Fire and Ashes

Leviticus 9: 10

On the altar he burned . . .

Recently, Father told me to take all the things I am doing and place them on the altar. In fact, He told me to write them all down on a piece of paper. Putting something on the altar is figurative, in a sense. Most of us don’t have an actual altar to put something upon, but the image of placing something on the altar is still a strong image. Writing something on a sheet of paper gives us a visual anchor to pair with our image of the altar. Paper is tangible so this helps us appreciate this action as real.

So, I took out a sheet of paper and wrote out what Father showed me. Having a list before my eyes made it easier to see what He was teaching me. I understood Him to say that everything from that list needed to go on the altar. So, I dutifully obeyed and thought that was the end of it. The following week, though, the altar, and that list, were back before my eyes.

In my devotional time, I heard within me, very distinctly, to put a match to the offering. I was actually a little surprised by this. I thought I had put those things on the altar to God which is demonstrative of me giving those things to Him, allowing Him to be Lord over each item on the list. I did it, it’s done. Not so fast grasshopper! Light the offering. Set it afire! What happens then? Well, it is a bit hard to go take something off the altar once it has been burned to ashes. And, that’s the point.

In the Old Testament, people put their offerings on the altar and then set them on fire. There were no takebacks as with children playing their games. God requires us to offer and release. I didn’t physically burn the piece of paper though you could if that helped you to have a picture of release. Instead, my sheet of paper is still on my desk where I see it and am reminded that each of those things have been given and released to Yahweh.

Whether it is your job, volunteer work or even hobbies, it is important that we put all of life’s activities in the Lord’s hands, allowing him to guide us and help us manage the expenditure of our energy. I laugh with my retired friends who now wonder how they got everything done when they were working because their time is so full now. That is how we are. We will fill every crack of time and still don’t have time for the “One Thing.” We wear ourselves out worrying about many things when, as Jesus said, there is only one thing which is needful. Don’t be an Ivey. Don’t be a Martha. Be Mary who chose to spend her time and energy, not serving Christ necessarily, but being with him. Lay down your burdens upon the altar of Christ and sit with him.

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.

One Thing

Luke 10: 40 – 42

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.”

I seem to come back to this verse every year or two. There is a gold mine here if we can unearth it.

I want to show you another translation as well. This is from the Passion translation. A friend of mine shared this translation with me. If you are not looking at it, you may want to. “The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”

The disciples were staying at Mary and Martha’s house. Martha was busy trying to serve everyone while her sister, Mary, parked herself at Jesus’ feet and listening to him. Martha was incensed that Mary was enjoying Jesus’ presence when there was so much work to be done. What did Jesus say, though? He honored Mary’s pursuit of the one thing, which is, of course, him.

The word for us today is that we need to do as Mary did, seek his presence, listen to his voice. All of the other stuff are just distractions which, like Martha, pull us away from Christ. I know I often get mentally wrapped up in all the things I think I need to do and all that is going on in my life. I have learned to write down the to’ do’s so that my mind can be free. I have also discovered that many of the things that seem important at the time don’t actually matter at all. Some of the things I fret about getting done would go unnoticed if I didn’t do them at all. The One Thing, the thing which is important, is seeking Jesus. It’s not just about spending time with him. Many of us translate that into reading our bibles which is possible to do without Christ. No, the one thing is seeking his face and actually spending time increasing in relationship with him.

Matthew 6: 33 reads, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The things, both material and non-material, which you need, are in him. He is the answer, so all answers are in him. Don’t seek the answers, seek him. When you do, you will have the answers. You will also find the material you need to build your dreams, take care of your family and give to others.

These are such simple verses, simplistic even. Yet, I think the wealth of revelation in them could radically change our lives if we could see the truth in them. There truly is only one thing which is important. When we set our hearts and minds on deepening our relationship with Jesus, when we seek his presence, then many of the other things take care of themselves. He is the power which fuels our day. Put the one thing in place and all the other things will fall into place.