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.
The Bible Project is a Portland based non-profit that utilizes short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. We create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story by focusing on its overarching themes and each book’s literary design. We are committed to understanding the Bible in its historical context and communicating its wisdom for the modern world.
This is one of those resources that would have been wonderful to have when I was teaching 7th grade Bible at Christian Academy of Louisville all those years ago, or the 14 years when I was leading youth groups & children’s bible studies. The videos are fun to watch, the artwork is always engaging and the method they use for story telling captures the viewer in this grand, overarching look at the history of the movement of God among human kind.Add to that the visual progression through the story board of the book or subject being covered and you wind up with something that you can quite literally carry with you as they offer printables, downloads & other bonus features that help to put the lesson right in the hand of the learner. I have been teaching the Bible for almost 20 years, and these are the types of resources that I love to use when walking people through the story of God. Using a physical story board (in hand or downloaded on your phone/tablet) you can walk backwards and forwards in big, sweeping motions or maneuver in fine detail with ease. But here’s the bonus-bonus: Every adult that I have shown this to has been engaged by the methods employed by Timothy, Jonathan and their team. This isn’t kid’s stuff, but a tool to be utilized by anyone and everyone who shares the Word of God with someone else. Our world is intensely visual, and the team at The Bible Project has latched on to this in a wonderful way. This method of teaching isn’t just for people under 18 years old. God has wired us with a variety of learning styles. The Bible Project allows for audio, visual & kinesthetic learners as they give you the tools to work in each of these realms of learning. This is a great tool for everyone.
If you know someone who wants to know more, but maybe isn’t a big reader, then why not give them a glimpse into the concepts of key biblical themes like Holiness, Covenants & the Gospel of the Kingdom. These are topics that we might not bring up in casual conversation, but we can definitely shoot someone a link to watch a video so we can talk about it later over coffee (always a good idea!) or a meal. You may not get them to read through Leviticus, but I’ll bet you can get them to watch it in less than 9 minutes.
This is still a work in process, as they are adding in videos & resources every week (as of the time of writing,) but they have done so much so well in such a seemingly short time.
They have done a good job to leave non-essential doctrinal issues out of the mix so that the teacher/disciple-maker can engage those in their own way.
On the other hand, they do not shy away from being bold with core doctrinal issues & topics. They do not try to tame God, limit the Holy Spirit or write off the miracles of Jesus. They are open and honest with the flaws of every person God has used throughout history and that transparency leaves us with an honest retelling of God’s righteous handiwork among sinful men & women.
With high quality visuals, an open heart for the Gospel & an obviously gifted team behind these efforts, The Bible Project is definitely a worthwhile addition to your teaching toolbox. It works great in large settings with discussion groups or a single point person, or one-on-one in a cafe or living room. This versatility & mobile format will give this group serious longevity in a quick-change world. I’m looking forward to what is yet to come from this crew. They also have a blog with details and news where you can keep up with what’s in the works or find a place to dig deeper into difficult subjects. And please remember that great content like this doesn’t happen for free. If you like what you find there, you can sponsor their efforts with a donation.
(There is no sponsorship of my blog or affiliation with TBP implied.)
Have you seen The Bible Project before? What are your thoughts? Any other resources in this category that you like enough to share? Let me know in the comments below.
Cyprian wrote, “The Lord has given us a pattern of prayer, instructing us on how we are to pray. He has made it easy for us to be heard as we pray to the Father in the words taught us by the Son. What prayer could be more a prayer in the truth than the one spoken by the lips of the Son, who is truth Himself? To ask the Father in the words His Son has given us, to let Him hear the prayer of Christ ringing in His ears, is to make our prayer one of friendship, a family prayer. Let the Father recognize the words of His Son.”
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts/trespasses/sins,
as we also have forgiven our debtors/trespassers/those who sin against us.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
This prayer come from my heart and passes through my lips at least three times a day. I enjoy praying it on Sundays with my church family. It is a reminder, a comfort, something we can do in complete unity and in submission to God. In some places it is called “The Lord’s Prayer” in others “The Model Prayer” and in still others the “Our Father.” All of those titles are fine and good. What matters most is the heart that speaks the prayer, and the intent behind it all.
