Parables: Can I see the menu first?

Isaiah 41:10
10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Ultimately it is the strength of our faith, our trust in a higher power that will determine our ability to endure.
We have many examples in scripture of those who have had faith to endure and turned to the Lord.
Examples in scripture:
Noah
He built a ship which took him 75-100 years to build! This was not a small ship that he had architectural plans for, or a YouTube to watch. He even had an unpopular message: He preached repentance or be drowned. It wasn’t even raining when Noah built the ark, actually… it wasn’t even overcast!! When he began his seemingly impossible task, he had no computer to aid him, no social media to help him “spread the word” or even a video to watch for instructions so he could visualize his task. He did it without the aid of even scriptures to tell him of those who had gone before him and succeeded in difficult tasks or won impossible wars with impossible odds or even a hint or what was coming. Yet with all these things to overcome he was able to do it based on what he was given as personal direction and staying in touch with his spiritual side and not getting sucked into what the masses were believing and doing. He stayed true for over 75 years to what he was given and went forward day after day building the huge ship with no rain in sight! Would we get tired of building year after year or preparing for that long? We get tired of re-doing our 72 hr. kits or rotating our food supplies year after year!
Joseph in Egypt
One minute he was in prison and the next he was responsible for saving the entire House of Israel from starvation—not just for 72 hours, but for an entire seven years! He had to convince people to donate their food to the temple silos when they were having year after year of bumper crops, not to sell it for a profit or even put it up as collateral so they could buy machinery on credit based on another year of good crop. They probably wanted to get more Hebrew slaves too! No i-pad to help track the inventory, no spreadsheets, heavy equipment, and no Costco’s were around to help him out with this task. Would you believe a famine was coming that would last 7 years under those circumstances? That “one day” it was going to end? Would you believe if someone said there was going to be no Costco, or you will not have Amazon to order from and no trucks to deliver it to you? What would your attitude be if your family had sold you to another country, only to show up in the middle of the unfolding drama of a famine and want food?
Widow of Zarephath
She is living through the third year of an ongoing famine, and has survived so far but is on her last bit of supplies. Ask yourself: “How long would I survive if there was a famine “How many meals can I feed my family if I could not go to the store?” She is on her last handful of grain and a small amount of oil. Everything is gone. She and her son have prepared to die after their last meal. Obviously they had gone on with minimal intake for weeks. As she is gathering wood to cook with, a man asks her for her last meal and tells her she will not starve and her food will last till the Lord ends the famine. At that time, she did not know he was the prophet. She trusts in his words. She obviously must trust the voice in her heart to trust him, she feeds him and still has grain and oil left, day after day, till the famine is over. What are the odds?
Pattern: They each did physical preparation first and were obedient to the physical law. Then because of their trust in the Lord from past experience and hearing his instruction and obeying, they had the inner strength and courage to accomplish their task and calling. They did not give in to pointing fingers or criticism. They did not change their mind when it got difficult-for that is the test. They had the spiritual strength to endure and gain the blessings in the end. Something I have also found is the Lord is much more patient than we are. He will wait till the last minute, and usually does, to see if our faith falters and to stretch us–even in the face of death–before the burden is lifted by Him. We want an instant fix. We are impatient. Sometimes I wonder…. how close was I to gaining a miracle or missed out on a blessing? Or how close was I when I faltered and didn’t get the blessing. What would I have gained if I had hung in there a little bit longer?
Obedience + Faith in the Lord = Blessings

Perhaps it is a wise blessing on God’s part that we not know ahead of time too many details…like how long it will take to build a ship or how many pointing fingers will be discouraging us, and what the menu will be during a famine! Neither Noah or Joseph knew fully what was really in store for them. They might have been inclined to give up or find excuses as to why they couldn’t accomplish their designated tasks. God gives us one step or two at a time, usually we don’t have the luxury of seeing the whole picture.
We must muster the faith to believe that we can succeed in such instances that will be equally as difficult or seemingly impossible as the trials were to Noah and Joseph. We have to believe that we can and will endure such trials AND even help others to endure them as a result of our preparations both physically and spiritually today.

Advertisements

Light in the Darkness, Calm in the Storm

The world seems to be swimming in chaos! Weather has become unpredictable, right and wrong have been reversed and countries are at war. We think we might be Progressing and ascending up, but maybe we are digressing and descending down! In all this chaos, what are we to do? Where do we turn?

A quote I heard somewhere that comes to my mind, and it goes something like, “Don’t ask God to stop the storm, ask for an umbrella and boots!”  Pray and turn to Christ, and ask for the right thing! Judgments are coming as we have been warned in scripture and by many others like Johnathan Cahn, but how are we to respond to all that is swirling around us?
eye of hurricane

Psalm 46:10 tells us,  “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”   He tells us to “Be still.”
Every fierce, angry terrible storm has an “eye”.  Chaos is swirling around, but there is a calm part, right in the center amidst the fierce, stormy winds and swirling clouds. Christ is our Center and it is calm there. Be the “calm” in the eye of the storm. Then He can tell us what we need to do, because we are “still” enough to hear him.

In the Bible we find the story of the 10 Virgins.
Mathew 25:1-4
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”

Five were ready and five were not. What defined the wise apart from the foolish?
In the words of a song and from Psalms, we hear that the Word and Light of God is as a lamp, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” to help guide us along the pathway when the hours of darkness come. (Psalms 119:105)

If we read the Bible and are Christian, we know that there is certainly a journey ahead of us which we will all have to pass through, a great darkness is approaching.  As in the parable, darkness came just before the wedding. Could the parable of the 10 virgins be a warning and a call to us all to be ready?  Deep within our hearts we can feel this is a call individually to seek for that extra Light, the reserve of oil that will carry us in the darkest of nights or the fiercest of storms.  In spite of our best planning with all we have learned and the preparations we have made, if we can’t pull it all together in a crisis or a storm, it is all for naught. Either we have the inner strength to get through it or we don’t.  Ultimately it is the strength of our faith, our trust in a higher power that will determine our ability to endure.
Back to the parable:
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
All the virgins, both wise and foolish were sleeping. The hours have slowly passed and it is late. All are running low on oil. They knew that at some point the oil would burn out. Some prepared for the waiting in darkness. They made preparations for the great event they knew would eventually come.

“Do we lose faith, do we lose patience, do we lose hope, do we get weary in waiting, because the day is long and the event delayed? It is difficult to be prepared for an event so long delayed. Many have found it too difficult and they slumber without due preparation. Hundreds of thousands of us today are in this position. Confidence has been dulled and patience worn thin. It is so hard to wait and be prepared always. But we cannot allow ourselves to slumber.”    (Spencer W. Kimball’s “Faith Precedes the Miracle”)
In Rev. 14:12 it says “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

We know what is coming. He has told us in scripture how to prepare. Will we obey? We have further guidance from the Lord when we demonstrate faith and ask.
In Psalms 118:8 it says “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” 
Do we wait till the last minute to call upon God in a crisis? Do we get caught up in the storm and collapse without extra reserves? Do we make it a priority to take the time to build up our reserves, both physically and spiritually for the events coming? Will we take the message of the parable seriously? Will we be the wise or the foolish virgin?

All of us have passed through dark times, those moments come like a microburst storm. Mostly unexpected. We all find ourselves in the same chaos, and we have all at times become weary. Enduring requires an inner strength, spiritual and mental preparation to accept them, embrace them and work through them with all the grace and integrity we can muster. That is part of the journey here on earth. Our preparation or the lack thereof is the issue. The wedding is approaching! Will you be invited in for the feast, or will the door be shut, leaving you on the outside?
10 virgins
The five foolish virgins asked the wise ones,
“Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

When the opportunity presents itself, it is time to show what we are made of.  The time for preparation is over. Let’s start today if we have not started, and continue day by day if we are on that path. For it is not a destination, there is always further Light we can gain, but it is the continual drop by drop of oil we squeeze from every experience if we turn to God. In doing so, we come to know Him, we recognize and obey His voice.  Physical and spiritual preparation are tied together.   Neither one can be neglected.  The distinction between the wise and foolish was the preparation for the delay that extended the need for extra oil.  All were worthy to be invited and known by the wedding party, all waited and grew weary. But only five had thought ahead, prepared for the unexpected and acted accordingly when it was delayed.  They had covered all their bases.

I believe the end of the parable is saying that the Lord knows all of us, but do we know Him? It is not a question of knowing about Him, but whether we have a personal relationship with Him. He is saying to come to Him. He desires for us to know Him, to follow Him or He cannot be with us. He is waiting for us to open the door for Him to come into our lives so we can personally then know Him.


John 10:27  “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
If Christ the Lord is our center, the oil in our lamp, then we will weather any swirling darkness that comes our way. The chaos will be dispersed by the “stillness” …in Him, amidst the storm.   The light in the darkness that will never be dimmed.