Thursday, March 12, 2015, 7:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 24:13-53 (ESV). Jesus Christ, God the Son, had just been betrayed to death by one of his disciples, Judas. He was arrested on false charges. All his followers deserted him. Peter, one of his closest disciples, denied him three times. He was mocked, beaten and insulted. He was brought to trial. Although Pilate could find nothing wrong with him, and thus he wanted to release him, the people insisted that he be crucified and that a murderer be set free instead. So, Jesus was sent to the cross to die. Again he was mocked, and the rulers sneered at him. At last, Jesus committed his spirit into the hands of his Father and he breathed his last. On the first day of the week Jesus was resurrected back to life. Several women came to the tomb, but found the tomb empty. Two angels (messengers) of God told the women that Jesus had risen and that he was alive. The angels reminded them of Jesus’ words concerning these things that were to take place. The women told the eleven apostles, but they did not believe them. Peter went to the tomb, and found the tomb empty, as well. As You Walk That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 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. 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?” 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, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 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. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 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. 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.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So, what is our “Road to Emmaus”? It is our walk with Jesus Christ. Jesus died on that cross for our sins so we could be set free from the curse and penalty of sin, be given the hope of eternal life with God, and so we could be delivered out of bondage to sin and could now be free to walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. When we accept God’s invitation to his great salvation, by faith, via turning from our sin, and being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, we then begin, in the Spirit’s power, our daily walk of faith with Christ in obedience to him and to his word, and in submission to his will for our lives. Yet, there will be times along that walk of faith when life will become confusing and distressing to us, and we will be seeking understanding from the Lord to know what to think and/or how to respond. Although Jesus is with us always, there will be times, too, when we won’t feel his presence, and when we won’t see him working in our circumstances, and/or when we won’t recognize him and his work in our lives, and so we may even resist him and fight against what he is trying to teach us or to do in and through us, because we don’t recognize that it is him who is allowing these things to take place in our lives for our good. While we are troubled in our thinking, and while we may even be calling out to God for understanding, Jesus, via his Spirit within us, will begin to counsel us, and he will speak gently to our hearts his truths. He may allow, or he may even encourage us to spill it all out to him and to cry out our frustrations to him before he begins to speak his words to our hearts. But, then he will speak to us concerning the truths found in his Word, and the things he has taught us previously, and he will bring them back to recall. He may speak through a song, a sermon, a scripture, a story (parable), a dream and/or through our circumstances, but he will speak, and he will show us the way in which we should go. Mostly, I believe, he will encourage us to trust him and to rest in him and to follow his leading in our lives. Eyes Were Opened So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 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. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 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?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. So, what was it that transpired that finally opened their eyes? He did something they had seen him do many times before, so it was familiar to them. He did something, too, that was intimate and close to their hearts, and thus they recognized him. Yet, this was building in them as he talked and walked with them along the road. Sometimes we hear the Spirit’s voice, and we may even know it is him speaking, or we may not, but we are in the process of working all these things through in our minds and hearts, and in prayer, and so we are still struggling to understand and to know what we are supposed to do next. Then, all of a sudden, we hear his voice speaking to our hearts in a way that we know and recognize and it speaks peace and assurance to our hearts. Sometimes the delay in recognition of him and his working in our lives and circumstances is due to our own dullness of mind and heart to hear and to receive what the Spirit is saying to our hearts. Oftentimes it is because Satan is fighting against us and he is speaking, too, so we are in spiritual warfare fighting off his lies and countering them with the truth of scripture while we are in the process of trying to gain understanding, too. Other times we just have to work through our emotions and cry them out to God before we finally understand and then are able to surrender our wills to the will of the Father in heaven. Yet, through these times of struggle and spiritual warfare, if we remain committed to hearing the Lord and to doing what he shows us, I believe we will grow even stronger in our faith. Why Are You Troubled? As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Have you ever noted how often in scripture we are told to not be afraid, to not fear, but to have courage and to trust in the Lord? We must, by nature, be very fearful people. I know that I automatically jump at the sound of a sudden and/or loud noise if all around me is quiet, particularly if I am deep in concentration over something, or if someone suddenly appears before me and I did not hear him or her coming. Even though we have been given many assurances and teachings in scripture that should instill within us such confidence and hope and trust, sometimes things just happen, and we don’t expect them, and so we automatically respond in fear. I know that, for me, this will happen if I am tired or feeling ill or if my hormones are wacky. I seem to be the most vulnerable to Satan’s attacks when physically I am at my weakest moments. This can also happen if I don’t have my guard up, spiritually speaking, and that is usually when I am at my weakest points physically, too, because my mind is not as sharp, and so I am not as discerning as I would like to be, and then all of a sudden I will become aware that I am responding in fear, and not in faith, and so I must then yield to the Lord once again and rest in him and trust him to show me the way I am to go and to give me wisdom to know what to say or when to speak and when to keep silent. I love how Jesus, even though his disciples were weak in faith, at times, although he sometimes had to rebuke them for their lack of faith, then encouraged and strengthened them, and he helped restore their faith and trust in him. Awesome! And, he will do the same with and for us. When life kicks us hard, and it will, and when circumstances come into our lives which challenge our faith, God will be faithful in encouraging and strengthening us, and in restoring our faith and trust in him. I believe, if we respond correctly, that these struggles we have, at times, can actually be stepping stones to making us even stronger in our faith for having struggled and having come out victorious. Then, we should be even more determined to walk in faith and to be the Lord’s servants and witnesses to the world around us, for the praise of his glory and for the salvation of souls and the strengthening of the body of believers in Jesus Christ. All glory, praise and honor to God alone! Amen! Just a Closer Walk with Thee / Unknown I am weak, but Thou art strong, Jesus, keep me from all wrong, I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to Thee. When my feeble life is o’er, Time for me will be no more, Guide me gently, safely o’er To Thy kingdom, dear Lord, to Thy shore. Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.