Tuesday, March 31, 2015

IN LIGHT OF THIS FACT


"Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?" - Matthew 26:53-54

After addressing His disciple about severing the ear of the high priest's servant, Jesus focused on the real reason the mob was there - His death.

Jesus had three rhetorical questions He posed. First Jesus asked, 
  • "Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father,"
Not only is Jesus probably making the officials mad again for calling God His Father, but Christ introduces the possibility of an option for His arrest and further developments because He is calling on His Father.

In the second question, Christ re-affirms His association with God the Father by His access to command an impressive army of "more than" 72,000 angels. 
  • "and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?"
Only Elohim is King of the angels and Jesus was calling Him, His Father. Again, Christ was also acknowledging a protective stance, a defensive maneuver by His angelic force that would not necessarily stop the plan of salvation but would hinder other prophecies from fulfillment. Jesus said,
  • "But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way."
Jesus had to go through with Plan A. There was no Plan B. As the Word of God made flesh, Jesus had to be faithful to all prophecies concerning Him and the salvation of the world through His betrayal, trial, torture, death and resurrection. Otherwise He would be unfaithful to His own words through the Old Testament writers and His own words to His disciples. Christ had and has the birthright as Son of God to call on the Father for anything, anytime. Jesus also had and has the immediate favor of extreme power from Father God. The Lord had both of these at His fingertips to use or display, But this passage speaks to the manner in which things had to transpire - "it must happen in this way" - In Light Of This Fact.


Friday, March 27, 2015

A STOMPIN'


Romans 16:20 suggests this idea:

"The God of peace will smash and completely obliterate Satan under your feet! If Satan tries to get in your way or to block your path, then it's time for you to act like a soldier - lift your feet high, stomp and pound down hard, crushing the enemy under your feet and leaving him in a heap, trampled beyond recognition, as you march on..."

However, it is important to point out that this smashing and crushing of Satan must be done in cooperation with God. Alone you are no match for this archenemy. That's the reason Paul says, '...The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet....'. In other words, this is a joint partnership between you and God. By yourself, you could never keep Satan subdued. But with God as your Partner, the devil has no chance of ever slipping out from under your heel!

The glorious truth is that Jesus already completely destroyed Satan's power over you through His death and resurrection. The devil was utterly smashed, crushed, and bruised when Jesus was victoriously raised from the dead. Your God-given mission now is to reinforce the victory already won and to demonstrate just how miserably defeated Satan already is!

The enemy may try to lord himself over you; he may attempt to exert his foul influence over your life. However, he is merely using empty threats and illusions to feed fear into your mind.

Never forget - the only place that rightfully belongs to the devil is the small space of ground right under your feet!

[This was an excerpt from Rick Renner's - Sparkling Gems From The Greek, p.182]

Thursday, March 26, 2015

PLOWSHARES AND PRUNING HOOKS

Micah prophesies a future time when Jesus will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. When the inhabitants of the earth during that time will beat their swords into farming equipment (plowshares) and their spears into gardening equipment (pruning hooks). Nations will not fight with each other anymore, therefore they will not make provisions for a military. (Micah 4:3)

To ponder the returning to pre-Fall (pre-Sin) like conditions is captivating. The inhabitants will be stewards of a drastically changed topography due to all of humanity's irresponsibility and the judgments during The Tribulation Period. However, as long as people give Christ His due tribute, Jesus will continue to send rain for the crops and harvest, just as He did in Deuteronomy 11:13-15 (Zechariah 14:16-18). I also believe God will return the process of farming and planting back to an easier, blessed activity (Genesis 3:17-19; Zechariah 8:12). Reigning with Christ over the nations and other things is something I look forward to understanding more about and participating in - Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

Our world today is far from this reality. Looking forward to this Biblical time scholars call The Millennial Reign of Christ or The Millennium is when we find these prophecies being manifested and completely fulfilled. However, it does not mean we cannot and should not seek peace and reconciliation now. Scripture admonishes believers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem specifically (Psalm 122:6). But we know our whole world needs prayer for a restored relationship to their Creator and Sustainer - Christ Jesus. So, I pray -

"Dear Lord, only when you rise to rule will the nations find rest from war. Your promise gives us courage to ask You to begin this work of peace even today. Please, disarm our hearts and dismantle grievances between racial and social groupings. Walk with us and train us in Your ways of peace. Take away the bitterness, jealousy, and pride that so easily entangles us. In Your Name, Jesus Christ, I pray - Amen."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A TALE OF TWO KINGDOMS


The Kingdom of God and The Kingdom of the World are the two realms of consideration. God is the ruler of His Kingdom. The Evil One is the temporary ruler of The Kingdom of the World (1 John 5:19) with Money being a Chief godly Lieutenant.

