Opportunities for Faith

Posted: July 30, 2012 in Matthew

Matthew 15:21-39, “Opportunities for Faith”

The Olympics have just begun, and London is filled with athletes looking to take advantage of the ultimate opportunity: a gold medal.  These young men & women have trained their entire lives for this one moment.  For most, the experience will be exciting, but ultimately disappointing.  For a few, it’ll be worth it all.  What makes the difference?  All things being equal between two athletes of comparable strength & skill, it comes down to which athlete makes the most of the opportunity given to him/her.

We don’t read of athletes in Matthew 15, but we do read of opportunities.  Jesus gives three groups of people opportunities to express their faith in Him.  The first is a Gentile woman, who has a most unusual encounter with Christ, but wonderful results.  The 2nd is a Gentile multitude, who also takes advantage of their opportunity.  The 3rd are the disciples, who despite having the most opportunities of anyone to exercise their faith, completely miss it.  Despite how the people respond, Jesus loves the all & extends His grace.  Jesus loves us as well, and He gives us the opportunity to exercise our own faith.  How will we respond?

Matthew 15:21–39 (NKJV)
21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

  1. Long way away!  A minimum of 30 miles from the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. Why did Jesus go there?  We’re not told.  We know that this was specifically a Gentile area, far from the reaches of Judea, and we know that Jesus’ primary ministry prior to the cross was to minister to the house of Israel (as Jesus later affirms).  Yet what is Jesus doing so far from an area in which Jews lived?  Certainly there could be a few Jews scattered throughout the region, but Tyre & Sidon were historically considered enemies of the Jews, so it would be unlikely to find too many Jews residing there.  Scripture doesn’t tell us why Jesus went, but Scripture does tell us of a person Jesus met while He was there (which we’re about to read).  Perhaps Jesus went to Tyre & Sidon specifically for that one person.  In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep, teaching of a shepherd who left the flock of 99 to go find the one sheep that was lost.  Maybe (just maybe) this woman was the one lost sheep He went to go find.  Certainly this encounter did not happen by coincidence or accident (Jesus is omniscient).  Jesus knew in advance He would meet this woman, and we’re not told of a single other thing Jesus did while He was in the region.  This is the one event Scripture records for us.  Consider the possibility that she WAS the reason Jesus went there, that He went specifically that this woman would find Him & come to faith.  (That ought to change our perspective a bit on the reception Jesus gives the woman when she arrives.)
  2. Jesus knows us individually and loves us individually.  Obviously Jesus loves the world, and died that all the world might repent of their sin & receive His forgiveness and gift of eternal life.  He certainly loves us as a group – the Church.  The Bible affirms this over & over.  At the same time, we need to remember that Jesus doesn’t merely love us as a corporate group, but as individual people.  Jesus called His disciples by name.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who would leave the 99 to save the one.  The Holy Spirit not only indwells the Church as a whole, but every single individual believer in Jesus Christ.  When you came to faith & were baptized into Christ, that happened to YOU as an individual, as you became part of the larger body of Christ.  Jesus loves YOU.  What a grand truth!  Allow that to sink in a bit.  To be sure, we live in a “Me” centered culture when everything is geared to build up the individual, engaging in hedonistic pleasures at will.  That’s certainly not what the Bible teaches, and we don’t want to go to that extreme.  But neither do we want to forget that Jesus DOES love us individually.  He knows you by name.  God knows the numbers of hairs on your head & every need that you have.  What a glorious thing it is to be personally and individually loved by the Almighty Creator God of the Universe!  Out of 6 billion people currently on the planet (and who knows how many throughout history?), God knows YOU & loves you.  That’s a love worth responding to!

22 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.” 23 But He answered her not a word.

