Summary: When times are tough, thank the Lord for His timeless love; trust the Lord for His timely help; and take the Lord in as your triumphant King!
Our Victorious King
Three store owners shared adjacent storefronts in the same building. Times were tough. So in hopes of picking up sales, the owner of the shop at one end of the building pout a sign over his front entrance that said, “YEAR END CLEARANCE!”
At the other end of the building, another owner responded with his own sign: “CLOSE OUT SALE!”
The owner of the store in the middle knew he had to act fast or he’d lose business. So after careful consideration, he hung a larger sign over his front door that read, “MAIN ENTRANCE.” (Ivan R. Misner, Ph.D., The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, Bard Press, 1997, pp.30-31)
When times are tough, you have to make the best of them.
Times were tough on that first Palm Sunday nearly 2,000 years ago. The Jewish people were under Roman oppression. Even so, they traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover as they had done every year for hundreds of years.
It was a festive time when they celebrated their deliverance from another oppressor in Egypt nearly 1,500 years before Christ. So on the way, they sang several songs (Psalm 113-118). Then as they approached the city, they sang a ballad, which celebrated their king’s triumph in battle. It was a song that gave them hope in tough times as they looked forward to their ultimate deliverance under the Messiah.
Now, when you get to this psalm, notice that it starts with a call to praise in verses 1-4. Then it shifts to the first person in verse 5 as the king tells how he triumphed in battle, because he trusted in God (vs.5-21). At the end of the psalm, in verse 22, the song shifts again with the people celebrating their king’s victory (vs.22-29).
As they enter the city of Jerusalem, the people imagine themselves in a victorious procession with their king. Many of them pick up palm branches, the ancient symbol of victory, and wave them in the air.
Now, they did this every year when they came to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, but one year Jesus was in their midst riding on a donkey. A few of Jesus’ followers understood the significance of this song as it related to Him. But most of the people just sang the song, as they had done for centuries, hoping for deliverance, not even aware that the Hope of the Ages was right there with them. Let’s take a look at this ancient song, which gave hope to so many centuries ago and still gives hope today in the 21st Century.
Psalm 118:1-4 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say: “His love endures forever.” (NIV)
My dear friends, when times are tough…
THANK THE LORD FOR HIS TIMELESS LOVE.
Praise God for His kindness which never ends. Bless the Lord for His everlasting compassion. Gratitude is important in tough times, because it helps us to remember that God has never let us down.
Rod Cooper watched a father play with his little boy, repeatedly throwing him in the air and catching him just before he hit the ground. The child was relaxed and having a great time, all the while saying, “Do it again! Do it again!”
Rod thought, “If that were me, I’d be stiff as a board.”
Then he asked the father, “Can you explain why he’s so relaxed, even when he’s out of control?”
“It’s very simple,” the father replied. “We have a history together. We’ve played this game before, and I have never dropped him.” (Rod Cooper, “Worship or Worry?” Preaching Today, Tape No. 108; www.PreachingToday.com)
We too have a history together with our Heavenly Father! He has never dropped us, has He? So when you feel like things are out of control, recall that history and thank God for His love which endures forever. It will help you relax. It will help you find peace and hope in the midst of your pain. So when times are tough, thank the Lord for His timeless love. Then…
TRUST THE LORD FOR HIS TIMELY HELP.
Depend on the Lord. Rely on Him. Count on Him to deliver you. That’s what Israel’s king did. Look at his testimony beginning in verse 5.
Psalm 118:5-9 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. (NIV)