Every human born cannot escape being a participant in this world. However, citizenship reflects the decision of which kingdom and ruler one desires to live in and under respectively. From birth, humans see the world as The Great Provider or Grim Reaper of life's opportunities and choices. Some may say, "What a great, big, wonderful world! What a great religion - Christianity! Why shouldn't I be able to 'have my cake and eat it too' - live as the world and as a Christian?"

However, the catch or question becomes - which Kingdom or sphere of influence do you choose as your life? Misery awaits the individual who has a leg in the Kingdom of this world and a leg in the Kingdom of God.

  • "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." - Matthew 6:24

The power of assimilation is extremely strong within the Kingdom of this World. If we listen to God's counsel through John, we would understand that our devotion or what we cherish is spelled "love" in the following verse.
  • "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lusts of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." - 1 John 2:15-17
I know this much, I have been guilty of every area mentioned in 1 John 2:15-17. This is just the Event Horizon of the Black Hole called the Kingdom of this World. In Other Words...These are but a few, major entrapments that draw humanity into its seemingly inescapable darkness. 

However, as mentioned earlier there is another Kingdom. In fact, the better kingdom, The Kingdom of God populates it's streets by giving the citizens of the world - The Key to the Kingdom - repentance and salvation through Christ Jesus. Repentance being a total change of mind and Salvation coming as a result of confession that Christ Jesus is your personal Savior. 

So, there are two incorrect decisions and one correct choice. Choose wisely. 
  1. You can decide to live in the Kingdom of this World under it's ruler where it and it's desires will pass away.
  2. You can straddle your stance between the two Kingdoms and be torn asunder.
  3. You can choose citizenship in the Kingdom of God by accepting Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and live forever.
My declaration as a citizen of the Kingdom of God is - I am a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17)! I know "the world and its desires will pass away", so I will display "the love of the Father in me" and seek "His will acted out in my life" so that "I will live forever" (adaptation of 1 John 2:15). 

The Bible calls Christians "strangers and aliens to this world" (1 Peter 2:11) and even this world may call me that, but that is fine by me - I am looking forward to the manifestation of The Kingdom of God - a "city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:10)


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

KNOWING THE HEART OF GOD


If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. - John 15:7

Many people, including some church pastors and teachers, only see, read, and declare the second part of this verse - "ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." 

It is true that Scripture says believers in Christ can come boldly or with confidence before God's throne of grace to receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Even the original Greek word for "ask" (aiteo) in this verse means to boldly or confidently request, with respect, of your superior - something you know He can provide.

However, the key is to have seen, read and understood the first part of the verse so you can implement the second half - "If you remain in me and my words remain in you". This is and "If...Then" statement without the "Then".

"Jesus knew that if His words take up permanent residency in your heart and mind, you will never ask for something that is out of line with His will for your life. His Word will so transform your mind that your prayers will always be in accordance with what He has already said. In fact, this transformation process is what gives you the confidence to boldly come into God's Presence and make your requests known! You ask boldly because you already know it is what He wants to do!" (p.177, Sparkling Gems From The Greek, Rick Renner)

Mr. Renner pre-supposes you and I are studying God's Word enough to know what God says, keep His words in us, and then ask whatever accordingly. The fact that there is an "If" to begin this verse suggests that there is a possibility you may not remain in Him and His Words may not remain in you. Not that you will lose your salvation, but your walk with Him may falter and need restoring through asking of forgiveness and returning to His Word.

John restates this position to the believers of the churches in Asia Minor when he said, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of Him." - 1 John 5:14-15 Another disciple that supports John in Scripture is James. James 4:3 emphasizes this point on the proper intent in our prayers when he instructed - "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

So, I encourage all of us to get into His Word, study His Word and know His Word. If you stay in His Word, His Words will stay in you - giving you the right questions to ask - therefore Knowing The Heart of God. 


Monday, March 23, 2015

BE DONE WITH IT


You have spent enough time in the past doing what unbelievers choose to do - living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. Therefore, arm yourself with the proper Christ-like attitude - be done with sin. 

Your worldly connections are going to think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 

This is the reason The Gospel is preached - because He who has suffered in His body is done with sin, you also must be done with it and live according to His Spirit.  

(Excerpts from 1 Peter 4:1-6)

"I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus - no turning back, no turning back.

The Cross before me, the world behind me, The Cross before me, the world behind me, The Cross before me, the world behind me - no turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow, though none go with me, still I will follow, though none go with me, still I will follow - no turning back, no turning back."

(Song - "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus")


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

WHO'S GOVERNOR OF YOUR MIND?


Much emphasis is placed on the mind and especially what we do with it - in Scripture. Jesus charged believers to love God with "all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). What does this look like? Try to always think about Him and things connected to Him. Also, study His Word.

There are a plethora of influences that can distract the believer's mind from God. Jesus, speaking to Satan as he manipulated Peter momentarily, said - "...you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man." (Matthew 16:23) Notice that Jesus stated Satan's agenda is keeping humanity's focus on ourselves - "the things of man". Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, also spoke to Satan's tricks. "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." (Ephesians 6:11) The word "schemes" translates to mind games. Remember what Christ told His disciples as He sent them out to minister? "Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16) The enemy is crafty, so believers must be and it all starts with the mind.

With Christ and Paul emphasizing this target - is it any real surprise that we have Paul encouraging believers to be spiritually prepared for battle against the devil's mind games with The Helmet of Salvation? (Ephesians 6:17) It is a piece of the armor of God that we can pray for that protects our thoughts. The helmet is also meant to keep our thoughts focused on God and His work of salvation in our lives - hince the name.

Paul also challenges us to...
  • "take every thought captive and make it obey Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • "set your mind on things above, not earthly things." (Colossians 3:2)
  • "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2)
Just taking every thought captive is a challenge, but the more you practice the more you are made perfect. Mr. Rick Renner qualifies the phrase "take every thought captive" by saying - "The words 'bringing into captivity' [KJV] are from the Greek word aichmalotidzo, which pictured a soldier who has captured an enemy and now leads him into captivity with the point of a sharpened spear thrust into the flesh in his back. The captured enemy knows that if he tries to move or get away, the Roman soldier will shove that spear clear through his torso and kill him. Therefore, this captive doesn't dare move but remain silent, submissive and non-resistant." (p.629, Sparkling Gems From the Greek)

I do not like the saying, "Do not be so heavenly minded you are no earthly good." I think this is a misnomer and flies in the face of verses like Colossians 3:2. I believe if we have the proper focus toward God and Heaven, He will help us take care of things below.

Being transformed by the renewing of your mind calls for a daily process of deliberate thought about God. It is not a one-and-done deal. Believers in particular will meet new and tough challenges because of the hate of our enemy and our mind drenched in His Word will help tremendously.

So, there comes an image I would like to portray - a beautiful throne, set in the middle of your mind, which controls tremendous power over your body, future, and others. I believe many things have tried to sit upon that chair of authority as Governor of our minds. However, Paul narrows it down to two considerations - the flesh or sinful nature as Governor which would result in death of all kinds OR the Holy Spirit as Governor of your mind which would result in life and peace. The actual passage in Romans 8:5-9 says this - 

"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you."


In the voice of the commercial - "What's in your wallet?" - I say, "Who's The Governor Of Your Mind?"



Thursday, March 12, 2015

WASHING OR DRENCHING?


The feelings I experience when I read about or see a picture depicting Jesus, God's Word in flesh, Creator of all, on bent knee, washing and drying His disciples feet is a tear-jerker of an image for me (John 13:1-17). Even knowing that my Lord first came as the suffering servant, this event still wrenches my heart and spirit. It is no real surprise then that I empathize with Peter's sentiments - 

If I have no part with you unless you wash me, then wash my hands and head as well. (Longer Version/Pritchard Paraphrase of Peter's response - John 13:8-9)

Christ's washing dealt with integrity not salvation. The Lord's instruction to Peter included a very important word - "with".
  • "Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'"
Jesus did not say, "Unless I wash you, you have no part in me." This would have indicated Peter lacked salvation. However, disconnection from communion or fellowship with God is what I believe is meant here.

From the believer's conversion forward he/she is a spiritually new creature in Christ. The body and mind are still carnal and earthbound, therefore they still have the notions toward sin or rebellion against God. However, with the Holy Spirit in the believer and following a Christ-like lifestyle, Christians can be sin-less by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2). 

There are many verses with the word "renew" in them. One of the more well-known being Isaiah 40:31 - "...but those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength." However, the kind of renewing I am speaking to here is more than just "strength". Consider 2 Corinthians 4:16 - "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." And also contemplate Psalm 51:10 - "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." These two verses touch on the daily, overall, spiritual renewal that needs to happen for a believer to have a healthy relationship with God. I liken it to a spiritual gut check or spring cleaning every day.

