Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus entering the City of Jerusalem the week of Passover. Passover is a huge celebratory time for those of the Jewish faith because it is a time to reflect upon their delivery from the Egyptians led by Moses as they headed to the Promised Land. After being enslaved for 430 years by the Egyptians, the people of God were headed to freedom and the land God had promised to their ancestor, Moses.
The night before they left Egypt God sent the final plague which would change the mind of Pharaoh to set God's people free. The Death Angel would pass over each home striking the firstborn of every family including the animals. The only sign needed for the Death Angel to pass over a home was the blood of a lamb on the doorposts. That blood sacrifice that covered the entrance to the home was the only prerequisite required.
After this night, the blood of a lamb was brought to the temple in Jerusalem each year and sacrificed for the sins of the people during the celebration of Passover and the remembrance of this night. Lambs were most commonly purchased in Jerusalem upon arrival by those that traveled great distances. The most spotless of lambs possible were purchased and given to the priests so the ritual of sacrifice could be carried out for the sins of each family.
Can you imagine the amount of blood that would run throughout the streets of Jerusalem if each family gave a lamb for their sins? And yet on Palm Sunday, Jesus, the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, entered the City of Jerusalem for the final time as he prepared to give his life a ransom for the sins of the entire world. No longer would each family have to give a lamb to be sacrificed because the ultimate sacrifice has been given. But blood was shed, my friends. The precious, sinless blood of Jesus.
This week, remember what Jesus did for us and spread the good news of what we gain from his offering. When breath leaves these earthly bodies we will each take a walk through the valley of the shadow of death and we will fear no evil, because Jesus will be with us....he is one casting the shadow so we are not harmed by death, but will accompany us in walking victoriously into the Light of Heaven....our eternal home.
God's blessings on a week of remembrance and celebration....
Cookie & Gary
Gary and I want to thank each of you for all the well wishes as we celebrated our anniversary today. We took the day and went downtown Pittsburgh to take in the City on a sunny, cloud free, blue sky day.....it was amazing, delightful, full of exercise as we walked all over the City. We are blessed beyond belief.....God is good and we look forward to many more years!
Treadmill: a device having an endless belt on which an individual walks or runs in place for exercise or physiological testing
Synonyms: drill, grind, groove, lockstep, rote, routine, rut
Thought for the Day: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
Exercise. Now that’s a motivating term to either get you up and moving or have you sigh and sit back down in your comfy chair saying, “been there, done that, don’t need it anymore”. Truthfully, we all need exercise regardless of our age. There will always be some form of movement beneficial to stay healthy and in shape.
In an attempt over the years to bring health to my bones, I have joined step classes, jogged, walked, had memberships in gyms, hired personal trainers and, like probably most of you, bought equipment so I could exercise whenever I wanted to. Enter the treadmill, another of those items we purchased in order to workout at home. Just ask me how that went!
After purchasing said equipment for workout purposes, it became tiresome to walk for an hour and not go anywhere. I tried watching Price is Right for an hour and although it was entertaining, I found myself asking Bob Barker when in the world would his hour be over! Another drawback…I didn’t have anyone to share my pain! It’s lonely on a treadmill with no chat partner and I’m a pretty social individual. Out the door the treadmill went along with VCR exercise tapes, and various other equipment. These days I walk on our neighbor trail. At least I get to breath fresh air and say hello to those walking in the opposite direction.
The synonyms listed above for a treadmill seem to hit the nail on the head with my exercise experiences; they are rote, routine, put me in a rut and grind my body. Can you tell I’m…wait for it…a senior? Regardless of that admission I’ve found there are many avenues of life that put us in line with the treadmill terminology. Daily routines become rote and make us feel we are jogging in a place of solitude getting absolutely nowhere. But consider the portion of Webster’s definition regarding treadmill as not only a mode of exercise but used for physiological testing. Our minds and bodies work together in constant motion. What influences the mind will enviably result in the performance of our bodies.
This applies to our belief in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. If you have been a believer since youth, regardless of your present digits, your spiritual life can become stale, rote, routine and feel like you have fallen into a rut. How can one witness about the goodness of the Lord if your own personal belief is stuck treadmilling? The turnabout can be remedied by plugging yourself back into personal Bible study, group study, singing praises to the Almighty God or talking to Him through conversational prayer. We all know the benefits of worship and what better way to worship than to crank up the music that aligns our hearts and minds with the things of God? Of course, if you are still employed you will need earbuds, but fill your days with a constant reminder that God loves you and is wanting to fill each day with blessings.
If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, you can also experience the stoppage of treadmilling. Our Lord desires his children (and that includes everyone regardless of where you stand with him) to live a life of fulfillment. No one yearns to live in a black & white world without color. Remember when White Christmas and The Wizard of Oz were first colorized? How it changed our interpretation of those stories! We became more engaged because the color drew us in.
