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Ten Virgins, Revisited

Published August 29, 2018 by Dawn

As I climbed into bed early last night, the Lord laid a story on my heart that promised I’d be up learning from the Holy Spirit for way past my bedtime. It was the parable of the ten virgins.

Recap for those who need it: these ten women were awaiting a wedding party. They all brought their lamps (I guess because they didn’t have electric at the time), and they all fell asleep waiting for their friends to show up. When they awoke at the sound of a wedding celebration heading into the venue, five of them were ready to go in and celebrate. The other five were mortified to find that their lamps were useless! They had neglected to prepare and had to run into town for more oil, while the party started without them. When they got back, they couldn’t get in!

I’ve always read this story with a vague understanding of what it meant. I hope I’m not the only one because that’s embarrassing, but when I read the part about the oil and being unprepared, I just took it to mean you have to be ready when Jesus comes … whatever that means. As I laid in bed listening, the Holy Spirit reminded me that in scripture, the oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit’s presence and anointing in one’s life. Suddenly, I realized what it meant to be prepared!

The Holy Spirit is a friend of fellowship. You don’t walk in with the Spirit just because you asked Jesus into your heart. You walk with the Spirit as you get to know the Spirit. How do you get to know the Spirit of God? The Word of God. Because according to John 1, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Akin to this verse is the whole of Proverbs 8, which I believe is the Holy Spirit’s autobiography. The narrator of that chapter is Wisdom, and Wisdom claims to have been with God from the beginning as well. Our spiritual wisdom is imparted through the Holy Spirit, because who knows the mind of God? The spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11). We can only know God through His Spirit, and we can only get acquainted with the Spirit of God through prayer and Bible reading.

This parable, then, isn’t an ambiguous statement about being prepared for Jesus’ return. It’s a parable that highlights the importance of fellowship with the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. According to this parable, if we aren’t prepared with the oil, we’ll miss it. We’ll be left outside the gate, which symbolizes eternal damnation.  Our time in the Word and in prayer prepares us for our eternal fellowship with Christ. If we aren’t fellowshipping with the Spirit of God now, why would we ever think we’ll be comfortable in Heaven? Because in truth, God makes flesh uncomfortable. To the point of death! If we walk in the flesh here, we’ll not be prepared for the presence and atmosphere of God. We’ll be unable to partake in His gift of eternity.

I think this parable is so important. It’s a warning, really. If you aren’t in your Word, and don’t have a strong prayer life, you will not be ready when Jesus comes to take His bride. I certainly do not want Him passing me by and telling me He doesn’t know me when I come knocking! Do you?

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Morning is coming, but also the night …

Published August 4, 2015 by Dawn

I slept through most of the day yesterday. Not so much the night before, which was the problem. I can’t seem to sleep normal … and that is usually what happens to teachers during the summer. We think, “I’m gonna just sleep in a few days. Then I’ll get back on track and be disciplined.” But that never happens. Add to it the fact that I can’t seem to sleep unless my kids are home and safely tucked into bed, and they weren’t home … Yes, insomnia, let’s snuggle, shall we? But then, I guess it’s not insomnia when you sleep until mid-afternoon the next day …

Anyway, enough of my sleep issues. Let’s talk about my heart … Specifically, what’s on my heart. This verse in Isaiah has been stirring in my heart for over a week now and I just can’t seem to shake it:

“Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?” The watchman replies, “Morning is coming, but also the night. (Isaiah 21:12)”

I honestly love being awake before the sunrise. I love getting up and watching morning shake off the bondage of the night and burst forth with such radiant glory. It’s absolutely breathtaking. And a daily prophetic reminder of the morning that is indeed coming. You know, the morning we all long for:

“Listen, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15: 51-52)”

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command and the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)”

Of course, we have no idea when or what time of day this will be. I love to imagine Jesus breaks forth with the morning sun, but the Bible tells us that:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32)

The second part of that verse in Isaiah, though, fills me with dread. The watchman says that morning is coming, but he also mentions the night. Both coming at the same time. And this verse always reminds me of that scripture in John where Jesus talks about a night that is coming in which no man may work:

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. (John 9:4)”

Does that scare anyone else just a little? I mean, how often to do men and women of God prophesy that we are living in the end times? That night that is quickly approaching, when no man may work. Jesus tells us to work now!

Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away; He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch … If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. (Mark 13:33-34, 36)”

How many of us are sleeping through the day? How many of us are putting off the work because we are waiting for the storms to come? How many of us are waiting for something to make us so uncomfortable we run to our Word and fill up instead of filling up now in preparation? We talk about how the church will be driven underground like it is in other nations, but we aren’t preparing ourselves to have church in that place. We are resisting the Holy Spirit’s attempts to prepare us. We are putting it off in favor of temporary distractions. Distractions that are slowly putting our spirits to sleep so that we do not discern the times properly or listen to the unction of the Holy Spirit. I’m not pointing fingers because I have slept through so much of the day, but please, church! It’s time to wake up.

“You are children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6)”

Awake and sober. Fully aware. Of both the devil and the Holy Spirit. Because even though morning is coming for the church, that day will bring incredible darkness for the rest of the earth:

“Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. Terror will seize them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. See, the day of the Lord is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless … I will make the heavens tremble and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger. (Isaiah 13:6-13)”

“The great day of the Lord is  near – near and coming quickly. The cry on the day of the Lord is bitter; the Mighty Warrior shouts his battle cry. That day will be a day of wrath – a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness – a day of trumpet and battle cry … I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the Lord … In the fire of his jealousy, the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth. (Zephaniah 1:14-16, 18)”

“Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand – a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come. Before them fire devours, behind them a flames blazes. Before them the land is like the Garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste – nothing escapes them … Before them the earth shakes and the heavens tremble, the sun and the moon are darkened and the stars no longer shine. The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? (Joel 2:1-3, 10-11)”

Do we even perceive the depth of despair coming to the earth? Do we get the anguish and dread that will fill the people left behind?

“The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the people of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 25:29-31)”

We rejoice because our Savior is returning to gather us to himself, but what about the rest? So many of us are guilty of shaking our fingers at the thought, with a big fat “I told you so!” jumping out of our mouths, but how dare we? People will suffer so much, and die without Jesus.

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near … it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:25-28, 35-36)”

We will lift up our heads and rejoice in our redemption, and rightfully so. Come, Lord Jesus, come! But that day will be so terrible, Jesus told us to pray so that we will escape it. Oh my heart hurts for people who do not know Christ because they have no idea what is coming! And those of us who do are guilty. We are guilty of self-righteous smuggery and silence.

“Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness and not light … Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light – pitch dark, without a ray of brightness? (Amos 5:18)”

“Suddenly, in an instant, the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake, and a great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. (Isaiah 28:6)”

“It will be a unique day – a day known only to the Lord. (Zechariah 14:7)”

Woe is me! I long for Jesus so fiercely, but look at what surrounds his coming! Look at the storm fast approaching! And 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that “[The Lord] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” We have work to do, Beloved!

“’Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you.’ (Haggai 2:4)”

What does this work look like, you ask? Let me tell ya’ …

“Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing … (Joel 2:13-14)”

“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:3)”

And once you get there, friend. Into the bosom of your Father. He is going to pour into your heart a love for the lost. Don’t let it grow cold. Fan the flame! Share the Gospel! Share Jesus! For “Who of us can dwell with everlasting fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning? (Isaiah 33:14)”

Wow. That’s uncomfortable, isn’t it? Like a smack in the face right when your spirit was lifting in jubilant agreeance. “Yes, I’m gonna do this thing!” And then I hit you with more uncomfortable truth and I am not apologizing. Here’s why: We all know this stuff. We’re just tired. Numb. Sleeping. Dead. Whatever. We all know that in the end, there are two destinations, there is a right and a left. And we are adamant we will be on the right. And I rejoice in it. You should too. But think of the left:

“As I looked, thrones were set in place and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. This throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him, ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated and the books were opened … In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and people of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away; and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14)”

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelations 20: 11-15)”

“The Son of Man will send out his angels and they will weed out his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41-42)”

Look, Beloved. We are all guilty. We don’t want to speak because we might offend someone or they don’t want to hear it. But that’s what makes us Christ-like! Speaking the truth in love. I am not advocating for Bible beating people into the kingdom. I am not talking about shoving the Gospel down people’s throats. I am suggesting this: prayer and fasting. A return to truth, and a complete rejection of error in the church. We are called to be a bride without blemish, and it’s time to clean up! Our husband is coming! He has prepared a banquet and he wants people there. I am suggesting we get before the Lord and surrender to Him. Surrender to His Holy Spirit and get to know His voice. That we are obedient to the calling that tugs daily at our hearts, whatever it may be and stop sitting on the fence. Let’s let God start a fire! He promised that in the last days he would pour out His Spirit, but where are the empty vessels? How will you be filled with His Spirit if you are so full of other junk. Get rid of it, church! Let go of distractions, let go of worldly things, rebuke Satan’s attempts to draw you into temporary loves so that you forsake your First Love. He is knocking at the door! Are you dressed and properly adorned to meet your Husband? Are you being faithful with the talents your Master left you with? Are your lamps trimmed and ready? Don’t sleep through the day, church.

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. (Ephesians 5:14)”

Crucified with Christ

Published March 8, 2015 by Dawn

Have you ever followed Jesus up Golgotha’s hill? Have you ever walked behind his broken, bleeding body, traced the jagged lines cut in him by the whips, and wept at his pain? Have you ever cringed at the weight of the cross he bore as he slowly stumbled up to the brow? Have you ever closed your eyes and clenched your teeth tightly against the blows of the heavy hammer that drove thick nails through his hands and his feet? Have you ever watched them hoist your bleeding Lord above the jeering, mocking crowd?

Did you ever stand weeping while the soldiers mocked his faltering breaths? Did you hear them bartering for his clothes? Did you hold his grieving mother as she wailed for her son? Did you stand under the flickering of torches in a strange midday darkness, listening for his moans to indicate he was still alive? Did you hear him say it? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?”

