+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening: (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading: Matthew 7:1-14 (NLT)
The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)
Do Not Judge Others
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
The Golden Rule
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
The Narrow Gate
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
Jesus’ teaching on the Narrow Gate
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate….”
– Matthew 7:13 –
Two Paths: the narrow road leads to life in the Kingdom, while the broad road leads to destruction and hell. Living for Jesus is restrictive and invites persecution – it’s a difficult road that leads us to the cross.
In today’s reading, Jesus speaks to the hypocrisy of judging others, the futility of speaking truth to pigs, the necessity of persisting in prayer, and the treating of others as we want to be treated ourselves. Hypocrisy, godlessness, unbelief, and selfishness all constitute the broad path along which most people are headed.
The Kingdom of God is not only counter-cultural (conflicts with prevailing norms), it is also counter-intuitive (conflicts with common sense). Kingdom living requires a radical transformation of our thinking, our feelings, and our behavior – it involves a complete makeover in the image of Christ. Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and healing embodied Kingdom values; Jesus walked the straight and narrow, difficult road. And his death and resurrection secured our place in the Kingdom, by grace through faith.
Questions for consideration:
- Jesus warned against hypocrisy in judging others; have you ever fallen into that trap? Please explain.
- Have you ever found yourself sharing God’s truth with people who have no interest whatever in listening? How did it work out? Please explain.
- Have you given up praying for someone, or something? What would it take to begin again asking, seeking, and knocking? Please explain.
- What is the most difficult thing God is calling you to do in order to remain on the straight and narrow road that leads to the Kingdom? Please explain.
- Where do you need more of Christ and less of you in your daily life? Please explain.
Morning Prayer: Prayer of Self-dedication (William Temple)
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Follower” – Moving Works
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen