Today’s reading is James 4: 1-10 Today we see some interest words, words I think that we all feel sometimes. James today talks about how we all have cravings that seem to be at war within us. We all know that … Continue reading
Today’s reading is Luke 20: 27-47 Today we see more testing of Jesus. Now, you may be wondering, why, all of a sudden, do we see test after test of Jesus? What is this all about? Well He is now in … Continue reading
How do we know if a doctrine or a spirit is true? In 1 John 4: 1-6, we learn how it is that we can test if something is true or not. Listen to what it says: 1 Beloved, do … Continue reading
Today we are going to look at one of those passages in Scripture that frankly, no one really understands. Listen to what happens in Mark 7:24-30:
The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Ok, there’s a lot happening here. In Mark’s Gospel, for the first time, we see Jesus heal a Gentile. We see Jesus talking with a women (who is a Gentile) which went against the customs of the people by like 1,000%. But these things aren’t out of the ordinary, we see Jesus do things like this quite often. This is what is different about it. The language that He uses when talking to the woman.
First He says that the children, which in this case refers to the Jews, must be feed first. That’s not too unusual in Jesus ministry, several times He sends the Disciples out only the Jewish village. Jesus is following through with the echoes of Genesis 12 where God tells Abraham that his descendants (the Jewish people) will be a light to the world. In other words, the call of Abraham was ultimately that the Jewish people would be that light to all the world. This is God calling out once again to His people.
But what happens next is the part that is hard to understand. He says to her “it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” In other words is seems to be implying that Jesus is calling Gentiles dogs. Now some Biblical commentators will say that the word Jesus was using there was more the word for puppy, a play thing, a term of affection. But that really doesn’t seem to be the case.
This is the part that we struggle with, why did Jesus use that term?
Well, let me give you my opinion. And like I say all the time with my opinion, it and a $1.50 will get you cup of coffee.
I think the first reason He called here that was for her benefit. Let there be no doubt, He loved her. He loves the world, He created the world. So know this. He loved and valued her. So, why then did He do it this way? I think He wanted here to know that she was of great worth to her. He “tested” her. And here’s the thing about when God tests us. The test is never for His benefit, it’s always for ours. He knows what we will do. He is not surprised by our choices. He knows what we will decide.
The test is not for Him. It’s for us.
Jesus knew she was beloved and His. She didn’t. In this conversation, she said out loud that she matters. And she found within her strength that she didn’t know that she had. This conversation pushed her to look within herself and say out loud who she was. She was a child of God. Jesus knew it. Now she knew it.
And the second person, or persons, this benefited was the disciples. They had seen very little interaction with Gentiles. This would have been one of their first encounters with a Gentile. And now they see a Gentile WOMAN speaking to Jesus, arguing with Him and now being rewarded by Jesus saying that she has the type of faith that everyone should have.
Could there be any doubt now that Jesus came for the entire world?
This conversation and healing wasn’t just for her benefit, but it was the benefit the Disciples and those that followed Jesus. He guided the conversation to a place where she had to say out loud what Jesus knew to be true. She mattered. She was valuable. She was His.
He knew that. In saying it, so does she. And so did all those that followed.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 7:31-37.
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Many years ago before I entered the ministry I worked with someone that was quite difficult. I just didn’t understand them; they didn’t always do the job properly, not a a lot of work ethic, they just drove me crazy.
But yet, they were a believer. They loved Jesus. They really did have a great faith. And yet they were so difficult to work work with.
What could I do? What was I do to? I’ll tell you what I did to make it better. I wrote this passage out and stuck in on my computer Philippians 2: 2-4:
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
My job was to, as best I could, humble myself and serve them. That’s crazy. I didn’t need to serve them. They needed to do their job better. That’s what I told myself.
But here was the reality. I didn’t hire them; I couldn’t fire them. And all I could do was do the best that I could to work with them.
And the only way that I could get my job done to the best of my ability was change my attitude. And they only way I could change my attitude was to look at Jesus.
Who served. Who was humble. Who cared. Even through He didn’t have to. He chose to. Because He loved.
And when love someone we serve them.
But sometimes, when serve someone, we grow to love them. Sometimes we have to serve someone before we actually grow into that. Serving others changes us.
Now, I’d like to say that it all worked out and he changed his attitude and became a better worker. He didn’t. He was eventually let go. But I’ll tell you what. Working through that made me a better Christian.
And for that, I’m thankful.
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Sometimes in life we have to stop and take a moment of reflection. It’s important for us to assess where we are. How are we doing? The question is sometimes asked, how is it with your soul? How are things?
