Jesus Marveling Faith

faith-the-size-of-a-mustard-seed-moves-mountains-matthew-17_20

Mustard Seed Faith

Time and time again mustard seed faith is taught from the pulpit. We know this faith well. As Matthew 5:17 states “faith the size of a mustard seed moves mountains”. Mustard seeds are tiny and miniscule. That’s not really much faith.

But still the smallest amount of faith accomplishes much.

Abraham Faith

In Hebrews 11, we are reminded of the great faith of Abraham and the faith the other biblical heroes and heroines had. We’re instructed to follow their example of faith. We know these examples well. We know their stories well. We want that kind of faith to be found in us.

But there is another kind of faith. One not widely spoken of.

Jesus Marveling Faith

Hidden in the pages of Matthew, we discover a different kind of faith. A kind of faith that has me questioning, Does Jesus see it in me?

In Matthew 8, Jesus arrives in Capernaum. A centurion, a gentile soldier, someone who was not of God’s chosen people seeks the healing of his servant. Jesus said that He would come with him and heal his servant, but the centurion’s response leaves Jesus standing in amazement.

The centurion humbly declares that “I am not worthy to have You enter my home: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed (Matthew 8:8). The centurion goes on to say in verse 9 that when he commands his servant to go, his servant goes.

By saying what he says in verses 8 and 9, the centurion is making a profound statement.

Just as his word to a servant is carried out so is the Word of Jesus.

All Jesus has to do is speak it and it will be done. This was the kind of faith the centurion had.

What Jesus says in verse 10 must have caused a wave of questions in the multitudes that witnessed this encounter. “When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed Him, ‘verily I say to you, I have not found so great a faith, no, not in Israel.'”(Matthew 8:10)

Jesus saw the greatest amount of faith in Him coming from a gentile soldier. This gentile soldier possessed Jesus marveling faith.

You’d think the greatest faith would have been found in one of His disciples or one of the multitude that followed Him or among His chosen people Israel. But the greatest faith was found in a man He didn’t come to save.

Ask yourself this question: Do I have Jesus marveling faith?

 

Well Laid Plans

proverbs-16_9-a-mans-heart

January 9th, 2013. Four years ago. The Facebook memory app just reminded me what happened that day. It’s not exactly a day I care to remember but it was a pivotal point in my life. An event that would cause me to re-evaluate my life and the choices I had made.

It was the hardest lesson that I ever had to learn. And I willingly chose to learn it the hard way. And four years later, I’m still paying the consequences.

In August 2012, I had applied for and got hired for a job in Florida. A job that would require me to move across multiple state lines. My reasons for applying for the job were for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t supposed to go, but in my stubbornness, I ignored all the make a U-turn now signs and breezed past the stop signs. I went anyway.

The job didn’t make me as happy as I thought it would. I was downright miserable and I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there. But still I stayed.

On January 9th four years ago, I was in an automobile accident on the way to work. My wrist was in the surgeon’s words, shattered. Surgery was required. Surgery led to 3 months with a steel rod screwed into the outside of my arm. I was handicapped and unable to work, unable to write. Unable to wash and brush my own hair. This wasn’t part of my plan.

My well laid plans fell apart. I learned the hard way to be obedient and to always “acknowledge Him in all my ways” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

In my devotions today I was reminded again of how important it is to include Him in my plans and to allow Him to have the final say. His will not mine.

Proverbs 19:20-21

” Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou may be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”

2 Peter 1:10

“So then, brothers (and sisters), give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall.”

“Walk with Me in  holy trust, responding to My initiatives rather than trying to make things fit your plans. I died to set you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning. When your mind spins with a multitude of thoughts, you cannot hear My voice. A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. Turn from this idolatry back to Me. Listen to Me and live abundantly!” – Sarah Young- Jesus Calling”

 

” In no way is it enough to set out cheerfully with God on any venture of faith. You must also be willing to take your ideas of what the journey will be like and tear them into tiny pieces, for nothing on the itinerary will happen as you expect. Your Guide will not keep to any beaten path. He will lead you through ways you would never have dreamed your eyes would see. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.”- Streams in the Desert”

 

 

 

 

 

Blind Faith

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” For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

When we walk by faith, we walk blindly. Walking by faith takes trust. Trusting that the One guiding us will not lead us astray; that He will keep us safe.

When we walk by our own perceptions; we see what lies ahead. We see the hard and the change and the storm and the obstacles. We see the danger and the squalor and the pain and the suffering. We see what we don’t want to see. And fear takes hold. And so we look for the way out or the way around and oftentimes we find it.

Because we take the short-cut around; we miss out. We miss the mark. We lose the blessings that were rightfully ours. We learn our lessons the hard way. And while we’re still wallowing in our fear and self doubt; He sends the obedient ones to do the job He had for us. Because souls are at stake here. Hearts are hanging in the balance, some by a thread. And they needed us in that moment; and we failed them.

When we walk by faith, we don’t know what’s coming. We don’t know what He has in store for us. We just have to trust that wherever He leads us, is for our good. That the road He has us on is the right one, no matter how many hills and valleys. No matter the flying leaps of faith we must take. We have to trust that no matter what; He is right there by our side, guiding us and walking the road with us; and trust that if our foot slips, He will be there to catch us.

So this year, with blind faith, I write unhindered by fear and doubt. This year, I let the guardrails down and I allow my heart to spill out onto the pages. Because souls are at stake here; and I don’t want to fail them.

 

Adornment

Titus 2:10 “…that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

In Titus chapter 1, Paul gives Titus the task of seeking out and ordaining elders in every city. A daunting task I’m sure. Paul then goes on to describe the character qualifications that these elders must possess. In Titus chapter 2 Paul explains that the elders must be as described because it is their job and responsibility to ensure that the younger generations are properly trained in the way that they should go, for the younger generations would follow the example that was set before them. And then Paul makes this very profound statement: “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things”.

Let’s look at the words adorn and doctrine.

Oxford dictionaries defines adorn as to “make more beautiful or attractive” and defines doctrine as “the belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church”.

Lets for word that verse this way for clarification sake: that they may (make more beautiful or attractive) the (belief or set of beliefs held and taught by the church) of God our Saviour in all things. (emphasis mine)

Wow! What a weight of responsibility that is placed on our elders! And on us as we will become the next generation of elders!

This isn’t saying that the elders add to the gospel because no-one is supposed to do that. (See Deuteronomy 4:2).

What this is saying is that the life we lead and the fruit of our faith should lead one to desire to share in our faith.

So what kind of adornment are you? Do people see gaudy fake costume jewelry that screams look at me  or do they see a diamond formed through life’s pressures and trials that shouts from the rooftops, Look to  Jesus?

Unveiled by the King

“The veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:15-17

My heart was once veiled to the truth. The truth that I am not what they said I was. When you hear something repeatedly, no matter how false it is, it begins to disguise itself as truth.  That’s how the deceiver works. He reiterates himself until you believe. And he uses broken people to break you. Because “he came to steal, kill, and destroy”. (John 10:10 part a). And he will ravage your heart if you let him.

But Jesus!” He came that we may have life and have it more abundantly!” (John 10:10 part b).

He unveils our hearts so that we may see the truth. That we may see Him.

I imagine it’s like the groom removing the veil from his brides face, publicly declaring what’s his with a kiss.

He rushes in like the wind and mends our brokenness. And declares us His.

And He sets us free.

Beautiful things happen when we stand before the King with unveiled heart.

He turns our broken into beautiful. He replaces all the not good enoughs with “My grace is sufficient for you”. (2 Corinthians 12:9) He replaces all the not pretty enoughs with “Beautifully and wonderfully made in My image.” (Psalms 139:14). He replaces all the unloveds with “nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39).  He replaces the alone with “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

He redefines us.

So I stand before the King with unveiled heart.

Open The Door

“This post was inspired by the new book: Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman which releases November 15th! You can purchase a copy at http://listenloverepeatbook.com.”

Mother Teresa was right. ” The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” I know; because I’ve lived it. Some days I’m still fighting it.

I may have only been 8 years old, but the words and actions of others still cut deep. Words planted so deep in my heart that those words became what defined me. I was alone, unwanted, unloved, not good enough. I was the outcast. I had closed the door of my heart, locking the words inside. And yet my prayer through all of this was “Just one friend, that’s all I want, just one friend.” That door was shut and locked and no-one was allowed in. People tried but because of those words that now defined me, I never opened the door. They had to try hard to even be able to slip in through a crack. Some doors only Jesus can open, He is the only one with the right key.

I encourage you to look for the cracks. Look for the opportunity to shine Jesus’ love into someone’s heart. Because that light pierces through any darkness, that light shines through the cracks. It was people being the Love that Jesus calls us to be that convinced me to answer the door when Jesus knocked, He may have had to bust down the door of my heart; but once I allowed him to step across that threshold, I’ve never been the same. No matter how difficult the person is, keep trying. Don’t give up! Keep your door open and keep your light on.

“Once upon a time, I was the lonely one looking for companionship. Now I can be the one with room at my table-or space on my sofa- for someone who is in need of such love and acceptance.” – Karen Ehman #ListenLoveRepeat.

In Season and Out

 
I guess you could call this my debut piece. I wrote it way back in 2008 when writing ‘notes’ on Facebook was the cool thing to do. It’s now here for safekeeping and for your benefit.

Mark 11:12-14

Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, ‘let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’ And His disciples heard it.

Mark 11:20-24

Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’

I don’t want to be a withered fig tree. When Jesus walks beside me, I want His hunger to be satisfied. I want to be fruitful in season and out of season.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

These are the fruits that we should be producing. Not just when we need them, but all the time. In season and out of season.

 

Which King do You Seek?

Got your steel toed boots on? Good, you’re going to need them. I’m wearing two pairs, one right over the other! You know for that extra protection needed for those toes that are about to be stomped on.

I’ve been reading Lisa Bevere’s book titled Girls With Swords. After coming across this line; MY toes are throbbing…so much for those steel toed boots!

“Let us now compare two warring kings-Israel’s first king, Saul, and her final and forever King, Jesus. Israel’s soldier-king, Saul, was anointed as both king and deliverer because Israel wanted to be like the other nations. They wanted a king to call their own-a figurehead of sorts that they could point to with pride. Rather than submitting to the invisible, invincible, eternal God Most High, they wanted someone they could see and touch. They wanted a human champion who could lead them into battle rather than a heavenly King who would fight for them.”-Lisa Bevere

OUCH! That one hurt!

I’m just like them. I want tangible. There are days when His invisible presence just isn’t  good enough. At least that’s what my flesh tells me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that it’s wrong to desire a tangible, affectionate relationship because it’s not. But it is wrong to place that desire above the desire for deeper more intimate relationship with Jesus.

God did give them the kings they wanted. But if you look at the lives all of those kings led, they had faults. They let the Israelites down.

Saul committed suicide. (1 Chronicles 10:4). David committed adultery. (2nd Samuel 11:2-4). Solomon had multiple wives and concubines. (1 Kings 11). Herod led an infanticide. (Matthew 2:16).

What we want isn’t always what we need. We don’t need a king; We need Jesus.

“God is everything we need but He sent His Son, Jesus, to be everything we want.” -Lysa TerKeurst

So which king do you seek? The one who will often fail you; or the One that will never leave you nor forsake you? (Hebrews 13:5).

Please excuse me while I go ice my toes.

 

No Matter the Cost

I had originally written this as a submission for a devotional book, however the organization it was submitted to has not contacted me regarding the devotional book project. I believe since I did not hear back by the time I was supposed to hear back and the project has been removed from their website, that the project is no longer being done or my piece simply wasn’t selected and they failed to notify me. Whatever the case may be, it is now here for your benefit. May you be blessed by it.

No Matter The Cost

Now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:22-24 “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13

Paul gives us one of the greatest lessons in obedience no matter the cost. He knew the fate that awaited him in Jerusalem. He knew that his hands would be bound in chains there. He knew that he would face trials there. Yet still he went. Going to Jerusalem was an act of obedience to what God had told him to do. He obeyed no matter the cost.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Were you obedient knowing there may be consequences to your obedience? I know I have. I know it is a hard place to be. Though I did not face prison, I did face heartbreak.  A friend of mine was living in sin. She already knew she was; but God told me to speak to her about it. I had to be obedient knowing that there may be consequences. I did not know what the consequences would be; but I did know that she would not be receptive of what I had to say. I knew that she would take what I had to say the wrong way. Though I went to her in love and concern for her spiritual journey, she took my words as judgement. Though she needed to hear what I had to say, her heart was not ready to receive it in the way it was intended. I had to be obedient and then I had to place her and the situation in God’s hands. My friend cut off communication with me for six months and did not invite me to her wedding. This was the consequence of my obedience. But God brought me through it and honored my obedience. When her heart was ready to receive my words, our friendship was restored. My friendship with my friend is made stronger because of the trial we went through.

If you continue in Paul’s story through Acts 28, you see that God brought him through his trials as well. Though Paul endured beatings and persecutions and imprisonment for several years, he was set free in the end and continued on to minister to the people of Rome. Paul’s testimony was made stronger because of the trials that God brought him through.

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. God never gives us more than we can handle. He will never ask us to do anything that we are not capable of doing, so long as we rely on Him to equip us for every good work. “ Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

The story of Jonah is another example of the importance of obeying God. Jonah’s disobedience landed him in a lot of trouble with God. Paul’s story teaches us the blessings of obedience while Jonah’s story teaches us the dismay of disobedience.Jonah redeemed himself in the end, but how much better it would have been had he obeyed to begin with!

Friends, I encourage you to obey no matter the cost. Whether God is asking you to say something to someone, to take His story to a far off land, or to step out of your boat, do it! Do it in spite of your fears! Do it in spite of what the consequences may be! The blessings of obedience far outweigh any costs you may have to pay.

Father God, help me to know your perfect will in my life. Help me to always be obedient to Your voice. Help me to be obedient even when it’s hard, even when the odds are stacked against me. Help me to be obedient even when I am afraid. Your ways and Your thoughts are so much  higher than mine. Help me to trust that You know best; to trust that You will take care of me. Help me to keep my eyes on the victory that is in You, for You fight my battles. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

Stones of Remembrance

Joshua Chapter 4:Long Story Short

Joshua was instructed by the Lord to tell the priests to take up the Ark of the Covenant and walk out into the flowing waters of the overflown Jordan river. Then the waters dried up and the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry land. Joshua was instructed to have one man from each of the twelve tribes to “take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.(Joshua 4:3)” They were told to take the stones with them so that they won’t forget what God did for them! They were told that their children would ask them what the stones meant to them and they were to tell them that God dried up the river so that they could cross safely on dry land. Then Joshua set up twelve stones where the priests had stood. “The priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished.(Joshua 4:10)” Once everyone had crossed over then the priests carrying the ark of the covenant crossed the rest of the way. As soon as the priest stepped onto dry land the waters flowed back into the overflowed banks.

I encourage you to read Joshua chapter 4 in it’s entirety.

The ark of the covenant contained the presence of God. Notice the location of the ark through the whole event. God went before them, God stayed in the midst of them, and God followed behind them! Just as He did for them He does for us. That was a monumental event! So monumental that  He told them to take a stone of remembrance with them.

We have events like that in our own lives. Our stones of remembrance come in other forms though. It may be a photograph or video taken at the event. It may be a scar left behind by the event. It may be something you wrote in a journal about the event. It may be a miraculous healing. It may be something that was provided when it was needed.  Whatever the form our stone of remembrance takes, someone at some point will ask about it. And we can be prepared with our answer ” God was with me”.

I encourage you to write down your “God was with me” moments so that you have them to remember what God did for you.