Expectation (Matthew 15:35)

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Jesus had become acutely aware of the crowd’s hunger. He had compassion  on them,  because He did not want them to experience a physical crisis as they walked back to their homes from the remote place He was ministering in. So Jesus tells the crowd what they should do at this point in their relationship with Him; “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground.” Jesus wants them to nothing more than expectantly wait. He does not ask them to forage for edible plants. He does not ask them to send runners to town. He does not ask them to financially give so that food can be acquired. He simply tells them to sit on the ground.

Sitting in middle eastern culture is the posture of eating. Jesus knows they are hungry, so He tells them to get ready to eat. To do that they needed to do nothing more than position themselves for the answer to their need, and wait. Waiting by and of itself is not a godly strategy. But expectantly waiting – knowing that the Lord is aware of our need and our inability to do something about our need – means He will respond as only He can respond. 

Psalm 5 says in part, “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

There is something Jesus wants us to do when we are in need of God’s help – something we can do when we cannot do anything ourselves to bring about an answer. That is to wait on Him. He is our Father, and He is good. He will respond. He will answer prayer. 

There are times when our prayers are to be at least partially fulfilled by our own downstream action, and other times when our prayers are fulfilled with nothing more than expectant waiting. It is at such times that waiting is an exercise of faith. It assumes that the one called on will in fact respond, and will in fact respond positively. Waiting is a manifestation – a physical embodiment – of our confidence in His character and our relationship with Him. We sit knowing our need – which is beyond our own effort – is now in God’s hands. 

The Scripture is full of examples and encouragements to wait in faith – especially the Psalms. Psalm 27:6 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 37 verse 7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him,” and verse 34 says, “Wait for the Lord and keep his way.” Psalm 38:15 says, “I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.”  Psalm 130:5-6 says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

If you are right with God and you’ve presented your need to Him and subsequently He says nothing to you – it is time to wait!

The hour must come itself, and so it must simply be waited for.

W. Harris

APPLICATION: Intentionality

To do the ‘regular obedience’ while we wait for God’s special instructions is one of the most important spiritual principles a disciple can practice. 

Without Limit (Matthew 15:32-38)

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“Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these  people; they  have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”  “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.””

Even though the disciples had just witnessed Jesus feeding 5000 people with only five loaves and two fish, they do not consider feeding 4000 with an incrementally greater supply a possibility. Perhaps that is because they still don’t consider ministry and miracles among Gentiles to be something God willingly does. Instead, they focus on the proportion of food supply vs population and find it so wildly unrealistic they disregard their past experience. Effectively, their focus on the poverty of their supply impoverishes their faith.

One wonders what is going through the minds of the disciples in that moment. 

Perhaps they were ashamed. After all, the last time Jesus fed so large a crowd, it was after a single long day of ministry. But here three days have already past, and Scripture says nothing about the disciples looking for food or doing what they can for the practical needs of the crowd during that time. It appears as though the disciples have neglected obvious felt need, and have now been called out by their Master.

Or it may quite the opposite. Perhaps they were frustrated. It may have been that they did bring a supply of food – at least for themselves and Jesus. In their eyes, Jesus had simply waited too long to think about moving on to the next town, and their food supply had just about run out on account of the length of time the ministry had taken. 

But whatever the circumstance, Jesus does not criticize or belittle the disciples. He does not point out their lack of faith, or their lack of preparation. He simply responds to the fact. The people Jesus cares about are needy, and His group does not have enough supply to meet the need in the moment; “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides women and children.”

God’s supply is not limited to our draw of it. If He supplied last time, He can do it again. That doesn’t mean that we should take Him for granted or be flippant about our own responsibility to steward well. Nor should we be frustrated that we need His help so soon after the last time. Nor should we think He will not supply to meet the need of THAT particular people group.

When we are following Christ rightly we can expect Him to supply what we truly need, when we truly need it, to do the ministry He has lead us into. He is faithful, able and willing. We just need to admit our lack, and lean on His capability. 

Christ’s miracles were not the suspension of the natural order but the restoration of the natural order. They were a reminder of what once was prior to the fall and a preview of what will eventually be a universal reality once again–a world of peace and justice, without death, disease, or conflict.

Tim Keller


Praise the Lord, He is generous and kind!

Love That Acts (Matthew 15:32)

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Jesus has been healing the Gentiles in Decapolis. While Matthew’s account reads as   though it’s just been a long day (similar to the feeding of the 5000 on the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee), Jesus indicates it’s been a much longer event, “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.””  