Once you give your heart and life to Jesus Christ and believe that he is the resurrected Son of God, your life will feel renewed, refreshed, rebooted and colorized. The blinders of unbelief will fall and a whole new mindset will emerge because the Holy Spirit of God will burst within your soul. The same Holy Spirit that hovered over the waters when the world was created and is part of the Trinity, will become a permanent house guest in your life. Although you might have moments of treadmilling, you will know exactly how to turn those times of rut and routine into vital moments of giving it all over to God. Allow God to colorize your life.
Treadmilling…it’s up to you.
Lord, thank you for the insights given when ordinary everyday items are brought to mind. I pray if there is someone reading this writing that doesn’t know what a great, awesome and mighty God you are, he/she will colorize their lives with your glory. May many come to know and love you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Outlook: the prospect for the future
Thought for the Day: For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. II Timothy 4:3-4
I’m a Cinderella girl. Ask anyone who really knows me, and they will vouch for that fact. I am my best version of myself experiencing sunny days, warm breezes, smelling freshly mowed grass, hearing night sounds and/or the sound of the ocean. Additionally, I want to read stories and encounter life situations with endings of happily ever after. That’s an outlook that keeps me positive and pressing forward; knowing attainment of the best version of me can be experienced even if I live in a world sending mixed signals.
When God formed us in our mothers’ wombs, we were equipped with an intricate mind. I believe we only tap into a miniscule fraction of that endowed intelligence. With that being said, there are individuals actively imploring their talents in the art of persuasion using that proficiency to convince others to be likeminded. How in the world do you think 918 people drank what has become known as Kool-Aid following their cult leader, Jim Jones, in Guyana? According to one article, Jim attracted his followers by sharing this goal, “Divine principles. Total equality. A society where people own all things in common, where there is no rich or poor, where there are no races.” Sounds like reasonable goals, right? But what happened when people began questioning those goals as the rules and guidelines became a bit muddy? What occurred as meals continually consisted of rice, gravy and wild greens and the people, even children were required to participate in working approximately ten tedious hours a day? Did they begin to wonder why towers were built overlooking their living situation? Was it built to keep others out or to keep them in?
When officials decided to take a closer look upon receiving complaints, Mr. Jones decided he could no longer keep his own little kingdom to himself, so he decided the next best thing was having them drink poison and die rather than surrender their way of life. His solution? Have everyone drink Favor Aid mixed with cyanide a dash of Valium. There were 304 children among the number of dead that were first given this “drink” by their parents they would not have to watch their children die. Those who decided not to drink were shot. Jim Jones shot himself instead of drinking his “solution”.
These individuals listened to a man who gave them an outlook that sounded to be a utopia, a paradise of freedom. Please be aware Satan is alive and is still wreaking havoc among us today. You might think, I’d never fall for the lies of Jim Jones. Maybe you wouldn’t, but a lie began in the Garden of Eden as Satan slimed around the forbidden tree. When we view life outside of God’s boundaries purposed for our good and desire to call your own shots, you are opening a foothold of evil proportions. Satan is quite skilled in the art of persuasion.
God is not a Jim Jones, my friend. God is not the tempter and He will never ask you to accept false information or be involved in activities laced with eternal damnation. God instead offers peace within your heart and eternal life beyond. If you are a believer you have been gifted with the Holy Spirit; God’s meter of truth. When you are exposed to false accusations regarding our Lord, your meter will instantly fill you with a discernment to know something doesn’t add up. The discretion of the Holy Spirit will urge to fact check with scripture questionable comments and teachings.
If you have children, be ever diligent to know what they are being taught. Challenge the curriculums, read their reports and homework assignments and for the love of all that is right, view their computers and what is being brought into the safety of your homes. If your children are in college, have conversations. Liberal professors take full advantage of sculpting minds that leave home at 18 years of age and deliberately begin to weave their own beliefs into a preset agenda. You might have raised them differently, but there are those who will inform your students they need a more progressive thought process, leave mom and dad’s old ways behind.
I end with a personal story. I went back to college when my son was 13 months old and over the next ten years I took part-time and full-time classes to obtain a degree in elementary education. During those years, known as a nontraditional student, I had classes with both young people and older folks like myself. One of those professors I will never forget, my elementary math professor.
Dr. Martin was a liberal thinker from day one. I don’t want to falsely describe the man because he possessed a great mathematical mind and had ways of teaching children equations that I used to teach my son. However, when he found out I was a conservative, born and raised within a few miles of Dr. Jerry Falwell, that was just the nudge he needed to begin investigating how far he could baptize me with his beliefs on evolution. Yes, he was a math teacher, but he just couldn’t help himself confronting a conservative who believes in creation.
