Planning for the Presence of Jesus
Glynnis Whitwer

"But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." Luke 10:40 (NIV)

I tend to consider myself a "Martha" type personality. And I don't mean Martha Stewart. That Martha was ready for Christmas in October, I'm sure.

No, I'm nothing like Martha Stewart. In fact, a few years ago I didn't even manage to decorate the tree. It had lights on it ONLY because it was a pre-lit tree! I managed to put a few gifts under it before Christmas because my dear children kept looking at me with big hopeful eyes, asking when I was going to wrap SOMETHING. But that was it. No cards. No Christmas concerts or caroling. No trip to see lights. Just a busy life made even busier.

For those who know the Luke 10 story of Martha and her sister Mary, that's the Martha I'm talking about. That Martha had the privilege of hosting Jesus in her home. But instead of sitting at His feet, like her sister Mary did, Martha worked and complained to Jesus that Mary wasn't helping her.

Let's put ourselves in that scene for a moment. Jesus has come to YOUR house. To visit YOU. And not only are you too busy to spend some time with Him, but the time you do have you spend complaining. You complain about "someone" not doing her job, and how you have to do all this work, and if only "someone" would help you then you could actually sit down and enjoy some time with Jesus and blah, blah, blah…

Martha wasted an amazing opportunity. And many times, so do I. She let the demands of every day overshadow the call of the divine. In fact, Jesus gently chided Martha, and affirmed Mary's choice to sit and spend time with Him in the middle of all the work that had to be done.

In verse 42 we read that Jesus told Martha her sister did what was "needed." So in Jesus' mind, whatever Martha was doing wasn't needed at that moment…whether it was to impress, pamper or comfort Him. Jesus just wanted Martha to sit down and spend time with Him.

Imagine if you had travelled far to visit the home of a friend. And in her desire to serve you, she never spends time with you. Do you know anyone like that? Don't you want to say, "Sit down. Relax. All this stuff doesn't matter. I came to spend time with you."

That's just what Jesus was saying to Martha. In other words,

Martha, thank you for caring about my needs. But, you don't have to worry so much. There's only one thing I want right now, and that's to spend time with you. Mary gets it. Come sit down next to your sister. The dishes will wait. But you won't have this time with Me very much longer.

Martha probably wasn't given much notice of Jesus' arrival, hence her rushing around. We, however, have been. Just as you would prepare for the arrival of a special guest to your home, I invite you to prepare for the presence of Jesus this Christmas.

Have you ever let the demands of the everyday pull you away from the divine? Have you ever chosen a good thing over the best thing? You're not alone. Today, I invite you to set aside all the preparations and distractions and sit in the presence of Jesus.

We don't have to do anything special to enjoy Jesus' company. We just have to quiet ourselves from the busyness of the day, take a deep breath, and allow Jesus to fill our hearts with His joy and peace. It can be sitting outside looking at the stars, listening to carols, or sipping a cup of coffee in front of a fire. Just sit down with nothing else to do and invite Jesus to join you.

When I think back about the scene recorded in Luke 10, between Martha and Mary, I can tell which sister had more peace in her life. And it wasn't Martha. This Christmas I definitely want to plan for the presence of Jesus – that's really all I need.

Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of Your son Jesus. As I go through this Christmas and the upcoming year, please help me set priorities that are pleasing to You. Help me remember to plan to enjoy the presence of Jesus more than I plan for the details. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Worship: Nearing the Heart of God by Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis’ blog for more encouragement!

Pursuing the Christ: 31 Morning and Evening Devotions for Christmastime by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

For more encouragement on intentionally focusing on Christ during busy seasons, click here

Application Steps:
Spend some time in prayer, asking God to show you His priorities for you this day and over the next year. Write down one or two things God brings to mind.

In holiday seasons past, when have you experienced the presence of Jesus most? Be specific.
How does time alone with Jesus change you?

Power Verses:
Luke 10:41-42, "'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" (NIV)

Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Jennifer Renee said...

I laid in bed trying to fall asleep and I started thinking about Christmas Day. I started wondering what my family will be doing and wich family members I'll see. I have a very small family. We decided not to give gifts this year because none of us had much money this year. I started feeling like Christmas was going to be boring if the whole family isn't there. I don't often feel loved by my family and I don't really know how to express love towards them but family means a lot to me and I enjoy being with mine. I started feeling very lonely and very depressed. My old feelings of life isn't worth living started coming back to my mind. I decided to get up and read today's devotion. It has given me a lot to think about. My family never talks about the real meaning of Christmas. We don't read the account of the birth of Jesus in the Bible. We Don't even talk about the birth of Jesus. My family does know the real meaning of Christmas. Reading this devotion reminded me that I have the gratest gift of all. That's the gift of my salvation and no amount of money can pay for that gift.

Blogger EricaLyn B. said...

Thank you, Glynnis, you're spot on!
There was a time when I considered myself a 'Mary' - young in life and in my walk with the Lord, I couldnt understand how anyone could let meanial tasks or even well-meaning service keep them from sitting at the feet of Jesus. I couldn't relate with Martha.
A marrage and 4 kids later I find myself overwhelmed with life. My desire to serve my family is eclipsed by the needs and wants they present. I am Martha. I struggle to carve out wisps of time to spend with my Savior only to find myself complaining of my burden. (Have I not come to understand that this load I bear is building strength?)
I am that friend, that daughter, that mommy who is so worried about this or that... God give me perspective!

Blogger Kandyss said...

Wow! I really needed to read this!

Even though my Christmas "break" is not as busy with decorating and entertaining, I have many meetings and a service to plan for next week, and I must prepare to go back to work and school at the beginning of January. My life has been busy for as long as I remember! I have had the habit of over-working myself and worrying about all of the work that I have to do, especially with a new home and husband. The funny thing is that my husband is so "chill" even when the dishes need to be done and clothes need to be put away. I really need to put my priorities in perspective and learn how to take major time with JESUS with my schedule, especially before the children come lol!

Thanks for the post

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for today's devotional it was right on time. The title and scripture said it all.

Anonymous Ramona said...

Yes, its true. We find ourselves soo overwhelmed to host others, we truly forget, what is needed more than anything,"Our presents & feeling honor to have our friend in our home. Its sad to say, but I found myself one time so busy, that all they really wanted was for me to listen to them and give understanding that I cared. Thank you for sharring this, because we come so busy sometimes and its all about "Nothing" no more than to just sit down & enjoy whats around us & true friendship to man.

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