Originally posted on Pastor Mike Says:

palmPalm Sunday is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar after Christmas and Easter. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, and marks the beginning of Holy Week, the week of events leading up to Jesus’ death.

The History of Palm Sunday
The celebration of Palm Sunday originated in the Jerusalem Church, around the late fourth century. The early Palm Sunday ceremony consisted of prayers, hymns, and sermons recited by the clergy while the people walked to various holy sites throughout the city. At the final site, the place where Christ ascended into heaven, the clergy would read from the gospels concerning the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In the early evening they would return to the city reciting: “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” The children would carry palm and olive branches as the people returned through the city back…

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Easter is a holiday marked by irony and paradox. During Easter week, we celebrate life attained through death. We worship a mighty king who ruled over no earthly nation. We read about people who saw God-become-man with their own eyes, yet failed to recognize him.

Holy Week

Today is Palm Sunday, and the bitter irony of Easter is nowhere more evident than in this famous scene, described in all four of the Gospels:

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the King of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,

“Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

The cruel irony is that within one week, the crowd that gladly welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem would be calling for his brutal death. Jesus was welcomed through the city gates like a king, but would soon be driven out of the same city, by many of the same people, to his death. The architect of their own salvation was staring them in the face, but when Jesus turned out to be a different sort of saviour than the people wanted (perhaps they hoped he would lead a violent revolution against their Roman oppressors), they turned their backs on him.

Is this just a quaint moral fable from Bible times? Can we, safely looking back with the benefit of thousands of years of hindsight, condemn the crowd for its fickleness? Not so fast. Jill Carattini, writing for the Slice of Infinity devotional, has some sobering words to consider this Palm Sunday:

It is this drama that is still religiously enacted. What I long to imagine was a fickle crowd—an illustration of the power of mobthink, or a sign of a hard-hearted people—only reminds me of my own vacillations with the Son of God. How easily our declarations that he is Lord become denials of his existence. How readily hands waving in praise and celebration become fists raised at the heavens in pain or hardship. Like a palm laid down and forgotten, the honor we bestow on Sunday can easily be abandoned by Wednesday.

It’s not enough to condemn those who welcomed, and then rejected, Jesus during Palm Sunday and the subsequent Easter week events. We must ask ourselves—this week, and next week, and everyweek—whether our own lives are marked by that same ficklness, that same waffling between devotion and rejection. And we must never cease giving thanks that Jesus’ love for each of us proves stronger than our faithlessness.

Originally posted on Pastor Mike Says:

Our church was saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valued members, Someone Else.
Someone’s passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years and for every one of those years, Someone did
far more than a normal person‘s share of the work.
Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone’s list, “Let Someone Else do it.” Whenever
leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results; “Someone Else can work with that group.”

It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most liberal givers in our church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed
Someone Else would make up the difference.
Someone Else was a wonderful person; sometimes appearing superhuman…

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Originally posted on Pastor Mike Says:

stop_complaining1_2858487Murmuring or complaining is one of those sins that are overlooked.  Sometimes we get so focused on the “big sins” such as murder and adultery that we overlook this sin — but the Lord doesn’t give this sin a free pass — quite the opposite.  It’s a hidden killer!  This sin unleashed a plague that killed thousands of Israelites! [Numbers 16]

Exodus 15:23-26 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt…

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We live in a very negative world, and not an easy world to live in. So to be positive may be quite a strain to you. But it’s not only the world that affects this, your temperament plays it’s part also. If you’re an extrovert you may have a bit of an edge on the introverts amongst us. And there’s one extrovert temperament (which Tim La Haye calls a ‘Sanguine’) who seem to be positive and happy nearly all the time!

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Then some of us are negative in our attitude, seemingly independent of the world and independent of our temperament type. Is it just because we WANT to be? The standard ‘test’ for this, of course, is to ask whether the glass is half full or half empty. You answer will tend to show whether you are a basically positive or negative person.

