A Soul Examination

Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you.  – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!  — 2 Corinthians 13:5

Occasionally, I like to take this verse as seriously as possible and take a good, long, hard, look at myself.  In the past, I’ve allowed myself to believe that I was okay when I was not.  I simply look at what God is doing in my life.  What is going well?  What are my convictions?  Am I dealing with them?  Or am I ignoring them?  I must be brutally honest . . . this is one test I do not want to fail.  The King James says “except ye be reprobates” at the end of the verse, which simply means that you aren’t living by Biblical principles.  I don’t think we necessarily need to beat ourselves up during this test, but we want to know with certainty that God is working in our hearts, minds, and lives . . . at least I do.

This past weekend, God did something amazing for me.  I went on what I call “my little prayer walk.”  Lately, I have ended it at the little church that is near my home.  I just sit there and pray for as long as I can.  However, this time was different.  As soon as I sat on the steps, my prayers went up to heaven in one fell swoop.  In the same way God often gives me messages to preach, He took my prayers from me.  It was instantaneous and if I had to write them all down, it would have taken so much time.  I didn’t know what to do.  My plan was to sit there and talk for a while.  I proceeded to just enjoy my surroundings.  I realized that God simply wanted to sit there with me for a while.  No talking.  Just sit there together with Him enjoying everything that my eyes were seeing.  Things like this let me know God is in me and that God is with me.

The very next day, I went to see a band called Demon Hunter in Asheville, NC.  I remember buying their album “The Triptych” probably 15 years ago and thinking, “man . . . these guys are different.”  They were trying to reach a crowd that most religious folks simply wrote off as “going to hell.”  Just being around all that energy and those loud, thundering guitars . . . I don’t know why . . . it just does it for me.  I guess I will forever be a teenager that loves concerts.  I sure look forward to the many we will experience in Heaven.  

Anyway, I tell you this because I enjoyed the time sitting with God at the little church.  I should have enjoyed the concert, but I haven’t enjoyed the past few that I have attended.  You see, I know that there are a handful of religious people that love to stalk my Facebook page and make judgements about me because of my posts.  For whatever reason, I like making posts that give them fuel to say things like, “Look at where he is . . . and he is supposedly a preacher.”  Whereas this was fun the first few times . . . now it is sucking the life and enjoyment out of the things that I love to do and experience.  I’m not simply allowing God to be with me because I’m too busy trying to kick a religious hornet’s nest so to speak.  As I type it out and read it, it sounds so stupid.  It’s like, “Adam . . . what are you doing?”  I know I’ve got to let this one go.  But it is during examinations of my heart like this where I find out what I’m doing well that I need to keep doing, and where I find the things that I’ve just got to stop.  

To him that knows to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.  – James 4:17

I have no idea if this makes any sense to you as readers.  I don’t even know if this is the kind of stuff I should write or if I should keep it to myself.  I just pray that God is honored through my life and that I continue to grow in Him.  If I can help a few people here and there along the way, then that makes my life worth living.  

Lord, more than anything, I want to enjoy You.  I want to be ever so aware that You are with me in all situations.  I’m tired of taking time-outs just to take digs at religious, judgmental, church people who look down their noses on others who don’t keep their rules as well as they do.  Why in the world do I even waste that kind of time?  I’ve been where they are, so more importantly, why am I not praying for them?  Who wants to be the older brother in Luke 15 that can’t even enjoy a celebration for his brother who has come home?  Who should have to be begged by the Father to enjoy a party?  I don’t know, Lord.  Will You please help me to put childish ways behind me?  Will You help me to enjoy absolutely every component of my life.  I’ve read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  I’ve read of how those guys are literally burning and still singing praises to You.  I can’t seem to do it in good things that I should be enjoying.  You have really hooked me up in life.  You’ve given me so much.  Help me to give back to You.  Help me make my life pleasing to You, O Lord my God, and my redeemer.  Amen!

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Do What the Word Says

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  – James 1:22

I have been preaching from James 1:19-27 for a few weeks now.  It takes me back to when I first got saved 31 years ago.  I loved the feeling of praying to Jesus for the first time and just marveled at that feeling of my sins being washed away.  Unfortunately, for several years after that, I would do the opposite of what the Bible teaches and totally ignored what the preachers preached in church.  Disobedience brought me to a low point in my life that I hated.

Notice how the text adds, “and so deceive yourselves.”  The worst thing about deception is that you don’t know you are deceived.  You can sit in church, love a great sermon, get your “toes stepped on,” and leave with no intention of doing anything about what you just heard.  I know because I did it for years.  I honestly thought that because I was moved during a church service, that I was alright spiritually . . . I was deceived.  

The best things I have in life right now are a direct result of obeying God’s word.  I did not want to give up lying and making excuses, those came so easy to my mind and made me feel better about the situations I got myself into.  I didn’t want to give up the way I had treated boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, but it is the only reason I have my wife right now.  I didn’t want to read through the entire Bible the first time . . . it was tough, and it raised more questions than answers, but it was truly the beginning of a brand-new life in Christ.  

Even as I type this before I go to work, I don’t really want to go.  Colossians 3:23 says not only to go, but to “work at it with all my heart like I’m working for the Lord.”  Therefore, I’m going to do it.  He has His reasons, and I want to find out what those reasons are.  I hope and pray that something wonderful happens today because I did something I’m only doing because I love God and I trust Him.  

How about you?  What will you do today simply because the Word says to do it? 

Lord, I feel so wiped out.  Yet Your word says when I am weak, then You are strong.  This means I can go in peace knowing that You are working in my heart, mind, and body.  I don’t want to be deceived and justify everything I do that I know goes against Your word.  I want to honor You with my life.  You have been so good to me.  You’re the best teacher I’ve ever met and the best friend I’ve ever had.  I love You, Lord.  Help me to be a doer of the word for the rest of my life.  Amen.

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Disciples

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  – Matthew 28:19-20

I have gotten to do a lot of cool things in ministry.  I’ve blasted my guitar in praise and worship, led worship with my acoustic, preached on the street, pastored a church, and even had a couple of these WMD’s go into other countries to be read to congregations.  Even right now, I get to do these outside services where everyone who attends wants to be there, there is absolutely no sense of “it is my duty to go to church, now let me criticize and critique everything that is going on.”  All these things are nice, and I’d never want to take them for granted, but there is nothing like making a disciple.

Lately, I’ve been meeting with a couple of guys.  We knew of each other before, but now we share the hardest details of our lives with each other, read the Bible, discuss it, and pray together.  I’ve seen the Holy Spirit just get ignited in these guys.  They get so excited about verses that I remember being excited about years ago.  As they grow spiritually, I feel like I’m growing for the first time along with them.  

There is a woman I’ve been praying with and encouraging in the Lord.  She is growing so fast.  She gets so excited when her devotional says something that pertains to her situation and can’t wait to show me.  A couple of Sundays ago, I baptized her at the park.  When she went under that water, it was like I went with her.  She came up so full of the Spirit . . . so was I.  In my mind, I was rising out of the water at Salem Baptist Church’s baptismal pool at the same time . . . even though that happened three decades ago.  I remember hearing in my head, “This is my son, in whom I’m well pleased.”  I remember thinking, “I haven’t done a thing, and God is pleased with me.”  

I’m saying this because I want you readers to experience the same thing.  Here is what I am asking you guys to do.  Find someone who seems to be struggling with life, and ask them if it would be okay if you could do three things with them:

  1. Get together/call and talk about each other’s struggles
  2. Read and talk about the Bible
  3. Pray together and ask God to move

You might be tempted to think you are doing it all for them.  You might be tempted to think you could never lead such a thing, but the truth is . . . you will grow together!  The truth is that God will give you everything you need for good success. 

Lord, I thank You so much for the people you are letting me lead towards You.  I pray for them right now.  Make them better disciples than I could ever dream of being.  Make them disciples who go and make more disciples in the future.  Help all the readers today to pray and ask You to send them the right people to lead.  I don’t want to die and stand before You without having made a disciple.  Help us to do the Great Commission.  Ignite a revival that sweeps across this nation like never before.  Oh, how we need You, Lord!  Amen!

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Wanna See A Miracle?

My friend Scott McGaha wrote today’s WMD. It really spoke to me and I hope it speaks to you.

“He is not here; He has risen” Matthew 28:6

The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways. I honestly think with me it’s when I’m at my weakest physically, which usually includes the mental and emotional sides as well. The last few weeks have been exhausting, but rewarding, and I thank God for them. The last few years have been devastating, and honestly, I’ve blamed God for them. I’ve been hurt, bitter, angry, sad and perpetually heartbroken. And I thought, not really so much that God could fix it, which He certainly could have, but that God should have, and I was wrong.

So, here I am, after 10 pm on Saturday night, after I worked the past 6 days for the 3rd straight week, then spent another few hours mowing grass, just dying to devour some food and get some sleep, and I heard God speak what I’m about to share. And what I knew was, if I didn’t put it down, it would probably be gone from memory tomorrow. I think God just wants to know how bad do we really want more of Him sometimes, and tonight, pretty bad.

Last Sunday as I was driving to church, I heard a song that was new to me called “Reason To Praise” by Cory Asbury and Bethel Music featuring Naomi Raine, and it touched me deeply. After figuring out what the song was and who sang it, I’ve listened to it many times this past week. And tonight God spoke to my heart through the song as I had it playing.

Let’s just say the last several years, I’ve seen, spoken to and spent much less time with my sons than I would have ever wanted, and it has many, many times crushed me emotionally, physically and yes, spiritually. But in the last few months, my heart and mind have started to see the situation differently. And in the process of learning Eucharisteo and having a constant attitude of thankfulness, it has challenged me to trust God more and more in ways I had not considered. That perhaps “all things working together for the good” didn’t necessarily mean I would personally reap the benefits. And now God has guided me to a place where I realize He is telling me that where I’ve been stuck and staying at, He isn’t there.

Where I’ve been, and I’m sure some of you have also been, is stuck in the grieving phase. You’re stuck at the tomb. Trust me, I’ve been right there with you. You may be grieving a literal death, and I want you to know I am deeply sorry for your loss. But for others like me, we’re grieving what we lost. For me, it was time with my boys. Watching them grow into manhood and helping guide and shape them as they became men. It has broken my heart over and over and there has been this void within my heart that was their place. And I have gone through the grieving process over and over, and honestly I’ve been very, very angry with God.

For some of you it’s been a relationship of some sort, be it a marriage, friendship, etc. Something happened, that person moved on, and you’re deeply hurt. Believe me, I know your pain. I’ve sat at that tomb and wished for one more text or call that sadly never came. Or maybe it’s a job or career. For some it might be unfulfilled potential. For others it’s just the opportunity that got away. The chance. The possibility.

Whether you wanted this or not, this is the hand we’ve been dealt. And if you’re like me, you’ve been stuck outside the tomb or grave of what could have or might have been. In my case, off and on for years. And here’s what God spoke to my heart on Saturday night: I’m not there. Stop sitting by the tomb. Stop hanging out in the graveyards. What’s gone is gone. Jesus is a risen savior!! The lines in the song say this: “out of the grave bursts a revival no tomb can contain” and “When you come around … stones just start rolling away.”

For someone out there, along with myself, it’s time to stop mourning what is now gone. God might have a better job waiting for you if you’ll just start looking. He might have a better marriage for you, if you’ll stop mourning the one that’s been dead for far too many years. I promise you the better life isn’t going to be found in a place of dead things. God doesn’t live amongst the dead, that’s where the demons were hanging out (see Mark 5).

If you want to see miracles, go where Jesus is. He might resurrect your relationships, your career, etc, but, He might have something even better in store for you. He usually does.

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To Love God

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” – Matthew 22:37

We have all heard this commandment.  But the question that I have been thinking about a lot lately is this:  How do we love God?  How do we actually do it?  It certainly isn’t a matter of decision.  It is part of it, but like the great theologian George Strait said, “You can’t make a heart love somebody.”  

If I told you that I loved my wife more than I loved her when we met 22 years ago and spoke of how our love has grown, you might immediately make the same mistake I would make if you told me the same thing.  You might would think that I mustered up some kind of fortitude and have simply held firm to the decision I made to love her when we got married.  I might would even be tempted to accept that praise.  But the truth is that I’ve simply spent time with her.  A lot of that time has turned into quality time.  I’ve experienced her love.  I know what it is like to miss her when she is gone.  We have had an amazing 22 years and I would love to find out what our relationship is like after 22 more.

I have been a Christ follower for 31 years now.  The first few of those years I lived in fear of God.  In my mind, I was a lousy follower, He was angry at me, and in my mind, He constantly had His rod raised to strike me down.  I did not love Him because I saw Him as a harsh taskmaster.  I did not like the alternative of eternity in Hell, so I just kept trudging along going to church and living a defeated life.

Why in the world did I think like this?  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  The answer is a simple one:  I didn’t know Him.

The day I picked up my Bible to read the entire thing was the day my life began to change.  It took me 15 months to read through the Bible.  I didn’t understand most of it, but I understood enough to know that He loved me.  I understood enough that He was not interested in punishing me, but He was interested in changing my heart and my mind.  Slowly, over time, I began to say that I loved Him more as each year went by.  I’ve done things only because He asked me to that I never would have done on my own.  Those things have produced blessings in my life that I would never have received otherwise.  How can I not love Him?

There is this infinite cycle that I believe is created when you give your life to God and begin to live for Him.  The cycle has three parts, and each part constantly grows and constantly keeps moving.  First, you get to know Him . . . through reading the Word, through solid preachers, and through conversations with other believers.  That knowledge will produce love.  You can’t read John 8:1-11 and not love Him.  You can’t help but think, “Is this really the way He treats me?”  Then, that love that has grown inside of you for Him absolutely makes you want to serve Him.  You want to go out and shine your light before men.  God is no longer a have to, but a want to.  As you learn, you will grow. As you grow, you will love.  As you love, you will serve.

Lord, never for a single moment have you been loved by a human as you ought to be loved.  But as You live, I want to grow in my love for You.  I want to meet the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all my heart.  The angels who are close to You constantly cry “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  They must know things I don’t and have experienced things that I haven’t.  Help me to stay in the circle of learning about You, loving You, and serving You.  You are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.  Amen.  

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The Work

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  — 2 Thessalonians 3:10

I am one week and a couple of days into this school year.  I realize that nobody wins a 190-day race in seven days, but I think I have enjoyed this start to school as much as I have any I’ve experienced in the past 25 years.  Some of those years, I have crawled out of the gate and never caught up.  Some years, I sprinted like I was going to conquer the world in just a few days, only to fizzle out before Thanksgiving.  This year, I felt like I walked out of the gate.  I love to read the four words that the Bible uses to describe Enoch in Genesis 5:24. It simply says, “Enoch walked with God.”  A person crawling will get nowhere fast.  A person sprinting will get tired fast.  But a person walking can last for a long time.

In 2 Thessalonians 3 Paul is talking about the attitude that they took towards work when they visited places.  He believed that no person who confessed belief in Christ should be idle.  To be idle is to avoid work.  To be idle is to be without purpose while spending enormous amounts of time doing nothing.  This was happening among believers when Paul wrote this in the first century.  It is happening now.  

I think I’m going to try this for the 2022-2023 school year.  I want to give my absolute best work from the time I get up, until the time I get home . . . usually around 9-10 hours per day.  If I don’t feel like I have given my best by noon, I’m not going to eat lunch.  If I don’t feel like I have given my best after that, I won’t eat supper.  I think I have become slack in being a good example through the work that I do.  At the very least, reading this convicted me.  I’ve seen over the years a lot of teachers get close to retirement and coast.  I’ve also seen them finish well.  By God’s grace, I want to finish strong.  I want to be one of the ones that finish well.     

Honestly, I don’t think this is necessarily a command from God even though it is in the Bible.  This is simply Paul stating the attitude that they took when they were out and about on missions.  They were the example setters.  I really do believe if every Christ follower who reads this today would take the same approach . . . it might just change the spiritual climate of our society.Lord, I know that I am an absolute nobody.  In the grand scheme of things, I am a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  But, Lord, for the little bit of time that I have, with all my heart, I want to honor You.  I want to point people towards You.  Help me keep a great attitude.  Help me go the extra mile.  Help me sustain a solid walking pace.  I just don’t and can’t do this on my own.  Help me be as aware as I’ve ever been in my life of You walking with me every day.  May my eyes be Your eyes, my hands be Your hands, and my feet be Your feet.  Help me do this so I may be asked, “Why do you take all this so seriously?”  May my answer always be the same, “I do it for Him.”  

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The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; — Acts 1:8

I realize that Christians are all over the place with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and how it all works.  You can find preachers who teach that there are no gifts of the Holy Spirit working in today’s world, and you can find ones who absolutely believe these gifts are essential if you are going to be any kind of useful to God.

All I can do is speak from experience.  Here is what I know for sure:  After “receiving Jesus” into my life . . . you know, repeating the sinner’s prayer and then being baptized, I was a pretty religious guy for the next five years.  I went to church and put on a great face every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.  I also did every dumb thing imaginable on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  I looked like I was having fun, but conviction would eat me alive in all those settings.  I could not be happy in church because I was not living right, and I could not be happy in the world because something in me knew I was not living right.  I was in this horrible cycle of sin.  I would sin, tell God, “Please forgive meI’m sorry and I’ll never do it again,” and then repeat.

Things did not change until I went to Fairview Church of God in Seneca, SC.  I will never forget this specific service that had to be designed for me and me alone.  At the end of that service, I found myself at the altar with pretty much the entire church praying over me to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  I left that place completely different.  Within a year, I was able to cut off most of my known sinful activity.  Most importantly, the Bible and prayer went from being a chore, to being a desire.  I would read the Bible and see things that I needed to apply to my life, and then I would do them . . . not out of obligation, but out of love for God.  I couldn’t believe how things had changed.

I have no clue where you are in your walk with the Lord, but you do.  Are you on fire for Him?  Do you desire the Word?  Do you want to be around Him?  Or is He simply a duty or a chore?  I believe with all my heart that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is available for you today. 

For the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy spirit.  – Acts 8:16-17

If I were a believer living in absolute defeat right now, I would do one of two things.  One, I would find me a church where they believe in the Holy Spirit Baptism.  I would let them know that I want it.  Two (and I kind of like this one better), call someone who you are absolutely sure is full of the Holy Spirit, and ask them to lay their hands on you and pray for you to receive the Holy Spirit.  Go to their house or let them come to yours, do it all out loud, and make the biggest deal of it that you can.

I realize all that I’m saying here is pretty hardcore.  I am writing all of this because there are far too many powerless Christians in the United States of America.  

Lord, nothing and no one has changed my life like You.  Will You please change the lives of people through the power of the Holy Spirit?  Lead me to someone that I may place my hands upon and say, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit!”  Change us, Lord.  Help us to truly live this stuff out.  Help us to make a difference in the lives of defeated Christians, and in the lives of those who are completely lost without You.  Amen

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Watching Over Me

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go – Genesis 28:15

So I’m hanging out on my little arbor porch swing.  I have three inside cats and one outside cat.  The inside cats would love to be at least part-time outside cats.  The only problem is that the outside cat is the alpha cat and seeks to absolutely decimate the three inside cats.  She is seriously like the Terminator hunting Sarah Connor. 

