Matthew 9:1-8

Thy Word:

Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

“Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town. Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up and went home! Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for giving humans such authority.” Matthew 9:1-8 NLT

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My Thoughts: This story gives me chills because of the paralyzed man’s faith. Remember, Jesus knows everything in our heart and He knew this man was suffering from his sins more than from his paralyzed condition.

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I want to share a personal story about myself that may give you a chuckle in the beginning, but when reality hit me, it was no longer funny.

As a new believer I didn’t really know how to pray so I used a method from our pastor called P.R.A.Y. It meant: Praise God, Repent and ask forgiveness of my sins, Ask God for my prayer requests, and Yield my heart and will to Jesus daily. Since I’m structure oriented this was a wonderful style for me. I was so proud because at the end of a week of prayer, I reflected that I had no sins (okay this is where you can laugh)!

Since Jesus wants us to face the truth that we are all sinners (“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 NLT), that weekend out pastor gave a sermon about sin and he told us there was not a day that went by he didn’t sin. Can I tell you I immediately felt sick to my stomach? I knew if that man sinned daily, I most certainly did too!

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So I asked God to open my eyes to my sins. Oh. My. To this day that remains the most reckless prayer I have ever prayed, and within hours my eyes were opened to the awful truth of my sins (this part is totally not funny). After a week, I was exhausted, I cried a lot, and I couldn’t even stand to look at myself in the mirror. I would no sooner get over the revelation of one sin, when I would remember a past sin. I was literally begging God to take me out of the world because I could see how wretched I was! Thankfully the next week our pastor talked about God’s forgiving grace and redemption when I was saved otherwise I’m not sure what I would have done.

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Therefore, I understand this man’s torment over his sins and his desire to come to Jesus for the ultimate healing power of forgiveness. Sometimes it’s the consequences of our reckless sins that make us realize how much we need the forgiveness of Jesus to receive His highest and best healing.

To affirm that Jesus knew this man’s heart and thoughts we read that He knew the thoughts of the teachers of religious laws who considered Jesus blasphemous.

“Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts?” Matthew 9:4 NLT

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Because of their unbelief and evil thoughts, the paralyzed man was not only forgiven for his sins, he was healed from his paralysis. His faith was so strong he JUMPED up and went home at the command of Jesus.

Jesus demonstrated the power of His words to forgive and heal; then the crowds were amazed.

My hope today is two-fold:

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  1. I pray that our words and actions reflect the power and blessing of Jesus in our lives. We can say we love Jesus and others but if the majority of our words and actions say or show otherwise, we must reconsider the level of our faith. (For instance if you preach the glory of God out of one side of your mouth and racism out of the other…, you might want to reconsider your faith!)
  2. I pray that everyone reading this blog has the life saving grace and forgiveness of Jesus. If you are a believer, we all must put our faith in action by using the gifts God gave us to share the news of Jesus. If you aren’t a believer but want that forgiveness and grace of God then:

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced. Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”” Romans 10:9-13 NLT

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I’m always available to discuss a choice for salvation, or you can discuss it with any pastor at a Bible believing/Jesus following church.

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Closing Prayer: Father God, thank you for this lesson today that reminds us when we are healed from our sins that alone can heal our bodies! I pray if there is someone struggling with salvation You will point them to a Bible believing/Jesus following church to walk them through the process. I pray we live our faith out loud by loving all people and walking in obedience to You. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Matthew 8:28-34

Thy Word:

When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They came out of the tombs and were so violent that no one could go through that area. They began screaming at him,

“Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?” There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged,

“If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”

“All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone. Matthew 8:28-34 NLT

More about one of the demon possessed men in the books of Mark and Luke:

Mark 5:9, 18-20

“Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.”

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him. But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.”

Luke 8:38-39

“The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.”

(Please read all of the verses of this same story located in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39.)

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Important Note: First, I’d like to address why Matthew speaks of two possessed men and the account in Mark and Luke only mention one man. To clarify the difference, I recently read this explanation from LifeMark Ministries: “…don’t be concerned that Matthew describes two men and the Mark and Luke accounts only describe one man. In the gospel accounts, it is not unusual to focus on the primary person (as Mark and Luke did). It is not a mistake or contradiction.”

(To read more from LifeMark Ministries or follow along with more of their great teachings go to: https://lifemark.mykajabi.com )

My Thoughts: Today we have a lot of content but it is important (and fascinating!) so I hope you read it all.

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Jesus and the disciples go by boat to the region of Gadarenes which is somewhat unusual because it was probably inhabited by Gentiles. I believe it was Gentiles because the herdsmen were pig farmers. No old covenant Jew would ever be associated with these animals as they were considered unclean. (See Lev. 11:7–8.)

Another unusual thing about this area is that it was dangerous because violent, demon possessed men lived in tombs near the shore. Their violent behavior made it dangerous for anyone to pass through to any of the towns. But Jesus intentionally goes there.

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The moment Jesus arrives, the crazed men address Jesus by calling him Son of God. The demons in the men are afraid because they know who Jesus is and they also know what is going to happen to them in their future. However, they quickly remind Jesus it is not God’s appointed time to destroy them.

The Bible tells us in several places demons know and fear Jesus. Jesus’ brother James tells us this truth with what appears to be a hint of sarcasm:

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” James 2:19 NLT

These demons knew right away Jesus would heal the men of their torment but they wanted to remind Jesus it was not yet time for them to be banished to hell. The book of Revelation tells us (and the demons) what will be their future:

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10 NLT

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In spite of their knowledge, the demons are still very much afraid of Jesus so they plead to be sent into the pigs. Jesus does so immediately, and the moment the demons enter into the pigs the animals are driven into the sea to their destruction.

Jesus wanted to show his disciples and the herdsmen who were watching that the demons true intentions were to kill the men. By contrast, when Jesus drives the demons out, it shows how much value He had for the men and His intentions were to heal them.

The herdsmen of the pigs immediately go to town to tell the people all they had seen. Instead of being amazed by the compassion Jesus showed to free the demon possessed men, they plead for Jesus to leave their town.

I find that very interesting, don’t you? They demonstrate by their words and actions they valued their pigs and their broken lifestyle more than Jesus or the lives of those men!

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Jesus demonstrated He could restore the lives of those men with one command, which the herdsmen witnessed. So why wouldn’t they thank Jesus and ask for other lives to be healed like the recent crowds who had been following Jesus?

I believe the answer is we get so comfortable with our pain and trouble, we think what we know (the demons), is better than the unknown (healing) we don’t know. These people only knew a dark and demon possessed world, and by asking Jesus to leave they were saying they would rather have that than something different.

We read in the book of Mark one very violent man, filled with many demons was called Legion. He could easily break chains and shackles because of his enormous strength from all the demons. The demons even caused him to harm himself by using stones to slash his own flesh. That man was so grateful for the mercy and healing of Jesus, he begs Jesus to follow Him.

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“This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles—as he often was—he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones.” Mark 5:3-5 NLT

Instead of allowing the man to follow him, Jesus does something very compassionate; he sends the man back to his family and the town to proclaim what Jesus had done for him.

“So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.” Mark 5:20 NLT

In spite of the truth that the townspeople had no compassion for him, he obediently does as Jesus asks and returns to the town to share the great thing Jesus had done for him. His compassion for the town is so great, they are amazed at what they hear. I believe his great faith changed lives in those towns.

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We are all commanded to do the same, did you know that? The last thing Jesus said before He ascended to Heaven was:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts of the Apostles 1:8 NLT

Let’s not keep our salvation story, our blessings, and all the good things Jesus has done for us to ourselves! We are His witnesses, and each of us is gifted in our own way to go and tell about Him.

Lord, we are your servants, may it be as You ask!

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Closing Prayer: Father God, thank You for this story about the amazing healing of these broken men and that in spite of their brokenness, they were valuable to You. I love the stories that You show us over and over how You aren’t looking for perfect men and women to share the gospel, You are looking for willing men and women. LORD, I pray that my writing glorifies You, shares the good news of Jesus, and increases Your warriors for the Kingdom. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

 

 

Matthew 8:23-27

Thy Word:

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!

Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27 NLT

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My Thoughts: I believe our world is experiencing a storm of epic proportions because there is so much chaos and calamity in the world.

Let’s look at the definition of proportion: harmonious relation of parts to each other or to the whole; balance; symmetry.

There is nothing balanced, symmetrical, and certainly nothing harmonious about the battle in our world between politics, rich/poor, races, countries, religions…, just to name a few. It’s exhausting. In fact, I’ve sat on this blog for more than a week when I felt the Lord prompting me what to write because I didn’t want to stir the ‘ugly pot’ any more than it’s already being stirred.

