Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Behold, God, my salvation! I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song: yes, He has become my salvation.”
Isaiah 12: 2, Amplified Bible
“What does this sweet and joyful singer find in God? ‘My strength’! ‘My song’! ‘My salvation’! How extraordinarily rich and comprehensive! Everything is there!...’The Lord Jehovah is my strength.’ That is primary and fundamental. The first thing we need is that our weakness be transformed, and that we become possessed of resource. All other gifts are useless if this initial gift be denied. ‘The Lord is my strength.’ The Lord imparts unto us that primary strength of character which makes everything in the life work with intensity and decision. We are ‘strengthened with all might by His Spirit.’ And the strength is continuous; reserves of power come to us which we cannot exhaust. ‘As thy day so shall thy strength be,’ strength of will, strength of affection, strength of judgment, strength of ideals and of achievement. ‘The Lord is my strength,’ strength to go on. He gives us the power to walk the long lane that seems never to have a turning, to go through those long reaches of life which affords no pleasant surprise, and which depress the spirits in the sameness of a terrible drudgery. ‘The Lord is my strength,’ strength to go up. He is to me the power by which I can ascend the ‘Hill Difficulty,’ and not be afraid. ‘They shall walk and not faint’…’The Lord is my strength!’ ‘Our sufficiency is of God.’”
J. H. Jowett, The Silver Lining
(As I was working on this particular devotional, I had just finished reading some of your emails and prayer requests. And I asked God to please help me find just the right quote of encouragement. When I finished asking for help my eyes were focused on J. H. Jowett’s gem of a book, The Silver Lining penned in 1907. It is my prayer that the words above will lift up your heart and infuse you with heaven’s strength, just when you need it most.”) Dorothy Valcàrcel
Today’s Study Text:
“As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed Him and made Him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word He said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, (Martha) stepped in, interrupting them; ‘Master, don’t You care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.’ The Master said, ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.’”
Luke 10: 41, 38-41, The Message Bible
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 10
“God Needs Us All ”
“Believer! Rejoice that your path is marked out for you. Your lot in life, with all its ‘accidents’ is your Lord’s appointing. Dream not, in your own short-sighted wisdom, that, had you occupied some other or more prominent position – had your talents been greater, or your worldly influence more extensive – you might have glorified your God in a way which is at present denied to you. (Christ) can be served in the lowliest as well as in the most exalted stations. As the tiniest leaf or smallest star in the world of nature reflects His glory as well as the giant mountain or blazing sun, so does He graciously own and recognize the humblest effort of lowly love no less than the most lavish gifts which splendid magnificence and costly devotion can cast into His treasury. Let it be your great aim and ambition to honor Him just in the position He has seen meet to assign you. ‘Let every person wherein you are called, therein abide with God.’”
How would I define myself? Am I a Mary or a Martha? Am I a John the Baptist or an Apostle Paul?
In what specific ways has God called me to serve Him?
“We may think God wants actions of a certain kind, but God wants people of a certain kind.”
C. S. Lewis
“One thing, and only one, in this world has eternity stamped upon it. Feelings pass; resolves and thoughts pass; opinions change. What you have done lasts – lasts in you. Through ages, through eternity, what you have done for Christ, that, and only that, you are.”
F. W. Robertson
I am certain all of us can think about friends we have that are “the best” to be around. Jim and I have, throughout our lives, had dear ones who, when we get together, we don’t have to worry about a thing for these trusted friends have the unique ability to make you feel welcome – anytime you are at home! (Hi Cliff and Freddie!)
This is the relationship I believe Jesus had with the family in Bethany – Mary, Martha and Lazarus. With so many traps set for Jesus by the Pharisees, trying to catch Him in some behavior where they could accuse Him of blasphemy, it must have been like a fresh breeze to enter the home in Bethany – filled with thoughtful conversation as the delicious aroma from Martha’s kitchen filled the air. As Matthew Henry points out, “Though there were many that rejected Jesus, and would not entertain Him, yet there was one home where He was bid welcome. Though Christ was spoken against (by the Pharisees), there was a remnant to whom He was dear, and they were dear to Him.”
This is why I believe the gospel writer took time to reveal the affection shown by the family in Bethany. What I find so fascinating about the occupants of this home is that they all chose to serve Jesus in very individual ways. While some authors and Bible scholars may choose to dwell on the words of Jesus toward Martha’s over-activity, I’d like to focus our thought today on the inter-action which took place in this particular story between three people: Mary, Martha and Jesus. In her book, Jesus According to a Woman, Rachel Wahlberg offers what I believe to be keen insight. Rather than tagging each individual with a specific label, she chooses to open our eyes to the possibility of discarding some of our stereotypes. Wahlberg makes this statement when discussing the “limited function” we too frequently place on those around us: “Both sexes were honest and caring. Jesus was frank with both sisters, and they in turn treated Him with openness. He plainly discussed His teachings and thinking with both Mary and Martha. They in turn show evidence of their understanding. To demonstrate wholeness, Martha and Mary should not represent either-or-possibilities, but a variety…in relation to Jesus. Each person, rather than limited to one function, can be not only a serving person, but one who shares the ‘better part’ with Jesus.”
I really appreciate this thought so carefully expressed by Rachel Walberg because for much of my life, I ran the activities of my day just like Martha – busy, busy, busy. And to be quite frank with you, the world would fall apart without hard-working Martha’s. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that without the capable hands of Martha’s, most church programs would fall flat. Just think for a moment of all the women who have had a hand in helping you in your walk with Jesus. But after feeling like one of those hamsters on a wheel spinning faster and faster, I began to think about Mary’s choice to add quiet time to her day. If Jesus was the main course, then maybe Martha could have limited her meal planning to simple appetizers and a big salad with bread. Do you get my drift? This portrayal helps us understand that Jesus cared for both Mary and Martha and Lazarus as well. He appreciated all they did for Him. Their kindness touched His heart. Their service was a blessing to His ministry. His call to them was one of recognizing the sphere He had called them to work in. He needed all of them.
This special call to serve Jesus applies to you and me today as well. For as J. R. Macduff underscores in his comments on the passage penned by Dr. Luke, “You may become a center of influence to the world around you. Your heart may be an incense-altar of love and affection, kindness and gentleness – your life a perpetual hymn of praise to your Father in heaven; glorifying Him, like Martha, by active service; like Mary, by sitting at His feet; or, like Lazarus, by holy living and dying.” Indeed, Jesus needs all our talents and abilities in His service!
not only to be hearers of the Word,
but also doers of the same;
not only to love
but also to live Thy Gospel;
not only to profess,
but also to practice,
unto the honor of Your holy name.”
“I Am Martha, I Am Mary, I Am Jesus”
preparing the house
setting all in order.
preparing my heart
watching at the door
listening for footsteps
setting all aside.
welcomes with a smile
‘make yourself comfortable
shed your shoes
relax into the cushions
of the couch.’
welcomes with anticipation
‘make yourself available
shed your burdens
relax into the presence
of the Spirit.’
the Spirit’s presence
a trinity of seekers
beneath a cross of sycamore wood
before a candle flame.
to start the conversation
at Jesus’ feet
to draw the focus to Him
Our guest begins
her eyes on me, her heart of God
as Martha slips silently
from the room.
Martha returns to plump the cushions
as Mary douses candle flame
No need for words
beneath the cross
in hallowed space
we count blessings together
instead of teacups
from the crumbs of conversation
for the gift of hospitality.
Ms. Shirin McArthur
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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