Our Lenten Journey:
Walking with Jesus through trials to the triumph
Finding Hope on the Walk
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you the hope you need, as we endure this journey, depending on His faithfulness!
The Steps of the journey
Imagine being on the side of the road, leading up to Jerusalem. Jesus, the one some are claiming to be the Messiah starts the long climb up to Jerusalem on a small donkey. As it meanders up the pathway, the crowd is growing in size and in energy,
Expectations are building, even though the man is a mystery,
He does miracles, incredible miracles. He teaches like no one else, and those who’ve met him, are more aware of God’s love, of God’s presence in His life.
He’s coming! Everything is going to change!
It is no different today, as we journey through life, as we walk, guided by the Holy Spirit, and await Jesus coming into our lives.
The Prophet Zechariah told them what to be looking for when Jesus came, He told them what to expect, from how Jesus would arrive, to what He would do.
Understanding this prophecy, this promise gives us real hope,
First – He is coming
As we hear the words rejoice, as we hear that Jesus, our Lord is coming to us, he comes to us in a way that is a paradox.
He’s righteous and victorious, even before the cross there is no demon, no power that can withstand Him. Think about that for a moment, the prophet is using words that are present tense, righteous, victorious, and this is known before he goes into Jerusalem.
Before He goes to the cross, he is already described as victorious.
But then he doesn’t enter as the conquering hero, and that is where we see the paradox.
Maybe that is why he goes to the Jerusalem without the armies, without the majestic horse and the flashing sword. He comes not to conquer, but to provide for His people.
And so he comes, riding on a small donkey, simple and humbly, to be with His people. Just as He promised to back again, and we await Him….
Second – He’s here… working
The second thing we see God doing in this passage is very interesting. Hear it again
I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations.
I want you to notice something very important, He’s not removing the ability of our enemies to do battle, but rather, he is removing our ability to do battle.
The coming of the Messiah doesn’t equip us to do warfare, it enables us to live knowing that our God is victorious. He is bringing peace into our lives, even as He prepared to the cross, so much more now should we be living in peace?
Yet you and struggle and fight, sometimes we try and fight the evil in the world, sometimes we fight the evil in each other, and sometimes, we fight the evil within ourselves. We know we should not sin, that we shouldn’t be so easy to give into temptation, and yet we do. Yet we don’t always turn this over to God, we might even swear we will do everything in our power to be good, rather than depend on Him, and on the work on the cross.
God has to remove our ability to fight, for as long as we do, we will not know His peace. For as long as we fight, we won’t depend on Jesus, we won’t depend on His work at the cross.
We have to let Jesus take over, it isn’t easy at times. Who am I kidding, it isn’t easy at all.
Yet Jesus took care of our need to prove ourselves right. Because of the cross, because of Jesus death paying for our sin, for our unrighteousness, we are now counted righteous. He strips from us not only the way to do battle but the desire to, for we begin to realize that God is taking care of us, that Jesus has made things right. That is His role, as He is our king,
Third Step, He frees us.
He describes that here, in verse 11:
11 Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. 12 Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope!
Even as the prophet is speaking and writing for God, the plan is set, it is by the blood of Christ that all who were imprisoned by sin are freed from it. Even as Christ rides up the mountain to Jerusalem, the plan which was set in place from before the creation of the world is as good as done.
This was the promise to Abraham, this is the promise made to Moses,
He frees us from all that imprisons us, all that causes us to fight, to struggle. Our anxieties, our fears, our sin, our brokenness. He brings us to a place of safety, a place of security, a sanctuary where we dwell with Him. A place where we learn to trust Him more and more, as we begin to experience and see His love for us.
For we are safe with our King leading us, with our King, Jesus, providing for us.
This is what we hope for, understanding it better than the people in the prophets day, or even the disciples in Jesus day. But we still need to understand it better, this love of God, revealed to us in the cross of Christ. This is the hope we have, given to us as Christ died on the cross, yet sometimes hard to see,,,
That is why as I close, I pray for you as Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus,
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)
Final Preparations For His Coming
† IHS †
As You Realize the Depth of the Grace and Peace of God our Father, and Jesus our Lord, May Your Cry for Him to Save Us Become More Confident and Filled With Wonder and Expectation!
They’ll Be Here Any Second!
You look at your watch, or maybe the clock on the microwave, and as your heart begins to beat faster, you wonder where the last forty-five minutes went!
The company will be here any moment, and you so aren’t ready.
The appetizers are perfect, but you haven’t changed from your bathrobe and pajamas, for that matter, you realized you haven’t showered yet!
The rest of the house, you know, the parts that you asked for help in getting cleaned up, well they are worse than when you asked for help1
The extra chairs are still in the garage, the laundry basket is empty, all over floor.
