Matthew 15:27 ” Yes, Lord, she said, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

In this story, a Canaanite woman has approached Jesus asking Him to heal her demon possessed daughter.  At first Jesus is kind, but firmly tells her, “I’ve been sent to help the Jews.”  But she’s undeterred with her request, so He then says to her,  “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  For most, that kind of rebuff would have stop them…but not her!  Yes, she thoroughly understands what Jesus is saying, but she also knows that He’s the only one who can save her daughter.  It’s by her tenacity and  tremendous faith…a faith that Jesus recognizes in her,  that her request is granted.

Isaiah 54: 4-5 ” Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is His name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.”

If you’ve lost a spouse or gone through a divorce…you know exactly how it feels.  The loneliness and isolation are only compounded by the awkwardness of well-meaning friends.  Add to that the strict view of some Churches on divorce…you may have even been asked to leave your Church family all together.  So you try to cope with your loss as best as you can…struggling with fear and depression and feelings of self-defeat and failure.  But Isaiah is telling you here that your Creator, God Almighty,  is your husband (or spouse).  He is your Kinsman-Redeemer with a covenantal tie of love and loyalty only to you.  With God as your husband,  there’s no room anymore for those negative emotions of loss, shame, or rejection to fill your mind.  Yes, you may not be married in the legal sense…but you are espoused by a loving and faithful God.

Romans 12:8 ” …if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously.”

This time of year we are inundated with requests and pleas for donations.  They call on the phone, they mail us fliers, they approach us in public places.  All these overwhelming requests can turn anyone cold towards helping others…to the point of thinking, ” I can’t give, I can hardly get by with what I have!”   Paul addressed this in II Corinthians 8:2 –  where he explained even though the Church in Macedonia was going through severe trials and  extreme poverty,  their  joy of the Lord overflowed and welled up into rich generosity towards others.   God has proven over and over again that you can’t out give Him.  So allow  joy  and thankfulness to fill your heart this Holiday Season as you give generously to others…not out of your lack, but out of His riches.

II Corinthians 9:7 ” Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

As Believers we are called to be a generous people…and this was displayed vividly this morning in Church.  Our Pastor announced that as we left each family would be receiving a plain white envelope with cash inside ranging from $20- $100.  We were to consider this a starting point to bless others during this holiday season.  The Lord has called all of us  to be missional…reaching outside the Church walls to help others.  For we are to be His ambassadors… shining His light, expanding His Kingdom, and seeking to leave an eternal impact on our community and world. (A direct quote from the note enclosed in the envelope.)  As I hold this bill in my hand,  I know the Lord will not only direct us as to how much we are to add to it, but who we should bless with it.

II Chronicles 31:5 ” As soon as the order went out, the Isralites generously gave the fristfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.”

The other day I helped at the local Food Pantry organizing all the donated food that’s coming in this time of the year from the  many food drives going on… there was a mountain of food to find a place for.  It struck me how  willingly and joyfully  the people of this area are in donating to this great cause…and because of their generous nature, many will have food on their tables this holiday season.  We can’t be tight-fisted, just giving the bare minimum  of what we have to others…for it’s really not ours in the first place…the Lord has blessed us with it.  Instead, we need to be happy and glad to give, for it tells us in II Corinthians 9:7, “God loves a cheerful giver.”  This Scripture shows us that they gave generously of all they had, not holding back but giving with a open hand and a big heart.  I pray we may become that type of people.

II John 4 “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.”

The Apostle John could have been referencing this Scripture to an actual woman and her children…or cryptically addressing the Church, (the bride of Christ) and its followers.  Either way, John’s happiness at hearing about the faithfulness and commitment of the Church spills over into III John 4 where he exclaims, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”   And as earthly parents, we too can take great delight in seeing our own children walking in the truth.  But for many, you’ve prayed for years for that prodigal child with no change.  I would say to you…don’t give up!  For no one is beyond the reach of God…no one so far gone that the Lord can’t touch them.

Ezekiel 18: 1-2 ” The Word of the Lord came to me: ‘What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: The father’s eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?’ “

In this passage God is doing away with this well-known proverb and giving His people a new one.  For in the next verse He exclaims, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel.  For every living soul belongs to Me, the father as well as the son – both alike belong to Me.  The soul who sins is the one who will die.”  Here God gives us a declaration of individual responsibility for our sins…for only us are accountable for our sins…and some day, we will be the only person that will answer for them.