We blame God for everything.  Not only do we blame God for everything but we accuse God of testing us.  We ask, is God testing me?  Today’s sermon takes a look at the idea that God is putting us through a test.  My key scriptures for today’s sermon will come from the gospel according to Matthew.

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Matthew 15:25-27 NKJV

Why do we blame God so much?  We blame Him for anything; especially for all of the bad things that happens in our life.  When we are going through bad times, we think things over in our head, and we say to ourselves, “this should not be happening to me.”  We consider ourselves to be a good person.  Not only are we a good person but we are also a faithful person. 

We go to church.  We study our bibles.  We go to bible study and we pray every day.  So, we not only would say that we are a good person but we will say that we are a good Christian!  So, bad things should never happen to us when we reason it over in our head.  Our logic leads us to then believe that God must be putting us to a test.  We ask ourselves, Is God testing me right now?  In our brilliance, in our genius, we decide that this must be the case because there’s no other reason to explain all of the bad things that happen in our life.

Is God testing me?  In the Bible, we come across the familiar story of Job.  Job was a righteous man (Job 1:8) – meaning Job followed the ways of God.  We are certainly familiar with all of the bad that happened to Job.  We also know that Job had some friends that decided to come around after all of those terrible things had happened to Job.  Instead of lifting Job up, those friends chose to put Job down and accuse him of failing God’s test.  If you have friends that would do this to you, let me be frank with you – get rid of them!  You don’t need that in your life.  It’s amazing how Job’s friends never showed up while he had great wealth, cattle, and a family; they just watched from a distance when things were going well for Job.

The same one that tested Job also decided that he would test Jesus.  Jesus was in the wilderness and this one came to Jesus and said to Him (Matt. 4:9), “if you worship me, I will give you all the riches of the world”.  Let me tell you that God was not testing Himself because Jesus is God in the flesh. 

James wrote:

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

James 1:13 NKJV

God cannot be tempted (tested) by evil, wickedness, and sin.  I cannot say this any clearer to you.  Not only can God not be tested of such but God does not do evil, wickedness, and sin!  Therefore, God is not testing you with evil, wickedness, or sin.  God sent His only begotten Son to save you from sin so why would He test you to sin?  God does not test anybody!  That is not me making something up in my head but speaking from sound doctrine (scripture)!

There are two people who test us.  The first will certainly test you to sin and will use any means to get you to fall into sin.  This person is the same one that figured he could test Jesus and devour Job – Satan – the devil.  The devil told God, before testing Job, that he had been going back in forth in the earth (Job 1:7).  What was he doing?  The devil was look to see who he could destroy!  Peter likened Satan to a roaring lion who is on the prowl to see who he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).

The next person who puts us to a test is we ourselves!  You are your biggest test.  In last week’s sermon, I spoke on our own desires, our lust.  Our lusts, what we want, have the power to entice us and draw us away from God.  The test for ourselves is whether we will ever get out of our own way!  You see, we hold ourselves us by our refusal of giving up our way and following the Lord’s way!  We can’t seem to let go of our logic and follow after the Lord.  I also preached about this in a recent sermon – Better wait on God.

Satan certainly tries us, tempts us, and tests us, but our own desires (our lusts) is the true test.  You see, it is not Satan that chooses to give in to our lusts but we ourselves who give in to our lusts.  God will never test you, but I tell you that God will challenge you to grow and to be better in your faith.  This, I tell you, is not a test but a challenge that we face in life.  Life is full of challenges that our faith, should you have it, is required to meet.  So God challenges us to believe in HimThe question is whether you will accept His challenge to believe in Him or not.  Will you believe in God?  Can you believe in Him?

I want you to take a look at this story of the Canaanite woman that went to see Jesus as recorded in the gospels (Matt. 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30).  Mark’s gospel tells us that the woman was a Greek, meaning she was a Gentile (not of Hebrew blood and lineage).  We are told that this woman of Canaan was a Syrian of Phoenicia (Mark 7:26).  Though she was not an Israelite, this woman had heard of Jesus and had faith that Jesus could her and her daughter.

We are told that this woman’s daughter was vexed with a devil:

22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

Matthew 15:22 NKJV

There was nobody that could help her, just like the demon-possessed man that I preached about in a recent sermon – Rebuilding What’s Been Broken Down. The fact that this woman came to Jesus shows us her faith.  Not only does she believe that Jesus can help her but she knows that Jesus can help her!  Important fact about faith: faith in God is knowing that God can and will do for you.

In the next verse, we see the disciples tell Jesus to send this woman away.  Again, this woman was not one of them in the sense that she was not Hebrew.  As far as the disciples were concerned, she had come up being a disturbance and beggar.  Let this also be a lesson to us because many people say that we Christians and the church are this way towards those that come to us for help.  The disciples heard that this woman was in need of help but wanted to send her away – don’t you be that way!

Jesus’ response to the disciples is one the woman would have also heard as well:

24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Matthew 15:24 NKJV

It is certainly true that Jesus was sent to gather and save the lost sheep of Israel.  However, I want to make something very clear for all of you reading this sermon. 

Jesus also said this that is recorded in the gospel of John:

16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

John 10:16 NKJV

You see, Jesus says that He has other sheep that are not of the flock of Israel that He must also gather and bring – talking about bringing home (to heaven).  There are many people who want badly to be a Jew or an Israelite.  Why?  Because it makes them feel important and special.  Special because they want to be part of the “chosen people”.  Scripture is very clear in that God chose everybody – the whole world (John 3:16).  All who believe in the Lord are His children and all of God’s children are special in His eyes!

I say all of this to point out again that this was part of Jesus’ challenge for this Canaanite woman.  The challenge here is whether she really believed that Jesus could heal her daughter.  Was her faith genuine?  The interesting thing about this challenge was the fact that Jesus was merely repeating something that He had done to others he had healed.  Often, when Jesus would heal someone of blindness or being lame, He would ask, “do you believe ‘I’ can do this?|

Was He putting her through the loops because she was a Gentile?  I cannot speak for the Lord, but my best guess would be no.  I believe that this was not only an example of her faith, but an example for the disciples who clearly didn’t think much of the woman.  This was proof that God can save or help anybody regardless of their gender, regardless of the wealth, and regardless of their blood and race.

In this challenge, Jesus wants to see whether or not she will stay or go away.  You see, many people will quit and give up when they are challenged.  Why?  Because we hate being challenged.  You will see, that this woman’s faith was strong because she doesn’t go anywhere.  She responds to the challenge:

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

Matthew 15:25 NKJV

Have you ever been in her shoes?  Have you ever been in a situation where you had to shout in an exclamatory voice for the Lord’s help?  I want you to notice that this woman is going absolutely nowhere – she’s persisting.  Women are like that, aren’t they?  Women, when they know what they are going for and want, can be very persistent.  This woman of Canaan is not the only persistent woman we read about scripture and she’s most certainly not the last persistent woman to ever exist.

Here’s Jesus response:

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

Matthew 15:26 NKJV

By this point, somebody else would have probably gave up.  You may be saying to yourself, “Jesus is being awfully rough with this woman.”  However, I hope you see that this is part of the challenge.  When Jesus references the “children’s bread” He’s making reference to Himself and the children of Israel again.  Again, Jesus came for the children, but this woman simply does not care.  She has heard all of what Jesus has done for the Israelites, but she knows that He can also do the same for her!  Look at her response in the next verse.

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Matthew 15:27 NKJV

This response is one of genuine faith.  She says to Jesus, “I don’t have to have the good bread, I’ll take the crumbs – just let me eat!”  This woman wanted to have part with Jesus, if it was just a little part.  Just a little bit of Jesus will make things alright!  I tell you, that’s the kind of faith that we should carry within ourselves.  This is how you answer a challenge of faith.

Notice, again, after all of this, the woman never left.  There are many times when our faith gets challenged and we will choose to give up on our faith.  This woman, when she was challenge, she firmed up in her faith and grew more confident and even more bolder.  She was talking to God in the flesh here and she was doing so with great boldness.  The Lord loves it when we are bold in our faith in what He can do!  God loves that!

God, again, does not test us.  What God will do is challenge your faith.  God will challenge you to become better as a person and to become stronger in your faith.  I ask you today, what’s wrong with that challenge?  What’s wrong with being challenged.  My dad used to say that God, when we pray to Him, would answer us with a yes, no, or wait.  I believe that the Lord gives an answer of “wait” because He’s waiting for us to firm up in our faith or challenging us in our faith. We don’t like challenges though; we want everything to be easy.

However, if you can withstand the challenge of faith, I want you to see Jesus’ response to this woman.

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Matthew 15:28 NKJV

Great is your faith!  Let it be to you as you desire!  This, I believe, is God’s response to us when we endure a challenge of our faith in Him.  This all goes back to what I asked in last week’s sermon, “what do you desire in your heart?”  Do we truly desire what we ask of God or is it lust that’s in our heart?  Is what we have asked Him worth enduring a challenge of our faith?

If it’s not worth enduring in our faith, then maybe it’s something that we are either lusting after or is not worth much after all.  Sure, there are certainly tests in this life – some presented by the devil and some presented by your own desires.  However, the Lord has a way of getting down to the bottom of what we desire.  God will never test you but He will most certainly challenge you!  Are you willing to accept the challenge to let go of your lust and believe and follow in the way of the Lord?

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