What is Palm Sunday?

palmsundayOn Palm Sunday Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. For many Christian churches, Palm Sunday, often referred to as “Passion Sunday,” marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Resurrection Sunday.

The Bible reveals that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds greeted him by waving palm branches and covering his path with palm branches. Immediately following this great time of celebration in the ministry of Jesus, he begins his journey to the cross.

The biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19.

Resurrection 2011 Calendar:

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Storms

Amazing StormsAnd he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26

We can avoid storms in our lives about as often as we can divert weather patterns over our city. Go stand outside and try. The reality is you will always face times of uncertainty. In the landscape of your life, you will enjoy a few blue-sky days, but mostly there will always be a dark cloud gathering somewhere on the horizon of your life, reminding you of the daily need to trust God with tomorrow. You can’t set your hope on the illusion that somehow you’re going to sort everything out one day. There will always be enough to keep you on your knees. And just about the time you think, I don’t really need to pray that much this weekwham. Face it; on this side of eternity, there will never be a day when you won’t need to trust the God who loves you.

My future and yours will be ravaged by the waves until we embrace the fact that God allows these storms for our good. He won’t let us drown. Can you imagine how it would have wrecked the Gospels if it went down like this: There was this storm and Jesus was asleep and four of the disciples drowned? Of course not! He would not let them–nor will He let you–drown.

But back in the moment, the disciples were wild with fear. Even the professional fishermen knew things were out of control. In the original language the disciples said just this: “Lord, save!”

Notice Jesus’ response to them: “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). Bible scholars debate whether or not that was a rebuke. Matthew was clearly fond of reporting how many times Jesus said it: First, here in Matthew 8:26, when they feared the storm; then in Matthew 14:31, when Peter took his eyes off the Lord and began to sink; again in Matthew 16:8, when they forgot about the miracle of multiplying bread; and again in Matthew 17:20, when they failed to heal the demon possessed boy. “O you of little faith!”—Jesus said it to them a lot.

In my mind’s eye, I see Him smiling when He says it here in the storm. I think it’s tender, like He’s saying, “You don’t get it yet, do you?” He’s not mad at them, but sad that they didn’t think He could take care of them.

Makes you wonder how often He says “O you of little faith!” to us.

Dr. James MacDonald

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My Sheep Hear My Voice

mysheep27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
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Choosing Authenticity

boots1Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? —matthew 7:1-4

All in favor of authenticity? Here is the first step in practicing authenticity.
First by not judging others. Notice that it says in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not that you be not judged.” Now, I’ve got to tell you, people are always like slapping that on everything, “Oh, you can’t judge, don’t judge.”
That’s not what the verse means. Jesus wasn’t categorically dismissing all things requiring judgment. Look at Matthew 7:6 where He talks about precious teachings and the decision not to share with people who don’t want to listen. Doesn’t that require a judgment?

You can judge actions—behavior (see 1 Corinthians 5). Parents, don’t ever let your kids back you away from judging actions by saying, “Don’t judge.” We have to judge actions. Call a lie a lie, disrespect disrespect, and disobedience disobedience! The gift of discernment is a spiritual gift.
Here’s what Jesus is talking about; what we don’t judge:

We don’t judge motives. You don’t know why people are doing what they’re doing. Don’t ever let yourself say, “I know why she’s like that.” “I know why he’s doing that.” No, you do not. Only God knows a person’s heart. He doesn’t want us judging the territory that is His venue. The judging of the heart, that is God’s job.
We don’t judge appearance. Don’t judge a person by the color of their skin or the clothes that they wear, or the car that they drive or the place that they live or the job that they have. Don’t judge people by what they look like. You can’t tell a book by its cover. You can’t! And God hates that.
We don’t judge harshly. Don’t hold people to a standard that you’re not keeping.

Notice in Matthew 7:2, “For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged.” Yikes! So, the judgment that I give to others, that’s the judgment that I’m going to get. If you’re constantly judging, God’s like, “You’re writing the script I’m going to use to judge you!” Not great!
If you want to get serious about authenticity as a person, harshly judging other’s motives and appearance has to stop.

Journal:

Which one (or more) of these three steps is God calling on me to give special attention to in the days to come? What do I specifically need to stop doing?

Prayer:
I know You didn’t go to the effort of creating me to be someone fake. You have always had an authentic version of me in mind—that’s who I want to be too, Lord! Point out judgmental ways in me and lead me toward authentic living in Your presence. Let me begin be evaluating others as I long to be seen myself. In Your name I ask, Jesus, Amen.

Dr. James MacDonald ~ Walk in the Word

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Single Parents With Teenagers

single-parentHelp For Single Parents With Teenagers

One of the toughest roles anyone can have in today’s culture is that of a single parent. It’s hard enough to rear a child—especially a teenager—with two parents; but with one the burdens and pressures and problems multiply. My hat is off to every single parent. But more than praise for the difficulty of their task, I know from talking to so many of them that they need someone to walk with them and encourage them.
In almost every case, a single parent is walking down a road they didn’t plan to be on. They started with two parents, but something happened—death, divorce, abandonment—and now they are struggling to fill two roles that their children desperately need. They are trying to do an already difficult task without all of the resources they need. (If you know a single parent, go to them and find ways to encourage them. They won’t always know how to ask for the help they need, so take the initiative yourself.)
Practical Steps
There aren’t any easy answers. There isn’t a magic verse of Scripture that will fix all your problems. There isn’t one “cure all” that will remove all of the challenges that a single parent faces. But there are some practical steps that can offer help and hope in this very difficult job.singleparent
1) Hold firm to what you believe. Set rules and boundaries for your child and establish the consequences ahead of time. Don’t make the mistake of giving up on those standards because you are tired or discouraged. It is quite common for the other parent who is gone not to be supportive of your efforts as a parent—hold firm anyhow. Don’t allow that discouragement and the lack of positive feedback and support to make you give up.
2) Don’t be too lenient. Yes, your teens are missing something by not having both parents in their lives. You will not make things better by allowing that to be their excuse to get away with damaging and destructive behavior. You can’t “make it up to them” by letting them use your sympathy for them as a “get out jail free” card that allows them to do whatever they want.
3) Don’t lose sight of the value of time. One of the biggest impacts of single parenting is the economic impact. Most single parent families have a harder time making ends meet. I understand that you will have to work, perhaps longer and harder than before. But spending one on one time with your teens, asking them questions and letting them ask you questions is more important in this setting than ever before. Make time for your kids.
4) Find a source of input and encouragement. In a two-parent home, each parent gets feedback and input from the other. Ideas can be exchanged and one can pick up the slack of the other or fill in when one needs a rest. In the absence of that, find a group or an individual that understands your situation and can give you encouragement and good advice on the extra challenges you face as a single parent. Find someone — an extended family member or a sitter — to fill in for you once or twice a week, to give you time away to recharge your batteries. And don’t forget to take time to pray and meditate on God’s Word on a daily basis.
My friend Michael Card likens single parenting to a wilderness experiences. He says, “When you’re out there alone and isolated, it can be a little scary not knowing where you are or where to go. But when you’re out there with your kids, it’s terrifying. They are looking to you for guidance and direction, and though you would desperately like for someone to have kept you out of that situation in the first place, you have to be the leader and make sure they make it out safe and sound.”
But Michael also offers this hope for parents caught up in wilderness experiences, “Times in the wilderness can teach us to trust in God. The origin of the word ‘worship’ is worth-ship. So, people who go through those experiences in the wilderness come to learn His worth and therefore they learn to truly worship and trust Him even more.”
I find that so true. Though most of us don’t voluntarily choose wilderness experiences (like being a single parent), they can be times of great growth both in our relationship with God and with our children. Are you looking to God to give you strength, or are you trying to go it alone?
Caught in a Tug of War
I talked recently to a single mom named Sheri. She faces the very common dilemma of having established a set of rules and boundaries for her kids, but her former husband’s parenting style is very different. Instead of being an authority for their children, he tries to be a friend to them. I’m sure it won’t come as any shock to you that their teenage son prefers to avoid responsibility and accountability if he can.
I asked Sheri how that played out in her parenting. She said, “It’s very tough. He [their son] chooses to spend most of his time with his dad because he would rather be without the rules. I feel like our son is like the rope in a tug of war. That’s the thing that I never wanted to happen—but he is caught between two parents who love him but parent differently. I keep trying to let go so he is not torn between two directions.”
Sheri wants to do what is best for her son, yet in some ways she is being penalized for trying to do things right. That’s not an easy thing to deal with. You never want to back off from doing right in order to have a better relationship with your child. (By the way, most of the time this is the pattern that we see in divorce situations—the mom is trying to hold the line firm while the dad lets the kids get away with murder so they will “like him.”)
Don’t Give Up
Though it’s very hard advice, I encouraged Sheri to never give up; trust in the Lord and keep praying. There are times when you can’t fix things and you have to hunker down and deal with them. Remember, even though you don’t see the results right away, God will honor your stand for what’s right.
You may be familiar with the story of Eric Liddell which was told in the move Chariots of Fire. Liddell, the son of Scottish missionaries, was one of the premier track runners in the world. He refused to run the 100 meter dash in the 1924 Olympics because the qualifying race was held on a Sunday. Though the 100 was his best event, a few days later Liddell won the gold medal in the 400 meter dash–a race he hadn’t prepared to run. Clutched in his hand he had a note given him by an American runner with the words “Them that honor Me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30) written on it.
Whatever you do, don’t give up! The effort is worth the cost, and your children will be far better off because you loved them enough to do what was right and best for them.

MarkGregstonABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org, or to read other articles by Mark, visit http://www.markgregston.com.

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Voices of the Cross ~ “He is Risen”

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Futile Thinking

futilethinking“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Romans 1:19-21

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Are You Prepared?

EmergencyPrepHave you considered or prepared for what you should do in the event of an emergency or disaster? You may need to survive on your own after an emergency or disaster. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.

Click Here for FREE Emergency Preparedness Guidebook

Compliments of areyouprepared.com

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Put on the New Self

newselfColossians 3:1-10

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

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True and Faithful Witness?

faithfulwitnessThe Firefighters

Imagine seeing a group of firefighters polishing their engine outside a burning building with people trapped at a top floor window. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with cleaning a fire engine—but not while people are trapped in a burning building! Instead of ignoring their cries, the firefighters should have an overwhelming sense of urgency to rescue them. That’s the spirit that should be behind the task of evangelism. But according to Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, “Only 2 percent of believers in America regularly share their faith with others.” That means that 98 percent of the professing Body of Christ are “lukewarm” when it comes to obeying the Great Commission (Mark 16:15). Oswald J. Smith said, “Oh my friends, we are loaded down with countless church activities, while the real work of the Church, that of evangelizing and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.” We have polished the engines of worship, prayer, and praise and neglected the sober task given to us by God. A firefighter who ignores his responsibilities and allows people to perish in flames is not a firefighter; he is an impostor. How could we ignore our responsibility and allow the world to walk blindly into the fires of hell? If God’s love dwells in us, we must warn them. The Bible tells us to “have compassion…save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 22,23). If we don’t have love and compassion, then we don’t know God—we are impostors (1 John 4:8). Charles Spurgeon said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” Please, examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Don’t be part of the great multitude who called Jesus “Lord,” but refused to obey Him. It will be professing believers who will hear those fearful words, “I never knew you: depart from me” (Matthew 7:21–23).

Backward Christian Soldiers

Backward Christian soldiers, fleeing from the fight

With the cross of Jesus nearly out of sight.

Christ, our rightful master, stands against the foe

But forward into battle, we are loathe to go.

Like a mighty tortoise moves the Church of God

Brothers we are treading where we’ve always trod.

We are much divided, many bodies we

Having many doctrines, not much charity.

Crowns and thorns may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,

But the Church of Jesus hidden does remain.

Gates of hell should never ‘gainst the Church prevail

We have Christ’s own promise, but think that it will fail.

Sit here then ye people, join our useless throng

Blend with ours your voices in a feeble song.

Blessings, ease and comfort, ask from Christ the King

With our modern thinking, we don’t do a thing.

(Anonymous)

If God is speaking to you about your lack of evangelistic concern, pray something like this now: Father, please forgive me for my lack of love for this dying world. From this day forward I will strive to be a “true and faithful witness.” Please give me the wisdom to know what to say to reach the lost. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

(Compliments of “The Evidence Bible”)

 

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