14 April 2019 – Palm Sunday
Call to Worship: Psalm 100:1-5
Opening Hymn: 216 “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty”
Confession of Sin
O great and everlasting God, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Who searches and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart; We confess that we have not loved You with all our heart, nor with all our soul, nor with all our mind, nor with all our strength; Nor our neighbors as ourselves. We have loved what we ought not to have loved; We have coveted what is not ours; We have not been content with Your provisions for us. We have complained in our hearts about our family, about our friends, about our health, about our occupations, about Your church, and about our trials. We have sought our security in those things which perish, rather than in You, the Everlasting God. Chasten, cleanse, and forgive us, through Jesus Christ, who is able for all time to save us who approach You through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Romans 6:23
Hymn of Preparation: Psalm 42 C
Old Covenant Reading: Isaiah 62:1-12
New Covenant Reading: Matthew 21:1-11
Sermon: Your Salvation Comes!
Hymn of Response: 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King”
Confession of Faith: Ten Commandments
Doxology (Hymn 568)
Closing Hymn: 289 “All Praise to Christ”
OT: 1 Kings 3:3-15
NT: James 1:5-8
If Anyone Lacks Wisdom
Shorter Catechism Q/A # 86
Q. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.
Monday (4/8) Read and discuss Matthew 21:1-11. Matthew’s focus on the colt may seem disproportionately long. What’s the big deal about this colt? There are two key points that we shouldn’t miss. First, we should notice that Jesus is in complete command of the situation. He gives clear directions. When His directives are carried out things transpire exactly as Jesus says they will. It is important to recognize how unusual it is to simply go up and take someone else’s colt (If you have seen many “Westerns” you will know that on the American frontier horse thieves were shot). Jesus anticipated the problem the Disciples would face and gave them exact directions: “say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” This could also be translated, “It’s Lord has need (of it) and will send it back immediately”. Jesus is reminding us that, ultimately, He owns everything. The person who had title to this colt only held it as a steward of the Lord’s property. This is an astonishing claim of authority on the part of Jesus. He was claiming to be the true owner of everything and therefore to be Yahweh Himself. Second, by choosing to ride into Jerusalem on a colt Jesus was self-consciously identifying with the prophesied Messianic King of Zechariah 9:9. The crowd will prove remarkably fickle, and even the Disciples will not fully understand until after He is raised from the dead, but Jesus never wavers in His vocation. He enters Jerusalem with the knowledge that He is the true King of Israel. Read or sing Hymn 216 “Praise to the LORD, the Almighty” Prayer: Ask the LORD to remind you that everything You possess comes from His gracious hands and that it all continues to belong ultimately to Him.
Tuesday (4/9) Read and discuss Romans 9:30-10:4. But why are so many stumbling over Christ in our own day, just like so many Jews did in Paul’s? Paul tells us in verse 3, that …
… being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
This ignorance is more than mere intellectual knowledge. It is experiential. Not have received the righteousness of God by faith as a pure give – the Jews in Paul’s day, like so many people in our own – are going around trying to establish that they are basically good people. Paul knew exactly what this was like. Remember the zeal Paul spoke of in Philippians 3 – a religious zeal he had before he had ever been justified?
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
What were all of these things in Paul’s life? They were badges of honor. When Paul summed up his life in two columns – these badges of honor were all in the plus column – and Paul thought these things gave him standing before both men and God. Yet when Christ overwhelmed him on the Damascus road, everything changed. Paul continues:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
Do you understand what Paul did? Having been overwhelmed by the glory and grace of Jesus Christ, Paul took out his two column account of his own life – and all those badges of honor that he had placed into the plus column he threw them over to the minus column – indeed, he counted them as rubbish, in order that Christ – and Christ alone – would be in Paul’s plus column. Read or Sing Psalm 42 C Prayer: Give thanks that Jesus is your all sufficient Savior, so your salvation is perfectly secure in Him.
Wednesday (4/10) Read and discuss Isaiah 62:1-12. R. Reed Lessing writes:
Zion is described as a widow and a slave, abandoned by friends, with no resting place, suffering bitterly, bereft of her children, mocked by her enemies, unclean, despised, rejected, weeping, without a comforter, deceived, groaning, and fainting. And this is just from Lamentations 1! Who wants to invest in a person like this? What man in his right mind would want to reconnect with this woman?
Yahweh, for one, is willing. That is the message of Isaiah 62. And what do we say? “He had better get some relationship advice, or his heart will be broken again!” Then we gasp, “I sure wouldn’t invest myself in someone like Zion. Get lost! My heart could get broken, again!” And so it goes. It is our nature to play it safe. We don’t make risky investments. We don’t roll the dice and bet on the slow horse. And we certainly don’t pursue a love that has deeply wounded us.
When called upon to reinvest in a failing marriage, we protest, “I’ll remain aloof, disconnected, and uninvolved. I’ll make him/her pay.” When asked to nurture and care for our children, we may say under our breath, “I can’t afford to spend that kind of time with them.” When encouraged to reach out to unbelieving neighbors, employees, and friends, we write off the opportunity: “I’m not investing my energy in those people!”
