We're going to pick up where we left off last Sunday, but since it's Palm Sunday (which fits in perfectly with the praise theme) In the second part of this message, we're dealing with "The Praise Parade".
Today's message begins as Jesus and the disciples make their journey to Jerusalem for Passover. They stopped in Bethany which was on their way, and they enjoyed dinner with Mary, Martha and Lazarus who had been raised from the dead. Passover was 6 days away. After spending the night there, they continued on the Roman road to where the donkey's colt was tied up in Bethpage, they brought the colt to Jesus, so Jesus could ride down the descent of the Mount of olives, across the Kidron Valley and through the Golden Gate which in the Hebrew is called the Gate of Mercy. It was the gate which goes eastward and into the temple court. (the same gate Jesus will enter when he returns to this earth)
Since the Gallilean calendar was different than the Judean calendar, Jesus ended up celebrating Passover with the disciples on Thursday (we know this as the last supper), but the Judeans offered the passover lamb on Friday, which allowed Jesus to perfectly fulfill the prophecy by being the Passover lamb, which God offered for our sins. There is a 6 hour overlap between the two times observed. You see, the Gallilean *.....day begins at sunrise, but the Judean day begins at sunset, which allowed Jesus to have passover the day before the Judean Passover, on Thursday, where He said to them, this is my body and this is my blood. Then it allowed him to be crucified at exactly the time the Judeans were sacrificing their Passover lamb on Friday.
Passover is a celebration of the liberation from bondage! It marks the event of leaving the oppression of Egypt behind and following the glory and presence of God. It was deeply embedded in their history and was a part of the journey which God had started them on as they looked for a city whose builder and maker is God. What they had hoped for generations...Since the word came to Adam that his seed would crush the head of Satan, and the covenant went forth to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and on to Joseph and Mary. Freedom had seemed like an illusive butterfly..
The triumphant entry of Jesus, fortold the time when prophecy would be fulfilled and the true King of the earth would enter to reign....Palm Sunday is the celebration of our hope and faith in the King who has come to set us free from things that would hold us bondage and who brings Liberty and freedom. Folks had heard the news that Jesus was journeying from Bethany towards Jerusalem, and they knew the words of Zechariah, Those Old Covenant words were well rehersed by every Jewish person.... and they began to throng their way to the Holy City. It is estimated that approximately 120,000 had gathered for the Passover.
Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey. v10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
It was an exhuberant Parade of Praise which met the disciples and Jesus.... I like Mark's account of the happenings on that day....
Mark 11:1-11 "As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them,“Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ “ They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!
And now He was right there in front of them. They fully expected Him to launch His kingdom by overthrowing the Romans and driving them out at that time, But their expectations although true, would be accomplished on their time line, but by the Holy Spirit working through each individual believer, as a personal liberator available to all mankind. The Passover message had to be shared with the whole earth so that everyone possible could be part of the "Parade of Praise" to the Lord. How easy it is to have what we've longed for and yearned for to be right in front of us, and yet miss His ways and His timing, because we saw it through the eyes and ears of the flesh and not the Spirit....
A little boy named Johnny couldn't wait to go to church to find out what Palm Sunday was. He had been going to church all of his little life, and had heard about Jesus week after week. But sadly, as eager as he was to find out about Palm Sunday, Johnny came down with the flue. He told his parents to go to church and when they got home they could tell him about it. So they hired a baby-sitter to take care of him *.....while they went to church. When they came home holding palm leaves, Johnny asked, "What are the palm leaves for?" His mom told him, "Well, you see, when Jesus came to town, riding on a donkey, people were eager to greet Him and they waved palm leaves at him in respect." Johnny looked upset and said, "Wouldn't ya know? The day I'm not in church, and Jesus shows up and they had donkey rides!"
Philip Brewer wrote "God uses where you are, to take you where you never could have gone. God uses what you can do to accomplish what you never could have done. God uses who you are so you can become who you never could have been.
A little girl was sitting on her grandfather’s lap as he read her a bedtime story. As he read, She would reach up and touch his wrinkled cheek. Finally she asked, “Grandpa, did God make you?”“Yes, sweetheart, God made me a long time ago,”he answered her. Then she rubbed her own face and asked, “grandpa, did God make me too?”“Yes, honey, He sure did. God made you just a short time ago.” She rubbed his face and then her own and said, "Grandpa, God’s getting a lot better at it, isn’t he?”
