Levi Lusko - It's Later Than You Think
Get your Bibles. You can get your journals we gave you that do have, by the way, blank spaces. I wrote this weekend's message in the reflect spot, where hopefully you're going to be writing down notes and things that God's going to speak to you. If you're joining us on Fresh Life TV, or listening to this in the podcast after the fact, you can grab a notepad on your phone, and we're going to be in Matthew Chapter 25 for a message that I'm calling, "It's Later Than You Think". It's later than you think. Jesus is speaking. It's Matthew's Gospel, the 25th Chapter. And we do invite you back next week, because we consider something from the Gospel of Mark, and then the week after that, the Gospel of Luke. And then on Good Friday, we will turn our attention to the Gospel of John. But today we're beginning Matthew 25 and verse 1.
Jesus said, "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now, five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard. 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming. Go out to meet him.' Then all those virgins arose 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, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you. But go rather to those who sell and buy for yourselves.'"
Go get you your own oil is what they said. "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came. And those who were ready went in with him to the wedding, and the door was shut. Afterward, the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'" So now giving application to this message, Jesus says, verse 12, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming".
And so, Father, having read your word, we pray you would speak to us through it. We're thankful for it. I know it's easy to take for granted that we have this Bible all of our lives. We've had it. We've had access to it. We have different versions of it. We can look it up on our phones and our computers. And at times we can be desensitized to how precious a thing it is to have your word. So I pray all of a sudden it would come over us a sense of humility and just we would realize how spoiled we are by that, and that we would become aware again for perhaps the very first time that we're being spoken to by the King of Kings through it. And that through your whisper, and through at times even the conviction, the comfort that you want to give to us, we would hear exactly what it is you're saying to us, and that you would give us the strength to live in light of it. And we pray this in Jesus name, Amen.
I did a wedding once where everything was in place. It was a beautiful wedding right next to Glacier National Park in Northwest Montana. And the congregation, the guests, were all seated. All the gifts were on the gift table. The best man was standing there in his tuxedo, all the groomsmen. I saw the ring bearer, the mother of the bride. I was there. I had a tie on. The band was ready. Everything was ready but there was no bride. And we waited and we waited. And you do the thing you do, where you're trying to get the eye, when you're doing weddings, the thing you do where you're trying to get the eye of the wedding coordinator, like, what is going on here? Let's play that one more time. You know, it's like...
So finally, I excused myself. I'm going to be right back. And I went and found, I was like, where is the bride? Well, she's still in this little room over here with her bridesmaids. And I was like, look, I need to speak to her. And I didn't know if this was like a Julia Roberts situation, if she's getting second thoughts on all of this, or if, or what. But it's like, I need to speak, tell her that I'm the pastor. I need to speak to her. So I go in this room. I'm telling you, I have never seen such a lack of preparation in my entire life. Now, her makeup was done. Her hair was done. She has a veil on. This girl was wearing Victoria's Secret sweatpants and having a cocktail with her crew. And I'm like, honey, you are getting married right now. I realize you don't got your dress on, but you need some NASCAR team to get this situation, Your wedding started. You're just not there. Eyes as big as saucers, you know?
So I set about... And she comes out just a few minutes later. I thought about that this week as I was reading this passage, because that's the exact emotion that Jesus is seeking to convey here in this parable. Here's a wedding scene. Of course, cultures are different. And we look at this and it's like, that seems bizarre. But they would look at us throwing bird seed and lighting sparklers, and they would think that's weird, too. But in that culture, there was the coming for the bridal party, the coming for the bridesmaids, these 10 virgins. They might include the bride as well, depending on what stage of the whole thing this is at. But the groom would come, instead of waiting for the bride to come, the groom would come to get this bridal party, or the bride and the groom to come to get these girls. And then they would make their way, it'd be like sort of a parade, to the groom's house.
The bridegroom is what the groom was called in that day. They would go to his father's house where there would be this feast. And it would last an entire week. Unbelievable. And these were like, this is like the highest moment of joy for anybody's life, the wedding feast, the wedding party. There was such pressure on the groom's family for it to be amazing, that if you were a guest of one of these events and they ran out of food or wine, you could literally sue them for it not being as good of a party as it should have been, which is why Jesus, for his first miracle, performed the miracle of turning water into wine, to make sure that this young couple that had invited Jesus and his disciples to the wedding didn't have to face that sort of social shame and embarrassment, which I'm convinced it was actually also Jesus's fault they ran out of wine, because he brought Peter and James and John, and they were sailors, and those boys could drank. And so they showed up.
So no wonder he had, the expectation was that Jesus would fix it. He sort of also created the problem. And we did say when I talked through that passage the last time that at times Jesus will cause problems in your life that only he can solve so that you will look to him. But here in this passage, Jesus is picturing the feeling of the tension of that bridal party not knowing when. They knew what day the wedding was going to happen, but they had no idea when exactly the groom was going to show up. And there was this sense of you had to be ready, and you had to be on edge, and you just didn't know exactly when it was going to happen, and all the emotion. Because when he finally did show up, when the shout went out, "The bridegroom is here," you had to be ready, had to go out to meet him. And then you would do the parade all the way to the house, and it you would begin this joyous occasion.
Now, this is a parable. And in the Bible you find Jesus telling parables often. Parables are earthly stories to convey heavenly truths, stories that you could understand. There were sensual stories, stories about grapes, and stories about sons, and stories about vineyards and kingdoms and tax collectors. These stories that would help you understand the truth that he was communicating. This is one of the reasons, by the way, that people loved to listen to Jesus talk. Because he didn't go on and on like the religious teachers of the day who loved to use big words that confused people, so that they could lord over them how smart they were with their big diploma on the wall. They literally wore clothes that were built to make it look like they were holier than you were. They had these special jackets that had tassels hanging off of them, one tassel for every one of the laws, the hundreds of laws in the Old Testament that they thought that they were keeping perfectly.
And Jesus said, you religious people love to walk through the market swinging your phylactery, swinging your tasseled robes. I'm too sexy for this shirt, too sexy, if you would try harder maybe you could get one, too. And Jesus wasn't like that. Jesus communicated God's truth in the way that normal people could understand. It tells you a lot about Jesus that kids were always rushing up to him. Kids know creepy people. They just, that person's creepy. Don't want to talk to them. But the kind of person that kids like, Jesus was that way. He was telling stories all the time. There was a twinkle in his eye. Jesus loved laughter. He loved being at dinner parties. He got a nickname of a glutton and a winebibber because he was always showing up at events. He wanted to be in people's houses. He would get invited. He would come. He wanted to be there with his disciples. And he would tell these stories that would communicate God's forgiveness and God's heart and God's kindness in a way that would just stick with your imagination.
Look, how many times have you seen Encanto? You know what I'm saying? Like, we don't talk about Bruno. You understand the story. The story touches you in a unique way. You were wired to be moved by story to feel the emotion. And so Jesus understood that, and so would tell these stories, the Prodigal Son who went off and wasted his father's money and ended up with prostitutes. And no one gave him anything when he ran out of money. And so he was forced to take a job feeding pigs. Now, you're all feeling it. You're all feeling that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach when he contemplated, do I go home and say sorry? Or am I just damaged goods? Should I stay here? And the emotion we feel when Jesus says, the father ran to the end of the road and wrapped his arms around him and forgave him, and gave him a ring, and gave him a robe. We're feeling that. That's why people love to listen to Jesus. This is one of his parables, the parable of the 10 bridesmaids, five of whom were foolish, and five of whom were wise.
Now, he could just as easily have said, what I boil this parable down to mean, and that is that both wisdom and foolishness come down to preparation or the lack thereof. That's the sermon in a sentence. Both wisdom and foolishness come down to preparation or the lack thereof. But he knew that it would come alive in our minds to say, imagine a wedding. Everyone's there. Everyone's, because who hasn't been to a wedding? And in that society, much like in our society, it's the high event of the year. There's nothing like a wedding reception. There's nothing like seeing grandma and the ring bearer get down on the dance floor. Calories don't count at weddings. That's when we dress well, and that's when we see people we haven't seen forever. It's just that highest joy. You don't want it to end. There's just something about it. And Jesus knew that. And especially in that day, it was the event of the year.
And did you know it is one of the most common descriptions that Jesus gives about what he wants to come into our minds when we think about the kingdom of God? How different is that from the stuffy idea of a religion that nobody enjoys, but you got to do it because otherwise you end up in H-E- double hockey sticks, right? Jesus is like, no. The Kingdom of God, what should we liken it to? It's like a wedding. It's like a wedding feast. And now he uses that and opens a window to teach us a truth about preparation. And the big question we want to ask ourselves today is, are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready for this big event? Because I got news for you, it's later then you think. There's nothing worse than thinking you have more time than you do. Nothing worse than thinking, oh, I got all the time in the world. You realize it's actually, no, no, it's actually later than you think. No one messed with the clock after daylight saving. Dang it. It's later than you think.
I wrote down a few areas that we could apply this to, this idea of am I wise or am I foolish? And it comes out with whether I prepared or not. And the first thing I wrote down is hardship. Hardship reveals the preparation or the lack thereof. Are you ready for inevitable hardship? It's so foolish to not prepare for inevitable hardship. And guess what? Your life is headed in some way or another towards hardship. Like Levi, that's not very positive. You should be positive. No actually, I'm positive, you're moving towards hardship. How can I know that? OK, here's how I know that. Because you and everyone you have ever met and ever will meet is going to get sick and die at some point. And that's what? That's what? That's hard. Funerals are hard. Crises are hard. And there's coming for you at some point something that's really hard, little hard things, big hard things. And what does hardship reveal? Foundation or the lack thereof.
So Jesus said, Matthew Chapter 7, you know the story. He said, again, classic Jesus, telling a story. There was two guys who built houses. One looked awesome and was built on rock, and one looked awesome and was built on sand. From the outside you never knew which was which, because they both had that Chip and Joanna Gaines vibe going on. And you would have picked it if you saw it on HGTV. And this is Magnolia-approved, USDA certified awesome. These houses look great. But then a big storm comes. The winds blow, the rain falls, and the house built on sand does what? Crumbles. The house built on rock, it's still scary to be inside. It's not, no one loves a storm. It's still terrifying, the rattling of the lightning and thunder, and the kids are afraid. But guess what? The house withstood that storm.
And he said this. He said, now to bring it home. He said, so is it when people hear my teachings and do what they have heard. Both people in both houses heard God's word, but only the house built on rock was the house full of people who acted based on God's word. So knowing is not enough. You can't just be a hearer, you have to be a doer. That's what builds your life on the slab on grade that you need to be able to hurt and to hurt well. But I'll double down on that. Because when you build your life on rocks, not only can you endure hardships, you can actually blossom and thrive and flourish in them. Why is that? Because this teaching, this parable, it all comes down to oil or the lack of oil. And how do you get oil? Answer, crushing. Answer, Gethsemane, pressing, squeezing. In God's economy we have not only the right to believe we can face hardship and still be standing on the other side and not be broken by it, we can believe that we can actually improve in the midst of the difficulty.
And that's why we can rejoice in various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces in our life good things. And it's sort of, you could say, how God prepares us for the next level of service in his economy allowing us to go through difficult things. Second thing we have to ask, am I ready for blessing? OK. A hardship, great, check. But what about blessing? Because all of us know hardship is difficult. But did you know that blessing in your life can be an even more difficult test to pass than suffering? At times when we go through a hard thing, we know I got to pray. I got to get back to church. I got to get back to God. I got to go. I don't know what to do. A cancer diagnosis, all of a sudden panic, panic. God, God, God, right? Amazing foxhole conversion. That's great. You're never going to ever hear me slamming you for going through a hardship and now needing God.
That's amazing. But what about the blessing that at times can make you feel like you don't need God anymore? You get that promotion. You get that increase. You get, now all of a sudden things are going good, it can be very easy to take your eyes off God when you don't have a perceived sense of your need for him. Blessing and prosperity and increase has destroyed five people for every person who's been destroyed by adversity and difficulty. It can easily shift us into sort of a cruise control mode, where our sense of our need for God is not felt. Are you ready, number three, for opportunity? Are you ready for the opportunities that are going to present themselves to you as you continue on in life?
I think about the day that David was just doing what his dad told him to do, bringing food to his brothers at the battlefield. And all of a sudden an opportunity presented itself. Here's this giant, Goliath, talking smack on God's people. That's an opportunity. And David was ready to meet that opportunity, to say is anybody going to do something about this? You? You? You? King Saul, you? No, no, no, no, no. And David said, is there not a cause? Does God's name not need to be defended? Is not someone needing to go down and teach this guy a lesson? He was though not just willing, he was prepared for it. He said to Saul when he said, put me in, coach. I'm ready. I'll go kill that Philistine. No one's going to go? I'm willing. I'm not even technically a soldier. I'm just a shepherd who's delivering a pizza to my brothers. Papa John's here. And he says, what makes you think you can do this? He's a man of war and you're just a youth. And he's been a man of war from his youth?
And David said, when I was taking care of the sheep back in Bethlehem, if a lion or a bear would attack my sheep, I would put myself in harm's way, and I would take the sheep from the mouth of the lion, and take them from the mouth of the bear. And guess what? The same God who helped me kill that lion and helped me kill that bear is going to deliver this uncircumcised Philistine into my hands. That is aggressive trash talk when you start bringing circumcision into it, OK? It's a whole new level. I love it. I love it. David didn't know he was in training for the future opportunity. He would stand in the Valley of Elah with armies on both sides, and he would do something heroic that the whole world would be talking about for the rest of his life. They would write songs about him. Saul has slain his thousands, David his tens of thousands. And that song became like the number one hit in the land. It got remixed.
