Behold Thy King Cometh!

Palm Sunday: Behold Thy King Cometh!

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:  behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zachariah 9:9)

Palm Sunday is also referred to as Passion Sunday. This is the Sunday prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jesus entered into Jerusalem knowing that his mission here on earth was coming to an end and that he would die in Jerusalem.  This event marked the public affirmation by Jesus that He IS the messiah, King of Israel promised in Zachariah.  This occurrence is one of the few stories that appear in all four gospels.

Jesus sent two of his disciples into the city to get a donkey that had never been ridden.  He entered Jerusalem on this colt to purposely fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament. “All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,” (Matthew 21:4) Jesus wanted his disciples to understand what he was doing and what it meant.  He was openly declaring himself the promised One of Jehovah.   Jesus wants us all to know, that he did fulfill all of the Law and Prophecy, and to have no doubt that he is the way of Salvation.

Jesus declared through this fulfilling of the prophecy that he is the Way to salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7).  According to all the accounts, Jesus rode into Jerusalem and a great multitude of people met him, laying palm branches and cloaks on the ground in from of him.  They declared him as the Son of David, the King of Israel.  They cried out Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna is a Greek translation that is a derivative of two words combined, this essentially means, “Save Us Now”.  This was a shout of praise for deliverance.  We could say, “Praise you, Son of David for Deliverance!”  What the people, and even his disciples did not understand was that he came to deliver salvation from sin, not to fight the Romans.

He came humbly riding on a donkey.  Not riding on a horse.  In ancient times when a king entered a city on a donkey it meant he was coming in peace, not as a conqueror.  Even though Jesus had told his disciples in advance that he must go to Jerusalem, and that he must die, and that he would rise again, they did not see the significance of this triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  We can look at this and celebrate, and thank Him for such an open declaration.  He boldly declared that He is the messiah, the salvation of man, the redeemer of creation.

He was born of a virgin. He was from Bethlehem. He was called out of Egypt. He did enter Jerusalem on a Donkey.  He did not hide himself from us.  He did suffer and die.  He did arise from the grave.  He will return again.  He will establish His kingdom in Jerusalem.  Hosanna in the Highest!


References:


 

Zechariah 9:9

Matthew 21:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

Luke 19:28-44

John 14:6-7

John 12:12-19

http://www.gotquestions.org/triumphal-entry.html

http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/293/translation-of-hosanna-%E1%BD%A1%CF%83%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%BD%CE%AC

 

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The Tea Bag

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Have you ever observed a  tea bag in hot water?  The tea bag contains the essence of the tea.  Tea leaves ground down and put into a porous  bag, when submerged into the water, slowly begins to drift into the water.  Streams of dark and light brown drift into the vessel, mixing into the water.  The water cannot resist the tea as it slowly does its job.  You do not need to stir, or shake the water for the tea to overcome the water.  The longer the teabag remains in the water, the darker it becomes, then the substance in the cup is no longer water, but tea.  Everyone who walks by and sees your cup knows you are about to enjoy a hot cup of tea.

So it is as you surrender to Christ.  The Spirit of God enters you and goes to work.  Now if you were to remove the tea bag as soon as you had placed it into the water, then you would not have tea.  Jesus warned us that we should remain in him.  “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV).  The only way for the tea bag to turn the water into tea is for the teabag to remain in the water.

Through this constant interaction the molecules transform the water into tea. Romans 12:2 says not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  So how do we renew our minds?  What does it mean?  How are we Transformed?  How do we remain in Him?

We can remain in him through prayer, study, and fellowship.  If you look at the life of Jesus, he was in constant prayer throughout his ministry.  He made is a point to pray, it was his priority, even over sleep and eating.  Prayer is spending time with God, being in his presence.  They Lord says that if we draw near to him, he will draw near to you. (James 4:8).  Have you ever had someone that you wanted to spend time with and had made plans to do something with them?  You spent time making arrangements, reworking schedules, and anxiously waited for the time that you could see them, just spend a little time catching up and seeing how they were doing?  Then on the appointed day, they called off, or even worse, just didn’t show up… and maybe didn’t even bother to speak to you about it.  Imagine what your heavenly Father feels like, he rearranged, creation, made sacrifices, and waited for you, and you didn’t even spend time to talk to him today.

If you love someone, you want to spend time with them.  You can’t wait to hear their voice.  Talking with someone is a way to let them get to know you, and for you to get to know them.  It makes you both feel special and needed.  If I never spoke to my wife and learned what her likes and dislikes are, how long do you think I would be married?  By watching her I can learn allot about her.

