One Thing

Only one thing is important.” Luke 10:42a (NCV)

Jesus said there was only one thing needful, only one thing is important; but, very few of us operate our lives like that’s true. We find ourselves preoccupied with life’s demands. The tyranny of the urgent robs us of the one thing that is important. What is that one thing that is so important and needful? Mary shows us in this story. It’s a common story descriptive of our own lives — two sisters and a brother, friends of Jesus, offering hospitality to a friend in His ministry as they host Him in their home. Luke tells us that Mary is “sitting at Jesus feet and listening to Him teach.” Imagine that moment Mary was enjoying with Jesus. She is soaking in His presence and His words. She listened attentively and was the only one who seemed to have insight into His death. She would later anoint Him with expensive perfume that Jesus said she did in preparation of His burial in John 12:7. That kind of spiritual insight comes when we do the one thing that is important, when we sit at our Savior’s feet and listen. The one thing that is important in our lives is the presence of God. It’s the one thing that is needful. We need God. God designed us that way, and we are dysfunctional without Him. Have you found yourself, like Mary’s sister, Martha, so busy with life’s demands that you are running on empty? Maybe you’re just too busy. Stop! Don’t miss the presence of God in you’re zeal to serve Him. Hear the loving rebuke Jesus gave to Martha. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.” Today, do the one thing that is important. Then, like Mary, act on the spiritual insight you gain in His presence.

Control

Lord, we know that people do not control their own destiny. It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them.”

Jeremiah 10:23 (NET)

Control issues. We all have them to one extent or another. Some control issues are more obvious than others. Some people control by intimidation. I call them the “intimidator!” They can be short-tempered and demanding. They usually react from a deep insecurity. Others may control more passively like the worrywart who tries to control everything by worrying about it. It even worries them when they have nothing to worry about! It’s simply a part of human nature that we want to be in control of our lives and think that we can control our own destiny. Jeremiah recognized the problem and came to the realization that we really can’t control our lives, but we can submit our lives to God’s care and control. He said, “Lord, we know that people do not control their own destiny. It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them.” (Jeremiah 10:23 NET) The best illustration of this in the New Testament is in the life of Simon Peter. Jesus was teaching Peter a valuable lesson about control that would prepare Peter to later follow Christ and become a great apostle. The story is in Luke 5. Peter and his partners had been fishing all night long with no success. They returned to clean their nets and shut down for the day. That’s when Jesus came along and challenged Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets for a great catch of fish. Listen to Peter’s response in Luke 5:5 “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.” Peter expressed both respect and sarcasm in his response. He called Jesus, “Master.” He respected the fact that Jesus was a master teacher of spiritual truths and the law, but He obviously didn’t know much about fishing. Peter was a fisherman by trade. This was his business; and he knew that if they couldn’t catch the fish at night, they would surely not catch any in the heat of the day. Jesus’ suggestion was against conventional wisdom! Sarcastically, Peter consented to Jesus’ request with the caveat that “because You say so, I will let down the nets.” This was Peter’s way to prove Jesus wrong. Despite Peter’s disbelief and sarcasm, he obeyed and because he obeyed, he would experience a miracle! The catch of fish was so great that he had to signal for his partners to help bring in all the fish! Peter’s response is classic! He fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Vs. 8) Peter realized that Jesus was not only a master teacher but He was “Lord” of all! The word “Lord” means owner and controller. Jesus was showing Peter that He had control over everything and if Peter would give up control to Him, He would take control and change his life! If you wrestle with control issues, then you understand the frustration, fatigue and failure that Peter experienced when he was trying to control his business and his own life. He came up empty! No fish … and he depended on fishing for a living! Jesus taught him the process of letting go. To let go, I must give up control first. Then I must give over control of my life and decisions to Jesus. Only then can I get under Christ’s care and control. Peter learned the lesson and would later write this in a letter to believers who wrestled with the same problem. He said, “Cast all your cares on Him (Christ), for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) What is it you need to cast on Him today?

Following Instructions

“Do whatever He tells you.” John 2:5b (NLT)

The instructions that Mary gave the servants at the wedding in Cana sum up all that it takes to participate in a miracle! It’s the challenge of every child of God. “Do whatever He tells you.” Do you? “But, what is He telling me to do?” you may ask. The simplest of things … To these servants, Jesus said, “Fill the jars with water.” These unnamed servants got to participate in a miracle Jesus performed because they were available and humble enough to do the small things, fill jugs with water. There were six stone water jars that held about 20 to 30 gallons of water, but the miracle couldn’t happen until the servants followed the instructions. I wonder what miracle may be awaiting my obedience? Am I willing to do the simplest of tasks? When Mary realized the wine was in short supply, she did the right thing. She turned the problem over to Jesus. She didn’t tell Him how to fix it or what to do. She simply let Him handle it. Then, she instructed the servants at the wedding to do whatever Jesus may tell them to do. Little did they know they would be participating in a miracle! With those instructions, Mary had no other responsibility but to trust that Jesus would do what only He could do. Although Mary did not understand what Jesus was going to do, she trusted Him to do what was right. That’s the faith it takes to turn a situation over to Christ! We may think we know how He should handle our problems, but He may have a completely different plan. Faith rests in His ability. How relaxing! Our responsibility is to simply respond to His ability! Once you turn a situation over to Jesus it is no longer yours to worry about. I’ve often wondered what those servants said to their families when they got home from the wedding. Imagine filling six stone jars with water and then pouring out the best wine at the wedding! John tells us that only the servants knew where the wine came from. Jesus revealed His glory for the first time at that wedding through those servants and His disciples. Today, He is waiting to reveal His glory to us and through us if we will simply follow His instructions. What is it He may be telling you to do? For some it may be as simple as baptism. Jesus never performed a miracle until after He was baptized in obedience to the Father’s instruction. Whatever it is that He may be telling you to do, follow His instructions and you may participate in a miracle!

A Father’s Legacy

 “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek Him, you will find Him. But if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as His sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10 (NLT)

What kind of legacy will you leave? Your impact today can leave a lasting impression in the lives of your sons and daughters and those who know you. David was the greatest King of Israel, and he was leaving a dynasty to his young son, Solomon. It was a daunting task for anyone to fill, much less a teenage boy who may have been thirteen-to-fifteen years old at the time. God anointed this young man for the task, and David knew it. Yet, he also knew that Solomon would need provision, direction and preparation. If you compare the accounts in 1 Kings 2 and 1 Chronicles 22-28, you will find a remarkable example of how to leave a legacy for your sons and daughters. In 1 Kings 2, the Bible says, “As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon: I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man.” (Verses 1-2 NLT) Wow! What a charge! Can you imagine being Solomon and hearing that? Isn’t it amazing that God chose this young man of all of David’s children to be the heir to the throne? His mother was Bathsheba! He may have thought he would have been the least likely to have been chosen given the history of David’s illicit affair with his mother and murder of her first husband, Uriah. I love the grace of God! Despite the shadow of his past lineage, God told David that Solomon was His pick! Given what Solomon was about to take on, David tells him to take courage and be a man. I’m thankful he didn’t leave it at that. David continues to tell him how to be a man. In 1 Chronicles 28:9-10, David gives his son these four specific instructions. See if you can pick them out. “And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your (fathers) intimately. Worship and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek Him, you will find Him. But if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as His sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” What great counsel for leaving a lasting legacy of faith! David tells his son:

  • Know the God of your father, not just as your father’s God but as your God. Know Him intimately. This kind of knowledge is relational, not merely academic.
  • Worship God with your whole heart and a willing mind.
  • Serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind.
  • Seek Him, and you will find Him.

He wraps it up by warning Solomon to take his task and relationship with God seriously and that if he forsakes the Lord, he would suffer severe consequences. Wise words we can impress on our children. What a challenge to live by!

Holy Spirit Momentum – Part 2

Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message.” Acts 10:44 (NLT)

Holy Spirit momentum continued to grow as those in whom He dwelled shared the message of the risen Christ! Much to the surprise of these Jewish believers, the Holy Spirit moved on Gentiles as well as Jews! In Acts 10, Peter finds himself telling an Italian Roman Officer named Cornelius about Jesus. As Peter spoke, the Bible says, “… the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too.” (Acts 10:44-45 NLT) That may seem strange to you and me today, but we are not much different. Too often we become exclusive in our understanding of faith and limit the work of the Holy Spirit to our little circle. But Christ came for everyone! “For God so loved the world …” No one is outside His reach or love! Have there been those that you may have excluded? You thought they wouldn’t respond to the gospel. Jesus had told His followers in Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” As you read through the Book of Acts, you will find that it took persecution in Jerusalem to drive the believers out to those regions beyond. Cornelius was among the first Gentile to respond to the Gospel. When Peter saw the undeniable evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of this Gentile, he asked, “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” (Vs. 47) With no objections, Cornelius and his entire group of relatives and close friends were all baptized to show their allegiance to Christ and their connection to His church. This infant church was not crossing ethnic and racial boundaries! God’s love knows no boundaries! I love to see baptisms like that! How exciting to see the church bridging racial and ethnic prejudices with God’s love and grace! Pray that the Holy Spirit may lead you to those in whom He is at work drawing them to faith in Christ. Let God surprise you with His grace as He did Peter!