There was like a techno version, the country western version, which was like, Saul shot of rabbit, David shot a buck, Saul drives a Prius, David got himself a truck. That's the one that Saul was like, no. We cannot allow this to continue. David, though, didn't start fighting in the arena when everyone was watching. He did it in obscurity first. He did it when no one was watching first. He did it when arguably he didn't even need to put himself in harm's way. He was going above and beyond the line of duty in fighting lions and bears. He could have just come back to his dad Jesse and said, I don't know, dad. I got 98 sheep. What about the 99th? What about the 100th? Ah, a lion got one, bear got another. Sorry. Like, what are you going to do? No he was willing to prepare for opportunities he didn't even know were coming.
Are you preparing for what's coming for you? As you look ahead into things that are in your heart, what are you doing now that you'll be thankful that you did when the opportunity shows up? This is as simple and as practical as having a little more margin in your life. You know, the Jews were told in the Old Testament when they harvested their wheat fields or picked grapes or picked olives to never pick the corners of their fields, and to never do second passes. They were told to leave some margin. Send your workers out. They can pick, but leave the corners alone, and don't do second pass, meaning don't go back through and make sure you've got every single missed grape, missed olive. He said, that way you'll be able to welcome the poor and the foreigner, anybody who's in need, come walk through my field and there's going to be a second gleaning available for you.
That's how Ruth and Naomi were able to eat during a famine. That opportunity only came because Boas led with margin. Boas lead with a mind towards an opportunity, and not even just for himself. So even as you're budgeting, as you're thinking through your time and what commitments you can bring into your life emotionally, don't just make the decision based on your needs. But what if you said, God, maybe in the next year, or the next month, or as I allocate my resources in the coming days, maybe you're going to give me an opportunity I won't know about. Maybe there's someone in my life who I'll bump into at church who I could just tell us having a hard time. Maybe you'll just say to me, that's the person. That's the situation. And you're going to be able to do something to bless them. Why? Because you're mindful of future opportunities with present resources. Come on. Is anybody encouraged just thinking about God just lighting your heart up with some person in need or some person that you can show kindness to? Are you ready?
A lot of people say, I would love to do something about it. But what? I'm not ready. The five foolish bridesmaids didn't have no oil, because later on they said, our lamps are going out, they just didn't have extra oil. We should lead with a mentality towards extra, that we have extra not just for us, but we have vision to be a blessing.
Number four, are you ready for change? And when I say change, I mean the changing of seasons. We are in spring now at the time I'm preaching this message. And you know what's coming? Summer. And guess what's coming after that? Fall. And then, Winter. How do I know that? You must be some sort of a genius. God created a world with predictable seasons. In fact, he spoke over the world that he created that he called good. As long as the world remains it shall be seed time, then harvest, and seed, then harvest, and summer, then winter. And guess what? Your life has predictable seasons, too. All right. You're single now, prime of your life. Strong as, health, robust. Strong as a buck. Awesome. Guess what's coming? Not that. Not me. Yes, you. My kids are young now. Guess what's coming? Them not being kids anymore.
And a lot of people live just so right here, with no mind or reality of the fact that a coming season of change is on the horizon. How many people, when their kids are like 17, 18, try and pack 20, 17 or 18 years of quality time with them? And oh, they're going off to college. Now we've got to, we've got to do all these trips. And it's like, you're trying to now rebuild a relationship because you weren't aware, you weren't mindful enough of the coming season to live in light of it in the current season. At our staff gathering in the summer, we do staff training in the summertime. We had our staff together. We talked to about retirement. Why is that so important? Because now you're in the prime of your life. But what about the coming season?
What about like Proverbs Chapter 6 says, the wintertime that comes, and you won't have anything laid up for it if you don't lay that supply up in that season. So what's the solution? Solomon says, "Go to the ant". I love the Bible. "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider the ants ways and you'll be wise". They don't even have a captain or an overseer or a ruler. No one makes them do all this. But what do they do? They provide supplies in the summer, and they gather the food in the harvest. So just think seasonally. Just think change, think multiple moves ahead. And what can you do in your single years that you're married self will say thank you for? What can you do in your years with your, when you have your little kids that you'll be grateful you do when they're an adult? How can you build that friendship? What can we do to grow and to grow strong? You get the idea.
And then number 5, and what the teaching of Matthew 25 is actually about. Because all those things are wonderful application points and thoroughly biblical, but not what the teaching's about. We have to, number five, are you ready? Here we go. This is going to be an intense one. You ready to just be like, ooh, to meet Jesus face to face. And there are two ways this can happen. Way number one, you die. Way number two, Jesus comes back. And the reason Jesus gave the parable of five foolish bridesmaids and five wise ones was to say, I'm coming back. You want to be ready. Because they got shut out of the wedding. They were out doing whatever. What they should have been doing while he was gone, they were trying to scramble to do it when he finally arrived. And that sickening feeling of regret, I could have been in there. I could have been a part of this. I had all that time to prepare, but I wasn't ready.
Are you ready for the Lord's return? Because Jesus is coming back. Jesus is going to return to this world. And the greatest proof I can offer you of the return of Jesus is Christmas. All through the Old Testament, read it, there are these really weird little promises, super specific. Messiah is coming, all the way back to Genesis Chapter 3. The Messiah is coming. Jesus is coming. All these specific promises. He's going to be born in Bethlehem. Here's a weird one. He's going to be born of a virgin. That's not normal. All the data is given, and guess what? Jesus fulfilled it.
Every year when you see the whole world bow its knee to acknowledge, every time you write the date out, you're acknowledging the birth of Jesus by which we divide time. He said, more times than the Old Testament spoke of the first coming, there's more promises and prophecies concerning the second coming, that he is going to come back. And what can we expect until that time? Well, that's what Matthew 24 and 25 are all about. It's called the Olivet discourse. So named, not by him, by the way. Jesus would never give such a bad sermon title. I guarantee it, the Olivet discourse. Why is it called that? Because he was sitting on the Mount of Olives talking to his disciples and they wanted to write down the stuff that he said. And so they called it the Olivet discourse. But it was just like this conversation, super organic, where the disciples were like, hey, remember earlier when you said you're coming back? When's that going to happen? Like, low-key, can you tell us?
And Jesus wanted to explain to you and to me and to them that no one can know when he's coming. Why? Because of human nature. If you knew, you'd be like, I totally would live for God three days out. Right? Right? He's coming back on Thursday. Right? I don't know. Like, I've wrote a lot of papers the night before. They didn't have Red Bull back then when I was your age. It would be Mountain Dew and something called Jolt Cola. It was like four cups of coffee and the worst-tasting thing you've ever had in your life. I remember just vividly sitting there writing papers the night before, and that's human nature. And when he says, hey, I'm coming back and no one knows the hour, he want, the point is of all of this is for us to live every day like it could be the day. Because it could be the day, both because you could die, or the skies could part and Jesus Christ could return to establish his kingdom.
And then the party, then the wedding, then the joy of the lion and the lamb, and the best honey running through the streets, with the best wine and trees clapping their hands. Come On. Game On. It's going to be great. But until then, between now and then, every day we should wake up, 1 John 3:3 says, whoever has the hope in himself purifies himself even as he is pure. It's a wonderful verse, 1 John 3:3. Whoever has the hope. What hope? He's talking about the hope of knowing Jesus that day could be standing before you face-to-face. If you have that hope, what do you do? You purify yourself even as you're pure. A lot doctrinally I wish I could spend some time on, but let me just tell you what this text is saying. This text is saying, you don't need to do anything before he returns if you're a Jesus follower so that you would be pure, because you already are. When he declared you pure at salvation, what you do is to purify yourself on the outside like he's already decided you are pure on the inside.
If you're a Christian, God will only ever always see the righteousness of his Son on your life. But there's a disparity or a disconnect between how we live day to day and how God has declared justification, being what it is, we are on the inside. So we purify ourselves even as we are pure. We try and bring our conduct up to the level of our calling. Why? So he'll be happy with us? No, because he has already decided he is. And that's what it does when you live every day thinking, is the Lord coming back today? I hope so. I wish it was the day, because I can't wait to see him. What a motivator that is. So before we send you out of here this week, and you can turn off your computer, I want to give you 10 ways to be ready for the Lord's return. Because none of us want to be the five foolish bridesmaids with no oil in our lamp when he shows up and we weren't ready.
So what do we do? We, number one, number 10, we're going backwards. We audit our end of life regrets. Make a list of if you were to die today, what regrets, what heartache there would be, what you would wish you would get a Mulligan on if he came back right now and you were standing before Jesus today. Where would you regret points be? I wish I would have, I never did, I shouldn't have, audit your end of life regrets. And then take that hindsight and apply it as foresight. An exercise that might be helpful Stephen Covey points you to would be almost imagining whoever would get the job of speaking at your funeral and trying to listen to it. I mean, if you die tomorrow, someone in your families or a friend is going to be like, will you say a few words? What have you given them by way of material?
So audit your end of life regrets. I've heard some eulogies in my day where they were just really having to be creative. He had really nice teeth. You know, it's like, man. So go Ebenezer Scrooge on this. Be Christmas Carol. You're not there yet. What a gift that you get to think about that now. Live in light of your end of life regrets. David said, help me to have a heart of wisdom by considering my end. Much wisdom comes by going to the end and then reverse engineering your story.
Number nine, make a to-don't list. This one's fun. You get to make a list of all the things you would really hate to be doing when Jesus comes back. And then make that your to-don't list. A lot of us have to-do lists, but we ought to make some to-don't lists. Because I guarantee you there's a thing or two that would be so awkward if Christ returned while you were doing in the last week. Don't make me exercise my gift of prophecy, but I know, because I know about my week. There's some moments when you wouldn't be at your best had he returned. So put that on your to-don't list for this next week. I love how the prophet Daniel, he said, I purposed in my heart that I would not defile myself.
Daniel Chapter 1, Verse 8. Think of some things that the enemy loves to tempt you with, and put that on your to-don't list and ask God for his help. And then invite accountability into your life with those things. Tell someone of what you're struggling with. Tell someone about that temptation you fall into. Ask them to pray for you. Do you have people in your life who will pray for you? Because news flash, they are around you in the chat right now. They are around you at your location right now. There are people who would love to say a prayer for you before you go. How good it feels to be prayed for. How good it feels to have people in your life like Jesus did who could wake up Peter, James, and John and say, could you guys pray for me? I'm having a really dark night.
Number seven, rest. What should you do knowing that Jesus is coming? You should do what the five wise bridesmaids did. They went to sleep. It's interesting. You would think only the foolish ones would go to sleep. You can't be sleeping when the groom comes. No. I find it interesting that Jesus in this story has the five wise going to bed. But what a difference it is to go to sleep having prepared. They had spent their day filling up a cruse of oil. So they slept the sleep of the prepared. What a wonderful thing to live for God in the daytime, and work hard for God in the daytime. And then know at nighttime he's got it. Two of you don't have to be asleep all night, and God doesn't ever go to sleep. So you can sleep. You can rest and know that if he comes, if I die before I wake, come on, that's a wonderful thought. I'd like to put in for one of those if I can request it. That's a great thing, just instantly to be standing before him. You can, you should have the rhythms of rest in your life.
I like how C.S. Lewis, and I'm just going to paraphrase, he said, if the world is to end in our lifetime, let it not come with us freaking out and stressing about it. Oh, oh, he was specifically living in World War II. All right? That's a hard time in the world. But he said, if the end is going to come tomorrow, let us be giving the kids a bath. Let's be playing darts at the pub. Let's be playing tennis. Let's be showing up for another day at the factory to work. The Thessalonians all say, no. Christ is coming. We got to quit our jobs. We got to sell everything. Give it all to the poor. We've got to be standing on the hill looking when he comes. And Paul was like, you idiots. You think Jesus really wants to come back and have you standing on a hill with a sign like you're an extra from Independence Day? What? Why would you think that would honor him? Like, I, go to work. Love people. Have margin. Have savings. Build a plan, and then go to rest. Have a game of darts. But it's got to be a root beer till the fast is over.
All right. Number six, fight for the souls of your children. Fight for the souls of your children. There is nothing that could possibly, that I could think of give more regret to think that you had the most precious honor in the world presented to you of leading little ones to Jesus, telling little ones about Jesus. Have you had those conversations with your kids? Have you pointed them to Christ? You wouldn't go to Disneyland without, I hope, without at least saying, hey, if we get split up, where do we meet up? If you get lost or separated from me in the crowd, where do we meet up? We get our kids together every once in a while and we say, hey, you know how if we get lost, what do you do? And then we give different ideas. Find someone that works there. Here's where we'd meet up, et cetera.
And we say, listen, mom and dad, we're going to wear our seat belts. We're going to be safe. We're going do everything right. But if something happens to us and we get separated in this life, where are we going to meet up? We're going to meet up in heaven. How do you get there? A relationship with Jesus. There is nothing that should be your number one responsibility more than leading your kids to Jesus, putting that blood over your home like during the Passover, getting that red cord up in the window like Rahab in the story of Joshua. And that's why, for me, there's a sense in which, yes, I love the sports and school and all the things. But you know what? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And it's so easy in this world, well, now we got the boat, so we've got to use the boat. That thing's a quarter million dollars and we invested in it.
So we have, do you even want to be on the boat? No, but I spent the money on it, so we better be on the boat because it's nice. And church is coming and going, and your kids aren't there to learn about God. This is why there has to be a sense in which we say we are planted in the House of the Lord. Fight for the souls of your children. Pray for your kids. Pray with your kids. Your kids should be coming out and seeing you reading your Bible. They should be, after you go to be with Jesus, be able to grab your Bible and look at the notes they wrote in it. And look in your journals and find your tear-soaked pages where you were praying for their grandkids, just that sense of generational impact.
Number five, bury hatchets. Who you got beef with? And is it time to say sorry? Jesus said, if you're there to worship God at the altar and you remember that you have anger in your heart for someone, leave your gift and go say sorry. Leave your gift and apologize for your part in it. Do everything you can, I love that the Bible gives us such spacious language. Do everything you can so much as it lies within you to live at peace with all men. You can't force them to say they accept it. You can't force there to be a happy reconciliation or a reparation of what was taken. But you don't have to live with hatred and unforgiveness. So do what we can to bury hatchets. Life is too short to live with unforgiveness in your heart.
Number four, memorize scripture. These bridesmaids hold lamps. It makes me think of Psalm 119:105, which says, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and the light to my path". So have you, when was the last time you just memorized a Bible verse? When was the last time you said I want to commit this to memory. I want to think about this week. I know you have a ton of Drake lyrics and Star Wars lines, and you could probably quote Dumb and Dumber in totality like me. But what about hiding God's word, which is, how can a young man keep his way pure? By taking heed according to your word. Proverbs 3, 5, and 6, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge, him and He will make your paths straight". What to do to be ready for the return of Jesus? Hide God's word in your heart.
Number three, bring people to church. If it's really the joy of a wedding feast, if it really is a party where everyone's welcome, tax collectors and sinners and, hey, religious people, too, everybody's welcome. I think about Matthew, the one who wrote Matthew, he said that the moment Jesus touched him and called him to follow Him, what was on his heart was to get all of his old tax collector friends and his new friends, the disciples, to come together and have Jesus in the seat of honor. Because he wanted everyone to meet the Jesus who touched him. So who in your life do you know that you could bring with you to church, that you could invite to watch online with you, who you could say, hey, come to my group. You don't need to know a lot about God. You don't need to know how to do it all right. There's going to be moments when it's going to be weird for you. That's OK. And I want you to experience this, because it means a lot to me. It doesn't have to be weird. I would tell you about my favorite restaurant in whatever city you're going to. I'd be like, oh, my god, you have to go there and get the, right? So why would I not want you to experience the thing that means more to me than anything? Bring your friends to church.
Number two, wake up your spirit. Bodies get sleepy, but so do souls. Romans says that it's high time we wake up our spirits knowing Christ's return is coming. I love that Peter had bigger spiritual eyes than his own stomach. Jesus said, you're going to betray me one day. And he goes, not me. You don't know. The strongest apostle there is, way stronger than John. So much stronger. He looks weak compared to me. It's like Hulk and Thor vibes I'm picking up, right? He's a puny Avenger. And why did he say that? I think he genuinely meant it. I think he really did mean, I would die for you, Jesus. But our spirits, Jesus said, are willing. Sadly, our flesh is weak. So what we have to do is do whatever we can to compensate for that and give our spirit the upper hand of being awake. And that is why we fast. We fast to wake up our spirits. We fast to remind ourselves that we need God's power. We fast and we pray and we do these things so that we can do what the rooster did for us without us denying Jesus.
The rooster for Peter woke up his spirit. And he's sitting there denying Jesus, and all of a sudden the cock's crowing, cock-a-doodle-doo. It woke up his spirit. He goes, what am I doing? His spirit was willing, but weak. The flesh was strong, but needs to be taught a lesson. So what you do when you fast is you bring the rooster into your soul to wake you up. That's why weekly church. I'm your big rooster up here every week, cock-a-doodle-doo, hopefully just to wake you up. Like, hey, come on. Life's going. Hey, come on. What's really important? Hey, come on. There's dreams God has for you. Hey, come on, you've got a calling. Hey, come on, you're destined for impact. We wake our spirits up. That's why you feel so different. How do you feel after seven hours binge watching Netflix? Lethargic. But have you ever gone away from reading scripture or singing a worship song or going to church or a Christian event and gone like, I wish I hadn't done that. No, you feel like, ahh, car wash for your soul. Wake up your spirit.
And then number one, and we're almost done, build in marble. Build in marble. If there's some of you, like me, contrarian, where's my enneagram eight's at, you're going, well, didn't this book get written 2,000 years ago? So Levi, you're telling me that for 2,000 years the church has been meant to live in a state of almost every day believing it could be the day, even though it has been thousands of years? Well, you are completely correct. But you should know two things.
Number one, the Bible says that to the Lord a day is as 1,000 years, and 1,000 years is as a day. So where we've been like, oh, it's been so long. He's like, yeah, it's been a couple of days. But secondly, you should also know that you're using a line of logic that the Bible anticipated. And in the book of 2 Peter he actually says, there are going to be people, the closer you get to the return of Jesus, who argue that he's never going to come, based on the fact that he hasn't come yet, which is like the worst logic. I don't believe I'm ever going to die. Why don't you believe you ever are going to die? Well, I never have before. Well, just wait. So we are to believe that Jesus could come any day. But I believe we are also to plan and lead as though he may take 2,000 more years because he might.
So what do we do? We build in marble. Paul said, I don't want to build with wood, I want to build with precious stones. When you go to Italy they show you stuff from the 1,400's. Why? Because it wasn't made out of wood. So we build with the mentality of legacy. And where does the legacy come from? What can we do to reach people, and what can we do to reach people who can reach people who can reach people? That's where we're thinking. That's where we're leaning towards. That's why the leadership college. That's why you hear us talk about internships and residencies and large-scale conferences to reach young people. We want to reach leaders who can reach leaders who can reach leaders. That's why we're not just planning our own churches, we're getting behind other church plants. We're building in marble. Y'all, we got to reach our children's children's children's children. And at any point, God is more than welcome to interrupt our plans mid-marble chisel and come back and establish his kingdom. But until then, there's work to do, people to reach, people to feed, people to help. And there's greatness inside of you.
And so Father, we thank you for the promise of your coming. And we realize it's later than any of us may think. As your word says, we're seeing wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, famine, earthquakes, kingdom against kingdom. We've seen in relatively recent history the rebirth of the modern state of Israel, as your word predicted and prophesied. And we are also seeing a great apostasy, the love of many growing cold, people loving pleasure and money rather than what is good. And so what is happening? We are seeing your prophetic timetable unfold exactly as you said it would. So what does that mean? We are living in the last days. And at any moment, the clouds could open and your Son will return. And we want to be found to be faithful when you come back. I pray for that to dawn upon us, that spirit of preparation and readiness, that we would have oil in our lamps and our lights would be burning brightly, that we would have no reason to shrink back in shame, but that we would be proudly welcoming you as King of all Kings back to your earth. And until that time, God, we do have work to do.
We must be about our Father's business. We can't stand on a mountaintop staring at the clouds when there's people down below who need to be touched. If you're here in this moment and you would just say, I sense and feel and am aware of God moving in my heart and life right now, and I just want to acknowledge that, could I just ask that you raise up a hand, maybe raise up both hands. Just say:
God, I want to be ready. I've got work to do. I hear what you're saying. I'm receptive to your spirit in my life of which oil is a symbol, your Holy Spirit. God bless these, increase them, give them opportunities, help them to endure their hardships, and be ready for the change that's coming.
You can put your hands down. I want to give an invitation for anybody to come in to the wedding, to come into the feast, to the party. The door is not barred yet. The opportunity has not been closed yet. I don't know if you can be saved tomorrow. I can't find it anywhere in the Bible that you have the promise that you can give your life to Jesus next week. I have never found in scripture reassurance that you can get right with God next year or when you're older. But the Bible does say, today is the day of salvation. And so I can, on the authority of God's word, tell you if you believe in Jesus today, you will be saved. You will be invited in. You don't have to be cast out, being told I never knew you by your Father in heaven.
So today's the day to come. You can't ask your friend or your sister or your brother for oil. You've got to get your own. And God is willing to give it to you. No one can walk with Jesus for you, but he invites you in to walk with him even now. So as we're praying with heads bowed, eyes closed, all of us aware that God is doing something supernatural outside of just this moment, touching you on Spotify, touching you on YouTube. If you're ready to give your heart to Christ, every location, every single person, I'm going to pray with you. I want you to pray with me out loud after me. God will hear you, because he promised he would. He will save you, because Jesus died for you then rose from the dead to conquer sin, hell, and the grave on your behalf.
When you take your last breath, when that casket lid closes, when those ashes are scattered, you will be more alive than you are today if you're in Christ. You don't have to live for yourself because you make a terrible God for yourself. You can live for the King of Kings and the Lord of glory who created the world and wants you to live for his fame. It makes you far more important than just living for your own self. If that's you I'm describing, say this with me. Church, say it with us:
Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I'm lost. I'm broken. I'm dead in sins. But I accept the gift of eternal life, that Jesus bought for me on the cross. I want to be a part of that party, a part of that wedding feast. So I invite you into my life, in Jesus' name.