Not Death, Life part 2: The World’s Grief

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals, whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours…our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feelings for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner- no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.” – C.S. Lewis

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13: 

In the last post I spoke about the reality of life and death, that life is eternal and unending, that life has a beginning but no end, that the end of physical life is just the continuation into eternal life.

Because of this truth we know that we will meet our loved ones who have accepted Christ again, that they are included in the great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews. They are safe with Christ, without pain and in everlasting peace.

Because of this hope as believers our duty and desire is to live full and extraordinary lives, trusting God and walking out the calling He has placed before us and upon us. 

A large part of our calling is to impact our world for Christ, to influence this fallen world with the Gospel of Jesus, to offer the free gift of true life that is found in Christ Jesus.

I talked about the true life that is found through Jesus. However the majority of the world does not hold to this truth.

The World’s Perspective

The World, much like the Sadducees, cannot accept the truth of the resurrection nor understand the full scope of the life they have been given. The World does not see the truth because people are blind to it.

People only see the external reality which is present in the physical realm. To unbelievers, when the body is no longer functioning, the person is dead.

This is a limited view when we have the knowledge of all reality that is through Jesus Christ. What seems to be is not always the case. A lot more is going on behind the scenes.

Just because one doesn’t see the spiritual realm doesn’t mean that it does not exist. In fact the unseen realm is more real than the seen, in the sense that it is eternal. The natural world had a beginning and it will have an end. 

Our senses are in tune with physical realities but often we miss the deep truths of the eternal reality. We look at the natural and fail to see the spiritual.

This is like seeing the one you love from a great distance away. You can recognize a silhouette and the figure of the familiar but you do not yet behold their full beauty and radiance until they stand before you.

Life can be pleasant for those who are only present to the fleshly realm but as they are confronted with physical death their limited sight and perception fail and they are unable to recognize the deeper truth of what life was designed to fulfill.

They then cannot find any peace, hope or contentment after they lose a loved one. For them it is a finite and permanent loss.  They have no revelation of continued life after death. They have no reassurance that they will ever see those whom they have lost.

This can be a spiraling hole of depression and grief that many do not escape. Over the years I have wondered how people with no hope can continue on.

How can a mother who has lost her daughter find joy in the turmoil and loss?

How can a wife who has lost her husband get up every morning in the house they bought together, surrounded by the life they have built together and keep going?

I know some do not ever fully live again. The loss is to great and they crumble under the pressure. Some grow depressed and isolate themselves; many try to cover the pain with drugs and alcohol.

Some go into a deep denial and pretend that the person they lost never existed.You see this with some parents who have lost a young child, as they will remove every piece of evidence of their child’s existence and never speak of them.  Or they do the opposite and pretend the child is still with them, keeping every detail of their child’s life the same, keeping their room like a museum and living as if their child is still in the physical world, cutting off other relationships in the process, never dealing with their grief.

Holy Spirit Calling

You will hear many things from those who are desperate to deal with the death of a loved one.

“They are an angel now, looking down on me.”
“They live on in my heart.”
“I know that their spirit is with me.”

These things are said, not only as an effort to find comfort but as a heart cry for more. As we discussed in the last post, life is not meant to end! It was created at the beginning and is to go on for eternity.

God made each person with a soul and spirit that is designed to be in everlasting relationship with Him.

When people say these things as quoted above, their souls are crying out for the truth that has been placed deep within them. What they are saying is not true, but the hearts behind those words are calling out for the truth!

All truth and hope is found through Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 40:6-8 says,
 “A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”
“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.”

This is a prophesy of eternal life, of the restoration of all life, through Jesus Christ. Though sin and death came into the world and flesh dies, “The word of our God Stands forever.” 

Jesus Christ is the Living Word, so through Him there is life forever.

As 1 Peter 1:23 states: “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.”

The old view of death is what the World still holds as true. However, their hearts cry out for the eternal life that is found in Jesus Christ. 

The Holy Spirit is already working in their hearts, calling them to Jesus, calling sorrowing people to His healing hands, calling them to restoration and to eternal life, calling them from death to life!

Jesus spoke of this calling in John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Our Job: What We Can Do

God has placed us here to minister to those around us. Though it seems like a daunting task, for what can we do or say to someone who has lost those they love so dearly?
Jesus stated in John 12:32:“And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.

The Holy Spirit is already present in grief and Jesus is drawing everyone to Himself. On our own we can do nothing to help those hurting, but through Christ all things are possible.

The truth is, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit within us, and so we bring the presence of Jesus with us as we are with those hurting.

Matthew 5:13-15:“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Jesus told us we are the salt of the earth. We bring His flavour everywhere we go. 

The most important thing we can do is be present with those hurting. To be there physically beside them in their hurt. To fill in the gap between death and life. For when we are physically present we bring the presence of the Holy Spirit, who brings life.

Jesus said we are the light of the world, This means when we are physically present in the darkness of death, we are actually bringing the light of Christ into the darkness.

If you have ever been to a funeral with those who do not hold to the truth of life offered through Jesus Christ, you know what I am talking about. The darkness and despair feels heavy and the air feels think and humid making it hard to breath. It as if the spirit of death penetrates the very air in the place.

As a believer you bring the light of Christ and the fresh breath of life of the Spirit.

John 7:37- 38: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 

We have rivers of living water flowing out of our hearts! We must let them gush forward like a spring. Water grows stale unless it continually moves. We must allow this living water to flow forth. We must be present with those hurting and the love we show will be the flow of living water.

Matthew 12:43 says “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.”

The enemy needs dry arid places to flourish. He is the one of death and he wishes to bring more death. He would take possession of those who are mourning. He would like to keep the place of mourning dark and dry so He can work more death and despair.

We possess rivers of living water and the fire of  the Holy Spirit! We can wet the ground of the funeral home with the Spirit of God, we can wet the ground of the house of mourning with Jesus Christ and bring life! If it is dry, a single spark of the Spirit will light the whole place on fire. 

Hearts set on fire and soaked in the love of the Spirit! The devil will have no place there.

Do as scripture says, “Mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep.”(Romans 12:15)

By doing this we will soak those who mourn with living water! By doing this she took ground from the enemy. The enemy cannot reside in living water soaked ground! 

We have great authority as believers! We may not feel like we can do much in these situations; we may feel small and insignificant. But this is not true! We cannot let our feelings get in the way of the truth. We have authority in these places to bring life!

Wherever we go, we bring life and we bring Christ!

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  (2 Corinthians 5:20)

We are His ambassadors!

We feel we need to say all these things to those who are hurting and if we do not, we miss the opportunity.

This is not true. The most important thing is just to be present with them! Because we are His, because we bring His Spirit, because we have His love, we will make a difference. 

Those who are lost and broken will recognize this light, they will feel encouraged and refreshed by our very presence. They will see the hope and love that is within us and desire to have it themselves. 

When they ask about this hope we must be ready to give an answer. Then, when we do open our mouths to speak they will be words of life, peace, hope and comfort, for it says in 1 Peter 3:15,“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”

We must be ready to share where our spring of living water is found, in Jesus Christ. We will speak words “in due season.” We will speak the hope that is found through Jesus Christ!

We must be able to tell those who are hurting, “Jesus didn’t take your husband away: He gives only life, He does not take it.”

“Your daughter was not left alone when she died: Jesus was with her the whole time and He loves her deeply.”

We must let them know they are not alone in their sorrow and grief, that Jesus is close to the brokenhearted. After all the crowds of mourners dissipate and go home, He is still there! He loves them and wants to heal their broken hearts!

Our words have power, for we speak with the authority of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In many of the letters in the New Testament the apostles opened by saying, “Peace be with you.” This was not a mere greeting but a proclamation of peace. We speak peace, and peace will be present. We speak hope, and hope will be present. We say “strongholds be broken,” and they will be broken! We say, “Grief and darkness be gone from this place, and it will leave:  in Jesus name!

Do Not Doubt. We Are The Hands and Feet of Christ.

When Lazarus died, scripture says Jesus wept. I do not believe He wept for Lazarus for He knew he was to be brought back to life. I believe He wept for the people for they still doubted Jesus and His power. They still did not see that He had the power to bring life nor did they have faith in Him.

We cannot afford to doubt Christ! We cannot afford to question the truth of the life He offers. We cannot afford to doubt the power He has placed in us through His Holy Spirit!

The Only Death in this World is the Death We As a Church Allow!

Life is here among us: the life is Jesus Christ within us. We must share it! We cannot hoard it. We cannot be ashamed of it, or be afraid to share it.

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)

We are the hands and feet of Christ! We are His flavour, the salt of the earth, We are the lights of the world, we have rivers of living water flowing through us. We are ambassadors of Christ and His kingdom.

His Kingdom come, His will be done. His will is that no man should perish. His will is that no one be left in the darkness of death and despair.

Rise up Church! Let us go forward and meet the darkness with light and flow forth with rivers of living water!

We cannot afford to stay at home while the world mourns. We have the answer they search so desperately for!

Everyone raise your hands up and pray for the healing hands of Christ.

Lord Jesus I pray you raise your Church to the calling you have put in our lives, that you will give us your healing hands. That whomever we touch, we will impart your healing, Lord. Let others feel the presence we bring. Let your Spirit burn within us and manifest in healing and with peace, joy and love. Let your sons and daughters arise and go to the desolate places and bring life. Let those who mourn be comforted. Let your hope of eternal life spread throughout the world and may every man and women we meet come into a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Amen.

Now, go out and grab a hold of the hand of those close to you and impart peace to those around you. Say, “Peace be with you”!

Let the peace of Jesus Christ be upon you and flow through you to this hurting world.

In Jesus name!

Matthew 24:14,35

…the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations (all peoples) will hear it; and then the end will come”- Matthew 24:14
Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear”– Matthew 24:35
Two things are shown to be eternal and permanent: Gods Kingdom and Gods words. 
Both were established in creation and continue through time. 
In fact the world was created through the Word of God. Christ’s Kingdom established through the words of the Holy Spirit presented through scripture. 
Those words penetrate man-kind, bringing the Word and Kingdom to rest in mans heart through the Holy Spirit. We in turn are to increase the Kingdoms reach by presenting the timeless, eternal words of God to all mankind; bringing the Kingdom to all the world. 
The Kingdom will be fully realized and the story expressed in the Word of God will climax as all man-kind hears the good news of the Kingdom. Then Christ will return! 
Therefore, we are enlisted to be part of Gods eternal story. We are not simply bystanders but Kingdom dwellers, truth tellers and workers of God. This puts the great commission into perspective and puts fuel to our evangelical fire.
Praise Jesus!
Let the Good News go forth into all the world. Let every ear hear the glorious message of Jesus Christ. 
I pray that you will accept your position before Christ and take your place as His ambassador before men. May your words be filled with gospel truth. May your tongue confess Jesus Christ to all men. Holy Spirit use these words to bring an increase to your Kingdom!
In Jesus name!
Amen

Ephesians 1:17-25

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. ” (v.17)

The wisdom of God is contrary to the wisdom of the world. Human minds cannot comprehend the wisdom of God apart from a revelation of the Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to reveal true wisdom to us. We will then be open to the Spirit’s revelation on all matters. Our minds will then be transformed and we will gain the mind of Christ. Our fleshly mind will fade and our spiritual mind will grow. As we gain this wisdom we will walk in tune with the will of the Father and our relationships with Christ will grow deeper.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…”(v.18)

The Holy Spirit must lift our hearts. He must move in us as the strong wind moves the cedars among the groves.

