by Robert Hotchkin
With the almost non-stop flow of information that is coming at us these days, it is more important than ever that we be intentional about what we focus on. Thanks to our TVs, radios, computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, there is a near-constant flow of updates, headlines, alerts, messages, e-mails and texts ringing, dinging, tweeting, and announcing to us what has just happened, what is happening, and what is about to happen. Amidst this swirl of 24-hour-a-day input it can be a battle to keep our eyes and hearts focused in faith on the good news of who our God is and His amazing ability to do the impossible in the midst of the difficult (Luke 18:27).
In Matthew 16 we see examples of just how important and powerful it is to focus on God and what He is highlighting in the midst of information overload.
In Matthew 16:13-19 Jesus and the disciples are discussing some of the many things the world has to say about who the Son of Man is. Some say He is a prophet. Some say He is John the Baptist. Some say He is Elijah. And others say He is Jeremiah. But when Jesus asks Simon, Simon is able to focus in on the reality of the good news, even when it seems the most amazing and impossible of all the reports. Simon answers that Jesus is the Son of Man, He is the Messiah, the long-awaited Promise of Immanuel, the Son of the Living God. Jesus erupts with praise for Simon, telling him that he is truly blessed because he was able to focus in on what his Father in Heaven was highlighting to him in the midst of the swirl of information. Simon’s ability, in that moment, to focus on what heaven was highlighting had a powerful and lasting impact – so much so, that Simon emerges from the moment transformed. He is given a new name, Peter, which means “rock.” Focusing in on the good news of who our God is and what He is capable of in any situation grounds us in the truth of heaven and works to transform us and our circumstances.
Compare that to what we see in Matthew 16:21-23. In this passage, Jesus tells the disciples that they are all going to go to Jerusalem. Then He shares what will happen once they get there. Jesus lets them know that He will suffer many things at the hands of the leading priests, elders and teachers; He will be killed and then on the third day He will be raised from the dead. That is quite a bit of information to take in all at once. Peter, who had done so well at focusing in on what heaven was highlighting just a moment before, now blows it. He takes Jesus aside and says, “No Lord! This will never happen to You!” Jesus then rebukes Peter and tells him that he is seeing things from a human point of view, not from God’s. The mistake Peter made was to be overwhelmed by the report of what was going to happen, as opposed to being overcome with confidence in God’s ability to miraculously turn it all to the good. See, Peter focused in on Jesus being arrested, then suffering, and being killed – the bad news, instead of focusing in on the good news – Jesus being raised from the dead!
The key for us in this hour is not to ignore the information coming at us, but to remember to always focus in on what God has to say, and what heaven is highlighting. We must never allow a bad report or alarming news to have a greater impact on us than the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the miraculous ability of our Heavenly Father to bring about all of His promises – no matter what.
So let’s pray this month for XP Ministries, each of us, and the Body of Christ as a whole by joining in agreement and declaring that:
- We will seek first the Kingdom of God, maintaining an eternal perspective in all things and at all times (Matthew 6:33).
- We will not give heed to reports of the world, or listen to the distractions and discouragements of the enemy, but instead we will clearly hear what the Lord is highlighting to us, and be encouraged (John 10:4-5).
- We are strong in our faith and we believe that our God is well able – always and in all ways (Mark 5:36).
- We will keep our focus on the realities of heaven; we will allow our minds to be filled with the love, light and truth of Jesus; and we will dwell not on how temporary facts say things seem to be, but on how the eternal Word of God says they truly are (Colossians 3:1-12).
- We will remain childlike in our faith, always trusting in our Heavenly Father to perform His Word and bring about His purposes (Matthew 18:3-4).
- We will trust in the love of Jesus and cast our cares (concerns, fears, doubts, distractions, discouragements) upon Him, allowing Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen us so that we can continue doing good, believing for the best, and contending for the certain victory (1 Peter 5:7, John 14:26, Romans 8:37).
- We will be absolute in our resolve to continue on in our assignments, advancing the Kingdom and bringing heaven to earth (Isaiah 50:7, Philippians 3:12).
- We will praise the Lord in all things and at all times knowing that, no matter how things might look or seem at present, His Word never returns void but always accomplishes all it is sent to do (Isaiah 55:11).