One day I needed to meet with him concerning a math paper and he began again, this time in his office with no students or time limits, how could I possibly believe in creation. Of course, I was in my late 30’s, had a family, was on time constraints, and had much more on my mind than continually defending my position, but I ended the discussion this way. “Dr. Martin, we have discussed this issue several times. I believe in creation. You believe in evolution. It’s very plain from these discussions neither one of us is changing our minds. But I tell you what, you bring a monkey in here and place him in cage and when he begins to evolve into a full grown human, we’ll revisit the issue.” He never pursued the topic again.
Being challenged happens every day, in every walk of life. The question is, are you equipped for the challenges that often sound plausible and correct? Being prepared for an encounter that contests your beliefs is of utmost importance. Perhaps you have given your full attention to the phone in your hand, or with the busyness of life that you are leaving instructional opinions to someone who is not only influencing your outlook, but that of your children. Don’t be mistaken and think you have the ability to face these issues in your own strength. The only overcomer who can fill your life with a positive outlook guarding your heart and mind from partaking in the Kool-Aid of false teaching is Jesus Christ.
God, please give us insight to sense worldly challenges which sound correct but seek to persuade the making of bad decisions. Remove these encounters, dear Father, before we become insnared guarding our hearts and minds with the ability to walk away. Bind Satan and shine Your Light so brightly all can be revealed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Bridge: a time, place, or means of connection or transition
Thought for the Day: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa, Florida is an incredible overpass. Although there are numerous bridges that can be noted as incredible structures stretched across large bodies of water, this particular one stands out to me. I have included background information on the construction of this bridge found on Google, of course, but it is very interesting because this passage was built after a tragic occurrence.
Here is the story: The Sunshine Skyway Bridge stretches 29,040 feet from St. Petersburg to Bradenton, Florida. That's over four miles, most of it across the mouth of Tampa Bay. It's an amazing sight, a shining compliment to the sunshine and seascapes of west Florida.
The history of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge begins with its predecessor, a steel cantilever bridge of the same name. The old bridge guarded over Tampa Bay for almost 30 years until May 9, 1980, when a terrible thunderstorm smashed the freighter Summit Venture into the bridge. Over 1,000 feet of the bridge collapsed into the water, killing 35 people.
The 1980 disaster was a major tragedy, and the state realized that a new bridge was needed. Demolition crews were brought in to safely destroy what remained of the old bridge. The supports were later turned into fishing piers.
The article continues with materials used to build the new overpass which was completed and ready for use in 1987 at a cost of $244 million and an obsession with safety.
Just important as bridge connectors are to unite point A to point B, so is the importance of a spiritual bridge that ties us to eternity. Due to the sins of the world, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be the perfect, sinless spiritual bridge connecting us to God. Just as in days of old when lambs, as perfect as humanly possible, were taken to the tabernacle to be offered for a sins, a sacrifice was needed for the sins of the world. Once that one sacrifice was made, the need for the continuous offering of lambs would be needed no more. However, there wasn’t a sinless offering found throughout all the earth because, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It wasn’t possible for any animal or human being to be offered due to sin and imperfectness.
Jesus, fully man and fully God, was the only sinless offering acceptable and willing to give his life. And the tragedy that happened? Jesus was falsely accused, brought before those who feared the angry mob, and when given the offer of releasing Jesus or an accused criminal, the crowd chose the criminal, Barabbas. Jesus was beaten unrecognizable, skin torn from his back, losing his life’s blood with a crown of thorns thrust upon his head, was made to carry a heavy wooden cross on his back to the place of his crucifixion. When he stumbled and fell, a man was pulled from the crowd to carry the cross the rest of the way to Golgotha. Nails were driven into his hands and feet, the cross thudded into the ground and he hung on that cross, dying for you and for me. Jesus Christ became the spiritual bridge needed by you and for me. This bridge gave victory over eternal death. This bridge made a way to the Father. This is the only bridge you desperately need to cross.
Let me give another example. If you have ever visited the Grand Canyon you will remember the sight of the immense divide between sides of that Canyon. Now suppose your loved ones are on the other side. You have a dire need to get from point A to point B, but there isn’t a connection found to make this possible. They are calling out to you, but you feel so helpless in this attempt.
But wait you see a bridge and you begin to run because this will finally allow you to cross to the other side. When you arrive at the bridge you notice it is wooden, in the shape of a large cross and has blood stains streaked all over it. Although you don’t really understand, you need to use this passage to get to the other side.
That’s the decision each of us must make at some point in our lives. We either believe that blood stained wooden cross will sustain us to the other side where the glory of God lives and those who have gone before are thriving spiritually or we stay put. One day the bridge will no longer be a transport. That day will come when death comes calling for us or Jesus returns first for those who have believed in him.
It’s up to you. Are you staying put or crossing the bridge built by Jesus Christ?
Father, thank you for sending Jesus. May we as believers be bold enough to simply tell the story of his life giving love that made a way for eternal bliss. May blinders fall from the eyes of those who don’t believe before breath leaves their human bodies. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Judith "Cookie" White is the founder of The Sounding Board Ministry. She is the author of two devotional books which are available on this site.