May 13, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”
Psalm 42: 8
“While the dark hours of calamity and bereavement bring to the ordinary person in this world distress and complaints, they bring to the Christ-possessed soul tranquil submission and often an uplift of triumphant joy. The path of trial may lead down into grim and gloomy gorges that no sunbeams can penetrate; but ‘Thou art with me,’ is the cheerful song faith sings along the darksome road.”
Mrs. Charles Cowman
Words of Comfort and Cheer
Today’s Study Text:
“Now as they went on their way, He entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what He was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’”
Luke 10: 38-42
“Behold The Man” – Part 23
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? –
Brunch In Bethany”
“What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby carriage, parasol, kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now! This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of. It leads not to unification but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace; it destroys the soul.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gifts From the Sea
What does the word “distraction” mean to me personally?
In what ways can I relate to Martha’s feeling of being overwhelmed?
Is taking time to spend with Jesus in my daily life something I find difficult because there are so many other demands on my time?
“Never let the urgent crowd out the important.”
Kelly Carlin Walker
“They made me the helper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.”
Song of Solomon 1: 6
So how’s your week going? Do you ever feel like you are a little hamster, running as fast as you can on one of those metal wheels? Has your daily schedule gotten away from you to the point that you feel like a runaway train?
I don’t think there are too many people in our world today who want to hear the word “multi-tasking” one more time! Indeed, before we continue to glorify the ability of some to go night and day like an energizer bunny, let’s step inside Martha’s home in Bethany, where we find that Jesus stopped in for some rest and relaxation. Sometimes we skip over the fact that the Bible states that Martha “welcomed” Jesus into her home. This one fact alone tells us a great deal about the size of Martha’s heart – she was a hospitable person, open-hearted and gracious to Jesus. The fact is, Jesus couldn’t have gotten along without the “Martha’s” in His ministry. He knew that if He needed a place to call “home”…a place to put up His feet and rest, “Martha’s” house had a welcome mat out – 24 hours a day, every day of the week.
It is important for us to keep this fact at the forefront of our minds as we come inside the house where we find Martha busy getting food ready while Jesus sits down teaching. So far so good!
However, Dr. Luke points out that as Martha was working her fingers to the bone in the kitchen, her sister Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, taking in His’ words of love. As Rachel Conrad Wahlberg notes in her book Jesus According to a Woman, “Mary and Martha have traditionally symbolized a polarization of women’s roles.” Interestingly, Rachel Wahlberg makes a very legitimate point. Martha is often criticized for being the overly-busy model of a stressed-out workaholic. And in contrast, Mary is the highly touted contemplative who has chosen correctly the quiet life. In extremely practical words, here’s how Professor James A. Wallace writes about this sister-duet: “Mary was in no hurry to come into the kitchen. While Martha was flipping through the cookbooks, boiling the water, chopping up the vegetables, and setting the table…Mary settled down at the feet of their friend and guest, attentive to what He was saying. By sitting at Jesus’ feet, Mary had taken the posture of a disciple. Who could blame Martha for banging a few pots and putting the plates on the table with a sturdy thump?” These words bring back a picture to my mind of a church potluck Jim and I attended many years ago. All the food was laid out on long tables by the “women-folk.” Then when clean-up time came, the “boys” went outside to toss around a football in the parking lot while the women were engaged in clean-up duty, that is except for my precious Jim who, with two crushed legs holding him up, offered to do all the needed washing of the pots and pans. Now please, I’m not bragging, but Jim was such an aid because he felt that he’d been blessed by delicious food and helping wash the “tough stuff” was a small price to pay for a good meal. The bottom line is that God’s work on this earth, as shown by Jesus’ ministry on earth, needs all of us. And this is where I want to go back to the words from Rachel Conrad Wahlberg. Having correctly noted that Mary and Martha are often viewed as the opposite ends of a “spectrum’… she explains that the difference in Mary and Martha’s actions can provide a design for you and me: “Jesus and Mary and Martha treated each other as persons rather than assigning each other to limited functions and stereotypes…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 the variety of human (abilities) 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.” What a beautiful way to look at the calling of Jesus on all our lives, both women and men.
However, there is another point in this lunchtime event which I’ve not caught before and it relates to the word “distraction,” which means “to cause to turn away from a focus of attention, to divert.” Whether female or male, we are all caught up in a world filled, most likely, with more distractions than at any other time in history. This is why I find it incredible that Jesus’ words to both Martha and Mary have such a practical application in our lives in the 21st century. Professor Matthew Skinner helps us dig deep by looking at the Greek verb “diakoneö,” as well as the noun “diakonia.” These two words in the books of Luke through Acts - actually refer to food preparation and service and these words can be perceived to point to “ministry.” Thus, Jesus wasn’t critical of Martha who was offering “diligent service…such tasks (were) themselves manifestations of discipleship.” The problem Martha faced on this day was that all the duties distracted her from the blessing bestowed upon her household for Jesus’ presence was the first priority of the day. With Jesus in the house, everything else could wait. In addition, as Professor Skinner so aptly points out, “Martha insinuates value judgments upon the different activities the sisters choose to perform. This reveals that her practices of hospitality were eclipsing their purpose. Hospitality that is ‘anxious and troubled’ loses its focus, which is Jesus, who is Lord and guest.”
As James Wallace so beautifully expresses, “The Lord calls us to focus on Him…to move from our place of being ‘worried and distracted by many things’ to one where we are in touch with the one thing needed, the good part that will not be taken away. There we will connect with the ‘Source’ that brings both peace and energy to all our undertakings.”
“Silent in God’s presence, you can relax yourself completely. The restfulness of being alone at last, facing reality, may even make you laugh aloud for joy as you open your mind in perfect confidence and summon the whole bustling medley of burdensome thoughts before Him. Let them come, waiting quietly for each, without a shadow of dread. See how they show up in the deep calm of God’s presence.”
I Am Mary and I Am Martha
“Lord of earth and sky,
as Martha did
I welcome you into the house of my heart;
as Mary did
I welcome you into the home of my thoughts;
I welcome you.
Like Martha, I’m distracted:
so many calls on my time…
I run here and there,
starting this and that,
never spending long enough
giving people the impression
that I’m too busy for them.
Like Mary, I choose:
choose to slow down,
choose to sit at your feet,
Choose to offer you
my ministry of listening.
Save me from feeling guilty
about the kitchens of the world:
the hot spots, the action areas
and help me to identify with your compassion
and your presence –
there as everywhere.
Welcomed and welcoming Christ,
may all sisters come together
into your presence
and together eat at your table
the meal you have prepared for us;
that from the kitchen of your suffering
a banquet may be prepared
for all to eat.”
Dandelions and Thistles
“Set your heart on God…You’ll forget your troubles; they’ll be like old, faded photographs. Your world will be washed in sunshine…full of hope, you’ll relax, confident again; you’ll look around, sit back, and take it easy.”
Job 11: 16-18
The Message Bible
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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