This message was preached by Navaz D via zoom at Word Of Grace Church on Feb 28th,2021. for the audio please click here. For the worship please click here
THE WELL TRIMMED WICK – SERMON
Over the last
year God has been speaking similar things to us in different ways. The year
2020 was a year of a huge pause wherein we got to reexamine our lives and reset
our priorities. God spoke to us about abiding in His presence. He said He will
shake everything that can be shaken. At the start of this year, God spoke to us
about being in a season of a cross over. Cross over seasons are seasons of
preparation. My text today is about a preparation season.
Some of us have taken advantage of last year to realign our hearts. If you have not yet spent time in reflection I hope today’s message would encourage you to do that. It is not too late yet.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
This section is what we call eschatological teaching by Jesus. He is talking to the disciples in private as they sit with Him on the Mount of Olives. The teaching of the wise and foolish maids builds on the previous teaching of the wise and foolish servants. After this parable, Jesus gives them the parable about the talents which demonstrates how we are to be prepared and faithful. All three parables illustrate the need to live in a manner that expects the return of the Lord, even when the return is seemingly delayed. “Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
Wedding festivities typically lasted seven days and the processions of the bride and groom marked the beginning of the joyous event.
Delay is not uncommon at a wedding. It was customary for the wedding procession to be led by young maidens with oil lamps in their hands.
We have all been to weddings where there is some delay. We are familiar with the Indian Baraat. The procession is led by dancers and musicians who announce the groom’s arrival much before you can see him.
Let’s take a look at this parable closely and see how does this applies to our lives. Ask yourself ‘where am I in this story?’.
The challenge to us is this: Will we finish strong, will we be ready and prepared or just get in by the skin of our teeth?
Like John 15, I believe this is a now word. God is putting His finger on our vertical and horizontal relationships. Both John 15 and Matt 25 have those elements: our relationship with God, our intimacy with Him and our relationship with our fellow Christians.
Jesus is talking about the end of all things in Matt 25.
We are in a preparation season. There are 3 parables in this passage. All have a warning that if we behave like the foolish persons, we will face the same fate.
Let’s look at the parable of the Virgins.
Put yourself in the story and allow the holy spirit to examine your heart.
Who are the virgins? All are believers. The question is are we the wise or foolish ones?
We have all made a covenant with Jesus and He with us. We have been betrothed to Him and now we are in a season of preparation.
A wedding has 3 stages: the betrothal, the preparation and the wedding celebration.
Betrothal or engagement happens at our baptism if you like. Salvation is not just a free ticket to heaven.
We have made a promise to be faithful to Jesus. Our life on earth is a preparation. When Jesus returns it will be the end of all the waiting and the wedding will take place.
They all had lamps – i.e., God’s Word. Ps119:5 His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.
Lamps are also our life and service to God. It is our life and service. We are those earthen vessels in noble service. 2 Tim 2:20-21
Light We are called the light of the world. Our function has spread the Word which dispels darkness.
They all had oil – that is the Holy Spirit. Empty lamps are useless.
Lamps are the source of power to keep the light going/our witness for Christ to shine.
For this, we need the Holy Spirit. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.
They all started off well. They were all filled with the Spirit, passionate about being the light etc.
All ten were all waiting for the Bridegroom. We are all waiting for Jesus’ return.
In this parable, we are warned not to be like the foolish virgins. Don’t assume you are not.
How are you preparing yourself? Is your oil flask full? Do you have a flask? What does that look like in today’s terms?
WHAT DOES PREPARATION LOOK LIKE?
· It involves focus and devotion. We need to find out what makes the bridegroom happen and adjusts our priorities and our life accordingly. Eg) Before getting married in courtship you take the trouble to find out what each other like.
· It will involve your time – learning to cultivate a relationship with Jesus. Intimacy is cultivated over time and not overnight.
· It will cost you – there will be things you have to realign, things you will have to give up.
· Are you actively cultivating a relationship with Jesus where you are longing for His return?
The bridegroom takes his time coming. When he comes it will be a great day and a terrifying one.
At the midnight hour – midnight is significant in Biblical symbolism. It is the point of breakthrough. The Israelites were delivered at midnight. It’s the darkest hour.
The Philippian jailer was saved at midnight. Paul and Silas were set free at midnight.
So, midnight is when problems are at the greatest but it is also the point of breakthrough.
Midnight hour - the virgins were asleep. It could refer to the regular cycle of life or that they were unaware of what was happening. Asleep the state of a lot of churches and Christians.
The there is a cry Like the Baraat announces its arrival with music and dancing – it is a prophetic cry that rings out announcing the Lord’s return announcing His return and that we should be ready. I believe that cry is going out in this season.
All the virgins wake up and trim their lamps. I feel the Holy spirit arrest my attention here. This is what we need to look at in this season of preparation.
The oil lamps have wicks that need trimming or they will give off a lot of soot /smoke that will dull the light.
The church is beginning to wake up from her slumber and realizes that the wicks are smoky and the light is dim.
Jesus talks about a time when people get offended and all kinds of wars, hardships are upon them.
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. Matt 24:10.
The Greek word used is “skandalon” which is a trap used to trap animals.
Oil is the activity of the Holy Spirit that flows well through a surrendered heart
The wick is symbolic of your heart. Out of the heart flows the issues of life. When the heart is impure you give off smoke viz selfish ambition, pride, offence etc.
Trimming the wick speaks of sanctification and repentance. Cutting away things that are clogging our hearts. We need to be constantly saturated with the Holy Spirit. We all need to guard our hearts for it is the wellspring of life.
What is some of the soot we are carrying in our hearts today? Unforgiveness, offence, bitterness, pride, envy, jealousy, disappointments, trauma, grief, betrayals, hate, jealousy etc.
Has the light of the Church gotten dim today? What can we do about it? Each of us needs to trim our wicks and sort those issues out.
Some hard work needs to be put into repentance and a change of heart. God is committed to transforming us and making us more like His Son Jesus. But we need to cooperate with Him.
Today there is a lot of smoke in the church and amongst Christians with the marriage, family life, relationships etc.
The difference between the wise and foolish virgins is the value they placed on the oil. The wise ones paid the price of intimacy on daily basis. The oil and wick work in unison.
This is time to reset our hearts. COVID-19 has forced us out of our big gatherings into our homes. This is a time to reset your walk with God, develop your intimacy with God. Don’t squander away this time because it is not coming back. Then it will be too late. This is the warning and we would be wise to heed this.
The foolish virgins are not evil people. They just did not value intimacy with Jesus. No one can give that to you. You have to pray the price. You have to buy it. It means you have to be willing to give up something in exchange for it. You have had to have invested time with God and forged a history with Him. It is not transferable. No one can lay hand on you and give it to you. No one can pray you into intimacy
What am I doing to get ready for the greatest marriage of all time?
What does intimacy look like? It is a close bond between 2 people that develops over time. It is progressive as time is spent in each other’s presence. It is dynamic in that you can start off well but if you do not maintain it.
V13 – Watch. Stay alert, vibrant. The opposite is sleepy, halfhearted, unaware, no prayer life.
What are you watching for?
What is happening in your heart, the influences that are affecting you.
Work – keep making sure your oil flask is full.
Pray- always goes hand in hand with watching.
Watch for His return. Do not lose sight of eternity.
In the third parable Jesus explains what this is. It is about being faithful. I’ll touch on it briefly.
Notice the reaction of the man with one talent.
He called the manager hard!!! “wicked men to lay the blame of their miscarriages upon others, oftentimes upon God himself.” (Poole)
The wicked servant was blinded by his pride. He could not see his faults. He was used to playing the blame game. He felt he was dealt an unfair hand so he did not work or even try. Jesus judged him as lazy and wicked. This is strong! Do we see laziness as sin?
What is at stake here is whether or not you get to enter the celebration. This is not about salvation. The door is shut. It will be heartbreaking to be left out. All three parables point to a grave loss suffered by the foolish and wicked. And we are warned that it will be like this if we have the same attitude.
“Never knew you”- no intimacy developed.
The key thing is to be ready. Allow God to trim your wick- cleanse your heart and invest in an intimacy so your light will shine. We need to prepare for his coming.
This requires a response. Maybe some of you are cultivating intimacy with God. Make sure you keep trimming your wick so it is not giving out the smoke of pride, offence etc.
Some of us have forgotten that the bridegroom will return. Repent and return to your First Love. Start cultivating that intimacy with Jesus. Wherever you are in this story there is something for you to stop doing, start doing and continue doing. Let us ask the Holy spirit to lead us into all truth. Amen.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.
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