Wednesday, August 23, 2017
1st Corinthians 11:23-25: For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
This coming Sunday is the blessing of the students, their backpacks, and teachers of Faith Lutheran School. The theme for this coming school year is, "Caution: God at Work: Under Construction." I am looking forward to a great year with a great staff. It is all about building up young people, their families, along with the staff.
At the same time, we need to realize that we are broken. Sin is a part of our lives. We cannot escape it. What God created good, sin corrupted and ruined. It's a lot like mold in a house. The house was built solid. At the same time, mold got into it through some form of water leakage or damage. Unchecked growth of mold and moisture can ruin a house. And once it's found, it needs to be removed and the damaged area replaced and repaired because mold will not go away if you try to cover it up. The action of sin is much like the action of mold. If it is not removed, it will completely corrupt the person. The "house" is broken.
And the way that sin is removed is by Jesus' broken body and shed blood. That is what cleanses and repairs the house. And it is the same broken body that is "in, with, and under" the bread of Holy Communion along with the same blood that is "in, with, and under" the wine of Holy Communion. Because of Jesus, we are built in a new house that is free from sin, death, and the influence of Satan. We are brand new.
This rebuilt house is strong in Jesus. This rebuilt house has a "new lease on life." This new life lives for Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit with Jesus. God, lead us to live lives as strong houses, rebuilt and relying on You. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
1st Peter 3:18a: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God...
Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ," showed us something that we have not seen in art revolving around Jesus' crucifixion. What the movie showed was the climax of Jesus' suffering.
Jesus was brutalized. Jesus was beaten within an inch of His life and He survived that. Jesus was whipped with a whip that was multi-tipped. On the ends of the tips, rocks and pieces of metal were tied. It was designed to tear the flesh right to the bone. And that is before He got to the cross. Jesus was hit with it THIRTY NINE TIMES!
Then Jesus was nailed to the cross. Jim Caviezel, the actor who portrayed Jesus, suffered a dislocated shoulder as a result. The cause of death from crucifixion is not blood loss. It is suffocation. Jesus couldn't breathe. In order to breathe, Jesus' shoulders and arms needed to be at least level. In order to get there, Jesus had to push up with His feet and "stand up." With the nails through the feet and hand along with His body raw and bleeding, the pain had to be excruciating.
If you saw the movie, the image with words I'm trying to paint, pales with what was shown. What was shown was real. The suffering of Jesus climaxed with blood shed and body broken. Jesus' suffering gave to those who suffer with sin, hardships, heartaches, grief, death, loss, and so much more LIFE, GRACE, PEACE, COMFORT, AND LOVE. Jesus suffered, died, and was buried to save His creation from itself and the lies of Satan.
So what do you think? What does Jesus' suffering mean for you? Let's "talk" about it. Dear God be with our discussion and lead us to Your truth, Amen!
Thursday, August 10, 2017
John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son4 from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God's Word. Christians know the Word of God. It is the Bible, the written books of God. God's Word is something that Christians read on a sometimes daily basis. God's Word is the means through which the Holy Spirit teaches, leads, and disciples. Through the Word of God we know the will of God revealed to us from which we serve.
God's Word is Jesus. God's Word is the flesh and blood Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, from everlasting to everlasting, He is our God. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, IS the Word of God.
Now this is a mystery. Our minds try to force us to make a choice between the Word of God being the written Word or the person of Jesus. Our minds say they can't be both. It has to be one OR the other. Many people think this is the reason the Bible contains errors and contradictions. We think, "It can't possibly be BOTH, can it? If you want me to believe that it is both, then that's impossible."
Here is the mystery that is God. Not only can God's Word be BOTH the written Word called the Bible AND Jesus, it IS! God is messing with our minds. God is trying to expand the meaning of words and concepts. God is breaking down our preconceived ideas of what we think things SHOULD be to what they ARE. It is a tension that cannot be resolved.
And here's the reality flash. God works in the realm of "BOTH/AND" NOT "EITHER/OR." There are mysteries that God reveals to us that we cannot solve. Our minds and experiences are too small. Only by means of faith, belief, and trust in God can we come and say, "I don't understand it. In my mind it is a contradiction. So I'll let it go. I will leave the tension as is. I believe that both sides are true. I will trust God who holds it all together."
