Today, Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, begins Holy Week. This day is commemorated in Christianity as the day when Jesus of Nazareth presented Himself to His people, and the world, as their Messiah, Savior and King, by riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey.
As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem, scripture tells us that a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their cloaks across the road, giving Jesus the royal treatment. The hundreds of people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Christ’s procession was a type of victor’s procession. It was a procession indicating the victory to come. Typically a victor’s procession comes after the victory is won. This was the way the Romans hailed their victors in battle, just as we have victory parties after a big football game or other sporting events like the recent Masters in golf. Yet, because God lives in eternity, even though ‘in time’ the victory had not yet occurred, in God’s eyes it was completed before our timeline began! So Christ allowed this procession to occur telling the people that their King and Savior had come. Matthew 21:4
We have so much to be grateful for this week. As we celebrate this Holy Week, may we constantly be reminded of its significance and value for our lives today and for our future! This same Jesus is coming again! Ps.24 asks: who is the King of Glory? We know who! It’s Jesus and we are not only celebrating His death and resurrection this week, we are celebrating that He is coming again!
Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300 prophecies from His birth to ascension. Trust Him that all His promises for us now and the future will happen, too!
A summary of the Passion Week is as follows:
Sunday: Jesus enters Jerusalem and cleanses the temple. Mat 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-48; John 12:12-50.
Monday: Jesus curses the fig tree and gives many discourses in the Temple, emphasizing His authority, Mat 21:18-25:46; Mark 11:12-13:37; Luke 20:1-21:38.
Tuesday: Preparation of the Sacrifice and Judas conspires with the Pharisees, Mat 26:1-16; Mark 14:1-11; Luke 22:1-6.
Wednesday: Jesus celebrates Passover in the Upper Room and is betrayed, Mat 26:17-56; Mark 14:12-52; Luke 22:7-53; John 13:1-18:11.
Thursday: Six Trials leading to Crucifixion and burial in the Tomb for three days like Jonah being in the whale for three days, Mat 12:40, Mat 26:57-27:66; Mark 14:53-15:47; Luke 22:54-23:55; John 18:12-19:42.
Friday: In the Tomb
Saturday: In the Tomb
Sunday: Christ’s Resurrection, Mat 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-25
During this Holy Week, may God fill our hearts and minds as we ponder Jesus Christ our King. Let us choose to focus on worshipping our Savior and Lord, thanking Him for the gift of His sacrifice, celebrating the power of His Resurrection, and the new life found in Him alone.
He is Risen!
I have always looked at the story of Esther as some day there will be a “for such a time as this”. When thinking about it lately, I realized that every moment of everyday is a “such a time as this” for us. Every time we make a choice to make a difference for someone in the world, we are following the steps of Esther.
When you bring a meal to someone, or call a sick person, or someone who can’t get out much, you do not know the kind of hope you are giving to him or her, or what kind of light you are spreading. Do you pray for missionaries? Or support them? You are making a difference in the world. Some folks get to do ‘a one significant thing’ in life, but most of us live life in the valley in the ordinary world and sometimes the harder walk is living everyday for ‘such a time as this’.
Are you wondering why difficult or trying circumstances are happening around you? At some point, you may be the one who has the answer for ‘such a time’ that may make a difference in the lives around you. You may never know the affect of your kind word or action this side of Heaven. But in the meantime, just don’t forget who you are, one of God’s own. You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops or rub it in anyone’s face: NO ONE knew Esther was one of God’s chosen people, but she handled herself well in the life she was given. Be wise, don’t compromise where you know you shouldn’t and be ready to give an answer when the time comes.
We don’t know what the future may hold but we do know today and we do know that God encourages us to live ‘in the day’, and we can make a difference in each day. One day at a time. So live everyday in the same spirit as Esther did.
Here is the story of Esther in a nutshell: Esther was a Jewish girl, an orphan and was one of the Jews that were taken into captivity by the Babylonians/Persians. An older cousin, Mordecai, raised her.. To make a long story short, the king held a beauty contest to find his next wife and Mordecai entered Esther in it and she along with several other women in the kingdom were chosen to be groomed for a year before they would be brought before the king, one at a time. The king chose Esther to became Queen. You should read how wise she was in what she did and asked for and how she prepared. Fascination. Anyway the second in command hated Mordecai because he didn’t bow down when Haman was riding by on his chariot and so he decided he would talk the king into slaughtering all the Jews. (Talk about going overboard!!)
When Mordecai found out He said the famous words to Esther: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I, and my attendants, will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” And she was wise in how she approached the King and eventually got a decree where her people could fight back! AWESOME Story!!!
