AGCC Sun. a.m. 1/16/2000

TEXT:     Mark 7:24-30


Most people discover God through one of two ways, either by a godly example or through some painful experience in their life that makes them search for a greater source of strength than mankind alone can give. In this way, difficulties are a gift from God, provided they draw us toward Him rather than make us harder against Him. It is ironic that difficulties will make some softer, others harder like an old Arab proverb that says, "The same sun that melts butter hardens clay." What does it take to get you to come to God? So often it is brokenness that helps us find Him and helps us discover a wealth of precious fruit in our lives. ILLUS: God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume--it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever. Vance Havner -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 15. God graciously awaits our coming to Him, even in times of being frantic you can count of God being there for you, just come in faith. PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God will always hear the cry of faith, no matter how desperate the situation, no matter how hopeless, no matter how helpless. God always responds to faith.

I. POWERFUL PRESENCE       7:24-25

A. Needed Peace     7:24 1. How often Jesus sought a place of refuge after ministry to the crowds! a. Jesus attempts to get away for a while, to rest from the busy ministry to large crowds He had just completed and no doubt to spend some time alone with His own disciples which needed His instruction and personal attention. b. Going to the territory of Tyre would get Him away from the Jewish crowds, after all this was Gentile territory well west of where He had been ministering. c. He may have decided it was time to spent quality time alone with His disciples, to perhaps instruct them about the many things that they had seen and participated in earlier. d. He assumed a Gentile place well west of where they had ministered would get Him out of the limelight for at least a little while. 2. This should have been a quiet safe place. A place of refuge! a. So often the desire for rest was met with the demands of ministry! b. Always there were people in need, the cry for help could not be ignored! ILLUS: An insurance agent received a phone call from an excited woman. "I want to insure my house," she said. "Can I do it by phone?" "I'm sorry," answered the man, "but I'd have to see it first." "Then you'd better get here right away," exclaimed the woman, "because the place is on fire!" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 478. 3. Jesus never turned down someone in need who came in faith! a. "He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Matt. 20:28 b. The cry of help had come, it was time to respond. 4. Christ can always be found in a crisis, just come to Him as you are, with you needs, and with faith! B. No Peace     7:25 1. A Syrophoenician woman with a desperate need comes when she realizes Jesus is nearby! a. Her heart is in turmoil over her daughter who is demon possessed. b. Syrophoenician people were the descendants of the Canaanites, those wicked idolaters that were suppose to be destroyed and driven out of the promise land in the Old Testament because of their corrupt, lewd, and wicked practices. c. It may well be that some of the wicked demonic worship practices of this people were still ongoing even in Jesus' day which could explain the demon possession of this young daughter. 2. The terror of this mother was great, there was nothing she could do to help her child a feeling many a parent has had over the centuries! a. There was no natural answer to this need. b. No human experts could do anything to help. c. This woman realized she needed something greater than the false gods of the Canaanite religion, she needed a real savior! 3. She comes to Jesus out of desperation! ILLUS:Percentage of people who said a painful event (death, illness, breakup, divorce, etc.) caused them to find a more positive meaning in life: 87% -- Peter Ebersole and Joan Flores, Brain/Mind Bulletin, reported in Bottom Line Personal, 1/30/91. "To Verify," Leadership. 4. Her only hope was with Christ and how true this still is!! II. PANICKED PARENT     7:26-28 A. No Pride     7:26 1. She found Christ, and she falls at His feet and "begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter." a. There was no pride left, perhaps she had even been responsible for leading her daughter down paths that led to this demon possession since the Canaanites had been known for so much filthy idolatry .. the reason God had commanded Moses and Joshua to utterly destroy them from the promise land many years earlier. b. This mother knew what the problem was, she just didn't have an answer OUTSIDE of Christ. c. This is the real issue in the world today, the only answer to the problem of sin is a savior, Jesus Christ! 2. All this mother knew was that she wanted her daughter healed, whatever it took! a. She would beg if necessary, she would plead, whatever was needed. b. There was no room for pride, she needed help! ILLUS:When Luther's puppy happened to be at the table, he looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes; he (Martin Luther) said, "Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish or hope." -- Martin Luther's Table Talk. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 4. 3. We can come to a place where our need is so great that all we can see is Christ! a. This is not a bad place, for it is the place where God will meet us! b. God can do nothing with a proud heart, in fact the Bible says, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (Prov. 3:34, James 4:6) 4. When we come to God we must come humbly, recognizing our weakness and need or He cannot help us! a. When we are as low as we can get the only place to look is "up." b. We can come before hitting our lowest, but often pride keeps us from coming until we hit bottom. B. Necessary Perspective     7:27-28 1. God's plan was to give the offer of the Messiah first to the Jews, they possessed the Word of God and the place of being called to be priests, hence Jesus' comments to this woman about honoring that plan first. a. Jesus may have also been testing this woman's faith. b. What He stated was true, He had come to fulfill the promises of Abraham, and to also reach the world but this was changing the time sequence going to the Gentiles before having reached the Jews first. 2. The Gentile woman however was not deterred, she would settle for even crumbs she just knew Christ was the answer and that her need could not be met anywhere else! a. What a perspective! She knew Christ was God so that even crumbs from the master's table would satisfy her need! b. How could God resist this kind of perspective and faith? c. It is perhaps important to note that Jesus' use of the term "dog" for her was not the usual wild dogs in the street but the loved house pet that was considered a part of the family. 3. There were few in Israel that had this kind of faith in Christ! 4. Her contact with Jesus was all important to her, she knew it would change everything, her whole perspective was built on hope and faith in Christ a formula for a miracle! ILLUS:During World War I, a British commander was preparing to lead his soldiers back to battle. They'd been on furlough, and it was a cold, rainy, muddy day. Their shoulders sagged because they knew what lay ahead of them: mud, blood, possible death. Nobody talked, nobody sang. It was a heavy time. As they marched along, the commander looked into a bombed-out church. Back in the church he saw the figure of Christ on the cross. At that moment, something happened to the commander. He remembered the One who suffered, died, and rose again. There was victory, and there was triumph. As the troops marched along, he shouted out, "Eyes right, march!" Every eye turned to the right, and as the soldiers marched by, they saw Christ on the cross. Something happened to that company of men. Suddenly they saw triumph after suffering, and they took courage. With shoulders straightened, they began to smile as they went. You see, anything worthwhile in life will be a risk that demands courage. -- Gordon Johnson, "Finding Significance in Obscurity," Preaching Today, Tape No. 82. 5. Christ alone will make the difference! Some things never change! III. POWERFUL PEACE     7:29-30 A. New Power     7:29 1. Jesus does not even have to go with this woman to touch her daughter, such great faith is expressed by her. (in Matt. 15:28 Jesus adds this saying "Woman, you have great faith!") 2. Jesus does not see a Gentile, does not see a woman, does not see someone bothering Him when He is trying to rest, He sees FAITH at work, and He rewards it! 3. New power is always released with faith, it doesn't have to be power to change everything around us though this may happen also, it is power to change us! 4. No one who comes to Jesus with faith will leave disappointed! 5. In the middle of a Gentile land full of idolatry she had found Christ so there is no excuse for anyone missing Christ in our land today! a. Even in the midst of darkness and chaos we can find God's power and presence! ILLUS:Christians behind the Iron Curtain in Ukraine and Serbia recently celebrated their Christmas. I was touched when I read a little article about Christmas Day in Sarejevo. The awful warfare was all around them despite promise after promise of a cease-fire. The airport was closed. More than a dozen civilians had already been killed when the article was written. Shelling the residential sections of the city, the Serbian army, just to break morale, caused havoc on Christmas Day. One reporter was downtown when the horrid sounds of indiscriminate shelling died down. And he said, "I suddenly was arrested because from several directions, from several churches, I heard people singing Christmas carols." Friends, that's the spirit it's going to take in the future for Christianity in this nation. Trust in God and don't quit. -- W. Frank Harrington, "When You Really Want to Quit," Preaching Today, Tape No. 138. b. The eyes of faith can always see God even in the midst of great darkness! B. Now Peace!     7:30 1. She arrives back home to find her daughter relaxed and resting now. 2. The daughter that she could not humanly help was now free from bondage, all because of a mom with faith. a. Can our faith have an impact on our children? YES! b. When we as parents are frantic over our children and feel we can't do anything to help them we can! We can always go to God for them! 3. Never underestimate God's power over your children, even when you feel you are at whit's end! 4. This mom went from FRANTIC, to FAITH, to FREEDOM! 5. Her hope in Christ took her down the correct path what path is life traveling? ILLUS:In the presence of hope, faith is born. - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entries 5935-5938. 6. Christ is still waiting for us to come to Him with faith, for our marriages, for our children, for our communities, what would happen if we came with such great faith? a. Where there is no hope, there will be no faith, and where there is no faith there will be no healing! b. Heb 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." 7. What's holding you back? 8. It is possible to move from FRANTIC PARENT to a FAITH PARENT. CONCLUSION:    What does a parent do when they have no control over their lives and their children's needs? One mom found help by coming to Jesus, stripped of all pride she humbly asked for help with tremendous faith - and this made all the difference! Don't underestimate the power of God on your children when you come humbly to Him with faith! If faith can move mountains, it can also move hearts!