Her fault was not that she served: the condition of a servant well becomes every Christian. "I serve," should be the motto of all the princes of the royal family of heaven. Nor was it her fault that she had "much serving." We can't do too much. Let's do all we possibly can; let head, and heart, and hands, be engaged in the Master's service. It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole soul so heartily into the engagement. Her fault was: that she grew "cumbered with much serving," so that she forgot Him, and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so "presented one duty stained with the blood of another". We ought to be "Martha and Mary in one": we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this, we need great grace. It's easier to serve than to commune.
Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands. The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it. The choicest fruits are the hardest to rear: the most heavenly graces are the most difficult to cultivate. While we don't neglect external things, which are good enough in themselves, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus. Let's see to it...that sitting at the Saviour's feet is not neglected, even though it be under the specious pretext of doing Him service. The first thing for our soul's health, the first thing for His glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of "our religion" is maintained over and above everything else in the world!
The Praying Minority
God in all ages has carried on revival ministries in the assemblies of His saints through an undefeatable praying minority. The praying "twos and threes" again and again have prevailed with God and thus reversed what otherwise, were hopeless situations. Numerous examples of this fact are found in both Testaments. These intercessors "stood in the gap" and turned the tide in favor of the people of God.
Thus did Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Through prayer, they "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness…stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire (Hebrews 11). Outnumbered seven million to one, the godly remnant prevailed. Unexpected blessing descended upon the people of God through their utter dependence upon the God of all grace.
Isaiah, Hezekiah and their praying companions succeeded in the face of overwhelming odds. In answer to their united cry, God saved them with a miraculous deliverance. One hundred eighty-five thousand of Sennacherib's army fell in a night under a stroke of God. Thus God interposed when all hope seemed lost.
Ezra and his praying companions at the river Ahava secured God's special favor for the whole nation. Their boast in God was amply sustained. God gave them more protection than a regiment of royal soldiers would have assured. They abundantly approved the assertion made to the king, viz: "The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him : but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him" (Ezra 8:22).
Postexilic saints under the leadership of Haggai and Zechariah, by their prayerful devotion to God, obtained the completion of the second temple and the revival of the nation. In answer to their united supplications, "The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel…and the spirit of Joshua…and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of host, their God" (Haggai 1:14).
The New Testament abounds with numerous examples of how praying minorities repeatedly called down blessing from God, turned defeats into victories, and barrenness into astounding fruitfulness. The disciples at Pentecost obtained blessings for a sin-hardened nation.
Had we taken the religious census of Judah and Jerusalem we would have reported as follows: "Unbelievers, 3,000,000; people of faith, approximately 500" (1 Cor. 15:6). Yet the praying minority in one day wrested 3,000 precious souls from the domination of false religious leaders. Later thousands more believed. Paul and his friends, by prayer: opened cities and countries to the Gospel.
God is the same today. Praying minorities count upon God's faithfulness even when conditions seem desperate and hope is at the lowest ebb!
Moses secured God's favor on a "peradventure" (Ex. 32:30). Jonathan and his armor-bearer prevailed on an "it may be" (1 Samuel 14:6). The king of Nineveh turned God's wrath from His people on an "Who can tell?" (Jonah 3:8-10). The great triumphs are all trophies of prayer.
Our ever faithful God still loves to honor intercession. Pray for a revival! "Stand in the gap!" Plead! Plead the victory of the cross, the blood of Christ, the unfailing promises, the names of the Lord Jesus.
By spiritual weapons, pull down the strongholds of Satan (2 Cor. 10:3-5), bring about the confession and forsaking of sin, renewal of faith, and the removal of worldliness.
Back of the "professing church" is the mighty power of the risen Lord. Pray, and get others to pray with you for revival! The revival of the church always has been by prayer! Evangelization of the world must be by prayer.
The praying minority, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is undefeatable!
Shadow or Substance...Which?
"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."
When the believer is adopted into the Lord's family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once; but then, he's under a new rule, and a new covenant. If we're God's child; it's our first duty to obey our heavenly Father. A servile spirit we've nothing to do with: we're not a slave, but a child; and now, inasmuch as we're a beloved child, we're bound to obey our Father's faintest wish, the least intimation of His will. Does He bid us fulfil a sacred ordinance? It's at our peril that we neglect it, for we'll be disobeying our Father. Does He command us to seek the image of Jesus? Isn't it our joy to do so? Does Jesus tell us, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect"? Then not because the law commands, but because our Saviour enjoins, we'll labour to be perfect in holiness. Does He bid us to love one another? Let's do it, not because the law says, "Love thy neighbour," but because Jesus says, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments;" and this is the commandment that He has given unto you, "that ye love one another." Are we told to distribute to the poor? Let's do it, not because charity is a burden which we dare not shirk, but because Jesus teaches, "Give to him that asketh of thee." Does the Word say, "Love God with all your heart"? Let's look at the commandment and reply, "Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already---I have no need, therefore, to fulfill thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now...and He has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute." May the Holy Ghost make our heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ's love, that our prayer may be, "Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight." Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.