Monday, February 22, 2016

An Open Invitation

My Life Group lesson for Feb. 14, 2016, using Lifeway's "Explore the Bible" commentary as a guide ...

FIRST THOUGHTS

Today we’re going to talk about, like “The Godfather,” an offer you must not refuse!

Think of all the events you attend: Weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, anniversaries, graduations, fellowships, how fast does your calendar fill up?

Do you accept every invitation that comes your way?

How many do you get every week?

What kind of invites do you feel the need to decline sometimes? Why?

Jesus offered His hearers a special invitation: come to Him and find rest from their weariness. This invitation included the opportunity to learn from Him and serve alongside Him. The issue was whether the people would accept or decline Jesus’ invitation.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Matthew 11:1-30

*** Jesus began His ministry by teaching the people, caring for the people and healing many, many of disease and deformity.

*** Still, by Matthew chapter 11 there was growing rejection of Jesus in Israel. Jesus was popular when it came to healing and teaching, but the people weren't ready to follow.

*** Chapter 11 begins with John the Baptist having honest doubts about Jesus as the Messiah. But the cities in the verses we'll study today had flat-out rejected Jesus.

--- Jesus wasn’t holding back when it came to those who follow Him:

Matthew 10:14-15 to the disciples being sent out - 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 I assure you: It will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Matthew 10:37-38 - 37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.

PROMISED JUDGMENT (Matt. 11:20-24)

20 Then He proceeded to denounce the towns where most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago! 22 But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until today. 24 But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

*** God is the same then as He is now.

--- Have you ever heard a Bible critic say that the God of the Old Testament doesn't seem the same as the God of the New Testament?

--- Obviously they never actually read it and saw what Jesus said about unbelievers and the ultimate judgment for those who reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

--- What Jesus said here doesn’t have a different tone than OT prophets used, such as Ezekiel 2:4-5: The children are obstinate and hardhearted. I am sending you to them, and you must say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says.’ Whether they listen or refuse to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them.

*** See ya, wouldn't want to be ya!

--- The cities in these verses are where Jesus performed numerous miracles and yet they did not repent.

--- The people in these cities had an opportunity to turn to Jesus. They did not. Therefore their judgment would be harsh.

--- Not much is known about Chorazin. Capernaum was the staging point for Jesus' ministry in Galilee. Bethsaida was the hometown of disciples Peter, Andrew and Philip.

--- Jesus speaks of "woe" to the people just as Old Testament prophets did. The cities of Tyre and Sidon in ancient Phoenicia were frequently warned by prophets. (Isa. 23:1-17; Jer. 47:3-5; Ezek. 28:20-21). Sodom was the worst of the worst, full of sexual immorality and injustice, and yet it would be more tolerable for Sodom (Gen. 18-19) to have sulfur burn them up than the coming judgment against Capernaum.

--- But Jesus says that if the depraved people there had heard about Jesus, then they would have repented and the audacity to reject Jesus by these three prideful Galilean cities was worse.

---He performed more miracles and preached more sermons in and around Capernaum than at any other place during His entire ministry. It was there that He raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead and healed the nobleman’s son. It was here that He healed the demoniac, Peter’s mother-in-law, the woman with the hemorrhage, the two blind men, the centurion’s servant, the dumb demoniac, and the paralytic who was lowered through the roof by his friends.

The people of Capernaum never persecuted Jesus, and few of them even criticized Him. They never mocked Him, ridiculed Him, ran Him out of town, or threatened His life. Yet their sin was worse than if they had done those things. Theirs was not the sin of violence or of immorality but of indifference. (John MacArthur)

--- I sure don't want to be judged like these cities for rejecting Jesus as our Savior, our Messiah, our Wonderful Counselor.

--- Question - How many times have we seen people witness the power of God, but not worship Him or turn to Him?

PROMISED REVELATION (Matt. 11:25-27)

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure. 27 All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.

*** Hippity hoppin’ Easter’s on its way!

--- Jesus says that God has hidden truth from the wise. Easter’s coming up in six weeks. Think of when you hide eggs for your children. When you hide eggs for the littlest kids you just drop them on the ground (because even then they may not get them!), while for older kids you make it more difficult.

Either way, the goal is that the eggs are found.

*** You are cordially invited.

--- The most wise intellectually elites depended on their own wisdom, while spiritual infants require outside help from God. No one can know God by worldly wisdom and learning. The person with the highest IQ cannot figure Him out using brains alone.

--- Pride is the downfall of those who consider themselves the elites. Jesus says to go the other way. Later Jesus stated: “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3-4).

You're not smart enough to figure out God!

--- The theme of wisdom hidden from those who think themselves wise appears frequently in the Old Testament (for example, see Job 12:2; Isa. 19:11-12; Jer. 8:8-9; Ezek. 28:3-12). Paul drew a direct relationship between those who arrogantly claim to have wisdom and knowledge and those who see the message of the cross as foolishness (see 1 Cor. 1:18-31).

*** Answer the call.

--- The Bible says that those whom God calls can receive the message. The Creator must reveal Himself to His creation. We can't know each other unless we reveal ourselves to one another. The only way we can know God is for Him to get down on our level and let us in.

--- At the same time, the Bible also repeatedly stresses the role our free will plays, and Jesus tells His audiences to have ears to hear and all are invited.

--- It's a mystery of God how both divine sovereignty and human responsibility work for our salvation.

--- In verses 20-24 judgment was coming on the residents of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because their free will was to reject the revelation God had given them.

--- Craig Blomberg captures the balance well when he states: “without God’s prior activity none could ever hope to be saved, but God saves only through the free human actions of preaching and conversion.”

*** Question - Think back to your own salvation experience. Can you recall people and/or events that God providentially brought into your life that served as catalysts for your conversion?

*** Jesus, the Son of God.

--- Verse 27 has an extraordinary claim, that only Jesus knows God more than no one else, and that Jesus has all the authority that God has.

--- Think of how a child often reflects his or her father in ways that nobody else does. Jesus did that well.

--- The Gospel of John declares: “No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son—the One who is at the Father’s side—He has revealed Him” (John 1:18). Again, John records Jesus as follows: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Thus, the Father has given Jesus the sole authority and prerogative to make God known. If anyone attempts to approach God by any means other than through Jesus, he will not find Him.

--- Saying that Jesus alone is truth seems out of step in a world that celebrates religious diversity.

*** Question - How should we respond when people label Christians as intolerant for asserting that Jesus is the only way to the Father, with no other alternative?

--- Verse 27 demands that we as the Church have the courage to declare one truth.

PROMISED REST (Matt. 11:28-30)

28 Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

*** No "yokin' around!"

--- When two animals are in a yoke they are connected to one another to pull a plow. The animals are under submission and working hard.

--- Verse 28 makes it clear, ALL can come to Jesus and be saved. The invitation remains open, even for those who had initially rejected Jesus.

--- In the old law, the yoke on the people was difficult. It was a legalistic society where works counted more than faith. The demands of the scribes and the Pharisees went far beyond the demands of God. When the law was said to be the way to salvation is was a “yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

--- Peter captured the contrast well in his address to the leaders of the Jerusalem church on the occasion of their debate about whether to impose circumcision, and thus the law, on Gentiles in order to consider them truly Christian. Peter asked, “why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are” (Acts 15:10-11).

--- Under Jesus, He bears our burdens and provides rest for the stresses that weigh us down. There are still demands on us as Christians, but we have assurance that we have found the Living Water and the Bread of Life. (Bro. Joseph)

--- The “wise and learned,” however, would likely cling arrogantly to the belief that they could figure it out for themselves.

*** Question - Jesus promises that following Him is a life of rest, serving Him is an easy yoke, and bearing His burden is light. What evidence do you see in your life that you have come to Jesus and are experiencing rest?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

Greek mythology tells the story of Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra, or Corinth. Sisyphus had gained a reputation as a dishonest, crafty, and deceitful man. To punish him, the gods sentenced him to roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity, without ever having the ability to reach the top. Just as he would almost reach the top, the boulder would roll backwards, and he would have to start all over again. His curse was to spend eternity expending his efforts on a useless task, being forever frustrated in the process.

The fate of those who try to earn their salvation is much the same, and this was one of the major problems with Judaism. Keeping the law to the point of perfection, to the point that one could make oneself acceptable to God, was impossible. And yet for the Jews of Jesus’ day, this was what was prescribed. It was a heavy burden, one that would wear them out emotionally and spiritually.

Jesus came to set us free from that impossible burden. He came to offer us rest from trying to do the impossible. Only He could do that which was impossible for us to do. In Matthew 11, He offers us that rest.

*** Note the various ways that people responded to Jesus. Some doubted Him, others were unresponsive, and still others drew near to Him. We should not be surprised when people respond in similar ways today.

*** You cannot outsmart God, and you can never do enough works to earn salvation which comes through grace alone.

*** Have you found rest in Jesus? Are you willing to be yoked to Him, to learn from Him, and to walk with Him today?

Monday, February 08, 2016

In His Service

My Life Group lesson for Feb. 7, 2016, using Lifeway's "Explore the Bible" commentary as a guide ...

FIRST THOUGHTS

What things last week did you want to accomplish and ended up left undone?

What factors kept you from doing some of the things on your list? ​​

Sometimes lesser things get in the way of doing more important things.

While we deal with personal matters, we can also feel like we aren't meeting the needs of our church and the community.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Matthew 9:35–10:42

*** So far in Matthew we've talked about the Sermon on the Mount and seen Jesus perform miracles. He was a man of great words and great deeds.

*** Now that there was a large number of people ready to convert into followers, Jesus now extends his authority to his 12 disciples.

*** (If you remember, during the Sermon on the Mount Jesus focused on the disciples while the people listened.) This week we'll see how Jesus focuses on the people and prepares the Twelve to carry out their mission.

MOTIVATED BY COMPASSION (Matt. 9:35-36)

35 Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. 36 When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.

*** Don't be sheepish.

--- A preacher once said, “If you’re going to be a shepherd, you’d better like the smell of sheep.”

--- There was a huge difference between the religious leaders and Jesus. They liked telling people what to do, but didn't care about the people. Jesus loved people. Loving people was what He was all about.

--- Verses 35 and 36 are a great example of how Jesus viewed people. First he saw those that needed a touch from God. Next He saw those that needed guidance. Finally He saw those that He would use to help Him in His mission. (Bro. Joseph)

*** Spread the Good News.

--- Have you ever felt so merciful for someone that your heart ached for them?

--- Matthew says that Jesus felt tremendous compassion for the people. The original language makes clear that it was an emotion that He felt deep inside his gut (the same way our modern culture uses "heart"), so much that He felt compelled to act on their behalf.

--- Jesus went to where the people were, to their villages and their places of worship. He didn't sit on a mountaintop like some guru waiting for them to come to Him.

*** Baa! Baa!

--- Why was Jesus so concerned for us? Jesus often refers to us as sheep. In John 10:11, Jesus contrasted Himself with Israel’s corrupt spiritual guides: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” In John 21, Jesus tells Simon Peter to feed His sheep.

--- But when Jesus compares us to sheep, He’s not exactly giving us a compliment. He’s saying that we are helpless, we are stubborn, we are disagreeable. We need constant supervision. Because a sheep without a shepherd can not take care of itself. A sheep without a shepherd will die.

--- This imagery draws heavily from the Old Testament, comparing shepherds to their leaders. When God informed Moses that he would not lead the people into the land, He commanded Moses to anoint Joshua as successor “so that the Lord’s community won’t be like sheep without a shepherd” (Num. 27:17). According to Ezekiel 34:1-7, Israel’s kings, who were supposed to be good shepherds, were selfish and corrupt. Similarly, in Jeremiah 23, God was grieved by the pitiful state of Judah’s kings and other leaders. As a result, the prophet promised that God would remove these despicable leaders and replace them with righteous guides who would shepherd them and protect them from harm (Jer. 23:1-4).

--- Thus, Jesus was moved to compassion when He looked out at the people of Israel and saw their desperate situation as a result of their lack of leadership.

*** Question - What scenes move you to compassion? How do those scenes compare with what Jesus was observing?

CHALLENGED BY PRAY (Matt. 9:37-38)

37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

*** We need more farmers.

--- Jesus tells the disciples that the work is obvious, but someone has to do it, and they aren’t enough.

--- Using a farming metaphor, there’s a gigantic harvest of people who need to hear the Word, but more laborers – disciples - are needed to gather the harvest. It was time to stop listening and start doing.

--- First, though, Jesus didn't tell them to go and gather the harvest. First he said to "pray" to the Lord for workers.

--- Jesus wanted His followers to learn an important lesson of the harvest: without prayer, the laborers will be insufficient in number and inadequate in power.

--- Think of the challenges the disciples faced in their day. There was no TV, no radio, no newspapers, no social media. To spread the Word they had to do it person to person, walking from town to town on dusty or rocky roads with no guarantee of where they would sleep or what they would eat.

*** Who is Lottie Moon?

--- We've said it before, that if you don't answer the call then God will send someone else to do the work you would have been commended for. One of those people was Lottie Moon.

--- Every Christmas Southern Baptist churches across the United States take up a special offering for foreign missions in the name of Lottie Moon.

--- Charlotte Digges "Lottie" Moon (December 12, 1840 – December 24, 1912) was a Southern Baptist missionary to China with the Foreign Mission Board who spent nearly 40 years (1873–1912) living and working in China.

Raised in a Christian home, Moon was a teacher, but kept getting that tug from God to go tell people around the world about Jesus.

When she was 32 years old she decided to become a missionary and was appointed to China. That’s where her sister Edmonia was already a missionary.

It was tough to reach the untrusting people there at first, but through baking cookies she began to slowly reach the people and tell them about Jesus. She then started schools for girls who largely weren’t getting an education.

In 1912, a terrible famine came to China. Lottie gave her food to the people. But soon she got sick. The doctor said she should go back to the United States to get well.

So Lottie’s friends put her on a ship for the States. But she never made it. She died on Christmas Eve, 1912 while still on the ship. Lottie Moon gave her life so the people in China could learn about God.

(From Baptist Heritage)

COMMISSIONED TO GO (Matt. 10:1-8)

1 Summoning His 12 disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the 12 apostles: First, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. 5 Jesus sent out these 12 after giving them instructions: “Don’t take the road leading to other nations, and don’t enter any Samaritan town. 6 Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge.”

*** The saints go marching.

--- Jesus sends out his 12 disciples in pairs of two.

--- Question – Why was it important to do this?

--- He uses His authority in teaching, healing and over sin and death and delegated it to the disciples. They would perform the same miracles as Jesus did before.

--- This is the only time Matthew uses the term "apostles" to describe the disciples.The Greek word apostolos designates an authorized representative who has the authority of the sender. (2 Cor. 8:23 it's translated as "messengers.")

--- There was a lot of diversity among the disciples. There are two pairs of brothers: Simon Peter and Andrew, and James and John. They were uneducated fishermen. Matthew likely had more education since he formerly served as tax collector. The other Simon was a zealot, indicating his political affiliation. It is remarkable that a Jewish zealot, who would have used violence against Jews that conspired with the Romans, could form a brotherhood with a Roman sympathizer like Matthew. What a testimony of the power of Jesus to transform people’s lives.

--- Their mission was more than preaching the kingdom of Jesus Christ. They also needed to show compassion for the people and meet their needs.

--- They started with the people of Israel because they weren't well-prepared to cross cultural barriers to reach Gentiles. That came later with the Great Commission.

--- Jesus instructed the Twelve to live simply, accepting the hospitality of the people to whom they were ministering. They did not pay for the gospel they received, and they should share it without charge, fully dependent on God for provision.

*** Question - Is Jesus always specific when He gives one of His followers an assignment? How can His assignments be both specific and general?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

Have you ever looked around while in the car on the highway and wondered about all these people?

Where are they going? How different are their lives?

Have you ever wondered how many of them have that inner joy of being a follower of Jesus?

(Probably not that guy who cut you off then went 10 mph under the speed limit.)

*** Are our hearts moved with compassion for the lost? How do we see people: as a nuisance or as sheep who need to know the Shepherd?

*** Jesus showed the disciples how to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the people, then told them it was their turn. Now it’s our turn.

*** Ask what God would have you do as a worker to reap the harvest. Pray that God would send out workers to get it done.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Faith Demonstrated

My Life Group lesson for Jan. 31, 2016, using Lifeway's "Explore the Bible" commentary as a guide ...

FIRST THOUGHTS

What are some examples of the organization and symbols in the military to recognize order and chain of command?

You respect the stripes. There’s a lot of snapping to attention and saluting. Lots of “yes sirs.”

Recognition of authority is important when lives are on the line. Commands must be given and obeyed to bring order.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Matthew 8:1–9:34

*** The past four weeks we studied the Sermon on the Mount and the teachings of Jesus. Today we see Jesus go out and display His authority and power through His deeds. (Jesus was a man of great words and great action.)

*** After His sermon, Jesus immediately healed a leper, a centurion’s servant who was near death (8:5-13), and Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever (8:14-15). Jesus then controlled demonic powers (8:16-17,28-34) and the raging storm (8:23-27).

*** Jesus showed his authority over sickness, of evil, and the earth.

ASK WITH HUMILITY (Matt. 8:5-7)

5 When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony!” 7 “I will come and heal him,” He told him.

*** An unlikely fan.

--- A “centurion” was a Roman officer in charge of approximately 100 men. He would have been a Gentile, someone Jews viewed with disgust.

--- Roman soldiers were despised by Jews, and likewise the soldiers wouldn’t be big fans of those they had conquered.

--- This makes it all the more remarkable that he would come to see Jesus, to believe in Jesus, and to ask for His help.

*** The right attitude.

--- Luke 7:1-10 tells the same story, and both accounts make it clear that this soldier was acting on behalf of a suffering servant, which sets him apart from most Gentiles and Jews.

