Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is a Christian holiday that is celebrated on the Sunday before Easter.

Palm Sunday is considered a “moveable feast.” Moveable feasts are a fixed number of days before or after Easter Sunday. Easter varies by 35 days depending on the placement of the moon, and must be computed each year. Palm Sunday is celebrated the Sunday before Easter regardless of the date.

The Christian feast commemorates Jesus’ triamphal entry into Jerusalem; an event that is mentioned in all four of the carnonical gospels of the Holy Bible. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.

The feast is celebrated in different ways throughout the world. In Greece the tradition is to eat on the last day of their Lent Celebration, which is Palm Sunday. Their dinner consists of bakaliaros, which is salt cod fish. Certain parts of Italy serve homemade pasta topped with tomato sauce, bread crumbs and nuts. Since Jesus was known to have eaten figs on his way into Jerusalem, Great Britain celebrates by serving fig pudding on Palm Sunday. In Northern England and Scotland, split pea soup is a tradition that comes from their practice of wearing a hard pea in their shoe as a penance during Lent. The UK has customs dating clear back to the 1500’s! After Palm Sunday Service they hand out pax cakes and offer best wishes for peace and brotherhood. If you would like to make Pax Cakes this year here is the recipe for you:

Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey which symbolizes arriving in peace. Unlike a King who enters riding a horse and waging war upon the crowd. Jesus came in peace.

As Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem the crowd scattered palm branches in front of Him and the colt that He had traveled on.

Jesus stopped in the middle of the crowd and stepped off of His horse. People placed their cloaks on the donkey and the colt and then Jesus sat back down. The crowd of people then placed their cloaks on the ground and sat down around Jesus. And the people without cloaks pulled palm leaves to sit on so that they could hear about the Messiah.

The people that went ahead of Jesus and the people that walked behind Him into Jerusalem continued to shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mathew 21:7-9) And this is how Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

So whatever your Palm Sunday celebrations consists of make it a joyous celebration!

Happy Palm Sunday 🍃

Come, Holy Spirit Draw Near to Me. The Bible makes it clear that there is no way we can live our Christian faith without the Holy Spirit as our guide. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is like turning on a light bulb. It’s powerful! And it’s Sudden! When the disciples first experienced the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they were forever changed, and people around them noticed this change. According to Acts 4:13, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished.” Imagine going from ordinary fishermen to seminary grads to pastors in an instant. Also note in Acts 2:6-12 that the disciples spoke different languages — actual languages. Talk about amazing! It was so amazing that the people thought they were drunk. So how do you and I know if we have been filled with the Holy Spirit? The Bible says the Holy Spirit is like an advocate. He speaks truth to us. He guides our path. He also prays for us and intercedes on our behalf. I don’t know about you, but none of that sounds spooky or scary about the Holy Spirit. It sounds exciting and necessary. What I appreciate most about the Holy Spirit is the transformation that takes place when God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary tasks. No matter what you believe about the Holy Spirit, the Bible makes it clear: there is no way we can live our Christian faith without the Holy Spirit as our guide. That’s why Jesus knew his physical presence on earth wasn’t enough. He told the apostle Peter that the cross was necessary. Peter, the leader of the disciples, was the kind of guy who was full of courage, and yet he kept sticking his foot in his mouth. One minute he was thinking like Christ, and the next minute Jesus was rebuking him, saying he was full of Satan. And yet. God still used Peter as a disciple for his glory. When Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome went to visit Jesus’ tomb, the angel specifically mentioned Peter by name (see Mark 16:7). As if to remind Peter that his faith, in fact, hadn’t failed. No matter how weak, strong or courageous your faith is today, the Holy Spirit is waiting for you. Come. Draw near to his presence. Reflect. Have you ever felt like your actions discount you from relying on the Holy Spirit’s help?

Have I Not Commanded You!

By Carol Ann Strang

I wrote this devotional late last night. After I sent this to the admin of the group, the Holy Spirit got a hold of me! I was laughing, and felt so my joy! I pray it will be a blessing to you.

Hello brothers and sisters , it is an honor and a privilege to share this scripture verse with you today. Today’s Scripture verse is, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

The end of 2018 was a very unsettling and disappointing time for me and my husband. I was very sick from Christmas into New Year’s, and unfortunately, I had to

go to the doctors again yesterday. The real shocker of our holidays, was when the lawyer called us. He informed us we had missed a couple rent payments.He also told me the astronomical amount we owed! My husband and I decided the best thing for us to do , would be to move. Our rented duplex was starting to look like a money pit. We didn’t have any money to fix or repair things either.

