Eating the children’s crumbs

“Is there hope for me here?” “Filled FIRST?” “Then my turn, it seems, is coming!—but then, ‘The CHILDREN first?’ Ah! when, on that rule, shall my turn ever come!” But ere she has time for these ponderings of His word, another word comes to supplement it. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

The infamous story of a woman who heard the words from Jesus as an invitation to hope.

Jesus looking for something deep inside this mother asking for her daughter to be healed suggested that the domestic nature of the home required the dogs to wait until the meal is over before they receive their portion.  But her need for Jesus to heal her daughter gave her a keen wit where she filled in a blank that He left on purpose – reminding Him that dogs are permitted to eat the crumbs even while the meal is in progress.  She knew there was more.

Just in case this story is new to some, it may seem that Jesus was being prejudicial against Gentiles.  No, this woman saw Jesus drawing her into His parable and her hope was in the word, first. The blessings of the kingdom of God did not exclusively belong to the people of Israel.

Jesus saw a woman before Him and saw that she looked to Him as her only hope.  He saw that she would not be deterred. She pushed through knowing that only Jesus could give her what she needed. Jesus loved her for this and gave her all that she asked for and desired.

For me, Jesus first sentence would have been a rejection and the death of any of my hopes – but for her it was life from the dead.  If Jesus had kept silent, only then would she leave unblessed, but He spoke and that turn of respect meant that she had the open door to hope for more.

Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.  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.”  But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” – Mark 7:26-29

 

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Support and Strengthen

It is no secret that Daniel prayed for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel and for the coming of the kingdom of God.  He knew it was not going to be in his lifetime.  The vision of Jesus and the words spoken to him by the angel were revealed to Daniel with the hope of encouraging him as he faced death.

Daniel was a very old man.  While there was no hope for him to see Israel restored, he placed his hope completely in God’s timetable.  Because he could place his hope in God, he could take his stand beside Darius and support and strengthen him.

We will find ourselves caught in the middle of political and military forces that are greater than ourselves.  We may be considered weak by those in this world, but I think that we are designed to serve and only gives an appearance of weakness.  Let’s face it – the world is not our home – we are pilgrims passing through a foreign land.  Our hope comes from looking to a city whose foundation is righteousness and whose wall are built of God.

It is an indestructible kingdom, that continues on, ever-growing, with the hope of a glorious future in eternity.

So let’s be in the place God has called us to be, let’s serve those He has called us to serve, and let’s come alongside those in leadership to support and strengthen them.

As for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to support and strengthen him.  Daniel 11:1

For A Moment – Elevation Worship

Touch the fringe

J. Dudley Weaver, Jr.   writes a great piece in his post – The Face of Hope. He captures well the essence of hope and how it gives us hope in our pursuit of Christ.

Ever wonder why we cannot fake desperate – it may be because we have never been in a situation where we have tried everything possible and nothing works.  Maybe that is why we see more miracles in our southern hemisphere these days – they have no hope but Jesus – there are no other options.

When Jesus fed the 5,000, we are not told the teachings that Jesus shared but the healing was emphasized and it was a massive event filled with hope.  The crowds around Jesus are a testament to the message of hope He was proclaiming. 

May we be not just a comfortable community, but a community that
strives to bring the comfort and hope of Jesus Christ to a hurting world.

And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. – Mark 6:56

Take nothing for the journey, except…

When the twelve were sent out to be the next generation of missionaries, they knew they were weak and had no expectation of any advantages other than to obey Christ and depend on Him.  So their task was not to amuse people regarding curious matters but rather for those who were listening, they were called to repent of their sins and turn to God.  They took nothing for the journey except hope that they could turn many from darkness to God and to heal souls by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When you think about it, the gospel is the most offensive news one can bring – albeit, we know it to be sweet, true and hope-filled.  Our message – your only hope is in one message and one Man, no other. No need to wonder why the world scoffs and screams at Christianity.

Can you imagine the call to preach – to herald publicly, to towns and villages – the Kingdom of God, a place where you can come into the very sphere where God rules.  A Kingdom of blessing, promise, hope, deliverance and salvation. 

 Maybe because people have so much cultural and material power, we need to find more ways to intentionally dis-empower ourselves if there is going to be any hope of true partnership in mission.  Uncover our assumptions, take on the role of servants and learners and willing to rethink the whole way of doing mission.  We too need to be willing to repent, to make mistakes, and to risk.  By doing so we might experience a true partnership in mission by which the kingdom of God can grow.

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

Jesus intends for the message of the arrival of kingdom hope to spread across the entire globe.

It might mean we must have little so that our little can be a witness to the power of His name.  He will give us power to heal, have empathy for the sick, power to cast out demons, love the sinner, endure pain and rejoice that they might give hope to others.

That is when we can proclaim the Gospel, share the Good News.  We listen to the story of others and then offer hope and truth that they can hear.

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.  Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. – Mark 6:8-9

Heard about Jesus

The woman who was seriously ill, heard reports about Jesus – they were enough for hope to rise within her.

Hope is a fundamental ingredient for faith – without hope, faith does not work.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

Mark introduces this woman to us as someone who was lonely, isolated, impoverished, anemic and possibly dying – hopeless and desperate.  Most would have written her off.

Bless Mark for not taking too much time to interject hope – this woman heard stories of Jesus.  Maybe she heard of the  evil spirit leaving a man.  Maybe she heard of Simon’s mother-in-law taking Jesus hand, or the leper whom Jesus extended his hand to.  Maybe even the paralytic laid down through the roof of a home and Jesus forgiving his sins and told to pick up his mat and go home.  Most likely she did hear the story of the man with a legion of spirits and who lived in a cemetery, set free by Jesus. Somehow she is convinced that if she touches Jesus’ clothes, she will be healed.

Encouraged, she dared to hope for the same for herself.  Her new-found faith made her bold, determined. Since she was legally unclean and also shamed by her illness, she had to slip through the crowd to touch His robe without drawing attention to herself. She only had to touch the fringe of His garment.

She started a different thought pattern that day – this Jesus can cure me, this Jesus
can release me, and set me free. This Jesus can rescue and deliver me. This Jesus can put my life back together, can repair me, and make me whole”

She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  Mark 5:27

Hope for Humanity – Darlene Zschech – You are Love

An everlasting kingdom

Around the grand mosque of Damascus there clusters a vast accumulation of history. On the spot where it stands to-day, after a lapse of nearly 1,400 years, there was originally erected, in the first century of our era, a heathen temple. In the middle of the fourth century this temple was destroyed by the Roman general Theodosius the Great, and on its ruins, in the beginning of the fifth century, Arcadius, the elder son of Theodosius, built a Christian house of worship. This latter house, though for 300 years the Cathedral of Damascus, became in the eighth century a Moslem possession, and far some thousand years it has been used as a Mohammedan mosque. No visit to Damascus is quite complete without a sight of this historic structure. The most interesting feature, however, of this curious building is not its age, nor its history, nor its present prominence, but rather a single sentence engraved upon the vestibule. The inscription is in Greek characters and reads thus: “Thy kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endure throughout all generations.” There, on this Mohammedan mosque, and after ten centuries of Moslem occupation, cut deep in the enduring stone, the Christian record remains–a record of faith, of hope and of confidence on the part of the Damascus Christians in the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God. Almost 2,000 years have rolled away since Jesus Christ opened in Bethlehem the marvelous scene of Divinity in humanity, and still the Church of His grace abides. Other kingdoms have perished, mowed down by the resistless scythe of time–Babylon, Media, Macedonia, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, Rome–each swept away almost as though it had never flourished, while the Church founded on the rock by the humble Nazarene lives and grown And the Church of the future will be more glorious than the Church of the past. “Let us believe and know that Christianity is advancing all the time; that, though men’s hearts may fail them through fear, the Church goes on in God-guided and irresistible movements.” To this happy conclusion of Mr. Gladstone’s must come every intelligent student of history.

Daniel chapter seven paints a picture of the end times – he tries to describe four terrible beasts and they are quite the sight. This vision that God has shared with Daniel continues the message of hope in hopeless times because even though the beasts are terrible the end of the vision is the Lord on the throne.  The message of hope for life and the message about who God is and what He does are all here. What I love about this chapter in particular is that the meaning of the beasts are already explained in the chapter – we have no need to make an interpretation of them, rather just read the meaning and listen carefully to the interpretation given. God is painting a picture. Not every detail has significance but is part of the picture to give us the main message that God is teaching.

The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them. – Daniel 7:27

Lord (I Don’t Know)-Newsboys

Even the wind and sea obey

When we talk about our faith journey, we usually talk about our walk with God.  I see my life as an adventure – I have already seen joy and sadness, challenges and opportunities.  This pilgrimage, if you will, is one where I can see character being built, changing into the kind of person God purposed me to be.  So how important is the time when the storm almost capsized the boat and Jesus woke up and rebuked the storm restoring peace?  It is important if I do not have the strength, hope and light for my journey.  It is if I do not know how to weather the storms in my life in order to make it through. The key to the story – take Jesus with you. 

