Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Woman of Faith

Isaiah 49:1-12; Mark 7:31-37 / Exodus 8:1-9

I. A Stranger Wanted Help

A. Jesus went on a short vacation; times of rest may be more important than we sometimes admit. “And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.” (Mark 7:24)

B. Enemies from both sides of the culture were combining to stop Jesus; grace scares evil into unnatural alliances. “Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.” (Acts 4:25-30) see Psalm 2

C. A woman came to Jesus for help with her little daughter who had an unclean spirit. “For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:” (Mark 7:25)

D. The woman was a Greek by culture and ethnically Syrophenician; she was a desperate mother, not a Jew seeking the Messiah. “The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.” (Mark 7:26) Syrophenicia was a territory near Damascus and was distinguished by this name from the people of similar culture found in North Africa. She was a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, an alien to the covenant of promise.

E. Grace does not observe natural human categories and restrictions of race, class, nation, or clan. “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

II. There Was No Normal Reason To Expect Help

A. There is no reason to expect the good things of God when one refuses to become part of the community of grace; mercy begins at home. “But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.” (Mark 7:27)

B. Jesus was not someone casual observers might expected to be open to outsiders.Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matthew 7:6) “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:” (Matthew 10:5)

C. Still, grace is worth a wild try. “And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.” (Mark 7:28) “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:22)

III. Grace Transcends Any Obstacle

A. Jesus granted the appeal. “And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.” (Mark 7:29) “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;” (Ephesians 2:12-14)

B. The woman received what she sought. “And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.” (Mark 7:30)

C. Follow the Syrophenician example; remember what Jesus said about prayer. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11)

Forgive Me

Psalm 51

I. The Psalmist Needed Help

A. David knew he was a guilty sinner and he wanted God to deal with him according to God’s mercy rather than anything he himself had to offer. To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)

B. David believed that God could cleanse him even from sin; people who do not have such confidence in God despair. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2)

C. David freely admitted his guilt and took it seriously. “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:3)

D. Ultimately, sin is always against God primarily; sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” (Psalm 51:4)

E. Sin is inherent in human nature in all generations. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;” (Ephesians 2:1)

II. Renewal Follows Confession

A. God can supply that total transformation which cleans a person from the inside. “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:6-7)

B. The punishment and the scrubbing are worth the pain when the result is a genuinely clear conscience.Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. (Psalm 51:8) “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:5-6)

C. David asked to have all of his sins cleared away from him; only a confident believer would risk bringing such sin to God’s attention. “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.” (Psalm 51:9)

III. With Renewal Comes Rededication

A. God can give a sinner a new heart and a new spirit. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

B. God does not treat people as disposable consumer products. “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. (Psalm 51:11) “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

C. When God restores, the redeemed break out in testimonies of grace. “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” (Psalm 51:12-13) “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15)

D. The power of the transformed life demonstrates itself in the attitudes of changed hearts. “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)

IV. With Rededication Comes New Direction

A. When sinners get beyond themselves, they become interested in the advancement of the entire redeemed community. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 51:18) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.” (Psalm 122:6-9)

B. When a believer starts moving in the right direction, the speed of new life and new productivity begins to increase as well. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.” (Psalm 51:19) “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

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