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Showing posts with label Luke 10:38-42. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luke 10:38-42. Show all posts

Monday, September 27, 2021

Love is NOT Irritable

Kelly and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Puerto Rico last weekend as we celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary.  Thank you for allowing me the freedom to be away.  It was a much-needed vacation.  Puerto Rico was a beautiful, interesting place.  I learned so much about it.  Puerto Rico is an American territory and Puerto Ricans are proud America citizens.  The island has a distinctive Latin/Caribbean vibe, but it is also very much American.  90% of the people we met spoke perfect English.  And they live very much like Americans on the mainland.

There was one exception.  As we drove to the airport to fly home early last Monday, we were driving on a major highway at about 4:30 in the morning.  As we came to the red traffic lights, cars would slow down a bit and then run the red light when they determined the intersection was clear.  Everyone was doing it.  I guess that’s just the way they do it in Puerto Rico!  I said, “Well, that’s not the way we do it in Georgia!  So I’m not doing it!”  But then I started to get really concerned, because we would be driving along at 65 MPH and I’m thinking if I stop, these cars behind me are gonna rear end me because they’re not expecting me to stop!  So, I started gingerly running the red lights too (because I didn’t want to cause an accident!).

That got me thinking about road rage. Road rage is a modern phenomenon where drivers get angry and lose control and lash out at other drivers because of stress and frustration while driving.  Most of the time, road rage only lead to verbal attacks (or the use of obscene hand signals).  But sometimes it even spills over into physical violence. 

Road rage is a modern problem.  I don’t think people were arguing, flipping each other off, and rudely tailgating each other’s camels in Bible times.  There’s something about being inside a car that makes otherwise polite, mild-tempered people feel empowered to lash out at other people in ways they would never act if they were face to face with another human being. 

We see something similar on social media.  People will sometimes lash out and call people names and speak rudely on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in ways they would never act if they were with someone in person.  In past centuries, we might have been more polite and kept mean words to ourselves, because we were speaking with people face-to-face.  It wasn't necessarily that irritation wasn't deep down in people's hearts, but they didn't express it.  Then came the telephone where you could speak to someone miles away—maybe an operator or customer service rep you would never meet face-to-face, and suddenly people felt safer to berate someone over the phone.  Now, people are mean to others over the internet.

Anger, irritability, and unloving attitudes often hide down deep in the human heart.   But what the world needs is love.  And the kind of love our world needs is revealed in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love Is NOT
Last week, David did a wonderful job teaching that love is NOT jealous or boastful or proud.  Today I tell you, Love is NOT rude.  It does not demand its on way.  And, It is NOT irritable. 

Someone who is irritable is grumpy, easily annoyed or made angry.  They are like the road raging driver who is so quick to lash out with angry words at the annoying driver who’s driving too slow in front of them (or stopping at a red light in the middle of the night in Puerto Rico while everyone else is running those red lights). 

People can get irritated when they don’t get their own way.  Irritated people are impatient and can be down right rude.  One person’s rudeness irritates someone else who then lashes out at someone else.  Before long, everyone is irritated.  And irritation and anger are slippery slopes where people sometimes slip down to rage and violence.

Real love puts a stop to it all.  When we love—really love the way God loves us—we find that love “does not demand it’s own way.”  And love is not irritable, but rather is easygoing, patient, and gentle.  Jesus once used love to quench a spark of irritation among His disciples.

Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Most people have experienced a situation like this.  Are you typically Mary or Martha in the story?  Are you the one doing all the work or the one sitting their having a good time? 

Martha was annoyed that she was doing all the work while her sister, Mary, was sitting at Jesus’ feet.  She got irritated and went to Jesus to complain.  I want you to notice verse 40.  She goes to Jesus and calls him “Lord”.  That’s a good way to start—recognizing that Jesus is the sovereign Lord of all.  But then, in frustration, she accuses the Lord.  She asks a question, but it’s not really a question.  She asks, “Doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?”  Martha uses the question to point out what she thinks should be obvious to Jesus.  Really she was accusing Jesus saying, “My sister is making me do all the work and you aren’t doing anything about it!” And then she proceeds to try and tell the Lord what to do.  (That's pretty brash!)

I don’t want to be too hard on Martha.  She was a good woman.  She welcomed Jesus into her home.  She was being a good hostess, making sure everyone was fed—and it had to be a big meal.  There were a lot of mouths to feed—Jesus and all his disciples (that’s 13 people), plus there may have been other’s accompanying them.  It could have been a gathering of quite a few people. And Martha is trying to take care of everyone while her sister is sitting at Jesus feet.  (Sisters really know how to annoy each other, don’t they?)

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t get irritated with Martha.  He loved Martha (and her sister, Mary).  Rather than escalating the situation, Jesus said the truth in a gentle way.  He speaks tenderly, “My dear Martha…”  It’s a very tender way to rebuke her.  He knows her name and she’s dear to him.  Jesus appreciates what she’s doing—or at least he appreciates she is trying to help in the best way she knows how, by taking care of the meal.  But Jesus also conveys that what He really wants, the food that truly feeds him, is to teach and to have students soaking up the Good News about God’s Kingdom he came to give the world.  Mary is sitting at Jesus feet listening.  She has chosen the most important thing.  While Martha is “worried and upset over all these details”, Mary is sitting in the listening at the feet of God’s only begotten Son. 

My Way, Highway
Love does not demand its own way.  When we try to demand our own way, we are easily frustrated. When we are frustrated, we become irritable. When we’re irritable, we are rude. We might even say something for which we’ll be sorry later.  We might even go to the Lord, like Martha, and try to rebuke him saying something like:  “Now listen here Lord!  You should’ve told so-and-so to do what I wanted them to do.”  In that moment, we’re not loving God.  We’re not loving our neighbor. 

When we act like that, we’re being selfish and demanding our own way.  Our “own way” might not be the most important way.  It may not even be the right way.  We’re so distracted by all our plans and concerns that we don't care.  We’re not thinking of anyone else.  That's not love.

Martha was so distracted and concerned by all the details of fixing a big dinner for her guests that she missed the main point of the gathering, which was to spend time with Jesus.  The best hosts I’ve ever known—people who truly have a gift for hospitality—know how to make people feel welcome.  They don’t get so wrapped up in the details of serving that they lose sight of the people they are serving.  Exceptional hosts always keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is the people they are hosting.  The food, the setting, and everything else supports the people and if they they don't, they are simply discarded. 

When we get so wrapped up in accomplishing all our own big plans, we may not even notice our big plans have nothing to do with what Jesus really wants.  And who’s plans do you think are more important—ours or Jesus’?

So if you find yourself “demanding your own way”, it might be a good time to check yourself and ask: “Have I drifted off course here?  Does it really matter?  Why am I so upset and frustrated?  What’s the main point of all this anyway?  Have I abandoned love in this circumstance for the sake of something I really want?  Am I demanding my own way?” 

The kind of love our world desperately needs is "patient and kind.  It is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable."  That’s only half the definition of real love from 1 Corinthians 13, but can you imagine how much better our world would be if everyone just lived out this first half of 1 Corinthians 13's definition of love? 

Well, if you are a Christian—if you call Jesus Lord—you are called to live this way.  The early Christians changed their world with this kind of love.  They started out as just a handful of people living in a hostile, unloving, unchristian world, but they didn’t let that stop them. 

You see, Jesus didn’t say, “Go out there and only love the people who are loving to you.”  No, Jesus said, “Love everyone.” He even said, “Love your enemies.  Pray for those who persecute you.”  And that’s what those early Christians did and it changed their world.

And that’s what Christians are called to do today—to love everyone, even our enemies.  When we do, it changes our world and makes it better.  So we need to get out there and do it. 

Maybe you aren’t a Christian, yet.  Maybe you haven’t decided to follow Jesus.  I would like to invite you to start today.  Jesus loved you so much he gave His own life for you.  And there is no greater love than this.  His love is so deep and powerful it can set you free from sin and shame.  It frees you from the wounds of the past and gives you a whole new future.  You can make a fresh start through Jesus' love.  Jesus’ love will change your live and empower you to change others too.  

You see, Jesus has already won.  And if you decide to follow him, you are included in His victory too.  There won’t be anything this world can do to you, because you’ve already won.  You have nothing to lose, because you've already been crucified with Christ and risen to new life and you have the greatest reward anyone can ever receive--eternal life.  So you have nothing to lose!  Even if the evil forces of the world kill you, they still can’t defeat you because you have eternal life.  Living is serving Jesus and sharing His love with the world.  Dying is going Home to live forever celebrating Jesus love in the holy presence of God, where there will be no more sickness or sorrow or suffering or death.  For as the Bible says in Philippians 1:21, “Living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.”

Why don’t you make a choice to be a Christian and follow Jesus today? I invite you to pray to Jesus right now and ask Him to forgive you and accept you as His follower.  He will save you and give you Eternal life and also fill you with His Holy Spirit who will guide you to live for Him and His Kingdom.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Jesus Takes a Vacation

Sharpen the Saw
            Do you ever feel like you are sawing away at life, but not getting anywhere?  The other day, we had a birthday party for my daughter Grace.  She wanted to have here friends over and wanted to have a camp fire to sit around.  I meant to by a bundle of firewood at the store, but forgot.  We only had about 15 minutes before dark, so I dragged a fallen tree from the woods behind my house.  I grabbed my chainsaw (which hasn't been used in about a year) and tried to cut the tree up into firewood.  The chain was so dull it would hardly cut.  I should have paused to sharpen the chain and it would have made quick work of the tree.  However, it was almost dark and I didn't want to be cutting wood in the dark so I just kept trying to cut that tree up with my dull saw.  It was loud and the chain was smoking as the dull blades grinding against the wood--more burning it than cutting it.  It took three times as long to cut the tree with the dull saw (and it was more dangerous too).
            It’s important to take time to sharpen your saw.  That's true of chainsaws and yourself.  We need to make sure we sharpen our mental, physical, and spiritual abilities.  Otherwise, we will just be loud but not very effective.  Lent is a great time to resharpen.  Lent is the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday at Easter Sunday when Christians prepare for Easter through prayer, study, and service.  Our focus on prayer, study, and service helps draw us closer to Christ so we can be sharp again. 
            Jesus was a carpenter.  I’m sure he understood the importance of “sharpening his saw” so it would cut well.  Jesus certainly applied the principle to his ministry.  He took trips and celebrated religious holidays (Holy Communion was originally a Passover meal Jesus celebrated with his disciples).  And we read time after time how Jesus took breaks from his work to rest and pray.  These “vacations” helped him stay physically, mentally, and spiritually sharp.
            Jesus took one such “vacation” near the end of his earthly ministry as he made his way to Jerusalem where he would be arrested and crucified.  I want to share that story with you today.

Slides – Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 Jesus Takes a Vacation
Mary and Martha were Jesus good friends.  Spending time with friends can be a good way to relax and recharge.  Jesus—ever mindful of the cross looming before him—sought solace in the company his good friends.
You have probably known some people like Mary and some like Martha.  Martha was all wrapped up in the work that needed to be done.  Jesus came to relax and be with friends.  That was the main point of his visit.  Mary was doing just what Jesus wanted—resting and spending time with him.  Martha was distracted by the big dinner and all the work she felt needed to be done. 
There’s a time for work and a time for rest.  When you take a break or a vacation, take time to rest.  Yes, there are details that you must attend to, but if you spend your whole vacation or visit distracted by organizing and planning and logistics you might miss out on what’s really important.
I want to make three points today.  First, everyone should take a vacation now and then.  Second, I want to consider a Christian way to take a vacation that will make yours more fruitful. 

Vacations are Important
            Do you realize that vacations were originally God’s idea?  Think about it.  Go back to the beginning of the Bible, way back in Genesis at the creation story.  What did God do on the seventh day? … Genesis 2:2-3, “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”  God establish the Sabbath to give His people time to rest and spend time with Him.  God gave us this special gift:  a little mini-vacation woven right into the fabric of our week.  And God declared it holy.
            In the Old Testament, the Law of Moses required certain vacations as religious obligations.  In addition to resting on the Sabbath to keep it holy, there were also regular holiday festivals to be celebrated throughout the year.  Furthermore, the Law encouraged faithful Jews to make travel to the Temple in Jerusalem often.  Some strict Jews interpreted the law to mean they should travel to the Temple 3 times a year.  The Gospel of Luke says Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover every year.
The word vacation literally means to vacate – to leave.  The word was first used to describe the long summer breaks taken by law courts and by wealthy Europeans who would “vacate” their regular home and move to their summer home.  Ultimately, a vacation is to take leave from your normal daily activity and go or do something different.  It can mean taking a trip to Florida; but technically, a business conference could be consider a vacation (in some sense) because you are taking a break from what you normally do (say sitting at a desk in your office) to do something different.  A changes of pace—even if it is still work—can be refreshing.
According to one article[i], “More than half of American workers left vacation time unused in 2015. This adds up to 658 million unused vacation days.”  Some of the reasons people say they don’t take vacations are: returning to a mountain of work (37%), fearing no one else can do the job while they’re gone (35%), and trouble affording a vacation (33%).  Does one of these reasons describe you?
Some people just feel guilty about taking a vacation.  They might feel vacations are indulgent, wasteful, or only the practice of lazy people.  Have you ever judged others because they took a vacation?  Have you ever felt judged yourself?  I hope not, because vacations are important.  They are a way we can “sharpen our saw.” 
Vacations make you happier.  Well, obviously, going on a vacation can be fun and relaxing and will most likely make you happy.  But it’s more than just that.  Research shows[ii], “People who come back from vacation are more satisfied with their lives in general when they return.”  Calmer, more satisfied, mentally healthy people are actually better workers and members of society in general.
Some may say, “Well, vacations just stress me out.  All the packing and stressing over leaving on time and finding a place to stay and all the details of the trip…”  Hmmm… that’s true if you’re acting like a Martha.  Remember Mary and Martha from our scripture?  Martha was all worked up about cooking the meal and all the work that needed to be done.  Be more like Mary than Martha and just enjoy!
Vacations make you healthier.  They reduce stress.  Vacations give your body time to recuperate and repair.  According to experts, “Research has shown that people on holiday immediately feel healthier, have less physical complaints and even have a reduction in cholesterol levels on their return.”[iii]  My summer vacation last year helped me establish a new healthy habit—a morning walk.  you see, I'm an early riser and everyone else in the vacation house decided to sleep late.  So what was I to do?  I decided I would go for a walk each morning while I waited for the rest of the household to wake up.  I took a walk on the beach and watched the sunrise while getting some healthy exercise.  Well, when I got back from our vacation, I decided, "Why not keep this up?"  So I started getting up a little earlier and taking a walk every morning.  It's gives me time to pray, listen to the Bible or an audiobook, and start the day off with a little exercise.  It's been almost a year now and I go for a 30-45 minute walk almost every morning.  I might not have developed this healthy habit if I hadn't gone on vacation last summer.
But there’s another benefit.
Vacations actually make you more productive.  Vacations decrease job stress, employee burnout, and reduce absenteeism.  Workers come who take vacations come back with a renewed vitality at their job and are actually more productive than before.  So, a vacation can make you a more effective worker.  I hope you will all consider the benefits of a periodic vacation.  I hope any employers or supervisors who read this will consider how a vacation could help your employees help you and will encourage them to take time off now and then. 

A Christian Vacation
            I am convinced the Christian way of life is the absolute best.  True Christians who follow Jesus whole-heartedly are the most joyful of all people on the planet, love life and live it to the fullest, and are also the very best employees and members of society.  Christianity is not some set of religious rules we follow.  It's a living relationship with Jesus that actually makes us better people when we apply our faith to every area of our life.  How can we apply our faith to our vacations?  Let me give you some tips.
            First, don’t take a vacation from your faith.  You are still a follower of Christ even if you are in a different town.  Don’t forget your values, your spiritual practices (prayer, devotions, worship time, etc.), and your purpose (to love God and your neighbor).  Take Jesus on vacation with you and it will be the best trip you ever took.
            Second, don’t be a Martha. In other words, don’t worry so much about all the details that you forget the main point—to rest and take a break from all the things you have to do in your regular life.  It’s supposed to be a change of pace.  Don’t let your own “Martha-like” tendencies keep you from the joy Jesus wants to give you during your vacation.
Third, forget the world’s views about the perfect vacation.  In the hilarious National Lampoon's vacation movies, Clark Griswold is always getting into trouble because of his unrealistic notions abut the perfect vacations.  Don't be like Clark Griswold.  Vacations aren't about making perfect memories for our kids.  Vacations aren't about over-indulging ourselves.  We can treat ourselves, but we don’t have to be selfish.  Being too self-indulgent will not make you healthier or happier.  Over indulging self-indulging actually feeds your selfish tendencies and makes you less happy and satisfied in the long run.  Don't try to "keep up with the Joneses" or fall for the world's ideas about the perfect vacation.  Keep it simple and remember what's really important in life is what's really important in a vacation too--love and relationships.
Fourth, think outside the box on your vacations.  Jesus was not a rich man.  He was basically homeless and he lived in a poor peasant society.  Yet Jesus somehow also managed to take regular trips and vacations.  If he can manage it, so can you.  Don’t fall for the world’s lie that every vacation has to be an elaborate, expensive, extravaganza.  Something as simple as a walk through the park on a pretty spring day can qualify as a vacation.  (Remember, Jesus would often retreat to a quiet place to pray).  Sunday rest can be a vacation—if you are intentional about it.  A religious festival—like an Easter egg hunt or a sunrise service or a Maundy Thursday service—can be a vacation.  (Remember, a vacation is doing something different than your normal daily routine.)  A spiritual retreat (like the Walk to Emmaus) can be a great vacation; it allows you to step away from the normal tasks of life and spend 3 days focusing on your spiritual life.  A trip to see family or friends qualifies as a vacation (and can be a lot cheaper since you may be able to stay with them and not have to pay for a hotel or food).  A short term mission trip can be an interesting and truly life-changing vacation.  Even a work conference or some extra training can be a nice break from your regular daily duties as an employee and might be covered by your employer.  The point is, your vacation doesn’t have to be a typical trip to the beach or a cruise to the Caribbean that costs thousands of dollars.  And those trips may not be the best way for you to "sharpen your saw" anyway.

An Invitation 
Take time to sharpen your saw.  People usually think of Christianity as a bunch of religious rules and obligations.  That's not true at all.  Christianity is an invitation to an ongoing vacation from the worries of a selfish life.  Perhaps this is expressed best in Jesus invitation from Matthew 11:28 where he said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."  Christianity is an invitation to walk away from doing things the way the world says you must and to live differently--the way Christ lives.  The Christian life is not always easy, but it is always good and wholesome and leaves you feeling refreshed and whole even when it is hard work that makes you tired.  So I invite you--as Christ does--to walk away from your weary ways and come find true rest in Jesus Christ.