Owner of the Upper Room

The Owner of the Upper Room

Luke 22:7-13
Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”
So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?”
10 And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. 11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.”
13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.   NKJV

What an interesting story.
I want to take a bit of a different approach with this story.  We have been looking at unsung heroes in this series.  The owner of the house in this story is the unknown, unsung hero, but I want to look at the ones that are known.  We know Peter and John.  New Testament figures do not come more well-known than them.  But Jesus’ instructions to them are to find a guy who just happens to have a pitcher of water in his hands, and then to follow him without saying anything to the man.  That’s kind of creepy.  Real live New Testament stalkers!  But they did it!  And then after walking into the house uninvited, they tell the owner they need to borrow his it.  And the owner consents!  I have this weird visual in my head of the owner saying, “Would you like me to show you where my house safe is and give you the combination, too?”

There’s a Hebrew word, “chutzpah,” and it means audacity, nerve, guts.  I think it took some major “chutzpah” to walk into a stranger’s home and inform him he’s going to host a party for a dozen men.

How awkward that had to be for Peter and John.  They probably felt no different than we would feel.  They are being asked to step out into the unknown…to face the fear of doing something where they have no control.  To ask a stranger to do something of which you would usually ask a friend.  Not someone who has no idea who you are.  Jesus’ words to them were not comfortable, easy words like “go get me a drink of water.”  The bottom line was they could either obey Jesus’ command or not.  But because we have the benefit of seeing the end of the story in our Bibles, we know that this is where Jesus did celebrate the Passover…the Last Supper…where he would pray for his disciples and give them their final instructions before he was arrested and ultimately crucified.

Men, that’s really a picture of faith.  Real faith acts on God’s Words regardless of the circumstances…regardless of how comfortable or uncomfortable it makes us feel.  We have been called to “walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  And though living by faith is not the easy path, it is the path Jesus has called us to travel.  It takes faith to obey His words that we are to “love our enemies.”  It takes faith to “be kind to those who trash talk you.”   It takes faith to “pray for those who intend to harm you.” (Matthew 5:44). But that’s how we become “the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)

Let’s not shrink back from those awkward and difficult things God may ask of us…let’s not be afraid of treading into unknown areas where we don’t have all the information, or understand all the steps.  Let’s be like Peter and John who obeyed Christ right into the awkward, the unknown, and the fearful.  Remember, whatever he asks us to do, no matter how uncertain or unfamiliar, his Spirit goes with us.

And, guys, that’s why we are told “we can do all things!”

Blessings,
Gene Pietrini

“Don’t ask God to guide your steps if you’re not willing to move your feet.”
– Unknown

They

They
Have you ever heard of King David’s three mighty men?  Here’s a little clip from the lives of one of them.

I Chronicles 11:12-14
12 After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. 13 He was with David at Pasdammim.  Now there the Philistines were gathered for battle, and there was a piece of ground full of barley.  So the people fled from the Philistines.  14 But they stationed themselves in the middle of that field, defended it, and killed the Philistines.  So the Lord brought about a great victory.   NKJV

David had his 3, and then he had the 30.  None of these men were your average, run-of-the-mill soldiers; these were the cream of the crop.  When you read about the exploits of the 30, they stagger the imagination.  But then there were the 3.  They were even a cut above the 30. These men were not the unknown.  They were the ones that everyone in Israel knew their names by heart.  These men were the heroes of the heroes.  If there were “Hebrew soldier trading cards,” then these were the rookie cards you wanted.

Israel was at war with the Philistines.  And war is all about taking ground.  The Philistine soldiers had come up to take possession of a barley field in Israel, and the mere sight of the Philistine soldiers struck fear in the hearts of the Israelites.  They turned and ran.  But not Eleazar.  He is the one credited with a great victory by his resolve to stand firmly in the field and to defend it.  And when it was all said and done, and when all those numerous Philistines were dead, I can only imagine the songs that were being sung about him.

