A Word for Today: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

There may be things you face today; things that don’t seem favorable or in your best interest.  There may be mountains you have to face, making your dreams seem out of reach.  There may be people you have to deal with who work against you and not for you.  In everything, I hear that whisper from Psalms saying, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

When everything within wants to fight with human intuition, He whispers,  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

When everything wants you to quit and give up, He encourages, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

When faced with seemingly insurmountable situations, He speaks, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

When the undeserving comes your way, He comforts with, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

When enemies lift up their voice against you, He boldly states,  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

God is there for you.  God is fighting for you.  God sees every unfair thing that tries to attack you and bring you down.  In it, He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  He is our “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  We can trust Him with our daily concerns and struggles.  Troubles don’t last always, but God does, and He said, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

For everything you face today, I urge you to stop and take a breath in the midst of it all and remind yourself of this powerful verse, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Say it over and over again to yourself throughout the day.  Let the truth of His Word do the fighting for you.

“God is Working it Out!”

Here’s a little bit of encouragement for you to start your day: “God is working it out!”

Reading in the book of Ruth, I couldn’t help but rejoice with happy crying in my heart. When I see her story I can’t help but to be encouraged by what God did for her.

Let’s face it. She, according to those in the land, was really a nobody.  She was a woman of sorrow having lost her husband, her support, and now she has walked away from her homeland to follow Naomi.  Living in a strange place as a foreigner to all around she tried to acclimate to her new surroundings and help Naomi the best she could.

What the story doesn’t tell us are all the emotions that must have been going on with Ruth. Did she question her life?  Her decisions?  Did she feel lost sometimes as she sought to do the right thing out of love?  Did she ever pray in her heart for an understanding of all the why’s that was going on in her life at that moment?  Did she look at her adversity and think there was nobody to care; nobody who really pays attention to little old me?

She had a rough go at it but her story is so encouraging to me. As I look through the pages that tell the events of her life I can’t help but to see God in the midst of it all.  It may not have been immediately prevalent to her at the moment, but for us who read her story, we can see Him at work orchestrating the events until they come to the fruition of a blessed end.

The whole time – through all her sadness, doubt, discouragements, and feelings of hopelessness, God was there, in the midst,  working it out.

This leads me to question our life today. What is it that we are going through?  What is attacking us today with doubt and questioning?  What sadness are we battling with?  It’s so hard to think with a clear mind sometimes when we are in midst of our own struggles, but after reading her story I can’t help but believe that God is standing in heaven, looking down, and working it out for us as well.

We may not see it immediately, but like Ruth, during the time of harvest our Boaz (which stands for our blessing – not necessarily the man himself) will appear and we will reap the promises of God. We just have to hold out for the harvest, and keep being faithful, keep working, and keep gleaning the fields until our time of blessings comes to pass.

God is putting all the pieces together.  He is working it out for us!

“The Lord is on my Side!”

 

Oh, the grace of another day.  Yet, every day is not peachy, rather often with it comes turmoil, upset, and unrest.  Sometimes, battling the seen and the unseen.  Sometimes, fighting to keep one’s spiritual head above the waters of this life that seek to take you under.  Oh, the peace to know that despite it all, the Lord is on my side.

If you’ve ever gone to the circus, one of the most impressive feats to witness in the performances there are the trapeze acts.  It never seems to lose its awesomeness as we watch men and women fly through the air with what appears to be a complete disregard for life and limb.  Actually, it is quite the opposite.  They fly through the air with abandon because of the trust they exhibit in their partner to be by their side and to catch them at that pivotal moment; to catch them when it matters most.  There is an awesome relationship of trust that goes on between the two.  One that neither can doubt in lest the outcome be less than desirable.

What about our relationship with God?  Do we exhibit the same trust in Almighty God that these acrobats seem to place in human confidence?  Do we sport the confidence that He is by our side to catch us when we need Him the most?

Sometimes it may feel like you are in the boxing ring alone.  Well, you’re not!  Sometimes it may appear that you are fighting armies that encamp against you by yourself.  You’re not!  God is on our side and He promised to never leave us nor forsake us, Hebrews 13:5.

Daily, we are upheld by Him!  Our lives are not in our own hands rather in the hands of Him that never fails!  We may swing to and fro, sometimes feeling up and sometimes down, yet He is the ever-present strength that keeps us flying high above all these adversities, above all these troubles, above all these trappings of this world.

Difficulties will arise.  Oh yes, they will.  But, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.  In other words, He is on our side.  He is our overcomer.  He is our victor.  He is our deliverer that will see us past all that is presently before us that we might experience the peace that He so offers.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” John 14:27.  Some may say this is easier said than done especially when the upsets of life seem to be all around and the strength to carry on, well, it’s just plain hard to find.  You’re exhausted!  I get it.  God gets it.

That’s why His Word declares and reminds every one of us, we don’t have to carry on on our own.  The Lord is on your side.  You are not in this alone.  This is the message of the whole Bible.  No matter how dim, gloomy and bleak it may seem, we are not in this alone.  We have a Strength that is beyond our human capabilities.  We have a Force fighting for us that cannot be reckoned with by human standards.  We have the one and only true God and He is on our side!

Who are you flying with today?  Secure your life in Him, let go and know that “The LORD is on my side,” Psalm 118:6.  Trust Him, He will catch the life that honestly reaches out for Him, trusts, and believes.

Sunday School Lesson – “Saved by Faith” Luke 7:36-50

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 7:36-50 (KJV, Public Domain)

Forgiveness is something none will make it to heaven without.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what one has done in life, from the highest to the lowest, without accepting the life Christ offers through His salvation and forgiveness, we will not make it in.  The Bible records, “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared,” (Psalm 130:3-4).

Who could stand?  Absolutely no one! (See Romans 3:10). Without His covering and remission of sins, the pathway to heaven will be blocked.  It doesn’t matter if one’s walk of life is a Pharisee or a prostitute (as some suppose the woman in this lesson was).  There is not an individual who is worthy enough to enter the gates of glory without Jesus’ forgiveness.

Question: What would happen if today God sat down and took account of all the wrongs we have done?  What would it be like if we stood before Him unable to pay what we owe?  We were there!  Jesus knew the predicament that humanity was in.  He knew that man could never get himself out of the debt of sin, so through Him we obtain that freedom along with grace, mercy and compassion as a people who don’t deserve it.

The Bible reminds us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).  I guarantee if we were to look at ourselves, we could not fathom how many times our accounts would have gone unpaid had it not been for the blood of Christ. But thank God, He acted in love to save to us!  No just us – but everyone who comes to Him in faith regardless of the background of sin.

The verses of study in this lesson will tell of one woman’s enormous expression of love for Jesus at having her sins forgiven and the criticism it brought.

 A Sinner’s Precious Gift

Luke 7:36-38 “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he could eat with him.  And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.  And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”

It wasn’t unusual then nor is it today for a respected teacher/preacher of God’s word to be invited to dine with officials.  Jesus opened Himself to people from all walks of life (even the Pharisees who were often seen at odds with Him), and without reservation “he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.”

We are not told exactly how long He was there but during the process of the meal came a disturbance at dinnertime.  “A woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment.”  At this point of the lesson it is not immediately known her plans but just the fact that this woman of ill repute, who many suppose her to be a prostitute, dared entered a Pharisee’s house and draw near to a respected Rabbi drew eyes of speculation at her coming.

Some reading her story today may think how bold of her to come near to Jesus in her dejected state.  Rest assured, those at dinner didn’t think her bold.  They probably thought her even more rude and full of sin to think to defile the atmosphere with her presence.  Honestly, what Pharisee would normally let the likes of her come into his very home?  It was unheard of.  Since the crowds often gathered to hear Jesus speak wherever He went, she came in amongst some of the others until who she is caught the attention of the religious elite.

Nonetheless, she was there with all that she had in her facing the shame of her wrongs she saw etched in the faces of the onlookers.  Yet, they were not the audience whose attention she was seeking.  Her heart drew her to the feet of Jesus.  This is where she stood humbly holding her precious gift, an “alabaster box of ointment,” (an expensive gift to say the least which spoke volumes of her sacrifice).  With the feelings of all that she was as opposed to all that He would do for her – it was overwhelming.  This is what happens when sin meets with Savior.  The tears would not be bidden to stop.  The heart and spirit within spoke through the flow from her eyes.

Living in sin for so long she recognized her unworthiness before the Sovereign.  It doesn’t take a genius for us to see that she saw herself and Jesus in a different light than everyone else present.  Did no one else there see their sin for what it was?  Did any present even believe they had sin to repent of?  Or, was it just the nature of her sin drew extra scowls as opposed to the hidden things in other’s hearts?

Regardless, her heart response came through “weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”  Her actions there may have seemed inappropriate to those eyeballing her, but she received no correction from Jesus.  Sorrowfulness over one’s sins is always a most appropriate response and she expressed that sorrow in the humblest way she knew how.

The feet were particularly dirty, especially in the day where sandals and dirt roads met daily.  From a previous article titled Wash Me Jesus, I wrote (speaking of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet):

“In case you didn’t know, this was a very gross job reserved for the lowest of servants in the house.  The roads were not paved but rather dusty and muddy and littered with all types of animal material left behind (if you catch my meaning).  Open sandals were the norm of fashion which really didn’t do anything to keep the elements of all that had been stepped on out.  Feet stank and were blistered, sore and probably repulsive to us today.  No such thing as a pedicure back then.” (Word For Life Says)

Yet, this is where this sinful woman positioned herself and performed the task that others didn’t want.  She did it without complaint, rather she cried over her pitiful state compared to His holiness.  Her tears become the water basin and her hair became the towel.  Anointing his feet with the costly gift of love, somehow, she knew despite its extravagance, it would never be enough to repay what He would do in taking away her sins.  Therefore, with love and sorrow meeting together in her heart, she kissed His feet unashamedly.

Christ’s Precious Gift

Luke 7:39-43 “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.  And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.  There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.” 

As if her actions weren’t appalling enough, Simon the Pharisee thought Jesus’ were more so.  The self-righteous have a way of silently judging the actions and suppositions of others while maintaining a high regard for their own interest and view of self.

This Pharisee was taken aback more by Jesus, I think, then this woman.  She was a noted sinner, and nobody expected better of her.  But, Jesus…  He had his mind made up about Him.  Whatever reason pressed on him to invite Jesus to dinner in the first place, the fact is at this point he thinks of Jesus in a low fashion to the point of questioning in himself whether or not He is truly a man of God at all or not: “If he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”

The word “if” tells the story of where he believes Jesus is coming from.  A prophet is a holy man of God.  Throughout history they have been special vessels set aside to be God’s spokesmen.  One who claims connections with God as tight as Jesus claims should know or at least sense sin when they see it.  Therefore, why would He let the likes of her even come near Him, let alone touch Him as she has done? One conclusion comes to mind as far as the Pharisee sees.  To him, Jesus is not a real prophet.

Too bad so many focus only on what appears to be so on the outside in that day as well as our own.  Earlier, explaining His choice to eat with sinners, Jesus taught, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick,” (Luke 5:31).  Jesus was not, and has never, and never will entertain sin!  Please get that right!  However, Jesus knows that people from all manner of life need a Savior regardless of how the rest of the world views them.  It may be harder for those such as the self-righteous Pharisees to see their need, but for this woman and others like her, she had no problem weeping at the feet of Jesus.

Jesus, knowing what he was thinking, used this as an opportunity to shed some spiritual light on the darkness of his heart and others in the room who may be inwardly scowling as well.  With a parable He spoke of a “creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.”  Both owed the creditor, one more than the other, significantly so; yet, neither had means to pay back accordingly.  In either situation they were both subject to whatever the creditor should do to penalize their faulty stance.

In that day they couldn’t file bankruptcy and get a clean slate to start over.  There were no government assisted credit remediation programs.   In other areas of the Bible it tells of stories where children could be taken to work off debt (2 Kings 4:1-7); he and all his family could be sold into slavery (Matthew 18:24-25); and, so on.  A debt owed would be a debt repaid one way or another.  I find it no small coincidence that when teaching the disciples how to pray they Lord’s Prayer, the words rendered in midst, plead: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” (Matthew 6:12), for truly it is and was a debt owed that could never be repaid by human standards.

Nonetheless, in the telling of His parable, Jesus noted the actions of the creditor.  He took it upon himself, as the one who had the power to demand payback, to remit the balance and cancel the charge against both.  “He frankly forgave them both.” 

Simon was probably startled a little by its telling because not too many persons would cancel a debt so easily and not demand payment.  Rarely does one walk away from money, especially if it was yours to begin with.  The creditor had the right to obtain what was lawfully his, but he chose, out of compassion (we are assuming), not to do so.

Drawing him out of his musings, Jesus asked, “Which of them will love him most?”  Simon’s response, whether he wanted to admit it or not, was appropriate.  He said, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.”  He that stood to lose the most but gained the most grace instead – it is he that will be the most grateful and “love him most.” 

When forgiveness erases debt and pardon has been enacted that a life may remain to thrive in freedom, it inspires love.  “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love…” (Proverbs 17:9).  If this is true for a man how much more with God?  Jesus therefore said, “Thou hast rightly judged.”

Luke 7:44-47 “And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.  Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.  My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.  Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

If Simon failed to do what was according to custom for an honored guest one must question his real motives for inviting Jesus to dinner at all.  Was there a genuine interest in Jesus and what He represents, or was it another worked up ploy of some of the Pharisees to trap Jesus in words or actions?  At this point one can only speculate.

According to custom everything the woman did in an over the top fashion should have already been performed as normal service for a guest coming into a house, especially the house of a respected Pharisee.  We have already discussed about the feet being washed (which Simon failed to provide for).  But, other social codes performed were the kiss of greeting by the host (which Simon failed to do; for examples see Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12), and anointing the head with oil (which again, Simon fell short of social courtesy).  These were ways to express honor and respect, and help refresh one when coming into a house, particularly to a dinner or feast.  But this sinful woman offered up extravagant oil for His feet whose perfume would fragrance the whole house.

Jesus said of her, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.”  Her actions spoke volumes of being remorseful and repentant.  No, her works did not save her.  No, her expensive gift did not make room in heaven for her.  At some point she realized the great relief Jesus could bring to her messed up life.  Did she hear Him through a previous teaching?  Who knows?  What matters now is her humility of heart before the Savior seeking forgiveness.

Jesus said, “For she loved much” because she was forgiven much.  Whereas one who believes they are alright may not express the same deep regard for forgiven sin.  As opposed to “whom little is forgiven,” that individual may take for granted the gift of grace, as hinted at in the story of the two debtors.

Luke 7:48-50 “And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.  And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?  And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

“Thy sins are forgiven,” were the blessed words the Savior spoke over the sinner here and in our life as well.  Jesus didn’t justify what she did, but He forgave her.  Let me make this very clear again, God will never, ever condone our sin or pat us on the back for it, but we can be free from them.  Like that woman, we could be standing in the midst of our mess, but He is ready, holding the keys to your release.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).   Turn to Him in all humility of heart, confess and accept it today!

“Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”  Coming to Jesus with all our wrongs and trusting Him to heal and forgive is a walk of faith; steps that begin with believing in Him as the Savior of our soul.  It’s the only way to find true peace in one’s life.

No matter who you are or where you are from, Jesus can forgive any sins of those who come to Him in faith and trust in His free gift of salvation.  Today, if you are not born again and you want to find release as the woman in today’s lesson did, I urge you to take care of it immediately.  Above, I quoted 1 John 1:9 which was written to a church of believers who already knew Christ as their Savior.  If you want your confession to work you must be born again, then like the woman we too can find release and forgiveness.

