In the Gospel of Luke Chapter 24:13-53 the story is told about Jesus after the resurrection how he walked toward Emmaus with two believers and opened the scripture to their understanding. They finally recognized that this was Jesus as He broke the bread and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened to the truth that they had been with Jesus. In the 32nd verse “and they said to one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way and while He opened to us the scriptures.” This was their recognition of the presence of Jesus - our heart did burn within us.

They were not talking about physical symptoms of indigestion, but rather the spiritual reality of the burning heart. The presence of Jesus in any age creates that witness of the spirit we call the burning heart. The scripture tells us that Jesus is always with us, that he will never leave us nor forsake us. That is true!

In my sermon this past Sunday I told about a letter I had received from prison. I've been inside prison walls long enough in my ministry to know that it is not a desirable place to be, a man's physical freedom means more than most of us can realize. It is not difficult to recognize that despair could be a natural product of prison life - but Jesus is there, too. The desperation in the letter was quite visible, but what can I do to help break that despair. The Bible says, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, the life." Jesus is the one who sets people free both inside of prison and outside of prison. The message I believe that God gave me to give to this young man, and I use this to convey the message, is that God has always been on his side. The thing that must be recognized is that we have not always been on God's side. This is where most of our trouble originates, this is where most despair begins to settle into our spirit- we have not made that concentrated effort to be on God's side. That is the answer -- God has always been on our side - he gave his only begotten son on Calvary's Cross to bring about our salvation, He allowed His blood to be shed for the remission of our sins - He raised Jesus from the dead to give us victory unto eternal life. God indeed has been on our side.

If we accept Jesus this is our attempt to be on the Lord's side, but that alone is not enough, we must seek him every day if we really want to be on his side.

I recall the experience of a man who lived in a community where I once preached. He was on parole with a life sentence for murder. He operated a gas station. During a revival at our church he was persuaded to come to the church and talk with the evangelist after the service. At midnight, after much prayer, the man gave his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, he vowed that he wanted to be on the Lord's side.

I took him within a month to a layman's banquet in another city. I had an early meeting so he was left alone in the hotel lobby. The judge that had sent him to prison had missed his bus and was spending the night in the hotel. Although many years had elapsed, they recognized one another. The judge could see the great change caused by the man's conversion to Christ. He started proceedings which brought about the man's full pardon. "If the son sets you free, you are free indeed."

You can be outside of prison and still be bound to the things that would destroy you. The only real freedom that any of us ever achieve is that freedom that comes by being on the Lord's side.

What is your situation at this-Easter Time -- are you bound by fear, unforgiveness, hatred, despair, discouragement, unbelief? You can be set free, as Jesus is present right where you are, but do you want to be present with him? Are you willing to turn your life over to Jesus. I believe with all my heart that when you come to that commitment, you will say with the men on the road to Emmaus, "Did not our heart burn within us."

That is the joyful experience of Easter, the real recognition of the presence of the living Christ, causing your heart to burn within you in the reality that he can help you to overcome all things. May God's deep presence be felt in your heart at this Easter time to bring you great joy regardless of other circumstances. Peace be with you, and in your spirit.

Back to "Letters to St. Paul's"

Back to Homepage