God has given us all kinds of information about himself in his word.  In fact he even told us that the bible is so much him that it is synonymous with his being.  John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  In reading the scriptures we gain insight into the very character of God.  I can tell allot about a man, by the way shakes my hand, and the way he talks to his wife and children.  I can see the way he sees himself by his posture.  We can tell allot about God by the way he treats his bride.  The Apostle Paul told Timothy to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the work of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).  Not don’t get confused, Paul was not saying that the work is what saves a man.  God forbid, Salvation is through GRACE.  What Paul was saying is that we should know the scriptures, we should know our faith.  We should know who we believe in.  We should know Jesus. Being with likeminded people can help us to develop and maintain this fellowship with Jesus.

I know you have heard that “Birds of feather flock together”.  This is true.  2 Corinthians 6:14 warns us, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers, for what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Of what fellowship can light have with darkness.”  Have you not heard where it is written, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)?

Being with fellow believers strengthens your walk.  In Alcoholics Anonymous, you meet as a group, of likeminded people, who suffer from addiction and support one another to overcome this disease.  You get a sponsor, you to meetings, you work the 12 steps, and you share your testimony.  And for those who do these things, it works.  Does this sound familiar?

If you’re a Christian, you seek out like-minded people seeking to grow closer to God.  You get a mentor, you go to church, bible study, fellowship diners, and you share your testimony.  For those who do these things, IT WORKS. If an addict falls of the wagon, then it is almost impossible for them to get clean again, and they will more than likely die from their disease.  But the signs of this progression are not hidden.  They stop going to meetings, they stop working the steps, they lose contact with their sponsor, they revisit old hangouts and hangout with old friends who still use.

Remember the tea bag.  The more you stay in the vine, the more fruit you will have.  The healthier your relationship with God will be.  The more you will know who God is.  The more you can share with others who God is.  The darker your tea will be.

Observance of Holy Week

Bible-Bread-of-Life-Coloring-PagesMarch has come upon us.  That means that the Holy Week is arriving for observance.  I realize that not everyone knows the observances of the Holy Week or why it is important to us.  We all come from different backgrounds and understandings about our faith and the events that occurred the final week of Jesus’s life here, prior to resurrection.  I have the hope of sharing some information with you that may bring us all into a common belief and understanding or our culture as Christians and fellow servants.

For some this information is new, and for others it is a reminder to times past when you first believed.  Why is this important? I have spoken to several people, both those who call themselves Christians and those who do not, that have had questions about these observances. As a follower of the “Way”, you should be informed of what they “Way” is and why it is that way.  So when asked you can give account of what you believe, and why you believe it.

It is important to understand that different Christian denominations observe Holy Week in different ways. So I am only seeking to give you enough information to spur your own investigations and equip you with enough information that if asked you can at least answer with what all Christians should know about this time of the year. My desire is that it will strengthen and unite us in one common hope and love in Jesus Christ.

Holy Week is the final week of Lent.  Lent is a 40 day period that involves abstinence and fasting in order to prepare oneself for the observance of Easter.  Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday.  This period culminates in the Easter Celebration.  The days of Holy Week include Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. We will cover these days in more depth another time, however for an introduction, I will give a brief explanation of these days.

Palm Sunday is a day of recognition that Jesus fulfilled prophecy and openly shown He is the messiah when He entered Jerusalem for the last time prior to his arrest in the garden.  Holy Thursday is a day set aside to honor the Last Supper of Jesus, and his disciples, prior to his execution.  Good Friday is the remembrance of the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Holy Saturday is the actual last day of Lent and is to recognize that Jesus was dead, and actually was laid in the tomb.  Easter is after the conclusion of the Holy Week and commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

The observance of Holy Week as a whole is important to put in perspective the celebration of Easter.  Holy Week is meant as a somber remembrance. This reminds us of the “passion” that Jesus had and the level of commitment he had in going to the cross.  Remember Jesus had foretold his disciples that he would lay down his life on more than one occasion.  He pointed out in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 

Observance lets us gain insight into the suffering, humiliation, and the sacrifice that our savior endured.  In this way, we are less likely to take the sacrifice for granted, or to forget what a conscious decision Jesus made in letting himself be captured, enduring the pain and humiliation, and staying on the cross until it was finished.  Before there could be a resurrection of Life, there had to be Death and separation.

This also serves as a reminder for us that throughout history, Christians have been persecuted to the point of torture and horrible deaths, in order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus.  This is a somber reminder of the sacrifice we are called to endure in patience and love. Without these sacrifices, beginning with Jesus, we would not know of the grace of God.  This gives us a responsibility to commit our lives to the message of the Truth.  Being rejected, teased, humiliated, or even tortured for the cause of Jesus is an honor for which we do not deserve.

