Holy “Heart Burn”

An Easter Aftermath

Cleopas turned to his companion who was walking with him from Jerusalem to Emmas. “If God is in control, how could He let this Man die?   Remember the healings that Jesus performed among us?  He healed my cousin’s eyesight even though he was born blind.  Who but God could have done such things?”

“And remember how He calmed the storm when the disciples thought that their boat was going to sink in the Sea of Galilee,” Uriah continued.  “I was standing on the shore for that one and got to witness the waves calm down first hand!”

“And now after all the good that He did, He has been put to death–a horrible, painful, death!  Why?  How could this have happened?” continued Cleopas.

The two were so engrossed in their conversation and sorrow that they did not notice that a third man had joined their group.  While they were prevented from recognizing Him,  He began to talk.  “What man are you talking about?  Who did all these great things and has now been put to death?”

Cleopas was clearly astonished and annoyed.  “You must be the only person in Jerusalem that has not heard about these things!  Where have you been, man?”

Jesus replied innocently, “What things?”  (Clearly He was setting them up.)

So Cleopas and Uriah began to fill Him in by explaining Jesus’ miracles and His horrible crucifixion.  “We were hoping that He was going to free us from the domination of the Romans.”

“There is hope, however.  Some are reporting that His tomb is empty.  Perhaps He has risen and has escaped death!”

At this comment, Jesus said, “Why are you so thick-headed and slow-hearted?  Why can’t you just believe all that the prophets spoke concerning this Man?”  Then He began to explain the scriptures to them.

As they approached the outskirts of the Village of Emmaus, Jesus pretended to be going further.  Cleopas and Uriah, however, would have none of it.  The things that He was telling them were just beginning to make sense, and they had questions, lots of them.  “Please spend the night here with us.  We have rooms in the inn and a good meal is being prepared.  You can be on your way in the morning.”

As they sat down to the evening meal, Jesus took the bread, broke it and blessed it.  Then He gave some of it to each of them.  The moment that they recognized Him,  Jesus vanished.

Sitting there at the table, they were astonished!  “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while He explained the scriptures to us?  Doesn’t it make sense that Jesus was the Perfect Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of mankind!  (I John 2:2). We, who are obviously flawed, could never pay for our own sins.   That is why Jesus had to die, to pay the price we could not pay.”

“Remember how He said that it is better that He leave us so that He could send the Friend, the Helper, the Comforter, the precious Holy Spirit.   He said that this Person could not come unless He, Jesus, left.  He also said that Person, the Holy Spirit, would not only be with us, but actually within our own spirits.”

“Yes, He was here when Jesus spoke to us, confirming the words that Jesus spoke, and giving us that fire-that burning cofirmation in our hearts.”

“The Holy Spirit is a more intimate expression of God even than Jesus, Himself.”

“Yes and He could  come only when Jesus’ death had paid for our sins!”

“The death of Jesus for our sins was a good thing.  His resurrection brought about something even better:  the life of God, the Holy Spirit, living right inside us.”

“We have got to get back to Jerusalem and tell the others!”

“I don’t want to finish our meal.  This is too good to keep!  Let’s go!”

Luke 24: 13-35

 

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Spring’s Signature Sign

IMG_0824It’s spring!  Below the barren surface of the ground, something awesome happens!  Seeds and bulbs, inert for months, respond to the ground’s warmth.  Tiny sprouts appear and began pushing upward through the darkness toward the light of the Sun.

The surface light brings another transformation.  The colorless sprouts become green.  The chlorophyll begins to provide food for the plant.  Leaves and stems push out of the ground followed by buds and flowers.  New Life!  Spring’s signature act has taken central stage.

***

IMG_1314Lord, I pray that your Word will sprout,

take root and bloom in my heart.

May the barren soil of my life

produce lasting fruit!   P. Lockridge

Of Spies and Counter Spies

Based on the story in II Kings 6

I had been serving the Prophet Elisha for only a few months so every day was a new experience for me.  I loved hearing the old man pray as if he really knew the Person he was talking to!  Who else does that!  Sometimes he prophesied and could explain the future to others.  I had to admit that prophesying stuff seemed a little “far out” to me.

Lately things had become a little dicy.  The King of Syria was making war against our country of Israel.  Really, what chance did Israel have against a such an obviously superior enemy?  However, something inexplicable was happening.  Every time that the King of Syria made war plans and secretly advanced his army to an undisclosed place, my master, Elisha, had sent me to warn the King of Israel to avoid that place.

The King of Israel asked me repeatedly, “How does Elisha know the plans of the Syrian King?”  At first I was speechless. I had no idea how to answer.  Had I seen any Syrian spy come to Elisha  to betray his king’s plans?  Was I, myself, involved in espionage?  The answer was an emphatic “NO!”

I was told to watch my master carefully, and record his actions and movements.  The next time Elisha sent me to the King of Israel with advance warnings of the Syrian Army movements, I came with a complete description  of Elisha’s actions in the preceding days:  “He spends the bulk of his day confined to his chamber where he reads the Books of Moses, sings and worships the Lord, dances in His presence, and quietly waits for the Lord to speak.”
“Did he have any visitors during the time?” The King of Israel asked.  “No!” was my immediate answer. “There is only one door to his chamber, and only a very small window in his room high on the wall.  No one could climb through it.  He spends lots of time with Almighty God, aka the God of Israel.  I think that God who sees all and knows all tells him.  God knows Elisha well enough to share secrets with him.”

Finished with my description of Elisha’s behavior, I relayed his latest prediction for the Syrian army.  This time, my eyes were on the king’s entourage.  I saw something, or rather someone.  A young man ducked down, turned and ran toward the nearest door.

Immediately I gave chase.  When I got to the door, he had disappeared.  Little did I know that this man had an accomplice who met him with a fast horse.  They took a short cut through the hills and were in Syria by nightfall.

I later learned that this spy from our king’s court reported to the Syrian King that a man named Elisha revealed the Syrian battle plans to Israel.  Somehow, Elijah was hearing the very words that the Syrian King was muttering in his bedroom.  The Syrian King was furious.  During the night, he sent a large detachment of chariots, horses and foot soldiers to our town of Dotham.

The next morning I got up and went outside to get water from our well.  What I saw stopped me dead in my tracks.  The city was surrounded by Syrian chariots and horses, snorting, pawing the ground, and neighing loudly!

Breathless, I ran to Elisha’s chamber and pounded on his door!  After explaining what I had seen, I exclaimed, “Oh, master!  What can we do?”

Elisha, without even looking outside, tried to calm my fears!  “Don’t worry about it.  Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Incredulous, I replied, “What?  I didn’t see any of the soldiers of Israel. Where are they?”

Then Elisha replied, “Lord, open his eyes so he can see!”

The Lord opened my eyes, and when I looked again, I saw, to my astonishment, that the hillsides surrounding our little house were full of horses and chariots of fire. The Army of the Lord had come to our defense!

“Why have I never seen such an army before?”  I asked.   “Because you have never asked!” replied the Prophet.

“Pay attention!   Watch this wonder that God is going to perform for you now.”  ( I Samuel 12:16 the Message!)