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Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 2

"And He said to it, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again!'"
Mark 11:14

According to Mark 11, Jesus took a short two-mile walk to Jerusalem on Monday morning. Along the way He cursed a fig tree because He was hungry but it only had leaves. Upon entering Jerusalem, He went to the temple and drove out the moneychangers. Passover was big business for those who sold sacrificial animals. But Jesus took drastic action again and overturned their tables and seats.

What do these two events have in common? First, Jesus was looking for the fruit of righteousness among His people. Sadly, all they had were "leaves." They had even profaned the sacred temple. They were only days away from crucifying the Son of God! His own people broke the covenant and received Him not. As covenant breakers, they must receive the curses of the covenant and be destroyed by the Romans within a generation.

Second, Jesus was demonstrating His authority to curse and cleanse. Soon the chief priests, scribes, and elders challenged Him and asked by what authority He took these actions. But He never answered their question! He knew their evil hearts and rejected their authority even though they were "religious" leaders.

Bill Murray once said there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Neil Diamond and those who don't. Blaise Paschal said it better when he said there are two kinds of people in the world: sinners who think themselves righteous and the righteous who think themselves as sinners. The chief priests, scribes, and elders thought themselves very righteous. But in truth, they were consumed by their jealousy and blind to their sinfulness.

Far better to be righteous (in Christ) and think ourselves sinners! Indeed, the more Christ-like we become the more we mourn our sin, grieve our selfishness, and hunger for the fruit of righteousness.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week

"So the Pharisees said to one another, 'See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the world has gone after Him!'" - John 12:19

Palm Sunday begins what we often call Holy Week. For Jesus' sake, I've sometimes wondered why it isn't called "Hell Week."

It was Passover, the most exciting time of the year for the Jews. And this Passover was more exciting, more "electric" than any other Passover because Jesus was coming to town! He had just raised Lazarus from the dead. He had restored Bartimaeus' eyesight shortly before that. He brought a crowd with Him who had seen these miracles. Still another throng went out to join this entourage. Both groups came together at fever pitch and led the thrilling parade into the city, shouting hosannas, adoring their Miracle Worker, and waving palm branches which had been the patriotic symbol of victory for over 150 years, ever since Simon the Maccabee drove the Syrian forces out of Jerusalem. We shoot fireworks to celebrate our patriotism; they waved palm branches.

But not everyone waved or cheered. The Pharisees burned with jealous anger: "Look how the whole world has gone after Him." And Jesus Himself, the focal point of the parade, wept! He couldn't even enjoy His own parade!

Martin Luther once said, "No man ever feared death as much as this man." And no wonder: no death ever bore the wrath of God and the sins of His people. Remember what Aslan said to the children when they asked if anything could be done to save Edmund, the traitor. The great lion said, "All shall be done. But it may be harder than you think."

Perhaps we have overlooked the difficulty of "Hell Week." Perhaps we have minimized Jesus' difficulty because of His deity. But He was also humanity. This week I encourage you to watch Him weep over Jerusalem, sweat blood in Gethsemane, pray for the cup to pass from Him, and eventually die on the old rugged cross. The closer we look and the more we listen, I'm sure we will agree that it was indeed harder than we thought.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

More Than A Building

In recent days I've been thinking a lot about moving into our beautiful new facility. We won't have a sanctuary (yet), or a youth center (yet), or many other "bells and whistles" that other churches have.

But we will have a home! We will have our own place to worship, fellowship, pray, study, and break bread together.

And so it was that the Lord seemed to speak to me when I came across a recent speech by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at the dedication of Hillsdale College's new Christ Chapel on October 3, 2019. As an aside, I was surprised to learn that Pat Sajak (Wheel of Fortune) is the current chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Here are just a couple of excerpts from Justice Thomas' speech:

"The primary purpose of a chapel is to provide a place where man can enter the presence of God. It provides a sanctuary in which a man can withdraw from the chaos of our world and seek a sacred stillness. For as Elijah learned on Mount Horeb, God so often comes to us not in the storms, not in the earthquakes or the fires of life, but in stillness–in a 'gentle whisper.'

"Students, faculty, administrators, and friends of Hillsdale, let this Chapel be more than just an impressive building. Let it be a place where people enter the presence of a majestic God. Let it be a house of worship, of prayer, of meditation, and of celebration before God. Let it be a haven of rest for the weary, a place of healing for the wounded, a place of comfort for the grieving, and a source of hope for the despairing and forgotten."

It's hard to improve on that! May Stephens Valley Church be all of this and more, for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

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