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BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) - I am to cultivate an alert spirit rather than a sleepy sluggish spirit (I Cor 16:13, Col 4:2, I Thess 5:6, I Peter 5:8, Rev 3:2,3; 16:15 to start).
Matthew 25:1-30 challenges believers to remain ALERT, prepared, watchful and ready for Jesus to return - even in times of rest!
"Be on the alert" is the translation of the Greek word Gregarius (Strongs 1127). It means to refrain from sleep, to be watchful, to be mindful of threats, and involves the duty of vigilance combined with prayer in regard to the arrival to Jesus, a crisis, or as preparation for impending temptation.
As Dr. Zodhiates states in the Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, a "christian is alert or vigilant in order to defend himself against a spiritual foe. He is properly prepared for any surprise or sudden change in his circumstances, and above all, in order that his fellowship with God in prayer may be undistracted and efficacious."
Even in times of God-ordained rest we are to remain alert.
Background - because I'm fascinated by weddings just now.....and background is fun....let's walk through the first 30 verses - quickly.
- It was an honor to be selected as a bridesmaid
- Torches for a wedding procession were NOT the small oil lamps we picture
- Torches were sticks wrapped in oil soaked rags
- Rags would burn 15 min or longer and then need to be rekindled
- With proper refill containers the torches could burn several hours
- Wedding feasts were held at night after a day of dancing
- Bridesmaids were with the bride during the day
- It was o.k. for Bridesmaids to be resting with the Bride
- Bridesmaids would leave the bride, go meet the groom and escort him to the bride
- If the groom was later than anticipated the lamps would need an extra reserve of oil
- Grooms were often late and were repeatedly announced until they arrived
- Bridesmaids were expected to have sufficient oil to keep their torch lit in the procession to the groom's home and for dancing
- Sharing the oil would leave to little oil for any of the lamps - it would ruin the wedding ceremony
- It is difficult to find oil dealers at night
- Bridesmaids were supposed to meet the groom, go fetch the bride and lead the procession back to the Groom's Father's home where the wedding feast would be conducted
25:11 - 13
- These foolish bridesmaids missed the entire procession, the singing and the dancing
- They missed the critical moment when the bride was brought under the wedding canopy
- They did not do what they were expected to do and they were not admitted to the wedding feast when they finally arrived.
- Wedding feasts lasted 7 days following the ceremony
- Each of us is responsible to be PERSONALLY prepared for Jesus' return
- Can't rely on the preparation of others - I must be prepared - spiritual formation/discipline/discipleship matters
- It is my responsibly to be alert, watchful, mindful and ready to follow Jesus when He returns
25:14 - 30 - Parable of the Talents (currency - Master's Possessions)
- Two servants were faithful and alert to properly steward the master's possessions
- One servant had a misconception of His master which led him to laziness and bad stewardship (24-25)
- God wants me to be alert and fruitful - as we are faithful He will entrust us with more responsibility (29)
God has given each of us spiritual gifts and possessions which we are to use to invest in His kingdom....to be fruitful for Jesus. He calls us to seasons of rest - but He also calls us to seasons of service. I have been in a season of rest and sense it may be time to move from rest to more intentional service. I have enjoyed a season of rest-producing-strength-deeper intimacy. I have been listening for God to say, "Move." I begin to wonder if lingering another year in this spot will be transitioning to sluggishness. I wonder how to carry the lessons of rest, solitude, margin, intimacy into another season of service.
It is enough, for today, to be alert, mindful, watchful, listening - He will instruct.
Living all of life before the face of God...