What is Palm Sunday?

What exactly is Palm Sunday? Why do we celebrate it? What are we celebrating?

Here’s a brief history –

At the time of Jesus, the Roman Empire was in control of Jerusalem. The enslaved people looked to a new king or hardened warrior to liberate them, but God had other plans. He blessed the people of Jerusalem with the King of all kings, their Savior and Ultimate Redeemer.

The gospels record the arrival of Jesus riding into the city on a donkey, while the crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” to honor him as their long-awaited Messiah and King.

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, where we remember the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem.

Matthew 21:1-11 recounts Jesus triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

21 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”

10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”

11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

We join with millions of Christians around the world in the celebration of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is observed on the Sunday before Easter, where we remember the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Please join us at West Angeles as we celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

HEAR Bebe and Cece Winans sing, “The Blood Will Never lose Its Power”, in honor of BMI Trailblazer Reverend Andrae Crouch, below:

SERMON: Pastor Michael A. Stevens remembers “The Late, Great Church”

Who left among you remembers the temple in its former glory?  And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? Haggai 2:3

Twenty years ago, Dr. Michael A. Stevens was a young pastor, fresh out of divinity school, with his own small congregation, when he first heard the Word delivered by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake at the famous Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, CA.

“I remember Bishop told the Lord, ‘If you can do this for Robert Schuller, can’t you do something through me?’”

Now, as he stood on the pulpit at the beautiful West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, ready to deliver a sermon of his own before Bishop Blake’s congregation of thousands, Pastor Stevens expressed feelings of humility and thankfulness for the experience, one, he says, he doesn’t take lightly.

“West Angeles, I just want to thank you on behalf of every church not only in black America, but in pentecostal America, Spirit-filled America, ecumenical America…I don’t know if there’s a church in the world [that has  the  global impact of] West Angeles.”

Pastor Stevens’ March 8 sermon, titled, “The Late, Great Church,” reminds us of the responsibility we all have to become active participants in the body of Christ, and for sustaining the legacy of the Christian church. He thanked Bishop Blake for the many years of “impeccable, integrity-filled, outstanding leadership,”  and he also thanked the congregation for sharing Bishop Blake with the rest of the world.

“West Angeles, you allow your pastor to lead the world,” Pastor Stevens said. “He is the face of Pentecostalism. The world owes a debt to you [Bishop Blake], and the West Angeles family.”

Highlights from the sermon follow:

“In his book, Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels says, ‘The church is the hope of the world, and its success lies within the hands of capable leaders. I believe that the church is still today the bedrock of inspiration, of influence and of community impact; in fact, it is the seat of moral and ethical social preservation.”

“Whether it’s Ferguson, Missouri or Orlando, Florida, or anywhere in between, the church represents those who perhaps have no representation.”

“I love the church!”

“I know that we are often viewed in the media and in entertainment…as a place that is suspect; a place of shame, maybe even a place of scrutiny. We’ve been victimized as being intolerant or insignificant; maybe unimportant.”

“It won’t be the government, it won’t be the statehouse, it won’t even be our institutions of educational learning, but it will be the local church that is the hope of the world” – Bill Hybels

“It never ceases to amaze me; the joy and laughter that preachers have when they come together as brothers.”

“I had this horrible dream…that there were groups of curious and inquiring people who were touring this very strange and very unusual facility…These structures were in major cities and in small towns alike. It was a horrible dream…These new museums of this generation used to be called: ‘the local church.’”

“The things we take for granted – coming to church on Sunday morning and praising the Lord and worshiping God -opening our Bibles and having Bible study, even sometimes on our jobs.”

“Today, the church is full of challenges, both outside and inside,”

“Christian persecution is worldwide…We feel persecuted when we’re not invited to the birthday party. We feel persecution when the preacher preaches 10-15 minutes too long…But Christians are being beheaded all over the world!”

“There’s the ongoing agenda of acceptance and tolerance from those in the LGBT community; the same-sex marriages and transgender campaigns are taking our country by storm.”

“When will the church draw a line in the sand?”

President Eisenhower speaks with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., E. Frederic Morrow, and A. Phillip Randolph regarding the Civil Rights of African Americans, 1958.

“I want to talk about the glory of the church; the glory and the power and the presence of God.”

