The Centurion Who Honored Jesus

There’s a lovely story in the gospels about a centurion who’s servant was very sick. Matthew (Matthew 8:5-13) said the centurion approached Jesus and Luke (Luke 7:1-10) says that he sent elders of the Jews to speak for him. In both accounts, all he asked Jesus to do was speak the word of healing because he understood authority. “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Jesus was amazingly impressed by this man’s faith. “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” In all of the travels that Jesus did up and down the region where people were being healed everyday, he’d never seen this much faith. What’s even more amazing is that the man was a Roman, not even Jewish.

I love this centurion so much because he epitomizes what a believer should look like. According to Luke, he sent others to speak for him because he didn’t feel worthy to have Jesus come to his home. I think that kind of humility must have been uncharacteristic for most Romans. And he loved the Jewish people enough to build them a synagogue with his own money. He was humble, loving, and generous–all the qualities that we should exhibit.

On top of that, he was a man who understood power and authority. I don’t believe for a moment that any order he gave was second-guessed or ignored. The Roman army was notorious for its discipline. His orders would be obeyed or heads would roll. Imagine that combination of gentle caring and power. That’s exactly what we are called to live in.

We’ve been given all authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons.  (Matthew 10:8) We are to do what Jesus did, and more, but we are to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit who is the source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Gentle, loving, power and authority, working in the kingdom for the sake of others without needing recognition. This centurion has a lot to model for us. I, for one, can’t wait to meet him in heaven.

Work Out Your Own Salvation

When Paul said to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), he didn’t mean to make up your own rules for what salvation is, he meant make sure you know you are saved because the consequences are unthinkable if you are wrong. We know that, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) God didn’t want to make it difficult. The thief on the cross was with Jesus in paradise.

But what comes after salvation? How do we “work it out”? Jesus had some very chilling words to say about that, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7: 21-23)

Think about that! Someone who can prophesy and do miracles in Jesus’s name cannot make it into heaven. Jesus calls them workers of lawlessness because they took the power of God to do miracles without loving Him. Jesus there would be many!

Who then can be saved? “Only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” When we do the Father’s will, Jesus will “know” us because the only way we can do the Father’s will is to be in communion with Him. Jesus is our example. He spent hours and hours in prayer going to the Mount of Olives to pray “as was His custom.” (Luke 22:39) He spent precious time with God worshiping and listening. We have to know how to hear Him if we are going to do His will. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

I don’t believe that God wants us to live in terror not knowing if we are saved. He’s a good Father and wants us to be with Him, but we have the responsibility to be good children. It’s not always easy, but it’s never boring. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Do that and you can’t go wrong.

What Is Your Calling?

We all want to know what we were born to do. There’s something inside us that cries out to know purpose. Some of that is born from fairy tales where a poor, insignificant youth is called upon to become a hero and find a great destiny. Those born into a royal lineage know from an early age what they are meant to do. The rest of us have to figure it out. God will direct some through obvious or subtle means as testimonies will show, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone.

I think that’s because God lets us make choices. We are free to be who we want to be. God doesn’t require that we find His perfect will to go into specific areas of employment. He lets us explore and decide. We can ask for His help and His favor, but He has given us a tremendous amount of freedom to do what we want. Our calling is our own heart’s desire.

As believers, we often rate those in ministry higher than those who work outside the church, but God doesn’t do that. In fact, we are told, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” (Colossians 3:23) Your work is your calling. Wherever you work, you are a light set upon a lamp stand. You are God’s emissary. Be kind. Be generous. Be patient and compassionate. You are more of an influence working among nonbelievers than anyone working in the church because you are known and they are not.

You have as much access to God as anyone on earth. The time you spend seeking Him and learning from Him is not lesser than the same time spent by great ministers of the faith. You can hear the Lord just like they do. You can glean wisdom from the Bible, be inspired by His voice, and see signs and wonders all in a day at work. Living in the Kingdom is far from dull. Your calling is to live in grace of God to be a blessing to others. Start there and see where you go.

