Making the Most of Holy Week

Holy Week is here, which celebrates the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, declaring himself to be the King of the Jews. It leads up to Good Friday, when Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. It climaxes with Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This is no ordinary week. It is the main event of Christianity. Of course, Christmas is special. But the fact that Jesus was born and lived on earth means nothing for our salvation, if he did not die on the cross and rise from the dead.

May this be no ordinary week for you.

Here are five ways to strategically observe Holy Week that will draw you closer to the Lord, be a blessing to others, and bring glory to God.

 

Focus

 

It has been well said that if Satan cannot kill a church, he joins it! This often happens during Holy Week. Since the enemy cannot destroy the gospel, he corrupts it. Or worse, he minimizes it.

As Easter nears, the focus of many people is on what they are going to wear. Consumerism wins the day. The message of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is buried under new clothes, family traditions, and social gatherings.

Declare war on this infiltration. Focus your attention on the Lord Jesus Christ – who he is and what he has done on the cross to purchase your salvation and give you new life.

 

Pray

 

During Holy Week, mark out personal times to commune with the Lord in prayer. Praise God for Jesus and the salvation he provides by his blood and righteousness.

Confront the sin in your life that entangles you. Ask for more than forgiveness. Call on the Lord to help you put to death what is fleshly in you and for power to walk in the newness of life.

Pray for the spread of the gospel in your city, throughout the country, and around the world. More specifically, pray for those in your circle of contact who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

 

Witness

 

Make a commitment to share your faith with some lost person during Holy Week.

In the providence of God, there are people in your life who need to trust Jesus for salvation: family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and classmates. Beyond these established connections, God has a way of bringing people into your path to whom you can share the gospel

Go ahead. Get out of the boat. Take a risk. Ask God to use you to share the good news with at least one person who does not know Jesus. Don’t be afraid of what you do not know. Tell someone about who Jesus is and he did on the cross to pay for sins. Testify about how the good news has changed your life.

Point the lost to the word of God, and leave the results in the hands of God. If you get the message from your mouth to their ears, God can get it from their ears to their hearts.

 

Invite

 

Holy Week – along with Mother’s Day and Christmas – are times when many unchurched people are more open to receiving an invitation to church. Why not take advantage of this opportunity to invite an unsaved or unchurched friend to church for Easter?

Pray for the Easter preparations at your church. Pray your church’s planning and working to make the celebration of the resurrection will be special. Pray Christ will be lifted up. Pray the saving work of Christ be presented clearly and faithfully.

But don’t just pray for your church. Partner with it. Your church is providing “air covering” for you during Holy Week. Do the “ground work” of inviting a lost person to join you for church on Easter.

 

 Celebrate

 

There are some church traditions that bid us to approach Holy Week with solemnity, even sorrow. There is definitely a place for this. After all, it was our sins that put the Lord Jesus on the cross.

But that is the good news. Jesus died on the cross. He was buried. But that is not the end of the story. Jesus died. But he did not stay dead. God raised him from the dead. Jesus is alive and well today! He is seated at the right hand of God the Father in glory. All things have been placed under his feet. Jesus holds the key to death, hell, and the grave!

If you have trusted Christ for salvation, you are in him! You share in his victory! You have been buried with Christ in baptism and raised by the glory of the Father to walk in the newness of the life. Celebrate Easter!

 

What are your plans for making the most of Holy Week? Join the conversation in the comments section. 

A Confession: I love C.M.E. Christians!

You have heard of C.M.E. Christians, haven’t you?

This has nothing to do with a particular denomination. C.M.E. Christians are in every church.

They are people who only come to church on Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter Sunday. Get it?

Ironically, C.M.E. Christians are usually not true Christians. They are nominal Christians, at best. They have enough religion to come to church  on these special occasions on the Christian calendar. But you most likely will not see them again… until the day Christian holiday.

During weeks like this, we pastors are prone to complain about the many C.M.E. Christians who will attend our worship services on Easter Sunday.

I admit, I did for many years. I was irked by the apparent hypocrisy. I cannot wait until next, I thought, when things get back to normal and I can preach to the true Christians. (It would take me years to figure out that the level of hypocrisy did not decrease one bit the Sunday after Easter!)

One day, I changed my mind. I wish I could say when it happened or how it happened. I don’t remember. But at some point, my frustration toward C.M.E. Christians changed. Rather than dreading Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter, I really started to look forward to it.

