By Anne Graham Lotz | First Published: September 18, 2015
Note: Danny Lotz passed away on August 19, 2015. Please pray for his wife, Anne Graham Lotz, and the entire family.
Every year of our marriage, Danny and I have gone to the beach in the summer. As our children came along, we kept up this annual trek so that it has become a much-anticipated family vacation. While it is lots of fun, it always amazes me how much I have to do to get ready to go. Days beforehand, my daughters and I plan the menus and the grocery lists that go with them. We all share in making casseroles in advance to help with the actual meals once we arrive. I make lists of things to take, including clothes, beach chairs, ice cream freezer, Danny’s meds, DVDs for the kids, books to read, sunscreen—the lists go on and on. And then, of course, comes the day I actually pack the pick-up truck, checking my lists again and again to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything. By the time I arrive at the beach, I assure you, I am more than ready for a vacation!
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All of this groundwork makes me wonder: If it requires about 10 days of detailed, intentional preparation just to get ready for a family vacation, what kind of preparation do I need to make so that I’m ready to go Home when Jesus comes?
As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem with His disciples, He taught them the signs to look for that would indicate His return was near. While Jesus emphasized that no one would know the day or the hour of His return, the signs He gave were specific enough to help His disciples pinpoint the generation. Based on what Jesus said and what I see happening in our world today, I believe we are living in the last generation. We are living at The End. It’s time to get ready to go Home!
READ MATTHEW 25:1-13
I. THE ANTICIPATION
A. The Promise of His Coming
• From the following verses, give the phrase from the promise of His coming that is emphatic: John 14:3, Acts 1:10-11, Revelation 22:20.
• What insight does Paul give us concerning the return of Jesus? List as many facts as you can from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
• How does Titus 2:13 describe a believer’s anticipation of His coming?
• What does Paul say this anticipation teaches us? Read Titus 2:12.
B. The Preparation for His Coming
• In Matthew 25:1-5, what did the young women have in common?
• What were the differences between them?
• What was the primary, literal difference? Read Matthew 25:3-4.
• If the lamp represents a profession of faith and the oil represents the Holy Spirit, how do we “get” the oil? Study John 3:5-7, Romans 8:9, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13.
• Is there “oil” in your “lamp?”
• Where do we get the oil? See John 7:37-39.
• In your own words, explain the primary spiritual difference between the wise and foolish virgins.
• How do we see that same difference in people today?
• What are some ways that wise people get ready? Read the following verses: Matthew 7:24-25, 24:42-47; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:11, 14; Hebrews 9:28; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Corinthians 15:58.
• From Matthew 7:26-27 and 2 Peter 3:3-4, what are some characteristics of foolish people?
• Based on these passages, which are you: Wise and ready? Or foolish and unprepared? Explain the reason for your answer.
II. THE AWAKENING
• What is one reason people are sleeping today? Read Matthew 24:48-50, 25:5; 2 Peter 3:9.
• What impact did the “midnight cry” have? See Matthew 25:6-7.
• What do you think the “midnight cry” could be? Give ideas from Revelation 6:12-14, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Matthew 24:37-41, Matthew 24:7-8, Luke 21:25, Matthew 24:30-31, Acts 2:17-21.
• If the oil represents the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, why couldn’t the wise virgins give oil to the foolish virgins? Read Matthew 25:7-9.
• What does that tell you about getting ready before the “midnight cry”?
• If 9/11 didn’t alert the church to the lateness of the hour and the need to share the Gospel, what do you think it will take to wake up God’s people?
• What will it take for you to wake up and get ready?
III. THE ARRIVAL
• How much advance notice will we be given for the Bridegroom’s arrival? Read Matthew 24:36, 24:50; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.
• When the Bridegroom arrives, who will go with Him? See Matthew 25:31-34.
• Who will not go with Him, and why? Read Matthew 25:11-12.
• What same reason is given in Matthew 7:21-23 for people being shut out of Heaven?
• What critical element does Jesus describe for this difference in John 3:16-18?
• If we are not given advance notice, how can we be ready for the Bridegroom’s coming? Read Matthew 24:42-44, 25:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6.
• What do you need to do to prepare so that when the Bridegroom arrives, you won’t have to get ready… you will be ready? Do it now. Before the “midnight cry” rings out and it’s too late.
While I can’t take lists of things with me to Heaven, I can take my character that I pray is becoming more Christlike. Therefore, one way to get ready for His coming is to maintain moment-by-moment surrender to the moment-by-moment control of the Holy Spirit, so that I am continuing to be conformed to the image of Jesus. And indirectly, I can take others with me. So another way to get ready is to share the Gospel in such a way that people choose to claim Jesus as Savior and Heaven as their Home, too. And third, I can get ready by reordering my priorities so that five minutes before the “midnight cry” goes out, I will have no regrets in the way I have lived my life from this moment forward.
Get ready, the Bridegroom is coming! D ©2015 ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ
ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ HAS PROCLAIMED GOD’S WORD WORLDWIDE FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS. HER RE-RELEASE OF HEAVEN, MY FATHER’S HOUSE IS AVAILABLE AT ANNEGRAHAMLOTZ.ORG.