For All Nations

The church is for all nations.  Today we begin a new series called One Foundation.  We’re going to see how God made Jesus Christ the One Foundation of the church.  In our Gospel lesson it appears as though Jesus is ignoring or even insulting the Canaanite woman, but rather, he tests the woman, drawing out her faith.  So what does that test look like when we live out our faith?

Jesus knew exactly what he was doing as he tested the woman.  You need to know that God knows you better than you know yourself.  God knows exactly what your limits are.  He knows that when he pushes you to your limits, you will grow.  You will grow because when God kicks every prop, including but not limited to – your car, your job, your health, the health of those around you, your life savings – when those are gone, you must turn to God.  You cling to the crumbs.  You fall back on God’s Word.  God said it, so no matter how horrible this looks, God must be right.  You come out stronger.

Don’t forget that when God tests you, the people around are also benefit.  On more than one occasion the disciple have shown that they do not yet have the depth of faith or spiritual understanding of this woman who from her ethnic background should be a heathen.  What an impact that must have had on them to see her faith that clung to the crumbs of Jesus promises!

What an impact you have on the people around you, when you respond to even the monotony of life with joyful perseverance.  You don’t give up on your spouse.  You take time to spend with your children, and you even take them to church.  How you live has more impact on some people than any number of words I could ever preach.

I can’t end a sermon on prayer without talking about what happens if God doesn’t answer our prayer the way that we wanted him to.  The Canaanite woman had her answer and it was, “Yes, your daughter will be cleansed of her demon.”  Sometimes God in his love and wisdom will answer us no.

The example I want to point you to is of the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh.  He either had malaria, or a speech impediment, or poor eyesight.  He prayed to God three times.  I don’t know if that’s three nights in prayer or three times the thought crossed his mind.  He thought that if this thorn was removed he could be a better missionary.  “Lord, if I wouldn’t lose the forth week of every month due to terrible fevers, or Lord if only I were as eloquent as some of the amazing speakers around me.”  God’s answer to him was, “No.”  My strength is made perfect in weakness.  People would hear the gospel and come to know Jesus because the Holy Spirit changed their heart not because Paul was so eloquent.  Paul wouldn’t be able to move constantly and tirelessly for the Lord and so single-handedly start churches, because maybe Paul would face a horrible fever if he overdid it.  So Paul rejoiced in his weakness, because when he was weak it was at that moment when he was strongest because his strength came not from within himself, but from the Lord Almighty.

When you are struggling with whatever you think it is that makes you weak.  Go to God, wrestle with him.  No matter what God’s answer is, it will be for your good and his glory.  Even if God tells you, “No, my strength is made perfect in this perceived weakness of yours,” you will have gained a tighter grip on the crumb of bread – those promises of God.

How can you share those promises with all nations?  Check out the work we are doing in Bulgaria!  Be sure to find the link to flickr and all the pictures at the bottom of the page.  If you are interested in bringing the for all nations, check out our church body’s work through campus ministry and WELS Mission Journeys.

Check out this Sunday’s sermon taken from Matthew 15 – the first in our series One Foundation.