Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Never once did we ever walk along

We continued our new series this past Sunday "40 Days in the Word" with part 3" How do I see what God wants me to see? You can listen to the podcast at or you can download it from iTunes  

We talked about this "churchy" word called "Illumination." Illumination is simply the Holy Spirit bringing to life the Bible and speaking directly to you and your situation. It is like putting on 3D glasses and seeing the Bible come to life. On Sunday we talked about the 1st Benefit of Illumination: Seeing the Solution to the Problem. Yesterday in our blog we talked about  seeing the barrier in front of us. Let's look at the 3rd benefit.

The 3rd benefit of being able to see with spiritual eyes, to have my mind illuminated is…

I see how God is walking with me.

When God opens my eyes I see how God is walking with me.  He’s been with me all along, I just didn’t see it. There are so many seasons of our lives or situations that we walk through when we feel like God has abandoned us. We feel like we are on our own. To be completely honest, many people have quit following Jesus Christ or have stopped believing in God because of this.   

I don’t know what you’re going through right now.  You may feel like you’re alone, you’re out there by yourself, you’re fighting this battle on your own.  You don’t think that God is with you, that God’s a million miles way.  The good news is those are actually lies for your spiritual enemy, the devil!  God’s been with you all along, you just can’t see it until your mind is illuminated.

The story I want to share on this one is in Luke 24.  This is the story that happened on the day that Jesus rose from the dead.  Easter Sunday, the very first Easter Sunday. 

So much had happened over the past seventy-two hours.  Jesus Christ had been arrested.  He had been whipped and beaten and tortured.  He had been crucified.  He died.  And they buried him in a tomb.  All of the disciple are crushed.  Their dream is finished – “We thought this guy was God.  We thought he was the Messiah.  Now that they’ve killed him they’re probably going to kill us,” and they’re all fleeing for their lives.  They’re running away.  Nobody knows what’s happened.  They’re confused, they’re in grief.  They’re sorrowing.  They’re sobbing.  And they’re fearful because they think, they killed Jesus, they’re going to kill us too.

Then on Easter morning some women go to the tomb and they find the tomb has been broken open, that the body is gone, and the angels there are saying, He is risen!  This is too much to believe.  I just can’t believe it.  So they go back and they tell the disciples.  The disciples come out and they go, Yeah, it’s true.  The body’s gone.  But we can’t believe it.

This rumor starts spreading all over that Jesus is risen.  But nobody has actually seen him yet.  Over the next forty days Jesus appeared multiple times, walked around Jerusalem and at one time talked to a crowd of five hundred people.  That would have been weird.  If I was one of the persecutors of Jesus and all of a sudden he’s walking down the street two weeks later … he’s back.  This is why within a few years there were a hundred thousand Christians in the church of Jerusalem.  Why?  Because there were so many eyewitnesses.  It wasn’t just a few people who saw him.  He was walking around Jerusalem for forty days and a hundred thousand people had come to Christ. The Jerusalem church had over a hundred thousand people because of all these witnesses had seen Jesus.

But this is later that day and a couple of Jesus’ disciples are walking on the road to Emmaus.  They’re getting out of town.  They’re leaving Jerusalem, in fear for their life.  But they’re grieving and they’re sorrowing.  All of a sudden Jesus shows up and appears to them and starts walking with them.  But because they’re in so much grief they don’t even recognize him.  Their eyes are closed.  They can’t see it.  They don’t even notice who’s with them. 

We pick this story up in verse 15 of Luke 24.  “Suddenly, Jesus himself came along and joined them [these two disciples] and began walking beside them.  But they didn’t know who he was, because God kept them from recognizing him.  Jesus said, ‘You seem to be in a deep discussion about something, what are you so concerned about?’ [Because they’re talking about the crucifixion and all that’s going on and the chaos in Jerusalem.] They stopped short, sadness written on their faces. Then Cleopas said, ‘You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened in the last few days.’  Jesus said, ‘What things?’ [He’s playing dumb!  Obviously he knows what’s going on.  Jesus was the center of attention.  He says, What things?]  And the disciples said, ‘The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,’ they said.  ‘He was a prophet who did wonderful miracles.  He was a mighty teacher, highly regarded by both God and all the people.  But our leading priests and other religious leaders arrested him and handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.  We had thought he was the Messiah. [We thought this guy was God.  But he’s dead now.  We thought he was the Messiah] who had come to rescue Israel.  That all happened three days ago,’ they continued.  ‘Then some women were at his tomb early this morning, and came back with an amazing report.  They said his body was missing, and that they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive!  Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, Jesus’ body was gone, just as the women had said.’” 

So they’re all confused.  They haven’t seen Jesus.  He’s walking right there with them, but they haven’t seen him yet.  They don’t know what to believe.  “Then Jesus said, ‘You are such foolish people.  You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.  Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the prophets that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering into his time of glory?’  Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses [That’s Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy] and all of the prophets, [that’s the Old Testament] explaining what all the Scriptures said about him.”

A lot of people think that the Old Testament is about Israel and the New Testament is about Jesus.  Wrong.  It’s all about Jesus from cover to cover.  This is a Jesus book.  The first part of the book tells you he’s coming and you see Jesus in allusions and in analogies and in metaphors and in prophecies and in statements and in predictions.  He’s all through almost every book of the Bible.  Then we find in the Gospels where you hear the story of Jesus.  Then we have the book of Acts which is what happened after Jesus goes back to heaven and the church grows.  Then all the letters which is how we’re supposed to live since then.  But it’s all about Jesus.

It says, “By this time they [these two disciples of Jesus] were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey.  Jesus would have gone on, but they begged him to stay the night with them, since it was getting late. So he [Jesus] went home with them.  [They still don’t recognize him.] As they sat down to eat, Jesus took a small loaf of bread, [just like he did in the Last Supper] asked God’s blessing on it, [just like in the Last Supper] broke it, then gave it to them.  [verse 31] Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him…”  

WOW!!!!  It’s Jesus!  We’ve been walking with him all day.  We’ve been talking with him.  We’ve been telling him what we saw and he’s been explaining to us the meaning of it.  Now he’s been eating dinner with us.  We can't believe it. Wee see it now.

“Then their eyes were open and hey recognized him, and he disappears from their sight.”  That would be a mindblower.  The guy you think is God is crucified and died.  We missed that one.  We thought that guy was God!  Then we hear he’s been resurrected, but we really don’t believe it.  Then a stranger walks along with us and then he breaks the bread and all of a sudden we realize it’s him.  It’s him!  And as soon as we recognize it’s him, bam!  He disappears. 

That was illumination.  In their grief they could not see that Jesus was with them.  They’d had this enormous loss and they couldn’t see.  They just couldn’t see it.  They needed illumination.  Their circumstance was keeping them from seeing Jesus' faithfulness. Their grief was blinding them from truth and reality.

I don’t know what you’ve lost this last year.  You may have lost a loved one.  You may have lost your health.  You may have lost your job.  You may have lost an important relationship or a big deal, and you are grieving.  And you cannot see that every step of the way Jesus has been walking with you.  You have never been alone.  You have never been by yourself.  That God is with you walking, but your eyes are blinded.  You can’t see it. 

This is something I have experienced time and time again. So many people think because I am a pastor, because I am joyful and because I am always smiling that I haven’t been through pain or heart wrenching circumstances. However, that is far from the truth. What is the truth is while I have walked through painful circumstances in life, I have seen how God has been walking right with me the entire time. I have never been alone. When that happens, you can keep walking. When that illumination takes place, there is nothing that can stop you.

I would encourage you to listen to & watch this song by Matt Redman, “Never Once.”

I pray that you are encouraged and strengthened today no matter what you are going through. I pray that His Word is illuminated and comes alive right where you are at.
adapted from thoughts from Rick Warren and 40 Days in the Word Campaign

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