Today’s Text and Thoughts of Encouragement:
“’For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed,’ says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.”
“There hath not failed one word of all His good promise.”
I Kings 8: 56
“It is impossible for (a person) to despair who remembers that her Helper is omnipotent; and can do whatsoever He please. Let us rest there awhile – He can, if He please; and He is infinitely loving, willing enough; and He is infinitely wise, choosing better for us than we can do for ourselves. God invites and cherishes our hopes by all the variety of His providence. She that believes does not make haste, but waits patiently, till the time of refreshment come, and dares trust God for the morrow.”
Today’s Study Text:
“The wise replied, ‘There will not be enough for us and for you; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves. But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door to us!’ But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, ‘I do not know you. I am not (even) acquainted with you!’”
Matthew 25: 9-12
“A Thatched Roof” – Part 9
“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on Earth!”
What changes have taken place in my life as I have gotten to know my heavenly Father personally?
“God is continually drawing us to Himself in everything we experience.”
How much time do I spend each day getting to know my Father?
“I often wonder if my knowledge about God has not become my greatest stumbling block to my knowledge of God.”
“What were we made for?
To know God.
What aim should we have in life?
To know God.
What is the eternal life that Jesus gives?
To know God.
What is the best thing in life?
To know God.
What in humans gives God most pleasure?
Knowledge of Himself.”
The 10 bridesmaids were invited to the wedding. Obviously they knew the bride and groom. But having come to the festive event, five of the bridesmaids found themselves unprepared with not enough oil to keep their lamps lit. As the parable Jesus told continues, having tried to borrow oil from the five bridesmaids that Jesus identified as “wise,” those without enough oil took the advice of their wise companions and hurried off to purchase extra oil. I like the way Professor Mark Douglas depicts the scene as the “Bridegroom” arrived: “While the foolish virgins are out searching for a twenty-four-hour convenience store that stocks lamp oil, the bridegroom and the wise virgins begin the wedding feast and the doors are shut.”
As we read the words found in Matthew 25: 10, “and the door was shut,” it can appear at first glance that this was an arbitrary act. However, I’d like to give you an example of other activities where the same action takes place.
For many years, when Jim and I lived in Los Angeles, we used to go every few weeks during the summer months to concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. Even in this open-air venue, once the concert began, the ushers would only let in guests who had arrived late at certain specified times. It didn’t matter if you were a movie star or a truck driver, late was late! And they were extremely strict about their seating policy. It is easy for me to understand that at a wedding feast of all things, interruptions would be unwelcome. Pastor Lindsay Armstrong expounds on the significance this parable has in relationship to the ultimate arrival of Christ as our Bridegroom: “The illusion is of endless opportunity. Often we presume we have all the time in the world to tend to certain matters; rebuilding a broken relationship, offering a needed word of gratitude or forgiveness, replacing a bad habit with a good one, achieving an important goal, and deepening our relationship with God…We put off for today that which can presumably be done tomorrow…As with so many things in life, the essence is in the timing. There is a timeliness of faith and love. There are people who need us to live our faith without procrastination…the foolish assume a bright future but do little to prepare for it…The kingdom of heaven summons us to new life, improved commitment, active waiting in hope and renewed vigor in faith.”
The poem “Maud Muller” written in 1856 by famed poet John Greenleaf Whittier contains this well-known line: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” This thought certainly pertains to the 5 foolish bridesmaids who stood at the shut door, asking for entrance to only be told, “I know you not.”
This was not a cruel response. It was a statement of fact. The girls without oil were responsible for their late arrival. And they were also responsible for their limited knowledge and inability to prepare during the delay.
In his comments on the Parables of Jesus, Author William Barclay shares this inspirational story which should serve as a gentle reminder to you and me today that preparation while we wait is essential:
“It is told of an old Scotsman that, when he was dying, someone offered to read the Bible to him. To their surprise he did not seem very eager for this although they knew that all his life he had nourished his heart and his mind on God’s book. They asked him why. His answer was, ‘Ah thee kit ma hoose when the weather was warn.’ He had thatched his house in the calm weather and now he was ready.”
How’s your house? Is the roof thatched by the Word of God? Are the windows secure by the Spirit’s presence? Am I ready for any emergency? And even more importantly – will your house and mine stand if there is an unexpected delay?
“Is it the Lord that shuts me in?
Then I can bear to wait!
No place so dark, no place so poor,
So strong and fast no prisoning door,
Though walled by grievous fate,
But out of it goes fair and broad
An unseen pathway, straight to God,
By which I mount to Thee.”
“Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”
J. I. Packer
“Out of my need you come to me, O Father,
Not as a spirit, gazing from on high,
Not as a wraith, gigantic in its outlines,
Waiting against the tumult of the sky!
Father, you come to me in threads of music,
And in the blessedness of whispered mirth,
And in the fragrance of frail garden flowers,
When summer lies across the drowsy earth!
Out of my need You come to me, O Father,
When I can scarcely see the path ahead
It is Your hand that turns the sky, at evening,
Into a sea of throbbing, pulsing red
It is Your call that sounds across the marshes,
It is Your smile that touches fields of grain,
Painting them with pale gold – it is Your
nearness that makes me see new beauty, after pain!
Out of my need You come to me, O Father
Not as a presence vast and great and still,
But as the purple mist that clings, each morning
To the slim summit of a pine-crowned hill.
Not as a vague and awful power that urges,
Urges and prods and hurries me along
But as a hand that paints a lovely picture,
But as a voice that sings a tender song!”
Margaret E. Sangster
be all my love,
all my hope,
all my striving;
let my thoughts and words flow
my daily life be in You,
and every breath I take be for You.”
“As the Mississippi River flows through the middle of America and the tributaries feed into it on both sides, so when one seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all else flows into the central purpose, to know Christ and to make Him known.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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