Have you lived for a good while without joy?
Keep walking toward Him…. it will come. It came to Mary Magdalene. She came looking for a dead Jesus. She came in the dark, not knowing what she would find, full of sorrow, confused, stumbling…. but she came anyway. She was surprised by joy. Morning broke. Darkness disappeared. Joy came.
It will come to you.
There is no tomb so dark, no pit so deep, that His love is not brighter or deeper still. Has He felt dead to you? Keep walking toward Him. One day, my friend, you’ll be surprised by joy.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness”
Joy comes in the morning.
(My husband Larry posted this and I thought I would share it with you all.)
For many, the holidays are a time of joy and merry-making with family and friends. We all have our own traditions. What are some of yours? Christmas programs and choirs, gifts and cookie swaps and don’t forget the food. We love to consume some seriously good eats. Christmas cookies are my absolute favorite!
And would it be Christmas without watching the classics? My daughters and I traditionally sit and watch White Christmas after the Christmas tree is up and lit. I also love Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf is even starting to grow on me! I discovered a new one this year: Max Lucado’s, The Christmas Candle! It’s really good! And of course I’ve watched my fair share of Hallmark movies! I love happy endings.
But Christmas is not just about the happy ending, and gifts under the trees and lights and baubles. It’s about so much more. There are no happy endings for so many and most everyone is dealing with problems that we just put aside for the Holiday season and then they are right back staring us in the face on January 2nd! Also, not everyone’s traditions and family time are joyful, either. It may be the first holiday season after the loss of a loved one. There may have been job layoffs, loss of income, divorce, or it may be one where children are with the other parent; or maybe the family gets together but it’s guerrilla warfare.
What if Christmas isn’t very merry? What if you don’t feel very hopeful?
I would like to draw us back to WHY we celebrate Christmas: A Prince of Peace has come!
Hear the word of the Lord in Isaiah 9:6-7,
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
A child was born who brings peace. God offers terms of peace that He meets in the arrival of His Son. Isaiah, as we read, calls Jesus the “Prince of Peace” (9:6). I love the KJV: “On earth peace, good will toward men.” There’s expectancy. We know that peace comes through knowing Jesus Christ, by looking to Jesus, learning and following His way, meditating on His word, trusting in His promises. God is at work – always. Trust Him implicitly. Hang on to Him at all times, giving thanks, for He cares for us!
Philippians 4:9 says: Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
The beauty of God’s peace is that it’s not just an individual thing. This peace also forms a community of people who have received peace and who can share that peace with others: Peace for the lonely, the hurting, the despondent. There’s the Peace that passes understanding, not peace like the world gives, but the peace of God, knowing that there is more than what we see, that this is not all there is, that God is at work in all our lives!
I love this by Charles Spurgeon: ” “It is a strong consolation that can deal with outward trials when a man has poverty staring him in the face, and hears his little children crying for bread; when bankruptcy is likely to come upon him through unavoidable losses; when the poor man has just lost his wife, and his dear children have been put into the same grave; when one after another all earthly props and comforts have given way, it needs a strong consolation then; not in your pictured trials, but your real trials, not in your imaginary whimsied afflictions, but in the real afflictions, and the blustering storms of life. To rejoice then, and say, ‘Though these things be not with me as I would have them, yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure;’ this is strong consolation.” (Spurgeon, Sermons: vol. 36). Seek the Lord and Savior who is with us in the real things that happen in our lives.
Take time in life to discover this Peace and then let us be keepers and spreaders of peace this season and always. Pray and trust that His peace will be with you and that others might see and receive this during this Christmas season and know that there is Hope in the New Year. And this Hope is Jesus. Come alongside those who are hurting, those who need Hope. Spread peace. As Luke says, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
A.W. Tozer says, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What comes into your mind when you think about God? I think it has great impact on how we look at prayer.
“Pray without ceasing… My house is a house of prayer: Not sing without ceasing or study without ceasing.” I heard these phrases in a Max Lucado devotional earlier this year and they have stuck with me.
How much does anyone really know about prayer? Apparently a lot of people are trying to figure it out. Just do a search on the subject.
o Over 10,000 books on Prayer on Amazon, alone.
o Mentioned in the Bible 245 times.
o Herbert Lockyear’s book, “All the prayers of the Bible,” lists 650 prayers and approximately 400-recorded answers.
o Jesus prayed 25 different times.
o Paul mentions prayer 41 times.
