Daily Reading & Meditation

Tuesday (July 1):  "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?"

Scripture:  Matthew 8:23-27

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.  24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  25 And they went and woke him, saying, "Save, Lord; we are perishing." 26 And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.  27 And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?"

Meditation: How can we fight fear with faith? Jesus' sleeping presence on the storm-tossed sea reveals the sleeping faith of his disciples (Matthew 8:25). They feared for their lives even though their Lord and Master was with them in the boat. They were asleep to Christ while he was present to them in their hour of need.

Why are you afraid?
The Lord is ever present to us. And in our time of testing he asks the same question: Why are you afraid? Have you no faith (Matthew 8:26)? Do you recognize the Lord's presence with you, especially when you meet the storms of adversity, sorrow, and temptation? Whenever we encounter trouble, the Lord Jesus is there with the same reassuring message: "It is I, do not be afraid" (Matthew 14:27).

Faith nourished with the word of God
What are the characteristics of faith and how can we grow in it? Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. Believing is only possible by grace and the help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and who opens the eyes of the mind to understand and accept the truth which God has revealed to us. Faith enables us to relate to God rightly and confidently, with trust and reliance, by believing and adhering to his word, because he is utterly reliable and trustworthy. If we want to live, grow, and persevere in faith, then it must be nourished with the word of God.

Let the love of Christ rule your heart and mind
Fear does not need to cripple us from taking right action or rob us of our trust and reliance on God. Courage working with faith enables us to embrace God's word of truth and love with confidence and to act on it with firm hope in God's promises. The love of God strengthens us in our faith and trust in him and enables us to act with justice and kindness towards our neighbor even in the face of opposition or harm. Do you allow the love of Jesus Christ to rule in your heart and mind, and to move your will to choose what is good in accordance with his will?

"Lord Jesus, increase my faith in your redeeming love and power that I may always recognize your abiding presence with me. Give me courage and strength to face every difficulty, trial, and temptation with trust in your saving help and guiding presence."

Psalm 5:4-8

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with you.
5 The boastful may not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men.
7 But I through the abundance of your steadfast love will enter your house, I will worship toward your holy temple  in the fear of you.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies;  make your way straight before me.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Training in courage and endurance, by John Chrysostom, 347-407 A.D.

"He took the disciples with him, not for nothing and not merely to face an absurd hazard but in order to permit them to witness the miracle that was to take place on the sea. For like a superb trainer, he was gradually coaching and fitting them for endurance. He had two objectives in mind. He wanted to teach them to remain undismayed amid dangers and modest in honors. So, to prevent them from thinking too much of themselves, having sent away the multitude, he kept them near him but permitted them to be tossed with a tempest. By doing so he disciplined them to bear trials patiently. His former miracles were indeed great, but this one contained a unique kind of discipline of exceptional importance. For it was a sign akin to that of old [referring to Moses parting the Red Sea]. To do this, he took his disciples with him by himself. He permitted others to see his other miracles, but when trials and terrors were rising, he took with him none but those he was training to be champions of the gospel. (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 28.1.2)


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
 

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