Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Give Me Oil

When we got saved there was a change or a transformation that took place in our lives.  We were no longer the same person that we had been prior to salvation.  We all recognize that we quit the drugs, the pornography, the gambling, the smoking and drinking, the fornication, or whatever bondage it was that you walked away from, and something transpired in our lives.  For many of us it was a renewal of our minds.  That word renewal means to make new.  Our minds were made new once again.  It was a restoration of our personalities.

I remember talking to my younger sister on the phone, in the few weeks after I got saved.  Immediately, after I hung up with her, she called my mother and said, “Chris is Back!”  Even though she didn't understand what had happened in my life.  She didn't understand the renewal and transformation that takes place in an encounter with Jesus Christ, she recognized that something powerful had happened to me.  She may not have understood exactly what had happened but she did understand that I was no longer the bitter, depressed and angry person I had been.  My old personality and outlook on life seemed to have returned.  I’d been transformed. I’d been renewed.  There was a new excitement and joy in my life that was missing before.

What had happened?  It wasn't that I’d embarked on a new program.  It wasn't that I’d found a religion.  It wasn't that I was taking vitamins.  I had been transformed.  The “old” Chris hadn't returned but a “new” one had emerged:  One that had been born of the ashes of my old self.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV)
61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

I think it's appropriate that Isaiah had chosen those words to describe the ministry of the anointed one of God and his purpose on the earth. This is what happened in the moment of my own salvation.  I had been given the Oil of Joy at the moment of my acceptance of God’s Christ, His Messiah into my life.  That’s what I want to post about today; the Oil of Gladness:  The oil of joy that comes into our lives in the midst of salvation, and the necessity of oil in our lives and relationship with Jesus.

Matthew 25:1-12 (NKJV)
25:1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' 12 But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'

The Oil of Anointing

In this scripture we see ten young women who are about to take part in the wedding ceremony.  Five have planned ahead and brought oil for their lamps and five have neglected that duty.  The Bible calls those who have neglected the duty “foolish”.

Throughout the Bible we see that there is an importance for oil that goes beyond just having a light.  Oil is also used in those times when God has called someone to something beyond himself or herself.

1 Samuel 16:12-13 (NKJV)
16:12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

So, when God called David to be king over God’s people He sent Samuel to anoint him and Samuel did that with oil. God has called David to his will and so He has anointed him to be king. 

This anointing speaks of consecration.  It speaks of setting David aside for God’s purposes.  It speaks of sanctifying him and making him holy.  When we respond to the call of God in out lives there is also a need to set ourselves aside for His use.  When we have set ourselves aside, we receive an anointing from God.  You can’t be anointed against your will.  There must be a willingness on your part to be used by God.  So, that anointing is a transaction that takes place with God.  It is God choosing you as a tool for His will, and it is you assenting to to be used by God.

God can’t use us if we are unwilling to be used.  He can’t use us if we resist His will for our lives.  The Bible says that many are called but few are chosen.  This is the importance of the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22. 

We know the parable:  A king has a son who is to be married, so he invites a number of people to the wedding feast, but they’re busy with their own things and choose not to come.  So the king sends his servants out to the highways and byways to compel people to come to the feast, so they did.  However, look at one of the guests who come:

Matthew 22:11-13 (NKJV)
22:11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

This man came to the feast but was not prepared.  He made no effort to be a part of the wedding, because he refused to wear a wedding garment.  He was called and did not respond.  He wasn't willing to assent to the call on his life and so he was cast out.  The parable ends with this phrase:

Matthew 22:14 (NKJV)
22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen."

We’re like the people at this wedding.  We've been compelled to come into the feast.  We've been called and there is a transaction that must take place.  We must be willing to order our lives around his will.  To put on the wedding garment that signifies our willingness to respond to His call:  Our willingness to be used by Him.  In turn we will receive anointing.  Anointing is necessary if you’re going to do a work for God.

Exodus 28:41 (NKJV)
28:41 So you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him. You shall anoint them, consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to Me as priests.

You shall anoint them, consecrate them and sanctify them that may be used to minister to me.  They must first be anointed before they can be used.  Anointing comes from that willingness to put His will and His calling before you own wants, needs, and purposes.

This is what has taken place in our text.  The five wise virgins have oil in their lamps; there is that anointing in their lives.  They have put the needs of the bridegroom first.  They've prepared for the role they will play in the wedding feast, they are able to be used and they receive the reward of that use.

The questions for you today are: Have you prepared yourself for the role God has asked you to play in the furthering of the kingdom?   Are you able to be a part of what God has called you to?  Are you able to be anointed to His purposes? 

It’s not preparation, in that you need to learn some specific information or skill.  You don’t need to understand all the finer points of preparing and preaching expository sermons, or something like that.  The preparation is that you’re willing to enter into the transaction that is God’s will for your life.  If you are, then He will bring the oil of anointing and you’ll be able to be used.

A couple of years ago, we visited our home church in Colton, and I preached a couple of sermons.  After my morning sermon one of the brothers came up to me and said, “I was really inspired by that sermon, but it didn't have anything to do with anything you said.  It’s the anointing that’s on your life.”

It’s not my skills (or lack of skills) as a preacher that God can use.  It’s the willingness to struggle through and His anointing that make me useful.

The Oil that Lights the Lamp

Oil is not given.  There is a call to be useful to God:

Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV)
5:14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

This is the primary purpose of the oil in our text.  The oil is to be used in the lamps to create light.  The bridegroom returns at midnight.  It’s dark and there’s a need for light light in order for the procession to enter in:  To light the way for those in the darkness.

We are also called to be a light for those who stumble in the darkness.  We’re called to light the way for them into the wedding feast.  The wedding feast is a metaphor for the Kingdom of God. 

There are many who are struggling in the darkness.  They have no direction; they can’t see the way for themselves.  They need light; they need direction. 

Have you ever been in the desert at night?  On those days every month where there is no moon, the desert is extremely dark.  You stumble because you can’t see the unevenness of the ground.  But if there’s a light that’s shining on a hill, you can see that light for a great distance.  There are those who are wandering around, lost in that desert called sin.  We can be a beacon of light giving direction to their wandering.    It gives them a location to aim for, but in order to be that light we must have oil.  That same oil that anoints, lights the way.

In Jesus’ day the oil they used was Olive oil.  It was used to anoint kings and it was used to light lamps.  The same oil that that fuels the lamp, which becomes the light of the world is also the oil of anointing.  It’s the oil that makes the lamp useful.

The five foolish virgins couldn't light the way because they had no oil.  So they asked the others, “Can you give us some of your oil?”  However, the Oil couldn't be given.  Think about this for a moment:

Where does the oil in your life come from?  If your husband or wife has anointing on his or her life, does that mean you will also?  If your parents have an anointing on their lives, will you be anointed, too?  The anointing can’t be borrowed; it’s something you must purchase for yourself.  You must go to those who sell the oil and buy for yourself.  In other words there’s a price that MUST be paid.  There’s a transaction that MUST take place.  Oil isn't given it’s PURCHASED. 

In order to fulfill the calling on our lives, we must buy the oil to burn for light.  The light isn't something that’s contained inside us.  It’s not something that shines out from us.  The light comes from the oil that we burn.  If we’re to be a lamp for the world, then we have to have the oil inside us.  That oil is purchased though our willingness, to sacrifice, to pay the price.  The cost of the oil is that which w sacrifice.

Romans 12:1 (NKJV)
12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

The cost is paid in the moment we lay aside our own will to take up His.  The cost was paid when Isaiah cried out, “Here I am send me.”  It was in the moment when Jesus said, “Not my will but yours.”  It’s in the moment when James and John walked away from their nets:  When Elisha offered the oxen and followed Elijah.  This is the purchasing of Oil.

These are the types of sacrifices that buy the fuel that lights the way.  If you want to be someone who can be used by God, then you’ll have to pay the price that makes the that usefulness a priority in your life.

The five foolish virgins only went halfway.  They brought the lamps but didn’t pay for the oil to fill them.  So they missed out on their usefulness and their reward, which was entering into the wedding feast with the bridegroom.

The Oil of Gladness

Way back in the introduction to this I wrote about the Oil of Joy or Gladness:  The change from sorrow and misery to joy in my life.  What was it that brought about the change?   What miracle had transpired in my life, that dispelled the darkness that I lived in and allowed the light to shine forth?

Hebrews 1:9 (NKJV)
1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions."

It’s the anointing wit the oil of gladness.  In my salvation God anointed me, but what is it that brings that anointing?  There was a marked turn in my life from lawlessness.  Let’s face facts; I was a sinner.  I loved lawlessness.  In fact, I had a pickup truck with a bumper sticker that simply said, “Outlaw.”  That’s how I thought of myself.  I was no lover of righteousness.  I was a drunk, a fornicator, and a blasphemer until I came to Jesus.  Look at Paul’s testimony:

1 Timothy 1:12-13 (NKJV)
1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

This is Paul’s testimony, that he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and insolent man, but he was anointed and placed into the ministry.  When he turned from his sin to Jesus he was anointed.  He wasn't useful to God while he was a sinner.  He was an angry man.

Acts 1:9 (NKJV)
1:9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

That was my life, as well.  My testimony reads the same way and I was also angry.  Every sentence that I spoke carried with it a curse.  My voice was often raised in anger, but when I got saved and turned from my will to His that changed.  That’s when my sister said, “Chris is back.”  When the anger turned to joy.  What was it that brought about that joy?  It was obedience to the calling of God on my life.  That’s what made it joyful…obedience.

Even Jesus experienced the same thing.  He was obedient to the purpose of God for His life.  He was sent to the cross for us.  That was His purpose in life; to be the sacrifice for atonement.

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)
12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The joy that was set before Him.  He found joy in His obedience to face the cross.  There is joy in obedience. 

There’s joy in answering the call.  There’s joy in sacrifice.  If there’s joy in those things then there’s joy in the anointing that they purchase.  Let the oil of Gladness be poured out on your life.  if you enter into the transaction with God that makes you useful and you will also know that joy.  Pay the price of sacrificing your will to His to obtain the oil with which to be a light to the world.  The oil of Gladness (or Joy) comes with them.  In fact, they’re the same thing.

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