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The biblical text from today comes from Luke 10:38-42: “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I would like to spend a few moments today looking at priorities. Priorities are interesting things. Everyone has them, don’t they? We order the events of our lives based on priorities and that can be a good thing, if our priorities are in the right order.
For example, what is more important:
1. Paying the electric bill or going out to eat at a restaurant? (assuming you do not have the money for both)
2. Going to the emergency room with an injured loved one or watching the UK vs U of L basketball game?
3. Going to the circus with the kids on Sunday morning or going to church to worship Jesus and receive his gifts of the word and the Lord’s supper.
While the answers to these hypothetical situations may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, there are those who get their priorities out of order. Our priorities do get out of order from time to time. It may be hard to admit it, but there are times in our lives when we put the wrong things first.
This is where things get interesting. When your priorities are out of order do you ignore that tug of your conscience and make up excuses and justifications, so that you can do what you want, instead of what God wants?
People who claim to believe in God say some pretty odd things. Let me share a few of the odd things I have heard people say:
• I do not have to go to church, I can worship God on the golf course or in the fishing boat.
I would like to ask those people, do you really worship God on the golf course or in the boat fishing? I do not think praying for a hole in one or a five-pound bass, counts as worship of almighty God.
• God will understand that Sunday morning is my only day to sleep in.
Really? How is it that a person can make it to work five days a week for eight hours a day, but they can’t make it to church for one hour, one day a week to worship the creator of the universe in a place he created called church?
• I do not have to go to church to be a Christian.
Really? Isn’t that kind of like telling your coach that you do not have to show up for practices or games to be a member of the team?
With this in mind, I direct your attention to the gospel lesson from Luke 10. I want you to try to put yourself in Martha’s shoes for a moment. All too often we look at Luke 10, from Mary’s perspective, not realizing that many of us are really “Marthas.” You see, I think Martha desired to sit at the feet of Jesus and soak up his every word. The problem was that Martha knew that there was work to be done in service to her Lord. You see, back in Martha’s day, hospitality meant feeding and providing for the guest in your home, especially when the guest was Jesus.
Think about how much work most of you go through getting your house ready for special company to come over. Can you imagine how much more stressful and chaotic this would be if Jesus Christ himself was coming over for dinner and conversation?
Martha was not wrong in wanting to serve a nice dinner to Jesus. That’s not why Jesus corrected her. The problem with Martha was that her act of service distracted her and consumed her to the point that she began to complain and have ill feelings toward her sister Mary, who was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to him. Martha began to make the work she was doing more important than spending time with Jesus and hearing his words of life and salvation.
Let us take a moment to look at our lives and ask some questions:
1. Are we going days without talking to God in prayer?
2. Are we going days without reading God’s word?
3. Are we going weeks without going to the church God has provided for us to worship him, with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and so that we can be fed the Lord’s Supper?
What else is so important to us that we do not want to worship our creator God and his son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior on a regular basis?
As a pastor who cares for the spiritual health of people, I encourage them to make good healthy spiritual decisions and have good healthy priorities according to God’s word. That is why I encourage people to worship God in church each week as it says in Hebrew 10:25.
Of course I realize that there are those who can’t make it to church because of their health, jobs, vacation out of town, or other circumstances beyond their control. My comments are directed at those who are able bodied, but just choose to stay away because weekly worship of God in church is not a priority to them.
Folks, Jesus Christ loved you so much that he willingly gave up all of heaven’s majesty and perfection in order to come down to earth, to take your sin to the cross, so you could be set free from sin’s damning curse.
Jesus made you his number one priority and would not let anything get in his way of setting you free from the deadly effects of sin. He loved you so much that he suffered and died for you.
Faith in Jesus and what he did for you gives you eternal life in heaven the moment you draw your last breath on this earth. May this unconditional and all-forgiving love of your Lord and Savior encourage you to trust him and serve him all the days of your life. Amen.