Posts Tagged ‘ Church ’

Palm Sunday Sermon 2020 – Worship Without Understanding

I preached, again! And this time, THERE’S VIDEO!

Because this is in the middle of the C-19 pandemic, so we are not supposed to meet in person.

And a reminder that the notes below are merely my notes, not every word I said in the video!

There is also mention of the children’s lesson based on this sermon that Caitlin recorded earlier!

Read Matthew 21:1-11 before starting:

The Triumphal Entry

21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Palm Sunday 2020 (The Church Next Door) – Matthew 21:1-11 – Worshiping Without Understanding

Imagine being a 1st Century Jew. 

  • A hostile government 
  • Foreign soldiers walking the streets 
  • Turncoats siding with the hostile government (tax collectors, joining the army)
  • Weak and compromising leadership 

And here comes Jesus, the one everyone is calling the Savior of Israel! Finally! Someone to throw out the Romans and restore Israel to greatness! Here is a great prophet and king! Save us! 

And then there is Jesus. He knows our expectations, but he subverts them. He knows our longings, but He has His purpose. 

Triumphal Entry: Celebration 
“God has come to do what we expect!” 

But the cross … Not what we expected. 
“In this world you will have trouble …” (John 16:33) 

Triumphal Entry: Worship 
Christ still receives worship, even amidst our misunderstanding. 

So, the cross … Shows us why He can accept. 
So, we should show grace to our brothers & sisters in error of understanding. 

January 17: Took Caitlin to the airport, stopped at a favorite coffee shop. 
Was updating the owner about my 10-month-old nephew being hospitalized with Hand Foot Mouth, Pneumonia, RSV, and other stuff. 
Customer asks if has gotten better, and I mentioned that as a Christian I believe all of the prayers helped get him home on Christmas night. 
Oops. Angry atheist. If any god exists, he “royally ****** up with humans. So you probably believe he made your nephew sick, which means he’s evil! If anyone helped your nephew it was the doctors.” 

I went from celebrating my God for healing my nephew to getting attacked for my faith. 

But I had a peaceful calm the moment this man blew up. And, how come our world is so messed up? “Short answer: sin. God gave us free will, and we choose to mess up this world by rejecting Him. But He plans on fixing it one day.” 
I did not get to share the full gospel with this man, but he respected meeting a Christian not afraid to tackle the hard questions. God gave me His grace to peaceably talk with a hostile man, calm him down, and even get a “It was nice talking with you! Have a nice day!” as he left. 

Why? 

Because I celebrated, without knowing what was coming. (But I also put in the groundwork of worshiping with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, studying the Word and answers people have provided.) 

But because of what did come over the week after Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem – the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus – I could still worship Him by loving one who hates Him. 

Think back to those worshiping on Palm Sunday: (Matthew 21:11) “This is the prophet Jesus.” 
They see Lazarus – the man who was dead just a week earlier! – and think of Elijah and Elisha raising women’s sons. 
They see the donkey, and they think of Zechariah 9:9 prophesying the King coming on a donkey, and then probably skipped ahead to Zechariah 14: (vv. 1-5)

Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

Here comes the King, on the Mount of Olives, to fight off the invaders and restore our nation! Especially with the other events of the week: 

  • Clearing the Temple with zeal for God’s house 
  • Rebuking and shaming the Pharisees and Sadducees 
  • Celebrating the Passover, the first time a mighty prophet led Israel out of subjugation into freedom 

But our Lord does not meet their expectations. What else happened that week? 
The arrest. 
The abuse. 
The crucifixion. 

No one saw it coming. (Even with Jesus’ own warnings!) 

If only they had continued reading in Zechariah [14:6-9]:

On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.

And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.

When coupled with Daniel 9:24, 
“Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place
we see that the Messiah would bring an end to sin and then establish His worldwide, eternal Kingdom. 

So, on Palm Sunday, we are reminded of three things: 

  1. Jesus accepts our worship, even when we misunderstand and believe wrongly about Him. 
    1. So, we need to show grace to those we disagree with. 
      1. The disciples did not understand that this King was going to die in just a few days time, and it caused them to scatter. (Self-isolate?) And Jesus still loved them!
    2. There are many who teach things wrongly, but they may still be our brothers and sisters. 
    3. Though, just as Jesus rebuked and shamed the leadership in His day, we must watch for and correct false teachings. 
      1. If the teachers repent, awesome! 
      2. If not, then we distance ourselves from them. 
    4. NOT EVERYTHING WE DISAGREE WITH IS NECESSARILY FALSE TEACHING! 
      1. Look at George Whitefield and John Wesley: a Calvinist and an Arminian who were dear brothers in Christ. 
  2. We worship and celebrate God without knowing everything that is coming. 
    1. The disciples did not understand that this King was going to die in just a few days time, and it caused them to scatter. (Self-isolate?) But it led to our salvation from sin! 
    2. Palm Sunday during C-19 Pandemic 
      1. Didn’t see it coming, but look at us trusting our Lord and meeting in innovative ways (such as Zoom!) 
    3. We know God leads us through hard things, and we rejoice and share the Gospel. (2 Corinthians 5 – Ambassadors for Christ sharing the message of reconciliation and peace) 
      1. Just as I was ready with an answer for an angry atheist, we are all commanded to be ready to give a reasoned defense for the faith that is within us, especially when bad/hard things happen (1 Peter 3:14-15). 
  3. We remember that our King shall return triumphantly to institute His eternal Kingdom! 
    1. Jesus warned (yes, warned!) and promised us He will return. 
      1. He was the gentle lamb in His ministry, but He is returning as a strong Lion and conquering King! 
    2. We need not imagine what ancient Israelites thought about our coming King. The book of Revelation shows us that God’s wrath will be poured out on the entire earth, all of Creation will be renewed through fire, and His eternal Kingdom shall be established as heaven and Earth become one. [READ Revelation 22:1-7, 20-21] 