 

The men traveling with Jesus were quite seasoned men of the sea.  The calm that came was so unexpected.  They were not looking for a gift of calm and I am not sure what they were expecting when they woke Jesus up. They could not have hoped that there would be this profound calm.  Have to admit, He has done the same for me.  He has done what I could never hope to expect.

There are more days where I wonder of His grace.  I had communion last Sunday and instead of finding a whole of sins that needed repenting, I wondered at the welcome I received.  His loving kindness – I admire and marvel that His grace is so contrary to all reasonable expectations.  Such marvels of mercy, wonder and grace give me so much hope.

And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” – Mark 4:41

Salt Of The Sound – Even The Wind And The Waves Obey Him

May the Lord do what seems good to Him

We may hope in God’s blessing. Unfortunately, not all people find their hope and trust in God and in His salvation. 

The Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith has this paragraph that describes the sovereignty of God —

“We believe that God upholds and governs all things—from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of solitary persons—all in accord with His eternal, all-wise purposes to glorify Himself, yet in such a way that He never sins, nor ever condemns a person unjustly; but that His ordaining and governing all things is compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in His image.”

It is this kind of boldness and hope in the face of defeat that depends on this kind of stance when it comes to who God is and how He moves and that is why Joab’s simple expression when surrounded by such a vase army on both sides was so priceless.

When you are in moments where you know you cannot win – hoping to achieve but unable to do so because you are taking shortcuts like looking for peace but unwilling to surrender, looking for joy but not wanting to obey, looking for a closer walk with God while pushing Him away – surrendering to Him is far sweeter than going it alone without Him.

I love that God revealed to us stories like this one involving Joab in His written word and by delivering it to us, guaranteeing it – without His word we would be without hope. 

Be strong, and let us be courageous for the sake of our people, and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” – 2 Samuel 10:12

Mercy Me – Even If

Courage to pray

When we look at the infinite distance we know exists between Creator and His creation, especially in light of a holy God and sinful people, we could imagine that it would be vanity and impious that any request of ours could be heard or that He could be induced to notice it with a reply. However, God has asked us to talk to Him and tell Him of our needs and He has assured us of an answer to our prayer.

So when we see David pray, he shares with us his prayer request but he also tells us in quite a bit of detail the words God uses to respond to Him and the promise that He has given him.  Because of the promise given by God, David being encouraged, found in his heart this prayer – something to great to beg for, but not too great for God to give. Many of us come in prayer to seek, but it must not only be in our mouths, but also in our hearts and that heart needs to be poured out before God.  Our faith and hope are built on the honour of God keeping His promise.

Prayer, minus the elegant tongue or even scripture memorization, demands a sincere heart – one that utters His name in child-like trust desiring no one but Him. God wants to respond immediately to a heart like this – be our security, hope, strength, joy, and supply.  

Such a prayer means that the heart has been renewed for such prayer could never come from a dead, corrupt or stony heart.  If you can pray from your heart, never doubt your relationship with God – you are both in love with each other.  If you are only able to whisper His name, share your heart in weak, feeble and fragmentary words, and you are apprehensive that maybe such a poor, broken prayer cannot be accepted, know that it is not your words, but the desire of your soul that has come before God.  Hope as long as you can, pray, for none who pray believing in the name of Jesus, will be rejected.

For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, “I will build you a house’; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. – 2 Samuel 7:27

Able to deliver

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, a favourite for so many reasons. Three men who had well grounded hope and persuasion of deliverance because of the former testimonies of God’s power and goodness in their lives and in the lives of the other captives in Babylon.  There was more though – they considered the glory of God and they put that up against the king’s defiance of God and his blasphemy against Him.  Hard to believe that God would not take notice.

This story found in Daniel 3 gives us warnings, but most of all it gives us hope in the One who will ultimately save us from the presence and power of sin.

Main principle – God’s power is released through faith. There is little hope of enjoying God’s power in full display if we do not expect Him to release it.

Shame that we look at our trials of life as something we dream or wish God will deliver us from – because it is something we can definitely hope on.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord rescues them from them all. – Psalm 34:19

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had a big God – a God who could do anything – they offer us strong optimism at a time when hope might seem gone.

The clash between the power of God and the forces of the world; deliverance from an unjust death at the hands of the empire; a miraculous “son of god” not bound even by death; hope for physical restoration and resurrection — these are some of the thematic links connecting Daniel 3 and Easter.

God is in control even when His people are suffering and in their faithfulness God’s power moves.  It gives us the ability to thrive now, and a bright hope for the future.  It gives us meaning today and a role of promise tomorrow. 

Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, drum, and entire musical ensemble to fall down and worship the statue that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?”  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter.  If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.”– Daniel 3:15-18