Today is Palm Sunday. What I really feel led to talk about is the turning points in all of our lives. That day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem was a major turning point in world history. It was a major turning point in the life of Christ. And it can be a major turning point in your life today.
I have been thinking a lot this past week about turning points. This week has most certainly been one for me. Sometimes turning points are major events, and other times they are just eye opening glimpse of who you are and what is really important in your life. One thing that I did notice is that you do not always realize that you have come to a turning point until you are all ready past it.
Looking back over my life I have had many turning points, some of them tragic and some of them fantastic. I know that I have lived much more than most people. I have traveled all over the world. I have been a professional magician and juggler and Fire-Eater. I have worked a cruse ship, I served in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps. I climbed the corporate ladder and fell off. I have ten years of higher education. I have been married twice, I have four children, I Pastor a growing Church, I work full time for the school system and that is not even the beginning of the days I have seen.
The wisdom I have learned gets too easily forgotten while I remember songs and poems all too well. The scripture passage that we are going to be studying today is Psalm 118. It was written by King David at a turning point in his life. His whole life had up to this point been one of obscurity and persecution. Now he was king of Israel and everything was new.
Let’s look at the first few verses and go from there:
(Psalm 118:1 KJV) O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
(Psalm 118:2 KJV) Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
(Psalm 118:3 KJV) Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
(Psalm 118:4 KJV) Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Now you know how I can get hung up sometimes on words, well, if there would be one word in the verses above hat you would what to dig into what would it be? I want us to look at the word mercy. The simple definition o f mercy is not getting what you deserve. Unlike grace which is getting what you do not deserve. But let’s dig a little deeper. First the dictionary definition.
compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.
The thing we learn here is the fact that we are sinners in need of a savior. We all fall short of the glory of God. We all like sheep have gone astray. We need mercy. There is nothing, nothing that we can do to make up for our missing the mark. Oh we can, and we must try to do better next time, but once an arrow is shot ant it missing the bulls eye, it can not be shot again, The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. The Old Testament gave us a type, or an image of God’s mercy by the demonstration of the covering of sin with the blood of bulls and goats, But we know that the blood of a dumb animal can not take the place of a human’s life.
The good news is that God Himself paid that price for us. He freely chose to take our place upon that cross and shed His blood that the price of our sins would be paid.
But the point I need to make here is that He freely made that choice. He could have at any time changed His mind and not gone into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday. He could have changed His mind in the Garden and simply walked away in the night. He could have called upon a legion of angels too take him off of that cross. But He freely continued to make conscious choices that were very painful to make so that the mercy of God could be given to you and I.
From H2616; kindness; by implication (towards God) piety; rarely (by opprobrium) reproof, or (subjectively) beauty: - favour, good deed (-liness, -ness), kindly, (loving-) kindness, merciful (kindness), mercy, pity,
David wrote this Psalm after a major turning point in his life. Since childhood’s hour he was, well the low man on the totem pole. He always seemed to get the short end of the stick. He was ridiculed by his brothers; he was persecuted and chased down by King Saul. But now everything had turned around. Now He was King. Now all of Israel looked up to him.
It must have somewhat felt the same for Jesus that day he rode into Jerusalem, with all the people crying out to Him and waving the palm branches, laying their coats in front of him. They had sought to kill him. The chief priest tried to have him stoned. And now He rode into Jerusalem victoriously.
Let’s continue on with our passage of scripture:
(Psalm 118:5 KJV) I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.
In the next few verses we see who David gives all the glory to. We all need to be recognized for our efforts but if we really want to shine, we need to reflect the glory of the true light of the world. Too often in this world we see “stars” that do not shine very brightly. Nor do they shine for long. Some of the biggest “stars” are the loneliest people on the planet. Some of the wealthiest people have been the most miserable. I do not have to give many examples. We can look at the lives of “the king of rock and roll” and see how Elvis suffered and died alone. We can look at the life of one of the richest men in the world Howard Huges, how he spent his final years in fear and isolation. We can look at the “stars” of today and see Paris Hilton going back to jail again, and more and more of them checking themselves in and out of the rehab centers.
God wants you to shine, but do not forget where that light that shines in you comes from. We are to be reflectors of God’s magnificent, omnipotent, unlimited potential. We are created to show forth the light of Christ. He is the light of the world, then He turns to you and says, “Now you are the light” do not hide that light under a basket but let it shine to light the way to God’s mercy and love.
David did not put his trust in man but His trust was in the LORD.
(Psalm 118:8 KJV) It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
(Psalm 118:9 KJV) It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
Just as a side note; verse 8 of this 118th Psalm is the exact center of the Bible. Somehow I think it appropriate. IS not this in fact the central theme of the Bible? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding.”
Where do you put your trust. In that question I ask what is it that worries you? Are you worried about your health, or the health of your loved ones? Are you worried about how to make ends meet in an ever tightening economy? Are you worried about wars taking place all around the world? Yes, there are a lot of things to worry about but the question we need to ask ourselves is where can we put our trust? It would seem certain not in man, but we also must remember that it is men and woman through whom God works. Do not give up hope. Do not give in the doubt and depression.
I heard about a new therapy this week that was better and a lot quicker than psycho therapy and even tested to be more effective than medication for depression and anxiety.
It was said to be able to cure people from depression in as little as one week of sessions.
The name of this therapy is cognitive behavior therapy. The idea is instead of rehashing all the things in your childhood that are perhaps causing you to experience these feeling of depression and anxiety, you learn techniques to recognize the thoughts that are presently causing these feeling and change your thoughts, in so doing you will change your emotions, which will change your life.
HUMM…… change your thoughts????? Where have I heard that before? Can I return once again to the wonderful Greek word “METANOEO.” (meta meaning change- and noeo, where we get our word know,) Change your thoughts!
Do you remember the word the translators use for that word? That’s right, you guessed it:
It is when we come to the realization of the truth that our lives change. It is when we change our mind about what is really important that we start waking in the light. It is when we open our eyes to who we can really trust that we come to those turning points in our lives.
Too often we go through life practicing the religion of our parents. A Catholic is a Catholic because they were born a Catholic. A Baptist is born a Baptist a Jew is a Jew not because of what they believe but because of their heritage. I am not saying that you should not practice the religion of your parents, What I am saying is that you need to search out the truth. Too many people have simply blindly been led down a rode of empty faith. They have put their faith in themselves, they have put their faith in men and they have ended up lonely and empty with this big hole in their hearts and they do not know why.
That is why David know to praise the LORD
(Psalm 118:21 KJV) I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
Now once again look at that Hebrew for “salvation.”
The truth is the truth whether you believe it or not. But when you see the truth and embrace the truth it is that very truth that sets you free.
Let’s keep reading this Psalm:
(Psalm 118:22-24 KJV) The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
“The stone that the builders refused has become the corner stone.” If this Easter season does anything at all for you this year, let it open your mind and your eyes to the reality of who Jesus is. Because if He is indeed who he said He was then that really does make all the difference not only in this world, but in all of your eternity. Let this be your turning point and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is indeed the day that the LORD has made. And He has made it for you to be glad in it. Rejoice for the LORD is GOOD!!!!
Now, I know that we could stop right there but it really is the next verse that I wanted all along for us to look at. So please stay with me for just a little while longer and allow God to really make this season be a true turning point in your life.
(Psalm 118:25 KJV) Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
David calls out to God for salvation. He calls out to God to bring Him prosperity and success. He calls out to God for deliverance……..
Here we go again with the Hebrew… Am I boring you?
Look at the first words of Psalm 118 verse 25:
(Psalm 118:25a KJV) Save now, I beseech thee…
Now for the Hebrew:
ישׁע yaw-shah' נאnaw אנּה אנּא'awn'-naw,
yaw-shah' naw awn'-naw,
It is from these words that one well known word came:
It is verses 25 and 26 that are quoted by the people as Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem.
(Psalm 118:25 &26 KJV) Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
(Matthew 21:9 KJV) And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! The one who comes in the name of the LORD is the one who represents the LORD. He is the one who has the authority and the power of the LORD.
If you can grasp onto the reality of how for thousands of years God has been calling out to us, letting us know of His plan of mercy, of His love. Open your heart and let Him in. Let Him make today a new beginning for you. I know that many of you are all ready believers. Many are already “good Christians.” We can all take a closer step towards Him today and in so doing turn away from trusting in our own power and put more and more of our trust and our faith and our hope in Him.
Search your heart and ask yourself some important questions. Is Jesus who He says He is? And if so, what does that mean to you? Are you living a life that shines forth His light and love? Are you willing to make the hard choices for God’s will to be worked out in your life?
Many of us have things that we worry about and many of us have our own personal insecurities. But it is when we fully put our trust in Him that we discover the turning point that makes all the difference in eternity.