Sometimes we can get really comfortable in our lives, in our faith. And think that everything is just fine. We can just start coasting. Sure, I love Jesus, Jesus loves me. It’s all good. No worries. Everything is perfect.
Am I as faithful as I should be? No, but it’s ok, Jesus loves me.
Are there areas of my life that, if I have to be honest about, that I’ve gotten lazy in and am just coasting? Sure, but it’s ok, Jesus loves me.
Yes, He does love us. Make no mistake about it. But, because He does love us, there’s so much more He wants us to become. As a loving parent longs to see their child grow and do great things, so does God long for us to the same. Listen to what Paul writes today in 2 Corinthians 13:5-8:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.
Test yourself today.
Know that God loves you, no matter what. You are loved, you are vital to Him, you are special. But, because He loves you, He really wants you to do great things. He knows what you are capable of. He knows your potential. He knows what He can do through you and in you.
He loves you. And He wants to see you grow into the amazing child of God that He has created you to be.
So, today, here’s some helpful questions for self examination that John Wesley gave to his early followers. I took a moment to ask myself these questions today, and I didn’t always like what I saw. But, through God’s grace, I know that He’s not done with me, and today, through God’s grace, I am going to be more faithful than I was yesterday.
Don’t coast. Be faithful. And in being faithful, you will find life.
1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2. What temptations have you met with?
3. How were you delivered?
4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?
5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret?
And here’s the great thing about asking this questions. You now what we find at the end of the question? Grace. Mercy. Love. Peace. You find forgiveness. When we ask ourselves these questions, we find the grace of God, waiting there for us the entire time. You are loved more than you’ll ever know. Today, live in that grace!
Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.
This theme is this – when you are tested, when there are trials and troubles, when there are worries, rejoice! Be happy! Be excited!
Don’t let the trials and troubles you face get you down. In fact, the more trials you face, the more excited you should be!
Israel was tested. Jesus was tested. Paul was tested. We see Peter reference that testing today.
Listen to what Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:6-7:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Why? Why should we be happy about testing? Why should we rejoice in trials?
Two reasons. First, something better is coming. This world is not the end. This life is not the end. This trial is not the end.
There are times in our lives when we are going through a trial and we think that this time of testing will be end of it all. But you know what happens? It’s not. We survive. We move on. We keep going.
These times of trial are not the end. And in fact, something better is coming. Something more life giving is coming. This is not the end.
And we rejoice secondly because these times of testing, they are just that. A test. They will make us better. They will make us stronger. They will make us more faithful.
And they make us cling to Jesus. They make us hold fast to what matters most. They make us hold on to what matters.
These trials won’t last forever. But Jesus will. Life in God will. That will last for all of eternity. So, today, if you are going through a tough time, hold fast to what matters most. Hold onto life. Hold onto faith. Hold onto what is most important.
Today, rejoice in your trials. And know that something better is coming. And let this time draw you closer to God.
I still have the dream sometimes where I am late for a test that I hadn’t studied for. And it always seems to be a calculus test. I hated calculus. Anyway, in my dream I’ve always forgotten to study and I am running late and I just know that I’m going to fail this test and it’s going to be awful.
I hate that dream.
I will wake up, thankful each time that it’s just a dream.
What a terrible feeling to have forgotten that you have a test! What a terrible feeling of impending doom. It’s a helpless feeling, one that just grips the whole of your soul.
Well, in life, we are going to have tests. And the bad thing is that they may make that calculus test look easy. These test may be hard. They may involve sleepless night. Tears. Pain. Hurt. Doubt. These test could be the things that try our faith and leave us shaken.
And in James, it says we should thank God for these tests.
Yep. James says to thank God for tests. Listen to James 1:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
These tests we face will grow our faith. They will grow our strength. They will grow our trust. They will grow our dependence on God.
When you face a test, a real, a tough test, you can’t face it on your own. You’re not strong enough. You’re not able. You can’t do it.
But, through God, you can. Through Christ, you can do all things. Through Christ, nothing is impossible. Through Christ, you can do it.
Through Christ, you can have joy in the tests. Through Christ, you can have joy. Through Christ, we can endure. Through Christ, we can grow.
Through Christ, we can not only take these tests. We can triumph over them.
Today, and in the future, you will have tests coming. What will you do? What will we do? Will we count it joy? Will we use this to grow? Will we let this grow us closer to God?
We can count these tests as joy. When we turn to God in the midst of the trials, they will grow us.
May we grow closer to God today and each day.