It is time to live in His Grace

 

It Is Time To Live In His Grace

I must admit for much of my adult life, I did not live under God’s grace. Instead I chose to live under guilt, regret and condemnation. Constantly re-living my mistakes and sins. Continuing to condemn myself instead of living in God’s grace through Jesus.

Actually guilt, regret, fears and living in condemnation can be an addiction. Making it very difficult to stop living and thinking that way. For some it is nearly impossible to break this cycle if it were not that “nothing is impossible with God”. For me, without allowing Jesus to redo my thinking, I do not believe I would have ever been delivered from this life sucking negative way of thinking.

So how do we live in His grace? How do we stop the cycle? We simply start by turning around and going the other way, our Lord’s way. How? Baby steps, yes baby steps and through prayer and reading God’s word.   Yes, God’s word needs to be ever present in your heart and mind or instead of going His way you will go your way and will end up back on that same road of despair.

Here are three scriptures that will show you how to begin walking with the Lord:

James 4:8: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Isaiah 30:21; “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

You need to trust these scriptures. Here is a little nugget of truth: Don’t try and make grand leaps on this journey. Just keep thinking baby steps. Why? Because I have found, at least in my life experience, that when I tried to make grand leaps in my progress of anything, it did not go as well as expected and I was discouraged. Often that would create a setback or failure to reach a goal. This can easily happen, especially at the beginning and you become so discouraged you give up. Let the scriptures, not your mind, be your guide and your support on this journey.

Going hand and hand with walking in our Lord’s way is to understand what Jesus has already conquered for us, sin, guilt, fear and condemnation. The victory that you walk in now is because of what Jesus our Lord and Savior did for us on the cross. So, while we are walking His way we also need to have the right mind set. Here are two scriptures that you need to meditate on day and night while following this new path of freedom under Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:24; “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

And Hebrew 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Believing and trusting in these two scriptures is imperative to getting you on the right path of living in His grace.

Just think about if you had to run a 10k race, which is 6.2 miles, and all that time you kept telling yourself;

  • You are not strong enough to walk that far.
  • Your legs are hurting already so you will never make it.
  • You are so out of shape that it is going to be impossible to even walk 1 mile.

Do you think you will reach that goal and walk the 5 miles? It is highly unlikely. It is the same with walking in His grace. If we keep dwelling on our sins, our weaknesses and the past, we will not make the journey of living in His grace.

We must begin with the key truth of Christianity. We must know and believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. If you do not believe that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, died on the cross for our sin then that is your real first step. Acknowledging that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take FULL punishment of your sins. After that you need to understand as it reads in 1 Peter 2:24 in addition to taking on the punishment of our sins, we need to know that, “by his stripes we are healed”. His stripes are speaking about the deep cuts and wounds that were on Jesus from being whipped and beaten.

When we acknowledge these truths and keep them in our hearts and mind, the negative thoughts of guilt, regret and condemnation must leave our mind. There is no room for such negative thoughts.

Now, to the second scripture I gave you above. In Hebrews 8:12, the Word tells us that God remembers our sins no more. Did you hear that? I meant it. This is very important. God remembers our sins no more. This is very powerful. In fact I believe this is the most important scripture when it comes to living in God’s grace and no longer living in guilt, regret and condemnation.

It is so important that it is worth repeating. Hebrews 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

So, I ask you the same question I ask myself all the time. If God does not remember our sins, why do we? If God does not remember our sins, why do we bring them back up in our minds? If God does not remember our sins, then how can guilt, regret and condemnation of those sins continue to control our mind and our actions? If we really believe these truths of God’s word and act on them then all those negative thoughts can’t control our mind. If negative thoughts still continue in your mind that is not from God but from the devil who wishes to keep your life in this negative frame of thinking. Or it is from you because you want to live that way.

If God, through Jesus Christ’s dying on the cross for our sins, does not remember our sins, then quit calling God a liar and quit telling our Lord Jesus Christ that his act was worthless. Forget them all and forgive yourself because God already has!

I know accusing you of calling God a liar is a very strong statement. That continuing to dwell on the past and live in guilt and condemnation is saying Jesus dying on the cross was worthless. Does that bother you to read those words, Jesus dying on the cross was worthless? Does it make you very uncomfortable to even think that? Good, that is a great start. Yes, they are very strong words but maybe you need to hear them to shock your thinking into rebuking these negative thoughts and start living in His grace.

