Archive for July, 2016

TRUST: Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?”

July 30, 2016

In the post TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him, the truth that Jesus showed Himself to the disciples and all who came to see Him was presented in Mark 8. In actuality, Jesus had been progressively revealing Himself to the disciples since He called them to follow Him. Furthermore, the life-guiding question of TRUST: Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?” was shown in the passage.

Jesus had shown the disciples many instances of His knowledge, His wisdom and His power. He was leading them to answer TRUST: Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?” Remember, Jesus had healed many by laying His hands on them, by people touching the hem of His garment or by Jesus being asked to just say the word for a person’s healing. In Mark 6, Jesus feed five thousand with five loaves and two fish. Now in Mark 8, we see Jesus feed the second group of thousands, four thousand plus more specifically. The disciples still did not get who He was and what He could do. After collecting bread after the second feeding, they only brought one loaf with them on their next journey. They wondered and never considered that Jesus could provide for them. Rather, they were concerned about only having one loaf. “Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?(L) 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”” His point was that they should know by now that He is able.

They did not know, so Jesus, being the teacher that He is and committed to those men, performed another miracle of healing the blind man in Bethsaida. How healed Him was even more evidence that He was teaching the disciples. After healing the blind man while traveling to another city, TRUST: Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?”

Mark 8

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus personalized the matter with the disciples. Jesus will personalize the matter with us too. Jesus is asking all of us to reflect over the demonstrations of His wisdom, knowledge and power. He is asking us in light of all that you have seen me do TRUST: Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?” 

Jesus deserves and asks for our full TRUST of Him. Peter responded to the question correctly as he stated “You are the Messiah.”  or the Christ. Finally, one of them had come to the knowledge of who Jesus is, but it was interesting that He told them not to tell anyone about Him. Jesus was not ready for them to begin testifying about Him. If they did not understand who He was from all the other miracles and works He had done, there was one more coming that would seal the deal for them. Jesus’ last miracle would top them all and solidify their faith in Him. This last act would give them and all of man a definitive answer to TRUST: Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?” 

Of course that final miracle was Jesus’ resurrection. That proved to them that Jesus was indeed the Christ. He was indeed God in the flesh as He had told them, but they hadn’t understood. After the resurrection, let’s see what Jesus said about telling people He is the Messiah, the Christ. Matthew tells us “17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”“Now, we too are asked to look back at the evidence Jesus has provided for us to answer TRUST: Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?” 

By reading this today, Jesus is calling you to account of who He is and whether you will put your faith, your TRUST in Him as Lord, Savior and God. TRUST: Jesus asks “Who do you say I am?”  Do you know that He is able? What will you say?

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TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him

July 26, 2016

In this day and age, God gets blamed for a lot. Many have said, “If God is so loving, why did He … or why didn’t He …” We spend so much time looking at life through the negative. We spend so much time examining actions of God that do not line up with our desires that we miss seeing Him. It’s like riding along in the car and someone asks did you see a particular vehicle or sight. If you are not looking in that direction, you will not see it. In that instant, people will tell you where to look in hopes that you will get a glimpse of what just passed.

Likewise, God invests seconds, moments and other denominations of time in efforts to get us to see Him – TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him. The question revolves around what God wants us to see. Unequivocally, God wants us to see Him. Why? When we truly see God, we will be changed forever for the better. Let’s face it, we are beings who need proof to move the needle of our faith. When God acts, there are two responses to what He does. We either receive what He has done or reject what He has done that is if we see it. This is why I say TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him. Jesus knows that once you see you have the opportunity to receive what He came to die for – reconciliation with God.

TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him. Let’s see!

Mark 8

22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” 27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

On the surface, it appears that Jesus just wanted the man to see. We should know that Jesus is beneath the surface. Whenever He/God acts, it is always designed to get us to see Him not the action in isolation. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not seeHebrews 11:1 Another example is John 625 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi,when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”” Jesus wanted the people to see Him and believe in Him. TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him.

In Mark 8, Jesus causes a blind man to see. While I am sure the man was elated to be able to see, but Jesus worked this miracle, so the blind man and others could see Him. TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him. What does the text tell us that Jesus asked after that? “Who do people say I am?” Jesus had done miracles in front of His disciples over and over; yet, they were have troubles seeing Him for who He was. Earlier in the passage, we read 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” Jesus was working to get the disciples to understand, so He performed another miracle. He wanted the backdrop of the disciples experiences to be filled with examples of His power which should reveal who He is.TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him.

Likewise,TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him for who He is – God incarnate as the Son of God who died for your sins to reconcile you to God. Look at all that Jesus has done in your life. It is primarily to see Him and believe in Him. In John 12, “44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” 

If you have not seen Jesus to the point that you have trusted in Him as Lord and Savior, you are like those whom Ezekiel said, ““Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.” Ezekiel 12:2

Ask God to give you eyes to see Him, ears to hear Him and a heart to receive Him. TRUST: Jesus Wants You to See Him

TRUST: “Do you still not understand?”

July 19, 2016

In the post TRUST: Jesus Has Done This Before, I shared that Jesus wanted the disciples and us to realize that He has all power and has met needs that appeared to have no way of being met in our lives; yet, we fail to remember that in moments of faith. Remember, moments of faith are situations that require us to believe in Jehovah, the Almighty God, to believe based on His Word, based on prior experiences of His power and faithfulness in our lives and the lives of others. Despite God working in our lives and in the lives of others, He still will have to utter TRUST: “Do you still not understand?”.

That is clearly depicted and stated in Mark 8:14-21.

Mark 8

14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them.“Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”

17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

They answered, “Seven.”

21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Jesus asks the disciples this question after probing them to remember recent and immediate miracles i.e. manifestations of His power in their midsts. He had healed many and feed thousands twice, but they did not believe. They did not remember the works of God’s hand; therefore, their senses were dulled. Jesus said, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? ” Jesus was saying TRUST: “Do you still not understand?”

Jesus had just feed four thousand people and that after a recent occurrence of Him feeding five thousand plus people. How is it that the disciples did not see or understand? Jesus gives insight into that by the warning He gave them “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” As we know, yeast is vital in the fermentation process of making bread. The yeast spreads like a wild fire fueled by an unending wind. Jesus was saying that their unbelief is what causes them to not see and to continue to ask for signs for which Jesus had told them no sign would be given. God does not seek to provide signs for those who have no intention of believing. Jesus was warning the disciples, thus us, that we must believe and not doubt.

TRUST: “Do you still not understand?” is a call to action. It is a call to reflect and remember the acts of God in your life and in the lives of others. In doing so, we see God’s power, His faithfulness and His commitment to fulfill His purposes in the lives of His people. What has God done in your life recently? What has He done in the lives of others around you? What has God done in the lives of those whom you have read about in the Word. TRUST: “Do you still not understand?”

Father, I ask you to help us with our sinful and unbelieving hearts. Help us to look at the evidence of your work in our lives and in the lives of others to TRUST you. Help us to reflect on your faithfulness in your demonstrations of your power. The whole world is filled with examples of your faithfulness and power. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to remember your mighty works. Soften our hearts. Make them pliable to you, so you will not have to say to us TRUST: “Do you still not understand?”

TRUST: Jesus Has Done This Before.

July 17, 2016

Ask my two kids, one of my pet peeves is for them to ask me a question to which they already know the answer. In fact, they regularly pick at me by imitating my response which is typically “Why?”. I am asking why because they already know the answer. I am asking why because they should know the answer. I am asking why because I have already conveyed the answer and should not be engaged in this conversation. I do not like repeating myself unnecessarily. Who does? This morning, I stand humbled and corrected because I am guilty of what I loath. I am guilty before God of asking questions for which I already know the answer to because God, through His Word, has already conveyed the answer to me. TRUST: Jesus Has Done This Before.

TRUST: Jesus Has Done This Before should imbue us with faith and confidence. The passage in Mark 8 should be compared with the passage in Mark 6:30-44. In both and surely different situations, Jesus presents the disciples with a problem or dilemma. There is a crowd of thousands who have not eaten. Jesus involves them in solving the problem.

Let’s see it.

Mark 8

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people;they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied.

