Overcoming Faith

Overcoming Faith

Today, pressures on mothers are greater than ever. It’s got to be the toughest job in the world. Just think of what’s expected of her in our success-driven society:
· Have a successful career
· Keep the house spotless
· Raise perfect children
· Be a great cook
· Look like a model
· Be a charming hostess and conversationalist

There was a study by Michael Minton on the monetary value of a wife’s services in the home. First he listed the various functions she performs. Some of those are:
· Chauffeur
· Gardener
· Family counselor, nurse, tutor
· Maintenance worker
· Maid
· Cook
· Bookkeeper
· Interior decorator
· Caterer, dietician, secretary, hostess

Using this impressive list of a housewife’s work in today’s labor market, He came up with $985/week. That’s $51,220/year! Not counting what she earns outside the home. Men, have you told your wife or mother thank you lately? Let’s do that now.

Matthew 15:21-28 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession." Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. He replied, "It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table." Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Have you ever known a person whose character could be summed up in four words? In verse 28 of our Scripture passage, Jesus said to a Gentile mother: “You have great faith.”

She was a Canaanite woman who came from the country north of Palestine—a country hostile to the Jews. She had at least one demon-possessed child, but that’s all we know about her. We don’t even know her name!

All we know is that in her single encounter with Jesus, He said to her, “You have great faith.” Only 4 words, but they were enough to enshrine her as one of the most faithful mothers of all time!

When Jesus found faith He was delighted and astonished, especially when He found it among people outside the privileges of the Old Covenant. He didn’t always find it in Jewish people or even in His disciples. Not once did He say to Peter, John, or James, “You have great faith.” Quite the opposite, He told them on several occasions, “Oh, you of little faith.” But He said it to this nameless mother from outside the house of Israel!

What did this woman do to deserve such praise from Jesus? For one thing, she overcame great barriers to get to Jesus: 1. She was a woman—women didn’t approach men in that culture. 2. She was a Gentile—that made her untouchable, unclean to a holy man of Israel. 3. She was a Canaanite—an enemy of Israel.

Here was a mother, who in her need, was determined to overcome any obstacle to reach Jesus for help. It is the same for us. Faith requires that we make every effort to overcome whatever barriers may stand in our way to reach Jesus.

Luke 13:23-24 And someone said to him [Jesus], “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

What barriers do we have? We have many, but I’ll mention four common ones.

Time: We’re often too busy with the things of this world to pay attention to the spiritual. We have our priorities out of order. Women (and men) have chosen careers that take precedence over relationships with their children, spouse, and their God. We don’t make enough time for intimacy with Jesus. This barrier is created by our own choices.
Culture: It encourages women (and men) to make themselves number one. Besides, God does not really understand the problems we face in this culture. In this culture, we must be politically correct and God is not. The culture says Christianity is too exclusive, narrow minded, and it enslaves women. Therefore, Christians may be ridiculed, persecuted, and shunned by the culture.

Science: If we can’t see it, does it really exist? If it can’t be substantiated by science, Christianity is just another mythical religion. On the other hand, it is permissible to ignore science when considering the number of genders and when life begins.

Pride: The greatest barrier of all. Many today are like a person who is drowning but refuses help. They have too much pride to admit they are failing or need help. They even fight the rescuer, who is Jesus Christ. He is last on their list of someone to turn to.

So, what motivated this nameless mother to overcome her barriers and get to Jesus? I imagine it was at least 3 things:

1. Desperation: She had probably tried other ways, and all her struggles to help her daughter had failed. Now she was desperate and would seek help from Jesus, regardless of all the barriers facing her.

The same thing is true spiritually. Being a disciple of Jesus is a daily struggle against the obstacles of our flesh, the devil, and the world. We need to remind ourselves of what Jesus Christ always said when He talked about discipleship.

Luke 9:23-24 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

A thing is worth just what it costs. My Redemption cost God everything, and if I am going to be born again it is going to cost me everything. I have to give up my right to myself. I have to deliberately desire the Holy Spirit, who will fight to free me from the devil; who will war against the desires of my flesh, and who will lead me into identification with the death of Jesus Christ. This produces a struggle in me, a struggle I didn’t have before I was saved.

Sometimes we have to become desperate from our struggles before we will sacrifice all to seek Jesus and follow Him.

2. Love: Love for her child motivated this nameless mother. Love made her accept Jesus’ silence and yet still appeal to Him; love made her suffer rebuffs from the disciples, who wanted her to leave.

