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Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World Reader’s Guide

By Joanna Weaver

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World Reader’s Guide

By Joanna Weaver

Category: Religion


Nothing has transformed my life like the study of God’s Word. Something
powerful happens when we go beyond other people’s opinions and revelations
and discover for ourselves what God has to say. I designed this twelveweek
Bible study to help you do just that.

I recommend using a translation of the Bible that you enjoy and understand,
as well as a notebook and a pen to record your answers. Before each
lesson, ask the Holy Spirit to increase your understanding as you examine
God’s Word and then help you apply the truths you discover.

Each lesson starts with questions for individual reflection or group discussion,
then moves into a study of scriptural principles. At the end of the lesson,
you’ll have an opportunity to write about what spoke most to you in
that chapter. The stories, quotes, and sidebars within the chapters may provide
further opportunities for discussion or reflection.

My prayer is that each of you will begin to experience the blessing God
promises to those who look “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom…
not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it” (James 1:25). There is
a holy makeover waiting for each one of us. It is found in God’s presence and
within the pages of his Word. Dig in, ladies! You’ll be glad you did.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
What preconceived ideas did you have about Mary and Martha
before reading this book? Which woman do you relate to most—
Mary or Martha? Explain your answer.

2. One woman told me, “My life is like a blender—and it’s stuck on
frappé!” What inanimate object best describes how your life currently

3. Going Deeper
Read Luke 10:38-42. List at least two things you learn about Martha
in this passage and at least two things you learn about Mary. How
would you sum up Martha in one word? How would you sum up

4. A woman told me, “I guess I’m just a Martha and that I’ll always be
a Martha.” Is it possible for our basic character to change, or are we
destined to live our lives stuck in a predetermined nature? Explain
your answer.

5. What does the Bible say in the following verses about our potential
for change?
Ezekiel 36:26-27 ______________________________________
2 Corinthians 5:17 _____________________________________
Philippians 1:6 ________________________________________

6. Have you seen God’s work of transformation in your own life or
someone else’s? How did you know it was a “holy makeover” and not
just a temporary “facelift”?

7. Read Matthew 11:28-30. Circle key words and meditate on these
verses—really think about what Jesus is saying. Then memorize this
passage phrase by phrase. Write it on an index card, and refer to it
frequently, repeating it until it becomes a part of you.

8. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
The story of Mary and Martha stirs up memories of sibling rivalry for
many of us. What battles with your siblings do you remember the
most? What did you do to get your parents to notice you?

10. Read Luke 10:38-42. Have you ever asked Martha’s question, “Lord,
don’t you care?” What was the situation? How did God answer your

11. Going Deeper
All of us have felt alone—even great heroes of the faith felt this way.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-18. How did the “Deadly Ds” of distraction, discouragement,
and doubt attack Elijah after the great victory over the
prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18? I’ve completed the first one as an
DISTRACTION: Jezebel’s anger made him run for his life.
DISCOURAGEMENT: __________________________________
DOUBT: ____________________________________________

12. In this passage how did God minister to Elijah in the midst of his discouragement?
How has God ministered to you when you felt alone
and were hurting?

13. In Mark 4:35-41 the disciples echoed Martha’s question: “Don’t you
care?” What does this portion of Scripture teach us about the difficult
times in our lives? (Consider Isaiah 43:1-2.)

14. Read Psalm 103. List at least five of the many ways God shows
his love for us. (If you are struggling to know the Father’s love,
consider memorizing this chapter so you won’t forget “all his

15. Write Jesus a letter beginning with “Lord, I know you love me
because…,” and list the ways he has shown his great love for you.

16. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
Martha wanted Jesus to tell Mary to help out in the kitchen, but
instead of giving her what she wanted, Dr. Jesus made a diagnosis:
“Martha, Martha…you are worried and upset about many things.” If
you had been Martha, how would Jesus’ words have made you feel?

18. According to Dr. Edward Hallowell, over half of us are chronic worriers.
Which of the ten signs of a big worrier on page 33 do you
struggle with? How do worry and anxiety spill over into your daily
life and affect your behavior? your physical health?

19. Going Deeper
Fear not only affects us physically but spiritually. Read Luke 8:14. List
three things that may choke the Word of God out of our lives. Which
one do you struggle with most, and how does it choke you spiritually?

20. Look at the “Concern and Worry” diagram on page 38, and read the
quote from Gary E. Gilley. What concerns are you currently facing?
What worries?

21. What do the following passages tell us to do with our worries and
concerns, and what will be the result?
Proverbs 3:5-6 COMMAND: _____________________
RESULT: _____________________
Philippians 4:6-7 COMMAND: _____________________
RESULT: _____________________

22. a. Rewrite Matthew 6:25-30 as if God were speaking directly to you
and your current situation.
Therefore, I tell you, ______________, do not worry about…
b. Read Matthew 6:31-34. Respond to this passage in a prayer to the
Lord, I don’t want to worry as the world does. Help me to…

23. According to 1 John 4:16-18, how can we respond to God’s love, and
what will happen to fear when we do?

24. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
Read the wagon and the rocks story on pages 48-51. Take a look in
your wagon. Which rocks has God asked you to carry? Which rocks
have you unwisely and sometimes unconsciously volunteered to carry
for someone else?

26. Do you ever feel the driven, perfectionistic, spiritual Martha Stewart
coming out in you? What does she look like at home? What does she
look like at church?

27. Going Deeper
What do you think Jesus meant in Luke 10:38-42 when he told
Martha that only one thing was needed?

28. a. Turn a few pages, to Luke 18:18-25, to another exchange Jesus
had. What qualification did the rich young ruler give for entering
the kingdom of God?
b. What was the one thing Jesus said he lacked?
c. Why do you think Christ focused on his wealth?
d. Why may the one thing God asks us to do be different from what
he requires of someone else? (Consider 1 Corinthians 13:3 and
Philippians 3:4-7.)

29. Perhaps like the rich young ruler you find yourself trying to perform
for God, carrying more rocks in hopes of earning God’s love and
favor. What do the following verses say about works-based Christianity?
Galatians 3:3 _________________________________________
Titus 3:5 _____________________________________________

30. What did Paul say in Philippians 3:13-14 was his “one thing”? Why
was forgetting what was behind him so important for Paul? (Consider
Acts 26:9-15.) What things in your past hold you back from experiencing
all God has for you? Take a moment to ask the Lord to help
you let go of anything that holds you back.

31. Using the guidelines on page 55, sit down this week and begin
“dumping rocks.” But before you start, ask the Lord for wisdom
(James 1:5). He loves to give it, and he wants to set us free!

32. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
Someone has said that each of us is created “with a God-shaped hole”
and that we will never be truly satisfied until we fill that space with
him. Unfortunately many of us, as Teri described on page 69, fill up
on spiritual Snicker Bars. What do you turn to instead of God when
you’re feeling empty?

34. I’ve written that intimacy with God comes through Prayer + the
Word + Time. Which of these three disciplines is most difficult for
you? Which comes easiest?

35. We all face barriers to intimacy with God. Put a check by the one or
two you struggle with most, then look up the verses next to that barrier.
Circle the verse that is most meaningful to you.
____ Unworthiness (Isaiah 41:9-10; Ephesians 2:13-14)
____ Busyness (Psalm 90:12; Isaiah 40:29-31)
____ Guilt / Shame (Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:9)
____ Pride (Psalm 10:4; James 4:6-7)
____ Depression (Psalm 42:11; John 14:1)
____ Trials / Hard- (Hebrews 13:6; 2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

36. Meditate on the verse you circled, then personalize it in the form of a
prayer to God. Here is an example based on 1 John 1:9.
God, thank you for the forgiveness that comes when I admit my sin
rather than deny it. I’m so glad I don’t have to clean up my act
before I come to you. All I have to do is come. You promise to do
the cleaning.

