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Devotional for November 12, 2017 based upon Matthew 25: 1-13

At one point all ten had brightly burning lamps. All ten had oil. But five ran out of oil. So five were not ready when the bridegroom came.

All ten had lights. Which probably were not some kind of small clay vessel with a little wick sticking out. Small clay vessels do not use much oil, but they also would not have been able to put out much light for a wedding party. They probably were torches – long poles with rags soaked in olive oil tied at the top. That kind of a torch produces a lot of light, but it also consumes a lot of oil, so the rags would have to be re-soaked in oil every certain number of minutes.

The oil that enables us to live our Christian lives is abundant. We can all be filled with the Holy Spirit every day. There is no energy shortage in heaven. And the oil is free. It has already all been paid for. But still, if we want our lives to keep on shining, we must receive a daily in-filling of God’s Holy Spirit. And so, in verse 4, “The wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” The wise had reserve oil. The wise enjoyed a deep, personal experience of the grace of Jesus. The wise had a deeper prayer life – a deeper Bible study life. The wise had a depth to their faith – a depth in their relationship with Jesus – that the five foolish bridesmaids did not have.

Verse 5 tells us, “As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.” All ten had thought that the bridegroom would have been there a lot sooner. But he wasn’t there. So they became drowsy and slept. Preparing for a wedding can wear you out. There’s a lot that goes into getting ready for a wedding. Not just the bride – and the bride’s mother – but also the bridesmaids spend hours and hours getting ready for the wedding. No wonder brides and bridesmaids get all stressed out and tired out. Even the five wise bridesmaids were so tired that they fell asleep because of the delay.

Spiritually are you asleep? Are you asleep even though you know that the King of kings is coming? True, there has been a delay. Jesus the Bridegroom has not come yet. And yet the longer the delay, the closer we are to the time of His coming.

Verse 6 tells us, “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out and meet him!’” When did the bridegroom come? At midnight. Jesus will return at the darkest time of the night. Jesus will come to you in your darkest hour. Sometimes I wonder how much darker it could get than it is right now. The bridegroom will come at midnight. In our hour of deepest need – at a time of greatest spiritual darkness – Jesus Christ will come.

Verse 7 – “Then all the bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.” All ten bridesmaids needed to refill their lamps with oil. But only the wise had brought along spare reserves of oil. What is that extra oil? It is an extra measure of God’s presence and grace in your life. It is the depth and strength of faith that you need to live in those toughest of times.

Verse 8 – “The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’” But in verse 9 the wise replied, “No! There will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealer and buy some for yourselves.” You cannot share the oil. Think about it this way. A deep Christian experience – a deep relationship with Jesus – a deep in-filling of the Holy Spirit – you cannot give yours to someone else. We must all go to the source.

Christian parents and grandparents may wish that they could just give their faith to their children and grandchildren. And many Christian people wish that they could transfer their Christian faith to their non-believing husband or wife. But each person must go to the source for himself or herself. The Christian faith can neither be transferred nor sold. Each must get the saving oil straight from the source.

No one can be a Christian for you. Your parent or grandparent can’t. Your spouse can’t. Your best friend can’t. And even your pastor can’t. We all have to get our own oil.

But where do you find oil at midnight? Verse 10 says, “And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.” Even if the five foolish bridesmaids had been able to find oil at midnight, they were not able to do so in time, so they were left out – standing out in the empty street – in the dark night.

In the same way, if you wait until you really need it to get that saving and strengthening relationship with Jesus – if you wait until midnight, you may have waited too long. The Bible says, Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to restock on oil. Today is the day to make your life right with Jesus. If you wait until midnight, you may have waited too long.

What about you? Is your lamp getting dimmer? Is your light beginning to flicker? Is your walk with Jesus lacking or even non-existent? Are you spiritually asleep? Don’t wait too long.

In verse 13 Jesus concludes this parable by saying, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” I want to be there and ready. And I want you to be there and ready too. I want all of us to be seated at that table that will spread for miles in God’s great heavenly banquet room. Jesus, our Bridegroom and Host, will be there to welcome us. So what should we do? Before your lamp begins to go out – on a regular basis – stop and get a fresh supply. Daily repent of your sins and receive God’s grace. Daily renew your relationship with Jesus. And always remember – we all have to get our own oil.

Dennis D. Nelson

President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE