Tag Archives: Martha

Commissioned by God to do the work he has led you to Luke 10 July 17, 2016

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who serve God to His glory in their vocation said … AMEN

There are so many of us “Marthas”, well that’s what I’m about, that’s what I have to do, the other stuff is good, but this is important. Martha was a hostess, she was no doubt the lady of the house, it was her responsibility, at least as she saw it, to make sure the house was being run according to protocol, to hospitality. Jesus isn’t saying there’s anything wrong with that. But He is saying to her and to so many of us, there are other important things. I’m sure Jesus appreciated the freshly squeezed pomegranate juice that Martha put out, I’ve had it in Israel it is so good. I’m sure he appreciated the little food tray, the collection of munchies that a good hostess was responsible for. Being led into the nice, well kept, probably rather fancy house that Martha kept, being led over to the nice big chair she reserved for important guests. But I also know the flip side too. Too often I have something that I really want to share, to get into, I’m all excited to sit down and talk about and get everyone else’s opinion and insights. Very well- meaning folks, men and women, want to make sure that all the hospitality is there. It’s nice, I certainly appreciate their consideration, but there’s things I really want to get down to. To be sure Jesus certainly appreciated Martha’s concern for His comfort, but and I know I feel this way a lot, Mary was concerned about what He had to say, what He wanted to share with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Certainly Jesus appreciated the fact that Mary was waiting on what He had to say and share. Before I started putting this together, I had just been over to Never Forgotten BBQ and yea, I’ve been trying to get over there for awhile, I do appreciate barbeque. But I immediately sat down at the computer because I was really inspired about what I wanted to say today, as my lunch in the Styrofoam container sat getting cold on the kitchen table. Jesus certainly isn’t criticizing Martha’s desire to serve in what we would say is a practical way, but we as Christians we need to remember Jesus’ words to remind Martha who complained to Him about Mary: “”Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 41-42 ESV) We are called to serve, but we are also called to keep in mind what is eternal, that while we serve, what we will remember ten years from now and to eternity are the teachings of Jesus. If you have Jesus right there in your presence, or if you have His minister ready to preach and teach the Words of Jesus the “good portion” is the Gospel! In our hurry, hurry world, there is so much around us to be anxious and troubled about and we can all justify the things that we do to work on and to “fix” those things. But the answer to all that we confront always has been, is, and always will be in Jesus’ words and not in the things we do to rush around and fix.

It’s that middle line we walk in so many ways. I’ve said it a hundred times, since I’ve become a minister of the Gospel. I’d love to give you the black and white way on everything, but it’s not always that clear. We have the things that are clear, the Law. The Law convicts us of what we do and shouldn’t do. Jesus was clear, quoting the Levitical law that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul, absolutely! In the Sermon on the Mount He is again clear, we shouldn’t be looking at another with lust, we have committed adultery with that person in our heart. We shouldn’t call someone else a fool, we are condemning that person and we aren’t the ultimate judge, God the Father is the ultimate judge. We are told to rebuke, telling someone that they can’t continue to sin and violate the Law, but God is the ultimate determiner and in Jesus we are forgiven of our sins. There are so many ways we can serve and we should serve each other and those in the world in the example Jesus set for us; remember how He washed the feet of the disciples? Certainly a caring and practical way to serve, the thing that the lowest Gentile servant in the household would do. Jesus isn’t telling us not to serve, but He is saying that we should be discerning. The Book of Concord is the doctrine of our faith, in the part titled the Augsburg Confession, our basic faith statement is: “At the forefront of the Augsburg Confession is a dual profession of faith in the person and work of Christ: “they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith. . . This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight.”[4] –[1] There are always ways we could serve more or better, but, for example, when the Gospel of Jesus is being proclaimed on Sunday morning, we have to chose the good portion, that for us who are in Jesus won’t be taken away from us and that is His Word, the good news of the Gospel of Jesus.

Now that we are in agreement as to what is the “good portion”, being the Gospel, the teachings of Jesus. I know that if Jesus showed up right here and now, I’d certainly come down from this pulpit, my work, and sit and wait on Jesus, to hear what He has to say. Likewise, I’d hope that we would all put aside the activities and stop and wait on Him, to serve Him and more importantly to listen to Him. I sure hope that if we knew Jesus was going to be here next Sunday, we’d set aside getting the Sunday barbeque ready or going to the Sunday soccer game instead of church and be here to eagerly listen to His words.

The title of my sermon is “Commissioned by God to do the work He has led you to do”. What I mean is that we have been put in our vocation to serve each other, God doesn’t need our service, but He has put us here to serve others. We certainly want that service to be honoring and glorifying to God and a positive witness to others how we serve the Lord. In our reading in Genesis we see Sarah and Abraham both serving three strangers. They turned out to be from God, but they didn’t know that, and in faithful service to them, they are glorifying God who has led them both so far and through so much. Through His angels, and yes they’re male angels, not female, God is telling Abraham, that after all the waiting, that he needs to wait one more year in faith and service to God and He will be given the son they have both been praying for, for decades. We can’t always expect that we will be given what we want because of our service, and even if those prayers are answered, it may take more years to see the answers, but it will be at the best time, God’s time.

We continue to serve in our vocation, God does bless the work we do. May not always be for big bucks or status, but what we do does matter very much to God no matter what our vocation, or service. Whether we are serving household guests like Martha did, or waiting in service on God like Abraham, Sarah and Mary.

One of the basic beefs Martin Luther had with the Roman Church was the idea that either vocation didn’t matter to God, that there were far more important things to worry about than how I earned my daily bread, or that there were different levels of vocation. There were those in Christian service vocation and this was designated to be much more worthy. Religious persons; priests, nuns, monks, others in the church, were seen to be far more worthy in their vocation, than those who worked in the secular world. That the religious person had a fast track to heaven and pretty much everyone else was slotted to take the longer track through purgatory.

Leif Grane in his commentary on the Augsburg Confession writes: “Luther speaks of being as a Christ to one’s neighbor; i.e., in serving one’s neighbor the Christian is not serving God, but, on the contrary, being united with God by faith is participating in the work of God himself. … the works of the Christian, therefore, are divine works, by virtue of faith, despite the sinfulness of the person. The works which are to be done are those works laid upon the person by his or her calling.”[2] Serving others to the best of our ability is working out our vocation, whether that is a lawyer, auto mechanic, dentist, restaurant operator, the person who does your taxes, you know what a blessing it is to find someone who will does this well, fairly and reasonably. No matter what our vocation, parent, housewife, business owner, pastor, accountant, athlete, teacher, when we perform these roles well, when we effectively serve our neighbor, and when we do these things in a way that the person we serve knows that we are serving them because we are working with God, then the particular vocation doesn’t matter. What matters is that God has worked through us to reach someone else through our daily efforts. Certainly you can see that if we do our vocation poorly or to enrich ourselves, others will think less of God and we have failed both our neighbor and God.

The vocation you have been placed in is what God works through on you and other people on a daily basis. If that is God’s will how can it be anything but holy? If it is holy, we want to serve in order to point others to Christ and to glorify God in what we do on a daily basis. Far too often we let God into our lives on Sunday, not even one day, by Sunday afternoon, for too many people, they are back in the world living according to the world’s agenda. Grane writes: “…the issue is not ‘special’ works, but in faith to know that God is present in all circumstances of daily life.”[3] When we remember that and seek to serve Him, not to somehow earn God’s favor, but to live our life in Him to His glory and even in thanksgiving and to also serve Him, by serving others. When our vocation is centered around serving others to glorify God, no matter what your work is it is holy, sacred and precious to God and just as important as any vocation.

Martha was genuinely serving Jesus and Jesus didn’t scold her for that. She was providing for her family and her guest, certainly commendable and something we should all do. Our serving is blessed by God and we serve well as a witness to His blessing and glory. But Mary was commended. Too often it seems that the person sitting around reading, listening, engaging is somehow goofing off, but they are certainly receiving a “good portion”. God has put us in our vocations and we serve in them accordingly. That doesn’t mean that the minister’s vocation, the preaching of His word and the administration of His sacrmanets isn’t important. Help the pastor serve to the best of his ability as a minister, help him to serve you in your vocation and we all serve each other to praise, lift up and glorify our Father in heaven who takes delight in our serving each other in His Name.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] See more at: http://lutheranreformation.org/theology/christ-office-holy-ministry/?utm_content=buffera69b7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.jH8hLWBj.dpufhttp://buff.ly/29rSUgv

