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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Debunking Feminist Views of Matthew 15:21-28

Matthew 15:21-28 can be a difficult passage to understand. This short Bible study allows us to look between the lines and see a most wonderful message. #BibleStudy #Bible #BiteSizeBibleStudy

As an introduction to this study, please read A Serious Feminist Error.

"Christian feminists" claim that Matthew 15:21-28 is the story of a Gentile woman teaching Jesus not to be chauvinistic and bigoted. This claim is contrary to everything taught in Scripture about the character and nature of God.

However, the conversation in this passage can leave us with questions at first glance, so we're going to study it carefully.

Not everything we need to know is in the actual text of this passage. We need to combine it with other scriptural truths to understand the story written "between the lines" of the actual text. Some of what I share will be my educated opinion.

But we know this for sure: the story "between the lines" perfectly reflects Christ's perfect character, perfect purity, perfect love, perfect goodness, and perfect wisdom. 

Below you will find Scripture in bold letters and my comments in italics after the verses. 

Matthew 15:21-28: Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 

Why did Jesus choose to withdraw to a Gentile area? Some people believe He was taking a break from the Jewish criticism He so regularly encountered. But He could have found privacy elsewhere if He had no other purpose in traveling to Tyre and Sidon. After all, He could walk on water, perform miracles, and slip away unnoticed in the midst of an angry crowd (John 8:59). Jesus came to this city for more than refreshment. He had a divine appointment with this woman.

22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 

Christ's silence was a test for both this woman and His disciples. His Jewish disciples were raised with a prejudice against the "unclean" Gentiles. When Jesus didn't answer the woman, they immediately assumed He wasn't going to help her. They thought Jesus should send her away, but Jesus had different purposes in mind.

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 

Jesus ignored His disciples and spoke to the woman. This was another test for the disciples and the woman. But it was also true: From the time of Abraham, God set the Jews apart so they could bless the world with God's salvation (Genesis 18:18). Jesus served as the final and most important link in that mission. And even though most Jews rejected Jesus, the gospel was first proclaimed through the Jewish-born Jesus and Jewish-born apostles. That's why Christ's first mission was to the Jews who would take the gospel into all the world (Matthew 28:16-20). And part of Christ's mission to the Jews was to show them they were going to reach out to the non-Jewish world with the message of salvation. He was teaching His disciples about their mission by talking with this woman.

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 

Matthew 15:21-28 can be a difficult passage to understand. This short Bible study allows us to look between the lines and see a most wonderful message. #BibleStudy #Bible #BiteSizeBibleStudy
This woman was persistent. She was proving her faith. 

She'd experienced the demonic activity of her country's pagan religions firsthand. And somehow, she'd heard Jesus could cast out demons. She seemed to understand He was her only hope.

This woman's persistence reminds me of a parable Jesus told in Luke 18:1-8 about a persistent widow who wore down an unjust judge until he gave her justice. But don't mistake Jesus for the unjust judge. In Luke 18 He explains:

“Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Persistence is a necessary element of faith. Are you willing to persevere in prayer when you don't see immediate results?

 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 

According to the Greek, the word Jesus used for dog was one that would be used for a pet dog, not a street dog. But a softer word for dog doesn't adequately explain Christ's answer. It still seems harsh at first glance. 

We need to remember this important truth: Jesus is not only perfectly good, He's also all-knowing (examples: Matthew 9:4; John 1:44-51; John 4:17-19; John 13:21-33). He knew this woman's heart. He understood her background, her situation, her thoughts, and her needs. He spoke the words she needed to hear in response to her plea for help. He knew His words would strengthen her faith, not dissuade her. 

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 

  This woman's humble persistence was a lesson to Christ's disciples, a good confirmation for the situation that happened in the first half of this chapter of Scripture.

In the preceding verses (verses 1-20), Jesus clearly explained that what makes a man clean or unclean is not food, cleansing, or other external activities. It's a man's heart that makes him clean or unclean. 

The Jews had lost an understanding of their mission to bless all nations. They were using Old Testament laws to self-righteously separate themselves from "unclean" Gentiles. Christ's disciples showed no compassion for this Gentile woman. In another encounter, the disciples wondered why Jesus would even talk to a Gentile woman (John 4:4-44, esp. v.27). I believe her humble answer softened the disciples hearts and helped them understand Christ's love for all people.

It was no mistake that Jesus chose to travel where He would find this humble, persistent Gentile woman.

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Can you imagine having Christ say this to you? Instead of wondering why Christ's previous response to this woman was challenging, we need to concentrate on this compliment about her faith. I'm not sure any Jewish man is praised this highly in Scripture. 

Christian feminists make proud demands about the value of women, but this situation clarifies the scriptural truth that humility exalts us, not proud demands. See Proverbs 29:23, Matthew 23:12, 1 Peter 5:6, and James 4:6

When feminists propose that Jesus was prejudiced and this woman taught Him to give up His bias, they show an unjustified disrespect for Jesus and an unjustified respect for themselves. The humble faith of the woman in this passage is a fitting rebuke to their pride.

I'm a woman, and I'm so glad God included this passage in His Word!

For a very thorough, scholarly explanation of this passage, see Bible.org

copyright 2019, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Bite Size Bible Study

Sunday, August 18, 2019

6 Truths that Restore Relationships

If you genuinely want healthy relationships, you will need to follow these scriptural principles. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible #Biblestudy #Devotions #Reconciliation

Before working through this Bible study, read Disastrous Attitudes for background.

