Saturday, November 13, 2021

Mary Sat While Martha Seethed

I want us to look at an incident in the life of two sisters, Mary and Martha. I think it will be beneficial to us as we enter into a long holiday period here in America: Thanksgiving is celebrated here this month and Christmas in December. Their story is recorded in Luke 10: 38-42.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted. “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered. “you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”

            What had Martha so worried and upset? To put it simply, she was caught up in all the preparations for her special dinner guests and that had become her sole focus. She wanted the table to look perfect, each dish to have just the right amount of herbs and other flavoring. Oh, and the special wine glasses needed to be placed out. Have you ever been involved in a project or even a special meal yourself, and you found yourself getting so caught up in it that it consumed your every moment? You made your list and kept checking to see that every detail was just perfect.

            But Martha’s problem escalated beyond herself and her busyness. This was her home and the guests were there at her
invitation, yet, she expected her sister to pitch right in and assist her with all the preparations. When Mary chooses to sit with the men and listen to Jesus, the rabbi, which really was not culturally acceptable and may have been an embarrassment to her sister, Martha goes on and on with her fuming and fusing and muttering. I think we all identify with the resentment that Martha is feeling. Perhaps Martha even wished that she could just sit and listen to the rabbi, but she felt the pressure of providing hospitality.

            Then Martha does something that I would never have the nerve to do, she complained to Jesus about her sister’s lack of assistance. Furthermore, she dares to command Jesus to “tell her to help me.”  She didn’t tell Mary herself to help her or even scold her for sitting there while she did all the work; she scolded Jesus for not telling Mary to get up and go help her sister.

            I love Jesus’s loving but direct reply, “Martha, Martha, you are troubled and worried about many things, but one thing is needful.” This seemed to have an immediate soothing effect upon her. Makes me wonder if perhaps Jesus didn’t go on to say, “Martha, why don’t you too


just come sit awhile. Dinner can wait. Peter can go out in the garden and pick the figs that Mary was going after. I have something to say that I want you to hear.” While there’s no record of his saying more, it’s implied in his words, “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” We all want to keep the good part of anything, whether it be life, marriage, motherhood, you name it. God’s Word clearly teaches that this world and everything in it is passing away, but God’s truths, his Word will abide forever and no one can take them away from us. Even the good things of this world will come to an end. Oh, I hope Martha took the hint.

            So, when you find yourselves busy about many things this holiday season, Jesus says the same words to you, not in condemnation or shame, but just as a loving reminder to not confuse the transient with the eternal.  Christian women are guilty of mouthing the phrases, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” or “Remember the reason for the season.” Then we get whipped into a frenzy decorating the house, purchasing


gifts, making batch after batch of special cookies until we’re just like Martha. Yes, even Christian women are heard to say, “I can’t wait ‘til Christmas is over.” Surely you don’t mean that you can’t wait until honoring the birth of Christ is over. Perhaps you have put expectations on yourself and are too concerned with traditions and what others might think to do what might really honor Christ. Christmas will still be Christmas whether you make every cookie you used to or not, whether you decorate every room in the house or purchase just the perfect gift for every family member and prepare a 6-course Christmas dinner.

            I encourage every women listening to find a place of contentment in Christ that enables you to focus your energies on him. Play praise choruses and carols that make your heart soar and joyful that Christ was born. Then, listen for the still small voice that whispers, “My precious daughter, there are many things that could distract and bother you, but you have chosen the better. I will gift you with my peace and contentment.” Have a blessed Thanksgiving as you look forward to Christmas.

Message by Shari Hervold
Bible Teacher for 
"Friends Needing Friends International Widow Ministry"

                                                                           


Give Thanks by Don Moen 

  



Saturday, October 16, 2021

You Are Never Out of God's Sight and Care

There is a widow in the Bible who is given just a little space, yet, in spite of what we don't know about her, there are lessons we can learn from her story. Mark, in the 12th chapter of his book, tells us that Jesus was watching the crowds as they put their offerings in the temple treasury. Many were rich, but along came a poor widow who put in two very small coins. Jesus called this to the attention of his disciples and told them that this widow had put more into the treasury than all the others. How was this so since many had put in large amounts? You see, the former gave out of their riches; she out of her poverty.                                                      

There is a truth for you widows that I want you to glean from this story. This widow, though desperately poor, showed her great love for God by giving her all to Him. Jesus said it this way, “but she, out of her poverty put in everything – all that she had to live on.” But she showed more than just love for God, she demonstrated a heart that believed that she would be taken care of in spite of giving her all to God. Perhaps she had read and reread the stories of the widow of Zaraphath or the story of the widow whose supply of oil didn’t run out. She knew that somehow God would see that her daily needs were met. No matter your financial circumstances, you are never out of the care of your heavenly Father.                  

Let me tell you a little more about the plight of most widows in ancient Palestine. Most had no legal standing and no resources of their own.  If her husband died leaving her without sons to run the business or family farm, her land was put into the trust of someone else to run it for her. Jesus comments on this poor widow were given after describing the Scribes, who were the legal scholars and experts on the Scriptures, as those who "shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious...” (Mark 12:40). The implication of this is that the Scribes were using their status as experts of the law to defraud the widows out of their property. They were supposed to protect this widow, but in fact had left her with only two small coins to live on. It was a totally unjust system in which Jesus' sharp warnings to those who so treat widows is as valid today as the time in which it was first spoken.  And there are many such warnings in both the Old and New Testaments.  

Exodus 22:22-24  You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.  (23) If you afflict her at all, and if she does cry out to Me, I will surely hear her cry: 24 and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.   I would love to know more about this woman, but Jesus let us know by this story of His great love and concern for the vulnerable among us. Anyone who defrauds you or tries to take advantage of you in any manner is going to answer to the highest authority. Jesus said it outright “Such men will be punished most severely.” The widows of Friends Needing Friends living in America, with many legal protections, love their fellow sisters in Christ in less fortunate nations such as India and give of their resources to see that their necessities for life are available to them. They do this through the ministry of the

Kerusoman Gospel Ministries who minister not just to the physical, but also the emotional and spiritual needs of these precious women. They are the hands and feet of Jesus extended to the most vulnerable of our day. God’s eyes see this too and their reward is awaiting them. 

Thank you ladies wherever you live and however you help provide for those less fortunate than you. You, too, are Jesus’s hands and feet in this world. Never forget to thank the Lord for His ever-watchful love and concern for you. Live with the peace that only our loving heavenly Father can give.  

Message by Shari Hervold

 

                     Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman 
                                                                                                                                                          

  


Thursday, September 16, 2021

If We All Work Together

 Last month we looked at the life of Dorcas and how, with just a sewing needle and a compassionate heart, she kept the poor widows of Joppa and their families in clothing. Acts 9: 36 tell us that “she was always doing good and helping the poor.”  Dorcas saw a need and responded by saying, “I’ll fill that need,” and consequently many widows and their children had an adequate wardrobe.

            That is a nice story and an example to all of us that we should always use whatever talents or gifts God has given us to help others. But the story doesn’t end there. Dorcas got very sick and died. It is clear from the reaction to her death that the disciples and the town widows saw her as far more than just a seamstress who made clothing. They had come to love her as a true servant of Christ, with a heart full of compassion that spilled over into their lives. Now, they seized the opportunity to minister to her. Following cultural practices, her body was washed and wrapped in cloth and placed in a cool upstairs room. Then, one of the disciples, remembering that the apostle Peter was in

Lydda, a neighboring town of about 11 miles, sent two men to get him to come to Joppa. They could have balked at the idea of walking that far saying, “Why bother Peter when Dorcas is already dead?”.  But, they too were willing to do their part and set off on foot to try to get Peter to come.

 It is most likely that they had heard that Peter had prayed for a paralytic, resulting in his healing and they were hoping for such a miracle. The Christ followers knew that there was no limit to God’s power and they held out hope that Peter could pray for Dorcas with positive results. Peter interrupted his ministry in Lydda and accompanied the two men back to Joppa. When he went into the house of Dorcas, he was greeted by totally heart broken people.           


The grieving widows didn’t really have to tell Peter what Dorcas had done for them, she had left tangible evidence of her ministry to speak for her. Peter recognized their great loss and was touched by the scene he was witnessing. What he did next might seem a little strange to us. He asked everyone to leave the room, leaving him alone with the body of Dorcas. Peter didn’t want the distractions of the grieving women as he prayed to God. After prayer he looked at Dorcas and said, “Dorcas, get up.” Acts 9:40-42 tells us that immediately she opened her eyes and sat up. Peter took her by the hand and walked with her down the stairs where the waiting group saw what God had done. Word soon got out and many came to believe in Christ as the Lord.

            Ladies, do you see how everyone in this story saw a need and said, “I’ll do it,”?

·       Dorcas saw the need for clothing for the poor widows.

·       The widows saw the need to properly care for Dorcas’s body.

·       The two men responded to the need to go after Peter.

·       Peter responded by coming to Joppa to pray for Dorcas’s resurrection.

·       People shared the great news and many came to faith in Jesus Christ as God’s son.

You are all hearing this because of the ministry of Friends Needing Friends.  Dotti Ackerman became a widow and was challenged by her pastor to help other widows. Through her own grief and pain, she said “I will.” Dotti moved to another state and Mary Lou Tweed saw a need for leadership in the group that Dotti had left and said, “I will lead.” Dotti knew there were widows in her new state and, even though widowed a second time and sick with cancer said, “I will,” to starting another chapter. A group of widows were asking for some Bible studies and Shari said, “I will,” and started a monthly Bible study. Fast forward to 2021 and each of these ladies is at a different stage of life, but have learned the technology skills that you see in evidence here, and are still saying “I will,” to what God wants her to do to keep this ministry going out. These three women are at different ages and stages of life now, with different talents, as well as limitations, but God has brought it all together for His glory and your benefit. Furthermore, he’s added new women to the mix.

      Ladies, I implore you to never get into the position where you don’t want to do something that might benefit others and bring glory to God. Get rid of the excuses of age, health, lack of talent or other such excuses. Be willing to say, “I will,” even to small tasks and watch God bring everything together to enlarge His family. It all started with a sewing needle for Dorcas and ended with a resurrection and people coming to faith in Christ. It started with a broken heart for Dotti and ended with a 33-year-old ministry to widows that goes across the world monthly.  God can do much when we are willing to do our part as his hands and feet in this world.

Message by Shari Hervold




                          God Will Make a Way by Don Moen                           
God is Good all the Time by Don Moen

 


 

                                                   

     

     

     

 

 








Sunday, August 1, 2021

Dorcas the Doer


James 1:22 says this, “But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” In other words, we are to put into practice what the Bible teaches, not just listen to a sermon on Sunday and then forget what we hear after we leave church. In Acts 9:36-42, we read the account of a woman who personified this verse  beautifully. 
Let me summarize her story for you:

            Dorcas lived in a town called Joppa and was known for her good deeds, especially to widows. You see, Joppa was a seaport and many sailors’ widows and children lived there. The boats of those days weren’t especially seaworthy and many a sailor lost his life if a big storm assailed them. Their widows were especially vulnerable and were often dependent on the largess of the local community or synagogue.


The Christian community had many such individuals and Dorcas helped to make sure that their need for clothing was supplied. How did she do this? She simply sewed garments for them. Think about it. Her main tool was a simple needle. This was many years before even the crudest sewing machines were invented. Hand sewing is tedious work; yet, day in and day out she ministered to the needs of the destitute, demonstrating her love for God and for others with each stitch.

            We know very little about Dorcus herself. Some feel that she may have been wealthy because the fabric out of which she made the clothing was costly. She may have been a widow, but this too is speculation. What we do know is that the Scripture refers to her as a “certain disciple.” This includes her among the numerous other disciples mentioned in the New Testament, and she achieved this status by her skill with a simple sewing needle and a heart of compassion for widows.

            The writer, Melanie Newton, reminds us that part of our story of faith is how we are living it out on a daily basis. Dorcas knew her talent and she shared that gift to minister to the widows in Joppa

         Ladies, God created each of us with abilities that’s embedded in our DNA. Some of the more obvious ones are musical talents, artistic abilities, math whizzes, wordsmiths, those with sensitive spirits toward others, to name a few. Out of these various talents can come good works that we can use to help and bless others. You see whatever you can do, God wants you to use it to be His channel of grace to others.  I know a retired nurse who, because of her medical background, offers her services to some of the chronically ill in our community. In addition, she offers her time to visit the sick in the hospital. I know another woman who made many of the costumes for the yearly Easter pageants her church produces. The woman who applied stage make-up was a professional make-up artist who donated her talents to the church. These women were all donating their gifts to help further the kingdom of God. Yes, even applying stage make-up can be used to enhance God’s work because many people come to know Christ through these productions. Perhaps you are at a season in your life where you feel depleted of the energy or even the physical ability to do what once brought you great joy as you shared your gifting with others. Then maybe you can just use a simple ballpoint pen to bless others. Remember Dorcas used a simple sewing needle to minister to


many widows in her community. When was the last time you wrote just a short note of thanks and encouragement to your pastor or priest, letting him know how greatly blessed you are by their work as your shepherd? Your pastors are just as subject to discouragement as any other person. There are many individuals who would benefit from a word or note of encouragement, I’m sure. 

    The name of this ministry, Friends Needing Friends, was chosen by Dotti Ackerman, its founder, to remind you that as a widow you are the friend that someone needs as she walks the road of widowhood. Likewise, you need others to stand by you, encouraging you through words and/or actions as you encounter difficulties on your road.

            Dandi Mackall says, “Remember what Jesus told his apostles at the Last Supper? ‘If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.’ According to this Scripture, the blessing is in the doing. Dorcas did not miss the blessing. She used her enterprise to help those who were in need.” God is wanting to bless you too for reaching out and helping to bring some joy into the life of another individual, a fellow image bearer of God. Dorcas’s legacy to each of us is one of not just possessing a skill, but using it to help others, all the while being Christ’s hands extended.

 

Message by Shari Hervold

                         

                        Music by Maranatha - "I Love You Lord"