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But God continued to gently nudging my heart to write about this chaos. Why? Because I believe we are at a point in our world where we can fight each other to our bitter and tragic ends, or we can cry out to Jesus “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” The Bible says:

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.” Psalms 119:1-2 NLT

In spite of the chaos and turmoil God wants us to have His joy through our integrity and obedience. He doesn’t want us to focus on the fears caused by current storms, He wants us to lean into and rely on our faith. He wants us to believe whatever is impossible for us is easy for Him.

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There are so many storms it would be easy to take a negative stance and jump into the middle of the battles. Don’t. The Bible also says:

“Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” Psalms 119:37 NLT

Yesterday we honored the late Martin Luther King Jr who also said these powerful words:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

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Instead of being divisive, let’s join together in compassion, caring, sharing, loving, and lending a helping hand. Let’s show grace when someone doesn’t deserve our grace. Let’s look into how we can share our resources with those who have been affected by the government shutdown. Let’s be peacemakers. Let’s ask ourselves: is what I am about to do going to be for the greater good of everyone or am I about to make a bad situation worse? Let’s stand together, in harmony, and not allow these storms to tear us apart.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Matthew 22:36-39 NLT

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Closing Prayer: Father God we are all in dire need of a softener for our hearts! In view of that, I pray that my teeth hold my tongue captive unless I am speaking words of love and kindness. I also pray my actions reflect only compassion and joy. Father give all of Your children’s faith a boost of power so that in all we do, we reflect You! In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

 

Matthew 8:14-22

Thy Word:

Jesus Heals Many People

When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her.

Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.

That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said,

“He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”

Matthew 8:14-17 NLT

The Cost of Following Jesus

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.

Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead. ”

Matthew 8:18-22 NLT

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My Thoughts: Okay, let’s be honest, how many of you gals were shocked (and maybe irritated) when directly after Peter’s mother-in-law is healed she gets up and makes Jesus and the disciples a meal? Maybe you said to yourself, “Can a girl get a cool drink of water and maybe have someone make her a meal? I’ve been sick, after all…” [Sheepishly raising my hand…:-/ )

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Oooooh, we do that don’t we? We get a miraculous healing and/or a miraculous answer to prayer then we want ALL the attention to be on us and not on the one who just performed the miracle. To make matters worse, we grumble instead of having grateful hearts.

“IF” Peter’s M-I-L had ungrateful thoughts she pushed her feelings aside and obediently showed her gratitude to Jesus. That is a HUGE lesson for us! Remember, our feelings aren’t reliable, but The Lord sure is! So when He blesses us, let’s show our gratitude by looking for ways to serve and follow Him.

 

After Jesus dined we see him continue his faithful work with the people who were following him. He healed the sick and cast out evil spirits with a single command. Jesus wanted the people to see he had full authority over sickness, evil spirits, and sin.

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What I love is that all of these miracles are a taste of what we (his faithful followers) will one day experience when Jesus returns. Are we ready? Are we living with grateful hearts giving glory to God? Have we established our priorities and are we faithfully keeping them?

“Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord! Praise him, you who serve the Lord,” Psalms 135:1 NLT

“Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Romans 12:11 NLT

Jesus Teaches There Is a Cost of Following Him

One of the teachers of religious law had probably been following Jesus and watched many of his miracles. Perhaps in a moment of passion, he tells Jesus he will follow Him wherever he goes.

 

Jesus answers by simply letting this teacher know following Him meant making sacrifices, and one sacrifice could impact his personal comfort. Jesus specifically mentions a home when he cautions this teacher. We don’t know how the man responded to Jesus, but remember Jesus would have known his heart intimately. Perhaps Jesus saw a “conditional” heart in this man?

“Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” John 12:26 NLT

 

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Following Jesus is not always easy or comfortable, and it can come at a great cost or sacrifice. It can mean the loss of friends, popularity, leisure time, and we could even be asked to sacrifice everything and move to a mission field. However, the value of being a disciple of Christ has a lot of benefits towards our eternity. It’s a reminder of a lesson we learned in Matthew 6:19-24 about where out “treasure lies” (https://thywordmythoughts.com/2018/11/08/matthew-619-24/).

I also believe one of the benefits of following Jesus is he specifically uses the gifts and strengths he gives each of us (at birth) to advance the kingdom. As a servant I have been asked to do a lot of different things that involve serving in different capacities. Although some initially took me out of my comfort zone, because I used my gift I eventually loved every opportunity.

(Special Note: If you are seeking to know more about your own personal gift, there are many good books and classes, but my favorite book is “The Gift of Giftedness” by Tracy Goyne. It can be purchased on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Giftedness-Tracy-Goyne/dp/1724672177/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1547349635&sr=8-2&keywords=Tracy+Goyne )

 

In close, the last section seems like a harsh response from Jesus when the disciple asks to return home to bury his father. My Study Bible notes suggest that he might not have been asking to go to a funeral, but rather to be with his father until he died. Was his father sick, was he fearful his father wouldn’t approve of his decision to follow Jesus, or maybe there was an inheritance at stake? We don’t really know, but it is evident the disciple wasn’t ready to make a full commitment to follow Jesus and Jesus knew it.

Jesus was always direct with those who wanted to follow Him. He wanted them to be willing to give their complete loyalty. I think one of the hardest lessons I learned as a new believer is that family loyalty or relationships cannot come before our relationship with Jesus. The blessing is when we choose Jesus to be first in our life many of our relationships get stronger.

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Sadly, it is also true some can become more difficult. I’ve been excluded from events and gatherings and some family or friends prefer to spend as little time with me as possible. Yes, it has been painful and heartbreaking but I will not change that I’ve chosen Jesus to be first in my life. Instead, I lay them (by prayer) in the arms of Jesus, who loves them even more than I do.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.” 2 Samuel 22:2-4 NLT

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Closing Prayer: Father God, I rejoice that You are my King! May I go forward always in strength and courage proclaiming this truth. Father I lift up those who refuse to bow the knee to You and ask for their hearts to be changed to crave a loving relationship with You as well. Thank You for the truth that You love them more than me, Lord. It is this truth that gives me peace as I wait for their hearts to change for You. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Matthew 8:5-13

Thy Word:

The Faith of a Roman Officer

“When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”

Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”

But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.” Matthew 8:5-13 NLT

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My Thoughts:  I love this story for so many reasons!

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  1. We have a Roman officer, who was a Gentile and although typically tyrannical to Jews, asking for help from Jesus, a Jew. Although we know Jesus was a King, the officer would not know this and would normally have considered Jesus beneath his standing as a people and in the community. Yet the officer didn’t hesitate to ask for help and Jesus showed no hesitation in His willingness to help.
  2. This officer “pleaded” with Jesus, a clear sign of humility. By his request this Roman officer was declaring Jesus’ authority over him.
  3. The officer, a man of authority and position, has such compassion for his servant who was in pain and paralyzed, he pleads for his healing. It was not common behavior for a Roman officer to even know their servants, let alone have compassion for them.
  4. By asking Jesus to heal his servant he had to have been aware of or seen Jesus’ miracles. (“News about him [Jesus] spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all.” Matthew 4:24 NLT)
  5. The officer also knew enough about what Jesus had done he had faith Jesus could heal his servant with just His word.

I am certain Jesus recognized all of these amazing qualities and more about this officer. I also believe that through this story Jesus wants us to know and believe that if we ask, with the goal towards God’s perfect will and a greater good, He wants to answer all of our requests too.

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This doesn’t mean Jesus is our magic genie to give us everything we ask. But it does mean Jesus knows the entire situation surrounding our “ask” and the greater good for how He will answer. We have to trust and believe His response will always bring the answer that best fits the entire situation. While it may not be what we asked for initially, it will be the right answer and glorify God!

So we have some compelling questions to ask ourselves today:

  1. Do we hesitate to ask Jesus for help? Or do we think God is too big and our problems are too small? Jesus tells us: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 NLT
  2. Have we humbled our hearts to Jesus and do we present our requests in humility? The Bible says: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” James 4:10 NLT
  3. Do we have compassion for everyone regardless of who they are or what they look like? The Bible says: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12 NLT
  4. Have we experienced or seen a miracle from Jesus in the lives of others and spoken about it? The Bible says: “Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.” Psalms 66:16 NLT
  5. If so, are we willing to publicly voice the same faith? Jesus said: “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Mark 16:15 NLT

This story is very enlightening and includes “action” items for us; it’s not just a good read!

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Closing Prayer:  Father God thank You for this remarkable story about a faithful and compassionate Roman soldier who had such faith in Jesus, he believed his servant could be healed just by His word. May we mirror our lives and behavior after him. Thank You for leaving us the Bible that answers our questions and guides us in our obedience and reflection of You. Father I pray that the eyes that read these words, including my own, follow in obedient action. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.