It is already Palm Sunday! The Sunday which launches us into my favorite time of year!
With my favorite Topics of Teaching and Preaching!
So this week... And Wednesday... And Sonrise... And Easter Sunday...We will explore some of the most Awesome and Challenging Stories... Of the New Testament!
How many of you have ever doubted God's Existence...Or worse yet... Even His Character and Love...Because of a terrible event in your life? Because things just didn't seem to be working out...Like you thought God would work?...Or because you feel that you deserved BETTER from God...And you are just honestly... Angry?
You feel that God Has Gotten Mad at you…For your unbelief or bad thoughts...And Satan isolates you... Makes you feel rejected & despairing! Leaving you in self-doubt... Far from God for a time... Or for good! Freezing you in your spiritual walk with Christ! If you've ever been there... Hold on tight... And open your heart!
Exactly one week before Our King was Crucified...Jesus made a Grand Entrance into Jerusalem! Openly Revealing Himself as never before! Here... Finally... Jesus Pulled all the plugs...And Made His Entrance Purposefully Showing Himself as King!
John 12:12-19 (NKJV)
12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!" 14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: 15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt." 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. 17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"
Just as John says... In this Moment... Jesus fulfilled the Prophecy from Zechariah about the Messiah:
Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV)
9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.
Without going into the details…We have studied a number of times... Jesus Appeared at the EXACT DATE in history...Which Daniel prophesied 500yrs before this day (Dan 9:25-26)
The Jewish Historian, Josephus, wrote of one census in these days...Which counts the number of lambs killed at Passover to be 256,500! Historians believe the # of people in Jerusalem at this time...To have been between 200,000 and 1 million!
Because this was one of Three Holy Festivals...Requiring pilgrimage back to the Temple for worship! Many had just heard of the incredible Resurrection of Lazarus...Making the number of people wanting to see Jesus...Grow to an all-time high! So... There were thousands upon thousand of people present…For this Grand Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem... At the beginning of Passover! At this most Glorious Moment Jesus has Experienced…Among the people... Since His Ministry began...Rather than Showing Excitement or Joy...Jesus was completely Broken and Sad!
HE ALONE KNEW...The VAST MAJORITY of the people were not there in Love!...But because they were looking for freedom…From the oppression of the Romans! Jesus ALONE Knew... This same crowd would be blood-thirsty in just one week! Jesus ALONE Knew...These people would suffer a terrible massacre...Just years from that day... Because of their rejection of Him!
Jesus' Own disciples believed freedom was His Reason…For Being in Jerusalem at this time!! WHY? Because so many Prophesies tell of the "Conquering Messiah!" Who was Coming from the Lineage...Of their Greatest Warrior King... David! Even the Other Sections of Prophecy in Zechariah. Concerning His Arrival in Jerusalem... (9:9) Tell of the Messiah Overcoming the nations...And Reigning from sea to sea!
This Very Prophecy also shows a very distinct SIGN...About Jesus' Coming on that Day!
It says he Comes "Humbly, Mounted on a colt!" This was a clear symbol in ancient times...
Of a King Coming into a town in Peace... Not War! 500yrs this Day... Zechariah also wrote these Words...In the same Passage:
Zechariah 9:11 (ESV)
As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
But... With the MANY, MANY Scriptures which Write about...The Suffering, Sacrificial Messiah to Come...How could they all have missed this? Especially His Very Own disciples?!!
Let me ask you this: How do WE TODAY... Miss EVERY Scripture calling us to lay down our lives... To suffer for Jesus...To live sacrificially for Him above all... And see ONLY Scriptures about..."Blessings, Wealth, Prosperity, and Protection?"
How on earth do we read Scriptures telling us…It is actually righteous and loving…
To have unwed sex, homosexual relationships, & abortion?
Because it is in our SELFISH NATURE...To SEE what WE want to see in our hearts!
Let's pause now...And look truthfully and deeply at the disciples...During this final week of Jesus' Life! Jesus had been more Open and Bold with them...Than anyone else... About what was to Come...In His Death and Resurrection!...But whether they just couldn't grasp what He was Saying...Or whether they "spiritualized it away" as symbolism or parable...It is apparent... The disciples were following the One...They thought was the Conquering, Military Messiah...The One Whom they thought would liberate Jerusalem...And bring the Kingdom to earth NOW!
The One which all of Israel had awaited...For hundreds of years of oppression!...And down to their last night together in the upper room...They believed this!!...Asking if they had enough swords for what was to come! Peter reprimanding Jesus over His Talk of Death...And taking up arms against the guards coming for Jesus! Judas actually turning on Him...When it seemed He was not what He expected!
Now, let's consider... These disciples were just like us...With lives, families, aspirations, fears, beliefs! Each of these disciples saw things so Amazing... So Awesome...In the Character, and Life, and Miracles of Jesus...That they were completely and utterly changed!...And they actually realized that THEY...Were the ones seeing prophecies…
From hundreds of years before!
These men and women...
Left the jobs with which they supported their families!!
They literally left their families, even physically, for a time!
They gave up future plans for success or relationships...
They decided to live in poverty and uncertainty!
They gave up their positions in their religious community...
Which was EVERYTHING to their social life at the time!
They came under great harassment, condemnation, and hatred from many people...
They gave up their entire lives... Their futures...Their fortunes...
To follow Someone Whom they thought...Would make things Better... All-New...
And they thought that all of this...Would happen...With THEM... At the foundational level!
Even if they had to fight physically and politically...They would be victors!!
THEN... IT HAPPENED! They saw their Miracle-Working, Unstoppable Messiah...
Shaking... Sweating-Blood... Asking for THEIR prayers and support!
