More than all Burnt Offerings and Sacrifices

Mark 12:33-34
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

While we no longer literally offer burnt offerings and sacrifices we still do it in type. Many times I might rather love my neighbor, whoever that might be, from a distance rather than up close and personal. Just allow me donate some money for their cause, or pray for them, anything, but don’t make me become personally involved in their lives. Most of us like our own space and some of us like to be around friends and family, but even that has its limitations. How much time do I have for my neighbor, those people that I encounter in my daily life, business or work? Many times we might think to ourselves, “You know, I have enough problems of my own, I don’t need to get involved with someone else’s.” If we love ourselves enough to care about our problems, our needs, our wants, desires and goals in life, then aren’t we mandated to care about the similar needs of others as well?
Most of us would agree that in a world where every time you turn around someone wants to sell you something or ask you to contribute something we begin to become rather cold and callused. We build these walls to try and keep these people out. It is true, we can’t be everything to everybody and we do only have so many resources, still, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? All of the things that I do for me, am I willing to do them for someone else? Personally, I am not a real people person and the majority of the time I am quite content and comfortable to be by myself, doing my own thing, but can I really love my neighbor as myself from that position. Loving others is always stretching us. It causes us to move out of our comfort zone. It causes us to come out of the place of just making the token efforts of the burnt offerings and sacrifices and requires me to get involved. Jesus was involved with those around him and not just with the upper crust, the easy to get along with, the likeable or the ones that could benefit Him. He was relating to humanity at all levels, classes, sexes and races. He would relate with children and adults alike, to the whole and the broken, rich and the poor and to the sinner and the righteous. Jesus was not a respecter of persons and He was sensitive to the heart cry of people. There are a lot of people out there that just want to take advantage and use others. This tends to make us wary and cynical, but the Lord wants us to tune into the heart cry of others. Listen, by the Spirit to the real need in people. It often isn’t what we see being portrayed on the outside or in their actions. We need a spirit of sensitivity, not to be duped by everyone that comes along, but to see into the heart need of others.
As the ambassadors and representatives of Christ in this earth we are the channels of God’s blessing, healing, restoration and reconciliation. If we don’t take the time and make the time for the needs of others, then who will. If I want someone to love me, be sensitive to my needs and to just care then that is the love I need to be extending to others in whatever capacity I have to give it. It isn’t the religious gestures that I make and the token giving that the Lord is looking for. He is looking for my heart to be one with His heart in me. He desires me to love Him through the way I love others, through a heart that is really caring and concerned for the needs of others. So often we are like the Scribe, the Pharisee, “the Christian”, who walks to the other side of the road when we see our neighbor in need. We don’t want the inconvenience and the investment of our time and resources to get involved. If my neighbor is important to the Lord, then they have to become my priority also. We have to remember that our mission in the earth is not about us, it is about Him through the way that we serve others. Loving God and loving our neighbor are all part of the same pie.
“Lord, give us sensitive hearts and eyes to see into the real needs of others and to make ourselves available and willing to minister to those needs in what ever way we can. Give us your heart to really love others as we would love ourselves, not from a distance, but up close and personal. Help us to truly be the extension of your compassion, love and grace. May the world truly know us by our love and not just by our name and religion. Allow us to be willing to pay the price of the personal sacrifice required in the giving of ourselves and that which cost us personally to love You with all of our hearts; to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter who they may be.”

Blessings,
#kent

The Oil that Sustains Us

February 10, 2015

Matthew 25:1-13
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The 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. 8The 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. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
12″But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
13″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The Oil that Sustains Us

Virgins are symbolic of those who have been made pure before the Lord. They all have obviously had an experience with the Lord and are aware of His imminent coming. The lamps are the illuminated lights of God’s Spirit within us. What keeps that light burning is the oil. The oil is the Holy Spirit, but it is more than that. It is the Holy Spirit worked out through our lives in experience.
In Leviticus 24:2 the Lord tells Moses, “Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.” This oil was created through a process of beating or pressing. This is the in working of the cross of Jesus Christ in our lives. We are beaten and pressed as we press into Christ. Through our walk we experience tribulations, trials, persecutions and difficulties. It is as we walk through these hard places in the faith of Jesus Christ that the precious oil of the Holy Spirit is formed and stored up in us. The wise virgins know that if the relationship with the Bridegroom isn’t there, then the oil will not be there either. The oil has flowed out of that relationship of walking in faith and obedience.
The foolish have received the fundamentals of the faith, but they have not pressed into the relationship to really know the One to whom they professed to give their hearts. They have gone about life eating, drinking, giving and taking in marriage. It is life as usual. In other words their relationship is shallow and without substance and depth. They have chosen to remain babes when they should have grown into maturity. The things of the world and the cares of life have occupied their time and their hearts. As a result they have not bought the oil with the price of experience and relationship in walking with the Lord. Now that the time of the midnight hour has come they have been found wanting. Now it is too late to go out and buy the oil, for the Lord has opened the door to the ones who have come to truly know Him in an intimate way, not just from a distance through the teaching of others. The hour has come and they can’t ride in on the coattails of those who have stored up the oil and prepared for this hour. By the time they get what they need the door is shut and it is too late to enter into the Bridegroom. His reply is, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
Religion is the oil of the foolish virgins. It is merely man’s search for God. It is merely head knowledge and outward works to appease God. God doesn’t want our sacrifices, He wants our obedience and He wants our hearts. Relationship with Christ is what will bring forth the oil of His Spirit as we walk through the hard and difficult places and come to know Him as our Redeemer and Deliverer in every situation.
Hear the word of the Lord. This is the hour for you to be storing up the oil. The midnight hour is soon approaching and you better have the oil of His Spirit and Life worked and stored up in you if you want to enter in. If we have been half-heartedly serving the Lord, it is the time to repent and give Him our whole heart, mind and soul. We must walk in the truth of His life if we are to have the oil to see us through and keep our lamps lit in the greatest hour of darkness. We need this oil if we are going to go the distance and hold fast the course. We must make Him the priority of our lives, for His kingdom is come and it must be established in us. Let us come to Him and give our utmost for His highest.

Blessings,
#kent

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