Yesterday’s Manna

Manna

There’s a story reported thousands of years ago, of a tribe of enslaved people numbering over a million and a half, that were set free and found themselves wandering in themanna1 desert. They ended up wandering for 40 years. In the course of that time they supposedly were fed each day by their deity with a flaky, coriander sized, substance they called “Manna.”

Manna, who knows what it looked like and what it was. The report says that it showed up each day on the ground and they just gathered what they needed for that day. In the beginning some people gathered more than they needed for that day and it went bad. It soured. Actually it became worm infested and rotted: it stank! The whole process was a test. It was a test to see whether or not they could or would follow the rules, the Law. Sure enough, they failed. There is always that one group, that one person, or family that has to push the limits and do the very thing they were told not to do. It was no different then, still the same today; we still all fail.

In our human nature it is always a temptation to hoard up more than we need. Call it hoarding or call it greed, like in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey,” Bilbo the Hobbit shows up in the halls of Erebor and finds a great hoard of dragon and dwarf gold. Both dragons and Dwarves are hoarders: greedy to a mortal fault.Smaugs-Gold-e1462824043518

This whole story from the Bible is about how God provided for the Israelites as they spent 40 years in the wilderness, as they came up out of Egyptian enslavement. This food was there for them day in and day out. Was it the food of angels, the food of heaven? Maybe, but in any case it was God’s daily provision for them.

Many times in our lives we point to God doing wonderful or great things in the past. Sooner or later, like an aged out, fading high school quarterback, we point to “That one time,” or “That one play.” We look back to God saving us and yet, we don’t have anything else since then to testify about. We remember a healing from the Lord, a restoration of a wayward child, a saved marriage, freedom from drugs or alcohol. The point being that we are always looking way back.

Even when God blesses me, like with the manna, I don’t want to waste my time trying to live in yesterday’s blessings. Think of it like the test of whether or not we will follow God and trust him to continue to provide for us. God wants to provide for you every day. It is appropriate to remember what all God has done for us, but it is not ok for us to continue to wave that one blessing like it is all God has done for us. God wants to touch your life in so many new and more significant ways. God wants you to look for him everyday. God is taking you on an adventure. An adventure of bringing the Kingdom of God to bear upon your life, your influences, and your circles of friends.

Amazing highs

This past weekend at our church was pretty amazing. The worship was so very “transcendent.” (Can I use that word if I haven’t used any other big words like that yet? Lol) We prayed that God would open our eyes and our hearts to his presence. We repented of our own sins. We thanked God for what he had done in our lives. We invited God to touch us again. We didn’t want yesterday’s manna, we had already thanked him for that and enjoyed that. We wanted to spend new time with him. 23 people got baptized that day: it was overwhelming. 10 year olds through 40 some year olds stepped up, let go of their pasts, and received new manna from God. But even now, that was yesterday, I want today’s time with God.

God wants to walk with you

When you think about what it means to “Be” a Christian, do you still point to yesterday’s manna, or do you have a vibrant, passionate relationship to God that continues to put you in his presence? God wants to walk with you; he doesn’t want to have walked with you. Make sense?

I want to encourage you to look for God’s blessing and presence everyday. I’m not suggesting that he isn’t enough; I’m suggesting that he wants to be a bigger part of your existence now; in the moment, not in the memory.

Acts 14:17
Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

 

 

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Stop struggling, stop striving today!

Joseph's Pictures 219Psalm 29:10-11 (NIV)

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

 

Today I want to share a moment of serendipity with you, a moment that occurred as I was reading my Bible. I opened up to a passage and as I prepared my heart I saw a passage above that I had marked previously. As I gazed upon my marks and read the words, God poked my heart and said, “Good morning Joe.” So I pass this on that God may also poke your heart and let you know that he is here. Now matter what it is that you are about to face, big or small, he is here. No matter how loud the noise, how dark the night, how evil the valley, he is here. He knows your name. He loves you. He prepared a place for you near him. Like the swallow that builds her nest near the altar, God has a place for you as well. It is in his blessing.

“The Lord sits…”

Notice that with everything that is going on in your world and mine. With all the false media, the lies, the hate, the wars, the hurt, the rejection, and all the meaningless activity of the mass of humanity, God sits. He isn’t running around threatening, shaking his fist. God is not scared or worried. No, God sits. He is relaxed and watching his children. For some he is sad, for some he rejoices but for all he sits and is working for our good. The scripture says he sits enthroned OVER the flood. He is not worried about the turbulent waters that are crashing down and destroying the earth that time he “started over” with Noah. God is not spazzed or even remotely worried about that flood will do anything other than what he will allow. No, in all our worry, and as we try so hard to get God all wound up in our drama, he sits above the threats. Close your eyes and look at how peaceful he sits on the throne. God is at peace always.

“The lord is …”

I cannot make you believe that God is. I know he is. I cannot prove it to you any more than you can prove he isn’t. I entered this world as a self-absorbed narcissist and until I realized that I am the one that is responsible for my sin, I had no hope. When I saw the God sent his son to die for my sins so that I do not own them, so that I do not suffer the consequence of them nor will they keep me from the throne room any longer, when I surrendered to that truth, my life began to change. You see, In my life, “The Lord IS …” Not only is it true that God is, he is enthroned as the King of the universe. I do not have to be able to answer all the “Why’s” and all the “How’s” or anything else, to know that I am created. The cake doesn’t have to thoroughly know the baker to know there is a baker and the cake is not it. God is too grand, to beautiful, too wonder-full for me to comprehend. Any one that says otherwise is a liar and the truth is not in them. I cannot fathom the depths of God other than to try to understand what he has revealed and reveals to human kind. The lord is King over all that he has made, he is alone is judge, not me.

“The Lord gives …”

Of all the “deities” in this world that have been made up, the God of the Bible is hands down the most generously giving and the most loving. The Lord gives. God wants to give. It is his love language. He gives life, he gives a place with him in heaven, he gives forgiveness when we slander and crucify him. He gives when we need help, he gives when we need knowledge, he gives when we need love, he gives when we need a family, he gives, and gives, and gives. We on the other hand take, and take, and take, and take. It’s our humanity. It’s our sin. You cannot out give God, but you do not want to understand how stingy he can be. When God asks for us to give back to him, he is serious. To ignore obedience to the Word is to prove that we esteem God as nothing more than a spiritual vending machine. It only proves the depth of our self-centered depravity; shame on us. Sometimes what God gives is the strength to face giants, kill lions, strike down serpents, overcome disasters and face adversity with grace and hope. That’s more than any other clay figurine on a shelf is going to give you. My God says he will give you the gift of his presence; You will not be alone. The Lord gives.

“The Lord blesses …”

As we consider “The Lord gives,” what ever the Lord gives is a blessing to you and I. We may always know why he allows the pain and struggle, and it certainly was not his initial plan for humanity, but he come-follow-mecan work it out for our good. The blessing of God is gold in the hands of the righteous. The joy of knowing that the favor of the King of the universe rests upon you brings peace. It doesn’t mean there are no problems in your life. It isn’t a reflection of the absence of struggle and hurt, no, it is the knowledge that he is your father, and he is doing what is best for you at every turn of the sun. It I knowing that though you are outside in the playground called earth, he is intimately aware of what you are doing and going through. Not only is he watching you, but he is “standing” right here while you are preoccupied with all that is going on. His blessing is his gift to you. It is for eternity, but you need to take it. You need to receive it and open it. Know this peace that in the face of death, carries you through all the darkness you may face and all the joy you may encounter.

Today, as you go through this day, remember,

“The Lord sits …”

“The Lord is …”

“The Lord gives …”

“The Lord blesses …”

and YOU are the object of all this love today.

 

 

 

IT COULD BE ME?

Lion roaring1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I want to go HOME

I sit here in my favorite coffee shop looking out at the world and I struggle to even want to be here. When I say “here” I mean, “on the planet,” not here in the coffee shop. The coffee shop feels safe, it feels friendly, it feels comfortable. It is small and for whatever reason I feel protected, like I do in my home. My home is safe, my wife makes it a refuge. When I am here or there the “ugly” is far away. There is no hate allowed here at the coffee shop. Everyone is welcome to come here. They will love you and serve you and make you a coffee that will rock your world.

But I cannot live here in this oasis and last week was terrible in our hemisphere. I don’t think it compares to things going on in other parts of the world: the starvation, wars, kidnapping, mutilations and the bombings and genocide. But that doesn’t make it less real.

I CAN FEEL IT

I feel the evil affecting my soul again and I have to reach deep to shake myself. Then today I woke up to a pastor falling to alcoholism and it just touched me hard. I don’t idolize him. I have been to his church conference and it was good. I don’t care for some of his theologies, (surely the kingdom of God is not about punching people in the throat or shooting them if they enter his home) but hey, I like his preaching and I like that he is sold out to the kingdom work in a large, get off your butt and do it big, sort of way. I love that he appears to spell faith, “RISK.” I appreciate that he gave and gave and gave. I really appreciate that he inspired me at one point in my own ministry. But, my heart hurts for him and I feel afraid, and yes, I know this fear is not from God.

There have been times

This pastor IS still a leader; as pastors we are all leaders. Leaders in a war we can barely see, but we see better than the average church go-er. The battle worn, the mutilated, the broken, the chewed upon, they walk into our offices every day. At times we can jump to it and bind up the weary and the broken hearted, comfort and bless, and at times we have no clue what to do or how to help. Sometimes we watch people switch sides in the battle and at times we watch people walk away wondering, “What could I have done better?” Beating ourselves up believing we failed, or thinking we “could have, should have,” and yet, we aren’t God. And If I can be honest without being needy, at times I have envied those that could throw up their hands and walk away. I would dare say there are times I have longed to be able to do that.

As I think about this man and his ministry to so many, I am aware of Peter warning us all that Satan, a very personal accuser, is a roaring lion, but he is not just running around or laying around making noise, no, he is seeking some to devour, to destroy.

Could that be me?

I cannot help but glance around and wonder when and how he will come after me. For I know my calling is to give him reason. Will he wreck my life today? Can I remain focused through the negativity thrown at our local leadership, the world attacking our local church and the hate being spewed across all the news venues, as well as standing against my own temptations? Will he sneak up when I least suspect it and destroy everything God has allowed me to be a part of? And if he were to succeed, then what of the church (the people), what of those that work here and have their income here? The weight, the fear, it can be incredibly unbearable at times.
This is the fear that haunts me daily as I hear King David saying,

                   “5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
                      sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
                       6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
                      you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
                      7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
                      wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
                                                      Psalm 51

He has given me a hope

What is our hope then? Who can be called his son or his daughter that is born of this world? There is none, no not one, that is righteous enough in and of themselves to enter heaven; to dwell with God. We all stand condemned whether it is in thought or deed; we all were born evil, sinful and lost. We all need a rescuer, a savior and I for one am grateful that God sent one.

I am in need as well

I have not yet preached a sermon, done a deed, planned an outreach, sacrificed, given or paid for something, nor led a person to Christ, or any other thing that would even catch God’s attention, let alone impress him to allow me to enter his presence. My good “things” will never outweigh the dirt on my soul, the selfish intent of my heart nor the greed in my spirit. I need a savior. I need Jesus more than anyone else on this planet.

lion in the grassSo today I look around and tentatively, with great fear, I stare into the tall grass of this world, looking for a telltale sign of a lion. Is that a shadow of something prowling? Is that the swish of grass, dragging down the side of my soul’s predator, as he moves closer for the pounce? Today will I be the focused attention of such a vile spirit? Is it greed, or lust, pride, or idolatry about to break forth from the grass and kill me?

