Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Mark 1:32-33: That evening at sundown they brought to Him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door.
Why did the whole city show up at Simon Peter's house? They found out that Jesus healed Simon Peter's mother-in-law. Word spread like wild fire that Jesus was there and that Jesus healed. So now everyone who was ill, injured, and even demon possessed were brought that evening for Jesus to bring His healing power upon them. Everyone who was hurting, struggling, and needing the light of Jesus and His life showed up. Jesus then took the time to heal and to cast out the demons. After that Jesus said, "We need to move on. More people need the light of life in their lives."
Now let's move forward to right now. The need is still there. People are hurting, struggling, living and dying. People still need the work that Jesus does for them. People still need Him. And they're asking, "Where is Jesus? I don't see Him. Pain and suffering still happen. People are still dying. And the people who claim to know Him don't seem to care. They seem to care more for themselves than for others."
Ouch. That's harsh criticism. And that criticism is not unfounded. We say we care for people. For example, I see posts on Facebook about struggles and requests for prayer. I see replies with "I'm praying for you" or the folded hands emojie. Rarely do we see a prayer typed up or a request, "What can I do?"
James in his epistle tells us that desires for prayer and prayers are good. Caring for others in need and putting our faith into action is better. You see, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into the world and the Church to equip us for the tasks and needs at hand, to encourage with God's hope and promise when we fail, and to engage us with His Love so that people are taken care of, that needs and hurts are dealt with, and that the light that heals comes to bear in people's lives. Holy Spirit, empower us to more fully be a part of the lives who are in need, Amen.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
1st Corinthians 8:5-6: For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth - as indeed there are many 'gods" and many "lords" - yet for us there is on God, the Father from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
There are many things, people, and places that are important to people. Some of these things, and many people will not admit this, that are "god like." Many people won't admit this because they don't believe in gods. To those people who do not think that people, things, and places are "god like," know this: any person, place, or thing that is elevated to the position of influence over your life, something or someone that you just can't do without, that is a god. And these "gods" and "lords" in the long run do you no good. For example, if your "god" is your career and you are all about being successful in your career. You may achieve the position that you want. Yet what is the cost? Was it family? Was it health? And how long do you think that you'll stay on top? Then what?
So let's think about this knowledge. Any "god" in this world is finite, temporary, and potentially dangerous to your eternal life. At the same time, realize this. There is only ONE GOD, the Father of us all, the creator of heaven and earth and everything in it. There is only the SON JESUS who is your Savior and Lord who died on the cross, saved you from your sins, and gave to you a new life in and with God the Father. And there is the Holy Spirit guiding you to know, believe, and trust God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and opening you up to a new and true knowledge. For example, there is nothing wrong with having a great career. It's just not the end all and be all. Realize and know and believe that God gave you the skills, intellect, and drive to have a career. Use it to His glory and honor. What's the "cost?" Having a life balanced with God, family, and career, knowing forgiveness and love from God. Holy Spirit, lead us to experience this balance more fully.
Monday, January 22, 2018
Mark 1:27: And they were all amazed, so that the questioned among themselves saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey Him."
Have you ever been around a person who was so commanding of the room, that you couldn't help yourself in admiring him? You think, "This guy knows what he's talking about. I can get behind him and his vision." There is always someone who is out there that can do that. It doesn't matter if it's in the business world, the government and politics world, or even the religion world.
In our Bible passage, the people in the synagogue noticed the same thing about Jesus. After all, Jesus, not only teaches with authority and power, He also forces a demonic presence out of a man. It is "natural" to be amazed when one sees something like that.
Now we, who are around two thousand years removed from the event, do we think the same as the people then did? No, we don't. Because the event is written down in a book that many people dismiss as a "fairy tale" or a "mythology," the event is brushed off. Even for those of us Christians who believe that the Bible is truth and all the events in the Bible truly happened, we sometimes brush it off as, "I guess you had to be there."
Yet, we are there. We are right in the middle of it. Jesus is right here among us, teaching with authority and power. He is right here casting out demons in our lives. Jesus is that one God/man who commands the room the moment He walks in. The effect still happens. He is always with us. Through faith in Jesus, experience the joy and awe that He commands. Allow yourself to be wow'd by Him. And let others see that wow in you. Holy Spirit, open me up more fully to the wow of Jesus, Amen.
Monday January 15, 2018
Mark 1:17-18: Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” They left their nets immediately and followed him.
