Work or Work of God

Luke 10: 38 – 42

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who was also seated at the Lord’s feet, and was 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 the serving by myself? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Yesterday I mentioned the “one thing” which is most important. The idea of the “one thing” came from Jesus. He said that only one thing is necessary, inferring that Mary had chosen and was partaking of the “one thing.” What was that one thing which Jesus thinks is most important and, truly, the only necessary thing?

Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching. It seems like the one thing, then, had to either be sitting at Jesus’ feet or listening to his word. One would presume it was the latter. Jesus said in John 6: 29, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” Rephrased, if you want to do the work of God, then the work is to believe in Jesus. Presumptively, that was what Mary was doing. Martha was working, but Mary was doing the work of God. How is that for perspective? It appeared that Mary was goofing off, but Jesus said she was doing the real work, the only important work in fact. Or ask this, which one was really serving Christ?

My mind translates all of this into a mandate to seek God, Son and Spirit. The work of God is believing in the one He sent. The beginning of that is in seeking. Jesus said Mary was doing the one thing which is necessary when she sat at his feet listening to his word. She was fulfilling God’s calling. Today, we still sit at Jesus’ feet, but we listen to him speak to us through the Bible. His teachings are there. We also use meditative prayer and conversation with him to hear him speak to our lives. If we wish to do the works of God and if we want to accomplish the one important thing, I believe that means we must seek God through His Word and through time spent with Him.

Consider today, if you will, what the “one thing” means to you. What did Mary do that Jesus said would not be taken away from her? She provided a model for us, so it is good for us to ponder what happened in that interchange. I hope it means prayer and meditation come before housework.

Wait Lifting

Hebrews 4: 11

Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

No, I didn’t misspell the word “wait” in the title. There is a concept imbedded in those two words. It is the precept that in our quiet contemplation with the Lord there is power to lift great weight and succeed in every calling of the Lord.

I was speaking with some friends last week when this idea, this principle came to the foreground of my thoughts and I have been unable to shake it. The awareness that we are meant to glean from this passage is that our labor, our effort is in entering into the rest of the Father whereby we cease from our striving. In Him, we are able to do all things (Philippians 4: 13). Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15: 5). Therefore, the purpose of our effort is to become integrated with Him and thus be “in Him.” The King James Bible says it this way, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

We have become such externalists that our faith and the expression of our faith has become largely external rather than internal. Contrast this ideology with some of the great historical icons of our faith. People like Thomas á Kempis, Martin Luther or Julian of Norwich. These and others, noticeably the Apostles John and Paul, believed and argued that the labor of our faith was to come to know God in the quietness of our spirits. Our faith is not in the things we do but in our connection internally with the Father, Son and Spirit. This is our works, extending our faith, believing with our hearts. Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6: 29).

We should not “do” works at the cost of sacrificing the quiet contemplation of our souls. Instead, external work should be at the direction of our Father and as an extension of the quiet, meditative connection with the Father. As in all things, balance is key. I know people who are so spiritual that they are no earthly good. What do I mean? They spend all of their time feeding themselves but it never has any expression beyond their own gorging. The true unity with God ought to show. It ought to spill over on to others but not by mere works but rather from the overflowing grace of the Lord.

When we rest in the presence of the Lord we gain substantively. This is not all subjective. It has real world consequences that can be objectively observed. We are empowered in the presence of the Lord and through communion with His Spirit we are guided; directed. He imbues us with power and then directs that power to His good intentions. “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40: 31). He fills us up to overflowing, speaks to us in our spirits and directs our paths. He gives us the power to do all things. All of this comes from spending time and investing our effort in “knowing Him” and the power which flows from just such a knowing (Philippians 3: 10). 

When Moses died and Joshua was appointed by God to take over the leadership of the nation of Israel God’s advice to Joshua was, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1: 8). I think that same advice will serve us well today. We should wait upon the Lord in the meditation of the Word, prayer and in the contemplation of the Lord. In that waiting, that quiet communion spent with the Lord, is great power; great strength. As we rest in Him, as we wait in His presence and in prayer He performs the works; His power goes into action rather than our limited power. He assigns angels and directs ministering spirits. His is the power which does all of the heavy lifting while we meditate in Him and the authority of His grace. In Him, in our rest, we become powerful ministers of the gospel of grace. In Him we become mighty “wait lifters”.

Please share your thoughts with me. How did this Word of the Day impact you? We always appreciate your comments. Thank you.

Labor to Believe

John 6: 29

Jesus answered and said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

We looked yesterday at entering into the rest of God. We found that the effort we are to expend is in entering into this rest. Today we see Jesus saying that the “works” that so many of us get bound up in are misplaced effort. Jesus said that the work that we are supposed to do is to believe in Jesus whom God has sent. So, are the verses from yesterday and today saying the same thing? Yes, I think so, are at least they are nuances of the same thing.

I so very vividly remember how badly I managed my work when I was practicing law.  I worked myself half to death, literally. I tried to keep God in the frame all day but I was so out of balance that I couldn’t hear Him no matter how He tried to get my attention. Now, I am attempting not to do the same thing again. There is always enough work to do. If you have a work mentality you will find plenty to do but Dad is showing me that He is unwilling for me to go back into that crazy lifestyle. He has even told me that He will not give me more of the ministry tasks He has in mind for me if I cannot keep my life in balance. So this is an interesting season in my life. There is a lot on my plate but Dad will not have me sacrifice my workouts or even my playtime in order to work. There must be balance. So, He is teaching me to labor to enter into His rest, to use my effort to believe in Christ within me who has the power to accomplish all that needs doing. My relationship with the father is much more important to Him than the “work” I do for Him.

Many ministers have lost their way working for the Lord. All of us, regardless of our occupation, must put and keep Jesus first in our lives. Then He will empower us from the inside to do all that we must do. The Holy Spirit is the power of God. We need to learn how to release that power into the world and into our workspace so that we can keep our priorities in line and not burn ourselves out. You can live till 120 years or more but not if you are burning your candle down too low now. I do not advocate laziness, not by any means. I am just learning that God is our strength and He can be the performance engine in us. This is a high challenge but for those who are ready there is a deep well here, a big revelation.

I would love to hear your stories of how you are allowing God to work through you and I am sure that besides myself, others can benefit from your experience. Click on the link below and go to our blog site and tell us how you are allowing this to work in your life.