1 April 2000

"And five of them were wise, and five were foolish"- Matthew 25:2 The parable of the ten virgins presents a noble occasion, a wonderful opportunity. The Bridegroom is paying a special visit to His bride and her attendants. Five of them were wise: they prepared for His visit. Five of them were foolish: they had not prepared. That was their foolishness. The parable is to the bride of Christ, the church in every age. Let us learn from our Bridegroom the "Necessity of Preparation." WISDOM TEACHES US TO PREPARE In 1976, the Hoosiers basketball team went undefeated capturing the NCAA title. When interviewed by 60 Minutes, their leader, Bobby Knight was asked, "Why is it, Bobby, that your basketball teams at Indiana are always so successful? Is it the will to succeed?" "The will to succeed is important," replied Knight, "but I'll tell you what's more important-it's the will to prepare. It's the will to go out there every day, training and building those muscles and sharpening those skills." "Spectacular achievement," believes Robert Schuller, "is always preceded by unspectacular preparation." Most of us understand what these men have learned concerning natural things. But Jesus uses His example of the ten virgins to call us to a higher plane. He calls upon us to take this precept into our spiritual life. Prepare for Him! HOW WE PREPARE God expects us to prepare. He watches for it. David said, "Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God"-I Chron 29:2. King Rehoboam did evil, because "he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord"-2Chron.12:14. Kings and priests should seek God's council and direction in all they do. Concerning king Jehoshaphat we read, "Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God"- 2 Chron. 19: 3. And we read, "So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God"-2 Chron. 27:6. Preparation is the harbinger of revival. The New Testament Church began with Christ's harbinger, John the Baptist, preaching, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." A lot of unspectacular preparation he must have made in the wilderness. But his results were powerful and effective. The Lord crowns the efforts of those who prepare. As I read the prayers in the Bible, some were ejaculatory, offered in a moment of desperate need. But many of those great intercessions were preceded by spiritual forethought. We prepare speeches to men, should there be no preparation of the heart before we speak to God? I find the prayers of Daniel, Nehemiah, and other great intercessors laced with scripture, calling upon God to honor a precious promise. Oh, that people would study the promises of God! Granted, there are times that it seems that our prayers go no further than our heads, but I have found that meditation and preparation before prayer opens the heart and loosens the tongue. Let us prepare before we approach the great throne of grace. Every minister learns the necessity of preparation. Spurgeon said, "I surely think that if a man does not prepare his sermons he is very blameworthy." Reading the scriptures, meditating upon their truths, communing with God concerning their meaning and the proper way to present them is what we mean when we say prepare. But what about the congregation? Should they prepare? If they come to God's house with oil in their lamps, they must! I remember a preacher talking about his grandfather who laid his clothes out on Saturday night and went to bed early so he would be ready for services Sunday morning. This made an impression on the young child. Late Saturday nights produces empty vessels of oil and sleepy eyes on Sunday morning. And what about Sunday morning? Are we quick to pick up the Sunday paper and find out the latest in Hollywood and the world? Surely this will serve to empty the vessel as well! Fill your vessel with intercession for your pastor and the brethren. Pray for the message; pray for peace; pray for conversions; pray for laborers; pray for the word to prosper; and pray for a good spirit. Have a look at God's word. Meditate upon the great opportunity of fellowship with our Bridegroom and enjoy a spectacular season of fellowship with Him. Do you see the necessity of preparation? Lord, we delight in thy visits. Help us to prepare! Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Visit our web page at www.primitivebaptist.org/donaldson/ Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor