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August 2019

Making Your Case with God

Text: Mark 7:24-30

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[a] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 "First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs." 28 "Lord," she replied, "even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." 29 Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter." 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

In Isaiah 45:9 we read, "Does a clay pot argue with its maker?" And so, as God's people, we are to trust in His providential care in our lives, as challenging as that can be at times.

But just like any close relationship in life, being in a close relationship with God can also involve some dialoguing, questioning, and making our case to Him in an effort to be understood and to understand.

And it's comforting to know that our God is gracious and merciful enough to hear our cases when we come to Him in prayer seeking His wisdom.

Job in the midst of his trials and sufferings demanded an audience with God. As we read in Job 23:3-4, "If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments", and Job 31:35: "Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense – let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put this indictment in writing".

Similarly, in Genesis 19, we read of Abraham interceding for Sodom and making a bargain with God in verse 23, saying, "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?" and getting God to agree with him that He would not destroy Sodom if there were 10 righteous people who lived there.

And when God threatened to destroy the Israelites after they worshipped the golden calf in Exodus 32, Moses sought the favor of the Lord, saying in verse 11-12, "O Lord, why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, 'It was with evil intent that he brought them out?

Often in the Psalms, David would go to God with his complaints and questions. The prophet Habakkuk complained to God, questioning as to why He seemed to tolerate so much wrong and in justice.

And in Mark 7:24-30 we find a remarkable case of a Syrophonecian woman who makes her case with God in the flesh, that is Jesus, in order that her demonic possessed daughter might be healed.

The odds of her winning her case seemed stacked against her before she even began. For not only was she a Gentile, she was also a woman, and in addition to that, her daughter was demon possessed, which meant that that she was unclean by living in the same house with her.

In Matthew's account of this incident it seems as if Jesus was going to ignore her request altogether, as we read in Matthew 15:23 "Jesus did not answer a word".

And yet according to Matthew, she didn't give up, in spite of Jesus' initial silence. In fact, she persisted so much that the disciples in this same verse, urged Jesus to "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us".

And the question we have to ask ourselves is this, how many of our cases, prayers to God have gone unanswered in our lives due to a lack of our persistence on our part?

People of God, don't give up until you have received your answer of "yes" to your request or else an even better answer than you even had originally thought of or imagined!

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that "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".

And James 1:5-8 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Unfortunately, "We, who have much more definite promises of the Lord regarding our earthly and spiritual welfare, usually do not show even a fraction of the faith exhibited by this Syrophoenician woman".

And then reading further from out text in Mark's account, it looks like this woman definitely had lost her case, as Jesus finally answers her with the following words in verse 27: "First let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs".

As Martin Luther says of these words of Jesus, "Nowhere in all the gospels is Christ painted as being so harsh as here".

But, rather than taking these words of Jesus as a denial of her request, instead this Syrophoenician woman sees a glimmer of hope in these words of Jesus and clings to them with all her might.

For the dogs Jesus refers to in these words are not the stray dogs which Jews considered the Gentiles to be.

Instead, Jesus was referring to the house dogs that Jews would keep in their homes, who would feed from the crumbs of their master's tables. And so based upon these words of Jesus, she responds in verse 28, by reasoning, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs".

And from her example, we find how we too can come to God and make our case by using His Words.

As Numbers 23:19 describe, "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind". God is bound by His word!

When our prayers are based upon the promises of the sure Word of God then we can be sure like this woman in our text that they will be answered.

Lawyers when making their cases in court, will often have files and files of documentation, landmark decisions made in previous cases, and related legal reports done through extensive research in their effort to win their case before the Judge.

And in a similar fashion, we are to pour over God's Word and find the promises, the legal reports so to speak, and find the previous cases where God's people prevailed in prayer.

For as Romans 2:11 assures us, "God does not show favoritism", do extensive research by pouring over God's Word, in order to make our case before Him.

And with the confidence that our case is based upon the truths of God's Word, we will be given unshaken faith even when our outer circumstances or a delay in time might tempt us to give up in doubt and despair.

Through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, we have a much higher position than this woman in our text, who was compared to a dog begging for crumbs at the master's table.

For even though we do not deserve it due to our many sins, God in His grace sent His Son Jesus to give us forgiveness of sins, making it possible for us to be given the high status of being His child, with all the rights and privileges of being heirs of salvation and eternal life.

As Romans 8:15 reminds us, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father".

And because of this we can boldly come to the throne of God and make our case before Him. Just as a child goes to their loving Father about a promise they have made, as with open Bibles we remind our Heavenly Father, Daddy, "You said so!" And because you said so, I make my case.

And knowing that you do not lie, I therefore am convinced that you have heard my prayer even before I see its physical manifestation in my life. For I am convinced that you will keep your Word.

As 1 John 5:14 expresses, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what you asked of him".

In Mark 7:29-30 we read of Jesus assuring the woman, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter. She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone".

Her case won! Based upon the Words of Jesus.

Friends in Christ, can you picture Jesus saying to you right now similar words. Because you have made your case based upon My Word you can be assured that your prayer has been answered!

Just as in the case with every one of your prayers that have been based on the sure and certain promises of God's Word.

For as 2 Peter 1:4 reminds us, not only has God "given us his very great and precious promises", in addition to that we have been given an intimate relationship with the Judge of Judges, who favors us so much that He gave us His only Son to die for us.

As Romans 8:32 put is, "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

At times, our cases may seem hopeless, and nothing seems to be happening. And sometimes appear to be getting ever worse.

But when we make our case based upon His Word, we are guaranteed to come out victorious in the end.

Therefore, as Hebrews 4:16 tells us, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need".

Your Servant,
Pastor Wendt

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