tribulation—there are to be dramatic astronomical signs in the heavens visible to everyone on earth. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).
14. The Seven Last Plagues
What will happen after the first six seals of Revelation 6 are opened? “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17).
God’s direct punishment on a rebellious world. This consists of the seven trumpet plagues described in chapters 8 and 9 of Revelation.
We need to rub those puffy eye we have first thing in the morning. Wash our face and get rid of the “eye gunk. Focus our eyes and see the signs of Jesus return.
II. Something We Must Put Off
“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy:” (vv. 12b-13).
The Second thing we must know is that there are things we must put off:
Those who understand what time it is will put off the deeds of darkness. He compares that with the “armor of light"—a reference to the new life that Christ gives us. It’s like taking off your pajamas in the morning and putting on fresh clothes before you go to work.
Coming to Christ is like waking up after a long night’s sleep. Just as you don’t wear your pajamas to work, in the same way you don’t “wear” the dirty clothes of the old life. All that passed away the moment you became a believer.
Six Deeds of Darkness
Our text specifies six particular “deeds of darkness” that the believer should put off.
The first is called “rioting”. The word rioting is an old word that originally was used for public parties given in honor of someone who had won a great victory. Later the word referred to all-night parties that included drunkenness, sorcery, drug use, and every form of sexual immorality–including adultery, fornication, homosexuality, pedophilia and pornography. These things are forever “out of bounds” for the Christian.
The second deed of darkness is “drunkenness,” a sin that even the heathen abhorred because it showed a lack of self-control. How many people have fallen prey to the lie that they need alcohol to relax, or forget their problems, or loosen up? Alcohol can be a tricky liar. Sometimes people drink because they feel they have to fit in or prove they belong to the group. While we can’t make hard and fast rules about alcohol, we can say with absolute confidence that using alcohol as a narcotic or an artificial stimulant or in order to loosen your inhibitions is strictly forbidden by God.
Then Paul mentions “sexual immorality.” Actually, the Greek word means “beds,” which is why the Douay Rheims used the term “chambering.” It refers to the immoral activity that takes place in the bedroom. This rules out all forms of sexual immorality, no matter how tame they may seem to be. Many things happen in the bedroom under cover of darkness that ought not to happen at all.
The fourth deed of darkness is called “impuities.” Scholars call this one of the ugliest words in the Greek language. It refers to brazen, shameless sin. The word is aselgeia. The person who commits this sin has a seared conscience. He not only sins but he does it publicly and then brags about it. This term especially applies to those people who parade their immorality down main street, who in the name of “freedom” and “tolerance” brag about their perversion.
Then Paul mentions “contention” or “quarreling.” This speaks of unhealthy competition, a desire to be number one at all costs.
The final deed of darkness is “jealousy,” which is another word for envy—anger at the success of others or anger at your failures when compared with others. These two sins of the hearts–hidden though they may be–have no place in the Christian life. They belong to the darkness you left behind the moment you came to Christ.
The night is fading away, and with it the need to wear the rags of the old life. Christian, it’s time to change your clothes. Throw away those deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light!
III. Something We Must Put On
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences, that is to gratify its desires” (v. 14).
The third thing that we must know is that as a Christian there are things that we should put on. What do well-dressed Christians wear? They wear the Lord Jesus Christ. What should you wear to work tomorrow morning? After you put on your outward clothes, make sure you put on Jesus! What should you wear to class this week? The answer is Jesus! How about what you wear to the store or to the prom or on vacation or while you are just hanging around the house? Put on Jesus! He’s always appropriate for every occasion.
- Put on his holiness.
Put on his beauty.
Put on his humility.
Put on his purity.
Put on his compassion.
Put on his wisdom.
Put on his forgiveness.
Put on his righteousness.
Put on his zeal.
Put on his patience.
Put on his love.
Clothe yourself with Jesus early in the morning and you will be well-dressed all day long.
But there is one thing you need to know. Christ must be in you before he can be on you. Do you know Jesus? Does he live in your heart? Have you trusted him as your Lord and Savior? Have you followed him in baptism for the remission of your sins, or are you still trusting in the filthy rags of your own good works to take you to heaven? Without Jesus and the graces received from your baptism, you can never get rid of the deeds of darkness that cling to you. Until then, you will live in your sin because you have no other choice. But when Christ comes in, everything changes.