Oh, we might lay down a nickel here and a dime there, just to look good. But when called to spend large amounts of sweat and blood, we conveniently choose safer investments that guarantee large dividends of personal promotion and pleasure.
Let’s be honest. It is our sinful nature to nickel-and dime our way through life while rarely making substantial investments in other people. “Besides,” we say to ourselves, “just look at what happens to people who make risky ventures. Remember the pastor who put so much time into trying to move people forward in evangelism, only to watch his plan go up in flames? Then there were those parents who sank so much of themselves into their wayward daughter, only to watch her slam the door right in their face. And then there’s that guy I know who is spending so much time at church that his social life is a disaster.
What about Yahweh? He pursues His wayward wife. For her sake, her persists. He appoints watchmen, prophets and pastors, to intercede for her, to woo her back. He gazes upon her beauty and calls her new names. Yahweh promises a feast of victory and even invites Zion into paradise restored. Incredible!
Prayer: Ask the LORD to bring visitors to our congregation would be blessed by hearing the gospel and uniting with our church family.
Thursday (4/11) Read and discuss James 1:5-8. Dan Doriani writes:
James says the goal of trials is “that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God.” The goal, says James, is that we “lack nothing” spiritually. But to turn tests into maturity, the one thing you must not lack is wisdom. God intends trials to produce endurance and maturity. But trials do not always lead to spiritual growth. Suffering can create fear, despair, a determination to “look out for number one,” or anger toward God. Abundance (which is also a trial) can lead to selfish indulgence. Therefore, James now says, we need to ask God for wisdom, so we can gain from trials. In James’s words, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Read or Sing Hymn 281 “Rejoice, the LORD is King” Prayer: Think about an area of your life where you would benefit from greater wisdom and ask the LORD to give it to you.
Friday (4/12) Read and discuss 1 Kings 3:3-15. Phil Ryken writes:
If ever there was a man who could praise God as the fount of every blessing, it was King Solomon. After he awoke from his dream, the king went up to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant, and presented many offerings to the praise of his God (1 Kings 3:15). This was wise: whenever we receive a gift, we should thank the giver. Since every good and perfect gift comes from God, we live most wisely when our lives are filled with the thankful worship of God.
Solomon never regretted his decision to make wisdom his only wish. Thus he would counsel us to make the same choice. “the beginning of wisdom is this,” the king once said: “Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown. This was the story of Solomon’s life. He did whatever he could to get wisdom, and then, with the gift of wisdom came riches and honor. The best counsel that Solomon could give to anyone else was to seek the same superior wisdom that he received – the wisdom that comes only from God.
The way for us to follow Solomon’s wise counsel is to study the Scriptures, which are able to make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15), and to seek the wisdom of God in the person of Jesus Christ. For as wise as Solomon was, the Bible says that Jesus Christ is infinitely wiser. This explains why, when the Gospel of Matthew speaks of the world-famous wisdom of Solomon, it goes on to say that “something greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42). That “something greater” is Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God and “wisdom of God” (see 1 Corinthians 1:24).
Read or sing Hymn 289 “All Praise to Christ” Prayer: Give thanks for the treasure of having a personal copy of the word of God in your own language.
Saturday (4/13) Read and discuss Matthew 21:1-11. The air was electric. Vast crowds were making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the most important holiday in the Jewish calendar. There would be family reunions, there would be feasting, but most importantly there would be the celebration of the Exodus. If past is prologue, the celebration of the LORD’s mighty deliverance of Israel out Egypt – the greatest empire of its day – naturally turned Jewish hearts to long for national deliverance from their Roman overlords. How long would they have to wait? When would the Kingdom of God truly come? Some of the pilgrims thought they had a candidate in mind. “You don’t spread cloaks on the road – especially in the dusty, stony Middle East! – for a friend, or even a respected senior member of your family. You do it for royalty (N.T. Wright).” Suddenly people start shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna” is a prayer to God meaning “save us” – but it had through use also taken on overtones of praise. As Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem the crowd treats Him like Israel’s true king who is about to deliver them. Could it be that many would recognize Jesus for who He really was? Sadly, this turns out to be nothing more than a moment of enthusiasm without any real substance. By the time Jesus arrives at the Temple He seems to be either alone or simply with His closest Disciples. The shouts of adoration quickly faded and within a week the crowd would be shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” This is the way that it has always been with those who have not yet received new life from God. On the one hand, everyone is happy to celebrate a “messiah” who will bless their agenda. After all, who doesn’t want to be delivered from bad health, financial woes, or eternal punishment? But what happens when people discover that, instead of blessing our agendas, Christ calls us to adopt His agenda? The fickleness of the crowds reminds us not to confuse religious enthusiasm with true faith – even if the enthusiasm is ours. Prayer: Please lift up tomorrow’s morning and evening worship services.