1Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10And 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. 11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Reflection: Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
I never made it past the first year of Cub Scouts, but I do remember that the Boy Scouts motto is “Be Prepared.” This could very well be the motto for followers of Jesus Christ, too. Jesus used the parable above to encourage his disciples to be on the lookout for his final coming when the kingdom of God would arrive in the fullness of its power.
We must take caution, though, and understand what it truly means to be prepared and to be on the lookout for God’s kingdom. First of all, God’s kingdom is all around us. God is working in ways that we might notice and also in ways that might go unnoticed by us. Part of being prepared for the kingdom is knowing how to look for it within a world that often does not reflect God’s intentions. Ask yourself, “Where do I see God at work today?” and “How might God be working in ways previously unknown to me?” You can also ask yourself, “What is going on around me that does not reflect God’s intentions?” Then, when you become more aware of the world around you and the ways in which it does and does not reflect God’s intentions, you can act accordingly – seeking unison with God’s designs and abstaining from that which is in opposition to God’s ways. In this way, you are preparing for the kingdom by holding true to that which will last eternally.
Secondly, we have to remember that there is nothing we can do to figure out when Jesus will bring the fullness of the kingdom and there is nothing we can do to manipulate, speed up, or slow down that timeline. Being prepared for the kingdom does NOT mean trying to trying to decipher clues and signs. Instead, it means working kingdom attitudes and actions into your everyday existence, indeed forming the foundation of your being through these kingdom attitudes and actions. When the character of the kingdom of God is lived out through the exercise of your character, then you are prepared for the kingdom of God.
Thirdly, to prepare for God’s kingdom is simply to acknowledge that the ultimate reality in the cosmos is God’s loving reign over all creation. Thus, God and the ways of God demand our full attention. There is no such thing as halfhearted discipleship. We cannot give God our attention today and forget God tomorrow and still be prepared for the kingdom of God.
God has called you to an eternal kingdom life, to live under the reign of God’s grace and holy love. Look for the work of God all around you. Trust God and allow yourself to be formed by God’s desires. And finally, Devote your whole self to the God who created all and reigns over all. If you commit to these things, you will always “be prepared.”
Prayer Focus: The wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
An old children’s church song goes like this: “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burnin’, burnin’, burnin’, give me oil in my lamp I pray.” What is it that fuels your life? God wants to be the motivation of your entire being. This week, pray that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit and energize you in grace. Allow God’s light to burn inside of you and offer all your efforts to God in prayer. Set yourself apart for God’s service, by asking God to guide you into his will this week.
Meditation Focus: Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this…”
What do you imagine the kingdom of heaven/kingdom of God will be like? Can you picture it in your mind? Try to do so this week, and as you picture the kingdom, find your place within it. Visualize your interactions with God and the elements of the kingdom. What does it look like? What is going on around you? Who is there? What are you doing? If you need help visualizing or discerning the character of the kingdom, get out the Gospel of Matthew and read through some of Jesus’s parables, especially the ones found in chapters 13, 20, and 25. When you feel the need for inspiration or guidance, go to your visualization of the kingdom of God within your mind and meet God there. What actions in this life will be significant to the kingdom and have lasting, eternal effects?
Journaling Focus: Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
There is a lot of foolishness in our world and genuine wisdom can be hard to come by. This week in your journal write a letter to someone who will come after you and to whom you can be a voice of wisdom. Perhaps this person is a child or grandchild, or someone you are mentoring at work, or someone you are discipling. Let the purpose of this letter be to pass on the greatest wisdom you have acquired in life, along with warnings against the foolishness you have experienced in life. What important lessons have you learned in your life that must be passed down to future generations?
Light a candle in a quiet place and meditate on the flame. Consider the light a symbol of God’s presence with you in the room. What can this small light teach you about God and the work of God in this world? Then consider where you need light within your soul. Where does the fire of God need to be reignited within you? How might your life be a candle in a dark world?
Breath Prayer: Father, keep our lamps burning.