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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 33 // Remember Who He is, Whom you serve

Acknowledging just who God is draws our hearts into a properly reverent place. Remembering that He does not fit into any box we may make for Him helps us to see just how awesome and mighty He really is. Daring to glance His way, turning our hearts toward Him forces us to admit just how amazing He is and it places our convictions squarely in the acknowledgement of the authority that only He brings.

Read the words of David slowly and acknowledge that what He says of God is true:

“1 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones;
praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the Lord with the lyre;
make music to Him with a ten-stringed harp.
Sing a new song to Him;
play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout.

For the word of the Lord is right,
and all His work is trustworthy.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love.

The heavens were made by the word of the Lord,
and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into a heap;
He puts the depths into storehouses.
Let the whole earth tremble before the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it came into being;
He commanded, and it came into existence.

10 The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations;
He thwarts the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
12 Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh—
the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
He observes everyone.
14 He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth
from His dwelling place.
15 He alone shapes their hearts;
He considers all their works.
16 A king is not saved by a large army;
a warrior will not be delivered by great strength.
17 The horse is a false hope for safety;
it provides no escape by its great power.

18 Now the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him—
those who depend on His faithful love
19 to deliver them from death
and to keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait for Yahweh;
He is our help and shield.
21 For our hearts rejoice in Him
because we trust in His holy name.
22 May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh,
for we put our hope in You.

There is nothing better to say or share // 1 Corinthians 13

Read this slowly.
Think about it.
Roll it around in your mind and heart.
Listen, really listen to what is being said.
Consider it.
Pray over it.
Seek guidance in it.
Examine yourself in light of it:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Read it once more, as if you are trying to convey this message for the first time to people who are going to learn about Christ and His love for the first time through these words. Understand the impact of what you are reading, the emotion, the magnitude and the source of this kind of love.

“Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.”

Measure yourself against this, knowing that it is God that defines love.
See Him in this way. He is love. Ask yourself, ‘What does patient love look like?’ And, ‘What does a selfless love convey?’ Or, ‘How do I love others by rejoicing in truth?’
Seek to grow in these ways.

“As for prophecies, they will pass away;
as for tongues, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

Everything we see and experience in this life is temporary.
Everything our flesh desires to cling to is tainted by sin and will one day be less than dust. But in spite of all that, love will remain.
What are you building on? What are you working toward? What are you investing yourself in?

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV

GoLove someone today. Be Christ to them. Be His hands, feet, mouth and heart. Show them His wondrous love and let Him lead.

A psalm of praise & wonder // Psalm 8

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Psalm 8:1-9 ESV

prasie for the Unfathomable One

(references unknown for this entry)

i'm glad this is all here, and that we know there is more beyond what we can see.

mystery of mysteries! i am so glad that God is beyond my understanding. the depths of His wisdom, knowledge & creativity are so far beyond me that i don’t have any hope of unraveling Him or His thoughts. and that is a very good thing. what kind of God would He be if we could probe the depths of His heart & mind? who wants the Almighty to be a quick-glance-and-know type? not me, that’s for sure.

there is always more to learn about Him and His creation...

so, all praise to God for being the mystery that He is. Three cheers for the ineffable depths of God! hooray for wisdom & knowledge & power that is out of my reach! hallelujah to the Creator that is greater than all of us (and everything) He designed!

His creativity knows no bounds, and His signature lies on everything He has made...

how deep is His wisdom, how wide is His love. how high is the knowledge and thought of the Lord my God!

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

i am not scared of science. i absolutely love when we discover new things about what God has created. i still get cheesed off at the church for what we did to people like Galileo for pointing out the truth of God in creation (things like our not being the center of the universe…how arrogant!) whatever we can discover about Him in truth, and with true objectivity, will always point us back to Him. there is no explanation other than His handiwork, and interacting with Creation, to explain what we find in the universe that surrounds us.

any presuppositions of our own superiority will be squashed when we continue to look deeper into what He has made…and that makes me very happy. i am glad to be a small part with a very specific task to perform. praise God!

purported ponderances of punishment

since each day’s entry on here comes from a previous journal entry from some time ago, there are days that i do not remember the context in my life at the time, and/or i had not yet begun marking down what i had read in the Scriptures that day (which i do now.) so, i can only take what I have here, and reproduce what i find. that being said, here’s another journal entry:

jon knows all about this topic. don't you jon?

