July 10, 2018 “Analogies”

Analogies

The Kingdom of God is a spiritual reality.
Jesus employed analogies, comparisons to material things, to help us “see” the Kingdom. Sometimes these were elaborate short stories, parables illustrating a life lesson. At other times, the analogy was a single image and it is up to us to make the application.

The Mustard Seed
The Kingdom of God is like this tiny seed, easily overlooked but full of life and potential. When we take in the Word of God, the seed of the Kingdom, and tend it carefully in our hearts, it takes root. Like a huge tree growing from a small source, the truth of the Kingdom grows deep in the heart, drawing nutrients from roots deep in God’s presence. In time and with careful care—discipleship—the Kingdom matures in the believer and he/she becomes a whole, healthy, productive tree.

The Leaven of the Gospel
Jesus mentioned leaven. What is that? Here is the second definition from Webster’s: “something that modifies or lightens.” Jesus was talking about a chemical reaction in bread, making it lighter and more palatable. The gospel is like that change agent. A test of whether a person is truly a follower of Jesus is the presence of change, not just change but improvement. Like yeast in bread, the gospel of Christ changes us.

  • The believer is modified by the Gospel when it is obeyed. We are altered by what we believe for believing in Jesus demands a new lifestyle. Old things begin to pass away and all things begin a process of becoming new. This is not reform; this is transformation! The words spoken over those who are baptized in water as an outward sign of this transformation express this: “Buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life.”
  • To use the definition from Webster, the believer is made lighter by the entrance of Jesus. In what way? The guilt of sin is taken away. We no longer bear the burden of our mistakes or evil deeds. In their place, is the “easy yoke” and the “light burden” promised to those who follow Jesus.

More than the chemical reaction in bread when it rises, the leaven of the Gospel transforms the believer from the inside out.

The Narrow Gate
How does one enter into this transformational life? Although the way has been opened by Jesus to all, most people will not use the gate. Why? Because, the Gate, indeed, is a narrow one. It requires the denial of self, the voluntary taking up of a cross (God’s plan for one’s life) and the restructuring life around God’s will. The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane becomes the daily confession: “Not my will but Thine, O Lord.”

Most people just aren’t going to do this. Many will get the outward routines right without the tending of the mustard seed or submission to the work of the leaven. When judgment comes, they will discover that they were fakes, never yielding to the inner work of the Spirit and settling instead for the wide, wide gate of the masses—human nature.

Jesus predicted that King Herod and Jerusalem would find themselves excluded while the unknown, unheralded, true believers, those of mustard seed faith and the leaven of the Gospel, will go in to enjoy the Goodness of Heaven.

In the words of Isaiah, “Go through the Gate!” The leaven of positive change is waiting and the Good Seed of the Word is yours to enjoy when you believe the Gospel.

Scriptures:
Luke: 13:18-35

Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I believe in Your Story—the Gospel of Christ. I am not ashamed of it. I embrace the inner working of the Holy Spirit. Help me to carefully tend the seed of the Word You have deposited in my Heart. I open my life to the wonderful working of Your Holy Spirit, the leaven of heaven. Change me, Lord! Lighten my life! Alter my thinking and the deeds of this day! I love the Narrow Gate for I know I will find You there! Amen.

Song:
Into My Heart

Words and Music: Harry D. Clarke

Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
Come in today. Come in to stay.
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus,

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

July 9, 2018 “Repent!”

Repent!

When will we realize the smartest thing we can do is to repent of our sins?
Because sin comes from corruption in the heart—selfishness, lust, pride, hate and such wonderful things—when we do the sins demanded by these things, and never repent, these forces grow stronger in us. Result? Unrepentant hearts lead directly to stupidity on an amazing scale. Here are some cases in point.

Events Beyond Our Control
We all know that sometimes bad things happen to good people and bad people seem to prosper in spite of their sins. No one can explain this—except to say that we live in a fallen universe. Someone brought up one of these cases to Jesus concerning some diseased Galileans and bloody Governor Pilate. Jesus made no attempt to explain how such an injustice could happen; He merely exhorted the people to take care of their own sins with repentance. Then He referenced a well-known industrial accident and warned against trying to assign blame to the victims. He offered the same warning—Repent! Who knows what today or tomorrow may bring?

