Monday, February 28, 2011

"On Fire for God" - My Article in The Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 216
“On Fire for God”
By Rev. Greg Smith

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps (Matthew 25:7).”

            In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus gives three parables that are all about being prepared for His return.  In the parable of the sheep and goats, Jesus’ message is to be ready for the judgment by making sure you’ve been the kind of Christian who cares for others.  In the parable of the talents, Jesus’ message is that we should be ready for the judgment by investing the talents God has given us wisely.  In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Jesus says we should be ready for His return by keeping our lamps burning.
            Throughout the Bible, the lamp is a symbol of the soul.  It can only be kept burning by the oil of the Holy Spirit.  In the parable, the wise young women who had enough oil and kept their lamps burning were admitted to the wedding feast.   The foolish ones who had let their lamps go out were left outside because they were unrecognizable to the groom, having no light to shine on their faces.  In other words, if you’re not “on fire” for God, you won’t get in.
            This parable has a meaning that’s related to the final judgment.  It also relates to the everyday spiritual life.  Waking up to Jesus each day means trimming your lamp.  This is a daily renewal of our relationship with Him.  In this context, unless you daily maintain your lamp, trimming your wick through prayer and keeping yourself filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit, when Jesus comes to meet with you in prayer, you’ll be left outside in the cold and darkness.
            I’ve had this experience many times, when I went to my prayer time with a guttering lamp, and Jesus did not grant me admittance to the feast.  Because I had neglected my spiritual growth, had fallen into sin, or had just grown apathetic to God, my flame had gone out.  Prayer was a chore in those times, and God seemed far away.
Your wick must be daily trimmed, and the lamp must be regularly filled with oil, if you want to enjoy the feast.  You trim your wick by prayer, Bible study, and meditating on God’s word.  You fill your lamp with oil by opening yourself to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to light a fire inside you. 
            In his book Seeking Peace: Notes and Conversation Along the Way, Johann Christoph Arnold writes, “Time we waste, temptations we yield to, laziness or lethargy in our work—in general, any lack of discipline in our thoughts or in our interaction with others—frequently have their roots in our neglect of prayer.”  Prayerlessness creates an oil leak in the lamp of your soul.  Be sure to keep your lamp filled, your wick trimmed, and your flame burning brightly.  Awake to Jesus every day, and be sure He finds you ready.


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