Last week, we were challenged to serve the needs of others and to always be ready to do good. It is through relationships with others that God offers up His free gift of salvation and everything else that God’s Kingdom offers. For this reason, the devil does not want us to have healthy relationships.
We were reminded that there is a spiritual battle raging and it is not against flesh and blood. This enables us to keep a healthier mindset in our relationships and not to get so easily entangled in petty matters and drama. There is far more at stake in the bigger picture of life!
Relationships do not exist between individuals, but as we’re seeing in the news more and more, also between nations. The strength of Israel’s relationships with other nations is being revealed. What is happening is understandably causing many to begin wondering if we are entering into the end times.
After all, the war in Israel is not military versus military as in previous wars. Harmless and innocent individuals, including woman, children, and infants, are being horrifically massacred and taken as hostages. Beheaded in front of their own family members. Truly evil and wicked acts are taking place.
However, they are only doing what their scriptures tell them to do. This is why democracy will never work with these groups nor will they cease to occur until the end. We can politicize these acts, but the reality is that these acts are religious and spiritual in nature. They are not simply an attack from a nation or terror network. Over 90% of the middle east are Muslim, which is why there is such hatred and animosity toward Israel, a predominately Jewish state.
The quran, the bible of Muslims, teaches to perform such acts.
So when you meet the disbelievers in battle, strike their necks (where the practice of beheading is derived) until you have thoroughly subdued them, then bind them firmly. Later free them either as an act of grace or by ransom until the war comes to an end (take them as hostages). So will it be. Had Allah willed, He Himself, could have inflicted punishment on them. But He does this only to test some of you by means of others. And those who are martyred in the cause of Allah, He will never render their deeds void.
We will cast horror into the hearts of the disbelievers for associating ˹false gods˺ with Allah – a practice He has never authorized.
I am with you. So make the believers stand firm. I will cast horror into the hearts of the disbelievers. So strike their necks and strike their fingertips.
And He brought down those from the People of the Book who supported the enemy alliance from their own strongholds, and cast horror into their hearts. You believers killed some, and took others captive. He has also caused you to take over their lands, homes, and wealth, as well as lands you have not yet set foot on. And Allah is Most Capable of everything.
Those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, it is they who will suffer a humiliating punishment. As for those who emigrate (our southern border crisis) in the cause of Allah and then are martyred or die, Allah will indeed grant them a good provision. Surely Allah is the Best Provider.
Should you be martyred or die in the cause of Allah, then His forgiveness and mercy are far better than whatever wealth those who stay behind accumulate.
And I could go on and on quoting from the quran the very acts that we see in our world today. The world calls them terrorists, but they are simply living out their Islamic faith. That is why there are also groups within the USA that are celebrating these acts and condemning Israel for defending herself.
Sure, there are many peace-loving, non-violent Muslims. However, I personally would equate them to those who call themselves Christians, but do not really live out their faith. You know, those “extremist” Christians who stand on the word, reach out to the lost, and publicly pray for those in need of healing and deliverance just like Jesus did.
We’ve already seen a preview of this happening in the USA. On the terrorist watch list, we found Catholics who spoke up about abortion and parents who spoke up about their children sharing restrooms and locker rooms with the opposite biological gender.
Jesus told us that:
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
For certain, we are seeing all of these things happening! However, Jesus went on to tell us that:
8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations (even the USA!) because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus gave a whole list of signs to be watching for to discern the coming of the end of the ages. He then ended that list with:
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
It is important to understand the season and the times in which we are living. If it weren’t, Jesus would not have given us signs to watch for and then told us to keep watch.
It is just as important, however, that we also know how we should respond in this season and in the times which we are living. We are to keep watch as to understand the times and seasons. Then, we are to live out our faith in the here and now.
I love stargazing and can easily get lost in the night sky. However, at some point, I have to shift my focus back to Earth and my life and purpose on it.
It’s very easy to get caught up in watching for the end times and considering whether or not we are in them. Jesus ended his teaching on the end time signs with a reminder of how to respond. Be ready. He goes on with a parable about being ready:
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Keep watch. Be ready.
Which of these virgins will we be like? The ones fueled up, ready and watching eagerly for Jesus on the day of His return or the foolish ones rushing around at the last minute trying to get ready?
We could dive deep and look at this parable in many ways. For simplicity’s sake this morning, we’re going to make the less common analogy, viewing us not as the virgins in the parable, but as the lamps.
We want to be ready in every season and at all times. How do we do that? Thankfully, there are some constants that apply to every time and in every season. Jesus revealed them through the lamps in this parable.
Our lives, just like the lamps, are created to be filled. That’s right, we’re full of it! What we’re full of is up to us. God’s intent is that we would be full of Him through the Holy Spirit just like the oil of a lamp.
Ephesians 5:18 (NLT)
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit
When we’re saved, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; God’s very own Presence within us.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
21 …He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
However, just like a bank account, we are capable of receiving far more than just an initial deposit! That’s also why we find the term “filled” being used in reference to the Holy Spirit consistence in both the Old and New Testaments.
We also see that although all believers were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 4 while testifying, and they were all filled again with the Spirit once again in Acts 4 while praying together after being persecuted.
Be filled with the Holy Spirit! Don’t be like the five who let their lamps run low on fuel. Stay fueled up. But, how?
Well, the five who were running low on fuel had to either run to the store to buy it or take some from the five who had it and then pour it out into their lamp.
For someone to be drunk on wine, they have to either go to the store to buy it or take some from their friend who has it, then drink it in.
The Bible reveals two ways that people are filled with the Holy Spirit. They either are in prayer seeking after God for it, going to the storehouse, or by the laying on of hands by someone who is already filled.
In Acts 2, 4, and 10, people were together seeking after God when He filled them with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8, the infilling of the Holy Spirit happened by the laying on of hands by Peter and John. In Acts 19, it was through the laying on of hands of Paul.
Whether going straight to the storehouse or borrowing from a friend, those receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit had to be willing to receive it and choose to receive it.
Next, we stay trim.
As the wick of an oil lantern burns, it gets charred and misshapen causing the flame to dim. The wick needs to regularly be trimmed to keep the flame burning as big and bright as possible. Even if the lamp is filled with fuel oil, it won’t work right and might not even be able to be lit if the wick is not trim.
In the same way, we need to not only be filled with the Sprit, but we also need to cut out of our lives all sin and immorality.
7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
20 human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
There’s only one way to deal with sin in our lives and it’s the same way to deal with burned up wick. It has to be cut off and separated altogether. We must trim that stuff out of our lives altogether and ask Jesus to forgive us for it.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
The whole end goal of staying filled with the Spirit and trimming sin and moral filth out of our lives is so that we can burn bright. We don’t want anything to hinder our witness for Christ. When people see us, we want them to clearly see the work that Jesus has done in our lives.
We want to be like a lighthouse leading people straight to Christ in the midst of this dark and stormy world.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (TPT)
We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.