These days, the news is a fountain of discouragement. It is easy for us to get locked into starring at the TV, listening to the radio, scouring the internet, or scrolling on our smart phone to find out what's happening in our world day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute.
I find it important to stay up to date on national and global events in order to know how to pray; however, with everything that has been happening in rapid succession, I have found myself getting depressed, frustrated, and even angry.
I must force myself to be reminded of truth in the midst of tragedy.
What did Jesus say?
See, I have told you beforehand (Matthew 24:25)...watch and pray (Luke 21:36)! Now, the watch part, believe it or not does not pertain to staying glued to the news media. When Jesus says watch, He is telling us to pay attention to what is going on and understand it in the right context. In the Greek, it actually says to "give strict attention to, and to be cautious".
So, what is the right context? Jesus told us that these things must take place and that He calls them the "beginning of birth pains" (Matthew 24:8).
The upheaval the world is experiencing in greater measure these days, was foretold by Jesus almost 2000 years ago. We are seeing these events unfold because the spiritual atmosphere is preparing itself for the great and terrible day of the Lord (Joel 2:31).
Jesus says, to watch - understand what is going on!
He also says to pray - praying is partnering with the heart of God. It is interceding for the souls of men, standing in the gap for nations, and seeking the Lord's face for His guidance.
So, the next time you find yourself starring at a news-feed that is discouraging you, pause and ask the Lord to show you His heart in all of this. Ask Him for wisdom on how to pray and how to help move the hearts of people closer to Him.
So, let's be honest...How many times have you told someone that you would pray for them and then completely forgot to do so until you bump into them again? We all have had that awful feeling of having told someone we would do something and then forgot to do that very thing.
I have found myself in that place more times than I want to admit, especially as a Pastor. I have found myself mumbling a quick prayer as I am approaching the person that I forgot to pray for and then greet them with: "Hey, I was just praying for you!"
I am comforted by the words of the Apostle Paul who also had struggles similar to this: " 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. (Romans 7)
Let me suggest that you adopt a practice that I have trained myself to do. Whenever I promise to pray for someone, I stop what I am doing and pray with that person right then and there. This way I am true to my word and the person receives the direct benefit of hearing what is being prayed over them.
Together for Jesus!
When you hear the term “she wasted her life?” what do you typically think of?
Most of the time we think that if someone “wastes their life”, then that means they are doing something bad. And a lot of times that is true.
But have you ever heard of someone “wasting their life” on something good?
Mary of Bethany did just that! She “wasted” her life on Jesus.
In Mark 14:3-5 it says:
3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He [Jesus] sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.
This very special perfume that Mary “wasted” cost the equivalent of $40,000-50,000 in today’s money, because we are told that it was worth a year’s wages!
The rest of the passage says:
6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Mary had the right mindset, unlike the others that were with Jesus. Mary was preparing Jesus’s body for burial. And because of this declaration of love that she showed to Jesus, He said that she will be mentioned everywhere that the Gospel is preached!
Cultural note: During this time, they didn’t take showers as often as we do. They had no running water, so instead they would put fragrances on them to cover up the smell. Usually they would only put a little on – like we do deodorant – but Mary poured the whole thing over Jesus!
And then, on top of that, Mary wiped His feet with her hair! This all happened only a few days before Jesus was crucified on the cross. So, what do you think Jesus smelled like on that cross? And who smelled like Him?
I would sure love to smell like Jesus, wouldn’t you?
Mary decided to “waste” her perfume on Jesus, what will you waste your life on?