If we can truly forget the past, and know in our heart, mind and soul these basic Christian truths: that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, by his stripes we are healed and that God remembers our sins NO MORE! Forget your forgiven sins and your journey will take us to living in peace, free of guilt, regret, condemnation, and walking with our Lord at our right side.

What is it like to live that way? I think one of the best visualizations of this is in Psalms 1:3 “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

So let’s begin our journey of being set free and living in His grace.

Lost and Lonely People

There are several scriptures that keep reminding me that I need to help more people in need. That I need to be more aware of my surroundings because someone right next to me could be in such emotional pain or need and I just walk by. There is a song by Casting Crowns titled” Does Anyone Hear Her?”

It is powerful. I tear up every time I hear it. I love to sing and I have yet been able to sing this entire song without breaking up. The link I have above is a music video of the song. I hope it speaks to your heart as much as it does for me.

So why is lost and lonely people the subject of this week’s lesson? Because God’s word talks alot about lost and lonely people. Also about the sick, the needy and more.

Matthew 25:31-46 covers it all in a very powerful way. As we go through it, I hope that it will convict you as much as it has convicted me to do something. Anything but ignoring it.

I encourage you to read the entire Chapter 25, because in the entire chapter Jesus was talking to his disciples and the crowds of people who came to listen to him. He talks about the kingdom of God and being ready for it. You will learn so much.

Starting on verse 31 is where Jesus is talking about when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him and He will sit on His glorious throne. It goes on to talk about the Son of Man separating the people as a shepherd would separate his sheep from the goats with the sheep on the right and goats on the left.

Let’s pick up what Jesus is saying in verse 34,  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

That is important so I am going to repeat that last part. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” I have always wondered what I could do for Jesus because I am always asking him what he can do for me. Then when I read this I have my answer. It’s pure and simple. You now know how to do something for our Lord.

If helping the lost, the lonely, the needy, the stranger, the sick and those in prison is not motivation enough. Then perhaps doing it for our Lord hopefully will get us moving in the right direction.

I do not mean this in a condemning way. Trust me when I say, I am not just talking to all of you but also to myself on this.

I need to ask God to keep me more aware and to hear from His Holy Spirit and see these lost and lonely people. In the song I mentioned above by Casting Crowns, there is a line “Does anybody hear her? Does anybody see? I know I am missing many of them. But if I were perfectly honest, there are one’s I do hear and one’s I do see. And I do nothing. Have you been there also?

Oh I know, we had our reasons why would could not help them at that point in time. Some of the reasons were very valid. We were on the way to work or picking the kids at school. But again if I am being honest with myself, thee were other times where I could have stopped or could have gone to help someone. It was more of just an inconvenience. So I would come up with some reason or excuse.

Why do we do that? Are we embarrassed, afraid of the person? Why? Perhaps if we know the reasons, it might help. We need to be true and honest to ourselves if we ever want to grow in life and in the Lord. We need to examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we can help these people. There is one positive thing we can do. Something that may help us to get involved, to help the lost and lonely, hungry, needy, sick and in prison.

Bring some Christian friends along. I have found that when a group of Christians get together they are more willing to go to places when by themselves they would be uncomfortable or unsure. With a group people, many are more willing to move out of one’s comfort zone. This is scriptural. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”   Now there is the perfect way, you, Christian friends and Jesus helping the least of His brothers and sisters. You just can’t go wrong with that. Praise God.

Thank you Father for this word. I pray that all of us listen to your instructions and help those in need.

Breaking through Fear

instagramfearFear is a word that in some way connects to all of us. I have not met anyone who did not, at some time in his or her life, experience fear. I’m talking about the fear that grabs hold of you and will consume your every thought. I know I have dealt with it.

In my observations, fear can be categorized into many types. The one I want to talk about for this lesson is fear of something that is actually happening. This type of fear is very understandable. The doctor tells you that you have a serious life threatening disease and fear can be the first reaction. There is a terrible storm that hits your area, flooding, power outages, and winds, again fear can be one’s first reaction. You are out of work, you have no money, and you could be homeless in a week if things do not change. I know that in these situations, it is scary. I believe financial issues are the most common fear people deal with in their lives. Here are some reported facts from a recent survey that support this:

  1. 76% of American’s live paycheck to paycheck
  2. 56% of Americans say they have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined,
  3. Nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) have less than $100 to their name.

The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are just over 242 million adults living in the United States. Applying this population number to the above facts it shows us that:

  1. 184 million American’s live paycheck to paycheck.
  2. 135 million Americans have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined.
  3. 60 million have less than $100 to their name.

Are you one of those in this type of situation? If so, with ¾ of the adult population in the same boat you are not alone. Or are you just wondering what might happen if we, in the US, are just pushed over this precipice of no money and mountains of debt. Does that create fear in you? It does in me.

With this fear, our lives can be in total turmoil. We don’t sleep. We worry. Our family relationships suffer. We can’t concentrate on much but the fear of being one paycheck away from losing it all. If you remember in my lesson on the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus himself was fearful and scared. In Mark 14:33-34 it talks about Jesus going to pray in the garden. It reads “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” He was literally scared to death because at that time, Jesus was fully human because he needed to be human to die for our sins. What Jesus did is what we need to do. Pray to our Lord and ask for help and also for the ability to get through troubling times.

In fact, here is exactly what Jesus did and prayed in Mark 14:35-36, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 3Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

He basically said, Father everything is possible for you. You can make it so I do not have to do this. You can get me out of this situation. But it is your will that I want in my life, not mine. Jesus knew that God his Father and our Father could get him out of that situation. But Jesus also wanted to do God’s will not his so he knew that, if he did have to go through this situation, God would give him the strength and the ability to get through it.

Can you see what I am saying? This is important and key to overcoming fear.  God can change the situation and get us out of it or he will give us the strength and ability to get through the situation. In either way, he has our back. We will make it through.

Sounds easy huh? No it is not. At least for me it is not. The biggest battle is with our own thoughts. It is then that you need to use God’s Word to get through this. Yes I said use God’s Word to get through it. I think people sometimes forget that in living God’s Word, you actually have to not just know it, your really do have to live it AND use it. For example, 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Using prayer, trust and God’s Word, we can take our thoughts of fear captive and make them obedient to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Again, I know that sounds impossible right now with what might be happening in your life. I am sure you are asking, how is taking all my thoughts captive and obedient to Christ going to help me with my situation?

It can. I promise you it can. To better explain, lets look at some facts, from a study at the University of Minnesota, on what the impact of fear and anxiety does to our mind and body.

“People, who live in constant fear, whether from physical dangers in their environment or threats they perceive, can become incapacitated. Living under constant threat weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately. Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, accelerated ageing, and even premature death.”

“Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time. To someone in chronic fear, the world looks scary and their memories confirm that.

Moreover, fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. “

“Let’s look at that last part again. Fear interrupts our thinking processes in our brain that allows us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cue and other information that is presented to us. This study tells us that when we are in a state of fear and anxiety we can’t think straight and we cannot make rational decisions.”

We can’t even see opportunities and information that could show us a way out.

And that is important. Often times, having the ability to think rationally and clearly about a problem allows us to actually find a solution, a way out!

Again, lets look at 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

When we do this, and again LIVE God’s Word, we allow God’s Word to end the fear arguments and thoughts that we, or others are saying, in our minds that cause us to worry and panic. We let the knowledge of God, which is what we read and know from His Word, take every single fearful thought captive and let our minds be guided by our Lord Jesus Christ.

What happens then is we are in a state of peace and calm, not fear. Our mind is not racing with fearful thoughts. Our inner voice is not in panic mode. In this calm peaceful state, God allows us to clearly think about the situation in a way that He can show us His way out or His plan for us.

You know I am not just writing to this as a lesson to all of my readers. I am writing this for me also. In fact, this lesson was not a lesson at first. It was an effort by me to search the Bible and try to understand from God’s Word how I can get a hold of the fear in my life. In many areas, I was letting fear dictate how I acted. Dictate what decisions I made for my family and myself when it came to finances, health, and our future. I needed to get ahold of the fear and panic in my life. And I knew the only true and lasting way was in living God’s Word.  

So I prayed for God to bring alive His Word in me and help me with my fear. And as a faithful and loving Father, He is helping me. Every word, in this lesson, was written for me too. And it is my plan to learn from it even if I have to read this lesson over again several times. I am going to memorize and claim that, 2 Corinthians 10:5 , can work in my life. I am going to find more scriptures that I can get into my mind, soul and spirit to help me take captivity over fear. Will you do the same? Let’s win this victory over fear together.

