Stay Focused – November 17

(click on caret to listen to the sermon)

Sermon: Stay Focused
Text: Luke 10:38-42

Rev. Audrey Spencer

There are times in our lives when we feel like we are wearing ten hats and serving in a million roles. And we run wild with things to do for every single role.
(PHOTO OF KIDS WITH HATS ON)
I am a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend, a neighbor, a pastor, and each of these roles is very important.
But I often wonder how on earth I’m going to fulfill the responsibility of each role in a single day. Thank goodness every role isn’t required every day, but at times, they are.
My message this morning will remind us that there is really only one thing that is crucial. And that’s loving God.
If we get that right, the rest of our “hats” will fit just right into the space of our lives.
Hear now the text for this morning from Luke 10:38-48

While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a
guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. By contrast, Martha was
preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.” The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won ‘t be taken away from her.

Mary and Martha were sisters and sometimes family relations are difficult.
The holidays are upon us. I personally love being with all of my family. But I do know families where it’s difficult to be with all of our family members. Pastor Laura touched on that last week. And how if we have differences we are to be Christ-like with those around us, but we realize it may be difficult. Sometimes being around our loved ones can be hard.
Jesus commends Mary to Martha, saying she understands the “one thing” that is crucial to life and that He won’t take that away from her.
Mary and Martha’s roles are typical in many families.
I remember my grandmother at holiday meals was the one who would never sit and eat with us. She was always concerned about making sure everyone had what they needed and more.
It irritated my mom to no end! My mother was the social butterfly who wanted everyone at the table. Say grace, pass the dishes and enjoy the conversation. Let’s not be distracted.
There’s usuaily one “do-er” and “be-er” in every family.
Jesus knew that Mary set aside the tasks that were required of her so she could be at his feet to learn and to love her Teacher.
In ancient times only the men were allowed to “sit at the feet” of a master.
Women weren’t permitted to be in this position of society, so Mary was doing something quite audacious for her time.
Martha was doing what was expected of her, and she was fuming because she wasn’t getting any help with all that company.
But Jesus calls us all to be focused on the “one thing” of loving God, despite the many hats we wear.
It can become so easy for us to get wrapped up in all the things we need to do and the things that need to be accomplished that we lose sight of what the most important thing is.
Isn’t it possible that we can get too wrapped up in the cares of life?
Jesus makes this even more clear in the parable He told about the sower in Matthew. “He who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”
The highest priority in our lives needs to be choosing the good part, as Mary did: to learn more about Jesus so that we can become like Him.
It’s a love and devotion to Him that makes everything else of secondary importance. It is to seek the riches of wisdom and understanding that are in Him.
If we don’t do this, how can we follow Him, how can we be His disciples? Remembering that a disciple is another word for follower of Christ. He is our Master, and as we live like Him, we become more like Him.
This doesn’t mean we are given the excuse to become lazy, and not take responsibility for anything. That’s another trap entirely.
We are to be “do-er” of the Word, and not hearers only!
But what we do has to be led by the Spirit.
There’s no blessing in running our own lives by our understanding of what is important.
Mary understood that she needed to learn more of her Master and to seek the things that have eternal value.
It’s when we do that, that we can be a blessing, because then all of our works are Spirit-driven.
Love causes us to listen, to learn, and to keep God’s commandments.
Another warning this text gives us is that we can be in danger of falling into the same trap that Martha did.
We can be so troubled by what we perceive as negative behavior in others, and become so self-righteous in our good works that we start to judge others for not doing as we do.
Satan is the one behind these kinds of thoughts. He whispers lies and accusations, trying to create as much conflict as he can.
His aim is to lead people as far in the opposite direction of “the good part” as he possibly can – to lead them away from Jesus.
To listen to him and agree with him leads to all kinds of unrest and trouble and worry. We need to slam the door on his deceitfulness!
It’s written in 1 Timothy 4: 16, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
That’s the only thing that will do us any good in life.
The wrong choice that Martha made wasn’t that she was serving and doing good.
It was that in her work she had demands and criticism on Mary, rather than doing what Jesus taught her!
If we are living before the face of God, we -Ra¥€ no cause to look around at what others are doing and feel that we have a right to pass judgment on them.
We live in obedience to the Spirit’s promptings in our own lives, and what others do is none of our business. We don’t know how God is leading others.
Let’s rise above all the noise and pursuits of this world and seek those things which have eternal value.
Like Mary, let’s find that fellowship with the Lord and with those who follow Him, so that we can learn more about Christ and become like Him.
Through the Word of God, fellowship, and prayer we become rich in our spirit, and God will give us everything we need in abundance.
Do any of you remember the feeling at high school or college graduation when you turned the tassel and then throw your caps in the air?
That was a feeling of freedom!
The better part that Mary chose was to be able to focus on what really mattered at the moment.
To sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him.
That’s something that will last far longer than the perfect meal and getting all the dishes cleaned!
In today’s busy and hectic world, it’s something we need to learn like never before.
Our well-being depends on it; maybe even our sanity.
I venture to say that’s why Jesus is so insistent on it.
I encourage you to free yourselves from your many hats that distract you and focus on the “only thing” that matters: GOD