Thursday, November 16, 2017
1st Thessalonians 5:9-11: For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
What does God want for all people? What does God intend for us? And the biggest of the three is, What is my destiny?
In what location after I die will I end up? Some believe that after you die, that's it. You cease to exist. Some people think that you are either bound for heaven or bound for hell. It doesn't matter what you think or believe. Some believe that God has already established to location to which you will go long before you were born. It's like you had no "choice" in the matter.
So what do we believe is going to happen? First, we have an eternal destiny. ALL PEOPLE will live forever. The question is where, heaven or hell? ALL PEOPLE are subject to judgment, eternal punishment from God because of sin. ALL PEOPLE sin. ALL PEOPLE are headed for hell.
However, do not be afraid. God has also said that ALL PEOPLE have the opportunity for salvation because of who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, lived the perfect life on our behalf. Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Jesus was buried to make the graves we lie in holy. And Jesus ROSE so that we will rise and be with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit forever. This is the reality for those who believe.
What, you don't believe, or you're not sure? Contact me. Let's talk about your salvation from sins and your life eternal. Dear Holy Spirit, lead us to believe and have our life in You, Amen.
Monday, November 13, 2017
Zephaniah 1:14-16: The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.
One day, you're walking down the sidewalk, getting a little exercise. It's a sunny day until... the sky goes dark. You stop and watch everything unfold in front of you, above you, and all around you. Then the alarm sounds. It's the tornado warning signal. People are coming out of their houses and looking all around. You see the panic and fear on their faces. "What is going on?" you hear many ask. You're thinking the same thing. Is this it? Is this the day of the Lord? Do I need to start looking for Jesus coming from heaven in the sky?
We all wonder what the day when Jesus returns will look like. We all have thought about it, especially in today's tense atmosphere. Will we see nuclear missiles come from the sky? Will we experience more earthquakes, storms, and the like? We will see more of the moral decay of the world, like it was before the flood? Will we hear the trumpet call of God any day? It could happen any day.
Jesus promised that He will return one day. Jesus promised that when He does return, the world will end, the new heavens and earth will come, and all that we know will come to an end. The day will come at the Father's choosing. Because one day ... BOOM. It will come upon us just like a thief does in the night. And God gives to us signs and signals so that we will be aware and be ready for it, like today's passage.
So how are we ready? Believe in Jesus and His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Prepare through faith your life to know that when all hell breaks loose here on earth, our lives will be heaven bound. Our task as Christians is to be out in the streets, in the world while the world is in turmoil. We have the opportunity and responsibility to be the people "Where the love of Christ lives," being equipped with faith, being encouraged by hope, and engaged with the love of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, walk the streets, get your exercise, and talk to the people around you about Jesus. Thank You Father, for faith in Jesus in order to serve You, Amen.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Amos 5:18: Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD?
Many people think, "God will take into account with me that I tried. I mean, I really tried to be good. I think God will accept my intentions to want to do right by Him. True, I hardly ever followed through on my intentions. But it's the thought that counts, right?"
So if you think like this above that the "day of the LORD" will be a relatively nice day, you're in for a rude awakening. If you thought that the "day of the LORD" will be uneventful, you've got another thing coming.
The day of the LORD will be this day that is dark, dank, painful, and down right ugly. You think that real life is not fun, what till you catch up the the day of the LORD.
The day of the LORD is a day that will not go we, especially for those who do not believe in Jesus and His saving grace. Read from our verse today through verse 24. It will not be pretty.
What will make the day of the LORD tolerable? It's easy. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved."
Believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, saved you from your sins, the influence of Satan, and from hell. Jesus, because He was the only one who walked a perfect life in obedience to the will of Father. The ONLY ONE! You nor I can or will we. Jesus was the perfect life so that through His life we will have life. Believe that Jesus did that for you. Jesus also died on the cross to be the curse that comes from failing to obey the entire law of God perfectly. Jesus was cursed because He died on the cross. Jesus was the perfect and final sacrifice that God the Father needs in order to forgive you of your sins. When you believe in what Jesus did, you are forgiven. There is no more reason to say what you said earlier. Because of Jesus, you are forgiven, you are renewed, and you are washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus.
