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April 2, 2012

Flower arrangement used in church
Basket of spring flowers
with rolling hills background

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"Salvation Belongs To Our God!"
A Lesson From The Palm Branches

"On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel” (John 12:12,13). "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb'" (Revelation 7:9,10).
Palm branchI look forward to the special days on the church calendar such as Palm Sunday, the introduction to Holy Week. Yesterday we visited my brother Pat, who pastors a church in the Lehigh Valley, and watched their dramatic presentation about Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection. What a joy to gather with others who place their faith in Jesus Christ.

This week I would like to use as a focus in each message a plant or animal that is referenced in the narrative. Today it's the palm tree. On Palm Sunday we consider the significance of the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on an unbroken yet gentle donkey.

Palm SundayAs He entered the city He was greeted by a crowd who laid their cloaks before Him, waved palm branches, and joyfully shouted praises to the Messiah: "Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."

Christ's triumphal entry was a fulfillment of prophecy spoken of in Zechariah 9:9, "See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

Palms are a symbol of triumph and victory. If we ourselves were on that parade route what would we have said or done?  How deeply would our convictions have been?  Would we have exuberantly welcomed Christ's entry on Palm Sunday and only days later yielded to political and peer pressure to jeer with the crowd who cried out, "Crucify Him, crucify Him"

Revelation 7:9 around throne of GodThe Scripture gives us a glimpse of a future setting involving palm branches described in Revelation. The redeemed through all the ages will gather and comprise a great multitude that no one can count.  I sure plan to be there! We'll be joined together from every nation, tribe, people and language.

What an exhilarating experience it will be! We'll stand before the throne and in front of the Lamb dressed in spotless robes of white. No tailored suits, "power" ties, designer dresses or peasant's rags. There will be none of the class pretenses that get people's attention on this side. 

And notice especially that we'll be holding palm branches just like they did at the Triumphal Entry as we rejoice in the ultimate victory in Jesus!

John PiperOn the first Palm Sunday the crowds cried out "Hosanna", a Hebrew word which means "Save now." John Piper points out that the Hebrew phrase is found in one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, "Save, please!" It is a cry to God for help. Like when somebody pushes you off the diving board before you can swim and you come up hollering: "Help, save me" … "Hoshiya na!"

However in heaven with the redeemed we will cry out with a loud voice, acknowledging the source of our eternal salvation "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 

Have you made that declaration from your heart? Are you living according to that declaration today and every day? 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying womanDaily Prayer: Father, each year as we enter into Holy Week, we consider each major event that ultimately led Your Son to the cross of Calvary.  May our minds and hearts be yielded to the cross of Calvary as we contemplate the suffering, agony and betrayal Christ endured on our behalf.  We are eternally grateful that we will someday stand before the throne of God, not because of our own goodness or achievements, but solely because of the finished redemptive work of Christ our Savior.  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!

As mentioned in the message in our daily encouragement series this week we will be using plants (such as the palm tree) and animals as prompts for our messages. These are plants and animals referenced during the Holy Week narrative. We wonder if readers might suggest what other plants or animals we might be using this week?  Answer here.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"Hosanna, Blessed Is He Who Comes In The Name Of The Lord"
 Video  Michael W. Smith

 Video  Phil Driscoll

"Salvation Belongs To Our God"  Video  Randy Rothwell

"All Glory, Laud and Honor"  Video  Cliff Richard

"Hosanna, Loud Hosanna"  Video  Not specified

"Palm Sunday, Why Is It Significant"  Video teaching

Ester with Casting Crowns singers
Ester with Megan Garrett, pianist and soloist, along with lead singer and songwriter, Mark Hall, of Casting Crowns at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA.

Ester with Brooksyne at Casting Crowns concertBrooksyne's Note: On Friday evening Ester and I, along with 18 other volunteers, sold T-shirts, CD's and books offered by four singing groups; Casting Crowns, Matthew West, Royal Tailor and Lindsay MaCaul. We volunteered in exchange for free tickets, but we sure worked for those tickets not leaving the concert till well after midnight. I also became familiar with groups that sing more to the younger crowds while thoroughly enjoying Casting Crowns - I appreciate the sound, biblical lyrics that leaves no question as to Whom they are singing about along with the solid conviction of their message that always directs people to Jesus and His Word. As is usually the case the ultra loud music drove the thump of my heartbeat up into my eardrums.

“It's Still The Cross!”

(A selection of Scripture verses for personal, family or congregational reading focusing on the Cross.)

Pastor: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Pastor:  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Pastor: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9  

Pastor: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20 

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

Major Events of the Passion Week

Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
  • Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
  • The Last Supper:  Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  Jn 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30
  • The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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O Lord, be gracious unto us,.... This is a prayer of the church under the persecutions of antichrist, imploring the grace and favour of God in their miserable and distressed circumstances; desiring his gracious help, assistance, and deliverance; pleading not any merits of their own, but casting themselves upon the mercy and kindness of God: