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Seeking Peace Along a Hard Road

Blessed Father, we desire to break bread with You, to walk with You & enjoy Your company. Make our hearts burn within us as we meet with You, unfolding Your Word in our hearts. Help us to see, hear & gain wisdom. Prepare us for the difficulties & joys of the day, so we may rely on You & give You glory no matter what may come. We seek You out for these blessings of faith & for the sake of Your glory being shown through us.
We pray this in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Luke 24: 13-35
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

I long for these moments & experiences. As Christians, we long for the Lord’s presence, we desire to walk with Him, listen to Him & experience what these two experienced along the road to Emmaus. There is no greater joy than to be able to give our whole selves over to the will & mystery of the Lord, to be bundled up in His arms & to close out every sound but the sweetness of His voice. Swift & powerful, His tongue comforts & convicts, He cuts to the root of our sin & draws us up into the highest heaven. It is almost indescribable. But we long for these moments. We want every weekend worship gathering to be a place where we meet with Him like this, every moment spent in the Word like this, every encounter with a stranger, friend or family member like this when we share our faith with them.

But we must also be reminded of these two on the road. They were consumed, troubled & sad. They had expectations, desires for redemption & they wanted to see God’s hand move in a mighty & powerful way. And it took Jesus’ presence to bring them comfort. His Words, His presence, His laughter, teaching & prayer to open their eyes to what God had done & was continuing to do.

If we would feel His presence, then we must draw near & listen. We must hear what He says, and leave behind what fills our mind, giving it all over to Him in these moments where we need to draw near. While Jesus spoke, they were silent. They listened. They didn’t interrupt every third word, they weren’t engrossed in another activity. Their focus was undivided & therefore laser focused on everything He had to say. It was time spent just with Jesus. Unrushed, untouched, unadulterated. Just them & just Him.

If we want to feel the comforting presence of Jesus, then we need to give Him our attention. We need to listen & remove distractions. If we are broken & hurting inside, if life’s events are too much to handle & understand, then we need to trust Him with those moments & draw near to Him & Him alone.

Praise God for His Holy Spirit who can & does walk with us, even within us, through these moments of our day-to-day life. What a precious gift to know He is with us, moving, present & speaking to us. We simply need to seek Him out for peace & be still, trusting in His footsteps along the way.

Father, we bless Your holy Name! We praise the movement of Your Word in our hearts!
Teach us to listen & be still. remind us of Your presence & may we feel that sweet stillness in our spirits as we draw near to You along life’s road. Again, we pray in Jesus’ Name, amen.

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Numbers 18 // The Covenant of Salt

“17 However, you must not redeem the firstborn of an ox, a sheep, or a goat; they are holy. You are to sprinkle their blood on the altar and burn their fat as a fire offering for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 18 But their meat belongs to you. It belongs to you like the breast of the presentation offering and the right thigh.
19 I give to you and to your sons and daughters all the holy contributions that the Israelites present to the Lord as a permanent statute. It is a permanent covenant of salt before the Lord for you as well as your offspring.
20 The Lord told Aaron, You will not have an inheritance in their land; there will be no portion among them for you. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelites.”
Numbers 18:17-20

There are certain phrases which have a deeper cultural meaning than we understand today. There are ideas and ideals that were commonplace for people groups 3000-6000 years ago that for whatever reason have been lost to those of us in Western culture today. One of those is the meaning of salt in life. For us today, salt is common, cheap and in most prepackaged foods, is already applied for us for flavoring. There are so many salted foods, that we almost wouldn’t know what to do if the manufacturers suddenly quit using it in their preparation processes.

But for the Israelites and many other ancient peoples, sharing salt was an intimate thing. If you were sharing salt with someone, that implied that hospitality was taking place, provision was being made and that that individual was someone welcome in you home. Sharing salt was a sign of friendship, and indicated a closeness that you wouldn’t show to just anyone.

So, this covenant of salt was a covenant that implied a closeness, it wasn’t just a business transaction, or a trade agreement. It wasn’t some cold, contractual closeness, brought on by the necessity of getting work done. We all have those connections, people we know but don’t really “know.” These are the people that we will probably never invite over to our house to share a meal, people that we don’t think of when we are sending out Christmas cards or invitations to family functions.

But this covenant of salt with God was a precious and special thing, and to emphasize this, God required that salt be a part of the offering between the people and Himself. Leviticus 2:13 – “You are to season each of your grain offerings with salt; you must not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your God. You are to present salt with each of your offerings.”

The ‘salt of the covenant’ indicated the closeness of the covenant, the intimacy of the two parties. To leave it out would be an insult, and would negate the offering. This shared closeness was a key to seeing this covenant relationship as being seen in that way, as a relationship. The salt was a reminder of the provision and hospitality of God. And again, the true value of hospitality has been lost in our culture today, and that is not to our benefit. It has made us quick, cold and distant. But if we would all add a little salt into our relationships, we might all be better off for it.

If we are going to GoLove others for the sake of Christ, we need to add a little salt into our presentations and into our language. We need to be hospitable, let people in, and allow there to be a closeness there beyond a simple presentation. Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the same thing as a business contract being explained between two parties. Rather, it is a deep reaching thing, protruding beyond what anything else can do, into the depths of our heart. And we cannot speak to the depths of the hearts of others if we are keeping them at an arm’s length. We must be open. We must allow contact to really happen so that lasting, positive impressions can be made. Be open, be genuine and allow people to sit with you at the table of your heart so you will be welcome at thiers.

Numbers 11 // Pouring out His Spirit

“25 Then the Lord descended in the cloud and spoke to him. He took some of the Spirit that was on Moses and placed the Spirit on the 70 elders. As the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they never did it again. 26 Two men had remained in the camp, one named Eldad and the other Medad; the Spirit rested on them — they were among those listed, but had not gone out to the tent — and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and reported to Moses, Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.
28 Joshua son of Nun, assistant to Moses since his youth, responded, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”
29 But Moses asked him, “Are you jealous on my account? If only all the Lords people were prophets and the Lord would place His Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses returned to the camp along with the elders of Israel.”
Numbers 11:25-30

Moses was unique in God’s workings. There is no equivalent among the leaders of men or Israel like him. His relationship with God, the situations he led the people through, and the trials that he faced for the sake of God are astonishing. But even Moses knew that the arrangement they lived in under God at those times could be better. He looked forward to a relationship for the people that would rival his own relationship with God, and even more so. He didn’t see His position as something so cheap as to be grasped at and hoarded, as if he could pile up accolades for himself. Instead, he wanted for the people of Israel what he had with God, this intimate, deep relationship, where the Holy Spirit of God would flow through, not just him, but all God’s people. And this is precisely what has happened under the new covenant in Christ.

When Jesus told His disciples that they would be better off with the Spirit, the Comforter/Counselor, they probably had a difficult time believing this. They liked seeing Jesus, eating next to Jesus, hearing His voice in their ears, and having His hand placed on their shoulder. He was tangible. That is a calling back to Eden, and we all long for that relationship with God again. But Jesus wasn’t just sending them platitudes here, they would actually be better off with the Holy Spirit. God wouldn’t just be next to them, like the people experienced in the desert with God’s pillar of fire and cloud guiding them, but like Moses, they would experience God’s indwelling presence on a daily basis. And this is no small thing. This is mystery, that the infinite God of the Universe would deign to place Himself in us, to move through us, and to see His will accomplished directly in us, is an unfathomable mystery. This is what Moses wanted, this is why he had no problem with Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp. It’s not that they were elders of the people that made this acceptable, it is the fact that God was obviously at work through them that made it acceptable. Moses had no need to feel jealous because God was at work in someone else. He desired that above all else.

What would stop the complaining in the camp? What would stop the incessant troubles and arguments? That God would indwell His people, and that they would be willing to be led by Him to accomplish His good will and His good purposeses. That the Holy Spirit would fill them all and have His way in the camp and in their homes and hearts. That God would not just dwell among His people, but in His people…that would thrill Moses to no end, and so he looked forward to that time.

And in Christ, we have that indwelling of the Holy Spirit to GoLove as God has commanded and commissioned us to do. It is up to us to listen and answer that call, it will not be forced, but it is such a marvelous thing, I don’t know why anyone would want to miss out on it.

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