That Good Part–Priorities are Important

“That good part,” are words spoken by Jesus to Mary. Throughout the Bible we read about the choices that men and women, boys and girls make. Sometimes these choices are clearly held up to us as examples to follow and at other times it is obvious that we ought not make that given choice in our own lives. Consider an incident recorded in Luke 10:38-42—please read these verses.

Jesus said that Mary had chosen that good part.  So then, Jesus is pointing out a choice that is worthy of our consideration to follow in our own lives.

Significance of Mary’s Choice—That Good Part

What joy must Mary have felt! Her action brought about the words of her Lord that indicated His approval of a choice she had made!  For a faithful follower of Jesus could there be any greater delight than to know I have made a choice which is well pleasing to my Lord?  Can we not see that here is a very significant incident that Luke has recorded for our instruction?

The choice that Mary had made was to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His word.  Now we would think that such a choice would be reckoned by all of Jesus’ disciples as a wise and good choice.  However, Mary’s sister, Martha had not so reckoned.  Martha, in fact, thought in her own mind that her sister had made a foolish choice.  Martha thought that Mary was being neglectful and was in need of rebuke from the Lord.

Instead, Jesus spoke a mild rebuke to Martha for her own misplaced priorities.  This brings to the mind of a careful Bible student that there could be many occasions on which Jesus might either question or commend choices we have made with regard to how we use our time.  I wonder how often we even consider this matter in our daily lives.

It is not as if Martha had chosen some ungodly pursuit with which to occupy her time.  Rather that which she was doing in showing hospitality is a good thing and quite often commended in Scripture (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9).  No, Martha had made a GOOD choice, what is troubling about her choice is that she might have made an even wiser choice–the choice made by her sister, Mary.  Mary had made a choice which recognized that the mundane things of this life become utterly insignificant when placed beside an opportunity for spiritual growth and understanding.  The Messiah was present!  Jesus, the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8), was in the building!  Is there not time to sit and listen to His teaching.

Application of Choosing That Good Part

What is the solution for the problems we face in our world today?  How do we cope with all of the unsettling and even upsetting news of the day?  Is there a lesson to learn from the visit Jesus made to that Bethany home?

Surely we need to examine our own priorities of life.  Surely we need to appreciate that we may be dwelling entirely too much upon those “Martha-things.” These things are good, in and of themselves. However, they may be hampering, even preventing,  our spiritual maturity and development into powerful servants of the Lord. After all, we surely want the Lord to use us in a mighty way.

How much time do I spend examining my priorities?  Do I ever even consider that there just might be a better use of my time?  Have I ever even considered that my Lord might have a commendation for me on Judgment day similar to the one He gave to Mary?

What about the Bible classes?  Is there a more direct comparison we could make than to consider this choice we make weekly?  What activity could my feeble mind conceive of that would take priority to listening to Jesus at Bible Class time?  If I want to choose THAT GOOD PART, where will I find myself at 10:00 on Sunday morning and 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night? What about the worship assemblies?  Gospel meetings?  Vacation Bible School? It is shameful that we have differing numbers from the Sunday morning worship assembly count on these other occasions of study.  To those of you who do not come but are truly able to be here–are you being like Martha or are you being like Mary?  Think ahead for just a moment.  On that Judgment day of John 12:48, which person would you have to be your model?

The One Thing Needful: That Good Part

Jesus said to Martha, concerning her sister, Luke 10:42  “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  We do not appreciate the one thing that is needful to the degree that it ought to be in our day.  That one thing that is needful seems to be “pushed off to the back burner” of our lives.  That one thing that is needful will make us a great church when we go and do likewise! Mary guides us in the right and good direction as she made the selection of THAT GOOD PART.

Faithfulness versus “Ashamed of My Words”

faithfulnessFaithfulness to abide in the doctrine of Christ will be rewarded by fellowship with God and Christ (2 John 1.9). Not to be faithful to the doctrine of Christ will cause us to be lost. In Luke 9.26 our Lord presents a strong warning which ought to be powerful enough to unsettle or humble even the most strident and pride-filled sinner! Christians likely need to consider the warning as well, because it is possible for you and me, in one way or another, to exhibit the shame our Lord condemns. The very idea of doing that for which Jesus gives this warning is entirely repulsive to any lover of truth, yet Satan presses us continually to do it. Listen to Jesus’ words—For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.

