This week, we’re continuing our message series as we go through the parables of Jesus and learn from Him how to truly live life to its fullest.

A parable is a simple story that illustrates a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus said that He taught using parables so that the secrets of His Kingdom would only be understood by those seeking after this revelation.

This week, we’re learning from a parable that Jesus used to teach us about wise living. We turn to a scene where His disciples came to Him privately and asked what signs they should be looking for that indicate His return and the end of the age. Jesus gave them several signs to be looking for and ended with a parable saying:

Matthew 24:32-51
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

In my opinion, this is the most important thing that Jesus taught us about the end times. Sure, He gave us signs to watch for, but our focus is not to be on when the end comes. Jesus taught us to live life to its full and to always be ready because He will come when we do not expect Him. This in itself should give us enough wisdom to not get caught up in the assignments of times and dates of the end. When everyone says that it is going to happen, you can pretty much guarantee that it will not happen then.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

How ought we live, then? We ought to live as though Jesus is coming again in five minutes, but plan as if though Jesus isn’t coming for another century. We want to live always ready to meet with Him.

Matthew 25:1-13
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

I’ve heard it said that the choice to follow Jesus is more like preparing for a marathon than a sprint. It’s a life of joy and blessing, but not without opposition and challenges. It’s a life of perseverance and trust, but also of hope and fulfillment.

However, we can’t do it on our own. We’re in desperate need for help. When we choose to follow Jesus, that rush will get us through, but only so far. We need something more to sustain us. Otherwise, we’ll be like the virgins who took off running without thinking. We’ll fall asleep in our faith. When the time comes to meet with Jesus, we’ll be left running away from Him trying to right our wrongs and miss out on Heaven. However, Jesus gave us a solution.

John 14:15-18
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is that oil that fills our lives and gives us the fuel that we need to run this race with endurance and perseverance. The infilling of the Holy Spirit ensures that we won’t run out of oil throughout the night seasons of life and be left empty when our breakthrough arrives.

We need to choose to be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Luke 1:15b He (John the Baptist) is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.

Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:

Acts 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!

Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 13:9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said,

Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

What are we called to be? FILLED with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is that oil that fills these lamps of our bodies so that our lights will shine bright for all to see and so that we don’t grow weary in doing good. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, however, is a choice.

The old adage, “You are what you eat.” rings true in this scenario. If we spend our resources filling ourselves up with the things of this world, well, we’ll be full of our flesh and void of the Spirit. If we spend our resources filling ourselves up with the things of God, well, we’ll be full of the Holy Spirit and void of our flesh. The two are mutually exclusive.

If we spend time throughout the day talking with God through prayer and listening for His voice, we’ll hear Him speak and see Him move. If we take time to read His word, we’ll receive deeper revelation. If we praise and worship Him, we’ll have peace, joy, and confidence. If we intercede on other’s behalf, we’ll see His powerful right hand still mighty to save. If we serve the needs of others, our wants and desires will lessen and our contentment will rise.

We’ll be amazed as God moves on our behalf and gives us solutions to the problems that we face. He cares even for the smallest of things that we’re going through in the midst of our routines lives. He is right there with us and will give us insight and wisdom and guidance throughout them.

If we instead spend ourselves chasing after everything that this world has to offer, we’ll neglect our relationship with God. To us, He will be silent and we’ll not understand Him. We’ll not see God at work anywhere and become frustrated. We’ll find ourselves never satisfied, but always needing more and more from those around us. Our lives will become chaotic, hectic, and full of uncertainty.

Jude reminds us of this need to stay filled with the Spirit and the contrast of what a life void of the Spirit looks and acts like.

Jude 16-22
16 Some people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt

Which category do we find ourselves to be more a part of?

If your oil is running low, you’ll find yourself:
– Grumbling often
– Seeing the faults of others
– Looking for someone to blame when things go wrong
– Saying phrases like, “If that was me…” “If those were my kids…” “They just need to…”
– Flattering others if they can provide you with some sort of benefit
– Dividing people or trying to get people to take sides against others

If your oil is full, you’ll find yourself:
– Praising often
– Seeing the good in others
– Accepting responsibility bad circumstances and looking for solutions
– Saying positive things about others
– Genuinely encouraging people into their own full potential
– Helping unify others with diverse perspectives

How do we keep our oil levels full? Jude teaches us to:
1. Build ourselves up in our faith

If faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1), then to increase our faith, we need to start doing exactly more of that. We need to start believing for greater things from God. We need to take Him at His word and start expecting our mountains to be lowered and our valleys to be raised up!

We need to start having pep talks with ourselves reminding ourselves of how great our God is and what He is able to do. We need to start expecting the impossible to become our reality. We need to speak as if though we truly believe God’s promises to all be yes and amen! Start believing God for great things and watch your life become full of the Spirit again!

2. Pray in the Holy Spirit

This is something that we need to be in the habit of doing. When we were baptized by the Holy Spirit, we were given a language all of its own for a reason. God gave us the language, but we choose whether or not to speak it out. We should be in the habit of praying in the Spirit on all occasions. We’re reminded:

Romans 8:24b-27
24b …hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Praying in the Spirit is like praying the perfect prayer. Through wordless groans, the Holy Spirit prays the perfect prayer. After all, He knows our heart. He knows what is laying heavy on our mind. Now this is where the advantage comes into play. After all, anyone can pray about what is on their own heart and mind. The Holy Spirit also knows what is on God’s mind and is fully aware of God’s will in our circumstances. Praying in the Spirit enables the Holy Spirit to pray the perfect intercessory prayer on our behalf. Pray in the Spirit and watch your life become full of the Spirit again!

3. Keep ourselves in God’s love

Jesus taught us earlier in John 14 that to obey Him is to love Him. To remain in His love is to serve the needs of those around us using whatever gift God has given us. Those gifts themselves are gifts of grace given by the Holy Spirit and expressions of God’s love toward us. As we love others in the same way that God loves us, not only do we remain in His love, but our lives become full of the Spirit as well.

4. Wait on the mercy of Jesus

Something powerful happens within the lives of those who wait on God.

2 Corinthians 4:13-18
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Though outwardly, things may not look good for us. Inwardly, our lives are being filled up with the Spirit and He is renewing us day by day. Our lives are being filled up with hope and trust in Jesus. We know that nothing is too difficult for Him and that He will make all things new at just the right time.

Though it is not an act that any of us care for much, waiting is part of God’s process in renewing us and filling us up. He is stripping away our flesh and the desires of this world and is filling us up with His Presence and the priceless treasures of His Kingdom.

Waiting on God is an act that can cause the grace of God to reach more and more people through our lives. That is why we don’t lose heart no matter what difficulties we may go through. Our eyes are not on those things alone. We may glance at them and take note of them, but our eyes are fixed on the eternal things which are otherwise unseen. Our hope is anchored firmly within Jesus and we eagerly await His salvation.

None of us know the hour nor the day of the return of Jesus. However, we know how we ought to live. We don’t want to be like the unwise virgins who were left shut out in the dark on the day that Jesus returned. We want to be like the wise virgins who were welcomed into the wedding banquet to celebrate forever.

We want to live our lives full of the Spirit, our lives shining bright for all to see the hope that is within us. We want to live our lives to their full as if though Jesus is coming back for us at any second. If we are going to spend ourselves, we spend ourselves on the things of God knowing that He will continue to fill us up as we empty ourselves out for His sake.