Friday, March 30, 2018


On Wednesday nights I take my children to a church that is not my home church.  This particular church has an AWANA program.  I was raised in an AWANA program, and I credit most of my Scripture memory to that program.  I wanted my children to have a solid Scripture memory foundation, and so I make AWANA a priority.  One recent Wednesday night, one of the men of that church (his wife helps in my daughter's class) came up to me and a friend of mine to tell us how much he appreciated us taking the time each week to bring our children to AWANA.  He recognized how different life was now, compared to when he was raising kids. 

I'm not going to lie to you, some days it is a down and out struggle to get my kids to AWANA.  Some days it would be so much easier to just stay at home.  I have so much going on in my life, and some days all I want to do is stay at home.  But I know that my children are going to benefit from going to AWANA, and I know that my relationship with God, and their relationship with God, is the most important thing in our lives.  I live in the struggle of balancing God and life.  Sometimes it is easier to put life first, because it seems to be more of a pressing issue than God. 

Martha lived in that same struggle.  She realized how pressing life was, and she wanted to make sure to get everything done, and done correctly.  Martha seemed to let the business of life take over.  Sometimes, her relationship with God got put on the back burner. 

Martha's story plays out in Luke 10:38-42 and John 11:1-12:3. 

Luke 10:38-42 
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.  But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;  but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” 

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

Jesus came into the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and began to teach.  Mary was there taking in the teaching, but Martha was busy doing everything else.  I can just picture the scene when Martha goes up to Jesus.  I am sure that she was so frustrated and upset with her sister.  I'm sure she felt like no one was helping her get the work done. 

I, too, get worried and bothered by so many things.  I can completely relate to Martha here.  She wanted the meal and the house to be perfect.  And she expected her sister to be right there with her, taking the same care that she was taking.  But instead, Mary was at the feet of Jesus, listening to what He had to say.  Mary, "chose the good part."  I need to choose the good part, just like Mary.  When so many things fly at me, I need to choose Jesus.  God is eternal.  Everything in this life is temporal.  I need to keep my priorities straight, and put Jesus above everything else, just like Mary did. 

Check out Matthew 6:25-34.  It is time for us (me!) to prioritize all of the things happening in life.  If it isn't for the glory of God, it needs to go.  I can't let things cause me worry or stress.  I must take life one day at a time. 

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your bodyas to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, anyet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

Martha's story continues in John 11.  I'm not going to copy that chapter here, but I do encourage you to read it. Through the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we see the faith of Marth.  Yes, she may have been busy.  Yes, she may have had her priorities out of order on occasion.  But, she still had an incredible faith in God.  Her faith was so strong that she believed Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying.  Her faith was so strong that, even though Lazarus had died, she believed she would see him again in the end times. 

If we could have the faith of Martha and the priorities of her sister Mary, how wonderful would our lives be.  Faith is the thing that keeps me going. I don't doubt my faith in God at all.  But I do need to continue to work on my priorities.  I need to work on choosing the good part and putting my relationship with Jesus above all else. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Syrophoenician Woman

The woman we are talking about today doesn't have a name.  We are calling her the Syrophoenician Woman because she was from Syria.  Her story is shown for us in two places, Matthew and Mark.  We are going to look at both, because each book gives us specific information that is important to learning about the faith of this woman. 

Matthew 15:21-28 
Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.  And a Canaanite woman from that region came out anbegan to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”  But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”  But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”  And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once. 

Mark 7:24-30 
Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of ityet He could not escape notice.  But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet.  Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.  And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.”  And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”  And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left. 

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

At the beginning of this story, we find Jesus in the heart of His ministry.  He was very well known, and He was wanting some time to Himself.  Of course, that is not what happened. 

The Syrophoenician woman was a Gentile from Syria.  She was not a Jew, but she called Jesus Lord, Son of David.  The history of the Canaanite people is given to us in the Old Testament.  They worshipped false gods from the very beginning of time.  They tempted the Israelites away from the One True God many, many times.  Yet, this Canaanite woman recognized that Jesus was the One True God.   

She was asking Jesus for mercy. Mercy is not getting something that you deserve to get.  Grace, on the other hand, is getting a gift that you do not deserve.  She was asking for the Lord to take away the demon that her daughter had.  She recognized that Jesus did not have to take away the demon, but she still asked for mercy.  When the woman asked for mercy, Jesus remained silent, but the disciples wanted her to be gone.  She was obviously being very loud. 

Jesus' mission was to the Jews.  He was sent by God to be the King of the Jews.  Yes, Jesus came to save the whole world.  Yes, I am a Gentile, saved by the grace of God.  But Jesus' ministry was to the Jews.  It was Paul's job to share the "mystery" of salvation to the Gentiles.  This is laid out for us to read and understand in Romans 1:16 and Ephesians 3:1-10.  Jesus' mission was clearly to the Jews. 

But, the Syrophoenician woman held her ground.  She stayed persistent.  She knew that Jesus could save her daughter. Her faith was tremendous. 

Matthew's verses 26 & 27 and Mark's verses 27 & 28 have an interesting exchange of words.  Read it through again.  

Now, read it through using the following words:  
  • children=Israel 
  • bread=salvation 
  • dogs=Gentiles 

The Syrophoenician woman's incredible faith in Jesus healed her daughter and saved her soul.  Just as the Syrophoenician woman did, I must have unwavering faith in God. I have never seen God, but I must still have faith in Him.  I know He works miracles, like healing us when we are sick.  I know He saves souls, as He has saved my soul. Do you have faith like the Syrophoenician woman? 

Psalm 125:1-2 
Those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever. 

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."