Be Ready

Be Ready
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
December 4th, 2016
Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Be Ready

Matthew 25:1-13
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take olive oil with them. 4 But the sensible ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps. 5 Since the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’
7 “Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 But the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’
9 “The sensible ones answered, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell, and buy oil for yourselves.’
10 “When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived. Then those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut.
11 “Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘I assure you: I do not know you!’
13 “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.

1. Be Ready for His Return
My wife works for a retail clothing store.  And this past summer there was a week when she told me that she was going to have to work extra hours and that her boss was freaking out.

So, me being the good husband that I am, asked why?

And she said, that one of the big CEO’s was coming to town and that   he might come visit their store.  So, her boss was freaking out and wanted to make sure that the store was clean, and that everything was in place and that the store was ready for him to come visit.

And I certainly understood that, a head CEO that’s a big deal, right? But secretly I was thinking that if they just kept the store the way it should be in the first place nobody would have to freak out or work overtime hours.

Now of course, I know that’s not how it works in the real world.  I would be doing the same thing.  But in a perfect world, they really would keep the store ready for a CEO to visit at any moment.

And this is the mentality we need to have when it comes to Christ’s return.  We should already be ready, so that when He does come, we aren’t scrambling to tie up loose ends and clean up our lives, because if that is what we are doing, then we will miss His return.

So, we want to make sure that we are ready for his return at all times. What does this look like for us?

a. Be Sensible - Not foolish (vss. 2-5)

2 Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take olive oil with them. 4 But the sensible ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps. 5 Since the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

The point here is that we need to understand that we don’t know when He is going to return.  For that matter, even Jesus doesn’t know when He will return, only God the father knows the time.

“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son —except the Father only. Matthew 24:36

So, we have two choices, we can be sensible and be prepared, knowing that we don’t know when He will return or we can be foolish, and think we have plenty of time…or think He will be here tomorrow. This foolishness goes both ways.

We shouldn’t be foolish, but instead, we need to be sensible and know that it could be tomorrow or it could be another 2000 years.  Either way we need to be prepared…

How do we prepare?

b. Trim Your Lamp (vs. 7)

We need to make sure our wicks are trimmed.  According to the internet where all things are true:

Keeping the wick trimmed to 1/8 of an inch at all times helps control the amount of “fuel” or wax that is present. By keeping the amount of fuel limited, the flame will create ideal complete combustion where carbon particles are absorbed by the flame. This means less soot is formed while the candle is burning.

In other words, we need to keep our lives and our faith in order.  Trimming off the excess burned up material, so that we can burn bright for Jesus.  And the way that we do this is that we make sure we are always repenting and asking for forgiveness of our sins.  We need to take care of all that burned up soot in our lives.

This also means we need to make sure that our light is burning, meaning that we are always sharing the gospel and reflecting God’s glory and that we are active in our faith.

The next thing we need to do in order to be ready for His return is we need to:

c. Be Ready for a Banquet (vs. 10)

And what I mean by this is that we need to make sure that we are on the guest list.  Look at our scripture in vs. 10 “When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived. Then those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut.

This clearly says that the door will be shut, meaning there will be people who are included, and there will be people who are excluded.  So, we need to make sure that we are on the guest list and that we are ready, so that we are included in the bridegrooms (that is to say Jesus’) wedding party.  Only believers will be taken up in rapture.

Okay, so our first point of the day is we need to be ready for his return at any moment.  The second point of the day is that we also need to be ready to wait.

2. Be Ready to Wait

How do we do this?

Now here is the curious thing to me in our parable.  While the groom was away and they fell asleep, they still kept their lamps burning.  If they had not, then they wouldn’t have had to trim their wicks, and they wouldn’t have needed more oil, so, we know their lamps continued to burn.

a. Keep Your Light Burning (vs. 5)
We also need to keep our lamps burning.  That is to say we need approach our faith with a long-term mindset. Now you may be thinking how else would you approach faith…but there are people who approach faith with a short-term mindset.  For them, their faith is a bit of fad.  They are doing it, because everyone else is doing it, or they are doing it, just because there is a crisis in their life, and they are “trying out” Jesus to see if it helps.  This is a shallow faith, not a deep faith.

Many people are ”Christians” for self-interest reasons.  They become a Christian because they don’t want to go to hell not because they love and trust Jesus.

It is these people who will end up knocking on the door and when Jesus says, I do not know you.  They will respond... “but didn’t we call you lord lord…didn’t we give to the church…didn’t we try to earn our way into heaven?”

They may have done all of those things , but we all know that the way into heaven, is not by works, but by straight up faith and trust in Jesus.

So, we need to make sure that we are ready to wait by keeping our lamps burning and this means, we will need plenty of oil.  Look at vs 8 “But the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’”

And just how do we store up oil?

Oil is what keeps the flame burning.  It is the fuel for the fire.  What are some of those things that keep our fire for Jesus burning?

Scripture…scripture is fuel for our fire for Jesus.
Teaching others…will give us fuel for our fire.
Our experiences…those times that Jesus really comes through for us.

We need to store those up, so on the days, our flame gets low and we just aren’t feeling it, we can think back to those days so they will fuel our fire for Jesus.

The last thing we need to do, in order to be ready to wait is we need to:

b. Be Alert (vs. 13)

13 “Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.

We need to be vigilant. We need to watch and pray. And we do this by not getting so caught up in our stuff that we don’t see the bigger picture.  Scripture does tell us signs to watch out for that His return is near.  Many of those signs are happening now, others not as much…but we need to watch and pray.

We need to not get so caught up in ourselves that we don’t see the bigger picture.  This is a huge concept for our faith.  From the very beginning, it’s not about us, it’s about Him…It’s not what we have…it’s about others and how we can help.  So, we need to not get so bogged down about the little things in our own lives, instead we need to be watchful.

And then we need to pray…Over and over, in scripture Jesus was telling his disciples to watch and pray, because the time is near. And I think it is time, that we all step up our prayer life.  We need to pray for the world and for those who are foolish.  We need to pray for mercy…for guidance…for grace…for forgiveness.  We need to pray for one another, that our friends and family will be ready…that they will be sensible.

We need to watch and pray…“because you don’t know either the day or the hour.”

So in the end we need to be ready for His return at any moment and we need to be ready to wait for a while.

Are you Ready…for his return?   Are you ready to wait?


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