Marveling at Great Faith

“When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.  And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.” Luke 7:9-10

Jesus was not amazed at the situation or the people who spoke on the Centurion’s behalf.  Jesus was amazed at the Centurion’s response.  He had not met anyone in Israel, among His fellow brethren, who had so recognized His authority and power as this man; someone who willingly gave himself over to total abandon to trust Jesus to heal and believe that He will.

Astounding!  This was the true epitome of “great faith!”

When one’s faith is centered on Jesus, healing can take place.  Not just physical healing, as we see here.  But emotional, spiritual, relational…, in every area of life that needs restoration, Jesus is able to heal.  But it only comes about by faith.  The Bible reminds us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).  The Centurion filled this faith criterion.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he knew that Jesus was able to do all that he had known of Him, and he sought Him with an open heart of belief.

Jesus spoke highly on his behalf, saying, “I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”  If we were to put our spiritual thermometer in the waters of faith, how would we measure up?  Would we be found on the “greater than” side of faith or on the “less than” side?

Faith is the access key to everything God wants to do through us and for us.  Jesus once taught, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.,” (Matthew 21:22; emphasis mine).  One must believe, as the centurion did, with total abandon, that Jesus can do this for you, too.

Adapted from The Centurion’s Great Faith previously published here on WordforLifeSays.com.

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Despair will try to rob you…

Despair will try to rob you of everything God has for you. Don’t give up. Rather, place your hope in God who is able to turn any situation around and give you peace in the midst of the storm. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 43:5, NIV

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. . . Because of God

Many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph.  We have the main points in his life down pat: his coat of many colors, his dreams, and his interpretation of others’ dreams.  We know of him being sold into slavery by his own brothers, his life in Egypt, the accusations of Potiphar’s wife, and his imprisonment.  But how closely do we pay attention to his actual relationship with God?  Do we focus more on the “From the Pit to the Palace,” side of things than on his integrity before God?

In his story, Joseph appears to start out as a young man who is a bit boastful and can’t wait to tell every listening ear his dream.  (I’m not saying he was boastful, just that it appears so).  His dreams became so that they incurred the hatred of his brothers.  This hatred would boil up within them until it filled them with violent intentions.  At one point, they thought murder was one option to rid them of this dreamer.  Instead of killing him, they opted to get rid of him while making a little money on the side.  They sold him into slavery.

In what appeared as the hardest time of his young life, Joseph’s relationship with God deepened.  This showed in the way God cause him to be prosperous and favored no matter where life put him (Genesis 39:3, 21).  Joseph also displayed the importance of his devotion to God in not sinning against God (Genesis 39:9) and in his refusal to take credit for all that God was doing through him (Genesis 40:8; 41:16, 28, 32).

God blessed Joseph with this incredible gift yet in his humility and dependence upon God, he denounced any accolades of his own.  He considered himself to be a vessel, realizing that “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace,” (Genesis 41:16).

The humility of Joseph took him far in life.  Eventually, he became second in command over Egypt.  Had he gotten big-headed I’m sure the story would’ve turned out quite differently.  If he had reverted to the “Me, Myself and I” attitude that a lot of people seem to display, Joseph’s story would not have been noted as the legacy we now know.

“It’s not in me,” Joseph readily proclaims.  The Bible tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  The Apostle Paul out-and-out tells us what Joseph already proclaimed.  We don’t have it in us!  Any gifts, any abilities, any special insights, and any favor – we have it because of God!  There’s no room for a self-sufficient attitude when God is trying to work in you.

When Daniel went before king Nebuchadnezzar to interpret his dream, Daniel, like Joseph, admitted his frailty as a human.  He said, “This secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living,” (Daniel 2:30).  He did not consider himself anything special just because he could interpret dreams rather, he gave glory to God, “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his,” (Daniel 2:20).

Standing before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was asked, “Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?” (Daniel 2:26).  Daniel answered much like Joseph did.  He said, “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days,” (Daniel 2:28).

It is amazing the miracles that God can perform through the one who will not compete with Him to gain the credit.  When God instructed Gideon to go against the Midianites with only three hundred men, He did so, “lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me,” (Judges 7:2).  When there is competition for glory, God will retain His!  If one is in competition with Him they are “against” Him and God can’t work mightily through them!

It’s not just an Old Testament thing.  Peter said, “Why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12).  Let’s face it, we are human, and unless God puts it in us – unless God gives it to us, we don’t have anything to offer this world.  “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” (John 3:27).

Let’s do a credit check today.  Not to decipher our financial status but rather our relationship status with God.  It’s not “Me, Myself and I,” but it’s God working in us.  Let’s stand with Joseph and declare, “It’s not in me: God shall give . . . an answer . . .” (Genesis 41:16).  Everything that we have or are able to do in life is because of God.

Blessings to you . . .

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He calleth His own by name…

You are valued in the eyes of God! He knows you! He knows your name!

To Him, you are somebody.

To Him, you are valued.

To Him, you are important.

To Him, you are not invisible.

You are personally known and personally loved by God!

“To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” John 10:3

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While I live, I will praise the Lord!

Every day above ground is a day to give Him praise! He’s worthy!

“While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.” Psalm 146:2

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Thank You, Father God, for including us in the grace and mercy of today

Thank You, God, for molding us and shaping us, and raising us. Your grace is resting upon us and Your mercies have opened this day before us. Thank You, that You have included us in that grace and mercy we see today. Thank You, that You have destined us to be a part of Your purposes here on earth today. Thank You, that Your hand is not only designing us but it’s overshadowing us and protecting us, and leading us into Your perfect and holy will. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN!

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“Be Progressive”

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward,” Exodus 14:15

Have you heard of the phrase “two steps forward, one step back?” What if we could erase that end part? What if we could subtract from the equation the minus one step? What would the total sum of one’s life be if all they ever did was progress? If all they ever did was to add without factoring in any negatives?

“Two steps forward, one step back.” It’s a phrase that I have used and I know you have, too. But in reality, I actually think that we get too comfortable with that kind of mentality. Everything is not always going to go off without a hitch, we know that.  And yes, we will face obstacles at times, but it’s almost as if we expect to move back every time we try to advance forward. We are factoring in a negative from the very beginning and any time doubt is introduced into one’s advancement in this way, that will almost always sabotage one’s progress, taking away from all that they have done and gone through to move forward. It can subtract from and overshadow the positive with that seemingly bigger negative.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are many hard trials and circumstances that everyone will face. I will not trivialize the hurt and disappointments that one may come across in their life. But what will happen, if while we are on this journey, we try our best to look beyond the circumstances that we are in and be determined to move forward toward the promise anyway? What if for once we could factor out the negatives of life instead of factoring them in? Despite the chariots and the enemies pursuing us, we could be more determined to pursue the goals that God has for us.

That is what I really believe God wanted the children of Israel to do here. To stop looking for reasons for not progressing.  To stop looking for obstacles. To stop making excuses for why they can’t get to where God wants them to go. He had a glorious destiny for them. God had already shown them many, many miracles that led up to their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Yet, as soon as a moment of adversity poked its head around the corner to spy on their progress, they stopped moving. Instead, they stayed in that unproductive state wallowing in self-pity: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11), they cried.

God has a better plan for you than to keep you still, wallowing in the wilderness, in a state of self-pity. That’s why He said, “Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” Stop crying about it and just go! Move! Make some progress! No more backward! It’s time to go on in Jesus’ name! To move it or lose it!

Looking at the stuff one has been through and the possibility of hardship ahead can be very discouraging, but press on anyhow! There is a promised land for you and me to reach. That alone is enough to urge you onward and upward. So, go ahead – be progressive today. Say within yourself, “I’m going to make it this time!”  No turning back!

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Encourage!

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do,” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

The main goal of a cheerleading organization is to raise the spirits of the fans and team members of the sport they are supporting.  As I look at this life, I realize there are others around you and me every day that could use some encouragement.  People who need their spirits raised.  Some whose lives need to be touched with a little something that will help see them through this day.

