Palm Sunday

Jesus.

The I am.

He is.

The son of the living God.

The first-born and author of all creation.

His name . . . is Wonderful.

His throne is forever. He is the everlasting God.

He is the King of Glory; the upholder of all things.

The beginning and the end. The first and the last.

And the radiance of God’s glory.

He is he shepherd of his sheep – the true vine – the bread of life and our living water.

He is the light of the world – the bright and morninçg star – the sun of righteousness.

He is strength to the poor – a refuge from the storm – and the hope of his people.

He is the rock of ages – our priest, mediator, intercessor and advocate.

He is the gift of God – the ONLY holy one.

He is the resurrection – and the head of his church.

Captain of the host of the Lord and Lion of the tribe of Judah.

He is the King of kings – and Lord of Lords.

The prince of peace – a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

He was the babe, born in a manger – the carpenter’s son.

The Word made flesh – God with us.

A stranger and an alien – he humbled himself unto death.

He is Jesus of Nazareth – the savior of the world.

The lamb of God – without spot or blemish. Worthy is the lamb.

He was obedient, meek and lowly . . . tempted and oppressed;

He was despised, rejected, betrayed and condemned.

He was reviled, scourged, mocked and beaten.

Bruised, stricken, smitten and crucified.

Yet he was holy . . . undefiled . . . perfect . . . and sinless.

He is mighty. He’s exalted. He is risen. And he is glorified.

He is my savior. My healer. My hope. My brother.

He is my physician. My refiner. My restorer.

He’s my portion. My wisdom. My Master. My Foundation.

He’s my righteousness. My purifier. My redemption. My Salvation.

He’s my example. He’s my teacher. He’s my keeper. And he’s my feeder.

He’s my shepherd. He’s my peace. He’s my helper. And he’s my leader.

Jesus – you are.

You are.

You are.

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God and Hawaii: neither should be missed

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Isunsetmagine that you won an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii. That’s a nice little daydream isn’t it!? Suppose that it was dark when you landed, so you took a cab to the hotel and crashed straight to sleep after your epic flight. The next morning you awoke and opened up the drapes to reveal a view of the road, as your side of the hotel didn’t face the beach; you had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then spent much of the morning and afternoon camped out at the hotel pool in the courtyard. At night you took a cab to a restaurant for dinner, but as the Sun had already set, you never saw much of anything. This pattern repeated itself all week long, until you flew back home and rejoined your family, friends, co-workers.

Happy to have you back, one after another they peppered you with questions like, “How was the beach?” “How was the ocean?” “Did you see dolphins?” “Were the sunsets amazing or what?” “How were the mountains?” “Did you like the lava fields?”

And one by one you had to explain that you spent most of your time in the hotel, at the pool, in the spa, and out to dinner. At one point you finally realized that you had been IN HAWAII but you totally missed experiencing Hawaii! You might as well have been in Muldraugh . . . (sorry Muldraugh, I had to)

This dumb little imagination brings to life something that actually happens to us on a recurring basis – that is, we go to meet with God and totally miss God. Really.

Please don’t miss God on a Sunday morning. Really.

Don’t gather to experience him, and then come home after only singing some songs or hearing some words spoken. Really.

On Sundays we gather together for a special time designed to help us hear him, talk to him, and worship him, but we have got to be willing participants.

Meeting God in a worship service is like going to Hawaii – it can be awe inspiring, majestic, even life-changing!! But we must arrive ready to meet God; to experience him. Worship isn’t a passive endeavor. The only thing worse than going to Hawaii and missing Hawaii is going to God’s house for worship and totally missing God.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. In the car, on the way, say, “God, please open my heart to you this morning.”
  2. Show up 10 minutes before your service begins; that’s 5 minutes to visit and 5 minutes to sit and get your heart ready.
  3. Dedicate the hour of worship service to whatever God wishes to do in you in that moment.
  4. Leave your phone alone unless you’re reading scripture or sermon notes on it (everything else can wait 60 minutes).
  5. Realize that worship can still be a rich encounter with the Lord even when you 1) don’t care for a particular song, 2) don’t like what a worship team member is wearing, 3) don’t agree with a sermon point, or 4) find out that the person in the row next to you is a) imperfect, b) a funny dresser, c) socially stand-offish or d) doing something you find annoying. Sometimes our experience of God is most rich when things around us are imperfect.
  6. Go to the GHC App a couple days early and read the scripture passage for Sunday; come with it already on your mind.
  7. Strive to worship throughout your week as you live your daily life – let Sundays be a special kind of worship because you’re gathered with brothers and sisters in Christ.
  8. Live a surrendered life. If disobedience rules during the week, how can Christ rule on Sunday morning? Die to self, live to Christ, and worship will take its rightful role in life.
  9. If you ever go to Hawaii – go to the beach. Swim with the dolphins. See the sun set over the ocean. Climb one of the mountains. Get a sunburn. In short, go ahead and experience what you came to experience. Don’t miss it!

Clark Hewitt, Associate Pastor

How I Kissed Worry Goodbye

If you made a list, you might find that there are more items in the “things to worry about” column than in the “no need to worry about” column. Please don’t make a list. Future, career, kids, health, income, bills, family, friends, marriage… there’s no area that gets an automatic exemption from worry, right?

But while we’re busy worrying, we know in the back of our heads that we’re not supposed to worry; so there’s one more thing to worry about. Put it on your list.

So there’s the rub; in one corner – I feel worried because of my life circumstances, and in the other corner – I know not to worry because Jesus wants my trust and dependence placed on Him. Which one is going to win? It depends on which corner you choose to spend your time.

Matthew 6:34 [Jesus speaking] Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Worry will never dissipate because of the list getting shorter ; God doesn’t seem to change the entire world around us overnight. You won’t awaken tomorrow to bubbles, rainbows and unicorns. (Everyone knows that’s what a worry-free world is like…) The same things you worry about today will be present tomorrow when your feet hit the floor. So how can we choose freedom if the stimulus for our worry never changes?

We must do three things to find peace, and we may have to do them daily, or hourly, or each minute on occasion They are: Admit. Give. And Trust.

Admit it; you can’t do much of anything about the things you are worried about. If you could, you would have done it, and then you wouldn’t be worried. And you wouldn’t be reading this blog, but instead you’d be signing copies of your book about how not to worry. We must admit that we don’t have control of most of the world around us; certainly not of the people, places and things that stress us out much of the time. We walk around with a superficial sense of control, as if we were the god who got to control and direct all of life to meet our desires. Admitting that we’re not in control is to be humble before God and surrender to the truth that He has control and we don’t. Our worries are fruitless, powerless and pitiful.

Matthew 6:27 [Again, Jesus speaking] Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Admit it; your worry isn’t chipping away at the list. It’s not making any progress; so what to do? How about trying something different?

Give worry away; let God worry about your list. He’s the only one who can do something about it. Might as well let Him worry about it…

1 Peter 5:7 says: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Give it all over to Him. Why? Because he loves you. Give Him your worries by naming them for Him and asking that He direct and control those situations according to His will and for His glory.

In Philippians 4:6 Paul writes: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

We give worry away in prayer and gratitude; offering these items to God by faith. It’s the natural progression of first humbling admitting our own powerlessness. It’s recognizing the power and the love of God.

And then comes to hardest part. Trusting in the work of God, we don’t ask to have our items back again. We don’t change direction once the decision’s made to let God be in control of all of our lives. Admitting was easy enough. Asking for help wasn’t too bad. But trusting means waiting… And trusting means being content if the outcome doesn’t match our expectations… Trusting is an ongoing relinquishment of our own control. That’s the minute-by-minute work of “waiting on the Lord”.

In the end, God’s will is enough for us if we admit, give and trust. We seek after Him when there’s happiness and we seek after Him when there’s sadness.

Freedom from worry is never just a simple recipe for a “more happy life”. Sorry. It’s a recipe for a life entrusted to God. So as you read this, don’t picture this as a self-help article that will free you from worry in order that you might have more pleasure in life.

Freedom from worry is accomplished in order that we might spend ourselves chasing after God and His purposes, instead of frittering away our lives chasing after the temporary trinkets that worldly folks chase. Our hearts will be free to chase after Him, and in the process of trusting, our lives are shaped to depend on him moment by moment and to joyfully receive his will for us even when the outcome is difficult or painful.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Clark Hewitt, Associate Pastor