Today, April 9, 2017, was Palm Sunday. Most know about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem; but many may not realize that this entry was very much different from all the other times Jesus and the disciples entered the city. Always before, entry was quiet; this time it was different. On a donkey, not a king’s horse but a donkey that had never borne a person.
Fore-told three times to the disciples, Jesus knew this was His last entry into the city. What must He thought by the cheering crowd, knowing that there was a second and different crowd waiting for Him in the dark of Friday morning. Jesus was coming to His glorification; this was the aim of His earthly life. Jesus was in control, and certainly not the evil men crying for His Roman execution.
I love Psalm 118:24…I say it every morning since my heart attack, “this is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”…but, many will pray some form of verse 25. This verse goes like this: “Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!”
My friends, we don’t need safety and we don’t need success; what we do need however is salvation. We need God working “in” us! Everything else will be what it will be. The people wanted safety & deliverance from Rome; we don’t need saving from world powers. We do need saving from our sins! This is why Jesus entered Jerusalem, not on a king’s horse to conquer Roman oppression, but on a lowly donkey…the great Creator of the Universe came into town to take away the sins of the world. This was His purpose! This was His gift to us! What will you be crying on Friday morning?
As I reflect more about our world, our culture, I see a complete breakdown in structure. Our great country was established with 3 equal branches of government; there were checks and balances. We now have a president who openly says he is going to go around congress. He unilaterally changes written law and a blind congress cheers him on! We have half the country wanting government to do everything for them; what will we have in another 5 years? Friends this is an extreme chaotic situation. All structure has become burry and fuzzy! Where is truth anymore in the dark abyss of relativism?
Published today, a great thinker of our day, Thomas Sowell wrote in his last paragraph on “Random Thoughts”:
“Once, when I was teaching at an institution that bent over backward for foreign students, I was asked in class one day: “What is your policy toward foreign students?” My reply was: “To me, all students are the same. I treat them all the same and hold them all to the same standards.” The next semester there was an organized boycott of my classes by foreign students. When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.”
With words better than mine, Dr. Sowell has painted a perfect picture of chaos. Everyone wants preferential treatment; how can that possibly have a chance of succeeding? Where is common sense? Where is balance? Where is forgiveness and grace? In a world such as what we are currently building at breakneck speed, we can only end up in destruction. SO…this begs the question…what can we do about it? It is obvious to me; we have to put back what we took out. And, what did we take out? The main structure of the universe, the Creator of you and me, the God who loves you so much He sent His only Son to come, show you how to live, and to give you a new start by taking your sins away. You have been redeemed, but salvation requires your action, you have to turn toward Him, have faith and believe in Jesus. Friends, we must put God back in our lives! Give Jesus Christ the preeminence in your life and you will see the dark chaos removed from your life. It will be such Good News that you will want to tell somebody else, and then somebody else, and then somebody else…and so it goes! It is our only salvation from chaos!
I have discovered that REAL happiness is RESTORATION. It is not about having things or having money. It is not about having a “good time”. It is about being restored!
Take the “Parable of the Lost Son” or as commonly referred to, the “Parable of the Prodigal Son”, as found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, vereses 11 to 32. The younger son selfishly asked for his inheritance early, which is a way of saying to his father, “I wish you were dead.” Lovingly, his father grants his wish, and the younger son leaves his father. How often have we selfishly ask for things from God, our Father, and then turn and leave Him as well?
So, the boy blows all his money on “being happy”, and where does it leave him? Ruined! Lost! Wanting! Broken! Hurting! Without anything! Do you know anybody like that? Are you like that? There is only one thing that gives long lasting happiness; return to the Father.
So the boy comes to his senses and decides that the lowest servant in his father’s house is much better off than he is right now…so he returns to his father’s house. What do you suppose he expects to find? Will his father whip him for blowing his inheritance? Will he be rejected by his father? Will he be shut-out, finding locked doors and closed gates? Hopefully, as the boy wishes, he will just be able to become a hired-hand…not even a true member of the family anymore. So what happens?
The father excitedly greets his son with a warm embrace, a great welcome, the best of clothes, and throws a great celebration party! His son has returned! This, my friends, is exactly how God acts when you too will wise up and return back to the Father who created you! This is restoration! This is grace and mercy; it doesn’t matter what you have done, only that you come home! This is what happiness is! Return to God, become a child in your Father’s house…again. Be restored to your original creation before sin ruined our relationship with our Father God…angels will sing! This is the salvation of the lost. There will be much excitment in heaven and we will all join in a great banquet of celebration for the restored. “Once I was lost, but now I am found”…thanks be to God! Amen.
How many times do we have to see the “high and mighty” fall to realize that happiness is NOT found in power? Power over others breeds arrogance as we currently see in America’s government. How many times do we have to see the “wealthy” fall to realize that happiness is NOT found in riches and having “things”? So, the question comes around again…what is happiness?
I believe that happiness is found in “restoration”.
In some small way, you know this is true. How do you feel after completing your spring cleaning? How do you feel after reorganizing your mess…be it a messy garage, a messy closet, or a messy life? Restoration, to restore…to restore life and vitality, like when you were a young kid with no worries. Jesus says to come to Him as these little children…what does that mean? Jesus tells us not to worry…what does that mean? It means what it says! But Haven, you don’t understand the problems in my life! You don’t understand my loss, my pain! Well…maybe I don’t know the details in your life nor feel the pain directly, but there is not one person on this planet that doesn’t have problems and pain. It is the promise of being in a fallen world. SO…
So, we need to turn to Jesus who loves us and will interceed for us. This is the first step in restoration…to restore oneself to be a new creation in Christ. I invite you to open up the 17th chapter in the book of John in your Bible. You will find 3 prayers by Jesus. The third prayer is about YOU if you are a Child of God, and if you are not yet, why not read the text anyway and let it “cook” within you. To become a new creation, as a plant, you must first plant a seed. The “seed” is the Word of God found in the Bible. Don’t try for a Saul/Paul conversion, simply plant a seed and tenderly nurture it, water it, and it will grow. Before long, you will see true restoration.
You have already been redeemed (the price of your salvation has been paid), now you must open that door and let Christ into your life to restore you anew…this is salvation from sinner to saint. Now, THAT is true happiness!