It has been three days, not one long day. Three days of ministry. Three days of healing. Each day has produced a crowd as the ministry saw answers to prayer through Jesus’ work. Mark even notes this in introducing Jesus’ concern for the hunger of those present, “During those days another large crowd gathered.”

Mark’s Gospel also reveals what’s been happening during those three days, “Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.””

Jesus has taken His disciples on a healing mission that has quickly become a significant event in the lives of the whole local population. Importantly, they have seen things they have never seen before. As when Jesus delivered and healed the possessed mute man outside Jarius’ place, this amazes everyone. So much so that the event continues for three days without concern for the necessity of food. It is only as the ministry begins to wind down that Jesus – knowing the crowd will soon need to disperse, finds Himself roused with compassion for their physical well-being. He says, “I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” 

God has compassion on those He made in His image. He has compassion for the lost. He has compassion for the suffering. He has compassion for the hungry. Best of all, God’s compassion is more than just a passing emotion. God acts on His compassion. God’s care transcends emotion and changes it into something much more, He transforms compassion into tangible acts of love. 

But before we get to the miracle wee know is about to happen, we do well to pause and reflect: Jesus takes the time necessary to reach lost people. He ministers to the suffering with both touch and prayer. Even our hunger will not escape His notice, or His provision! 

There is no greater comfort than knowing that the Lord continues to show His compassion to us, working miracles of goodness and mercy out of every situation in our lives

Eugene E. Carpenter 

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

God has compassion. He has compassion on you. He has compassion for you, today. Let His compassion for you spill out to those around you. 

The Goal (Matthew 15:31)

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Jesus’ ministry among the Gentile people of Decapolis has a particular  result. He visited  them with His presence and He ministered to them in healing. As a result, “The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.” 

This is the reason Jesus came; “They praised the God of Israel.” Jesus went on a mission to Gentile people so that God’s glory would be magnified through their praise of Him. This is the point of all missional activity. The point of healing, the point of deliverance ministry, the point of teaching and the point of preaching; Heartfelt worship of God Most High. As John Piper said, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” 

In the same way, making disciples is only helpful when those disciples are worshippers. For this reason, the goal of any church is to raise up worshippers, not attendees. Not even tithers. Attendance and tithing are only outward symptoms of inner worship. They are not the goal. The goal is the worship of God. The goal is the praise of God. The goal is lifting up the Name of Jesus to the glory of God. That is the goal. That is the only goal. 

Yet because that goal is internal to the person involved, it is intangible and arguably impossible to measure. So churches and Gospel ministers measure other metrics, like church attendance, giving and signs of obedience such as baptisms and church service. The result of that is that it becomes particularly easy and almost logical for a minister of the Gospel to make ministry the goal. 

Ministry as a goal does have a benefit. It results in gratitude. But gratitude is temporary. If people are not changed, they are grateful for only a short time. For this reason feeding people, or counselling people, or teaching people, or even preaching to people – is not the goal. It profits the Kingdom very little if we preach to tens of thousands or if we teach hundreds of thousands, and none of them praise God as a result. It is of only temporary value if we feed millions and none of them praise God as a result. These things may be urgent (and they are) and they may result in gratefulness (and they do). But the tyranny of the urgent and the temporary appreciation of the saints should never displace what is most important. 

The most important thing is to bring glory to God. That’s what worship is. Bringing glory to God. All we do must be to that end. Especially when the cost – in terms of time, effort and resources – is large. For Jesus, the cost, time and effort of bringing His band of disciples across the Sea of Galilee in a mission to reach Gentiles was worth the effort and time because of this result, “They praised the God of Israel.” 

May we do likewise. Amen. 

The mission of God’s people is to be agents of that redemptive love of God. We live to bring others to worship and glorify the living God, for that is where they will find their greatest and eternal fulfillment and joy.

Chris Wright

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Why do you do ministry? God knows your heart on that matter better than you do. It’s a good idea to ask Him to check your real motive once in a while.

Objects (Matthew 15:29-31)

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Jesus is still not done teaching the disciples that different nations (the Greek  is ‘ethne’,  meaning people groups) are just as important in His eyes as the Jewish nation. After teaching about the true nature of uncleanness, He brought His band to a fully Gentile region and tested their response to a Canaanite woman in distress. Delivering her daughter, Jesus moves to show the disciples the full acceptance of God of the ‘unclean’ people of non-Jewish origin; 

“Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.”

