OUR LAMPS ARE GOING OUT

Matt. 25:8 – And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

When, exactly, did your lamp start to go out? Was it when your expectations of what your life would look like didn’t quite pan out? Maybe it was when your marriage lost its sparkle and you started feeling kind of discouraged or even trapped? Or maybe it was when your sickness lingered and you felt like your prayers weren’t answered. It could have been more of a slow fade; you know, neglecting your spiritual activities and feeling like you may be missing some of the ‘fun’ the worldly people are getting in on. Whatever started it, if you are honest with yourself, your spiritual flame is getting dimmer and is threatening to go out. Here is how Maclaren describes this verse.

“Our lamps are going out,’—a slow process that! The flame does not all die into darkness in a minute. There are stages in its death. The white portion of the flame becomes smaller and the blue part extends; then the flame flickers, and finally shudders itself, as it were, off the wick; then nothing remains but a charred red line along the top; then that line breaks up into little points, and one after another these twinkle out, and then all is black, and the lamp is gone out. And so, slowly, like the ebbing away of the tide, like the reluctant, long-protracted dying of summer days, like the dropping of the blood from some fatal wound, by degrees the process of extinction creeps, creeps, creeps on, and the lamp that was going is finally gone out.”

This is a great description of the deterioration of our spiritual lives. It rarely happens all at once, it is almost always a slow, gradual deterioration. If you think back at the early days of your spiritual journey everything was so exciting. You were excited about your Bible, you loved Sundays, and home group, and would never miss special services and guest speakers. But gradually your spiritual activities lost their joy and then missing them became a more common occurrence. What was the source of that joy and excitement in the beginning and and how did you lose it? For that answer we have to go back to Jesus’s parable, especially the part about the oil. The oil is the key. It is a picture of the Holy Spirit in our lives and is the very source of our spiritual life. How do I replenish the oil in my life? The answer is simple, look to Jesus, the oil is flowing from Him.

OUR LAMPS ARE GONE OUT

Matt.25:8 – And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

This may be one of the most important yet most overlooked and misunderstood of all of the Lord’s parables. If you just approach it simply and in context it is easy to understand and quite terrifying. Matthew 24 was Jesus’s extensive teaching on the last days, especially the great tribulation. After some incredibly precise an extensive prophesies He turns to the church. The parable of the ten virgins is very specifically talking about what we would call the church. He is specifically speaking about the church on earth at His return for His bride. What can learn from this parable? First, that much of the church at the end of the age will not be ready for His return. Second, Intimacy, the very heart of marriage, is the key to being ready for His return. Third, this intimacy is characterized by the presence of the Holy Spirit, oil in our lamps, at His return. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on the ten virgins.

“Ah, me! Now they began to value what they had aforetime despised. They were foolish enough to think that oil was unnecessary; but now they saw that it was the one essential thing, so they cried to the wise virgins, “Give us of your oil.” And hear the dreadful reason: —I do not know any more terrible words than those, “Our lamps are gone out.” It is worse to have a lamp that has gone out than never to have had a lamp at all. “’Our lamps are gone out.’ We once rejoiced in them. We promised ourselves a bright future. We said, ‘All is well for the marriage supper.’ But ‘our lamps are gone out,’ and we have no oil with which to replenish them.” O sirs, may none of us ever have to lift up that mournful cry! On a dying bed, in the extremity of pain, in the depth of human weakness, it is an awful thing to find one’s profession burning low, one’s hope of heaven going out, like the snuff of a candle.”

It is quite frightening for me to think today about churches, our church, filled with people who have no oil in their lamps. Could it be that intimacy with the Lord, walking in the Spirit, is the prerequisite for being included in the rapture? I think there is a good likelihood that this parable is included here for that very purpose. So here is the question begging to be asked, “Do you have oil in your lamp today?”.

YOU MUST HAVE YOUR OWN OIL

Matt.25:8 – And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.

I heard someone say once “God has no grandkids”. Actually that is quite a profound statement. No one can have a relationship with the Lord for you. If you were raised by God fearing Christian parents you still have to find the Lord on your own. If your spouse is a strong believer that really will have no benefit for you on that great day. Not even your pastor will be able to put in a good word for you when the Lord returns. The point of this parable is that each one of us have to make spiritual preparations for the Lord’s return. According to Jesus, there will be many people who think they are good spiritually that will be in for quite a shock. Each one of us have to work out our own salvation. Jesus said we have to have oil in our lamps, they must be trimmed and burning. Here is how Matthew Henry says it.

“Those that would be saved, must have grace of their own. Though we have benefit by the communion of saints, and the faith and prayers of others may now redound to our advantage, yet our own sanctification is indispensably necessary to our own salvation. The just shall live by his faith. Every man shall give account of himself, and therefore let every man prove his own work; for he cannot get another to muster for him in that day. Those that have most grace, have none to spare; all we have, is little enough for ourselves to appear before God in. The best have need to borrow from Christ, but they have none to lend to any of their neighbors. The church of Rome, which dreams of works of supererogation (overpayment) and the imputation of the righteousness of saints, forgets that it was the wisdom of the wise virgins to understand that they had but oil enough for themselves, and none for others.”

I think one of the traps we easily fall into is trying to measure our spiritual life by the life of others. That is not a good idea. When the Lord appears it won’t matter what others have or haven’t done, all that will matter is your spiritual condition. So get those lamps trimmed and burning, Jesus is coming soon.

FOOLISH VIRGINS

Matt.25:8 – And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

The parable of the ten virgins seems to be Christ’s last appeal before He died to reach out to the lukewarm believer, those that are involved with the church but their hearts are not burning with love for the Lord. If you read this parable it seems to be aimed actually at the church on earth at the time of the return of Christ. What could be more disturbing than this assessment by the Lord of His church at the end of he age? He is saying that a large portion of the people who consider themselves part of His church will not be ready when He returns. Apparently, the foolish virgins thought they were good until the Lord suddenly appeared. They were acting as if they were prepared for the Lord’s return and the end of the age, when the Lord appeared they suddenly realized they were not. What brought them to the awareness that they were not ready? A cry went out just before He appeared. I want to be that cry in your life, to awaken the sleepers from their sleep. Here is a quote from Jonathan Edwards on the hope of the five foolish virgins.

“Another thing signified by the blaze of their lamps seems to be the light of hope. Their lamps signify in general the appearance of grace or godliness, including both the appearance of it to the view or judgment of others, and also to their own view, and the judgment they entertain of themselves. Their lamps shone, not only in the eyes of others, but also in their own eyes. This is confirmed because on hearing the midnight cry, they find their lamps are gone out; which seems most naturally to represent, that however hypocrites may maintain their hopes while they live, and while their judge is at a distance, yet when they come to be alarmed by the sound of the last trumpet, their hopes will immediately expire and vanish away, and very often fail them in the sensible approaches of death. Where is the hope of the hypocrite, when God takes away his soul? But till the midnight cry the foolish virgins seem to entertain the same hopes with the wise.”

The world around us is in obvious travail, anticipating the coming of the Lord. Hopefully your ears are open and your heart is trembling in joyful anticipation looking for that great day. If not, maybe its time to wake up and get some oil in your lamps.

ENTER THE JOY

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Matt. 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

Ever since Christ came into my life I have thought about the day when I will hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master”. That will be the beginning of uninterrupted joy that will last for eternity. Or will it be the beginning? Actually I have been shocked repeatedly at the availability of heavenly joy in this present age. Not the kind of joy that comes from checks in the mail, unexpected gifts, or even falling in love with the love of your life. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those things as much as the next person but there is a joy much greater, infinitely greater, than anything this life can afford. This joy that is available for us in Christ today is only a taste, a foretaste of the unspeakable joys of heaven. One of the early Puritan pastors, John Trappe, relished this joy. Here are some of his thoughts on heaven’s joy.

“Here is as much said as can be, but words are too weak to utter it. For quality there is in heaven joy and pleasures; for quantity, a fulness, a torrent whereat they drink without let or loathing; for constancy, it is at God’s right hand, who is stronger than all, neither can any take us out of his hand; it is a constant happiness without intermission: and for perpetuity it is for evermore. Heaven’s joys are without measure, mixture, or end.”
Trappe said that words are too weak to utter the greatness of this joy we find in Christ. Peter called it glorified, unspeakable joy. This joy is the definition of ‘too good to be true’; but it is true. This is the joy we were born to enjoy; only this joy can finally fulfill us and answer the eternal questions that swirl inside of all of us. This is the joy that empowers the Christian to live godly in this filthy world. Rather than settling for the foolish pleasures of this age, we drink of the cup of the age to come that delivers us from the false joys of this evil world. This is the joy that constrains us to share Christ to whomever will listen to us. We have tasted the pleasures of God and want everyone we know to enjoy it with us. Yes there is a greater joy just ahead for all of us but the joy we have today in Christ is bigger than any of us had ever dreamed. Go ahead, enter into the joy of the Lord.

GOD BLESS AMERICA

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Matt. 25:31-33 ¶ “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

We witnessed history in America last night, Donald Trump won an unexpected victory becoming the 45th president of the United States. Despite all odds and predictions and the obvious, public flaws of this unorthodox President-elect, President-elect Trump won a stunning victory. Now don’t jump to conclusions, today’s bog is not about politics, its about the plan of God for our nation.