Of the tribe of Judah

My hope is in the Lion next to me: The Lion of the tribe of Judah in whose shadow I run. In whose name I have life. Praise God his love was sacrificial and daily transforming. Praise God almighty that his name is

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

Praise God he knows my name, and though the enemy may wound me, he cannot take my life, for I have given it freely to my Lord, it belongs to him. But I still fear the wound the enemy may cause; so I watch.

Cry with me, pray with me

Today my souls cries in pain for this pastor that I love, that does not know me. Today I know, there but for the grace of God go I. Today I do not get haughty or take any joy, for that could just as quickly be me.
Today I am aware that I need your prayers just like this pastor does.

 

 

 

I don’t Care What the Bible Says?

Danger! Sarcastic Pastor on prescription medicines, on a rant, with a keyboard.
Enter at your own risk!

Come, Follow Me

Danger_Enter_At_Your_Own_Risk

God almighty is seated on his throne in Heaven and he has a plan. He invites you to join that plan. Get it? YOU join God’s plan.
As Christians we yield to Jesus’ words, “Come, follow me.” He does not yield to us.

COME

“Come” means you are leaving somewhere. It may be geographical, spiritual, emotional, financial … But something is going to change. I know you probably don’t like change. That very fact is why I see people post over and over that, “people are leaving the church.” I’m not seeing people leaving the church. I’m seeing people leaving institutions run by people that have no apparent desire to move forward and grow spiritually. I’m seeing people leaving institutions that want to tell the exact same story, the exact same way, with the exact same reaction, singing the exact same songs. Like God himself froze time in the 1700’s.

FOLLOW

“Follow” means you aren’t in charge. With the democratization of the church in America it is amazing what people call structure and organization. “If I don’t have a say on what color the hinge bolts are on the toilet seats in the ladies bathroom, well then I’m gonna find a new church.” Or, “If I can’t use my gifts my way and be in charge then I’m clearly not wanted.” Following is a hard thing. Everyone isn’t gifted or called to do the thing they may want to do. It doesn’t mean they don’t have a part. To follow you have to submit, and let’s be honest, we don’t like that do we? Somehow we think that the church is supposed to have or be, a House of Representatives and that isn’t even biblical. It’s sad to see people going from church to church, leaving wreckage in their wake, and yet taking little to no responsibility for what THEY are doing. I’ve always told church planters, “if they come in mad, they will leave mad.” It’s been true 100% of the time so far.

ME

“Me.” One of these days we will capture the idea, the philosophy of ministry, understanding the truth that the Gospel IS ALL ABOUT JESUS. Not you, not me, not what I want, but it is about God’s plan and HE expects us to be faithful to his words. Your life, your money, your “plans,” your children, your relationships, your expectations, everything about you is supposed to be surrendered to Christ when you become a Christian. EVERYTHING. But as Christians I still see the, “God’s about to bless my every waking moment” theology being “meme’d” to death. What part of Jesus’ disciples life and death shows you that being a disciple of Christ is getting the big house, the big car, the new jet, the profitable job, the free education or anything else we can think of? (God could do that, but it comes with great responsibility to invest back into the Kingdom
of God.) That wasn’t the example of the disciples though was it? Boiled in oil, crucified upside down, beheaded, exiled, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked, losing homes, lands, spouses, children and whole families being imprisoned.
And we have brought it to the idea that it is all about me. God has a plan for my life because my life is the center of the universe?
Seriously? And you don’t have time to witness to your co-worker, your family? When was the last time to prayed for a stranger, invited someone to church, shared the gospel? When did you last fast or pray for more than a moment? When did you sell everything you have give to the poor and then take a new turn in life. When was the last time you asked God who you could give TO rather than gi’me, gi’me?