But here’s what’s interesting.  Although the story highlights Eleazar’s courage, notice verse 14. “But they stationed themselves in the middle of that field, defended it, and killed the Philistines.”  It says “…they stationed themselves in the middle of the field…”  Eleazar could not have done it alone; he had help.  He had the “they.”  “They were not known by name like Eleazar.  They undoubtedly did not have the skills of Eleazar.  But they had the courage of Eleazar.  They stood with him, fought with him, and they saw God bring a great victory with him.  Maybe Eleazar got the game ball, but God saw it as a team victory.

There’s an old saying that goes like this, “Behind every great man is a great woman.”  One of the earliest renderings of that quote dates back to 1946.  But the principle behind the quote is what is so important.  The principle being that we are not in this life alone.  We need each other.  The Apostle Paul said it like this in 1 Corinthians 12:19 regarding the importance of the body as the whole, “And if they were all one member, where would the body be?”  If you’ve ever broken a bone and had it cast by the doctor, you know what it’s like to lose the ability of a member.  The body just does not function the same.  And if the body functions better with me involved, and if God’s Kingdom expands because I do my part, then friend, I am happy to be a “they.”

Let’s be men who find our contentment knowing that God inserts us into HIS story, and that we get to be a part of it.

Blessings,
Gene Pietrini

The Four Lepers

The four lepers
2 Kings 7:3-9 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.” And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, to their surprise no one was there. For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses—the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!” Therefore they arose and fled at twilight, and left the camp intact—their tents, their horses, and their donkeys—and they fled for their lives. And when these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one tent and ate and drank, and carried from it silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some from there also, and went and hid it.

Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.”   NKJV

We don’t know their names.  All we know is that they were lepers.  Outcasts.  Untouchable.   A difficult situation, and a more difficult life.  You can’t work.  You can’t socialize.  Completely at the mercy of others people kindness.  But this situation was difficult x 100!   Israel was experiencing a prolonged siege by the Syrians.  It was so severe that cannibalization was not unusual (2 Kings 6:29).  Even if someone was willing to help a leper, they still had nothing to give.  That’s a desperate situation.

So here these lepers find themselves between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.”  They decide to take their chances and go to the Syrian camp.  As they began the trek to the enemy camp, God does a miracle.  He makes the Syrians to hear a great army headed their way.  The Syrians leave everything behind thinking they have to flee for their lives.  When the lepers roll up into the camp, the Syrians are gone.  And the Syrians left EVERYTHING behind.  So these four starving, tired lepers are having a feast.  They are drinking and eating to their hearts content.  They change out of their filthy, smelly, worn clothes, and dress in new clothes.  They fill their pockets with gold and silver.  They are living large!  But after a short while, they have a startling revelation.  They say to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent.”

Think about that for a moment.  These are guys who have been ostracized, alienated, and treated cruelly because of their disease, but on that particular day, they hit the jackpot.  They won Super Lotto Mega Millions.  They don’t owe anybody anything.  Today is vindication for years of mistreatment.  And in the midst of that, these lepers determine to let Samaria know that the siege is over, that there is enough food for everyone at the empty camp.  The famine has ended.  In spite of past treatment, they respond with unselfishness and generosity, and in doing so, save an entire city.  At the end of the story, there is never a word of thanks to these lepers…no key to the city…no ticker-tape parade.  They just disappear from the pages of the Book of Second Kings.

When it comes to kindness and generosity, do we dispense according to how people have been kind and generous to us, or do we have the heart of those four lepers who told the good news just because it was the right thing to do?  Jesus said in Luke 6:32, “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.”

Every day we come in contact with people who may be experiencing a famine in their life.  It could be a famine of kindness, of resources, or of salvation.  The list goes on.  The unselfish, generous heart that gives without expecting anything in return, is the heart that Christ has put in us through the new birth.  But, men, we have the choice to display that heart or not.  That’s why Jesus said, “Freely you have received.  Freely give.”

We don’t need the ticker-tape.  Save the paper.  We just want Christ.

Blessings,
Gene Pietrini

The Boy with the Loaves and Fish

The Boy with the Loaves
John 6:5-13  Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” 10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.   NKJV

Take another look at verse nine.  “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

The scriptures tell us that Andrew brought the boy to Jesus. I would like to think that Andrew, a disciple, would not just hijack a young boy’s lunch.  Think about it.  If that’s true, this youngster innocently offered the little he had without a full understanding of the big picture or the enormity of the need.  He had no idea that there were more than five thousand people that needed to eat.  The young boy had no idea that what was needed was a miracle.

What a contrast.  The boy just simply brought what he had, whereas Andrew comments, “…what are they among so little.”  It’s no wonder Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  How often we men neglect to trust God for the difficult, because we can’t figure out how that difficult thing might be accomplished.  We need to cultivate the heart of a child that says, “Here’s what I got,” trusting God to show what He’s got.  And His resources are unlimited.

Trust God with whatever you have, just like a child.  Lots of men seem to have an “all-or-none” mentality.  If they can’t give (or do) the best and the most, then they don’t give (or do) anything.  “Why should I help; I don’t have all the skills.  Why should I give; my few dollars won’t make a difference.  Why should I do anything; I’m just one person.”  You may be feeling like a child, but you’re not trusting LIKE a child.

Remember, the little you have has infinite potential!  You can keep it your own hands, or you can put it into God’s.  The results depend on whose hands you put it into.  All I know is that a young, nameless boy was the instigator of an incredible miracle.  And you can instigate one, too.

Blessings,
Gene Pietrini

New Year Prayer

New Year Prayer

My son turned me on to a prayer book entitled, The Valley of Vision. It is a collection of Puritan prayers compiled by Arthur Bennett. From the very first prayer I read, I was stirred, inspired, and convicted all at the same time. I thought I would share a New Year prayer I found inside it, and hopefully pique your interest enough that you get the book yourself.

In the preface of The Valley of Vision, Bennet writes,
“The strength of Puritan character and life lay in the practice of prayer and meditation. Many of those who held the doctrines of grace wrote down a record of God’s intimate dealings with their souls, not with an eye to publication, but, as in David Brainerd’s case, to test their spiritual growth, and to encourage themselves by their re-perusal in times of low spiritual fervor…The book is not intended to be read as a prayer manual. The soul learns to pray by praying; for prayer is communion with a transcendent and immanent God who on the ground of his nature and attributes calls forth all the powers of the redeemed soul in act of total adoration and dedication.”

My prayer is that THIS prayer will not only inspire your spiritual direction for the coming year, but that it may also inspire your prayer life to be more considerate and more reflective. Thank God for these Puritan examples.

New Year
O Lord,
Length of days does not profit me
except the days are passed in thy presence,
in thy service, to thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,
sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise;
testify thy love,
advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters
of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbor,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to teach,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.

May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.

Guys, here’s to a fruitful 2016. May this be a year of conformity to Christ like we have never yet experienced.  May it be a year we can look back on and know that we have put a smile on God’s face through our pursuit of Him.

Blessings,
Gene Pietrini

The Centurion at the Cross

Cross

Matthew 27:51-54
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”   NIV

The centurions stationed at the cross on Golgotha’s hill were not there to bring comfort to Jesus.  Centurions were battle-hardened veterans who, over the course of many years, climbed the ranks of the enlisted to become a centurion.  A centurion had the charge over a hundred men; that’s where the name came from.  The centurions and their soldiers were there at the cross to carry out a death sentence against Jesus.  Rough men…men who would rather not be in Judea.  Soldiers who were sure to carry out their orders, and centurions to oversee those orders.  They were there to do a job and inflict pain.  And they did it well.  Jesus was beaten, flogged, mocked, humiliated, terrorized, and, finally, nailed to the cross where He would die.

As a soldier that has grown calloused to human suffering, this was as much sport as it was execution.  Why else cast lots for the garment of the one being executed?  These soldiers shed no tears over the brutality shown to a prisoner.  This is the job.  If “machismo” was a word back then, it most certainly would have been used to describe them.  You dare not show any emotion.  No sympathy here.  As a centurion you would lose the respect of your soldiers.  And that just cannot happen.

But with what he saw that day…what he saw in how this particular prisoner carried Himself…this centurion could not deny the events that he witnessed.  “Surely he was the Son of God.”  His confession went cross-grain to everything that he was.  When confronted with truth, he did not hide behind a soldier’s façade, but declared his newfound belief for all to hear, regardless of how his soldiers would view him.

Church tradition says this centurion’s name was Longinus, and that he was the one who pierced the side of Christ with a spear.  Longinus was also the one, along with his soldiers, to guard the tomb of Christ after the crucifixion.  After the resurrection he refused to keep quiet, but rather gave voice to the miracle of Jesus being raised from the dead.  As a result of his faith, he left the army and became a monk.  Also because of his faith, his teeth were beaten out and his tongue cut off.  Longinus was eventually martyred through beheading, his head being given to Pontius Pilate.

The culture we live in is not exactly one that is friendly to believers in Jesus.  As a Christian man, there is a real temptation to put our “light under a bushel,” with reasons that may sound like this, “I keep my faith personal” or, “I don’t want to offend anyone.”  When in reality (for many men) those reasons are code for, “I’m a man, and I want others to think I am self-sufficient.”

If anyone had good reason to hide their newfound-beliefs, it was Longinus.  As a centurion his confession of faith in Christ was political suicide.  In fact, it eventually became a literal death sentence for him.  But he could not and would not deny the truth and reality of Christ in his life, regardless from whom it would separate him.

May our encounter with Jesus have the same profound effect on our lives as well.

Blessings and Happy New Year!
Gene Pietrini

Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai

2 Samuel 17:27-29
27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils, 29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.”

Now these aren’t names that roll off the tip of your tongue, and even if you asked the most avid churchgoer if he has was familiar with these guys, most likely the answer would be NO. But there are some beautiful, unsung qualities that are at work in this story. All you have to do is read with a “hearing” ear and they jump off the page.

King David’s son, Absalom, was working hard at stealing the kingdom away from his father. Absalom’s following was large enough that David had to flee Jerusalem. Only David’s household and most ardent followers went with him, quickly leaving their homes to escape, and finding themselves in the wilderness…hungry, tired, and thirsty.

But here comes Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai coming to the rescue with the resources that all these people were lacking. But it wasn’t just their extravagant generosity towards those who were in need, but it was their attitude…the motivation with which it was brought. Verse 29 says, “‘For they said, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.’”

Notice what they DIDN’T say. They DIDN’T say, “Let’s bring David and his followers some food and things. If he gets his kingdom back, we should be rewarded quite well.” They DIDN’T say, “This could end up in our favor. All those people will be beholden to us for what we give them.” There was none of that. They said the reason they gave was because, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert.”

The reason Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai gave so generously was for nothing more than the sheer sake of kindness towards someone who was hurting and in need.

Let’s be men that are not only generous towards the hurting, the homeless, and the less fortunate with whatever talents we have (resources; time; labor), but that we also take time, consistently, to NOTICE those that need help. Let’s be men that engage in regular, random acts of kindness just for kindness’ sake. No badges. No bells. No “look at me.” We just do it. Those that do are Real Men.

Blessings,
Gene Pietrini

Jephthah

Judges 11:29-32, 34-35
29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.
34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”   NIV

Who knows what kind of upbringing Jephthah may have had.  His mother was a prostitute, and Gilead was his father.  Gilead and his actual wife had many sons who were adamant that Jephthah, their half-brother, would have no part in the family inheritance, consequently they ran him out of town.  So he made a life of his own, rejected and separated from his father’s home.  But even with the deck stacked against him, still Jephthah had influence which caused men to follow him (though not men of the most scrupulous character); he even made a name for himself as a fighter and leader.  But he also raised a daughter, his only child.

When the Ammonites came to Gilead to make war with Israel, all those half-brothers knew they did not have what it takes to win a battle.  So they found Jephthah and asked him to take the lead.  Jephthah agreed to do it with a few caveats.

But before he and his men went out to fight the Ammonites, Jephthah made a vow that if God would give him victory, “…whatever comes out the front door of my house to meet me…I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering to God.” (v. 7)  Sadly, his daughter was the first one to come out the front door to meet him.  Jephthah kept his vow.

Theologians, for years, have been found on both sides of the debate as to whether or not Jephthah actually sacrificed his daughter because of his vow, or if he never allowed her to marry and have children.  Both sides make valid points.  But still this obscure man is mentioned among the faith-heroes listed in Hebrews 11.  Why would he be listed there after such a rash, hasty vow?  Here’s why.  Because he kept his word even though it was difficult.

Our vows
All this leads us to consider our promises, our words, and our integrity.
Psalm 15:1, 4
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
4 (He) who despises a vile man, but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts
…   NIV

How often have you ever made a promise, or given your word to someone only to renege on it because keeping it would be difficult or inconvenient?  It’s easy to keep your word when everything fits into your plans, but what about when it’s going to cost you?  In Jephthah’s case there was great cost in keeping his vow (regardless of which side of the debate you are on).

When a person gives their word to do something and then backs out, it devalues the person to whom the promise was made.  But it also devalues the person who gave his word, but wouldn’t keep it.  Think about it.  All the way back in Genesis 3:15, God gave His word to give mankind a savior, then He kept that promise through His Son, because He valued us.

Let’s be mindful of Who our example is.  Let’s be men of the Word, but also men of our word.  Let’s be true to our word, and in doing so, valuing others as well as ourselves.

Blessings,

Gene Pietrini

Bezaleel

Ex 31:1-5
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.

Ex 36:2-3
2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.   NIV

After Moses led Israel out of Egypt, God met with him on the mountain and gave Moses specific instructions for the building of the tabernacle and all of its implements.  Moses was God’s chosen…the one He would meet with face-to-face.  But although he was the leader of the nation…although he was the spokesperson for God Himself, God called a man by the name of Bezaleel to be the artisan who would build the tabernacle and its instruments.

Bezaleel had a skill, but through God’s calling and infilling, and through Bezaleel’s yielding, an exponential ability was the outcome.  Moses may have been the top dog, but Bezaleel was the one to build the first place ever fashioned by human hands where God Himself would dwell.  That’s pretty incredible.

Maybe you feel like you are not a leader, or you don’t have the ability to shepherd people like a Moses-type person, but you do have a task that you are good at.  You know what?  You can only be faithful with what you have, not with what you don’t have.  How about yielding that gift to God to be used however He sees fitting?  Just obey and see how God can use what you have.  Christian apologist E.M. Blaiklock said this of Bezaleel.  “Bezaleel and his men, by their consecration to the task, were preachers of the first order.”

Let’s all be “preachers of the first order” through our obedience, no matter how big or small that task may seem.

Here’s to our obedience and diligence in whatever task God may call us.

Blessings,

Gene Pietrini

The Centurion

Luke 7:1-10
1 When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion‘s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.   8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.   NIV

This centurion was no ordinary man. They were professional soldiers. They understood leadership. But not all centurions of Rome were cut from the same cloth. Some could be brutal and inhumane, but those were not the colors of this one.

He was kind, considerate, and compassionate. Why else would he seek out help for an ailing servant? He was insightful and astute. Why else would he go to the religious leaders first, and not go to Jesus directly, so as not to offend the Jews? He was a humble man. Why else would he tell Jesus he was not worthy? But he was also disciplined and had a respect for authority. Why else would he place himself under the authority of Jesus’ words and have confidence that what Jesus said would come to pass?

From the outward appearance, this centurion had all the worldly credentials, but what Jesus saw was this man’s simple faith in the authority of His word. So much so, that he says, “This is a picture of great faith.”

It wasn’t the centurion’s rank that made Jesus take notice. It wasn’t even his excellent moral qualities that he exhibited. It was the centurion’s faith. It was his placing himself under the authority of Jesus’ word and believing.

We may not know the centurion’s name, but we do know that Jesus was stirred by his faith.

You may think that you don’t have the rank or credentials of other people, and for that reason God doesn’t notice you, but here’s the deal…God can see right through to the core of your heart (Heb 4:12). And if you are truly trusting and believing that what He says He can accomplish, then He sees that faith! And if God told me I had great faith, I don’t think I would care if anyone knew my name, or if I had their credentials!

What has God’s word spoken to you lately? How have you been challenged?

Real Men, let’s aspire to have simple faith in what God says, as well.

Gene Pietrini