Mark 7-9 zooms in on the "heart" of Christians and our struggles. Jesus points out that evil and sin come from within. It is a heart problem we all have to keep in check (Mark 7:21). Jesus has given us all these miracles. He continues to heal many who believe in Him. He feeds four thousand people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. It's something we have seen Him do before when He fed five thousand (Mark 6:35-44). He teaches the disciples and warns them of things to come in following Him. Peter, James, and John get to witness Jesus' transfiguration. God, in all his power and glory, speaks to them and tells them Jesus is His Son. God could not be more obvious and clear than that. The disciples are living with the Messiah, learning from our Savior in person, and yet even they struggle in the world in which they are living to come to fully understand and believe what they have seen with their own eyes.
When the disciples are called to believe, they often hesitate and get confused. I can relate to this. As I grow in my faith and nurture my relationship with God, I have seen Him do many good things in my life and in the lives of others. I have seen miracles. I know all good things come from Him. I have felt God's presence, and I know He is with me. Yet, I get caught up in the ways of the world. Jesus puts it this way,
13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
Sometimes believing in God, acting in faith, following Christ means going against the way I have always done things and/or the way others have always done things. Jesus asks His followers the ultimate question,
36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
In other words, taking up the cross, means I have some changing to do for Christ. At least that's how I am taking those words for my life today. I have to get my priorities straight. For me, that means my top priority is not success by worldly standards, but how well is my soul.?! That's tough, but Jesus will always satisfy our every need, and then bless us some more. He promises us that again and again in scripture, and He always keeps His promises.
A prayer for today-
I am thankful for the amazing things You are doing in my life and in the lives of others. I get so caught up in my ways of doing things that I fail to hear and see You in the heat of the moment. I am sorry, Lord. I pray you will help me hear and see You in all that I do, in everything I see, and everywhere I go. Jesus is my example, and Your Holy Spirit is my guide.
In the name of Jesus I pray,
Grace and peace,