Jesus was crystal clear

Jesus was crystal clear. Come, Follow ME.
Look around you today. All these Facebook posts about the toilet apocalypse, the end of “my” politics, the love of most growing cold, it’s all in the Word. But then, we’d have to read the word wouldn’t we? After that Jesus expects us to obey that word doesn’t he.
Crazy how many people say God is dead-serious about homosexuality (and he is) but those same people make all kinds of excuses and reasonings AGAINST Jesus’ specific words to LOVE YOUR ENEMY. Crystal clear. Needs no interpretation.

I don’t care what the Bible says?

Maybe, just maybe, your life and your church hopping, your messed up children, your loss of marriage, your upside down finances are actually a result of you following your made up God. Maybe, just maybe, when Jesus says “Come, follow me” he really expects that and when you meet him face to face, that is exactly what he is going to talk to you about.

One of the saddest moments I have experienced from a Christian was years ago when he demanded that I preach that alcohol consumption was a sin. In the course of our conversation I said I couldn’t preach that because the Bible doesn’t say that. His exact words, that he blurted out in the frustration that I wouldn’t do what he asked were, “I don’t care what the Bible says, …”
(Deep breath, let it out slowly) there in lies the problem.
What about you today?

You waded all the way through this. What is God asking of you today?

Broken shoelaces

I woke up this morning and let the dogs out. Then they get fed, sooner or later it is off to the the coffee shop to meet the city. I love this city. I have the privilege of being one of many pastors in this town. Thankfully I’m not one on a denominational track of changing churches every once in a while. (last I heard was, less than 4 years was the average stay for a pastor at a given church in America) I have been in this town for the past 13 years and I have fallen in love with it. The rhythm, the people, the university, the coffee shop; all of it.

My Shoelace is broken

As I was sitting at the table talking and visiting, the conversation turned to leaders, and positions, and attitudes, and I was suddenly aware that my left shoelace is broken and tied in a knot. I remember when I got up this morning and put my shoes on I was frustrated IMG_7742that my shoelace needed to be replaced, in the mean time, I needed to get to work so I tied it in a knot.

Pertinent to the conversation? I think so. I looked at the person across from me at the table and said, “My shoelace is tied in a knot because it is broken.” They looked at me funny and said, “What does that have to do with the conversation?” “Everything,” I replied. “Everything!”

I am not better than anybody else.

I am a leader and yet, my shoe lace is broken. There is also dirt on the bottom of my shoe, and I have owned this particular shirt for a couple of years now. While life has taken a wonderful turn for my wife and I over the past year, I am just a guy on a mission that will not be deterred, but I am not better than anybody else. I am not more perfect than anybody else. And while my “holiness” (look up the word) is growing daily, I am not more holy than anyone else that claims the name of Jesus and still lives here on Earth.

I am not so special that God chose me for this line of work, at this moment in time, I am just hungry and available. The shoelace is a reminder that I am no better than anyone else on this planet. My role is not my identity, it is my calling, it is my lifestyle. While I do understand that being a leader means to be held to a higher standard by God, my concern is that people also think this role should be put on a pedestal. Look UP to people that are further down the road than you are, but do not look TO them, they are just humans; look to God.

“Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp.”

I heard a friend of mine once say, “Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. We all have weaknesses in our lives. (broken shoelaces) For some reason the church is full of people who think that being given the title, “Pastor,” or even, “elder,” means hiding their imperfections and weakness, having all the answers, living perfect, speaking in monotone, being better than everyone else, or even taking whatever spiritual beating someone wishes to pour out upon them. How many times have I been at the end of a haranguing by a church member and when I said, “No,” to the request, the response was, “And you call yourself a Pastor?”

Their broken shoelace is their need to be loved

Others in leadership think it means celebrating and almost reveling in their brokenness as a means of being compassionate and relating to the sinners. These people can’t define grace, the Gospel, or the call to transformation, because the people they are “ministering to” might not like or love them. Their broken shoelace is their need to be loved, and they are using this position to gain that. Their congregants might reject their invitation to the Cross, the community, or communion, and they can’t live with that.

