We all have our likes and dislikes. I certainly have mine. For example, somewhere in my process of growing up I was taught that you fix a problem the first time you work on it. The saying I was taught: "If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right." So when I fix something, I want to fix it right.

That formed an important part of my work ethic. I will work hard to do something right the first time, but I hate to fix the very same problem a second time. Focus on what you need to do, do the job right, and truly fix the problem when you work on it.

  1. When God sent Jesus to this world, God was fixing a problem.
    1. The problem was created by Satan the first time Satan deceived people into rebelling against God.
      1. That first human rebellion invited evil to become a part of our world and a part of our lives.
      2. God set in motion His plan to fix, to fix perfectly, what Satan broke by deceiving people.
    2. Stated in a simple way, this was God's plan to fix the problem evil created.
      1. Step one: find a man who would trust God enough to put his confidence in God's promises even when the man did not understand those promises.
        1. That man was Abraham.
        2. Abraham trusted God's promises even when he did not understand them.
      2. Step two: from descendants of that trusting man, produce a nation.
        1. That nation was the nation of Israel.
        2. Israel was and is the descendants of Abraham.
      3. Step three: through that nation create the conditions that would allow God to send His son to destroy the sins of all people.
        1. God worked for centuries in Israel creating the conditions that would allow Him to send Jesus.
        2. God worked through Israel to produce a Savior who would offer salvation to the world.
      4. Step four: when God made Jesus the Savior through his atoning blood and his resurrection from the dead, God would do two things.
        1. The first thing He would do was offer this salvation to Israel.
        2. The second thing He would do was offer this salvation to all people regardless of who they were.
    3. When God sent Jesus on his human ministry, God sent Jesus exclusively to Israel.
      1. When Jesus sent the twelve on what we call the limited commission, he specially instructed them to teach only the people of Israel, only the Jews (Matthew 10:5,6).
      2. He once declared that his ministry was for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24).
      3. Acts verifies that God intended the people of Israel to hear the gospel first.
        1. In Acts 3:26, Peter declared in Jerusalem to an audience at the temple, "For you first, God raised up His servant and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways."
        2. When Paul preached Jesus to the Jews in the synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia, he said that it was necessary to preach to the Jews first (Acts 13:46).
        3. Years later Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
        4. In the missionary journeys of Paul, if there was a Jewish population in the place he visited, he always began preaching first in the Jewish synagogue.

  2. Matthew 15:21-28 records a very interesting incident that occurred in Jesus' ministry.
    1. The scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem began to shadow Jesus' movements and to attack him as he taught.
      1. Once as they increased their confrontations with Jesus, he traveled outside the traditional territory of Israel, outside the area we call Palestine.
        1. This is the only time that the gospels verify that Jesus went outside the Jewish homeland.
        2. He went into the district of the cities of Tyre and Sidon.
        3. This was the area just north of Galilee.
      2. While he was in that area, a Canaanite woman came to him begging him to show mercy and heal her demon possessed daughter.
        1. The first thing I want you to notice is that this was a Canaanite woman, not an Israelite woman.
          1. God commanded the first Israelites who entered the land of Canaan to kill this woman's ancestors because of their great wickedness (Deuteronomy 9:5).
          2. God did not want these wicked people to influence Israel with their evil ways (Deuteronomy 7:1-5).
          3. He did not want the Canaanites to teach Israel to worship their gods.
      3. The second thing I want you to notice is the way this lady approached Jesus.
        1. She called him Lord.
        2. She acknowledged that Jesus was a descendant of King David, and that was one of the important qualifications of the Messiah.
        3. She asked for mercy.
        4. She said the demon was cruel to her daughter.
      4. The third thing I want you to notice is Jesus' initial disregard for this Canaanite woman.
        1. He did not even acknowledge her presence.
        2. He did not respond to her pleading.
        3. He did not say one word to her.
        4. God sent Jesus to the Jews; he was fulfilling God's mission; he was following God's master plan; so he totally ignored her.
      5. The fourth thing I want you to notice is that the woman would not give up.
        1. She continued to follow Jesus.
        2. She continued to beg for mercy.
        3. She would not give up.
      6. The fifth thing I want you to notice is the disciples' reaction.
        1. The disciples became tired of her and her begging.
        2. They asked Jesus to send her away because she was bothering them.
        3. Perhaps that was a request to give her what she wanted so that she would go away.
      7. The sixth thing I want you to notice is what actually happened.
        1. Jesus spoke to the disciples, not to the woman, and said, "I was sent only to Israel, and she is not a part of Israel."
        2. But, when Jesus spoke to the disciples about her, she took that opportunity to bow down in front of Jesus and ask him to help her.
        3. Then Jesus spoke to her for the first time, and, oh, what he said: "It is not proper to take bread away from the children and throw it to the dogs."
          1. Suppose that you begged Jesus for mercy, and he said that to you?
          2. What would you do?
      8. The seventh thing I want you to notice is that the woman agreed that it was not proper to take bread from the children and throw it to the dogs.
        1. "Lord, you are right; I am not one of the children; I am one of the dogs; and it is not right to take anything away from the children and give it to me."
        2. "But, even the dogs get to eat the crumbs."
      9. The eighth thing want you to notice is Jesus' statement.
        1. "Woman, you have a lot of faith."
        2. "May what you wish happen."
        3. What she wished was the healing of her daughter, and it happened.

  3. What do you want from Jesus? What do you want Jesus to do for you?
    1. "I want Jesus to fix this physical problem. I want Jesus to fix this physical situation. I want Jesus to change this physical circumstance."
      1. Is that it? Is that all you want from Jesus?
      2. All you want from Jesus is a miracle to fix something physical?
    2. Miracles that fix the physical are what we are about; miracles that fix the physical are not what Jesus is about.
      1. Miracles that fixed the physical were not permanent.
        1. Every sick person Jesus healed got sick again.
        2. Every hungry person Jesus fed got hungry again.
        3. Every dead person Jesus resurrected died again.
      2. Did Jesus fix all the physical problems in Israel? No.
        1. Did he heal every sick person in Israel? No.
        2. Did he feed every hungry person in Israel? No.
        3. Did he raise every dead person in Israel who died during his ministry? No.
      3. Jesus' physical miracles verified that God sent him to heal spiritual sickness.
        1. Jesus' concern for physical needs proved his love for people.
        2. By compassionately ministering to the physical, Jesus focused people's attention on their greatest sickness, their spiritual sickness.

  4. If Jesus said to you, "Let your wishes become your reality," what would happen?
    1. If Jesus gave you what you wanted him to give you, what would you have?
      1. Would it all be physical?
      2. Would it all deal with this life?
      3. Would it all be spiritual?
    2. If Jesus gave you what you wanted, would it honor God?
      1. Becoming a Christian totally changed Paul's understanding of life and death.
      2. Of himself, Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me..." (Galatians 2:20).
      3. As Paul began his letter to the Ephesians, three times he declared that the purpose of Christian existence is "to praise God's glory" (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).
      4. As he looked death in the face, Paul said, "I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death" (Philippians 1:20).
    3. I have an ambition, a goal for the rest of my life.
      1. Like all who live on this earth, I am physical.
        1. That means I experience aging.
        2. That means I experience trials.
        3. That means I experience sickness.
        4. That means I experience suffering.
        5. That means I will die.
      2. My ambition and goal:
        1. May my aging process honor God.
        2. May my trials honor God.
        3. May my sickness honor God.
        4. May my suffering honor God.
        5. May my death honor God.
      3. May people not say of me, "Wasn't he a great person!" May people say of me, "Didn't he belong to a great God and a great Savior!"
    4. It has taken a very long time to learn this truth, but I have begun to learn it.
      1. Christian living is about honoring God.
      2. Christian obedience is about honoring God.
      3. Christian service is about honoring God.
      4. Christian worship is about honoring God.
      5. For the Christian, dying is about honoring God.

[Prayer: "God, help us learn to honor You. Help us stop blinding the world to Your greatness by showing the world us instead of You."]

Satan has deceived us. He says honoring God has nothing to do with the way we use our lives. Do not allow Satan to deceive you. Whatever happens in your life, use it to bring God honor. Never use religious Band-Aids. Instead, heal your soul in Jesus Christ. Live in Christ and let God fix your heart and mind.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 5 March 2000

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell