A Donkey or a Horse – Pastor Michael Petillo

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All right, let’s get into
the Word this morning. I’m going to– the Lord
gave me a scripture to pray, so we’re going to pray a
scripture over our time this morning. We’re going to pray through
Hebrews chapter 12 here. “Therefore since
we are surrounded by such a great cloud of
witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the
sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with
perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes
on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Lord, that is my
prayer this morning. We are asking, by the
power of your Holy Spirit and by your grace,
that you would give us the strength to throw off
everything that hinders. God, we want to grow up. We want to become mature
in the things of God. I, myself, Lord God–
I want to keep growing. And there’s things
in my own life that you’ve been
pointing out that have been a hindrance, things
that, God, are holding us back from running full speed towards
the victory, towards the goal, towards the calling that
you have for our lives. And I pray this morning by
the work of the Holy Spirit as we get into your Word, your
Word would carry with it power. Your Word would carry
with it authority. Not my word, not Pastor Michael. Not Springs Church, but your
Word, God, when you anoint it would carry with it an
authority to break off the things that hinder. God, there’s some
even this morning that we don’t even know we
have things that are hindering. There are things so deep, buried
down so far, that to be honest, it’s like Lazarus
sitting in a tomb. Unless you roll that stone away
the stench will not come out. The understanding
will not be there. And I pray that by your power,
you will allow us to see, God, yo would open things up
that we’ve even closed off and we have become numb to. Holy Spirit, we ask for
your power over your Word this morning and to do Hebrews
chapter 12, just what we read. And we thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen. If you have your Bibles,
you can turn with me to Matthew chapter 21. Matthew chapter
21, and I’m going to share a message I’ve
entitled “A Donkey or a Horse?” A donkey or a horse? Matthew chapter 21. I’m going to read
verse 1 through 11. Let’s read it together. It says, “As they approached
Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the
Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,
saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you. And at once, you will find a
donkey tied there with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you,
say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right
away.’ This took place to fulfill what was spoken
through the prophet– ‘Say to daughter Zion, see,
your King comes to you gentle and riding on a
donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ The
disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the
donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on
them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread
their cloaks on the road while others cut
branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of
him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna
to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was
stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds
answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from
Nazareth in Galilee.'” I want to look at this passage
of scripture on Palm Sunday and look at the
triumphal entry together. And I want to take a few moments
to try to look at it a little bit different, at another
perspective, another angle that most people
maybe have never even thought about before. I have heard this scripture,
especially on Palm Sunday, be preached at every
perspective, every angle. I’ve heard preachers
get up and share about what it was for Jesus. What was going through
his mind and his emotions as he was coming in and
the shouts of praise with the people and the
acclamations around him. I’ve heard teachers share about
what it was for the disciples. And what was going through
their minds, thinking, could this be it? Could he be coming
and overthrowing Rome and setting up his kingdom? Is this the day? And all the tension
that was going on in their own hearts–
I’ve heard preachers speak about what it
was for the crowds. The excitement, the life
that was entering into them through the ministry of Jesus,
and the shoutings of Hosanna in the highest and what
they were thinking, what they were going through. I’ve heard people even
speak about the Pharisees, the religious leaders, the
elders, what they were thinking as he was coming into the city. I’ve heard every angle. I’ve read sermons at
every side except one. There’s one group
of people I’ve never heard anybody share
on through this moment in this passages of scripture. And as I was just
thinking about it, and I was just praying
about it, there were some things God started
downloading to my heart. I want to share with you. I want to talk about what it
was like during this triumphal entry, what it was like during
this Palm Sunday for the Roman soldier sitting in
the city of Jerusalem. I want to paint a
