Do you have faith?
This past week, I saw an article about a man who had great faith. In fact, I do not believe that I have ever heard of a person with greater faith.
See, he wanted an extraordinary blessing of being rich.
He wanted to accomplish this by robbing banks, but was too afraid of being caught. He tracked down a wizard who gave him a spell which when tied to his arm, would render him invisible.
He paid the equivalent of $500 for this special spell. He had so much faith that he believed he would be able effortlessly walk into any bank he wished and walk out with pockets full of money completely undetected.
Evidently, the wizard was a charlatan, as the man was promptly arrested when he walked into a bank and tried to gain access to the teller area.
I have not heard what happened to him, but since he lives in Iran, he is probably running around without a right hand or is dead.
He put his faith in an earthly person instead of God.
Let’s look at another person who wanted an extraordinary blessing and had the faith necessary to receive that blessing.
Please turn to Matthew 15:21-28
Matthew 15:21-28 (NIV)
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
28 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Now, I ask you, why would a woman, who is a pagan, seek out Jesus? She evidently grew up worshiping false gods and idols.
It would make more sense for her to go to the temple of Eshmun, a god of healing. This particular temple is only a few miles from Sidon. Who knows, maybe she had already visited there without results.
She cried out to Jesus, saying “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
Notice that she addresses Jesus as “Lord.” She just could have been addressing Jesus with respect, or maybe it more than respect.
She calls Jesus the Son of David. This shows she was familiar with Jesus’ lineage and importance. She has also heard that Jesus was healing people.
On top of all this, she is asking for Jesus’ Mercy and begging Him to drive the demons from her daughter.
Here is a woman in dire straits and Jesus ignores her! She does not give up and it appears that she keeps pestering Jesus and the disciples.
Instead of sending her away, Jesus answers by telling her He was sent to minister only to the Jews.
Is there anyone here who was born in Prospect Park Pennsylvania? Seeing none, now imagine going to Stanford University Hospital and being told that the doctor would only treat people from Prospect Park!
How would you feel? I would probably turn around and pick another hospital where the doctors would treat everyone. This did not even phase the woman.
She knelt down in front of Jesus and begged for His help. The King James Bible says she worshiped Jesus.
It seems that Jesus does the unthinkable: He calls her a dog!
I need to insert a mini-lesson right here.
I have seen certain people on Facebook use this verse to show Jesus was discriminating against women, because he made her grovel before he helped her. If you search enough on Facebook you can find anything.
However, if you are a person who openly professes their love of Jesus as their only Lord and Savior, you don’t need to search – those comments will come flying at you!
Here is why Jesus was not being mean to this woman.
In Jesus’ time, the Jews referred to Gentiles as dogs. They believed dogs were scavengers and the dogs had a better chance of going to heaven than the Gentiles did.
The word used here is kynarion, which means little dog. You might say, Jesus is using a term of endearment towards the woman.
Here’s another example. All the parents here raise their hands if you have ever called your child your “little pumpkin.” Surely, you didn’t actually think they were a pumpkin, did you?
Now, she readily accepts the name and counters Jesus’ comments with “ “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” ”
When Jesus compared helping her to giving away children’s bread to a dog, she basically said that she didn’t need the bread reserved for the children. She had the faith that just the crumbs of bread the children didn’t eat would be more than enough.
The leftover crumbs of Jesus’ mercy and blessedness would be sufficient to free her daughter of the demons.
This was a very rational argument as she recognized the power that Jesus had.
Such a display of strong faith impressed Jesus and He granted her request. Let’s look at what she did to impress Him.
* * * * * *
First of all, she showed a recognition of Jesus as he Son of David. This is important because the Messiah for the Jews had to be from the lineage of David
We don’t know if she believed Jesus was the Messiah, but it appears she knew about Jewish law and customs and that Jesus was extremely special. She had to have heard that Jesus was capable of driving out demons and healing people.
This woman humbled herself and worshiped Jesus. She was very respectful.
Even as Jesus and the disciples seemed to ignore her, she persisted to beg them.
She was relentless and was not about to give up.
Even after Jesus called her a little dog. She continued to hound him!
She was enthusiastic and full of zeal.
Despite all the stumbling blocks Jesus put in her path, her faith kept increasing!
You might compare her faith as the air you blow into a balloon. The more air you blow, the more difficult it becomes. If you keep up the work, the balloon will eventually burst, freeing the air.
Her faith kept building until she burst through to Jesus.
* * * * *
How can we apply this to our lives to achieve such extraordinary blessings?
The most obvious is to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and recognize that He is God. We recognize that God is all-powerful and there is nothing that He cannot do.
The next thing is to humble ourselves and worship God. We are gathered here to worship God together.
We can also worship God when we work. Everything we do at work serves someone and Jesus has told us to be servants. We can also worship God as we go about our daily lives showing people what Christians are really like.
When I was at my last job, I let my Christianity shine. The last two years there the president of the company approached me and asked me to say a blessing for our Thanksgiving lunch.
One of my coworkers was running into some real bad problems with his family and asked me to pray for him. I even spent some lunchtimes turning to the Bible to show him how Jesus tells us how to solve the problems he was experiencing.
Next, we ask God through Jesus to give us the extraordinary blessings we need. If we don’t ask, we probably won’t get it.
We also need to be persistent. A Christian friend of mine lost his job. We all prayed at church for him to find a job. We prayed at the men’s morning Bible study for God to bless him with a job.
Three years of what seemed like fruitless prayer passed. He sold one of his two cars. The whole family tightened their belts to cut back on expenses. They finally prepared to put their house on the market to sell.
It took over three years, but his persistence finally paid off. Long story made short, he finally got a temporary job that eventually turned into a permanent one.
We need to keep our faith and even strengthen it. My friend’s faith kept getting stronger.
Yes, he often became discouraged and he often became real worried, but he never lost faith in God.
He often said that God’s timing is perfect – and our timing sucks. I have personally adopted this saying.
God came through just in time with his blessings.
I know of someone who committed his life to God several years ago and is now helping to spread God’s word. It took several years but the fruits began to appear in God’s time.
Right here in this church there have been many examples of the combination of faith and perseverance producing extraordinary results!
Persistence is essential. Thirteen years ago, Gregory, the president of a company I worked for, invited me to an after work Bible study that he held once a month for several other company presidents and close Christian friends.
I always found an excuse not to attend. There were servers that needed to be repaired, computers needed fixing and a host of other things just got in the way.
Gregory had the patience, prayed for me and worked for over two years to reintroduce me to Jesus. I tell you that reintroducing me to Jesus was a monumental task and Gregory had the faith and persistence to make it happen.
Extraordinary blessings accomplished through faith are possible. We just need to follow the example of the Canannite woman.
Let us pray…
Help us build up our faith so nothing can discourage us
Give us patience and the strength to persevere
Let our extraordinary blessings be a light to encourage others to accept Jesus and strengthen their faith.
If you have an Extraordinary Blessing you have obtained through Faith, please feel free to share it now.