Mon, Nov 25th - 9:09PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to ruin; and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan is also divided against himself, how shall his kingdom then stand? because you say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And If I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by who do your sons cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong armed man keeps his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger man than he comes upon him, and overcomes him, he takes from him all of his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils (Luke 11:17-22)."
There are some facts of which I take note of here:
1) Jesus used a very simple illustration to make His claim, that of a divided kingdom and a house. It is an illustration that is clearly understood by all people because everyone knows of kingdoms and houses that became divided and crumbled into ruin and were conquered.
2) Jesus assumed the existence of Satan and his kingdom, both of which struggle against righteousness and good. He did not deny Satan's existence nor did He try to correct peoples' mistaken notion about the devil and his kingdom. He did not waste time arguing this point because the devil and his kingdom are not mistaken notions. They are very, very, real (Revelation 12:9).
3) Jesus said Satan is not divided against himself. He is not going to do good nor is he going to build up God's kingdom. Satan works for the very opposite result. Satan works to build his own kingdom, his own rule and reign. He desires to oppose and exalt himself against God. He wants people to follow him and his way of wickedness and by such to cut the heart of God. He wants God to hurt, just he hurt when hurled from out of heaven where he used to live. He knows that God hurts when people go astray and turn away from God's kingdom. Therefore, Satan always seeks to lead people into evil by enticing them through the carnal and bodily desires of human nature. Satan knows that sin leads to disease and to the destruction of the human body and family. Satan knows that such destruction causes great pain and suffering for God, which apparently is Satan's ultimate motive.
The point is quite clear: Satan is not going to be casting out evil. Thus the power of Christ has to be of God. His power is good, it casts out what is not good. Christ the Messiah is of God's kingdom and house, not of Satan's kingdom and house.
We can also see an argument being made using existing Jewish exorcists. These were sons of the Jewish nation, who tried to cast out devils in the name of Jehovah. They argued that they were not accused of hellish power. So why was Jesus being accused? Since Jesus always healed and was always successful in casting out evil, certainly He should be respected as much if not more than other ministers. We see Jesus pointing out to them that the mistake of the Jews was that they exalted priests and religion above God. How many of us today are guilty of exactly the same error? Every time we read, quote, and use other ministers as our source much more than we use Jesus and the Holy Scriptures we are engaging in this same practice as the Jews were doing in Jesus time. Jesus Christ ought to exalted as the Messiah, the Son of God who alone can cast out evil. Thus, He must be read, quoted, and preached day in and day out. Jesus must be honored by every person. Here are some scriptures to consider: "That all people should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father which has sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life (John 5:23-24)." "Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me (John 5:39)." "Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68)." "Jesus answered and said to him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He that does not love Me does not keep My sayings; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's which sent Me (John 14:23-24)."
The third illustration Jesus used here is that of "the finger of God." Jesus claimed to have the power to usher in the kingdom of god. The power that cast out devils is the power of God. It comes only from God and from no one else. In essence Jesus said in these verses that if He possessed the power of God then He was bringing the kingdom of God to them. Wherever the power of God is, there is the kingdom of God as well for the power of God is always used to bring about the rule and reign of God. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Thus, when you and I accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, repent of our sins, and do receive the Holy Spirit within us, the Kingdom of God has come upon us is expanding within us with each breath that we take. The power of evil is now being cast out of us. Christ urges that no person miss the Kingdom of God. Christ ushered the kingdom in, but it still has to be personally accepted.
Notice these scriptures: "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it (Luke 16:16)." "And when He was demanded by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation; neither shall they say, Look here! look there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21)." Jesus replied to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, except a person is born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God...Truly, truly I say to you, except a person be born of water and of the Spirit, they cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5)." "And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. And no one after that dared to ask Him any question (Mark 12:34)." "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, andjoy in the holy Spirit (Romans 14:17)."
The fourth illustration that Jesus used was that of a strong man. Jesus claimed to be stronger than Satan. In the illustration Satan is the strong man, and he is armed. Satan's "goods" are people who are subjected to him: people who follow the way of this world, who are selfish and rebellious against righteousness. Satan actively works to keep his kingdom and "goods" in peace, under his rule and reign. There is a measure of peace and comfort in Satan's realm. He will give physical pleasures to secure a person in his kingdom. But it is only for a short time (Hebrews 11:25; 9:27). The stronger Man is none other than Jesus Christ. Christ came upon Satan: "He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8)," "For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15)." "And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show them openly, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:15)." "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11)."
It is crystal clear, Jesus Christ came to revoke Satan's power over death. Not only to revoke it, but to openly demonstrate to people and to angels and to demons that He now held the keys to death and that Satan no longer could protect his "goods." Christ was the stronger man who had now come into Satan's house and had disarmed him and taken his goods away from him. We must never lose sight of that very large fact. Yes, we will continue to struggle with the temptations of desires and lusts and urges; even sinning. But when we stumble and fall we must immediately repent of our sin and ask forgiveness from God our Father in heaven. Christ intercedes upon our behalf before God's throne. Christ's shed blood has washed us clean of our sins and it is that which God sees when He looks upon us. We must all live our lives in the realization that the kingdom of God is already alive within us. As we choose to serve God each day is how the kingdom is allowed to expand outwards, as streams of living water, with us being the point of beginning. God's Holy Spirit working within and through us creates this expansion of the kingdom of God in our world. It is unseen for it exists within people, transforming them day by day through the omniscient power of God.
Peace and grace be yours through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Mon, Nov 18th - 8:18PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And He was casting out a devil, and it was dumb, And it happened, when the devil was gone, the dumb spoke; and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casts out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. And others, tempting Him, sought of Him a sign from heaven (11:14-16)."
Once again Jesus Christ provides proof that He is who He says He is by casting out a devil from a person. It was a demonstration that He was waging war against the evil forces of this world that seek to imprison and destroy humanity, and that He had come to destroy the works/plans of Satan. Jesus saw a man lost in the grasp of evil, by some unclean spirit that made him unable to speak or see (Matthew 12:22). His heart went out to this man, and He was moved with compassion for him. Christ cast out the unclean spirit and healed the man completely. Doing this He demonstrated to all that He was the true Messiah, the One who possessed the power of God perfectly. What was the response of the people? Some were amazed and astonished, wondering just who in the world Jesus might possibly be. Others immediately rejected Him. They did not question His power. They were forced to admit He possessed the power to do marvelous things. No, they simply accused Him of being in the hire of Beelzebub, the chief of the devils. Still others wanted fleshly, carnal signs that would satisfy their worldly lusts. To claim Christ would cost them all of their worldly possessions, both wealth and position. There was plenty of evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, they simply were unwilling to give all they had to meet the needs of a desperate world and to be ridiculed and abused by the world. So, they demanded of Jesus a sign, a sign so mighty, so great, that it would convert everyone at once. If universal conversion could be obtained all at once, then heaven would be on earth and all of man's carnal lusts would be met. Of course, if God did do this we all would be treated as robots, eliminating our freedom to choose and self will. People still claim today that if God would only show a great sign that all people would be convinced and converted all at the same time for it would it be irrefutable evidence that Christ is the Messiah. This is still the same old attempt to goad God into doing man's will. God has already addressed this issue in the Book of Revelation. In it He tells us that when He returns in glory from heaven, all people will see Him come. At that time all people will confess that He is the Christ, the Messiah, the King of kings, God manifest in the flesh. This does not mean that everyone will willingly do so, or that they will believe in Him so that they may be saved from their sins. No, many people will grudgingly confess and bow the knee before God at that time. People today are still searching for Utopia, for the idyllic government and society within which all people will have what they need and want and none will be persecuted nor abused. Thus there is still a sizeable population of people in our world who really wish that God would instantly convert everyone and so eliminate selfishness, evil, and wickedness from our planet in one fell swoop. This not the way history has played out, nor is the way that it will continue to play out, for mankind is selfish and self-centered, seeking to control his own life. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)?" I can't know what resides within anyone else's heart, only God does. People can speak and act deceitfully, never revealing their true intentions to anyone. People wear masks, hiding who they truly are on the inside.
That is all for tonight beloved! Next time I will look at the first illustration Jesus gives in response to this request for a mighty sign. Hopefully we will all be able to then recognize to which "house" each of us belongs at this particular time in our lives. May the grace and peace of Christ our King rule in your hearts and minds. May the fruits of the Spirit be found everywhere in your daily lives. Live mercifully, compassionately, lovingly with all people, if at all possible.
Wed, Nov 13th - 9:04PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead? Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he be offered a scorpion? If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him (11:11-13)?"
Here we find Jesus' illustration of what God's part in prayer is. God is not evil, He is good. The point is stressed here with three simple illustrations that all have to do with a father and his child.
a) Man is evil, full of selfishness and sin, yet he still gives his child when asked. The contrast here is between evil man and God, who is perfectly good. If evil man gives food to his child, it is impossible that God, who is perfectly good, would not give.
b) Our heavenly Father gives us the very Source of all good things, the Holy Spirit Himself. Imagine, the very presence of God living within our hearts and bodies! If He lives within us, then every good thing is assured. Once we have the Holy Spirit, we do not have to pray to God who is way, way, off in outer space somewhere. We do not have to be anxious as to if He hears our prayers. We have His presence within us to accompany and be with us. "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you: but if I depart, I will send Him to you (John 16:7)." "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23)." His presence is to direct and guide us, and to assure and comfort us.
The truth revealed here is that God does indeed answer prayers. Because of this reality we must therefore take prayer very seriously, as seriously as scripture tells us to take it. "And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive (Matthew 21:22)." "Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them (Mark 11:24)." "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you (John 15:7)." "If any of you lack wisdom, let them ask of God, that gives to all people liberally, and does not upbraid; and it shall be given to them. But let them ask in faith, not wavering in their thoughts. For they that waver are like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and are tossed about (James 1:5-6)." "And what ever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (I John 3:22)." "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us: and if we know that He hears us, what ever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him (I John 5:14-15)."
I have given these several verses to counter the assertions of unbelievers who say that God will give people anything that they ask for in prayer. That point is most assuredly false. God clearly has stated that in order to receive "what ever" we may ask, we must ask according to His will and not our will. If we do not keep His commandments then our prayers are not offered up according to His will and will not be answered with an affirmative. For anyone who really wants to discover if prayer actually works, you must ask according to His will and be keeping His commandments. Do it this way and God says that before you call He will answer, and while you are yet praying, He will hear you. Test it out. Do the experiment and find out for yourself if prayer is real or not.
That is all for now, beloved. I ask God to provide you with mercy, grace, and love. I ask that you experience peace, beyond anything you have ever felt before in your life. I pray that each of you will receive more wisdom than you have ever had. May Christ Jesus guide you and protect you.
Mon, Nov 11th - 10:34AM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And it came to pass that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He stopped, one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And He said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil (11:1-4)."
This is one of the most thorough scriptural passages dealing with the vital subject of prayer. It is a passage that ought to be studied again and again during one's lifetime. Psalm 109:4 had predicted that Jesus would give Himself to prayer, and throughout the New Testament we find that He was always praying. He prayed at His baptism. He prayed during His temptations. He prayed all night long. He prayed alone. He went up a mountain and prayed. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Obviously, while Jesus was doing all of this praying something was catching the attention of His disciples. In this instance they must have been off to the side, close enough to hear Him as He prayed to the Father in heaven. Something stirred them into asking Him to teach them to pray. Perhaps the fact that Jesus often prayed and emphasized prayer as one of the greatest needs of human life. Jesus always insisted that prayer was the source of His strength in living and serving God. This must have aroused the disciples' hunger for the same strength for life and service. Perhaps because Jesus prayed as a Son to His Father, and such intimacy stirred up the disciples to want the exact same kind of relationship with God that they were lead to ask. Or, perhaps because John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray. It was common practice back then for a teacher to instruct his disciples in prayer.
Jesus Christ's response to their request was to give them a model prayer. Christ will teach anyone to pray, anyone who is really sincere and wants to begin praying to God. We must note that Jesus said, "When you pray, say..." or "After this manner...you pray" or "Pray then like this." This model prayer is given as something upon which to base our praying, not to be parroted back to God verbatim in all situations. God has given us this prayer as a guide, with points within it which are to be prayed through in our own prayers. What are these points?
1. Thank God for two things.
a. Thank Him for being "our Father." Ours is a personal relationship, a family relationship, one of a child to a parent. The relationship is created by a person being born anew (John :12-13, II Corinthians 6:17-18). We need to thank God for being our Father, for creating the family of God and allowing us to be a part of such a glorious family.
b. Thank God for heaven. This is the spiritual dimension of existence; it is the real world, incorruptible, and undefiled by sin, and does not disappear. More importantly, it is where God is, and it is where believers in Christ will be. We need to thank God for heaven, that He is there now, and that we shall one day be there with Him.
2. Praise God. His name is hallowed, set apart, different. God is holy, rightness, pure, loving, kind, merciful, and gracious. Therefore, God is to be praised for who He is.
3. Request four things in particular. These should be prayed for only after we have thanked and praised God.
a. Pray for God's kingdom to come. Christ is to be enthroned, His rule and reign established on earth. His will needs to be done in all of our lives just as it is now being done in heaven. We need to pray for such things to come.
b. Pray for daily bread, which are the necessities of life. People are starving, both physically and spiritually. We all need to be fed both without and within. We need to pray both for our bodies and spirits daily.
c. Pray for forgiveness. We should ask God our Father to forgive our sins, and we need to take some time in discussing this matter with God. God is not an impersonal force. He is "our Father" who is able to forgive "our sins." These are also the sins of our family, neighbors, coworkers, city, state, country, and world. Sin is a shame, an affront to holy God. Sin is the most serious matter and most tragic event to ever occur in the entire universe. Sin is anything that we think, say, or do, that does not please God. Sin is to be discussed with the Father every day, not just our sins but those of the whole world. Intercessory prayer for the sinners of the world is to be a daily event in the life of every believer in Christ. But old sins that have been confessed and covered by the blood of Christ are not to be brought back up to God. They are already forgiven, hid and thrown away by God. They aren't to be remembered anymore. However, there are always new sins, sins committed each and every day, that must be forgiven. The number worldwide is staggering to contemplate. There so many within our hearts. We are ever so short of God's glory, unconformed to the image of God, immature and so far away from what we should be. It is all of these that must be forgiven. Believers must come each and every day asking for forgiveness of personal sins and those of others. We must also note here that there is one condition for forgiveness: We must first forgive those who sin against us. Everyone sins every day against God and others. If we expect God to forgive our sins, then we must first forgive those who have us. "For if you forgive people their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you do not forgive people their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses (Matthew 11:25)." "And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any person: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25)."
d. Pray for deliverance. The idea of God leading people into temptation bothers many people. But God tempts no person to do evil (James 1:13). What this request is getting at is for God to deliver us from temptation and from Satan, the evil one. Check out Luke 22:40 and I Corinthians 10:13 for more on this. God always provides us with a means to escape temptation, we usually fail to recognize that means and end up surrendering to the temptation and then commit sin. Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan, but did not give in to the temptations and sin. He knew how to fight against the temptations and to escape their trap.
"And He said to them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine will journeying has come to me, and I have nothing to feed him? And he from within shall answer and say, Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed, I can't rise and give you bread. I say to you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many loaves as he needs. And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened (11:5-10)."
We now find man's part in prayer. Christ illustrated man' part in this simple story. If we ask, seek, and knock, with persistence and endurance we shall receive what we ask for. If we do not leave the throne of God, do not go away, and will not let God alone, we will receive answer to our prayer/s. This is not a case of bullying God into giving us what we want. The person who prays must be sincere, fervent, constant, persistent, persevering, and enduring in seeking the face of God for whatever he/she needs. God answers needs, not necessarily wants. Christ gives a short sermon, an exhortation, to persevere and endure in prayer. The believer who prays is to continue asking for what he needs. They are to ask, and if asking does not receive it then seek and you shall find. And if seeking does not receive it, then knock and it shall be opened to you. We must mean what we pray for, and the way we show God that we are serious and sincere is by continuing to ask for what we need. The verbs used in this passage are all action verbs, indicating continuing action. Prayer must be fervent, continuous, and if need be, loud. If we do these things the answer from God is assured. God has not placed any quotas upon answers to prayers. God will hear and answer the person who perseveres and endures in prayer. In this parable shared by Christ, the friend was occupied with a very needed and worthy matter: he and his children were rejuvenating their bodies with much needed sleep. Most people have experienced being disturbed while sleeping and being rather slow to get up. Few get up unless the disturbance persists and does not go away. But, one always gets up if a child coughs or cries enough, or the noise repeats itself persistently. In this passage we see a strange word used: importunity. It means shamelessness. So this man went and shamelessly, earnestly, asked a favor from one of his close friends late at night. Now, if a friend will respond to such fervency and persistence how much more shall God in heaven respond to such requests? God is most willing to give. The child of God can rest assured that when life's circumstances become hard, God will give the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to see His child through to the other side.