“The church must be reminded it is not the master nor the servant of the state; but rather, it is the conscience of

the state.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“There are churches all over America right now…full of consumerism conveniences and cafeteria plans: ‘Give me a little of this and give me a little of that…I don’t want that doctrine…I’ll take some singing and I’ll take some shouting and we’ll speak in tongues and blow bubbles all day – but I don’t want no theology!’”

“We are non-committed, non-communal, non-covenant.”

“We hunger for the next TV reality show, but do we hunger for the Word?”

“God will shake a nation…God stirs within. God sets in order.”

“God, will you shake some people this morning?”

“Sometimes God shakes your life up. Sometimes it’s in our finances. Sometimes it’s in our physical health…Sometimes it’s a husband who won’t do right. Sometimes God shakes your faith, but there’s a reason and a purpose.”

“God did it in the days of Elijah, He did it in the days of Haggai. ‘Why,’ the writer of Hebrews says, ‘would God not do it now?’”

“I’m asking God to bring back the ‘wow factor.’ Bring back the awe of the church.” – Pastor Michael A. Stevens

“I know you can worship at home with the DVD, you can worship at home online, but there’s nothing quite like worshiping in the House of God!”

“Thank God for the church because it’s the only place I can go and ‘get my praise on’…Only in the church can I express my gratitude for all that God has done for me!”

“We are a spirited people! We are an emotional, sensational, ‘Give-God-the-best-glory’ type of people!”

“What you do unto God, God will bless.”

“You don’t have to worry when your time comes…No demon, no witch, no warlock, no one, can hinder or stop the miracle of God”.

“I want us to get back to work as a people. There has to be something…that God has given you…to do for the local church.”

“Let’s go back and find community with one another. Can we get back to loving one another? Can we get back to forgiving one another?”

“Can we forgive and forebear one another as Christ has forgiven us?”

“The true test of Christian maturity is not just your speaking in tongues and your shoutin’ and dancin’…but it’s your love for the bride…and the church is the bride of Christ.”

___

Pastor Michael A. Stevens founded University City COGIC (formerly Full Gospel Fellowship) in Charlotte, NC in 1994. The church started with two members. In 14 years, it has grown to over 1,500 members. Dr. Stevens currently serves as General Overseer of Covenant Churches and Ministries International. He also serves on both the Executive Board of the General Council of Pastors and Elders and the Foreign Missions/Middle East Region for the International Department of Evangelism for the Church of God in Christ. He is married to his college sweetheart, Pastor Sharon Stevens, and together they have three children: Michael Anthony Jr., Matthew Courtlin, and Charisma Lindsey.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Haggai 2:1-9, Judges2:10, Psalm137:4-6, Hebrews 12, Psalm 33:8, Acts5, Haggai 1:14, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 2 Peter 3:1, Psalm 33:1, John 9:4, Philippians 2:12, 2Thessalonians 3:12.

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Bishop Brandon Porter – I’m Getting It All Back

West Angeles Church of God In Christ concluded its month-long celebration of Black History Month with a magnificent performance by its Theater Arts Ministry and a powerful sermon by visiting pastor Bishop Brandon Porter called, “I’m Getting it All Back.”

For his Black History Month sermon as guest Pastor at West Angeles Church of God In Christ, Bishop Brandon Porter told the story of Mephibosheth, whose father Jonathan had been loyal to King David, even saving his life. Although Mephibosheth was the descendant of a King, he’d become an outcast, was crippled, and believed he had little worth. But King David knew he owed Mephibosheth a great debt, and restored all to him.

Bishop Porter’s sermon was preceded by a magnificent performance by the West Angeles Theater Arts Ministry titled “Black Lives Matter,” which honored the lives of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin.

Bishop Brandon Porter is Head Pastor of Greater Community Temple in Memphis, TN. He has served the Church Of God In Christ in numerous capacities including Vice Chairman of the National Trustee Board and President of the International Youth Department. He is an inspired author of several titles including, “A Reason to Keep Going,” “In His Likeness,” and “Speaking Life.” He’s married to First Lady Melody Porter, and has two sons Bryson, and Brandon II, author of the recently published, “If Obama Had A Son.”

