Prepare to Meet Your God - Matt. 25:1-13        Pastor Don Baron
Prepare to Meet Your God - Matt. 25:1-13

In the late 1940s, Dr. J. U. Findlay neared the gates of a village in Israel.
There were 10 young women
 - brightly dressed
 - playing musical instruments
 - dancing down the street
Dr. Findlay's guide explained, "These women are to keep the bride company
                                                   until the groom arrives."
Dr. Fiindlay asked:   "Is there any chance of seeing the wedding?"
The guide said, "It's not likely.   You see, the wedding might be tonight,
                                         - or it might be tomorrow night.
 Traditional Jewish weddings were always held at night.
 When the groom neared the house, the bridesmaids (always unmarried)
                               would go out with torches to meet the groom…
                                      …and to accompany him to the bride's door.
    When the bride came out, the women would lead the way with dancing
                 down the street, to the groom's house,
                 where the door is closed and the wedding would begin.

Now we're ready to better understand Jesus' story for today:    Matt. 25:1-13

The point of Jesus' story is this:
 Outwardly, all 10 of the women looked alike.
 But there was one crucial difference:   their oil reserve.
Look at us this morning:   we all came to church
                       we all have sung and prayed
                       we all look OK.
But if we could look inwardly, as God does…
 there might be great differences here - and only time will tell.
 I'm speaking of your oil reserve
         your inner life
         your unseen daily walk with God - or lack of it.
The foolish virgins weren't ungodly or evil peopole
They represent people who live fairly good lives…
 …but there is not inner life of time with God…
 …no reserve for the crises of life.
wise virgins represent those who know that life will deal them hard blows…
 …who realize that mere hand-to-mouth casual feeding on God's food
   will not give them the inner stamina for tough times…
 …nor for the challenging opportunities to accomplish something
                                                 great with their lives...
 …nor for the Day when Christ returns for His final reunion with His
                                                 bride the Church.
The only way to be ready on THAT day is to be ready EVERY day.
Who knows when the next crucial turning point in your life will come?
       Geoff Wood could not have known that last night he would meet
                                                 his Lord face to face.
      Before we left for Hawaii, Geoff wanted to talk with me about his
          He made it clear that he put His trust in Christ alone.
                 He had a reserve of oil that would see him through.
You will read in "The Olive Tree" of young Andy Mackenzie.
 Inoperable cancer required the replacement of the bone & socket
                                                 of his upper right arm.
     Things were looking up until they discovered that the cancer had
                         spread to his lung and is probably terminal.
 The articles by Andy and by his parents are evidence that they
                               have a huge reserve of oil in their lamps -
         - a peace with God that will see them right through to the
             final day on earth and the final Day of Jesus' coming.
NOW is the time to become strong, not later when the door is shut.
The question for us to ask is not, "How little of Christ can I get by with?"
                      but, "How much of Him can I fill my life with today?"
The work that should have been the work of a lifetime cannot be crowded
                                            into the final moments of life.

V. 9 sounds selfish of the 5 wise virgins, doesn't it.
But some things cannot be shared.
Can the spiritually negligent person borrow a friend's faith in time of crisis?
Is character transferable?
Can moral strength be loaned out?

We would not do this story justice if we did not spend some time on the
 wonderfully positive aspects of Jesus' story.
Throughout the OT, God is referred to as the Groom and His people the bride.
In the NT, Christ claims to be God Himself, because He takes over the Groom
 title and applies it to Himself - just like He takes over other titles that
         belong to God alone, like King, Shepherd, and the "I AM"
Traditionally, the engagement ceremony made a couple husband & wife.
 though they didn't live together until the public celebration, the
                                                         marriage feast.
Christ and His Church (that's us) are already husband & wife,
 but the great, final wedding feast is still ahead,
 when He comes to take His bride home - what a day that will be!

Paul writes about that day in I Thess. 4:   (read)
Encourage indeed!
* the world will not end with a whimper - despite the secular doomsday
It will end with a party!
* I may die before He comes, and I know there will be many undone things.
 There will be no final closure at the time of my death.
 But death's interruption will not be long for those whose lives have
                                                             been redeemed at the cross.
 For them, the end of the world as we know it will be, not tragedy, but
      fulfillment - a joyous life lived as it was originally meant to be.
         sin, evil, sickness, death - forever gone.
         peace, adventure, fellowship with God, joy with others - all
                                                         in perfect balance.
         What a wedding banquet THAT will be!

