The Crowd on Palm Sunday

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the day we remember as Palm Sunday, many people came out to greet him. Yet a few short days later instead of cheering Jesus, the crowd cried out for his crucifixion. It is an astonishing change in attitude from the crowd.

When I think about the crowd who greeted Jesus on Palm Sunday, I observe three different groups of people amongst them.

FIRSTLY: Disciples and the other followers of Jesus.

I am not just referring to the twelve disciples but also to the others who followed Jesus around. (For example in Luke 10 Jesus sent out seventy two people to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God. There were also the women mentioned in Luke 8:1-3 who supported Jesus financially e.g. Joanna, whose husband Chusa was Herod’s administrator; Susanna; and many other women).

Yes we all know that the disciples got things wrong and make mistakes. I guess that is because they are humans like us! However they were not naïve or stupid. They knew it was dangerous going up to Jerusalem. Mark 10:32 tells us that “that those who followed him were afraid.” Yet they still bravely followed Jesus.

I would imagine that when walking into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday they may well have felt nervous and worried about what might happen. However deep down they wanted to follow their master.

I wonder if we can identify with those disciples? We want to serve God but so often feel we are not adequate or feel scared. Or we just plain get it wrong on occasions!

SECONDLY: The crowd who spread their garments cheering Jesus

The Jewish people hated being ruled by the Romans. They wanted their freedom back. It was the week leading up to Passover, when they remembered God rescuing the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. The religious and nationalistic expectations of the crowd would have been huge. The people had for years been longing for the Messiah to come and rescue them from the Romans. Could Jesus be their Messiah?

However the Messiah / King that the people were expecting was a military king, just like David. They were looking for the wrong type of king. Israel was looking for a king to defeat their enemies: the Romans. But Jesus did not regard the Romans as his enemies. Jesus’ enemies were the power of sin and death. These were the enemies that he came to fight and defeat.

His was a spiritual battle in which he would be going toe to toe with sin and death. They were the real enemies. These were the enemies that had brought misery to the human race and that Jesus would defeat.

We might ask the question: how could the crowd have turned against Jesus so quickly?

It is easy sometimes to worship God when He does what we think He should do; when God answers our prayers the right way (i.e. our way).

However what happens when our prayers are not answered in the way we think they should? What happens when Jesus does not “drive out our Romans?” Do we still praise Him then? Or do we allow ourselves to become either bitter or disappointed with God?

THIRDLY: The Pharisees and the religious rulers

If you study the life of Jesus in the four gospels, one thing that leaps out is that the Jewish religious leaders did not like Jesus!

Whenever Jesus performed a miracle and they had a chance to criticise it they did.

If we remember the amazing healing of the blind man in John 9 and the way that the Pharisees would not accept this miracle. You would imagine that they would have been overjoyed but no they were not.

There was the occasion when Jesus healed a man with a withered arm and the religious leaders were unhappy with this as the healing happened on the Sabbath. This grieved Jesus. (Mark 3)

It is difficult at times to comprehend what was wrong with them!

They seemed to think the way to God was through obeying rules. And don’t you dare break their rules or you are in trouble! (woe betide you!)

Yet I wonder are there occasions when we are like the Pharisees? Do we allow religious traditions to stop us from meeting Jesus? Does the fact that “we’ve always worshipped like that” prevent us from truly meeting Jesus in a fresh way? Do we search the scriptures like the Pharisees but refuse to come to the one who gives life? (John 5:40)

In closing which one of these three groups of people do we think most reflects us today?

This Season of Lent

Today is the first day of Lent, which lasts for 40 days excluding Sundays. During this time Christians prepare to remember the death and resurrection of Christ at Easter. Lent is a time for reflection, study and repentance, and the 40 day period reminds us of the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tested by the devil.

Often when people discuss Lent you may hear comments such as: “I am giving up chocolate for Lent” or “I am giving up coffee for Lent.” When I hear someone say that I am often curious why they are doing that, especially if they do not appear to have a Christian faith. Obviously, all the money you save by not having chocolate or coffee could be given to a charity helping people who are less fortunate than you are. It might also be a good thing from a health prospective too! However, I do think if we limit our thinking on Lent to statements like those two ones we are missing out.

Instead of giving something up for Lent have you considered taking something on instead? What do I mean by that?

As Lent is a time for reflection then it seems to present a good opportunity to set some additional time aside this season to seek God. There are many different ways of doing this. For example:

  • Joining a study group for the Lent period. This might be one at your local church. Alternatively, it could be an inter-church one. A few years ago the churches in our parish used to meet together in small groups to study a Lent course.
  • Reading a Christian book in Lent. This does not have to be about Lent of course, it could be on any theme.
  • Spending some additional time studying the bible in Lent. This could be using a Lent study guide but does not have to be.
  • Committing to spending extra time in prayer during Lent. This might be by yourself or perhaps joining a prayer group with others.
  • Listening to some online sermons. These could be sermons that have been preached at your own church or maybe at another one.

If you are anything like me then you find it very easy to waste or fritter away time. Whether it is the television, Netflix, YouTube or social media we seem to spend a lot of time in these activities without too much effect.

The season of Lent presents us with a good opportunity to deliberately set time aside to get to know God better. To spend time listening to God and obeying Him.

One of our old church leaders used to use the expression “fasting and feasting in Lent” and I thought that summed up very well how we can use this time to grow in God.

It goes without saying that we do not have to wait until Lent to set additional time aside to seek God. but this season does present an opportunity for us to slow down and focus afresh on God. Paul tells the Galatians that we reap what we sow. If we spend time with God it will help us to develop our relationship with Him and also enable us to be a blessing to others. Whether you keep Lent or not use the time wisely to reconnect with our Father.

Who Is the Most Important Person in Your Church?

So who do you think is the most important person in your church? As they might say at the Oscars “here are the nominations”

  • Is it the pastor / vicar? Well you can’t have a church without a leader can you?
  • Is it the preacher? Well you can’t have a church without a preacher can you?
  • Is it the worship leader? Well you can’t have a church service without any singing can you?
  • Is it the youth leader? Well you can’t have a church without someone leading the young people can you?
  • Is it the Sunday school teacher? Well you can’t have a church without someone teaching the children about God can you?
  • Is it the crèche leader? Well you can’t have a church without somewhere to leave the young children during the service can you?
  • Is it the Treasurer? Well you can’t have a church without someone paying the bills and making sure that the church does not run out of money can you?
  • Is it the Technical team? Well you can’t have a church without someone making sure all the microphones, sound mixers, laptops and various other gadgets are working properly can you?
  • Is it the person on the coffee and tea rota? Well you can’t have a church which does not serve coffee and tea after the service can you?
  • Is it the caretaker? Well you can’t have a church where no repairs and maintenance are ever done to the building can you?
  • Is it the cleaner? Well you can’t have a dirty, dusty untidy church can you?
  • Is it the administrator? Well you can’t have a church that is disorganised and not run properly can you?

And the winner is…….. well there is no winner because no one person is more important than any other. We all have different gifts and they all need to be used to build up the church.

It is strange though that we often act like we do not believe this. You will hear people say things like:

  • “We’ve got a really great pastor at our church”
  • “The preaching is outstanding at our church”
  • “The worship is awesome”
  • “We have a great youth leader”

However we rarely heard anyone say:

  • “We have a great treasurer and even though money is a bit tight they always insists we regularly give to mission work”
  • “Our caretaker is great he always ensures that repairs are carried out immediately and keeps the building in fine fettle.”
  • “The technical team are awesome. They arrive an hour before the service starts to set up the equipment and stay on for an hour to put it away. Nothing is too much work for them.”
  • “Our church is so clean and immaculate.”

I wonder why we tend to regard some people as more important based on their particular gifting?

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:4-8 NIV)

Encouraging Articles January 2021

As we come to the end of the first month of 2021 this has certainly been a difficult and tough month for many people. At the beginning of January the UK entered its third national lockdown. We have seen a new variant of coronavirus emerge with the challenges that this brings. Sadly the number of deaths continues to rise and over 100,000 have now died from the virus in the UK.

The NHS are under significant pressure in different parts of the country as they battle to help those affected by coronavirus.

On a positive notice, it has been good to see the vaccine being rolled out and hopefully that will aid in the struggle against this virus.

If we are being honest it can be quite discouraging looking back over January. Therefore I thought it would be good to share some links below to articles written by other Christians, that I have read this month and found helpful. I have included an extract from the article beneath each link to give an indication of the content of each one.

Are COVID-19 vaccines made from aborted babies? What is HEK293?

Adrian Warnock has written a very comprehensive piece on the Covid-19 vaccines and starts by saying: “Some Christians do have genuine concerns about vaccination which I will address in this article. I wish to appeal to believers to consider carefully these matters rather than reflexly reject the COVID-19 vaccines.”

3 ideas for living well in 2021

Chris Goswami gives us 3 ideas for living well in 2021 and says “As we enter what we hope is a less exciting year than the last one, few of us now doubt that we are living in historic times. You may have heard Uncle Albert’s signature line in the comedy Only Fools and Horses: “……during the war …..”. He sits in the corner and says it a lot, and it gets met with a chorus of sarcasm from Rodney and Dell Boy. Well I wonder if we will end up in our old age quipping “during the virus …..” only to be met with a chorus of “grandad you tell us that story EVERY WEEK!” I don’t know, but “the virus” is the defining narrative of our age, the story we will retell for years to come, a period of history on which school examination questions will be set.”

OK Christians, Time to Do Your Job

Jeff Weddle reminds us that it is time for Christians to do their job and says “In our current state of rancour, arguing, shouting, rioting, and clamouring, I have an idea: how about we listen to what the Bible says a follower of Christ should do and quit following the world’s example.

If we did, we would shine like lights in the world. The good news is that what we’re told to do sounds very refreshing and lovely right about now!”

Is Sin Inevitable in the Christian Life?

Randy Alcorn asks if sin is inevitable in the Christian life. “One common Christian misunderstanding today is that grace and salvation in Jesus means God has lowered His standards, as compared to the Old Testament law. That’s simply not true. God has raised His standards for the Christian life—but He has empowered us to live that Christian life through our relationship with Him and His indwelling Holy Spirit. His grace teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness (Titus 2:12).”

Tempted and Unarmed

Garrett Kell reminds us why we need the armour of God. “It was the boy’s first day of junior high. All was going well until three older kids took his lunch, ruffled his hair, and stuffed him in a locker. They snarled at his squeals and high-fived one another as they walked away. What the bullies didn’t know, though, was that the kid in the locker was the little brother of the football team’s starting middle linebacker.

After lunch, the boy told his brother what happened. His brother looked him in the eyes. “Let’s go.” As the boy came to his locker, the bullies were waiting for him, grinning. But he hadn’t come alone this time. He came in the strength of his older brother. That was the last day they messed with him.”

Reading the Old Testament in 2021

I think that if we are honest with ourselves there are parts of the Bible that we probably do not read very often. There may even be sections of the Old Testament that we have never read at all.

With that in mind it is interesting to observe that towards the end of his life, in what was probably his final letter, Paul wrote the following words to Timothy:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3: 16-17).

The first two words of the above are especially worth noting “All Scripture

The phrase “All Scripture” does not seem to leave much room to exclude anything! I expect on hearing that phrase some questions come to your mind such as:

But what about those last few chapters in Exodus covering the building of the tabernacle that I do not really understand?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Ok but I really find Leviticus difficult to understand. Is that included too?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

How about those chapters in Joshua concerning the allocation of the promised land?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

What about the first few chapters of 1 Chronicles with all those family trees?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

What about those minor prophets and all those images of judgement?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Now obviously there are some parts of the Old Testament that are at face value harder to read and understand. In addition to the above examples you may have some that spring to mind. However, to enable us to get the most out of God’s word it is important that we read it all. If we only read the New Testament then we are missing out on seeing all God did in the Old Testament with his people Israel.

There are so many great and inspiring stories in the Old Testament: Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in law Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17); Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s determination not to compromise their faith (Daniel 3) and David humbling himself before God after his sin with Bathsheba (Psalm 51) to name but three.

Therefore may I encourage you in 2021 to consider reading the whole Bible? Yes even those difficult pieces that you would normally avoid. And remember as you read:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Reading through the Bible Chronologically in 2021


Have you ever read through the whole Bible in a year?

The prospect of reading through the Bible in a year may appear a daunting task when first considering this challenge. Many might think that it is impossible for them to do this. Perhaps you have tried in the past but given up after a couple of months. It might surprise you however, to know that it only takes between 15 to 20 minutes of reading each day to do this. Yes that is right only 15 to 20 minutes each day and you will read through the Bible in a year!

When we consider the amount of time we spend daily watching You Tube videos, Netflix’s or television, then surely such a small amount of time each day can be found to read the scriptures in 2021?

Now that we have seen that reading through the Bible in a year in not quite the impossible task we imagined, we can move onto thinking of the best way for us to do this.

There are many different ways of reading through the Bible. If you visit your local Christian bookshop or type “bible readings plans” into your favourite search engine, you will see a variety of options that can be used.

Reading the Bible chronologically

One of my favourite ways of reading through the scriptures in a year is to read through the Bible chronologically. The main benefit of reading the Bible chronologically is that it enhances our understanding of the historical context of the individual books of the Bible and the timeline of events.

I have personally found that to read the Bible chronologically is especially helpful when reading the Old Testament. This has helped me to see where books like Job, Obadiah, Joel and Malachi fit into the history of God’s dealings with his people. It is also interesting to see when the various different Psalms were written too (for example: Psalm 51 follows Nathan confronting David in 2 Samuel 12).

When reading the New Testament it is also useful for looking at each of Paul’s letters and seeing at which stage of his missionary travels they were written.

There are a number of plans available for those wishing to read through the Bible chronologically. The two below are ones you could use:

One Year Chronological Bible

This plan can be found both on the website and via the YouVersion app on either your phone or tablet. Thereby enabling you to carry the plan around with you at all times. And it is free!

Cover to Cover Through the Bible As It Happened

I personally have used this reading plan which is produced by CWR. This is an edition of the Bible that is split into 365 different readings with various helpful notes and maps that assist the reader as they read through the scriptures.

If you have not yet read through the scriptures this way, why not make 2021 the year you read through the Bible chronologically?

Feed Yourself Daily

It is Friday night and a man arrives home from work exhausted after a tough week in the workplace. He takes off his shoes and collapses onto the sofa. His wife comes into the lounge to greet him and the following conversation takes place:

Wife: How was work today?

Man: It has been another tough day.

Wife: Would you like to have some food?

Man: No I am fine, I had something to eat on Sunday.

Wife: Yes I know but that was five days ago. You must have something to eat. It is not right just to eat once a week.

Man: But I have only ever eaten on Sundays.

Wife: I know! You need to change that habit. You must eat every day. If you do not you will starve and your health will deteriorate. You will end up dying.

I guess most of us will think the man in this situation was behaving stupidly. I mean who only eats once a week? Imagine only eating on Sundays? None of us would copy this example or recommend it to others.

However I wonder how many of us only feed ourselves spiritually once a week?

Sunday is the day we attend church and read the Bible, pray and sing our songs of worship. But do we bother praying or reading the Bible between Monday and Saturday?

All of us need to spend time with God daily, getting to know Him and having our strength renewed. If we do not do that it is unlikely we will ever grow as Christians.

Adverts for Christ

I was reading a devotional book a while age which challenged me with the question: what sort of advert am I for Christ? Many of us can ‘talk the talk’ and quote Bible verses off the top of our head on various subjects but how many of us ‘walk the talk’ in our daily life?

When our non-Christian friends and family members look at us what sort of advert do they see for Christ? Do they see someone who genuinely reflects Christ, or do they see someone who is no difference from them?

Are we one thing for an hour on Sunday and a couple of hours at housegroup, but a different thing at home and work? Do we have a reputation at work for being a gossip or as someone who speaks well of others? Do we use holy language at church but coarse language at work?

If we manage people at work do we treat them fairly and speak to them politely, or are we rude to people and treat them like dirt? Do we tread on other people, so we can get to the top or treat everyone respectively?

What about at home? Do we speak to our families in a Christ like manner or are we rude and horrible to them?

If a film was shown of everything we had said, done and thought over the last 24 hours would anyone be able to say yes that is a good advert for Christ or would everyone say no that is a bad advert for Christ?

Of course, none of us are perfect and still have areas in our life where we need to change. However increasingly we should reflect Christ and be a better advert for Him as time goes on. If this is not the case, then something is wrong.