How could we ever measure love? Is it an all or nothing, a little bit when things are rough and a lot when we feel accepted and valued?
We are studying the role of the Holy Spirit in our life and learning the immeasurable love of God by realizing the riches of His glory in our inner being. How then do we respond to such an abundance of source to our disposal with immediate availability at all times?
The chapter on the gifts of the Holy Spirit starts out with a discussion on the functioning of a body and its members, comparing the body of Christ to the functioning of a physical body. We all know exactly what the stringent requirements for unity of purpose and unquestioning support in our physical bodies are, since we live and move and function effectively when our bodies are healthy and body parts support each other unconditionally.
A sick and suffering member is immediately provided for and held up by other members. A left hand stretches its ability beyond anything previously though possible, when a right-handed person injures that dominant hand. An injured leg is allowed to rest and be cripple while the other leg work much harder. The brain does not question the new demands in times of fear and injury; rather, it makes split-second decisions to ensure survival.
What does the church of Jesus look like today? We should be the victorious church of Revelation, clothed in white, rich in golden testimonies with our eye on the prize which is Jesus in His fullness and functioning as the extended hand of our loving heavenly Father.
We are not talking denominational church here. We all belong to the universal church of Jesus Christ, His body here on earth. The local church, which might be of various denominations, is not the full picture. I have no doubt that born-again, Spirit-filled individuals can rise above the constraints of denominationalism and make the rational decision to walk in unity. Unity is not a feeling or dogmatic superiority. It is a decision to reach out and love beyond the confines of human arguments and stubbornness.
The church Jesus came to save and restore, was loveless, arrogant and exclusive. They did not recognize their Messiah, although everything in their history prepared them for His arrival. They tested Him with arguments, they questioned His ministry in every possible way – stunned by His numerous healing miracles and angry and aggressive when He forgave sins. They did not even realize how far off the mark they were, not aware of their own sin, but very aware of everybody else’s. It was a church feared for condemnation and punishment, without mercy and far from the haven of security it was supposed to be, clinging to ancient rituals to please a God from whom they were far removed by the hardness of their hearts.
Church of Jesus, what do we look like? Will we crucify Jesus if He comes today and reach out to our hurting and wounded members? It is easy to rest in the armchair of history and judge from afar with a smirk of satisfaction that we are not part of all those glaring mistakes.
We need the eye salve of the Holy Spirit [Revelation 3:18] to focus on the right things and above all, truly see the things in our lives that will cause us to miss our Messiah. Turn with me to a disturbing story in the Gospel of Matthew [25: 1-13].
Jesus tells a story of the wise and the unwise. I have an insatiable desire for wisdom – as it is defined:
the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise,
and especially the second part of the definition:
the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
I would like to know exactly what to do and how to do it at exactly the right time. It sounds like so much to ask, but it is what God promises, without reproach, in James 1.
Back to the story. Ten virgins with lamps are all expecting the bridegroom. Five virgins have oil for their lamps and five have nothing extra. The cry comes at midnight to meet the bridegroom and while all trim their lamps, the foolish virgins’ lamps fade and they have to leave to buy oil. In the time they are gone, the bridegroom comes and the five wise go in to the marriage feast. The foolish virgins come back to a shut door. They knock and get the shocking answer:
‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
This is not what we would like to hear from our bridegroom.
The story speaks of virgins – to me it implies holiness and commitment. To be holy is to be set apart for a specific purpose. They had lamps. I get the impression their lamps were all burning. They had reason to relax and think they are prepared. They were with other virgins in unity of purpose. They were all expecting the bridegroom. The facts are given in such a way that we are inclined to think that the ten were all the same. Still, in the very beginning they are called wise and foolish – a fundamental differentiation.
The key is the oil. Oil has always been symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The priests had to be anointed with oil to be marked as separate and special. The oil in the lamps of the Holy of Holies in the Temple is the Holy Spirit illumination on the Word [the Table of Showbreads – see Pebbles number 6]. It is only in the divine light of God’s spirit that we read the Word of God with insight and understanding to restore life and renew energy. It is our action for divine healing.
They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
What a promise of divine intervention when we pray and believe! This passage leads up to the wonderful words of James:
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I will always remind you that your righteousness is not your own doing or efforts. We are all made righteous in the sight of God by the blood of Jesus. To accept this and be made righteous, you need to make a conscious, rational decision to give your life to God and accept Jesus as your Saviour who died for your sin. Through His blood you are forgiven and made right with your loving Father. Your prayer will be powerful and effective.
Faith is NOT a feeling. It is a decision to trust God and take His word as truth. Expect His divine intervention. Expect a miracle. Expect healing. Talk to God. Even if you have never talked to Him in ages or only in formal prayer. Talk to Him as you would to the dearest family member you can imagine. Surrender and break up before Him.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
Are the foolish virgins still worrying you? How could the bridegroom not know them? How could they be shut out? They were virgins with lamps expecting the bridegroom.
Keep in mind that God always finishes something He has started. Philippians 1:6:
…that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
This is a full guarantee of the Alpha and Omega, the Beginner and Finisher of your faith, the Author of Salvation in His almighty capacity upholding your life.
The foolish virgins had oil in their lamps, but only for immediate use, no reserves. When crisis came, they had to buy more. They are Christians, living a life in Christ but it is a hand -to -mouth -existence. We cannot only be disciples, we have to watchful and filled-up disciples – ready for attack and strong in the face of adversity, which comes, like the bridegroom, unexpected and unannounced.
This story is about being prepared and gifted [charismatic means operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit] Christians. The bridegroom that comes is the crises and problems of life. In each of them you will know your bridegroom better and meet God at a deeper level, than you ever thought possible in smooth times. When you walk into an exam with a fountain pen, you have at least one cartridge to spare. Life is full of spiritual exams. Check your cartridge-levels.
We are people living in the continual, miraculous supply of the Spirit within. Therefore we should take all possible steps to bring us to the knowledge of that fullness now.
Jesus is the source – the only Source. Talk to Him. He is the key. He baptizes in the Holy Spirit. He brought us the Promise of the Father – the Spirit in us.
Until next time – be greatly blessed.