[2] Leif Grane  “The Augsburg Confession, A commentary” pp 201-202

[3] Ibid

I have set my face like a flint First St Johns Apr 13, 2014

Click on this link for the audio version of this blog

Father, set my face like flint, give me, that strength, that character, that determination, that conviction of faith that Jesus showed in His march to the Cross. We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who have set their face like flint to serve and glorify Jesus said … AMEN!
This is the deal, we have a crowd that has decided that they have the King of Israel, the run who will run the Romans out and even more, He’s the Bread King, He’s going to feed them and heal them and bring them back to life, heck he just did that with Lazarus a few days ago. When we were in Israel at Lazarus’ tomb, it was pointed out how close his tomb, where he lived, was to Jerusalem. All of Jesus’ other healings and raisings, were done in the northern part of Palestine. As far as the shakers and movers in Jerusalem were concerned the people in the north were just huckleberries, right off the tuna trolley. They had created these crazy stories, no one but this rabble took them seriously. But remember how Jesus had waited three days after He knew Lazarus was dead? He wanted there to be no doubt, Lazarus was dead, beyond all hope. Martha had given up hope, she chastised Him; “if you had come Lazarus would be alive, why did you dwaddle, I thought you loved my brother, how could you fail us and him?” Why? Jesus wasn’t going to get into it with her, He had a plan, “His face was set like flint.” It’s interesting the use of “flint”, flint was used to start a fire, Jesus was going to start a fire. The crowd may be cheering now, but the fire was sparked and the crowd would be on fire to crucify Him five days later. The world as everyone knew it at that point, would go up in a metaphorical burst of fire and three days later Jesus would overcome the ultimate enemy death! He started to chip on that flint with Lazarus. Right under the leader’s noses. Why this dramatic resurrection of Lazarus? The other people Jesus raised had just died, so even if the stories were true, from these hayseeds, it could be explained, somehow Jesus managed to resuscitate them. So even if the stories were true and not just the imagination of some hick, they were explainable. Not so with Lazarus, he was raised right next door, the memory was fresh in the mind of everyone who mattered. It was immediately following the raising of Lazarus that the Jewish leaders met and Caiaphas had decided his prophesy needed to happen immediately, Jesus must die to save the nation, more importantly to save us and our positions so the Romans wouldn’t decide to take matters into their own hands about Jesus. Just to underline the event, chapter 12, the chapter we are reading, starts with; “ Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at the table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12: 1-6 ESV) There it is the table is set, Jesus was making a statement without any words. He sat down to dinner with Lazarus the day before He makes His Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem. “Remember what I did with Lazarus? You either acknowledge who I am, because no one but God could have done that or take the worldly way out. Judas? It is now plain what he is all about. Why are you wasting all that good stuff on Jesus? We could get a lot of money for that. The passage says he said that not because he cared about money for the poor, he wanted the money for himself. Jesus said he was being anointed for his burial. You are always going to have the poor, but this is where it all comes together, starting now. Six days after this Jesus would be buried and not one of those people at this dinner, none of the disciples saw Jesus’ death coming at all. Six days later Judas would receive a nice little payoff, that was his concern, until the reality of his action hit him right in the face.
Isaiah is telling us five hundred years earlier what is going to happen on that Palm Sunday. Jesus has hit the high note, he raised Lazarus, He is being hailed by the crowd, after hiding the last few days from the Jews, He is riding into Jerusalem in triumph. We have no other evidence in the Bible that Jesus did anything but walk anywhere He had to go, but not today, He’s set this up, told His disciples where to find the donkey and what to say to its owner. He’s riding into Jerusalem in a way that everyone would understand, He’s doing it in a way that a king of his day would demonstrate that he has conquered. He has drawn the line in the sand. The Jewish leaders can accept what He has made very clear, that He is the Messiah or they can chose to fight against Him and all the players are set to play out their part.
The Key Word Study Bible explains the word “set” in the Isaiah passage the Hebrew word :~yf which means to “to committ, to determine, “The verb indicates that which God put on the earth, as noted in Genesis where God put the man and woman that He formed in the Garden of Eden. The usage of the verb in this sense indicates God’s sovereignty over all creation … The word is used in Exodus in response to an interaction between Moses and God, in which God gave a new decree and law to the Israelites (Ex 15:25). In this setting, the verb again emphasizes God’s sovereignty, His ability to establish the order of things”1 Isaiah is describing Jesus at this pivotal moment, He is setting a new order, He has stacked the deck and the outcome is going to be according to His sovereign Lordship, Jesus is deciding what will happen here and the priests, Pharisees and lawyers are playing out the parts that Jesus has put them into.
The word shame in the same verse in Isaiah is the Hebrew word vAb to put to shame, disgrace, guilt. The Jewish leaders have tried to make Jesus out to be a shameful, fool, one who is trying to convince people that He is God and He’s not, they are sure that He is a charlatan or just a naïve bumpkin. In either case a very real threat, one that they can no longer allow to live. The Key Word Study Bible explains” disgrace, guilt “as farmers with no harvest”2, that is to say that after they are through with Jesus He will have nothing to show for His efforts, His intention is to raise a great harvest and now He will be tortured, shamed, humiliated on that cross, they intend to make it so that Jesus’ world will crumble around Him.
No brothers and sisters, His face is set like flint, He has become hard, He intends to be the ignition of that fire that will consume the world of the Jewish leaders and the whole world. Those people are cheering Him now because He is the “Bread King”, the one they can make do their will, feed them, heal them. They will be crying for Him to be crucified in five days because He didn’t do their will. He did His will, they wanted bread and health, He gives them something that they don’t understand, Life and life eternal. By lighting this fire, He will be sacrificed for all of them for all of their sins, He will put them back into relationship with the Father. Those who know Jesus as Lord will know true life, now and in the resurrection. Jesus set it all up so that He would be their salvation, He would be our salvation, He would die for the sins of all mankind on that cross and would rise and defeat death three days later. For those who know Jesus as Lord, that would be their promise of eternal life.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.