Sunday, August 25, 2013

"On Fire": Focus on Being Prepared Rather Than the Delay

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."---Matthew 25:1-13(NKJV)


As I was praying for the "On Fire" women on yesterday, the title of today's message is what the Spirit (John 4:24) shared with me; more specifically, some women are so focused on *when* "he" is coming that they are not putting nearly enough of their attention on *making sure they are ready* for when their beloved arrives.

And it's costing many of them. Of you. Of us.

One of the things that I enjoy a lot about Christ's parable-telling (Matthew 13:13) is that he incorporated a lot of (eh hem) *his Jewish culture* into it. It's actually according to Jewish tradition that after a man proposes to his beloved and she accepts, he leaves for a year to get things prepared. OK personally, I dig that too because men are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25-33), right? Well, remember one of the ways that Christ loves us:

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."---John 14:1-4(NKJV)

OK, did you peep it? Christ went back to heaven to prepare a place for us. According to Jewish culture/tradition, once a woman betroths herself to a man, he too goes away to make a home for her.

And let me stop here for just a moment: No, that does not mean that everyone is going to live in a mansion on earth and honestly, if that is a top priority to you, it would be smart to spend some time researching what Christ had to say about making living like the lifestyles of the rich and famous (Luke 6:26-Message) so important (Mark 10:25, Matthew 6:19-21). However, what it *does* mean is that a man who has a heart like Christ is going to be a man who prepares, *ahead of time*, for his bride to live with him as his wife.

Preparing a place is a man's responsibility---*not a woman's*.

That said, here's the thing that the bride-to-be does need to do. Did you see in the parable how the five wise virgins had oil in their lamps but the foolish ones did not? OK again, according to Jewish tradition, once a woman said "yes" and a man went off to prepare, because she didn't know exactly when he would return, she had to 1) get ready and 2) remain in a state of readiness. *Constantly*. As a matter of fact, I once read that it was not uncommon for a man to come to his fiancee' in the "midnight hour" when she is least expected it. Why? Well, I'll say this: should it matter when he comes if she has already promised to be with him and love him forever (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)? If she valued the words that came out of her mouth, it shouldn't (Matthew 5:37).

And that too is very similar to what the Word says about how we are to be as we await the Second Coming of Christ; being that he's going to arrive like "a thief in the night" and all (I Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10). If we say that we love him (John 15:10), then we need to be ever preparing for his return. Therefore, there should be no such thing as "catching us off guard".

We love him. We'll wait. As long as it takes. He's worth it.

And so yes, back to the 10 virgins waiting the arrival of the bridegroom. The wise ones knew that it was a good idea to put oil in their lamps because they weren't sure of the hour of the bridegroom's coming. Biblically, oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit and most of y'all know what one of my favorite verses in the Word is: "You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:7-Message)

And looka there! None of the virgins knew when the bridegroom was coming but the wise ones had oil. In a spiritual sense, this means that they had the Holy Spirit and the Amplified Version of John 14:26 defines him as being the "Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby)". If you read the rest of that verse, you'll see that the Holy Spirit is to represent Christ and act on his behalf AND teach us *all* things.

The wise virgins had the Spirit.

The foolish ones did not.

Therefore, the wise virgins were ready when the bridegroom came and so they went to the wedding.

The foolish ones were ill-prepared and so they missed out. Yes, *on the wedding*.

Did you notice how the parable ended with *the warning* that we are to be watchful because we do not know when Christ will return? To watch is to be alert and attentive. To watch is to be expectant. To watch is to (catch it) be careful and cautious. To watch is "to keep awake, especially for a purpose; remain vigilant, as for protection or safekeeping" (which is a part of why the Words tell us to be vigilant so that we can be aware to the Enemy's traps-I Peter 5:8). To watch is to "to keep vigil, as for devotional purposes".

Ladies look...

If you know that God promised a husband to you (because remember also that Christ said that if you can *mature to a certain level*, you should get married-Matthew 19:11-12-Message), then you have to *trust him* (Proverbs 3:5-6). You have to be like the wise virgins and listen to the Holy Spirit at all times (I Corinthians 6:16-20) and follow his directives...*at all times*. You have to constantly be open to the preparation process (James 1:4) so that you can be ready for when your beloved arrives. Whenever that is.

See, what a lot of women do is the get desperate, needy and/or compromising because they are so focused on the part of the betrothal that, quite frankly, isn't really their business. It clearly says in the parable that for a season (Ecclesiastes 3), the bridegroom delayed. Yes, the wedding got put off until another time. The wedding was hindered. But that wasn't the virgins' problem or responsibility. All they needed to do was to make sure there were ready once he did arrive.

WHEN our husbands are coming? That's not our problem or responsibility.

All we need to be concerned with is being ready once they arrive.

So, what we need to focus on is being prepared; the timing is between the Spirit and the man.

That's actually why I like Maya's quote (in the pic up top) so much.

Ask for what you want (Matthew 7:7-8).

Be open to what is God's will (Matthew 6:10).

And if that is for you to be married, then be in a *state of preparation*, constantly, so that once "he" is ready to make you his wife, you'll be ready to actually be one (Proverbs 30:10-31).

Just in time, God's time, for your wedding...



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