All year, the church reaches out to unsaved and unchurched people. But on Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter, we almost don’t have to do any outreach. The unsaved and unchurch just show up. At least, they are more open to an invitation to come to worship to hear the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

What a blessing!

I determined to stop complaining about C.M.E. Christians. I no longer made little snide comments about them from the pulpit. Instead, I fell in love with them. And I have made it my goal to make sure the church I serve puts its best foot forward to welcome them and to make sure the worship is prepared and the message is clear.

Without a doubt, there will be C.M.E. Christians at your church this coming Sunday.

Please, don’t view this as a negative thing. Pray that God would give you love for them and that he move through the worship and the word to introduce them to the love of God demonstrated in the bloody cross and the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ.

From HBC2 to SMBC: Holy Week 2012

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. – 2 Peter 1:2

Good day Shiloh!

I pray you are having a great week.

Here are a few reminders for Holy Week.

3-1-6 Cards. We asked you to join us this week in praying for 3 persons for the 6 days of Holy Week with the goal of bring one unsaved/unchurched guest to worship with you on Easter. If you haven’t done so yet, you still have time. Start praying today. Invite someone in your life who needs Jesus to be your special guest for worship Easter Sunday.

St. Thomas Baptist Church. Thursday evening (7 PM), we will worship with Dr. Ernie Murray and the St. Thomas Baptist Church for their annual Holy Week observance. I am scheduled to bring the gospel message. And I mass choir will lead in music. Please join us for this service. It should be a great time of worship and fellowship.

All-church Fast. From Noon Thursday to Noon Friday, we will fasting as a church family. We are prayerfully seeking God’s face for the salvation of the lost people in our lives and for the Lord to be pleased to use us to reach our friends, neighbors, associates, and coworkers with the good news of Jesus Christ. May this time also be a time of spiritual renewal and consecration for each of us, as we focus on the gospel of God’s amazing grace in Christ.

Good Friday Service. We will have a Good Friday Service at 12 Noon. We will sing praises to the Lord and hear the message of the cross proclaimed. If possible, join us as we praise the Lord for the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.

Easter Sunday. Be there! Invite someone to worship with you. (Note: the Genesis Parking Lot will be reserved for guests). Let your guests know that they do not have be dressed up to join us in worship. We do not want that to be an excuse for them not to come.

Children’s Easter Program. There will be no Bible Study Fellowship group meetings this Sunday. But please joins us during that hour as our children present their annual Easter program at 9:15 AM. Let’s be present to encourage our children as they lift up the name of Jesus.

God bless.

hbc2

Preaching Holy Week at Burnette in Detroit

I am in Detroit.

I am preaching three nights for Pastor Nathaniel Caldwell at the Greater Burnette Baptist Church, where he has served as pastor for seven years.

I first preached at Burnette when I was seventeen-years-old. Dr. J. Allen Caldwell, the late, founding pastor, invited me to fill in for his regular speaker. He continued to invite me every year during Holy Week until his death.

I have many friends and adopted family at Burnette. It is a joy to see familiar faces and to have the opportunity to preach the word of God to this great congregation again.

The meeting got off to a good start tonight. But I am tired. This is the fifth city I have preached in within the past week. And it is taking its toll on me. I am definitely not a young preacher anymore.

Please pray for this meeting and for the renewal of strength.

Here’s a random memory.

I had just finished preaching the opening night of this meeting in 1993. We went out to eat afterwards. The restaurant was packed with Detroiters ready to celebrate Michigan’s “Fab Five” national championship. I was cheering for North Carolina to win. With seconds left, Chris Webber called the most famous time-out in sports history. I was the only happy person in Detroit that week.

Tonight, as expected, Kentucky defeated Kansas to win the NCAA national championship. But Kansas made a game of it. Congratulations Wildcats!

A Holy Week Prayer

I thank you, Lord Jesus, for becoming a human being so I do not have to pretend or try to be God.

I thank you, Lord Jesus, for becoming finite and limited so I do not have to pretend that I am infinite and limitless.

I thank you, crucified God, for becoming mortal so I do not have to try to make myself immortal.

I thank you, Lord Jesus, for becoming inferior so I do not have to pretend that I am superior to anyone.

