Tag Archives: Praise

Winning Through Captivity

Psalm 137

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.

For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

How shall we sing the Lord‘s song in a strange land?

Have you ever been to the place where you just don’t feel like you can lift your heart to praise Him?  The writer of this psalm feels that way.  They have been carried away captive,  and long for Zion, the mountain of God and the place of worship.  They have been taken captive because of their continuous turning to sin and forgetting their God.  Now they realize what they have done, and are filled with grief.

I have felt that way.  Walking in the trails of Pure Life Ministries one summer day I felt that way. I landed at PLM because my sins had overtaken me, and I had to do something drastic. I had lost my job, my marriage was in shambles, I was kicked out of my church and my ministry was gone.   It was like going into captivity

On the trail that day I was listening to the account of a missionary in India who had given into lust and was on the brink of an affair.  He had driven to the women’s house  and parked outside. Then the Holy Spirit spoke into His heart and asked him if he realized how this would affect his marriage, his church, his ministry and all those around him who supported him.

It hit me hard.  I dropped to knees right in the middle of that trail and wept out loud, knowing that I had never taken that into account.   I stayed there for about 15 minutes and headed back to the dorm. The next morning, around 3 am,  I knelt before the cross and recited Psalm 51 as my prayer.  God changed my heart that day.  The captivity was over.

My heart lept within me.  The spirit of praise returned to me, and the rest of my time there was filled with thanksgiving instead of remorse.  Repentance worked just the way it was meant to.

If you find yourself in a place of deep remorse,  and are captivated by your sin, repent.  That is the only way the spirit of praise will return.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.

If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

God must be first. If something else is, you must work in your spirit to enthrone Him again.  If you do not you will see your joy and peace erode slowly.   It will be replaced by satisfaction with less, and that tendency will grow within you until you are happy there.  Is hard to get back when you get here.  Your pride has brought you to a place where you think the place you are now is the best place to be. Pride controls you not God.

I know about this because I have been there.   I only overcame because of 8 months at PLM and a loving,  faithful wife who has stuck by me.  I could not have done it on my own.  You need a trusted friend or counselor to help you remember what God is truly like and what His blessings are like.  You have forgotten!

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.

O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

Have you ever watched the movie “Ever After”  it is one of my wife’s favorites.  A retelling of the Cinderella story, very different from previous scripts, it stars Drew Barrymore as Cinderella.  The harsh treatment by her step-mother and step-sister is as bad as in any of them, and she is left to suffer at the hands of a ruthless man.  But in the end her step-mother walks in thinking she is due an honor and in horror finds that her step-daughter now holds the rule over her.  Drew Barrymore, the queen, makes a simple statement.  She says “I will speak for her.  May the same treatment be given to her that she has given to me”.  With that, the mother in law and her sisters are banished to the laundry room.

Here, the same thing takes place.  May these kingdoms receive the same treatment they have given the Israelites.  This should be our attitude toward our enemy.  While we are waiting for God to rescue us, and He will, we trust in Him through all attacks.  We know He is our sword and shield, He is our refuge and fortress, He is our strong tower.  There is no enemy that can defeat us, for He is our victory.  So we pray for our enemy.  We do not return hurt for hurt.  We return love and help.  We rise above the turmoil.  God will take care of them and turn our captivity into theirs.

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

I have much wonder about this verse.  Why would the psalmist say these should be happy that dash little ones against stones.  This is a barbarous act that happened in warfare in those days.  There should be no happiness in that, especially that the psalmist would recommend.  But it is a warning to them, not an approval.

You see, the psalmist knew they would receive the same recompense for what they do to the Israelites, those called and blessed of the Lord.  In the end, Israel will have the victory and they will be vanquished.  The captors better take their happiness now, because here will be none in the end.  With this verse, He encourages them to be happy now, because it will not last.

The enemies that rise against you better take their happiness now in the torment they bring your way, and they usually do.  My wife has a tormentor in her work place.  This person takes great joy in belittling my wife and talking behind her back, in blaming her for her own mistakes, and holding up work to make it look like my wife is slowing things down.  It is maddening to hear her come home day after day with the same story.  But my wife has been moved now, and the tormentor is silenced.  There is no more happiness in her.  She has been put in her place.  My wife is in the happy seat now.  Wait out your enemy.  God will take care off it!

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Broken Blessing

We are headed up to see my daughter and her family in Fargo, ND this morning.  They moved up there in August and we figured we wanted to get up there before the snow flies.  It’s about a 6 hour drive, and I am not driving out of town yet, so my wife shoulders the burden of the entire drive – both ways.    We will return Sunday so it is a short trip.  Then we are heading down to our granddaughters volleyball game on Monday – a three hour drive one way.  WE return from there that night.  My wife will be exhausted!  But it’s worth it to see the grand kids!

Of course, with all that driving we wanted to make sure our car was in good shape, so we had our mechanic take a look at it.  The dealer we work with is a good friend who takes our car to his dealership an hour away and leaves us with a loaner while it is being fixed.   We had been having some problems with occasionally starting hard and being a little sluggish, and he found that the spark plugs needed replaced.  Everything else checked  out good.

Our friend was getting ready to bring it home when he noticed a little puddle under the car.  It was antifreeze, and looked like it was coming from the water pump.  He said they would check it out and let me know, and he would bring us an almost new car of similar size and style to drive this weekend.  This is a repair we can little afford right now.

When I shared this with my wife, we both teared up a little in thanks to God, and just gave Him praise.  You might say “Why would you praise Him!  You might have a  broken water pump!”.  I say while that is true, it is broken now and not halfway on our trip.  It is in the hands of people I absolutely trust to do the right thing, not some mechanic I have never met.  This is God’s mercy at work in a very big way, and I give Him praise.

One of the signature verses in my life is Proverbs 3:6 “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths”.  It is such a blessing that God watches over us 24/7/365.  He knows our plans, and He knows the plans He has for us.  He wants to bring blessing into our lives, and the discovery of that water pump problem before our trip is a huge blessing.  We serve an awesome God!

We Have Things To Do!

Psalm 135

Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the name of the Lord; praise him, O ye servants of the Lord.

Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.

Praise the Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.

Why do you go to church?  I have heard people give all kinds of reasons why they go to church.  Some go for the fellowship with other believers.  Some go to be built up in the faith by the message or Sunday School lesson.  Some go because they feel obligated.  Some go because they want to be seen (pride).  Then there are those who do not go to church and say they can get the word from all those TV preachers and can worship Him in the calm surrounding of their own homes.  Some don’t go because of the hypocrisy they see all around them, and they would rather not be in the midst of it.  Some just can’t stand the gossip that goes on in our churches. I say all of these reasons are genuine and could be valid.

To me, going to church is all about worship.  It’s all about praising His name.  I’s all about joining with other believers in His court and lifting up His name.  We were created to praise Him!  We were created for that intimate fellowship that comes into a service when all are worshiping with one accord.  There is nothing that can take the place of that time.  believe me, I tried to recreate t when I was not going to church because of my cancer treatments, but I could not.  There is nothing like standing in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God and praising Him.  I urge you if you are not attending a church to find one where you belong.  If you are attending, praise Him with all you have every time you are there.  He deserves it!

For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.

The Lord chose Jacob, and the Lord chose us! In John 15:16, Jesus tells the disciples that they did not choose Him, He chose them.  I think that also applies to those of us who follow Christ with all of our heart.  He chose us to be His vessels, to mold and shape us so that we are ready for the masters use.  1 Peter 2:9 says that we are a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a chosen generation.  That sets us apart for service if we truly will listen to His call.

Do you realize how important you are to God?  That’s right!  He desires to have you go out and touch people’s lives, showing them what an awesome God you serve.  He has given you a testimony to share with the world.  You probably wondered why you went through all those trials ad tests, all those struggles, all those hard times.  He brought you through all of the so you knew that he cared about you. and so that you would share with others His incredible mercy and grace.  there are people you can reach that perhaps no one else can.  Are you doing your part?  Get busy!

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.

Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.

Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.

Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants.

10 Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings;

11 Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan:

12 And gave their land for an heritage, an heritage unto Israel his people.

In Israel’s history, we see so many battles and so many victories.  We see miraculous victories.  In Egypt He caused 10 amazing plagues to come so the nation would be released from bondage.  Then He knocked down the walls of Jericho with a shout.  The Red Sea parted.  The Jordan river parted – during flood stage!  Gideon defeated the Midianites with lanterns and a shout.  Daniel escaped he lions den.  Shadrach, Meshac and Abednego walked out of a fiery furnace.  Now tell me, have you faced any trials even close to those?  I doubt it.  After considering all those, do you think God can bring you through whatever you have going on right now?  You bet He can!

13 Thy name, O Lord, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O Lord, throughout all generations.

14 For the Lord will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.

You see, God never fails.  He will be forever.  His name will be exalted forever.  He will be the judge forever.  There is a lot of talk about judgment going on right now – how we should not judge one another, or judge those whoa re caught up in sinful lifestyles.  We are supposed to stand by and be tolerant, letting them be.  I have to say that God will not be tolerant.  He will judge sin, and will not spare anyone.  Churches today talk a lot about grace but very little about judgment.  We need the message of judgement alongside the message of grace.

As for me, I am responsible to judge myself – to examine myself (1 Cor 11:28).  I need to study to show myself approved (2 Tim 2:15).  I need to crucify this flesh (Gal 5:24).  I need to do the will of the Father Matt 7:21).  there are things God tells me to d, and I need to have enough sense to judge myself and see if I am doing those things.  Jesus said to remove the things from my life before I even think about trying to help someone else get their life straightened out. (Matt 7:1-5).  So many people think these verses teach us not to judge, but Jesus really is teaching us how to judge properly!  So check yourself out – make sure you’ve got it right.

15 The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.

16 They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not;

17 They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.

18 They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.

I am so glad I serve a God who speaks to me, who sees me, and who hears me.  A living, breathing God.  One who can walk with me each day.  One who actually cares about my well being and arranges things that will bless me day after day.  I serve an awesome God! I don’t trust in idols or false gods or gods who are dead.  In fact, I serve the only God who is alive – Jesus is not buried like so many other of those ancient gods.  Jesus rose from the grave and is alive today!

19 Bless the Lord, O house of Israel: bless the Lord, O house of Aaron:

20 Bless the Lord, O house of Levi: ye that fear the Lord, bless the Lord.

21 Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.

So I will bless the Lord!  We discussed this extensively a few days ago.  I need to lift up my voice and sing my praises unto Him every chance I get.  When I don’t feel like it, I will bless Him/  When times are hard, I will bless Him.  When the storms come, I will bless Him. When I am tired and alone, I will bless Him.  When I feel like no one cares, I will bless Him.  I will lift my praises to Him at all times.  He is worthy!

Bless The Lord

Psalm 134

134 Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord.

This is an interesting switch in wording by David.  In 2 of his previous psalms (103 & 104) he says out with “Bless the Lord, o My soul”  He is encouraging himself to give honor and glory to the Lord.  I imagine in many of the predicaments David got it, he needed to encourage himself to praise the Lord.  Do you?  Are there times that you just don’t feel like worshiping?  Times that the circumstances in your life have you down and out, wondering if God really is watching over you?  The times when you don’t feel like praising Him are actually the best and most important times to praise Him!

But this time David is encouraging all the servants of the Lord to bless the Lord.  How often do you encourage others to bless the name of the Lord?  We all have times we come across people who are having a hard time in life.  Maybe it’s financial, maybe physical or maybe emotional – people seem to be in more turmoil today than ever.  That tends to make it harder to bless the Lord, but  it also makes it more important. Why do I say that>  because when we worship the Lord, we take our minds off of our problems and focus our minds on the problem solver.  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33:

seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

That’s a promise we can stand on.  Many of us spend way too much time worrying and fretting about what might happen, or in what situation we are in.  Does that really do any good?  I have found that it does not.  I have found the when I start to worship God, to Bless the Lord, in the middle of my circumstances,  He takes over and alleviates my burden.  Isn’t that what I need right then?

It also seems like David is addressing these words to the night watch in the temple  i think about the times I have woken up in the middle of thee night with something laying heavy on my heart.  If I would dwell on it, I would lose a bunch of sleep.  But if I start to lift up His name, after a little while the burden is lifted and I can rest again.  God desires to take my burden – why would I want to hold onto it?

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.

I find it really hard to lift up my hands when I am carrying a burden.  My arms are weighed down b whatever it is I have decided to carry.  Once my I have let go of that burden, I can lift up my hands.  There are many places in the word that reference lifting hands in worship (1 Kings 8:22 & 54, Neh 8:6, Psalm 63:4, 1 Tim 2:8 are a few).  There are also many different feelings about what it means to lift ones hands.  To me, lifting my hands is my way of reaching up to my Heavenly father and asking Him to pick me up,just as my kids did to me.  it’s a precious symbol of my love for God.  And it is a blessing to God.

The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.

Now the blessing is reversed.  David says the Lord that made heaven and earth will bless us.  Can you possibly get your mind around that?  I have a tough time absorbing exactly what that means for me think about it!  If the God that created this whole universe blesses us, what things are outside of His ability to do?  NOTHING!  All things are possible for God (Matt 19:26).  if He can make heaven and earth, certainly he can take care of absolutely anything that comes into my life.  So why do I worry and fret when he is on my side?  I just need to bless Him, and His blessings will come to me.  That will solve any problem I could possibly have!