Psalm 100:3 "...we are His people." Acts 17:28 "For in Him (in God) we live, and move, and have our being, for we are His offspring."
The Praise Zone is intentional.....
The spiritual believer is a person, who through a determination of the will, has trained their spiritual senses, to see the hand of God in all the things around them. It takes time, effort and determination to stop our minds from dwelling on the negative and sing His praises, when the world wants us to sing about everything else. Jesus said that if we do not praise Him, the stones will cry out! So, remember that if you keep holding back on your praise, God can replace you with a rock!
He's the same yesterday, today and forever, He never changes but there are some things that need to change, like some really weird laws that still remain on the books. For example: In Kentucky, it is still against the law for a person not to take a bath at least once a year. In Massachusetts, it remains against the law to put tomatoes in clam chowder. In Phoenix, Arizona it is still illegal to walk through a hotel lobby with spurs on.
Aren't you grateful that God's truth is never outdated or out of style. What was true for past generations, is truth for every generation. What worked for past generations, works today and for future generations as well. God's promises extend to every generation. Today, you can make your own personal commitment to live your life from this day forward, in the Praise Zone.
The bible is a book that promotes walking the talk, not just talking the walk... God is looking for people that won't just talk praise, but will live in the praise zone! Martin Luther once introduced a guest speaker by saying, "What we believe, he lives" and with that Luther sat down. What greater intro could anyone receive? "What we believe, he lives".
Look at what happens when we live in the praise zone!
Our Praise Declares Who God Is....Psalm 100:5, "For the LORD is good." In all of life, we can be sure of this one thing, the Lord is good. The fact that God is good, means that He is kind, He is gracious and He is generous. We never need doubt God's goodness. We may not understand the things God brings or allows into our lives, but we must always know that it is for our ultimate good. Whatever God does is perfectly timed and ultimately and absolutely the very best for us! We may question the means He uses, but we can always praise Him for the outcome because it will be what He sees as best. !
When we praise, we elevate our attitude and cause our focus to be upon God and His power, and not on our problems! In this place of praise, God's Spirit affirms to us that He is bigger than our problems and pain. God is so big, He can even use our suffering, pain and problems to accomplish His own purpose in our lives!
The Praise Zone humbles us. Pride has a hard time bowing. Our Ego and our praise to God will sometimes clash. Jesus humbled himself that He might do the will of the Father. He rode on a lowly donkey to remind us that when we humble ourselves God will exalt us in due season. Praise to God keeps ego in check and brings pride into proper perspective.When we begin to praise God, we get ourselves out of the picture and we begin to see what we didn't see before...
Praise changes our perspective.... A man bought a classic 1979 pontiac and when he drove it to the store to get different flavors of ice cream, it was all fine until he bought vanilla. Then the car wouldn't start. He complained to the dealership, who wouldn't take him seriously. But finally, he got a technician to come check and go with him to the store. The first time, they bought chocolate and the car started fine. The next trip he bought strawberry and the car started fine. The next trip, he bought vanilla and the car wouldn't start. They did this several times and each time he bought vanilla, the car wouldn't start. Finally the technician went in the store to locate the icecream, and found that all the other flavors were at the back of the store, but the vanilla was right inside the entrance. He realized that the problem was not about the ice cream, but was about vapor lock. With the vanilla just inside the door, the engine didn't have a chance to cool down, so vapor lock was preventing it from starting. Often we are too attached to what we think is the problem, to see the solution... Sometimes we have to eleminate some things for other things to begin to appear... you have to close some doors before other doors will open.
If you praise superficial things, your life will become superficial. If you praise perverted things, your life will become perverted. If you praise fleshly things, You will become fleshly, If you praise evil things, your life will become evil. If you praise and worship the true God, then your life will become godly."
The Praise Zone Makes a God Connection....When I hear a child cry "daddy" or "paw-paw," in a crowded store, I automatically turn my head and my heart rate increases. That little voice instantly connects me with my children and grandchildren! It is the same when we praise the Lord, we are declaring our devotion and allegiance to God. As God's children, praise is one way we connect with the Heavenly Father. Praise gets God's attention and brings us into His presence so we can hear Him just as a child hears the voice of His Father.... (Speaking of children...)
