READ: Mark 8:27--9:13
THINK: Have you ever given up something of little value in exchange for something of tremendous value? Did you consider that a big sacrifice? Not likely. If you've followed Jesus for any length of time, you've likely discovered that His plans don't always seem to make sense. But unless you're prepared to put aside your own ideals and perceptions, you could find yourself opposing His purposes without even realizing it. Even Jesus closest followers failed to comprehend God's plan. Jesus knew He would suffer, be rejected, and ultimately face death at the hand of His opponents, but that was not acceptable to some of His followers. They didn't realize that Jesus had to give His life in order to give us life. And nothing would deter Him from that mission. Today, if you're willing to give up your own way of life for Jesus and let your identity get wrapped up in His, you can take part in His ongoing mission to bring forgiveness, hope and new life to spiritually lost people around the world.
RESPOND: Why did Peter rebuke Jesus for talking about His impending suffering and death? Why did Jesus rebuke Peter so strongly in return? (See 8:33 note.) What were "the things of God" (v. 33) that Peter didn't understand? What did Jesus mean when He said that anyone who wants to follow Him "must deny himself and take up his cross"? (See 8:34 note.) What does it mean that "whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it" (v. 35)? How can you guard against being ashamed of Jesus? (See 8:38 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you understand His purposes so you don't resist them in any way. Pray for the willingness to put aside your own plans so as not to be distracted from following God plans. Pray for boldness to identify with Jesus.
ACT: Do something bold--not foolish or obnoxious--to identify yourself with Jesus in a definite and distinct way. Wear an item of clothing with a Christian message, do a school project on a Christian theme, start a conversation about spiritual issues, or invite some new friends to a ministry event. Make sure that the rest of your life is consistent with Christ's character and message so you give people an accurate impression of Him.
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