Drawing Out Faith

Drawing Out Faith

Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

But He answered her not a word.

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” –Matthew 15:21-25.

Men, Jesus leaves Gennesaret for the region of Tyre and Sidon. These are Pagan territories, and a Canaanite (Gentile) woman comes to Him crying out for mercy. Her daughter is severely demon-possessed. Jesus doesn’t answer her. The woman cried out so much that the disciples ask Jesus to send her away. Jesus replies, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of Israel”. The “Lost Sheep” is a good study of its own. But then, she came and worshipped Him, begging Him, “Lord help me!”

We read this and find Jesus uncharacteristically cold and distant. Remember, this is Pagan lands and a Gentile woman. To grant her request without then being filled with Himself would leave her daughter vulnerable to a worse condition (12:43-45). Jesus is basically on a retreat here from His primary mission. He will soon leave with only this occasion recorded.

We are told to pray continually, to ask, seek and knock, it is written that many prayed day and night to God, others fasted with prayer. As with this woman, Jesus is drawing out our faith. Jesus could have healed the daughter without all this drama. It would have been cheap and forgettable. Jesus drew out her focus on Him as her only hope. This woman won’t be allowed to come and make a private plea for help and walk away to her other gods without a life changing moment to reflect back on. She is challenged to appeal to Jesus’ mercy from beyond any merit of her own. The woman now acknowledges Jesus beyond a resource to her need. V25 says she worshipped Him. “Lord, help me!”

This is our lesson today. How many of us will continue to pray while Jesus seems silent? How many will pray when we feel we’ve been denied His answer? How many will worship Him before we get what we want?

Move forward men, identifying Jesus as Lord regardless of how He responds. He is not God, because He is merciful to us. He does not belong to us that we should make drive thru value menu prayers to satisfy our wishes. Is He Lord God of your life?

Vance Durrance

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Shattered Mirrors

Shattered Mirror

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard.’” –Genesis 3:8

When moving a giant wall mirror from my grandmother’s house, one of the men carrying it was negligent and one of its corners hit the ground, chipping off a chunk of its corner. What was once the centerpiece of my grandmother’s dining room gatherings, now sits covered and hidden in the dark recesses of my parents’ basement.

Consider the essence of the serpent’s accusation: “God is lying to you. He is hiding good from you.” And yet what happens immediately following mankind consuming the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, deciding for themselves right and wrong? The very image-bearers of God HIDE from God. The very ones meant to reflect God’s good character now must conceal and cover themselves. They immediately recognize that a broken mirror is useless, because it reflects a lie, especially when it’s purpose is to reflect the perfect holiness of God. And Adam and Eve did more than chip a corner in negligence, they willfully shattered it with envy, believing that there was something better hidden behind it.

So they cover themselves and hide in the dark.

Before the good news can truly be received, the bad news must be accepted. Not only about others, but about ourselves. We are broken, shattered beyond repair. And we properly feel the shame of the evil we have committed (Eph 5:12). To hide this is to only heap up further rebellion, not to mention foolishness under the all-seeing eye of the Lord (Heb 4:13).

But don’t miss something powerful here. God’s purpose in shame is not to drive us away from Him, but draw us close. “Cover [your enemies’] faces with shame, so they might seek you, O Lord,” (Psa 83:16). A thing is visibly broken to demonstrate we have mistreated it, and that repair is needed. But we were never meant to fix our brokenness, for a shattered mirror cannot be repaired but must be replaced by the manufacturer. Likewise, when we find that our life is lost, we should seek it’s source (Act 3:15; Col 1:16).

So do not hide your brokenness from the Maker, and do not try and mend what is irreparable—whether your own mirror or another’s. Rather, let shame drive you to seek His redeeming hand (Neh 1:10), and point other’s to the Great Miracle Worker who not only repairs humanity (Mat 21:14), but resurrects dead men to life (John 11:43; 1Pe 1:3).

Keep digging for that treasure (Mat 13:44).

Billy Neal

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“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” –Revelation 3:21

So how did Jesus conquer?

Jesus came chiefly as “God With Us” to bring redemption TO man. But, He also demonstrates the victorious life as the second Adam (1Co 15:45-47) and firstborn of all spirit-born image-bearers (Col 1:15). He is the perfecter AND the pioneer of our faith (Heb 2:10). So consider that in Jesus the fullness of God dwelt (Col 2:9), yet He did not hold on to His high status while on this earth, but took upon Himself the lowly position of a slave (Phi 2:6-7) for “a little while” (Heb 2:9). He then joyfully suffered (Heb 12:2) because He was focused on a great mission—“to seek and save” His wayward Bride (Luke 19:10; Hos 3:1; 14:4; Rev 21:2) Thus, He became “obedient to the point of death,” and God “exalted Him” (Phi 2:8-9).

Notice the process of perfection:

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” –Hebrews 2:10

In other words, the success of Christ’s mission, the path to victory, was obedience “through suffering.” And if Christ “learned obedience through the things he suffered” (Heb 5:8), how much more we desperately need to be perfected through obedience by enduring suffering here on earth?

But do not think that this suffering is merely being ready to kneel before the Jihadist who holds a sword. For how can one be willing to lose his head if he is not willing to lose his job?

Therefore, suffering in this life is a daily task. It is heeding the battle cry of temptation and standing firm against our enemy in constant submission to God (Eph 6:12-18; Jam 4:7). Suffering is learning contentment and thanksgiving in ALL circumstances (Phi 4:11; 1Th 5:18; Ecc 6:10). Suffering is ridding ourselves of riches that hinder our walk with God, and severing those fleshly desires that are burdens or barriers (Gal 5:24; Rom 13:14; Mark 9:43-47; Mat 19:21-24). Suffering is choosing God’s way instead of our own—daily (Luke 9:23).

So, are you willing to lay your life down for Him today? Not just to some theoretical mob that comes to kill Jesus followers, but by being completely surrendered to His purposes every moment of the day? Are you willing to forsake your own schedule, your own plans, and your own dreams to be a conqueror?

Billy Neal

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Kingdom Authority

Kingdom Authority

Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. — Matthew 14:19 NKJV

Men, Jesus tells the disciples “bring them to me” (the fish and loaves). Then He tells all the multitude to “sit down on the grass”. Then He took the five loaves and two fish in His hands, looked up to heaven, and blessed them. He broke them up, gave them to the disciples to distribute to the multitude.

Who did Jesus bless the loaves by? Jesus could turn stones into bread if He wanted to, but He was following a Kingdom protocol. The earthly body is unable to break the general rules of physics. But the Spirit can. Jesus is showing us how to access the riches of heaven. Healing, signs and wonders are often thought of in terms of magic, or some hocus pocus. For Jesus, this was no sleight of hand; He was generating a legitimate increase in physical resources, but not by some incantation and wave of a wand. From earth, Jesus accessed the literal Kingdom of heaven and by blessing it appropriately, the stores of Heaven were opened up to Him.

We’d all like to know the words Jesus used so we could follow a 5 step plan to fill our kitchens. Again, this is not about reciting an incantation, “bippity boppity boo”, so to speak. It’s not about the words Jesus used. His ability to break the rules we live by on earth are because of His focus on His own authority, Kingdom’s riches and freedoms.

Jesus was not limited to the rules here because His authority was secured in a higher order. Looking up to heaven, He acknowledged the authority He had in His Father’s Kingdom and opened the resources. To Him, it was as simple as opening a cupboard door. Is this authority available to others? 2 Kings 4 tells us about Elisha stretching a widow’s resources. The disciples called on healing power by Jesus name in Heaven. Is it available to us?

I dare anyone to move forward. It’s not a parlor trick for amusing our friends but Jesus said we would do even greater. How does it happen? It doesn’t without first looking up to heaven and acknowledging His Name’s authority, our sonship and His Kingdom.

Vance Durrance

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