Revolutionized Faith!

It all started with a simple email. The email was from the library informing me that my interlibrary loan book was in and that I needed to come pick it up. The book was called How to Worship Jesus Christ by Joseph S. Carroll. The professor that I am an assistant to at Liberty University mentioned the book in her class last week and said that it was a “must read” for all Christians. I decided to request the book and check it out for myself.

I went to the library yesterday afternoon to pick up the book and by midnight, I had literally devoured this little 90 page book. After reading it, I was inspired all over again to worship Jesus Christ as part of my daily devotions by reading and praying through the Word and singing hymns during my quiet time. My love for the Lord skyrocketed in the couple of hours it took me to carefully read through this book. It is not a book on church worship, or the many different ways that worship is found in a church, it is a book dedicated to teaching believers how to grow in their relationship with God through many facets of worship…and then teaching believers how to have a life-long commitment of true worship and surrendering to Christ! My faith has been revolutionized by this book!

There were so many things that I learned and was reminded of from this book, however, I don’t have the time or the space to tell you everything! So I have just chosen one point to dwell on that I hope will be an encouragement to you as it has been to me!

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 by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, 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 only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is a very familiar story to most believers. There have been many teachings and sermons on this passage, but I never really got the true message of this story until last night when I read How to Worship Jesus Christ.

I was always bothered by the fact that Jesus praised Mary for “doing nothing” but listening to Him, and He rebuked Martha for being so busy and not having the time to do nothing but sit at His feet. The reason I was so bothered by this is that most of us as believers live in the real world. We have many responsibilities. There are family obligations, household responsibilities, school and homework that must be accomplished, and scores of other things. I was discouraged by the fact that I cannot “get away” from these responsibilities and so Christ must have to think less of me because I cannot spend all day at His feet.

Thankfully, Scripture is not implying that at all!

Jesus said: “But only one thing is needed.” And Mary chose that better thing. What is the better thing? It is the choice that you make regarding the centrality of Christ in your life. Have you made the choice for Christ to have full reign in your heart? Have you invited Him to sit on the throne of your heart?

There are many things that encompass our lives, so many things must be done and accomplished during a day. But the question is, are you consciously inviting the Lord to go with you throughout the day, or are you trying to do everything in your own strength? There is a huge difference between the daily activities of a person who is accomplishing things through Christ and the one who has not made that conscious decision to be fully surrendered to God.

So you see, having a large amount of responsibilities is not the issue that Jesus was speaking about to Martha. He was literally telling her: “you say that you love Me, but you are not really Mine. You have not fully given yourself to Me yet.”

Yes, we are busy, sometimes too busy, but what I learned last night as I read through this book is that there is a difference between being busy and troubled and being busy and satisfied in Christ. This is what Christ searches for deep within our hearts. Are we fully surrendered and committed to the Lord so that when we do get busy, we will still have a peaceful serenity that only comes from the satisfaction of knowing Christ intimately?

Allowing Christ to be central in your heart and life is not an easy thing to do. We have to “dethrone” ourselves and “enthrone” Christ. This is difficult because we, as humans, want to be in control. We want to do things our own way. We want to be in charge. But when we do that, we become like Martha did and complain about all the work we have to do and the fact that no one is helping us. When Christ is not seated on the throne of our hearts we become busy and troubled because we have to do everything ourselves. We miss out on the huge amount of blessings and peace and joy when we are on our own thrones. But when we go through the process of surrender and really truly submit to the control and guidance of Christ, we discover that the tasks that are set before us can be done while in fellowship with our King…we are busy, but not troubled.

Are you grasping how absolutely amazing and incredible this concept is?!

The book goes one step further in this subject that truly pierced my heart. Before reading the book I understood the concept of total surrender to God and have even taught on the subject to many girls. I have a memory of the day when I completely surrendered to the Lord and have tried my best to walk in that commitment, but sometimes I have failed miserably and have shoved Christ aside so that I could put myself back on the throne. Before too long, I would realize my error and weep before the Lord, repenting of my broken commitment, and God, in His faithfulness would always return to my heart as the true King.

My heart would always break and I would cry out to the Lord: “Why? Why do I ignore the fact that I have surrendered to You? Why do I always turn away from You at some point and ignore that commitment I made to You for You to always be my first love? I really do want You to be Lord of my life! Why do I always fail and break my commitment to You?”

I finally got the answer to my question.

The book turned to the other famous story about Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died. Jesus came to see them and Martha spoke these words:

John 11:21-22
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

At first glance, it looks like Martha has learned her lesson and has complete faith in Jesus. She gave up trying to do things on her own, and Christ has now become her top priority in life…well, not really.

The book began to explain the difference between the attitude of faith and the act of faith. It looks as though Martha now has the attitude of faith, but when Jesus told them to roll the stone away from Lazarus’ tomb, look at what she says: in verse 39:

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

In other words, Martha might have the attitude of faith, but she obviously cannot act in her faith. This was huge for me in understanding why I was having such a difficult time keeping Christ on the throne of my heart. Listen to what the book has to say about Martha:

“Where is her faith now? It is one thing to make a profession; it is quite a different thing to perform. What does it reveal to us? She had an emotional spiritual experience because she had an inconsistent devotional life. Underline that, for this is always true of the person with an inconsistent devotional life. Today they are up in the heights, tomorrow down in the depths—an unstable, unreliable personality. “Lord you can do anything; You can raise him from the dead.” Then, “Oh no, Lord, he stinks. It can’t be done.”
Which are you? Martha or Mary? You must decide who you are to be.” (page 29)

This paragraph opened my eyes to understanding that unless I have a regular consistent devotional time with the Lord every day, then I am going to forget why I invited Christ to be my all in all and I will eventually push Him aside. This is what was happening to me. I would have a great devotional time and be so thrilled to have Christ as Lord of my life. Then I would go for a couple of days and not have a devotional time, and this is when I would break my commitment to Christ and “dethrone” Him. Now I understand! The more I commune with God and spend time with Him, the more I will be pleased and excited to have Him as my everything. It is just as simple as that. I know it is an easy concept on paper, and difficult to live out, but if my heart yearns to be devoted entirely to God then God will certainly fulfill that desire in me.

And I encourage you…find a copy of How to Worship Jesus Christ and read it with an open heart. There are many other things I learned from this little book that you can discover for yourself if you read it.

And I implore you … consider what you have just read and ask yourself: is Christ central in my life? Do I meet with God on a daily basis so I can feed the fire of commitment and passion? Am I busy and troubled, or busy and in communion with my Lord?

Don’t let another moment go by without dealing with these issues before God. He can’t wait to talk with you.

May God empower you with the determination, passion and desire you need to do all He wants you to do for Him and with Him!