So when you believe in Jesus, the day of the LORD is no longer a day you dread. You look forward to it because Jesus gave you life. Holy Spirit, lead me to believe that Jesus saved me so that I will live with You, Jesus, and the Father, Amen.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Matthew 5:11-12: [Jesus is saying,] “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Yes, the title is backwards. Usually we hear "The ends justify the means." This sentence means, "Whatever I have to do in order to get the results I want, that is what I'll do." It is a method. It is not the best method.
Now we're reversing it all. We all go through struggles, trials, and tribulations. People pick on Christians. It happens more often than it does not. Some persecution is subtle. Some is "in your face." As Christians, we face trouble because of who we are. Mostly, we face trouble because of Jesus, in whom we believe. The struggles are because we love Jesus and we know and believe that Jesus loves us. And instead of saying, "Poor me, I don't like that fact that people don't like me because I believe in Jesus. So to stop it, to blend in with everyone else, I won't stand up and stand out with Jesus," we say, "I will continue to stand up and stand out with Jesus. I know my reward for faith in Jesus is heaven and life with Him forever. So I'll go through the suffering, the struggles, and the troubles. They'll only make my faith stronger and my hope in Christ more visible."
So stand up and stand out with Jesus. Dear God, give us strength to face the challenges as we focus on the reward of heaven, Amen.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
1st John 3:2-3: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Here's a shocker. This paragraph along with the rest of the letter, is addressed to the believers. The "beloved" are believers in God the Father, God the Son, Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit. The ones to whom the letter was written are called "God's children" because they believe that God loves them, that Jesus died to forgive their sins and rose to life to give them the gift of life now and forever, and that the Holy Spirit guides and directs their obedience to the will of God. And it is the beloved who will be like Him forever.
What about everyone else? Doesn't God love everyone? Didn't Jesus die for all people? Yes, God loves everyone. Yet everyone does not know God nor love Him. Yes, Jesus died for all people of all ages everywhere. Yet all people do not believe that Jesus lived, died, rose, and ascended. And as a wise man shared with me, "If your 'god' didn't die on the cross, avoid it, that ain't your God."
Only those who know and believe in God and believe that Jesus lived, died, rose, and ascended and that the Holy Spirit guides them through life by the Holy Bible will be like Jesus. Only those know this because they see Jesus as He is. And those who know and believe in Jesus' work, our God who died on the cross and rose to life to bring about life to all who will believe, and who ascended to prepare a place for all who believe, have their hope in Him and thereby be pure. Dear God, lead those who don't know You and Your love to here You and receive Your love. Also continue to guide and grow Your beloved so they see You more fully, Amen!
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Revelation 7:17: [The Angel speaking to John says,] "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
And yes, that is a picture of baby Jesus in the manger. I chose it to make the point clear that Jesus is in our midst. He is in the world among those who believe. Although Jesus "stands at the door (of your life) and knocks," there are people who still do not believe.
And those who DO believe, Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, Emmanuel, God with us, the Lamb who was slain and lives, is guiding us to life with Him today as well as forever. Jesus will wipe away all the tears that come as a result of sin, guilt, torment, and suffering. Jesus, because of His suffering, torment, abuse, and death, gives us life. Through all of what Jesus experienced, we have forgiveness, peace, joy, and love of God. But wait, there's more!!
When Jesus rose, and He did rise from the grave, He gave us a brand new life in which to live. Jesus gave us a life that is not trapped in sin, guilt, sorrow, and pain. Jesus gave us a life free to live with Him in this world and eternally with Him. When you believe in God and what Jesus did for you, you have the promise of this life. It's a free gift to you.
For those of you who are reading this today who don't believe, who have doubts, questions, who think, "Why would a god have anything to do with me?" be assured. God does love you so much that He sent Jesus, the Lamb of God, to you to give you life and hope when you believe.
For those of you who are reading this today who do believe, share this blog with some you know who does not. Let them know that Jesus is here for them. Share your journey with Jesus and how Jesus is in your midst. Dear God, thank You for Jesus and placing Him in our lives, Amen!
Thursday, October26, 2017
Martin Luther wrote a hymn titled, "A Mighty Fortress is our God." It is based on the text from Psalm 46. Some of the lyrics go like this.
A mighty fortress is our God,
A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev'ry need
That has us now o'ertaken
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.
