Free From Distractions

Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 4:46 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken & Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 10:38-42 (NASB).

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Troubled and Distracted

Martha invited Jesus into her home. Her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his word while Martha was busy in the kitchen making meal preparations. Martha’s attention was focused on what she felt needed to be done in order to minister to Jesus’ needs while Mary was focused on Jesus and on listening to his words. So, was Martha wrong in what she did? Should Mary have been out in the kitchen helping her? In all practicality, we do have to eat, so someone has to prepare the food, is this not true? People have to earn a living, pay bills, clean house, cook meals, wash dishes, do laundry, grocery shop, go to school and take care of kids, etc. We can’t all just sit at Jesus’ feet all day long reading his word, can we? So, what are we to take away from this story? What is the lesson that is to be learned here?

Several scenarios come to mind. The first one is that many people, myself included, may, at times, get so busy doing for God that they fail to seek God’s face to find out what he desires and to do what he wants. They get so bogged down with the details and all the preparations that they miss out on what is most important – time spent with Jesus just listening to what he says and enjoying the fellowship with him and personal time of worship of him. The things they are doing for God may, in fact, be good things, but they are not what is God’s best for them. It is not the best use of their time. Yet, some people may prefer to live this way because they are the ones in control, and they are the ones who determine what they will do or won’t do for God, whereas those who listen to Jesus’ words and do what he tells them are those who have found what is best – to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

So, what kinds of things distract us and get us troubled about thinking they are necessary when they are not, or that actually pull us away from doing what is God’s best for us? I can think of some of the things that might be distractions for me, at times, and you may identify with some of them. We live in a technological society here in America. I have a smart phone, a tablet and a laptop computer. I am on Facebook because that is where I connect with family and friends and it is a place of ministry for me, too. I have chat, email and responses to posts which I check daily. I play only one on-line game, which is Words with Friends, but that can be time consuming, as well. I have had to turn off most all my notifications of incoming email, chats, and responses to posts, etc. because that is a distraction. Sometimes I get bogged down with aesthetics (visual appearance and beauty), which is also time consuming, and is not really important in light of eternity.

I believe this last one is a huge problem for the modern church of today. Many churches spend so much time on the show, outward appearance, and on doing what will attract the world to their churches and to their meetings that nearly everything is orchestrated and planned out by humans so that there is no room for the Holy Spirit to do his work. Ouch!

At the Feet of Jesus

Mary found what was best. She sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his words. So, in all practicality, how can this be applied to our lives? As stated above, we can’t spend every day, all day long, sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to his words, or can we? What does it really mean to sit at his feet and to listen to him speak? I think some people get the idea that this is a formal time of Bible study, prayer and personal worship which they must schedule each day and then that is it for the remainder of the day, and so then they just go about their business as usual. Is that really how it is supposed to be?

The Lord Jesus just reminded me of Isaiah 58. The people of God seemed eager to know God’s ways. They asked God for just decisions. They fasted in order to be heard by God. Yet, on the day of their fasting they did as they pleased, and they did wicked things. So, God asked of them, “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only a day for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?” He said they sought him out, as though they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God, yet they could not continue to do this and expect God to hear their prayers. They went through a religious ritual, but their hearts were far from God. They thought they could just “do” for God and that he would be pleased, but what he wanted was their obedience, i.e. their hearts fully devoted to him.

The same principle applies to our lives and to our relationships with Jesus Christ. He doesn’t want us to just spend a short period of time at his feet each day in a time we call “devotions,” and then go about our day with little to no thought of him at all, doing what we want without regard for what he wants. Time at Jesus’ feet does not need to begin and end with a specified period of time which we call our “devotions.” We should be “on call” with Jesus 24/7. We should be listening to him all the time throughout our day no matter what we are doing. If his word is hidden in our hearts and not just in our minds, and if we are sensitive to his voice, and we are desirous to hear him speak and to do what he says, he will speak to us all throughout the day and even into the night at various times. He often speaks to me through scripture songs while I am cleaning house or doing laundry or whatever. I just need to be receptive to his voice and to learn what he wants to teach me and then to be ready and willing to obey him. I need to not “do” for God what I think is a good thing to do, but I need to find out what pleases him and then do it.

One Thing is Necessary

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

We read in Romans 12:1-2 concerning the type of sacrifice which is acceptable to God. We are to give our lives (our whole being) to God, holy and pleasing to him. This is our reasonable service of worship of God. So, what does it mean to be holy? It means to be different from (unlike) the world because we are like Christ. It means to be set apart from the world and to be set apart to God and to his service. We are to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds so that we can discern what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. And, we are to find out what pleases him and to do it. He is not interested in all the things we want to do for him. He wants our obedience and our surrender to his will for our lives. We can’t live like the world and live holy lives pleasing to God. They don’t mix.

So, this song provides a prayer we might pray to God in repentance over the knowledge and conviction of heart that we have, in some way or another, been guilty of “doing” for God instead of listening to hear what he wants, and then doing that. It may also be in response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit concerning all the distractions in our lives which keep us from sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to him speak, and then doing what he shows us. It might be, as well, that we are guilty of spending too much time on aesthetics, thinking that is important, when the Lord Jesus has better things for us to do with that time that would be for his kingdom work. The part of this song which stood out to me this morning was “Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders my walk with you, now I pray.” I don’t want to be wasting time on doing even good stuff if it is not what is God’s best for me. I need to be more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to inquiring of my Lord as to what is next for me rather than me determining how I should spend that time.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.