Distracted or Devoted

Distracted or Devoted

There is one thing that is far more important than all those important things.

This morning we are in Luke Chapter 10. We’ve been in Luke for a while and I kind of went out of order with the series of sermons we’re kind of looking at. We started a few months ago looking at the Lord’s Prayer with this idea of “Lord, teach us to pray”. I then kind of went back into Luke to look at this idea of “what does it mean to be a devoted disciple of Jesus”.  Certainly, the prayer we have and our time in prayer is a huge aspect of being a devoted disciple.

Last week we focused in on the starting point for a devoted disciple is surrendering every single aspect of our life to the Lord. A complete surrender, even to the point of taking up our own cross and following Him.  Today, we’ll kind of continue to look at what it means to be a devoted disciple.  I want to ask this question to you this morning. I think all of us will raise our hands, but how many of you feel too busy?  Now, if you’re not raising your hand, you might not be telling the truth. OK?  And that’s a sin too.  Anyway, just kidding. I think we all have these moments where life just seems busy. Now I know we’re coming out of COVID and like last March we went from going 1,000 miles an hour to like completely stopped for a while.  But I’ve noticed as we come out, that pattern of busyness is starting to creep back in to our daily life. For some people, it never left.  But busyness kind of looks like the fact that you every day there are meals to cook, right? I cook in my house.  There’re always meals to cook.  As we prepare to start back to school, there will be lunches to pack. There are meetings to go to and get to on time, even if they’re virtual meetings.  There’s homework that’s going to have to be done, reports to write. There’s always dishes to wash, Amen.  Like you wash dishes and you walk away and you come back.  There’s a dish to wash.  Who ate?  There’s always dishes to wash.  There’s always clothes to clean, clothes to dry, clothes to put up, close to iron.  There are texts to read and text messages to reply to and texts to send.  There’re emails to read and respond to and calls to make.  There’re school projects that will be coming up and we’ll find ourselves running to Walmart the night before.  Y’all know what I’m talking about.  You’ve known about this project for like six months, but the night before it’s due you’re doing it.  So, you run to Walmart, get what you need. Parents were like, yeah, that’s my kid.  And then you’re like, well, Walmart didn’t have it, let me run to Food Lion let me see what they got.  Then you’re like, oh, I forgot this back to Walmart to get something else.  Then you start working on it and then you gotta go to Hobby Lobby or Michaels and so it’s just this process of getting it done and you’re like, oh, it’s so much to do.

There’re ball games, practices, tournaments, gymnastics, dance, piano lessons, guitar lessons. Then we put on top of that church activities, Sunday School, Worship, Children In Action, youth group meetings, things that we do throughout the week as a church, Men on Mission, WMU, there’s a trustees meeting, a deacon’s meeting and all these other meetings.  And then everything else. And for many of us, that’s just half the day, right? And then we have other things that feel the other half of the day.  We are a busy people.

I think that we’re hardwired to be busy and I don’t think any of that stuff is naturally bad. I mean, I talked to youth pastors. I’ll text them and be like “hey, how are you doing?”  “I’m busy”.  It wasn’t, “I’m good.”  It’s I’m busy. And here’s my response. “That’s good. ’cause it’s better to be busy than not having nothing to do.”  So I’m not complaining or telling you that busy is bad. I’m telling you or what we’re going to see is that the busyness of our life could be a symptom of a deeper problem. You know, the busyness that we experience will lead to kind of this end of the day fatigue and then we got to wake up and do it all over again and we just continue to go at these high paces of speed and then we really find ourselves in a position of we’re never going to get it done. You know what I’m talking about?  I’m never going to be able to get everything done that I’ve put on my To-Do List.  And it just you drives us crazy. And so when we look at the passage, we’re going to look at today, it’s really talking about busyness.  It’s not saying that busyness is bad. It’s not saying that we shouldn’t work.  What Luke is going to tell us and what Jesus is really going to share with us is that there’s really just one think, out of all the important things that we do, there is one thing that is far more important than all those important things. There’s one thing that if we can wrap our minds around it, if we can be disciplined to do one thing then all those other things will fall into their proper place in life.  And instead of finding this, I didn’t have time to do this or I didn’t have time to do this, we will have a proper perspective of our priorities, but we’ve got to get this one thing.

So here’s what Jesus says in Luke 10:38-42.  “While they were traveling, (Him and His disciples), while they were traveling, He entered a village and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister named Mary who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks.  And she came up and asked, Lord (now mine says, when she came up and asked but you know, it’s really demanded) she came up and demanded, Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to give me a hand.  And then the Lord answered Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. But one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice and it will not be taken from her less.”

Let’s pray together.  Father, as we read this passage of Scripture, knowing that it is inspired, it is inerrant and it is infallible.  Father help this passage to speak into our lives.  Father help us to wrap our minds around and be disciplined for the one necessary thing that will set the stage for all those other important things that we have to do each day.  Father, we love You and we thank You. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

So I want us to look at three different perspectives of this story.  The first one is Martha’s problem.  Martha has invited Jesus to come to a dinner party.  Now, this is a big deal. Jesus is the son of God. Jesus is the Messiah. I mean, there’s no more important person that you can invite to your house and He actually said yes.  I’m going to come and I’m going to eat with you, so Martha now has a problem. She’s got this this very important guest.  Hospitality, as we’ve talked about several weeks ago, is a vitally important aspect of this culture. She now has to put on a show.  She has to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for Jesus. And so what we see is we’ve got this this Martha, who is kind of the mother figure, the head of this household at the time, she is just absolutely working herself tooth and nail to the bones.

Now I can relate to this.  Because I like to have gatherings of people at my house, and when that happens, I’m the same way. I’m going to spend all day cleaning and dusting and cleaning the floors and picking up all the clothes and then going back and picking up the clothes that were picked up but now they’re back on the floor. If you’ve got young kids, you know what I mean. Everything has to be perfect.  I’ve got these little pictures on the coffee table and the pictures have to be aligned. I’m looking at the magazine and it’s got to be perfect, picture perfect.

Then it comes to the food. When I cook food, it’s got to be perfect. I watch YouTube videos even though I know how to cook. I still watch the videos. It’s gotta be juicy.  You gotta pull it off at the right time. You gotta do this. Then the plating. I take the plating of the food very serious because you eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth, so I’m very meticulous about how I plate food.  I actually take pictures.  I told you, we’ve done the HelloFresh for a while. I would take pictures of my plating compared to the picture that they give us, and then I would put it on their Twitter to say look how much better my plate is.  It’s got to be perfect, and so that’s what we’ve got. Martha is running around the house, cleaning up, making sure the nice towels are in the bathroom.  You know the towels that are in the bathroom that nobody is allowed to use, but they’re in the bathroom. And then she’s got the other towels laying on the counter. She’s got the roast in the oven. She’s got the bread on the other side of the oven.  She’s got the mashed potatoes cooking and she’s just going crazy making sure everything is perfect and she’s doing it by herself.

Now Jennifer doesn’t know this, and I didn’t tell her I was going to tell this story, because while this was happening on Friday, it was hitting me that I have a new sermon illustration for this week.  During COVID we kind of started detailing cars and washing cars ’cause we didn’t know, you know I had to make money, right?  We’ve kind of stopped that, but a lady that we washed her car a lot, she called and she wanted us to wash car.  And I said, well, Jennifer is gonna be really hot. I want you to help me do this. Her job is always interior.  She is like the master interior cleaner. She can vacuum much better than me. She’s very meticulous and detail oriented.  So we get there and pull up and then I just opened the doors and I get the vacuum cleaner and I get our air compressor out and I noticed that she’s talking.  And then I noticed she sat down.  So I didn’t say nothing.  But I just kind of cleared my throat.  And so then I just went about the work and I just kept working. Then it occurred to me, I’ve got a sermon illustration, so I’m just going to keep going.  I did what I believe Martha started to do.  That is, you start making loud noises.  I bet she was in the kitchen beating pots together. Like somebody needs to come help me.  So, I’m sitting there beating and banging stuff.  I’m not messing up the car alright? That’s business.  And then I start with what I am sure Martha did. Kind of walking past the room with “the look.”  Some of you had parents in the choir and you know exactly the look I’m talking about. Because you’re sitting there talking during church and your mom is in the choir and you look up and she’s giving you the look.  And if you didn’t get it the next time you looked up, she wasn’t going to be in the choir.  And you knew that was problematic because she was coming after you.  So I’m vacuuming this car and it was just, you know, it was really hot and I was struggling. So I started giving her “the look”.  She just talking and then she disappeared.  They were on a golf cart ride. OK, so that’s OK though. Bless her heart.  You say “bless your heart” and make it all better.

That’s what Martha is experiencing. She has a problem.  She’s got all this work to do and nobody to help her. Now in this context she is working. Don’t miss this. She is working to impress Jesus. She is working to impress the house guests.  She is working for Jesus. Don’t miss that.  That’s what’s happening.  She’s got a job to do. She’s going to get it done.  But. the problem leads to several things that we see in the text.

The first one is she gets really frustrated that nobody is helping her.  She gets really frustrated that there’s so much to do and she’s a little overwhelmed with all the tasks.  She gets tired.  You know, she’s tired, she’s overwhelmed, she’s angry, she’s may be depressed a little bit ’cause Mary is just sitting there being lazy in her mind.  She has lost her joy. What should have been a very joyous occasion, Jesus, the Messiah is here!  Yes celebration!  She no longer has joy.  You feel that way during dinner parties, if you’re the host.  You want it to be good, but you don’t have the joy that it should be. She’s lost her capacity to love.  In this moment, she doesn’t love Mary at all.  And she’s pretty upset, actually. She’s worried because everything has to be perfect, her busyness has distracted her. Her working has distracted her.

Now we’ve all experienced that.  Our busyness distracts us. Our busyness makes us tired. It makes us weary. It makes us angry.  It takes away our joy.  And so she goes to Jesus.  After the grunts, the pans, the look, and Mary is just sitting there soaking it in. She goes right to Jesus and she demands. The reason I say demand.  The way this is written in the Greek makes it very clear that she expects Jesus to rebuke Mary and get her up off the floor and into the kitchen.  When you read it, the way it’s constructed, that is her expectation. It’s not, Jesus, will you please get Mary? Not at all.  It’s a demand to get her up and doing something.  That takes some boldness, by the way, to demand something from the Messiah. Not ask, but demand.  And then Jesus gives her a very gentle rebuke.  Which we’ll get to in just a minute, but just picture this. I want you to have this in your mind. He puts his arm around her, maybe, and He just says “Martha, Martha, Martha.”  It’s OK.

But that brings us to the second thing, Mary’s position.  While Martha is working for Jesus, Mary is sitting at the feet learning from Jesus.  She is soaking in the words of Her Savior.  She’s drawn to His presence.  She is completely devoted to listening to everything that He is saying.  But it’s so interesting to me when you see Mary of Bethany show up in Scripture, she’s always at Jesus feet.  She’s here sitting at His feet, learning from Him.  In John 11:32, her brother Lazarus has passed away and she’s at the feet of Jesus.  And then in John 12:3, she is anointing the feet of Jesus before His death. Mary’s always in a position of humility, washing or at the feet of Jesus.  She knows the proper priority for her life which is to worship and be at the feet of the Lord and Savior.

Now for me, you know, I would probably be the type to be like Martha.  But Mary understands, she may not know what’s going to happen, but deep down in her soul she hasn’t understanding that His time on Earth is going to be short.  That He’s not going to be at her house forever, so she’s got to hang on to every word that comes out of His mouth.

I told you either last week or a few weeks ago that a disciple would follow the rabbis around. They would try to imitate exactly what the rabbis did.  And if you want to be like Jesus, if you want to be a devoted follower, if you want to live like He lived and do what He teaches, but you got to know what He teaches.  That’s why Bible study is so vitally important.  For you and I we have the Holy Spirit that works in us to help us to understand the Word of God.  But it’s the Word of God where we sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to what He is telling us to do.  There’s benefits to that.

We talked about the negatives of working for Jesus and working too hard and being too busy, but the benefits is this.  The first is fellowship.  I love sitting with my dad and fellowshipping. Is there anything that’s more enjoyable than that? Or if your father is passed on and remember those times when you could just sit and fellowship.   Now it wasn’t always like that. When I was a teenager, I didn’t want to do that because I knew more than he did, right?  But I can think back to the times I sat and listened, man it was good fellowship.  When we take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus, we’re just fellowshipping with our Father.

Another benefit is a deep and intimate worship.  We were created to worship Almighty God by enjoying Him forever.  We were created to worship God by enjoying Him forever.  By sitting at His feet, we are enjoying His presence and we are worshipping Him and we are allowing Him to teach us how to worship Him throughout the rest of our day. Every task on our to-do list can be accomplished to glorify God.  But how do we do that?  We do it when we start with worship, which leads us to continually worshiping throughout those other tasks.

A third one is restoration.  Martha, I think would have benefited greatly from being able to experience restoration.  Not like a salvation restoration, but the restoration of just being tired.  That’s why we go on vacation, rest and relax. Martha would have benefited from sitting down at the feet of Jesus and letting the words of Christ restore her, fill her back up with her joy and her peace.

And then we have instruction.  Jesus tells us what to do.  The Bible says that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training, in righteousness, so that the men of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  Complete for every good work.  Complete to do your task for the day by starting each and every day at the feet of Jesus.  That’s the priority.  I get it, I’m like this. I wake up and my mind goes right to my to-do List.  Some of you are like that. We go right to the task we have to do, and I’m the preacher, and I will honestly tell you there are days I am so task driven that I neglect my time with God.  All of us are like that at some point in our life.  Now, that’s not a habit.  Some days I’ll catch myself and I’ll be like, I didn’t have my quiet time this morning.  So I will stop whatever I’m doing and I’ll do it. You know what happens?  All that stress of being busy, all that stress of trying to write a sermon or a Sunday night or a Sunday School lesson all that stress just disappears and I’m at peace.  Because taken the time to sit at the feet of Jesus.

So we have Martha working for Jesus.  Mary is learning from Jesus. Warren Wiersbe says “few things are as damaging to the Christian life as trying to work for Christ without taking time to learn from Christ.”  Don’t miss that.  We can do a lot of ministry within the church. We can get really busy with our programs and our strategies, but if we don’t take the time to sit at the feet of Jesus, those things will not be effective.  They won’t work.  One, we’re probably not going to do what God wants us to do because we haven’t sought God will.  But there’s power in prayer as well.  So what does Jesus prefer?

That’s the third thing. The third perspective is Jesus’ preference, which is do not neglect the necessity of sitting at His feet. Now I do not want you to misunderstand what Jesus is saying.  He is not saying for you to be lazy.  This isn’t “sit at my feet and…” no, no.  It’s not about not working. It’s about what you do first.  It’s the one thing that we should never neglect, and it’s sitting at the feet of Jesus. Jesus would prefer us to learn from Him and spend time with Him instead of working for Him without spending time with Him.  Does that make sense? He wants us to work but he wants to be with us. He wants to spend time with us.  That is His preference, because He desires a relationship with you and me.  And so that one thing that I told you at the beginning is this. Do not neglect the necessity of sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Several years ago, I had a guy, a friend of mine, he called me to lunch. He wanted to have a lunch meeting.  We sit down.  His marriage was falling apart.  Just falling to pieces.  I listened to him talk.  And I listened to him, blame everybody but himself.  After about 10 minutes of this, I just looked him right in the eye and the very first question I asked, “how is your devotional life?”  He kind of looked at me. “What do you mean?”  “How is your time with the Father?”  And then he goes and says “well, we don’t do that together”.  I said I’m not talking about you and your wife.  I’m talking about you. How is your personal time with God?  He hung his head and he said it doesn’t exist.  And I said “I just want to tell you something. I’ll be glad to help you. I’ll be glad to work with you and talk with you and we can work through this, but until you get that right in your life, your marriage isn’t going to be right.  Until you fix your personal time with God and spend time sitting at the feet of Jesus yourself, it ain’t going to be right.”  And that applies not just to marriage, but to work, to school, to family life, anything in life. If your devotional life isn’t right, then the rest of your priorities will be out of order.  So here’s my challenge for you this week.  I’ve made this challenge before, but I want to challenge you again. Is starting tomorrow morning, set your alarm clock, we’ll keep it simple, 15 minutes early. That’s it. 15 minutes. Most of you do that anyway, and you hit the snooze button for an hour and a half that’s what I do. Start 15 minutes early.  Get out of bed, brush your teeth, do whatever you gotta do. Make your coffee. Take your Bible and spend the extra 15 minutes reading the Word of God and praying, sitting at feet of Jesus.

If you’re in the habit of doing that, and you’ve been doing 15 minutes, go to 25 minutes. But if you’re not in the habit of doing this, start with just 15 minutes. Go to a closet, shut the door, and just spend time with the Father.  You will be absolutely amazed at what the rest of your day will look like when you start with Jesus.  And I know there’s people that will tell you that the time of your devotion doesn’t matter. Just make sure you spend time with God throughout the day. And that’s true. But there’s something vitally important about starting each day with Jesus.  Don’t wait till your already busy and stressed out. Start with Him.  Don’t neglect that first 15 minutes of your day reading the Word of God.  You might be like “where do I start?”  Well, we’ve got the F260 Bible reading plan that we’ve started. Maybe that’s too much for you because that is a lot to read in one day.  We have devotional materials.  The Bible app on your phone has great plans. You go to the plans and you pick one that fits you and you start there or just open up the Word of God. Start with the Gospel of John and just read a few verses a day.  Read through it and pray and watch how your day will be different. May not be better; it’s not going to guarantee all the stress will go away, but watch how it’ll be different just by sitting at the feet of our Savior. 15 minutes, from tomorrow morning to next Sunday and email me and tell me how it’s going. OK?  Let me know.

Let’s pray together.

Father, we’re so grateful for Your Word.  We’re grateful that in our busyness, that we can come here and gather and just be at Your feet and hear Your Word.  But Father, we know that Monday is coming.  The stresses of the week, our to-do list, they’re going to fill up.  Father discipline us. I pray that the Spirit of God will convict us and empower us to get up those 15 extra minutes and just spend time with You.  And Father, I pray that through that time with You, our whole day will be focused on You and that we would see the difference.  Father just help us to be devoted disciples of Yours. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen, Amen.