I thank you for being crucified outside the walls, for being expelled and excluded like the sinners and outcasts, so you can meet me where I feel that I am, always outside the walls of worthiness.

- Fr. Richard Rohr (HT: www.iamscotthodge.com)

Speaking @ St. Thomas in Jacksonville

I am speaking tonight for Pastor Ernie Murray at the St. Thomas Baptist Church tonight. This will be my second year participating in their Holy Week Revival. We had a great time of worship last year. And I am looking forward to tonight’s service.

The service starts at 7 PM at 5863 Moncrief Road. Our mass choir will lead the musical praise. And I am to bring the message.

Please pray God’s blessings in this service tonight.

And remember Shiloh’s Good Friday Service is scheduled for tomorrow at 12 PM. Join us or watch online at www.smbcjax.com.

Holy Week Schedule Reminders

Midweek Worship Service will not be held tonight at the Shiloh Church in observance of Holy Week.

We will meet instead for a special Good Friday Service at 12 Noon. If you are available (and your local church does not have something scheduled), join us as we worship our all-sufficient Prophet, Priest, and King – the Lord Jesus Christ. Or you can catch us online at www.smbcjax.com.

On Thursday evening we will worship with Pastor Ernie Murray and the St. Thomas Baptist Church here in Jacksonville for their annual Holy Week Revival. Our mass choir will lead the musical praise and I am scheduled to bring the message. That service begins at 7 PM at 5863 Moncrief Road.

Remember, Shiloh members, our 3-1-6 evangelism effort this week. We are praying for three unsaved and/or unchurched people every day over these six days of Holy Week with the goal of bringing one guest to worship with us on Easter Sunday.

May you continue to have a blessed and Christ-centered Holy Week.

Celebrating Holy Week

Holy Week is an observance of the Christian church that remembers the final week of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ before his crucifixion. It begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates the Lord Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. During the Triumphal Entry, the crowds rejoiced as Jesus’ entrance into the city stoked the messianic hopes of Israel. In those days, the arrival of a conquering king would be typically celebrated with a royal procession. But in this impromptu triumph procession, they laid out their garments along the path. They also covered the path with palm branches, which symbolized victory and triumph. And they cried out, “Hosanna, to God in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The main event of Holy Week is Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross as our substitute to atone for our sins. There is a sense in which Good Friday is the darkest day in human history. On that terrible day, the sinless Son of God was condemned to death and executed as a common criminal. He had done nothing wrong, except for being a religious nonconformist to the Jews and a political nuisance to the Romans. Yet our Savior died in a manner that was so painful and shameful that a new word was coined to describe death on a cross: “excruciating.” Yet while man was at his worst, God was at his best. God, in his sovereign grace and predestined will, accepted the death of his Son on the cross as the payment for the sins of all who repent and put the faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

Holy Week climaxes on Easter Sunday, with the celebration of the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The resurrection is God’s stamp of approval for the redemptive work Jesus accomplished on the cross. The resurrection was of such importance that it caused the first disciples, who were all Jews, to change their day of worship from the Sabbath, which is our Saturday, to Sunday, which the New Testament calls the Lord’s Day. And since then, Christians gather every Sunday – not just once a year – to celebrate the face that Jesus lives!

I encourage you to spend this week in grateful and prayerful reflection on the inestimable price that was paid to purchase your salvation from the eternal wrath of God against sin and to provide the gracious handout of eternal life. Likewise, pray diligently for those in your sphere of influence and around the world who have not run to the cross and called on the name of the Lord for salvation.

Following is an outline of the major events of Holy Week and corresponding scripture references for you to read as you savor the goodness of God in Christ this week:

Sunday: The Triumphal Entry (Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-1; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19)

Monday: The Cleansing of the Temple (Matt. 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48)

Tuesday: The Authority of Jesus Challenged (Matt. 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 10:1-8)

Wednesday: The Plot against Jesus (Matthew 26:1-16; Mark 14:1-11; Luke 22:1-6)

Thursday: The Last Supper, Gethsemane, & Arrest (Matt. 26:26-56; Mark 14:22-50; Luke 22:14-53; John 13-16)

Friday: The Crucifixion (Matt. 27:32-54; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-37)

Saturday: In the Tomb (Matt. 27:57-66; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)

Sunday: The Resurrection (Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10)