This took place in Decapolis – a distinctly Gentile region on the far side of the Sea of Galilee. The similarity of that scene would have been striking to the disciples, who previously watched the same thing unfold in both Jewish Galilee and Syria. It was a reminder that Jesus hadn’t actually taught them anything new. Just that He had been consistent in regarding the Good News of the kingdom and its manifestation as being for all people. 

Recall how Matthew saw the same at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.”  Further, He had done the same in Israel proper, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.”

In the Decapolis, Jesus hasn’t changed his method or His compassion, He has simply changed His location. His response to sinful people who have lost their way back to God is exactly the same – He teaches, preaches, heals and (when necessary) delivers. He does exactly what He demonstrated to and charged His disciples in doing. It is perhaps the single most ‘object’ of all the object lessons Jesus exercised in teaching His disciples.

It is a lesson we in the Western church must pay attention to as well. For the most part the Western church – now in the midst of a secular and post-truth society – has forgotten  the value of both ministering in power and the value of reaching ‘the other’. For many churches, the pandemic (when God forced us to stay out of our church buildings) has only reinforced a collective desire to take what little time and spiritual energy was being invested in reaching others and divert it into investing even more into the congregation, who already have so much. 

Surely Jesus has been teaching us a powerful object lesson also. Those in our wider community (the unsaved) are just as much in His eyes as those already in His Kingdom, and we have spiritual responsibility for them too. Will we ‘get’ His this object lesson, or will we be just as dull as the twelve were? 

To have the life and energy of grace decline is a grievous matter; better to see the flock cut off from the fold than grace from the heart.

Charles Spurgeon

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Let us not be so focused on hoping for a dramatic move of God that we loose sight of His ordinary grace. He is ever speaking to us, sometimes in extraordinarily blunt ways. 

Strangers (Matthew 15:25-28)

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A Canaanite woman has come to Jesus with a request for help with her   demon-possessed daughter. Jesus has responded very uncharacteristically – first with silence, then with a comment about being only for 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.”” 

It is highly derogatory to call someone a dog just because they are Gentile. To do so to someone’s face – especially when they are in great distress – is insulting in the extreme. The whole thing seems totally out of character for the Jesus that Scripture reveals to us. Unless of course, Jesus was actually doing something else. Something left off the direct pages of Scripture but nevertheless hinted at by the context.

Don Richardson pointed out that you can well imagine that He was looking at the disciples when He responded to her. You can imagine that there was something in His demeanor when He told her He was sent only to Israel – something in His look that encouraged her to continue petition. If you understand Jesus to be focused on how His disciples would respond, you can see why Jesus would say what He said, and why she would reply with confidence, “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  This reality is reinforced with Jesus’ sudden return to His normally generous self, “Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”

Making disciples is not simply a matter of teaching lessons, because truly teaching is more than speaking, demonstration and activity. Like teaching, making disciples calls for testing. So Jesus tests His disciples. He tests them to see if they will apply what He’s taught them so far to overcome their internal prejudice to reach the unclean people of the Gentile world. 

Unfortunately, they fail the test. If they had been able, they would’ve come to the woman’s aid. After all, they had no problem interrupting Jesus with their own opinions and desires at the Transfiguration, or even when He walked on the water during the night storm. It wouldn’t have taken much effort to say something in her defense. Yet they are silent.

While they fail the test, the woman in question does not. Her faith and willingness to approach Him as Lord – and her persistence in doing so in spite of His seeming indifference – is richly rewarded. Jesus graciously delivers her daughter from demonic possession, and that at a geographic distance. Which is something He did not do even among the Jews in Israel. It is the height of irony that a Gentile woman living in an overtly Gentile land can overcome her prejudice to approach a Jewish rabbi she’s never met before for help, while the disciples who Jesus personally mentored all this time cannot overcome their prejudice to so much as speak to their friend about an ‘unclean’ stranger in need. 

May the Lord grant that we do better. 

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

APPLICATION: Intentionality

When was the last time you stood up for a stranger? 

Nations (Matthew 15:24)

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After an uncharacteristically long pause, Jesus finally answers the Canaanite women who   has been crying out after Him and His disciples. Yet, to any who have been following His story, His answer doesn’t seem to line up. It is out of character and contradictory to His revealed character. Matthew writes, “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”” 

One must avoid the temptation to take this comment out of context with the rest of Matthew’s Gospel. But the context is just as relevant as the text. And what is the context?

To this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus has already had compassion on a Roman centurion. Not only was he a Gentile, but being of the occupying force, a Roman centurion represented the most hated of all of Israel’ s enemies at the time. Yet Jesus immediately responded to his request for help with a servant with, “I will go and heal him.” 

Then, when Jesus left that place and deliberately went to the far side of the lake (to Gentile territory) and healed the demon-possessed men that were a public menace – for whom no one was asking. Clearly Jesus had already established a trajectory of caring for the non-Jew. Moreover, all of Israel knew that Messiah was more than just their promised king. Scripture is replete with the promise for all nations. The context of the rest of Scripture backs up Matthew’s implied point. Isaiah 49 says, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” And Psalm 2 (a known Messianic Psalm) says, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” 

Moreover, Genesis 12:3 says that through Abraham, all nations would be blessed – a promise reiterated in Genesis 22 and 28. Psalm 22 says, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.” Psalm 72 says, “He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth…All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.” There are hundreds of more prophesies about Messiah, and many of them allude to this same principle. 

While Messiah would be FIRST sent to Israel, He would be for all, not only the Jew. The coming King was not only King of Israel, but King of Kings and Lord of all the earth. One must therefore ask “If Jesus was Messiah for all, why did He say was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel?” The answer must be that either He was confused, or that He was deliberately saying it for another reason. Yet Jesus was never confused about who He was or what He was doing or saying.  The context of the rest of Scripture clearly points to the latter, and the context is just as important as the text. 

We must know that Jesus was deliberately silent, and is now very purposefully voicing this comment with another intention in mind. After all, he is (as Don Richardson noted) a master teacher. And master teachers are free to employ wit and sarcasm in teaching their disciples. 

The specialty of pure Hebraism and the narrowness of Pharisaic Judaism are utterly opposed to each other. Jehovah’s care for all nations is ever and anon gleaming out in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Joseph S. Exell

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Had God only thought of the Jewish people, the rest of us would be lost forever. But God made all of us in His image, and He purposes to walk with us forever. 

God’s Heart (Matthew 15:22-23)

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Jesus has taught that uncleanness does not come from what we eat, but  from what  comes out of us. He knows this rather simple and common sense principle could easily be regulated to head knowledge instead of personal embodiment. If that happens, His disciples will be unable to willfully eat with other cultures. That will mean the Gospel will be restricted to Jewish culture, and the few Gentiles that enter into Jewish culture. So He purposes to reinforce His lesson with full-on immersion into Gentile culture. He leads His band into full-on Gentile lands. The result is exactly what He expected, “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’ reputation has well exceeded national boundaries. The peoples around Israel have heard of Him. They know He can heal and deliver, and they’ve already rightly concluded that He is both Lord and the fulfillment of the Davidic line. One would expect Jesus to immediately respond. After all, He did when the Gentile centurion asked Him for help back in Jewish Capernaum, “When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”” Yet this time the Lord does not respond so quickly. Matthew notes, “Jesus did not answer a word.” 

His response is radically uncharacteristic, but not without purpose. 

The author of the famous missionary book Peace Child looked closely at this passage and concluded that Jesus was testing His disciples. Dr. Don Richardson believes there was a method to Jesus’ madness that is almost entirely overlooked by modern Christendom.  Don thought through the uncharacteristic response and concluded that Jesus wanted to see how His disciples would respond to a Gentile in distress, especially now that He has taught them very explicitly that uncleanness comes from the heart: What would their heart reveal about how they see those who need God’s help – especially those their own culture would consider ‘unclean’? Or would they need yet another object lesson in God’s mercy?

God’s heart toward such a person is not hard to figure out. In fact, the Jewish Scriptures put it bluntly, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So it’s not that the disciples wouldn’t know God’s will in the matter. They would’ve known that God would purpose to heal. They had the Scripture to inform them. They had considerable time with Jesus by this point to see how He has repeatedly responded to such a situation. Will they respond similarly? Will they pass the test? 

Apparently not. “His disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.””  

One would hope Christ-followers in our day would act differently. But do we? 

When we look at any other person, we do not see the label but the image of God. We see someone created by God, addressed by God, accountable to God, loved by God, valued, and evaluated by God.

Chris Wright

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Who in your eyes is ‘unclean’? How do you think Jesus would respond to them?

