We lived and ministered in and around the city of Nagpur for 13 long years.
One of the aspects of true ministry was coping with very frequent electricity outages, and even more so in the rainy season. At times, I remember clearly, we had to do without electricity for over two days at a stretch.
It was then I learned all about lamps. Candles were expensive, but lamps were brighter and safer to use, especially with children around. There was also the fear of snakes and scorpions roaming the floor as they got through the gaps under the doors.
And so for the first time in my life, a city guy like me learned about oil lamps…and God has taught me many precious lessons since.
Firstly, the lamp becomes your primary source of light in a power failure.
Does not the Bible teach that we ourselves must be a light?
Jesus said in Matt 5…You are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
It is an essential character of the Kingdom people, the church, to display the character of Christ. The Bible says that Jesus is the light of this world. And we see Jesus saying, we are the light of the world.
Again in 1 John 4:17 John writes…as He is so are we in this world. The Lord has called us to be exactly like Him! We need to exude His caliber of character, His real radiance of love and His unfading glow of passion for the lost.
We are reminded in Isaiah 60…Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you…But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.
This present darkness over the world is getting thicker and overbearing in every dimension of human faculty. The work of the enemy is real. But in the midst of turmoil and perplexity we need to be the light that attracts the seeking, the hungry and the thirsty. Our light can shine because Jesus is living in us.
The second lesson I learned was simply this…the key to proper wick maintenance is to make sure the wick is always soaked in oil.
The truth is very unassuming here. Unless we are ‘soaked’ in ‘oil’ our wicks will pop and sputter, and the light will be intermittent. Now many think that the oil is the Holy Spirit. Yes, I can agree with you to some extent. But the ‘oil’ I believe is the fullness of all that God is in you. His Word, His love, His passions, His burdens, His heart for the poor and His desire for justice. This is the truth…your light will not be bright unless you are soaked with God Himself. Don’t be deceived. A few worship songs on Sunday and just skimming God’s Word on week days will become a pop and sputter that people can see and hear!
And then here’s another key I learned. How you trim the wick is of utmost importance to the quality of the flame. Let me show you four different schools of thought when it comes to the shape of wicks. Some people go for the ‘crown’ shape, which is like a slightly rounded point, some trim them just flat across, some trim them nicely pointed, and some don’t trim them at all. I’ll just be very straight—you’ll get the brightest light if you trim your wick nicely pointed! Let me tell you that as I have an experience now.
But here is the truth. A ‘dirty’ untrimmed wick shows off an uneven and low flame. A trimmed and a clean-cut wick shows a brighter, longer lasting flame.
The lesson is this. Get your life in order. What needs to be done now…do it now. What needs to be done first…do it first. What needs to be done excellently…do it excellently. Don’t be lazy and indecisive. Don’t be carried away with the winds of the moment.
Our theme for this month of February is ‘Arise and trim your lamps’, taken from Matt 25:7…Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. Jesus begins this chapter with a powerful sentence. The kingdom of heaven is likened to the ten virgins.
When did all the virgins begin to trim their lamps? This parable tells us that three powerful things happened before they did so. The time had come…it was midnight. The call went forth…it was the cry (clamour in Greek). The clarity was with great precision…Behold! The Bridegroom cometh. It was THEN that the virgins arose from their slumber. It was THEN that they trimmed their lamps. It was THEN when the foolish virgins found out their lamps had run dry. ‘Trimming lamps’ really means the whole overall check, not just a casual glance!
So what is God saying to us?
If you have ears you can hear. If you have eyes then you can see. No excuses please!
The Lord is saying to us. The midnight hour is upon us. The urgency is upon us. Get up! Arise! Wake up! The call is coming forth. The harvest is ready. This generation is hungry for the real and for the genuine. The call comes loud and clear. The prophets speak, the evangelists cry out, the pastors pray and intercede, teachers bring a revelatory understanding of the times, and the apostles lead on against all odds. We need to behold the Bridegroom, and no one else. This is not about any one church or leader or organization. This is about beholding Jesus in all we do. The same message John the Baptist brought. The forerunner spirit that edges us on to see, seek and serve Him.
The Lord is also saying…get the oil filled to the full. Don’t be leaking. Don’t be backsliding. Don’t be gossiping and building your own kingdom. Don’t be desiring your own way. Get filled with God Himself. The fullness that fills all in all. Therefore check out your whole life as a Christian, not just the parts you’d like to change!
Get serious and get straight. Stop playing church, stop playing inside the church and stop playing with the church.
Hey! Check your lamps. What’s your level? Hmm…be sure you are filled to the top.