Summary: The challenge of faithfully living prepared and ready

"Be Ready – Persevere for the Long Journey"

Psalm 78:1-7 Matthew 25:1-13

When I was a Boy Scout, I remember how the younger scouts

struggled and suffered on long hiking-camping trips;


they always seemed to bring so much of the wrong stuff.

They’d come loaded down with unnecessary equipment & supplies,

and yet often, they would not have brought along

the more useful & important things they actually needed.

With more experience and by listening to the advice of others,

you learned which items were better left back at home,

and which ones were actually useful and needed,

which supplies & equipment were worth the cost -

the weight of carrying them on your back.

The result was that the more experienced scouts were generally

much better prepared and fared better in any situation.

They were better prepared for whatever might happen;

and so they were more able to relax and enjoy

their camping experience out in nature.

2x It was really a matter

of learning how to prepare for the unexpected.

A most formative time in my spiritual journey

was during, "The Jesus Revolution" of the early 70’s.

That was a pretty heady time to be a young Christian.

There were lots of Bible Clubs and Bible Studies

that sprung up in school and in the community.

There were alternative worship services and events,

quite different than mainline Presbyterianism.

In the excitement and religious fervor of the time,

it was difficult to know what to do – what was true;

whose theology & teaching was really God’s truth?

Which way of worship and which music did God most favor?

There was an amazing variety of answers to religious questions

Caught in the swirl of conflicting ideas and voices,

each authoritatively claiming to be God’s truth,

it was confusing to decide between religious ideas.

Back then, as a young Christian,

it was almost impossible to discern the truth ---

so many voices making so many claims in absolute certainty

each declaring that they alone rightly read the Bible

and that their ways alone matched God ways,

and were closest to the New Testament church

So how could I possibly know who was right, way back then?

Today its much easier, more obvious to discern

who was right back then.

Those who truly followed God, are still in the faith;

while that which was false, that not of God,

has withered and waned, it is no more ----

those folks have not weathered the years.

The passing of time has disproved their false claims.

Some who I knew back then have grown in their faith,

their walk with God has matured, broadened and deepened.

Others have strayed over time, some have abandoned their faith

Some of the loudest outspoken and most adamantly certain,

did not hold to Christ, have not served God over the years.

When things got difficult or demanding, they left.

2x So the passage of time and events have revealed,

who was truly speaking God’s truth, and who was not.

That is the same principle of spiritual & prophetic discernment

that God told Moses to teach the people of Israel.

Deuteronomy 18:21-22

You may say to yourself,

"How can we recognize a word that the LORD has not spoken?" If a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the LORD has not spoken.

The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.

The immediate appearances may well obfuscate and deceive,

but in the long run, time will surely tell ---

the ones who persevere on the long journey, have truth,

and the ones who do not, but falter & fail, are false.

Most anyone can make a good impression at first, for a season ----

and on the surface, its easy enough to seem faithful,

but its on the long journey that faith gets tested ----

can it withstand hard times and harsh struggles?

can it emerge from questions and doubts still intact?

… or is it only an easy fair weather faith?

is it prepared to withstand storm and tribulation?

The test of a genuine Christian faith is just that simple,

and that is the point

and that is the message of the parable Jesus tells.

The context is a Middle Eastern village wedding celebration,

which was culturally somewhat different back then.

In our culture, the wedding is mostly the bride’s special day,

but in that patriarchal society, the focus was on the groom.

The bride and her attendant bridesmaids would wait all together

while the groom and his party

negotiated the ’bride’s price’ with her family.

A sign of the families love for their daughter,

was to be difficult and draw out the negotiations,

to show their reluctance at losing their daughter.

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