two men on a road

The One in whom they believed for Israel’s redemption is now gone, dead, and they are left without hope.  Two men, traveling a road in route to Emmaus, are downtrodden with the news that even the body of Jesus is missing.

When things look bleak, and our unseen God is apparently nowhere to be found, how do we know that we are still on the right path?  How can we know for sure that it is HIS voice we hear and not some figment of our imaginations?

As the two men “talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him” (Luke 24: 15-16).  Jesus asks them what they are talking about, and they surprisingly ask Him where He has been the past few days, because anyone in Jerusalem would understand the topic of their conversation.      They recount the events for His benefit, but then He replies they should have known that these things were supposed to happen.  “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself” (Luke 24: 27).

They are loving this discourse and invite “the Man” to stay with them upon  arrival to their destination.

Are we surprised yet that Jesus’ identity remains hidden from the two?  Can we relate?  Do we also fail to see Him with our spiritual eyes?

When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).

What just happened?  All of a sudden, they realize it is the Lord, but they couldn’t recognize Him before that?  I am convinced that these two men had been among the thousands whom Jesus miraculously fed when only a few loaves were available.  And what did Jesus do at those times?

“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them.  Then He gave them to the disciples to set before the people” (Luke 9:16).

You see, Jesus became familiar to the two men who had experienced Jesus in a familiar setting.  They had spent time with Him in the past; they knew His ways.

Let us apply the scripture to our own lives:  when God seems to be missing-in-action, and we do not recognize His voice, let us remember His ways.  When we see something of His nature happening again, we can trust that He is indeed Emmanuel, God With Us.

Advertisements

how do I recognize His voice?

I’m so excited to share a fresh revelation from God!  I am going to try to present it in installments because I fear going overboard in my excitement!

Emmanuel is the name of God to indicate His constant presence in our lives.  It’s an important name as it reveals His relational nature.  God enjoys His children and desires intimate relationship with us.  But we need to understand that, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you… the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everthing I have said to you”  (John 14: 16-17, 26).

The above scripture is key for the believer who desires to hear the voice of God.  God is with us, and He is speaking and leading us.  We only need to know how to recognize His voice.  Those who walked with Jesus in the time of His earthly ministry also had to learn to follow the Spirit’s voice.  Jesus completed His mission to bring salvation and deliverance to all who receive Him, and in the days leading up to His return to the Father, He made some very revealing appearances to His followers.  We will look at three encounters closely to glean understanding about walking with an unseen God.

Emmanuel

There is simply no better name.  Our God is Emmanuel, God With Us.  How about that for the needed confidence that we are going in the right direction in life?  God is with us and is directing our steps.  He loves us more than we can fathom; He cares for all of our needs.  He understands our hearts and heals all of the broken places there.  Emmanuel is a treasure!

For the Christian who believes that life in the days of Christ’s ministry on the earth would have far surpassed our experiences with Him now, I say you are crazy.  If Jesus was visiting friends in Bethany, and you happened to be in Jerusalem, then you were missing out.  He was not in your presence.  But now, on this side of the Cross, with His earthly work completed (John 17:4), and the promised gift of the Father having been sent (Acts 1:4-5, Acts 2: 1 -4), Jesus is Emmanuel, God With Us.  The Spirit of God is our constant Counselor (John 14:16), and He leads us in truth.

This Christmas, let us focus on the ultimate gift:  Emmanuel, God With Us.

vision check (part 2)

In part 1 of “vision check,” we encountered the rich man who was unable to see Jesus.  He had sight, but it was limited.  He viewed Jesus to be a “good teacher.”  Spiritually, he was blind, and as a result, he chose the temporary riches of this world over the eternal riches of the kingdom of God.

Further into the chapter of Luke 18, we read about a blind beggar who got really rowdy when he found out Jesus was passing by.  He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

What a contrast!  This man, who is without physical sight, sees with his heart that a miracle is close at hand.  However, the rich man had the kingdom of heaven before him, yet he could not see it.

Notice that the blind man calls Jesus, “Son of David,” a name derived from the Jeremiah 33:17 prophecy that foretold the unceasing reign of David’s descendants upon the throne of Israel.  This blind man gets it right:  Jesus is the Messiah, the One who was to come.

The result of his faith?  You guessed it!  Physical sight.  He simply requested, “Lord, I want to see.”

The result of the miracle?  His praise and the praises of all of the people were lifted to God!

The rich man left Jesus’ presence very sad; the blind man followed Jesus with rejoicing that was contagious.

“Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?” James 2:5

Father in heaven, that we too have the faith to see You with our hearts and know that You are who You say you are and You do what You say You do.  

vision check (part 1)

Have you ever had your eyes examined?  I have witnessed eye exams but  have never experienced one.  Today we can do both if we choose to apply God’s Word to our lives.

Luke 18 presents us with a contrast of two men taking a spiritual “optical exam.” Verse 18 opens with, “A certain ruler asked Him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'”  A most interesting conversation ensues.

Jesus replies, “Why do you call me good?”  The Lord’s question used to confuse me, because surely He knew that many people considered Him to be good based on the works He did.  But I now understand that the Lord  sees the man’s heart and knows that he considers Jesus to be nothing more than a “good teacher.”  Jesus states, “No one is good-except God alone.”

In essence, if the rich ruler had believed Jesus to be the Son of God, he would have addressed Him as such.  But his eyes only see before him a good man.

Jesus responds to the man’s question by listing the commandments that reference our treatment of our fellow man.  The rich ruler responds confidently that all those he has kept since he was a boy.

Now Jesus dilates the man’s eyes and looks into his inmost being-the true test of spiritual vision.  Will you keep the first commandment and have no other god before Me?  Jesus said, “You still lack one thing.  Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow Me.”

The result?  Spiritual blindness.  That commandment to place God above all other things was a “no can do” in the rich man’s book “because he was a man of great wealth.”

He left God’s presence very sad.  My heart aches knowing that his sadness was temporary, but his torment is eternal.  He chose a life separated from God all because of his love of temporary riches.  Jesus was not seeking that day to strip him of his earthly wealth.  He was only proving that to love money more than God was idolatry.  The rich ruler wanted to know how to inherit eternal life, and Jesus exposed his obstacle.

Next time, we’ll look at another patient.  His “eye exam” leads to perfect vision and a whole lot of celebrating!

the gift that keeps giving

Are you thinking about Christmas shopping these days?  I am!  Are you clueless and asking God for direction?  Me too!  I realize that since my love language is words of affirmation, I am weak in the area of gifts!  Give me words; I’ll give you words… we’re all happy, right?  I wish it was so!  Somebody pray for me that I will love well those around me according to their love language needs!

I have a suggestion for gift-giving to ourselves!  You know how it works:  I’ll buy one for her and one for me….  But this gift to ourselves may not cost us a dime!  Let’s read all the way through God’s Word in the year 2012!  And why is that a gift to ourselves, you ask?  It is the one that keeps giving!

“You have made known to me the path of life; You fill me with joy in Your Presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart” (Psalm 19:8).

“If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.  I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:10-11).

Joy is a result of our following the truths presented in Scripture!  I feel certain that there are many just waiting to unwrap some joy this year!  Not happiness, J-O-Y, joy!  Happiness comes and goes according to life’s circumstances, but joy remains a constant.

2012 is a year of celebratory joy as we unwrap the goodness of God’s ways found hidden in His eternal Word.  His truth is a light for our paths, and we will avoid many pitfalls if we will simply read, believe and obey.

Starting in the new year, I will post a weekly reading plan that I have enjoyed following in the past.  But in the meantime, let’s get our minds convinced that we can and will do this.  We have 6 weeks to mentally prepare.  Are you ready for His joy?

why are you burdened?

The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God (Ex. 34:6), is reaching out to us today and asking, “Why are you burdened?  “Why are you weary with physical and emotional sickness?  Do you believe that I am Jehovah Jireh?  Do you believe that I can indeed provide for every need?  If you have a material need, I am your Provider.  If you have a physical need, I am your Provider.  If you have an emotional or spiritual need, I am your Provider.”

Psalm 91 is a wonderful promise of God’s protection for those who fear harm from an enemy.  It opens with, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Verses 9 and 10 state, “If you make the Most High your dwelling… then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.”

How do we make the Lord our dwelling?  We seek His Presence every day that we live.  We go to Him in faith believing that He can do what He says He can do.

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Ps. 91:4).

Dwelling in His Presence results in us finding refuge and a peace that passes all understanding.  It is that place where all things broken become new and whole.  It is that place where we find ourselves overwhelmed by the knowledge of who He is and by the grace He bestows upon us.

Today, respond to His invitation and receive everything that Jehovah Jireh has for you.  He only asks, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).