Monday, April 24, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 71

                                   Image result for Book of Matthew
Day 71: Follow Jesus

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 16:21-28

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." (Matthew 16:21) 
If we look back to Matthew 16:13-20, or Morning Moments with God: Day 70, we read, "Peter Declares Jesus as Messiah." In that passage we find Jesus asking His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and Peter declares, "You are Messiah, Son of the Living God." (Matthew 16:16) So, in today's verses we find, "From that time on..." (Matthew 16:21a) which refers to the time that Jesus confirms Peter's statement of truth, that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, Son of God. From the time in which Peter declares the truth of who Jesus is, Jesus began to explain to the apostles about His own future suffering and death and resurrection. He was preparing them for the future.
22 "Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22) 
I honestly cannot imagine living side by side with Jesus, seeing His kindness, compassion, and miracles and then hearing the words about His brutal death. For me, in accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior I have never known such love, forgiveness, and healing. I feel like I would have blurted out the same words of Peter. My brain would not have been able to comprehend losing Jesus and losing Him in that way. I could see myself doing whatever I could to keep Him alive and protecting Him- the One person who loves me unconditionally. 
23 "Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew16:23) 
Ouch! Jesus wasn't saying that Peter was Satan, but that because Peter didn't speak what was of God, then Peter was speaking what the enemy, Satan, had put in Peter's mind to say. Why do we always think that in following Jesus life will be easy? Clearly, for the disciples' life wasn't going to be easy, but I love how Jesus began to prepare them for the things they would have to face if they stayed true to Him. 
24 "Then Jesus said to his disciples, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:24-28)
And here it is, the Call to follow Jesus: 1) 'deny themselves,' 2) 'take up their cross,' and 3) 'follow me.' Each statement is hard. 'Deny yourself'- deny what you want for your life- surrender everything to God. Dreams, ambitions, traditions etc. Surrender everything and allow the Lord to put in your life what He has for you. 2) Take up your cross- my commentary states, "Cross-bearing is a willingness to suffer and die for the Lord's sake. and 3 Follow me- Live the life that Jesus did. That is what Jesus calls each of us to do: Deny, bear the cross, and follow Him. Can we do it? 
Pray with me:
Jesus thank you for being so beautiful, so wonderful, so loving, so forgiving, that it makes following you desirable. Jesus, I pray that I will, with each day, deny myself, pick up my cross and follow you. Help me, Jesus, to be faithful. Help me to run to you when I am afraid. Help me to stand strong. I surrender my life to you now and pray against a rebellious spirit that wants to do things my way, and pray for a humble, gentle spirit. I accept the plans you have for my life and surrender my plans. I want to follow you with a whole heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 


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