We can't overlook that God is not only willing to answer, He is most willing to answer! He loves and cares for people in all their needs. God always answers our prayers, but not always in the way that we expect. He may say "No." He may say "Not right now." Why? Because we fail to ask correctly. We may be asking selfishly. We may be asking from outside of God's will for our life. We may be asking too general of a request, not specific enough. God wants to give us exactly what we ask for, so we must put some serious thought into our prayers. And we must remember that God will not grant us a request that would cause us harm. The following scriptures all speak to the subject of prayer: when, how, and why. "Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation: the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41)." "And He spoke a parable to them to this end, that people ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1)." "Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21:36)." "Praying always wit all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18)." "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6)." "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2)." "Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17)." "But if from then you shall seek the LORD your God, you shall find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart and wit hall your soul (Deuteronomy 4:29)." "Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually (I Chronicles 16:11)." "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6)." "And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all of your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)." "Seek the LORD, and His strength: seek His face evermore (Psalm 105:4)." "I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me (Psalm 8:17)."
Why does God not answer our prayers immediately, all of the time? Why must we ask and seek and knock and keep on asking and seeking and knocking? Why must we even ask at all when God already knows our needs even before we think to ask Him? I will give you four reasons here.
1. Prayer teaches us to communicate and fellowship with God and to trust and seek after God more and more. When God holds back the giving, we keep coming to talk and share with Him more and more of ourselves. Human fathers enjoy having their children come to them to ask for what they need and to share thoughts with them. So does God enjoy those moments of sharing and giving.
2. Prayer teaches us to ask for what we do not have, and to have patience and hope in God and His promises. When God does not immediately give, we patiently keep praying in His presence, waiting and hoping in what He has already promised us (Matthew 21:22; John 14:26; I John 5:14-15).
3. Prayer teaches us to love God as our Father more and more. Knowing that what we ask is coming and having to wait on it causes us to get closer and closer to God and His gifts. Once the gift is given our hearts are endeared even more to Him.
4. Prayer demonstrates how deeply we trust God and how much we love and depend upon Him. A person who really trusts God, who really knows that what he/she asks is going to be received, will bring more and more requests to God. That person will come to God in prayer more and more. Others, who doubt that they will receive anything from God, will only ask in emergencies when all else has been done without results. These people turn to God only as a last resort when all else that they have tried has failed miserably. God knows how much we really love Him by our prayer life.
That is all for this 11th day of November, beloved! I pray that you will be enabled by God to accomplish all that He sets before you this day. Grace and peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.
Sun, Nov 3rd - 12:33PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word. But Martha was worried about all sorts of serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve all alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered her, saying, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (10:38-42)."
Now Mary and Martha lived in Bethany a suburb about two to three miles outside of Jerusalem. Christ Jesus had recently given the parable of the Good Samaritan to the lawyer, and indirectly to His disciples. It seemed to teach that works lead to salvation, but here we are taught that waiting and sitting at the feet of Christ is much more important than running around serving others in attempts to look competent. The one basic essential in life is to sit at the feet of Christ and to listen and hear His Word. Then we may rise up and go and serve others as Christ has served us.
What is really being brought to our attention in these verses are two strong female characters. Martha is the first one to be seen, and she has a highly commendable character. Other scripture (John 11:5) says that Christ loved Martha, so it is important to see the strong points of her character, and to see what it was that caused a person who was so strong to fail.
1) Martha was a strong person. She owned a house large enough that she could give lodging to Jesus and His disciples. Taking care of so many was expensive, yet she willingly catered to their needs.
2) Martha was a courageous person. It had become dangerous to associate with Jesus, especially right around Jerusalem. The authorities were seeking for any sort of way to kill Jesus. Many of His very own disciples had chosen to forsake Him once the "heat" had been turned up. Even His own family had rejected Him. Still, Martha welcomed Him, she was willing to let the world know of her devotion to Him.
3) Martha was a caring and loving person. She loved and cared for her sister Mary. Mary was living with Martha, and that her brother Lazarus was also living with her (John 11:1). For whatever reasons, Martha was providing living arrangements for her sister and brother. Obviously she felt a deep devotion to her family, loving and caring for them each and every day. Even in the midst of her exasperation with Mary she still loved her very much.
We also can see that Mary had a commendable character. In Hebrew her name would be Miriam.
1) Mary was loving and humble. We see how she loved Christ; she attached herself to Him. Her love and devotion ran deep, so deep that nothing else was more important than being right next to Him. Her humility is demonstrated by her sitting at His feet. She could have sat down anywhere, but she chose to sit at His feet in the position of humility.