An Unproductive Fig Tree
Next came a parable about a man who planted a fig tree and worked with it for three years and it still did not produce figs. The man had had enough and was ready to cut it down and try something else. He told his servant,

“Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’

The keeper of the vineyard asked for one more year of intensive care for the useless tree. Jesus did not finish the story. It is unusual for Him to leave us hanging. Did a year of pruning and special care solve the problem? The implication is that it did. Of course, the intensive horticultural care in the story represents an intense reassessment of life—repentance—turning from sin. Stupidity avoided.

A Hard Case of Stupid
While teaching in the synagogue, a woman bent over at the waist with an infirmity 18 years in her broken body was miraculously healed by Jesus. Wonderful! Right? Not to the Pharisees. Loaded as they were with sins never repented of, they saw no cause for rejoicing. In their sin-induced stupidity, all they saw was an imagined violation of the Sabbath. Jesus had “worked” on the Lord’s Holy Day by healing someone. The height, breadth, and depth of this stupidity is hard for us to understand but it is the inevitable result to the brain of piled up sins. Jesus could not resist addressing their spiritual blindness. He compared the woman’s plight with that of an injured beast of burden.

“So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound — think of it — for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”

This answer swayed the worshipers in the synagogue to support Jesus and shamed the Pharisees. Lesson: Unrepentant hearts lead directly to stupidity on an amazing scale. When will we realize the smartest thing we can do is to repent of our sins? Can you hear Jesus saying, “Repent!”?

Scriptures:
Luke: 13:1-17

There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'” Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound — think of it — for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there is simply no reason for me to carry around with me the record of my past sins! You have nailed them to Your Holy Cross! Because I confessed my sinful life and deeds to You and repented of them—seeking to reverse course and go Your way and not mine—those sins are gone, never to be remembered against me again! Thank You, Jesus. Each sin was a handle for Satan to grab hold of me but You have broken all those access points. When the old devil tries to grab me there, his hands slip away for my life is soaked by Your Holy Blood. Stupidity avoided! Praise the Lord!

Song:
Just As I Am

Words: Charlotte Elliot; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidd’st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

2. Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

3. Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

4. Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 30, 2018 “Confession”

Confession

It was time to share His power and authority with the 12 men He had chosen.
Jesus did exactly that—He gave all 12 of them the power to preach the gospel and heal the sick. He put them under an order of strict discipline regarding provisions for the campaign and deportment among those who supported or refused to support them. We don’t know if they traveled in teams or alone, but they did exactly as Jesus commanded and His power indeed went with them and they saw the same results as they had seen with Jesus.

Herod
A campaign like that generates news. When the stories got to King Herod, the king didn’t know what to think. Theories were presented:

  • John was back.
  • Elijah or another long-dead prophet had risen from the grave.

Jesus alone was enough of a threat to peace and order; 12 men acting in His name and in His power was a crisis.

Time for a Rest
Although the flow of power is divine, ministry takes a toll on the human frame. Jesus took His men to a deserted place near Bethsaida, to hear the details of their ministry and to get some much-needed rest. It was not to be. Somehow news of their location got out and the multitude found Jesus. He let the disciples rest while He taught the people and healed them of their various diseases and impairments.

Time for a Meal
As the day was passing, the disciples suggested Jesus should close down the meeting send people back to town. This was not to be either. Jesus told His men,

“You give them something to eat.”

Jesus organized the people into groups of 50 and seated them on the ground. He took the meager menu items and blessed them, giving them to the disciples to distribute. As they did, they saw the blest food multiply in their hands as they gave it away! In a short while the crowd of 5000 men, not counting women and children, was filled as were 12 baskets of leftovers.

The Confession
When the people were gone, Jesus retreated from the men a little distance to be alone to pray. When they had caught their breath, the men gathered to Him quietly, not wishing to disturb Him. All of them, Jesus included, were thinking of the events of this remarkable day. Jesus asked the men what people were saying about Him—specifically, what theories existed as to His identity. When all the standard answers were offered a silence fell, each man thinking the unthinkable. Jesus asked them who they thought He might be.

A soft voice spoke from among the 12. It was unusual for Peter to speak so quietly but His words were so full of meaning, they did not need volume to have an impact. Dr. Luke gives us the most economical version of Peter’s confession.

“The Christ of God.”

Never have four words meant so much. This confession is the power behind the power and the truth behind the truth. Many will admit that if Jesus really existed, He was a great teacher or philosopher or humanitarian, but they shrink back from the truth. This confession is the dividing line between believers and unbelievers. To confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Suffering Savior, and Triumphant Lord is to worship and witness all at once. In its light all goodness is possible and all evil can be overcome.

Scriptures:
Luke: 9:1-26

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again. Herod said, “John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?” So he sought to see Him. And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.” And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them. And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess with the ancient church: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Song:
Crown Him with Many Crowns

Words: Matthew Bridges; Music: George J. Elvey

1. Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless king through all eternity.

2. Crown him the Lord of life, who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save;
his glories now we sing who died and rose on high,
who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

3. Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty, glorified;
no angels in the sky can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends their burning eye at mysteries so bright.

4. Crown him the Lord of years, the potentate of time,
creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! for thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail throughout eternity.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 29, 2018 “Power”

Power

Power flowed from Jesus, unhindered by time and distance.
The only hindrance found in the scriptural record was the lack of faith. Unlike the cowards on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, the multitude gathered in faith to welcome Jesus and the Twelve back to their side of the lake. For 12 years the daughter of Jairus had lived her life. Now she faced death. In those same 12 years, a woman of the town had suffered a terrible illness.

Jairus, a Ruler of the Synagogue
A few of the leaders of the people exercised faith in Jesus. One of them was a leader named Jairus. His name was prophetic, meaning, “He will arise.” This, Jairus did, arising above the cynicism and hostility of the ruling religious class to express faith in Jesus.

Coming directly to Jesus, Jairus fell at His feet, pleading his desperate case: His only daughter of only 12 years was dying. Immediately Jesus started for the home of Jairus, of necessity passing through the crowded streets. The multitude pressed Him on every side; it was not an easy trip.

A Woman, Gravely Ill
In the rough and tumble crowd, a weakened frame, wasted by the same 12 years of an uncontrolled flow of blood, tried her best to get to Jesus. Her strength, like her money, was nearly gone. Several times as she pressed through the crowd, bent in pain and stiffness, she would almost find herself within reach of Jesus only to be thrown back by the crowd. People took little notice of her and her quest seemed doomed to fail. When she was about to give up, a wave of people pushed her toward Jesus, depositing her at His feet. Realizing this position and opportunity, she stretched out her thin, skeletal hand and touched the hem of His robe.

With this touch came strength, itself a wave, flowing through her. She knew immediately that the flow of blood stopped. More than that, a surge of life and wellness coursed through her body. The years of suffering fled before this moment of healing. She felt strong enough to straighten up, rising carefully to her full height, small by the measure of men’s eyes, but towering in its truth. She was healed.

In the same moment, Jesus stopped. He asked who had touched Him. It seemed a ridiculous question in the midst of the jostling crowd. With new-found strength, the woman pleaded guilty and fell trembling before Him.

“Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Back to Jairus
At that moment, news came that Jairus’ daughter was dead. Jesus was not deterred. He instructed Jairus not to fear but to believe. Arriving at the house, Jesus was met by mourners who knew their business. Knowing the girl was dead, they laughed at Jesus words of hope. He sent everyone out except the inner circle of His men and the parents. With simple words, He lifted her out of death commanding that food be given to her, proving she was no ghost. The girl’s parents were rightfully amazed but Jesus told them to hold on to their story, their daughter, and their faith.

Power flowed from Jesus, unhindered by time and distance.

Scriptures:
Luke: 8:40-56

So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.” But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your power is unlimited, unhindered by time and distance. Your power is released by faith, also unlimited by time and distance. Just one touch of Your holy hand and Your power flows into my life, into my need. Like the poor sick woman, I must press through the crowds of those who would hinder me. I will reach to You with my praise and I know a wave of grace will put me into Your Holy Presence. Like Jairus, I will bring my issues to You and follow Your commands knowing that Your love will always meet my needs. Through faith, I will touch You and in love, You will touch me! Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
One Touch

Words and Music: Bonnie Plunkett

There’s healing in the name of Jesus
Healing in the touch of Jesus
One touch of His hand will lift you
Body mind and soul
Believe Him that His pow’r will Free you
Praise Him for His mercies t’ward you
Thank Him for His love
He longs to make you fully whole

Refrain:
Just one touch of the Master’s hand
Just one word He has full command
Have faith in what He wants to do
Is all He asks of you
There’s healing in the name of Jesus
Healing in the touch of Jesus
One touch of His Master’s hand will
Make you fully whole

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 28, 2018 “Swine”

Swine

This was not the kind of welcoming committee anyone would request.
The boat landed on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. As Jesus stepped ashore, He was greeted, not with flowers and accolades from an adoring crowd, but by a naked crazy man. The poor fellow was driven mad by a host or demons who had taken residence in his soul. He was the bane of the town. He could not be contained, either in a house or in chains. When he was not driven into the surrounding wilderness, he lived among the tombs, sleeping, when He slept at all, in vacant tombs. His tortured cries stabbed the darkness every night with terror. This had gone on, in Dr. Luke’s terse description, “for a long time.”

The Welcome
Possibly sensing in some demonic way that Jesus was coming, and certainly knowing who Jesus was, the demons in the man met Him at the shore,

“What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I beg You, do not torment me!”

Jesus, the Man of Peace, did not bring peace to demons, or to Pharisees and their kin, for that matter. The demons knew their peace was about to be disturbed. Jesus addressed the tormentors directly.

“What is your name?”

There was no escape for Satan’s minions. They had to answer to a higher authority.

“Legion.”

This answer indicated that not one but many demons had found refuge in the life of the former friend and neighbor of the villagers. Speaking in a cacophony of hellish voices the demons begged for mercy.

A Herd of Swine,
At some distance, a large herd of hogs grazed, content and quite unaware and surely unimpressed by the doings of men. The demons asked to be transported to these convenient creatures. Jesus agreed and suddenly the peaceful pigs grew restless, then agitated, and finally, raving mad. With one mind, they ran down a steep place into the sea and were drowned. Their keepers panicked and ran into the village to report this destruction of property.

Brilliant Leaders
When the suddenly profitless owners came to investigate, they were in for another surprise—their local crazy man had been delivered! He sat peacefully at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.

Reason, however, escaped the community leaders. Instead of welcoming their fellow citizen home and rejoicing in his deliverance, they formed a quick huddle and devised this strategy for the betterment of their town—ask Jesus to leave and never come back. As did those ignorant pigs, these leaders rushed blindly into a sea of stupidity and drowned each other.

Invited to Leave
Thusly invited to leave, Jesus started back onboard the boat to cross back to the other side, where people wanted Him. The delivered man sought to make the journey with Him but Jesus told him to stay home and tell his story to all who would listen. Someone had to demonstrate more wisdom than demons and hogs.

That night, the village was quiet. At no point did the familiar screams from the cemetery disturb the peace. However, people could not sleep in this unfamiliar silence. The arthritic were still stiff and in pain. The blind remained in their darkness as the sick, lame, impaired, and demon-infested sweated through another night. Their leaders had sent Jesus away.

Scriptures:
Luke: 8:26-39

Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned. Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, may I never send You away! How could I do this? I can do this when You give me a job to do and I don’t get around to it. I can do this when I know Your Word but choose to live by some other rule. I can do this when I neglect daily prayer and weekly worship. If I send You away, my needs will not be met. My pain will not ease. My confusion will multiply and my day will be lousy. Stay with me, Lord Jesus! I need You today! Amen and amen.

Song:
Reach Out and Touch the Lord

Traditional

Reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by.
You’ll find He’s not too busy to answer your cry.
He’s passing by this moment your needs to supply.
Reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 27, 2018 “Light”

Light

Light changes things. The rising sun chases the night away. A lighted candle brings important details out of the shadows.
Jesus taught the importance of light. It must not be hidden. One day, the light of judgment will shine into every human heart. Anything hidden there will be revealed. Applying this truth to everyday life Jesus sounded a warning;

“…whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have,
even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

A Family Visit
As the crowd sought to absorb this warning, Jesus’ family tried to gain entrance but could not. This was reported to Jesus and His response was strange indeed.

“My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”

Dr. Luke does not tell us what happened next. Surely the crowd, thus designated as His family—if they heard His Word and obeyed it—parted to grant entrance for His family. We are not told why they came but we can be sure that Jesus was respectful but unhindered in His mission.

A Stormy Trip
Days later, with the sun shining high and bright over the blue water, Jesus and the Twelve set out to cross the Sea of Galilee. Tired from constant ministry, Jesus made Himself comfortable in the boat and fell fast asleep. The fishermen in the group were happy to apply the skills of their former lives to the needs of Jesus. They knew all about boats and the Sea of Galilee.

As the bright sky began to darken, the four former fishing partners saw the storm coming. They started pulling hard to reach the other side. Perhaps the boat was overloaded—13 men—and soon the winds and waves began to overcome the craft. As the danger mounted, the disciples rowed with all their might keeping the bow pointed into the wind. All the while Jesus rested comfortably in the bottom of the boat.

The boat began to take on water, growing heavier and settling deeper into the sea. None of the men wanted to wake Jesus; they wanted Him to wake up on His own but that just wasn’t going to happen. They had to shake Him awake.

“Master, Master, we are perishing!”

Waking Jesus
Jesus shook His head to clear away the effects of deep sleep. He stood in the boat, keeping His balance, as He looked first at the dark skies, then the raging waves, and finally at His frightened followers. He smiled at their anxious faces, intending to comfort them in the midst of the storm. This didn’t help. They needed more.

His voice rang out over the storm loud enough for creation itself to hear the voice its Creator. He spoke to the wind and the water, telling them to stop. They did. Like an obedient child, the winds settled into a calm and the waves took a seat at the feet of their master. The dark of the storm retreated before the sun’s light. High, friendly clouds appeared as the storm clouds dissipated and, like a noon-day sunrise, the sun reappeared.

The disciples were stunned by the sudden calm and a greater fear came on them, a fear of such a Man of God in their midst. Jesus, seeing their fear, asked them where the faith had gone. With no roar of sea and wind, each man whispered to himself.

“Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Scriptures:
Luke: 8:16-25

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Master of every storm! I will never face wind that must not obey You. No turbulence in wind or water will ever overcome You. Give me the courage it takes to follow Your leadership whether there are storms or not on the path ahead. Though the clouds of circumstance may hide Your light, I know Your love is always shining my way. As John says, the darkness has never overcome Your amazing light! You always overcome darkness and keep me safe until the storm is past. Thank You, Lord!

Song:
Peace! Be Still
Words: Mary Ann Baker; H.R. Palmer

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh:
“Carest Thou not that we perish?”
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will.
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons, or men, or whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
the Master of ocean and earth and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will!
Peace! Peace! be still!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 26, 2018 “Seed”

Seed

A company of women is always a significant thing. It is today and it was then.
As Jesus continued His ministry tour, His entourage continued to expand. In addition to the Twelve men He had chosen, a group of women now followed Him, providing for the needs of the team from their own resources. A common bond was this: Jesus had miraculously delivered each of them from life-threatening circumstances. Dr. Luke gives us the names of three of them:

  1. Mary of Magdala,
  2. Joanna, the wife of a steward of Herod, and
  3. A woman named Susanna.

The story of Mary Magdalene is the most well-known. Before Jesus, she struck terror and excited evil impulses in the people she met for she was infested with seven powerful demons. Now, she moved among the multitude with feminine grace assuring listeners that Jesus could, indeed, help them, too.

A Public Parable
Perhaps Jesus was thinking about the many people who had heard Him speak and the mixed results He had observed when He told this parable:

A sower with excellent, life-giving seed, went about his business. The good seed fell onto different kinds of soil, some of it lost on the road, trampled down by travelers. Some seeds were lost to enterprising birds. Others fell on stony ground and sprang up quickly, but also withered quickly. Some of the seeds fell onto overgrown soil with choking weeds and thorns. Some, just some, of the seed fell on good ground and produced an amazing harvest.

A Private Interpretation
Later, when the healings were over and the multitudes were gone, Jesus explained the meaning of the parable to His followers. We can imagine that as He explained, the women joyfully refreshed Jesus with their provisions, creating an atmosphere conducive to spiritual progress.

“To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God,
but to the rest it is given in parables…”

His explanation of the parable was especially tender and real to the Twelve and to the women for they represented the good ground and they knew it.

The seed was the Word of God. The wayside ones were those who never heard the Word because Satan stole it from them. The ones on the rocky soil started out but did not last because they had no roots beneath the rocky surface. Those who received the seed and grew into fine plants but did not produce fruit were those distracted by deceitful things: “cares, riches, and pleasures.” The productive ones are those who heard the Word, took it into their hearts and let it do its divine work. These are the ones who brought in the amazing harvest.

Moments of Reflection
As they pondered the meaning of this parable, the close followers of Jesus began to realize that He was talking about them. Of all the people who heard Him and received from His powerful hand, they represented the good soil for the good seed. They were His harvest! Each of them began to realize what he/she might mean to Jesus. He loved them. Their reception of Him and His Word was precious to Him. Each man and woman decided then and there to let the seed do its work. There in the shadow of Jesus, with His voice soft on their ears, it was the only choice that made sense.

Scriptures:
Luke: 8:1-15

Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities — Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance. And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’ “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the Good Seed of the Word sown in my heart! It has taken root there for Your glory. May my roots go ever deeper into Your heart. I long to bear fruit for You for in that fruit will be still more seed to sow, more truth to scatter to the winds of this desperate world. Help the seed I sow find the good ground. Help those who hear my message take it deep into their lives to become a fruit-bearing harvest of freedom and joy. For Your Kingdom, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Bringing in the Sheaves

Words: Knowles Shaw; Music: George A. Minor

1. Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves;
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

2. Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain

3. Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Tho’ the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 25, 2018 “Sinner”

Sinner

Some people come to dinner when they are invited. Others come uninvited.
For some reason, a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to his home for dinner. There is no record that the invitation extended to the Twelve. Perhaps Simon wanted some private time with Jesus. Maybe he had witnessed the miracles and heard the teaching. There is no way of knowing how many of Simon’s family or friends were in attendance. It is safe to assume Simon employed people to serve his guests but there is no way to know how many people were there. It could have a small gathering or something more like a feast.

A Tearful Intruder
Just as the dinner was getting underway, a woman, known in the city as a sinful woman, intruded. Perhaps it was her tears, or the alabaster jar she carried, or the shock of it all, but somehow she penetrated the security of Simon’s home and stood behind Jesus weeping. If Simon made an effort to remove her, Jesus must have stopped him. Still weeping, she knelt before Jesus and began washing His feet with her tears and drying them with her long, carefully prepared hair. A stunned silence enveloped the house as she took the alabaster jar and broke it open. The fragrance of the perfume filled the air as she anointed Jesus’ feet, still weeping with gratitude and adoration.

How to Treat a Savior
Whatever Simon’s motives were for arranging this dinner, the woman, known for her sins, was now in charge. Simon began to worry that people would connect him with her and assume his guilt. Quietly, he wondered aloud about Jesus. If He really were a prophet, surely He would know who and what this woman was and would put a stop to this outrage.

Jesus looked deep into the man’s eyes. If Simon really wanted to know more about Jesus, he was about to learn.

“Simon, I have something to say to you.”

When Simon agreed, Jesus told the story of a creditor who forgave those who owed him money but could not pay. One owed a small amount and the other a much larger sum.

“Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

Simon had to give the obvious answer. Jesus replied.

“You have rightly judged.”

Jesus then made the application with devastating effect.

“…you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.

Simon was speechless. Since he knew he was righteous, gratitude for sins forgiven had never entered his mind. Jesus went on.

“…her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.

Jesus, smiling, gently brushed a tear away from the woman’s blushing cheek.

“Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”

She returned His smile and quietly gathered her broken alabaster jar, stood tall and straight and, taking a deep breath, left the Pharisee’s house without a trace of shame.

Scriptures:
Luke: 7:18-28

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, may I never lose my grateful heart. You have forgiven me much so I will love You much. Help me to never forget that my thanksgiving is like anointing oil to You. My tears of gratitude are precious in Your sight. My love for You is like refreshing water to Your being. May I always remember how to minister to You with a grateful heart and words of love. Thank You, Jesus.

Song:
Oh How I Love Jesus

Words and Music: Verses, Frederick Whitfield; Refrain, Traditional

1. There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
it sounds like music in my ear,
the sweetest name on earth.

Refrain:
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
O how I love Jesus,
because he first loved me!

2. It tells me of a Savior’s love,
who died to set me free;
it tells me of his precious blood,
the sinner’s perfect plea.

Refrain

3. It tells of one whose loving heart
can feel my deepest woe;
who in each sorrow bears a part
that none can bear below.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 24, 2018 “Arise!”

Arise!

Sometimes on the saddest of days, we are sure of the grief the day will bring.
And sometimes we are wrong. After the healing of the Centurion’s beloved servant, Jesus traveled to a town called Nain. Just a few miles from Nazareth, this village was on the road from Galilee to Jerusalem. Nain means, “delightful.” Nain would have faded into the obscurity of most small towns except for the amazing thing that happened as Jesus entered the gates.

Total Loss
It is difficult to calculate the totality of the loss suffered by a woman of Nain. Sometime before Jesus came, she, like so many wives, she lost her husband. There was little a widow could do in that culture to support herself. Until her children could support her, she would live at the mercy of other family members.

By the time of Jesus, her only son—all she had left from her husband—was a grown man. There is no record of his having his own wife and children to support so he was probably one of those brave men who took on responsibilities as they came to him.

He was her life! Perhaps his mother could see reflections of his father in his eyes or hear notes of her husband’s voice when he sang. Maybe certain mannerisms reminded the man’s mother of his father. What we know for sure is that the love between them was great and the home, although a small one, was a functional one, creating a space for them in village society. How do we know this? Dr. Luke’s description of events gives us hints.

The unthinkable happened; the young man died. We are not told how he died, some sudden or lingering sickness, or a random, senseless accident, or perhaps a crime of violence, but with his death, his man’s mother lost everything.

Tears at the Town Gate
Jesus arrived at the entrance to the town at the same moment the man’s funeral procession was leaving. A large crowd followed the open coffin, surrounding his body with public grief far beyond anything professional mourners could have produced. This parade of tears speaks of the heart of the village for this widow. Perhaps other widows had mourned in a similar procession when their husbands died. Thoughtful, observant people took civic pride in the way the young man sacrificed to provide for his mother. Their sadness extended beyond the day’s events to the uncertain future of a woman who had lost so much.

Two Processions Meet
Jesus and the Twelve stood to the side of the road to let the funeral procession pass. When the open coffin approached Jesus, He halted the mourners. He focused on the grieving widow and spoke these impossible words,

“Do not weep.”

“Do not weep?” How was that even possible? Those in the crowd who knew who Jesus was and what He had done wondered what might happen next. Those who did not know Him were offended by His presumption. They all watched in wonder as Jesus spoke to the dead man in the open coffin:

“Young man, I say to you, arise.”

The divided crowd was silent but on the verge of protest when the man sat up in the coffin began to speak to them. Jesus helped him out of the coffin and presented him to his mother. In profound silence, with scarcely single breath among them, the people watched the most unlikely reunion. As if on cue, they broke into praise of God, proclaiming Jesus to be a prophet. From these town gates, this story spread throughout Judea. Nain means, “delightful.”

Scriptures:
Luke: 7:11-17

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You can turn a day from tears to rejoicing with the sound of Your voice! You called my soul from the grave, from death to life, and I came out rejoicing. Death does not have the final word—you do, Lord! And Your word is life and that everlasting! You break all kinds of chains that would bind me and set me free to love You with heart, soul, mind, and strength! This I will do, rejoicing all the while for tears become laughter at Your command! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Mourning into Dancing

Words and Music: Tommy Walker

He’s turned my mourning
Into dancing again. He’s lifted my sorrows.
And I can’t stay silent.
I must sing for His joy has come.

Where there once was only hurt
You gave Your healing hand.
Where there once was only pain
You brought comfort like a friend.
I feel the sweetness of Your love
Piercing my darkness.
I see the bright and morning sun
As it ushers in Your joyful gladness.

Your anger lasts For a moment in time
But Your favor is here
And will be on me for all my lifetime.

He’s turned my mourning
Into dancing again. He’s lifted my sorrows.
And I can’t stay silent
I must sing for His joy has come.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

June 23, 2018 “Centurion”

Centurion

All Roman soldiers were not barbarians. “A certain centurion” had both an open mind and an open heart.
To rise to the rank of Centurion meant he was bright and responsible and was in direct command of 100 Roman soldiers. Evidently, he had great respect for the Jews and their religion and had even built them a synagogue.

One God Rather than Many
For a man of such intelligence, it made sense to consider the monotheism of the Jews rather than the polytheism of the Romans. Their gods were not even original creations; they were Greek retreads! It is likely that his friends, the leaders of the synagogue, had shared their history and beliefs with him. In these histories the officer saw the authority of the leaders who represented Jehovah on earth:

  • Moses outmatched the heathen priests of Pharaoh and commanded the sea to part for the People of God.
  • Joshua’s procession, led by God’s holy priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant, rolled the Jordan River back on one side for the People of God.
  • Joshua’s army marched around Jericho and made walls fall down at the sound of trumpets and the shouts of the soldiers. In another battle, the sun refused to set until Joshua had prevailed.
  • For Gideon and his tiny army, torches and trumpets won the day.
  • For David, the Name of the Lord and one rock from a sling defeated the giant.
  • King Jehoshaphat’s victorious army was led by musicians!

Stories like these made it easy for the Centurion to believe in the authority of Jesus.

A Favorite Servant Fallen Ill
This Roman officer valued human life, even the life of a servant. One of his personal staff, a man loved by the soldier, was ill to the point of death. Going through the leaders of the synagogue, the Centurion appealed to Jesus. When the leaders relayed his request to Jesus, the Lord started in that direction. When He was close to the soldier’s house, representatives met Him with these words of faith:

“Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. … say the word, and my servant will be healed…”

Jesus stopped to listen to the emissaries of the Centurion as they quoted the soldier:

“For I also am a man placed under authority, having 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.”

The Word of Faith
Jesus always responded to the faith of those who called on Him, but this was z most unusual statement of faith He had yet to hear. He found this mixture of humility and faith irresistible. He said as much to the crowd following Him.

“I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

It was at once a commendation and a condemnation. Why should a pagan soldier see Jesus more clearly than the People of God or even their leaders?

Another Healing
When the representatives of the Centurion returned to him, they found the servant completely healed—another healing registered from the hand and in the authority of Jesus. And so it would be for the rest of the earthly ministry of Jesus. Jesus would respond to the faith of those who called upon Him and thus it remains unto this very day.

Scriptures:
Luke: 7:1-10

Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.” Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having 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.” When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I believe in You! Give me a faith like that of the Centurion—absolute confidence in Your authority. Birth a deep humility in me to bear that faith to You in prayer. Then I will know that nothing is impossible for me that is Your will! Let others count be worthy, but never let me boast in their assessment—all is for Your glory and never mine! I know that my victory comes only through faith in You. Amen and Amen.

Song:
Faith Is the Victory

Words: John Henry Yates; Music: Ira D. Sankey

1. Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Refrain:
Faith is the victory! (Faith is the victory!)
Faith is the victory! (Faith is the victory!)
Oh, glorious victory
That overcomes the world.

2. His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith they, like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

Refrain

3. To him who overcomes the foe
White raiment shall be giv’n;
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in heav’n
Then onward from the hills of light,
Our hearts with love aflame;
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night
In Jesus’ conquering name.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved