A Glorious Heartburn

by Joseph Franks

It was Sunday, and the grave which housed the crucified body of Jesus was empty. The Son of God had come back to life, folded his grave clothes, rolled away the stone, left some angels behind, exited the sepulcher, and was in the process of reuniting with his fear-filled disciples.

Two of them he met walking down the Emmaus Road, and during their shared journey he kept his identity hidden. As they travelled, these disciples enjoyed Jesus’ company and were captivated by his teaching. And upon approached their village, they invited and implored Jesus to spend the evening at their house. Jesus determined to stay for a bit, and when meal time came, something interesting and unexpected happened. Jesus played the part of the host; he blessed the bread, broke the bread, and then distributed it to his friends. It was at this point their eyes were opened. They recognized the true identity of their traveling companion, and with this discovery Jesus vanished. As they sat in shock and awe musing on their afternoon and evening, they said to one another:

Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?  (Luke 24:32)

From Moses and the Prophets, Jesus had shown them all the various prophecies relating to his humiliation and exaltation. Scriptures they had read countless times came alive. And in the process of Jesus’ reading, teaching, and preaching Scripture, he caused their hearts to burn.

Friends, have you experienced this? Do you remember the day you heard the Gospel and came to know Christ as your Savior and Lord? Can you remember times of personal devotions where the communion between you and God was near and dear? Wasn’t it a grand season when you went to church and seemed to hear Christ every week speaking directly to your heart through the preached Word? Wasn’t this a glorious burning of the heart?

Do you miss this? As of late, has the burning been rare? Are you one who sits privately on your sofa with your Bible open, but your soul seems so cold? On Sundays, when you are sitting in the pew, do you find your mind wandering off and wishing for the sermon to be over so you could go to lunch? Yes, Christian fellowship is wonderful, but it will not cause your heart to burn. Going to church, singing songs, and properly practicing the sacraments will necessarily result in an inner spiritual burning. Even reading the Word and hearing the Bible preached, this will not necessary cause your heart to burn. The disciples on the road to Emmaus had all of this, but they were walking with despairing and despondent hearts. What they needed was a fresh encounter with Jesus, and when Jesus arrived, all was made right. The hearts burned within.

Therefore my struggling brothers and sisters, what we need is a fresh encounter with Jesus! And since his physical being is presently found in paradise, what we really need is the precious gift of Jesus — the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit meets us; when he walks down life’s road with us, teaches us, and determines to feed us, our hearts will burn within. Our personal devotions will come alive. Sermons and sacraments will become very personal and effectual, and we will dare not miss our next opportunity to read his book and meet with his people.

So, how do we get warmed by the Holy Spirit? First, the Spirit warms those whom he desires to warm. He is the first mover in the divine-human relationship. Without any pursuance on our part, the Holy Spirit can bring about repentance and revival.

However, secondly, the Holy Spirit usually chooses to warm those found in prayer about the Means of Grace. What does this really mean? To find our hearts burning through the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

  • We should be fervently praying before we read the Bible.
  • We should be fervently praying while we read the Bible.
  • We should be fervently praying after reading the Bible.
  • We should be fervently praying as we are engaged in congregational singing.
  • We should be fervently praying while the Bible is being preached.
  • We should be fervently praying while partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
  • We should be fervently praying while witnessing baptism with water.
  • We should be fervently praying while we fellowship with brothers and sisters in our prayer meetings.

Perhaps in our personal devotions and in our corporate worship, our hearts are cold because we are religious individuals going through the motions without prayer and consequently without the Spirit of Christ. He is grieved. He is quenched.

Friends, on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus fixed everything. Today, Jesus’ Holy Spirit provides love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. He is the granter of wisdom, and he makes hearts burn.

Let us pray!

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