little bit of a picture, give you a little
background so you understand exactly the tension that
was going on in the city and what was taking place. They say– most scholars agree
that during these festivals, religious feasts during the
Jewish high times, especially the Passover– they
said the crowds that would come into Jerusalem
would enter into the millions. They said about three
million people would come into the city at one time. In fact, half the population
of Judea around Jerusalem would enter in the city for
the next week of the Passover so that they could be there
through all the speeches, and through all the
religious festival, and through everything
that they were going to do. They would come in and people
and crowds from Galilee and the Jordan area
would begin coming in. And they said it got
so crowded in the city that they literally
would set up tents. And they would set up
booths in the open square because there was
nowhere else to be. You couldn’t even
walk down the street. You’d be walking on
people’s families. And for a Roman guard,
for a Roman soldier who’s occupying the city for
Rome, for the emperor, who has conquered these people–
this is a nightmare. Think about all
the logistics that have to go through your mind
for a week in a fortified city with 3 million people
that hate your guts. Even just the sanitation. Who’s ever been to
the balloon festival? You ever sit on those lines
with the port-o-johns? That’s like a couple
thousand people hanging out. And they’re going to do
this for three million in an open square. What do you do? Think about it. One person begins to rant
against the emperor, what do you think’s going to happen? One drunk man comes
home one night and starts screaming, down
with the emperor of Rome! What’s going to take place? You’ve got an uprising
that’s just broken out. Who knows what it’s
like to be in front of a mob of people that have
this tension, this oppression? They’ve been slaves
under this government, under this thumb of this
emperor for so long. And you get them in one place
and you have a few Roman guards, and now
you’re being told, make sure everything
goes well for the week. You would be on edge
from beginning to end. My wife and I, we took a
vacation down to Florida last month. We went to go see Pastor
Neil Rhodes and Noline. We went down to
Celebration, Florida where they’re at, right
outside Disney World. And Pastor Gary’s assistant
Valine and her husband Anthony came with us. And we all just spend
a week together. And it was fun. We got into the Word of God. We took walks, we ate,
we ate, we ate some more. And we decided to
take a beach day. If you come from Colorado,
a landlocked state, and you’re in the
winters of Colorado– if you get to Florida, I
don’t care where you are, you’re driving to the beach. We took a beach day, and little
Landon, he loves the beach. Our little two year old,
he runs into the waves. And we’re spending the
beach day together. And we all start
getting a little hungry. So Anthony and I decide
we’re going to get up, and we’re going to go. And there’s a
restaurant, there’s like a bar restaurant on
the sand right behind us. We’re just going to go
get some sandwiches so that we could get some food. So I turn around and I’m
heading over and Anthony says, Michael, I’ve got to go
get some swim trunks. I didn’t bring
anything to swim in. I don’t know what he was
thinking going to Florida, but whatever. He says, I got to go
get some swim trunks. And he leaves me
to go in to make the order for the sandwiches. I come around the
side of the street. And on my right, there’s a biker
gang that’s sitting right here. And they’ve got three
wheelers and dirt bikes, and they’re talking
and they’re smoking. And there’s a crowd of them. And on my left, which is the
entrance into the bar slash restaurant, there’s
all the bouncers. They’re sitting and they’re
watching the motorcycle gang. And it was one of those
places where you just knew if you looked
at somebody wrong, if you said something wrong,
it was going to break out. And you don’t know what to do. Who’s ever been in–
and there’s just this tension, this
tension in the air. So I just did what I knew. I was trained from Jersey
to do one thing when you get into a situation like that. You just look at the ground
and you just keep walking. You don’t look up,
you don’t look left, you don’t look right. You just walk right by,
and you go straight in, and you get your meal. That’s what you’re taught to do. I brought all the
food back and then I realized, man,
I’ve got to go throw some quarters in the meter. Our meter’s almost up. So I get up and I’m about
to throw the quarters in. Again, as I’m coming through
that little alleyway, I put my head down. I know exactly what to do. I ain’t looking left,
I ain’t looking right. There is this tension. You can actually
feel it in the air, like something’s
about to happen. And suddenly I hear a
motel owner go, hey! And I’m just thinking, oh no. [LAUGHTER] Hey! You’re waking up my customers! Stop it! And I look up, and suddenly I’m
in the middle of a bar fight with a motorcycle gang
and a hotel owner. They’re all around
me doing burnouts. This guy’s punching. The security guard’s throwing. The police sirens are going,
