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Monday, April 11, 2022

Flower arrangement
Basket of spring flowers

"Palm Branches"

Message summary: Yesterday we observed the Triumphal Entry on the Christian calendar. Today we not only look back on this momentous day but consider 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. We sure plan to be there! We'll be joined together from every nation, tribe, people and language. We hope you are all there.

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"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).

Palms  (Photo by Ester) Yesterday our church service began with a large choir of children waving palm branches as they sang praises to the Lord. The children's choir brings in many guests, especially the grandparents, so we had a very full sanctuary adding to the joyous occasion. See below for a link to the opening song.

On Palm Sunday we consider the significance of that day when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on an unbroken yet gentle donkey. As 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."

The palm branch is a symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life, originating in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean world. Palms and palm branches give symbolic meaning to the Jews of today and in ancient times. Palms, along with other tree branches, are a part of the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths (Sukkot).

Palm SundayChrist'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".

The gotquestions.org teaching site explains, "The prophecy was fulfilled in every particular, and it was indeed a time of rejoicing, as Jerusalem welcomed their King. Unfortunately, the celebration was not to last. The crowds looked for a Messiah who would rescue them politically and free them nationally, but Jesus had come to save them spiritually. First things first, and mankind’s primary need is spiritual, not political, cultural, or national salvation."

That rings true for us today as we daily battle with political, cultural, and moral differences from the teachings of Scripture. Our primary need is spiritual and when that need is met the other differences fall into place.

Let us personally consider some questions:
  • 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 side with the crowd who cried out, "Crucify Him, crucify Him".
Yesterday we observed the Triumphal Entry on the Christian calendar. Today we not only look back on this momentous day but consider 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. We sure plan to be there! We'll be joined together from every nation, tribe, people and language. We hope you are all there.

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 through Jesus Christ our Saviour and eternally living Lord!

On the first Palm Sunday the crowds cried out "Hosanna", a Hebrew word which means "Save now." The Hebrew phrase is found in one solitary place in the entire 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 learn to swim and you come up crying out: "Help, save me" … "Hoshiya na!"

However in heaven with the redeemed we will cry out with a loud voice, acknowledging the glorious 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, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, each year as we enter into Holy Week, we consider every 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 Jesus Christ our Savior. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna, please save us now! Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hosannas Ring"  Video  Calvary Church children's choir from our service yesterday. Following the set of songs is an outstanding and moving testimony of A.J.'s baptism that will touch your heart as it did for those of us who looked on and heard her story of redemption. It starts here in the video.

"Triumphant"  Audio  Mike Book, a friend of ours, wrote this song for Palm Sunday. Mike became one of our first friends after moving to Lancaster County in 2001.

"How Deep The Father's Love For Us"  Video  Selah

Note: C.S. Lewis used the term chronological snobbery to describe the attitude that "whatever our current generation is doing is better than others". This morning I was looking for some supplemental music and came upon a list "The Top Twenty Worship Songs Of All Time". Now these are some pretty songs but all of them, as best as I can determine, are recent (last 25 years). Who determines they are the top worship songs of all time? That would go back to creation slightly longer than 25 years ago!

So let's use a song still relatively new in the span of human history and the church age that expresses the joy of Christ. "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross"  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty.  It was written in 1707 by Isaac Watts.

Dorothy Schmidt
Yesterday following our church service we had a roast pot dinner with our long-time friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt at Calvary Homes. They were so pleased to be able to invite us back to the dining room that had been closed for guests for over two years. And we were delighted to join them. Jim and Dottie are like grandparents to Ester.

Major Events of the Passion Week

Here's a helpful chart from a Study Bible as you contemplate the events that took place this holy week.  It's inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter. We will leave these materials up all week. If you choose only one gospel to read, Luke is often more detailed than others though there is much to be gleaned from each gospel.

  • 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)

"It's Still The Cross!"

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

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

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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