“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 house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42 (KJV)
Just when I’m about to write of the rest of the year and Pastor B’s Blog the Lord brings me to a series that’s not only right for us to get into any time, but it’s a perfect series to get into for the Christmas season. As we all know Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, and this series is properly titled “Nothing But Jesus”.
I wasn’t sure what to do with this series, but I knew when I saw this series on YouVersion that it was meant to be written before we hit 2016. So, in addition to writing one final teaching series…here I am resurrecting Pastor B’s Blog at the Lord’s direction as well. I’m confident in saying that Pastor B’s Blog will be back in 2016, and I’m excited because I already know that there’s going to be more writing. Things are going to get gooder y’all! This is just the beginning, and I believe this series will set us up on both blogs to get into some really good stuff in the coming year.
So. Let’s wrap up 2015 by bringing back Pastor B’s Blog, and by making sure to remind ourselves that no matter what’s going on life is always about “Nothing But Jesus”.
One Needful Thing:
What a way to wrap up the year. I already know that the theme for 2016 is going to be “Give God First Place”, and that’s also going to be the first teaching series over on the Christlike Ministries NWA Website of the new year as well. So, wrapping up 2015 by not only worshiping Jesus and being thankful for His birth…we are also talking about the fact that even with all that’s happening in the world today there’s really “One Needful Thing”…and it starts by recognizing that nothing is more important than our decision to make Jesus Christ Lord and Savior.
Think about this parable about Martha and Mary. It comes at a pretty good time, doesn’t it. Most of us are busy working on Christmas shopping, putting up Christmas decorations, making plans for Christmas parties, gathering with family, and perhaps even already working on New Year’s Eve plans.
Then there’s all the distractions going on in the world. These days the news is full of racism, terrorism, tragedy, and there’s so much unsettling drama in the earth today. I imagine that this is the point Peter was at as he was walking on the water towards Jesus.
Isn’t that the way it always is, though. We get out of the boat and start walking on the water. To our amazement…we’re actually walking on the water, our eyes are fixed on Jesus (the Author and Finisher of not just our faith, but our entire journey), and suddenly we realize it’s really quite windy…the waves are crashing all around us…and we’re at that moment were it’s becoming less of what we see in our peripheral vision…and a reality.
We suddenly recognize that we’re walking on top of the water, we recognize all the turmoil around us, and we’re faced with a choice…what do we do?
Let’s come back to Mary and Martha because we’re going to be able to tie all of this together. Peter walking on the water, and Mary and Martha’s moment here in Luke with Jesus. I can just about imagine that Martha thought that Jesus would see how hard she was working, and scold Mary who was just being lazy and sitting there at His feet. Jesus, to Martha’s amazement didn’t scold Mary…but He actually scolded her. Ever been there? You are working your butt off to get things done, you are worn down and stressed out, but those who make the time for Jesus always have that peaceful, joy filled smile. Do I have your attention yet!?! Can I meddle with y’all for a moment!?! Of course I can. This is my blog so if I want to meddle a bit…I can.
Let’s think about a few things for a moment, shall we!?!
Jesus and Peter make it back to the boat, and you’d think that Jesus would be proud of Peter. After all, he was the only one that got out of the boat, he made it far enough out on the water that all Jesus had to do was stretch out His hand, and so you’d think that there would be a pat on the back…and most of us would expect Jesus to pat us on the back if that was us…wouldn’t we!?! Come on. Don’t shout me down cause I’m getting in your crawl.
What did Jesus do? He scolded Peter for his lack of faith. Wait a minute, Pastor B, did you say Jesus yelled at Peter for his lack of faith!?! Peter that got out of the boat, and nearly made it to Jesus before he sank. Yes. That’s exactly what the Bible says happened. Jesus scolded Peter for being of such “little faith”.
How many of you would’ve gotten so mad at Jesus for not recognizing how much you did and how far you got before you sank? How many of you would’ve been mad at Jesus telling Him “at least I got out of the boat”? How many of you would’ve decided that once the boat hit the shore you were done…because after all you tried that Jesus stuff…and you sank? Like it’s Jesus’ fault you didn’t trust Jesus all the way to the end. There are a lot of people who have had their breakthrough sink because you took your eyes, your focus, and your trust off of Jesus…and placed it on yourself. Then you get mad at Jesus, and you talk about how that Jesus stuff don’t work for you. Jesus rightly said “Oh ye of little faith”…because if you’d have just keep going on the Word you had from God not only would you have made it all the way to Jesus, but you would’ve had Him marvel over your faith instead of your unbelief. I betcha I got y’alls attention now, don’t I.
Why are you always so harsh and serious about this Jesus stuff, Pastor B? I thought this was going to be a feel good Christmas message, and here you are meddling with me about my faith and blaming God for stuff that’s my fault. How dare you!?! I dare because I’ve been there, and because this is the Lord’s direction for me to get into this series…and I’ve written this entire message without any help from the actual devotional this message was from…every last word of this message is written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost by this pastor’s fingers! I dare get this serious and harsh because the cold, harsh reality is we’re living in a day and age when being sweet and sugar-coated is why we have so many believers that aren’t taking the time to sit at Jesus’ feet because they look at Him as more of a genie than God. Then when He doesn’t meet their demands they’re done with this Jesus stuff because it don’t work for them and they don’t have the time to really sit and meditate because they’re too busy with their lives believing they have all the time in the world to get right with Jesus when in fact the very next blink could be their last because either it’s their appointed time to die or it’s the appointed time of the trumpet to sound.
So, you better believe that when I get into a message like this I’m not intending to meddle or get into anyone’s craw and I certainly don’t want to do things at the expense of viewers…but I’d rather lose viewers by writing the truth, being honest, and obeying what God wants me to say and trusting Him with the results. I pray right now in Jesus name that the Holy Ghost would open our ears and our hearts that He would give us ears to hear and hearts that will receive and respond to what the Lord is speaking to us this night through this message in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Let’s go on…
Why did Jesus scold Peter? I believe that had Peter made it all the way to Jesus without taking his eyes off Jesus that the story would’ve ended much differently. I believe instead of scolding Peter…Jesus would’ve marveled at Peter’s faith to trust completely in Him. From the moment Jesus said “Come” what Peter was to have faith in wasn’t his ability to get out of the boat or walk on the water…Peter’s faith should have been in the Word that Jesus spoke.
Great faith would’ve been seen had Peter kept his eyes upon Jesus no matter what was happening around him, and kept walking. That’s faith in Jesus. That’s obeying God and trusting Him. Peter lost faith that the very word Jesus spoke would be able to sustain Peter all the way out to Him. I know this because it sustained him long enough to almost make it, but there’s no such thing as almost making it with Jesus. You are either saved and with Him or you aren’t. You either believe Him, trust Him, love Him, walk with Him, serve Him, or you don’t.
So, let’s come back to Martha and Mary, and then I’m really gonna meddle with y’all a little bit. Because there’s a link between Peter’s lack of faith, and Martha’s busyness that is really going to make some folk mad…but after a while you’ll realize that God just spoke some truth to you.
So. Put yourself in Martha’s shoes now. You are working ferociously to get the house in order, make some kind of suitable dinner for your guest (remember it’s Jesus), and your helper is just sitting there at Jesus’ feet. In a fit of carnality (I know I’m meddling already) you yell at Jesus to yell at your helper to get to work…and instead Jesus scolds you for being too busy to sit at His feet.
What’s the link between Peter and Martha that’s going to make some folk mad? The link is Jesus. The most important thing in our walk with God has nothing to do with who we are, what we do, or what’s going on around us at the time. God is not impressed with the amount of money we make, the size of our home, the luxury of the cars we own, the title that’s on our office door, or anything else. What impresses God are those that simply desire nothing more but to be in His presence, and trust Him at His every word.
I’m not just talking to the average believer here. I’m talking to people in ministry as well. We have people who are so busy working and hustling around like Martha that they forgot how important it is to be more like Mary and desire nothing but the presence of the God they’re working so hard to impress. Can I tell you something…God isn’t impressed with all of that stuff.
There is a point when we’re so earthly busy that we’re no heavenly good, and we can even be busy doing good things. It’s good to be involved with outreach, missions trips, bible studies, community events, and all kinds of other stuff…but when is the last time you sat at Jesus’ feet?
I am convinced that most of the reason people in ministry burn out is they are so busy and so distracted by everything else going on that they neglect their own devotional time at the feet of Jesus. I am also convinced that the reason there’s such a lack of power in the Body of Christ today is because we’re so distracted and take on so many titles and responsibilities that we no longer have time for sermon prep. We no longer have time to read the Word so we take the short cuts offered by the many sermon prep websites. Instead of shutting everything off, getting into our prayer closets, seeking the Lord, and asking Him what we should speak on.
I’m not even getting into all the phone calls, emails, and text messages from people who need you because so and so is in the hospital. I don’t have much of that because most of what I do is online, but I know there are many pastors who have phones that never stop ringing. They’re always on the go, always needed, and they always respond. I am not saying that doing all of that is wrong because it’s not. It’s important to be involved and really shepherd your flock. If that means getting up at 3 am to meet them at the hospital that’s what you do. If that means taking someone to lunch or meeting someone for prayer or whatever else comes up…that’s all part of the job of being a good pastor…of tending to Jesus’ sheep…but doing all of that at the expense of your own time at Jesus’ feet is what is wearing you out…and God has been trying to tell you for some time to slow down, enjoy life, adjust your priorities, and sit down at His feet and get some rest! REST!
We have all become so much like Martha that we (like Martha) look down at people like Mary that just want to sit at Jesus’ feet. Well, why aren’t they doing more? What if Jesus would tell you just like He did Martha that you’re doing too much, and you have forsaken your first love!?! What would you do? Would you turn up your nose, have a hissy fit, and stomp away? Would you repent and sit down at His feet?
The Bible never finished the rest of that story, but I imagine that Martha felt pretty awful that Jesus had been there the whole time and she was too busy to enjoy His presence. I know I find myself disappointed when I’m in a church service, the presence of the Lord is there, and suddenly everything stops to stay on schedule so no one misses the kickoff of the Packer game. The presence of the Lord dries up, and people leave the same way they came…and never encountered the God that wanted to encounter with them. They get too busy, too wrapped up in staying on time to enjoy or even realize that Jesus has been there since the opening song, and He wants to do things, heal people, move in folk’s lives…but we have to bring everything to an abrupt halt because we have a schedule to keep. Let me help you out. God doesn’t care about your schedule, He doesn’t care about the football games…He cares about meeting people who want to meet with Him…and when you starve and cut off what He wants to do…that’s why you haven’t seen people radically changed in quite some time.
Get off your schedule and let God do what He wants to do…and maybe some people will start having the encounters with God they’re really seeking. Get out of God’s way and watch Him turn your congregation’s live upside down, inside out, and into radical people that restore the fire, passion, and hunger for God into your church. God is always limited by the limits we set upon Him…if we want His unlimited power to rule and reign in our lives…we have to take off the restraints of our control and give it to Him. I don’t know I’m preaching to, but this is coming out a lot stronger than even I intended to so I am certain that the Lord has taken over this message…and He’s speaking directly to some folk that have been cutting off the move of the Holy Ghost for the sake of keeping a schedule.
Friend, if folk want to leave because service is going so long…let them. I know that people leaving means less money in the offering bucket, but there is a world FULL of people who are hungry for God…and the more you open up your pulpit for God to move and do what He wants to do…the more people who are desperately seeking God will come in…and perhaps the collection plates will start increasing because people are encountering Jesus. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
Stop quenching the Holy Ghost…and watch the lives of your congregation be changed. (I don’t know who that’s for, but I do know that someone or someone(s) just got hit in the breadbasket by the Holy Ghost…stop quenching the Holy Ghost…that’s all I have to say…and now let’s get back to the message.
The Bible says that in His presence is the fullness of joy, but there’s so much more that’s available in His presence. In the presence of Jesus is the fullness of everything we need…because He IS the Fullness of God. There are times when the glory falls here in my office that I just stop everything I’m doing…and bath in it.
When is the last time you soaked in the presence of the Lord? When is the last time you just sat at His feet…not to receive anything from Him…but just to enjoy being in His presence. When is the last time you just sat in awe of the fact that God chose that particular moment to visit you in your car or your office or the shower or wherever you are at the moment God chooses to visit you…or are you too busy to notice?
I believe that’s as good a place as any to wrap this message up. If the devil can’t get you mad…he will get you busy. Peter was walking on the water, he had his eyes on the Prize, and he almost made it…until he noticed all the devil was trying to do to get his eye off Jesus…and the moment he took his eyes of Jesus…Peter sank.
Pardon the pun, but let that sink in for a moment. The moment Peter took his eyes off of Jesus…he sank.
I’m not saying that life is going to be a rose garden. Jesus never promises us that. In fact, He said perilous times would come, and they are most certainly here. The Bible also says that all God’s grace, God’s strength, and God’s Word are all sufficient to help us through those times.
Remember…the fruitful Christians are the ones that don’t allow the cares of the world to choke the Word of God from their lives.
How long has it been since you took the time to discover (or maybe rediscover) that sitting at Jesus’ feet really is that One Needful Thing!?!
Let Us Pray:
We praise Your name that we are new creations in Christ and members of His body. We thank You, Lord God, that Jesus came to earth to die on the Cross so that we could be raised up into newness of life and abide with You for ever, in heavenly places.
Help us, Lord Jesus, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and focussed on His victory. Help us to take every thought that enters our minds captive so that it is not tainted by the ways of the world. Help us not to allow our attention to be diverted away from the things that are eternally important to the temporal things of the world, which are quickly fading away – Help us Lord to focus on You as we awaken in the morning; and as we rest at night and throughout the business of every passing day.
Lord we desire to grow in grace and mature in the faith. Help us not to lose heart or to grow weary with well-doing, help us to not get or be to busy, but set our hearts on things above. Help us, Lord to limit our distractions so that we can be more fruitful for Your Kingdom.
We bless You, God…and ask these things and more in the name of Jesus. Amen and Amen.
Final Word From Pastor B:
Mary chose the one needful thing because she was hungry and passionate about being in the Lord’s presence. She wasn’t forced or coerced into sitting at His feet…she did so willingly. She did so purposefully.
I say this a lot, and I guess the Lord wants me to say it again. When is the last time you were purposeful about spending time at the feet of Jesus? How long has it been since you were so hungry and passionate about being in Jesus’ presence that you willingly sought out a moment to sit at His feet?
I hope if it’s been a while for you (like it has me) this message has gripped your heart to remind you that there is a loving God that is waiting for us to desire to spend time with Him. God is a perfect gentleman. He’s never going to be pushy or force Himself upon anyone…He will simply wait until He’s invited or until you desire to draw near to Him.
Listen. The Bible says that if we draw near to Him that He WILL draw near to us, but we have to be the one to take that purposeful first step. We have to be the ones to seek Him with our whole heart, and when we do that we will find Him.
Let’s take these last couple weeks before Christmas to make sure that the most important part of our day isn’t what we have to do, where we have to go, but that the most important part of our day is making sure God knows that nothing but Jesus is our heart’s desire. Amen!?!
Thank you for joining me for this message and this series. I truly wasn’t expecting to have anything to write about, but that’s the awesome thing about God. I wasn’t even planning to bring Pastor B’s Blog back, but God clearly has a plan and purpose for it yet…and so I’m going to do like I always do…obey Him and trust Him with the results.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m also going to spend a few more purposeful moments to sit at His feet and soak in His presence. How about you!?!
Thank you everyone for your prayers, patience, and support. This ministry is truly growing, and I’m believing God for some great things in the year to come. As always, I have to take a moment to let you know that if this ministry has blessed you, and you would like to help keep us online would you please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share with you how to do that!?!
For now, I believe that will about do it for this message. Have a blessed evening, and I hope you’ll come back for the second of three quick messages in this series.
Blessings & Grace: