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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Day 37: Matthew 15:21-39 & Psalm 37 - What is Faith and Where Does It Come From?

Today's Reading: Matthew 15:21-39 & Psalm 37

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What is Faith and Where Does It Come From?

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith!
Be it done for you as you desire.”
And her daughter was healed instantly. - Matthew 15:28, ESV

And the disciples said to him,
“Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place
to feed so great a crowd?” - Matthew 15:33, ESV

In today's reading, we have a great contrast in faith between the Canaanite woman and the disciples. The disciples had seen Jesus feed a crowd of 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. They had seen Him do many other miracles, including healing the lame, blind, crooked and mute right before their stunning lack of faith in response to Jesus' request in vv. 32-33. The Canaanite woman has never met Jesus before and probably didn't know much of anything about the LORD, as she was a foreigner and a woman.

So, who would you expect to have more faith, men who were raised in the community of Israel and who had followed Jesus for some time, seeing Him perform many great works or a foreign woman who had heard of Jesus but never met Him before? 

This is the strange nature of faith: True faith is a gift of God's grace. God in His providence ordained the meeting between the unnamed Canaanite woman and Jesus to give her the gift of faith and show the miracle of her faith to the disciples. He then allowed the disciples to see their own lack of faith so clearly, so again they would know the truth about faith:

1. Faith is not given to us because we are male or female.
2. Faith is not given because we are Jewish, Gentile, a religious insider or an outsider to the community of faith.
3. Faith is not given because we have education or experience.
4. Faith does not come from sight. Seeing is not believing, contrary to the popular slogan.

 Faith is a gift of God's grace, given our of love to meet our need by connecting us to Christ. 

Prayer Based in Psalm 37:

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,

    over the man who carries out evil devices! - vv. 1-7

Heavenly Father, I confess to You that I am too easily bothered and disturbed by the evildoers and wrongdoers. I am deeply concerned by what I see happening in the world around me, and my concern can turn to worry and anxiety instead of to prayer and faith. You are the Lord and I know that evildoers will not flourish for long and that Your kingdom will triumph and endure forever.

Lord, give me the grace to trust in You and to focus on doing good instead of on worrying about the evil I see around me. Let me delight myself in You more than anything, to be focused on You and Your glory, to commit my way to You and and to trust in You to act according to Your will. Lord, still my heart before You and give me the grace to wait patiently for You.

Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
    and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
    you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
    spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
    though I sought him, he could not be found.
Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
    for there is a future for the man of peace.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
    the future of the wicked shall be cut off.
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,

    because they take refuge in him. - vv. 34-40   

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