One of my favorite post-resurrection appearances is the encounter of the two on the Road to Emmaus. Overcome with grief over Jesus’ death and disbelief over what the women said about seeing Him alive, these two followers of Christ were walking along the Emmaus Road discussing all these things. Jesus joined them on their journey without disclosing his identity. As they walked they were surprised that this man did not know about all the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem. They shared their hope that Jesus, the one crucified, had been the long awaited Messiah. “Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:25-27
Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there and listened to Jesus explain all about Himself? A little later in the story when they were sitting down to eat, Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and began to give it to them. Right then, their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus. He then disappeared from their presence. Even though it was late they quickly returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples about their encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.
Jesus came to these two when they were in grief, despair and confusion, and He cleared up their thinking, encouraged and enlivened them. Can you remember a time when Jesus came to you in prayer or through the actions or words of another believer to give you hope and encouragement? Jesus promises that He will be with us wherever we go. Just like these two, we need to look and recognize His presence with us and the hope that He brings.
I pray that my Lenten Blogs have brought you hope and encouragement these past 6 weeks. I have been mightily blessed by being with you and in the scriptures each day. I am still pondering the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice and all the truths I have gleaned from the book of Ephesians. I will continue writing on the post-resurrection appearances leading to Pentecost (40 days after the cross). Christ appeared many times, before His ascension, to many individuals and groups. They are affirming and touching encounters that teach us more about the depth of His love and care for us.
Be on the lookout for God sightings this week. Be assured He is with you!
James 1:12 is one of my favorite promises of blessings God has for me. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
There are several truths embedded in this verse: God rewards steadfastness (perseverance, persistence, stubborn allegiance), There will be trials in life, God is always watching to see how we fare during our life trials, Our reward is eternal in nature and Our faith in God shows Him our love for Him. The Bible has a lot to say about perseverance and how it builds character. James addresses this earlier in this chapter. James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Trying circumstances and people that God brings our way build our character for God and bring joy! We know that God is omniscient and watches all that we do. He is there in the nitty-gritty places in life protecting and guiding. 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us the assurance that His watchful eye is always upon us and He knows what we can bear. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”Our reward is eternal in nature and is received through faith in Jesus.Colossians 3:23-24 puts it this way “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” Lastly, our faith shows our love for God. Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” But Ephesians 5:2 and John 3:16 remind us that God loved us first. Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
If you are in the midst of a trial today, take James 1:12 to heart and be assured that Jesus is there with you, God is watching and your stand in faith will bear eternal rewards.
Most people who have opened a Bible or been exposed as a young child have heard of the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. Many more have seen the movie ‘Exodus’ about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt with Pharaoh hot on their trail. Today’s blog is about our miraculous God who again parted waters for the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering. Joshua 3 tells of the nation of Israel, led by Joshua, poised to enter Canaan but needing to cross the Jordan River. It was flood season so the river was raging. The Lord of All the earth told Joshua to have the priests carry the arc of the covenant in front. “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan.”Joshua 3:11 (The arc was very sacred and contained the 10 Commandment tablets, a jar of manna and Aaron’s budding rod. It was covered with gold and had 2 cherubim on top with wings spread creating the mercy seat. It was carried on poles through rings by the priests and no one touched it.) When the priests got to the edge of the raging Jordan and touched the water, the waters parted. “And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” Joshua 3:13 Just as the Lord had said, when the priests got to the water and started in, the waters piled up on the flowing side so they could cross over. “and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho.17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.”Joshua 3:15-17
I love the image here of the priests carrying the arc going first then stopping in the middle to let the people pass. When all the Israelites had passed by then the arc was brought to the other side. It reminds us that the Lord of All the earth goes before us preparing the way, is with us during our day and then comes behind to protect us. God promises us, just like He did Joshua, that he will be with us always and we need to be strong and courageous day by day. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The Lord of All the earth has all the elements of this world under His command. He is sovereign and all-powerful. Where do you need the Lord of All the earth to go with you today? Remember He went before you to ready the day, will be with you all day and He will have your back.There are 3 promises from Isaiah I want to leave you with today as you think about the power and majesty of the Lord of All the earth.Isaiah 49: 16 “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:23b “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:25b “for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.” The Lord of All the earth knows me, has me engraved on the palm of His hands, will not disappoint and will fight for me. Be encouraged to day.
Do you ever think about where God is? In the Old Testament God came to dwell in the wilderness Tabernacle filling it with His Shekinah glory. As they traveled in the wilderness God went with them guiding their way with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. When they had their camp set up, God dwelt in the tabernacle in their midst. Exodus 40:34-35 “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lordfilled the tabernacle.35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” It is a beautiful picture of God’s abiding presence and guidance. Ezekiel had prophetic visions of the future and closes his book with the rebuilt temple and city of God in the future. Ezekiel 48:35 “The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.,” Jehovah-Shammah. John’s prophetic vision of the City of God in Revelation 21:3 also speaks of God’s abiding presence there. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
It is God’s intention to live with us. He is Personal and desires a relationship with each and every believer. In the past God dwelt in the tabernacle and temple, in the future, God will dwell with us as described in Ezekiel and Revelation, but what about now? Jesus speaks of the benefits of abiding in Him, living with Him. We will be living free in His Word, John 8:31. We will be bearing much fruit for God, John 15:4. We will have the power to live for Him, John 15:5. We will be connected to God and see answers to our prayers, John 15:7. We will be surrounded by His love, John 15:9. We will be able to honor God by keeping His commandments, John 15:10. Jesus promised to send the comforter, counselor to guide us and abide with us after His death. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 2 records the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and how God’s Spirit indwelt the believers giving them power to live for Him. Peter preached to the crowd that day, And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”Act 2:38. Later in Acts Paul and Silas were in prison and the Lord shook the prison and opened the cells. The jailer rushed in thinking they were gone and found them in their cell. “Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31Just like the Philippian jailer we can experience that indwelling power of God’s Holy Spirit and have God abiding, living within us. We can follow his example and believe in Jesus. When we do, God promises He will send His Holy Spirit to abide or live with us. He will be with us to guide and comfort, strengthen and love us from the inside out. God is There with us.