Friday, August 22, 2014

SERMON: Only God can open your eyes

By DAVID BILDERBACK, Special to The Ottawa Herald | 6/27/2014

In Luke 24, the apostle relates the story of Jesus walking with the two disciples along the road to Emmaus. We are told they were kept from recognizing him. Jesus joined in their conversation concerning Himself.

The two men were upset because of the crucifixion of the one they considered to be a prophet — “who was powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” The men related the story of the empty tomb and how they had hoped Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

In Luke 24, the apostle relates the story of Jesus walking with the two disciples along the road to Emmaus. We are told they were kept from recognizing him. Jesus joined in their conversation concerning Himself.

The two men were upset because of the crucifixion of the one they considered to be a prophet — “who was powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” The men related the story of the empty tomb and how they had hoped Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

That hope had disappeared.

As they walked along, Jesus began talking about Moses and all the prophets and explained all the scriptures concerning Himself. As they approached the end of their journey, Jesus acted like He was going to go on further and they urged Him to stay with them. So Jesus remained. As they sat at the table, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.

“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.” God, through prevenient grace, which is a divine grace that precedes human decision, had prepared these two men for this encounter with Jesus.

God worked in the life of the Apostle Paul in the same way. Paul was converted on the road to Damascus on his way to persecute Christians who had fled from Jerusalem. Paul witnessed the stoning of Stephen and also saw how dedicated the people he persecuted were to Jesus. God’s preparation of Paul began long before the Damascus road encounter.

God works in each of our lives granting us success and introducing us to failure, providing good health and sickness, and reveals life as well as death to us. Only God can open our eyes. We cannot do it for ourselves. God accomplishes this through his prevenient grace working in us through events and situations.

So what will we see when God opens our eyes? We will see the holiness of God, the grace of Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We will die to our old way of life and be made alive in Christ.

A story often told out of the Deep South features a young man in front of a group of deacons who questioned him on why he thought he should be accepted for church membership. The boy’s answer: “I ran as fast for as long as I could and God done finally ran me down.” When God wants you, he will run you down.

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