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January 8 | Matthew 16:21;28

DAILY READING:


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REFLECTION


Are You Listening?

by Mary Alice McGinnis


Over the past few years, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I started selecting a single word to focus on for the year.


As I begin this year of 2022,

I feel God calling me to “Listen.”



Today’s reading falls on the heels of Jesus’ question to His disciples, “Who do YOU say that I am?” (vs. 15) Peter’s profound response was, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (vs. 16) Jesus tells Peter, “This was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (vs. 17) Peter was listening to the Father’s voice that came through the ancient prophets, and through the miraculous works of Jesus he witnessed. Peter declared Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Yet when Jesus begins explaining what the future holds, that the Messiah’s mission would lead to suffering and death, Peter’s heart quickly turns away from listening to God. Instead, he listens to his own reason, his own sinful pride, his own agenda, his own perception of what was “supposed” to happen. How many times I have heard such an egocentric voice in my own heart? “But God, I don’t understand! Why is this happening? Why is my life turning out this way? This is not how it was supposed to be? I know Your Word says _________, but . . . ” Peter pridefully pulls Jesus aside to “rebuke” Him, saying, “No, may it never be!” He completely misses the promise Jesus made, saying, “And on the third day I will rise.” It causes me to ponder, how often God may be speaking to me, yet I dismiss it because it doesn’t align with my way of thinking? The focus of my thoughts is all too often about my self-serving agenda and self-protection. My ears are eager to listen for voices that will tell me how to make my life more comfortable, happy, and successful for ME. Jesus told the disciples that following Him would mean giving up focusing on “mere human concerns” and turning our hearts toward “the concerns of God.”

Listening to Jesus’ words to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him seems hard to hear. But God’s plans are so much higher than ours. His mission is wider, deeper, vaster than we could ever imagine. Our agendas, our wants and desires are so insignificant and puny compared to the inconceivably magnificent LIFE He has for planned for us.


For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4


 

Forgive me Lord when I turn aside to listening to the voice of my own sinful pride.

Lord, I want to listen to YOUR voice! You gave Your life for me! Your ways are higher than my ways, and Your thoughts higher than mine! Remind me daily that my life is hidden with Christ in God. One day, when Christ, who is my life returns, I will appear with Him in Glory!


Hallelujah! Amen!




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