Does this satisfy my thoughts? No, it doesn't. It is satisfied and accepted through faith. Believe it. Dear God, lead us to trust You more than our thoughts, Amen.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Proverbs 30:5: Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Contrary to public opinion, God doesn't lie. Everything that He has said and done is shown in the world. There is evidence of it. The question is, "Are we looking for it?"
Every Word of God does prove true. The more we search, the more we find God. For example, a current theory as to how the universe began is called, "Intelligent Design." If I understand the theory correctly, everything in the universe is too precise, too "designed" to have happened by chance. At the same time, they theorists won't make the leap that says, "God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God and three persons at the same time, created it."
And here's the Good News. The more we read God's Word, the more we see the truth of it. The more we dive into the reality of God in Scripture, the more we "see" the reality of God's work on our behalf. God is an angry and vengeful God, punishing those to second and third generations of those who hate Him. At the same time, God is a loving and compassionate God, giving mercy, grace, and forgiveness to thousands of generations who love Him. God's mercy, grace, and forgiveness is fully known and received in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Father's Son and our Savior and Lord.
So dive into the Word. Read, learn, mark, and inwardly digest it so that the truth of God's love comes through, loud and clear. Diligently search the Scriptures with an open heart and mind, and let the Holy Spirit clear the dull mind and open it up to what God did for you. Let the Word cause you to grow and mature. And if you aren't sure, let the Holy Spirit through the Word lead you to believe. The Word of God is true. Dear God, open our minds and hearts to the truth of Your Word, Amen.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Colossians 1:25-26: of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.
I love a good mystery. The intrigue, the suspense, and then the revelation. The "tada" moment when the mystery is no longer a mystery. The speculation is over. All of the "I's" are dotted and all the "T's" are crossed.
God's Word reveals the mystery. When you read it with open eyes, mind, and heart, God is opening the door to life, forgiveness, peace, and joy. God's Word lets us know who He is, His character, His love, His mercy.
People think that God is an angry god only bent to punish and destroy. Know this: when you read the Bible, God's revealed and revealing Word, You will see the full side of God. Yes, God punishes sin. Adam and Eve were told to leave Eden because of sin. The human race inherited sin and thereby death. AND AT THE SAME TIME, God promised life to those who believe that He will save them from death and separation from God. And THAT is the mystery revealed. God did send salvation to the world. His name is Jesus, "Y'shua," which means, "the one who saves." Jesus is the Son of God and Son of Man that was promised to all people. Jesus is the one person who was sacrificed by God so that by means of His death, our sins died with Him. And by means of His resurrection, our lives are restored to a new life to live with God.
That's the mystery revealed in the Bible. Read it. Dear God, thank You for opening the mystery up so we can see Jesus, Amen.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Psalm 32:5: I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
We who are parents know this scenario. You confront your child over something that he/she did. The first response you get is, "I didn't do it." In spite of the evidence, your child continues to deny. Eventually your child comes to you, confessing what he/she did and says, "I'm sorry." From that moment on, you share with them forgiveness.
And all children, no matter what the age, at first deny any "wrongdoing" and deny any sin. It take an "act of God" to lead children to finally let go of the ego, stubbornness, pride, and arrogance and come to ask for forgiveness. And what is this "act of God?"
The "act of God" is Jesus and what He did. Jesus was born and walked the perfect life that was in total obedience to the will of God. Jesus willingly and wonderfully walked to the cross, being the sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus died so that we, who should die for our sins, would die eternally. We, who believe in the grace of God through Jesus, stop denying our sins, let go of our arrogance, ego, stubbornness, and pride. We come to God humbly bowing before Him, confessing our sins so that we live in the righteousness He gave through the resurrection of Jesus. We craw before God and say, "God, I have sinned. I have acted foolishly, rebelliously, and stubbornly. I ask You, no I beg You to forgive me of my sins so that I am free to live in You, for You, and with You. " Jesus gave us life and gave it to the full. Therefore we have a new life today and a new life forever with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus, I rely on Your life that was given up for mine. I am forgiven. Thank You, amen.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
John 12:46: [Jesus is saying,] "I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness."
There is a prevailing attitude that we are "enlightened." What I mean by this is can be summarized in a phrase coined by NBC which is, "The more you know..." I take this to mean, "The more you know about people, situations, challenges and the like, the more that you'll be aware, better informed, and be able to change the way you see things and thereby not offend anyone."
We are living in an environment of "why can't we all just get along?" The problem with this sentiment is, we can't all get along. We are all selfish, self-centered, and egotistical. No matter how enlightened, fair minded, and unbiased we THINK we are, we are still crawling in the dark, trying to find our bearings on our own. Reality check: we are not enlightened.