DO NOT Be the Person Who Does not Value Faithfulness…

Who is the person Jesus will reject when He comes again? The person who is ashamed of Jesus and His words is that person. When Jesus comes in His glory is the time that He will be ashamed of such a person. This is a clear reference to His second coming. Elsewhere we are told that there is coming a future day in the which ALL men will be humbled to acknowledge that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords—1 Timothy 6.15… Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

That day is coming, but, sadly, it will be too late for the vast majority of those who have lived their lives on earth. All men do not make that acknowledgment at the present time. The fact of the matter is that MOST do not and will not make that acknowledgment. Jesus lets us know that such will always be the case—Matthew 7.13… Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.

If someone rejects the words of Jesus now, and continues to do so unrepentantly, this same one faces JUDGMENT by those very words (John 12.48).

We think about the many examples the Old Testament provides of those who were not ashamed to be identified with God and His Word (cf., Romans 15.4). Those great examples–many of them mentioned in Hebrews 11–encourage us to “Stand Up for Jesus.” To learn from them and increase our courage is a great blessing.

David Serves Well as an Example of the Courage and Faithfulness WE Need…

Consider the incident in 1 Samuel 17 with young David [Dr. Floyd Jones in Chronology of the Old Testament, p. 94 suggests David’s age was 18-20]. Evidently he was the only Israelite sufficiently proud of God’s name and His people to risk battling Goliath. Goliath presented his challenge morning and evening for 40 days. (v. 16). The Bible tells us that The Philistine said… I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together (v. 10). David recognized that the unanswered challenge of this uncircumcised Philistine was a reproach to Israel and was an act of defiance against the armies of the living God (v. 26). David told King Saul—let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine (v. 32). David was not ashamed of his God and was confident that God would bless him with a great victory (v. 37), which He did (vv., 46-51). What a mighty victory David’s great courage produced!

Can we determine to allow David’s complete lack of shame for His God to be our stance? This will keep us away from following the example of his brethren who cowered in shame before Goliath. In our time, people disrespect the words of our Lord and castigate them to an alarming degree. It will likely be increasingly difficult to stand strong in the words of Christ without ridicule and opposition. Let us distinguish ourselves with the courage of David in giving our defense (1 Peter 3.15). Let us find ourselves NOT fitting the description Jesus warns about in Luke 9.30.

Faithfulness Will be Rewarded on Judgment Day!

We should consider Paul’s exhortation to Timothy—2 Timothy 2.10-12… Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. There is coming a day when the most important matter our hearts will consider is our own faithfulness to our Lord.

The reward for faithfulness will be GREAT. But, Satan would have you and me to be ashamed of Jesus. He smiles when we refuse to take a stand for truth. Satan wants us lost with him in hell forever and ever. That is our end if we are ashamed of the words of Jesus. Never should Jesus say of us:  that we have been ashamed of my words.

Consider studying also: Cain’s Complaint.

Meet Temptation with Christ

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In Luke 4.1-13 we have the record of Jesus being tempted of Satan. Though He was tempted, He never yielded to temptation (Hebrews 4.15). What a marvelous example we have to follow: our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2.21)! We ought often to thank God for this blessing.

We will not fare as well as did our Lord in meeting temptation (Romans 3.23). However, we do have the ability to resist temptation and we CAN be successful in our battle with Satan and S-I-N! Three points should make this clear to us. Please study the references attached to these points…

  1. We have a HEAVENLY EXAMPLE (Luke 4.1-13).
  2. We have a HEAVENLY ASSURANCE (1 Corinthians 10.13).
  3. We have a HEAVENLY PRESCRIPTION–Revelation 3.10. The saints at Philadelphia were commended by the Lord. They had kept His word of PATIENCE. That word means: “to continue to bear up despite difficulty and suffering … to put up with…” [Louw-Nida]. God’s Word is that which makes it possible to resist temptation (Psalm 119.11).

An “entire alphabet of help” (26 total) from Scripture to resist temptation…

In order to meet temptation with Christ, we must. . .