Just before I came out here to the swing, I let the three inside cats out.  The cat that loves me the most, Bruno, is the outside cat’s primary target.  As he steps out, he is looking from side to side off the porch.  He is taking the slowest of steps and just seeing if the Terminator is nearby.  He doesn’t realize that I’m watching both sides of the house and he is so safe right now.  He is free to run and play as long as he is in my sight.  There is no way that I will let my outside cat harm him.

I love sitting here and knowing that God is doing me the same way.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m like Bruno . . . just being so careful and tiptoeing every step while the entire time, I have God seeing everything around me that I can’t.  He is not going to let anything happen to me that won’t ultimately work out for my good.

Lord, help me always know that you’ve got me.  Help me to stay as close to You as possible.  There is no safer place.  Amen

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A False Safety in Numbers

The acts of the flesh are obvious:  sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  – Galatians 5:19-21

I have felt for years now that the divide between Christians and non-Christians has been widening.  Respect for Jesus, His church, and the Bible is deteriorating at a rapid rate among people who care nothing about Him and those who have walked away from the faith for whatever reason.  You don’t have to look very far into most political threads to find that, if God is mentioned, there is at least one person boldly denouncing Him with a fairly large count of likes.  To be fair, there are also usually some “bold” Christians who “tell it like it is” and promptly blow any chance of being a true light to anyone in that thread.

I want to zero in on the word “faction” in Galatians 5:20. A faction is a small dissenting group within a larger one, especially in politics.   Before the internet, if you wanted to be a part of a group like this, you would physically have to go and be present.  Now, social media has made it possible for you to be a part of literally any group your heart desires and literally hundreds, if not thousands of other people can make you feel safe and welcome.

In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing, and following their own evil desire. – 2 Peter 3:3

I just took a scroll on my Facebook newsfeed, and within two clicks on two different pages, I was in a large group who only posted things dedicated to mocking all things Christianity.  A scoffer is a person who mocks or makes fun of something, often a religion or moral values.  I’m sure scoffers have always existed, but now there are entire social media platforms dedicated to it.  They are easily accessed.  You can quickly feel a sense of acceptance online that you could never feel before because it was hard to find someone who would blatantly and publicly scoff.  Literally, whatever you want to believe, and whatever immorality you want to engage in, there is a group that will make you feel safe and secure in doing so.  

I’ve learned that the Christian walk, at least my Christian walk, is a difficult one.  It is so hard to keep my heart and mind pure.  Sinners who hate God mock me, people who have walked away from God think I should join them, and religious people who claim to follow God don’t even take the time to converse with me before slandering me and judging my family members.  Don’t get me wrong, I do have solid Christian friends, but even on my own Christian page, there is no safety in numbers.  I’ve probably done as much arguing and defending as I have writing WMD’s.  In the end, all I can do is learn to hear the voice of God, trust Him, and obey Him.  My hope is in Him.  My hope is that He will bring me safely to my eternal home.

Lord, help me stay focused on You.  I want to turn my eyes upon You.  I want to look full into Your wonderful face.  I want the things of Earth to grow strangely dim in the light of Your glory and grace.  Will You please reveal Yourself to those who scoff and mock You and Your Word?  Don’t hold the sin against them.  If they only knew You, they’d never do it.  Help them, Lord.  And help every person reading this that call themselves “Christian.”  Help them learn to hear and discern Your voice.  Help them to truly follow You.  You are and always will be the best things this life offers. Amen. 

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Four Strikes and You’re Still Not Out

“Yes, it is, Lord,” she said.  “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”  — Matthew 15:27

Time after time over the past couple of years, I’ve heard a very similar story when talking about the Lord.  “I used to go to church,” “I just don’t believe that stuff anymore,” and “I just don’t see God doing anything” are very common phrases people use.  I never can tell if they really believe what they are saying, or if they say it simply as an excuse to live as they please . . . it’s probably a little of both.  I remember being where they are now.  I felt the same way.  I’ve just never had the guts to not believe.  In my heart, I think I’ve pretty much always known that God is up there watching.  I’ve never really thought to get mad at Him for not doing things like I would.  

In Matthew 15:21 there begins a story about a gentile woman who comes and asks Jesus to heal her daughter.  She simply asks for mercy because “my daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” (v. 22).  Jesus chooses not to do anything in that very moment.  In fact, it appears that He is not going to do anything.  It seems like He doesn’t care and refuses to help.  I know we Americans love the “three strikes and I’m done with you” rule.  But, if this story is any indication, you might want to give the Lord at least four.

Strike One

Jesus did not answer a word – Matthew 15:23a

There it is.  Silence on the part of our Lord.  Does He even care?  Why won’t He answer me?  I know He has answered the same request for others!  Is He even worth serving?  Is He really there?  All things many American Christians say when they don’t get their wishes granted immediately.

Strike Two

His disciples came to Him and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out to us!”  — Matthew 15:23b

Here is where it gets a little harder to keep our trust in Jesus.  Why?  Because His followers are mean! How many people do not go to church because of the religious hypocrites in the church?  I try not to, but I can think of people who claim to be Jesus followers . . . but they’re just mean.  I can be a little merciful to the disciples in the story because they have only been following Jesus for three years at the most.  I know it takes time, but when people who say they believe plot and scheme to discard me and/or my family, it hurts terribly.  Many times, it gives a lot of weak Christians the ammo they need to walk away from the faith altogether.  

Strike Three

He (Jesus) answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  — Matthew 15:24

Here is the moment that doubt can really start to sink in.  “Maybe Jesus doesn’t heal people like me.  Maybe I’ve done too many bad things.  Maybe I just don’t have enough faith.”  Either way, people quit because they believe they are either excluded, or not good enough.  Yet, even hearing these words straight from our Lord Himself, the lady did not quit.

The woman came and knelt before Him, “Lord, help me!” she said. – Matthew 15:25

One translation said that she “worshiped.”  Something tells me she probably didn’t feel like kneeling or worshipping, but she did it anyway.  I try so hard to keep this in mind.  When I feel like my world has fallen apart, worship Him anyway.  Ask for help anyway.

Strike Four

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  — Matthew 15:26

Ok, now You’re just being mean, Jesus.  I mean, I expect it from Your disciples, they are only human, but You . . . You’re supposed to be above all that!  You are not being like I think You should be right now!  How many of us Americans would have been flat out offended at this point?  Many might have backtalked or even picked a fight with the Lord!  Still, she remained.

“Yes, it is, Lord,” she said.  “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.”  –Matthew 15:26

This woman was immovable. It was an amazing faith that she had in Jesus to not be shaken out.  She knew that there was absolutely no healing apart from Him.  She didn’t care how it seemed that He was, or how it seemed His followers were.  She was staying with the one who had the power to heal and change her situation.  

I’ll let you look up Matthew 15:28 to see how it all worked out.

Lord, thank You so much that I’ve had 31 years of growing in You and in the Holy Spirit.  The more I follow You and do the things You say, the easier it gets because You have turned so many situations around for my good.  I’m sorry that I forget what it was like to follow You when I was young in the faith.  Doubts so easily came to my mind, and I would often give up so easily.  Please help this new generation of young Christians to stick with You no matter what.  Make Yourself real to them just as You have to me and so many others.  Help them to never give up on You.  Help a new generation of skeptics come to You.  Change their lives, Lord, and create new hearts in people who let their lights shine before men.  As always, may all who read today glorify You, our Father in heaven.  Amen

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