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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - Even if I'm Stressed?

Mike Novotny - Even if I'm Stressed?

Mike Novotny - Even if I'm Stressed
TOPICS: ME on Team Jesus?, Stress

It kind of hit me the other day how God has surrounded my life with incredibly organized, hardworking women. I don't know if it's just a me thing or a lots of us thing, but has God put a lot of like, hardworking, go-getter, box-checking, calendar-keeping women into your life? I was thinking of my mom. My mom, if you haven't met her, is like a modern-day Mother Teresa. The other day I went to her house, I kind of did a quick knock and walked inside, and who was standing right in my mom's living room? A bride. And I looked at this strange woman wearing a wedding dress, well I was like, "Uh, hi". Until my mom pops out from behind the bride, you know, like thread and needle in her mouth like, "Oh, hi Michael," as she was stitching up, adjusting the dress for the big wedding day. My mom, I'm sure was way, way undercharging her, and it was one of the 73 things she was probably doing that weekend to help other people.

My whole life my mom has rarely sat down, she has always worked hard, she has always served, she's that kind of woman. And now, there's my wife Kim. You know what, I met Kim back in 1999. I thought she was just cute and fun to hang out with. What I didn't realize is that she is one of the most dependable, reliable, trustworthy, hardworking humans that exist. There are a million things I have not had to think about or worry about in 18 years of marriage because of who Kim is. I should've checked with her first, but I don't think she has actually confessed the sin of laziness since 1994, that's probably an accurate statement. Then there's Leslie here at our church, any of you know Leslie? Our executive assistant. The other day I was eating lunch and I thought, "If Leslie ever got hit by a bus, this church would close".

It would just immediately... None of us know what's happening, but Leslie sets reminders on her phone to remind the rest of us of what we were supposed to remember by ourselves. Alright, she is so organized, she has so many lists, and you know, so many of the good things that happen here are behind the scenes because of her structure, because of her responsibility, and because of her character. So, I'm curious, how many of you are wired just a little bit like that? How many of you keep the calendar in your home? How many of you have a to-do list on your phone? That's some, any of you have like, the white board in your kitchen? Yeah. If you're sitting next to someone who's like, super, like organized and responsible, point at them right now, nice and high. Yep. Yeah, there's a person. Nice.

If that's you, here's what I want you to know right up front today. If you're incredibly organized and dependable, you are a lot like God. I know people give you grief, you know, for your structure, and your plans, and your boxes, but the way that you are, the way that God has wired you is meant to be a little glimpse of what God himself is like. Now, think of that, God is dependable. He's not winging it, when it comes to your life he's not waking up and just kind of seeing what happens. No, he has a plan for you and he's working hard to work it out so that everything works for your good. Like, the Bible says that God is a God of joy and peace. But sometimes, when you have so much to do and there's so many boxes that you still have left to check, when you walk into the room and you're present, you don't bring lots of joy and peace, instead you bring stress and pressure. God is a God of rest.

When he created the world he rested, and he gives the gift of rest, spiritual and physical, to the people that he loves the most. But sometimes, when you over plan and just think you can get everything done you don't rest, and maybe sometimes you don't let the people in your life rest either. In other words, your personality is a lot like a great song on the radio. And imagine this church is one big car and I'm driving and like, your favorite song comes on the radio, like you want to turn that song up as loud as you can, but not as loud as you can go. Right? There comes a point when even the best song if it's turned up too high it stops being pleasurable and it starts being painful. And the answer isn't to turn the song off, right? The answer is to get the song in the right spot. Yeah, maybe that's a good way for us to think about the Christian life. God's wired all of us in different ways with different blessings and different characters. His goal in us is to send his Holy Spirit to maximize that gift as best as he can without going too far so that we hurt the people that God puts around us.

And so, it's my goal in today's sermon. Today, I want to talk to you box-checking, list loving, hardworking, organized men and women. I don't want to damper that gift, I want to fan the fire of it, I want to turn that song up as best as we can get without going too far so that you can be the best glimpse of God in the days that he has given you on this Earth. So, if you have a Bible with you or just want to follow along on the screen, we're going to be in Luke 10 jumping in at verse 38, "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him". So, meet Martha. If you've been reading through the gospel of Luke, you might know Jesus would have loved this open invitation. Just a page earlier in my Bible, Jesus tried to go into a Samaritan village. The people there rejected him, they slammed their doors, they locked them, "We don't want anything to do with you".

So, the fact this little line, "Martha opened her home to him," must have meant the world to him. Now, Martha loved Jesus, she knew that Jesus loved Martha. She wanted to honor him, to bless him, to be good to him, to express her love to him. Except Martha, on this interesting day, would go a step too far. Verse 39, "Martha 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". Mary is just soaking in spiritual food from the bread of life, while Martha's running to make sure burnt bread doesn't take someone's life, right? All these preparations, all these distractions, I'm picturing like, the kettle whistling, and the water bubbling over, and the bed breaking, and it's just so many things.

And we don't know, in this text, if Jesus and all of his disciples were there, so he's rolling with a crew of like, a dozen dudes. That's a lot of food to cook, a lot of things to prepare, a lot of tables to set, there's so much to do and Mary's just sitting there. And Martha would love to be like Mary, she'd love to sit down, she would love honestly to just be there and listen to Jesus, but the text says, no, "There were preparations that had to be made". Had to. Let's think about those two words for a second, had to. Did she have to? I'm not sure what was on Martha's menu, I don't know how clean or decorated the house was, but when Jesus Christ walked through Martha's door, did he hand her a list and say, "You have to".

Did like, Peter come as a representative of the apostles and say, "Hey, Jesus is on tour, here's how he likes his accommodations. No green M&M's". Right? No. No, so, why did Martha think that she had to, she needed to? There was no option but to? Here's the answer, she made it up, with all good intentions, no doubt. "I'm going to do this for Jesus and wouldn't be nice if we could have this for dinner. And wouldn't it be amazing if the house would look like this"? She had an idea in her mind which was good, and then she was married to it. "I have to". The list that she created suddenly became her lord that she needed to obey. And unfortunately, that Martha-made list ended up costing her a lot of love. We keep reading, "Martha came to Jesus 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 gets mad. Can you picture her when all this is happening? You know she's just like, she's prowling back and forth, as she's doing the dishes, she's side-eyeing her sister Mary, she's smh-ing, she's, I picture her like rattling up the pots and pans just a little bit, and giving a couple of those grunts like, the passive aggressive like, "I'm working and the rest of you are not". And she's so mad that finally she can't contain it and she snaps at Jesus about her lazy, selfish sister who's making her do everything. "How can she just sit there and listen? Why doesn't she get up and work? Doesn't she know all the things that are on my list that have to be done"? In fact, did you catch what Martha said? "Lord, don't you care"?

Think about that, this is Jesus. He's literally, in the gospel of Luke on his way to the cross because he cares so much about her. "Don't you care"? Martha says. He should be sitting in Heaven, not in Martha's home, and she says to the God who left Heaven and suffered here on Earth, "Don't you care"? Like, this list that she had created for herself was like a golden calf made out of parchment and ink, or digital pixels today. We make it and then we have to have it. And if everyone else doesn't bow down and worship it, and follow it, and obey it, we get mad at them, and we even get mad at God. There's a good warning in this text for organized people here today, I'd love for you to write this down. The warning of Luke 10 is, "Beware of loving your list more".

I want you to have the list, that's how God made you. I don't want you to burn it all in the fire. The thing you have to remember is, beware, beware, beware of loving that list so much that you love it more. You love it more than people. You love it more than God. It stops being like, "Hey, it would be really nice if I could," and it turns into, "I have to, and you have to. And I can't rejoice in this day unless God makes sure that all my have to's are done". I love what Jesus says next. Verse 41, "'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".

He's not snapping at her, he's not blowing her off, he's honoring her, he loves her, and he empathizes with her. "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about may things". Like, "I know how you feel. I know what burdens you. I understand why you're upset. I know all the things, the many, many things that are on your list, but here's the thing Martha, 'Few things are needed.' You don't have to. I know you'd like to, but you don't have to. Indeed, only one thing is needed and it's what Mary has chosen. You have a choice Martha, you don't have to do this. You could sit down and rest. You could be served by my word instead of running around trying to serve everyone else. There's a choice here and your sister isn't always right, but this time she is right. She has chosen what is better, and I'm not going to take it away from her. You're offering a beautiful home that will be dirty by Tuesday. You're cooking an amazing meal, and we're going to be hungry in four to eight hours. But what I'm offering will endure forever because the love of God endures forever".

So, what do we do today with this story? How do you think it applies to our church? To our families? To your schedule? Well, let me tell you how this story does not apply. It does not apply in the way that my wife's cousin Paul once applied it. He gave me permission to tell you this story. When Paul was a little kid, he was super smart, he knew the Bible and his parents told him, "Paul, you need to do your chores today". Paul didn't want to do his chores, so guess what Paul did? He grabbed his Bible, he sat in his bed, and he waited while everyone else worked. And when mom and dad came in, like, "What are you doing? Why isn't your room clean"? Paul responded, "Father, Father, you're worried and upset about many things. But I've chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from me".

Well, it was taken away from him. He is a smart kid. He's a Pastor now by the way, so God made it up to him. Yeah. Okay, yeah this is not Jesus' way to get out of hard work, or, you know, going to work, or going to school. So, what does Jesus want us to do with the story? I'm going to give you three takeaways, so if you're taking notes in your program, let's write these down. Here's the first one, if you are a super organized person, number one, question your have to's. Question your have to's. Remember that's the big moment in Martha's story. In her mind she has to. I mean, she would like to, but she has to she feels this obligation like, "This is what has to be done".

I want to encourage you today, question your have to's. Like if you're organized, you probably schedule about 40% too much. There's no room for getting sick, there's no room for bad days, there's no room for traffic, there's no room for Wi-Fi, or a computer that won't work. Like, question the amount of things that you have to do. If you get extra things done, great. Here's the problem though, the way you're wired that will almost impossible for you to do by yourself. So, if you want to take a step away from stress and towards the God of peace, here's my encouragement, let someone question your have to's.

Number two. Number two is, choose better. I'm taking those words from Jesus. he said in the final verse of our text, "Mary has chosen what is better". Like, it was good to cook the meal and to make the preparations, but it was better to sit at the feet and listen to Jesus. Now, if you're hardworking I bet part of you feels kind of selfish just like sitting there. You may be a person who struggles with taking care of yourself 'cause you're always pouring yourself out into other people. So, I just want to say, like, with the authority of God, it is not selfish to sit with Jesus. Right? For some of you to say to your husband, "You're watching the kids. Like I'm responsible 85% of the time, you're watching the kids, I'm taking my Bible to the park, I just want to sit with Jesus". It's like not volunteering for places to get a little bit of time so you can just be with Jesus. And I'm not talking like the Navy Seal's boot camp Bible reading plan where you have to check 16 chapters a day so you can... Let me just... Just be still. Doesn't matter if I finish the chapter.

If there's something that jumps off the page in the first sentence, I'm just going to meditate on it, and linger on it, and let God speak to me and fill up my heart. That's better. Alright, you run to the tournament and the game, it'll be fun for the moment, and it'll be over, and you'll forget by next game. Like it, you do this, you cook the meal, it's great, everyone loves it, you have to wash the dishes and get ready for another round in a few hours. But when Jesus speaks to you, he offers you something that endures forever. It's better, it's something this world cannot take away from you. So, as you plan your schedule use the gift that you have, that discipline and structure to put the, you know, the biggest rocks in the jar first before the sand, and the water, and the pebbles, put the big rock of your spiritual life, 'cause just sitting and being with Jesus is choosing better.

Finally, number three. These are some of my favorite three words in the Bible, it is finished. My wife sometimes says this to me, "Mike, one of the greatest gifts you can give me is not asking me any questions and just doing a thing". "Like, oh, let's go on vacation honey. that would be great". Right, and her mind kicks in like, "Oh, I have to get the books, I have to organize the schedule, I have to figure out what we're going to do, I have to buy tickets". She's like, "Just do all the things so I can just be present, and it would be such a gift to me". And it strikes me, that's exactly what Jesus did for us. When it comes to being saved, when it comes to making it to Heaven he didn't die on the cross and say, "Halfway there".

Now, do you remember the amazing words he spoke? With some of his final breaths as Jesus is hanging on the cross, he says, "It's finished". Jesus checks every box. The responsibility of getting you to Heaven it's not you, it's not 50% you, or 20% you, or 5% you, it's all Jesus, and he did all of it. Because after he was done with Martha's amazing hospitality, he set his face towards Jerusalem, he marched all the way to the cross and he climbed up so that everything would be done. So that you and I never have to work, and work, and work, and work, and work, and wonder if it's good enough for God.

We could just be still and know that he is the God who saved us. That it's all Jesus and it is already finished. Your boss might want you to work, your kids might exhaust you, your friends might want to get together constantly, Jesus says, "I got it". And he offers all of our restless hearts this amazing gift so that we can come to him and find rest. You know to me the greatest proof... You know what Jesus is doing right now in Heaven? He's not doing this, the Bible says he's doing. "On the third day he rose from the dead, he ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, and he sat". Jesus right now is sitting at the right hand of his Heavenly father because your salvation, your forgiveness, your place in the family of God is finished.

Now, when you see him up there at the right hand of God smiling down at you, he says, "It's okay, you can sit too". You can work with the gift that God has given you, you can serve the people around you, and then you can sit and rest because you find rest in Jesus. It worked with Martha. It's actually not the last time we meet Martha in the Bible. The last time is just before Jesus gets to Jerusalem to die. In John 12 there is another party, do you want to guess what Martha does at this one? I'll read it to you. "Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived," Martha's brother, "whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served". But she didn't snap. She used her gift, but she did not go too far. She loved Jesus, with that beautiful way that he had wired her, and she found her spiritual rest in a Savior who was about to die for her. I hope you and I can too. Let's pray:

Our Heavenly Father, I thank you today for your grace, for your love, and your compassion. Jesus when I think about the religions of this world, some of them sound nice, but none of them allow us to rest. They're all based on how good of people we are, how much work we do, if we can make up for the wrongs that we've committed, if we can balance our karma, if we can fix our sins, but you're not like that. You're the God who's so good that your mercy and your love endure forever. That you sent Jesus to accomplish everything so that we could find true rest for our soul in him. I thank you for that gift, father, and now I pray for your Holy Spirit to give us wisdom. There is a time for us to work hard, to put in overtime, to go the extra mile, to say, "You first," to those around us who are in need. And there's a time to when it is not sinful to get away to pray, to sit with open Bibles, just to be. Give us wisdom to know how to balance that well without feeling guilty, stressed, or overwhelmed. And give the rest of us enough boundaries, and patience, and selflessness to honor those people in our lives too, that we don't push them too far, ask too much, but help them become the people that you have designed them to be, a glimpse of your organization, your responsibility, and your love. We pray all these things in the beautiful name of Jesus. And all God's people say, Amen.

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