I leave you with this. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

The Armor of God

armor-of-god

The purpose of this week’s lesson is to help you learn and understand the Bible so that it can guide you and equip you in your spiritual walk with the Lord and in your every day walk in life. It is also interactive and if you would like to participate in the interactive part feel free to send my your answers to gary@Godmadebubbles.com.

God’s word tells us, in Ephesians 6:10-18, that to be strong and mighty in His power we need to put on the full armor of God. Therefore, I can think of no better way to achieve our goals, in this Bible study, then by beginning the small group with studying about the Armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10-18  – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Let’s break down the various aspects of the armor of God.

  1. Stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist
  2. Have the breastplate of righteousness in place
  3. Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
  4. Take up the shield of faith
  5. Take the helmet of salvation
  6. Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Let’s think about someone dressed in armor and what each part would do in a battle.

The armor, as in all battles is broken up into three parts, firm foundation, defensive equipment and offensive equipment. First, if you are going to be in a fight, of any kind, you need to try and be as sure footed as possible. If you are off balance, it will be both hard to fight and it will make you vulnerable to being thrown to the ground. Secondly, you have to account for defending yourself when attacked. And finally, when you have to go on the offensive, and you need to attack the enemy, you need to be properly equipped and trained in the use of your armor and weapons.

Let’s first discuss having a firm foundation, which sometimes, can also include some discussion of defense. Imagine, if you had armor on and the breastplate was loose and moving around, and your belt, that was supposed to be holding everything together, was missing. Or you had improperly fitted boots for your feet. You are already at a disadvantage and you’re not even in the battle yet. That tells us how important truth; righteousness and the Gospel of peace are in preparing for a battle. If you are not firmly rooted in all of these you are not ready for any battle.

Find at least three scriptures that talk about each of the following:

  1. Truth and how you think it can help you stand firm and hold the rest of your spiritual armor in place.
  2. Righteousness and how it can act as a breastplate to protect you. Remembering that the breastplate in a battle covers and protects your vital organs. Organs that if struck could easily led to death.
  3. The gospel of peace. Find examples in the words of Jesus Christ that teach us that peace is the way to be firmly planted on solid ground. And that being firmly planted in peace will keep most Christians from ever having to go on the offensive.

Now to the other two are key pieces of the armor needed to defend you in a spiritual battle. You need a shield which gives you the ability to block weapons coming at your from many different directions and you have a helmet which is protecting you head, or better put is protecting your mind from negative thoughts. I believe it is important to see why these two parts of the armor deal with faith and salvation. The devil knows how to get to us mentally and two of the most common ways is through challenging our faith and challenging our salvation.

Find at least three scriptures the talk about the following:

  1. Faith and how our faith can build us up and defend us against doubt, fear, anger, and many more.   Try and show how the faith scripture counters a negative attack and what that negative attack is.
  2. Find scriptures that, to you, best show the definitive truth of how we are saved through Jesus Christ and how knowing we are saved acts as a spiritual helmet.

Now, to the last part of the armor taking the offensive. When you get to a point in a battle that you need to strike down your spiritual opponent, you need to have a very powerful weapon. A sword when used properly, and effectively, can strike down your opponent very quickly. You notice I said when used properly and effectively. Think of a Samurai and how efficient they can be with their sword. Often times, it is one or two strikes and their enemy is defeated.

That is why the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Nothing is more powerful and effective in defense or taking the offensive in a spiritual battle then the Word of God.

Find at least three scriptures that show the power of the Word of God.

It is very important to understand that in order to use a sword properly you have to know the sword and how to use it. Again think of a Samurai. If you go into battle and you have never handled a sword before or you just understand a few aspects of it, you could not only lose the battle but you could hurt yourself or others.

How does that apply to the sword being the sword of the Spirit and the word of God? If you are up against a battle with the devil or someone else that is trying to take you away from the Lord and you never read the Bible, or do not have some of God’s word rooted in your mind, spirit and soul, you could be in big trouble and ill equipped for any battle.

Or if you know some scriptures but because you have not read and understood how those particular scriptures work in context with God’s Word, you use the scriptures the wrong way and you hurt yourself, or someone else or, worse, you cause them to doubt their own faith and salvation.

