Tests of Faith

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Neh. 9:26-38Rev. 18:9-20Matt. 15:21-28

In Matthew today we encounter a very troubling passage about the Canaanite woman’s faith.  It isn’t her faith that is troubling, but how she is apparently treated.  She is an outsider from the region of Tyre and Sidon and Jesus ignores her for a while.  Then Jesus seemingly insults her when she comes and kneels before him, and he says, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

The “dog” reference is apparently referring to Gentiles in general, but is considered rude at best, derogatory at worst.  And yet it appears to be a test of her faith, as Jesus is pleased with her response of “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  In the end Jesus heals her daughter, and declares the woman’s faith to be great.

Is your faith being tested?  Are you living under spiritual duress?  Maybe physical or mental anguish?  When the going gets tough, does your faith tend to crack?  Or does it carry you through? What keeps you focused on Jesus in difficult times, or focused on God’s ways?

I could argue that these times of ours are a test of faith.  Churches are experiencing historic lows in terms of worship attendance and giving.  Our country’s leaders seem to be morally bankrupt at best.  Our healthcare is under attack, with medical bankruptcies devastating families.  Then there is our gun violence epidemic.  Don’t get me started on opioids and the way they have torn apart Oklahoma families.  There are tests of faith all around.

As we face Stewardship Season, more tests come.  Where do our priorities lie?  Do we truly believe in hope?  Are we willing to invest in God’s future?  Where is abundance in your life?  I am thankful for all my brothers and sisters at First Presbyterian Church in Duncan.  Things seems to be on track financially.  Our hearts are in the right place, and our pocketbooks are soon to match that (at least I hope so!!!).  While our worship numbers could always be better, which church doesn’t say that?  We are a much more mobile society, bound together in the body of Christ, often separated by many miles.

But the reality is that we are on the move as a church, looking into God’s new future.  The reality is we had a New Members class last night, and two individuals are all set and ready to join FPC-Duncan this Sunday, with a 3rd hoping to join but unable to make the class last night.

It has occurred to me that all of you Morning Reflectors are part of our church parish in many ways.  Being a part of my ministry means connecting to FPC-Duncan where I am the pastor.  It is a wide circle to draw, for many of you are in France, a few in China, some serving in the military abroad.  Some are retired bishops living in warmer climates, far from me.  It is amazing watching the WordPress statistics and analysis.

It occurred to me that I should offer up a way that you all can give back, if you feel God calling you to.  While I haven’t set up a PayPal for this website yet, supporting the church where I am the pastor is the easiest way to contributing our ministry.  Visit http://fpcduncan.com/giving for more information on how to give.  There is also a link to the 2018 Pledge Dedication card there if you would prefer to pledge support into the coming year.

If Morning Reflections have meant something to your spiritual walk this last year, I encourage you to consider a one-time gift, or a regular pledge.

In this season of stewardship, may you be filled with the faith of this Canaanite woman, and may you experience healing in your lives and feel refreshed in your faith.

-Matt

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