Do you not yet perceive or understand?  Are your hearts heartened?  Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?  And do you not remember? (Mark 8:17-18)

It is amazing to me that the disciples were blind and deaf and did not understand the things of Christ.  Of course, they had not yet received the Hoy Spirit; but they had been with Jesus Himself.

My problem is that I do have the Holy Spirit; but at times it seems that I do not understand and am blind and deaf to Jesus also.  How is this possible?

I think the answer to this question is complex and multifaceted.  For one thing, there have been times in my life when I moved away from Jesus.  I did not spend time with Him.  My prayers were at best on the surface.  My devotion to Him was weak.  I was more concerned with what others thought than I was for what Jesus thought.  I was not content with what God had given me.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13)

Lord, teach me the secret of learning contentment.  I have not been content at times in my life.  My contentment has been sought through other things.  I know that only You alone can give me true contentment.  Everything else is temporary and does not provide true contentment.  I claim the promise that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever would save his life will lost is, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s  will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Mark 8:34-36)

The real question now is:  Am I willing to deny myself, and take up my cross and follow Jesus fully?  Denying myself is hard work.  All too often I have lived for me — what I want, what pleases me, what gives me instant satisfaction.  Jesus will have to strengthen me in order to do this.  I may have the greatest intentions, but without Him I can never do this.

I am still not fully sure what it means to take up my cross.  The cross was a place of death.  Maybe it means that I become willing to die to everything else but Him.  This is a tall undertaking too.  Again it will be impossible without Jesus.

Following Him is no easy task either.  Yielding to Him is contrary to my self-reliance.  To follow Him means to forsake all I want and follow in HIs footsteps.  This also is impossible without Him.

Well, what do I conclude here?  I must live a yielded life to Jesus, giving up everything that hinders me from following Him fully.  I cannot do this without Him.  But I am willing as He strengthens me.

This raises another question in my mind.  How does Jesus strengthen me?  I do not know the full answer to that question.  But here is my feeble attempt.

I must spend quality time with Him each day.  Alone with Him that is.  It has been amazing how much I have learned lately from spending daily quality time with Him first thing in the morning.  I must interact with His Word, not just read it.  I have to meditate on it, process what it says, apply it to my life, and respond to what the Scripture says to me.  I must first realize the real spiritual presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and then yield to the Spirit, stay in step with the Spirit.  I must stay current with my repentance, examining my life and confessing my sins.  I must spend more time in prayer.  (This is my greatest weakness among all the spiritual disciplines.)  I must devote myself  to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:44).  I don’t want to be overwhelmed by all of this and become frustrated and give up.  I must take one day at a time, trust Christ to give me the time and desire, and make my spiritual growth a real priority.  It is throughout this that I will learn to be content.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

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