NEVER A WASTE

Just days before Jesus’ death, a woman named Mary emptied a bottle of perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet in an outrageous act of devotion.  Judas groused about it.  This week, a vocalist at church, introducing a song about this event, commented that Judas thought Mary’s act was a waste.

A waste.  I keep thinking about that word.  About all the believers who have emptied out hours of hard work and harder prayers only to have somebody tear it all down.  Was it a waste?

This week, let’s explore how we can anoint Jesus’ feet even today, even in the face of criticism.

Day 1:  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Have you ever read all that the priests in Moses’ time were required to do?  It was hard, dirty work!  Today, He calls you to be a priest, and it’s still not an easy job.  It requires praising wherever you are, serving wherever He puts you, and praying over whomever He puts you with.  Begin to anoint Jesus’ feet today, on your knees, with your tears, if necessary, as you praise your wonderful Lord.

Day 2:  “’I am giving you the service of priesthood as a gift.’” Numbers 18:7

If serving Him as priest is a gift from His hand, then don’t you think He intends you to find joy in it?  Yes, serving Him is a privilege, an honor, a supreme responsibility.  But it can also be a hard, thankless job. Can you even measure the hours you’ve expended teaching the Word, add up the dollars you’ve spent feeding the hungry, or count the tissues you’ve consumed wiping little noses?  He can; He remembers every second, every penny, each snotty hankie.  Take the gift He hands you; then empty it on His feet as you joyfully serve as priest for Him today.

Day 3:  “’I myself have selected your fellow Levites…as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work…” Numbers 18:6

Okay, so you’ve worked hard at something…led the music at worship, started a ministry, worked at a job you felt was your calling…and now it’s over.  No matter why it ended, it’s tempting to look back and ask, was that just a waste?  Listen, if you only learn one thing from me, hear me well:  Your God will put the people you need in your life at exactly the right time.  Look back at that “waste” now; do you see them?  Your fellow Levites, your sister-warrior-priests, working alongside you? They were, and still are, a gift. Now anoint the feet of the Giver with your gratitude and your prayers over these, your priestly sisters.

Day 4:  “…they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Rev. 5:8

And what about all those “wasted” prayers?  You’ve prayed hard over something, someone, and nothing has changed.  Were those prayers a waste?  No, your earnest petitions are, and for eternity will be, a sweet savor before your Lord.  Go ahead and lavish the feet of Jesus with your most intimate prayers.  He hears and is blessed by them.  Even though His larger purposes are at work, and you may not receive the answer you desire, He will remember your prayers, and He will bless you bountifully in surprising ways.

Day 5:  “When the disciples saw it, they were indignant.  ‘Why this waste?’ they asked.” Matt. 26:7

Be advised:  even well-intentioned people are going to hurt your feelings.  In another story, the whole crowd ganged up a woman with a perfume jar.  Even so, she received Jesus’ nod of approval.  His approval is still all that matters; in fact, criticism from the peanut gallery may very well be a sign that you’re doing the right thing.  Consult with trusted believers, if necessary, then go ahead and break that perfume jar for your Lord!  Nothing that you do for Jesus with a pure heart is ever a waste. It’s never a waste, and that’s a promise.

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LINT…AND SO FORTH

We once had a pastor who explained the season of Lent during the children’s sermon by bringing the overflowing lint trap from his clothes dryer.  Mostly I remember the chagrined expression on his wife’s face, but I think the point had to do with Lent being a time when we trap and dispose of those unrighteous things clinging to our lives.

Hold that image as we consider the lint we may be carrying around.

Day 1:  “Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind…” Jer 20:12

Do you think by this time in the Lent season you’ve pretty well brushed yourself off and are lint-free?  Closer examination may prove otherwise; in fact, notice whom the Lord examines:  the righteous, lint-free you.  Much as a doctor pokes around to diagnose what’s ailing you, God probes your deepest self to extract sin-particles you’ve overlooked.  This Lent, hand over the lint-brush and let Him have at you.  Perhaps on Resurrection Sunday, wearing your Easter best will take on new meaning!

Day 2: “’But Lord,’ said Martha, the dead man’s sister, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’” John 11:39

I love the way this reads in the King James:  Lord…he stinketh! Do you have any lint that’s been buried so long it stinketh?  I’ll bet you do.  Might be a grudge, disappointment, bitter memory, deep hurt.  Never mind what the fragrance commercials tell you…if something stinks, it needs to be aired out!  Dig that lint out of the muck and bring it to the Light.  Then do what the Father of Light tells you to with it.  Whether His command is to release it to Him, or be proactive in forgiveness or to seek professional counseling, whatever the call, do it as your Lenten obedience.

Day 3:  “’And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”  Matt. 28:20

My husband is a woodworker, so lint at my house can be particularly stubborn.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to un-stick wood chips from a microfiber sofa with a sticky lint roller!  Stubborn lint can be compared to a stubborn attitude; both require work and patience to remove.  Might be haughtiness, cavalier manner, stinginess, impatience.  There is one sure remedy for bad attitude:  stick like a burr to the heart of the One who sticks with you.  Your heart will change, and so will your attitude.

Day 4: “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” Psalm 24:3-4

“Hands” implies our actions; “heart” involves our motives.  Lent provides a time to examine both.  Just when I think I can pat myself on the back that I haven’t “done” anything unclean with my hands lately, the Spirit reminds me that my motives have been self-serving.  Rub some mud on your hands and picture a mud-splattered heart.  Which is easier to clean?  Consider your motives; then thank your Lord that because of Jesus, you can march right up to the throne, lint-free hands and heart held high!

Day 5:  “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Ps 51:10

Self-examination is hard work, and it can get disheartening.  It helps to remind ourselves of the purpose:  Resurrection Day is coming!  Our Lenten obedience allows the Spirit to re-create us all-new—not just scrubbed-over, but brand-spanking-new—so we can worship and serve.  This week, ask the Lord for a bold assignment, one that pleases Him.  Then serve Him well, with pure heart, and willing hands.

Please share about your assignments—I’d love to hear what He gives you to do!