PAssion Week

While Christ’s Sacrifice for us should be pondered daily, Resurrection Day (Easter), should be celebrated as that Particular Turning Point in Earth’s history!  


Since our Lord asked us to “remember Him” and this event, Easter Day is the calendar reminder of how the Father fulfilled the Mosaic Law (Matthew 5:17) making  His Son OUR “sin offering”: JESUS, The One and Only Savior


Let us show Him our deepest gratitude. 


This whole week we will be walking through the steps Jesus took which led to the Cross…and ultimate Resurrection. Please, journey with us as we seek to draw deeper in fellowship with our Lord. 


It is actually 8 days, beginning on Palm Sunday and concluding dramatically on Resurrection Sunday (Easter).


Jesus died willingly, but, because He was also human, it was NOT effortlessly. (Mark 10:45; John 10:18). 


Matthew also records that He told His disciples on at least three occasions that He must go to Jerusalem to die on the Cross.  (This was what He came down to earth to accomplish.) His mission: LIVE TO DIE as the sacrifice for our sins.


Serious reflecting on Easter is not just remembering Jesus’ death and payment for our sins, but that His Resurrection Validated His VICTORY OVER sin and death. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried and then He arose…BACK TO LIFE!  


This proved that He is Who He said He was, and that He accomplished what He came here to accomplish - “He is able.”


So, as we study the scripture here we see Jesus Christ is fully God, and fully human (man); He is our only Savior (John 14:6).  


Being raised from the dead is the testimony from Him that we can trust in Him, His sacrifice for our sins and that receive our new life in Him. His resurrection also demonstrates that His promise to resurrect us one day will come true.  Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

  • Palm Sunday

    We Celebrate Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem: the event is recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19 and John 12).


    Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.  


    The Palm branches strewn along the road symbolized His triumph and victory.  Even Jesus riding humbly on a  donkey was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 (circa 560 BC).  


    The spreading of palms and cloaks was an act of homage for royalty (see 2 Kings 9:13). 


    Jesus was openly declaring to the people that He was their King and the Messiah they had been waiting for.


    Matthew 21:9-11  says that “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!”  At that time, people hailed Him as the “King who comes in the name of the Lord”!


    Jesus’ purpose in riding into Jerusalem was to make public His claim to be their Messiah and King of Israel as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.   


    Jesus was hailed by the people as king, so the streets of Jerusalem (the royal city) are ‘that particular day’ open to Him.  


    But, unlike an earthly king going to a temporal palace, HE is depicting His ascending to His Spiritual kingdom Palace.


    He received the worship and praise of the people because only He deserves it.  No longer does He tell His disciples to be quiet about Him (Matthew 12:16, 16:20) but to shout His praises and worship Him openly.


    Some hailed Him as King with their many hosannas, recognizing Him as the Son of David who came in the name of the Lord.  However, many welcomed Him out of their desire for a messianic deliverer.  


    Those desiring “The Deliverer” aspect turned on Him because He refused to lead them in revolt Roman occupiers.  So, within just a few days, their “Hosannas” would become cries of “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:20-21). 


    Those who hailed Him earlier as a “Hero” also later rejected and abandoned Him. 

    The story of the triumphal entry is one of contrasts, and those contrasts contain applications to believers. It is the story of the King who came as a lowly servant on a donkey, not a prancing steed, not in royal robes, but on the clothes of the poor and humble. 

     

    Jesus Christ did not come to conquer by force as an earthly king would but by love, grace, mercy, and His own sacrifice for His people. His is not a kingdom of armies and splendor but of lowliness and servanthood. He conquers not nations but hearts and minds. His message is one of peace with God, not of temporary earthly peace. 

     

    If Jesus has made a triumphal entry into our hearts, He then reigns there in peace and love. As His followers, we should share with Him these same qualities, and the world sees the true King living and reigning in triumph in us.

     

    These events, leading to the Cross,  are the beginnings the New Covenant and point the way to the blessings and life that will flow from it.  This is what God promised through the prophets throughout the Old Testament  (Jeremiah 31:31, 33), and Ezekiel (Eze 36:26-27). 



    Things to pray for today:

    Remembering the cross, bring the story to life for us as we walk through this week in the word. 


    Move our hearts closer to You, and direct our lives to bring glory and honor to You. 

    Jesus, help us to follow Your new command of love. 


    Help us to understand and receive Your love, and teach us how to love the people in our lives well.


     Bless this week, Father, and may many new souls come to you and receive Your grace.

  • MONDAy

    Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Teaches in the Temple


    Returning to the temple from Bethany, Jesus is hungry and sees a fig tree, symbolic of Israel (Matt 21:43). The tree is full of leaves but without fruit. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again” and immediately the tree withers (Matt 21:18-21). 