Our country was birthed almost 250 years ago against all odds. It had started as a dream when protestant Christians left their homes in Europe and made their way to the shores of North America. From their arrival in the 1600’s they became thirteen unrelated colonies over the next 150 years. In the 1740’s, a mighty move of the Spirit of God caused hundreds of thousands of the colonists to have a born again experience. During that shocking season known as the Great Awakening a national conscience was born. We literally became one nation under God as the result of this outpouring. It was as if a nation was born in a day.

Now don’t get me wrong, America has never been perfect. Like all nations, it consists of flawed, fallen human beings. The difference in America is that redemption, a second chance, has always been part of our national heritage.

What was God’s ultimate plan for our country? It has to do with the nations of the world. One of the great results of the Great Awakening was the world missions movement of the 1800’s. The fruit of the thousands of missionaries that have gone to the nations of the world is being harvested today as Christianity is flourishing in all the nations of the world.

That brings us to today’s scripture and God’s judgement on the nations of the world. Our country has lost its sense of spiritual destiny and identity in my generation, we have become secularized and forgotten that it is in God that we trust.

I believe last night’s election gives us a reprieve, another chance to turn from our sins as a nation and return to our purpose as the United States of America. Like I said, Donald Trump is a flawed man. God has a history of using flawed men and women. That’s what the Bible is all about. Let’s look to the Lord as a nation, judgement day is upon us. Let’s find our purpose as individuals, as churches, and a nation. Maybe we will really see another Great Awakening.

GETTING READY FOR THE DAYS AHEAD

Matt. 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Are you ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? As Jesus said, “No man knows the day or the hour”. Since His coming will be sudden and unexpected we have to stay ready. In our fast paced world there are many distractions and obstacles to our faith that can dull us spiritually and cause us to be unprepared for His coming. Without spiritual sharpness it is easy for us to give in to the attitudes, beliefs, and spirit of the age. We have to stay vigilant so that the great day does not catch us unprepared. I was recently reading a book on Bible prophecy by Tim LaHaye that gave some powerful suggestions to keep us ready for that next great prophetic event, here is a brief summary of those ideas.

A. Know your Bible! The Bible is the truth of God, so the better you know the Scriptures, the better prepared you will be to withstand Satan’s deceptive ways. The daily reading of the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, is a must for every Christian who would know truth….

B. Test the spirits! Another important question to ask is, What do you believe about Jesus? Most false teachers have a faulty view of Jesus. Never trust any teacher who does not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, His sinless life, sacrificial death, bodily resurrection, and His promise to come again physically to this earth. Always ask, Does the message or teaching glorify Jesus?

C. Seek God’s guidance in life and teaching! The Lord wants to guide and direct His children. If you are willing to be led by God, He will guide you to truth.

D. Avoid immorality! Nothing clouds the mind like lust and sin. They impair the reasoning of the mind on matters eternal.

E. Share your faith aggressively with others! This world has never been more religiously confused. As you witness to others about your faith, you strengthen your own convictions and help many of those to whom you reach out.

F. Walk in the spirit! All Christians in every age should walk in the Spirit, for Paul says that is “the will of the Lord”. As the Spirit fills and uses your life, He will make you sensitive to both truth and error.”
So go ahead and check yourself.The only way you really know that you are ready is if you have a joyful expectancy for His coming. So look up, the signs of His coming are everywhere, our redemption is at hand !!!

TEN VIRGINS

Matt. 25:6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

We used to sing a song back at Bible School called “Give Me Oil In My Lamp’. That really was a theme during the Jesus movement of the 1970’s. We preached, thought, and talked about the soon return of Christ often. It seems to me that falling asleep spiritually, the very point of the parable, is indicated by a lack of focus on the soon return of Christ. Being excited about His return seems to be connected to spiritual awakening, it just goes with the territory. What causes the church to awaken from her spiritual slumber? Could that be what the term ‘awakening’ is referring to? Could the present day church be sleeping? I think the answer is yes. Overall, the modern church, in the western world, is experiencing something like the turkey induced coma we often see on Thanksgiving Day after our dinner. We are in need of an awakening to prepare us for the return of the Lord. We don’t want to be asleep when He returns. Here are some comments from R.T. Kendall on the parable of the ten virgins.

“I believe the church is asleep at the present time. We don’t know we were asleep until we wake up. We do things in our dreams we would not do when wide awake. Likewise the church is involved in things it would have nothing to do with if awake. Also, the foolish hate the sound of an alarm, but the wise will welcome the wake-up call. This cry in the middle of the night I believe to be a move of the Holy Spirit—call it Isaac—prior to the Second Coming. The main thing is this: I believe that a great movement of the Holy Spirit is coming. I believe it is coming very, very soon. I hope to be alive when it comes. If I die first, I promise you: it will come.”