The old saying is true that you cannot judge a book by its cover.  People are like that also.  Day by day we walk through our normal routines.  Sometimes we come across different people.  Sometimes we see the same people each and every time.  In meeting people there’s one thing I have come to realize, you don’t have a clue of what one may be facing on the other side of that facade.

The face that is smiling at you may be at the point of giving up.  The one who is engaging you in polite conversation may have just suffered a hard blow financially.  Or, any others we may see or come across on a daily basis.  All we can do is look at what they show us.  Sometimes, what they don’t show is there are deeper issues they are dealing with.  While in the middle of those deep issues, what if they receive a word that renews, that makes them feel that everything is going to be okay in spite of what they are facing?  What if one act of kindness done for them helps to ensure them they are important too, no matter what the situation is telling them, and raises their spirits?

How would we order our day, our regular routines, if we treated everyone as if they were a mission field to receive kindness?  You could be the one that will help somebody else to make the decision that they will not throw in the towel.  They will not give up.  You and I can be that deciding factor!  You can be that spiritual cheerleader that brightens the heart and lift the spirits of those who may be having a hard time in life right now.

Oh, what joy!  We don’t have to know the total story of another.  All we have to do is try to treat everyone who crosses our path with respect and a willingness to radiate the goodness of God onto them.  Perhaps all we have to have is a kind word ready on the tongue to bless the life of another.  After all, the Bible does tell us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue . . .” (Pro. 18:21).  There is power in the words we speak to others and in any encouragement we can give.

1 Thessalonians commands us to “edify one another.”  That word “edify” means to build up.  Or, as I like to say, to cheer on!  The things we do and say in life should make people feel encouraged.  It should inspire them to go on and not give up.  It should show them to Whom we belong.  “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and the things wherewith one may edify another,” (Rom. 14:19).  It’s looking for ways to touch the life of another through encouragement.

Lift someone else today.  Send out a ray of sunshine from you to them.  Let them feel the warmth of the love of God in you.  Let them know that there is something special in them.  And, yes, make them feel that they matter.  Be an encourager today!  Be a spirit lifter!

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“God Made Your Life Beautiful!”

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No matter what you have going on in your life today.
No matter how you feel.
No matter the lies that try to convince you otherwise.
No matter the tauntings to get you to give up.
No matter the adversity that speaks against your dreams.
No matter what this says . . .
And, no matter about that . . .
No matter what! God made your life BEAUTIFUL!

” . . . For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” – Psalm 139:14

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” – 1 Peter 2:9

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What Am I Giving?

Certain stories in the Bible humble me.  The story of the widow and her two mites being deposited in the offering is one of them.  While the affluent and the better-off gave a portion of what they had, this widow, she gave all.

Examining our lives, can we truly say that we have given God our all?  And I am not necessarily talking about money.  Our life, in general, is this huge opportunity to do something wonderful with our time on this earth.  Every day we have the chance to make something beautiful out of our days – to impact this generation and those around us with the love of God.  If we were to take an inventory of her mites and our portions, what would be the sum of what we have offered to our God?  As I read the words “she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had” (Luke 21:4), I couldn’t help but to stop and take a closer look at my life.

While the reference is clearly related to money, I still asked myself, what of my living?  What am I giving to God?

Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”  As recipients of God’s grace, in our “reasonable service”, what are we happily rendering back to God?  What is our daily offering we bring to Him?

No, we are not saved by our works, but “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).  No, we are not trying to work our way up the ladder of success of heaven, but we are in good company when our focus is on wanting to express our appreciation for all that God has done for us.  Even the psalmist once asked, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12).

Like the woman pouring out at the feet of Jesus, when we have received so much, it seems our natural inclination is to want to show much love and appreciation for all the Lord has done for us (Luke 7:47).

So, the psalmist continues: “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.” (Psalm 116:13-14).

No, and with that, no, I mean, NEVER, can we repay God for this great work of salvation He has done in our lives.  But like the widow and the giving of all her two mites, I can show my love and joy to my heavenly Father in the daily offering of my life by how I choose to live and what I choose to give.

So, I ponder, what am I giving?

“I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good.” Psalm 54:6

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