 

Your pastor, regardless of how well they carry themselves, is just a human being. If they are honest, they struggle with everything you struggle with: feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, addictions, finances, feeling beat up by the church, family management, loneliness, weight issues, health issues, stress possibly beyond your level, and the list goes on.

 

I’m not looking to garner pity. I’m not trying to get you to celebrate or patronize your leadership. I just want to help you to be aware that their shoelace is broke and they need your prayer, your help, and your friendship. They can afford a new shoelace; they just haven’t gotten to it yet due to all the “stuff” going on in regular life. So I guess, maybe I am inviting you to back off a little bit.  Remember or be aware, they limp just like you do. If they don’t limp, don’t trust them.

 

Uncle Larry's CorvetteI limp. My name is Joe, plain old Joe. I’m the guy that works beside you, the one you pass every day on the streets. I am a broken individual that Jesus rescued from a dark pit. He lifted me out of that slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to my God, that many would see and fear and put their trust in HIM (not ME). I will never forget that.

 

I am not better than you or deeper than you. I don’t have more Jesus than you, and I am certainly not more “Elite” than you. I am saved by God, like you, or like you can be. Not because we are good, but because we need a savior. We all need to be clean from our sin. Jesus is that cleaner. He suffered the beating and wrath that we are due, so we would NEVER have to go through it.

 

Pray for my broken shoelace, please don’t ever think I will judge you for your broken shoelace, but I know where we can get our shoelaces fixed. For that reason, I was called, commissioned and empowered.

CUT IT, BURN IT, POUR IT OUT

DO IT

I had the opportunity today to be out and about in some of my favorite spots. I over heard a man say that there was something he would like but he was still negotiating with his wife about the purchase. Let’s admit it, some of us have to spend much time gently convincing our spouse that what we WANT is actually a NEED. It doesn’t always work. Not motorcycles however, those are prescribed for men by God. In any case, I heard the Lord very quickly let me know that I had the ability in the moment to meet this person’s want; so I did. Why?

Jesus doesn’t want my latte’

We are doing kind of an “anti-Lent” on the way to Easter here at our church. We aren’t Lent-haters, I promise. With a little bit of study, you can see that Lent is really an extra biblical church activity. I struggle with Lent a lot because I really don’t see how letting go of my coffee habit is going to somehow connect me to the sufferings of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion. I already cannot fathom his depth of pain and suffering, I don’t think he wants my latte’.

What we are doing instead is looking at four things that Jesus DID do all along his way to the cross. He invited people to follow him, he invited people to give, he invited people to serve, and he invited people to celebrate.

Lamb of GodSacrifice

This week is all about Giving, specifically, sacrifice. Do we ever sacrifice? In biblical days they knew what that meant. You grab a sheep, a goat, a jar of grain, some herbs or spices, maybe even a child or some other livestock and you bring it to the temple and leave it there in the hands of the priest. You gave it to God. It was cut up, burnt, poured out, cast outside, gone. That means you went without it. It cost something, and it hurt a little bit to do that.

Going without

The truth is, I used to think of sacrifice as giving, but not the other part, the going-without-because-you-gave-it-away part. Sacrifice means I don’t have something any more. So if I sacrifice money, then I cannot spend it. I don’t have it. A guy once said, “You can only spend money once.” What a genius. I say that because not everyone I know (certainly not me a while ago) believed that. Sacrifice means that you are going to do without something. In this case so that you can give it to God, or someone in need, or want.

Not just money

Sacrifice is not always just about money. You can sacrifice your pride, your time, your energy, your love, your dreams, your desires, your attitude, there are a lot of things you can sacrifice. When you do sacrifice them, you don’t get to use them again. Think about time. If I were to sacrifice my money, I could earn a little more to make up for it. But, if I sacrifice my time, I can never get it back. When I stop what I am doing and love on someone by spending time or working for them, I can never get that time back again. I let it go, I gave it away as an act of worship.