  1. This can seem rather cold.  In fact, most of Jesus’ response to this woman can seem rather cold – but again, we need to consider the idea that Jesus came to this far-flung region specifically for her.  At the very least, it’s a theological fact that Jesus knew she would be there & Jesus knew of the conversation they would have.  Be careful not to attribute cold motives to Jesus too quickly.  He knew what He was doing & had a specific plan for doing what He did.
    1. Knowing what we know of God, we want to be careful never to assume the worst about Him.  There are passages in the Scripture where it may be tough to understand what God is doing.  There may be times in our own lives when it’s definitely tough to understand what He’s doing!  During those times, we need to assume the best about God.  It’s been often said, when we encounter things we don’t understand, we interpret those things light of what it is we do understand.  Overwhelmingly, the picture that the Bible paints of God is One who is perfect, holy, loving, and more.  Those are the attributes of God which ought to be our “fall-back” assumptions when we come across something that might otherwise seem cruel or cold to us.  Love assumes the best, rather than the worst.  Wait for the Lord to fully reveal His ways to you & trust Him in the meantime.
  2. What do we know about this specific situation?  The woman was a full pagan Gentile of the area.  Matthew describes her as “a woman of Canaan [who] came from that region.”  Historically speaking, the Canaanites had long perished from the scene.  They had indeed originally lived in that area, but at the time Jesus walked upon the earth there wouldn’t have been a Canaanite to be found.  The term is being used in a more general fashion, referring to a full-blooded middle-eastern Gentile, as opposed to a Roman citizen or other nationality.  This is not a Samaritan who had a half-breed-like association with the God of Israel.  This is not a Roman or a Persian who came from a far-off land.  This is a woman who lived among a group of people who had been fighting against the Hebrews for 1200+ years (from the time of Joshua & the conquest).  This was certainly not a woman awaiting the Hebrew Messiah.
  3. Yet how does this woman address Jesus?  By a Hebrew title: “Son of David.”  She referred to Jesus as her “Lord,” though this did not necessarily mean this was a profession of faith, but perhaps just respect.  But the Hebrew title of “Son of David” was indeed unique.  She’s specifically proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah – the One who inherited all of the promises of God’s covenant with David – the One who would reign over all of the earth, whose kingdom would have no end.  The question then becomes: how would she know and believe such a thing?  Had she been instructed by a Jew in the past?  Had she heard some stories about the wonderful Prophet in Judea?  Had she simply been following the disciples around for a few days & used the same language they were using?  Scripture doesn’t tell us anything about her background, so we don’t know how she knew about Jesus’ identity.  She certainly used all of the right words.  The question simply is: did she understand anything about what she was saying?
    1. There are a lot of people in the same position as this woman potentially was.  They know Jesus is supposed to be God who died on the cross, and they know that someone is supposed to be saved if they believe in Jesus.  They simply don’t know what any of that stuff actually means.  So they say they believe in Jesus & they assume that they’re saved…but in reality they don’t have a clue, and they don’t really have any faith to speak of.  Think of it this way: if I stood here & claimed that Jesus saves & He’s the only way to heaven, but then proclaimed that this pulpit was Jesus, then my profession of “faith” would be worthless.  Words are just words.  A profession of faith doesn’t mean anything if we don’t know what we’re talking about.  It’s one thing to claim with our mouths that Jesus is God & that He saves; it’s quite another thing to know with our hearts that Jesus is the One True Almighty Creator God, and apart from His grace there is no way that anyone can be saved.  The first claim is merely a bunch of words; the second claim defines actual belief.
    2. “Wait a second!  I’m a new believer, and I don’t really know or understand a lot of theology.  Does that mean my faith isn’t valid?”  Absolutely not!  Someone doesn’t need to have a PhD in order to be have a true faith & experience the grace that Jesus offers.  A child can be saved as well as anyone.  The issue is simply this: real faith is more than words.  Anyone can repeat a bunch of words in a prayer, but there’s a huge difference between that and actual heart-change.  Romans 10:9, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." []  Yes, you need to confess with your mouth…but don’t leave it at your mouth – confess with your heart.  Then, you will know you are saved.
  4. The woman’s problem was important.  Her daughter suffered with a case of demon-possession, and she needed Jesus’ help. Whatever she actually believed about Jesus as being the Son of David, she knew this much: this Man could help her.  So she asked Jesus to show her mercy (compassion/sympathy) and help her.  Although the woman could not have known, Jesus had already demonstrated omnipotent power over the demonic realms, chasing demons out by the legion (literally).  This certainly posed no problem for Jesus at all, yet He doesn’t say a word to her.  Seemingly, Jesus doesn’t even acknowledge her presence, but just responds with silence.  What’s going on with that!?  Again, we don’t want to assume the worst of Jesus (we’ve already seen His compassion demonstrated toward Jew & Gentile alike); we want to assume the best.  What could possibly be good about Jesus remaining silent?  Consider this: Jesus knows our heart better than we know it ourselves.  He knows exactly what we need in order to come to faith, if we don’t already have faith in Him.  Jesus’ silence was not an act of cruelty; it was an opportunity for her faith to grow.  We already know how the story ends: the woman receives the healing that she needs for her daughter.  Jesus already knew that He was going to heal the girl; He was just waiting for the right time.  Apparently, Jesus needed to do something in this woman first, before He would act in her daughter’s life.  And for that to happen, He needed to remain silent.
    1. Don’t get discouraged at the silence of God.  It’s an opportunity for you to continue to pray & seek His face.  When God doesn’t answer, it doesn’t mean He wants you to stop asking.  Jesus actually taught a parable about a woman who continued asking, in order that we would learn to continually pray & not lose heart (Lk 18:1).  Jesus remained silent so that this woman would continue to pray, and so ought we!

…And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

  1. It’s unclear what the disciples were actually asking for here.  On one hand, it seems that they just want Jesus to dismiss this woman out of hand because she was becoming an annoyance to them.  On the other hand, there’s a possibility from the grammar that they were asking Jesus to fulfill her request, just so that they could be done with the woman.  Either way, they didn’t understand what Jesus was doing.
    1. Sometimes it’s easier for us to pray that God would send difficult people away, but perhaps God has something else in mind.  Consider what God might want to do in the life of that person, or maybe what God wants YOU to do in the life of that person.  Annoyances can be like sandpaper: it can rub harshly at first, but eventually it rubs off our own rough edges.
  2. Interestingly enough, Jesus still doesn’t respond to the woman, but instead He responds to His own disciples.  Even in His answer, He affirms what He’s saying in that He speaks to the Jews first, then the Gentile.  What Jesus actually says may seem rather odd, but it’s a completely true statement.  God did indeed send Jesus as the sacrifice for the entire world, but He was sent first to the Jews, and only afterwards to the Gentiles.  The Bible affirms this throughout, as God spoke through Isaiah that it was too small a thing to send His Servant only to raise up the tribes of Jacob, but also to give Him as a light to the  (Isa 49:6).  John tells us that Jesus game to His own, but His own did not receive Him (Jn 1:11).  Paul writes that the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Rom 1:16).  God had made promises to the nation of Israel concerning their Messiah which had to be fulfilled first, and only after that would Jesus be shown to the rest of the world.  Obviously Jesus had many dealings with Gentiles (in fact, He had already healed some), but His primary ministry was unto the nation of Israel, according to the plan of God.  Essentially, that is what He reminds His disciples.
    1. Question: “If Jesus was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, how is it that He grants us salvation at all?”  That’s the grace of God.  God’s plan was always to bless the entire world through His promised Messiah – the way He does it is by grafting us into the same promises that He gave to Israel.  We may be born as Gentiles, but in Christ there is neither Jew NOR Gentile.  We may have been born as a people without God, but because of Christ now we ARE the people of God, a holy nation.  The promises given to the Hebrews are the promises in which we share through the grace of Jesus Christ.  We are not Jews, but by faith we are children of Abraham.  Praise the Lord!

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

  1. The woman is persistent, again calling Jesus her “Lord.”  But again, the grammar is unclear if this is a proclamation of faith, or simply a title of respect.  Yet notice how she goes further this time in falling down before Jesus to worship Him.  If she does have faith, we can see it starting to grow here.
  2. Jesus’ response at this point seems the cruelest of all.  Yet this is one of those times in the Scripture in which we wish we could hear Jesus’ tone of voice, or watch the expression of His face.  One could read this as cold, or one could read this as playful.  Jesus isn’t really shutting the woman out, as much as He’s engaging her in conversation, helping her think through some things.  To call a Gentile a “dog” was a common insult from a Jew, but Jesus doesn’t use the normal terminology one would expect as an insult.  Dogs are common feral pests in many 3rd world nations today, and they were the same way in the 1st century Middle East.  Yet occasionally, some dogs were kept as pets.  That’s the specific word Jesus uses here.  He wasn’t calling her a dog of the streets, but acknowledging her as one of the household, but a distinctly different role than that of immediate family.  (Though many of us consider our pets AS immediate family!)  IOW, Jesus took what would have been an ordinary insult & told the woman that she had value, only that His mission wasn’t directly to her, but rather to the chosen people of God (the Hebrew).

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

  1. The woman picks up on Jesus’ reference immediately!  She obviously was not insulted at all, but understood Jesus’ point.  The pets in a household are cared for – the pets in the household are beloved by their master, benefitting off of the love the master shows for the entire house.
  2. Right here – this is where we see the woman’s faith on full display.  (1) She acknowledged her place in the house of God.  It’s not an argument that as a Gentile she deserves nothing less than the Jew, but an agreement that because of who she is, she doesn’t deserve any favor at all, but she has been granted it simply by being beloved by God.  (2) She acknowledges Jesus as the Master.  This is the 3rd time she’s called Jesus “Lord,” but there’s no pretense of Jewish culture here, nor simple courtesy – Jesus is the Master, and she is the one fully submitted unto Him.  (3) She has faith that the Master is abundant in mercy, and not a single kindness is withheld from the Jewish people as the Gentiles also benefit.  The overflow from the Master’s table is more than enough to satisfy the needs of all who are in the house.
    1. This is where we see how her profession of faith has moved from her lips to her heart.  She does more than recite some basic facts about Jesus; she has a firm belief in His basic character.  She knows who God is – she knows who she is in comparison to Him – she knows of the overflowing abundance of love and mercy He has for His creation.
    2. Can you say the same thing about your faith in Christ?  Many people can say some basic facts about Jesus & tell of a time they recited a prayer of salvation, but they cannot say with certainty that they are convinced that they KNOW the God who supposedly saved them.  Do you KNOW Jesus?  Do you know who you are in comparison with Him?  Are you convinced of His love, character, and mercy that He demonstrated at the cross?

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

  1. Amen!  For all those who would accuse the Lord Jesus of coldness and cruelty towards this woman, now His intentions are revealed!  He doesn’t hold her at arms-length, but rather upholds her to all the world as an example of faith.  Peter walked on the water, sank, and when Jesus pulled him up, Jesus told him he was a man of little faith.  Yet this Gentile woman persisted in prayer, did not get discouraged from appealing unto Christ, fully submitted herself in the hands of God believing His goodness – and Jesus affirms the greatness of her faith.  Truly it was great!  (Interestingly enough, the only two times that Jesus ever tells someone how great their faith is, it is in regards to Gentiles.)
  2. The woman’s daughter is immediately healed, and Jesus’ compassion is finally clear for all to see.  Again, remember the omniscience of Christ.  This was no accident; this was the very result that the Lord desired from before this conversation ever took place.  THIS was what the Lord had wanted to do.  Was He going to heal the girl?  Certainly.  But He had bigger plans in mind.  He wanted to give the mother an opportunity to express her faith as well.
    1. Jesus wants to give all of us that same opportunity.  For some, it’s the moment you are to first come to faith in Christ.  For others, it’s the opportunity to trust Jesus in a whole different way regarding the trials you might be facing.  What are you doing with the opportunity you’ve been given?

29 Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there.

  1. We’re not told of Jesus’ direct route, though many scholars believe the “skirted” refers to a long route far north of Herod’s territory.  We do know that eventually Jesus comes around to the southeast of the Sea of Galilee to the region of Decapolis (Mk 7:31).  Decapolis was on the other side of the Jordan from Judea & was another region primarily filled with Gentiles.  Earlier, Jesus had said that He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel, but He’s certainly spending a lot of time among Gentiles along the way!  We know that already the Jews had started to reject Him (He was rejected in His hometown of Nazareth), and that the Pharisees & others were looking for a reason to arrest Him.  As a result, Jesus is spending some time around the people who would listen to Him.

30 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. 31 So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

  1. Jesus had quite a reputation around the Sea of Galilee & multitudes flocked to Him wherever He went.  They knew He could & would heal, and there was no question of His power to do so.  So they went to Jesus like a travelling hospital, bringing every sick person that they could find.  Mark’s parallel account focuses in on one particular miracle, but Matthew gives a much more general account.  Apparently quite an amount miraculous healings occurred.  We’ve read about earlier accounts of the blind, lame, and mute being healed, but this seems to the first account of the “maimed made whole.”  It would seem whole limbs which had been useless or amputated were made well again.  (Sure don’t see that very often!)
  2. As with the woman in Tyre & Sidon, these are miracles done among the Gentiles.  Obviously the region of Decapolis was primarily Gentile, but if there was any doubt, look at their response: “they glorified the God of Israel.”  That’s not a statement that would be written about a Jew; it could only refer to a Gentile’s confession of faith.  They saw the power of God at work, and despite what they may have previously believed about their own false gods, there was no doubt that this was the One True God at work, the God of Israel.
    1. BTW – this is a great standard of how to judge an authentic miracle.  There are a lot of people who claim to do all sorts of miracles all the time.  Here’s the issue: who receives the glory?  If the glory is given to a man or woman, it’s not likely authentic.  If Jesus plainly receives the glory for what had been done, then that’s a good starting point!

32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

  1. This ought to sound quite familiar to us.  Only one chapter earlier, we read almost exactly the same words about the same sort of situation.  The only difference is the number of people present, and the fact that it was the Jews at the first.  There had been many healings, the people had stayed with Jesus for a long time (this time, we read it was for 3 days!), the people were hungry, and Jesus had compassion upon them.  His inner being was moved for them, and He didn’t want them to suffer.
  2. So what does Jesus do about it?  The same thing He did back in Ch 14 when the 5000 were fed.  He called His disciples to Himself & posed the question to them.  “Fellas, here’s the problem.  There are a bunch of people here & they’re hungry.  What should we do?” (HINT, HINT!!)  And how do the disciples respond?  See vs. 33…

33 Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” 34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.”

  1. Can you believe it?!  The disciples respond EXACTLY the same way as they did before!  Here’s this multitude sitting in front of them, hungry.  There’s Jesus right next to them who fed 5000-7000 people with a boy’s lunch, and they’re STILL wondering where they can rustle up enough bread/cash to feed each person more than a few crumbs.  Keep in mind, we don’t know how much time had elapsed from the feeding of the 5000 to this, but come on!  THAT’s an event that would stick in a person’s memory for quite some time!
    1. Before we get too hasty…we do exactly the same thing.  How many times must God provide for us before we learn that God is our provider?  How many times do we question God’s forgiveness before we learn that He really does forgive?  We take the same issues over & over to the Father, never learning from all of the previous times He’s answered us in the past.  And yet He’s so patient with us. 
  2. Jesus is SO patient with them.  Just as He did before, He asks them how much food they have on them.  You can almost see the wheels start to turn in the disciples’ heads when they tell Him the bread and also include the fish along with it.  (Jesus hadn’t asked about the fish.)  It’s a slow learning process, but they’re starting to get it.
    1. Because the feeding of the 5000 & 4000 are so similar, some people have wondered if they are not two accounts of the same event.  Scripture makes it perfectly clear that they are two distinct events.  The locations are different, the type of people are different, the quantities of people are different, the quantities of starting & finishing foods are different, AND Jesus actually acknowledges both events individually in Ch 16.  They are definitely different.  So why the repetition?
      1. First, because it needed to be done.  There was another multitude hungry, and Jesus had compassion upon them.  He was going to care for them just as He cared for the first group.  Who cares if He does it the same way?  He’s GOD…He’s got the right to do what He wants!
      2. Second, because the disciples needed to learn.  Sometimes repetition is our best teacher.  They obviously hadn’t learned the lesson the first time, and they needed to see it again.  They got another shot at a first-hand witness of the supernatural creating power of Almighty God.

35 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 36 And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude.

  1. The exact same events as the first time.  Instead of 5 loaves, it’s 7 loaves.  But otherwise, it’s almost identical.  Jesus sits the crowd down to do things in an orderly fashion.  He gives thanks for the meal (just like any of us do at supper), and started handing things out to the disciples.  The ones who were serving Christ ended up seeing the miracle and serving others, and all were fed.

37 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. 38 Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.

  1. As before, they ate their fill (the Greek implies that they were fattened up like cattle).  This time, 7 baskets were left over, rather than the 12.  Before we think that implies less, we need to note that the word used for baskets is different here – these were seven “large baskets.”  Quite possibly, it was more than the amount left over before – but obviously there’s no way of knowing.
    1. Is the number significant?  Some scholars think so.  With the feeding of the 5000, there were 12 baskets left over, perhaps symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel, and the 12 disciples.  Here, in regards to the Gentiles, there are 7 baskets left over.  Some think this is a reference to the number of completion – i.e., the complete number of those to be saved.  At the very least, the leftovers most definitely point to the overwhelming creative power and provision of Jesus Christ! J
  2. This time, 4000 men were fed, along with an uncounted number of women and children.  If before there were 5000-7000, there may have been 4000-6000 this time total.  The lesser number actually points to the validity of the miracle.  If this was a mythological account, the normal thing to do would have been to inflate the number to try to picture Jesus getting more & more powerful.  Here, the truth points to the accurate testimony of the writer.  Jesus fed 5000 the first time, and 4000 the 2nd.  Matthew records it that way, because that’s the way it was.

Conclusion:
What love and compassion Jesus demonstrated towards the Gentiles!  First He travelled scores of miles to get to a far flung city, finds one woman who is ready to come to faith in Him & Jesus gives her the opportunity – patiently drawing her out, and healing her daughter in the process.  Then He travelled scores of miles in the opposite direction to a multitude of Gentiles who already knew of Jesus’ power, and later gave glory and praise to a God they had not previously worshipped.  On top of the gift of His presence and healing, Jesus demonstrated His compassion even more when He miraculously fed the Gentile multitude in the same way in which He fed the Jewish crowd.

There may be a different role in the plan of God between the Jew & Gentile, but there is no doubt in His love for each!  What glorious news for all the world: the Hebrew Messiah loves the Gentile masses and offers the same grace to us as He does His own people!

How will you respond to that grace?  Right now, Jesus is giving you the opportunity to exercise your faith – how will you respond?  In this case, the Gentiles are far more a good example for us than the disciples.  The Gentiles weren’t sure at first Who they were seeing, but once it became clear, they willingly acknowledged Jesus as Lord, placing their trust in Him.  The woman specifically sought the Lord in earnest, not giving up on Him in spite of what may have otherwise seemed to be difficulties.  The disciples, on the other hand (the ones who lived with Jesus 24/7), hardly even considered the idea of looking to Christ in faith.  They had seen He was God & believed upon Him as such – but their confession of Him made zero difference in their lives when challenges arose.  They still acted as if they hadn’t met Christ at all.

Isn’t that the way it is with so many of us?  When we first believe upon Christ as Lord, we’re amazed & overwhelmed with the things of God.  There’s nothing that shakes our faith, so awestruck we are by our Savior.  Yet as time goes by, we start to rely upon ourselves more & more, neglecting opportunities to exercise faith – and pretty soon we start to acknowledge God with our lips, but live as if He’s not actually there.  Christian: He’s there & He’s just as much God today, as He was on the day of your salvation.  Christian, turn to our Lord Jesus in faith – and cast yourself upon Him in full reliance and trust!

There’s always a first time to turn to Jesus in faith – and perhaps this is the time for some of you today.  Before, you had known about Jesus & maybe even a few key facts about Him, but there was no heart change that went along with it.  Today, walk the same path as that Gentile woman 2000 years ago when she went from basic facts about Jesus (which she didn’t understand) to truly seeing Jesus as HER Lord & Master, fully dependent on the abundance of His grace.  Turn away from your own self-reliance, and turn to Christ Jesus.  Believe Him (truly believe!) to be God in the flesh who died for you (not just for everyone else, but for YOU) at the cross & rose from the grave.  In prayer, ask Jesus to be your Lord & God – to save you & forgive you.  If you do, you can trust that God will be good to His promise: you will be saved.

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