     

    He then went to the temple where he taught and rebuked the temple leaders, angering them but causing the people to rejoice. (Matt 21:45) 


    Thought for the day:

    Why did Jesus curse a lovely fig tree? 


    One critic accused him of being hangry (hungry and angry)? But obviously there is a lesson in this event and whenever we have a question about the Bible, we often find the answer somewhere else in the Bible. In this case we don’t have to look far to find our answer.


    Just a few verses later we see the message Jesus was giving through the cursing of the fig tree. 


    Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you (Israel) and given to a people who will produce its fruit.


    The fig tree appeared healthy and full of leaves. 


    Much like the religious leaders of Israel, it looked good but bore no fruit. Israel had the law, the temple, the priests, the robes, the sacrifices and plenty of religious activity. 


    It looked good but was a sham, an outward appearance which bore no fruit. Instead of offering life, health and spiritual nourishment to the nations, they offered dead form and rituals. They were more concerned about themselves than about others. 


    The Spirit had departed long ago but they never even missed Him because they had their beloved religious activities - the beautiful leaves of the fig tree.


    Because Israel rejected the Lord and His plan, He was going to entrust “the kingdom of God” to others, the Gentiles, “who will produce its fruit.”


    That makes me pause and ask, “Am I producing fruit or do I just look good on the outside? 


    Am I just going through the rituals, the religious routines and the outward appearance of serving the Lord? 


    Or, am I genuinely producing fruit - making a difference, offering hope, help, life and encouragement to others?”


    In these days of world-wide calamity and chaos, we, the people of God, have the greatest of opportunities to be offering the fruit of our lives to nourish others. Galatians 5 tells us about the fruit that God wants to see us produce. 


    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: …    
- Galatians 5:22, 23

    So, FBC Family, are we bearing fruit or just producing lovely leaves? In this time of difficulty, let’s grow up, give out and lavishly share the fruit of righteousness (Philippians 1:11) with our neighbors, family and friends who are desperate for a word of hope and help.

     

    Things to pray for today:

    Pray, by name, for one specific neighbor, friend, family member, co-worker or another person that you want to come to know the Lord.


    Ask the Lord what you can do in this unique time to share life, help, hope or encouragement with that one person. 


    Depending upon what you sense the Lord prompting you to do, perhaps you can call, write, text, email, Facetime or FB message a word of encouragement. Simply let them know you are praying for them.


    Invite them to Easter drive-in service at FBC or, if they are not in our area, encourage them to listen online or seek out another online service for Easter Sunday.

     

    Pray God softens their heart to receive His Word and humble themselves before Him.

  • TUESday

    Nisan 11 (Tuesday) was a busy day for Jesus during Passion Week. Much of Tuesday was spent teaching. He taught his disciples and the “religious leaders”. 


    In large part he taught in parables. 

    You can refresh your memory by reading Mark 21:23-46 where he taught the chief priests and the elders. 


    He taught on taxes when they tried to entrap him. You probably remember his famous quote “… render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”(Matt 22:21). He taught the disciples about the end times. (Matt 24)


    I would like for us to take a minute or two and focus on what he taught found in last ten verses of Matt 24. And conclude with a few verses that Peter wrote.


    42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

    45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

     

    I guess most everyone has been and is on alert because of covid19. Even before the covid19 threat, we should be living like Jesus is coming back today. Unfortunately, many waste their lives living like there is no end. Maybe covid19 has reminded us that life is very short. 


    Read all of 2 Peter 3, but for now remember these verses: 


    10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

    11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

    14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 

    He came that we not perish but have eternal life!!!

     

    Pray today for:

    Pastor John

    Cure for covid19

    Those who have lost their jobs

  • wednesday

    Wednesday is referred to as a day of rest for Jesus.  He spent this day with his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

     

    The major event of Holy Wednesday is Judas’ decision to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and the a woman anointed Jesus feet with perfume (Matthew 26:6-13).  This would be similar to pre-embalming Jesus.  

     

    Although Judas betrayal doesn’t take place for another day, our knowledge of the impending act colors our reading of the Last Supper story, which happens on Thursday.  (Matthew 26:14-16).  

     

    The plotting of the high priest and the authorities to kill Jesus is now in full swing (Matthew 26:3-5).


    Things to pray for today:


    Jesus move us to be the kind of servant that you exemplified to us, giving ourselves knowing others will betray us.


    Servants in our world today that are putting their lives on the line for us.


    Jesus, by this, our acts of service, let all men and women know that we are your disciples, if we have love for one another. ~John 13:35


    The people around us that are Judas, who will literally sell their soul to the devil. Give opportunity like Judas to know you.


    Lift up someone that has been a servant in your life. 