if it is a dreadful thing to be a sinner in the hands of God when He is angry, it can seem even more difficult to be a believer in the midst of punishment and not understand the methods God is using. the first person, the one who does not know God, is getting wrath and judgment and has earned it for themselves. There is no ‘buffer’ so to speak to keep this from happening. they sinned, they are reaping the consequences of that sin. plain and simple.

the second person, the believer, is used to God’s favor, but is now finding themselves in quite the opposite position. they also have sinned, have a better understanding of sin and God’s attitude regarding those bad choices, but they are not operating out of ignorance. they really should have known better, but made their choice anyway. this becomes willful defiance, which in place of bald faced ignorance, is much worse.

not actually my child...but he looks like trouble 😉

if my kids disobey because they do not know any better, then they will receive instruction and an understanding of our concern. if they willfully defy me, it becomes an entirely different matter.

Father, it is a mystery why the wicked are allowed to thrive as long as they do. are You simply letting their sin come to measure? are You patiently waiting for them to see the light? i don’t wish Your wrath on anyone, but would rather they extended their hands to get a large portion of the grace You freely offer everyone.

Father, help us to understand, even in the midst of our punishments, why You do what You do. help us to receive Your corrections with an open heart, and a humble spirit.

amen.

commonplace wonder

do the rangers at the grand canyon ever get bored of seeing the same old hole in the ground every day? does the 277 (river)mile long, ranging from 600 feet to 18 mile across, 1 mile deep (average) crevice ever seem mundane? can you wake up in the morning, drive to work at the visitor’s center, guide tours up and down the rim, down into the canyon, and just see it as the same old hole in the ground that you were in yesterday? can you get tired of it?

unfortunately, i’m sure you can. we are really good at finding the fantastic to be ‘interesting.’ things that should amaze us, no matter how many times we witness them, leave us saying ‘meh, it’s alright.’

so, when we see the pharisees and other critics of Jesus asking for more miracles, just to prove that He can do them, we see people with hard, cynical hearts who see the wonderful as commonplace. they are more entranced with their own mental capabilities than with things that are actually wonderful. when we get so used to things that should entrance us, it is definitely time to re-evaluate what’s going on inside of our hearts and heads.

what can we do to regain our sense of wonder? can it be brought back?

i think it can. but it means giving something up…

i like to know all the details about a project or situation before either carrying it out, or giving my approval. i don’t want something to come up short, and then take the blame for something that should have been/could have been preventable. getting taken out by something that would have involved a few extra minutes of work seems ridiculous to me.

but in order to have a real and lasting faith, i must give up my perceived need to for control and knowledge. if i am going to find wonder in life again, i must hand over the reins to God, let Him run things, and trust that what He has in store for me is going to be better than any ‘to-do’ list i can crank out for myself.

he friends of the paralytic man (the ones who dug through the roof) had the right idea about wonder and trust. here’s a quick overview of the events of the story.

#1. the guy had a problem (couldn’t walk, we don’t know why)

#2. his friends cared about him (they desired wholeness for his life)

#3. his friends took action (because they actually cared about him)

#4. his friends brought him to Jesus (they knew that wholeness couldn’t come from them)

#5. his friends stood back once the guy met Jesus (actually, they stood up on the rooftop)

#6. Jesus did all the work, both inside & out (Jesus did all the work once the man was there before Him)

#7. the guy was able to walk back out into the world (having been prepared to do so by Jesus)

#8. he rejoined His friends (and they shared in his joy)

#9. he had a new life to live out

steps number 5 & 6 were very important in this story. the friends did the prep work, they cared and made the effort to get this guy to a place where he could meet Jesus. once he was there, they let Jesus do the rest.

and that’s what we have to do today. we who have been in the church for a long time tend to forget that Jesus needs to be the One who does the work in the person’s life. we have become dulled to the wonder of His work in our hearts because it has, very sadly, become commonplace to us. we need to place more trust in Jesus, and what He does to us and in us, rather than on what our perceived part and efforts are in getting people to Him.

Father, please help us to let go. please help us to understand each day, and be refreshed in the wonder of You. help me to let go of myself, and to trust in You. help me to step back and let You bring wholeness.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Spirit, have mercy.

amen.

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