THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

February 14, 2018

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

This is part two to last week's devotional. If you have not yet read it, I encourage you to go back and read it first before reading this weeks. Even if you did read it, perhaps you'd like to go back and read it over to refresh your memory. The title to these two devotionals is, "Jesus Loved Martha, Too!"

Jesus loved Martha! In John chapter eleven we ready about the death and resurrection of Lazarus. John starts out by saying that "Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus." They were all three different in their personalities and temperaments, yet Jesus loved them all equally. All three siblings had a place in His heart, and were embraced by His kindness. Knowing every detail about Martha, Jesus loved her, and she in turn loved Him and received a revelation of her Lord.

Sickness and death are no respecters of persons or homes. It can happen to anyone, regardless of how much Jesus loves them or how many times He's "visited" their home or how influential or hospitable they may be. When it comes, the first and best thing we could ever do is call upon Jesus. We may not have a resurrection experience at that moment, but for all believers, that resurrection will assuredly happen one day. There may be times when it seems as if Jesus delays coming, but He will come and always be there in our household to bring whatever we may need at any given moment; whether it be healing, comfort, peace, etc.

Lazarus fell sick, and his sisters sent word to Jesus. Although Jesus deeply cared for Lazarus and his sisters, He did not hurry to Bethany, but stayed where He was a while longer. By the time He reached Bethany, Lazarus had been in his grave for four days. Jesus wasn't indifferent to the call to come, nor to the grief of Martha and Mary; after all, He deeply loved their family. He wanted them to learn that His delays are not necessarily denials; and He wanted to display His power.

Many Jewish friends had come to comfort the grief-stricken sisters; but the two of them eagerly awaited the arrival of the divine Comforter himself. As soon as she heard that Jesus was nearing Bethany, Martha dried her tears and went out to meet Him; leaving Mary in the house. As soon as Martha met Jesus, she uttered a rebuke in her usual blunt fashion (hmm... I'm occasionally blunt, somewhat like Martha!). "Lord, if You had of been here, my brother wouldn't have died!" But she didn't leave it there! In complete trust in the Messiah, Martha boldly added, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever You will ask of God, God will give it to You!"

Wow! What faith and confidence Martha showed in the Lord, even in the midst of her sorrow! What followed was a remarkable conversation between Martha and Jesus. Jesus didn't apologize or explain His delay in coming, but He began to reveal Himself and give Martha a revelation that she had never before understood or known.

Jesus sought to lead the thoughts of Martha away from her dead brother to Himself. Martha thought of the resurrection of her beloved brother as a far-off event, but Jesus proclaimed to her, "I am the resurrection and the life!" He continued, "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die."

Jesus made one of the most outstanding statements to Martha that day as to His deity, power, and authority! Then He looked at her and asked, "Do you believe this, Martha?"

Although Martha didn't fully comprehend the depths of Jesus' revelation of Himself, she answered with complete faith, "Yes, Lord! I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is come into the world."

Leaving Him after such an overwhelming experience, Martha went back to her home and called her sister "secretly", to tell her that Jesus had come. Perhaps she secretly whispered this to her, in fear of the Jews. One commentator wrote, "This precious touch reveals how concerned Martha was for the safety and cause of Him who had done so much for her. Mary was told that the Master asked for her, and rose up quickly to go to Him. Tis love that makes our willing feet in swift obedience move."

Mary fell at the feet of Jesus and repeated Martha's sentiments, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." Mary also loved her departed brother and had faith in Jesus. The Jews who had been with her in the house, comforting her, had all risen up and followed her thinking that she was running to the tomb to weep there. Instead they saw her run to Jesus and fall at His feet.

Jesus didn't have the same in-depth conversation with Mary that He had just shared with Martha. I wonder if perhaps after Jesus, Himself, was crucified and buried and resurrected, Martha remember this conversation and the words that He had proclaimed to her that "I am the resurrection and the life," and understood, with clarity, exactly what Jesus' words truly meant.

Jesus saw the tears of Mary and those who had followed her, and was deeply moved with tenderness and compassion. Jesus asked where Lazarus was buried, as tears ran down His face and He wept.

They went to the tomb where Lazarus was; which was a cave with a stone laid against it. Jesus commanded, "Take away the stone!"

Martha, knowing that her brother's body would have started decaying by this point stated, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days."

Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" He was reminding her that Lazarus didn't have to wait until a future date to be resurrected, but He, Himself, the Resurrection and Life, was getting ready to display His glory for all to see.

They took away the stone from the cave where Lazarus was lying. Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me." He cried in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" Lazarus came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him and let him go."

How excited Martha and Mary must have been to be witness of this incredible miracle. What tears of joy they both must have shed as they embraced their brother, who was risen from the dead. Many of the Jews who had come and seen the things that Jesus did, believed in Him that day.

The last mention of Martha was six days before the Passover when Jesus came to their home in Bethany one last time. Martha was once again busy serving those who were present. But something had changed in her heart this time.

While the guests were seated at the table that Martha had prepared, Mary did something quite extraordinary. Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with costly perfume, and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But this time Martha raised no objection!

Some scholars believe that perhaps she had even had a share in the purchase of the precious ointment, which Judas thought was being wasted; due to her being the oldest and head of the household. Martha may not have participated in the actual act of anointing Jesus' feet, but she may have participated by paying for, or helping to pay for, the very costly oil of spikenard. Scripture doesn't say how Mary paid for this, but this could be a possibility.

During this last meal that Jesus had with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, Martha's service was much the same as it had been in the first story, but this time her spirit was changed. She was no longer distracted over her tasks, nor anxious and outwardly bustling about, but she was calm and trustful, and in full agreement with her sister's act of love and devotion to the Master. At last, Martha, too, had chosen the good part which could not be taken away from her.

Some believe that it is a likely possibility that Martha was present with the two Mary's and other devout women at the cross, when Jesus was crucified; as well as at His empty tomb three days later, joining the women as they told the disciples that Jesus was risen indeed.

One of Martha's most loving acts was opening her home and offering hospitality to Jesus, His disciples, and others who may have came with Him. But Martha also represents those dear religious women who allow themselves to be overly distracted with the obligations and responsibilities of caring for their home. One writer said, "Some people may be just like Martha, while others are like Mary. The combination of the two women, the practical and the spiritual, make possible the glory in the commonplace. The church really requires both the Mary and the Martha, for they are each necessary."

I have so much enjoyed studying and writing about Martha. I have had a glimpse into her life that is much different from anything I've ever thought of in the past. No longer do I cringe at or repent of being called Martha. She had a big heart for serving others. She made her home a place of refuge for those who needed a place to rest or be fed. She had very real, very personal conversations with Jesus; and He revealed Himself to her first, before Mary, as being the Resurrection and Life. She used the gifts that God had given her. Yes, she did get distracted by her serving and was upset with Mary for not helping, but she apparently understood the words of reproof that Jesus spoke to her, and let it change her. When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume, Martha didn't rebuke her, but she continued quietly serving those who were at the table.

Sometimes God may speak words of discipline or reproof to us; but it's not to shame us or makes us feel as if we're failures or to embarrass us. His purpose is always to bring about repentance and change. He always wants us to succeed and grow and mature in our relationship with Him. Sometimes we can become distracted and lose focus, but God gently draws us back to Him, in order to get us back on track. He wants us to fulfill our calling and use our gifts and talents, but do so with the right attitude and do it for the right reasons. When we find ourselves becoming critical of others or frustrated because they're not giving us the support or help that we think they should, we need to stop and see if we are doing the one thing that is best; sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to what He's saying to us; or if we've become distracted. Our purpose in whatever we do should always be to glorify and honor Jesus!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

There is a scripture that describes us as various parts of the Body of Christ. The hand can't tell the eye that there is no need for an eye, because the eye doesn't do any works for Christ. And the tongue can't tell the knee that there is no need for a knee because a knee can't tell anyone about salvation. Well, that's not quite how the Bible puts it.

I think of Martha as a heel and Mary as an ear. Without a heel, the Body can't get around well. And when the heel gets worn and sore, it's hard to enjoy anything else. So, it's no wonder that Martha would complain that Mary gets to simply sit there, and enjoy listening to Jesus. Both are very important. Without the ear, the heel wouldn't know where to go. And without the heel, the ear couldn't move closer.

It isn't a perfect analogy. But all the members of the Body work together in a way that no single part can usually recognize.

ON THE MENEWE:

Classic French Toast

4 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 thick slices bread

Preheat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Grease well with butter.

Add all ingredients, except the bread, to a shallow dish and whisk well to combine.

Dip bread slices into the egg mixture, coating both sides, and place on hot griddle.

Cook for a few minutes on both sides, until golden brown.

Serve warm. Sprinkle powered sugar over the top; or serve with butter and syrup.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

More bulletin bloopers:

We will have a special holiday bingo and dinner on Monday evening, December 30th. You will be given two bingo packs, which cover all games played, and your choice of children or roast beef for dinner.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind, and they can be seen in the church basement Friday afternoon.

On Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the expense of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the carpet will please come forward to get a piece of paper.

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the south and north end of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

My past pain will not dictate my future victories. - Kris Vallotton

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org