Sermon on Palm Sunday April 14, 2019 Matthew 21:1-17

Matthew 21:1-17

Have you ever been to an event or meeting and something happened that you didn’t expect or fully understand?

The Sunday prior to Easter is Palm Sunday, the day when we traditionally remember Jesus coming into Jerusalem one week prior to his crucifixion and resurrection.

Everything that Jesus did on that day made a statement, he was intentionally dropping hints along the way about his identity and intentions. Those witnessing the events, did not see the significance of what Jesus was doing. Jesus was following a script that had been written before the creation of the world (see John 5:19).

Jesus avoided the limelight, throughout his public ministry. Most of Jesus’ ministry happened outside of towns or in small towns, away from the center of Jerusalem. But on Palm Sunday, all of that changed. In Matthews Gospel account we see six signs that Jesus left indicating his identity and purpose.The first sign we see is that Jesus instructs his disciples to go and get a donkey and her young foal and bring them to him.

His disciples dutifully obeyed and went and got him this wild animal that had never been ridden before. Riding into the city was a public declaration that Jesus was a king (See Zechariah 9:9). In times of war a conquering king would ride on a chariot or a stallion, but Jesus rode on a colt to declare that he is a king proclaiming peace.

But aside from the obvious declaration, this animal had never been ridden before. Anyone who has worked with horses before would know that you cannot simply ride a wild foal, it needs to be broken in, unless the creator of the foal was the one riding. The people didn’t recognize the creator God, but the foal did, the animal knew who was riding on its back, and it submitted to the authority of Jesus.

The people reacted by spreading their cloaks in front of Jesus, this was a sign of honor for a king as we see in 2 Kings chapter 9. The fact that the people were waving palm branches showed that they didn’t grasp who Jesus was, and why he was coming to Jerusalem. Two generations before this time, the Maccabean revolt took place that liberated the Israelites from the Syrian oppressors, at that time the worship in the temple was re-established. By waving palm branches, the people were expecting a military ruler to free them from the oppression of Rome, they expected Jesus to be another warlord or general of the armies, one who would lead them to liberation from their oppressors. They were ready to pick up their swords and go to war if Jesus would lead them!

In verse 9 we see that the people were crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”.

We sing the word, Hosanna, and assume it is simply a declaration of worship, but it is a cry for help, it is a cry for salvation. The Aramaic word, Hosanna, comes from the Hebrew and the same word we find in Psalm 118:25, Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!”

The crowds were full of expectation that Jesus was coming to save them, but it was originally a cry for help. The people were misguided in their expectations of Jesus as the military messiah, but their declaration of Hosanna, was a prophetic declaration of the salvation that Jesus was about to bring through his death and resurrection.

Jesus enters Jerusalem and the whole city was stirred up, little did they know what was about to take place. The greatest and the darkest day in all of history. Jesus goes to the temple and begins to turn over the tables of the money changers and the traders. Jesus then quotes the Prophet Isaiah and says, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

We easily miss the significance of what Jesus was doing, he was making a public statement that the sacrificial system was not needed anymore, he was about to become the perfect and final sacrifice for all who would put their faith in him. Jesus was passing judgment on the sacrificial system. Even today we still need to be reminded that there is only one sacrifice that gains us favor with God, and it has already been completed when Jesus died and rose again.

In verse 14 we read, “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” During the chaos and confusion, Jesus takes time to heal the blind and the lame.

Jesus was intentionally making a declaration of his true identity. The irony is that the seeing people were the blind ones. The blind came to him, because they recognized him for who he was.

Remember at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he went to the synagogue in Nazareth and read from Isaiah chapter 61 (see Luke 4:18-19). Jesus was declaring who he was, but the seeing were blind.

And then finally in verse 15, we read that the chief priests and scribes were indignant, they were offended because of the miracles, they were offended because the children were upsetting their neat little world of religion and crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

The priests were very religious, but religion – a set of rules and regulations to earn salvation – that is not for children. Christianity is a true relationship with our heavenly father through Jesus Christ and children get that much easier than adults do. Jesus quotes King David from Psalm 8:2. There is power in the praise of children, but more than that, the children hear from God much clearer than we adults do. The children are the faith and prophetic voices for the church as we get so busy “doing church”. We get so busy doing religion, that we miss the power of the praises and prayers of the children.

Jesus made statement after statement, declaring his true identity, but all the people in Jerusalem that day missed what he was saying.

Do you know who Jesus is?

Perhaps you follow Jesus because of his miracles and what you can get from him?

