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Was She a Victim or a Hero, a Sinner or Saint; and her Overlooked Encounter with God

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day:

7  The angel of the LORD met Hagar at a spring in the desert on the road to Shur 8  and said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She answered, “I am running away from my mistress.” 9  He said, “Go back to her and be her slave.” 10  Then he said, “I will give you so many descendants that no one will be able to count them. 11  You are going to have a son, and you will name him Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your cry of distress. 12  But your son will live like a wild donkey; he will be against everyone, and everyone will be against him. He will live apart from all his relatives.” 13  Hagar asked herself, “Have I really seen God and lived to tell about it?” So she called the LORD, who had spoken to her, “A God Who Sees.” 14  That is why people call the well between Kadesh and Bered “The Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” 15  Hagar bore Abram a son, and he named him Ishmael. 16  Abram was eighty-six years old at the time. Genesis 16:7-16 (TEV)

Her story struck me far different this morning that it ever had before.  Usually, she is just an aside, we acknowledge she is there and quickly pass her by.

She slept with another man’s wife, (even if at the wife’s direction).  She didn’t have a good attitude to either afterward, and they didn’t have a good attitude toward her either.  She tried to escape her situation and that is where the story gets interesting. 

God chased after her.

Even as I type that, I think, this is increible.

God chased after her. 

He chased after her, blessed her, made her promises and restored her.

Despite all the drama in her life.  Despite all the pain. 

As she so perfectly puts it –  He is the God who sees.  God saw her, in the midst of her brokenness, in the midst of her trauma, in the midst of running away, trying to escape the drama.  He saw her, and blessed her, and gave her the strength to go back, to return to the midst of the brokenness, 

And we have this encounter, with the one who was not favored with the one who would struggle, with the one whose descendants would constantly battle God’s people, until one of the descendants of Issac would be born, and die, and become the ultimately blessing to all peoples.  

Including Hagar’s descendants.

I asked in the title if she was a victim, or a hero, a sinner or a saint.  I also wonder what the relationship between Sarah and her was like upon her return.  The questions are interesting and I honestly don’t know.

But what is important. what I do know about Hagar is this.  She was the lady whom God saw, and she lived. 

May we as well, in our mixed up, broken lives, know the love of God who sees even those of us whom others overlook.  For we too are a part of Christ’s story… for He saw us, and died, and rose again, for us.  May we too, encounter Hagar’s along the road, and watch God minister to them, through us.

God’s peace my friend.

AMEN!

Even if I am a dog, He’s my Master!

Even if I am a Dog,

He is MY Master

Matthew 15:21-28

Kyrie Iesou, Eleison


May you realize that when God is your Master, your Lord, which means He obligates Himself to showing you love, and mercy, so that you live in peace!  

It’s not about tenacity; it’s about recognition

A question for you to start this message.

Does God simply answer our prayers because we are so tenacious?  Did Jesus answer this lady’s prayers just because she followed them through town, or did Jesus answer her to silence the apostles who were whining about her bothering them with her begging?

Is that the way God works, that He rewards those who are persistent, who are tenacious?  Who don’t give up?  Do we have to workout spiritually, so that we can endure, and then receive that which is promised?

We might say, “No, that doesn’t sound right.” But when it comes to unanswered prayer, do we sometimes hear this story, or the parable of the elderly woman and the judge, and wonder; is that the key to getting a prayer answered?

Persistence, dedication to the cause, determination and good old-fashioned stubbornness?

Or is there something else…. Perhaps something like recognizing the Truth?

The truth that it is okay to be a dog; if that means that He is our Lord, that He is our Master?

That is what was revealed to her, which confirmed to her that He was her Lord!

What She Saw:   Lord Son of David!

A little background helps.  When the lady first starts yelling to Jesus “Kyrie Eleison” she is saying something we sang a few moments ago.

The translation phrases it, “have mercy Lord.”  We sing it the Kyrie in the opposite order, but the plea is the same.  Lord, love us and because of that love, care for us.  That is what the word mercy means.  cHesed means to have great love, care for, provide, protect, forgive and do everything in your power to care for and help those who with who you have a relationship.  She demands this of him.

Pour out you love and care on us Lord, she cries, Over and over, she begs this very thing.

She goes one step further; she calls Him Lord! She acknowledges that He is her master.  She lays herself at his feet, and she worships Him as her Lord.

You see, cHesed is that loving-mercy of God.  It is an obligation of the Lord to His people.  I’ve mentioned that word here before, this incredible word that binds a Lord, a Master to His people. He will take care of them, for He has made that commitment to them, as their Lord. He has become their Master.

That is what she wants! That is why she keeps calling Him Lord! Every time she speaks, this is how she addresses Him, as the one who is obligated to care for her.

She wants to be part of His Kingdom, His Household, to be His!

More Precise!

The first time she calls out for mercy, she adds something to it.

Have mercy Lord, Son of David!

Somehow, she knew about this promise of the Messiah.  She uses one of the titles for the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed one of God!  The Lord through whom salvation would come! Salvation to the Jewish people, but also to all who would call out to the Messiah.

When she cries out for mercy, she is crying out to the Messiah!  She is crying out to the long-awaited Son of David! She recognizes that He is the Lord and Master; the One who would bring about what we heard from the prophet Isaiah,

“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name,
who worship him!”

She knows who Jesus is, she knows the help that only He can offer!  She comes and places herself in His care, begging that He would accept Her!

His response finally is heard.

You are nothing but a dog.

Surprisingly, that is what she is longing to hear!

Dogs are part of the family

Consider this quote, about John Chrysostom, one of the most-quoted preachers in  history.

Chrysostom seems to recognise the shade of meaning conveyed by τ κυνάρια (the dogs of the household). “On the very words of the Lord she founds her plea. If I am a dog (κυνάριον), she says, I am no alien.”[i]

I belong!

She understands these “terms”; that the promises go first to the people of God, those he counts as His children.  She rejoices in knowing that the promise is there for her as well. This Lord has accepted her as part of the household, part of the family of God.

Think about it!  How many people refer to their dogs as their children!

She’ll take it, even as the Psalm 84 talks of a similar attitude:

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. Psalm 84:10 (NLT)

To be the mutt, waiting under the table for scraps, the Kingdom of God is a great place to be, knowing the love of the Master.  As long as she knows the love of the Lord, as long as she is one of the people He brings home, she will be content.

She will trust in her Master; she will bask in His love…she will trust His reign over her life.

Scraps aren’t good enough!

He will at first acknowledge her faith, by providing the salvation of her daughter, freeing her from the demons that afflict her.

That is only the beginning of the fulfillment of His promises to her, and to all of us, who though not physical descendants of Abraham, are the spiritual descendants.  It is just the beginning for those who trust in God as our Lord, our Master!

A blessing for those who know that our cries for His love are answered.  His mercy is always the answer! He hears us and will bring us home.  That woman didn’t get the scraps from the table; neither will any who trust in the promises that are made ours in Christ.

 

She is invited to a feast – one beyond all comparison…the wedding feast of the Lamb, the feast to celebrate the welcoming home of all the people of God.

Including this gentile woman and her daughter.
When we approach this altar, we see this feast in part.  The love of God, the love of our Master, our Lord, and the mercy which makes it possible.  These are not bread scraps and the last drops of wine.  This is the body and blood of Jesus Christ!

This feast is the answer of a God, who would provide for all of His children, for all who will call upon His name.

Yes, I am your Lord.  Come and feast with me!

Yes, dear friends, Jesus says I will be your Lord, your Messiah, I will care for you. I will provide.  That was what the cross was about, not just saving us from our sins, but opening up a relationship for all people with God the Father.  He says,  “You are my people, come and know my peace!”  For this, this peace of God, is promised, which passes all understanding, and in which our hearts and minds are kept safe, by our Lord.

AMEN!

[i] Chase, F. H. (1887). Chrysostom: A Study in the History of Biblical Interpretation (p. 130). Cambridge; London: Deighton Bell and Co.; George Bell and Sons.

Jesus Satisfies our Thirst

What Child is this?SAMSUNG
The One Who Quenches our Thirst

John 4:5-26.27-30, 39-42

In Jesus Name

May we find our thirst for righteousness quenched, as we encounter the grace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ!

A Direct Answer… to a Question She didn’t Ask.


Of all places, the revelation of God that took place that day…was there?
Of all the people that asked Jesus, she didn’t directly ask, but it was revealed directly to her?

“I am the Messiah,”

other translations say it, “I am He that speaks to you”
To her.

The wrong person, in the wrong place, heard what millions wanted to hear.

I AM He… I am He that is talking to you…..

I AM the Messiah!

But her?  Of all people?  Yeah – and what that means for us!

Every time I come across this recounting of Jesus meeting a woman, I am astounded.  The chapter before, we see Jesus meeting with a believer, a religious leader in the country.  Not a hypocrite, someone who would die for Jesus.  Yet to him, there were not the words that this lady heard.

Lady?  In Jesus’ eyes, in the Father’s eyes, yes.  However, she would avoid all because back then, her past would render her as an outcast, even among outcasts.  The filth of the world would look down on her, for her past was deserving of death according to the Law….

Not to Jesus.  She meant something to Him, and we would see His love poured out onto her brokenness.

She was not a slut, cheap or whatever euphemism you used for one who sold herself in God’s eyes.  She was someone broken, thirsty, in need of something that would make a difference, which would change survival into something that could be called life.  Sure, her way of survival included a lot of sin, but once that was identified, it didn’t push Jesus away…. In fact, it led to the incredible words of Christ, to her.  I AM the Messiah, I AM he… and I am talking with you.

 

It was to her, to her, that Jesus revealed that He was the Messiah.  That He confessed He was from God.

This was no chance meeting; it was a divine appointment to change her live, then to use her to change others’ lives.

Even ours….. to help us realize how God works….

As I read of her time with Jesus, I think of another person that met Jesus, on a different road. He would explain it this way,

“This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16  but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life.

To this, he would add….

17  To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God—to him be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen. 1 Timothy 1:15-17 (TEV) 15  
While I believe that Jesus gone to quench that lady’s thirst, even if she were the only one thirsty for his righteousness, there are lessons for us here…that is why it is included in scripture. The same lesson there as there is in Paul’s story. If God would come to these two people, broken, unstable, oppressed by sin, without hope… then surely we can have confidence that He is interested in people like us.

It doesn’t matter how we see ourselves, or even how the world does.  He wants to quench our desire, our thirst for righteousness, for His justice, a life that is free to interact with God/  A life that is free from starving for affection, for life, for peace. He was there for them, He will be here for us as well.

He is still revealing Himself, this time to us, and through our words to our “villages”, to our people.

One of the first “missionaries”?  But talk about a scary audience!


This lady, the one who was rejected by men, by so many because of her reputation, became an instant missionary.  She drops everything so as to go and tell these people, those she avoided  and tells them about the man who knew everything about her.  Including the bad, and the sinful, and that He didn’t drive her away.  But treated her as a lady, as a sister, as a child of God.

 

So great was her joy, even as Jesus knew all about her! Yet, He still loved her enough to reveal Himself to her. Maybe that has something to do with it, she was humble, not willing to hide anything to Him.

Knowing that kind of mercy, that kind of love, she had to share it with those around her.  Those even that criticized her, hit on her, shamed her,

This Messiah welcomed her, treated her like a lady, like the daughter of God….

If he would do this for her, wouldn’t he do it for all her village?  She didn’t ask herself if they would listen, she didn’t question whether she had what it took,

She knew God’s love… and she had to share it with her village.

 

Those that shouldn’t have heard her… hear her… & Jesus.

As I read through the passage this week… what struck me, that I don’t remember really seeing before, was verse 42.

42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

 

Her testimony they believed, and so they encountered Jesus.  She didn’t have a television ministry, or wear a robe.  She wasn’t the CEO of the company, and most people wouldn’t bother to notice her.  All of society would scream, “don’t listen to herrr..”

But they did… and then, they heard Jesus.

They so heard Him, they begged Him to stay…

They heard, because she heard… because she thirsted, they were all quenched of their thirst for God…..

Because God came to their village.  Because He came, and they were able to learn to worship, in spirit, and in truth.

Today, He is here… will we hear Him?  Will we let Him address our brokenness?  Will we hear of His love for us, and mercy, and will it overwhelm us and lead us to point Him our to “our people?”

He’s here… whether you have as colored a history as she did, or whether you were/are a self righteous Pharisee who only sees others as sinners.

He’s calling, His inviting you to know His peace. He is inviting you to share His peace with your village, in your world.

The peace of God which passes all understanding, and in which we are guarded, our hearts and minds… in Christ Jesus.

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