37. I’ve written that before we become Christians, Satan tells us we don’t
need a Savior. After we become Christians, he tells us we don’t deserve
a Savior. How have these lies affected your walk with God?

38. God longs to have fellowship with us. Read the following verses, and
describe the metaphor Scripture uses to describe the intimate relationship
we can have with God.
John 15:5 ___________________________________________
Romans 8:15-16 ______________________________________
2 Corinthians 11:2 ____________________________________

39. Read the excerpt from “My Heart Christ’s Home” (pages 72-73).
How does it make you feel to think that Jesus longs to have time
alone with you—to be at home in you? How could this realization
turn your devotional life from a duty to a delight?

40. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
Dwight L. Moody said, “Of one hundred men, one will read the
Bible; the ninety-nine will read the Christian.”1 Who was the first
Christian in your life to live in such a way that you could clearly see
Christ? How did this person affect your life?

42. Read the story of the little boy and the evangelist on page 97. How
would you like Jesus to “stick out all over” your life—that is, what
attitudes and characteristics of the Savior would you like God to
develop in your life?

43. Going Deeper
Read John 13:1-17. Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet was a totally
unexpected example of what true Christian love should look like.
According to page 82, why was it so shocking?

44. J. Oswald Sanders said, “It is noteworthy that only once did Jesus say
that he was leaving his disciples an example, and that was when he
washed their feet.”2 In what unexpected ways could we wash the feet
of those around us?

45. Place one (or more) of the following letters beside each verse that follows.
In this passage Jesus ministered (a) as he went on his way; (b) as
he went out of his way; (c) in all kinds of ways.
______ Mark 1:29-34
______ Mark 6:30-34
______ Mark 7:31-35

46. How could you practically administer Christ’s love in each of these
ways? I’ve completed the first one as an example.
As I go on my way: I thank the school crossing guard for keeping my
kids safe.
As I go out of my way: __________________________________
In all kinds of ways: ___________________________________

47. Read Acts 3:1-10. What can we learn from this passage about how to
actively show God’s love to those around us?

48. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
Read the “hoopy birthday” story on pages 99–100. Name the Hula-
Hoop responsibilities you have in your life. Which one is the most
difficult to keep in motion?

50. Consider Wilbur Rees’s thought-provoking words:
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to
explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a
cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want
enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with
a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the
warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the
Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God,
In all honesty, how much of God do you want? What keeps you from
wanting more?

51. Going Deeper
We live with so much less than God intended us to have. Ask God to
illuminate your understanding as you read Paul’s prayer for believers
in Ephesians 3:16-19. Then list three truths from this passage you’d
like God to make real in your life.

52. How does Matthew 6:33 relate to Stephen Covey’s “First Things
First” principle (page 103)—that is, putting in the big rocks first?
Give an example of a time you found this principle true in your life.

53. Read on pages 107-108 about Sidlow Baxter’s personal struggle to
develop a devotional time. How important is our will in this process
of seeking God? How important are our emotions?

54. Explain how the following Bible characters chose to put God first
despite overwhelming emotions or circumstances.
David (2 Samuel 12:13-23) _____________________________
Daniel (Daniel 6:3-10) _________________________________
Jesus (Matthew 26:36-39) _______________________________

55. Use the “Journal the Journey” outline in Appendix D and the instructions
on page 114 to meditate on and write about one of the following
Psalm 139 Romans 8 Ephesians 4
Isaiah 55 1 Corinthians 13 James 1

56. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

What is your favorite kind of story and why?
Romance Mystery Biography
Adventure Sci-Fi Fantasy

58. Which of the following lessons from Lazarus have you found most
true in your life? Explain the circumstances involved and what you
• God’s will does not always proceed in a straight line.
• God’s love sometimes tarries for our good and his glory.
• God’s ways are not our ways, but his character is still
• God’s plan is released when we believe and obey.
• The “end” is never the end; it is only the beginning.

