Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 60189. All rights reserved.

Martha's story is told in Luke 10:38-42 and John 11: 17-46 (NLT)

Many older brothers and sisters have an irritating tendency to take charge; a habit developed while growing up. We can easily see this pattern in Martha, the older sister of Mary and Lazarus. She was used to being in control.

The fact that Martha, Mary and Lazarus are remembered for their hospitality takes on added significance when we note that hospitality was a special requirement in their culture. It was considered shameful to turn anyone away from your door. apparently Martha's family met this requirement very well.

Martha worried about details. She wished to please, to serve, to do the right thing - but she often succeeded in making everyone around her uncomfortable. Perhaps as the oldest, she feared shame if her home did not measure up to expectations. She tried to do everything she could to make sure that wouldn't happen. As a result, she found it hard to relax and enjoy her guests and even harder to accept Mary's lack of cooperation in all preparations. Martha's frustration was so intense that she finally asked Jesus to settle the matter. He gently corrected her attitude and showed her that her priorities, though good, were not the best. The personal attention she gave her guests should be more important than comforts she tried to provide for them.

Later, following her brother Lazarus's death, Martha could hardly help being herself. When she heard Jesus was finally coming, she rushed out to meet him and expressed her inner conflict of disappointment and hope. Jesus pointed out that her hope was too limited. he was not only Lord over death, he was the resurrection and the life! Moments later, Martha again spoke without thinking, pointing out that four-day-old corpses are well on their way to decomposition. Her awareness of details sometimes kept her from seeing the whole picture, but Jesus was consistently patient with her.

In our last picture of Martha, she is once again serving a meal to Jesus and his disciples. She has not stopped serving. But the Bible records her silence this time. She has begun to learn what her younger sister already knew - that worship begins with silence and listening.

Martha's strengths and accomplishments: 1) Known as a hospitable homemaker 2) Believed in Jesus with growing faith 3) Had a strong desire to do everything exactly right

Weaknesses and mistakes: 1) Expected others to agree with her priorities 2) Was overly concerned with details 3) Tended to feel sorry for herself when her efforts were not recognized 4) Limited Jesus' power to this life

Lessons from her life: 1) Getting caught up in details can make us forget the main reasons for our actions 2) There is a proper time to listen to Jesus and a proper time to work for him

Vital statistics: Where: Bethany Relatives: Sister, Mary Brother: Lazarus

Key verse: "But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said,'Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me"' (Luke 10:40) (NLT).

Lord help us to serve when needed but also to be silent and listen to You when You are speaking, in Jesus' name, amen.

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