  • thursday

    On Thursday the events leading to the cross quicken. This week was the week of Passover, and even though Jesus had repeatedly said the was going to be killed, no one understood that he was the Lamb that was going to be the ultimate Passover. 

     

    Mark 14:12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 16 The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

     

    What did they prepare? 


    Exodus 12 says:

    1Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households,…5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.,,7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

     

    Why was blood placed on the two side-frames of the door of every home and on the panel above the door? Why not just over the door? Did the death angle need a sign to tell where to pass over? The death angle did not need a sign post in the night; the blood was a sign of obedience.

     

     13 The blood you have placed on the doorposts will be proof that you obey me, and when I see the blood I will pass over you and I will not destroy… 22 You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts;

     

    Do you see the blood on the doorpost and header dripping down? It is a picture of the Jesus’ blood on the cross. The lamb’s blood covered the Israelites that night, but Jesus’ blood covers us for all of eternity. Praise God!


    The meal: 

    Matt26: 26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

     

    After this Passover meal which was celebrated once each year, we are not restricted to once a year. There is now a new covenant. That Last Supper is now the Lord’s Supper and is now celebrated throughout the year.

     

    After the meal and a song, ahead in Gethsemane there is agony and prayer over what lays ahead.  “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” As each of us ponder the uncertainty of the future, may each of us have the mind of Jesus and be able to say “not as I will, but as You will.”

     

    Pray today:


    Acknowledge God as our creator, the first cause.


    Confess each and every sin, and ask forgiveness for the sins we commit that we are not even aware of.


    Thank God for sending his son to be our sacrifice and his blood that covers us so that we can have eternal life.


    Help in these days of stress and peace in the days ahead for our love ones- family and friends.

  • Friday

    Good Friday was the last day of Jesus’ life on earth before His resurrection. 


    He had been betrayed by Judas, and denied by Peter (as Jesus predicted).  


    His disciples had scattered.


    Jesus was arrested and was placed on trial under false pretenses.  He was condemned, beaten, mocked, and then required to carry His own cross outside the city to the place where He would be crucified and killed.  


    The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and mockingly put it on His head.  Jesus was offered something to dull the physical pain, He refused. He chose to face the pain of death head on. 


    Fulfilling a prophecy, they stripped Him of His clothes and cast lots for them.  One of  the two prisoners were crucified alongside Jesus. One mocked Him, but the other said, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43)”


    “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’”  (John 19:25-27).  


    At noon, Jesus cried out “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” and died.


    Luke 23:44-46:  “It was at about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” 


    Jesus was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linens, and placed in a rich man’s tomb - fulfilling another a prophecy


    Isaiah 53:9 - “He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.”

     

     

    Things to pray for: 

     

    We confess our sins of loving and depending on the world and it’s  works (earthly things) rather than depending on YOU ONLY.


    Father, teach us to call on your name in faith, just as Jesus did before His death.  Teach us to trust you with simple child like faith.


    Pray that the Lord would fill us with His Holy Spirit, to teach us and lead us in His perfect will for our lives - that our lives would become His life. 


    Pray for our world that has been ravished by the Covid 19 virus.  Give us compassion and opportunities to minister to those who are effected. 


    Pray that we would be up to the task of ministry during these trying times.

  • saturday

    Jesus’ body in the tomb

    Some scholars believe there are more than 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. Most of them are things He, as a human, could not make happen even if He wanted to. Today is an example of that. Though he was materially poor, he was laid to rest in a rich man’s tomb, fulfilling Isaiah 53:9.

     

    Imagine the grief and disappointment of the disciples. Their leader, their hope, their Messiah has been murdered. And now, their own lives are in jeopardy, too. Jesus had told them three times he would rise from the dead but they couldn’t understand. The tomb is sealed, the guards stand watch, the disciples mourn but nothing of significance happens this day.  

    Or does it? 

     

    Thought for the day:

    All of us experience times in our life that John of the Cross (1542-1591), referred to as the “dark night of the soul.” Times when it feels like God has abandoned us. Our prayers bounce back from heaven unheard. Our faith is tested. But, these times are not meant to destroy us. Rather, as fire tempers steel and makes it more resilient, these times are meant to make our faith deeper and stronger.

     

    But, how can feeling abandoned by God, draw us closer to Him? We see a wonderful answer to that question in the events (or rather, non-events) of today, the Saturday before resurrection morning. It was a Jewish Sabbath. No one was working. Nothing was happening. And at the grave of Jesus, nothing was going on except some bored Roman soldiers waited anxiously to be relieved from the tedium of guarding a dead body.

     

    On the surface, it seemed God was died. But, as the old preacher said, “Sunday’s a comin’” God was not idle. God had not abandoned man. In fact, this day of sadness, mourning, hopelessness and gloom was right in the middle of God doing His most marvelous, incredible act. Even more amazing than the 6 days of creation, God was at work re-creating, restoring His relationship with humanity.

