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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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Psalm 119:145-152 // ק Qof // Knowing He’s Near

“145 I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord.I will obey Your statutes.
146 I call to You; save me,
and I will keep Your decrees.
147 I rise before dawn and cry out for help;
I put my hope in Your word.
148 I am awake through each watch of the night
to meditate on Your promise.
149 In keeping with Your faithful love, hear my voice.
Lord, give me life in keeping with Your justice.
150 Those who pursue evil plans come near;
they are far from Your instruction.
151 You are near, Lord,
and all Your commands are true.
152 Long ago I learned from Your decrees
that You have established them forever.”

Psalm 119:145-152

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Read that passage from Psalm 119 again, listening to David’s struggle, desire & his understanding of the reality of God’s presence.

Read it a third time, thinking about the times where you want so badly to know that God is near, what seems to separate you from Him and how He reveals His nearness.

Read it a fourth and final time and make it your own prayer to Him this morning. 

Acts 2:37-40 // Hating Sin in Us

“37 When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”

38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, Be saved from this corrupt generation!”

Acts 2:37-40

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These verses contain some very sharp,very definitive language that I need to remember on a daily basis. First off, the crowd hearing the gospel message was convicted, cut to the heart. Not only because of what they had done to Jesus, but simply because they were now painfully aware of their own sin. 

Peter, having just delivered the first sermon of the church laid out the plain facts for them, citing God’s work through the prophets and through the life of Christ. They here and were cut to the heart. And that makes me wonder how much I am actually cut to the heart when it comes to my sin. How much does my sin offend me, and do I hate it enough to seek to live differently? 

Now, if I claim Christ, then all sin in me should not just be uncomfortable, but abhorrent, disgusting and repulsive. Because that is what ‘repent’ means. It doesn’t just mean ‘to change your heading’ but it also includes the idea that we are absolutely disgusted with where we were going, we were repelled by our choices and sin. 

And when we become so comfortable with our sin that conviction becomes more of a slight discomfort, then we have become too familiar with our sin. We have allowed too much to enter into our lives and compromised too much.

We are supposed to hate sin. We are supposed to be utterly repulsed by sinful activity in our minds, hearts and lives. Because sin is the opposite of what Christ desires for us. It is what He suffered and died to save us from, and so it can have no place in our lives. Period. 

So, when I find myself apologizing to God yet again for something I’ve done, but this is now, let’s say, 6 weeks that I have been apologizing, that means that I haven’t hated my sin enough to change my behavior, I’ve only admitted to it repeatedly. I need conviction. I need to abhor my sin and repent, disgusted, walking away from whatever it is that is dragging me away from Christ. 

When the Holy Spirit whispers into our heart these words of conviction, we cannot push them aside, meaning to address them later. No. We must address them right then, in these moments,and repent. 

If we are going to GoLove people as Christ has commissioned us to do, then we must live the life that He has laid out for us to live. Lukewarm Christians, comfortable with their sin, are not going to  make an impact for the kingdom. Their nominal hearts will produce a negative effect instead, encouraging a compromise with sin and the world. And that does not reflect the heart of Christ. 

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