It is written, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”   Jesus strengthened this when he spoke in Matthew 10:22 stating, “ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.”  Then again in the Gospel of John, Jesus reminded us, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

The observance of Holy Week is observed by all Christian denominations all over the world. We all take this time to reflect on the sovereignty of God, the love of Jesus and an understanding of the sacrifices that have been made.  This is a time of fellowship, encouragement, and the breaking of bread.  Most of all this is a time of celebration of life.

I know this is probably a bit of a heavy introduction.  We will cover, in more detail, the days of the Holy Week.  So please be of good cheer.  Because Easter morning did come.  He did rise from the grave.  He did conquer death.  He is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He is set to return to claim his bride.  YOU ARE HIS BRIDE!  HE IS NOT DELAYING!

I hope this has peaked your interest in the next few posts to come.  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

You Can’t Live in Fear

When I was young I use to read a comic book called Ghost Rider.  This was about a lost soul who could look in the eyes of an evil person and reflect all the pain and fear they had caused other people back at them and the result would drive them insane.  Now that has nothing to do with what I’m saying other than his favorite saying was, “You can’t live in fear”.  I was reminded of it when I read my verse for the day.

The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1.

When the Lord brought the Hebrews out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.  They sent out scouts to survey the land, and gain intelligence on the resources and the inhabitants.  They sent 12 scouts in all to investigate the land the Lord had promised.

When the scouts returned, ten of the scouts spread stories of how strong the current inhabitants were, stories of giants and great cities and powers. Effectively scaring the whole of the Hebrew race.  They whipped up a strong frenzy in the Hebrews who now wished they had never left Egypt or that they had died in the wilderness, rather than face the enemies below.

Two of the scouts however, brought back reports of how plenteous the land was, ripe fields ready for the harvest.  Cities that were waiting to be conquered, and militaries in ill repair that were weakened by to many years in splendor.  The two scouts were Caleb and Joshua.

Caleb and Joshua remembered what the Lord had done for the Hebrew, how he had called them out of Egypt, parted the sea and crushed the Pharaoh and his immense army of chariots.  How the Lord had always been before them.  Providing food, shelter, and water along their journey.  How the Lord had prepared their path and protected their way.

Many times we as followers look out at the world, work, and our neighborhood and all we see are the fortifications, the walls of stone that are build up.  The weapons poised for defense, and the fires burning behind iron gates.  We become fearful, and sheepish, choosing to avoid the confrontation, and keeping silent.  Not doing what the Lord has commanded us all.  Praying the Lord would send others to do what he has already sent us to do.

We forget that the Lord has delivered us from bondage and protected us from our enemies.  Forgetting that the Lord has provided us food and nourishment, shelter and a stronghold.  He has given us strength and a comforter who resides within us.  We forget to look at His provisions.  The armor he has given us, we choose not to take up the shield and the sword for fear of rejection from those who reject Him.

How sad it is, that if we, just looked with remembrance in what the Lord has done for us we could see so much more.  We would see the fields ripe for harvest, and the rust on the enemy’s weapons.  We would see the foundation of the enemy build on shifting sands and unable to withstand the pressures of their buildings.  We would see a tabernacle already prepared for the Lord to indwell.

We are all called to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember it is written, “ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8   If you have ever wondered what it is that God wants you to do…. “Here’s Your Sign!”, as Bill Engvall would say. Let us all remember that we will all be called to give a testimony for what Christ has done for us.

Letter from Pliny the Younger

roman

I found something today in my studies of Jesus and how he affected changes in the world as no other person has done before or since.  I found a translation of a letter from Pliny the Younger to the Roman Emperor Trahan. Pliny was the Roman Governor of the province of Bithynia, what is modern day Turkey. It struck me as marvelous.

I found that this letter was the first official record of the Romans making a distinction of Christianity from Judaism.  In addition, the distinction that was used to see the difference in how 1st Century Christians behaved and the way they were viewed, and why Romans first started executing Christians.  If was not because they were causing riots or causing problems with the civil or federal governments.  They just simply would not deny Jesus.  This governor was not even sure if he was within his power to execute them for just being Christians, but did so anyway.  Below is his description of a Christian…

“-That they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again; after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal.”

The 1st Christians met early before light, sang praises to Jesus and live a life that was committed to doing no one harm.  No lies, no thievery, no adultery, no breaking of promises, and no denying of Jesus.  Very simple terms to live life on.  Yet how many Christians today can say they live by these simple guides for life?

Can you say that you wish no one harm?  Do you gossip and spread lies?  Do you put your nose where it doesn’t belong, just so you can talk bad of others?  Do you steal from work? Are you honest with your taxes?  I don’t think I need to go any further.

Early Christians were killed for living this simple way of life in order to show others Christ.  Purpose your heart to do no one harm, to speak no evil, to commit no thievery or pilfering, to control your lusts and commit no adultery.  Keep your word and keep that which has been trusted to you.

Keep these in mind:

  • If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink – Proverbs 25:21
  • Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, – Luke 6:27
  • Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you – Matthew 5:44
  • Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. -1 Peter 3:9

There are many more we could include.  I hope this inspires your own study.

I am including the direct translation as provided by pbs.org the Frontline.

PLINY’S EPISTLE TO TRAJAN ABOUT 112 CE

Sir,

It is my constant method to apply myself to you for the resolution of all my doubts; for who can better govern my dilatory way of proceeding or instruct my ignorance? I have never been present at the examination of the Christians [by others], on which account I am unacquainted with what uses to be inquired into, and what, and how far they used to be punished; nor are my doubts small, whether there be not a distinction to be made between the ages [of the accused]? and whether tender youth ought to have the same punishment with strong men? Whether there be not room for pardon upon repentance?” or whether it may not be an advantage to one that had been a Christian, that he has forsaken Christianity? Whether the bare name, without any crimes besides, or the crimes adhering to that name, be to be punished? In the meantime, I have taken this course about those who have been brought before me as Christians. I asked them whether they were Christians or not? If they confessed that they were Christians, I asked them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions. If they persevered in their confession, I ordered them to be executed; for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished. There have been some of this mad sect whom I took notice of in particular as Roman citizens, that they might be sent to that city. After some time, as is usual in such examinations, the crime spread itself and many more cases came before me. A libel was sent to me, though without an author, containing many names [of persons accused]. These denied that they were Christians now, or ever had been. They called upon the gods, and supplicated to your image, which I caused to be brought to me for that purpose, with frankincense and wine; they also cursed Christ; none of which things, it is said, can any of those that are ready Christians be compelled to do; so I thought fit to let them go. Others of them that were named in the libel, said they were Christians, but presently denied it again; that indeed they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so, some three years, some many more; and one there was that said he had not been so these twenty years. All these worshipped your image, and the images of our gods; these also cursed Christ. However, they assured me that the main of their fault, or of their mistake was this:-That they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again; after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal, which they had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and wherein I had forbidden any such conventicles. These examinations made me think it necessary to inquire by torments what the truth was; which I did of two servant maids, who were called Deaconesses: but still I discovered no more than that they were addicted to a bad and to an extravagant superstition. Hereupon I have put off any further examinations, and have recourse to you, for the affair seems to be well worth consultation, especially on account of the number of those that are in danger; for there are many of every age, of every rank, and of both sexes, who are now and hereafter likely to be called to account, and to be in danger; for this superstition is spread like a contagion, not only into cities and towns, but into country villages also, which yet there is reason to hope may be stopped and corrected. To be sure, the temples, which were almost forsaken, begin already to be frequented; and the holy solemnities, which were long intermitted, begin to be revived. The sacrifices begin to sell well everywhere, of which very few purchasers had of late appeared; whereby it is easy to suppose how great a multitude of men may be amended, if place for repentance be admitted.

TRAJAN’S EPISTLE TO PLINY

My Pliny,

You have taken the method which you ought in examining the causes of those that had been accused as Christians, for indeed no certain and general form of judging can be ordained in this case. These people are not to be sought for; but if they be accused and convicted, they are to be punished; but with this caution, that he who denies himself to be a Christian, and makes it plain that he is not so by supplicating to our gods, although he had been so formerly, may be allowed pardon, upon his repentance. As for libels sent without an author, they ought to have no place in any accusation whatsoever, for that would be a thing of very ill example, and not agreeable to my reign.


 

From The Works of Josephus,
translated by William Whiston
Hendrickson Publishers, 1987

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/pliny.html

 

Matthew 6:6

“But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly”

M Caligraphy
M

When I was young and in Jr. High, I use to lock myself in my bedroom closet.  The closet was big enough to put a small desk in.  So I would lock myself in and read and study my bible.  While studying I would often pray and discuss the scriptures with myself and God allowed.  While doing so I would write my studies and prayers into a journal.  I could then reflect back months later and see the things I had prayed for in secret, and see the answers to prayer and I could thank God for the things he had done or the fears he had delivered me from.  In that small little closet with a makeshift desk and the light above I often felt closer to God then in any other place.

I remember when my oldest son was a toddler and he would go into the closet and play with my shoes, because he didn’t know I was home yet, but he missed me.  I slowly enter the bedroom without making a sound, and lay on the bed and watch and listen to him.  He would pretend he was talking to me and act like he was helping me with my boots.  Then inevitably he would notice me and then his eyes would light up and he would smile the biggest smile I have ever seen while raising his hands for me to pick him up.  Out joy for one another was uncontained.

Take time to be alone with God and He will be there, just quietly listening like a father to his child.  Waiting for you to see him and he will pick you up and show you all the joy he has in being your father.