See the entire service here at West Angeles’ GOSPEL ON DEMAND. Highlights from the sermon follow:

“This is a pivotal year; 2015. The number 20 is the number of redemption; and the number 15 is the number of rest. The Jews call this the ‘Shmita Year.’ It is the year of the sabbatical, or the year of the Sabbath.”

“You were to be restored…re-consecrated to God; to tie up the loose ends, to make yourself better for what’s to come.”

“God wants us to have the attitude that whatever He has promised, now we can get it.”

“The Summer is not for you to lose interest, but for you to become reignited to do something greater than you’ve ever done before.”

“We’re about to have overflow!”

“It’s the year, as the old people say, where you take your hands off, and God puts His hands on it!”

“I want everything that God says I can have!”

“Too many people have this defeatist attitude about life…I’m sick of folk who ain’t looking for nothing!”

“You’ve got to have a life of expectation.”

“What is God about to do next? He’s not through blessing me yet! Does anybody here know that God is not through Blessing you?”

“The devil is still the devil. He’s only come for three things; has a very small agenda, but he’s committed: steal, kill, destroy.”

“Quit thinking that satan is so powerful! He’s not that powerful! The devil has some power: God has all power!”

“[Satan’s] not a negative god – satan is a fallen angel.”

“It doesn’t matter what the devil has planned, God has another one.”

“God has a plan for me, but He also has one for my enemy.”

“I think it was Henry Ford who said, ‘Whether you think you can or you think you cannot – you’re right.” Life is all about what you think.”

“You’ve got to have a life of expectation.” – Bishop Brandon Porter

“Character determines destiny.”

“Who you are all started with what you were listening to.”

“There are some folk who don’t want you now, but they’re going to want you later! Say ‘Amen,’ somebody!”

“You know you’re doing something right when your past wants you back!”

“Friends, when you get to where you’re going, don’t forget how you got there.”

“My struggle is where I am, not who I am. My struggle is my evidence, not my residence!”

“Some people are hurt today because somebody else was trippin’!”

“You don’t have to chase your blessing: it’s chasing you!”

“God knows where you are”.

“’Lo’ means ‘No’; ‘Debar’ means “no fruit or opportunity’…Some of you are in Lo Debar…But it’s your responsibility to get up and get from that place where it seems you’ve been held captive.”

“No matter how difficult your circumstances are, everything that God is doing is for a purpose…God is right there all the time.”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 2 Samuel 9:1-10, Genesis 50:20, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Samuel 16:10-11, Psalm 23:6, Psalm 23:5.

4 Things You Need To Know About Love…Part 1

LOVE. We sing about it. Movies are made about it. Writers devote entire careers to it. History tells us that some men have even fought wars over it, while others seem determined to destroy it…

The world has even set aside one whole day in February each year in honor of love. The shops are then filled with all things red, pink and heart-shaped, as we turn to thoughts of romance, candle-lit dinners…or of another dreaded evening spent alone.

But now that the last of the candy hearts, scented candles, and silk rose petals have been packed away, (only to be replaced with pastel eggs and chocolate bunnies), are we finding ourselves any closer to love, or is today just another day?

The truth is, we were designed with love, for love, to love. But before we talk about what love is, we’d better define what it isn’t.

1. Love isn’t seasonal. Love isn’t “here today, gone tomorrow.” Love, like God, is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). You either love, or you don’t.
2. Love cannot be bought or sold. In Matthew 6:24 (NIV), Jesus tells his disciples that “you cannot serve both God and money.” And if God is love (1 John 4:8), then money has no bearing on love either!
3. Society can’t define it. Celebrity, fashion trends, race, social standing, educational achievement, country of origin, political party, skin tone, sports team, zodiac sign’ none of things that our society seems to hold in high regard can actually determine, define or dictate what love is.
4. It isn’t something you do “on the way past.” You can’t “fall out of love” if you’ve ever truly loved at all. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Love is actually the thing that keeps you present and in the game (Ephesians 4:2).

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV) says:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Verse eight goes on to say that love never fails. Why? Because love transcends all things. If you’re looking for love, know that above all, love is a way of life.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – Hebrews 13:8, Matthew 6:24, 1 John 4:8, Ephesians 4:2, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Look for PART II of our series on Love on Westa.org…And hear Smokie Norful perform “No Greater Love” below:

No Greater Love (Lyric Video) by Smokie Norful on VEVO.