Let's not doubt the Lord's care for us but rather cast our care on Him.
It’s great to see everybody. I’m so glad you’re all here together, online, sharing this time. Again, we didn’t plan it, but it’s the way it’s been going. The thing is, even this message that we’re sitting with, the series that we’re in, this idea of ‘engage’ and putting our faith into action and just really inviting the Lord into what is a very unusual time, a transition time. No question about it. In fact, in today’s message, we’re just going to focus a lot on this marvelous exchange that occurs in Luke 10, between Jesus, Mary, and Martha. I’m calling it a course correction. It has to do with how we adapt, how we shift, how we get ourselves in a right place, and don’t wander into a negative place. To keep our mind and our heart where it’s supposed to be.
Even now, Lord, I just ask that you would let your word open up to us. May it give us life, blessing, and goodness.
In verse 38, Luke 10. “Now, as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village.” We know from the other places in the gospels that the village was Bethany situated on the Eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives, just outside of Jerusalem. We’re told here that a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary who also sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. Martha was distracted with much serving. She went up to him and she said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me here to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, Martha, you’re anxious and troubled about so many things, about many things, but one thing is necessary. I tell you this, Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
We’re told that Martha was distracted with much serving, with much serving. If you look at the original language in the Greek, that phrase could actually be rendered, she allowed her attention to wander. She allowed her attention to wander. I actually think that could be taken literally in the idea of distracted with serving. She wandered into serving. She allowed her attention to tension from the word. In our minds, we should probably try to imagine the moment. Jesus is teaching, most likely in the courtyard somewhere, a modest space, maybe there was a trellis there. People were gathered, there was shade, and they were listening. Jesus was sharing and teaching. His words were drawing them in.
I would assume Martha had also been a part of that circle and she was listening for a little bit as well. Mary was there and the words were as they always were special, beautiful. Maybe even more so because of the way Jesus was talking. We’re told that Martha got to a point where she was restless. She had to set the meal. She had to prepare it. There were things that needed to be done. There was probably movement going on. Martha was remembering, she was having a hard time focusing because, in her mind, she’s thinking, “This is great, this is wonderful, this is beautiful. But I got to get going. I got to go get that meal taken care of. The thing has to get set up.” There were things that needed to be done. She was having a hard time focusing. She got distracted, she wandered off into another place.
We understand that she left the circle to prepare the meal. I think she assumed her sister Mary would share her conviction. Martha is getting more and more restless. She was listening to Jesus, unable, really to enjoy the moment because of all the things that needed to get done. What she was doing prior to doing this and thinking, “I just got to go. I got to go.” We know that feeling. You know that feeling. I know that feeling. It’s on my mind; I’ve got a couple of different things moving here. It’s making it really hard for me to be here the way that I should. Evidently, Mary wasn’t having that problem, she wasn’t. She had actually totally shifted her focus to this need to hear Jesus. Mary really was content to be there. The words of Jesus had overcome what she had been doing with the meal.
Martha though was back on track, doing what she did so well. All of a sudden it dawns on Martha that, “Hey, where’s Mary?” I think Martha assumed Mary would get it and she didn’t. This is something that probably was going on for a decent amount of time. Finally, Martha just gets more and more irritated, right? The longer it went, the more irritated she became with everything. Finally, Martha said, “Hello Mary, we are supposed to be doing this, not me.” I get this. I really do. It’s so relevant. Again, the phrase wandered off into a point of distraction. Martha wandered off into a place where she shouldn’t go.
We’re living in such a time, loved ones, where it really is easy for us to wander into an unhealthy place. How about that? With everything, we’ve had to deal with, with all the displacement, all the regulation, the separation, the loss, the unwelcome change, the impending change, it’s relatable. In light of everything that’s happened and is happening, it’s really relatable. It’s easy to wander into an unhealthy place. That unhealthy place may be spiritual, it may be mental, the way we’re thinking, our thought patterns could be emotional, that we’re not in a good place. It could have to do with relationships, critical relationships because, in a lot of ways, this passage is about ‘relationship.’ It’s about relational interaction and how the beauty of this moment was really damaged by the anxiousness that Martha allowed into her soul, into her heart, and which was understandable as well.
Again, I think it’s true for a lot of us. Some of us, we’re all experiencing this season of transition differently. It may not be admitted, but I’ve noticed a few people who I go, “Wow, they seem to be not just okay, but almost flourish, almost happier.” Not because of what’s happened in the negative, but just because this situation has almost rejuvenated them. Some of us who are more introverted, as long as we have enough people, it might make sense why that might happen. They say, “It’s okay. I’m okay. I’m actually doing fine. In some areas better.” But I think for a majority, there’s a real battle going on.
From the different interactions I’ve had, I do realize that a lot of us are ailing. Some of you are ailing. You’re not doing well. Some of you are battling discouragement, real discouragement. Some have suffered in our own way, struggled. Some of us are afraid and some of us are very lonely, very lonely. Others are filled with this kind of low-grade stress or tension. We have a lot of anxious thoughts. We have real apprehension about what’s ahead of us, the transition that awaits us is, in and of itself, intimidating.
Some of us are having a hard time staying optimistic because it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to go well. We’re finding ourselves battling negativity. Like Martha, we find ourselves, either from the constraints or feeling a little bit paralyzed or unempowered, drifting into irritation, negativity, or wandering into a distracted place. Distracted in the sense that we have our eyes on the wrong things.
For some of us, there is a concern that is sitting on us. Maybe the best way I know how to describe it is we feel like we have this heavy blanket. You can feel there’s a kind of stress, tension, and anxiety that your body feels. It almost seems like a weight. Like a heavy blanket is on me. I’m carrying that fear of the unknown, fear of the what-ifs, fear of what could happen. All these fears try to make their way. If we’re not careful, we can wander into a place where the Lord is calling us to not go.
I was reminded of Psalm 119:176. In Psalm 119:176, someone says, “I don’t even know there was a 176 verse.” It’s true. “Did you just say 176?” Yes, 176. I did. That’s the last verse the longest chapter in the entire Bible, Psalm 119:176. It talks about the wandering of all things. The Psalmist writes, and this is from the ESV, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep…” See how applicable this is. “Seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.” The NLT puts it this way, it is a direct connection between the word and the language. “I have wandered away like a lost sheep, come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands.
The image of a sheep wandering away, the Bible talks a lot about sheep and shepherds and not only was it an agricultural metaphor that was occupationally relevant to the time of the Bible in the older and New Testament, but it was something that Jesus talked about. He talked about it. He was the good shepherd, the shepherd, the good. In contrast to the hireling, he was utterly committed to the wellbeing of the sheep, to protect it from the predator, and to give everything, even his own life for it. Talk about how we are like sheep, how the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice, right? They recognize the voice and how the shepherd knows each sheep by name.
Of course, there’s the song, the 23rd song, which is, The Lord Is My Shepherd. This is about the reminder of the Lord’s love and concern for us. The relationship he has for us. It also tells us about our frailty, our weakness, our vulnerability. We are that. None of us are as strong as we think we are. When the right buttons are pressed or when the right things happen, or certain situations occur, like many of us have experienced in this situation. We realize things are not as we thought and that we do need the Lord. We need the Lord more than we’ll ever know. He is our shepherd and we are the sheep of his pasture.
I was thinking about sheep because the scripture says here, the Psalmist writes, “I’ve wandered away like a lost sheep.” The image of a lost sheep who has wondered. Why? Because that’s what sheep do. They wander into things, into trouble. That’s why they need a shepherd. This is one of the reasons why; because they’re so vulnerable. They just kind of meander, and the next thing they know, they’re in trouble. They could fall into a ravine. They can get stuck in a bush, all of a sudden they’re at a distance.