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

Jesus presents the disciples with a problem, dilemma or challenge. However we term it, the disciples have a moment of faith. Like the disciples, we too will continually have moments of faith. This was not the first time for this experience. In Mark 6:30-44 while speaking with a Jewish crowd, Jesus did the exact same thing. The crowd was 5,000 people who needed to be fed. Now with a Gentile crowd, Jesus knows they too need to be fed. He had taught them i.e. spiritual feeding. Now, He wants to feed them physically. This represents the moment of faith for the disciples. God is so committed to those who are His. The disciples did not understand what He had done in Mark 6:30-44 as we read in verse 52 of that chapter. As a committed teacher, Jesus is reteaching content that they did not master.

I am sure Jesus was disappointed that the disciples did not recognize the situation and apply what Jesus had previously done in that situation. I am sure He wanted them to TRUST: Jesus Has Done This Before. Nevertheless, Jesus continued in commitment to His disciples. He feed four thousand with the loaves that they had. In the earlier account, it was loaves/bread from a little boy. Now, it is the bread from the disciples that Jesus uses in efforts to have them personally connect with what He was doing.

From John 6:35 , we know that Jesus declared “I am the bread of life.” He is the bread that will feed us to sustain and keep us. He is the bread the propels us to TRUST: Jesus Has Done This Before. I challenge myself, and I challenge you to recount of examples in your life where God has demonstrated His power in our lives or in the lives of those we know. I challenge you to hold those dear to heart because God will create another moment of faith where we should be able to face that circumstance with confidence because TRUST: Jesus Has Done This Before. 

I heard a song this past week that resonates with this truth. I challenge you to TRUST Jesus today, tomorrow and this week.

Here is the video of the song with the lyrics below.

 

“If He Did It Before (Same God)” by TYE TRIBBETT

Hey, if he did it before, he can do it again
Hey, if he did it before, he can do it again
1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, go

I won’t give in, no I’m not gonna turn around, yeah
I know I’ll win, if I don’t give up now
I am waiting for my change to come in I know
He will come through, this is how I’m so sure

If he did it before, he’d do it again
Same god right now, same god back then
If he did it before, he’d do it again
Same god right now, same god back then

(I’ve got power) I’ve got power, I know I will overcome
Greater is in me, the fight ain’t fair cause I’ve already won
And yes I may fall, may get knocked down to the ground
I know I’ll rise up, this is how I’m so sure

If he did it before, he’d do it again
Same god right now, same god back then
If he did it before, he’d do it again, yeah
Same god right now, same god back then

Please be, encouraged, this is not the first storm you’ve been through
You’ve been through worse, you didn’t come this far just to lose
He knows your needs, so take no thoughts on what you lost
God will restore, and this is how I’m sure

If he did it before, he can do it again
Same god right now, same god back then
If he did it before, he can do it again
Same god right now, same god back then.

He is same God right now
He is, He is same God right now
He is, same God right now

Same God right now
Same God back then
If He did it before,
He can do it again

 

TRUST: We Face Unbelief

July 15, 2016

I have repeatedly stated that life’s biggest challenge our faith. We will face moments of unbelief or belief depending on the condition of our hearts. This is why God tells us “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” (Deuteronomy 6:6) This is why Job tells us “Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.” This is why the Psalmist asks and responds “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” This is why I submit TRUST: We Face Unbelief.

When asked about doing God’s work for man to be approved of God, “Jesus answered,“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”” (John 6:29) As Jesus prepared to leave this world and return to the right hand of the Father, Jesus prayed for two things for the disciples: protection from the evil one; 2.Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. We are made holy and useful to God by our faith, our belief in Christ Jesus; therefore, we must believe. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” TRUST: We Face Unbelief. 

We see TRUST: We Face Unbelief in the lives of the disciples in Mark 8.

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people;they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied.

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

TRUST: We Face Unbelief is shown in the lives of His disciples in the passage. If you will recall from Mark 6, Jesus had already fed five thousand plus people which was to show them and us TRUST: Jesus Can Do the Impossible. The disciples did not truly believe. Their hearts were hardened. They didn’t believe. They were dealing with TRUST: We Face Unbelief. They had a ring-side seat to the miracles Jesus performed. They were there when Jesus asked them to collect what the boy had, five loaves and two fish. They heard Jesus’ prayer and saw the miraculous provision of five thousand plus people with the five loaves and two fish; yet, they were in the exact situation, but they did not make the connection. They did not remember what Jesus had recently done. They drew a blank in a moment of faith. Like the disciples, we too draw blanks in moments of faith. By divine orchestration, God places us in a situation that requires us to believe in Him, to believe based on His Word, based on prior experiences in our lives. What do we do? We whiff! We miss the opportunity to exercise our faith as we trust in the triune and Almighty God.

