I've been waiting for this day to come for 10 months!
It was exactly 10 months ago since my husband stood before a congregation and preached. Sure, he's preached in the field several times, but that's a bit different from preaching in a church or chapel (oh, and I forgot about the one time at the old chapel where it was pretty much our family and 3 other people). Today was beautiful. God met with us there and I know lives were touched. The time of praise and worship was great and then my husband got up to preach and it was awesome. He was definitely in his element!
He preached from Luke 24:13-35 (click on scripture passage to read), and the title of his message was "I Hope You Get Heartburn!" He spoke of the two men who walked away from the story of the empty tomb with information but no transformation and put it to us that we, too, could be very much the same. We could have walked out of church last Sunday filled with information about the resurrection but no real transformation took place in our lives.
He talked a lot about how their reality and expectations were not aligned. Therefore, they experienced discouragement, disappointment, depression and so on. He then asked if we could relate..."Lord, I had hoped you would have: provided a job...healed ______....saved my marriage....helped me get a promotion...kept my spouse from being deployed AGAIN..." and then encouraged us to not let our experiences and circumstances rob us of our hope or blind us to the reality that there is no situation under the sun that is hopeless for a believer.
-Jesus is the Redeemer of Israel, but also the world.
-The tomb is empty; Jesus has risen and is alive and well, and willing and able to walk with us along life's way.
These men could not experience the joy and hope of this reality because they were focusing on their feelings and a false reality!
He asked us to examine our own life experiences, asking the question - have you ever had a heartbreaking experience -shattered dreams, broken promises, death, disease, divorce, abuse; thinking your life is sure not turning out the way you expected? If so, we can identify with the two men in this story!
To heal their broken hearts, Jesus brought reality to their expectations! To do this, Jesus had to bind their broken hearts with the truth of God's Word. Here I thought Kevin had a great illustration. He talked about how he loves to go to buffets because he can pick what he wants to eat - no vegetables, just lots of meat! - and how we have the tendency to do that with the Word of God. We'll pick and choose what we want to read ("Oh, Jesus loves me...") and leave out things we don't want to read about ("...that's too convicting. I think I'll skip that!"). These men were foolish not to believe ALL the prophets had spoken. They were discouraged because they did not believe ALL the scriptures and all that Jesus himself had told them. To defeat depression, discouragement and disappointment we need to believe ALL of God's Word! Believe it all, even if it doesn't make sense or meet your expectations. And, apply it all.
Verse 27 caused us to ask, "Why didn't Jesus just reveal himself?" It doesn't tell us why, but think about this: Those men knew Jesus. They had spent time with him. Yet, soon Jesus would ascend to heaven and they would only have the Word and the Holy Spirit with them. In an instant, had he just revealed himself, they would have believed he had risen. Jesus speaking the Word to them allowed them to focus on believing the Word of God. We must believe it ALL.
There's so much to share about the "heart-burning" experience (verses 28-32). I believe as you read it you will see that the reality of the resurrected Lord in their lives made their reality and expectations come together. No more shattered dreams, discouragement, depression or disappointment! Their hearts burned within them and they were so excited!
Don't miss the fact that they invited him in (not realizing it was Jesus at this point) and urged him to stay with them (verse 29). At the table, Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks. At this point, their eyes were opened and, in an instant, their lives were changed (verses 30-31). We, too, must do the same. It's one thing to have a head knowledge of Jesus. It's another thing to invite him in and move that information from our head to our heart. We MUST invite him in and give him the place of authority in our lives before we will ever experience the hope and joy that only HE can bring to our lives.
My prayer is, first of all, if you don't know Jesus, if you have never invited him into your life, that you would do that today! And, secondly, for those of us who have invited Jesus into our lives, that our hearts would burn with excitement for the resurrected Lord and we would be so excited that we would have to tell someone. I don't know why, but I was only going to comment on my husband and how well he preached. For some reason, I believe God had me go on. I pray someone will come to know the One who has given me a hope and a future, a joy for living, and heart that burns with excitement for the One who forever changed my life - Jesus Christ!