Mary of Bethany

Just a few days before Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of the world, there is an account of a woman who took an opportunity to worship Him. Her display was remarkable and loving and remembered throughout all time.

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John 12:1-8 is the passage. We find Lazarus hosting a dinner for Jesus. Martha is serving. Mary is near Jesus.

It is six days before the Passover Feast. Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Lazarus was the one Jesus had raised from the dead.

2 A dinner was given at Bethany to honor Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was among the people at the table with Jesus. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.
4 But Judas Iscariot didn’t like what Mary did. He was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later he was going to hand Jesus over to his enemies. Judas said, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.” 6 He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor. He said it because he was a thief. Judas was in charge of the money bag. He used to help himself to what was in it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “The perfume was meant for the day I am buried. 8 You will always have the poor among you. But you won’t always have me.”

What splendid love Mary displays.

As onlookers to this beautiful story, we admire Mary because of her outward evidence of inward devotion toward Jesus. She gave all she had to worship Jesus and show her love to Him.

To Mary, Jesus was the only one in the room. She is compelled to worship Him in this precious and costly way.

Judas, the one who would later betray Jesus was in the room and opposed this act of love. Judas’s weakness was he cared only for himself. When he tried to deceitfully point out Mary’s love toward Jesus as being misguided, the selfishness and darkness in his character are exposed.

The difference between Judas and Mary is stark. Judas tried to garner favor for his position by pulling in the poor as his cover. He not only revealed his true colors but tried to deceive those around him into thinking he was concerned for the poor.

Jesus, of course, was the One present concerned about the poor most of all. The fact that Judas tried this tactic with Jesus present exposes even more about Judas’s unfavorable and repulsive character.

Mary, on the other hand, is generous in her expression of love. To be clear, it was a display. Unabashed, Mary seems oblivious to the dark character sitting near her in Judas and still displays a lavish love for Jesus using a lavish product. She is one to admire and esteem.

Jesus knew both hearts, of course, and welcomed Mary’s love and worship while penetrating the darkness of Judas with a direct command to leave Mary alone.

This story thrills me. Jesus, willing to fellowship with friends and foes alike, ready to defend the pure in heart, receives an extravagant love and appreciates the sacrifice. In only a few words, He exposes the motives and forces of evil sitting near Him in Judas.

The people in Jesus’ day didn’t understand they would soon lose Him to a brutal and sacrificial death on their behalf. Even in this passage, Jesus tells those present that He will not always be with them. They couldn’t grasp that He’d soon be gone. No matter how many times Jesus spoke of His coming death, they could not understand.

In a few days, each day leading to the Resurrection holds a different meaning. Let’s ponder Mary. This brave lady used her opportunity to worship Jesus in the face of evil.  In a few days, she would be at the foot of the cross with other women who loved Him. Let’s be like Mary, unashamed to worship the One who saved us and faithful enough to live for Him until the end of our days.

Perhaps the most striking lesson to be learned from Mary of Bethany is her unwavering devotion to Jesus. She not only followed Him; she worshipped Him. She hung on His every word. No matter what was happening around her, she never lost sight of Him. Jesus defended her pure love, and He ensures her story is told through the ages.

She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. Luke 10:39

 

The Night of the Earthquake

We were still watching orientation videos and reading articles about our new home. The survival video in case of a massive earthquake and other related disasters was a bit intense, but my eyes were wide open to the information alert. It was a lot to take in; nevertheless, we were making a list of all suggested items for a GO BAG, and we were on a trajectory to get all the necessary supplies. We’d had smatterings of conversations with veterans on the field about the 2011 earthquake (its tenth anniversary commemorated this past week). It had us thinking. We were trying to get prepared. Perhaps we’d already experienced a few tremors, unaware! This was way more earthquake talk than I wanted to hear, even though preparation was on our minds.And then it happened. Sitting on our couch one Saturday afternoon at about 2:10, the couch and the iPad on my lap moved from side to side like soft jello when it hits the plate. The shift lasted long enough for me to understand what was happening. I’d say eight to ten seconds. Once things were still, I said, “Well, Lord, I guess that was a tremor.” Clark did not feel it in the other room. After I documented it, I went on about my day. Since this happened during the day, you know this is not the occurrence that gives this blog its title.

I love scripture writing. I have several blogs devoted to this topic and recommend it to anyone who loves the Lord.

Psalm 4:8 In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

The verse above was the third one I’d scribbled down before heading into one of the deepest nights of sleep I can remember. I am no deep sleeper, nor do I write scripture every night. At 11:08 pm was when the movement began. I could not figure out what in the world the sensation was that seemed big, all over the room, and wouldn’t stop. The room shook from side to side. 20 – 30 seconds later, it stopped, and my husband and I marveled at the fact we’d experienced an earthquake. You notice I didn’t say our first earthquake. Let’s not go there. Later we heard our impact was only a four to five! The epicenter up north experienced a seven. Would you believe after we chatted, I again returned to sleep, peacefully all night. For all who find that unthinkable, I do too.

Unsplash.com Shefali Lincoln

God’s power evident in our lives that night brings comfort for the future. The preparation for this peace started before the event. His tender loving care of not only our lives and our new dwelling place, but over our minds and spirits is a blessed and wonderful promise realized.

Update: Another quake occured on Saturday evening March 20th, 2021, after dinner, a little after 6pm. This was a 3 on the scale but lasted more than 30 seconds.

Add More Scripture in Your Life Now

If you are a follower of Jesus, you should esteem His Holy Word and desire more of it in your life. It is the way to transformation. My scripture testimony is that the more I get in my life, the more I love it. The more I love it, the more I love the Author. My life makes more sense, and I have more peace.

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the<, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Sometimes we know we need to read the Bible, but we are slow to obey. I always say, do the opposite of what you feel like doing regarding Christian faith practices. If you want more peace, tamp down your anxiety level, and have a sense of closeness to God, then intentionally add scripture to your life.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Have a committed morning time with God reading His Word and praying. If you have trouble with focus, read out loud.
    YouTube has scripture reading with nature sounds or music and a variety of options to hear scripture.
    If a scripture keeps coming up, write it on a card. Put the card on the bathroom mirror or your desk. Say it every chance you get.
  • Get an app on your phone that sends you a scripture. Some apps read scripture to you while you’re folding clothes or running errands.
  • Write scripture. Write a chapter of the Bible. Write a book of the Bible.
  • While waiting anywhere, read the Bible.

Any effort you make to get more scripture in your life brings stability and purpose. You actively engage the presence of God’s Spirit in your life, and you will feel peace as you focus on His Word.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against thee. Psalm119:11

Trust and Hope

I’m thinking right about now, there may be some of you hanging on by a thread with all the world events and personal sacrifice and loss of the year 2020. And now moving into the next year, the troubles have not disappeared. Who thought all this was going away just because a page turned on the proverbial calendar? I did not. This is the world we live in, and yes, it is frightening at times, but amazingly, God is still bringing His peace and stability to all who want it.

Recently in a moment of faith, which is another word we could add to this title, I came up with these acrostics. Just creating the acrostics brought peace and I thought maybe you could use them too. Here they are, and then below, I will list some ways you can make the most of them.

TRUST

T – Taking all I have

R- Reminding myself

U – Understanding His past care

S – Submitting my rights

T – Telling Him thank you in advance

HOPE

H – Having the same mind

O – Open to His future plans

P – Practicing Thanksgiving

E – Expressing Praise

So, you could make a list under each one. For instance, T – Taking all I have. List all you have that you can give to Jesus. R – Reminding myself – We have to do this. We have to remind ourselves who we are in Christ and who He is to us.

Do you get the idea? Just take each idea and expand it. By the time you finish, some peace will be restored.

Another activity you could do is get out your Bible concordance and look up the words Trust and Hope and find all the verses. Write the verses. Say the verses. You could do this for a week at least, and have plenty to look forward to each day.

We are not in control anymore. Whatever ideas we had previously about being in control are not working right now. We do not know if we will see those days again. But we haven’t lost Jesus. So if you are one of His children, this is not a time for the faint of heart. It’s time to spend time with your Father. Turn off the tv or whatever you watch and go sit down somewhere and find your rest in Jesus. It may feel awkward to you at first, but God honors those who honor Him. He will meet you.

If you have ideas of what you are doing now to abide in Jesus, list them in the comments.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15:5