As I prepare for my sermon for Palm Sunday, I have a habit of writing down everything that the Lord impresses on me during my devotions and prayer time. The following are some of these thoughts: Devotional Thought 1 Sunday, 17th March, 2013: "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." Mark 9:51 (ESV). Chapter 9 of Luke constantly amazes me, reminding me of Jesus' love for us and His resolute determination to fulfill His plan for our salvation. In this one chapter, Jesus predicts His own death TWICE. The first is after Peter confesses his belief that Jesus was the Messiah, and Jesus charges His disciples to tell no one and then predicts His own death (verses 18-22). The second, in verses 43-45, follows His Transfiguration (v 28-36) and His healing of the boy afflicted by an unclean spirit (v 37-42). It is also here that He warns us that there is a cost to following Him (v 23-27) and (v 57-62). As I read this Chapter over and over this morning, my heart fills to overflowing, and I am cast down in the face of such overwhelming love. The old hymn rises "Died He for me, who caused His pain— For me, who Him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?" I am ashamed to think we, in our affluence and consumer driven pride would ever preach a prosperity gospel, a health and wellness gospel, and a gospel that focuses on blessings and supernatural powers to heal and prophesy that we can get ... NO DEMAND! ... as if being a Christ follower is all about the gifts and blessings in the face of He who set his face resolutely to go to Jerusalem, to humiliation, beating, and ultimately death for our sake. Devotional Thought #2 Monday, 18th March, 2013: The thoughts that came to me as I studied and meditated on Luke 9 would not leave me alone, this is what I wrote the next day: We live in a time in which we are satisfied with a comfortable faith. We want a God who loves us, full of grace and mercy ... a God who would look the other way and indulge our desires so that we can go on living a life of our own choosing. Hence we reduce Him to half of what He truly is. We ignore His call to righteousness and purity and we bristle when we are reminded that He is a God of justice and terrible wrath. We want His blessings and gifts but are unwilling to be the blessings and gifts that He calls us to be. We declare undying allegiance to Him but we put Him second in our time , our priorities, and our energies. We read the Bible and pick and choose what we want to believe, willfully blind to anything that would require sacrifice or cause us discomfort. Yet as Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter approaches we are confronted by a radical Christ who does not allow us that comfort. A Christ who reminds us that the God of all creation loved us so much that He had to send His Son to die upon a cruel cross so that His justice and wrath may be satisfied. A Christ who commands us to turn the other cheek, to give both cloak and tunic, to go the extra mile, to love our enemies, and to bless those who persecute us. A Christ who requires as much obedience to God as He Himself is willing to subject Himself. We are confronted with a Christ who declared "not my will but Yours be done." A Christ who is first born among men who forsook all, even His heavenly throne and inheritance for our sake. We come face to face to a Christ who tells us to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and visit to sick and imprisoned. A Christ who reminds us that true joy, peace, and yes, comfort comes when we are willing to be radical because we have a God who gives beauty for ashes and victory in death. Devotional Thought #3 Tuesday, 19th March, 2013: Today, I am reading all the Gospel accounts of the Triumphal Entry and I was struck with the overwhelming urge to ask, "What if we were the ones on the donkey instead of Christ?" If you or I were to be the ones upon the donkey's back during the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, might we not be tempted to seize the moment? Might we see the raw power and influence at our finger tips? Might we be tempted to give the people what they want? Might we be tempted to heed the whisperings of our followers who desired an earthly kingdom? Truly Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem marked the greatest of resolve, the truest of devotion, the deepest of love, and the humblest of obedience. He had gone to Jerusalem to fulfill the Father's plan foretold in Scriptures ... to suffer and die upon a criminal's cross so that we might be saved in order that the Kingdom of God will be established in the hearts of men. Devotional Thought #4 Wednesday, 20th March, 2013: This morning as I continued my meditation and study, a crazy thought came to my mind: "What if we were the donkey??!!": When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people spread their cloaks before Him and strew branches along the way, but Jesus rode on the back of a donkey and His feet never touched the ground. It would be foolish if the donkey were to think highly of itself because it is not for it that the cloaks and branches were strewn - they were not for its honor but for the One it bears. In like fashion, it would be equally foolish for us who bear Christ to the world of men to think highly of ourselves because it is to the One whom we bear that all honor, glory, and praise belong. I pray that these thought would edify and build you up to a closer walk with Him. Blessings Arisen
In our church, we hold a Passover Seder on Palm Sunday each year. This service and event is such a blessing and a great way to honor Jesus Christ and remember the atoning sacrifice He made for us. God bless you and God bless all during these days leading up to the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Your sermon, I strongly suspect, will be excellent under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit. God is SO good!
Thank you for faithfully recording the thoughts that the Holy Spirit has impressed upon you. These thoughts are the same that God has been bringing to my mind to write a blog, later in this week.
It is amazing to see how Gods word to each of us, who are so far apart, fits together and makes a whole/completness.