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August 1, 2018

PA Grand Canyon 7/29/18
A vista view of Pennsylvania's "Grand Canyon" from Colton Point State Park on the western rim, with the bike and wagon trail to the left of Pine Creek.
(Click to enlarge)

"Martha, Martha"

Message summary:  "What is better" is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what He has to say. It's focusing on the deeper spiritual, less visible but most essential realm.

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"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" (Luke 10:38-42).

Martha 7/31/18
Yesterday during our chaplain visit we greeted a friend named Martha (photo on left). She told us about a time when she was young and dating her boyfriend. He saw she was quite distressed about a matter and carefully approached her with these words, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things” quoting directly from Luke 10:42. She told us his thoughtful and personal use of Scripture brought her needed perspective on her troubles then and many times since. Perhaps his thoughtful ways contributed to the reason she married him over 30 years ago.

In our Scripture text today Martha had opened her home to Jesus for hospitality.
We don't know for sure what it is that had Martha so anxious apart from the phrase in the text, "Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made". Other versions state, "Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal" or "busy with all the work to be done". For those who arrange such gatherings and carry out the many duties involved, including the meal, it's not hard to imagine how overwhelming the details can be.

She told Jesus, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?" We always need to be careful about making any judgments of others, including Bible characters, since we usually don't have the full picture. On the one hand Martha seems to have a point. Who wants to do all the work by themselves, but based upon the Lord's gentle rebuke there was more to the story.

Today let us consider the Lord's words to Martha, "Martha, Martha, You are worried and upset about many things." Of course this declaration was initially directed to Martha but being worried and upset about many things is a practically universal condition we all have from time to time.

1) What are the many things that worry and upset us? Some of you are worried and upset about matters I can hardly imagine and vice versa. Many of the sources of our worry and upset are a result of all that we have.
2) Why are we worried and upset many things? This question gets to the heart of the matter if we quiet ourselves enough to consider it.

Both Mary and Martha had important duties in welcoming the Lord Jesus to their home. Martha was tending to physical needs (
the preparations that had to be made) while Mary was tending to spiritual needs (sitting at the feet of Jesus). Both were important and it's interesting that Jesus did not devalue Martha's role. But Martha's complaining whimper forced Jesus to address the attitude of her heart.

The latter part of the text has a message for Martha and for all of us: "But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Mary made a willful, purposeful choice to sit at the Lord's feet, listening intently to His counsel, His teaching, and delighting in His friendship.

In the midst of all that may bring on anxiety or upset us let us remember the words of Christ. Ultimately only one thing is needed and choosing the better part is what the Lord wants us to consider such as Mary who chose to shut her mind to the daily routine and open her heart to the rare moments that she could personally spend in Jesus' presence. Perhaps she was completely lost in his presence and simply forgot that Martha had need of her help. Both sisters learned the balance between a soul at rest and a body in motion, as they worked hard for Christ and worshiped at His feet.

But, in full disclosure, we both confess the "kitchen" continually beckons and distractions abound.

"The Heart of Worship" is a song that reminds us of where our focus needs to be, although we realistically accept that distractions will continually beckon. Aren't you thankful for God's patience and grace! He has time and again called us back to the heart of worship and He constantly reminds us that our time on earth is really all about embracing Him spiritually during our earthly sojourn!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, You know the very intention of all that I say and do. As I invite You to examine my heart, I lay before You the people and pursuits that drive me further away from a heart of worship. You have not removed me bodily from this world, but You have raised me up spiritually to abide in Your presence even as I carry out my daily duties. As Your presence overshadows me it is there that Your love and faithfulness sustain me and give me a true heart of worship. Even as a vehicle needs fuel to properly function, I need prayer to uphold and equip me for the day that lies ahead. Amen.

There are seven times in Scripture when God addresses a person by repeating their name twice (this is known as "Epizeuxis" which is the repetition of a word or phrase in immediate succession, for vehemence or emphasis.

    * "Abraham, Abraham"  Genesis 22:11
    * "Jacob, Jacob"  Genesis 46:2
    * "Moses, Moses"  Exodus 3:4
    * "Samuel, Samuel"  1 Samuel 3:10
    * "Martha, Martha"  Luke 10:41
    * "Simon, Simon"  Luke 22:31
    * "Saul, Saul"  Acts 9:4

Photos from the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania is a deep gorge in Tioga County with Pine Creek running through it we visited Sunday afternoon following a church service.

PA Grand Canyon bike trail 7/29/18
A gentle ride on the Pine Creek rail trail

PA Grand Canyon kayaker in Pine Creek 7/29/18
Kayaker in Pine Creek.

PA Grand Canyon waterfall 7/29/18
This group is enjoying a waterfall alongside the rail trail.

PA Grand Canyon waterfall 7/29/18
They asked me to take their photo so we asked them to also take ours. Stephen was pleased that although he still has the breathing problem (shortness of breath) we mentioned two weeks ago he made the long hike up the Watkins Glen gorge on Saturday (with many stops along the way) and then a ten mile bike ride Sunday afternoon!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The Heart of Worship"  Video  Matt Redman

"Put It into God's Hands"  Video  The Browders

"Mercy Walked In"  Video 
Gordon Mote

Finally today:

PA Grand Canyon bald eagle 7/29/18
This is not a good photo but has a story. Harry, a retired park ranger, who still wore his ranger badge and uniform, was waiting along the trail along with his very high-powered scope on a tripod. He excitedly pointed out to all who came along a bald eagle high in a tree along the bike path. It was nice to see someone older, perhaps in his eighties, being excited about the outdoors and nature seeking to get others excited about wildlife! We want to keep our zeal for life and the Lord till we are called home.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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