On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ” ‘ My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ ? But you have made it a den of robbers.’ “
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
When evening came, they went out of the city.
The temple was a place of worship and the court of the Gentiles was the only area where the non-Jews could gather for prayer and to worship. The Jewish authorities had allowed this area to become a market place with all the noise and the smells. Can you imagine trying to worship in these conditions?
The religious leaders were already unhappy with the influence Jesus was gaining over the people with his teaching and his miracles. This confrontation made them angry. He was threatening their way of life.
Jesus does not allow for “business as usual.”
Jesus calls for change.
The world tells you that you must look out for your own interests.
Jesus tells you to put others first.
The world tells you to get all you can.
Jesus tells you to give all you can.
The world tells you to get your enemy before he can get you.
Jesus tells you to love your enemy and do good to them that curse you.
As your journey through this Holy Week consider your faith walk, ask the Lord to show you what needs cleaning up.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethpage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘ Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ “
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our Father David!”.
“Hosanna in the highest!”
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Jesus enters Jerusalem knowing his destiny. He was willing to suffer and die for you and me.
On that first day of the week he heard shouts of praise as they welcomed him to the city.
But he knew those shouts of praise would turn to cries of condemnation before the week was over.
What about you?
Are you praising the Lord today?
Or do you have harsh words for him?
We are in difficult times.
But we can still trust that God is in control and if we trust Him He will bring us through.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. but he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not know the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
I John 1:5-10
We live in perilous times. Everything has changed. There is a world-wide pandemic. Our political system is under attack. Our economy is in turmoil. We are cut off from all normal activity. The only certainty is that God is still God. He is still in control.
This season of Lent has been a season of reflection.
The first Sunday we are faced with the question – am I serving God or the world?
The second Sunday – do others see Jesus in me?
The third Sunday we are reminded This Is My Father’s World. God’s world – God’s way.
This fourth Sunday reminds us that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.
We are called to walk in the light and it takes dedication to follow Jesus.
Oswald Chambers challenges us to be vigilant in our walk of faith.
This is an every moment of every day decision.
The Master Assizes
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. II Corinthians 5:10
Paul says that we must all, preacher and people alike, “appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” If you learn to live in the white light of Christ here and now, judgment finally will cause you to delight in the work of God in you. Keep yourself steadily faced by the judgment seat of Christ; walk now in the light of the holiest you know. A wrong temper of mind about another soul will end in the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment, and the end of it is hell in you. Drag it to the light at once and say – “My God, I have been guilty there.” If you don’t, hardness will come all through. The penalty of sin is confirmation in sin. It is not only God who punishes for sin; sin confirms itself in the sinner and gives back full pay. No struggling nor prying will enable you to stop doing some things, and the penalty of sin is that gradually you get used to it and do not know that it is sin. No power save the incoming of the Holy Ghost can altar the inherent consequences of sin.
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light.” Walking in the light means for many of us walking according to our standard for another person. The deadliest Pharisaism to-day is not hypocrisy, but unconscious unreality.
MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST
Father God, You have promised to show me the way. I can only walk by faith and not by sight. I want to walk in the light. You alone can guide me in this. Even Your church cannot seem to agree on what is sin. Show me, Father God, by Your Holy Spirit, how to walk in the light. Reveal to me my sin. Don’t allow me to make excuses. Don’t allow me to be ignorant of sin. Teach me. Guide me. Lead me. Keep me. My relationship with You is all important – all else depends upon it.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern His errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep Your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas His hands the wonders wrought.
This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!
Maltbie D. Babcock (1901)
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get thee behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
The shadow of the cross was there always.
Jesus knew what lay ahead of him but when he tried to prepare his disciples they didn’t want to hear it. This was a hard teaching. One that did not fit the narrative of a conquering Messiah. And so they resisted. Peter even went so far as to “rebuke” Jesus for saying such things. The definition of the word rebuke is “to criticize sharply; to reprimand. How could Peter dared to address Jesus in that way? Just prior to this confrontation Jesus had asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” Yet when hearing a difficult truth Peter balked. He could not accept that Jesus must suffer a horrible death.
Jesus doesn’t allow Peter to speak in that manner. He reprimands the disciple harshly. Peter is not thinking of God and His purpose but instead is thinking only of himself and his wants and needs.
Jesus reminds him and the others that there is a cost to discipleship. Not only will Jesus carry a cross but each one who decides to follow Jesus must be willing to take up their cross, to surrender self, and serve him whatever the cost.
What does this mean to you?
If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.
So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.
My Utmost For His Highest
What does this mean to you?
The world we live in is fractured by sin. People have wandered far from God. There is anger and resentment on all sides. We have an opportunity to share God’s love with them. Not to preach to them but to love them. We may not agree on anything but we can respond with dignity and respect even when disagreeing. Shouting angry words doesn’t change anyone’s perspective.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body,
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Let us live out our faith.
Let others see Jesus in you.
Father God, we have an amazing opportunity in these times of trouble and turmoil.
When so many are filled with anger and resentment,
where hurtful words are spoken, written, or spewed across the internet.
Help us to respond with love and compassion.
Let us answer angry words with truth spoken in love.
Let us reach out to hurting people with compassion.
Let us stand firm on Your Word and offer them Christ.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven:
“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent Him out into the desert, and He was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” He said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Repent and believe the GOOD NEWS!
This is the good news:
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
That whosoever believes in Him may have eternal life.
Therefore Jesus said again,
“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
This is the good news.
Our relationship with God our Creator was broken by sin.
Jesus Christ is the bridge by which we can have that relationship restored.
What does this mean to you?
Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost For His Highest:
Sin is a thing I am born with and I cannot touch it; God touches sin in Redemption.
In the Cross of Jesus ChristGod redeemed the whole human race
from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin.
God nowhere holds a man responsible for having the heredity of sin.
The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin,
but if when I realize Jesus Christ came to deliver me from it,
I refuse to let Him do so,from that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation.
“And this is the judgment.” (the critical moment),
“that the light is come into the world,
and men loved the darkness rather than the light.”
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness:
according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight:
that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy righteousness.
O Lord, open Thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth Thy praise.
For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
Do good in Thy good pleasure unto Zion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering:
then shalt they offer bullocks upon Thy altar.
David, the shepherd boy that God made king over Israel, was not without sin. In chapter 11 of II Samuel we hear how David sinned against God and how he tried to cover up his sin. This psalm is David’s confession and repentance. God promises that when we confess our sin and repent, He is faithful to forgive us our sin.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent in the Christian calendar. These weeks leading up to Easter Sunday are a time of reflection and meditation. We think of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. We listen to the lessons He taught. We remember the miracles He performed. We ponder His arrest, His trial, His death on the cross, and His empty tomb. What does it mean to me? That is the question we need to answer.
Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians:
We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;
that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
What does it mean to you?
Are you reconciled to God?
Do you understand just what it was God did for you when Jesus went to the cross?
He made Jesus, who was without sin, take on all the sins of the world, my sin, your sin, all sin, and by His death, made atonement for us all. “It is finished.” That is what He said as He was dying on that cross. The debt has been paid. All you need to do is accept God’s gift of salvation.
Jesus warned of what happens when we live for the world and ignore God.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
What does it mean to you?
Where is your treasure?
Where is your heart?
The prophet Joel warned the people of the coming “Day of the LORD.”
The people had turned from God and there was coming a day of judgement.
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
Those who repented and turned back to God would find forgiveness and restoration.
Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.
What does it mean to you?
Are you prepared for the Master’s return?
Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost For His Highest:
The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses— repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.
What does it mean to you?
Will you join with me in this season of Lent, to read God’s Word, to meditate on His Word, to pray for God to make His will known, and to examine where you are on your faith journey?
Will you join me in this prayer?
Lord, as we begin this season of Lent, I pray for the “gift of tears.”
Show me my sin.
Reveal to me the places in my life where I have put other things above You.
I want more of You.
I pray that there will be a revival throughout this land – a turning back to You.
And the same day, when the even was come, He saith unto them. “Let us pass over to the other side.” And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was asleep in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, “Peace, be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was great calm. And He said unto them, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”
Is this how you feel today?
Does it feel as though you are in the boat and the storm is raging all around you? Is your boat taking on water?
Are you fearful or are you trusting?
Do you begin each day thanking God for another day to serve Him?
Or is your morning prayer something like this –
“Lord, Wake Up! Do Something! Fix this mess we are in.
Are you focused only on how your life has been impacted or are you looking for ways to show others that God is here in the midst of all our troubles?
Remember, if you’ve read the BOOK then you know the outcome of this battle. God wins!
YES there is a virus.
YES people are getting sick.
YES there have been deaths.
But there are also those who haven’t caught the virus. There are those who have it but have no symptoms. There are those who were sick but have now recovered.
And YES there is division in our nation.
We can’t seem to agree on anything.
But this isn’t new. If you read history it has always been so. They just didn’t have the instant communication available today. It took longer for news to travel and to organize opposition. But there was division.
Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Patrick Henry, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and many others – all great men who loved this country but in the struggle to form this “more perfect union” there was great discord. There were some who believed that a strong federal government was needed while others feared too much power at the federal level and wanted the states to have more control.
We are still arguing the same things today. The good news is that we have the freedom to have differing opinions and we can back up our opinions with our vote.
As for the political process, it has also not been easy.
When we lived in Missouri we visited the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois during our last election. I remember walking through an exhibit showing Lincoln’s presidential campaign. They had you walk through this hallway where there were election posters – all derogatory – protesting his candidacy. And as you walked there were voices – angry voices – shouting vile names and comments vilifying his character. We think of Abraham Lincoln has a great leader but it was not always so with his countrymen.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
So do not despair.
Yes, things are difficult right now.
But we’ve had difficult days before and we are still here.
Yes, the waves are high and crashing over us at times.
God never promised that it would be easy only that it would be worth it.
I am not worried that this ship will sink – at least not until God decides that it should sink. I believe that God has a plan. I don’t have to know the details of His plan. I choose to trust in His plan.
I don’t understand why we have this virus.
I don’t understand how people that I admire and respect can have such differing opinions from my own. But they do.
But the one things that I do understand is the nothing touches me that doesn’t go through God first.
So He either sent it or He allowed it for His purpose.
Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God to them who are called according to His purpose.
Do you believe that?
ALL THINGS – Even this virus – Even having our schedules disrupted – Even having our church programs dramatically altered or even cancelled – Even this election process ?
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God to them who are called according to His purpose.
Paul goes on to say in this same chapter: For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Did you get that?
NOTHING not a virus not a political system not social unrest
NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE GOD WHO LOVES US
God says, TRUST ME.
Have you trusted in God’s plan of salvation?
Do you believe that you are a sinner?
Do you believe that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sin?
Do you believe that Jesus blood can cover your sin?
Do you believe that because Jesus died for you that you can spend eternity in heaven with Him?
If you can trust God to save you from hell can’t you trust Him with everything else?
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, Peter was the one who resisted. He actually told the Lord, “Thous shalt never wash my feet.” In today’s terms what Peter said was, “You ain’t washing my feet!”
When Jesus told him that it was a requirement, well then Peter wanted a bath! Oh Peter! But Jesus was patient with Peter just as He is patient with each one of us. Jesus told him that although he couldn’t understand what Jesus was doing right now, one day he would understand.
I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t understand what God is doing. But one day I will see it all worked out.
So, we are back to the question we began with.
Are you fearful or are you trusting?
You don’t have to understand.
You just have to trust.
Trust that HE know what He is doing.
Can yo pray with me: Lord, we trust You even when we don’t understand. Lord, we worship You because You are worthy of our praise. Lord, we love You because You first loved us. Lord, we will serve You because we love You.
But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.
Where is my trust this day?
It must remain in You, O God, or I am lost.
I know what You have done in my life.
I know what You can do for any who seek after You.
I pray for all those who do not know You, who are facing each and everyday in their own strength. What a tragedy! I pray that You would surround them with those who do know You. I pray that they would be inundated with messages of Your love so that they cannot ignore the fact that You love them, that You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ to die on a cross for their sin, that they might have eternal life with You. I pray that they would choose life, a life lived for Christ.
I pray for all those who serve You. I pray that they will keep their eyes on You and not give in to the pressures of this day. I pray that they will remain steadfast in their faith and trust that no matter what happens You have them safe in Your hands.
I thank You Lord, for this new day, for another day to serve You.