John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. [NIV]
This is the middle of the week between Palm Sunday and Easter for us. The memory of that first “Palm” Sunday crowd raising their Hosannas for the Messiah of their own imagination along with this quote from John Piper is my reminder for today. “Many of Jesus’s followers [in AD33] thought Jesus came to rescue and reign now. They anticipated a physical and political freedom from the oppressive Roman rule. For them, the Christ was the key to their immediate, this-world issues.” [Your Sorrow will Turn to Joy]
Re-read that quote from Piper and replace “Roman rule” with coronavirus. As believers in Christ we are confronted today with the same challenge of that long ago crowd – choosing imagination or reality. We can’t imagine how Jesus will rescue us from the deadly coronavirus but we can find comfort in the reality of His own words “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Choosing to let Jesus’s Word be the reality of comfort for us is better than letting our imagination for this-world confront us in the midst of this coronavirus week between Palm Sunday and Easter .
Matthew 21:8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” [NIV]
Today is Palm Sunday. I know many of us will have the opportunity to hear the message of Christ provided by our Pastor’s via the internet. That’s a blessing. We are living in a new reality where dependence on community worship is restricted. We won’t be surrounded by a crowd of like minded people gathering together to remember this day as the moment of triumph when Jesus begins His final journey to the day of our salvation. We won’t be hearing other voices raised with our own as we shout Hosanna! There are no waving palm branches to prompt our memory of the past.
The pomp and circumstance of public celebrations has been temporarily swept aside but Coronavirus can’t deprive you of your Hosannas, “help” or “save, I pray!” Today we are the ones who must prepare the way for Jesus to enter into the midst of our exile. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Blessed is he who comes to complete His identity in you right there in your own home and offers you the opportunity to complete your identity in Him through a different kind of personal experience. Today Palm Sunday worship is up to you.
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I found the sermon on Jeremiah 29 by C.H. Spurgeon last week [http://www.spurgeongems.org/sermon/chs1965.pdf]. I feel like I stumbled onto something very special. It was delivered in 1887 but it’s wisdom has stood the test of time. It’s long and I keep rereading it because it has more ideas than I can absorb in one reading. “These people in captivity were likely to fear that their God had forgotten them; hence the Lord repeats His words in this place, and speaks of thoughts and thinking three times.” Plans, plans, plans.
Plans are the tricky part for humans because we trust what we know and we just don’t know it all. So here we are in this time of Coronavirus faced with the conflict of who’s plans to believe and what actions to take. Consider this second truth from Spurgeon “Unbelief misinterprets the ways of God; hasty judgment jumps at wrong conclusions about them, but the Lord knows His own thoughts. We are doubtful where we ought to be sure, and we are sure where we have no ground for certainty, thus we are always in the wrong.”
Pay attention today to the plans for dealing with Coronavirus, take every action based on their limited wisdom and act in an abundance of caution on the knowledge of men you don’t know AND then put your trust and hope in the plans of the God you do…”plans to give you hope and a future.”
Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Whose peace are we called to? Re-read the verses above, then take a deep breath and give thanks to God that the “peace of Christ” is the gold standard we’re expected to live by, not our own.
We are confronted with novel circumstances in our world right now that impact our lives enough to alert us to remember, that is truth. And this is reality: all our riches, and peace, dwell “among” [in the company of] “the message of Christ” that lives in our hearts. Our hearts are where the groundswell of gratitude reveals our understanding of the vast truth of what His peace really means to us.
“In the company” of your hearts and daily lives “the message of Christ” is completed by the simple recognition of this absolutely timeless truth that makes peace possible:
❤️Christ holds your heart in His own❤️
Colossians 3:12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Click to Enlarge
My first thought was Colossians 3:12 sounded like the Designer version of the armor of God. A new wardrobe filled with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forgiveness, love, peace, thankfulness, wisdom and gratitude. This is not the armor of medieval times. It has the same complete coverage as the heavy metal version but it looks quite different. This wardrobe honors the qualities the Designer Himself has chosen to display what His impenetrable protection looks like. It covers every vital thing necessary to win over the opposition at the same time it reveals Love is the thrust of outreach that makes this “armor” a thing of beauty that still wins ❤️s.
2 Samuel 14:13 …“Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him. NLT
Joab enlisted a wise woman to confront the king about his reluctance to reunite with his own son. The two things that informed my thoughts about this passage are the importance of, and the difficulty of, personal confrontation. My own go-to plan is to avoid it. It’s a ridiculous plan when I logically think about it because confrontation has played a very real part in my own life of faith but in the heat of the moment my response is just like the king’s – try to ignore and escape the situation and the other person involved as well. It’s not a pretty picture but it’s a human response the Lord of Mercy has a plan for. I’ve named it “the wisdom of mortality.”
The wisdom of mortality is exactly what the woman of Tekoa spoke. “Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.” Life doesn’t last forever and that wisdom has made a big difference to me. God has confronted us with our separation from Him through His son, Jesus. The twists, turns and turmoil of life are the proof that we have cracks in our hearts of stone. [v14b] “God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” The wisdom of mortality is that it’s Christ Jesus that is our critical and visible evidence that we’ve been reunited with God.