I could have written this post last week. It comes, obviously, from the Christmas story. No, not the one that Shrek talked about in his Christmas special. I’m talking about the real one involving Joseph, Mary and Jesus.
Mary thought it was impossible for her to be pregnant without having been with a man. She was right under normal circumstances.
This was anything but normal circumstances. She was pregnant with the Messiah. Her world turned upside down. Joseph wanted to put her away. She had to go away to live with a cousin. In the midst of that Gabriel had some important words for her.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”
You will not find yourself pregnant carrying the Messiah this year. That doesn’t mean that you won’t find yourself in some interesting circumstances and predicaments. You might want to throw in the towel. You might find yourself in difficult situations.
Any of these can produce circumstances that may overwhelm you. You may come close to quitting in 2013.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Go with God. Stay with Him. Trust Him. Have faith.
It isn’t hopeless.
Nothing is impossible.
Do you have any circumstances in your life that feel impossible to overcome?
For the past four years, I’ve been slowly winding my way through the gospel of John. Occasionally, I go back to a particular story and think about it.
It’s the story of Lazarus’ being brought back from the dead. Jesus waits a few days before he makes His way to Bethany, where Lazarus and his family lived. Lazarus’ family happened to be Mary and Martha. And I think this story is the moment of change in Martha’s life.
Let’s change our location for a minute. Let’s head over to the gospel of Luke. You might remember that in Luke 10, Jesus goes to the home of Mary and Martha. Martha is busy making sure everything is ready and prepared for the meal. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. Martha is put out a bit with Mary because she won’t help. Jesus takes Martha to task for her poor attitude.
Now, let’s go back over to John. Check out John 12. A dinner is being held at the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Most people focus on the fact Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume. I think this was a pure moment of worship. Mary may have one of the best understandings of who Jesus is at this point.
What I have often missed, though, was what Martha was doing.
Martha was serving. She was doing much of what she was doing in Luke 10. However, there was a difference.
Martha was serving. No fussing. No fretting. Just serving.
Her heart had changed. She had witnessed the miracle of her brother being resurrected. She had seen the power of Jesus in an incredibly personal way.
Her Martha heart had changed to a Mary heart.
Her serving to satisfy herself had changed to serving for her Lord.
A working Martha had gained a Mary heart.
That makes all the difference in the world.
Do you have a Mary heart?
I lost focus recently. You may not have noticed. In fact, I think few people around me saw it. Guess what?
I took my eyes off of not what, but rather Who I needed to keep them on. It wasn’t long, but that’s all it takes. Just a glance this way or that direction.
So what did I do?
I looked to some others who lost focus.
Martha lost focus.
She took her eyes off Christ. She was focused on some good things. She was focused on making Christ’s visit in her home special. The problem was that, unlike her sister Mary, she wasn’t focused on making Christ special in her home. She took her eyes off the ball. She whiffed.
Peter lost focus.
Standing in the boat watching Jesus walk across the water, Peter wanted nothing more than to be with Jesus doing the miraculous. Jesus beckoned him to come and Peter jumped out of the boat. He began to walk toward Jesus. Then he lost focus. He watched everything around him. He began to sink.
How do you regain your focus? That’s a post for Thursday. Come back again and I will explore regaining our focus.
Have you ever lost focus? Have you taken your eyes off what matter most?
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Rich Mullins had a song that I still love today twenty some odd years after I first heard it. It’s called My One Thing.
As the title implies, Mullins suggests in the song that there is nothing else that he could hope in. Jesus is the One Thing that his hope lies in..
I think this is what Jesus was trying to tell Martha when she complained about Mary not helping when he was a guest in their house.
Do you remember that story from Luke 10?
Martha is scurrying around trying to make sure that everything is perfect, the meal completed and the table ready. Mary is seated in front of Jesus listening to what He is saying.
Martha gripes to Jesus about it.
Jesus’ answer to her is that she was worried and bothered about many things. He tells Martha that only one thing is necessary and that Mary had chosen it.
Can you imagine Martha’s reaction? Here is what I think it could have been.
I think a lot of people admire Martha, and for good reason. Someone had to fix the food and the table. Someone had to make sure Jesus was fed. There is no problem that I can see in what Martha was doing.
So what was the problem?
I think it is twofold.
She put her expectation for herself onto Mary. She felt that her service had to be matched by her sister. She didn’t believe that Mary could serve Christ in some other way than how Martha was.
But that’s not the whole story.
Jesus told Martha that she was worried and bothered by so many things.
Her focus wasn’t on Christ. There was not anything wrong with what she was doing. The problem was that she wasn’t doing it all for Christ. She was doing it all for herself. She was focused on the food and the table. Her goal was to make herself look good. She wasn’t focused on her Lord.
Jesus called her on it.
Her one thing was not the same One Thing as Mary’s.
How often do you find yourself in that situation? Me? Too often.
How often do you lose focus on Christ, even in the middle of good work? Even in the middle of church work? I know I do.
It doesn’t matter if you write a blog, manage a team where you work or lead at church. There is One Thing that needs to be the center and focus of what we are doing.
How often do we all lose focus on our One Thing?
Imagine for a minute that you have been engaged to someone. You are waiting for your betrothal period to end. You are probably busy preparing the home you will bring your bride to. That’s when you get the news.
Your bride to be is pregnant. Imagine how you feel. The devastation. Anger? Disappointment?
You have a decision to make. The Law says that you have every right to stone her. After all, she committed adultery. That’s how you end up pregnant if you have been intimate someone before your marriage.
Joseph had that right. Joseph would have been justified to have gathered a crowd, pulled Mary out to the edge of town and ended her life. No one would have looked down on him. Some would have patted him on the back.
Instead, he made a decision to send her away. He felt some sort of compassion for Mary. Not only did he not want to end her life, he didn’t want to destroy her life.
Then God spoke to him through an angel in a dream. The angel told him to stick with Mary and raise the child.
Imagine the looks he got. “There’s Joseph. His wife became pregnant before they married. He married her anyway. Jesus isn’t his boy.” Or “Joseph got Mary pregnant before they got married.”
Joseph had all sorts of rights during the nine months Mary was pregnant. Instead, Joseph did the right thing.
Christmas gives us the choice between our rights and doing the right thing, doesn’t it?
Have you ever given up your rights for the right thing?