How To Come Home When Your Heart Wanders Off

There’s a place that feels right, that feels centered. When we know we are right with God, it’s the most secure place in the world. There’s a peace there that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s where we hear His voice, where we sleep the best, where we are free to dream. But human that we are, we will wander away. Sometimes we wander so far it’s hard to know how to come home.

Sometimes we wander through neglect. We stop reading our Bible. We stop going to church, or skip it regularly. We ignore that still, small voice that tells us to be responsible with our faith. Sometimes we don’t just wander, we knowingly make choices that are bad for us. That’s the most dangerous because rebellion makes hearing God almost impossible. The enemy is convincing when it comes to justifying our bad decisions and the longer we allow ourselves to listen to lies, the harder it is to come back.

If you’re lucky, your spirit will feel conviction. That’s different from guilt. Guilt makes you feel worthless with no possible redemption. Conviction knows what is wrong and what is right with the hope of forgiveness. Once you recognize conviction, it’s up to you to do something about it. That’s why we’re told to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12) No one can do it for you. You have to make the choices that bring you back.

The first thing to do is to ask God for forgiveness. It’s the easiest thing to do. Just admit that you screwed up. Admit your anger, frustration, fear, or whatever it is that you know you have to let go of. Ask God to forgive you and help you. The weight that falls off will feel like a breath of fresh air.

The second thing to do is stop the direction that took you away from God. You can’t just ask for forgiveness and carry on doing the same wrong things. You have to decide to make changes. They may be only minor changes, or they may be big ones. Ask for help if you need it. Find someone you respect and get help.

And then start doing what you know you need to do. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you get centered again. Spend time with Him. Enjoy His company. Be refreshed in your spirit. Papa is so welcoming and loving. He wants you to be safe. Once you come home, look back and see what took you away and be aware so it doesn’t happen again. The stronger you grow as a believer, the harder it will be to wander away. Then you’ll be the one people come to for help.

Why It’s Important To Read The Bible

It’s surprising how many Christians don’t read their Bible. It’s shocking, really. “I don’t understand it.” “I try to read, but I don’t have the time. “I read it off and on.” There are so many reasons for not reading the Word and none of them are valid. The truth is, it’s vitally important to read the Bible.

You’d be amazed at how many people think that some familiar quotes are from the Bible that are actually from Shakespeare. That’s because they don’t know the Bible at all. Which means that it’s very easy to believe things that aren’t true. If something sounds ligit, then it must be and that’s exactly how the enemy sneaks in to influence us to believe error. The only way to truly know truth is to read truth, the Word of God.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) He speaks to us in many ways, but the most obvious way is His Word. If we’re not hearing His voice, can we call ourselves His sheep? How can we follow if we do not hear? How can we know what is true, what is promised, what is danger if we are not daily reading the Bible?

We are human with insecurities, blind spots about ourselves, often molded by bad teaching, or no teaching. Our salvation in Jesus is a journey of being changed into His image. We are a transformation in progress and the Bible is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Living and active. The Word of God changes us, but it must be read with the intent to be changed. Reading for knowledge may be interesting, but it will not pierce the soul. The Word must go into us as a living thing, allowing its wisdom to strengthen our spirit as only God can do.

Daily reading will help you grow in grace like nothing else. It’s part of our devotion that we give to God as we pray, as we praise, as we bless His name and work to bless others. Make time for it – morning, night, or noon, it doesn’t matter, just do it. Don’t jump around reading bits here and there. Allow yourself to get into the message. Read the Old Testament for the lessons, Psalms for comfort and inspiration, the New Testament for growth and development. Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance. If you don’t understand something, ask Him for help. You’d be surprised how He can answer and clarify His own Word for you. Learn to delight in His Word and you’ll find yourself loving God with greater devotion. His love letter is waiting for you.