Do you follow Jesus because it is your tradition?

The only way of salvation is through recognizing who Jesus is and then submitting to him as Lord of your life.

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 4:10-13 – Sermon April 07, 2019

Philippians 4:10-13

 How are you doing?

This is a question each of us ask or are asked many times everyday and the response in our culture is a simple, “I am good”.

As you look back on your life, have you found being financially blessed or being in want to be more challenging? Most would say being without is more challenging, but the Bible warns us against the comfort and real challenges of prosperity (see Proverbs 70:7-9).

Looking at your spiritual life, did you grow more in your faith when you experienced hardships or when everything was going well?

Paul was in prison, and he was reflecting on his life and journey as a Christian. He had been through some tough times, beaten, left for dead, shipwrecked, abandoned and imprisoned, but in spite of it all, he was rejoicing.

In Philippians 4:10, Paul was thanking the Philippian church for a financial gift, he was deeply appreciative of the people in the church that he had planted ten years before.

The word “providence” comes from two Latin words: pro, meaning “before,” and video, meaning “to see.” God’s providence simply means that God sees to it beforehand. It does not simply mean that God knows beforehand. It is the working of God in advance to arrange circumstances and situations for the fulfilling of His purposes in providing for our needs.

Trusting God for financial blessing makes no sense in the natural realm. In our modern day thinking, we don’t hear much about the providence of God, rather we hear a lot about man’s ingenuity and ability to create wealth.

We have God in a box, that we turn to on Sunday’s or when we have a need, but the rest of the week we work with all our effort to figure out ways to provide for our needs and wants. This is practical atheism, we claim to worship God, but when we have a practical need, we ignore the providence of God.

This does not mean we sit back and do nothing, rather our starting point is different.

We begin by presenting our needs before our heavenly father and ask Him for the provision.

Then wait on the Lord and asking Him for what we must do, following His direction.

Initially the Philippian church did not have the opportunity to send Paul support, but now they could, and it was the perfect timing as Paul was in prison and had a desperate need. Paul thanked them and showed that even though he was in need, he was still content (Philippians 4:11-12)

What Paul described his secret of contentment.

Paul had learnt from what the Lord has taken him through.

V11: for I have learned – to be content

V12: I know how to be brought low – how to live in poverty

V12: I know how to abound – live with riches.

V12: I have learned the secret…

This is knowledge he has gained because of walking with God in obedience to the call of God on his life. James 1:4 calls this, “lacking in nothing”. Lacking in nothing is the outcome of the faith produced by the trials of life. The original Greek says, “wanting for nothing”.

When you grow in your faith, you may go through seasons of need, and seasons of abundance, but you will never want for anything (Philippians 4:19).

But we focus so much on the discomfort of being in need we sometimes miss the challenge of abounding, which means to have more than enough. Read the warning in Revelation 3:17 as Jesus writes the letter to the church in Laodicea. In the light of eternity, prosperity is far more dangerous than poverty. We must guard against the false sense of security that comes with financial gain, that takes our eyes off the source of all our provision.

This passage is so well known for verse 13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”.

This verse has been used by sportsmen and women all over the world. But you cannot take this verse out of the context of scripture and use it like a magic bullet, expecting God to bless everything we decide to do. The key to this verse is “through Christ”, and the verse must be seen in light of the previous text.

Everything in nature relies on hidden resources to grow and flourish. The most important part of a tree is the part you cannot see, the root system. The most important part of the Christian’s life is the presence of the Holy Spirit, where we get our life sustaining power to live the Christian life.

Paul depended on the power of Christ at work in his life.

Paul was declaring that through the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, he could do anything that God called him to do. The Greek wording for this verse says, “all things I can do in the one empowering me.”

Paul states that to be a Christian, is to be “IN CHRIST”, this is the very essence of what it means to be a Christian (Acts 17:28, Job 12:10).

Some quote this verse as, “I can do whatever I dream up, because Christ is with me.” This is not claiming the promise of God’s Word, this is the very definition of witchcraft. Rather the follower of Jesus who has submitted to his lordship says, “I can do all that he asks me to do because I am in him.” Jesus teaches this same lesson in John 15. He is the Vine; we are the branches, the branch does not bear fruit through its own self-effort, but by drawing on the life of the Vine (John 15:5).

A common mistake Christians make is trying to do things for Jesus, out of gratitude or guilt we somehow try to pay for our salvation. But that is not what the Bible says at all. We are called to abide in Jesus and allow the presence of the Holy spirit to transform us and then being IN CHRIST, he works through us, leading us to do what he calls us to do.