Hope does not come from circumstances or any worldly pleasure or security. All feelings of exhilaration we experience through these are fleeting and false. Emotionalism, at best is deceptive and crippling to the soul. True abiding hope comes straight from the Holy Spirit and cannot be conjured by human will or effort. We cannot grind our teeth and force our way into His hope. He enlightens our hearts like nothing we can gain on our own.

Unlike humanistic psychology, New Age healing, the self-help industry and the like, the hope found through Jesus Christ brings true and lasting security to our lives, in our relationships. He transforms our decisions.


“…and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (v. 19-21)

This is the same power that resurrected Jesus Christ, the same power that raised Him to His rightful place on high and the same power of authority that is held by God the Father. This is the power demonstrated in the dominion of God. It is the very power that God spoke in the beginning of creation. It is the life-giving power of God the Father, which is the very power that formed the earth, that made a beginning, that is steady and strong now and will continue on. That power lives in us and is upon us through the Holy Spirit’s power.

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”(v. 22-23)

Jesus is the head of the Church. We who believe are the Church. Not only do we have His power living through us by the indwelling Holy Spirit, but we are also a part of Christ Jesus. We are grafted into the being of Christ. As He is the head, we are His body and the Head is to lead the body.

Do we war against His will? Then we affect the body which is His Church. We do not affect the Head for He stays resolute and firm in His identity and truth. However, when we do not move as He wills, we pull away from His life-giving flow. We war against the reality of God, we war against the very power He has given us through the Holy Spirit. We then become a sickness to the Body. We effect the healthy members of the Church and keep them from their identity which is in Christ.

When someone gets a heart transplant, often times the body rejects the new heart because it fails to work in harmony with the rest of the body. It then needs to be removed and a heart which will function with the rest of the members of the body will replace it.

When we come into the family of God, we enter into the Body of Christ. We are given tremendous power. The very power-giver we worship lives in us! We, however, need to follow the Head, Christ, or we cannot live. We will become a useless organ, dead flesh, a hindrance to the very will and purpose of Christ and His Church.

Blessings,

In the name of Jesus

The Work Of The Holy Spirit- John 16:5-11

John 16:5-11
But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.”

The Work of the Holy Spirit:

1. “To convict the world of its sin”
We walk bound and broken, entangled and in slavery. We are fooled to think this is just the way things are. We are use to the heaviness of these chains. The Holy Spirit reveals the slavery of sin through the revelation of Jesus Christ. He moves in conviction not guilt. Guilt tells you are worthless and you will never get out of slavery. Conviction says get up and shed your chains and walk with the King. 

2. To convict us “of God’s righteousness” Man is ego centred. From birth we think and act selfishly. The Holy Spirit reveals the rightness of God and the folly of our own actions and efforts to be good apart from God. Only God can be righteous and our only hope is in a righteous God. The Holy Spirit works in us to bring us into the righteousness of God. We then are made righteous through Jesus Christ and His shed blood, not by our own merits. Apart from Jesus all our efforts are “filthy rags“(Isaiah 64:6) 

3. To convict us “of the coming judgment.” The enemy is already judged. People often paint a picture of a vast spiritual battle between God and the accuser. In reality it was never a contest. With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan stands in judgement. The best he can do is accuse, manipulate and try to trick us into believing his perversions and lies. The Father loves us and so the devil desires to take as many of Gods children with him in Judgement. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth of this judgement to us. That the enemy is defeated, that he is powerless, and that all he has is lies. That in the end his mouth will be shut and all sin and pain will end. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth of our security in Jesus. That our judgment is covered in His blood and if we trust in Him “unto salvation” (Romans 10:10; 2 Timothy 3:15) that we will live forever with God in perfect truth and harmony.


