1 September, Friday – Oil in the Lamp

1 Sept 2017

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1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.

What God wants is for you all to be holy. He wants you to keep away from fornication, and each one of you to know how to use the body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honourable, not giving way to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God. He wants nobody at all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always punishes sins of that sort, as we told you before and assured you. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral; in other words, anyone who objects is not objecting to a human authority, but to God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

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Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

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You do not know either the day or the hour

Whenever I read these passages about being prepared for Jesus’ second coming, I would sometimes wonder about why it is so challenging to do so. If people can save up money to support their children in college, or buy a car, or an apartment, then why not work on the spiritual life? Is it because the entry into heaven is often seen as something in the distant and unforeseeable future that also has to do with a refusal to face up to one’s mortality, versus more concrete events that are within our control? Is it something that, to put it bluntly, can be “postponed” to old age, assuming we get there?

I think I can safely say that almost everyone I know is caught up in a rat race. The situation is very pronounced in a country like Singapore, where the young study endlessly and the older ones work relentlessly. It is easy to lose direction while trying to keep up with expectations and responsibilities. This in turn encourages the prioritisation of work above other things. Often, God, the gentle voice, is either not heard or ignored in the loudness of the demands of everyday life.

In the film Hacksaw Ridge, we see a dramatic real-life example of a rather unusual person who placed his faith in God above all else. I say unusual, as he refused to bear arms in a war where everyone else fought to kill the enemy. Without any weapon to defend himself, the staunchly religious medic single-handedly saved 50 to 100 lives of his fellow soldiers in battle, each time praying to God to help him save one more. Although not all of us are called to such acts of valour, his courage and conviction to hold firm to his beliefs even in the face of extreme opposition is greatly inspiring.

Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh

Prayer: We pray that we can each find our own way of putting God first in our lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for daily reminders of God’s grace.

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