The way Christians can attain this daily, spiritual gut check or cleaning is to be washed with His Word. Ephesians 5:25-26 says - "He [Christ] gave up His life for her [the Church] to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word." Notice in this statement that salvation came first with - "He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean", but the second part indicates another active step - "washed by the cleansing of God's word"

God's Word is "alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) In addition, His sanctification of believers or making Christians holy is this washing or cleaning of believers by His Word.

The Key - Being in God's Word. Just as we put ourselves in places where we can get physically wet, believers need to place themselves in a position to get Drenched with God's Word. Then, Christ said, you will have communion, fellowship - a part with Him.

Friday, March 6, 2015

IN SUMMARY


So, it all comes down to three things....
  1. Love
  2. Love
  3. Love
All that the Old Testament was pointing toward, predicting or foreshadowing was love. All that the Old Testament ever wanted was us to love perfectly. Servants or prophets were sent to mankind to tell and show God's love, but God's people rejected their words and actions. Then God sent Love Incarnate - Christ Jesus of Nazareth - His Son. He spoke and revealed love perfectly, yet again His own rejected and even killed Him. 

But it was for me and you and all of humanity that He died and rose again victorious over sin, death, hell, and the grave - So That we too can be victorious in our daily life with Him through the Holy Spirit. His charge to us - to love, love, love. 

Jesus replied:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

God comes first with wholeheartedness. It is a choice - "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,.....But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15) Love is a verb, an action word. Choose to love God first and show Him with everything.

Your neighbor - believer and non-believer alike - comes second. Whatever loving yourself would look like, as seen through the eyes of God, love thy neighbor likewise.

Lastly, notice the words in Matthew 7:12 - "in everything" meaning in all circumstances, situations and/or opportunities with family, friends, and strangers? Do what? "Do to others what you would have them do to you" - beat them to the punch and serve them with love. I encourage us to love somebody how you would want to be loved and not expect anything in return at the same time - Creative Unconditional Love.

I imagine The Millennial Reign of Christ will be the manifestation of these verses. However, until that time comes and we rule and reign with Him in such an atmosphere we can practice what "All the Law and the Prophets hang on", that which "sums up the Law and the Prophets" - Love - In Summary. 


Thursday, March 5, 2015

YOU MIGHT BE FISHING SOON


If I am persuading someone to follow me, I had better have an awesome "hook and bait". Whatever I am offering - whether it be goods, services, a job, or just me (friendship) - it had better be convincing. It helps if you, your goods, services or job that is offered is authentic and of good repute too.

"As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him." (Matthew 4:18-22)

Maybe it was the persona of Jesus. Maybe it was the reputation of Jesus. Maybe it was the intrigue to the "hook and bait" statement (pun intended) He made. However, two sets of brothers Peter and Andrew, James and John immediately responded yes to Jesus' invitation.

I think all of it - Christ's persona, reputation, and clever invitation would have caught me too - hook, line, and sinker. It's a wonder what made these men leave their livelihood immediately, but considering the above I would have been sunk at "Hello" (nod to Jerry Maguire - "You had me at hello."). 

Notice that the brothers would be receiving a different skill set, but it still would be within the same frame of mind - fishing. God took something the men were very familiar with all their lives, had worked with all their days and asked them to apply it to something of eternal worth - fishing for people's souls.

This change was not a total disturbance of their comfort zone. The disciples dealt with people everyday, they would continue this. The disciples bartered a fair price for their fish every day, they would eventually be instructed and empowered to barter for a change of lifestyle; they would continue showing Christ's compassion to the world and multiply His believers through faith in Christ. The disciples cast a net to catch many fish, the rest of their life would be a learning-journey on how to people-fish. 

So, again, it wasn't that God took the disciples out of their comfort zone, it was that He advanced their comfort zone for a higher application. What is it in our life that God has called to a higher application, an eternal worth? Whatever it is, respond "yes" immediately to Him and You Might Be Fishing Soon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LIVING, MOVING AND BEING...IN GOD


Agendas - they can be peace killers. They are meant to bring order, focus, and importance to our lives and daily plans. However, while agendas may provide structure and schedule to an otherwise chaotic day/life, to-do lists can also hinder us from living, moving and being in God (Acts 17:28). 

As Christians, placing God first on a list or first in our day is a good start, but is not where we should leave Him, it is not the whole picture. I believe the proper perspective to grasp and attain is God in, with and around you everywhere you turn. Paul Burleson, another blogger I follow, likened this idea to a wheel and spoke analogy. He says,
  • "...think of God as the hub. Remember that old bicycle you use to ride? The wheels had a hub. From it went the various spokes that enabled those wheels to create what was necessary for that bike to function according to it's purpose or intention. That is an inadequate yet much better way of thinking about our relationship to God than is the list. It moves us from what we DO in life to who He IS as our LIFE. No illustration is adequate. But moving from "doing" to "being" when talking about the Christian life IS fundamental to the scriptures."
This reminds me of two verses of Scripture. First, Philippians 4:13 - "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." The second Scripture speaks to the wheel imagery Mr. Burleson used - Ezekiel 1:16 - "This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel." 

Perhaps we might look at our life everyday as a traveling gyroscope. God would be ever-present in the center, keeping us balanced and there for sharing all of our life, not just the counseling through challenges. An athlete's center of gravity or center of balance is where he/she is going to get their next movement (left, right, forward, backward, diagonal, etc...). If the Christian keeps Christ at the center of their life, in all things and not just at the top of all lists, then all day, every day challenges will be met with the immediate counsel of The Lord through His Holy Spirit.

Mr. Burleson continues by saying, "God isn't something you DO period. He IS your life. Not a THING in your life,..." and in my mind's eye, as pictured above, Acts 17:28 says just that - "For in him we live and move and have our being." Are you - Living, Moving And Being...In God?

WHAT HE SAID...WHAT THEY HEARD


Ever played the game "Gossip"? You get a group of about ten people, place them in a circle and have one person whisper a catch phrase or simple sentence to the person to the left with no repeats. By the time the phrase travels full circle, chances are great the phrase is not as it left the original speaker.

Sometimes when we are listening, a speaker's diction can be sloppy and enunciation is needed. Other times when we are listening a word is misused in a sentence and we can receive the wrong message. Still, during other listening engagements the grammar of some individuals makes you wonder if they ever went to school at all. It is interesting what we choose to hear sometimes with or without orator issues.

Jesus spoke several times to His disciples about His upcoming betrayal, suffering, death, burial, and resurrection. However, the disciples seemed to focus on one thing and not hear the other. 

In Matthew 16:21-23 it says,

  • 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. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 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.”
Notice Peter's reaction - Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Peter did not even come close to hearing - "and on the third day be raised to life". Being alive again would make all the difference and Peter missed it.

In the very next chapter, Matthew 17:22-23, we have another example of this.

  • When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
Yes there are some very sad elements to what Jesus said here, but the good news He shared outweighed the bad. The bad news - Jesus was going to be "delivered into the hands of men" and killed. The good news - death will not hold Him! The disciples missed it - "...the disciples were filled with grief."

So far a single disciple and the disciples plural have heard the death message loud and clear and missed the resurrection promise all together. In Matthew 20:17-28 a different reaction is recorded. 

  • Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
A mother tries to make the best of the situation. Maybe she understood the resurrection part here, maybe not - nobody had ever rose from the dead by themselves before - but she trusted Jesus and wanted her boys to be included in His plans for His kingdom.

Later on when Jesus predicts His death, immediately we see, in the next verse/sentence, people in place fulfilling Christ's words (Matthew 26:1-5).

  • When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”
Here the good news is left out, but the wheels are set in motion to fulfill His prophetic statement. Nothing is going to keep this from happening and the plotting and scheming right behind Christ's words reinforces that idea.

The last example of what the disciples heard or what they missed is located in Matthew 26:31-35. A well-known passage where Peter promises his allegiance to Christ, even in the face of death.
  • Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: " 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.
What I found anew when I read this Scripture this time was the very last sentence. Peter might have been the first one to voice this allegiance to death sentiment but he was not alone - "
all the other disciples said the same." Peter seemed to get the brunt of the rebuke and shame since he spoke up, but all the disciples missed the good news again - "after I have risen, ..."

What is your focus on? I encourage all of us, me included, when - not if - but when challenges come our way, readjust your focus from the negative you see in the situation (like the disciples could not avoid) to God's promises. Just because we have God's promises does not mean we get a "Get Out of Situation Free" card. If we can start seeing Christ's victory more in our situations, then our journey through it will be more tolerable and we will be more teachable, amendable and useful.  

One of my all-time favorite Christian singers and song-writers - Carman - wrote and sang....
"On Friday night they crucified The Lord at Calvary,
But He said, "Don't dread, in three days, I'm gonna live again, you'll see."
So, when problems try to bury you and make it hard to pray.
It may seem like Friday night, but Sunday's On The Way!" 
(Sunday's On The Way)