Oh What Faith To Have!

As I was doing my morning readings, I came across ‘The Faith of the Centurion.’

I couldn’t help but realize, this is the kind of faith I want!

Here’s the story (NIV):

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.  “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”

Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes.  I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go!  It will be done just as you believed it would.”  And his servant was healed at that very hour.

Talk about faith!

The centurion said, “…I do not deserve to have you come under my roof…” and “…just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

Now that’s the kind of faith I strive to have and you should too.

All we need to do is… ASK.

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!'” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard see, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”-Luke 17:5

Keep spreading the Word!

Love Your Enemies & Pray For Those Who Persecute You

Pain hurts.

When someone harms you or says something means it hurts.

We could think that it’s ok to retaliate, but Jesus calls for us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

“But I tell you who hear me:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” -Luke 6:27-28

It’s not easy.  How can you love your enemy?… By God’s strength!

It’s not natural to love your enemies or do good to those who hurt you.  But with God’s strength you can love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you.

For example, I’ve seen video that took place in a courtroom.  The man was found guilty of raping and killing a girl.  The parents of the victim stand and start saying they forgive the man for what he has done.

Wow!  Again, that’s not natural to be able to forgive someone like that.  That’s the power of God working through them to be able to forgive someone who did a horrible act to their loved one.

And, how about when Jesus says to pray for those who persecute you.  It takes God’s strength to be able to do that.

I’ve found that praying for people who wrong you is not only good for them (because God hears our prayers), but it’s also good for our own soul.  It gets rid of all the anger and bitterness in your heart towards that person.

The next time someone mistreats you be kind to them.  Pray for them.  Do good to them.

“But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” -Matthew 5:44

Keep spreading the Word!

The Full Armor of God

In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his might power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)

When times get tough, which they always do, what is there to do?

The only thing to do is put on the Full Armor of God!

There are 5 pieces of armor and 1 piece which is used for the offense to fight Satan.

The Full Armor of God:

  1. Belt of Truth
  2. Breastplate of Righteousness
  3. Footgear with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace
  4. Shield of Faith
  5. Helmet of Salvation
  6. Sword of the Spirit

Belt of Truth

Used to fight Satan’s lies.  Only believers know God’s truth, which can be found in God’s Word… the Bible.

Breastplate of Righteousness

Used to protect our hearts – the seat of our emotions, where Satan likes to attack.  God’s righteousness is used to protect our hearts.

Footgear (Gospel of Peace)

Used to help us spread the Good Word!  Satan wants us to think it’s worthless to tell others about the Good News, but the footgear gives us the motivation to keep spreading his Word.

Shied of Faith

Used to protect us from Satan’s attacks which come from insults, setbacks, and temptations.  Let’s us know the ultimate victory is ours.

Helmet of Salvation

Used to protects our minds from doubting God’s saving work.  Satan wants us to doubt our salvation.

Sword of the Spirit (Word of God)

The only offense weapon.  Used when we need to take the offensive against Satan.  This is the Word of God.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his might power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)

Stay strong in faith my brothers and sister.

Keep spreading the Word!

The Power of Prayer

Prayer is a powerful thing.

God hears all our prayers. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” -Philippians 4:6

As you read the above verse, notice Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, BUT IN EVERYTHING, by PRAYER and PETITION…”

You can come to God with the biggest and smallest prayer requests.

It’s funny because I know some people who thing there are ‘petty’ prayer requests.

Take last week for example.  I was going to my Bible Study in Downtown Cleveland, and I was asking God for a parking spot.  I don’t normally drive downtown, so sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge, and when I do it’s usually for my Bible Study, and I know parking fills up pretty fast.

So, for me, I become anxious and worry about finding a parking spot.  And, guess what?  God provided… Probably the best spot in all of downtown for where I was going!

Well I was talking with a friend about prayer, and I told him my little story.  He laughed and thought that’s something you wouldn’t ask God for.  He thinks it needs to be serious like praying for health or a sick loved one, not a little itty-bitty parking spot.

But, as Paul says in Ephesians…

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” -Ephesians 6:18

The key word there is ‘ALL kinds.

No prayer request is too big or too small for God.  And don’t ever think a prayer is too silly.  Speak it to God and he’ll listen.

“Be joyful always; pray continually’ give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Keep spreading the Word!

A Murdered Can Go To Heaven?!

When ever I talk with my mom about everyone can go to Heaven she always gets defensive and says, “How can a murder go to Heaven?!”

Well, we’re all sinners and none of us deserve to go to Heaven.  The reason we get to go to Heaven is by believing in Jesus and knowing that he died for our sins.  When you believe this you’re saved!  Woot-woot!

The Parable in Matthew 20:1-16 describes this perfectly.

Here’s my paraphrasing…

So, there was this landowner who went out early in the morning to hire some men to work in his vineyard.  He told them he’d pay them a denarius for the day, and they agreed.

A couple hours later the landowner went out and saw other men standing around and told them to go work in his vineyard and he’d pay them what is right.

This continued a couple more times, and it was getting late in the day and he hired a few more workers.

Whelp, the work day came to an end so the workers came to collect their wages.  He called the men who started working last and paid them a denarius each.  Then he went down the line to the men who started working first.

Those men who started working first thought they were going to get a lot more than a denarius because the landowner gave a denarius to the men who only worked for an hour.

To their surprise, the landowner gave them only a denarius.

“WHAT?!!!” thought the men, as they grumbled against the landowner.  “You paid the men who only worked an hour the same as us, yet we have borne the burden of the work and the sun shining down on us.”

So the landowner told them, “Didn’t we agree on a denarius for you to work?  I’m not being unfair.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?  I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.”

This, is how it is with God.

You could be a Christian and follow God all your life and get to Heaven.  And, then a murderer can come to repent and trust in Christ at the end of his life and he’s getting into Heaven too, because his sins have just been washed away through Jesus!

I know this upsets some of you.  It really upsets my mom, and, I’ll admit, it’s kind of hard to understand.  But, it just shows how much God loves us… His creation!

Now, one thing you need to understand is, we’re still all going to be held accountable for what we have done here on Earth.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” -2 Corinthians 5:10

From what I’ve been reading… it seems this means that the judgment will reward us for how we have lived here on Earth.

As Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)

Keep spreading the Word!

Focus On God’s Recipe For Your Life

On Saturday, I was reading one of my devotionals and it really stood out to me.

It’s about focusing NOT on the ingredients of your life, but on the WHOLE recipe to see what God is preparing for your life.

I’m going to include a picture here so you can read it for yourself (It’s from Turning Points With God:  365 Daily Devotions by David Jeremiah):

God's RecipeAmazing!

I just love this devotional.

We’re always so focused on the ‘ingredients’ of our lives and fail to see the whole ‘recipe’ God is preparing for us.

At the time, I thought going through my divorce was the worst thing possible.  But, when I look back, it was only one ingredient to my life.  Without the divorce I wouldn’t be here today writing this to you.  I may not even be studying God’s Word or even living it.  I may not even have been truly saved.  Yikes.

So, I’m thankful that all the ingredients in my life add up to something special.  Maybe the final recipe is going to be a baked warm Apple Pie… Nah.  It’s going to be something beyond what we can imagine!

Keep spreading the Word!