We need a light, a lantern, and a guide. We need someone to take us from our darkened state and enlighten us. That light is Jesus. Jesus came into the world in order to bring you and I, along with the rest of the world, into His marvelous light of grace, mercy, and love. Jesus' presence in your life will change your life.
Through faith in what Jesus did and relying on the Holy Spirit to teach, lead, and strengthen you, you will be walking in the light of Jesus. You then can, and will, live humbly and full of grace and mercy. You will grow in love toward others and respect them. You will speak the truth in love. You will become enlightened by means of the light that is Jesus.
Do you want to know more about Jesus? Come and join us. Dear God, lead people to Your Son, our Light and our Life, Amen.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
1st John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So what is sin? It is the fundamental attitude that says, "I am in charge of my life. I don't need God. I can do whatever I want. If I want to cuss, not respect authority because their 'wrong,' be hateful to people, do whatever I want with my body with whoever I want, be disrespectful to others, and take something from people because I want it. If someone else, like 'Jesus people' don't like it, that's their opinion. It's my life. It's my choice."
That leads to a dangerous point for us. Sin is what keeps us from having a relationship with God. Not having a relationship with God leads us to hell.
So what do we do? Acknowledge sin. Recognize it. Know that our choices separate us from God. Confess it. Get it out in the open. Tell it to God. And let God forgive it.
And God forgives our sins. Jesus died so that we will be forgiven. Forgiveness is an act of God that takes away the consequences of sin and gives us life. Forgiveness happened when Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. Forgiveness is based upon the love of God through what Jesus did so that when we tell God our sins, He will forgive us and cleanse our hearts and lives. Forgiveness is the source of a new attitude. That new attitude starts when we confess our sins. Dear God, lead us to know sin, confess sin, and know Jesus. Amen.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Psalm 86:9-10: All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
This is the declaration of God's people. There is no other god other than GOD. All other "gods" are fakes and frauds. They don't do anything. They don't speak to anyone. And most importantly, they will not and cannot save anyone. There is only ONE GOD who can, and does, fill the holes that are in our lives because we're human beings.
Have you ever experienced that something was missing in your life? Have you ever tried to fill what is missing with something or someone? We all have. Because we are humans, we are sinners. Our nature is missing something that was original to the human race. What is it? It is the "Image of God." What is missing from every person's life is the real connection to God, something that completes us. Adam and Eve sinned through disobedience. They were removed from the presence and intimate relationship with God. And every generation after Adam and Eve was conceived, born, lived, and died missing that connection to God. UNTIL...
God the Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, came into our presence, became human, endured the human condition, suffered, died, was buried, and rose. Jesus forgave our human nature, forgave our sins, cleansed us from all unrighteousness, and gave us a brand new life of grace and faith. Jesus brought the image of God back to the human race. All those who believe in God and are baptized, have received the "Image of God." The hole is filled. That what was missing was put back by God through what Jesus Christ did.
And we, who believe, respond by means of faith to worship and glorify our God. People from all tribes and nations worship God because God through what Jesus did, gave them life and filled them with salvation, forgiveness, love, and mercy. Oh God, You are great. You are mighty to save. Thank You.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
1st Corinthians 1:1-3: Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
With the advent of text messages, Facebook and other "Social Media" sites, email, and much of the modern forms of communication, the art of introduction, salutation, and "formal" greeting have been forgotten and unused. At the same time, we have turned into a society of "emojis" and acronims like LOL and BRB. Shorthand communication has replaced letter writing, composition of thought, and, in some cases, human conversation.
So let's step back in time when people hand wrote letters, introduced themselves, and shared a formal yet loving greeting. St. Paul is introducing himself again and Sosthenes, to the congregation, saying a small bit of who he is. He is saying, "Hello Corinthian Church" as we as saying something loving and nice about them all at the same time. Then he greets them in a loving way in a formal phrase. This is the way you introduce yourself.
How does this relate to worship and celebration? Easy. God has a way of introducing Himself to us. He says, "In the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." It's God's way of introducing Himself at the beginning of the letter that is our worship service. Then the rest of the letter is the worship service.
Some come and join us and here the letter that God is writing for us. Dear God, thank You for the letter that is Your service to us, 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 Poctello, ID. He has been a Lutheran pastor for the past 20 years.