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March 30, 2015

Living Intentionally

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Matthew 25:13 (NIV)

Having good intentions does not mean you are intentional. If you knew that your days were limited, you would become much more intentional with your time and resources. You would have more clarity about your priorities and what you needed to do to get everything done.

Jesus tells a parable along this line in His final days before His death. You can read it in Matthew 25:1-13. Though our marriage customs are different today, the point of the parable remains constant. It’s foolish to wait until the last minute to be prepared. Yet, how many times have I been guilty of doing just that? I tend to put off the things that are most important to me. Why is that? Is procrastination an issue for you as well? It’s human nature to have good intentions. All ten of the bridesmaids in the parable had good intentions. They were all awaiting the arrival of the groom. Each of them hoped to take part in the marriage feast. But, Jesus said that five of them were wise and the other five were foolish. What separated the wise ones from the foolish ones? Preparation. When the groom didn’t come at the expected time, five of them ran out of oil in their lamps. By the time they had purchased extra oil, it was too late to join the feast. The five wise bridesmaids were prepared. They didn’t know when the groom was coming. It didn’t matter. They were wise. They didn’t put off doing what needed to be prepared for when he would come. So, when the bridegroom came at midnight, their lamps had plenty of oil to join the procession and take part in the marriage feast.

Imagine the regret that the five foolish bridesmaids had to live with. If only I had not wasted my time; if only I had prepared like the others did. The reality is that all ten bridesmaids had the same 24 hours in every day. The foolish ones simply procrastinated. They failed to take advantage of the time they had to prepare. They put off doing today what they thought they could do tomorrow. Have you ever done that? Sometimes, it’s not intentional. I didn’t intend to wait too late. I had every intention to be ready. Yet, somehow, life passed me by, and I didn’t accomplish the purpose for which God made me.

If you want to live a life of no-regrets, take a lesson from this parable. Don’t put off what you would have wanted to do if you had been given another month. Sometimes, we think it’s not that big a deal, like the foolish bridesmaids who may have thought, “It’s just a little oil. I can get that later.” But, later never came. They missed their opportunity. Don’t miss yours.

The primary point of this parable teaches us that when Jesus returns to take His people to Heaven, we must be ready. The Bible says He is our bridegroom and the church is His bride. Spiritual preparation cannot be bought or borrowed at the last minute. Our relationship with God must be our own. It’s often said that Hell is paved with good intentions. No one in his right mind would seriously want to spend eternity in Hell. Still, people put off trusting Christ until the last minute, and the problem is that we don’t know when the last minute will tick. I read a T-shirt the other day that said, “People who wait until the midnight hour to repent usually die at 11:30.”

If I’m to be ready when Christ returns, I need a relationship with Christ today. We are closing in on the last days of our Lent Experience. It would be tragic to take this journey together and to have failed to put your trust in Christ. He alone can forgive us and cleanse us from sin. Have you put your faith in Christ as your Savior from sin? If not, do it now. Don’t wait another second. Be intentional with your good intentions to receive Christ, and ask Him to forgive you and invite Him to be the Lord of your life. In simple childlike faith, ask Him to come into your heart and commit your life to following Him. Then, thank Him for saving you and giving you a new life – His life.

There’s an eternal regret you will never have to worry about again!

Personal Challenge:

  1. What do you procrastinate the most about?
  2. With only a day or so before His death, Jesus shows concern for the spiritual welfare of those He was leaving behind. How can you demonstrate your concern for the spiritual welfare of those you love?  What would you want them to know if you only had limited time remaining?