Triumphal Entry 5

2 Timothy 4:2

Special performances and programs at the local school make me a little antsy because I have been unexpectedly called on in the past for various reasons. Once I was asked to offer a prayer at the beginning of an event. Once I was asked to draw names for a contest (because I am a pastor they figured no one would accuse me of cheating). Once I received an unexpected award.

Now, when I attend any school event I try to be as alert as possible because I never know if someone will call on me to do something.

The young Christian leader Timothy is given some advice on how to be prepared spiritually. What are the many things he should be ready to do? What does “in season and out of season” mean to you?

These instructions to Timothy are all about being prepared with faith. Timothy is encouraged to not allow anyone or anything take him off guard.

His first charge is to preach the Word. He is supposed to share the good news of Jesus with other people. He should also teach other people, correcting bad behavior and encouraging good.

And can’t these things be said of us as well? We should all be prepared to share the good news of Jesus Christ whenever we have a chance. We should not allow ourselves to use the excuse that we are not ready to talk about Jesus. We need more time to prepare.

If we have that attitude we can miss out on opportunities to save people from a life of hopelessness and sinful behavior. We can let slip our chances of doing good for God.

Instead we need to be prepared in season and out. We need to be ready to talk about our faith and our relationship with Jesus at any time, not just in places and situations where we would expect to. I have had unexpected conversations with people struggling in their faith in the grocery check-out line, in my driveway, and in the corner of a restaurant. Not everyone gives me the opportunity to meet them in my office with my Bible and commentaries spread across my desk.

Like Timothy we all should be prepared in season and out. We should be strong in our faith, confident in our relationship with Jesus, trusting in God’s presence, and ready to be that example of Christ others may need.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can equip you to be ready to share your faith?

Triumphal Entry 4

Romans 6:5-6

I heard a story long ago about a famous actress married to a rich businessman. Their life together was one of opulence, wealth and plenty. It was said that on one of their anniversaries the husband gave her a card that said, “Thank you for being with me through thick.” Apparently there was no “thin” in that marriage.

But most relationships are going to have both the thick and the thin times. There will be good times and bad times, and those who really care about one another will stand side by side through it all. True caring and love will not shy away from difficulties.

In Romans Paul explains that when we are baptized we are baptized into Christ. In other words, we are made a part of Jesus and we are connected to him. Through that connection, then, we are also connected to his death. As he is a victor over sin and death, so are we.

What further comment does he make about our connection with Jesus? What does he say about our life before faith in Jesus?

Keeping faith in trying times may be difficult. We can’t always see things from God’s perspective. We don’t always understand what is going on, and it is easy to start questioning your own abilities to endure and cling to faith.

But we can be ready in our faith, ready to deal with all the troubles of life, because we know the old is gone and the new is here. Once we accept Jesus as Savior then we belong to him. We are baptized into his life, death and resurrection. We no longer have to live a life of hopelessness and sin.

And more than that, we are no longer alone. Even though we may face struggles and hardships in life, because we believe in Jesus and have accepted him as Savior, we are united with him. He is there to give us that strength we need to face the troubles of life.

Jesus is in a relationship with us, and he will be with us through thick and thin, good times and bad. Knowing that should help us to be strong in our faith.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you approach sin and temptation knowing that Jesus has freed you from them?

Triumphal Entry 3

Luke 22:31-32

When I have things on my mind or I am feeling stressed about something I can become rather testy. That means I am likely to snap at other people in my family, especially my wife. And then we have an argument with raised voices and hurt feelings.

But when I have had a chance to calm down and get a better perspective on things I can go to my wife and find forgiveness. Things go back to where they need to be, and that’s a good thing.

During the Last Supper with his disciples Jesus had some bad news for Peter, the disciple who thought he was the most devoted. What was Jesus’ warning? What was his assurance?

A close look at what Peter does in all the Gospels will show you that Peter was somewhat impetuous. He seemed to be the first to jump at things, to open his mouth, to step forward. He always had something to say, and he was frequently wrong.

Jesus warned Peter that things were not going to be easy for him during the crucifixion. Peter gives an oath that he would follow his Lord even to death (verse 33) but Jesus still predicts his betrayal. In spite of what he was saying Peter was not ready with his faith just yet. He was not ready to withstand the testing he would go through.

But Jesus also assured him that Peter was protected by Christ’s prayers. Although he would deny Christ – three times, no less! – Peter would still have faith. And when he was ready to get back on his spiritual feet, it would be his job to help the others get their act together too.

We can be like Peter. We can think we are strong in our faith, that we believe, that we understand the Bible and we’re ready to face anything. And then something difficult comes along and knocks us right out of the saddle. We doubt. We question God. We feel abandoned.

But like Peter, if we have accepted Christ as our Savior, then he is with us in these trying times. And like Peter, when we get a clearer perspective on our faith we are welcomed back by Jesus and strengthened in our faith.

We must be ready to face the challenges of life. And we must be ready to trust in God during the tough times.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can remind you that God is with you to strengthen your faith in hard times?

Triumphal Entry 2

Mark 14:49-50

As our children get older we are giving them more and more responsibilities and expecting more involvement in what we do. One of their responsibilities has been to help out with doing the dishes – washing utensils, pots and pans – and then putting them away. Frequently, however, one of them will hold up a spatula or pot and ask, “Where does this go?”

That usually gets a response of “Are you new here?” How can they live in our house day after day for years and not know where we keep these items?

It can be frustrating to think you have been putting time and effort into things and no one seems to notice or appreciate it. I can imagine how Jesus felt when he was arrested in the garden. What did he say about himself? How did his followers react to the arrest?

Upon the arrival of this group of men who came to arrest him Jesus has a comment to make about how they are acting. They have come with swords and clubs, as if they have to subdue this man. Jesus points out that he has been around for quite some time. He has made no secret of his teachings and his actions. Now, suddenly, it is not okay and these people are acting as if they know nothing about him.

Jesus’ words are a criticism of the behavior and attitude of this band of armed men, but it is also a reminder that Jesus has had a ministry that has spanned some time. He has taught several lessons. He has explained things to his followers over and over again. And now we see the response of his disciples. “Everyone deserted him and fled.”

In spite of the time Jesus has spent with his disciples, in spite of all the lessons he has taught and the miracles he has performed in front of them, they are not ready to stand behind their Lord. These followers of Jesus were not ready to stand up in faith even though Jesus had been with them all that time.

We also can claim to have faith and a relationship with Christ and still shrink away from our responsibilities as Christians. We can claim to love the Lord and still be unprepared to share our faith or show love to strangers.

If we will be true children of God we need to be ready to stand with Jesus at our side, and not desert him in tough times.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do stand firm in your faith and not run from your responsibilities?

Triumphal Entry 1

Luke 19:29-31

This past Sunday I forgot to get two cloth napkins to wrap around the loaf of bread for Communion. On my way to church I had to get out my cell phone and call home. It was a simple fix to a brief problem. I knew exactly where the napkins were and so was able to give instructions as to where they might be found.

When I realized I had forgotten the napkins I had a moment of panic, but it was quickly over because I knew where the napkins were. They just had to be gathered up. Although I had forgotten them I was prepared and what I needed was easy to get.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem he knew what was going to unfold with the crowds in the city. Who did Jesus send ahead of him? What were his instructions? What should they expect to encounter?

There is a great deal of speculation and interpretation of why Jesus took part in what has been labeled his triumphal entry. It could have been a mockery of the Roman “Triumph,” a special, stylized parade of Roman officials who enter a conquered or subdued city. It could have been a deliberate contrast to this military display, or it could have been a symbolic gesture of peace.

Regardless of why he did what he did, it seems clear that Jesus was well aware of what was happening. He was prepared for the dramatic arrival in Jerusalem. Whether it was pre-arranged or it was because Jesus is God, he knew a colt (or donkey) was waiting for him to use. He even anticipated someone asking about the situation and had a response for them.

In this encounter we have an example for ourselves. Jesus was prepared for this very important time in his ministry. He was ready for what was ahead of him.

We need to be certain we are ready for our encounter with the risen Christ. Living as Christians means we may face challenges, situations that may make us doubt our faith or question our own ability to be faithful. Having faith means living a life of trusting God and daring to do things we may not want to do for the good of God's kingdom. We need to use the time of Lent to build or faith and prepare ourselves to be the strong Christians we need to be.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you be certain your faith is as strong as it should be?