FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
“The mystery of the suffering of righteous people is transformed by [Christ’s] suffering, who is the Holy One of God. He suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps. Suffering now becomes for us the privilege of fellowship with Jesus. Secular kingdoms may rise and fall, but the Kingdom of Christ has been established.”
- Edmund P. Clowney
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: John 20:1-29
Go to Dark Gethsemane - Prelude/Reflection
Christ the Lord is Risen Today - Easter
Crown Him with Many Crowns - Adoration
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us - Grace
The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done - Response
It Is Finished - Communion
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos that summarizes in a few minutes one book of the Bible.
This week check out the summary of 1 Thessalonians.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Praise to the Lord
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the king of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, For He is they health and salvation!
All ye who year, Now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Loving and gracious Father, the more we delve into the depths of our sin, the uglier and more heinous it becomes. If we promise to do better, we lie. If we try to clean ourselves up, we are frauds. If we give because we feel guilty, we are schemers. If we serve to feel good about ourselves, we are self-righteous. If we pray only to get what we want, we are self-serving. If we read your Word so you will be pleased with us, we are manipulators. The selfish motivations of even our best actions condemn us. They are un-holy, un-pleasing, and un-like the One in whose image we are created. Please forgive us and help us to look only to the life-saving, life-giving, life-changing power of Your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - John 12:12-19
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
The Heart of the Message
Just like the characters in this story, we all come to Jesus with expectations about who he is and what He should do. Some of us live in difficult circumstances and long for Him to take them away. Some of us want a Jesus who will share our own priorities, and some of us want a Jesus who will keep us in the loop about what He is up to in our lives. But when Jesus does not end our difficult circumstances, contradicts our pride, or leaves us in the dark, we can become disappointed with Him. To cope with our disappointment, we often turn to anger, hyper-vigilance, or numbing ourselves. Despite how we struggle with Jesus, the good news of the gospel is that Jesus remained resolute in his task of bringing life to us. Though he was misunderstood, rejected, and killed, Jesus did what no human being could do. He remained faithful in His commitment to God and offered His life as a ransom for His people. By doing so, He allowed even those who waver daily to have peace with God and new life in His resurrection. Therefore, all who are united with Jesus by faith can know that their relationship with God has been resolved once and for all. The effect of this is that we now have a new hope in the midst of our disappointment. Even though life might not go how we want, we can know that our disappointments are no longer leading us toward death. Jesus was glorified through suffering, and so Jesus will use even our sufferings to bring about life. This does not mean that sufferings or disappointments are good in themselves, or that we should not cry out for relief. It means that Jesus has already demonstrated in His own life that He will use them to produce glory. With this new hope, Jesus gives us power to lean in to our sufferings and disappointments whenever we face them. It might even motivate us to take on more sufferings than we need to by entering into the sufferings of others, knowing that in these sufferings Christ is birthing new life.
- What expectations do you come to Jesus with? Do you resonate with any of the expectations of the characters in this story?
- Where are you often disappointed with God’s work in your life? When this disappointment comes out, what does it look like?
- Are there areas in your life where you feel your relationship with God is unresolved or changes from day to day? How does Jesus’ resolve to obey God for you change how you view yourself before God?
- When you hear that the power of the Christian life comes from God’s glory being birthed through suffering and disappointment, how does it strike you? Is it hopeful or more disappointing?
- In sum, how does the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry lead you as you approach this next week?
Confession of Faith: The New City Catechism, 2017
Q. 12. What does God require in the ninth and tenth commandments?
A. Ninth, that we do not lie or deceive, but speak the truth in love. Tenth, that we are content, not envying anyone or resenting what God has given them or us.
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.