Life is full of both joys and disappointments. Similarly, the triumph of Palm Sunday is only hours removed from the somberness of Good Friday.
During this Holy Week, we are to bring all we have before God - our Palm Sunday experiences as well as our Good Friday moments. He wants all of us. And He is with us through all of it!
As we walk with Jesus through the palms and willows of His last days on Earth, let's remember the hope of Easter, and that we are called to offer that hope to others.
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep a feast to the Lord for seven days. On the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. You shall take on the first day the branches of majestic trees—branches of palm trees, branches of leafy trees, and willows from a brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native children of Israel shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (MEV).
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
"We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours. Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out. We continually share in the death of Jesus in our own bodies so that the resurrection life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity. We consider living to mean that we are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity. So, then, death is at work in us but it releases life in you.
"We have the same Spirit of faith that is described in the Scriptures when it says, 'First I believed, then I spoke in faith.'
"So we also first believe then speak in faith. We do this because we are convinced that he who raised Jesus will raise us up with him, and together we will all be brought into his presence. Yes, all things work for your enrichment so that more of God’s marvelous grace will spread to more and more people, resulting in an even greater increase of praise to God, bringing him even more glory!" (TPT).
Our lives are full of swift changes in mood and circumstance. The governor of Ohio recently shared that during the first weekend in March, he issued an order to ban spectators from one of the city of Columbus's major annual events. That event generated millions in tourism income for the city. Many people thought he was being overly cautious, and needlessly so. Now, that decision looks like an easy one. But, the governor shared, it certainly wasn't an easy decision at the time.
Right now we are all in the "valley of COVID-19." But we are going through the valley, to the victory that is promised to us on the other side! The challenge for the Church is to focus, not solely on what's happening in the valley, but to the victory - and to praise God for that victory!
There are lessons to be learned during the time of weeping. Among those is, never take the victory for granted. Never receive the blessings of God with arrogance and vanity. Never wave the palm leaf as if you did anything to receive it.
Jesus is the source of all peace and the source of rejoicing. So we need to be thankful both in the valley and on the mountain.
Only the grace of God gives us strength to carry the palm and the wisdom to carry the willow. We have to show that we are neither arrogant in our blessing or destroyed in our defeat.
We believe in resurrection power. Let us learn from the early Church - the more the adversary afflicted it, the it they prospered and grew.
This is no time to back down! This is the time to say, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
Thank You for allowing me to be Your child! I thank You for the mountaintop experiences of my life. And I am learning to thank You for the valleys of my life as well. In my broken state that is more challenging, but I understand the necessity of praising You in every circumstance.
Thank You for Your word, and the examples You show me there of Joseph Moses, Job, Daniel, Paul and Jesus Himself. All of these experienced both thrills and heartbreak, like I have, and like I will. They were faithful to You no matter what season they were in - and that's what I strive to achieve as well. Order my steps so that I may praise You in every storm as fervently as when the sun is shining and the wind is at my back.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – Jehovah Joshua Messiah – I pray. Amen!