Remember how vulnerable sheep are, vulnerable to trouble and peril. Most of all, to predators. They don’t have the speed, they might have a little bit of initial burst of quickness, but no sustaining speed to be able to escape. They are not equipped with weaponry. They don’t have sharp claws and teeth to defend themselves. The closest thing they have to a defense system is maybe their wool when it’s fully grown. That provides an element of a cushion or a barrier. Even that can become something that makes them more vulnerable because they can get stuck in places. They are heavier, they roll over and they can’t get up. Again, it’s the picture of vulnerability, right? Of course, they don’t even have the gift of disguise. They can’t even disguise themselves. They can’t blend in with the greenery of the shrubs, they just stand out vulnerable.
I look at this and I think, “Oh, wow.” The Psalmist says, on top of that though, he says, “Come and find me, I’ve wanted to like a sheep astray, come and find me Lord, for I have not forgotten your commands.” We really are given here, you can see it, two great principles that fit our times and are a tonic for our wandering minds, which is what happened with Martha. Her mind had wandered into a negative place, into a bad place, into an unhealthy place. It had caused her to lose a sense of proportionality and propriety. It had undermined in many ways, the beauty of what she had intended to see happen.
So many things were disturbed because of the disturbance that she was allowing to dominate her. The Psalmist writes here that we can combat that when we’re starting to wander. He says two things, one, “Lord, I invite you, come and find me.” We’re reminded that the Lord invites us to invite him, to meet us in the wandering place. We can invite the Lord into our wandering place. We can ask him to come like the good shepherd that he is, “Come Lord, intentionally, Lord, come and find me. Come and get me, come and meet me in this place that I’m wandering into.” We’re invited to ask him.
When we realize that we’re starting to go off track, or when we see stuff coming out of us or we feel stuff on us, invite the Lord there. Invite the Lord into this place. I’ve done it. I’ve done it all the time, I just open my hands to him and say, “Lord, I want to release this to you. I want to welcome you into my heart right now. I want to welcome you. I’m going to lift my hands to you, praise you. I ask you to come and find me in my wandering place. I sense there’s a part of me that I’m not aligned right now. I’m allowing things to just begin to define my attitude, my demeanor, and my perspectives, just this negativity. I’m going into places where I shouldn’t go.”
I wrote down a simple little poem. It was a poem prayer. It goes like this, “Dark rooms and dark places, lonely hearts and lonely faces, borrowed trouble and borrowed fear. Remind me, Lord, that you are near. Come and find me. Dark rooms and dark places, lonely hearts and lonely faces, borrowed trouble, borrowed fear. Remind me, Lord, that you are near. Come and find me Jesus.”
A lot of times we can pray with another person. Maybe we can’t pray the ways that we’re used to, some of us can, but some of us right now, we’re praying differently, digitally. That’s okay. You can do the same thing. “Two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst.” What I’m basically saying is we can pray with someone else to welcome the Lord, to find us in our wandering place. We can agree together. Sometimes we can agree together for each other, or for a few of us. So the idea of welcoming the Lord to find us in our wandering place. That’s what we want, we want to welcome him into the wandering place within us.
On top of that, the Psalmist says, it’s that last phrase of the 176 verse, right? The last phrase of Psalm 119, which is “And to not forget your commandments, but that is to remember them, to listen for your words.” We are invited to remember His commands, to stay close to His words, and then to listen for His words within those words.
So at this time, this is a perfect time for us to keep His word near. To be reading our scriptures, to read the Old Testament, the Psalms in particular, just tailor-made for times like these. The words of Jesus are so powerful, so beautiful, so good, exactly what we’re doing right now. The Epistles, of course, just the scriptures are just so filled with wisdom for us, and His word contains a word for us in this season, a unique word.
That’s what I have found. In fact, in some ways, these words that I’ve been sitting with have become words for me as well, as I think about where we’re heading and decisions that need to be made. The anxiety that wants to define me, and how easy it is to wander into what may happen, or what do I need to do. All these things and many of them are legitimate, but if I give them too much place and I forget His words, then I will wander even further. His words become a tethering, a way of holding me, keeping me from wandering off. Do you see what’s being said here? We were invited to do the same thing. These two great principles. Ask the Lord to come and anchor ourselves in His words and His promises. How good is that?
Let’s go back to Martha for a moment. She was so disturbed, she was troubled. Martha loved Jesus. She was determined to honor him. It meant a great deal to her that Jesus gave her his love, and she in turn wanted to give him her best. Do you see that? For her, this was a way to express her love for Jesus, but also it was part of her identity, she was using her gifts. Martha had a plan, she had a vision for how that day was supposed to go. That vision was perfectly lined up with her love to bless and to provide a meal in an environment where others could experience that joy. Where Jesus would be honored.
Martha probably played it out in her mind and there was a lot of anxiety probably leading up to it. But now that it was the day, Jesus was here. She was going to make sure it all happened. It came off exactly how it was supposed to. The unfortunate thing was it didn’t go that way. It didn’t go that way. It didn’t go the way that it was supposed to. Martha wandered into a place where she wasn’t supposed to go.
Finally, Martha got so irritated, so bothered with Mary leaving her alone, or at least not joining her in preparing the meal and just sitting there, listening to Jesus while she should have been helping her, that it got to the point where she just felt compelled to address it. She does. I imagined she did this in front of everybody. Imagine that. She says, “Lord, don’t you care? Don’t you care, and basically about me? Don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do this by myself?
If you look at it closely, it’s not so much, “aren’t you bothered that she’s doing nothing?” That’s implied, but even more so. It’s a subtle distinction, but the accusation is more, “don’t you care that I’m having to do all of this by myself. You really need to tell her to stop what she’s doing and help me.” That’s right. “Don’t you care that I’m having to do this all by myself?” But it’s basically saying, “Lord, don’t you care about me?” That’s what she’s really saying. “Lord, you should be looking more out for me.” That’s how she saw it. “Lord, you’re enabling this. You should care more about me. You should be giving a little bit more attention to me here. Because I shouldn’t be left alone. She should be helping me. I feel like you’re not really caring for me right now, because you’re letting it happen.”
In a way, Martha, in her own way, made this a little bit about her. Even though she clearly had her focus and it was referring to Mary. In a lot of ways, she was saying, “Lord, this is more about you and me.” That’s where she had wandered. Right? She shouldn’t wandered. Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, Martha.” He said those words with affection and concern. “Martha, what are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? You’re so anxious and troubled, bothered and irritated about many things right now, about many things. You’ve wandered off course, listen, you’ve wandered off course.”
Jesus helps her, right? He helps her to course correct. That’s a lot of what the Lord wants to do for us because some of us are tempted to wander. I think you understand what I’m saying. If we’re starting to wander off course, or we’re tempted to wander off course, or we find ourselves wandering off course, and that’s so easy to do at this time, then I’m going to suggest that there are course corrections that we can derive from this marvelous exchange and apply directly to our lives today in this season right now. Here’s a couple of them for us to think about. Let’s just look at them. One of them is that we’re not to let anxiety have its way. Don’t let anxiety have its way and let irritation ruin the day. Don’t let anxiety have its way.
There are right and wrong ways to respond to stress, anxiety, concern, and disruption. There’s a better way than letting it ruin our day. I just look at Martha, her heart was in such a good place. She wanted to bless Jesus. This moment meant so much to her. Yet she allowed by her choices to embrace the stress, the disappointments, and the tension. She was wandering into a place of irritation and finally accusation. It was ruining the very thing that she was trying to create to bless, she was undermining the blessing.
We need to also give him our anxious thoughts. Because if we allow that to just sit on us and start to define us, it’ll ruin everything. So don’t let anxiety do that. Don’t let it have its way and then ruin the day. Let’s instead, choose to surrender our heart to the one who has a proven track record of faithfulness. Let’s put our trust in the Lord, embrace His words, welcome Him in, and embrace His words. Remember that’s what we talked about.
Another thing to know, another course correction here, is to remember Jesus is trying to get Martha to move in the right direction. I think it’s very important for us to remember, don’t focus on others and what they are not doing. I know I said this was primarily between Martha and Jesus, and it was. But clearly, it had to do with what Mary wasn’t doing. That’s no question. Martha’s focus has shifted to Mary and what she wasn’t doing. “Lord, you need to tell her to help me.” There is a tendency when we’re feeling pressure and anxiety, or disturbed, to start getting other focus in a negative way. It’s okay to be other-focused in a good way, but not in a negative way. We’ll we start becoming critical? And yes, I’ll say this, judgmental. We start thinking about what they should be doing, it could even be for the Lord, for all I know.
We start to judge others and we’re not to do that. Bless others? Yes. Judge others? No, don’t do it. What’s the point? As much as possible, let’s leave the assessment to Him. Let’s leave the assessment to Him. This is probably not a great time. Especially the more pressure we’re under, it’s probably not a good time to try to decide how someone else is doing. If we want to bless them, that’s different. If we want to pray for them, that’s fine. We want to encourage, even better. But not in a critical way. I don’t think it’s ever a great time to be critical. I think this is a particularly unhelpful time because there are such tension and anxiousness connected to this time that we’re in. So let’s try to avoid falling into negativity. Just don’t let that dominate us. If we start getting our minds focused on what they should be doing, we’re going to miss what God’s wanting to do in us. That’s what we need to settle. That’s a course correction.
Another course correction that I’ll leave you with, leave us with. Don’t ever doubt His concern. Don’t ever doubt His care. Don’t ever doubt His care. Martha said, “Don’t you care?” Or “Don’t you care?” That’s how she said it. There will always be that temptation to say, “Oh Lord, don’t you care?” But I know this. I look into His eyes. What do I see? Nothing but love looking back at me. I look in His eyes and what do I see? Nothing but love looking back at me. I know he cares. I know he cares.
Here’s the thought, here’s the ultimate correction, instead of doubting His care, let’s cast our care. Instead of doubting His care, let’s cast our care on Him. That’s what it says in 1st Peter, “Cast your care on Him, for He cares for you.” That’s the New King James Version. I think other versions say, “Cast your anxieties on Him.” That’s just as good. “Because He cares for you.”
My idea was, Martha was doubting His care instead of casting her care. You and I, let’s not doubt His care, His love, His concern, His goodness, His capacity, willingness, and intention to bring good, even out of the bad. Let’s not doubt His care. Let’s instead of cast our care on the Lord, let’s place it on Him. He’s inviting us to do it. Right? I cast my care upon you because I know you care for me. Don’t let me hold onto stuff Lord, that I’m supposed to be letting go of. I want to deal with things. I want to be clear thinking, but I don’t want to hold on so tightly to things that I need to let go of. I talk about this all the time. We can be holding on to things from yesterday. Can’t change that, let it go.
We can sometimes be borrowing from tomorrow’s care, holding on to things. We can’t really predict that not a 100%, let it go. Even now trusted, right here in the present, which I cast my care on you Lord, I breathed deep the breath and the goodness of God and I cast my cares on you.
I have some more things I want to share. I want to bless us on the way out. First, I want to remind everyone that even though we don’t have a formal time of giving that this is still an opportunity to remind all of you to as much as you can, as faithfully as you can, to keep giving in your tithes. Your offerings allowing us to do what we do to keep encouraging everyone, be a conduit of blessing, making this journey together. You can give online. Obviously, you can give through the app. You can give by sending something into the office, whatever works best. Again, my prayer is that the Lord will continue to provide. I know some of us are doing better than others and that’s okay. It’s okay if you can’t do it, it is fine. For those of us who can keep doing your best.
Our time together is nearing its close. I’m so thankful I was able to share this time with you. My prayer is that no matter what is ahead of us, we can’t know for sure how the days and the weeks are going to exactly unfold, but Lord willing we’ll make this journey together in faith. In the meantime, don’t forget, keep your heart turned towards Him. So good, so God. So good, so God. Let’s be difference makers, wounded healers. May your joy be full. May the Lord keep you and bless you, cover you. Lord, that’s what I ask, sustain and bless all of my friends, all of my church family, everyone who’s here. I love you all. Blessings to you all, till we meet again.π