Did you brace yourself against the chilly wind of that awful black day, when darkness hovered so close to the ground, waiting pensively for his last breath? Did you raise your face to him and weep? Did you hear him cry out in anguish, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?!” Did you listen to the stillness afterward, right before he breathed his last? When his chin fell forward, finally giving way to death, did you groan inwardly?
Have you been crucified with Christ?

 

I just crucified Jesus. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do anything but cry. I have killed my Lord and my God. I have walked with him up Calvary’s hill, being both the soldier and the friend, and I have watched myself crucify Jesus. I watched him suffer under my heartless torment, devised by the wickedness in my own heart. I stood at his feet and simultaneously wept and jeered. I was both of them, the good and the bad. I heard him say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” My heart fought with the sword meant to pierce me through. Thank God for prevailing! I watched his last breath, felt the anguish of his soul when he cried out in my place, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” His question unanswered, he breathed his last. I WATCHED HIM DIE!

The words of Thomas echo in me, “Let us go too, that we may die with him.” Because Jesus calls me friend. Just like Thomas at the thought of losing Lazarus, my heart is rent and I can’t leave him here. How can I walk away from him, my best friend, bloody and torn upon that cross? Instead, let me die here. Let me die here with him, my soul’s lover. My husband. My savior. My King. My God.

If I must get up, if I must continue to live here, let it be only because of the risen Christ within me. “For I am crucified with Christ, and yet I live. Not I, but Christ that lives within me.” Because I can’t bear to do this again. Knowing that I have crucified him myself with my sin. With my silence. To see myself standing there, clothed, before a naked Christ. Undeserving yet fully forgiven. I am unworthy!

Here and Now

Published May 2, 2014 by Dawn

She stood anxiously on the corner, waiting. Her hair whipped around her face, and she stared through it vacantly. A thousand dreams mesmerized her mind and her heart danced to the rhythm of desire. She’d worked the corner of When for so long, she’d forgotten the world around her. Well most of it, anyway.

Several blocks over was her number two spot. The corner of Then. Between the two, she preferred the corner of When, but sometimes, the lack of business there drove her back to Then, where Fear and Despair would swoop in and torment her mercilessly. What did it matter, though. Life offered little more than Hell did for a prostitute.

Sometimes, her memories would draw her focus to the one place she was ever happy. Her home, a cozy little bungalow on the corner of Here and Now. Her heart yearned for the comfort of it, the sanctity and security she knew there. But Here and Now was so far removed from her present life, she didn’t dare entertain the hope of it. There was nothing there for her, she was sure. And because she was sure, she recklessly sold herself on the corners of Then and When. And little by little, her heart was torn away and she lived in agony.

*************

Dear reader, let it be known that Then and When are the most effective tools of the enemy. He would have us to either live in the past (Then) or in the future (When), so that we completely miss the Here and Now. And sadly, when we refuse to live in the present, we are forfeiting our right to live at all. Because reminiscing with the past, or gallivanting with the future is dancing with phantoms. Some that torment us, and others that simply distract us. That is not the life Jesus died to give us. He died so that we might have life abundantly. I am certain that living in the “if only” or the “what if” is not living abundantly. It’s living in either regret or anxiety. Neither of those are good for us, because both are a form of inner chaos. God is a God of order, not chaos.

When we choose to entertain the phantoms of things that are no more or seemingly yet to be, we prostitute our now moments. We sell ourselves to things that may never materialize and we completely miss what God is doing in the present. We give away moments that we will never know or get back, in exchange for vapors. And living in such a way causes us to be vacant to people who are present now. How tragic!

Listen to me: God is the I AM. That is a present tense action verb, meaning He is here now, doing something. Here now, doing something. Don’t miss what He is up to, wishing to be in another moment in time you aren’t even guaranteed, doing things that may never come to pass with people who could be nothing more than figments of your own imagination. Satan would love for you to live your life always looking into the future. But spending too much time there is flirting with witchcraft. God never meant for you to live that way. Nor did He intend for you to live your life looking into the past. The location of your eyeballs is not an accident. He wants you looking straight ahead! He wants you to see what He is doing, embrace life as it comes your way. Live fully in the moments He has given you. All these ideas built up in your head may look good, but are they from God? Who can say for sure? But I do know this: if God told us everything before it happened, where would our need for trust and faith be? And even when He gives insight and visions, you can trust that it won’t come about in the way you imagine. The Bible is full of promises that took the long way around, and in the meantime, men who had to wrestle with life and holding on to faith. Abraham was given a fruitful land and promised a child, but married to a barren woman and living in famine. He could have been so paralyzed by fear and disappointment, but what kind of life would he have lived in the waiting? Joseph dreamt of a royal throne, but seemed to always be sitting in a dungeon. His past and his future both looked bleak. What hope did he have? Moses felt the passion of a revolution, but was exiled to the desert by the very people he longed to save. Do you know the common thread that bound these men together? They got to know the I AM and lived fully in the present until God moved on their behalf. They ministered where they were and waited faithfully for God to do His thing. They didn’t sit around bemoaning the past or anxious about what was to come. They lived in the present and entrusted the future to God.

Here and Now. There is a life to be lived there.