and I’m in the middle. And I’m just
looking at the Lord. I’m just like, are you serious? I’m supposed to rest! And I prayed, if there was ever
a time to send hailstones down from heaven, this is the time. It breaks all up. But have you ever
been there when it’s just a scene where you
know something’s about to erupt? This is exactly what was going
on in Jerusalem in this week. This is exactly what the Roman
government and the guards felt. They knew, at any second, one
wrong look, one wrong word, one wrong thing, and it
was going to explode. And then this is
what gets me as I’m reading through this passage. This is what boggles my mind. They hear the screams at
the entrance of the gate. They hear the people
screaming Hosanna! Save us! That’s what it meant, save us. Our King, our God, our Lord–
they hear the crowds of people. They see the commotion. And then this is what got me. They don’t break it up. They don’t do anything. They sit there and
watch the whole scene. Doesn’t make sense. It so confused me that I began
praying and just thinking about it. Not one Roman guard,
no one shuts it down. The whole city is in
a place of tension, riots are about to
break out any minute. Three million in a fortified
city, and they hear this, and they don’t do a thing. And the only thing
I could think of, the only thing I
could pray through, is that when they saw
Jesus on a donkey, and they saw a bunch
of crowd, peasants throwing some old clothes on the
ground and ripping up some tree leaves– this is the
only thing I can come to. They must have
fell down laughing because it was so ridiculous. I read a little
bit of Rome, just got into the history of it. They say in the
Emerald City in Rome, when an emperor would come
back from conquering a land, he would come in
a chariot is what he would come in with horses. And not only that, but the
kings that he would conquer, they were chained to
the chariot wheels. They would come in and they’d
be dragging them behind them. And they would come in with such
great pomp, such great display, horses all around him. I mean, what they had seen– if
you were a soldier and you had been a part of any of that,
and then you see Jesus show up and he’s on a donkey– [HEE HAWS] And he’s on a
colt. And then he’s got clothes wrapped around. You must have been
sitting there, and it must have been
so funny that they never thought it was a threat. This is ridiculous. They’re probably
calling each other over. Come watch this! Let me show you one
other thing that really bugged me about this
passage as I was reading it. Turn to John chapter 7. I want to show you something. John chapter 7. I’m going to read
verses 4 through 10. 1 through 10, sorry. Jesus had come to other
religious festival before. He had come out and had been a
part of them, he’d seen them. But the Bible says never once
would he ever go publicly. He always went in secret. He always found a way that
he didn’t, in some measures, present himself. And this is what kind of got me. Why now do you enter in– you’re
coming into your final week. The Passion, the cross,
the resurrection. Why now do you
enter in publicly? He said, my time
has not yet come. It’s not for me to do this yet. But there was something
that came to a point where Jesus said, now. Now I’ll stand up and
I’m going to go in. And this time I will
not go in in secret, but I will go publicly. And when I go publicly,
I’m going in on a donkey. I’m going on– and it just
got me as I was reading it. And I’m thinking, man,
think about the things that Jesus had done
up to this point. Think about everything
that he’s demonstrated, all the teachings, the healings. He has opened blind eyes. He’s cast out demons. The scripture says just
a little bit before, he raised Lazarus from the dead. He says my time
has not yet come. There’s other things that I have
to show of myself before I give this final demonstration
when I show up, and I enter into Jerusalem on
my Passion week on a donkey. It was a sequence for Jesus. There was things that
had to be put into place. And then he comes to
Jerusalem, and it’s almost as if he’s telling
his disciples, this will be my final
teaching to you. I’m going to demonstrate,
after everything you’ve seen– the power. You’ve see the authority you’ve
seen the gates of hell cannot prevail. You’ve heard of my
temptations with the devil and how he had to flee what I
touched him and used scripture against him. You’ve walked through
every part of this, but there’s one last lesson
that I need to show you. And in order to do it, I’m
going to need a donkey. He calls the donkey over. He gets the crowd of people. He waits until
there are 3 million so that they could
get this one lesson. And he begins to come down
the mountain with everybody shouting Hosanna in the highest. I can’t get past the donkey. I know everyone
thinks it’s funny. I’m just being honest. Beth and I rarely get a
chance, with our two year old, to have a movie night. And when we do it’s normally,
what, The Incredibles or Finding Nemo? We’ve watched them
like 80 times. But when we get a
movie night, there’s very rarely anything
we want to watch. I don’t know if
you guys have ever been through Amazon or Netflix,
and you’re just thinking, I don’t want to watch
that, I don’t want to watch that, I just don’t want to. But there’s one movie you
can always go to– Gladiator. Who’s ever seen
that movie before? Yeah. If you’ve never seen it, I’m
not telling you to go see it. I’m not taking a stand
for or against movies. I’m just saying I like it. And I like Russell
Crowe, Maximus. And there’s this opening scene. It’s amazing. The Roman government is going
to fight against these tribes. And they come in, and
what is Russell Crowe? He rides in on this
beautiful horse. And he has a dog. And he’s got his sword flailing. And there’s these
catapults throwing fire, just throwing pots of fire. So he’s running
through these woods, fighting against
these Germanic tribes. And he’s got this
fire all around him, and this dog that’s running,
and this incredible horse, and all the armed
forces of Rome. Now think about
this for a second. Do the same scene but put
Russell Crowe on a donkey. It would be the most ridiculous
thing you’ve ever seen! The thing’s running into trees. He can’t get it to
turn left, right, he’s backwards at some points. It’s a donkey! You don’t ride in
triumphant on a donkey! It’s ridiculous! You would watch
the movie and think it was a comedy if you saw it. And yet that’s exactly
what Jesus does. See, the donkey was a sign. It was a demonstration. It was an animal that was
connected with servanthood. It was an animal that was
connected with loneliness. It was an animal that was
connected to humility. It was not a great horse. It was not something
of a chariot. It was not something that
you defend yourself with. It’s not something you
take a charge with. It’s not something
where you say, I’ll take care of my own
issues and my own problems. It was something of absolute
servanthood and lowliness. And when he gets
onto this donkey, he’s giving a demonstration
to every one of his disciples and the three million
people that– he waited. He waited until they
came into this one city. And he’s saying, you’ve seen
me raise people from the dead. You’ve seen me heal the sick. You’ve seen the authority come
out of my mouth when I teach. But I want to show you one
of my greatest lessons. I’m about to embrace a donkey,
an animal of servanthood and humility. And I’m about to
take my last journey into the will of my Father
in this place of loneliness. The donkey was
bringing him somewhere. He was on a journey. You might say, well, where
was the donkey bringing him? Well let me read it to you. Let me show you. Luke chapter 23, and I
want you to see this. Verse 32, I’ll
read it real quick. This animal of humility
and servanthood was leading Jesus into
the will of his father– and I want you to hear this–
which was a place of continual, and I want you to hear this,
and absolute forgiveness. Jesus was ultimately saying,
you want to follow me? I know you like the power. I know you like the authority. I know you love the
words from heaven. But you want to know the
deepest part of my heart? You want to know the
core of who I am? I’m not coming into
the city on a horse. I’m not coming into the
city with a chariot. He said, I’m going to
choose something lowly. I’m going to choose
something humble. And I’m going to take a journey. And my journey is going
to end up on that cross. And at that cross
I’m going to show you my heart, which is forgiveness
at the very center. He says, you want to know
what my whole being is about? It is to forgive. It is to release. It is to show mercy
and to show compassion. Let me give you the scariest
scripture, probably, in the Bible. Matthew chapter 6, I
want to read this to you. Matthew chapter 6, and
I know some people say– I want to put this to rest. Because some say, this is before
the cross, so this is law. This was not grace. Go read John chapter 1 because
the scripture says this, “The law was given
through Moses, but grace and truth came
through Jesus Christ.” That means everything he
spoke– grace and truth. He didn’t bring law. He brought grace and truth. Everything. That’s what the Bible says. He says he was full
of grace and truth. And I want to show
you Matthew chapter 6. And I want you to see
this, verse 14 and 15. Watch what he says. That will mess
with your theology. [WHOOSH] What? I began thinking about
this in the light of the triumphal
entry on Palm Sunday, and this is what
the Lord showed me. You cannot embrace all of
who he is without embracing forgiveness. It’s not possible. You cannot say I’m unified
with the king of all the earth, who at the very core on that
cross, showed his heart, which was forgiveness, and you
not to have any forgiveness in your heart. It’s not possible. You can’t say that
I’ve embraced him. You can’t say that everything
that he is, I’ve yielded, and he’s become part of me,
and I’ve become part of him, and hold a place of
grudge in your heart. Jesus says, if that’s
true, you don’t have me. You’ve never embraced me. You don’t know what
it is to walk with me. Then Peter takes it to another
notch in Matthew chapter 18. You don’t have to turn there. It says, “Then
Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how
many times shall I forgive my brother or
sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus
answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but 77 times.'”
Jesus says it’s not even you embracing a one-time
forgiveness. You are to walk in forgiveness. You are to live in forgiveness. You are to be a people and
ambassadors of forgiveness. And when people sin against
you, and when people hurt you, you are to give out forgiveness,
forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. When Jesus was on the
cross and he said, father forgive them,
for they know not what they do– I don’t
think he was speaking just about the soldiers. I think he was talking about
the disciples who abandoned him. I think he was talking
about the high priest who was smacking him on the cheek. I think he was
talking about those who were part of the eldership,
who were spitting on him. I think he was walking
in continual places of forgiveness, saying, father,
if they will receive it, let them be forgiven. See, we get to these places
in our Christian life where we say I’ll
forgive once they repent, once they say they’re sorry. But I find nowhere in the
scriptures that Jesus did that. I don’t see the soldiers looking
up and saying, whoops, sorry. Oh, I forgive you– no. In fact, as he’s
forgiving them, they’re casting lots for his clothes. I want to share two things on
forgiveness and then close. You can write this down, but
I just want to give it to you. Number one, forgiveness
is the greatest act of trust and faith. There is nothing greater. Think about it. Jesus knew where this donkey
was going to lead him. He said at Caesarea Philippi
just a little while before, just a few chapters–
if I take this journey, I’m going to be
literally betrayed. I’m going to be crucified. They’re going to kill me. They’re going to mock me– not
just the elders, but the Roman guards, everybody. You’re even going to grumble
under your own breath and say I don’t know if
he was who he said he was. Everybody’s going to abandon. He knew where this journey
was going to take him. He knew the danger
that was ahead. He knew he was going to be hurt. And let me just say
something to you. Although Jesus was fully
God, he was also fully man. He didn’t just feel
the physical pain. He felt what it was
like to be betrayed. He felt how it hurt
to go back and say, after being with these
people for so long, they said those things about me. Peter was cursing me! I saw! He felt that in the inner man! He knew what that was! He knew if he went
this journey, he was going to be– and listen to
me– he was going to be hurt. And yet he takes the journey. And this is what got me. On the cross, he says this. Father, I give you and I commit
my spirit into your hands. In other words, he was showing
his whole heart all the way through the journey. I will trust in you, not
myself to keep myself safe. I will believe
you are my refuge. You are my deliverer. That even if people crucify me,
that you will give me strength to get back up in three days. I will obey what you’ve asked. I will follow into
your will, but I will put everything
into your hands and not take any into mine. And that’s exactly
where forgiveness leads. It’s a place of opening
yourself again to be vulnerable and to be hurt. That’s why nobody does it. I’m just being honest. And let me just– oh, I forgive
him, but I don’t talk to him. No, no, no, no, no–
that is not forgiveness. That is not forgiveness! It is a release of the offense. I’ve heard it so many times. I can’t forgive my spouse. He looked at pornography,
and he cheated on me and this and that. And the heart is– but
if I open my heart, Pastor Michael, if I forgive,
if I come back, and I let it go, I could be hurt. I could be hurt! I could be hurt! And let me say something to
you– yes, you can be hurt. Yes, you can be hurt in a
church when things go wrong. And it’s not just this church. I don’t want to deal
with the problem. Everywhere I go–
I’m at a wedding, I’m sitting with people. (DERISIVELY) “I don’t
go to church anymore. They hurt me.” “I don’t
go to church anymore. The leader hurt me. I don’t go to church.” And I’m just listening
to everybody, and the whole defense
of staying home, out of the body of Christ,
is “I don’t want to be hurt.” And as I hear it, all I hear is
unbelief, unbelief, unbelief. Nobody trusting the
father, nobody giving it all into his hands and not
trying to defend themselves and going back
saying, you know what? I can be hurt. But if this is your
will, then that is the safest place
I will ever be. [CLAPPING] I can’t promise that,
because you forgive, someone else ain’t going
to spit on your face. I can’t promise. I can’t promise, young
people, if you forgive, you’re not going to be
slandered on Facebook again. I can’t promise. But I can promise
this– if you forgive, you are walking in
the will of God. And every step of the way,
you have a heavenly father that you’ve committed
everything into his hands. And you take nothing into yours. Let me just read something
I wrote in my journal this past week as I
was reading a study. And I’m just going to be honest. We’ve twisted
forgiveness so much in the church to make it look
like things we think are right. And I come back to what
Jesus says, and I hate it. I hate it because you’ve got
to go to dangerous places to forgive. It’s dangerous. He knew where he was going. It was not going to be an easy
road getting on that donkey. He didn’t get on a horse. He didn’t get on something
that could defend himself. That’s what a horse was for. You get on a horse to fight. You get on a donkey to submit. Let me just read what I wrote. “The kingdom of God cannot
come through self-protection and preservation, but only
by yielding ourselves fully to the will of God and walking
out a pathway of forgiveness to the point of a cross,
a death to ourselves, and a death to our
own personal rights. Only at this place
and on this journey can God’s kingdom be
realized on earth.” Hebrews 10:38 says,
“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in
the one who shrinks back.” Let me give you my last point
and then wrap this all up. We need to be very
careful as a church, very careful in
these volatile times not to allow the spirit of
that world into our body. Everyone wants to Amen it. I like to Amen it. Now try to live it out. I got my number on you. I’m going to, after,
see if you forgive me. [LAUGHTER] Listen. There is a lawlessness
in our own nation. It is the reality. And it is creating such a
frustration in the people that there is a
violence, and there’s a tension that’s in everywhere,
in all our cities and all our culture. You can see it on the news. Look at these rallies. This is getting nuts. Everybody on both sides, listen. There is wrong on both
sides of the aisles. I don’t care you’re a
Republican or a Democrat. I’m watching people throw
fists on both sides. There’s this anger. And it is dividing. The nation is dividing. There’s racism now. There’s areas, oh,
you’re like that. And there’s this anger
and all this stuff. And it’s all coming from this
fountainhead of lawlessness in our own culture. And I’m going to say something. As the church of Jesus Christ,
you cannot be part of that world. You cannot react that way. [CLAPPING] We cannot be so
self-preserved of our rights and self-preserved of what we
think people should treat us as, that when they do something
wrong, we just flip out. We yell, we scream, we use
words we shouldn’t be using. No, no, no, no, no. The scripture says
when Jesus came in and they were screaming
and yelling and accusing, he sat there in a
spirit of serenity and in a spirit of forgiveness. I’m going to be
completely honest. And you don’t need
to be a prophet. You don’t even need
to be a prophet to know what’s happening next. But there will be
riots in our cities. I’m telling you. This election– I’m
guaranteeing you from what I’ve seen on that TV
that when these elections go down, you’re going to see riots. You’re going to see
people come out. They’re going to
be breaking things. They’re going to be yelling. And it’s so easy to
say, you don’t play by the rules of civilization? Well, I’m going to
get in this too. I’m going to yell at you. You’re going to yell at me. And let me tell you something. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Jesus said, if you
want to be my follower, you’re not going to
embrace the horse, you’re going to
embrace the donkey. You’re going to embrace
a place of forgiveness. You’re going to embrace
a place of mercy. You’re going to
embrace, and you’re going to lose– listen to me! We might lose everything! You might not have a
great country where you feel like you could prosper! That might not be the
reality, but it gives you no right to get angry. We are not for any nation. We are not for any
political leader. We are not for any government. We are for Jesus Christ, and
Jesus Christ got on a donkey, and that’s where we belong. This nation is going to be
a people in need very soon. No one will know how to
act towards each other. And I’m thinking
in my mind, God, how do you meet need like this? It took me back to
Genesis with Joseph. It took me back to
a world that was about to go through a big famine
and were going to be in need. And the scriptures say
in the Book of Psalms that he sent– this
is what it says– he sent a man before them. He sent a man. And he was going to
give this man anointing. He was going to give
this man wisdom. He was going to give this man
incredible capacities in favor with kings to be
able to bring out the provision for the need
of the world around him when it all broke loose. And this is what got me. I’m just thinking about it. I’m going through it. I’m just studying this. The man that he
sends, the man that will walk in this
type of anointing, the man that will have
that type of provision, was a man that learned one
lesson before anything else, and that was forgiveness. He was a man that had to
learn just one lesson. The scripture says
he was put in prison. He was put as a slave. He was sold away. And it was just one thing that
God was teaching all the time. And it was just one thing God
wanted to get into his heart. And it was, you must forgive,
because if you forgive, you begin to embrace who I am. And if you embrace who I am, the
anointing, the life, the favor, the wisdom, the power, will
begin flowing through you to others. Jesus gave this one
last demonstration right in front of the 3
million in one city, just waited for it. And he said you’ve
seen the miracles. You’ve seen the power
that I’ll endow you with. But none of it will come through
unless there’s a channel, and this is what he
got on the donkey for, of humility
and forgiveness. None of it’s going to come
through unless you forgive. He was warning them. This is the key. This is how my
kingdom will open. The Romans didn’t understand. They thought this
was ridiculous. They thought it was nuts. A donkey? Humility? Forgiveness? No, you take! You preserve, you defend! Jesus said, no, no, no. That’s not how my
kingdom comes about. Mine is when we
walk in forgiveness, servitude, and– listen to
me– when we get smacked on one cheek, we turn
the other and say, if you want to smack this
