This Week's Devotional

Greetings in the Name of Jesus!

Death has come to my house this week. My 9 year old daughter's guinea pig, Sniffers, died. Sniffers was a birthday present, one that I was reluctant to give. I had never had a guinea pig as a pet and they look more like a long haired rats to me than anything else. What would a little girl want with a rat? However, after he joined our family and I began to experience how he responded to my care and attention, well, I fell in love with him just like everyone else in the family.

Sniffers reminded me that it is impossible to love a stranger, but if you take a chance and get to know a stranger, and see them as Jesus sees them, you have the capacity from God to learn to love them; and this glorifies God.

Lets begin our devotional with a prayer. I'll begin and you finish.

Holy Father, we live in a fallen world that is divided and filled with fear and hatred, but Lord we want to shine like lights in the word and fill it with the love of Christ. Help us Father, to see all people with the eyes and heart of Jesus so that all will know that we are your disciples and glorify God................. Amen.
In recent weeks Mark's Gospel has shown us that Jesus sent the Apostles out to preach the good news, to heal, and to cast out demons. They returned from their successful campaign weary and in need of rest. Jesus directed them to take their boat to a deserted shore along the Sea of Galilee, however, crowds followed them and kept them at their ministry till evening. Having fed the 5000, Jesus joined His disciples and came to Gennesaret where again they were mobbed by the crowds. Next we read of the confrontation the took place between Jesus and the Pharisees who tried to discredit Jesus and his disciples because they neglected to observe the ceremonial washings that were traditional among the Pharisees.

In this weeks reading Jesus has left Israel and gone to the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon apparently to seek much needed rest in a place where perhaps his fame has not reached.

The twin cities of Tyre and Sidon were well known to the Jews of Jesus day. They're reputation for carnality and corruption went all the way back to their most famous citizen, Queen Jezebel the wife of Ahab, King of Israel.(1kings16- 2kings10) No one would think of seeking a Holy man there, and no good Jew would ever want to associate with any Gentile who claimed this place as their home.

Now open your Bibles to Mark 7:24 and read to verse 30. Read these verses through several times until you grasp the story.

verses 24-26

The most powerful testimony any Church can have is in the good works they do in their community. Those lost in darkness will come to Christ's Church if they see that it is truly a place of love and help. Jesus' reputation had penetrated even into this place of depravity. His reputation for compassion and healing gave this Gentile woman the courage to approach Jesus and beg for his Grace and mercy. She came to him empty handed expecting to be forcefully driven from his presence, but with the hope that he was truly the man he was reported to be.

Is your Church a place of compassion and healing? How about you, would a stranger feel at ease coming to you for help? Would he see the love of Christ in your words and deeds? God's Spirit living in you is the source of these things. Seek them from Him in prayer.

verses 27-28

The children are the Jews, the bread is the ministry of Jesus, and Gentiles were commonly referred to as dogs by the Jews and in their culture Dogs weren't mans best friend, they were considered filthy scavengers. Jesus' words may surprise us, but they would have been approved by the Apostles who stood by and witnessed this event. They viewed the Gentiles as garbage to be avoided at all cost. Jesus was right in their eyes to reject her and send her away.

Jesus, however, knew both her heart and the hearts of the Apostles, and he was about to amaze them all as he tests the faith of the woman and the hearts of His Apostles. The woman's reply is awesome! She accepts the term "dog" for herself and she confesses that her place is indeed beneath the table. In doing this she claims a place in the household of God and a small share of the leftovers of Gods grace. I can picture the Apostle's mouths hanging open in astonishment as they considered the wisdom of her reply and the way Jesus responded to it.

When people come to us in need, with lives in ruin, we need to not only help supply their physical needs but also learn to speak truthfully and lovingly to them about their sin and their broken relationship with God. Not to humiliate them, but to bring them to the only true solution to their problems, Christ Jesus.

verses 29-30

Her response to Jesus, opened the door for God's grace to cast out the demon that plagued her daughter. The Apostles had a lot to think about now. "Is it possible that God's Kingdom will include even the Dogs?" I wonder if Peter, who is most likely the source of Mark's Gospel, remembered this event when in Acts Chapter 10, The Lord sent him to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile to proclaim the Gospel?

It is human nature to draw lines. We naturally assume that everyone who is like "us" is saved and everyone who is not, is lost. We are comfortable to have fellowship with these, but those are separated ones, we mustn't associate with them.

I fear that we spend too much time and energy drawing lines and dividing. Doing this breeds fear and hatred and doesn't promote unity and love. Every time I have been bold enough to get to know someone who calls Jesus Lord, who is not of my Christian background and tradition, I have found that we share much in common. True there are troubling differences in Faith, and frankly, I don't know how to view some of them, however this I do know; I can either embrace them and share with them the love of Christ or I can declare them enemies and wage war with them. Jesus prayer for unity is compelling, read it in John 17.

It is my hope to work toward fulfilling Jesus prayer. CCM has a membership that spans a wide range of perspectives. I rejoice in this.

As Pastor, I will always be faithful to the Scriptures in my teaching, but I realize that I am not 100% correct in all things. I am convinced though, that no matter how different we may be in our understanding of God's Word, if we are truly seeking Him, we will be continually drawing closer to one another. I view it this way,

Now don't laugh, I'm no artist. You and I may be alienated by different views as seen in the base of the triangle above, but as we seek to know and serve God, we draw near Him by His Spirit, and as we grow closer to Him, climbing the legs of the triangle above, we also grow closer to each other.

Our Lord has called us to bridge the Gap and be reconciled to one another and to participate in the ministry of reconciliation bringing together sinner and Savior to the Glory of God.

Let us close with meditation on His word. Look up and read 2Cor5:16-21, and consider your part in God's work in the week to come.

May God Bless You

Greg Spencer

gspencer@execpc.com


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