  • A.  “Keep the word of Christ’s patience” (Rev 3:10).
  • B.  Know the Bible (Psalms 119:11).
  • C.  Be godly (2 Peter 2:9).
  • D.  Look for the way to escape temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • E.  Remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32).
  • F.  Use the “Spiritual EPA” (Philippians 4:8).
  • G.  Follow the Example of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11).
  • H.  Pray (Matthew 26:41).
  • I.   KNOW that we are ABLE to resist (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • J.  Don’t allow temptations to discourage and then destroy (1 Peter 5:6-7).
  • K.  Refuse to allow Satan to create doubt in your mind about what God has said or what He really means (Genesis 3:4-5).
  • L.   Refuse to believe Satan’s lie that something good will come from doing something evil (Genesis 3:4-5).
  • M. Do not allow Satan to use your God-given ability to envision, visualize, and fantasize to create a picture of the pleasure of sin–these pleasures are ONLY for a season (Genesis 3:4-5; Hebrews 11:25).
  • N.   Remember that when God says NO to something it is NOT to diminish your pleasure, but to ENHANCE it (John 10:10).
  • O.  Remember this world is not your home (1 Peter 1:17).
  • P.   Think about the NEW ways God can use you as you choose not to yield to temptation (Hebrews 11).
  • Q.  THINK about how much might be riding on the decision you are about to make (Matthew 16:26).
  • R.   Realize that it is OK to be angry about SIN (John 2:13; Mark 3:5)–Personalize the enemy:  SATAN.
  • S.  Beware of your STRENGTHS (1 Corinthians 10:12).
  • T.  Shift your energy from preoccupation with life’s inconveniences and your own pain to GOING TO WORK FOR THE LORD–Put on the Lord Jesus (Romans 13:14).
  • U.   Know that the way out of temptation is THROUGH it–Patiently endure it and do so with JOY (James 1:2).
  • V.  Understand that the Bible speaks of SINS OF IMAGINING (e.g., Matthew 5:27-28).
  • W. Do not waste time devising evil plans or making provision for the flesh, BUT rather put on the Lord Jesus (Romans 13:14).
  • X.  Do not forget about the OMNISCIENCE OF GOD–Some day all that you thought was secret and hidden will be made manifest and made known (Luke 8:17).
  • Y.  Appreciate and use the DISCERNING POWER OF GOD’S WORD (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Z.   Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Life on this earth is filled with trials, temptations, and disappointments. In order to live the best way it is possible to live here, we must be determined to:  MEET TEMPTATION WITH CHRIST.

Treasure in the Heart

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In a previous post we used the words PONDER and PONDERING, in trying to emphasize the need to slow down and think about Proverbs 11.30. As we read Luke 2.19, we find a form of that same word—But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Let’s think about the context of this verse and discover what the use of this word might reveal to us about the character of Mary and see how we might benefit from knowing this word.

In the context of Luke 2, some shepherds, out in the fields, have just received good tidings of great joy (2.10), that a Savior had been born: CHRIST THE LORD. The heavenly host of angels had begun praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2.14). The shepherds made a visit to see the child, using the description given by the angel to find Him. Having done this, they began to tell about these wondrous signs that they had seen with their own eyes (Luke 2.17). Mary was very attentive to hear what these shepherds had to say (Luke 2.19).

One of the words used by Luke to describe Mary’s reaction to the testimony of the shepherds is found only here in the New Testament. That word is a form of the Greek word: SUMBALLO, in the KJV translated: pondered. Likely you are familiar with PARABALLO, “I throw beside,” from which we get our English word parable. A good definition of this word, SUMBALLO, as used here, would be: to give careful consideration to various implications of an issue—to reflect on, to think about seriously, to think deeply about [Louw-Nida].

We are not authorized to worship Mary or to think of her as a mediatrix, though some people do that. However, with her being the only one about whom it is said in the entire New Testament that she pondered, we might benefit from taking note of that which she did.

Think about Mary pondering the recent events in her life. In addition, consider the other word that is used in Luke 2.19—KEPT. This word has been defined as: to exert mental effort in storing information so as to have continual access and use of it—to cause oneself to be fully aware of, to keep in mind, to remember [Louw-Nida].

