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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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We Do Not Shrink Back

Father, You have granted us a boldness in Christ. You have opened up the door that we might approach You and Your throne in full confidence. This is a deep, deep blessing. Thank You for providing this to us so that we might approach the difficulties of life, the trials and temptations, with this knowledge and expectation. If You have granted us this, then we can be that much more bold about the things of righteousness, moving forward in Your love, mercy, grace and honor. Thank You for this deep, deep blessing. May we use it to bring You glory & to draw others near to You. Amen.

Hebrews 10:26-39
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

It’s funny to me how consistently we test out limits. We touch the paint by the “Wet Paint” signs, we stick our toes just over the lines that say “Do not cross.” The speed limit says 55 and we push 75 because everyone else does, and that seems to be the expectation. Sometimes we flirt with the line, sometimes we jump right over it. But when it comes to entering the presence of God, there had always been a historic line that meant death for any who would draw near without being prepared. Even those who were prepared entered with uncertainty. Priests who spend hours and days sacrificing, praying and preparing to enter the Most Holy Place in the Temple in Jerusalem would still enter with a rope around their ankle and bells on the fringes of their robe…just in case they fell dead in God’s presence, they could be removed without risking danger to their supporters.

But in Jesus, we have been offered full entry into the presence of God. The curtain in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The veil separating us from the presence of God was eliminated. In fact, for those who are in Christ, He even went deeper than this. Rather than us needing to approach Him, He has approached us, and dwells within us. This is why we can move with such impunity before God, because He Himself indwells us.

There should be no lack of boldness (not arrogance) for those who are in Christ, then. If God Himself lives within us all, then there is no place, no effort where we do not go with Him. We pray and ask and seek that God would go before us, but we do not remember the fullness of this fact, He not only goes before us, but He moves in step with us as we go throughout our day. Whatever we do, wherever we go, we carry God with us. That is a major point of accountability, and it is a major point of encouragement.

Whenever we feel inadequate, we need to remember this great promise. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, and the Holy Spirit of God is God indwelling us. There is then no dividing line between God and man anymore once we allow God to deal with the sin within us. All we have is boldness & hope as we move with Him within these 24 hour rotations, within His rhythms of grace.

Do you want to move in boldness today? Remember who goes with you & suddenly everything seems a lot more doable. Even in sharing our faith, we will find His presence to be a comfort. Give it a shot today. Point someone to our-God-Who-dwells-in-us.

Father, You have granted us a boldness in Christ. You have opened up the door that we might approach You and Your throne in full confidence. This is a deep, deep blessing. Thank You for providing this to us so that we might approach the difficulties of life, the trials and temptations, with this knowledge and expectation. If You have granted us this, then we can be that much more bold about the things of righteousness, moving forward in Your love, mercy, grace and honor. Thank You for this deep, deep blessing. May we use it to bring You glory & to draw others near to You. Amen.

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 18:5-11 // Occupied with the Word

“5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”

Acts 18:5-11

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What a wonderful message for Paul to receive!

“Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you…”

I think we could all stand to be reminded of that crystal clear message. God has given us each a purpose, a deep, bigger-than-us, meaning for life and He confirms that by being present with us through it all. When we try to stand on our own, using our own strength, being ‘persuasive’ with our own wits, and trying to reason things out by our own ‘wisdom’ we are going to find futility, sorrow and disappointment.

But when we find ourselves occupied with the Word, trusting in God, then we will see with new eyes and find a beautiful vista laid out before us. It’s not an easy one to traverse, but it is certain. The goal is Christ, the path is Christ and the Word stands as our sign posts along the way as the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to comprehend the journey, step-by-step.

Sometimes the Gospel is presented once and 3000 people come. Sometimes it is through the plodding of the days, weeks, months and years that we see its seed planted, watered and harvested. Either way, we find our contentment in doing that work, trusting the Master’s hand. Summits a season will come to a close, and we go on to speak to others who want to hear, who want to experience wha God is leading them to do. Sometimes it is a journey that does not move locations, but rather takes place over time in one, single place. And for us, the servants, it is not to say where the work needs to be done. We trust in the Master, and we listen to His voice. We trust that He is with us in the easy times and in the difficult. He has promised us that He would be with us, and so we must rest in that faith He has given us.

I would love to tell everyone that ministry is easy, and always trimmed out with joys. But in reality, it is difficult. There is heartbreak. The struggle with sin becomes burdensome when you want to flip a switch in someone’s head and heart that won’t be flipped by any power I can muster. We learn to wait, we learn to trust and we seek out God’s will in the fun and in the perilous times.

Our joy then comes from His presence. Our hope is manifested in Him. Our weaknesses shout out our need for Him and in those moments, where we feel His hand leading us through situations that we would never have thought we could face, we find true contentment and peace. As we GoLove others in His Name, in His power and according to His will, we will find that joy and contentment only in Him. Seek His face.

Hebrews 13 // He is with us

“8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Dont be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the most holy place by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that He might sanctify the people by His own blood. 13 Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace. 14 For we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come.”
Hebrews 13:8-14

Following Jesus does not bring prestige fro, a worldly sense. And that comes as no surprise since He stands in opposition to the world and everything it stands for. He does not adapt to it, compromise with it or bend under its pressure. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is I AM and so He is the great unchanging One. No ‘new’ teaching comes from Him, no ‘secrets’ or ‘codes’ are hidden within His Word that are just now being revealed. He is constancy. He is steadiness. He is truth.

And in that truth that is Him, we find peace as we bear His shame. In that truth, we find joy as we remember His sacrifice for our sins. In that truth, we find relief from burdens, guilt and sorrow as we remember His passion on the cross for us. And where He suffered and died, we find forgiveness, and new life in His resurrection since He has given us so much in purchasing our freedom from sin, why would we not gladly bear any and all reproach for Him, all ridicule and all humiliation for the One who loves us so well.

Because when it is all said and done here on earth, we know that we have somewhere better to spend our eternity. We do not rely on this world, we do not invest in this life unless it is an investment in the Kingdom work being done here. His love has purchased our new home. His pain has purchased our forgiveness and His blood has paved the way for our righteousness. So don’t get hung up in strange teachings, or ‘new’ ways to follow Him.

GoLove others today in full confidence of His presence with you. He promised us that He would be with us always, even to the end of this age. He did the same for Joshua and Moses, and He has not changed. Be confident in Him. Be joyful. Be encouraged in His presence with us.

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