On top of this , our self-contained classroom had three students who were acting up and causing chaos off and on during the months of November and December. This past month our kitten was acting really strange as well and became very hyper. My daughter discovered recently that her kitten was in heat. Also our daughter is always going somewhere, I texted her more than I actually talk to her face to face. Needless to say it has been a very crazy and stressful time for my husband and me.

We have to vacate our place by February 2nd, and it has to be totally cleaned out. We even are responsible for all the things that the former landlord left in the house. We also have to clean up all the leaves, sticks, and any trash on our property.

As of today, we don’t have a definite place to live yet. My husband and I feel this is the hardest thing we ever had to go through. It is even harder than our bankruptcy procedures in 2006. I have been searching for places that would be a good fit for our family and on a bus route for my husband. As of yesterday, we only have seen two apartment complexes, one house rental , and one duplex. We have one application submitted for a duplex, we haven’t seen yet, and the landlord has over 16 applications!

Yesterday, I had a thorough checkup at the urgent care. The doctor tested for the flu, and it was negative. Last Thursday and this past Wednesday I was very lightheaded and dizzy. The doctor took my blood sugar, and EKG, everything was fine, and all my blood work was normal too. He gave me more antibiotics and told me to rest when I can.

After I Ieft the doctors, I went to Wawa because I was very hungry. The first thing I did was look at my paperwork from the office. I noticed the doctor’s first name was Noah! Then all of a sudden my phone started playing music. The ironic thing was I had no internet! The song playing was, “I am not alone”, by Kari Jobe. It kept playing no matter what buttons I touched on my phone. Then the next song that played, was “Oceans”, by Hillsong. If you have heard these songs before , you know that they both refer to water. Kari Jobe’s song is very similar to the scripture verse in Isaiah 43:2, “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you”. In the song “Oceans”, it states, Jesus calls us upon the waters, “in oceans deep”. Also in the song, the singer states, “I am yours, and you are mine,”. These words line up so well with Isaiah 43: 1, “I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Finally, I knew why the doctor’s name was so significant. There is a verse in Isaiah 59 that refers to the enemy coming in like a “flood”. It goes on to further say, that, “the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” In my research, I found out that this scripture verse means, “When the enemy shall come in, like a river , the Spirit of God will make him flee.” Also, the word “standard” in Hebrew is nec which means “something lifted up, standard, signal, signal pole, banner, or sign. God is proclaiming who he is and what he stands for. Noah built the ark, he was isolated from the world which was now being drowned in the great flood, but God was with him. Also I told my friend the other day, “that stress is like a “waterfall”, it keeps piling up and pouring over you!”

I had just heard this same scripture verse from a sermon on television, by Steven Furtick, entitled, “Get Back in Gate”. It was a very bold sermon that spoke about getting unstuck, moving forward, taking our rightful position , in-spite of our mistakes, and our shame, even if its uncomfortable and unfamiliar.

The last thing I did before I got out of my car was I looked up. Across the street, I saw these letters, STRIVE. Those moments I was in the car were amazing. My Father God, was telling me he is with me through all the uncertainty and frustration in our lives now. He wanted me to be strong and courageous like he told Joshua.

In retrospect, I realized the two times I became dizzy, I had either recited my woes about being told to vacate our house, or I had been stressed about all the things that needed to be done. I now resolved, not to discuss anything negative or cumbersome. Talking about it only raised my blood pressure. I’m also not going to let other people’s moods affect mine. I also have decided to not get upset or raise my voice any more. I will relax more, worry less and give it over to God.

I shared this to give each of you hope and encouragement. I want you to be opened to any way that God may reveal to you that he is with you. Our Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways. He loves us and his for us. He doesn’t want us to be stressed and unhappy about our circumstances, nor to fear our future.

Blessings

Ever Present Creator.

Remember that you have not been left alone on this orbiting planet.

Surrounded by a universe so vast that your size is like a microorganism in comparison, remember that there is a Creator bigger and more powerful than all of His creation put together.

This awesome and mysterious Creator has not removed Himself from the Creation that turned against Him; rather He made Himself present and He works among us and through us — through you.

Genesis 3:15 is the first reference to God’s promise of His Son, Jesus the Messiah:“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Before the expulsion from the garden, God had a plan to save mankind; He would not abandon His creation. 

Deuteronomy 31:8,“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Be encouraged that you are never alone. 😇

🎼 🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼

Have a Blessed Day! 😇

Attaining God’s Best

Attaining God’s best can be found in Psalm 145:18-19. 

We have seen that idolatry involves giving someone or something priority over the Lord.  It leads to “Missing His Best.”  Scripture also warns us about other obstacles that hinder our receiving God’s blessings.

As followers of Jesus, we know that we are to pray to our heavenly father when we have needs, or desire something.  (Phil. 4:6).  The sad truth is that many of God’s children fail to do so.  Some people may be “to busy” to bring their requests to the Lord.  And some people talk to God in a general or mechanical way, without the genuine heartfelt communication He desires.