The exciting thing is this, we are primed and ready for a move of God. How do I know? The cry comes in the middle of the night. It is darker than it has ever been in our country, awakening can’t be far away.

What should we be concerned about personally? I guess that old song was prophetic. ‘Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning burning. Keep me burning til the break of day’.

WAX FOR MY BOARD

WAX FOR MY BOARD

Matt. 25:3-4 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

We sang some really silly songs at our Bible school. Sometimes our services resembled children’s church more than big church. Some of those songs were “Zachaeus was a Wee Little Man”, “Father Abraham”, and “Read your Bible and Pray Every Day”. Maybe the strangest of all was called “Give Me Oil for My Lamp”. Some of the words that come to mind are:

Give me oil for my lamp, keep it burning
Give me oil for my lamp I pray
Give me oil for my lamp, keep it burning
Keep it burning till the light of day
Sing Hosannah, sing Hosannah
Sing Hosannah to the King of Kings
Sing Hosannah, sing Hosannah
Sing Hosannah to the King
Make me fishers of men keep me searching
Make me fishers of men I pray
Make me fishers of men keep me searching
Keep me searching till the light of day
Give me wax on my board, keep me surfing for the Lord…
Give me coffee in my cup, lift Him up, up, up…
Give me water in my shower God is power, power, power…
Give me gas in my Ford, keep me truckin’ for the Lord…
Give me chicken on my plate, God is great, great, great…
Give me umption in my gumption, help me function for the Lord…
Give me beans in my burrito, God is neat-o, neat-o, neat-o…”

On a more serious note, Spurgeon also spoke of our need for the anointing in every area of our lives.

“My soul, how much thou needest this, for thy lamp will not long continue to burn without it. Thy snuff will smoke and become an offence if light be gone, and gone it will be if oil be absent. Thou hast no oil well springing up in thy human nature, and therefore thou must go to them that sell and buy for thyself, or like the foolish virgins, thou wilt have to cry, My lamp is gone out. Even the consecrated lamps could not give light without oil; though they shone in the tabernacle they needed to be fed, though no rough winds blew upon them they required to be trimmed, and thy need is equally as great. Under the most happy circumstances thou canst not give light for another hour unless fresh oil of grace be given thee.”

We need the anointing in every area of our lives. We need the oil for prayer, we need oil for revelation, we need oil for ministry, we need His unction just to sustain us every day. By His anointing we are saved, by His anointing we are kept for the coming day of The Lord. No one knows the day of His coming, our lamps must be trimmed and burning. Maybe children’s church is not such a bad idea. Give me wax for my board, keep me surfing for The Lord.

HE ATE MY LUNCH

HE ATE MY LUNCH

Matt. 25:35-36 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.

I was between jobs at Bible School, you know the chicken ranch job and the tree planting job, and I went to “Manpower” to look for work for that one day. There was no work and I was headed home just before lunch time. On my ride back to the house from town, I picked up a homeless guy who was hitch hiking. I witnessed to him for the half hour ride and was getting ready to drop him off at the next turn. That’s when I heard the still small voice inside, “Give Him your lunch”. You see I had my bag lunch under the seat. That particular lunch was especially valuable to me, there was no more food at the house. I was going to get a pay check and get groceries the next day but I knew the cupboard was bare at the house. As I tried to forget and ignore what I thought I heard it came again as I stopped “Give him your lunch.” As the man climbed out of the car I reached under the seat and gave him my lunch, in my mind, my last lunch. As I drove off I had the mixed feelings of contentment at obeying the Lord and resentment feeling the hunger pains of a hungry young man. As I drove home I tried to reflect on what I had been taught at school, “When you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me.” Albert Barnes spoke about this truth in his commentary.

“I was an hungered – The union between Christ and his people is the most tender and endearing of all connections. It is represented by the closest unions of which we have knowledge. This is a union – not physical, but moral; a union of feelings, interests, plans, destiny; or, in other words, he and his people have similar feelings, love the same objects, share the same trials, and inherit the same blessedness. Hence, he considers favors shown to his people as shown to himself, and will reward them accordingly. They show attachment to him, and love to his cause. By showing kindness to the poor, the needy, and the sick, they show that they possess his spirit, for he did it when on earth; they evince attachment to him, for he was poor and needy; and they show that they have the proper spirit to outfit them for heaven.”

When I got home, only five minutes later, I soon realized the lesson the Lord was trying to teach me. You see on my porch as I drove up to the house was an unexpected box. I quickly opened the box, realizing it was from my mom in New Orleans. To my surprise it was loaded with food. It had everything from canned hams to canned vegetables to cookies, it was an absolute gold mine of delicious goodies. I learned a great lesson that day from the man who ate my lunch, “It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.”