Washington Irving said, “The love of a mother is never exhausted. It never changes—it never tires—it endures through all; in good repute, in bad repute, in the face of the world’s condemnation (even if her child is on death row), a mother’s love still lives on.”

Love causes a mother to lay down her life for her child and for her home. In a similar fashion, this is what Jesus Christ did for us, and what He calls upon us to do.

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

3. Vision: In spite of her unworthiness, this mother had a compassionate vision of Jesus that encouraged her to make every effort to seek Him. The measure of our faith, is determined by what we see in Jesus. She believed in His power and willingness to help. Do we have that kind of vision of Jesus? Do we see Him as Almighty, as Love, as the Creator of all?

Hebrews 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.

A child runs to its mother about its scraped skin and broken toys. Why? Because mother is where a child finds love and comfort.

Does not God promise His children the same? Things that trouble a child of nature are taken to its mother, and things that bother the child of God ought to be taken to God.

Another thing that this mother did to illicit praise from Jesus was that she persisted. This mother refused to be put off or intimidated. What Jesus said in effect was, “Sorry Madam, but you are not under the Covenant; you have no claim on Me.” Most people would have turned away. Most Christians will quit praying when faced with obstacles.

This mother didn’t try to analyze His response. She simply refused to be deterred by it. She fell at His feet and pleaded with all her heart, “Help me, Lord.” That’s the essence of all great faith—to earnestly seek Jesus with all your heart.

Persistence is the hallmark of godly-motherhood. This nameless mother was persistent. She never gave up. She sought Jesus with all her heart for the sake of her child.

We are apt to think of prayer as a religious exercise. The revelation made here is that even when we don’t have a relationship with Jesus, we can go to Him, and simply cry out, “Help me, Lord!” And for the child of God, there are no obstacles to our prayers.

Hebrews 10:19-23 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

It is our privilege under the New Covenant, to seek God through the atoning and cleansing blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are no obstacles to a believer’s prayer.

Another quality of this mother, that caused Jesus to praise her, was she made no claim of worthiness. She didn’t argue that she was worthy to receive her request or had the same rights as the Jewish believers. She relied on nothing but the GRACE of Jesus.

When our Lord told her that it didn’t seem right to take bread from the children of Israel and throw it to the little dogs of the Gentiles, she didn’t burst into tears and walk away. She didn’t call Him a racist. Instead, she gave Jesus an answer that excited Him!

She said, in effect, “True, Sir. I admit that I have no claim on You, but there must be some extra grace that I don’t deserve, and I’m appealing to You for that.”

No wonder Jesus replied, “Woman, you have great faith.” This mother showed that every obstacle and opposition may be overcome by faith in Jesus Christ and His grace. That overcoming faith in Jesus caused Him to grant her request and heal her daughter that very hour.

So, what does this mean for us?

Is your life messed-up, are you troubled in your soul? If so, don’t blame your father or mother or anyone in your family; don’t blame the fact that you had a poor education, or that you got addicted to drugs when you were sixteen, or that you were divorced when you were twenty-four, or that you had a business disaster when you were thirty. These things may be facts, but they are not excuses.

Nothing that transpires outside us can make the tiniest difference to us morally unless we choose to let it! We can focus on ourselves or our troubles and be defeated, or we can focus on Jesus and overcome them. Focusing on Jesus with all our heart will lead to an intimate relationship with Him and He will lead us to victory.

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

So, don’t despair when faced with a problem. Overcome the barriers that keep you from reaching Jesus. Persist in your faith. Seek His grace which He offers freely to all who will approach Him earnestly in true humility. Pursue a close, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Our relationship with Him should be closer than the relationship we have with our mother.

I will close with a simple illustration. At bedtime, children are sometimes afraid of the dark. Fear gets into their hearts and they cry out. But, when they hear the voice of mother, and all is quieted and they fall asleep.

In our own spiritual experience, it is the same. Some terror occurs and our hearts are suddenly seized with a tremendous fear. If we cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ, we can hear the voice of Jesus saying, “Be not afraid,” and the peace of God which passes all understanding takes possession of our hearts.

Do you have that kind of peace? Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ that is closer than your mother? Mother will not always be with you, but Jesus will. So, give your life to Him today.

If you believe Jesus is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross, make that profession of faith public. Repent of your sin and be baptized. You will be born again of the Spirit of God and His peace will rule over your soul.