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Topical message: Illnesses, Quarantines, and the Bible

If you are unable to attend a church at this time, may this short message help get you through. Obviously, it is preferable to get together to sing praises, pray, read Scripture, and hear the Word preached.

Regardless, may this message be a blessing to you in some way.

Topical Message: Illnesses, Quarantines, and the Bible

At the time of making this, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. School and business closures, self-quarantining, limited numbers of people allowed to gather, and “social-distancing” (staying at least six feet apart) are affecting all of us. It can be difficult, problematic, and even annoying (especially seeing the empty shelves at the store.)

Many people are talking about even churches being told to stop services, which has led some to be concerned about regularly meeting, some to complain, and some to say this is a government overreach.

We should talk about these.

Firstly, we must ask ourselves, “What about the admonition in Hebrews 10:23-25 to keep meeting together?”

This is a valid point. We do live in the age of the internet, making it easier to have church together at a distance. (Look at this, right here!) My little church, The Church Next Door, is holding Zoom services for the next few weeks, because we meet in a school building, now closed by state mandate. Even if we wanted to keep meeting, it is not our building. So we have another option.

And, yes, as Christians, we have not been given a spirit of fear but of power and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7), but we are also commanded to watch over the sick (Matthew 25:31-46). It would be irresponsible of us to put others in danger by bringing together those who may be sick with those who are more susceptible.

Secondly, this seems an inconvenience, fearmongering, and unbiblical to live in the fear of a virus or other illness.

These things are an inconvenience. There indeed has been a lot of fearmongering and irresponsible behavior by many people on almost all sides of this pandemic. We can debate many of them later, if you wish! However, it is not necessarily fearmongering to say we should do what we can to avoid spreading an illness. In fact, it actually is biblical quarantine and separate.

Leviticus 13:1-8:
The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests, and the priest shall examine the diseased area on the skin of his body. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he shall pronounce him unclean. But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up for another seven days. And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean. But if the eruption spreads in the skin, after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again before the priest. And the priest shall look, and if the eruption has spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a leprous disease.

What does this mean for us?

Simply, God established the precedent for this sort of quarantining and self-isolation. It keeps others from contracting an illness, and it helps us to see whether or not someone actually has the disease or illness that could affect others. The current C-19 scare is absolutely being handled in a biblical way through the leadership demanding isolation and closing things down.

But, thirdly, isn’t this government overreach?

In some regards, maybe. But as just discussed, not necessarily. Again, we can debate some of this later, but (and you probably are expecting this one) we also need to remember Romans 13’s admonition to obey our governments, and Peter’s similar reminder to honor the national leader and leading institutions (1 Peter 2:13-25). Even if they are “not my president” or from a different political party or even despicable, deplorable humans, they have been put in power.

And, again, as stated before, as Christians it is our duty to obey within reason as we love our neighbor to God’s glory – including being physically separated for a time.

It is okay. It is not necessarily a sin.

And we are able to virtually meet for a time in our modern, technological world.

In the meantime, do what you can to help each other in such difficult times. Share your goods, as possible. (Especially if you, quite bluntly, sinfully hoarded toilet paper. SHARE WITH THOSE WHO MAY NEED IT!) Offer to meet other needs by running errands for each other. Call each other on the phone. Send e-mails and texts to each other to encourage and fight loneliness.

Most importantly, pray for each other, our communities, our nation, and our world.

Whether this is the end of the world or not (*wink wink*), we still have the command to love God, to love each other, and to go into all the world (even virtually) making disciples and teaching them to obey all Christ has commanded us.

And He is with us always, to the end. Trust Him. Turn to Christ in faith, especially if you have not trusted Him as your Lord and Savior. There may literally never be a better time.

VerseD: James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16, ESV

Sometimes we need to see or hear someone responding to our confession.
Sometimes we need to know we are being held accountable.
All the time we need to obey God’s commands.
Then we heal.

VerseD: Hebrews 13:16

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Hebrews 13:16, ESV

Especially in times of fear and doubt, we need to be sharing our goods with each other as needed. It shows our faith in God and His goodness.

VerseD: John 13:14

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
John 13:14, ESV

Love your neighbor, especially your brothers and sisters in Christ, by serving them, as Christ has done.

VerseD: Colossians 3:15

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15, ESV

Our hope in Christ gives us peace. A thankful heart amplifies that peace. Regular fellowship with the Church amplifies our thankfulness.

VerseD: Ephesians 6:11

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Ephesians 6:11, ESV

The Deceiver wants us to fail, turn from God, and lead others astray.

But God is our defender, equipping us with all we need through His Word, Holy Spirit, and each other as the saints of God.