TRUST: We Face Unbelief is not just for us alone. It gives God another opportunity to demonstrate His character. How did he respond to the disciples? He did not berate them and dismiss them. He demonstrated His power once again in their midst in the lives of the Gentiles who were there. Jesus’ compassion was not just on the people who had been with Him three days. He also had compassion on the disciples for their lack of faith. Similarly, He has had compassion on me for my almost continual moments of a lack of faith. My penchant for whiffing. God will give us more moments of faith because He is actively building our faith. As such, we can be sure of TRUST: We Face Unbelief . 

Let us reflect and remember what God has done in our lives or in the lives of others, so when those moments of faith arise, we can demonstrate our faith, our belief in God. Praise be to God for His patience and commitment into developing us as believers. Hallelujah.

 

TRUST: Words Without Work is Useless

July 13, 2016

In the post TRUST: Jesus, The Bread of Heaven, I referenced Jesus conveying that He was the Bread of Heaven. One of the most powerful and light giving verses that I have read is in that passage. In John 6:29, Jesus provides the foundation for God’s call to TRUST in Jesus. In referring to the people who were there the text tells us “28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”” The freeing verses in the following verse that contains Jesus’ response. “29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”” Jesus tells me that the primary and truly only work is to believe in the one God has sent who is Jesus. The primary work of any follower of Christ is to believe in Jesus as God incarnate who served as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of man and through whom man can be considered righteous and enter into a relationship with God. It also led me to title this post TRUST: Words Without Work is Useless as I reread Mark 7

Mark 7

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

In Mark 7, Jesus addresses the people who claim to believe and follow God. He condemns the intent of their hearts, thus their hearts. He condemns their worship as not authentic, as heartless. We know from the Old and New Testaments that God has required man to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” Jesus is saying TRUST: Words Without Work is Useless

Jesus told us that the work of God is to believe in Him. Was He saying that there are no actions or tasks required of man? No. He was saying that God cares more about the motive of what we do. What we do must have its origins in trusting Jesus. James weighs in on the matter of works. We don’t work to win God’s approval. We work because God has approved of us through the Christ the Savior and our obedience to His Word. James 1:22 tells us “22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Furthermore, James tells us “17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James joined Jesus in condemning TRUST: Words Without Work Is Useless

In response to the latest shootings of citizens in Louisiana and Minnesota and the officers in Dallas, TRUST: Words Without Work is Useless was stated by a fellow brother, Andy Cheely who wrote “Istanbul and Baton Rouge and Dallas are the same evil, seeking the same end via different means. Both make me furious and frustrated. And there must be more than social media posts, quotes and calls to action. Stop skipping or seeking to avoid jury duty. Do vote or even better run for an office. Refuse to laugh at, listen to or tell ethnic/racial “jokes.” Don’t stereotype and generalize from news accounts because you have no personal engagement point of your own. Righteousness and love must be lived out, demonstrated, not simply proclaimed. Words without deeds…” Words without deeds resonated with me. It has caused me to think over the past two days about how do I make my faith, my belief in Jesus as the one God sent, active in this world. I wonder am I just about words and show as the Pharisees and some teachers of the law were that Jesus condemns in Mark 7.

The larger question is How am I honoring Jesus with my lips, but my hearts is far from Him? How do I worship Jesus in vain by espousing rules or traditions? God requires genuine faith. Again, James said, “26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” What deeds/work am I not engaged in that I should be. What deeds/work am I engaged in from false or impure motives. For those of us who call Jesus Lord and Savior, Jesus is telling us all TRUST: Words Without Work is Useless. 

Don’t know where your heart is in your work or lack there of? Read, listen, study, memorize or meditate on the Word of God. It will be revealed as we are told in Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Check yourself; Jesus is telling us all TRUST: Words Without Work is Useless. 