photo by author

The Oil, The Flame, The Vessel: Reflections on Matthew 25

photo credit: Wikipedia

Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked.  Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”-Matthew 25:1-13
A wedding was a great occasion in Jewish culture. The whole village would turn out to accompany the couple to their new home and they went by the longest possible road in order that they might receive the good wishes of as many as possible.  
There was a Jewish saying regarding this: “Everyone, from six to sixty will follow the marriage drum.”
The point of this parable lies in a Jewish custom, which is very different from anything we know. When a couple married, they did not go away for a honeymoon. They stayed at home for a week keeping open house. They were treated and even addressed as royalty. It was the greatest week in all their lives. The festivities would last all week and only their chosen friends were admitted. The celebration continued after the marriage ceremony. It was also that joyous week that the foolish virgins missed; because they were unprepared.
This story is true to life. You still see this in Palestine today.
Dr. J. Alexander Findlay wrote on his experience when he visited Palestine:
“When we were approaching the gates of a Galilean town, I caught sight of ten maidens gaily clad and playing some kind of musical instrument, as they danced along the road in front of our car; when I asked what they were doing, the taxi driver told me that they were going to keep the bride company till her bridegroom arrived. I asked him if there was any chance of seeing the wedding, but he shook his head, saying in effect: ‘It might be tonight, or tomorrow night, or in a fortnight’s time; nobody ever knows for certain.’ Then he went on to explain that one of the great things to do, if you could, at a middle-class wedding in Palestine was to catch the bridal party napping. So the bridegroom comes unexpectedly, and sometimes in the middle of the night; it is true that he is required by public opinion to send a man along the street to shout: ‘Behold! The bridegroom is coming!’ but that may happen at any time; so the bridal party have to be ready to go out into the street at any time to meet him, whenever he chooses to come. … Other important points are that no one is allowed on the streets after dark without a lighted lamp, and also that, when the bridegroom has once arrived, and the door has been shut, late-comers to the ceremony are not admitted.” 
Spiritual significance
This parable, like all of the stories Jesus told, had a local context. The people would immediately understand this story in a practical sense. Most of them would also understand the story held a deep spiritual significance as well.
If Jesus is indeed speaking on spiritual truths and drawing His listeners in, where do we fit in?
On a quick read through this parable, it is easy to claim this is simply a story of salvation.  Here we have those who are ready to meet Jesus and those who are not. Here we have the foolish bridesmaids, representing those who are unsaved and not ready for Jesus to return, and we have the wise bridesmaids, representing those who are saved and are ready for Christ’s return. This is the most straightforward reading, and what of most of us have been taught.
However, what is the church called in Revelation? The Bride of Christ! The church, as in the global and historical group of believers, is the bride of Christ.

It is then not so simple to interpret Matthew 25 as a passage about believers and unbelievers. We see in this passage an important message for the church!
About the Church
This story begins with a picture of the church following and rejoicing in the celebration of the Bridegroom. The church is to be a people of worship! However, Jesus barely lets this sink in as He continues.
Verse 2-4: “Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.  The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps,  but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 
Right away we are presented with the problem: five were foolish and five were wise.
In celebration, as we meet and fellowship together, celebrating the risen Lord, as we function as the Church, we have people who are foolish, and we have people who are wise. 
This is not a surprise to anyone as we humans are marked with the problem of a sinful heritage. We have the potential to be both foolish and wise. 
God uses what seems to be foolishness to the world to express His true wisdom. 
1 Corinthians 1:18-21 says: 
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.“
We should not be so prideful that we are afraid to look foolish for the Gospel. However, we should be determined to have only one sort of wisdom, and that is the wisdom of God.  
As the Apostle Paul so eloquently stated: I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
The Oil and the Flame
The distinction Jesus made between the two groups of bridesmaids went beyond simply calling one group foolish and one wise. He explained that one group brought extra oil for their lamps while the others didn’t bring enough. 
Then, what do the lamps and oil represent? We see in Scripture that oil represents anointing, as symbolized in Exodus 30, where Aaron and his sons were anointed by oil for service as priests. The audience that Jesus was speaking to would have immediately known that He was referring to anointing. 
Hebrews 1:9 refers to the oil of gladness in which Jesus was anointed, which reinforces oil representing anointing. 
From this oil comes a flame to bring light.

