For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. Luke 17:24
But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. Malachi 4:2

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Galatians 6:14
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2
Let the motto upon your whole ministry be - "Christ is All!" - Mather

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Trial Showing You Christ Is All Is Unfathomable Love!

I love the story of Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician Woman (Matthew 15:21-28).  I want to name one of my daughters "Phoenicia" after this woman!

There are at least five reasons why this woman could have walked away from Jesus in utter despair of ever being helped by Him.

1. The text says Jesus ignored her (v. 23a). Do you feel ignored by Jesus?

2. The text says the disciples urged Jesus to send her away (v. 23b). Do you feel abandoned by the One Who matters most - Jesus?

3. In the text, Jesus says He was not sent to help her (v. 24). Do you feel like God is not willing to help you, that He has abandoned you?

4. Jesus says it would not be good to help her (v. 26). Do you feel like the goodness of God restrains Him from helping you?

5. Finally, Jesus calls this woman a little dog (v. 27). Do you feel as if God is treating you harshly in your earthly circumstances?

Yet in all this, the she would not let Jesus go! She wrestled with Him by faith, and like Jacob, who wrestled with God and would not let Him go until He blessed Him, this woman wrestled with Jesus until He blessed her!

Her response to Jesus is absolutely beautiful: "And she said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.'  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" (Matthew 15:27-28).

Jesus has a mercy-heart, and the toughness of the test He put this woman through is even more revealing of His great love for her.

Kenneth Baily comments:  "Jesus compliments the woman by giving her a tough exam.  A good coach honors a good runner by placing her in the toughest race." (Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, 226)

Jesus put this woman's faith on display like a world champion, Olympic runner!  Oh how He loved this woman!

I realize I'm often tempted to doubt God's love when He puts me through a test, trial, or hardship.  I might cry out:  "If God loves me, why would He do this to me?!  Why would He allow this to happen?!  Why won't He answer my prayers?!  Why won't He give me what I so desperately want?!"

Yet, it is in the test that He IS loving me.  He is crushing all the idols in my heart so that Christ will truly be all in all to me.  He is a jealous lover Who will take second place to no one and no thing!

The Bible shows us that those who were most greatly loved were also those who were most greatly tested:

1.  Abraham, the very father of all the faithful, was tested to give up his most cherished, beloved son by slaughtering him on the alter of sacrifice.

2.  Job, the blameless one, was tested beyond human understanding - a testing that drove his closest companion to urge him to curse God and die.

3.  Daniel, that man who was so greatly loved of God (Dan. 9:23, 10:11, 10:19), was tested in the dreadful lions den.

4.  The Apostle Paul, the one chosen by God to write much of the New Testament and enter into the third heaven, was a man who suffered stonings, beatings, hunger, loneliness, and all manner of other hardships for the sake of Christ.

5.  Those chosen to be in the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11 were tortured, suffered mocking, flogging, chains, imprisonment, stoning, being sawn in two, killings by the sword, destitution, affliction, and mistreatment.

6.  And, most of all, the most beloved of God this universe has ever seen - the Lord Jesus Christ - He was mocked, beaten, spit upon, nailed to a cross, and suffered the most horrific punishment of any person who has ever lived by bearing the wrath of almighty God for the sins of all those who would ever repent and believe in Him!

Does your trial, affliction, sadness, or unfulfilled desire cause you to doubt God's love for you?  Don't let it.  As His child, it's a reminder of His great love for you!  You are a choice vessel of His love!  He loves you so much that He does not want you to share your love with anyone or anything else but Him.  He wants it all for Himself.  He wants Christ to be all to you, in you, for you . . . so you can share His love with others.

Spurgeon put it this way:
Frequently, when the Lord has an extraordinary mercy to send, He employs His rough and grizzled horses to drag it to our door. The smooth rivers of ease are usually navigated by little vessels filled with common commodities, but a huge ship loaded with treasure crosses deep seas . . .  
Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (John 11:5). They were three of His special favorites, and thus He sent them an extraordinary trial (John 11:1).  
When a dealer in precious gems finds a stone of minimum value, little time is spent cutting it. But when a rare diamond is found, that stone will be cut, and cut, and cut again.  
When the Lord finds a saint whom He loves much, He may spare others trial and trouble but not this one, His well-beloved. The more Jesus loves you, the more of the rod you will feel (Heb. 12:5-6). It is painful to be a favorite of heaven, but seek it and rejoice in it . . . 
You who are God's favorites must not be astonished when trials appear. Rather keep your door wide open, and when trials come say, "Welcome messenger of the King! The sound of your Master's feet is behind you. You are welcome, for my Master has sent you."
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.  Isaiah 30:18

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