59. Going Deeper
Read John 11:1-6. Circle key words, and think about this family’s situation
and Jesus’ response. When you face difficulties, which of these
verses might comfort you most and why?

60. Because time and space confine us, we can’t always see what is really
happening. What do the following verses say about this in-between
time in which we find ourselves?
John 16:33 ___________________________________________
Hebrews 11:13-16 _____________________________________
James 1:2-4 __________________________________________

61. Martha Tennison says, “We only trust people we know. If you’re
struggling to trust God, it may be because you don’t really know
God.”4We come to know God better through his Word. What do the
following verses reveal about our heavenly Father?
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is ___________________________.”
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is ___________________________.”
Psalm 100:5 “The Lord is ___________________________.”
Psalm 145:8 “The Lord is ___________________________.”

62. Look up the word trust in a concordance. Find two phrases that speak
to you, and write out the corresponding verses.

63. Laura Barker Snow writes about the difficult times we all face and
how we need to view such times through the sovereignty and goodness
of God, to live as if God is saying:
My child, I have a message for you today; let me whisper it in
your ear, that it may gild with glory any storm clouds which may
arise, and smooth the rough places upon which you may have to
tread. It is short, only five words, but let them sink into your
inmost soul; use them as a pillow upon which to rest your weary
head.… This thing is from ME.5
How would your life be different if you could receive these words as
truth and not only truth but as evidence of God’s love in your life?

64. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
Which of the following best describes the kind of student you were in
Intellectual Absent-Though-Present Teacher’s Pet
Procrastinator Party Animal High Achiever
What did you like most about school? What did you like least? How
have you carried these likes and dislikes into adulthood?

66. Think of someone you consider teachable. What character qualities
make you view him or her that way?

67. Going Deeper
Fill out the “Are You Teachable?” questionnaire on page 139. What
did you discover about yourself?

68. We have to accept the diagnosis if we’re ever going to experience the cure.
I believe Martha did just that. Read Luke 10:38-42. Now read John
11:17-28. What differences do you see in Martha in these two stories?

69. Read Hebrews 12:5-11, and then list four reasons why God disciplines
us and four results of that discipline.
_____________________ _____________________
_____________________ _____________________
_____________________ _____________________
_____________________ _____________________

70. The Bible is filled with if-then propositions. If we will…, then God
will… What do the following verses promise us if we obey? I’ve filled
out the first verse for you.
Joshua 1:8 If… I meditate on God’s Word and do it,
then… I will be prosperous and successful.
John 8:31-32 If… _________________________________
then… _________________________________
James 1:25 If… _________________________________
then… _________________________________

71. God is willing to forgive and change us—even at our very worst.
Consider the prayer David prayed in Psalm 51:10-12 after his murderous,
adulterous affair with Bathsheba. Rewrite this cry for transformation
in your own words. Then read it aloud to the Lord.

72. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

73. Describe a time you expressed love and concern for others and were
misunderstood. How did it make you feel? Did you pull back or press
in closer?

74. Consider the differences between Mary’s and Judas’s love for Christ:
• had a heart of gratitude • had a heart of greed
• came with abandon • came with an agenda
• heard what Jesus said • heard but did not
and responded understand
• held nothing back • gave nothing up
Which aspect of Mary’s love comes easiest to you? Which aspect is the
most difficult for you?

75. Going Deeper
Read John 12:1-11. What was Judas’s response to Mary’s extravagant
love? What did John say was the motivation behind his response?

76. Read Matthew 16:21-23. What was Peter’s response to Jesus’ explanation
that he must die? What did Jesus say was the motivation behind
his response?