Obviously prayer, like so many other topics in the Bible, is very important. I am reminded of a scene in Kung Fu Panda (a movie my 2 year-old granddaughter has watched numerous times) where Master Shifu tells Poe, the Panda, after he was humiliated when he tried to teach a class and failed miserably at it, that “incredible power awaits you .” He then tells Poe, “If you only do what you can – you will never be more than you are“ Poe says, “I don’t want to be more. I like who I am!“ Shifu answers, “You don’t even know who you are.” Poe says, “Of course I do! I’m the Dragon Warrior!”
Don’t we also say we know who we are? “We are children of God.” But do we really know who we are in Christ? We won’t know until we strive to know Who He is and how we are transformed more and more into His image as the children of God.
Incredible power awaits us and I would say to us all that that power — is the power of prayer- when we connect to the Omnipotent source. There is an old song, “Little is much when God is in it“, and the truth is that it doesn’t matter who we are, it doesn’t matter how small we feel, it’s because of the God we serve that we can pray and know that incredible things can happen. Pray.
Phil. 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Where your treasure is, your heart will also be.
Halloween is so much fun. I know there can be a lot of mixed feelings on the holiday and its’ origins but that aside, for me it’s a time of fall festivals, imagining up fabulous costumes where we can dress up like anything we dream to be… and sugar- lots and lots of sugar. I also love this season- when the cool crisp fall air finally settles in and, on our little corner of the Earth, the leaves start this magical transformation, dancing in the wind in a fury of colors, decorating our land like confetti, celebrating the last months of another year.
As I looked through a month of pictures last night before bed, the one that stuck with me the most wasn’t one of my daughter in her beautiful pirate princess costume. It’s also not the adorable one from the pumpkin patch that took 15 snaps to get or the one of a classroom full of darling toddlers at their fall brunch party. It’s this one. My pirate princess’ was done trick-or-treating after about 6 houses, and this was all she had to show of her plunder. Yet she victoriously carried that buccaneer bag back to the house and would periodically take each piece of candy out to count and then put it back. She sat on her knees like this marveling at her candy last night before bed. This was HER treasure. I thought about this for a while after she fell asleep; when she wanted to head back to the house so soon my adult brain thought, I don’t know, maybe we need to get a bit more… she might be disappointed when she realizes how little candy she got. Truthfully, it’s not just about how few pieces of candy she got, it’s about how much more she could have had.
For this new season of Thanksgiving, I want to let the Lord take me back to this child-like place of gratefulness. I want for my heart to be in Him but when my treasure is something that’s always just one grasp away, it’s hard to focus on the truly important things in this life; the things that I have been blessed with; the people that I cherish; the time that I have. Those things are my rewards here on Earth and it’s my prayer right now that the Lord give me eyes to recognize those things and a heart to praise Him for it too. May I find myself many times this month in a prayer of Thanksgiving over my bountiful Earthly treasures. It’s not an easy or natural thing for me to do, but I know where I want my heart to be.
In the end, I find that when I stop thinking about the things that I don’t have and am purposeful about saying thanks for all that I do have, my heart is glad. And I want to live with a glad heart.
Happy November everybody.
Written by my daughter, Tiffany Noel
Scripture Ref: Matthew 6:21
Most mornings I try to start out with a cup of coffee in the sunroom and think for at least a few moments and welcome the new day the Lord has given me before I hit the floor running. The house is empty, I am sitting here trying to not focus on all the little things I want to get done before I run out the door, and I am wondering about saying “good morning” to the Lord, God Almighty. I am sitting with my legs crossed, drinking a coffee and wondering … is this an okay way to talk to the Lord or should I fall on my face and lay prostrate before His Majesty? Am I the only one who worries about these kinds of things? In truth I do both-sometimes fall on my knees before the Lord and sometimes just have a cup of coffee with Jesus.
I think about the Lord God Almighty who sent His Son to earth and who now rules and reigns, but Who at one time walked among us, as one of us. I think Jesus loved hanging out with people. I believe Jesus would sit and have a cup of coffee or share a meal with any one of us. I am reminded of Aragorn in Tolkien’s ‘Lord Of The Rings’, who was known as Strider to the Hobbits and then to those who took the journey to destroy the ring of power. They did not realize the extent of who he was but finally saw when he was crowned king. Yet he was forever their friend. And he functioned as both king and friend.
I never want to forget Who He, Jesus, is: King of Kings and Lord of Lords, One Who was and is and is to come! We are told: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev 21:3) I believe the Lord loves when we meet with Him, whether it’s on our knees or sitting with a cup of coffee. I also believe that when He comes into His Kingdom, we will worship Him but also have ‘fellowship’ with Him, sharing, talking, eating, and laughter. Hallelujah!
My husband and I did a series on Joseph, a character in the Bible that we really like. One thing that has struck me regarding his time in Potiphar’s house as a slave/servant and in the King’s prison as a prisoner, was his commitment to serve to the best of his ability no matter what his circumstances were.
Genesis 39:6 tells us that Potiphar left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. And during that time, the Lord blessed everything Joseph did.
Most of us are familiar with that part of the story where Potiphar’s wife wanted to sleep with Joseph and he refused, she accused him of attacking her and he ended up in the King’s prison. But even there the Lord was with him and God showed kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden who didn’t worry about any of the prisoners or anything under Joseph’s care.
It wouldn’t have been just because the Lord blessed Joseph. Just because I see a person blessed, I wouldn’t trust him with everything I own or do or to take care of my household. I think it was because Joseph did such a good job at whatever he was told to do. I believe he went above and beyond and it didn’t matter to him what his circumstances were (none of these were the best of circumstances). He looked to the Lord and then did the best of his ability- no matter where he was placed.
I want to be that kind of servant. None of us know where life will take us and a lot of us are in places where we never thought we would be and I think we can all learn a lot from Joseph: that no matter what our circumstances are, that if we look to the Lord and do the best we can where we are – we can trust God with the outcome of our lives.
Remember it’s the journey that’s important.
“Our Lord made the way for every Son of Man to come into communion with God. The Saints do not end in crucifixion; by the Lord‘s grace, they end in glory.”*
Our God is an extravagant God. We see that when we look at His Creation. We can see the beauty in the grass and the flowers and the trees as they are beginning to bloom in Spring. God has made so many things in abundance that, if we think about it really, aren’t of practical necessity but are magnificent. Did He have to make more than 60,000 tree species to partake in the oxygen cycle? Do we really need more than 400,000 flower types? And snow! I love snow and how it covers the world and all seems silent as it falls. Extravagant!
Have you stopped to look at a sunset or a sunrise lately? How many days do you wake up and go to bed but never stop to notice them? Yet they go on the same, the sun rises and sets every day. And the moon and the stars -so beautiful at night… Magnificent extravagance! Lift up your heads, see the heavens and see the glory of Creation and remember that same God poured His extravagance on us not just in creation but in the magnificent act of sacrificial grace sending His son Jesus, who gave His life for us so that we may enjoy the Lord’s extravagant love and grace for all eternity.
What an extraordinary God! Grace is the overflowing extravagance of God toward and for us personally. During our celebration of Easter, let’s take time to reflect on the extravagance of our Lord. See and remember Him in the sunrises and sunsets. See His abounding love in nature and His glory in all creation. Remember the extravagant love He has shown us by making a way for us to be in fellowship with Him forever, because of Christ’s death and resurrection that we celebrate during this time of year. Take a few moments, be still and as the Psalmist says, “know that He is God”** and He is risen! Hallelujah
(*Quote by Oswald Chambers, **Psalm 46:10)
We have now entered the Advent Season, which is deemed the beginning of the Church year. It is a time of preparing for the coming of the Lord Jesus – celebrating His birth, His coming in the past and anticipating His coming once again.
Every year it is a struggle to keep focused on the reason we celebrate Christmas. The decorating, gift shopping and gift-giving, Christmas programs, Christmas parades and activities, Church Christmas get-togethers, family visits, eating and eating some more, just to name a few things. Taking time to prepare our hearts sometimes ends up at the bottom of the pile.
Yet this is where our Hope is: in Jesus, His coming to Earth, becoming like us, and making a way for us to be with Him eternally. He came, He is with us now in Spirit every moment of everyday and He is coming again. I believe that. I hold on to His promises – even more so during this season – not just for myself but for those I know, and don’t know, who are deeply hurting. In our small group of friends and fellow believers it has been a season of shocking diagnoses, loss of loved ones, struggling family, friends and loved ones. That’s not something anyone is going to get over in ‘sitcom’ time.
Grieving is a process that we all handle differently and it takes time and we will never know all the whys until we get to the other side. But I believe that my Redeemer is Faithful and True, that He is with us every step of the way, whether I ‘feel’ it or not, and I am thankful that He came, that He walks with us through the valley, and that He is coming again.
Let’s take time to focus on that this Christmas season. Spend some time in the presence of the One who walks beside us through the good and the bad.
There are many scriptures in the Bible that remind us that the Lord is faithful and true (Rev. 22), and the His word is Faithful and true (Rev. 21). And here is a good song, from someone who has had to walk through some very dark times after the death of his young daughter, Steven C. Chapman. My Redeemer is Faithful and True.