They saw Him being taken away by the very Romans...Which they thought HE WOULD DESTROY! They saw the One whom they thought was God's Son Himself...Being mocked mercilessly... As He Seemed Defenseless! Being tied up naked in front of thousands!...And being brutally beaten to Death... Helplessly!!
They watched Him DIE... From afar...At the hands of those, they thought, HE CAME TO CONQUER! They saw the Grave... Where His Dead Body was laid...And watched it be sealed with Roman Authority!
NOW… CONSIDER THIS: At that moment... They lost Someone…They had come to love more dearly than life! But they also… Saw everything they had given up...Their fortunes, their families, their careers, their reputations...Their very lives to follow Him...Now... Seemingly to have been... For NOTHING!...The very people who KILLED JESUS...
Would now want to KILL THEM as well!
Everything they had built their lives around had just crumbled...Leaving NOTHING!
They were emotionally, spiritually, & materially empty and lost!...AND NOTHING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD...MADE ANY SENSE AT THIS POINT! The world considered them naive idiots...And they were starting to believe it as well!
THEN... CAME SUNDAY MORNING! Jesus... Their Precious Jesus...Totally blew their minds!
In an INSTANT... Gave them complete Hope and Joy AGAIN! Even GREATER JOY than before! Because NOW… They saw His Truth... His Plan... His All-Consuming, Sacrificial Love...Which was Greater than anything they had perceived!! GOD... HIMSELF... DYING THAT HORRIBLY DEATH... A SALVATION GREATER THAN ANYTHING THEY IMAGINED!!
GET THIS NOW...SINCE JESUS HAD NOT COME TO CONQUER ROME...OR TAKE THE WORLD BY MILITARY STORM...NOTHING… HAD CHANGED IN THEIR FUTURE LIVES...
FROM MOMENTS AGO...When all was lost and terrible!They STILL faced persecution, ridicule, poverty, rejection... Even DEATH! BUT NOW…THEY FACED IT WITH
ENTHUSIASM & COURAGE! WILLINGLY... AND WITH JOY!
WHY? WHAT HAD CHANGED?
They saw the Depths to which GOD Would Go for THEM! They NOW KNEW... UNMISTAKABLY... It was ALL TRUE...And God had Called them to Join Him...In a Mission Bigger than anything they imagined! They knew that whatever the COST... God Was in Control... God Would Direct them... And even if it meant their suffering or death... It was the absolute LEAST they could do... AFTER ALL THEY HAD JUST SEEN THEIR JESUS...
GO THROUGH...FOR THEM! THEY NOW LOVED, BELIEVED AND FEARED GOD...
MORE THAN ANYTHING MAN COULD DO TO THEM!
THEIR MINDS WERE FIXED... THEIR DESTINIES ASSURED...SOULS ALIVE WITH HIS SPIRIT...AND THEIR HEARTS FILLED WITH LOVE...FOR THOSE WHO STOOD AGAINST THEM!
Today... Right NOW... More than ever in our lifetimes...This country is trying to KILL OUR JESUS!! Everything He Stands For... Teaches... Loves...As Our Creator God!...And they are hating US... Just as the disciples were hated!
Unfortunately... Many, many Christians today...Are just as completely clueless... As to their REAL CALLING...As the disciples were before Jesus' Death and Resurrection!
WE... Somehow... Are just as convinced...Jesus Came to earth... To Make our lives easier...
To Cause us to live Blessed Lives over the world... As the Conquering Children of the King!
IT IS WAY PASSED TIME...THAT WE EMBRACE WHAT THE DISCIPLES EMBRACED!
And accept the Truth of our CALLING! Which is to GIVE UP OUR LIVES FOR HIM...
AT ANY COST! (Family, money, position, liberties!) TRUST AND FEAR GOD... MORE THAN MAN!...AND LIVE FOR HIM UNASHAMEDLY... OPENLY...NO MATTER WHERE IT LEADS US TODAY! Ready to sacrifice friends, jobs, comfort... Whatever it brings!
IT IS TIME TO STOP... COMPROMISING, WORRYING, FEELING GUILTY... OR TRYING TO APPEASE PEOPLE!
IT IS TIME TO STOP CRYING ABOUT WHAT HE HASN'T DONE...AND START DOING FOR HIM WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART!
JUST LIKE THE DISCIPLES... IF WE ARE FAITHFUL...HE WILL STILL USE US TO CHANGE THE WORLD AROUND US!
We have His Love... We have His Promises... We have His Spirit... We have His Power...
Do we have the disciples' Courage and Faith?!
2 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV)
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
2 Timothy 4:3-8 (NLT)
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. 6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
Do you SERIOUSLY, TRULY BELIEVE...JESUS IS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR?! IF SO... HOW CAN ANYTHING BE MORE IMPORTANT...THAN MEETING WITH HIS PEOPLE?
HOW CAN ANYTHING BE MORE IMPORTANT...THAN KNOWING HIS WILL FOR YOUR LIFE? HOW CAN ANYTHING BE MORE IMPORTANT...THAN TELLING PEOPLE THE TRUTH…OF WHAT IS TO SOON COME? HOW CAN ANYTHING BE MORE IMPORTANT...
THAN GETTING PEOPLE TO SEE THEIR SINS...AGAINST THE GOD WHO LOVES THEM SO?
EMBRACE CHRIST TOTALLY...LET YOUR LIFE BE AN OFFERING POURED OUT FOR HIM...OR... GO HOME!!!
HE HAS DONE SO MUCH FOR US... IN TOTAL LOVE...HE ALONE... DESERVES OUR EVERYTHING!
HE IS RISEN... GO TELL THE WORLD!
John 21:17 (NKJV)
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.
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