Today’s Text and Thoughts of Encouragement:
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer. Take courage! Be confident! Remain certain and undaunted! For I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.”
John 16: 33
Prayer to Our Conqueror
“Thee will I love, my Crown of gladness,
Thee will I love, my God and Lord,
Amid the darkest depths of sadness;
Not for the hope of high reward
For Thine own sake, O Light Divine,
So long as life is mine.”
“What is the secret of serenity? We all want to know it. Indeed, we do know it already. There is no secret about it. The Apostle Paul speaks it out plainly enough. Everybody can see what it is. All things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8: 28). We must love God; that is the heart of it. Happiness, contentment, and right satisfaction, all doubts answered, all dark places lighted up, heaven begun here – this is the reward of loving God. In this world, tribulation; yes, but good cheer in spite of that, for the Son of God, whom we love, has overcome the world.”
Today’s Study Text:
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’”
Matthew 25: 7, 8
“The Difference Was The Oil” – Part 7
“The Holy Spirit of grace desires to disturb your sleep. Blessed are you if you awaken.”
How has the Spirit of God affected my life?
When I think of the “work” of the Holy Spirit in my life, what comes to my mind?
“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
II Timothy 1: 14
“Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins,
Christ will show you the light!"
“So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants…Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of Him.”
Ephesians 5: 14-18
The Message Bible
I don’t know how many of you have been active participants in a wedding. But to all of you who have endured the emotional highs and lows of the events described in the “Parable of the Ten Virgins,” you are well-acquainted with the trauma which can ensue from the planning that goes into having a wedding day run smoothly.
In order for us to better understand the story Jesus told, I’d like for us to take a closer look at what actually happened to the ten young women we call the virgins or bridesmaids:
1. They all received invitations to the wedding.
2. They all were asked to be active participants. Bridesmaids no less!
3. They all accepted the offer to not only come to the wedding but take part in it.
4. They all had to deal with the delay of the bridegroom.
5. They all fell asleep.
6. They all arrived with oil-filled lamps.
7. They all lighted their lamps.
8. They all were waiting for the same bridegroom who they knew.
The fact is that there were more similarities between the bridesmaids than differences. From all outward appearances they looked and acted the very same way. The reality of the situation is that there was only one difference and in actuality it made all the difference in the world. As Jesus tells the story, the five wise bridesmaids came prepared for delay by bringing a flask containing extra oil – just in case. On the other hand, the five foolish bridesmaids only thought of today and what was needed for that very day – no longer.
As I’ve studied many authors and commentators versions of this parable, the lessons drawn are wide and deep. I’d like to highlight the fact that many times in Scripture “oil” is compared to the Holy Spirit. As Pastor and author Warren Wiersbe observes, “The oil for burning reminds us of the special oil used in the tabernacle service (Exodus 27: 20 21). Oil is usually a symbol of the Spirit of God” However, Pastor Wiersbe then asks this question: “I wonder if this particular oil is not also a symbol of the Word of God?” While as Christians we should be sharers of the Word which is a light to our path, this isn’t the only way to read this particular story. As author James Boice writes: “Some have applied (the oil) to the Holy Spirit, which is a tempting thing to do since the Holy Spirit is often symbolized by oil in Scripture. But if we do that, we start thinking that one can have the Holy Spirit and then run out of Him, as it were, or that when we run out, we need to buy more. It is better to think of the oil simply as an inward preparation. Outwardly the women were alike. The crucial and determining difference was within.”
As I’ve read this parable, I’d like to offer up the possibility that the extra oil brought by the five wise bridesmaids can be for us a symbol of the Holy Spirit which will, we are promised, lead us into all truth when we choose to infuse our lives with the study of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit’s purpose being to enlighten and sensitive us to truth in God’s Word.
I have a very personal example of this thought from the life of my Godly grandmother. My precious grandmother was very ill in her late 30’s with a heart problem doctors were certain would kill her. But at the behest of a good friend, grandma began to memorize long portions of the Bible. Since she lived to be 96- years old and had the mental clarity of a 20-year-old, at the end of her life, I will not argue with grandma’s “cure,” as she called it. But there was more to grandma’s time in the Word than just reading a Bible text and committing it to memory. One day when I was spending time at my grandparents house, when bedtime came and grandma was going to read to me from the Psalms, she first instructed me to bow my head, for as she sweetly told me, “Dearie, I never open God’s Word without first asking for the Holy Spirit to enlighten the words so I will clearly understand what I am reading.”
I’ve thought for many years about my grandma’s practice of opening God’s Word in study by inviting the Holy Spirit to illuminate her eyes and let her see, “glimpses of truth Thou has for me.” So when I began writing the daily devotionals here in Transformation Garden, I began to follow grandma’s example and I pray before I begin to read the Bible and before I even pen the first word of any devotional. What’s more, my dear mother is my special “Writing Prayer Warrior” and every day she asks the Holy Spirit to guide me as I choose quotes, texts, poems and prayers. I can’t tell you what a blessing it is to know that I’m not dependent on Dorothy’s wisdom (which isn’t very large) to write each day. I know that I have assistance that is from a lamp that is filled by God’s Spirit. I must add, the exact same help is readily available to you for the asking.
As I was preparing today’s devotional, I came upon a wonderful book I purchased years ago called Classic Sermons on the Parables of Jesus. This book complied by Pastor Warren Wiersbe, contains some of the most noteworthy sermons from years past by “Christian history’s most notable preachers.” Robert Murray McCheyne was “one of the brightest lights of the Church of Scotland.” Large crowds would come to hear him as he preached at Saint Peter’s church where he served until his untimely death just two months short of his 30th birthday.
As I read the words this young man spoke in his sermon on “The Ten Virgins,” I came to have a much clearer idea why they were called foolish. As Pastor McCheyne observed:
“The Spirit dwells in all who come to Christ (John 7: 37), as a seal: ‘In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed’ (Ephesians 1: 13). The heart is the wax – the Holy Spirit the seal – the image of Christ the impression. The Holy Spirit softens the heart and presses on the seal; but not like other seals – He does not lift it away, but keeps it there…The Holy Spirit in (your) heart is a little of heaven – the peace, joy, humility, communion of heaven, all begun…Ah, my friends! Have you gotten the new heart – is heaven begun?” Have you oil in your vessels with your lamp?”
These words spoken by Pastor McCheyne, in his early twenties to his congregation in Scotland years ago are as applicable today as they were in the 1800’s. When we open God’s Word do we invite the seal of the Holy Spirit to leave the impression of Jesus upon our hearts and minds so that through dreary days of lengthy waiting or unexpected delay we are prepared? In the words of John and Stasi Eldredge, “There is a radiance hidden in your heart that the world desperately needs.”
“Open my eyes that I may see
What You show me of Your word…
By Your words I can see where I’m going;
They throw a beam of light on my dark path.”
Psalm 119: 18, 105
The Message Bible
“Being filled and led by the Spirit may take you places you never planned; but the will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”
John 14: 1-3,
“Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and the Holy Spirit has been sent to prepare us for that place.”
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
John 14: 16-18
Prayer of Request
“Come down, O Love divine,
Seek Thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardour glowing;
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn,
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes, in its heart consuming;
And let Thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.”
Bianco da Siena
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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