Palm Sunday Reflection

Thanks to Scott for sharing this with us today.  It comes from the Gordon-Conwell devotional series.

Gordon-Conwell Holy Week

Devotional, Day 1

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it,” (Luke 19:41,

NIV).

 

 

Palm Sunday is usually celebrated as one of the memorable, joyful days of the Church year. It has been celebrated in this manner since at least the 4th century. Palm Sunday is seen as a festive day of awe, triumph and praise. But I do not think it was a triumphal, celebratory day for Jesus. There is clear evidence in the biblical texts that it was a sad day for our Lord. As the crowds on the two-mile journey from Bethpage into Jerusalem began to chant, “Hosanna” and as they waved their palm branches, they were most likely celebrating a political Messiah who would free them from Rome. Palm branches were used to celebrate Judas Maccabeus’ recapturing of the temple from Syria several centuries earlier. The crowds no doubt were likely celebrating not a savior from their sins, but a political savior who would bring them power and prestige.

Jesus was not moved. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘if you … had only known … what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:41-42). Jesus knew that the crowds were caught up in the euphoria of the moment with their expectation of a political Messiah who would get Rome off their backs. He knew that the chants of “Hosanna” would in a few short days give way to cries, “Crucify him.” And so, he wept, as he felt the burden of a people who wanted a change of power, but not a true change of heart. A people caught up in the fanfare, but who would not follow him to the cross.

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, his first act was to visit the temple. There he observed the religious, commercial huckstering and he cleaned house: “‘For my house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers’” (Luke 19:46). Palm Sunday was not a happy day for Jesus.

So, what is the Palm Sunday Syndrome? People like following Jesus when he’s popular, when he gives them what they want, when he grants them power and fits into their preconceived notion of “the good life.”

Unfortunately, the syndrome is prevalent in our own time. And many of us will celebrate this Palm Sunday with the same self-centered intentions. But, will we follow him to the cross on Friday?

 

Daily Devotions

A devotion shared by Matt E.

“For my eyes have seen your salvation, Luke 2:30

I too have seen his salvation
I too have seen Jesus, I saw his wounds. I know that I have salvation.
It’s not words I have read, a story I’ve been told. I’ve seen it for myself.
Jesus came and sat beside me. He put his arm around me as we sat side by side at the end of a pier.
We looked out over a lake at sunset. The lake was calm- no boats or people. I saw no one other than Jesus
We did not speak, but his arm was around me.
I know I had salvation
I knew I had forgiveness for my sins
He showed me his wounds
I know that Jesus is with me forever.”

Daily Devotions – Forgiveness

A special devotion by Ruth E.

Ephesians 4:31-32

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Forgive and forget right?  That’s the popular saying.  Or maybe forgive, but never forget as a way of protecting ourselves from future harm.  Can we really protect ourselves from harm? Maybe if we didn’t enter into relationships with people, or deny a relationship with God.  Some people look at God as a protector.  God does not provide protection but rather a belief in God will provide faith and support to get us through the hard times.  To get us through the betrayal of another, of a friend, of a spouse, of a family member.  Without faith we have nothing but our own wits and thoughts to rely upon.  In faith we pray to God and ask for the strength to make the right decisions, to take the path of forgiveness, to release the bitterness and the pain.

But what about forgiving ourselves?  Our own minds can conjure up the wrath and anger and clamor and slander against our own selves for the things we have done that we feel ashamed of.  God does not want this for us, God wants us to find forgiveness for ourselves so we may live the life that we were created to live.

Ephesians 1:7

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

Forgiveness of ourselves also leads to compassion and forgiveness of others.  I’m all for protecting myself, I learn lessons about people, I find their limitations and I attempt to accept them as they are, even if that means I cannot rely upon them, or turn to them in a time of need.  Not all people provide all things to us but we all have gifts to share.  Think about being tenderhearted and forgiving of yourself, and think about how you can be a gift to others.

Daily Devotion

“At once they left their nets and followed him”

Nets were prized possessions in that time. Most of a fisherman’s life was spent taking care of the nets. But Jesus does not need a net to fish for people. Jesus does not hold people in a net, confined and trapped.

The way is the way of freedom. Freedom as it was designed by God.

God, thank you for setting me free. Give me the courage to set aside the things that I think are important so I may follow you.

Amen

-Matt E.

Daily Devotion from Matt Erion

On Sunday, Matt Erion shared his witness to those of us in worship.  This week he and his wife Ruth have offered devotionals for us.   Thank you Matt and Ruth.

 

“Come near to God, and he will come near to you. James 4:8(a)

What is written in scripture is true. I can tell you, or should I say warn you, that the opposite is also true. I can’t really describe God for anyone. All I can say is how I’ve experienced God. Conversely, I can’t solve the riddles of what evil is, or why God allows bad things to happen. I can only talk about my own experience when I walked with the enemy.

I know what it’s like to be a servant of God. I know what it’s like to be a selfish sinner. But most important, I know what it’s like to be redeemed. I know what it is like to have the chains on my heart broken by Christ. God loves me so much he sent his Son to me. God loves me so much he sacrificed his own son, that I could be made new.

Jesus talks with me and walks with me. Jesus comforts me and restores me to the place I was always meant to be.

Creator- Thank you for your grace. Help me to see those things that prevent me from drawing closer to you.
Amen”

Live Boldly

As Christians, we truly become who we are created us to be when we live with bold assurance of who we are and what we are called to do.  This does not mean we are to become a saint or famous.  It means we live a life ready to do as God would want even if it is something that is uncomfortable or not something we think we can do.  God walks with us and God equips us.  We just have to say yes and respond.

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13

Those who are ordinary and plain can do great things for God when we go forth boldly, assured of God’s call and direction in our lives.
How might you make a big impact in your community and world?  How might God be calling you to be special?

Daily Devotion

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare. – Isaiah 55:1-2

To live as God has created us to live, we must live a life of gratitude.  To fully be who we are we must tap into our generosity and realize that God is the one who graciously gives us what we need.  Let go of the things you thought you needed, the things that you thought satisfied and be grateful for the gifts you have so freely received.  Stop chasing after things that rust and are eaten by moths and find the treasure that lasts.

Integrity

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken. – Psalm 15

Yesterday we talked about being patient as we worked towards fully revealing and living as God created us to be.  Another important step is to live with integrity.  David, in the Psalm, calls people to live this way and they will never be shaken.  One of the things that prevents us from being who God created us to be is when we do not live with integrity, when we do the things that satisfy our earthly desires and wants.  Living an honest, ethical and moral life prevents that which blocks God’s work in our lives and allows for God’s love to flourish.  Are you honest?  Are you true to your word?  Are you living a decent life?  God calls us to holy living and that parallels a life that is full of integrity.

Wait

As we strive to be who God wants us to be, we have to be patient.  We have to wait on God’s timing.  That can be very difficuilt to do as we live in a world where we get instant gratification, instant answers and instant information.  When we desire to be who God has created us to be and reveal it, we want it right away but sometimes it takes time and patience for us to fully discover who we are in Christ.  Be patient!

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint – Isaiah 40:31

Do the Impossible

Jesus did the impossible.  He overcame sin and death and came back after being crucified.  He empowered others to do the impossible.  He brought in tax collectors, prostitutes and simple fishermen to turn the world upside down.

St. Francis of Assisi once wrote, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

As we continue to seek to become the person we are created to be, we must start in our faith journey by doing what is necessary.  Study Scriptures, get in a small group, pray, be generous, do random acts of mercy, love others and stay in love with God.  As you do this, you will begin the journey of faith.  As you look back to where you were, you will find how far you have actually travelled.  I love when people who actively seek faith realize how quickly they can journey into the depths of the love of Christ simply by doing what is asked.  But the journey to what we thought was impossible only becomes possible when we take the risks Christ asks of us.  Each of us has a different comfort zone.  I have been thrilled to know that there are many of you who are doing that this Lent.  One family has been in church EVERY single week.  They made the commitment to do that and it is paying off.  They normally attend very infrequently.  Others have served and volunteered in places that normally makes them feel uncomfortable.  One person said on Sunday that she is going to volunteer as a liturgist even though she hates speaking in front of people.  She just asked for a passage with easy words.

Take a risk and become more than who you thought you were and more of who God knows you are.  Let the light of Christ shine in you and you will find the journey takes you to what you once thought was impossible.