--- Even though the centurion was a man of authority, he approached Jesus in humility. Luke’s account explains more fully that the request was made on behalf of the centurion by Jewish elders who vouched for the centurion because “he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue” (Luke 7:5).

--- That a Roman centurion would address any Jew, even a recognized teacher like Jesus, with the term “Lord” is remarkable.

--- It’s just as remarkable for a Jew to go to the home of a Gentile.

(Recall the vision given to Peter so that he might be willing to go to the home of another centurion, Cornelius. Peter explained to Cornelius’s household: “You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner” - Acts 10:28.)

--- Yet Jesus was always willing to respond to anyone who approached Him with humility and faith.

ACKNOWLEDGE HIS AUTHORITY (Matt. 8:8-9)

8 “Lord,” the centurion replied, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured. 9 For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

*** Question authority?

--- There’s a popular bumper sticker that says “Question Authority.” It sums up our inner rebellion to anyone telling us what to do.

--- This also affects our relationship with God. We are being taught to question Him as well, not to trust that He will do what He says.

*** The centurion’s faith.

--- The centurion was an authority figure. He spoke and his 100 men did what he said. And he spoke with authority from his superiors, and ultimately even Caesar.

But he knew that Emperor Tiberius wasn’t healing anyone. Jesus could command disease and demons and nature.

The centurion recognized Jesus’ greater status and unlimited authority, so much that he didn’t think himself worthy to have Jesus come to his house.

--- The centurion genuinely believed that Jesus could heal from a distance without even touching the servant.

--- You must ask in faith while believing.

James 1:6-8 - But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.

--- Exercising our faith means we allowing God to do it His way. The centurion trusted that Jesus could do it without being there. How often do we insist instead that God do it our way?

*** Question – What does it mean that we humble ourselves before God?

(Humility is esteeming God more highly than ourselves. With regard to others, we should love them and treat them with kindness and compassion. With regard to ourselves, we should acknowledge that we are God’s handiwork, made in His image. We should celebrate this fact and love ourselves while giving God the glory.)

ANTICIPATE IN FAITH (Matt. 8:10-13)

10 Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! 11 I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus told the centurion, “Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you.” And his servant was cured that very moment.

*** Whoa. (Keanu Reeves face.)

--- Only twice in the Bible does it say that Jesus was amazed at something, and this was the only positive time. The other time was in Mark 6:6 when He was amazed at the lack of faith in His hometown of Nazareth.

*** All are invited to the table.

--- Jesus then throws shade at Israel, saying that He hasn’t found anyone there with such a strong faith as this Gentile scum, so to speak.

--- In a larger context, Jesus is saying that Gentiles are welcome at the table of salvation ("many will come from east and west") with the Old Testament patriarchs. There would be many to spread the faith beyond Israel.

--- Galatians 3:28 - There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

--- Jesus then says that without change the Jewish people will find themselves "in the outer darkness."

--- Jesus' message is that salvation is for everyone, and relying on your ancestry is not a guarantee of God's favor.

Today as well, just growing up in church or having parents who are believers does not automatically give you eternal life. You must be reborn in spirit through grace.

*** Great faith is rare.

--- The only other account in the Gospels where Jesus responded to the request for healing from a Gentile is story of the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to cast a demon from her daughter. After an uncomfortable exchange, Jesus granted her request with the following words: “Woman, your faith is great” (Matt. 15:28). Once again, it was faith that provided the catalyst for Jesus to perform a miraculous deed on behalf of a Gentile.

--- Without entering the centurion’s house, Jesus spoke and the servant was healed right away.

--- Moments like this caused people to marvel that Jesus’ authority was unlike the authority of the scribes, Pharisees, or anyone else they had ever known.

*** Question - What does it mean to you to have faith in Jesus, despite so much pain and suffering in our own lives and the lives of those we love?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

Has your child ever come to you in a bad mood and demanded something from you in a disrespectful manner?

How likely are you to give in when this happens?

What attitude and characteristics do you like your children to exhibit when they make a request? Hopefully respect, humility, kindness, and an acknowledgment of authority.

Our Heavenly Father certainly deserves this as we, His children, approach Him.

*** Matthew 7:11 - If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

--- God loves us and wants to answer our prayers, but we must approach Him with humility, compassion, respect, and faith, acknowledging His authority as we saw demonstrated by the centurion.

*** Do you really believe that what God says is true? Do you trust what the Lord says will happen?

*** Let's try to amaze Jesus with our faith this week!