“You need to worry about only one thing” (Luke 10:38-42)

Do you want a dog or a dog bowl?

There was an antique dealer. When he walked around in a small town in rural area, he spotted a dog bowl which was a valuable antique bowl. He approached the dog owner. “I want to buy your dog, such a cute boy!” The owner asked a little bit high price. The antique dealer agreed to pay the price. Then he said, “Would you mind giving me the dog bowl also?” The owner replied. “No! I was able to sell ten dogs this year because of that bowl!”

I love the owner and his sales tactic. He knew that many people came to get the bowl but they did not want to pay the right price for the bowl. They just bought a dog and tried to get the bowl free!

What do you want really? Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Do you want to enjoy the Kingdom of God and its righteousness or all these other things? We cannot have both at the same time. We need to prioritize our values. Which one comes first?

At the Home of Martha and Mary, Mary took time with Jesus first.

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 few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

We will choose our priorities in life. God will honor our choice. It is not up to God, but up to us what we do first in our life. Jesus said that we need to prepare dinner and welcome out guest. However, if you want to spend time with God first, your time for relationship with God will not be taken away by God.

First thing first.

You all know Stephen Kobey and his book, “First Things First.” He has learned that great people always spend time for “important but not urgent” things. Losers always spend time for things “not important and not urgent.” Average people spend time for “urgent things” whether they are important or not.

Meditation on the Bible, prayer, caring for others, and worship are important things for the relationship with God. However, they are not urgent. Great people invest their time in these things. Average people do not pay attention to these things because there are many urgent things to do at school, at home, and at work. Still, they come to church for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Losers do not spend time for these things at all. They have time for ( name them here ). Depending on our choices we will have different harvest in life.  

When we repeat our choices, our choices will be ripe someday and bear fruits.

In the Amos reading for today, the Lord showed Amos a basket of ripe fruit.  Then the Lord said to Amos, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

This is what God said, “Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”—skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.”

When we repeat a same action over and over again, they become our habit. When we keep our habits, they will decide out fate. Now, Israel kept repeating social and economic injustices. They become social norms and customs. These injustices then decide the fate of the nation. God said, “I will never forget anything they have done. God did not have to judge them. They will just reap what they saw. God reminded them of this universal principle of action and consequences: “Will not the land tremble for this, and all who live in it mourn? The whole land will rise like the Nile; it will be stirred up and then sink like the river of Egypt.”

Prophecy is scientific prediction.

Many people misunderstood prophecy as fortune telling. In the Bible, prophecy is more like scientific prediction. Everybody knows that when you drink too much your liver will be harmed. I can even tell you that if you keep smoking, you will have 70% chance of having a lung cancer sooner or later. Biblical prophecy is like that.

Now Listen. “In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “I will make the sun go down at noon    and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your religious festivals into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.”

We experience these happenings during COVID-19, wild fire season, and climate changes. A town called Paradise was burnt down and people were dispersed. Paradise UMC is empty now. Many churches lost lives through COVID-19. We still have to figure out how to be good stewards of God’s creation!

There will be famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

The more serious problem that God sees is the famine of the words of the Lord. People do not want to read the Bible, do not want to listen to the prophecies. They just want to speak out what they want and demand it. When God’s words are against their desires, they ignore them and discard them as ancient words that are not relevant to the life styles of modern people!

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”

In this situation, if someone tries to read the Bible and meditate on it, people would say, “Do not waste your time. Get busy! Earn some money!” They would not support any activity that would not bring profits to the house. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

For Martha and Mary, it was a matter of preference. For us, it is a matter of choosing our master whom we serve.

The Supremacy of the Son of God

To make a right choice between money and God, we have to have faith in Jesus. We first have to know who Jesus our Lord is. Paul says, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Do you have the same faith in Jesus Christ our Lord?

I served the Korean army when I was a young man in Korea. When I was a private, one day a two-star general came to see me. I was frozen. I stood at attention and answered all his questions with loudest voices I can make. Because I know who he was, I acted differently.

When I think about that experience, I am wondering whether we treat Jesus as our Lord or not. When Paul believes that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” and “firstborn over all creation,” he is willing to give everything up for the Lord and for the people of God.

Paul’s Labor for the Church

This is what he confesses. “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”

He says that he has “become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.”

Paul wants to make all the disciples to be matured in faith. “To this end,” he says,  “I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”

The missions and ministries are the fruits of faith.

Many people say that talk is cheap and action is noble. However, talk is the starting point. Somebody has to talk about the situation of the homeless. Then people pray about it. They act on it. That is why Mary sat down and listened to Jesus’s talk first. Then she meditated about it. Then she become matured in her faith and confessed that the Jesus was the Lord. From that confession, her action started.

Many times, people started missions without faith in Jesus. They do all they can with all their time, talents, and treasure. Then they become exhausted and burnt out. They become angry, saying, “Why others do not serve, give, and do as much as I do?” Then they quit with bitterness. I have seen so many Christians who started good works and left church all together with sour feeling.

However, when people start with faith in Jesus they do not give up. We saw Paul in the Bible. He was happy in a prison. He even says, “Rejoice always!” in a prison. We know John Wesley in our tradition. When he started his mission with his own passion, he failed miserably. He came to Savanah, Georgia as a missionary. He failed and ran away from there back to England. Only when he experienced heart warming conversion, he worked without regrets and exhaustion. At the end, he said, “The best of all is, God is with us.”

During this summer, read the Bible and meditate on it.

Brothers and sisters! I suggest that we should read the Bible and meditate on it. Share your insight in small groups. Plan mission and ministry among small group members. Trees with deep roots will endure drought and floods. Make this summer time a time for maturity. Sign up for Summer Bible Challenge. Find a group who want to share their insights together. We will find meaningful mission and ministry together when we go through the process step by step. Do not look for fruits from a seed. First, plant it. Water it. Let it grow. Wait for many years. We will have wonderful fruits in God’s time. I believe that we will have another Paul and another Wesley among us. May God be glorified through us! Amen!

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