Here are a few from my reading this morning:
Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "The Christ of God."
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."
-Luke 9:18-27>Who do I say Christ is? What role does He have in my life? And how is He in my life?
Do I actually depend on Him, take up my cross, and live each day not for myself but for Christ?
I'm ashamed to admit, that oftentimes, I do not. There are moments when I clearly choose to follow Christ or follow my own ways. However, there are other times when I realize my depravity, my evident lack of control over my life, and I repent and turn to Christ. However, this does not happen nearly as often as it should. Rather, the first part does happen, without repentance and change soon following. In those moments, I discover my reality, yet I choose to do the very thing I hate, which is to follow myself, while turning away from Christ.
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.)
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
-Luke 9:28-36>How often do we act just like Peter? It's pretty interesting that the author includes that he didn't know what he was saying. How often am I unaware of what I say to God? How often do I realize what I am actually asking of Him; or what I feel that I need; or what I think should happen in life?
This has definitely opened my eyes to be more aware and conscientious of my communication with God.
To know what I am saying to Him, what I ask of Him, and when I am talking to Him and don't even realize it. (Like when I blame things on Him, without actually calling Him out by name.)
An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."
"Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."
"Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."
-Luke 9:46-50>Jesus' example of demonstrating obedience through the acceptance of children definitely stands out in my mind. My involvement and career path of working with children allows me to understand this metaphor more readily. However, I do not say this to boast that by working with children I am greater than say, an accountant, chef, or engineer. Certainly not! That would definitely be missing the point. However, I am truly grateful for this metaphor for I it speaks volumes in my life. Not only do I interact with, teach, comfort, and guide children on a daily basis at the hospital, but I realize the sacrifices one must make to do so with children. By putting myself last and the child's needs first, I am learning to see past the scars, wounds, and earthly entrapments that have damaged many children. I am learning to see past the color of someone's skin, their hair (or lack thereof), the machines and tubes connected to their body, and to see past the family and emotional baggage that weigh many of them down. In learning these things, I am becoming more aware, more accepting, and more open. By broadening my perspective, assumptions, and knowledge, I have learned to give more, expect less, and receive anything and everything from different types of people. While working on myself, I have allowed God to shine through me; asking for guidance, direction, and opportunities, I have reached out, given, and been rewarded and taught in return. I have learned that when you give with open hands, you will have things taken away, just as you will be given to in return. Before, I was unaware, afraid, and wary of this. However, by choosing to give of myself and not to take from others, I believe that I have 'taken up my cross,' accepted the 'least of these,' and I have learned to know what I say to God, the three main lessons I have garnered from these passages.
Thank you God for your faithfulness, your mercy, forgiving nature, grace, and your provisions. Thank you for learning, awareness, becoming open, and for realizations.
I need thee, oh I need thee. Every hour I need thee.