Choose the better part!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

So often in ministry, the Lord deals with my own spirit, saying – "You need to step back and get refocused!" And we all know how hard it is at times when we get so busy with the normal every day stresses of life tugging at our limited time.

This morning I was re-reading the story of Mary and Martha, and how Mary chose the better part, while Martha was doing the housework. Now let's not deny the real importance of housework and practical matters; let's face it, with nobody doing that stuff, what would get done? Life would be a mess! But according to Jesus, something was wrong, and Martha had her priorities out of line. And He made it very clear, Mary had chosen the better part! Mary preferred and chose relationship and intimacy with the Lord over the physical preparations and housework associated with His visit. And Jesus blessed and protected her choice.

And so the Lord has had to remind me, over and again of the importance of intimacy with Him…before getting down to the work!

It's a constant temptation to slip into an emphasis on DOING the work at hand; and even in our own personal prayer time, to be mainly focused on those "urgent ministry needs"…and completely forgetting the most important thing, the "better part"- intimacy, personal communication, just BEING with Him.

Let's resolve to choose intimacy with Jesus! Let's choose the better part! Let's resolve to spend time with the Lord and develop that intimate relationship He so wants with us. That way we will constantly experience how deep and awesome His love for us is. And it will make the work we're called to do — so much easier!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

Know Your Shepherd!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

Isaiah 40:11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm (z’roah in Hebrew), And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

John 10:10-11 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

In Israel, we often see goats and sheep roaming the countryside. Driving through rural Israel often involves suddenly stopping to allow a herd of sheep or goats to cross the road. But interestingly, I have never seen “sheep kill" on the side of the road in all the years that I’ve lived in Israel. It’s because sheep don’t roam without a shepherd!

The Lord is gathering His lambs with His arm, and carrying them to His bosom. This is not a distant relationship but one of loving care and intimacy with His sheep. He said, "I know my sheep and my sheep know me." [John 10:14]. Then He continued, "..and I lay down my life for the sheep."

The most vulnerable time for defenseless animals is at night when they need to sleep. The sheepfold is where they are gathered by the shepherd each night; a stone compound, with rocks stacked high enough to keep out predators, but without a door. Yeshua (Jesus) declared Himself to be the “door of the sheep” [John 10:7-9] because, as a Good Shepherd, He lies where a door would typically be so that nothing could go in or out, without passing by the Shepherd!

As evil seems to be rearing its ugly head in every facet of life these days, and greater darkness seems to be looming on the horizon, we need to truly realize the powerful and complete protection that our Good Shepherd provides. Nothing can get to us unless it goes through Him! When the Lord laid down His life for us He also gave us a fortress of protection and safety which is impossible to break.

Knowing of the dark days we would be facing Yeshua afforded us a profound sense of safety in Himself so that we absolutely need not walk in fear. Promising never to leave nor forsake us till the end of the age He gave us the security of intimacy with Himself, in and through every trial or danger. We need never doubt…that we can trust Him.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

The Veil Was Torn!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Hebrews 10:19-23 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

The New Testament records that when Yeshua (Jesus) died; there was a great earthquake and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. The size of this gigantic veil is not recorded in the NT…but we read from other sources that it was roughly 60 feet long and 30 feet wide with multiple woven layers the thickness of a man's hand! It was hung on a crossbeam stone – a lintel – which was over 30 feet long and weighed more than 30 tons! It was not an easy cloth to tear…

Jerome, a fourth century Church Father, writes concerning the tearing of the veil, that not only was the veil torn, but the great earthquake had also caused the lintel of the Temple to be broken in two. In fact, it seems that the breaking of the lintel was what caused the veil to be torn in half from top to bottom, since the veil hung down from the lintel.

In the culture of the Jewish people, a father will commonly mourn the loss of his son by rending or tearing his garment…

Can we suggest that the rending of the Temple's veil likewise, dramatically expressed our Heavenly Father's agony over the death of Yeshua, His only begotten Son?

The way was prepared through the death of the Son of God for us to have access to the Holy of Holies, that place on earth which was prepared for the abiding Presence of God's Spirit, and, in earlier Temple times, actually contained His Glory. In the death of the Messiah Yeshua, every barrier and obstacle, even a 30 ton stone that needed to be broken – was removed, to make a way for us to have an intimate relationship with the Father!

The sound of ripping cloth, the rending of a massive veil, echoes throughout history to this very day. The agony of that sound of mourning opened for us "a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh" [Hebrews 10:20]…so that now, at any time, we can approach our Heavenly Father with boldness and confidence in His love and acceptance. As we embrace the sacrifice of Yeshua, come with a clean heart in His righteousness, we may fully expect His constant intervention and blessing in our everyday lives— because the way has been permanently opened to us!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

Know Him and the Power of the Resurrection!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Philippians 3:8-11 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

In today's world of Smart Phones, tablets and instant Internet access, there are many things that we can "know." "How long is the Golden Gate Bridge?" Pop out your iPhone, ask "Siri", the golden-voiced digital encyclopedic genius, and you'll have the factual answer in seconds.

But there's more to the Golden Gate than just length; truly another "dimension" of knowledge and understanding of the bridge over San Francisco Bay, which might be acquired from the 95-year-old retired construction worker who spent 2 years of his life building it. The knowledge you'll glean from his salt-parched lips will hold you spell bound as he describes wrestling with massive cables in stormy bay weather, or nearly losing his balance leaning over to paint an inaccessible bolt.

There are facts — head knowledge, and there is the knowing of and from experience. We all know this, and it's why we prefer the mechanic who has been fixing cars for 35 years over the novice who just graduated from vocational training school.

The apostle Paul wanted experiential knowledge of the Lord Jesus. He wanted fellowship with His sufferings, experiential resurrection power, even, if it were possible, the absolute death of his sin nature. Paul wanted the actual reality of the living Messiah manifested in his life, and he knew and believed this to be his inheritance in the death and resurrection of the Lord. Paul wanted to know Yeshua intimately and personally and share in the Lord's own experiences. This Passover Resurrection Day season as we celebrate and meditate on the factual reality of what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, we might also join the apostle Paul in his own sincere passion; "that I may know Him…."

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

Stop the Madness!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Psalms 73:24-28 You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, That I may declare all Your works.

We’re back in Israel and still dealiing with jetlag. After completing a six-month tour of over 30,000 miles of driving across the United States, we can honestly say – we’re happy to be home — phew!

During the past six months of travelling with our two young children, we found it easier to drive through the night while the kids slept. We would often find ourselves arriving at our next destination in the middle of the night, only to update the news before sleeping a few short hours before sunrise. We were pretty exhausted most of the time, as you might imagine and many of your calls and emails went unanswered. Please forgive us, as we are trying to catch up.

But this made me think about whether the Lord was calling us during that time and we neglected to hear and answer, in the midst of our busyness. Hmmm. I hope not. There is one important thing, even in the midst of our hectic schedules, that cannot ever be neglected — it is spending time in God’s word and in prayer, asking for His direction and listening to His voice!

Let's strive to take a break from our craziness and make sure we’re spending ample time with the Lord. It sounds funny to say but, yeah, even full time ministers need to spend some time with the Lord…DUH!!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Intimacy