But you know, the greater the potential for joy - the greater the potential for
                    tragedy if you miss it - as in the case of the 10 virgins.
God has already included you in the wedding party.
 You don't earn inclusion by what you do.
 If someone brings you a Christmas gift, all wrapped up with your name
                                                    on it, you don't try to pay for it.
                 That would be an insult to the giver.
                 No, you receive it with gratitude.
God paid the price for your inclusion in His eternity, when He sacrificed His
                                                  own Son as atonement for your sin.
But, having been included as a sheer gift, what will you do with that gift?
Will it be a passive, "Ho hum…what else is new?"
That kind of attitude destroys marriages, doesn't it.
Groom:   "…if it ever changes, I'll let you knowl"
      But some people treat God that way!
Passivity ruins relationships.
    The price of a true relationship is eternal vigilance.
That's true in marriage.
 Men, you need to woo your wives for life - or lose their love.
 Women, don't ever meet your husband at the end of the day with
                                                               curlers & halitosis.
The price of a true relationship is eternal vigilance -
That's also true in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
 It means to study the Scriptures until your mind is full of it and
 you're learning to think His thoughts and act His acts.
 It means to pray until it is indispensable to a single day.
 It means to look to Jesus until His image is stamped on your
                mind & character - and we see all of life through His eyes.
THAT's to have a great oil reserve; that's to be ready.
The great danger is that the need for such things does not seen urgent
                                 under life's ordinary circumstances.
The tyranny of trivial things can control our lives.
You can let the truly important things go until it's too late - and the
                                                 door is shut.

v. 13 is the concluding point of the story:
Jesus says, "Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."
"Stay awake"  he says.   "Be alert."   "Stay on your toes."
NOT like the anxious fisherman's wife, who each day stood at the end of
 the pier, wringing her hands, fretting over her husband's return.
Rather like the OTHER fisherman's wife -
 who went on caring for their home,
 mothering the children
 life and activities permeated by the thought of her husband's return.
 now and then glancing out the window toward the sea,
    aware that ALL her activity was precious just because he would
                                                                 soon return.
 Not a torturous "Is he coming?"
    Rather a celebrative anticipation:   "He's coming!
                                            "It's all worthwhile!"

The great German Lutheran theologian, Helmut Thielecke was on board
                                                    ship, journeying to the U.S.
There was a German shepherd dog - entrusted to the ship by its owner,
                                                        who was coming by plane.
The dog was constantly shaking with misery.
People patted him and spoke to him, but it was not comforted.
He was in a strange world, and didn't understand how the voyage
                                                                 would end.
His whole familiar dog world had come to an end.
 no fields or grass
 no familiar smells to sniff
 for him the world ended at the ship's railing;
         beyond was an absolute void.
 he had no idea whether he would ever again small grass or
                                                       see his master again.
 there was no way to tell him that there was a captain who had it
                                                                all planned…
         …he knew the course
         …he knew the date of arrival.

On Theilecke's return voyage, there was a different dog.
 It wasn't half as beautiful or clever as the German shepherd.
 But it was far more confident and content…
because…this dog had a young girl, his mistress with him.
 he too missed the streets and the fire hydrants.
 he didn't know what was wrong with this strange world he was in.
 but when his little god's heart fluttered with anxiety, he had only
                                     to look up at his mistress, as if to say:
 "As long as you're here, it can't be too bad.
 You surely would not have brought me here to this strange place
                                   if it were not to come to an end some day…
          …when we return to a proper world with the right kind of smells."

There are many comings of Christ before THE coming.
He comes quietly, sometimes even in disguise.
but always seeking a deeper relationship with us.
always prodding us to be alert.
"How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.
so God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear can hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
where humble souls receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in."

But one day He will come NOISILY.
By His grace I'm going to be there for the great celebration,
 where all the insane things on this planet,
 and all the incomplete and faulty things in my life,
         will be made right,
…and we'll really begin to live.

Don't miss it…be ready.