January,  Word of Encouragement,  Worship Devotions

Does your heart burn?

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was born into humble circumstances and remained in humble circumstances His entire life. That’s why it was so easy for the world to miss Him! The Jews were expecting a great king, arrayed in royal robes, surrounding by servants and dignitaries, lauded by trumpets and marching in with full military power to overthrow Rome. So, even though Jesus’ birth, life and death fulfilled every, single prophecy ever spoken about the Messiah, many people simply refused to see anything but what they were expecting to see. The world had defined who the Messiah was going to be and what He would come to do even though God had sent word ahead clarifying all of that so humanity would piece it all together and recognize the Son of God!

In Matthew 1, there is a detailed genealogy of Jesus Christ. Why? Because the Jews were obsessed with pedigree so Matthew laid out all the proof, all the way back to Adam. Isaiah said Jesus would be born from a virgin mother (Isaiah 7:14). Balaam the prophet said a star would represent the Messiah, and thousands of years later the wise men found Him because of that star.  (Numbers 24:17; Matthew 2:2) Micah said He’d be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) Samuel said He’d be a descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12-15) and Isaiah said the Messiah would be a descendant of Jesse, David’s father. (Isaiah 11:1) There are so many more signs pointing to the birth, life and death of Jesus that it almost seems impossible to miss (in hindsight!) yet every day we mistake where Jesus is, who He is, what He is doing, and how much we need Him!

Don’t miss the Messiah because you’re expecting to see what you’ve been hoping for instead of seeing what God wants you to see.

We all have expectations about who God is and what He can or will or won’t do, don’t we? We see the death of someone we love and are angry God didn’t help instead of recognizing the ways in which God did help, and acknowledging that God doesn’t define life – or death – like we do. We wait on God for something and it never happens and we assume God didn’t hear, or care or even that His answer was “no” – when He may have wise purpose in delay. We see evil and suffering on this earth and assume that because we didn’t see what we were expecting to see in a bad situation that God must define bad things as “good” because He is “sovereign”. We cry out God to provide us with a spouse, or for a child, or for a heart’s desire and it didn’t happen, so we become bitter or angry or depressed. Do you what happens when we do that? We miss Jesus Christ! All the signs point to Him – our need for Him, the world’s need for Him and we overlook the Messiah and who He really is because we’re too busy looking for the answers WE wanted.

In Luke 24, Jesus was present with His own disciples (after His death and resurrection) and after all they’d been through with Him, even they didn’t recognize Him! “‘O fools! And slow of heart to believe what the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter His glory?'” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:25-27) They knew, but He still had to explain to them once again. Jesus is with you. He hears you. He’s working on your behalf, for the glory of the Father. He is willing. He is able. He loves you. He cares about the things that concern you. He will cause all things – even the horrible things the world throws at you – to work together for your good and for the glory of God. Look around and piece it all together – can you see the Messiah?

Thought for today

Luke 24:31-33 says, “Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And He vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the way and while He opened the Scriptures to us?'” The disciples who had walked with Jesus and knew Him and had read all of the prophecies and had seen His miracles still forgot and needed a reminder. While He was among them, their “heart burned” inside. They knew in their hearts, but their minds wouldn’t acknowledge His presence. How many times have you looked back and realized that too? In the emotion and confusion and grief after His death, they weren’t focused on Him. They were focused on the events they were experiencing. But then “their eyes were opened”, and “they recognized Him.” And then? “He vanished out of their sight.” Jesus had been among them the whole time! Ask the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to be physically present with you when He went away, to open your eyes so you can see the Messiah present and working in your situation. He’s there! Don’t miss the Messiah because you’re expecting to see what you’ve been hoping for instead of seeing what God wants you to see. When you see with His perspective, everything changes!

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