one too, I will pray for you. Forgiveness is not about you. We’ve twisted it in
the American church. We say oh, it’s
for your healing. No it’s not. It’s for you to get
out of your prison. No, it’s for God’s kingdom. It’s for Christ and his glory. It has nothing to do with you. So you might be wondering,
well, where did this all come from, Pastor Michael? Well, I sat down with a few
couples in the last week who have been offended and hurt–
not this church, many churches, this church included. I’ll be honest. We’re not afraid. We have our own issues. Many churches. And they’re all having
churches at home. We do our own house church. I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want this. And I just looked at them. I mean, these are people
that have walked with God 20, 30 years. They’re intercessors. They know how to pray. They know how to pull out
promises from scripture. I just looked at them, and I
felt this boldness in my heart. And I just said– and I wasn’t
putting anybody down– I said, when was this ever about you? When was it ever about your
healing and your protection? When did you think following
Christ wouldn’t be dangerous? When did that get
into your mind? You’ve got a body
who needs the gifts. You’ve got a body. You’ve been trained by God! You’ve had years with him! You’ve seen things
most people don’t see! I said, you’ve
prayed for continence and you’ve seen revivals. I knew this couple. I said get up! Get back into the body! Get back where you belong! Get out of those little
houses and get back. You might get hurt again. We all might get hurt. And you know what? If we get hurt, God will
provide the Holy Spirit. He’ll provide his promises. He’ll provide his provision. He’ll get us back up again! He’ll raise us up in three days! You get back up, and you
keep going within that body, no matter if you’re
hurt or you’re not because it’s not about you. I just sat with them. I actually said this. I said, I couldn’t imagine
the Navy training a Navy SEAL, and then after all the training,
the hell week, and everything they put that man
through, to say OK. Put him as a guard in
the San Diego Naval Yard. No, you send him to
the hardest places. You send him to the
most dangerous grounds. When you put in that
type of investment, the millions of
dollars, the training– you use them for the
protection of that nation. God has trained you. God has invested in you. God has put giftings in you. And he doesn’t want you
at the San Diego Naval Yard sitting around. He wants you in the hottest
places, the most dangerous areas, so that you’re
praying, and you’re seeing his kingdom come. He’s saying forgive, forgive. I’m not trying to
be hard on anybody. I’m not saying it’s easy. I heard a pastor once
preaching, and it struck me. He said the Gospel that
I preach in America has to be the same
Gospel I preach in Iran. I can’t change it. If I have to tell
them to forgive those who are going to kill
their own family members, then I have to
tell you to forgive those that wound you in
the body, in your marriage, in your family. It doesn’t change when we
go to different continents. It’s the same call. And this is the thing. There is life in this. There’s things that God wants
to show you of himself so much deeper. It will hurt. I’m not going to lie to anybody. You’re going to get hurt. We’re going to come
as a body, and we’re going to come and support
and encourage you and walk through it together. But we’re going to get hurt. But we can’t shut
our hearts down. Father, I’ve done my best. I don’t want to go any further. You’ve challenged
me in my own heart. God, you’ve challenged me
to pray for people that I told you, you’re nuts. I literally have said it. You said, you’re going
to pray for them, and you’re not going to pray. God, get them. God, teach them their lesson. God, go after them. Oh God, get them! You taught me, God, no–
you’re going to pray. That I would bless them,
that I would encourage them, that I straighten out crooked
places, that I make roads, and I put them right
where they belong. God, I pray for us as a church. I don’t want this to be
one ear out the other. God, we want to let some
things go this morning. We want to release them
because the reality is we’re about to go into a time
where our whole culture is going to be divided. Our whole country is
going to be a mess, and you’re looking
for testimonies who truly will represent who
you are in the midst of it. God, you told me if we can’t
forgive each other in here, we will never be able
to forgive out there. And Lord, I’m just
praying for this morning– I’m not just saying
these things to say them. I’m asking the Holy Spirit–
if we’re ready to release, if we’re ready to let go–
will you now bring the power to let these things die? Would you now give us the power? We’re not asking for ourselves! God, I’m not asking
for a better life! I’m not asking to be
happier or have more wealth! Would you do this so that
Jesus might be represented? Would you do this
so that your will might be seen on this earth? God, we pray for that this
morning in Jesus’ name. Amen. Stand with me. This is my call this morning. [MUSIC PLAYING] Altar team, I’m going to have
you come behind and lay hands. I’m not going to have you
up front because I really feel this is just something
between a person and the Lord. But it’s this– if
you say, I don’t want to embrace the horse, I’m
ready to embrace the donkey. I’m ready to embrace the journey
or where it’s going to lead. I know now that there’s
something greater than living for myself, living
for my own self-protection, living for myself,
not getting wounded. There’s something greater
to live for than just this. God has confirmed
it to your heart. And you say, I don’t want
to embrace the horse. I don’t want to
embrace self-defense. I don’t want to embrace
a conquering spirit. I don’t want to embrace
an area of fighting. I want to embrace
that area of humility to come into the will of God. And that’s exactly what that is. This is exactly what I’m asking. And forgive. To let go of what my
father has done to me, to let go of what my
family has done to me, to let go of what my spouse has
done to me, to forgive them, to release it. If that’s your heart, and you’re
willing to honestly answer that call, I’m going to
open up these altars right before God himself. And if you want to
come down and say, I’m embracing that donkey,
I’m embracing it right now. I want to pray together
before we leave this morning. You come right down. It might only be one or two. I’m not looking
for a large crowd. I don’t mind. But even in my own life,
I’m saying I’m ready, God. I want to embrace your will. I want to embrace your way. I want to pray. I want to ask the Holy Spirit
to do a work in our hearts. When you open your
hearts, the Holy Spirit is here to do a work. He’s here to do a work. It could be a family member. It could be a son or a daughter
that has said something, and there’s a wound
deep in the heart, and there’s an
unforgiveness– whatever it is, you come forward. And I want to pray
for you this morning. Ministry team, you
can come around. You can just lay a hand. Just lay a hand. Prayer altar and community
groups, you just lay a hand, and we’re going
to pray together. Father, we’re going to take
these last few moments, and we’re going to
say Holy Spirit, this is a work that
must come with power. You showed everybody. You showed everyone your power
before you got on that donkey. You said don’t worry. This journey will have power. This journey that
you’re about to take will not just be you yourself,
but there will be power on it. I showed you my power. As you embrace that donkey,
it will lead with power. And God, I pray. I don’t know all the issues. There’s things going on
in somebody’s spouse. There’s things going
on in the family. There’s things going on
through people in their church who have wounded each other. They don’t even talk
with each other anymore. They don’t even engage
with each other. God, I ask that by your
mercy this morning, God, as we open up our
hearts, by your spirit you would begin
ripping that stuff out. You would take these
things that hinder us, and you would loosen it by
your mercy and your glory and your goodness, God. God, I pray for those who’ve
gone through a divorce and there’s an anger
in their heart. There’s a frustration. How could they do it to me? How could they leave
me with so little? How could they take off
and leave me with this? And there’s a place
inside the heart saying, I just can’t let go. I can’t let go. God in your mercy, by
your power now, God, through the supernatural
work of your spirit, I pray, God, that you would stop
ripping those things out, you would start taking them out for
your glory and your mercy, God. God, I pray for those
with sons and daughters, sons and daughters that
have caused such havoc in a family, sons
and daughters that have destroyed, and
consumed, and hurt, and even brought tension in
marriages, and there’s something in the
heart that just says, I just can’t forgive them. I can’t let it go. God, I’m asking for brothers,
sisters, fathers, mothers, for that sibling–
that God, you would allow us to be a
representation of your heart, you would allow us to be a
representation of your will, that you would allow us to flow
with forgiveness to the needs of others, God, to forgive. Lord, lastly this morning, I
want to pray one more prayer. Father, I’m noticing
more and more offended families from the body of
Christ, not just in our church. I sit with people and they say,
well, so-and-so at this church did this. God, I am asking. We are in need now. God, we’re hitting critical
mass in this nation, and we’re blaming everybody. We’re saying it’s
so-and-so’s fault. And it was– it’s
the Republicans. They can’t get the GOP right. It’s Hillary, and it’s
this, and it’s that. We’re blaming everybody
when your scripture says judgment will always
begin with the house of God. You point the finger back at
us and say no, no, no, no. The reason there’s not
power, the reason there’s no authority in
this nation anymore is because you will not forgive. And God, I pray now–
not hurting anybody, not deeming them as
terrible, but by your power, we can bring back your
family into your churches where they belong. And would you heal your churches
with a heart, and a conviction, and a spirit of forgiveness? Would you heal
your churches, God? Call your people back, that we
might get back to the prayer meetings, that we might
get back to outreach, that we might get
back to the work that you have in discipling
and community groups. Call your people back, God. Have mercy on us and on
this nation, we pray. Unite us in forgiveness, we ask. God, I give this
all into your hands, and we bless you and praise
you in Jesus’ name, Amen. If you need some more
time with these altars, you stay right where you’re at. You need to pray with an
altar ministry leader, they’re going to be here. But I want to encourage
you this week, wherever it is, in your heart, to forgive. Forgive.


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