I see the half-full glass as more than half full *broad grin!*, so now you know which side I’m on. My primary temperament is that of an Introvert, but I have two sub-temperaments both Extrovert, so I can basically be either. I love the temperament that God and my parents gave to me, and I make the very best I can of it!!

Negativism is pretty awful really. I’ve read that it takes 10 positive words to overcome 1 negative one – isn’t that shocking! – so do watch your mouth, particularly with your children. When we feel and speak and act negatively ultimately no good can come from this.

Seems like God is well on the side of positivism. I was reading in Philippians and couldn’t help noticing these: Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice! PHILIPPIANS 4:4.That sure works for ME!! If you’re rejoicing, well, ALWAYS, then I can’t really see any room for negativism, can you? A verse or two later God continues with: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything – which seems pretty straight forward to me.

But how is this possible in our lives? Well the verse continues with the answer: but in every circumstance and in everything by prayer and petition continue to make your needs and requirements made known to God. PHILIPPIANS 4:6. NOT your wants“, your needs“, okay! BIG difference!!

There are definitely people in the world who are ‘Positives’ and others who are ‘Negatives.’ Do you think the verses above may mean that God is perhaps a ‘Positive?’Okay, I don’t dare ‘label’ God like that – just saying it seems to be that way. Continuing in Philippians I come down to the verse that I’m going to kind of summarize, so that hopefully we may get the full impact of it:

Whatever is true; and honorable and good; and just; and pure; and lovely; and kind and gracious – think on these things (fix your minds on them.) PHILIPPIANS 4:8. Whoo-hoo!! I just LOVE all of that!

Does that mean that I manage to do all in that verse? No, I’m not perfect yet. But you’re a positive, right; so were you always like that? Tended to be, but no, I’ve had to LEARN to do (OBEY!!!) the things in these verses, along with many others in the New Testament that lead us to be so grateful for all He’s given us and done for us, and I’m now ALWAYS joyful deep-down which the Holy Spirit can and will give you as part of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.

I pray for you all – as part of this Fruit, that you gain deep-down Love, Joy and Peace!!

and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)

Desert

God has done a lot of crazy/awesome things for the Israelites. The 10 plagues have happened, God parted the Red Sea, saved them from the Egyptians, and now they want to go back because their stomachs are rumbling. Their hunger makes them forget what God had done. They had gotten comfortable having food in their stomach even if it meant being in slavery.

We must be careful to not read this and say we would never act like this toward God if he showed us all of these miracles and rescued us.  What we must remember though, is that God has rescued us from sin and his wrath to come.

Just as God was providing everything for the Israelites in the wilderness, he provides for us. Everything we have: our car, our family, our money, and our house are from God.  So, what is the comfort in your life that you can’t live without?   What would happen if God took away your car, downsized your house, or maybe cut your paycheck by a little? Are you going to complain to Him and forget all the things he has done for you in the past?  If we are brutally honest about ourselves, we would admit we are just like the Israelites who can get comfortable with a paycheck in the bank and food on the table everyday. Jesus never called us to live a life of comfort.

Look at your life and see if there is anything you can’t live without and ask God to help you rely on him and not that comfort.

John 7:37-38 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Half-frozen river in snow

An estimated 500,000 tons of water go over Niagara Falls every minute. On March 29, 1948, the falls suddenly stopped. Those who lived near enough heard the overwhelming silence, and immediately they thought it was a sign – the end of the world had come! However, after thirty hours had passed – the flow of water resumed.

What happened? Heavy winds had set the ice fields of Lake Erie in motion and tons of ice had jammed the Niagara River entrance near Buffalo. The ice blocked the flow of water until finally, there was a shift in the blockage and the river began flowing again.

The river had stopped flowing because of ice.

If we really want the flow of God’s love, peace, joy, and anointing in our lives – we cannot allow our hearts to become like ice. If we do, His life-giving current will stop.

Let the Lord search your heart for those areas where the ice has built up and needs to thaw out. He will show you where they are if you ask. Our hearts should be burning for Him, so let the river flow…. once again.