Blessings: When you receive a blessing, it strengthens your faith and is an encouragement in your walk with God. However, if you pass on that blessing, it becomes a DOUBLE blessing.
A personal experience in the lead up to today's service:
I asked myself what I should give up for Lent. It is easy to give up something quantifiable, like chocolates, but I decided to give up time, half and hour each morning, meeting my Heavenly Father, sitting with Him, being quiet and enjoying Him. Waiting for Him to give me my agenda for the day. Reading my Streams in the Desert daily reading.
One morning, about 2 weeks ago, I started reading. The topic of Oil and it's uses in the Bible came up in a short reading. I pondered on this, being quiet, waiting for God to speak, and it was unbelievable how so much came to mind. I started reading wider than the Daily reading, finding cross references in my Study Bible, and it was just as if God was giving me a whole lesson in the significance and symbolism of OIL .
When Trevor asked me last week, whether Ann and I could take the service this morning, I thought again about that amazing early morning time that I had two weeks ago.
I said to God: “If today's set reading have any reference to oil, I will have the assurance that this message comes directly from you, LORD, and I will listen carefully to what You want me to convey”.
I opened the Lectionary book at today's date, and the Morning prayer section was about the ceremony of being anointed with oil. I had goose bumps....
There are many references in the Bible to the use of oil.....think for a couple of minutes, if you can recall any one of these......
The meaning of Oil in the Bible
Read OT Lev 8: 1-13
NT Matt 25:1-13
If we take the first 5 letters of the alphabet, ABCDE, it can serve as a guideline for us.
A: 1. Anointing
Anointing oil is mentioned 20 x in Scripture. It was an ancient ceremony, used in the OT for pouring oil on the head of the high priest, as well as sprinkling the tabernacle and it's furnishings to mark them as holy = set apart.
The recipe for anointing oil is found in Ex 30: 23-24.....it contained myrrh, fragrant cinnamon, cassia, fragrant cane which was then mixed with olive oil.
What was the significance of all these instructions? Was there special power in this oil mixture?
- the strictness of guidelines to be followed in preparing the oil, was a test of obedience to God
- also for them to realize that they were serving a holy God....a God who expects them to live a holy life.....a life set apart to the glory of God
A difficult word or concept, as it is not an every day word....if we break down the word in it's syllables, at-one-ment, …..to be made ONE with God, to remove what hinders us from being one with God.....it becomes more understandable.
In other words, the ceremony of anointing with oil, was the symbol of being make pure, holy, set apart, before you enter the house of God (tabernacle), or doing work for God.
We serve a holy God, and He expects His people (you and me, who want to serve and honor Him)
to be clean, pure, holy ….. no hindrances between you and God, when we take that step of serving Him. Whole-heartedly. Not only we have time, or when we feel like it....NO, ALL THE TIME.
B. Be ready.......Have oil in your lamps Matt 25 Oil in this instance, was olive oil, which had been used in the time of Jesus, for providing light.
In today's context, we may modernize the parable by saying.....we run out of fuel, even in this day and age, when modern technology warns us, when the fuel levels get low.....we still sometimes get caught out. A real situation.
What Jesus was referring to, was that we don't know the day and hour, of His return.
See this reading in context. Jesus speaks about the fig tree, (Matt 24:32)....lesson being: we should watch the times and circumstances, and get our house in order when there is still time of grace...
Matt 24: 36 --- Jesus tells about remaining watchful.
So three times in a row, Jesus emphasises the importance of utilizing the time of GRACE, while we still have an opportunity to: - come to the Father
- ask for forgiveness
- live daily according to His will
The oil of being ready.
I also read into this parable another meaning of Being ready.
- ready to serve
- ready with your friendship when you become aware of a need
- ready with a smile, an encouraging word
Do you have the capacity of being ready? Enough fuel, so to speak, of being ready?
C. Oil of Compassion and Care Mark 14:3-9
The woman that took fragrant oil to massage Jesus' feet......showing Him her compassion and care, for what He was about to go through in the following couple of days.....
D. Paying our debt.....oil of provision: II Kings 4:1-7 The widow's Oil
Elisha was called to the home of a widow, whose husband had been a co-worker of Elisha. The husband had died, and his wife had been left with nothing except a little oil.
A wonderful account of how the oil did not run out, until all the jars were filled.
And Elisha told her....v 7 “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left”.
The oil of God's provision
Jesus has paid for our debts on the cross....but He also wants to provide daily in our every day needs....if we allow Him to guide us. If we live close to Him and listen each moment to His voice. We will never ever lack anything.
E. Life giving oil …...Everlasting Life I Kings 7-24 The widow at Zarephath
Elijah: Elijah fed by the ravens - – The Lord sent Elijah to the coastal town of Zarephath on the Mediterranean Sea. There Elijah went to this widow and asked for water first, and then as an after thought, Elijah added, “and a piece of bread”. This poor widow was on her last handful of flour and a little bit of oil.
BUT …..she was obedient, and gave of the little that she had. …...Elijah responded to her by saying: “ the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry.....” God's provision through the symbol of oil.
But it didn't end here.
The son of this widow, then became ill and died. The widow's first instinct was anger, and she blamed Elijah for what had come over her.
V 19: “Give me your son.....v 20 Elijah cried out to God....and begged that the boy's life return to him.
God was faithful and raised this son from the dead.
God gives life.... not only here on earth, but everlasting life!