Morning. Hope you had a great 4th of July and got to see some fireworks.
You know some passages in the Bible have lots of fireworks…
They’re big time stories: David & Goliath, Jesus walks on water, Jesus conquers the grave.
And then…there are stories like ours today…which just takes place…in a kitchen…and maybe a living room.
But we need these stories too…
Because most of the time…are lives are pretty mundane.
We’ve got to know how to follow Jesus in simple times too
We’re continuing in the Book of Luke this morning…as we’re on our 4th message of chapter 10…
We’ll get to chapter 11 next Sunday
(Luke 10:38-42) – NIV
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
So Jesus visits the house of these two sisters.
They’re getting a meal ready, but Mary decides she’s going to go sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He has to say.
Martha though, is growing frustrated…because there’s a lot to get done to serve Jesus.
Perhaps his disciples are coming over for dinner too.
And you can imagine Martha, in the kitchen, shooting icy darts from her eyes at Mary who’s now sitting over by Jesus.
…hoping Mary would get the point and come back and help her prepare the meal.
We’re told that Martha is both worried AND upset.
Until Finally she says, “Jesus, don’t you care that Mary’s not even helping me?!?”
And Jesus says that only one thing is needed…and MARY (the one seated at his feet) has chosen the one thing.
I think there are a lot of us in this room that feel more like Martha than Mary.
I know I do.
I can be Martha walking backwards with my eyes closed.
Being busy is the most natural thing in the world to me
But being Mary…
Just sitting…for long periods at the feet of Jesus.
I get antsy.
As our church has begun this shift to establish a prayer culture… I’ve worked harder and harder to extend my own personal prayer times.
And it’s often that I’m sitting at my desk…first thing in the morning…10 minutes have gone by…
And I’m thinking, “Oh man, seriously, I have so much to do…”
Like Martha, I’m “worried about many things…”
And so I close my Bible, and I get to work…concluding that serving is more important than sitting.
Martha is like a lot of us.
She’s trying to do the right thing.
I mean, it says that she’s the one who opened her home up to Jesus.
She’s the one trying to get things done…make sure things are organized.
The “Martha’s” of the church are often the ones that lead small groups, momentum meetings, or come on staff, serve every week…
They like getting things done and if they need to, they’ll do it themselves.
They’re assertive…They’ll speak their mind…
As Martha, who also shows up in John chapter 11…tells Jesus when he’s about to roll the stone away and raise Lazarus from the dead…
She says, “Lord wait…the odor will be too bad”
She’s a practical thinker.
And yet, Jesus tells her that what she’s doing isn’t the ONE THING that is needed.
He’s not very diplomatic here.
As modern Westerners, we expect him to say, “Martha, what you’re doing is great…in fact, Mary’s doing great things too! All things are great!”
But He says, “Only one thing is needed”
There is ONE starting place.
We have to look carefully at the passage here
It’s not the fact that Martha was serving that was bad…serving can be great.
It’s that she was DISTRACTED.
Her serving had taken priority over what was an event greater thing…
…the chance to sit at the feet of Jesus!
This is a true principle for those of you who’ve followed Jesus for a long time, and also for those of you that are just checking Jesus out.
If you’re thinking about trying to serve Jesus…and perhaps come to church more…or be a better person…
He’s saying to you… “Only one thing is needed,” and that’s to sit at his feet.
It’s to surrender your life to Him…to become His follower.
Everything starts there!
The context of this passage is helpful too.
If you were here last week, you’ll know that we talked about the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which comes immediately before the Mary & Martha story
And so, we know that Jesus is saying, “Serving is really important. But if your service is disconnected from me, you’re missing it. I’m the most important”
And He emphasizes that by saying, “only ONE thing is needed,” sitting at his feet.
Are you seeking that, by the way?
Above all else in your faith…are you seeking to be at His feet?
“At his feet” is a bit of a curious expression that we don’t use all that often anymore
It means more than to just sit next to someone’s literal feet.
In the Bible, and in ancient times, to sit at someone’s feet meant you were coming under their authority.
In Acts chapter 4, for example, when Barnabas sells a field, he brings the money and put it at the apostles FEET
Which meant…the money was now under their authority…their control.
Or…do you remember in Luke 8, when Jesus healed the demonized man and sent the demons into the pigs instead?
The man is then found…in his right mind…sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Which is the posture of a disciple….a follower.
So when Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, she’s surrendering to Him
And interestingly, Jesus was also saying that she, as a woman, could be one of his disciples…followers.
Which would have been unheard of at the time.
Martha might have been saying, Mary…get back to the kitchen where you belong…that’s not your place.
And Jesus is saying, “No, no. Everything starts here.”
But there’s more here.
When you put yourself at the feet of Jesus…you are declaring…with your TIME…that He has authority on your life.
That He is God, He is King, that He is in control.
That He sets your day, that He empowers you to do it.
But every time I say… “Enough with this praying, I’ve got to go and get stuff done”
Every time we say, “Nah, no time to stop and pray today…too much to do…”
We are declaring, “Nah, God, I’ve got this…”
Like Martha, we’re worried about MANY things, so we say, “God, I don’t have time to sit at your feet today…I have too many important things to do”
Daniel Henderson says it this way:
“Prayerlessness is our declaration of independence from God” – Daniel Henderson
The fact that we choose not to pray…not to take time to sit at his feet…
Is the great revealer that we don’t really think we need Him.
If we did…we’d sit at His feet.
I bet if something awful happens to you tomorrow morning, you’ll be at His feet, declaring that you need Him.
But in the mundane, in the plain old regular days of life…
Most of us declare, by our prayerlessness…that we think we don’t really need Him
So tomorrow, when you wake up, remember that the King of the Universe has invited YOU, of all people, to sit at His feet.
He wants to give you direction for your day.
He wants to give you strength to face it
He wants to give you joy in the midst of it
So whatever you do…don’t wake up and say, “Nah, sorry, too much to do”
Don’t just do something, sit there.
If you study the Book of Acts…this is the model for the church...and for Christ followers
In Acts chapter 1…before revival breaks out in Acts chapter 2…
The disciples first go to the upper room…and pray…they seek God’s direction and power FIRST
They didn’t just DO something…that sat first…and sought God.
Whereas today, most Christians just go do something…and when it doesn’t’ work…then they sit…and ask God to fix what they already decided to do without Him
But that’s not a Biblical method
ONLY ONE PATH WORKS
What’s interesting about Martha… is that she doesn’t believe that Mary’s path is going to lead to anything.
You know what I mean?
Are you like this?
You’re looking at people who are just focusing on prayer…coming to prayer meetings…and you’re thinking, “C’mon...get something done!
This is why Martha has the audacity to say to Jesus Christ, “LORD, DON’T YOU CARE…that she’s not helping me?”
Where does that attitude come from?
It comes from a heart that already thinks it’s doing the right thing
Martha can’t seem to reconcile that Jesus doesn’t seem to be helping her out by sending Mary over to serve Him in the kitchen
And I find that often our hearts approach Jesus in the same way.
Notice that Martha IS serving Jesus.
It’s not like we’re contrasting Mary who’s spending time with Jesus and Martha who’s out frolicking in the fields or something
Martha is serving Jesus TOO…she’s getting a meal ready for Him
But her heart is approaching Jesus in such a way, where she already has an agenda for how serving Him ought to go
But what if, instead of starting with her own agenda for what Jesus wants, what if Martha would have went to his feet first…and asked… “Lord, what is it that you want in the first place?”
And we can imagine that Jesus might have said, “Ah, Martha, Martha, I don’t really need a fancy meal…what you’ve already made is just fine …come, sit with me, let’s be together and talk.”
He’s saying: “I don’t need you to get your house cleaner…or organize the garage…or work an extra 10 hours at work…”
“Let’s just be together first…let’s talk”
How often do we live like Martha, right?”
Too often. Way too often.
We’re running around, trying to serve God even…trying to accomplish X, Y, and Z…
And often we get frustrated because God doesn’t seem to be helping us accomplish X, Y, and Z
Which leaves us, like Martha, saying, “Lord, don’t you care?!”
“I’m doing this for you, by the way! I’m trying to serve you with my life! Don’t you care?!”
But really, most of us never actually went to his feet to say: “Jesus, what do you want me to do?”
Like Martha, we just got to work.
Look how Mary sat at his feet.
This is a good reminder for prayer.
It doesn’t say, “And then Mary sat at his feet and went through a list of prayer requests for the day”
“And please give me travel mercies…and please help this meeting go well”
It says she sat at his feet and LISTENED.
She sought His direction…through His Words.
Honestly, I think many of us find it easier to serve God than we do to seek Him.
But we’re called, first and foremost, to seek His face, His Kingdom, and everything that He is.
In the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus is talking about the worries of life people have, he answers them by saying:
(Matthew 6:33) – NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The principle we can draw out from this passage, and elsewhere in Scripture is this:
Seeking leads to serving, but serving doesn’t always lead to seeking
Martha can serve, and serve, and serve…and she might not ever be at Jesus’ feet.
In fact, she might even resent Him all the more as time goes on.
I know people like this.
They serve at their churches all the time…because… “it’s the right thing to do”
But their faith never grows any deeper
Serving doesn’t always lead to seeking.
But seeking…leads to serving.
When you sit with Jesus…each day…and you get His heart for you…for people…for the Lost…
You can not help, but to serve.
In John chapter 12…we see Jesus with Mary & Martha again…
And this time, Mary serves Jesus by pouring perfume on his feet…and washing them.
In fact, Jesus says that Mary is doing that to prepare him for his burial…which was going to happen in 6 days.
Think about this…Mary knew what was going to happen…that He was going to die.
Which is fascinating because He had been trying to tell His disciples the exact same thing for quite some time…
But they refuse to believe his death is going to happen
But here’s this woman, who’s so willing to sit at his feet…
Unlike the disciples…she’s not arguing about who’s going to be the greatest…or trying to call down fire on people
She’s, first & foremost at His feet
And she’s the one serving…and apparently…also getting the knowledge and wisdom that even the disciples are missing
So the question for all of us is this:
What are you putting first?
Serving Jesus? Or Seeking Jesus?
Which one has priority in your life?
This is actually a hard passage to apply in America…in 2019.
If I’m totally or brutally honest, I think a lot of Americans in churches are neither like Martha or Mary.
They’re more like a fictional 3rd sister.
Let’s call her Margaret…
And while Mary is at Jesus’ feet and Martha is serving in the Kitchen
Margaret, the American sister, is in the Living Room saying, “Jesus, when are you going to come help me with what I need help with.”
But that’s a different message.
But let me talk to the Martha’s in the room…
Maybe you’re trying to serve God…but you’re not finding what you’re looking for.
And maybe you’re tired.
Maybe, like Martha, you’re worried, or upset about many things.
If you’re tired from serving…please, don’t quit serving
God’s not looking for you to take it easy while the world perishes…I can pretty much assure you of that.
But perhaps re-examine if perhaps the reason that you’re tired is because you were living as a “Martha” instead of a “Mary?”
If you’re tired…if you’re overwhelmed…
…is it possible that you’ve missed step 1?
Sitting at His feet?
Perhaps you jumped to steps 2, 3, and 4 in the Christian faith but forgot step 1?
Let me tell you: the Christian faith is incredibly tiring if you miss step 1.
It’ll leave you feeling irritable, frustrated, and worried if you miss step 1.
Way too many Christians quit doing steps 2, 3, and 4…because they’re tired.
That’s not the answer.
God’s got much for you to do…but you need step 1 first!
We’re supposed to go to Him first…
Get directions on what steps 2, 3, and 4 even are
And also…get POWER to DO steps 2, 3, and 4!
Don’t just go out and do something…sit there first.
If you have more things to do in a day than you can possibly do, that probably means you’re doing things God doesn’t need you to do…or never directed you to do in the first place.
Listen, God is not a poor manager of time.
It’s not like God is going, “Whoops! I gave David too much to do again! Sorry buddy!”
Spurgeon once said:
“The Lord Jesus got on very well before we were born, and it is very likely that He will get on exceedingly well when we are dead.” – Charles Spurgeon
So much of our anxiety and frustration comes out of the fact that we’re so busy doing the things that Jesus doesn’t even want us focused on in the first place.
And doing the things that we could never do without His strength empowering us in the first place.
So if God’s Word is speaking to you this morning…and you’ve been putting other things first…
How are you going to seek Him first this week?
What do you need to change in your schedule to seek Him this week?
How can you make more time to study His Word…to listen in prayer…instead of just doing all the talking yourself?
He wants to give you direction…and take the fatigue out of your life that comes from striving after the things He never intended you to go after in the first place.
How are you going to sit at His feet this week?
I pray that you’re able to seek God afresh this week.
Let me pray
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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