Speaking with Nicodemus one night, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” (John 3:5).  “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 2:38).

Be blessed, come to Him in faith and accept His forgiveness today!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Saved by Faith

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Alabaster Flask Lace-Up Craft: Alabaster Flask Lace-Up Craft (Cardstock is best to use.  I used gold ribbon due to the expensive nature of the gift and cut a slit for “oil” to flow out of the top.  Enjoy!)

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Alabaster Flask Lace Up Craft-001

Draw the Scene: Saved By Faith Draw the Scene

 

 

Memory Verse: Saved By Faith Memory Verse

 

How Many Words: Saved by Faith How Many Words

 

 

“God’s Word Gives Light!”

Light was designed to dispel darkness.  In the beginning when it was originally created and now also.  No matter if the light is an artificial source such as a lamp, flashlight or candle, or if it be the illumination of the sun; all light’s purpose is to shine and make known what one normally wouldn’t be able to see in the dark.

The writer of Psalm 119:105 declared, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  Traveling the course of this world can at times get a bit tricky.  Navigating through the winding roads of decisions and choices can be daunting.  But then, the opening up of God’s Word brings that which was once obscured into the open, revealing the path to follow if it is used.

How oft do we forget when it comes to the cares of this life; when we come upon a fork in the road, there His Word shows the best course of action?  2 Timothy 3:16-17 shows us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  God’s Word is the answer to all.  Every question, every choice, every pondering of the spirit finds an answer covered in the “inspiration of God.”

Where the Word is allowed to operate understanding has a chance to thrive.  Psalm 119:130 says, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.”  Be reassured that God’s Word can illuminate your life.  God’s Word can open up your understanding and help you find your way.  Trust that God’s Word gives light today!

“God’s Got You Covered!”

 

Do you ever feel opened and exposed during the trials of life?  Do you ever feel that the enemy has free pickings when it comes to your heartache?  Well, he doesn’t!  The enemies of this life may chase you, hunt you down and all together seek to make your life miserable, but the enemies do not have the last say over anything.  God, in His complete sovereignty, has you covered!

If anybody knew about being constantly chased by enemies seeking to take their life it was David.  Saul, in a jealous pursuit, saw something special in David, the favor of God, and wanted to destroy David.  There were days when David may have felt like giving up.  There were days of hiding in caves and pretending to be a mad-man to seek solitude in other countries.  But, through it all David dealt best with his enemies through prayer.  He declared who his God was and committed his trust to Him.  In Psalm 140:7, “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.”

To be covered means to be concealed and to be protected.  The battles of this life may at times make us feel that we are an open target to everyone who can’t stand the favor of God on us, but be of good cheer, God’s got us covered!  “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever,” (Psalm 125:2).  And, if God is like a mountain surrounding us then there is no adversary that can break through the covering He has over us.  It may feel like we are on the run sometimes but God is still that protecting force that “covered my head in the day of battle.”  Commit your heartaches, your battle and your enemies to God and let Him be your covering today.

Sunday School Lesson – “The Centurion’s Great Faith” Luke 7:1-10

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 7:1-10 (KJV, Public Domain)

The feet of faith walk forward believing God is, “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith in its highest form removes all worldly shackles and just rests in the truth that if it is His will, there is nothing that can hinder God from performing a miracle in one’s life.  Ethnicity, background, and prestige all fall away in the eyes of our Savior whose only view is that of an opened heart filled with belief.

 The Centurion Seeks Help from Jesus

 Luke 7:1-3 “Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.  And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.  And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.”

Before arriving at today’s lesson, Jesus taught a powerful sermon consisting of blessings and woes.  He interjected these lessons with questions and spiritual insights including once asking “Can the blind lead the blind?” (Luke 6:39).  He also pointed out “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good,” (Luke 6:45).  Jesus ends chapter 6 inquiring “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”  (Luke 6:46), comparing the foundations of their spiritual lives.

After this teaching session, “when he ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.”

“Capernaum,” situated on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, was known for fishing and trade.  More known to us today, it was the place considered to be home-base of operations or headquarters, if you will, of Jesus’ ministry.  He is noted on several occasions as going to Capernaum (see Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:31; John 2:12, and so on).  People also knew this was a place where He could probably be found and sought for Him there (see John 6:24).

Therefore, this small village of only approximately 1,500 people or so became etched in history as a place where Jesus walked and taught; a place where miracles were performed, and faith was noted as being great for one man.

The possessor of that “great faith” enters the scene when someone near to him falls to the afflictions of sickness and no other help will do outside of the intervention of Jesus.  He is known as a “centurion,” meaning in charge of hundreds.  He is a man who is a leader during the Roman occupation of the land.  He has authority (of which will be discussed later).  He has position.  And though considered not one of the people, his faith, as Jesus will note, was exhibited to a greater degree than those of His own people.

The centurion’s position was prestigious; nonetheless, he had a compassionate side and cared for those under him.  This may not be the normal picture of a Roman soldier that immediately comes to mind, but it was for this man.  He had a “servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die,” (vs. 2).  With the usage of the word “dear”, it points out his genuine concern and affection for this particular servant.  Again, this is far from the idea of these soldiers we know of.

The point is, the individual of his concern was “sick, and ready to die.”  When we read of the same account in Matthew it tells us he was, “sick of the palsy, grievously tormented,” (Matthew 8:6).  From this description, we know that he suffered from pain and was paralyzed.  Whatever brought on this disease it seemed to progress to the point of agony, causing the centurion to believe his servant’s life was in danger.  He was, as he believed, “ready to die.”

Therefore, out of his concern he sought for the only remedy he could – Jesus.  We are not sure exactly when or where he became aware of Jesus.  Being stationed in Capernaum, Jesus’ home base of ministry, it was only a matter of time before he became exposed to His miracles and teachings.  Either by way of others, or maybe even having the chance to witness it himself, he found out that Jesus heals and sought His help.

“When he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.”  Many are familiar with the animosity that was present in that day between the Jewish people and their oppressors of the Roman Empire.  History often shows that people are generally not favorable to those who invade their lands and take over.

Yet, this centurion seems to have secured a favorable relationship with the village and the leaders therein.  So much so, he had no qualms about seeking their assistance in bringing to Jesus’ attention the plight of his sick servant.

Oh, the humility of character this man in charge exhibited.  He was in a position to order (as later he demonstrates he can) and take charge, yet he simply seeks assistance.  The Bible encourages us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men,” (Romans 12:18).  This includes people over you, people under you, and people all around you.  There are many rewards of maintaining positive relationships and one can never tell who God has placed in one’s path to provide for much-needed help.

Luke 7:4-5 “And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”

The “elders” have no reservations in talking with the centurion commander or with communicating to Jesus his need.  Therefore, “they besought him instantly.”  With great urgency “they came to Jesus” and presented the centurion’s case before Him.  They noted, “he was worthy for whom he should do this.”  The favor this man showed to the Jewish people earned him a good reputation among the villagers.

Standing as an advocate before Jesus, they speak well of his character, pointing out “for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”  There is much speculation on exactly what is being said here in regard to the centurion himself.  Did he build the synagogue as a means to just keep the peace?  Was this some sort of political tactic?

I could be wrong, but I disagree with this view.  The elders made a point of using the word “loveth” in describing his relationship toward the “nation.”  Could it be there was a genuine spark of wanting alive in him, for He, whom the Jewish people were serving?  Living in such close proximity of the people, maybe he had an opportunity to review his life and compare what he previously knew, to those who were living as God’s people.  Perhaps he wanted more and participated in the only way he knew how.  Who knows?  We can only imagine that in some way or form God was working on his heart.

The Centurion’s Faith Commended by Jesus

Luke 7:6-8 “Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.  For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”

After hearing the story of the centurion and his servant, Jesus went with the men who had advocated the man’s plight.  One of the things I love about Jesus is it doesn’t take much to move Him.  People overcomplicate faith until it can’t be recognized.  Jesus simply heard them out and with the compassionate heart, He has He was ready to move into action to help, yes, even this Gentile.

Coming near the house, the centurion makes a surprise move.  Sending out friends he stops the progression of Jesus from coming into his house.  He knows his position in life.  He knows that he is not one of “these” people.  He knows that he is “not worthy.”

One of his greatest characteristics he shows here is his humility.  I see too many in our day brazen enough to approach God any kind of way as if it is owed to them.  I cringe at it all.  Pridefulness is against everything pertaining to God and something God will fight against (see James 4:6).  Rather, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word,” (Isaiah 66:2; emphasis mine).  God pays attention to the humble.

As a man in authority, he doesn’t lift himself up demanding to be seen.  He humbly and respectfully recognizes who he is, and he recognizes who Jesus is, and counts his own self “not worthy.”  He didn’t take it upon himself to approach Jesus, therefore sending the elders previously and now his friends as well, holding Him off from entering “under my roof.”  How are we approaching Jesus?  Do we have hearts lifted up, feeling we deserve the privilege to be heard and blessed, or are we surrendered respectfully to Him, recognizing His holiness compared to our human weaknesses?

This centurion not only possessed a special measure of humility, but he also possessed a faith that was uncommon.  He said, “But say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.”  Wow!  He didn’t need Jesus to come to his house.  In his faith, he didn’t need Jesus to touch his servant in a special way.  But he understood what most in that day, and even today, fail to realize: all Jesus has to do is speak a word.

The word of Christ is powerful.  Operating under the same authority as His Father, He could count it done whatever He speaks (Psalm 33:9).  It will come to pass!  He can literally speak healing into any situation, and it will obey His command and bring about deliverance (see Psalm 107:20).  This centurion recognized His authority and the capacity to do the impossible even from a distance.

Explaining how he came to the conclusion of viewing Jesus and his situation, he said, “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”  As a commander of the Roman army he knows what it is to take orders and obey the commands of one’s superiors.  At the same time, he understands his own position well.  At any given time, he can issue an order and expect nothing less than complete follow through.  He had the right in his ranking to do so.

Viewing Jesus, he perceived His power operated to an even higher degree than his own.  He knew that all Jesus had to do was speak, and healing would obey.  Whatever sickness bound his servant would have to bend to the will the Savior and obey His orders.  This is the same Jesus whom the winds and waves obeyed (see Matthew 8:27).  This is the same one who made demons tremble and come out of people (see Mark 1:21-34).  This same Jesus was a part of Creation (Colossians 1:16).  And, this same Jesus is able to save those who come near to Him (Hebrews 7:25).  He has opened the eyes of the blind, healed leprosy, unstopped deaf ears and raised the dead back to life.  This centurion saw in Him the power to do what needed to be done to heal his servant, and he believed!

Luke 7:9-10 “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.”

Jesus was amazed at his response.  He had not met anyone in Israel who had so recognized His authority and power as this man; someone whom willing gives 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 in this lesson.  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, and I quoted a portion of it earlier in the introduction, “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 that Jesus can do this for you, too.

One of my favorite portions of Scripture reminds me that our God is the good Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children, (see Matthew 7:9-11).  Really, He is!  Therefore, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (Matthew 7:7).

The miracles of Jesus were not just for the benefit of the receivers.  Through the retelling of them, we are able to build ourselves up in our own faith and be encouraged by what we read.  Verses like John 20:31 tell us, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name,” which is the ultimate end to having great faith – life eternal.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Centurion’s Great Faith

Suggested Activities:

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Dear Jesus

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Dear Lord

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Memory Verse: The Centurion’s Great Faith Memory Verse

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Word Scramble: The Centurion’s Great Faith Word Scramble  Answers: The Centurion’s Great Faith Word Scramble Answers

“Take A Stand Against Fear!”

 

“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16, KJV

There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them and their own lives.

Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.

The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1, KJV). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10, KJV).