I do believe that a regular reminder of the heart and intent of Christ is important for us all experience. An undistorted view of His example to us, meant to draw our hearts in reverent worship, honor, thanksgiving and supplication to God is immensely valuable as we struggle against sin and the difficulties of life in a broken world.
And so we return to the words of Christ. We know that if we have nothing else to say, we can at least say this. If we cannot find the words, we can always come back here. This is a way station for our heart, a place to gain confidence and to listen to the words of our Savior over and over again. When we gather as a church body, we can pray this simple prayer together to center our hearts and minds together, to draw from a piece of common ground, a familiar setting.
I’ve had people tell me that it feels very ‘Catholic’ to pray the Lord’s Prayer out loud every week. I can’t argue with their feeling, but what I can do is point them to the words of Christ who said, “Pray then like this…” Corporate prayer does not belong to any singular denomination or group within Christendom. Comments like that show a misunderstanding of the life of the church together, and of prayer. If you pray the prayer every week, and you don’t mean what you pray, then yes, it will feel hollow and repetitious. But if you address God from your heart, thinking through what you are saying, what those words mean, if you are expressing thoughts and ideas from your own heart as you repeat the words of Christ, then yes, it will have meaning and it will be a point of comfort and it will be an encouragement to both you and to those around you.
If this is one of the very few things that Jesus specifically gave us to do together, because, remember, when He was speaking these words as an example to us for the very first time, it was in a group teaching scenario: The Sermon on the Mount. It wasn’t in a one-on-one teaching time. He never instructed us to keep this one to ourselves. This was meant to be shared in together, and returned to on our own. It is a reminder of community when we pray it on our own, and it is a reinforcement for later use when we pray it together.
And when we want to pray, and speak to God in a free form fashion, we return to this example of prayer from Christ Himself and we can build our prayers on His example: Worship, Confession/Repentance & Requesting.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
It is the heart that matters, the intent behind the prayer. Praying to be heard by men “that they may be seen” is hollow and ultimately empty. Hollow prayers also come from unengaged hearts, from people who are just going through the motions. Praying together with other people is a joining together in unity, and encouragement of the presence of God among you. Praying alongside people that you share life with is a deepening of that bond you share in Christ.
So, pray like Jesus, whether corporately or in your private prayer closet, think about your words, mean what you say and engage your heart with the heart of Christ.
“3 If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited, understanding nothing, but has a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.” 1 Timothy 6:3-5
“But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10
“20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding irreverent, empty speech and contradictions from the knowledge that falsely bears that name. 21 By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith.
Grace be with all of you.” 1 Timothy 6:20-21
These passages are from the final portion of this letter to Timothy, a young minister, and they stand as confirmation that what everyone believes on any given subject really does matter. Paul is laying out the framework of a worldview to Timothy, a worldview that is going to seem very different, very strange in comparison with the world & society around him. Enough so that a young minister may be tempted to soften his stance a little on different positions in order to reach more people, a temptation that says, “This is a grey area, don’t be so rigid.” or “This isn’t a salvation issue, just let this one ride for now. You can shore them up later somewhere else.”
But in reality, that worldview needs to remain solid, it needs to be firmly placed in the truth of Christ. A loosely spoken word here, a compromise there, and before long, you find yourself defending positions that you once said were wrong. You give up too much, you let too much get by in an attempt to placate and gain greater influence rather than trusting in the message you have been given.
And this isn’t just for ministers to remember, but all those who follow after Christ. Your worldview matters. What you believe absolutely makes a difference, and if you deviate from the truth in Scripture, then what you follow is no longer Christ, but pride, sin or selfishness. That worldview filters everything you see, everything you do and everything you support. It determines how you treat people, where your priorities are and what you stand for in life. It matters deeply.
Is it about you and the arguments your can concoct? Is it about how clever you can be in defending your new belief set, or is it about the truth of God as He has written in HIs Word and shared by His Holy Spirit? Is it about money and prestige, or does life have a deeper meaning than that? Is it about being seen as ‘releveant’ or is it about standing firm in the promises that God has made?
What we believe matters. And if it doesn’t line up with God’s truth first and foremost, then we are simply wrong. Not kind of wrong, not sort of off-track. Wrong. And the humble heart will accept correction, instruction and in grace reevaluate where they stand. The prideful heart with skewed priorities will dig in, unbending, and seek its own end.
So, GoLove, sharing what Jesus commanded and doing so in His truth. Not bending, not twisting, not compromising, but in grace and love, bringing people to the full knowledge of God, the Spirit at work in you. Let His truth stand as the lens to all you believe, and teach others to do likewise.
“1 Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.
6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, 8 for
the training of the body has a limited benefit,
but godliness is beneficial in every way,
since it holds promise for the present life
and also for the life to come.
9 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 10 In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe.”
How do we train ourselves in godliness? By spending time in the Word, in prayer, in the fellowship of believers, in service and in living a life of generosity. In all these things we seek to honor Christ, following Him daily. To avoid these things is a rejection of those qualities and the life that God intends for you in Christ.
So, then, being tied in through the mystery of faith, we walk as God intends, being trained daily in His love, mercy and grace, not out of guilt or a sense of obligation, but in the knowledge that we have been given a great responsibility and privilege to do so. God does not want guilt to be our primary motivation for not living as the world does, but knowing what is good because we spend time with Him in His Word, in prayer and examining the life of Christ, we find what is profitable for life and what honors Him.
To be the person whose life is the example for another? To serve and love and care in a way for another human being, teaching them what Jesus has taught us, living in the obedience that comes from love and thanksgiving.
In our study, we learn for application. In our service, we see the effects of sin. In our giving, we see the good that generosity does. When we live as Christ, taking His life to heart and living it out, we will find a fulfillment of spirit, and a joy based in Him. It’s not done for our own happiness, but in worship of God. It’s not done to improve our image to outsiders, but ion worship of God. It’s not done to draw a single eye to our own efforts, but in worship of the One who has enabled us to live and serve in His grace and mercy. We are agents of His love, every attitude, action and motivation done in worship of Him. That is what is good. Love lived out in Him, through Him, glorifying Him.
GoLove in His Name. Point hearts toward Him. DO not seek your own happiness, but find your joy in His will, in His plan & in Hs purpose for your life. Live love & abide in it.
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.”
Philippians 2:19-30 ESV
Three separate men. Three children from three different families, brought up in three different homes. Three people with different gifts, different ages and different backgrounds.
One team. One purpose. One mind.
Paul would have never lasted as long as he did or made through as many scrapes and tight spots as he did had he been traveling and ministering alone. Timothy would have never grown up into a formidable minister of the Gospel if he hadn’t learned under Paul’s direct tutelage. Epaphroditus probably wouldn’t have become a missionary if Paul was a solo act.
But they worked and served together. Over and over again, they worked and served together. They fought for the Gospel, ministered to the sick and lonely and planted new churches together wherever they went. They took care of each other, in good times & bad, in their own times of sickness and fear, and they knew that this relationship as ministers of he Gospel of Christ was something that required humility and teamwork. Not in a corny, inspirational poster kind of way, but in a legitimate sense. They bonded through their joy and suffering and in the work they did for Christ.
You and I are meant to do the same. We serve daily wherever it is that God has planted us, and we pray for each other in these endeavors. Then we come together each week as we worship and serve and share Christ’s love with one another as we lift each other up and encourage each other to go and do it again, week after week. We pray for each other, encourage each other, humbly putting each other above ourselves. We seek Christ above all, and we minister to each other as we seek to share the good news of the Gospel with those who do not yet know the grace and mercy that God has offered through Christ.
It’s never about any name but the Name of Christ. It’s never about any individual except God. It’s never about any plan, any vision, any purpose, unless it is the one that God provides. There is no “I” in team as we seek to promote the Gospel and share grace. There is one “I AM” that guides and unifies us under His banner, and it is His love that compels us to GoLove, forgetting self and lifting up others in the humility of unconditional love.