Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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19 The Fragrant Smell of Serving

Mark 14:3-6

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. 4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly. 6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me?

John 12:1-5;7

Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages.[c] It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.

This is one of my favorite acts of service in the bible because this woman served Jesus with what she had at great personal cost, holding nothing back. Its unconventional giving that at first doesn’t seem to make sense. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified, and on the way he had stopped at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany. We don’t know exactly who Simon was but he was a healed leper, and likely one of the many people Jesus touched and healed. It’s interesting that he was now “Simon the Cured,” but he was still referred to as “Simon the Leper” may be because that’s how he had been known for so long. Sometimes God does an amazing work of healing in our life but we still do and say things that focus more on our diseased past than our cured present. During the meal to honor Jesus, while He is eating, a woman comes in and interrupts dinner. How many times was Jesus interrupted in His public ministry? This interruption is different, it is a simple story about a woman who, in the presence of Jesus Christ, was so overwhelmed by the wonder of who he was and all he had done, that she gave all she had to honor Him.

Mary served through:


There are many different kinds of giving in the bible, some gave time or money and this was her way of giving to Jesus. Giving is the story of the Christian faith and the Bible is filled with God giving to us. God gave man life, created the world for him and gave him dominion over every other creature. He gave man a home in the Garden of Eden and when man sinned, he gave him a promise of redemption. He gave the law, the church and the promise of eternal life. He gave us his Son, Jesus, who gave His life. One of the most famous scriptures John 3:16 says “God so loved the world that he gave…” But giving is not a one way street, it is also the story of man giving back. Cain and Abel brought gifts to God, Noah got off the ark and gave an offering to God. The Israelites gave tithes to God and the early church is described as a fellowship of givers. Jesus had given Mary her brother Lazarus back to her from the dead. He had shared with her secrets of the kingdom of God, (she knew Jesus was going to die and so she anointed Him in preparation for his burial). She gave her precious perfume to anoint the one who would give His precious blood to redeem. Have you accepted what Jesus has given you? What are you giving?


Scripture says that it was a year’s wages and the disciples objected, unable to appreciate the gift of love that Mary had given. They said, “This perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.” And it could have been it would have been a great use of the perfume, after all, Jesus was a friend to the poor. It was also Passover week, when special efforts were made to help the needy.  From the disciples perspective this was wasteful and how could anyone who ought to be giving to the poor just throw it away like this. Imagine how much good could have been done if it had been used to feed hungry families or clothe naked children! Instead it was wasted through the extravagance of an impulsive woman. They saw the jar only as expenditure but Jesus saw true extravagance. No one complained about the money Simon spent on the meal they were eating but they got to partake in the meal.

Extravagant giving always seems wasteful to those who try to put a price tag on it and there is a certain recklessness in love which refuses to count the cost. As a parent I love my kids and am willing to make whatever sacrifice is necessary. Love is not love if it neatly calculates the cost. Mary’s gift was priceless because it wasn’t about 12 ounces of perfume; genuine love always contains a certain extravagance about it. It’s tempting to put a price on the perfume, a cost per ounce, but how many ounces of Christ’s blood did He pour out for us and at what price? The different viewpoints in the story reveal the heart because outlook is often determined by what is inside. Judas had witnessed an action of love and he called it extravagant waste, but we need more of that waste, because the offerings of love are never a waste. Is my serving marked by extravagance or do I hold back my best. Is my service one of “old spice” or the best spice?


“Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair.”

Mary took the most precious thing that she possessed, 12 ounces of perfume, and she spent it all on Jesus. She gave every ounce to anoint her Savior, could she have gotten by with 1 or 2 ounces, would that have been enough? Giving is not measured by what we give but by what we hold back. The first decision she had to make was whether to break open the jar and the second how much to give. After she gave, Jesus responded by saying Mary “has done what she could”. She gave her best, isn’t that what Christian service really is? Her jar was empty but the house was full of the fragrance. Many of us want to hold onto what we have because we are afraid of the empty jar. We keep a lid on our serving, we are content to fill up 12 ounces of space when there is a whole house that could be filled. If we really want to smell the fragrance of service then we have to first open the jar and second let it all out. How does your service smell?

Sometimes I wonder am I doing the Christian life right? Am I making the most of the moments God gives me? When the woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ head, some people at the banquet thought she did a foolish thing. Like this woman I know there are those who look at what I have done in serving the Lord and they see it as a foolish thing. So I question am I doing the Christian life right? What makes it right?  I find a calm and reassuring answer to this question in Jesus response to the critics, He rebukes them harshly and said, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me?”  I think the answer to am I doing the Christian life right is found in the question, “Who am I doing it for, is it pleasing to God?” It didn’t really matter what the crowd thought, but what Jesus thought.

She gave extravagantly, holding nothing back and it caused me to ponder this question

“Would I be willing to pour a year’s wages on the feet of Jesus?”

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18 A Tale of Two Servants

Matthew 6:19-24

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. 22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

We tend to think that serving is a choice and it’s something we will do if we feel like it, but in reality serving is already a forgone conclusion, we all serve it’s not a choice. The choice becomes who or what we serve, the real issue that we have to wrestle with is who will be our master?  In order to delve deeper into the question of who our master will be we have to wrestle with the word “treasures.” We all have things that we treasure and our hearts are directly tied to what we treasure. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be, the heart follows the treasure! The natural response to treasure is to try and store it up and Jesus doesn’t reject this response to accumulate, He simply wants to give it direction. Because where our treasure is, our heart will be also. What do you treasure? Where we store up our treasure has a large part to do with what our treasure is. If it’s earthly, we store it here, if it’s heavenly, we store it there. Answering what our treasure is not only helps us see where we will store it but also who our master will be. Serving is really about investing and investing is all about the future, what we do today affects tomorrow. There are inherent risks when we decide to invest, we could easily lose all or part of our investment. There are many factors that go into investing but when it is all said and done, the main thing that we are looking for is a return on our investment.

One of the investment options is the world (v 19)

This option is one that our investment broker Jesus encourages us not to make. He says don’t invest your lives in the things of this world, He knows we will be tempted to try. Scripture doesn’t tell us to stop doing things unless we are prone to doing them and it doesn’t tell us to do things we are prone to do but rather the things we are not. The reason Jesus gives us to not invest in the world is because there are silent destroyers, things that will eat and carry away the investment making it unprofitable. Earthly investments are subject to being eaten by moths and rust, one consumes the other corrodes. Jesus also says that if we put or investment into the world it will be subject to being stolen. All of these are the silent destroyers that quietly eat and take away the investment.

The other investment option is heaven (v 20)

This is where we are commanded to store our treasure because this is a secure option where there are no silent destroyers. Some questions that we have to ask ourselves when it comes to serving are who are you serving, who is really your master? What is your treasure and where are you storing it? What are you really living for, the temporary or the permanent? Are you securely investing or sloppily stuffing it into this world? Do you need to move your accounts from the bank down the street to the bank up stairs, from an earthly realm to a heavenly one?