That’s what faith sees!

With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger, (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed, (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also, (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life, (Esther 4:11).

A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.

With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14, KJV).

In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!

“Safe, Secured, and Loved!”

In the measure of mess seen in the world, uncertainty has a way of tossing one about.  As waves lifting the vessel to scary heights only to crash back down again are the problems many faces daily.  Circumstances that provoke fear instead of inspiring faith.

The catch-all of it is whatever side one spends the most thought in, it has the strongest hold on that life.  If it is one faith, then with one foot in front of the other one will march forward into depths unknown without regard to the thrashing swells of the sea. But if it is in fear, the move forward becomes halted.  Continuing to sail to the other side no longer seems a viable option, thus one cries out as the disciples did, “Master, carest thou not that we perish,” (Mark 4:38)?

Of course, He cares.  He loves you.  You are His and He is riding in the boat of life with you.  He has never abandoned you.  He has never forsaken you.  People are the ones who have allowed the fear and uncertainty around to obscure their view of the Savior.

Refocus on Him.  Imagine His protection covering you like the most indomitable shield.  Thus He is at the helm of your life, speaking, “Peace, be still,” (Mark 4:39).  What comfort that brings to the tossed soul knowing He still has it all in His hands.

So, “Why are ye so fearful,” (Mark 4:40)?

Fearfulness comes from a lack of belief.  The storms want us to see things through the lens of the ferocious wind-tossed seas, but Jesus wants us to see them as being subdued already under His dominion and authority.  He wants His people to believe more in the promises of His word than the fearsomeness of the waves.

In Him we are safe, secured, and loved.  Therefore, as the psalmist reminds us:

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident,” (Psalm 27:1-3).

In other words, we are safe in Him!

In a baseball game, safe means one has arrived at the base untouched and unhindered.  I can’t promise you that life will never touch you in an attempt to knock you out of the running.  But, riding with Jesus you can still arrive safe.

“Today I Believe I am Big Enough!”

“And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight,” Numbers 13:33

Feeling outsized in life?  The fact of the matter is that many of us feel too small for the task ahead.  Goals, dreams, and possibilities are alright to fantasize about, but when it actually comes down to implementing what needs to be done, we often feel inadequate, as if we don’t have enough in us to see it all the way through to the end.  We feel too small to go in and take hold of what we can be.

Too often we get stuck in a rut because of this line of thinking.  The pressure of what it actually takes to step out into something new, to believe there is a chance for you to be better and to have better, is a little overwhelming to most.  Dealing with the unusual and stepping into the unfamiliar takes a strong act of courage.  It involves one having enough strength and faith to look past what they view themselves as now and see something bigger.

For any area of life where we want to see improvement, there will always be barriers.  There will always be “giants,” whether real or imagined, that will say and make you believe that you are too little; that you don’t have enough in you to be big.

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” (1 John 4:4).  The world doesn’t want you to make it.  And, he that operates in the world wants your faith to diminish to the point that you feel like you’re a little “grasshopper.”  It is time for you to stop listening to the world and turn a deaf ear to the “giants.”  If God brought you to the edge of the promise, then, He is most certainly able to bring you all the way into it.  The main factor that can hinder you is you!  It is what you believe about yourself!   It is what you believe God can do in and through you!

“Greater is He that is in you!”  Our belief in ourselves and what God can do through us rises when we realize who it is on our side and what He can do.  That’s the beautiful thing about this.  Life may outsize us but it will never outsize God!  God dwarfs to nobody!  He is greater than all.  So much so, that when He was telling Abraham about his promises, “He could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,” (Hebrews 6:13).

God is the greatest there is.  The buck stops with Him.  He can’t be outdone.  He can’t be belittled.  He is king and will be king forever.  And, He is “in you!”  That means you are big enough!  You are nobody’s grasshopper!  You can do it because of who you have on the inside of you!  Your job is to wholeheartedly believe, understand and know His bigness, so that you can believe, understand and know that today, “I am big enough!”

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