Buy Oil

There are many good things to say about the anointing, but I’m going to boil them down to a single thought:  the oil Jacob poured on the rock represented God’s manifest presence.  The house where God lives must be a house that makes room for His manifest presence.

As a teenager, a troubling question made its way around the churches:  if God withdrew His presence from the church, how many of us would know the difference?  And how many of us would continue doing what we’d always been doing, totally unaware that God Himself had left?

I didn’t know if I could answer the questions well, but I resolved early in my Christian life that I would build my own ministry on God’s manifest presence, in such a way that if He withdrew, I would be unable to continue.

In John 14:21-23, Jesus gave a simple recipe for His manifest presence:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

This isn’t a call to live under the law; it is a call to grace, which we enter into by repentance and faith.  And it is a call to intimacy, a life of hearing and responding to His voice.

In the beginning of my ministry, I didn’t know how to access the voice of God.  If He spoke, I was likely to mistake it for my own thoughts.  I missed a lot in my early days.

But I always looked for scriptures I could act on, and there are plenty.  I learned that a deep walk with God doesn’t consist in prowling around in the obscure passages of scripture; it consists in finding the simples commandments and acting on them.

They’re simple, but they aren’t necessarily easy.  Humble yourself.  Submit to God.  Serve one another.  Love one another.  In everything give thanks.  Pray without ceasing.  Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord.

And I John 1:9 is one I’ve needed when I’ve sinned: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  It’s easy to say, “Yeah, yeah; I already know that.”  It’s better to take a few minutes to do it, and to do it as often as necessary.

Jesus talked about oil in the parable of the ten virgins – it’s in the first few lines of Matthew 25.  He told of ten virgins who needed oil in their lamps so they could participate in the part of the wedding that happened in the middle of the night.

I won’t try to explain the wedding customs in Jesus‘ day, but suffice it to say that His hearers found the story very believable.  The point was this:  five of the virgins were wise because they had bought oil during the day, and five were foolish because they had not.

It wasn’t a big purchase.  I’m guessing they needed to spend about as much as someone might spend for a flashlight battery today.

In more than forty years of following Jesus, I’ve seen that this parable holds a key for all of us.  It is impossible to pay a great price today to buy all the oil we’ll ever need.  But we can make a small transaction today, exchanging a few minutes here and a small effort there to invest in God’s manifest presence.

Small investments add up.

Don’t be fooled by get-rich-quick schemes.  See if you can find a small opportunity to buy oil before you go to bed tonight.  Look for another before lunch tomorrow.

Buy oil.  Small investments add up.

Stan Smith  ::  © 2009, GospelSmith  ::

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