Take three of your favorite scriptures and tell me why it is your favorite and then show how it is in context with the scriptures before and after it.

In closing, the Bible is the gospel of peace and the Word of God, so it is imperative that knowing the Word of God is a necessary part of the armor of God and a necessary part of our walk with the Lord. In fact, as it reads, in Psalms 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.”

Without God’s word, we walk in darkness. Try fighting a battle in darkness.

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God’s miracles in our time

Habakkuk3_2

This is somewhat of a different type of lesson for me to write. It’s about what I would like to see happening today. The question is, can it happen?

Let’s start this lesson with Habakkuk 3:2. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known….”

For me, this scripture just makes me want to shout out “Yes Lord please let us really see you, hear from you and make yourself known to us.” I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to see, in our time, God working in our lives like I have read about his deeds in the Bible. Where God would talk with people or angels would give messages from God. Where men of God spoke prophecies, or stopped it from raining for days or split open the sea. Or how Jesus and his disciples went out to preach and people were saved, people were healed and sometimes, the dead were brought back to life. I keep thinking that it would be awesome to see the mighty work of God, in our time. I can honestly say, that it is practically part of my prayers every single day. I know for sure I think about it every day. What a revival we would have!

But, we don’t see those type of miracles. Yes, we see miracles every day. Once you have the appreciation that God created this world you will see more miracles daily. However, I would like to see the miracles we read about in the Bible. As Habakkuk said, “Lord, repeat them in our day, in our time make them known.”

I often get friction from people when I say it was easier to have faith during Jesus’s time than it is right now. I have to believe that being there and seeing the miracles would have a great effect on one’s faith in Jesus.

Let me list the miracles Jesus performed during his 33 years.

Changed water into wine
Healed of the royal official’s son
Healed the Capernaum demoniac
Healed Peter’s mother-in-law
Healed the sick
Caught a large number of fish
Healed a leper
Healed a centurion’s servant
Healed a paralyzed man
Healed a withered hand
Raised a widow’s son from the dead
Calmed the storm of the sea
Healed the man possessed by demons
Healed a woman with internal bleeding
Raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead
Healed two blind men
Healed a mute demon-possessed man
Healed a 38 year invalid
Fed 5000 men and their families
Walked on water
Healed a girl possessed by a demon
Healed a deaf man with a speech impediment
Healed a blind man
Healed a man born blind
Healed a demon-possessed boy
Caught a fish with a coin in its mouth
Healed a blind and mute man who was demon-possessed
Healed a woman with an 18-year infirmity
Healed a man with dropsy
Healed 10 lepers
Raised Lazarus from the dead
Healed Bartimaeus of blindness
Restored a severed ear
Jesus rose from the dead
And ascended into heaven

That is quite a lot of miracles for people to witness and it had to have instilled such faith in the people of that time. It is one of these miracles that is very pertinent to this lesson of how we can see those same miracles today.

It is the healing of a centurion’s servant. We can read about it in Luke 7:1-10. “When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But 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 amazed at him and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.”

That blows me away every time I read it. This centurion had so much faith and confidence in Jesus. Read the centurion’s words again. “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

His “great faith,” as Jesus stated it, even amazed Jesus, something, which I believe, was pretty hard to do. And this passage from God’s Word is the main point of this lesson. The centurion did not need Jesus to come to him and in fact, he felt he was not even worthy for Jesus to come, YET he believed in what he heard of Jesus’ fame and he was in awe of the deeds. It is this that belief that gave him THE FATIH in Jesus to heal his servant without Jesus having to come and pray directly over the servant.

Is that not what we need to do to see miracles like this happen today? To see the sick healed, the blind see, the deaf hear and the crippled walk and yes the dead brought back to life. Do we not just have to say, “Lord just say the word, and it will be done.” We do not have to have Jesus appear to perform the miracle. AND we do not have to even be worthy.

Did you hear that? It is key to this lesson. The centurion said, “I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.” I believe that is one of the two main reasons we do not see the miracles happening today. We don’t feel worthy. I have said it before and I will continue to say it. You are not worthy. You never were worthy to be saved and you are not worthy to be healed or see mighty miracles. It is all for us by grace from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53:5 explains it perfectly. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” So the next time you are looking for a miracle of healing for you or someone else. Do not ask if either is worthy. Look at Jesus’s wounds and KNOW you are healed.

The second reason we do not see the miracles happen today is you have to have faith. The centurion’s faith amazed Jesus. In Jesus’s own words He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”

Here is a little nugget of truth. When the Jews, who were friends of the centurion, went to see if Jesus would come, they told Jesus “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” They were figuring that the centurion earned it. That he was worthy for Jesus to come and perform the healing. But I believe, that is not what impressed Jesus or cause him to heal the servant. Why do I believe this? Because if it were the reason then Jesus would have mentioned it, instead he mentioned being amazed by the great faith of the centurion. Jesus healed the servant because of the faith of the centurion not his worthiness.

So, it is faith we need. Great faith! How do we get faith? First we need to define it. We need to fully understand what faith is and not have any misconceptions or misunderstandings of what faith is. So let’s go to the definitive source. God’s Word. In Hebrews 11:1 it says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Our faith gives us confidence and assurance for what we do not see. Let’s go deeper by looking at the definition of assurance and even some similar words.

Assurance – a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise. Some synonyms would be promise, pledge, vow, oath, bond, and guarantee.

Using Hebrews 11:1 this would mean that faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the promise, the pledge, the vow, the oath, the bond, and the guarantee that we will have those things we hoped. Praise God! His mercy endures forever!

How do we get that faith? Again, the Bible gives us the answer.

Romans 10:17 – “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

For years, I wanted to see the miracles of God. I constantly prayed for healings for my friends and family. I have always longed for this. I often asked people if you could have only one gift from God, what would it be. And after they told me their one gift they desired, they would ask me what mine would be. I would always say “the gift of healing.” It has always been my one truly desired gift from God. So trust me when I say Habukkuk 3:2 is important to me. Not just for me but for all of his children to be able to work miracles in the name of Jesus Christ.

Now back to faith. Faith may come by hearing the Word of God and reading the Word of God. But it is always how you hear and read it. You need to let it sink into your mind and soul and let it grow in fertile soil. Planting it in your mind along with the TV, music, news of the day, what your friends are talking about on Facebook or Instagram isn’t going to allow the Word to grow in you.

Luke 8:4 -15 explains what I mean. “While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When Jesus said this, He called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant. Jesus said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,“ ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the Word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the Word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no roots. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Did you hear that? Hearing, retaining and persevering in the Word of God produces a crop.

At the beginning, I asked the question can it miracles happen in our time, the really big miracles? Will the Lord, repeat in our day, in our time, the miracles and deeds we read about in the Bible?

Yes, it can, if we just forget about being worthy and just have faith. And to have such faith we need to read the Word of God and let it grow in fertile soil within our heart, mind and soul. And not let the world and every thing about it trample, choke or lead us away. And in return, that seed of faith in the good soil will produce a crop of faith, of people being saved, of nations being saved and of healings and mighty works happening in this day as they did in the Bible.

Is that a little overwhelming? Are you thinking that it better be a very big seed for a crop of everything I just mentioned? I close with Jesus telling his disciples how to increase their faith.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Here is a picture of a mustard seed:

mustardseed

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Are We Envied?

envy-fw

Are we envied? Now that is an interesting question. And one, that at first glance, we feel is wrong. We should not envy so why would we want to cause envy. After all, we read in Galatians 5: 19-21 where it talks about envy being one of the acts of the sinful nature. And even in Galatians 5: 26 where after talking about the fruit of the Holy Spirit, it reads, “ Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So why should we be envied? Why would we want to be envied? Paul talks about it in Romans 11:13-14 “ I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.” Many of the different translations use jealous instead of envy.

What do you think Paul was saying when he wanted the Gentiles to make the Jews envious or jealous? He wanted the Jews to envy what was in us because of Jesus Christ.  He wanted them to envy us so much that they would become followers of Christ.

 

When the unsaved meet us, how should our lives be in order for them to envy us or be jealous of us for being a Christian? Or better put, how should we be living our lives, that makes people want to be like us?

If we can go back and read more of Galatians 5 it gives us a clear description of what type of person we should be and what our lives and actions should be, so that people would want to be like us. Let’s read Galatians 22-26. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Love, joy, peace, forbearance (which also means tolerance, restraint), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, now there are some goals to have. Imagine if everyday we focused on just having one of them. And once we were able to have that in our lives, we can focus on adding the next one. And before you know it, you would be living your life with all of those fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Remember these are fruits of the Holy Spirit, so when I say focus on having them, I mean praying and asking the Holy Spirit to let these fruits grow within you.

I think then people would envy you. And would want to be like you. And hopefully want to be so much like you that they ask “What is it with you. You are always up, you never have a bad word about anyone, and your such a loyal friend and gentle with everyone even when people wrong you.”

I know you may be thinking how would anyone see all of that in your life. Well the people you work with would and do. They see how you act everyday now. What do you think they are seeing now in you? Are you a light for the world? Do people see the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you?

If the answer is no, please don’t put yourself down. Instead, decide today to change. Pray to God for all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. And practice using them. Focus on using them. Let me repeat that because it is of the utmost importance.

Practice and focus on using the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your life. Let me explain. I read a story in a book called The Energy Bus, written by Jon Gordon, that explains this very clearly.  The story went as follows: “A man goes to the village to visit with the wise man and he says to the wise man. ‘I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is the positive, loving, kind, and gentle dog and then I have this angry, mean-spirited, and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don’t know which is going to win.’  The wise man thinks for a moment and he says, ‘ I know which is going to win. The one you feed the most, so feed the positive dog.”

Now that is powerful. So what are you feeding your mind and spirit? Are you daily feeding your minds by reading and studying God’s Word and praying for guidance, strength and for the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

And are you listening too?  God will speak to you through his Word, the Holy Spirit, and by what your read.

In my opinion the really battle is with your thoughts. What are you thinking most of the time?  Money, the lack of or something you want to buy.  You job, that you want a new one or why someone else got the promotion instead of you. Things you want like why do others own a nice house and you are still renting?

Why do they other people have this or that and your don’t. I can come up with 1000’s of these, mainly because I said a lot of them for my life. I was always asking God why other people had such wondering lives. Great kids. Great jobs. Nice homes.  And it was not just with worldly things.  It was in my Christianity also.  I would ask God why does He seem to always be giving revelations to other people but not me. Better yet, God why aren’t you talking to me or showing me the way I should go.

Let’s just think about those thoughts for a moment. Which dog do you think those thoughts are feeding? If you said the negative dog you would be correct. Do you see the connection with what you think and what you feed into your mind and spirit with is what will grow in your life? And what will be evident to everyone you meet, know and work with even be evident to your family.

You want to live and walk with the fruits of the Holy Spirit, then feed yourself with the positive things we have been talking about. Grab a hold of God’s Word and don’t let it go. Read it.  If certain scriptures seem to come alive to you, memorize them.  Repeat them.  Tell others about them.  And then read them again and again.

I know a lot of Christians, who are wonderful people with a heart after God and so dedicated to their church but when I ask them how often do they read their Bible, they say “I know I need to read it but I don’t right now. I can’t seem to find the time”. And I ask them how often they pray, or if a couple, how often do they both pray together as a family. They again answer, “I know we need to but we just don’t seem to find the time.” Then after awhile, I will bring up one of the TV shows my wife and I watch and they will say, “Oh we love that show. Watch it every week. Or they record it to watch it later when they have time.”

Now I am not judging. In our family, we do the same thing. We record shows and watch them later. There is nothing wrong with it. In fact, we are so diligent to record these shows that I have them programmed to record each week. So trust me when I say I am not judging about watching TV and making sure we always watch our favorite shows.  But we have to have a balance in our life. We can watch those shows, but if we watch those shows and leave no time in our life for God’s Word or pray, then we are doing what? Exactly, we are feeding the wrong dog.

We need to feed the right dog. I promise you that if you daily spend time in God’s Word and if you pray alone, and with your family, the results will be noticed. By you and everyone around you.

I was going to say you would be envied. But there is still something that bothers me about using that word envied even though, in the context that I am using it, the Bible shows that we want to be envied for this.

I think a better way to put this is people will want what you have. They will see God as such a positive force in your life, that they will crave it. Desire it.  And then ask you what is different about you. You then will get to have one of the greatest privileges in our lives, you will get to share Jesus Christ with them.

Again God’s Word always puts it better than any person or book. It reads in 2 Cor 2: 14, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

I pray for all of us, that we will become the fragrance of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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