|The following post is based on a message preached by Ps Phil on Resurrection Sunday April 1st 2018 |
For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ Acts 2:25-27 (NKJV)
On Easter Sunday we imagine what it was like for the disciples. An important person in your life has just died. You have done the funeral and the burial and then he walks in and asks if there’s anything to eat. When you struggle with the shock He says “I did tell you and if you’d just believed me you wouldn’t have been so upset”. God has told us a lot of things and we can struggle to believe them just like the disciples. In our century, stress and a lack of hope are a real problem. One of the things God has told us is to rest in hope, and believe that God’s plan for your future is bright and blessed. Do not believe that the days ahead are full of foreboding and darkness. Jesus says if you put God in front of you, as first in your life and trust in Him you will have the peace that surpasses understanding.
Just like Jesus in the tomb on Saturday, if we trust in God, we will have the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives acting on our behalf. Vision keeps you alive and keeps you moving out of your darkest day. Many have written about their imprisonment during World War II and how those with a vision of the future survived horrific circumstances, while those who lost hope died soon after. (Proverbs 13:12) Jesus has a vision for you but sometimes we hope for things that are unrealistic. Wrong expectations lead to disappointment. We tend to think that God will respond to need, sincerity and urgency but God responds to faith: “I believe that You will get me out of this”.
Four ways God answers prayer
When we pray, there are different ways that God answers our prayers:
He answers them 1. immediately, 2. after a short period of time, 3. after a long period of time, 4. in another way to what you wanted (for example, He changes you instead of the circumstances), 5. He doesn’t answer it during your lifetime. When He doesn’t answer it, it reminds us that He is more important than you and your answer: He is hope Himself. Paul’s thorn in the flesh is an example of this (2 Corinthians 12). In your weakness, God’s power is manifest.
The road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-33)
This story opens with some very dejected disciples. They were miserable because they had misplaced expectations of what Jesus would do and now He was dead. So Jesus draws near -we are all imperfect people and He isn’t worried about coming closer to us. In verse 16 it says that they didn’t recognise Him. Depression clouds vision and blocks insight. You can’t see opportunity when you’re discouraged. Don’t be blinded or robbed by discouragement or things that happened in the past: reach out, Jesus is right there. Love is what you do and say; it shapes your attitude and the atmosphere of your circumstances and relationships. So if you are discouraged, change the conversation. You can’t complain and be hopeful and joyful at the same time.
In verse 21 the disciples tell Jesus “but we were hoping”. The Jews hoped that Jesus would be just like Moses and set them free from the Romans - a physical delivery from oppression. Instead Jesus brought freedom from shame, guilt, fear and sickness, making hearts free and new life possible. After a 3 hour Bible study from Jesus on why the cross was necessary, the disciples still didn’t recognise Jesus!
Jesus doesn’t push His way into our lives, waiting to be invited. He knocks and waits for us to welcome Him in. So the disciples invited Him in for dinner and then at last, they recognised Him. They immediately changed the conversation. They went from confusion to clarity, from lost to found. Their hearts went from cold to burning (vs 32). Next they turned around and went back to church (vs 33). Following Jesus is a journey and it is important to do it as part of His family, in the church community.
Something to talk about:
- What promise from God are you choosing to believe right now?
- Have you had an experience of God answering your prayer in a different way to your expectations?
- Do you have people in your life who need some hope, who can’t see Jesus just yet? Pray for them.