Read Matthew 25:1-13 - OBSERVATIONS
It’s important to note that on the outside all ten bridesmaids looked very much alike. All ten were undoubtedly excited about being in the bridal procession. All ten had brought their lamps along with them. All ten were patiently waiting for the bridegroom. All ten were fully expecting to join the bridegroom at the wedding feast. All ten fell asleep while they were waiting.

In a very similar way, when we look at those who profess to be Christians, when we look at those who hold membership in a Church congregation they can all look very much alike - on the outside. They may all be in church on a regular basis. They may all be actively involved in various ministries. They may all be giving of their time and their talents and their treasures. They may all be waiting expectantly for the Lord to return. But they may not all be prepared!

When you look at these ten bridesmaids what was the one thing which separated the "wise" from the "foolish"? It was personal preparation. The wise bridesmaids not only brought their lamps with them but the Bible says, “The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps” Did the foolish bridesmaids forget this? No! They neglected this! It all began with a lack of personal preparation.

1. CHRISTIANS ARE LIKE THE BRIDESMAIDS AWAITING THE BRIDEGROOM
Some are wise
a. They diligently prepare themselves for the Master’s coming, heeding the call to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord - 2 Pet 3:18; 1:5-8
b. Knowing what is to come; they “look” for it and live accordingly - 2 Pet 3:11-14
c. For them, the coming of the Lord will be a blessing! - 2 Pet 1:10-11
Eph 5:15 - As Christians, we are to seize upon every opportunity to make progress, to learn and grow.

Some are foolish
a. They know the Lord is coming, but they are not prepared
b. They may even be like that evil servant who says “My master is delaying his coming”, and act accordingly - Mt 24:48-49
c. Yet Jesus has warned what will happen to such evil servants - Mt 24:50-51
Many begin their walk in carefulness and diligence but soon give place to carelessness and neglect.

Are we like the wise bridesmaids, or the foolish ones?

2. BEING PREPARED IS A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
The wise bridesmaids could not share their oil with the foolish bridesmaids - Mt 25:9. Nor can we impart our salvation we have received to someone else. Each person must receive Christ as Lord and Saviour for themselves. We are responsible for our own spiritual growth. We grow the most when we assume personal responsibility for our own spiritual development and look for others to help us (not grow us, just help us grow). The flipside is also true. We grow the least when we slacken off.

Do you foolishly trust in your relationship with someone else for your salvation or are you looking for someone to blame for your own lack of spiritual growth?

3. THOSE UNPREPARED DO NOT RECEIVE A SECOND CHANCE
Despite their pleas, the foolish bridesmaids were not permitted into the wedding - Mt 25:10-12. When the Lord comes again, the time for salvation is gone! Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like this story too. There is going to be an end to the window of opportunity. There are no second chances then. 2 Pet 3:9

HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF GOD’S KINGDOM?
We must be prepared at all times for the coming of God’s Kingdom. In view of this great need, how do we prepare for this great event?

1. Anticipate His Return
All of us have certain expectations and hopes in life. Some pan out. Others don’t. But without expectation and hope we will not get far in life, nor will we please God. Heb. 11:6

2. Be careful not to get too preoccupied with the world.
a. Through its worldly lusts
b. Through its worldly concerns
Lk 21:34-35, Titus 2:11-13

Do you anticipate His return or are you distracted by other things here?

3. Be steadfast in prayer - Lk 21:36 For in prayer we naturally maintain an attitude of watchfulness which is a mark of preparation - Eph 6:18 And in prayer we can assure that we will be counted worthy as we confess our sins - 1 Jn 1:9

4. Be diligent to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ - 2 Pet 3:18, 2 Pet 1:5-8 The blessings of living such a life are described in 2 Pet 1:10-11 “….For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

CONCLUSION
This parable teaches that a great day is coming, a day in which those in the kingdom today will find themselves in two different groups...

Those who were prepared and faithfully watch for His coming. For them, the coming of the Lord will be a blessing! And………

Those who were not prepared, to whom they will hear the Lord say: “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.”

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Mt 25:13)

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Can you remember a time when you or others were concerned about predictions that Christ would return on a particular date?
2. How do you feel about people dismissing the second coming because of these unwise predictions?
3. How should we reconcile Jesus’ statement that we cannot know the day or the hour with his admonition to “keep watch” (or be prepared)?
4. What are some similarities between the ten bridesmaids and the church today?
5. Although we do not know the day or the hour, Christ return is imminent. What will you do today to ensure that you are prepared for that great event?
6. What happened when the foolish bridesmaids knocked on the door and asked to be allowed in? How will this apply to people at the coming of Christ?
7. Read Matthew 24:9-13. What are the signs of Christ’s second coming?
8. How can we help people to understand the reality of Christ’s return to earth?
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