What immediately comes to mind when we see this imagery of the flames of the lamp, are the tongues of fire which rested upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. 

The oil then represents anointing and the flame represents the power of the Holy Spirit. The lamp is the vessel in which these two are held, thus representing the believer.
We are the vessels! We have the anointing of God on our lives and the power of the Holy Spirit flows through us.
Those in the body of Christ have been anointed for service. When we receive Christ we are given a purpose in His Kingdom and in His Church. We can choose to cultivate this anointing or we can choose to misuse it. We can choose to give it to God for His service or choose to ignore His call.
Look at parable of the three servants further down in Matthew 25. They were all given their talent, the first two chose to use they’re anointing wisely and invest it in the kingdom of God, reaping a spiritual harvest, the third chose to use human wisdom and rely on his own understanding and was left with nothing. 
Verses 24- 28 read: Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
“Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I have seen men who were powerful preachers and evangelists, anointed by God to preach, who squandered their giftings. They were prideful of their gifts, thinking it was out of their own merits that they could do such great things for the Lord, refusing to truly acknowledge or give praise to Christ. They did not cultivate their relationship with Christ, or care to work on their character. Eventually, their human strength gave out and they turned to worldly desires.

You see, we cannot rely on our anointing, but rather must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives our lights will go dim!

Verse 6-8 say: “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’”
Christ will call at unexpected hour. Can we rely on our own wisdom and experience when we are called to action?

No, we will find that our lights have gone dim and we cannot rouse the Spirit that we never knew!

This shows a picture of a people who don’t even understand where they have gone wrong. They truly are foolish! Their lights are dim and they ask their fellow believers to light their fire instead of going to God.

 Verse 9 -“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
We cannot rely on someone else’s anointing to fill our tanks. We have personally been given the Holy Spirit. He does not rest upon a “special” individual in order to be equally distributed.

He is given by the Father and is a result of relationship. We need to go to the source! 

Have you ever seen people in the church do this? They jump from leader to leader, church to church, trying to piggyback off what the Holy Spirit is doing there.

You can’t get a good drink standing under someone who is gulping from a canteen.You need to take the canteen in your hands and place the bottle to your lips and drink deeply.  You can’t get a tan by standing beside a tanning bed. You must get in and let the glow touch your skin. 

There is no secondhand Holy Spirit! There is only true relationship with Christ; there is only the power of the Holy Spirit working through the true believer. 
Ephesians 4:4-6 says:
“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.
When the wise bridesmaids said We don’t have enough for all of us, go to the shop and buy some for yourselves”  What they were really saying was: “Why are you asking me for something I cannot give? The Spirit is within me, but I cannot give it to you. Go to the Source, go to God!”
We must not be foolish. We must go to the Source for our strength and power, we must cultivate the Spirit in our lives.
Equal Chances
These parables tell an internal story, On the surface the bridesmaids looked the same. They all held lamps, they all followed the same path. They even rested at the same time. You could not tell the difference between them. To the outside world they were all equal. There was no way to tell the difference between the wise and foolish.  
It is the same in the Church. We do not know what is in each other’s hearts. We all appear to be following Jesus together. We are all servants equal before our King. We are not to pass final judgement on who is a true servant of God, and who is not. That’s up to God in the end!
This story also tells us we all have equal opportunity!  Just like the bridesmaids and servants had equal opportunities and were all given the same chance to follow and obey. God’s grace is upon us our entire lives, before salvation and after. We choose to follow God. We choose to obey or turn away.  We choose to use what we are given or squander it. We choose to go to Him to be fulfilled or go to the world. No matter what our choices, God knows the entire time where we are at.
He knows the giftings and anointings He has bestowed upon us. He knows if we are allowing His Spirit’s power to manifest itself in our lives. And, as in these parables, our lives will end and everything will come to light.
So this message is for today:
Verse 29 – “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”
This message is for the future:
 Verses 31-33 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.”
This is the urgency expressed in these stories. There is a time when it is too late. We must get to know God right now, we must drink deeply of the Spirit right now. We don’t know how long we have on this earth and we definitely don’t know when Christ will return. 
The need to Serve
This may appear like a scare tactic, a “who is in and who is out” scenario, but this is not the main point of this passage.
Verses 34-40 say:
 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
If our hearts are full of the Spirit, we will naturally want to serve in this life, we will naturally want to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. However, we need to take our desire to serve and actually serve. 
This has become true in my life. It is easy to make excuses as the third servant did. He made all the excuses he could think of before his master. They did not stand, they did not “hold water.” Neither will ours. It is easy to make them. I have made them for years.  “I am too busy to help right now.” “Maybe next month when things settle down I will volunteer.” “If my job didn’t take so much out of me…” None of these excuses are valid. They will not stand before God!
Look at the scripture. We are to serve the hungry, naked, sick, lonely people who need caring for. These people are all around us in our daily lives. We don’t necessarily need to volunteer, or take that much time out of our busy schedules in order to care for these people. We can and should help when the Spirit directs, but this passage implies a moving and working Gospel. We can respond in the thick of things, meeting needs, bringing God’s Kingdom as the opportunities present ithemselves. 
Can we not stop and pray for a sick or lame person? That’s what Jesus did, and people were healed! Can we not stop and talk to a lonely person on the street? I believe we can do better in these areas. I know I want to, I know I can and I will. 
When I was growing up, the church emphasized that in our culture the primary way to bring people to Christ was through relational evangelism. The building of an ongoing relationship with a person is a great way to present the Gospel, but it is not the only way. I have seen this model presented for years and I am sure it has a lot of merit and was partly a response to a time when people would preach on the street but ignore their neighbour. But to say this is the primary way to bring people to Christ is a lie that is damaging the church. From what I have seen, many Christians today will begin relationships superficially, not being outspoken or forward with the Gospel. They then look for the right moment to share Jesus. The right moment was when they first met! We then see Christian women and men being led into a sinful lifestyle rather then leading others to Jesus. They never find the right moment to share the gospel with their unsaved friends and as the relationship progresses it becomes more and more awkward to mention their faith, as it was never mentioned in the first place. They are afraid to offend and lose a friendship and so the believer is influenced by the non-believer instead of the reverse. This is what the Bible calls “Friendship with the world” (James 4:4). It is not evangelism and surely not biblical. 
If we look in the Bible, the Gospel is presented throughout every relationship: big or small, ongoing relationship or one time encounters.
As Jesus walked through His days, He taught, healed and presented the Good News to everyone He met, The apostles followed His example and we are to do the same.
Christianity is an “on the move” faith. We are to look for every opportunity to present the Gospel. We are to ask the Holy Spirit to broaden our views, our influences and take us out of our comfort zone. 
This last year I have been seeking the Lord on what He would have for me in ministry.  He has asked me to step out. As I felt the pull of His Spirit, I have prayed for more discernment and for an open heart to His Spirit’s leading. The result is, I cannot go to the mall without being given a word about someone. I can barely leave my house without being led to speak to people about Jesus or pray for someone’s healing. This has been difficult as it’s outside my comfort zone. I often make excuses not to speak to others or pray for healing.  
Since I have begun praying this prayer, the Lord has brought many in my path. The first time I was filling up at a gas station and five feet from me, there was a lame beggar. People would walk by and give him money. I felt the call to pray for his healing, but I made excuses: that I needed to move my car so others in line could fill up, that I would move my car and park it and then go speak to him. When there was no parking spot, I just went home. I phoned my pastor that night and he encouraged me that at least I am open to the Holy Spirit’s voice and if I am open He will bring more opportunity. I prayed, “Lord give me more chances. I wish to be obedient.” God is full of grace. Since then the opportunities have become more frequent and I have heard His voice louder, always when I am out by myself, never with my family as they would provide another excuse not to step out. I have now begun to speak the name of Jesus to this hurting world. When I do get a chance to pray for people, I believe the Lord uses these times to build His kingdom. 
God Knows Us
The fantastic thing about Matthew 25 is that it shows us how much God really knows us. This passage is not to scare us.Yes it’s a warning, and it’s to bring conviction. It reassures us that God knows us, inside and out. He knows us better then we know ourselves. 
Jesus wants us to take a long look at ourselves. Are we living up to who God made us to be? Are we squandering His anointing? Are we living by His Spirit’s guidance? Are we being obedient? Are we serving Him, by simply meeting the needs of those around us?
The things which Jesus picks out–giving a hungry man a meal, or a thirsty man a drink, welcoming a stranger, cheering the sick, visiting the prisoner–are things which anyone can do. It is not a question of giving away thousands of dollars, or of writing our names in the annals of history. It is a case of giving simple help to the people we meet every day.  Jesus knows that we can all do these things, He believes in us!
Verse 34 says: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.”
The Kingdom of God was prepared for you and me. God meant for us to inherit it!
Ephesians 1:4,5 says: “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”
Even before He made the world, He knew us! He loved us, He chose us!
Before HE MADE THE WORLD! We were predestined to know Christ!  He chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. This is radical. This means that God saw you; He saw you before a single organism was created. Before He took hydrogen and oxygen to make water, before all creation. He knew you would be here and you were loved, valued and were important to Him.
Does this not give us confidence? It’s not God who doesn’t believe in us. It’s we who do not believe in ourselves!
It gave Him GREAT PLEASURE! He loves to see us succeed, He yearns for us to live up to who He made us to be. He is full of Grace! Let us not waste our lives making excuses. Let us not take advantage of His grace. For that is the warning of this passage: Don’t let what you can do today be left for tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come!
People are dying! This world slips more into darkness every day. Do we not care? Do we not feel this urgency? I know you care in your hearts and in your heads. But the world would have us wait, make excuses and turn us into goats! We need to put care into action. Because love is proven true with action.
We cannot wait! We need to get this gospel message out! We need to pray for the sick, we need to care for the down trodden, broken and depressed. We need to get out of our bubbles and open our eyes and hearts to what the Spirit is saying to us. 
1 Cor 1:8-9 says: He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.  God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
He will give you to strength to live this out. He will help you live with integrity and love. He
 will enable you to see your selves for who your really are, sons and daughters of the King. Then you will be able to accomplish this great task set before you.

God is with us! And He has invited us to partner with Him! Lets us heed the call!

Conclusion
There were five wise bridesmaids who followed in the celebration of the Bridegroom. They were prepared. They knew who they were in Christ. They were anointed for service and filled with the Spirit. They were ready for what was ahead of them.
Let us be a prepared Church, going to the Father for our identity, walking out in our anointing and fully functioning in the Spirit’s power!
Let us use what was given to us for the Kingdom of God, not laying dormant, not hiding our purpose, but rather, partnering with Christ, to reap a harvest for His Kingdom.
Let us serve those around us, not helping in order to get praise or adoration, out of disguised selfishness, but rather serving because we cannot stop ourselves because the Spirit compels us, and because we cannot bear to see one person lost in darkness.
So then we can look forward to the coming day:
But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
Let us be His Sheep!

(note* This was originally a sermon presented at Living Springs Church in Calgary AB, Canada summer 2015)
Byron Frank holds a Bachelor Of Biblical Studies: Evangelism Concentration. He is writer, poet, evangelist and public speaker. For questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements please email him at dead2myself@gmail.com