Obvious (Matthew 15:21)

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Jesus’ method of disciple making is both overt and subtle. It is overt in that it  is clearly  deliberate and structured. It is subtle in that it happens largely without either the disciples or the reader realizing what is happening. A casual reader of Matthew’s Gospel might think that Jesus is simply “doing His thing” in going from place to place, doing some teaching here and there and engaging in ministry as opportunity allowed. But a more purposeful reading reveals that Jesus has been going about His ministry with a very clear intention. His modus operandi is simply to teach and demonstrate the Kingdom of God to His disciples through real-world ministry in day-to-day circumstance. He is developing those who follow Him into mature disciples who will be capable of making more disciples. 

Jesus’ last ‘lesson’ ended with the disciples confessing that He is truly the Son of God (14:33). From there, Jesus lands at Gennesaret (14:34) and begins the next ‘lesson’. He shows them what the Son of God has come to do, He heals the sick who are brought to Him, overcomes the religious charges brought against Him by using common sense and Scripture, and teaches the people the ways of the Kingdom. In turn, the disciples ask Him to explain what His teaching means in greater detail. That is clearly not the result Jesus expected – He exclaims, “Are you still so dull?” Nevertheless He does explain. But He knows the lesson is not complete with teaching alone. A more visceral lesson is needed.

Matthew records, “Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.” Tyre and Sidon were Canaanite cities in Phoenicia. Tyre was founded some 700 years prior to Abraham, and both Tyre and Sidon had been freed from Egyptian control by the Romans within the prior 100 years of Jesus’ visit. So these were deeply Gentile places that saw very little Jewish traffic. Just as He reached out to the Samaritan woman (John 4) and responded to the Roman centurion (Matt 8), He now goes to minister in the heart of Gentile country. 

For a Jewish man – a rabbi no less – to visit such an “unclean” place would be highly offensive. “The Mosaic law had no specific prohibition to this effect, but the entire law with all its regulations had such a prohibition as a result. The man who acted otherwise was going contrary, not to one item of the law, but to the law in its entirety. This was thoroughly understood in Judaism.” In fact, Peter said so much in Acts 10:28. Introducing himself to Cornelius, he said, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him.” 

If this was anyone other than Jesus, one might think such a trip to Gentile land was extreme passive-aggressive behavior in retaliation for the accusation of uncleanness the Pharisees had made. But it is Jesus, and He does not act out in childish manners. 

He is deliberately teaching His disciples that those made in God’s image must be reached, regardless of our own prejudices. Nothing reinforces that lesson as well as full immersion in another culture! 

Truth overcomes prejudice by mere light of evidence, and there is no better way to make a good cause prevail than to make it as plain, and commonly, and thoroughly known as we can.

Richard Baxter

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Sometimes the most profound work Christ does in us is the most obvious, physical and practical thing.  

Transplant (Matthew 15:17-20)

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Jesus said, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and   then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’ ” 

The Christian knows that we have a spiritual enemy. The book of 1Peter notes this, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” But that does not mean that the evil thoughts that so often cross our minds are from him. Jesus made it clear that our evil thoughts and the actions that precipitate out of them are not from the devil. They are from our own heart. From our heart springs the evil that is hatred that ultimately causes murder. From our heart comes the evil that is lust that ultimately causes adultery and sexual immorality. That all springs from us, not from the devil or those around us. The evil that is greed resulting in theft is inherently part of us. That evil that seeks to deceive others through lies and slander is ours, and ours alone. It is this evil that Christ says causes our uncleanness before our maker.

James wrote, “[…] each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”  It is our own evil desire that drags us away from God. It is not the enemy’s lies that is at the root of the problem, but our choice to think on them, to believe them and to act on them. Acts of evil may be initially prompted by the lie that comes from outside us, but they are only part of the noise swirling around us until they are accepted, adopted, nourished and raised by the evil within our hearts. We may not want to believe that part of us is so intensely unredeemable. But it is so and we know it to be so, because God does not lie. That is why Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” 

What then can do? One might think that there is no hope for those who have such wickedness in their core. But thankfully, God has a solution. The solution is not to blame an outside source, but to obtain a new heart. 

Getting a new physical heart is not exactly an easy procedure. It requires that someone else dies, so that you can live. Then, you must die to yourself (in having your defective physical heart removed from your body) before the new heart can be implanted. It is a procedure done at great cost, and not a little pain. 

Getting a new spiritual heart is not any easier. Fortunately, the Lord promises us exactly that. To those who return to Him, He said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness.”

God sees hearts as we see faces.

George Herbert


In Psalm 51, David worshipped God, crying out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!” Praise the Lord that He answers such prayer!