Monday: By Their Fruits – Matthew 7: 15-20
The true test of anyone’s sincerity is not in what they say but in what they do. We can get wrong impressions if we only go on other people’s words and appearance. The only true reality of what they believe is the evidence of their lives. Jesus tells us clearly that his true followers will be recognised by their love and compassion for others. Christianity is not about abiding by rules and ritual, it’s about “doing to others what you would have them do to you.”
Tuesday: Firm Foundations – Matthew 7: 21-29
Many homes in St Francis are built on sand. The builder must put in firm foundations to ensure the house remains secure in the future. Here Jesus tells us (v24) what we need to do to secure our spiritual future. We must not only hear his words we must also put them into practice. We can only do that if we are in touch with him through his Word and through the Holy Spirit who gives us the guidance and strength.
Wednesday: Compassion Rules! – Matthew 8: 1-4
In Jesus’ time lepers were treated as the ‘living dead’. Not only were they victims of the disease, but they were also ostracised by society. Notice how the leper approached Jesus. He was confident – he knew that Jesus could heal him. He was humble – he didn’t demand or assume Jesus would heal him. And he was reverential – he knelt down at Jesus feet. Confidence, humility and reverence are the essentials of prayer. Jesus’ response, in turn, was one of love and compassion.
Thursday: Count the Cost – Matthew 8: 18-22
Jesus is not looking for followers whose faith is founded just on enthusiasm and emotion. In this passage, he is making the point that discipleship is not easy – it involves sacrifice. It means giving up time, talents and resources to serve him. To each person who approached him, he was saying: “Think what it means before you make a promise you may not want to keep when the going gets tough.” Never, ever mislead others by only telling them of the joy of following Jesus.
Friday: Stilling the Storm – Matthew 8: 23-27
Of course, we can marvel at Jesus’ miraculous work of calming the storm which was so fierce it made the experienced fishermen in the boat with him, afraid. But the meaning of this story goes beyond the weather. At a deeper level, it’s telling us that Jesus can still the storms of life. When we’re worried and circumstances threaten to overwhelm us, Jesus gives hope and security. When sorrows sweep over us and we feel we’re drowning Jesus is there to offer comfort and peace. In his presence, storms are stilled.
Saturday: Pigs or People – Matthew 8: 28-34
I wonder how you reacted to this story? Many people are uncomfortable at the fate of the herd of pigs which, after all, were innocently grazing at the time. Certainly, the townsfolk at the end of the story were not impressed with Jesus. But think for a moment: they had completely lost sight of the miraculous healing of the two men and instead focused on the destruction of their pigs. People matter more than pigs! In God’s eyes, people always matter most.