There is a plan and a purpose for today! There is a reason for the season you a going through! There is a time coming when Jesus will return! Are you ready? Are you getting prepared? What if He shows up today, will you be ready? What if it is tonight? How about tomorrow? ARE YOU READY?
This morning’s reading comes from Matthew 25-26, Psalm 97. The topic and the idea of being ready for what is to come came when I read the title “The Story of the Virgins” and knew that it was about two groups of people, one that showed up ready and on that that just showed up. Showing up is important, but what if it takes a bit long than you were expecting? How will you deal with the difference in expectations from reality? Do you realize what is at risk? Do you realize what you could be missing?
-5“God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.
6“In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bride-groom’s here! Go out and greet him!’
7-8“The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’
9“They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’
10“They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.
11“Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’
12“He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’
13“So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.
— Matthew 25
Stay Alert! Be ready in and out of season!
God has gifted you with many talents. What are you doing about it? Are you being a good steward of everything He has given you? Are you working on them to multiply them? Are you living to glorify Him? Today’s reading share the story this way:
14-18“It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.
19-21“After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
22-23“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
24-25“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’
26-27“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
28-30“‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’ — Matthew 25
We are called to a high standard! We are to be good stewards of all that we are given so that on that day of His return, we will get to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. Isn’t that what you want to hear? Is that what you want to do? So consider the talents and the gifts God has given you and how you are using them for the glory of His kingdom. It’s not too late! As long as you are alive you have time to start. So don’t give up, get rid of the “play-it-safe”, and go out on a limb in faith believing and trusting in God so that you don’t ended up getting thrown out into the darkness.
So when He comes back and He is sorting people out, which group will you be in? Will you be in the group who believed, was prepared, and did something about it? Will you be in the group who was lackadaisical, unprepared, and lives in fear?
31-33“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
37-40“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
41-43“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
44“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
45“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
46“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.” — Matthew 25
So are you helping the hungry? Are you helping the thirsty? Are you helping the homeless? Are you helping the cold? You have a lot of time in a day and you get to choose what you will do with it. Time is like a vacuum and if you don’t fill it up properly, it will suck up all your time for other things. Which group do you want to be a part of? Which decisions are you going to make? Where will you focus your time and energy?
Check your heart! What’s your real intention? What’s the reason you are doing what you do? What’s the reason you are saying what you say? From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks! So before you speak check yourself.
1-2When Jesus finished saying these things, he told his disciples, “You know that Passover comes in two days. That’s when the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over for crucifixion.”
3-5At that very moment, the party of high priests and religious leaders was meeting in the chambers of the Chief Priest named Caiaphas, conspiring to seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. They agreed that it should not be done during Passover Week. “We don’t want a riot on our hands,” they said.
6-9When Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper, a woman came up to him as he was eating dinner and anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were furious. “That’s criminal! This could have been sold for a lot and the money handed out to the poor.”
10-13When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened. “Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. You can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.”
14-16That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They settled on thirty silver pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over. — Matthew 26
When you are called on, will you be called out?
17On the first of the Days of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare your Passover meal?”
18-19He said, “Enter the city. Go up to a certain man and say, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near. I and my disciples plan to celebrate the Passover meal at your house.’” The disciples followed Jesus’ instructions to the letter, and prepared the Passover meal.
20-21After sunset, he and the Twelve were sitting around the table. During the meal, he said, “I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators.”
22They were stunned, and then began to ask, one after another, “It isn’t me, is it, Master?”
23-24Jesus answered, “The one who hands me over is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me food at the table. In one sense the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures—no surprises here. In another sense that man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—better never to have been born than do this!”
25Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, “It isn’t me, is it, Rabbi?”
Jesus said, “Don’t play games with me, Judas.” — Matthew 26
Consider the plans! Consider the thoughtfulness! Consider the importance! Consider the impact! Don’t forget! Do it often!
26-29During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples:
This is my body.
Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them:
Drink this, all of you.
This is my blood,
God’s new covenant poured out for many people
for the forgiveness of sins.
“I’ll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I’ll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father.”
30They sang a hymn and went directly to Mount Olives.
— Matthew 26
We are drawing towards Easter in the next couple of weeks. Are you prepared? Are you making plans? Are you going to receive and celebrate? Are you going to take time and remember the sacrifice and the ultimate salvation that came through it? Will you give it the priority it deserves in your busy schedule? It’s not about if you have time, it’s a matter of will you make time or take time for such a time as this!
31-32Then Jesus told them, “Before the night’s over, you’re going to fall to pieces because of what happens to me. There is a Scripture that says,
I’ll strike the shepherd;
helter-skelter the sheep will be scattered.
But after I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee.”
33Peter broke in, “Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won’t.”
34“Don’t be so sure,” Jesus said. “This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times.”
35Peter protested, “Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you.” All the others said the same thing.
36-38Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”
39Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”
40-41When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”
42He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, “My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.”
43-44When he came back, he again found them sound asleep. They simply couldn’t keep their eyes open. This time he let them sleep on, and went back a third time to pray, going over the same ground one last time.
45-46When he came back the next time, he said, “Are you going to sleep on and make a night of it? My time is up, the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the hands of sinners. Get up! Let’s get going! My betrayer is here.” — Matthew 26
Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Our bodies may be week, but our spirit is strong. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Walk in alignment with His plans and purposes! There is a time for battle and a time for peace, Jesus came to the earth the first time as the sacrificial lamb, the teacher, the healer, the Son of God! He gave His life so that we could have the opportunity to be reconciled back to God the Father. And the beginning of this coming to fruition happened in the garden.
47-49The words were barely out of his mouth when Judas (the one from the Twelve) showed up, and with him a gang from the high priests and religious leaders brandishing swords and clubs. The betrayer had worked out a sign with them: “The one I kiss, that’s the one—seize him.” He went straight to Jesus, greeted him, “How are you, Rabbi?” and kissed him.
50-51Jesus said, “Friend, why this charade?”
Then they came on him—grabbed him and roughed him up. One of those with Jesus pulled his sword and, taking a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant, cut off his ear.
52-54Jesus said, “Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords. Don’t you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father, and twelve companies—more, if I want them—of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready? But if I did that, how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?”
55-56Then Jesus addressed the mob: “What is this—coming out after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I have been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me. You’ve done it this way to confirm and fulfill the prophetic writings.”
Then all the disciples cut and ran. — Matthew 26
Jesus didn’t come to overthrow the law and the commandments and the prophesy of God, He came to complete it! He can to fulfill the Word of God. Even to the point of being falsely accused, beaten, and crucified to death.
57-58The gang that had seized Jesus led him before Caiaphas the Chief Priest, where the religion scholars and leaders had assembled. Peter followed at a safe distance until they got to the Chief Priest’s courtyard. Then he slipped in and mingled with the servants, watching to see how things would turn out.
59-60The high priests, conspiring with the Jewish Council, tried to cook up charges against Jesus in order to sentence him to death. But even though many stepped up, making up one false accusation after another, nothing was believable.
60-61Finally two men came forward with this: “He said, ‘I can tear down this Temple of God and after three days rebuild it.’”
62The Chief Priest stood up and said, “What do you have to say to the accusation?”
63Jesus kept silent.
Then the Chief Priest said, “I command you by the authority of the living God to say if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64Jesus was curt: “You yourself said it. And that’s not all. Soon you’ll see it for yourself:
The Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One,
Arriving on the clouds of heaven.”
65-66At that, the Chief Priest lost his temper, ripping his robes, yelling, “He blasphemed! Why do we need witnesses to accuse him? You all heard him blaspheme! Are you going to stand for such blasphemy?”
They all said, “Death! That seals his death sentence.”
67-68Then they were spitting in his face and banging him around. They jeered as they slapped him: “Prophesy, Messiah: Who hit you that time?”
Denial in the Courtyard
69All this time, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard. One servant girl came up to him and said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean.”
70In front of everybody there, he denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
71As he moved over toward the gate, someone else said to the people there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.”
72Again he denied it, salting his denial with an oath: “I swear, I never laid eyes on the man.”
73Shortly after that, some bystanders approached Peter. “You’ve got to be one of them. Your accent gives you away.”
74-75Then he got really nervous and swore. “I don’t know the man!”
Just then a rooster crowed. Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried. — Matthew 26
So where do you stand today? If asked are you a Christian, how would you reply? If they gave you the option of not saying, what would you do? If they pushed and pressured you, how would you respond? What if it was with the risk that if you said yes, you could be killed? What are you more afraid of God or man? losing your life or losing your soul? spending your time apart from God or with God? Our choices have impact, eternal impact. Our choices are life or death matters. So choose wisely! Choose LIFE!