And as you leave the kitchen to get looking half presentable, you notice you forgot to turn on the oven, and the turkey is still thawing in the sink!
IS this the ultimate nightmare, or worse… reality?
Many people get stressed when company is coming over…. They want things to be perfect for their guests. Perhaps some of us aren’t that noble. We know life isn’t perfect, but we like it when others think that our lives are!
If we are so concerned about company coming over and finding lives, what concern do we have about Jesus coming back, and finding us ready?
As we spend these weeks prior to Christmas thinking about Jesus’ incarnation and His second coming, we are going to look Advent prayers and preparations. Wednesday Nights we’ll study the prayers in the Bible for Jesus to return, and on Sunday’s we’ll look at how to be prepared, how to be ready.
So let’s begin looking at the final preparations for Advent, or is it Easter!
Easter or Advent?
It may seem a little odd to begin Advent with a reading from Palm Sunday and the Triumphal Entry. The beginning of the week leading to Good Friday and Easter. There is a reason. When the shepherds looked down on Jesus in the manger, they had no clue what it would take to be the Savior. A year or so later, as the wise men presented Jesus gifts, they didn’t know either.
The disciples have walked with Him for years. They’ve heard him teach about the Father’s love because of firsthand experience. They’ve seen Jesus heal lepers, give sight to the blind, feed thousands with a few sardines and small roles of bread. They’ve seen Him raise people from the dead.
The Messiah is about to establish His reign over everything, and it is for this reason that He came. To answer the prayer the people cried out Praise the Lord, as they cried out Hosanna! (which means save us!) Everything’s ready for that which had been a mystery from the beginning is about to occur….
It’s almost ready… just a few final preparations.
Are We Willing to Go Get the Donkey…
There is always one task that everyone hates, that has to be done when company’s coming over. Maybe it’s taking out the trash, maybe it’s cleaning the toilet bowl.
I can’t imagine taking the walk to town to pick up a young unbroken donkey, and dragging it back to Bethany was the greatest of jobs. But someone had to do it, and these two disciples had to go deal with the donkey.
Some of us may be sent on similar missions still to deal with stubborn donkeys and bring them to Jesus. Some of us are as stubborn and that unbroken donkey.
But are we willing to listen to God’s direction that clearly? Are we willing to go and take on a task that isn’t glamorous, and may be more than a bit difficult? These two disciples played a role in fulfilling prophecy, but I am not sure they knew that. I can imagine one of them wondering if they could find this donkey, the other wondering if no one asked them, would they be charged with Grand Theft Donkey?
Our lives are often like their task that day. We aren’t sure why God wants us to work with donkeys, or why He doesn’t just wipe out those we think are enemies. Why this action is good, but why doing that is a sin, and doing that is labelled an abomination. We don’t have the answers, and our answer is the same as those disciples, simply telling people what we are told, by God.
But will we accept that His answer is good enough?
What advent is about is to prepare to welcome the King, to welcome the Messiah who comes in the name of the Lord God Almighty! Are we ready for that day? Have we done that which He asks, in preparation for that day when He comes, and everyone praises Him?
We are called into this relationship, into this family of God. Are we waiting for His return! Will we be found ready? Or will we be still trying to figure out why we have to work with donkeys?
A Word of Hope!
The anxiety of company arriving at any moment can be matched, when we consider our own work, as we strive to become ready for the second coming of Christ. Paul addresses that in his letter to the church in Corinth,
4 I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. 6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. 7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord!
That is the key to Advent, the key to being prepared for Christ’s return. He isn’t coming to check out that all the trash cans so clean you could eat out of them, or that the toilet is that clean, or even that the feast is perfectly prepared. He’s coming to see if we are ready to enter the Father’s presence, following behind him like the crowds did on Palm Sunday.
How we are prepared? We know what God has done, and is doing. We know about the cross, about Jesus dying that we could be free from all blame. That what scripture promises about Christ is true here, in this place. It is true for all that believe and are baptized! We are prepared when we have trust in God’s work in this place. When we know and use the gifts God has given to us, given to us because we belong to Jesus Christ. When we know that Jesus will keep us strong, and free from all blame. Because He is faithful we trust in Him, and we look forward to what is promised.
I love verse 8 – we have to hear it again,
He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord!
There is our hope, and there is the hope of the world, that in Christ, people are free from all blame and will be when He returns. For God has promises this welcomed you into a community led by Jesus! This is how we prepare for Advent. We realize our need for Him, our desperate need, and trust that He will meet it!
May our trust in God be seen, as we work with Him, even as His return draws closer!