Certainly the mother instinct of Mary would be a part of the reason these two powerful words would be chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe her thought processes. Angelic messages to Zacharias, to herself, and to the shepherds were about the child she had borne. Obviously she would think a lot about these matters and treasure up the information about the unique circumstances of His birth and consider what the future might hold in store for Him. Any mother would!

I am convinced, as well, that Mary was pondering and treasuring the relationship that this very special birth would have in the development of God’s plan for saving man. After all, Joseph had been instructed to give the name JESUS (GOD SAVES), to the child (Matthew 1.21). Mary is unsure at this time about future developments. She is well aware that this is to be an experience unlike any other mother has had or would experience. She is taking seriously her role in the Divine plan. She takes time to think and give careful consideration to and to reflect upon all of these developments as they pass before her.

As I think about the two words describing Mary’s thought processes in Luke 2.19 and the definitions of these two  terms, the word SOBER seems to me an appropriate adjective for describing Mary. She understood the seriousness of the birth of this child. She knew she needed to be thinking about this very special situation she had been selected to occupy. She is to be respected and appreciated for her quality of soberness.

The word SOBER is recommended to you and me often in the New Testament. There are a dozen references to it (2 Cor 5.13; 1 Th 5.6, 8; 1 Tim 3.2, 11; Titus 1.8; 2.2, 4, 6; 1 Peter 1.13; 4.7; 5.8). Paul and Peter are telling us in these passages that SOBER is something that we need to be. We need to be serious-minded. Especially is that the case with regard to God’s plan for saving man.

Let’s let Mary teach us that Jesus Christ and the things the New Testament reveals to us about Him are matters of utmost importance to treasure in the heart!

The Great Physician

Today, we have the gospel of Christ (Romans 1.16) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) as the medicine from the Great Physician.

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In considering the two groups Jesus had contact with in Luke 5.27-32, a riddle to solve is which group is in a better place, spiritually speaking. Please take the time to read these verses right now. Was it the pompous and self-righteous scribes and Pharisees who would not deign themselves needful to come to Jesus for healing? The very ones who came to criticize the fact that Jesus was seeking the lost by being in their midst? Or, would it be the friends of Levi, who were tax collectors and sinners—WHO KNEW THEY WERE SINNERS and willing to listen to Levi’s new friend? Both groups are sinners, without doubt, but one group seems nearer understanding that fact and thus being nearer the possibility of doing something about it.

I fear that we often lose sight of the real lesson to be gleaned from this passage in Luke. We do have here one of the names or titles given to Jesus in Scripture. It is most comforting and appealing to think of our Lord as a physician who can heal us from the ravages of sin! I love the song: The Great Physician, by William Hunter and J.H. Stockton. The words of the first stanza are as follows:

The great Physician now is near,

The sympathizing Jesus;

He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,

O hear the voice of Jesus.

Certainly the words of this song are true and they are comforting. However, we may miss something very important about this text by focusing too much on the idea of Jesus as physician. In context, He was giving an answer to the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, remember. It seems to me that using the figure of Himself as physician is almost incidental.

Evidently, Jesus felt that these publicans and sinners were “live” and “valid” for prospecting. Jesus would be teaching them just as He did anyone else while He went about His mission of seeking and saving that which was lost (Luke 19.10).

Are you more or less likely to respond to the good news when you are fully aware of your sinful condition? Brother Winkler used to teach us in preaching school that the job of the preacher is to: comfort the afflicted and likewise to AFFLICT THE COMFORTABLEThe Pharisees could not begin to commence to start to think of themselves being in need of anything that Jesus of Nazareth could provide them. How foolish they were and how foolish is anyone who thinks as they did! Jesus lowers the boom on them in Matthew 23 because of their self-righteousness, showmanship, and hypocrisy.

It certainly is taught in Scripture that Christians need to be wary and watchful about the associations that we make. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 15.33… Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. The NKJV has it: Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” We must not allow ourselves to have the kind of contact with sinners that will put us at risk for being influenced negatively. But if we follow the example of Jesus, we will not be isolating ourselves completely from the world. We must come into contact with lost souls in order to save lost souls. Good judgment will have to be exercised in this matter, to be sure.

In this context when Jesus talks about the SICK needing a PHYSICIAN, He teaches an important lesson as He answers the faulty criticism spat out by the scribes and Pharisees. He is referencing Himself as the PHYSICIAN. He is referencing all men as the SICK. All men do need the balm that is possible because of the completed mission of our Lord Jesus. The lesson is, the ones who are willing to acknowledge a need for the medicine are the ones most likely to be helped by the efforts of the physician.

Today, we have the gospel of Christ (Romans 1.16) and the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) as the medicine from the Great Physician. What are we to do with such valuable medicine as this? It has to be obvious that we must find the SICK (with all diligence) and administer the healing balm of the gospel and doctrine of Christ! As we go forth with this task, when we find precious souls who already realize their lost condition, we are at an advantage in placing before them the healing balm of the gospel of Christ! Let us be wise in following the example of THE GREAT PHYSICIAN!

At Thy Word

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In Luke 5.5 we have Simon Peter using the words of the title above. He did not come close to understanding the reason for letting the net down, as the Lord had just directed him (he openly questioned its wisdom), but he would do so at His word. He presents to us here one of the most remarkable instances of unquestioning obedience that is to be found in all of Scripture. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net (Luke 5.5).

I found some interesting comments about this incident from the late and great Bible scholar, Franklin Camp. He writes…

When one considers that Christ was a carpenter and Peter a fisherman one can imagine Peter’s thoughts. Just think of a carpenter telling a fisherman how to fish. It is even more suggestive in view of the fact they had fished all night and caught nothing. I think I can sense how Peter felt. It is as though he would say, “I do not think it will do any good, but we will do what you say.” The way to overcome doubt and questions about divine commands is to obey what the Lord says. Think what would have happened if Peter had just flatly refused to obey. Christ would not have forced him to let the nets down.

Discipleship is a challenge to faith. A disciple is a learner. Christ is the teacher. One does not learn by refusing to do what the Lord commands. Multitudes have found to their joy that blessings come when faith accepts the challenge and launches out in obedience to His will [Franklin Camp, Studies in Luke, Thomas Eaves, editor, p. 68-69].

I really like brother Camp’s statement: The way to overcome doubt and questions about divine commands is to obey what the Lord says. That seems to me to be quite a simple and yet elegant approach to life. The fact of the matter is, we will NEVER go wrong in following that prescription.

If we will only partake of the spirit of obedience demonstrated on this occasion by Simon Peter, we will certainly be the winners as a result! The result for Peter was that he hauled in such a multitude of fish that the nets began breaking (v. 6) and the boats began sinking (v. 7). The result for us is that we will live eternally in the beautiful home of the soul (John 14.1-6).

I have always been moved by the words Peter exclaims after seeing the Lord show His great power in the field which was Peter’s specialty. Listen to his statement of awe: Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5.8). Peter seems to me to be acknowledging that he was unable to show Jesus the respect and reverence He deserved and that he thus was not suitable to be in Jesus’ presence.

Thankfully, the Lord intervenes with words of encouragement to Peter, James, and John: Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men (v. 10). Read a little further and see that Peter, James, and John were ready to forsake all and follow Jesus (v. 11). They knew well that one who could do what they had just seen done would be able to provide anything they might possibly need.

Notice also, brother Camp’s statement: Multitudes have found to their joy that blessings come when faith accepts the challenge and launches out in obedience to His will. On one occasion an attempt was made to praise the mother of Jesus. His response at that time was to redirect the praise: Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Luke 11.28). The importance of unquestioning obedience to the will of the Lord needs to be emphasized more and more.

What advantage you and I have as we open our Bibles and have so freely available the amazing, completed, written, revelation from God! We can read about this miracle performed by Jesus and so many more. John tells us that there is a REASON for the recording of such powerful signs—John 20.30-31… And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Having LIFE through the name of Jesus is dependent upon believing that Jesus is the Christ! When we truly believe that fact, is it really any challenge to behave in the same way that Peter did in giving such a faithful response to the Lord’s command in Luke 5.5? Let us be challenged by the beautiful response of the Apostle Peter and say to the Lord, regarding whatever command might be given: AT THY WORD.