Walk with Jesus

I’m on a vacation this week from work.  We are not going away to the beach or going camping or anything like that.  We’re just hanging out around home and going about life as normal for the most part.  Oh, we’ll take little day trips here and there, take the kids to the zoo, maybe go to the lake for a while to fish….things like that, but no big, headed out of state, vacation.  We’re going to take life as it comes this week.

We live and work in such a high-paced society that even when we are to “relax” on vacation, the pace is still hectic.  We never get a chance to just unwind.  This week I want to unwind and walk with Jesus as he walked with the two men to Emmaus.

At church we’ve been going through a teaching series of “Where have we met Christ in our lives?”, and this week we talked about Luke 24:13-34.  I won’t repeat it all here, go read it, but let me lay out some background for you.  It’s the day of the Resurrection and two of Jesus’ followers are walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.  Jesus appears to them (though they did not recognize him yet as they were so focused on their own problems and disappointments) and begins to walk and talk with them.  These men failed to realize that Christ’s suffering was his path to glory.  So Jesus spends the rest of the time on the walk to teach them Scripture and how it all leads to Jesus.

So let’s step back from this a moment and think about it.  Here are these two guys, one who is not named (the other we find out is named Cleopas) and their only supposed mention in all of the Bible is in the parallel story in Mark 16.  We know nothing about their background, other than they were followers of Jesus before his crucifixion.  They are walking to a small village 7 miles away from where they start.  Jesus appears and they begin to talk with and eventually be taught by Jesus.  How long does it take to walk 7 miles?  Probably a couple hours if walking at a normal speed, but let’s slow that down a bit since they were having a deep conversation, so let’s suppose it takes them 4 hours.

So there was Jesus, on the biggest day of his ministry…..the day he defeated death and he is spending 4 hours talking with two seemingly random people.  Jesus, could have just appeared to them and said “I am Jesus, the son of the living God, resurrected from death to wash away your sins” and the effect would have been the same and taken a lot less time.  He could have been on appearing to more people and those two travelers could have ran back to Jerusalem to spread the good news that much quicker…..but no, Jesus took the time to just talk with them, to walk with them, to teach them.   I think Jesus like’s the relationship.

I’ve often prayed for a quick answer from God, only to have it take a long time.  I’ve often wished that God would just pump all kinds of wisdom into my head and then I’d have all the answers, but it doesn’t work like that does it.  God takes us on a journey, because he likes the relationship we develop with him.  He likes those long conversations we have with him.  He likes being by our side on those slow long walks to Emmaus.

With our hectic and fast-paced lives we lead, we don’t take the time to have long talks or long walks.  We don’t have time to build relationships with people.   We don’t take the time spend long quiet evenings sitting on the porch just taking in all of God’s creation.   If we’re lucky we try to squeeze a few minutes in the morning for a quick prayer or maybe one before bed at night.   We may have a few minutes to read a few verses of the Bible, if we’re lucky and can squeeze it in somewhere.  We don’t have time for those long walks to Emmaus.

Jesus wants a relationship with you.  He’s not about increasing his number of followers just to look at the total headcount.  He wants to look at us when we meet him in heaven and say “Jason, my old friend, you’re home at last.”  or “Denise, our long journey together is finished, we’ve reached our destination.”

I plan this week off from work to take a slow long walk to my Emmaus with Jesus.

He is Risen!

Cole,_Thomas_-_Cross_at_Sunset_-_c._1848_“He is risen”…..”He is risen indeed!”  Mostly likely this Easter Sunday you’ll hear those words over and over again.  I’ve seen them multiple times this morning already on social media sites.  Those incredible three words, “He is risen”, have such a profound effect on our lives and our world since they were uttered 2000+ years ago.  I’ve felt led today to think more upon them instead of just reciting them.

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. – Matthew 28:6

My study Bible points out in it’s notes how this verse is key to the Christian faith for a number of reasons:

  1. Jesus promised that he would rise from the dead.   This would have seemed like an impossible promise to keep by many of his followers, even those that witnessed him raising others out of death.  But, as always, he fulfilled his promise.  We can be confident, therefore, that he will accomplish all that he promises.  This gives us great hope.
  2. Jesus’ bodily resurrection shows us that the living Christ is ruler of God’s eternal Kingdom, not a false prophet or impostor.   There were many that claimed to be the messiah over the years, many whom even had quite a following, and a few that have even been the basis of major world religions.  Jesus has a unique factor among all of them.  He is the only one, who has conquered death itself.  He is the master over death.  He alone reigns over his Kingdom.
  3. We can be certain of our resurrection, death is not the end.  Jesus told his disciples that he was going ahead to make a place for them.  The scripture promises us life everlasting and new heavenly bodies when we join Jesus in Heaven.  We have eternity to spend with Jesus for those that believe.
  4. The power that brought Jesus back to life is available to us to bring our spiritually dead selves back to life.  We as sinners are separated from God.  We are broken spiritually.  The blood of Christ, upon the cross, paid the penalty that we deserve for our sins.  Because Jesus took that sin upon himself and paid the price and conquered death, the debt has been paid and we can now come into the presence of God.  Our spiritual selves have been resurrected with Christ.  He has risen, and so have our spirits been raised from sin.
  5. The Resurrection is the basis for the church’s witness to the world.  Jesus was so much more than a human leader or a great teacher.  He is literally the Son of God.  He didn’t just spend his time hear on earth teaching, or leading, or writing down his wisdom as many other “founders” of major religions.  No he lived a sinless life, paid our debt with his life, then rose from the dead, giving us true hope.  Jesus did what no other religious leader had done before or after.

Remember what those three words, “He is Risen” mean when you hear them today.  Such powerful meaning in such a short phrase.

Everyone have a blessed Easter!

HE IS RISEN!

The power of the Bible

Usually when we talk about the power of the Bible we talk about the power of God’s words and what he reveals about himself throughout the Bible.  Every so often we see a story how the Bible can save in other ways!

This story comes out of Dayton, where a Bible in a man’s pocket actually saves his life.

God is all powerful and can use his Word in many, many ways…..God is good!

God Offers Comfort to All

All of us go through troubles of one sort or another.  Perhaps it’s financial, perhaps health, perhaps it’s a temptation that you struggle with….or perhaps a combination of all of those and many I’ve not mentioned.  We all have things that trouble us, that give us stress, that are not as we had planned.  Often we turn to God and say “why me?”  And this is a valid question to ask of God.  We can be stretched to our limits of what we can withstand and we can be crying out “Why?”, “Please God deliver us from this.”

I think you out to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia.  We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it.  In fact, we expected to die.  But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.  And he did deliver us from mortal danger.  And we are confident that he will continue to deliver us.   – 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

This passage from 2 Corinthians shows us that God can deliver us from the darkest of circumstances.  He can raise people from the dead so he can surely deliver us from our situation.

When I look back on my life, I see that as troubles come I tend to turn towards God for comfort and deliverance.  I also see that God has seen me through so many things, sometimes in ways I never would have imagined, but were so much better than the path I had laid out.  However what invariably happens, as life gets easier and my troubles are behind me, I begin to rely less and less on God and more on myself and my own plans….and then trouble strikes again and right back I am trusting and relying on God.  However each time we go through trials, I do realize that I am powerless without him and I have a constant need for him in my life, in good times and in troubles.  God is our source of power and we receive his help by staying in contact with him.  In other words I need to learn to rely on Him every day.

So where does the comfort come in?

Comfort for me comes in remembering that God is always with us, God has delivered me from so many things and our God is a God of second, third, fourth, ….. chances.

Comfort comes knowing that the suffering we endure ultimately makes us stronger, perhaps not in ways we expect, but it does.

Comfort comes from knowing that what we go through and how God brings us through it can bring comfort to others that face similar situations.

For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you.  Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.  We are confident that as you share in suffering, you will also share God’s comfort.  – 2 Corinthians 1:6-7

Comfort is knowing, that no matter the situation, God’s plan is mighty, God’s plan is perfect.

While I won’t air out any specifics of my troubles as we all have them, I always appreciate your prayers, as I will be praying for all of you out there.  I’m also not afraid to share my troubles if asked, not to burden others or look for pity, but hopefully to provide comfort to you as you endure your troubles.  So if anyone needs to talk, I’m here to listen and share.

Read the Instructions

This past Christmas morning I joined many fathers around the world as I struggled to remove my son’s toys from it’s wrappings, I glanced at the instructions thought “I can do this”, and then struggled to put it all together, finally resorting to reading the instructions more thoroughly to follow the steps to assemble the toy.

The manufacturer had a plan for putting the toy together, I thought I knew better.  I’m handy enough that usually I can manage to get it put together (sometimes without using all the pieces), but when I falter and struggle, I know I can fall back on the instructions.

I’ve always wished life came with an instruction book.  I wish children came out of the womb with an instruction manual attached.  I wish my body came with a how to guide for when I feel sick.  I wish my career came with a step by step plan I could follow when tough decisions came up.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
   By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
   do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, LORD;
   teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
   all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
   as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
   and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
   I will not neglect your word. 
— Psalm 119:9-16

The Bible is God’s manual to live by that He has provided for us.  Many times I take the same approach to reading the Bible as I did in reading the assembly instructions for my child’s toy.  I only looked at it when I didn’t know what to do next.  At that point in the construction of the toy I’ve already screwed up the assembly that reading the instructions just gets us by instead of giving us the full function and usage of the toy or item.  Had I read the instructions ahead of time, I would have done it correctly the first time.

Reading the Bible teaches us about God, who He is, what He thinks and how He acts.  Knowing the ways of God helps us to make wise decisions.  The only way to know these principles is to ready and study God’s word. 

This is an area I need to improve upon myself.  I know that if I study more, then decisions will come easier and I’ll have the wisdom and tools to live through any situation.