“PRODIGAL”

Sacrifice isn’t always only for desperate people. We are not called to only help or give to people who are destitute. Sometimes we need to be like God and remember that he described himself as lavish. The story of the “Prodigal” in the Bible is actually a story of a “Prodigal” father, not a prodigal son. The lavish, wanton, ridiculous love of the father that took the boy back was the focus of the message. I don’t know why people always focus on the boy, he isn’t the context of the metaphor. The sacrificial LOVE of the Father is the message, the point of why “who-so-ever-will” may come.

The life that Jesus came to give you and I, according to John 10:10 is described in the Greek word, “Perssisos”. Look it up.

 

What sacrifice do you bring to God this year at Easter? Who do you sacrifice for intentionally to love God?

 

Think about it.

Peace be with you

feet of JesusThe “Butt-inski”

As two of Jesus’ disciples walked along on that very first easter day, they were met by a traveler. A guy. A man headed in the same direction they were going. He walked along with them for  a while as they were headed to a town named Emmaus. This man walked up into a conversation they were having about Jesus himself. They were disturbed by some things that the ladies had said to them, and honestly, based upon this description of the conversation, I would say they appeared to have serious doubts.

He hears their doubts and challenges them

As the stranger interacts with them, they end up kind of incredulous that he appeared to be uninformed about the weekend events. In true hospitable fashion they take it upon themselves to inform him. So they tell him all about Jesus, what he did, the miracles, how he was arrested and killed, then buried. I’m sure they told him what Jesus meant to them personally. This guy, this stranger that walked with them, listened, interacted, asked questions and heard them. The stranger hears their doubts. He then challenges their doubts and unfolds the scriptures for them. When it is all said and done, He ends up at their supper, breaking bread with them, and it is only then that they realize Jesus has been walking with them all along. Immediately Jesus disappears.

Out of their element …

They were walking and lamenting the loss of their leader, their lord, their friend, and there was no way that they were going to believe he was right there. I have often asked myself why Mary at the tomb, and these guys here on the road, didn’t recognize Jesus? Then I remember all the times that I have been somewhere and someone comes up to me, or I go up to someone, and realize who they are.  Out of their normal element or relationship, I do not recognize them. Then it hits me, this is “Bill!”

I think that is exactly what is going on here. They saw Jesus buried, he cannot be here, so that doesn’t even enter their minds. I don’t know what a post burial, resurrected, but pre-ascension body looks like, but they certainly saw him when he broke the bread, when he was “In his element.” Handing out communion he was Jesus again, and Jesus alive!!

What about you?

I wonder how many times we miss God in our lives, miss Jesus doing a work, miss the Holy spirit because he belongs in Church on Sunday morning. Here we are going through our week, maybe we have a spouse and we are doing our daily thing, chasing kids, a quick kiss before we leave for work, maybe a fight and we are immediately in a tension. A flat tire and the day feels wrecked, or work is just piling up and we don’t feel appreciated, no one cares so we melt into the old pit of wallowing; no one likes me, no one notices, I’ll never get ahead. God where are you?

“… and I know that there are angels all around …”

It is at times like these that we miss seeing God in our lives. We end up so focused on our want, our need or our loss, or our problems, that we don’t lift our eyes up and look at who is walking around us. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Look!

The Kingdom of God is here. Jesus said it is near, it is coming and it is in you. Jesus is in the Kingdom, so Jesus IS here. The Holy Spirit is in the Kingdom, so the Holy Spirit IS here. Angels are in the kingdom, so angels ARE here. I want to encourage you to lift your chin and look around. God is here in your midst. In the middle of your daily struggle, in the middle of your need to make a decision, in the middle of your fight with your spouse. He is here at work. He is here in your doubt and despair.  He will never leave you alone, but we may be choosing not to believe he could be here.
Cry for nigeriaAs you travel on this road to your Emmaus, that stranger, that song, that group pf people, that church, that co-worker, God is using them to speak to you, to support you, to love you, but you have to open your eyes and believe. Stop what you are doing right now and ask God to open your eyes.