Immature people can only see things from their perspective. They're inconsiderate, self-defensive, and easily offended. They set all the rules in the relationship. 

If these people are in our workplace, neighborhood, or circle of friends, we should do our best to get along, but there's nothing wrong with avoiding them and choosing other friends.

It's different, however, when they're family members. God placed us in our family for a purpose. Working through our problems might be one of the most important aspects in our Christian maturity.

1. We can't have a good relationship with the Lord if we refuse to deal with human relationship problems:

1 John 4:7: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  

1 John 4:20: Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 

Matthew 5:23-24: Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.  

Have you written off a family relationship when the other person is still interested in a relationship? Have you refused to work through problems when the other person is willing? If so, you've built a wall between yourself and God. I encourage you to read You Can't Serve God if you Refuse.

2. We also need to take a serious look at our own sins before judging others.

Matthew 7:3-5: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  
 
The mature Christian listens thoughtfully to criticism and tries to see things from the other person's perspective. The immature Christian gets angry and defensive. I encourage you to read Speck-Finders.

3. We need to be willing to deny ourselves (i.e inconvenience ourselves) in order to improve the relationship.
 
Matthew 16:24: Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  

If we refuse reasonable requests in a relationship, we're not only being selfish. We're being manipulative.

Some family relationships could be vastly improved by as little as an hour of considerate behavior each week -  a phone call, a lunch date, two or three phone texts, or a short email. Often relationships flounder because one party neglects the other. 

4. We need to choose our words carefully.

Ephesians 4:29-32: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  

Our words are important. When was the last time you complimented your parent, adult child, or sibling on something they did well? When was the last time you praised one of their good qualities?  

We need to speak thoughtfully and kindly, even when we have a disagreement. When things break down and angry words are spoken, we need to ask forgiveness, forgive the other person, and speak words that promote reconciliation.
 
5. Selfishness kills relationships.


Philippians 2:1-4: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

All good relationships involve deliberate effort and lots of unselfish grace. If you are an adult child, you may have little interest in keeping lines of communication open with your aging parents, but one day, when they're gone, you'll very likely feel regret. As I mentioned above, it can take as little as a few minutes a day or an hour a week to let them know you care. This is a small thing to ask for someone who cared for you 24/7 when you were young. When parents know they are valued, they are less likely to complain.

And parents of adults, step back a bit if you've been complaining. Ask God if you've been expecting too much or sharing your complaints in ways that encourage brokenness in the relationship. Have you asked your child if there's something you've done to cause strain in the relationship? Are you willing to ask forgiveness if they share legitimate concerns? 


6. We can't fix everything, but we need to be willing to give it our best.

If you genuinely want healthy relationships, you will need to follow these Scriptural principles. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible #Biblestudy #Devotions #Reconciliation
Romans 12:16-18: Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.   

Romans 14:19: Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  

Sometimes a family member shuts off contact or refuses to discuss problems. If we've done our best to work through things, asked forgiveness for our faults in the relationship, and remained willing to keep lines of communication open, that's all we can do.

copyright 2019, Gail Burton Purath, Bite Size Bible Study

Bite Size Bible Study

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Can You Watch it With a Clear Conscience?

If you can watch Game of Thrones and answer these questions with a clear conscience, you need to have your head examined. #Bible #Biblestudy #GameofThrones #Pornography

As an introduction to this study, read Popular Pornography.

Game of Thrones, an HBO series filled with graphic sex and evil violence, recently ended after a successful eight-year run.

It left its filth on everything it touched, even an ancient city in Croatia. 

Having lived in Budapest for five years, we sometimes vacation in Croatia and especially love visiting the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik. 

Since some scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in and near the medieval walls of beautiful Dubrovnik, Game of Thrones tours, gift shops, costumes, and signs now pollute the city. 

It should be no surprise that shows like Game of Thrones are incredibly popular with our fallen world. 

But I am surprised the way Game of Thrones and other immoral entertainment is defiling my fellow Christian brothers and sisters. 

Dear Christians, we need to ask ourselves these questions in regard to our entertainment:

1. Do I violate biblical principles by watching this show/movie?

"I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it."  Psalm 101:3

“But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:28-29

Matthew 5 says we should want to cut out our eye rather than use it to sin!

2. Am I guarding my heart from things that produce ungodly thoughts and attitudes?

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23  

Can you watch explicit sex scenes and have pure thoughts? When we watch shows that glorify immorality, we definitely lose our vision for right and wrong. Despite denials by the entertainment industry, research shows that the things we watch affect both attitudes and behavior: Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?  

We shouldn’t need to have this truth confirmed from secular sources when God’s Word already stresses it. 

See also Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:5, and Philippians 4:8.   

3. Sexually explicit entertainment is an idol in our modern world. Can we watch shows that glorify immorality and then read 1 Corinthians 6:17-18 with a clear conscience?

“Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” 

4. Can we watch shows like Game of Thrones and read Ephesians 5 with a clear conscience?  

If you can watch Game of Thrones and answer these questions with a clear conscience, you need to have your head examined. #Bible #Biblestudy #GameofThrones #Pornography
"Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children… Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret… So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do." 

If it's shameful even to talk about evil things, how can we justify evil entertainment?
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Image: Creative Commons
copyright, 2019, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Bible Love Notes