Preparation of Joy!

Often our religious preparation in the coming weeks can be solemn. Could it be God wants us to make it a season of overflowing joy?

One Word –

“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:9-10

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 33, 34, 35; Mark 11

Big Idea –

We are only about six weeks from celebrating the Spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. In these appointed times of the LORD we celebrate our Messiah Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

The day described here in Mark 11 was the 10th of Nisan. God had told Moses to instruct the people of Israel to select a lamb on this day, to bring it into their homes, to inspect it and on the evening of the 14th to sacrifice it as their Passover Lamb (see: Ex. 12:1-6). Since that first Passover in Egypt, Israel had continued to remember God’s miracle of deliverance selecting a lamb on the 10th day in preparation of the LORD’S Passover.

Following the dedication of Solomon’s Temple and the prophetic rehearsals written by King David, the celebration of the Passover was well established as an annual routine all Jews were familiar with. Being one of the three pilgrim or foot feasts, Jerusalem was swelling with crowds of people coming in preparation of this festive time. Anticipation in the city was growing as on this 10th day the High Priest made his annual journey to Bethlehem to select the lamb that would be sacrificed for the nation. Late in the day he would return riding on a colt carrying the lamb into the city. Other priests and levites would welcome him waving palm branches crying out “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” As their cry was heard worshippers would come out of their homes filling the streets; they too would likewise begin waving palm branches joining in the festive song “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Yet this year Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a colt before the annual parade welcoming the return of High Priest with the lamb. This also helps explain why the religious leaders were so upset; the attention and celebration was upon Jesus’ arrival into the city instead of the High Priest still on his way back from Bethlehem. What had been rehearsed for centuries was now being fulfilled perfectly.

I don’t think Jesus had instructed anyone to begin crying out “Hosanna!” Instead, I believe that in the same way the Father revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, the Spirit began moving upon the hearts of the disciples and they began crying out as they had done all their lives, but now in fulfillment of Jesus’ coming as God’s Passover Lamb. And as they did people along the road and in their homes heard the cry and joined the procession shouting out all the louder, “Hosanna!”

It’s amazing all that David saw prophetically that was rehearsed each year at the LORD’s appointed times. HOSANNA means “save us now!” For centuries the people had called out to the LORD for His salvation, and now Jesus, seated on the colt as our High Priest, came into Jerusalem to offer Himself as God’s Passover Lamb, not only in answer to their cry for salvation, but also the salvation of all who would believe.

And so next Wednesday many orthodox Catholics and Christians will begin the season of lent in preparation for Easter. Our traditional celebration of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection are engrained within many of us as something we have done all our lives. I know how hard it can be to let go of these things.

Yet I believe the LORD is awakening His Church again to His appointed times. That just as the disciples saw the perfect fulfillment of these seasons in Jesus, so we too will so see the final fulfillment of the LORD’S appointed times.So whether you get an ashen cross placed on your forehead next week, or however you prepare yourself for the season before us, let me encourage you to as the Holy Spirit to make you aware of God’s times and seasons. And above all let us make this a season of overflowing joy for all God has accomplished through Jesus and will bring to fulfillment in His time!

A broken clock is right at least twice a day, but God’s eternal clock is still running right on time through His appointed times. May we hear the Spirit call us to join the cry, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” Soon we too shall see Him return, this time seated on a white horse with a banner “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).

Exemplify –

As the season of preparation for the LORD’S appointed times begins, I desire for the Holy Spirit to continue to teach me the truth about Jesus and enable me to live each day with overflowing joy for all the LORD has done for us.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, I thank You for coming as God’s Passover Lamb, that You loved me enough to not only die in my place, but to make me alive by the power of Your Spirit living in me. I pray that in the days and weeks to come that You will continue to enlighten my mind to Your truth; give me understanding through Your Word. And help me to lovingly make You known through Your appointed times in meaningful and relevant ways to others.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Last Put First

What would it look like today for the LORD to take those who are ‘last’ and make them ‘first?’ Perhaps the answer might surprise us because nothing is too hard for God.

One Word –

“So the last will be first, and the first last.” Matthew 20:16

Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 27, 28, 29; Matthew 20, 21

Big Idea –

Jesus makes this statement following the parable of the landowner who hires workers throughout the day, yet when the work is done they are all paid the same. Those who worked only an hour received the same as those who worked a full day. What a deal! Sign me up for an hours work for a full day’s pay too.

But wait a minute – chapter divisions get in our way often causing us to miss the greater context. Chapter 19 end with Jesus saying virtually the same words, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (v, 30). Here Jesus is talking with His disciples after the rich young ruler had went away sad and discouraged by the great cost he would have to give up to follow Jesus. The disciples wondered who could be saved after Jesus told them how difficult it would be for the rich to be saved; Jesus answered, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (v. 26).

Peter then said what I’m sure I would have been thinking if I were there; “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” (v. 27). Jesus assured them that they would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and that all who likewise had forsaken all would receive one hundred fold together with the inheritance of eternal life. But then the word of warning followed by the parable of the landowner in which Jesus repeats His warning; many among the first will be last, and the last will be made first.

I’ve read this many times; I think I might have it all wrong. I have often let others go ahead of me; you’ve done the same haven’t you? I must confess that in my pride I’ve thought that now I am in a position to receive even more of a reward from God because I was willing to be last. Oh goody I get to move to the front of the line in heaven right? Umm, I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think there is anything bad about being kind and letting others go ahead of you, but I better not do it thinking that somehow I will increase my reward. Jesus knows the motivation within our hearts, and pride always brings about a working of humility into our lives because, “God opposes the proud” (Jm. 4:6).

I think there are several reasons Jesus repeated this warning. First, I think Jesus wanted His disciples to guard against spiritual pride in their judgement of others. They may have been quick to judge the young rich man as beyond hope of salvation, but Jesus love him. While this young man may have struggled with selling all and giving to the poor to come and follow Jesus, the LORD would still accept him whenever hew was ready to put his hope in God rather than his wealth. Even if it were the last thing he did as an old man, nothing is too hard for God to generously give salvation to anyone who calls upon Him.

Most likely some Pharisees and other religious leaders may have overheard this conversation. They always seem to be snooping around looking for some reason to accuse Jesus. The Jews rightly understood that they were God’s treasured possession, the first to receive the LORD’S steadfast love. But God had also said they would be a light to bring salvation even to the Gentiles. And so there would be many among those Jews who thought they were first, but discover God had been gracious to the Gentiles making them first.

Anyway you look at this, I think we find lots of application for our lives today. Even if you’re like me, a Gentile believer, we need to understand God’s generosity and grace. Many Christians today mistakenly think the Jews have not only been put in last place, but some even think they have been cut off from the LROD.

Let’s not forget the mystery of God’s salvation for the Jew. Paul said that for a time a partial hardening would be upon Israel until the full number of the Gentiles had been brought into salvation. Then “all Israel will be saved” for the LORD has promised to send His Deliverer, Jesus, upholding His covenant to forgive all their sins (see Rom. 11:25-27).

Exemplify –

I need to continue to believe God will work salvation in the lives of those within our community, but I also need to pray and believe that now is the time when God begins to work salvation for those who have been last – the Jew.

Yes to Yield –

LORD Jesus, I’m thankful for your salvation. Forgive me of the spiritual pride your disciples had being quick to judge others as beyond the reach of Your saving grace. Use me to bring Your generosity into their lives. Yet I pray too for the salvation of Israel, not just a nation but the Jewish people who have hardened their hearts against You. Bring those from among Your chosen people across my path. Holy Spirit give me a love for them to pray and be a light that they too might be saved. May these be the days in which You fulfill Your promise of salvation to the Jew moving them to the front of the line – even ahead of me.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.

Even If

Think of the worst thing that has ever happened to you; now imagine it happened again only worse, like 100 times as bad. Would something like that cause you to lose hope in God?

Read: Job 13, 14; Luke 4, 5

One Word

Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. (Job 13:15-16)

Big Idea

Trouble comes to us all, but when it does will we lose all hope? Even in the face of death itself should we despair believing all is lost?

Job’s troubles have multiplied more than all those I have faced combined. Much of his wealth was stolen or destroyed. His children and many of his servants have been killed. Tragedy is not a strong enough word to describe what has happened to him. Yet in light of all his suffering and turmoil Job can say, “Whatever may happen to me, even if God takes my life, I will not despair, but continue to hope in God.”

How many of us have felt like throwing in the proverbial towel for less? I’ve never considered suicide. I can’t imagine the depth of despair that someone must feel to lose all hope and take their life. Even when I have been the most broken and felt like giving up, somewhere hope has rekindled within me; not a vain wish or dream, but an absolute assurance that God will not fail me even in the midst of hardship.

God is our salvation. Even if we are not delivered from the difficulties we face, these things are only temporary. Our salvation goes beyond the stuff of life – the good an the bad. Our salvation even reaches beyond death itself. Our salvation is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD.

Job stood on the other side of the cross; the hope in Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD was still to come. Nevertheless, Job’s confidence in God’s salvation is just as strong as mine, and perhaps sometimes his might even have been stronger than mine.

You see Job’s conscience is clear; he bears no guilt or shame for how he has lived. Thus he is confident of his standing before the LORD. Job knows that God will not number him among the wicked, so he has absolute hope of salvation, to be one of the righteous who will come before the LORD.

Sometimes my conscience is not clear; my guilt is before me. In these times hardship may be the LORD’s discipline to reawaken my faith (see Heb. 12:5-6). I’m thankful that in those times I can turn to God and repent of my sin confident or should I say full of hope that the LORD will forgive me.

And then there are those time when the enemy dumps shame into my lap and I feel separated from God. But even then my hope is renewed and faith assures me of the unfailing love of Jesus for me.

You see at the end of the day I guess we all just need to be a little more like Job. We don’t live according to our feelings. Job felt the overwhelming sorrow and grief for all he had endured. But rather than live according to his feelings, Job lived out what He knew to be true about the LORD by faith. God had always been, and regardless of what may happen the LORD will always remain his salvation.

Yes, even if God should slay me, I will hope in Him.

Exemplify

No matter what trouble life may bring, I rest in an unwavering hope of God’s salvation. Yet perhaps the best way for me to show this hope is not to keep it to myself, but to share it with others in their time of despair.

Yes to Yield

LORD Jesus, I thank You for Your salvation, an unbroken hope that keeps me in the midst of all the storms of life. You have increased my confidence in Your unfailing love, for every time You have been with me giving me hope. And even when You did not say, “Peace be still,” you carried me through the storm and it’s flood. Holy Spirit, give me wisdom to know how to share this confidence You have given me with others so they too might have hope; help me comfort them as You have comforted me.


If you’re new to Living It Now, you can find an explanation of the O-B-E-Y journal on the Hearing and Doing page, or the sample post Guard Duty.