To Be a Wise Virgin

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Jesus warned his disciples, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish” (Matthew 25:1-2, NKJV). If you are honest, you’ll admit, “Yes, this parable describes me. I’ve grown lazy, but I don’t want to become a foolish virgin and drift away. I want to be ready as the day of the Lord approaches.”

If you want to be a wise virgin, there are two steps you must take. They’re simple, but they can’t be overlooked.

First, make Christ the center of your thought life. Let the Lord be in all your thoughts. When you wake up in the morning, whisper his name. At night as you’re going to bed, call out to him in thought and on your knees. Scripture commands us, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Let this verse be the basis of a simple prayer you murmur throughout the day: “Jesus, you are true, honest, just, pure and lovely. You are my Good News.”

We too often let ourselves become consumed with worries or plans. Paul wrote, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile” (1 Corinthians 3:20). God records all your thoughts. He knows every time you think of him, so give him all your “thank you” thoughts.

Second, pray throughout the day, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” This simple prayer is the oil for your lamp. Praying it daily is how you begin to prepare to meet the Lord. You’re telling God, “Father, I’m not worthy to be called by your name. I need your mercy. I realize I’m not what I thought I was. I thought I was a pretty good person, yet whatever meager goodness I may possess gains me nothing. It’s all as filthy rags in your sight. I know I can’t be saved by my good works. I need your grace. I humble myself before you now. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Ever Increasing Faith

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The men who comprised of Christ’s closest circle decided to ask something important of their Master. “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’” (Luke 17:5, NKJV). They wanted a greater understanding of the meaning and workings of faith. They were saying, “Lord, what sort of faith do you desire from us? Give us a revelation of the kind that pleases you. We want to grasp faith in its fullest meaning.”

On the surface, their request seems commendable. However, I believe the disciples asked this of Jesus because they were confused. In the previous chapter, Christ had baffled them by saying, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12).

Jesus knew his followers’ flesh wanted to avoid what they considered to be the lesser matters of faith. So he told them, “If you’re faithful in the little things, the foundational matters of faith, you’ll be faithful in the greater things too. So, prove yourself trustworthy in the basic requirements of faith. Otherwise, how can you be trusted with a deeper measure?”

If we are honest, we’ll admit we’re much like Jesus’ disciples. We also want to proceed straight to the larger matters of faith, to obtain the kind of faith that moves mountains. Like the disciples, we often judge faith by visible results.

True faith, in God’s eyes, has nothing to do with the size or amount of a work you aim to accomplish. Rather, it has to do with the focus and direction of your life. You see, God isn’t as concerned with your grand vision of how you plan to serve him as he is with who you’re becoming. God is more interested in winning all of me than in me winning all the world for him.

Fragile Earthen Vessels

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

One of the most encouraging scriptures in the Bible is “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, NKJV).

Paul goes on to describe those earthen vessels as dying men, troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down. Even though they never gave into despair, those men being used by God were constantly groaning under the burden of their bodies, waiting anxiously to be clothed with new ones.

God mocks man’s power. He laughs at our egotistical efforts at being good. He never uses the high and mighty. Instead he uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise. “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Wow! Does that ever describe me. Weak, foolish and despised thing. A thing not very noble, smart or mighty. What insanity to think God could use such creatures! Yet that is his perfect plan and the greatest mystery on earth.

God has determined to accomplish his goal here on earth through men with many weaknesses. Abraham had weaknesses: He lied, and he almost turned his wife into an adulteress, but Abraham “…believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3). God calls us in our weaknesses, even when he knows we’ll do it wrong. He puts his priceless treasure in these earthen vessels of ours because he delights in doing the impossible with nothing.

Emotions Used for Good or Evil

Gary Wilkerson

We were created to be emotional beings. We weren't created with just a brain. We were made to have fully rounded emotions. Everything we have that is created by God is, or rather was, inherently good. So our emotions were put into us by God, but they have been corrupted in some ways by the fall.

Part of the challenge is figuring out when our feelings are sinful and when they aren’t. It’s tempting with some feelings to say, “Oh, all of this type of emotion is bad.” One example would be jealousy. We look at that and think, “Don't ever be jealous”, but God is jealous. God told the people of Israel, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6, ESV).

You know, if a man is not in some ways jealous over his wife, that’s a problem. If she's spending too much time with another man and they're starting to connect in ways that is improper, the husband should be jealous. He should go in and correct that unrighteous situation. So our emotions can come from a godly place, but they can be infected by sin or used by the enemy.

There is a proper time for our emotions. We’re told that there’s “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). The Bible also teaches us how to how to process our feelings when it says, “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” (Romans 12:2).

How do I enter God’s courts with praise, holiness and honesty in my emotions? We should ask the Spirit to guide us and give us wisdom so our emotions glorify God.

All You Need Is Love?

Claude Houde

On June 25, 1967, the Beatles sang the song “All You Need Is Love” for the first time on television in a live broadcast. It’s estimated that between 400 and 700 million people heard this ode to love and peace that day. Soon, thanks to the global success of the song, the American hippie movement adopted it as their official anthem. Protestors sang it during the countless demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

From cover to cover, the Bible also speaks of love, from the infinite love of God to Christ who commands that we love our neighbors. Love is mentioned more than 300 times in the Bible: 131 times in the Old Testament and 179 times in the New Testament. The Bible is God's love letter to mankind.

Yet it is written in Proverbs, “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established” (Proverbs 24:3, NKJV). Love is fundamental in relationships, but it’s not sufficient on its own. We love, but we need more. To truly strengthen our families and friendships, we need the wisdom of God.

I like this parallel that Solomon draws between the project of strengthening relationships and that of building a house. It is true that our loved ones are an extraordinary blessing, but we must build our connections one brick at a time, one day at a time. To undertake and succeed in this project, we need the advice, direction and wisdom of God and his Word. Because if love rhymes with happiness and blessing, it can also mean hurt and brokenness. Whatever your family or friend situation, I encourage you to read, study, understand and apply the Word of God. You will draw from it divine resources, clear directions, liberating truths, courage and essential knowledge.

Whether you are a single mom or a senior, God has a Word for you today. Whether you are single or in a relationship, whether you are a traditional, blended, immigrant or multicultural family, God has a direction for you. He has a hope to whisper to couples who are suffering from infertility or who are in marital distress. God wants to breathe new courage into your relationships. Do not deprive yourself of the Word that God has for you today.

Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.