TRUST: Jesus, The Bread of Heaven

July 11, 2016

During His time on earth, Jesus made a number of claims. There were Jesus’ 7 I AM Statements. In those, Jesus revealed more about His nature. One is reflected, revealed and represented here in Mark 7 – TRUST: Jesus, The Bread of Heaven. Specifically, we learn in  John 6:32-33 “32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”Furthermore, Jesus said in  John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Mark 7

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

There is a great deal of cultural background that  shapes the context of this conversation between Jesus and this Greek, Syrian Phoenicia woman. I will try to present it from what scholars have presented.

In that day, Jews often called Gentiles “dogs” in a very derogatory way. “The dog was not the well-loved guardian that it is to-day; more commonly it was the symbol of dishonour. To the Greek, the word dog meant a shameless and audacious woman; it was used exactly with the connotation that we use the word bitch to-day. To the Jews it was equally a term of contempt.”  Contrary to that, Jesus did not use the normal word for “dogs.” Rather, Jesus softened it into little dogs – essentially, reminding the woman of her place as a Gentile, yet not wanting to push her completely away. “In Greek, diminutives are characteristically affectionate. Jesus took the sting out of the word.” (Barclay)

“The woman responds with great faith. First, she accepted her low place before Jesus by not debating the reference to little dogs. Second, she asked Jesus to deal with her on her own low level (even the little dogs under the table eat). She therefore received from Jesus.

We need to see the power of coming to God as we are, and letting Him make true His promises to those weak and unclean. If the woman had responded, “Who are you calling a dog?” she would not have received from Jesus what her daughter needed. Her humble, faith-filled submission to Jesus brought the victory.

“Nothing appealed to our blessed Lord more than faith coupled with humility.” (Ironside) Some people come to God with a kind of faith, but without humility. Others come to God with a kind of humility, but without faith. But if the two are combined it is a powerful thing before God.

Clarke praises the prayer of this woman showing it has nine notable features:

1. It is short;
2. humble;
3. full of faith;
4. fervent;
5. modest;
6. respectful;
7. rational;
8. relying only on the mercy of God;
9. persevering.” (Guzik)

No matter how we slice it, TRUST: Your Approach to Jesus Makes A Difference. She came humbly, reverently, in faith and earnestly. She did not give up. She pursued Jesus like her daughter’s life depended on it, because it did. TRUST: Jesus, The Bread of Heaven.

She saw the connection in Jesus’ analogy how the bread thrown to dogs was tantamount to her being able to get from Jesus even if it was scraps or second. In her mind, she did not mind that Jesus offered salvation, healing, help, strength to the Jews first. She just wanted to be included at any level. She knew Jesus could heal her daughter because she saw TRUST: Jesus, The Bread of Heaven.

She saw that Jesus was the true bread. That bread that God provides to nourish us. In her case, her daughter would be free; her daughter would have life. This is why Jesus commended her faith and rewarded her faith. Where are you today? Do you desire the Bread of Heaven for physical needs or for spiritual? God is waiting to feed you today with the Bread of Heaven. TRUST: Jesus, The Bread of Heaven.

TRUST: Your Approach to Jesus Makes A Difference

July 10, 2016

In the post TRUST: Jesus Cannot Be Hidden, the primary focus centered around the fact that we can TRUST that Jesus and His work will be known to people. As a consequence, people will seek Him out. Despite that, every believer has the responsibility to testify or witness about who Jesus is, His character, and what Jesus has done, His work/power. All followers of Jesus can see those things in TRUST: Your Approach to Jesus Makes A Difference.

One of the teaching tools seen throughout the scriptures is comparison/contrast. In Mark, Jesus uses this repeatedly to show the difference between those who truly follow God versus those who do not. In Mark, we see Jesus comparing people with the Pharisee and some teachers of the law. The Pharisees and teachers of the law are supposed to be the ones who lead the way in pursuing God; however, Jesus consistently shows that their heart and faith are centered on themselves and not God nor Him. That is the basis for TRUST: Your Approach to Jesus Makes A Difference. Let’s see this again in Mark 7.

Mark 7

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Repentance through Faith in Christ/God is Jesus’ central message in the Gospels. It is God’s message throughout all of the scriptures, Old and New Testaments.  As a reminder, Jesus told the Pharisees and some teachers of the law that “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13) That was a condemnation of their faith. Jesus assessed the condition of their heart – what they thought and believed. What we think and believe directly impacts what we do. We know from James 4:3 that God judges and responds to our request based on our motives. If wrong, we can forget getting what we asked for. 1 Corinthians 4:5 also informs us that Jesus knows and will reward us on the basis of our motives.  Again, we have insight into TRUST: Your Approach to Jesus Makes A Difference.

Now, let’s look at TRUST: Your Approach to Jesus Makes A Difference in this passageBy going to the Gentiles in Tyre, Jesus made Himself available to the people. How did the woman approach Jesus.

  1. She did approach Jesus – she did not fail to engage Him. She came to Jesus.
  2. She had faith – first she heard about Him then acted on her belief about who Jesus is (character – compassionate and a healer) and what Jesus can do (power). She believed in Jesus.
  3. She showed reverence – A Gentile and a woman both of which were well established reasons not to engage a Jew, but she did not allow tradition to dictate her response in truth/faith. She came and fell at his feet.
  4. She sought Jesus earnestly –She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

This Gentile, Syro-Phoenician, woman serves as a model of TRUST: Your Approach to Jesus Makes A Difference. From chapter one of Mark up to the present chapter, Jesus is careful to outline how those who received a miracle or help from Him obtained it. Each one of the persons o   In Mark 2 with the paralytic, we see the model of how friends can bring about Jesus’ intervention in the life of one unable to  come, believe, fall and beg. While Mark 3 does not follow that pattern, it contrast the stubborn, unbelieving hearts of the Pharisees with that of a man with a shriveled/withered hand who came to the synagogue surely for help. 

We see all four steps evidenced with several words used to represent the word beg which is used in the NIV for them both. First, parakaleō  as defined by Strongs G3870 is to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation):—beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort(-ation), intreat, pray. parakaleō – to call to one’s side, call for, summon. We see it used in Mark 1:40, 5:10, 5:12, 6:56, 7:32 and 8:22. Lastly, erōtaō as defined by Strongs G2065 is to question, ask,  request, entreat, beg, beseech. We see it used in Mark 4:10 and 7:26.

TRUST: Your Approach to Jesus Makes A Difference. The Pharisee never sought Jesus out of faith and reference. They certainly never fell at His feet or sought Him earnestly. We do know from Philippians 2:10 and Romans 14:11 that every knee will bow to Jesus. It is better now to come to Jesus in faith and reverence to earnestly present our request to Him. Those that do now Jesus responds to their needs both physical and spiritual. Your approach makes a difference – TRUST Him.

 

TRUST: Jesus Cannot Be Hidden

July 9, 2016

In the post TRUST: In Traditions or In Truth, the importance of TRUSTing in the truth of God’s Word over traditions was emphasized. It was noted that traditions do no unlock or unleash the power of God in one’s life, but it is trusting in the truth of what Jesus revealed through His Words and His work/deeds – TRUST: Jesus Cannot Be Hidden

Earlier in Mark 4, we know that Jesus had conveyed that you don’t put a lamp under a bowl/basket or bed, but you put it on a lamp stand. We know that Jesus represents the light that one would get from a lamp.TRUST: Jesus Cannot Be Hidden. Both literally and figuratively, Jesus evidences the truth of that admonition in His next encounter in Mark 7.

There, we learn that Jesus went to Tyre which is a Gentile territory. Let’s see what happened.

Mark 7

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

We know from Matthew 4:24 that news about Jesus healing people spread all over Syria, so we see the importance of testifying or witnessing about what God has done in your life of the life of another. We also know from those acts that Jesus interacted with Gentiles which was contrary to traditions of Jews. Gentiles were considered unclean, but Jesus had already told us what makes one defiled or unclean.  Mark 7 is cross referenced in Matthew 15:21-28. We see Jesus reveal more about His coming. He came to bring salvation to all people not just the Jews. TRUST: Jesus Cannot Be Hidden.

TRUST: Jesus Cannot Be Hidden is clearly made known in this passage. Jesus, though He knew the truth, tried to enter a home without being known. Truth is that people knew the traditions of a Jew entering a home. It was not lawful according to traditions, but in doing so, Jesus evidences that He came for all as well as reiterated that it is what comes out of the heart of man that makes Him defiled or unclean. Jesus was neither by entering the house of the Gentile. He could not be hidden either because news of His arrival in town had spread. We know so because text tells us and shows us by the woman coming to seek healing for her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus again breaks down tradition. He is not only interacting with Gentiles, but He is speaking with a Gentile woman.

TRUST: Jesus Cannot Be Hidden is rooted in the fact that Jesus and all true followers of Him will impact the lives of people. Jesus is showing that He impacted the lives of all whom He came into contact with that sought Him. On the contrary, He is also showing that those who did not seek Him are not helped. Jesus helps those who want help and seek Him. Are you sharing with the world how Jesus has helped you or those whom you know? Jesus desires for you to involved with TRUST: Jesus Cannot Be Hidden. As a follower of Jesus, we must be committed to sharing Jesus and what He has done.

TRUST: Hypocrites Nullify the Word of God

July 7, 2016

According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word for hypocrite is hypokritēs (hü-po-krē-tā’s) which means one who answers, an interpreter, an actor, stage player, a dissembler, or pretender. Strong’s also conveys that hypokritēs primarily denotes “one who answers;” then, “a stage-actor;” it was a custom for Greek and Roman actors to speak in large masks with mechanical devices for augmenting the force of the voice; hence the word became used metaphorically of “a dissembler, a hypocrite.” It is found only in the Synoptists, and always used by the Lord, fifteen times in Matthew; elsewhere, Mark 7:6; Luke 6:42; 11:44 (in some mss.);12:56; 13:15.

At some point in our lives, most of us have either used the word hypocrite or heard someone use hypocrite to describe someone. We may not be familiar with the word dissembler. It is opposing meaning of resemble. Dissembler means to give a false or misleading appearance to; conceal the truth or real nature of. Dictionary.com defines hypocrite as a person who pretends to have virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc. that he or she does not actually possess especially person whose actions belie stated beliefs. TRUST: Hypocrites Nullify the Word of God in their own lives

No one can truly nullify God’s Word. What I mean by nullify God’s Word here is that people who are pretending to follow God’s Word do not allow God’s Word to create the change of heart, mind and character that the Word brings about in a person who applies the principles in God’s Word to circumstances in their lives. Let’s see how Jesus described it in Mark 7.

Mark 7

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Jesus said, “you nullify the word of God by your traditions..” This was a reference to the Pharisees not truly honoring the father and mother as commanded in Exodus 20:12. The New King James Versions translates nullify as such “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”” Rather than take care of their parents, the Pharisees wrongly used the Word to say I cannot use this money to assist you because that money is devoted to God. They were lying. They were acting deceitfully. When we fail to apply the principles in God’s Word to our lives, we are acting deceitfully. Jesus is saying to us that we make the Word have no affect in us when we pretend to live by the Word. This is a pity because one spends the time to look like he/she is following Christ but fails to actually take the matter to heart. The deceitfulness of man’s heart was presented in TRUST: What Defiles You?. To that end, Jesus is saying that hypocrites’ hearts will not be changed and will not be reflective of the principles outlined in the Word of God. TRUST: Hypocrites Nullify the Word of God in their own lives

Where are you? Are you one who fails to apply the Word of God to your life? Are you pretending to be of God, but your heart is far from being willing to consistently surrender your will to that of Christ’s? What traditions are you practicing that leads you away from following God’s Word. TRUST: Hypocrites Nullify the Word of God in their own lives and in the lives of those who follow them. Misleading people away from God is dangerous. Those who do will be held accountable for that sin (Matthew 18:6-9). Jesus went on to connect the hypocrite with one who is defiled or unclean. Why? Because, it is the heart of the hypocrite that is defiled. They hypocrite attempts to deceive, but it is the hypocrite that is truly deceived into thinking that God does not see the wrong in his/her heart. God’s Word is replete with examples of God showing that there is nothing hidden from God’s sight.

TRUST: Hypocrites Nullify the Word of God but only for a short timeEveryone, including the hypocrite, must give account to God. Listen to these references:

Matthew 12:36 – But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.
Luke 16:2 – So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
Romans 14:12 – So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Hebrews 4:13 – Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 13:17 – Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
1 Peter 4:5 – But they will have to giveaccount to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

TRUST: Hypocrites Nullify the Word of God but only for a short time. Repent and believe the Good News about Christ as Savior and Lord.

You must TRUST God not yourself. Believe in His character, who He is, and His power, what He has and can do.