2) Mary had a spiritual hunger for the Word of the Lord: she "heard His Word." She sat there, her eyes fixed upon His face, her attention fixed upon His every word. She centered her mind upon what He said, listening and concentrating and hearing what He had to say to her. She was unwilling to allow His message to sail over her head due to distractions. She hungered for His Word. She demonstrated a spiritual hunger, a readiness to hear, a desire to surrender herself, and a willingness to "do."
So what was Martha's problem here? She was a loving, caring woman who deeply loved God. Martha's problem was that she became distracted by stuff that she felt had to be done. If all of these things didn't get done she became troubled, concerned, stressed out. Had Jesus ever told her that she must do all of these things when He came to visit them? No, He had not. She was allowing herself to be drawn away from Christ by the cares of people. So, how can her problem be applied to our lives today?
1) She was distracted by "much caring". She loved others; so she ministered to them, helping whomever and wherever she could, even using her own home as a center for caring. Her problem was that she allowed herself to become loaded down with the cares and needs of others. This inevitably lead to her losing sight of her priority, became aggravated and critical of those who were not helping her, and spoke critically of them.
2) Martha could also be distracted by material things, by the food and condiments, the dishes and utensils of serving food, and the cares of this world. She had more wealth than very many other people in her world and she was being unduly influenced by that fact, even though it was indirect. Apparently she was a very active woman, showing initiative and some management ability. Her kitchen appeared to be larger than that found in most homes. She obviously took very seriously her responsibility of taking care of the needs of her guests. Perhaps Mary normally helped her with serving the guests? But not this day when Christ came to visit. Mary chose to forsake serving others in order to sit and learn from Christ. Martha probably felt abandoned, left to serve all of them by herself. The problem in Martha's mind was that Mary had not helped her, and Jesus did not even remind Mary to go and help her! Martha was upset at Jesus as much as at Mary. Was her complaint legitimate? Sure it was. But it's legitimacy points out how important it is to stop and sit at the feet of Christ and just listen to Him. Listening to Jesus Christ takes top priority over everything else in life, everything.
Martha had become trapped into being too busy. All of her personal talents and abilities had slowly been given higher priorities in her mind than that of meeting her spiritual need. Today we all must remain vigilant, not falling into the exact same trap as Martha. All people need food and necessities and some kind of social entertainment. But they are not to allow themselves to become distracted by these things. They are not to be choked, strangled, by the cares of this world all around us.
So, we should serve and serve, working our fingers to the bone in meeting the needs of a desperate world. But we can't become troubled, distracted, and burdened down to the point that the pressure and stress gets to us and we become critical of others. We must serve our own spiritual needs by remaining in constant contact with Christ, listening to what He says to us within His written Word.
Martha's one need was to sit down quietly and listen to Jesus' words. Jesus still loved Martha deeply, even in her failure to understand. He understood that she was stressed out, caving in under the pressure of serving all of them by herself. Christ's heart went out to her, wanting to ease the pressure and stress in the situation and her feelings of anger with Mary and Him. Jesus gently reproved her because she was visibly anxious and troubled about many things. She was inwardly torn, divided, being disturbed deeply from what her mind and heart and life ought to have been focused upon. It is evident that she was agitated, stirred up, upset. She was being frustrated in her attempts to serve and minister to Christ and so was stressed out. As too many of us attempt to do today, Martha was looking after too many things. She was trying to do too much. This ended up leading her to become anxious and deeply agitated.
What was Jesus' response to her request that He send Mary back to the kitchen to help her serve Him? "One thing is needful." Mary had properly chosen the one thing that is needful in every person's life: quietly sitting at the feet of Christ and learn from Him. Christ told Martha that Mary's good choice would not be taken away from her. Each of us must remember these words, for we can't force others around us to leave the presence of Christ to come and help us cope with the burdens that we have assumed upon our shoulders. Coming into the presence of Christ allows us to surrender those burdens to Him, relieving us of the stress and anxiety associated with them. You and I must remember that our devotion to Christ is a daily affair. Seeking to hear His Word is to be a daily experience, not a weekly one. Each of us must set aside time daily when we can get alone with God and sit at His feet to seek His Word in all matters that concern us. Ponder these scriptures: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14)." "Evening and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice (Psalm 55:17)." "For whatsoever things were written long ago were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4)."
That is all for today, beloved! Next time I will be covering a passage written about prayer and how we are to pray to God. It is not that we must always pray these exact same words but that the concepts contained in the wording of the prayer ought to included in all of our prayers to God. Special blessings to each and every one of you this day.
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