     

    In our darkest times we can be sure God has not forgotten us. It may appear He is absent, uncaring, and as silent as death. But we can be sure He has not forgotten us.

     

    Instead, God tells us to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

     Deuteronomy 31:6 (see also Hebrews 13:5)

     

    That does not mean we will always sense His presence. The disciples didn’t. That does not mean we will always know what He is doing. The disciples didn’t. It does not mean we can possibly comprehend how the evil events around us are God at work for our good. The disciples didn’t. And, it does not mean we will never experience sorrow, pain or grief. His own discipled did.

     

    But we see in the story of God’s people being delivered from bondage in Egypt that the road to the promised land inescapably leads us through a dry wilderness. If you are walking through that wilderness right now, keep going. You will get out of the driest, hardest desert if you just keep walking.

     

    If you feel God has abandoned or forgotten you, you are sharing the experience the disciples had on that Saturday – feeling lost, hopeless, helpless, forsaken and abandoned. But don’t give up. God keeps His word and He assured you, no matter what, He would never leave you. 

    So, look up! Sunday’s a comin’ !!

     

    Things to pray for today:

    Pray for people who do not normally attend church but are considering attending tomorrow for Easter.


    Pray they find a connection online or otherwise with a church that boldly teaches the truth of God’s Word.


    Pray their hearts are softened to the Spirit of God.


    Pray Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection and are reminded that just as we have victory over death we need not huddle in fear hiding from a virus.


    Pray Christians will boldly LOVE THE FEAR OUT OF PEOPLE. (1 John 4:18)


    Finally, picture this: As the sun rises in the Eastern part of our world tomorrow morning, Christians will begin to rise and celebrate the resurrection. As the sun passes through each time zone, believers in that zone will rise to worship. 


    Can you imagine the perspective from heaven as across the globe a huge wave of worship washes for East to West until all His people in every region have declared the glory of the risen Lord.


    When it is our turn, let’s make sure we participate powerfully and add gloriously to this tsunami of worship that will wash over our planet.

  • Easter Sunday

    Please read Matthew 28: 1-8 to hear of the events of Resurrection Sunday.

     

    The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history, as has been said,  it changed everything..  It irrefutably provided that Jesus is the Son of God as He claimed to be.  


    The resurrection was the ultimate validation of His deity and fulfilled several hundred Old testament Scriptures which foretold His coming, the details of His life and His resurrection from the dead.  

    In validating Jesus deity, the resurrection also validated the many eschatological statements that He made about the coming events here on earth and in heaven.

     

    So what if Christ had not been resurrected?  


    If that had been the case,  we would we have no Savior, no salvation, and no hope of eternal life. The credibility of the scripture rises and falls based on these fulfillment of the prophecies surrounding the Messiah.  As the apostle Paul said, our faith would be “useless” and the life-giving power of the gospel would be altogether eliminated (paraphrased - 1 Corinthians 15:13-16). 

     

    Because the truth of this historical event carries such consequential sway for the church, the resurrection has been the focus of many of Satan’s attacks.  Similarly, the Bible has been hated, vilified, ridiculed, criticized, restricted, banned, and destroyed - but to no avail. 

     

    Over the last few hundred years there have been many dozens of scholarly men  who have tried to disprove the facts around Jesus life and diety only to later become champions of the faith.  Josh McDowell, was one such agnostic. He set a course to disprove the Gospel but discovered compelling, overwhelming evidence for the reliability for our Christian faith.  His book “Evidence that demands a verdict” has became a resource for millions of believers in the defense of Christianity, even against the harshest of critics.  

     

    Thought for today: 

     

    While we should think about resurrection often, Easter is the time of the year that we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and the grave and celebrate our new life that He has given us.  

     

    We celebrate because ALL can have their sins forgiven and experience life in Him.  This new life happens when we “repent and believe (Mark 1:15).” 

     

    In Ephesians 2:8-9, Apostle Paul described in the past tense, the salvation process this way:  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by [good] works, so that no one can boast.”

     

    Having Faith means that you are “believing and relying” on Jesus righteousness  ONLY (not good works) to bring you into a right relationship with the Father.  

     

    Things to pray for today:

    Thank the Father for His intentional love, sending His Son to be sacrificed to be sacrificed for our sin so that we could live eternally in His presence. 


    Pray that the Holy Spirit will awakened lost souls to saving faith as a result of the knowledge of the Cross, Jesus death, burial and resurrection.


    Remind us to live in the gladness and grace of Easter Sunday, everyday and not just around Easter. 


    Let us have hearts of thankfulness for your sacrifice. 


    Let us have eyes that look upon your grace and rejoice in our salvation. 


    Help us to walk in that mighty grace and tell your good news to the world.