Some children were given a project which involved writing a letter to their pastor. Stephen, age 8, wrote, "Dear Pastor, I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother certainly won't be there to bother me anymore". Loreen, age 9,wrote, "Dear Pastor, I think a lot more people would come to your church if you had it at Disneyland. I hope I helped you some". Alexander, age 10, wrote, "Dear Pastor, Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We need God's help or a new pitcher. Thank you". Arnold, age 8, wrote, "Dear Pastor, I know God loves everybody but I'm sure He never met my sister. Sincerely yours, Arnold". Pete, age 9, wrote, "Dear Pastor, in your sermon you said some good things about some people. Could you please say that Peter Peterson has been a good boy all week. I am Peter Peterson. Sincerely yours, Pete". We laugh at the self focus of children when they are little, but as we get older, there comes a time when we need to realize we are not the center of the universe. When that realization comes, it makes sense to turn it all over to God.
The Praise Zone motivates us to holy living..... In your house, there are drawers and doors that you would prefer to leave closed. Why? They are full of junk that you have stashed away. (come on) How many have a junk drawer? It's not that there is anything bad in those drawers or closets, but all that junk displaces needed space that could be better used. It is the same with our lives and hearts. Praise demands that we open ourselves, and open our hearts to God. It demands a transparency which will often reveal the clutter that has taking up space that is reserved for His presence only, in our lives! So often, praise demands that we confess our secrets sins. Praise is a purging, purifying agent. It cleanses the soul! The more we praise and worship the Lord, the more we desire to be like Him and the more transparant we become!
The following falls under the SAY WHAT!!!? category..... Here's some signs that you may be in the "Grey Zone"...
...if you honestly believe the people in the bible spoke King James English
...if you think First Assumptions and Second Fleshalonians are books of the bible
...if you think God's presence is always strongest in the back row.
...if you think Acts 1:8 is a refrence to Happy Hour.
...if you judge the quality of the church service by how short it was...
...if your definition of "fellowship" only involves food.
...if you sit in church thinking what's the nearest resturant for lunch.
...if you think being in one accord is about a model of car.
...if your most common statement is,"We've never done it this way before.
We had a neighbor who used to come by and have coffee in the morning with my wife. You could hear her screaming at her husband and the kids, whenever they were home. As they fellowshipped over coffee, Winnie used the time to help her grow spiritually. They would pray, worship and praise the Lord together. One day as they were worshiping, this woman began to repent of not living as the Christian she claimed to be, and not being the example to her family that she needed to be. When she became a praiser, she realized she needed to elevate who she was. They prayed together and she went home and spent the week correcting things she had been confronted with as she was in worship and praise. Her entire family came to Christ and her husband experienced a miracle healing.
The Praise Zone increases our joy! Psalm 100:1 says, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD." Verse 2 speaks of "gladness" and "singing!" Joy, gladness, and singing, is the constant companion of praise. .Christianity ought to be contagious and it should not be a superficial, manufactured joy! True Joy is just epidemicly contagious! In Romans 14, Paul tells us that the "kingdom of God" is not about living in fear, or keeping someone's rules, but it's about the joy of a fulfilling relationship with God, fueled by the Holy Spirit! We obtain joy when we know we are pleasing those we love! Praise releases joy and joy releases God's strength...The joy of the Lord is my strength...!
The Praise Zone Establishes our Faith. Praise and thanksgiving is an exspression of faith. Someone said, "If you thank God after the fact, that is gratitude. If you thank God before the fact, that is faith." The greater we see God to be, the greater our sense of confidence and trust in Him and His ways. Faith is just another word for trust.
Praise proclaims our trust in God in every situation, especially in times when we don't have a clue about what is happening in our lives, where we are or where we are going.
We shouldn't be like the airplane pilot who got lost and announced to the passengers.. "We're lost and don't have a clue where we are, but we're making real good time"...We praise, because our pilot knows our destination and He's always right on time.
I think of the words of Job...in Job 23:8 "Behold, I go forward but I do not see Him, I go backward but I do not perceive Him. v9 On the left hand He is working but I cannot behold Him. He hides Himself on the right hand that I don't see Him. v10 But He knows the way that I take and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
(When you're in that place, it's always a good place to give Him praise!)
The Praise Zone Elevates our outlook . It keeps everything from being just about us...Someone said, "life is too short to be serious all the time. So, if you can't laugh at yourself, call me, and I'll laugh at you." Happy people are not always secure people, Robin Williams showed us that...true security is trusting deep inside that your core beliefs and values and who you believe in, is a safe place compared to the challeges and uncertainty you are facing.
Everyone needs recognition for their accomplishments. But, in order to give praise to others, I must be secure enough with myself to desire that they succeed and become great, just as much as I would desire it for myself. I think of a little boy who was practicing hitting the ball with his father. The dad asked the son if he was pitching the ball OK for him... The little boy, said " You're doing great dad, but when I hit it, you're supposed to say, Wonderful, Great job, Amazing hit"....He was expressing the need we all have for some praise and appreciation.
Praise is a Pro-active ...It is a choice to be ruled by things that are above and not by things of this earth! We have different sets of emotions, one is positive one is negative, one is productive and the other is destructive. One is healthy, the other is toxic. Praise is the most effective weapon against pessimism, worry, depression, and discouragement. The set of emotions that includes toxic thinking, fear and doubt, cannot co-exist in the atmosphere of praise. An attitude of praise Binds the kings of darkness and puts the devil in confusion, while it swings the balance in your favor. ! Here's a good "Praise Zone" scripture for you.....
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, for you are called in one fellowship of believers, so be thankful. v16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord.v17 And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him". If you want to see a difference in your relationship with Jesus Christ in your daily walk with Him, determine to praise Him every day! Commit yourself to a life of praise....
The well-known English preacher Charles H. Spurgeon wrote something that would be good to remember as you begin each day. He said, "Let your thoughts be psalms, your prayers be incense, and your breath be praise."
Are your thoughts praiseworthy? There are 150 psalms, each pointing us to God's presence, purpose and power! In summarizing a criteria for our thought life, the apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:8, "....if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Find the good and praise it! Better yet, find God every where and in everything, and praise Him! Let your thoughts be praiseworthy! Are your prayers filled only with petitions, seeking something from God, or are your prayers equally embedded with praise to your God?
In one church, as the morning service began, the pastor challenged the congregation to pray silently for five minutes. There was a requirement however on everyone's prayers to the Lord. They could not ask God or petition Him for one single thing. The five minutes of prayer must be spent in praise. For those five minutes, folks searched for reasons just to thank and praise God! God loves for us to praise Him! It is like the sweetest, aromatic fragrance to God, when we praise Him with our prayers! Psalm 141:2 is the desire of our heart when we are living in the Praise Zone.
Psalm 141:2 says, "Let my prayer be set forth before You as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." Let your prayers be filled with the incense of fervent, joyful praise! Praise should be as natural as breathing for the child of God! Let praise be to your spirit, just like breath is to your lungs.
Let's make this commitment today, to Live In The Praise Zone, and to have a praise parade every day of our lives....!
Prayer.... Lord Jesus, we thank you and praise You that you have enabled us to come forth victorious and be raised to a higher place as we receive full under-standing of our rights, privileges, and authority throughYour redemptive work in us. You are setting us on a path of ever increasing success so that the latter days of our life are much greater than any previous time. We now leave the past behind as You bring us into the wider place of Your abundance. We walk in happiness, peace, Divine favor and good fortune. Our families are blessed and anointed and our possessions are secure, because the limits have been taken off and we overflow with Your covenant of fullness.
In the name of Jesus, we declare that we are in total and complete health because Your salvation has brought wholeness and wellness into our lives. You have taken away sickness from our spirit. We were healed 2000 years ago, when you were crucified and Your word says we are the healed in Jesus’ name. We boldly declare that we are made whole, spirit, soul and body, for the power of sickness, infirmity, disease or deformity is no longer given any permission to be in our body and it no longer has any place, in Jesus’ name!
We praise You Lord Jesus, that You sustain us, even into our old age. You give energy, vitality, health and You rescue us from feebleness and calamity. We now receive Your ability, power and anointing, that we may be established in the place of Your covenant design and purpose. We cancel premature death and receive the full number of our days and the ability to pass on wealth and honor as an inheritance for the next generation. May You be honored and praised and glorified as all these things come to pass, in Jesus’ Name, AMEN!!!!