God is always at work. Let’s say that again… GOD is ALWAYS at WORK.
Before I came to Christ, one of my very first encounters with God was an invitation to pray. I was encouraged (by a faithful Christian friend) to pray to God to show me that God exists and is present in all things. The reasoning for this encouragement was simple… in the Scriptures (both Old and New Testament), and in the history of the faith, God boldly proclaims that God is a ‘covenant’ God, a promise-making and promise-keeping God. To prove this, I was given a Scripture (Matthew 7:7-8) in which Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
So, I prayed.
It wasn’t like God showed up with blinding light, deafening thunder, and a rushing wind. Nothing like that happened. In fact, nothing much happened at all… at that moment at least. But something happened during that prayer. A shift in my awareness. An enhancement of my spiritual ‘sight’. A change in my expectations. From that moment on I began to experience and encounter the presence of God at work in all things large and small. Daily routines, life choices, mistakes, circumstances, relationships, future plans, past regrets all for me began to reflect the presence and work of this promise-making promise-keeping God who was relentlessly loving me, saving me, and calling me to a mission and purpose.
In our lives individually, and as the church, God has always been at work… is currently at work… and will continue forever to be at work. Even now, today, God is present and at work in the midst of our daily routines, life choices, mistakes, circumstances, relationships, future plans, past regrets. Even though sometimes it seems like our life's journey or spiritual journey is wandering lost in the wilderness.
To encounter God daily we can and should certainly pray frequently and fervently. But there’s much more we can do too to shift our awareness, enhance our spiritual sight, and change our expectations. Reading Scripture, worshipping God, trusting dependently on God, being obedient to Christ, encouraging each other, giving generously, and working together. These aren’t merely suggested activities, but a way of life. You’ll recognize the name of this way of life… it’s called discipleship. As we are formed by faith, we become more and more equipped to encounter and discern the presence, will, and purpose of God.
Let’s reflect on Palm Sunday and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as an example of how God is at work and how
“When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately. ” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”” Matthew 21:1-11 NRSV
Notice how the disciples are obedient to Christ: Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. Their obedience allows Jesus to enter Jerusalem in accordance with the prophecies.
The owner of the donkey and colt generously gives these valuable animals (even if they are just lent) into Jesus’ service.
The disciples and crowds worship Jesus, as a King, as he enters: A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Of course, these shouts also expressed worship of God, a dependence on God for salvation, a trust in God’s promises: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Finally, the entire encounter is based upon the prophecies in Scripture that had been read, recited, studied generation after generation:
- From 2 Samuel 7: (about the Son of David) I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.
- From Psalm 118: Save us, O Lord! O Lord, Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Bind the festal procession with branches, You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
- From Zechariah 9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
The richness and depth of God presence, promise, purpose, and work in Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is extraordinary… even in the still hidden work of fulfilling a salvation from sin, and redemption of the world, through the looming crucifixion of Christ.
But, God is just as powerful and present in the ordinary as well. Let’s individually, and together, cultivate a discipleship lifestyle formed by faith. NOW is a great time to commit, recommit, step-in, or step-up!