Christians should come humbly before His throne, bringing their requests and a submissive spirit. (1 Pet. 5:5-6).  This means that we are to yearn for God’s will above all else, even above, what we think is best. It’s important to acknowledge that God may have something better in mind.  Then, as we faithfully pray, God may remove or alter certain longings, so that our desires begin to align with His.  

The Bible continues to tell us to approach God with confidence and faith, (Heb. 4:16; James 1:6).  This means that when we pray and seek the Father’s will, we should anticipate that He will answer.  As Isaiah 64:4 reminds us that “God acts in behalf of the ones that wait for Him.

Our Father desires to pour blesssing into the lives of His children.  Don’t allow prayerlessness to prevent His best.  Express your needs and wants to God confidently and specifically.  Then submit your will to His, an wait expectantly.  He is faithful-you will see!

God’s Blessings

Today’s Devotion and music is by:

Christa Johnson

Have a Blessed Day 😇

🎶

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkkFrM5WAlIKaKaEHP32LOVV6716dNA_i

🎶

God’s Blessings:

Our Heavenly Father loves meeting His children’s needs and fulfilling their desires. However, so many Christians walk through life with far less than God’s best.

How can we avoid missing out on the Lord’s blessings?

Psalm 81 provides us with insight. Read Psalm 81.

The writer refers to a time when the Israelites missed the opportunity to receive God’s best. From the book of Exodus, we know that the nation praised him great fully for their release from bondage. Before long they forgot and started worshipping other God’s and complained about their circumstances while out in the wilderness. This unhealthy pattern of living continued all throughout the Old Testament. The people would turn to God during their times of need; but would quickly drift away thereafter, not turning to God until a crisis again.

Psalm 81:8-10 reveal God’s perspective: “O Israel, if you would listen to Me! Let there be no strange god among you…I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you u from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”

In our own lives we might have needs and desires that are unmet; due to disobedience.

Today our idols are less obvious than the statues the Israelites worshipped. Today we might include a job, a hobby, a relationship, or anything that you put ahead of the Lord. Even making decisions based on what others think can be considered idolatry. Our choice should always be made on the biblical principle and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Today, ask the Lord to reveal anything that is hindering your receiving His best.

Listen carefully and let Him help you with the areas He brings to your attention.

God is ready to guide and bless you.

Thank you, Lord God and thank You Almighty Jesus, Amen!

Worship at Christmas

Have a blessed day!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkkFrM5WAlILskb7J3v8YApTAOSKRXbtV

Mathew 2:7-11

For the past couple of Friday’s we have been examining three reactions to Christmas. Today we will talk about the third reaction toward Christmas.

Out of all the reactions toward Christmas, worship is the one reaction that pleases God. Unlike the scribes and chief priests who showed no interest in reporting the birth of the Messiah, or Herod, who responded with hatred, we have every reason to rejoice greatly that Jesus came to the earth in human flesh. We are truly blessed that Christ’s purpose in coming was for His death on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins.

The magi traveled all the way from the East for the sole purpose of worshipping the infant King of the Jewish people. They knew that a star signaled His birth, and they journeyed hundreds of miles to find Him.

The magi believed that God was leading them to the King, and when they finally arrived in Bethelehem, they worshipped the Christ child by humbling themselves and presenting Him with gifts. These were wealthy, respected men, and they considered that little boy to be greater than themselves.

This year we need to compare our response to the Savior with the magi’s example of worship.

Is Jesus the focus of our celebrations, or have we let other interests take first place?

Are we more concerned about gifts for friends and family than we are about self-sacrifice for the Lord’s sake?

It’s easy to become focused on the traditions of Christmas to the point that we lose sight of Jesus.

So let’s step back in time and imagine all the inconveniences, setbacks, and vulnerability the magi endured in their pursuit of the infant King.

Shouldn’t we also be willing to follow Him, no matter what it takes?

Antagonism Toward Christmas

Have a Blessed Day!

 

Antagonism Toward Christmas.

Mathew 2:12-18 (KJV)

(12) And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (13) And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. (14) When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt. (15) And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (16) Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. (17) Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Today is the second reaction to Christmas:

When looking around you may notice many people enjoying the festivities of Christmas, while others are holding on to bitterness and disdain. Surprisingly the problem is not the season; it’s the Savior. Our need for salvation reminds us of our own shortcomings and inability to redeem ourselves.

This is not the first time that Jesus stirred up antagonism in someone’s heart. Herod was troubled when he heard that the magi were looking for the King of the Jews. When they didn’t return to report the location of the Christ child, he became enraged and slaughtered all the male children in Bethlehem who were two years of age and under. (Matt. 2:16).

What is it about Jesus that causes some people to feel such hostility? Herod’s fury was fueled by his desire for power and control. He didn’t want another king, no matter how small, to dethrone him. People today scorn the celebration of Christ’s birth for the same reason-they don’t want anyone else ruling their life.

Romans 1:18 (KJV) says, (18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

The Lord pointed out that those who reject Jesus Christ have suppressed the truth. Those who fear their deeds will be exposed as evil and won’t come to the Light. (John 3:19-20). (19) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. However, we should never assume that salvation is impossible for someone who is hostile to Jesus. After all, the apostle Paul was an aggressive persecutor of the church until his conversion.

Sometimes, people who resent Christianity and Christmas may seem unreachable to us.

But remember: No one is beyond the reach of Jesus. Amen!

Indifference to Christmas

Happy Monday:

Today’s Devotion is written by me.

(Christa Johnson)

Have a Blessed Day!

Indifference to Christmas.

Mathew 2:1-6

(1) Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.

(2) Saying, “where is He that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and we are come to worship Him.

(3) When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

(4) And when he gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

(5) And they said unto him, in Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus is written by the profit.

(6) And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judaea, art not the least among the princes of Judaea: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Each year, there’s a predictable variety of responses to the celebrations and traditions of the holiday season. We will be examining three reactions to Christmas.

Today is a reaction to the first one:

Although it has been 2,000 years since Jesus was born, His birth still elicits similar attitudes.

One common response is indifference.

Even people that are filled with the holiday spirit and celebrate Christmas with decorations, dinners and gifts, have become totally indifferent to Jesus. He doesn’t even cross their minds because they have lost sight of the reason for Christmas.

In the story of the magi’s search for the newborn King of the Jews, we see a surprising indifference on the part of the religious leaders. The entourage from the east caused quite a stir in Jerusalem. It wasn’t everyday that impressive visitors with such a shocking and exciting announcement would visit. Yet when King Herod asked the scribes and chief priests where the Messiah was to be born, they simply told him the answer but made no attempt to go to Bethlehem themselves. Their lives were already filled with their religious duties, and they had no interest or time or interest in anything that might disrupt their portions of prominence and authority.

Sometimes it’s easy to let the pressures of Christmas push Jesus right out of our thoughts. After all the shopping is finished, the gifts are wrapped and the food is prepared, we might rush off to an Christmas Eve service. But even then, we often feel distracted.

Though it may take deliberate refocusing, this year let’s intentionally make Jesus the priority of Christmas.

Music Playlist:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkkFrM5WAlIIqwiAkNINIcrFs_anGIqy5

Walking In The Light

Today’s Devotion speaks of “Walking In The Light.”

Galatians 5:22-23  “But when the Holy Spirit controls; our lives will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with the Jewish laws.”

God’s living Word reminds us that the real fruits of the Spirit are not works, but defining characteristics of one within whom the Holy Spirit not only resides but also is in true relationship with. The Spirit will only express the life of Christ through us in proportion to our surrender to Him. Many people attempt to substitute works and service for the Spirit-filled life. When we do this, we lower the fruit=standard to the work-standard. The fruit of someone’s life, not his works, is, what tells us about that person’s spiritual condition. 

Ephesians 5:1-17 Walking in the Light. 

Have you ever lost power to your home in the middle of the night? If so, then you know how it feels to try making your way in the dark to look for a flashlight. Just when you think you are going the right way, you suddenly hit the wall! This compares to our “old life” and what it was like before we met the Light of the World. We didn’t even know what real “Light” was and had become comfortable in the darkness. It kept us from seeing how sinful we truly were. 

When we finally believed in the gospel, repented of our sins and confessed Jesus as our Lord and Savior; an awesome transition took place! We were rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of Light. And now, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World has come to dwell within us (Col. 1:13, Eph. 3:17). 

So how are the followers of Jesus supposed to live? Today’s passage outlines three basic responsibilities:

1. Walk In Love (Eph. 5:1-2). As the Savior sacrificially loved us, so are we to love others. If we are at odds with our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we can’t claim to be walking in the Light (1 John1:7). 

2. Abstain from sin (Eph. 5:3-7). Believers are not sinless, but they don’t habitually practice deeds of darkness.

3. Learn what pleases God (Eph. 5:8-17). The fruit of the Light is goodness, righteousness, and truth. These are deployed in our character, conversation, and conduct when we are living out our faith. 

Let’s make it our goal to move much closer to the Light, letting Jesus expose and remove any areas of darkness so that we reflect in His glory and goodness.

Closing Prayer: Our Father who art in Heaven, hollowed be thy name. Please help each of us truly come to understand and embrace the spirit-filled life thou has made available to us all. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we pray. In Jesus name; Amen!