What is God calling you to do, that only God can do, that is the essential message of Philippians 4:13. What have you been trying to do in your own strength, that Christ never intended for you to do?

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 4:8-9 – Sermon March 31, 2019

Philippians 4:8-9

How is your thinking?

Anxiety, depression, worry and fear all stem from our thinking.

“You are not what you think you are, but what you think – that you are”

You choose what to think about, and what you think about, affects your whole life.

In Philippians 4, Paul is coming to the end of the letter and he wants to encourage the Philippian church to healthy disciplines. Our thought life is a discipline, meditating on God’s word, allowing the Holy Spirit to renew our minds daily.

All sin begins with a thought, we see something, and it triggers a thought that leads to temptation.

We hear something in passing and a thought builds that leads to offence and we begin to hold a grudge. Our minds are the epicenter of the spiritual warfare that we are engaged in.

Whenever we begin to believe a lie, Satan has control over us in that area.

There is a battle for the control of our minds, therefore it is imperative for us to daily spend time in God’s word. We live in a world with a constant stream of information.  We are saturated with up to 16 hours a day of information and not much of it good. When we neglect feeding on God’s word, saturating ourselves with the truth, we will find it impossible to discern the between lies and the truth. it is impossible to have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ without spending time daily meditating on God’s word.

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul made it clear that we are in a battle for our minds (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

In Philippians 4:8 Paul lists eight adjectives:

1. True: For something to be true, it is genuine, and not counterfeit. In Ephesians 6, we read about the armor of God, of which the belt of truth is the first part of the armor, so that we will be able to stand firm against the lies of the enemy.

2. Honorable: Honorable or noble. Someone who is worthy of respect, who acts honorably is thinking honorably. This is the inward thought life of the follower of Christ.

3. Just: This suggests dealing in justice towards every-person, not given to favoritism or partiality. How we think about people will determine our justice towards them. Do we think about people differently because of the color of their skin, their age, their financial status or their education?

4. Pure: Authentic, stainless or without blemish. A pure glass of water can allow the light to go through unfiltered and clear. We as believers, as we keep ourselves pure, we allow the light of Jesus to shine through us. Sin is impurity that hinders the light of Christ to shine through our lives.

5. Lovely: Something that is lovely is pleasing and orderly. This speaks of harmony of thought not chaotic and hap-hazard thinking. When we allow sin to dwell in our hearts, when we think about impure things, our minds get flustered and easily frustrated.

6. Commendable: This is the opposite of Gossip. In our fallen and sinful state, we tend to gossip about someone rather than commend them. If you want to change the mood and atmosphere in a room, start speaking highly of each other, honoring and commending each other, and those not present.

7&8: Excellence and worthy of praise

Moral excellence is virtue and develops our fellowship with God.

Worthy of praise; to praise someone, rather than to tear them down.

As we look at these eight adjectives, these are the adjectives of the way we should be thinking. As we think about these things, we see that they are adjectives describing God.

God is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy.

God’s word is encouraging us to think about God, spending our time thinking deeply about the Creator God. Meditating on His awesome attributes and worshipping Him.

Then verse 9 Paul writes, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you

Proper actions come from proper thinking. What we think about will ultimately determine our practices. We often are surprised when someone we know is caught in a grievous sin or criminal activity, but it all begins with improper thinking.

J.D. Pentecost said, “Maturity in the Christian is not measured by what a man knows, but by what a man does.”

Thinking translates to doing and Paul was a living example of the conduct he expected the Philippian believers to walk in. Live by these thought patterns, taking them to heart allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell in you and transform your life, then you will know and experience the peace of God.

If you struggle to know the will of God for your life, you need to have a renewal of the mind (see Romans 12:2). Every-day we are exposed to images, words, experiences that soil our minds, we begin to become desensitized to sin and as a result our minds are full of impure thoughts and images. But here is the good news, God is able to transform our minds. As we ask God with repentance and thanksgiving, He renews our minds. Make a daily habit to pray for your mind to be renewed.

King David, after he sinned with Bathsheba he repented in Psalm 51. We read in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” David cried to God to supernaturally renew his spirit to change his thinking.

Our thought patterns can be so destructive.

Thoughts of unforgiveness

Thoughts of shame

Thoughts of rejection

Thoughts of inadequacy.

When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, he didn’t only make a way for us to be made right with God so that we would not have to spend eternity separated from God in Hell.

Jesus also made a way for us to know peace, for us to have renewed minds, healed and restored minds.

How is your thinking?