Sunday, June 28, 2015

The 3 seasons experienced in the Christian life

Autumn Attractions & Fall Foliage
Luke 10:38-40 "Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 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.” 

Why do most places on planet earth experience seasons? Seasons occur as a result of the tilt of the axis of the Earth in her orbit around the Sun. As we make our journey around the Sun at a speed of 16,000-17,000 m.p.h, our Earth's axis and its North and South Poles are tilted 23 1/2 degrees toward or away from the sun, resulting in our familar seasons. As the Christian makes it their aim to set their life in orbit about Jesus Christ, seasons occur. In reading through the accounts of Mary and Martha in the Gospels, we discover a sequence of three such seasons of the Christian life outlined for us. At times Mary is the focal point of the narratives and at other times Martha receives the attention of the inspired text. In John's Gospel, both sisters eventually receive equal focus, showing us that in the eyes of inspired Holy writ, both sisters exhibited commendable faith in our Lord through their contrasting expressions of faith. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven." Today's post briefly details three seasons of the Christian life as witnessed in Luke 10:38-42; John 11:21-40; 12:1-6.

Point of Application:  
The seasons of the Christian life are designed by Jesus to draw us closer to Him.

Waiting Season. Luke 10:38-42

Luke 10:40-42 records Jesus saying to a bustling Martha regarding her waiting sister Mary - "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.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” 

What is the value of waiting on God? Why this season? From this account and other passages, we can note the following observations on the season of waiting. First, waiting teaches us how to focus on God. Luke records how distracted Martha was, however Mary was sitting calmly at Jesus' feet. When we are brought into a season of waiting on God, our options seem to be limited. We may take that to mean God had placed us on the shelf. However all He is doing is getting us to focus more on Him. 

A second observation to be made about waiting is that we get the chance to grow stronger in God. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the "good part". Isaiah 40:31 reminds us: 
"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." 

Then a third observation about the benefit of waiting on God is in atuning one's heart to the voice of God. Waiting gives us extra time to get in the scriptures, search them desperately and hear God speak through them. When it seems all has shut down and we are going nowhere, a conversation with a stranger or godly advice from a wise Christian friend and attune us to God's voice. Hearing is one thing, listening is another. Hearing means I acknowledge audible sound, however listening strains to hear the nuances of what is being said and results in later action. So let us recall that: The seasons of the Christian life are designed by Jesus to draw us closer to Him. We have looked at the waiting season, now lets see a second, namely...

Trusting Season. John 11:21-40

In both John 11:26 and 11:40 we see Jesus challenging Martha to trust or believe in Him with regards to His identification as the Resurrection and the Life and His power to affect the raising of her brother from the dead. God will at times engineer circumstances to make the possibility of trusting Him seemingly more difficult. Why is that? Because true faith cannot grow unless it is tested. Proverbs 3:5-6 states: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." In John 11, all evidence appeared contrary to what the outcome was going to be: namely Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The seed of faith was planted by Jesus in Martha's heart. Seeds and their fully grown counterparts can look so different. Martha understood what resurrection meant within the context of her Old Testament understand, yet he perceptions were incomplete. The Mediator of the New Covenant was not only there to complete what she lacked, but to bring to pass what faith was telling her: "you brother will rise again". Trust was being tested. Only in the context where mistrust is so easy can trust in God be shown genuine in the heart of the true saint of God. So let us recall again that: The seasons of the Christian life are designed by Jesus to draw us closer to Him. We have seen the season of waiting, then trusting, and now let us consider the third, namely....

Ministering Season. John 12:1-6
In this final episode featuring both Martha and Mary, we find both of them serving Jesus in their own unique ways. John 12:2-3 records - "So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." Martha served the table in the realm of the practical and Mary served in the realm of prayerful. Both types of ministry are needed. Mystics and practical realists are necessary for any ministry and the Christian life to function. The food Martha had prepared would be necessary to physically strengthen our Lord for what would be His final week prior to the cross and empty tomb. Mary's preparations would leave with the Master the scent of worship that would waft its way through the temple grounds and to the cross. Ministry is the means by which we aim to get ourselves and others more focused upon the Master. 

Final Observations:

Today our main point of application was: The seasons of the Christian life are designed by Jesus to draw us closer to Him. When we consider these seasons, we must not think of them as occuring in order or in a very specific sequence. If anything, much like the seasons of the year, oftentimes we can experience a warm day in the winter, a cloudy day in the Spring, a wet season in the summer and a shortened fall blending into a long winter. Some areas of our globe seem to experience all the seasons at once or perhaps two or three and a shortened version of another. Clearly Jesus was challenging and commending these sisters in various aspects of their discipleship journey with Him. By the time you arrive in the final scene depicting them in John 12, though both are different and though both have experienced differing blends and orderings of the above mentioned seasons, the result is achieved - a closer walk with Jesus Christ.  

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