The Rocks Rise Up

One of the things that has been a mystery to me in the past is why farmers have to continually pick rocks out of their field. Here in Iowa about 80% of the soil is tilled and planted to grow corn and soybeans and other crops. And every year farmers have to pick many rocks of all sizes out of the field.

I lived in New England before I lived here and I can remember rocks being referred to as New England potatoes because they would grow in the fields every year. This is probably one of the reasons that New England farmers put a lot of stone walls everywhere as boundary markers. You can walk through forests that have been there for decades upon decades and all of a sudden come across a stone wall out in the middle of nowhere. This tells you that at one time this was tillable soil and somebody had a fence line made out of Rock. If you have a rock wall at the end of your field any rocks you pick can go on that fence. Than- makes a lot of sense and makes picking out rocks a good thing.

stone wall

In Iowa we don’t have stone walls so the rocks have to find a place on the farm somewhere. Most of them are fairly small, but occasionally farmers tell me that they get one that has to be dug out and carried away with some type of implement. Huge rocks, bigger than me, are often found. Why does that happen?

I finally took the time to look it up on the internet. Rocks conduct heat better than the soil. In the winter time, when it gets cold here, the moisture in the dirt freezes the soil. Under the rocks will freeze before the soil around it. We all know that water expands when it freezes, so when the ice under the Rock thaws out there’s a gap between the Rock and the ice. This gap is then naturally filled in with dirt which raises up the rock, sometimes by as much as six inches. This causes rocks to be continually forced to the service.

a big rock

 

Jesus did a lot of his teaching in parables and many of those parables involved the ground. He did this because most of the people in Jesus time were farmers and they could understand how the Earth worked. There’s a lesson to be learned from these rocks and I think it’s one that we all need to eat.

We may do a great job feeding our spirit with the word (Heb 5:12-14, Jer 3:15, John 6:51)), taking in the living water (Eph 5:26, John 4:14) and being in the light (Psalm 119:105, I John 1:5-7). The word needs to always be vibrant in our lives. Our prayer life may be active (Phil 4:7) and we might seem to be going along well. But once in a while there comes a time when we lack energy toward God, when our zeal is gone and our spirit seems empty. This has happened to me on many occasions. In those times it’s easy for us to grow cold in our spirit instead of staying hot or warm. This is the time when the rocks can rise in our lives.

Rocks represent some of the harder times is our spiritual. They may represent some of the areas where we do not allow God to do the work that He wants to do. We have closed those doors so He cannot go in, and God is a gentleman. he will not force Himself on us, but He will bring about circumstances that will work on those areas. These bring up stumbling blocks, or rocks, in our lives.

Remember the story of the tares (Matt 13:24-30)? When seed fell on rocks, or soil, the birds could swoop down and take it away. These “birds” are people around us who laugh and mock our faith and our belies, and we bow to their criticism and turn away from what God wants to do in our lives. The rocks remain and the word goes away, leaving us floundering, and we do become unfruitful.

rocky ground

It is so essential that we get into these areas in our lives and remove the rocks that are causing the problem. We do this by having diligence in our faith and turning back to God. We do this by lifting all the praise To him. But most importantly, we do this by taking our eyes off of ourselves and becoming more humble and obedient to the word of God. Most likely, we have been reading the word and praising Him, but we have not been watching our pride rising up within us, and we get proud spiritually. This is the biggest rock of all. God takes great interest in how you deal with these times in your life.

You cannot avoid the rising rocks. It is going to happen in your life on occasion just like it happens to the farmers every year. There is nothing can do to avoid it (James 1:1-13, 1 Peter 4:12). But you can take action if you have rocks that are holding you back from worshiping Him as you should and giving him your all.

If you sit there and say this cannot happen to me. I am full of zeal and following the Holy Spirit’s lead, then I say you are too proud and you need to humble yourself, bow down, and ask God to forgive you and to show you your pride. We are all affected by this. We are all vulnerable to the rocks rising in our lives.

I implore you to search your heart and ask God to search your heart and reveal any wicked way that’s in you (Psalm 23-24). Allow Him the access that He needs to show you where you need to change. The hear His voice and heed His words. It takes a careful listener to hear God speak many times. Quiet yourself before the Lord.

One more thing. When Jesus was entering Jerusalem for the last time, and the people laid down their clothes and palm branches while they welcomed Him with praise, there were some who chastised Him for accepting their praise. They were the proud Pharisees and Scribes of the day. Jesus said on the day that if the people didn’t praise Him, the rocks would cry out and praise Him (Luke 19:40) If the people were cold toward Him, as the religious leaders of the day were, the rocks would rise up and show His glory. They would bring us to our knees before an almighty God. They would produce honor for God in our lives. this s what the rocks are for. Allow them to shape and mold you. Become a vessel of honor for God.

Freedom from Captivity

Psalm 126

When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.

The Lord is the only one  who can turn our captivity to sin.  As much as we may try to rid ourselves of sins in our lives, the seed of sin will always remain until Jesus takes control.  His blood at Calvary is our covering from sin (1 John 2:2).  When we confess our sins to Him, He forgives us and cleanses us from all our unrighteous ways (John 1:9).  It is the shed blood of Jesus that removes our sin (1 John 1:7), and He removes it as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  Once He takes our sins away, He washes us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

This world is constantly looking for ways to restore civility and goodness into the hearts of man.  We hear calls of tolerance and understanding for those less fortunate.  We try to understand why a person would just start shooting others for the simplest of reasons.  We call for a stop of violence by police officers, which has sparked many civil unrest moments in our  country.  We look for ways to bring people together but things seem to get worse and worse.  There really is only one answer – Jesus.  This is a sin issue, not a civility issue.  Until we realize that, there will be no remedy.

My dream is for a world where Jesus reigns.  Where we all come together in love and lookout for each other, a world where people genuinely care for each other and do what’s best for those around the, not for themselves.  A world where there is an appreciation for God’s great creation, and an awe for His majesty.  This is where I try to live.  Won’t you join me?

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.

The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

Once I was freed from my sin, rejoicing is a very subtle word for how I felt.  I was elated, and I wanted to let the whole world know.  I now realize that it is a daily walk with God, and daily repentance that I must live.  I am not perfect, but living in Christ makes me perfect in His eyes.  I daily give my life to Him, dying to myself (1 Cor 15:31) so that pride will not rear it’s ugly head again.  I give myself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) when I rise up in the morning, asking God to guide my day in righteousness (Psalm 23:3). I pray you do the same.

The Lord has done great things for me.  I could fill these blog pages a hundred times and not begin to tell how many wonderful things He has done for me.I bet you can do the same.  The goodness of God overwhelms  us every day, and many times we just forget to think about it.  The air we breath, the trees and flowers, the sun that rises every day, the stars that glow  at night are just the beginning of the good things He gives us.  Let us never again forget all the good things He has done for us.

Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

When bad things come our way, we need to look to God for the answer.  While walking with Him for the last 42 years, I have learned that out of the hardest, most trying times, come the biggest ;lessons and eventually the most joy.  He always had our best at heart, and brings about situations that will improve out lives and make us better Christians and followers of His ways.  I have been guilty of  taking shortcuts through the trials and not learning the lesson,and have had to repeat the lesson until it is learned.  Now I know that ,in the end, any tears or sadness that may come  into my life will eventually end in joy, and I embrace those things when they come.  God has a plan, and I plan to walk in it.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him

Forward never back.  Even i sadness, it is ahead with Christ for me.  I must take my testimony to those who don’t know Christ.  The seed of truth and salvation that is a part of my testimony will reach into the hearts of those that hear it.  As I share with others the great things that God has done, He will  bring a harvest of souls into His kingdom.  Rejoice in what God has done for you, and share it with all you see!

The Rocks Are Crying Out!

Matt 21:1  And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,  Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.  And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.  All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,  Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.  And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,  And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

The beginning of what we call Holy week starts with a fulfillment of scripture at the outset.  How fitting.  This whole week is marked by dozens, if not hundreds, of Old Testament scriptures being fulfilled.  It is also marked by so many activities that I am going  to be quite selective in choosing which ones to write about.  We start on Sunday, and what is commonly called Palm Sunday, or the Triumphal Entry.

In this story, the ass, or donkey, draws my attention. Riding in on the donkey was a fulfillment of Zachariah 9:9.  In Mark and Luke’s gospels, we are told that Jesus says to find a donkey that man has never sat on.  Now I have never attempted to break a horse, but I have seen shows where someone has, and it is not an easy task.  I would imagine a donkey to be that same way..  For most people, they would prefer a donkey that had been ridden several times.  But Jesus wanted one that had never been ridden.  Why?

First, a donkey that had not been sat upon was most likely being held for a special purpose, perhaps an offering of some sort.  It was consecrated.  Donkey’s were commonly used by the Jews for transportation, so this animal had been pampered and protected from that.  To be a sacrificial animal it needed to be free of any defects or blemishes.  This represented the special event it was going to be used for – the ushering in of the King of Kings.  I’m sure the owner was very concerned with letting the animal go, but when He heard it was Jesus who asked, he was glad to allow it.

Second, it represents to me the fact that Jesus can take a life that is restless, unbroken and untamed  and calm it with ease.  There is no record of Jesus having any problem with this untamed animal.  He will also have no problem with a sinner who comes to Him, deep in their sin.  Someone who has been through every program there is, every kind of counseling, maybe even prison, and has still not been tamed.  The gentleness of Jesus can take that troubled soul and calm it in an instant.

 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried,  saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.  10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?  11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth  of Galilee.  

What a scene this must have been!  Remember, it was just a few days ago Jesus raised Lazarus form the dead.  The word had spread throughout the countryside about that miracle.  I imagine the crowd had swelled the size of the city quite a bit.  As the crowd gathered, I can imagine the Pharisees and Scribes hearing the murmur in the crowd that Jesus was coming.  The man that just a few days ago they tried to take into custody but could not.  The man they had determined needed to be put to death was coming back into their city.  This time they would not miss their opportunity.

They watched as the people cheered.  They watched as the people pulled down branches and laid the before Him.  They watched as some even removed their outer garments to make a path for Him, riding that donkey.  And they thought to themselves how blatant of Him to ride a donkey in  They knew the scripture from Zachariah, because it was one of the Messianic scriptures to be fulfilled only by the Messiah.  How dare He try to pretend to be the Messiah?

They wanted so badly to grab Him ow, but knew they could not.  the people adored Him.  They  were worshiping Him in the street as He entered.  The leaders could not afford to anger the people.  They had to figure out a way to turn the people against Him, somehow,  Luke’s gospel tells us this in chapter 19.  39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.  40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

I marvel at current archaeology.  More and more they are finding things that verify the biblical account, from creation all the way to Christ’s birth.  (As a side note, if you  have never been to the Creation Museum just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, you should plan a family vacation there.  It is well  worth it.)  As they do, the rocks are crying out about the truth of the scripture and about Jesus.  Today, science refuses to admit that creation is a fact.  They believe their wisdom is better than God’s.  But the more they look at what the rocks have to say, the more convincing the argument for God!  Man has ceased praising the Lord as he should and the rocks are crying out!

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,  13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.  

This is the second time Jesus cleansed the temple and overturned the money changers tables.  The first was at the very beginning of His ministry, just after He had turned the water into wine (John 2:14-21).  That was His first trip to Jerusalem after He started His ministry, this was His last.  Either the money changers had forgotten what happened before, or they didn’t think He’d have the guts to do it again, or they were new to the trade and didn’t know what he had done before.  In any case, they were unprepared for what he would do.

We have all seen the movies where this is depicted.  Animals are let loose, money goes flying, tables are overturned.  This was a busy place, maybe a lot like our Farmer’s markets on a busy Saturday on July.  There were a lot of people transacting business.  But Jesus did not care about that.  What He cared about was the indecency of it all.

You see, what the money changers were doing, under the watchful guidance of the Pharisees and Scribes, was ripping off the innocent people.  People would come with their sacrifices, and these money changers would inspect them.  Finding the slightest thing wrong, they would sell the innocent people another animal and let them go to sacrifice it.  Then they would take that animal, which they had just rejected, and sell it to someone else.  It was scam all the way, and Jesus knew it.  He was indignant!

When a preacher uses trickery, or deceitful ways to take money from the people, it is the same thing, and it makes the Lord angry.  If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times.  If you give $XXXX in this offering , the Lord has told me it will be returned to you ten fold, or twenty fold.  I can recall being in meetings where a special person was designated to take up the offering, just because he could pull money from the crowd better than anyone else.

Woe be to that preacher who tells the audience “The Lord told me” when it s actually just his way of getting a bigger offering.  God desires righteousness and honor.  He desires truth in the inward parts.  I wonder how many of our churches today would find  Jesus overturning the table when He got inside!  May we never find ourselves doing such a thing to help our own cause.  He knows the intention of our heart.

I’m guessing you though this might be a little different than this since it’s Palm Sunday, but I always try to give you a different look, and deliver what the Lord has laid on my heart.  You can expect the same this entire week.  Who knows where He will take us.  Tomorrow, I know we will talk about a fig tree.