Message From The Pastor

Month of November 2018

The Easter Story Continues

“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him.” — Luke 24:13-16

I love the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, as Jesus talks and walks beside them in the days after His resurrection. His presence was so real, but at first they did not know who He was. Jesus asks them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17) They answer with sadness, questioning how anyone could not know about the events in Jerusalem. They explain to the “unknown stranger” that they know of Jesus by His reputation: “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” (Luke 24:19b) They continue talking to their walking companion of their expectation of Jesus: “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21a) And finally they express their frustration over the news that His tomb was open but He was missing. Is this how we relate to Jesus? We know of His reputation, but He isn’t what we expected, and we become frustrated when He doesn’t “do” what we want.Jesus seeks the companionship of the two men on the road to Emmaus, just as He seeks ours. And what happens next? He challenges their scholarship, at the point of Scripture. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27) They wanted a Messiah, and Jesus reaches into their knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament to prove He is the One. They hear from Christ Himself that He had to suffer and die before entering His glory—something they did not yet grasp. But the story doesn’t end there, because there is no understanding on their part of who Jesus really is—no relationship. They invite Him to sit down and dine with them. Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, and then breaks it before He gives it to them with His nail-scarred hands. “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.” (Luke 24:30) In spending time with Him, hearing truth from Him as He taught from Scripture, and being given the broken bread—they recognize Him. They admit to having their hearts burn within them during this experience on the road—and they return to Jerusalem proclaiming “It is true! The Lord has risen.”(Luke 24:34) Jesus wants to make Himself known—just as He did with these two men in the gospel of Luke. And we can come to know Him by spending time with Him, by studying truth in Scripture, and by knowing it is the Holy Spirit who will open our eyes to the brokenness of His body on the cross, so that, we can have fullness of life.Is your heart downcast? Do you not sense the presence of Christ where you are right now? Spending time in Scriptures, spending time in worship and prayer—that’s how you get to know the Lord. Go ahead—begin the journey on the road. . . . . .with Jesus beside you. You will never be the same. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”— 2 Corinthians 5:17


I recently read an article, The Science of Gratitude: The Power of Counting Our Blessings, by Dr. Emma Seppala who is a Peace Ambassador Training Faculty at Stanford University. In the article she wrote, “If we have a roof over our head, daily meals, are educated, have access to a computer and the internet, we have received more opportunities and education than most of the world's population. Research states we have three times more positive experiences than negative. But in life, we often fail to remember our blessings and give too much importance to our problems. Psychologists have found two reasons for this habit:

Negativity Bias - Research suggests our views are biased toward negativity, and in our minds, bad is stronger than good. We are more likely to pay attention to and recall negative situations, criticism or losses, than to remember positive events and praise. It sometimes can take hearing one word from someone for our whole day, which may have started out fine, to be ruined.

Why We Forget What's Right - Research states we have a boost of happiness when good things happen. But over time these events lose their ability to give us joy because we get used to them. So, we often fail to appreciate what we have. We tend to be grateful for it only once it is gone. Often a sickness helps us appreciate our health; losing heat in our homes reveals how blessed we are to have heaters. How can we overcome these mindsets? The secret is prayerful gratitude and research shows gratitude is beneficial for our health and happiness.

Think of a time we are feeling grateful. We may have received help from someone, or just touched by the beauty of the day. When we feel grateful, the Negativity Bias releases its grip. Rather than focusing on all the things going wrong, we remember the many blessings around us. When we are grateful for someone (our mother or spouse for their care), we experience renewed joy. Research has shown gratitude is linked to decreased envy and materialism. When we appreciate what we have, we are less insecure about what we don't have and may have less need for more. Studies have shown that in children and adults, gratitude has great benefits:


When the Negativity Bias occurs counting our blessings can help give us a reality check. If we are alive, chances are many things are working in our favor. There will always be difficult situations and plenty to complain about. But, we can either let these situations control our mind and spoil our day or take charge through prayer, renew our mind with Scripture and remember all that's right. Situations may not change, but we will. Thanksliving, cultivating gratitude is life changing. Here are two simple ways that can help transform your thinking.