The Midnight Oil | 2016-1

 

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. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matt. 25:10-12, NKJV

The Parable of the Ten Virgins that Jesus gave as a part of His Olivet discourses could also be called “The Parable on Preparedness.” Jesus used the setting of a wedding to urge the need for Christian believers to be constantly ready for His Second Coming. It is not the first time in the Scriptures that Jesus is pictured as the Groom and the Church as His Bride.

Modern believers should seriously consider three conditions Jesus sets forth:

(1) The Unannounced Delay — While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept (Matt. 25:6). The wedding coordinator had no doubt received word from the groom and his groomsmen that they would not be at the secret rendezvous at the time that was previously set when the bride and her bridesmaids were to meet. Actually, in the first-century Jewish wedding, the bride and her maidens didn’t know the location of the rendezvous. This was left to the coordinator to call out to the sleeping ten to wake up and prepare for the meet. Their lamps must be trimmed and filled with oil. But they were not to leave until all ten maiden had an extra flask of oil. The journey to the rendezvous was a test for the ten maidens — they would need to walk over a terrain that presented obstacles — rocks, weeds and hills — any maiden who arrived without a bright light would be rejected. The rules were definite, and no matter how lovely the maiden, how wealthy or famous her father or how pitifully she could cry and beg, the door would be closed against her if she had no light.

It was not the coordinator’s concern as to the reason the groom tarried. But the apostle Peter does give a reason why our Heavenly Father delays the return of the Bridegroom of the Church: The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night … (II Peter 3:9-10).

(2) The Unfilled Lamps — the foolish said to the wise, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you; but go rather to them that sell, and buy for yourself” (Matt. 25:8-9). Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament believer receives the Holy Spirit at the point of the new birth. But it is soon clear to the growing Christian that there is a need for more of the Holy Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit, commands the Word to believers (Ephesians 5:18). As illustrated in Jesus’ parable, only life in the Spirit will enable the believer to be ready for Christ’s return.

(3) The Unprepared Bride maidens — When the bride and her ten maidens arrived at the rendezvous, the wise five went into the marriage, but the foolish five cried, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But he answered and said, “Verily I say to you, I know you not” (Matt. 25:10-12). Notice here that the Lord doesn’t say, I never knew you. In Matthew 7:21-23 we hear Him turning away those whom He claims to have never known: Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me” …

Too many Christians have never hungered, thirsted and sought for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Many who have been filled with the Spirit have lived so carelessly and disobediently that they have grieved, quenched, or ignored altogether His graces and gifts.

In these last days and perilous times, no believer should live apart from the fire, the faith and the freedom found in the Spirit-filled life.

The Midnight hour is upon us, and the oil is offered to the believer who will repent, hunger, ask in faith and receive! Only in the fullness of the Spirit can we know that we are ready to meet the Lord — either in death or in the rapture.

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Concerning the Past Year

My heart is grateful to our faithful God, our prayer partners, and to those who supported us financially, keeping Christian Renewal Ministries in operation. All bills are paid as we close out 2015, and we are rejoicing during this Advent Season for its true meaning: The love of God in sending His Son to be our Savior and Lord at such a costly sacrifice … The glorious Resurrection and its assurance that all who believe and obey shall have a meaningful earthly journey and a joyous eternal abode with Christ … And for those who lay up treasures in Heaven while on our journey will come rewards unimaginable! Remember! Our worship, our works and our witness are not in vain!

Our new book, Our Holy Guest, was released in October. If the response we’ve had in the last two months — pastors, Sunday school teachers and scores of laymen reporting its impact on classes, homes and individuals — continues, then already we are seeing God’s blessings on the work. To God be the glory!

Shirley and I finished our interim ministry (14 months altogether) the last of October, and I’ve been giving my mornings to prayer. Also the Lord is using my influence in the Gallatin Valley in mentoring pastors and prayer leaders, and preaching now and then when pastors call me to assist or to fill the pulpit in their absence.

In November I conducted a School of Prayer in the Cincinnati area in the Amelia Church of the Nazarene. It was a joy to sense that the Spirit is orchestrating a movement of revival in that great area with a pastor and people who are hungry for an outpouring of His Spirit.

Looking Forward

I’ve spent eleven months of 2015 conducting a radio ministry called A CALL TO PRAYER every Saturday morning at 9:00 – 9:30a.m. over Station 99.1 FM. Because some of you responded to our call for help to launch this, we’ve been free to do this. It is soon decision time to decide if we can continue. To continue this 30-minute weekly radio program for another year will cost $6,600.00. A year ago we asked the Lord to provide, and before we made our first broadcast the entire amount was sent in. Pray with us as we face the decision to continue or to not continue with the radio ministry.

Revival Praying with a group of intercessors every Saturday morning at our Big Sky House of Prayer in Belgrade has been blessed of God throughout the year. Shirley and I look forward to our Saturday mornings there. We have a group of 28 people — our average attendance is 18 — meeting at 10 o’clock a.m. I teach a few minutes and then we go before the Lord pleading His promise of II Chronicles 7:14 and others throughout His Word, believing for a mighty rending of the Heavens to revive the saints and reach the lost, and get people ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Anyone is welcome, and we encourage those who are not able to come to pray for and with us!

I’m still available for services wherever I’m needed — Schools of Prayer, Revivals, Conferences on the Holy Spirit or when needed for emphasis on prayer or teaching on the Holy Spirit.

To Our Prayer Partners, Supporters and Readers: I feel so grateful for your support in financial giving, your confidence and trust, your kind calls, emails and notes that come to encourage. I am grateful to God for my health and energy to carry on for as long as He opens doors and inspires His Word through me. As of now, I see no retirement ahead, and as long as people pray, give and the Lord wants to use me, I’m here and I’m His. I’m grateful to my dear wife, Shirley, my daughter Priscilla Larsen, Executive Assistant, and our Board of Directors: Gail & Betty Freemont, Duncan & Susan Hill, Ron & Mary Ann Johnson, and Rich & Christi Sherlock.

All of us wish you and your dear ones a Glorious Spirit-filled New Year!

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