Monday: Only by Prayer – Mark 9: 14-29
Jesus had previously sent out the disciples with power over evil spirits (Mark 6: 7), yet they were unable to cure the young boy. When they asked Jesus what had changed, he told them that such spirits could only be exorcised by consistent prayer. We often think that once God has given us a gift of the spirit, it is ours for all time. That’s not necessarily true. We are required to stay close to God through prayer in order to keep ‘refreshing’ our spiritual abilities. Otherwise we might begin to think the power comes from ourselves, not God.
Tuesday: Shameful Silence – Mark 9: 30-37
The disciples made the mistake of thinking Jesus couldn’t hear what they were discussing. They hung their heads in shame when he caught them out. We can make the same mistake. We don’t always guard our tongues when we think no-one important is listening. We forget the truth of our faith – Jesus is always with us, he is always listening! Nothing escapes his attention and one day we will stand before him and answer the same questions he asked his disciples.
Wednesday: Test of Tolerance – Mark 9: 38-41
It’s so easy for us to be intolerant of others who may not believe exactly what we believe. It’s part of the reason we see so many ‘denominations’ in the Christian Church, each one believing that they have the monopoly on truth. The real truth is that no-one has such a monopoly. God glories in our human diversity and He calls and leads each one of us to Himself in many different ways. The only true test of faith is not by words but by our life. Does the life of someone who refers to him- or herself as a Christian reflect the life of Jesus?
Thursday: Worth the Sacrifice – Mark 9: 42-50
Jesus uses exaggerated metaphors to make his point. We know from modern medicine that often a part of our body will be excised or amputated in order to save the whole body. The same is true in a spiritual sense. We may be called upon to make sacrifices of our time or resources in order to fulfil the will of God. He wants our full surrender. Are there parts of your life which are no-go areas as far as God is concerned? Are you prepared to sacrifice them?
Friday: Hard-Hearted – Mark 10: 1-12
In biblical times the laws of divorce were stacked heavily in favour of the man and women were often badly mistreated. Jesus is redressing this imbalance. He wanted his disciples to understand that God had ordained marriage as a life-long union – a spiritual, as well as a physical relationship which called for commitment and perseverance. His only condemnation is for who those who shirk their responsibilities and treat marriage lightly and irreverently.
Saturday: Childlike not Childish – Mark 10: 13-16
Jesus was thinking of the characteristics that most children exhibit, when he told his disciples they were to receive the Kingdom of God as a little child. A child is, above all, trusting – they do not look for loop-holes or easy options; they have not been made cynical by the ways of the world. They are also humble – they recognise their reliance on someone more powerful than themselves. They are obedient (most of the time!). Again they recognise that there is someone more powerful in authority over them. How many of these characteristics could be said of us?