With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the valiant One,
Whom God himself elected.
Ask you who is this? Jesus Christ it is,
Of Sabaoth Lord, And there's no other God
He holds the field forever.
When think Reformation, we think this hymn, Martin Luther, the five "Solas," and most of all, God's grace that forgives our sin by what Jesus did. When we think about this hymn, and specifically these two stanzas, we think battles and a war.
Satan and our own sinful flesh are "at war" with God, our faith, and our life with Christ. The first stanza reveals that. If we tried to "fight the good fight" without God as our refuge, strength, and battlements, we would not put up any kind of find. Our situation is hopeless. That is why stanza two is so important. God fights on our behalf. God gives us the holy armor so, when we engage in battle, we will win.
And how is the victory assured? Is Jesus riding out into the battle field, armed to the teeth in order to take Satan down? Jesus is only armed with the cross. He is naked to the world. He appears vulnerable and weak. Our hero dies. The enemy thinks he has won. He has lost.
The cross, the instrument of cursing, is the weapon that God used to defeat Satan. The holy, innocent, sufferings, death of Jesus destroyed the grip of Satan on people. The Warrior Lord struck a blow against Satan that he cannot stand against. Jesus' death AND resurrection sent Satan to hell forever. Satan has no more influence on us. The victory is assured. Hallelujah!
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Revelation 14:6-7: Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
I have a couple of friends who have drones. I see their pictures taken from their drones posted on Facebook of either landscapes and pictures of their congregation from the sky. It's pretty cool.
NOW, what if the drones had speakers. And as the pastors are flying them their saying this message. Can you image the surprise of people below? They'll think that God is calling on them or something.
And then there's the message. "Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of judgment has come. and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water." That would put the fear of God into me, for sure.
And we need to be afraid. Judgment is coming to the world. The world's behaviors are "anti-Christ." The world's philosophies are against the ways of God. People of the world, along with the people of the Church of Jesus, need to hear that. We all need to be "quaking in our boots."
We also need to hear the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the hope that He gives for life and salvation. We also need to say that, "God forgives you of your sins. Trust in Him who made the heavens and the earth. Trust Jesus who gave up His life and shed His blood to be the sacrifice for your sins to make you whiter than snow. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in the ways of God and not the ways of the world. Then worship God in spirit and in truth with awe and wonder." Dear God, thank You for Jesus who died to take away the sin and give us life, Amen!"
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
John 8:35-36: Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Let dialogue the meaning of freedom. Answers to questions like, "What does freedom look like?" Or, "How do I know what freedom is like?"
Let us explore what freedom really means.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Romans 3:19-20: Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
As a child, we know when we did something wrong. I remember the famous line from my mom, "Wait until your father gets home." My mom was not shy about punishing us for what we did or didn't do. Yet the guilt went up a couple of notches when she said, "What until your father gets home."
The Law of God, both the internal conscience and the written Word, tells us very clearly we sinned. That is the purpose of the Law. It is designed to lead us to know our sin and what it is. It is designed to lead us to contrition, which is a genuine understanding and acceptance of what we did and that it's wrong before God. The Law leads us to realize and accept the condition our sin and sinfulness. The Law is designed to keep us from rationalizing away the sin by calling it a "wrong choice" or a "bad behavior" or a "mistake." The also leads us to realize that when our Father gets home, we are "IN TROUBLE." Sin is sin. There is no excusing it. It's time to buck it up and take the punishment.
From contrition comes repentance, which is the genuine desire to turn away from the sin and turn toward God and salvation through Jesus. Then the really Good News is knowing that we are forgiven of our sins by God through what Jesus did.
We need to realize sin more clearly so that we can realize more clearly the grace that is from God through Jesus. When we realize our sin more clearly, we will see more clearly the grace of God, that Jesus substituted, or sacrificed, Himself for us. So when we know our sin and what is causes, we also know our Savior and what He did. Dear Father, lead us by Your Spirit to confess our sin and receive Your grace, Amen.
Pastor Robert Hemsath joined Faith Lutheran Church and School as the Senior Pastor in January 2017. Pastor Hemsath comes to FLC from Christ the King Lutheran Church in Waxahachie, TX. He has also served congregations in Aberdeen, ID and Pocatello, ID. He has been a Lutheran pastor for the past 20 years.