77. Read another account of Mary’s anointing Jesus in Mark 14:6-9.
Finish the following four statements Jesus made about her extravagant
“She has done a ___________________________ thing to me.”
“She did what she ___________________________________.
“She poured perfume…to prepare for my _________________.
“Wherever the gospel is preached…what she has ________ will
also be told.”
Meditate on one of these statements. Ask the Lord to show you practical
ways you could love him more beautifully and sacrificially.

78. Matthew and Mark both place Judas’s dark change of heart as happening
immediately after Mary’s extravagant act of love. According to the following
verses, why are greed and the love of money so dangerous?
Matthew 6:24 _________________________________________
1 Timothy 6:9-10 ______________________________________
James 4:1-4 ___________________________________________

79. Mary loved extravagantly because she had experienced firsthand the
extravagant love of God. Read 1 John 3:1 and Romans 8:31-39.
Write a love letter back to God, expressing your gratitude for his lavish
love and extravagant grace.

80. What spoke most to you in this chapter?

Questions for Discussion or Reflection
What does your teetertotter look like when it comes to balancing
work and worship? Draw a line to show which way it tends to tilt
(if it does).
Pivot Point

82. Read the “Listening to Your Soul” checklist on pages 182-183.
According to the checklist, do you need to spend more time in the
Living Room or the Kitchen? What are some practical ways you could
lean into your weak side to bring balance to your Christian life?

83. Going Deeper
On one side of the teetertotter we find the importance of loving
people. Read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
Describe how the Samaritan fulfilled the following statements:
He took NOTICE ______________________________________
He took ACTION ______________________________________
He took RESPONSIBILITY________________________________
Which of these three qualities comes easiest to you? Which is the
hardest for you?

84. On the other side of Mary and Martha’s story we find Christ’s teaching
on prayer. What does Luke 11:1-13 show about our part in prayer
and God’s promised response?
_____________________ _____________________
_____________________ _____________________
_____________________ _____________________
_____________________ _____________________

85. According to the following verses, why is it dangerous to spend all our
time on one end of the teetertotter?
Matthew 7:21-23 _____________________________________
James 2:14-17 _______________________________________
1 John 3:16-18 _______________________________________

86. We all need time to let our souls catch up. From Isaiah 58:13-14, list
three ways we can “keep the Sabbath” and also three blessings we will
receive from honoring the “Lord’s holy day.”

87. According to the following verses, what blessings do we receive from
Isaiah 58:6-8 ________________________________________
Matthew 25:34-36 ____________________________________
Hebrews 13:2 ________________________________________

88. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

Have you ever heard a great Christian testimony and wished you
could have the faith of that person or live as he or she has lived?
What was the process that gave them the product?

90. When you face difficulties in life, which approach do you usually
take? Explain.
The All-Star Wrestling Approach: “God! I’m doing this for you—
howsaboutta little help here?”
The Job Approach: “Where are you—and why don’t you care?”
The Jonah Approach: “Forget Nineveh—I’m headed for the

91. Going Deeper
Read John 12:1-3. Knowing what you now know about these
sisters, what two things could you surmise about Martha and
about Mary from this passage? How would you sum up Martha in
one word? How would you sum up Mary? How does this differ
from the way you described them in the study for chapter 1
(question 3)?

92. Read the following verses. Describe the process God uses and the purpose
he intends.
Deuteronomy 8:2 PROCESS ________________________
PURPOSE ________________________
Romans 8:28-29 PROCESS ________________________
PURPOSE ________________________
2 Corinthians 4:17 PROCESS ________________________
PURPOSE ________________________

93. How do we partner in this process, according to Philippians 2:12-13?
We do…
God does…

94. Read Philippians 1:6 and Hebrews 10:35-36, then look up the following
words in the dictionary, and write their definitions.
Which of these words mean the most to you right now and why?

95. Read Philippians 3:12-14. Circle key words, and then rewrite this
passage in your own words. Read it aloud as a prayer, a declaration of
faith, and/or a personal mission statement. Ask God to keep it ever
before you as you run the race for the prize.

96. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

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