You Must be Ready

by Mike Ratliff

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1-4 ESV)

Jesus is coming back soon. If that statement brought a surge of joy into your heart then more than likely, you are actively preparing for His return and are looking forward to it with eagerness. However, there may be some of you who reacted with a sense of dread or foreboding. If that is the case, then I pray that you will pay special attention to the truths from God’s Word we will look at in this post. There may be some of you who reacted to that statement with skepticism or doubt. For you, I pray that God will open your heart to the truth as we study His Word.

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40 ESV)

Of course our Lord did not mean that we must deprive ourselves of rest and sleep or that we must keep our eyes peeled on the sky looking for Him to appear in the clouds 24/7. What this means is that we must be actively pursuing holiness in our lives as we obey Him in all things. We seek God’s glory through us. We pray for our Lord’s Kingdom to come in fulfillment. At the same time, we actively pursue God’s will and pray that it be done here in our lives as if we were in Heaven with Him now. We understand that all we have comes from God. Since we are pursuing holiness we are actively putting sin to death within us. We seek forgiveness from God and those we have offended. We also forgive those who have trespassed against us. In fact we ask God if He would only forgive us as we forgive others. We ask God to lead us not into temptation as He delivers us from evil.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)

If we are to actively seek the holiness of God in our lives then we must learn this prayer our Lord taught and what each phrase really means. It teaches us to live our lives by praying continually with this prayer actively working in all of our members. If we walk through each day step by step with this prayer working in us then we will live out Romans 12.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:1-21 ESV)

If we will surrender to our Lord’s will here and do this then we will be actively preparing for our Lord’s return. On the other hand, if we live for self and pursue only what our flesh desires then we are not watching for our Lord’s return. Instead, we are in that group that does not really believe He is coming back any time soon. In our hearts we say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” We are like the five foolish virgins who did not take enough oil for their lamps.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13 ESV)

What is this saying about those who do not watch and prepare for our Lord’s return by living obedient, holy lives? He does not know them. They are not His. The growing apostasy of the Church is a sure sign that the end of this age is fast approaching. What happens at the end of this age? Our Lord returns! Do we know when that will be? Jesus said, that no one knows the day or the hour. He is coming when we do not expect Him. Therefore, we must be about doing what He told us to do. That would be to be prepared for His return along with obeying the Great Commission.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

The end of the age commith and will be upon us soon. Are you watching as you prepare or are you living for self or for the moment? Come soon Lord Jesus! Soli Deo Gloria!

20 thoughts on “You Must be Ready

  1. He told us to watch and pray. When we see these things happening, to look up. Just a thought, but if we get our Bibles taken away, which could happen. Anything could happen now days, then I think we had better have as much memorized of His Word as we can. Not only in our heart, but in our head too. We look forward to His return soon! Good article Mike. Thank you.

  2. One more thing Mike :) I love what Ingrid said. You may not have a church that is feeding you, but if you have the Scriptures, then there is no reason in the world you should be hungry! I like that for those of us who can’t find a church worth its salt!

  3. Paul,

    The Word of God is a wonderful gift to us from Him. Yes, we must get it into us then no one can take it away. Yes, if we know how to study our Bibles then we can feed ourselves. :-) That’s what I do. Writing these pieces keeps me in the Word. I have it very good. :-)

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  4. I like what the Apostle John said:

    1Jo 2:28And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

  5. Great Post, and great use of scripture. I struggle with the tension between crying out “come Lord, Jesus” and seeing so many who do not know Him. Part of me wants to meet my Lord and Savior, but in doing that I know that the fate of so many of my friends is doomed. I guess I can always cry “Come Lord, but let me reach one more!”

  6. Great article Mike,
    I have to ditto what Nathan said. I continue to pray that the Lord wakes up my family and friends that are lost. If He started a good works in them He will finish. I am also telling strangers and today I met another believer who left his church and gathers in a group. When questioned by a priest as to why he hasn’t shown up for confession lately? He replied that he doesn’t see him with a direct line to the Lord and he made his confessions himself just that morning. The priest just walked away. Praise God !! Come quickly Lord Jesus!!

  7. So little is preached about the warning side of the rapture. I happen to believe that those who have heard and not responded will be deceived, so that must accompany any teaching of the rapture. It is a great day for believers and a terrible day for the lost.

    Also, we hear little of the judgment seat of the believers. We should be challenged more often. Good post, Mike.

  8. Same here Nathan. Until He comes we must be praying for the lost and always share our faith one way or another. However, my heart’s desire is to be with Jesus and I trust Him to work out who is His and who isn’t.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  9. Deb,

    TIme is short. I rejoice when I hear of people walking with Jesus rather than trying to “be saved” by “being religious.”

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  10. When I first heard about the Rapture, I also heard the stories and saw a few small movies that told of millions of people disappearing from the earth. Now after watching the “Church” decline in teaching the Word and turning to entertainment to bring in the goats, I wonder if there will be enough raptured saints to make headlines on the big news channels. I pray often for the the Second Coming of Christ. I long to see the wicked and moral decay that is currently in the world to come to end. I also pray that if God has ordained me to leave this world alone that I will be ready and worthy to enter His presence on that day. And like Henry F. said “So little is preached about the warning of the Rapture”…..now too much is preached about obtaining success and riches an getting your needs met.

  11. Julie, our blessed hope is not escape from this world, but to be with our Saviour in His victory over this fallen place as it is remade into His Kingdom. Come soon Lord Jesus!

  12. My first Pastor (after I got saved) told us that since the Bible had been taken from us before, we should memorize the Scriptures, and even write them out longhand, and then store the papers.
    This way, they would not be recognised when : “They come for the Bibles, as they have done before”.
    Benjamin Franklin tells in his autobiography about how it was done in his family home: A Bible was nailed to the bottom of a chair, which was covered with a cushion. When there were visitors, someone sat on the chair. When his grandfather wanted to read Holy Scriptures to the family, people were stationed at the windows, to watch for anyone (like “Papists”) who might object. The curtins were drawn, the chair was turned over to make the Bible available, and it was opened, and read.
    I know the quote about this is from Ben himself; I’m not totally sure about which book it’s in.

  13. I’m with you Mike on the judgement seat deal. We don’t look forward to it either. We have thought about that alot. If nothing else, it makes us want to do and be better now because we know it counts later!

    Kathy,
    John MacArthur has a good way to memorize scripture. I think he has a couple of lessons on it. Yes we need to memorize as much as we can. Like you said, they took away the Bibles once and they will do it again if they can.

  14. I don’t have a death wish or something of the like, but I seem most comfortable these days when the talk is about death or the Lord’s return.

    Whichever comes first, I long for my Lord!

    Thanks for the post, Mike. We certainly cannot hear this too often.

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