Saturday, February 23, 2013

Matthew 7 - 9

Chapter 7 begins with the warning: "Do not judge, or you yourself will be judged." This is a passage I often try to remember when I get really frustrated with someone else. I have no power over anyone's emotions, responses, or choices, other than my own. If I am frustrated with the way someone is acting, or a decision someone else has made, it is because I am making the choice to be frustrated. Sure, she/he may have done something totally stupid, or something he/she shouldn't have done, but I have no control over that. I can only control how I respond. So I prayerfully ask for help in responding in a way that is healthy and Christlike.

In verse 15, Jesus tells us that we will be able to identify false prophets by their fruits. That healthy trees cannot produce diseased fruits, and diseased trees cannot produce healthy fruits. This passage makes me ask myself: what kind of fruit am I producing? Am I producing any at all?

Verse 24 is the parable of building a house on the rock. If we build our lives on the word of God, when the rains, winds & floods come, we will be like a house built on a rock: steady & strong. But if we don't build our lives on the word of God, when the rains, winds & floods come, our house will crumble, as if it were built on sand. Either way, the rains, winds & floods will come. My choice here is to build my life on a firm foundation, or allow my world to crumble around me at the first breeze.

In 8:14, Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law. And what I love about this tiny story, is that as soon as she is healed, she gets up and starts serving Jesus. What a great example of faith! She realizes what Jesus has done for her, and immediately starts to serve him. That should be my own reaction any time Jesus heals me (of whatever ails me - body, mind, or spirit).

Verse 8:23 is the first of many examples of the disciples' humanity. They have been with him for quite a while now; have watched him heal the sick, the lame, the dying. And yet, while they are with him - Jesus is physically in the boat with them! - they doubt his power. When the storm comes, and he's sleeping, they panic, asking him if he even cares for them. I often ignore the history of God working in my life when a new struggle approaches. I doubt God's goodness and power to tackle my current struggle, even though I have proof, and recent proof at that, of his love for me. Oh, that my faith might be stronger even than that of the disciples!

I think 9:13 is one of my favorites in the New Testament. "Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Matthew chapter nine is also the first story of Jesus raising someone from the dead. The ruler's daughter, he said, was only sleeping. And on his way there, a woman, by simply touching Jesus' robes, was healed. She believed she only needed to reach him, to touch his clothes, in order to be healed. She believed, and it was so.

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