Sunday 25th FebruaryPsalm 46

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
    as I recite my verses for the king;2nd
    my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

You are the most excellent of men
    and your lips have been anointed with grace,
    since God has blessed you forever.

Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one;
    clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
In your majesty ride forth victoriously
    in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
    let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies;
    let the nations fall beneath your feet.
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
    a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy.
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
    from palaces adorned with ivory
    the music of the strings makes you glad.
Daughters of kings are among your honored women;
    at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.

10 Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
    Forget your people and your father’s house.
11 Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
    honor him, for he is your lord.
12 The city of Tyre will come with a gift,
    people of wealth will seek your favor.
13 All glorious is the princess within her chamber;
    her gown is interwoven with gold.
14 In embroidered garments she is led to the king;
    her virgin companions follow her—
    those brought to be with her.
15 Led in with joy and gladness,
    they enter the palace of the king.

16 Your sons will take the place of your fathers;
    you will make them princes throughout the land.

17 I will perpetuate your memory through all generations;
    therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble” – what a great verse to start a Psalm off with.   It is a marvellous Psalm to read at any time of stress or difficulty because it points to where we find security and where, regardless of the difficulty, God is over all.  Because the first verse is true, the second verse tells us how to live, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea”.  I can’t imagine any difficulty or problem as great as that but even in all lesser things, God is still the refuge and strength of his people.

The Psalmist speaks of a river whose streams make glad the city of God (v4).  Rivers in scripture almost always speak of the grace of God flowing through the Holy Spirit to give sustenance and health and this is what the writer imagines as he pictures God as being the fortress or refuge of his people and, not just a hideaway, but a place of sustenance, provision and security.  Verse 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”, if there is anything we need to do when we feel under pressure it is this.

The following is a video of Orthodox Nuns entitled, “We are not alone”   Listen and be assured that God is your refuge and strength.


If you don’t have a bible at home you can find the readings on a website such as or an app such as YouVersion

Monday Mathew 8:5-13

Another physical healing is dealt with by Mathew, that of the Centurian’s servant paralysed and suffering.  Here Jesus asks the man, “Shall I come and heal him?” to which what the centurion astounds Jesus in his answer.  First of all we note that the man was not a Jew but in approaching Jesus for help he is acknowledging that Jesus has power to do something in such a situation – had he heard of the Leper’s cure?

When Jesus offers to come and heal him, he expresses belief that Jesus doesn’t need to come and his reason is that the authority of Jesus comes from above as his does.   It is this that amazes Jesus because this man is not a Jew but a Gentile and he says that many who are not of the genetic make-up of God’s ancient people will come in that faith of the Centurion whilst those

of natural descent will fail and, more than fail, will be cast out into darkness from God’s kingdom.  It is a sombre statement but it is seen elsewhere as well.

Jesus healing of the man’s servant seals the truth of what the man said and showed the authority of Jesus.

Tuesday Mathew 8:14-17

The next healing we see is when Jesus goes into Peter’s house.  We wonder whether he needed some respite from the crowds who were beginning to be everywhere he went, at any rate he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.  If she was staying in Peter’s house it may have been that she was a widow and Peter had taken her into his own home to care for her.  The healing is described as Jesus taking her hand and the fever leaving her.  There are different ways that Jesus is described in the gospels as healing so we ought to steer clear of any taught methods or ways that are described as the way to bring about healing for people.  She was obviously completely healed because she got up and started to attend to Jesus needs right away.

Just to demonstrate the different ways that Jesus operated we see crowds coming to Jesus for healing and ‘with a word’ he drove out evil spirits and healed the sick.  A difference is indicated between demon-possession (Greek daimonizomai) and sickness.  Without going into lengthy talk about this the difference may be between illnesses that just result from being human in our fallen world and disturbances of mind or body that appear as being pushed upon people from without – i.e. spiritual evil.

Matthew says that what Jesus was doing was fulfilling what the prophet Isaiah said of the coming Messiah in Isaiah 53:4

Wednesday Matthew 8:18-22

These verses are about following Jesus and things that may stop or pause that determination.  The first gives the possible follower a warning about not having a homely respite.  If someone seeks to give their life to Jesus, they must realise that, like the Vikings of old, their boats are burnt behind them, there is no home to return to on this journey.  Forward is the only way to go in this life with Jesus.

The second gives the next potential follower a shocking response from Jesus when he requests time for burying his father.  There are a number of ways to understand what could be going on here.  It could be that the man’s father is alive but the man wants to give him support until the end of his life; or it could be that his father had just died and he must attend to his speedy interment because the burial practice of the time was to bury as soon as possible; or it could have been at least a year after his father died and the burial practice was then to exhume the bones and place them in an ossuary.

Jesus reply about letting the dead bury the dead might have been to leave responsibilities to other members of the family (the chief responsibility was with the eldest) or it could be an implication that others were dead spiritually even if his father wasn’t dead physically and to let them take care of the physically dead.  At this distance it isn’t possible without further knowledge but in both cases what we are made aware of is the necessity of responding to Jesus in the here and now and not procrastinating.  As the apostle Paul says, “Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6).

Thursday Matthew 8:23-27

I wonder what the possible followers of Jesus might have said had they followed him and the others into the boat heading across the Lake of Galilee ?  What would we feel in a small fishing boat in a storm with waves splashing over the side.  Certainly not brave but the storm was so fierce that life was at risk, yet Jesus was asleep.  Jesus was so confident and at peace because he believed his Father was in control, not so the disciples.

They certainly knew what to do – turn to Jesus, wake him up and tell of their fear.  If ever we are in a life-threatening situation, this is what we are obviously being encouraged to do.  The person of faith in God needn’t ever fear for their future.  Yes, we may be at the point of death, but our lives do not terminate here because as Peter later said, “we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:4-7).

At this time however the disciples were scared out of their wits and they hear the rebuke of Jesus about their lack of faith before he does something that causes them to be amazed, he stills the storm.  Sometimes however we must trust Jesus even when he doesn’t still the fierce storms in our lives.

Friday Mathew 8:28-34

After the violent storm, violent men.  Three gospels detail this healing although Mark and Luke only mention one man whereas Matthew mentions two: why the discrepancy?  The first thing to ask is are the stories all about the same event.  Each of them mentions these healings taking place after the crossing of the sea of galilee so it seems they are all about the same event however the Mark and Luke stories speak of conversation between Jesus and one man and it could well be that it was the relationship between Jesus and one of the men that is concentrated on by Mark and Luke.

The condition of the man is spoken of as being demon-possessed (daimonizomai). The connection with the pigs and their demise would hint at the prohibition of Jews keeping pigs as they were viewed as unclean.  The pig keepers did not want Jesus to stay around if he was going to cause their businesses to suffer and so they went out to meet Jesus and plead with him to ‘move on’.  It has not been uncommon for some employments to suffer when people come to faith and obedience.  At the time of the Welsh revival at the beginning of the 20th Century pub owners found their businesses going down because men wanted to spend their time and money on their families instead of what were drinking dens.   However we work out the state of the men, the result was that one man was changed and others were not.

Saturday Mathew 9:1-8

The next episode Matthew mentions is the healing of a paralysed man brought to Jesus on a mat (Mark and Luke mention how this man was brought – lowered down to Jesus through a hole in the roof).  Jesus words to the man however cause consternation, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”.  Teachers of the law were there and they immediately said this was a blasphemy because only God could forgive sins.  This was quite true but what they weren’t seeing was that this man before them had in himself the real presence of God.

We understand forgiveness in the sense that if someone stands on our toes and says, ‘sorry’, we can happily say, ‘its alright’, I forgive you’.  The strange thing about Jesus is that he was behaving in a way that was like forgiving people for standing on other people’s toes.  In other words he was acting as the chiefly offended person in all wrongs, and that was precisely what he was doing.

In order to show his critics that he had the power and authority to do this he healed the man’s physical crippling, and the crowds were amazed.


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