I hope to go on a fishing trip with my brothers later this year in Alaska. We haven't done anything like this as brothers in a long time. It should be fun.
And do you know what else is fun? Fishing for people. It's fun "dropping a line" into the water of the world and see what you catch. What are you going to use as "bait?" What is going to attract someone to leave the comfort of their couches and beds to join you in the "boat" of discipleLIFE?
I like to use the bait that will "attract" people. And what is the bait? It's JESUS IN YOU! People will allow themselves to be "caught" when they see a real Christian. You're going to catch people when they see you following Jesus.
Let's look at it this way. Will people experience Jesus when your life doesn't reflect Jesus? People see right through that. "Do what I say and not what I do" does not catch people. It's hypocritical.
"Let me show you Jesus as I follow Jesus." is a better way to catch people.
So let follow Jesus. Let's go on a fishing trip. Let's catch some people. Jesus, influence our lives with Your grace so that we follow and fish, Amen.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
1st Samuel 3:7-9: Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD; the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. Then the LORD called Samuel a third time. So he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me!” Eli then realized that it was the LORD who was calling the boy. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go back and lie down. When he calls you, say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went back and lay down in his place.
Samuel was given to serve God in the temple with the High Priest Eli when Samuel was around three years old. Samuel knew what to do in the temple. Samuel followed the instructions of Eli. Samuel did not know God because he did not know God's Word. Now that was about to change.
Eli finally realized that God was reaching out to Samuel after the third time Samuel woke him up. It was Eli's advice that connected Samuel to God. God was reaching out to Samuel. And now Samuel was prepared to listen and hear the Word of God.
Are you prepared to not only hear the call of God and to respond? Many people work in the Church, volunteer in the Church and still don't know God. Why is that? Perhaps the answer is in our passage. Are you reading God's Word? God has, is, and will always speak to people through His Word. The voice of God calls to you, me, and all people through His Word.
Do you want to know what God is telling you? Do you want to hear His voice? Open up His book and say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." Dear God, thank You for Your Word, Amen.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
1st Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful for me” but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me”–but I will not be controlled by anything.
I have heard it said, "Your life has no limits. You can do anything that you put your mind to."
In many ways, there is nothing wrong with what's above. God gave to us minds, abilities, skills, and the like to do what we would like. God gave us those abilities and and skills to benefit others and glorify Him. What ends up being wrong is the ways it is misapplied.
We turn what God says through St. Paul into selfish freedom. "I can do what I want. As long as I'm not hurting anyone, it shouldn't matter to God or anyone else what I do. After all, I have forgiveness." What we have done, is turn our freedom from sin into sin.
Let's read further. Is our selfish actions beneficial to any one else? Is it beneficial even to us? Is gratifying our sinful urges benefiting even me? No it isn't. It's leading us down a path to hell where all the self indulgent people end up.
So by means of grace and forgiveness, that is Jesus and what He did, we let go of all self indulgence. We live by means of the Holy Spirit as people being responsible to God and for our ourselves. We live as people who will not allow our sin, our sinful nature, and the influence of Satan to control our lives. We will live by means of grace and forgiveness in the great power of God the Holy Spirit. Being free means being responsible because our freedom is based on what Jesus did for us. Holy Spirit, lead us to responsibly live the lives Jesus gave, Amen!
Monday, January 8, 2018
John 1:47 - 50: Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”
Have you ever watched the commercials that have the phrase, "But wait, there's more." Of course there's more. There's always more. :-)
In a similar way, Jesus is saying the same thing to Nathanael. Jesus is saying, "You think that me seeing you under the fig tree was enough to show you who I am. There is a lot more that you haven't seeing that you will see. Just wait. There is more to come."
And what about us? Is Jesus saying to us, "But wait, there's more?" After all, Jesus finished what He was to do. Jesus brought salvation to the world that is in desperate need of it. Jesus died and rose. Jesus promised life and light to every person who will believe in Him. And yes, He gave it to us. So, is Jesus saying, "But wait, there's more?"
Yes He is. Jesus will return. He can return any day. Jesus will return in the way that He left. So we continue to look for His return. In the mean time, let us continue to be led by the Holy Spirit to serve God and be the place "Where the love of Christ lives." Holy Spirit, guide us and direct us in our walk with You until Jesus returns, Amen.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Romans 6:3-4: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Your child is playing with his friends. They see a mud puddle. They can't help themselves. They have to jump in the mud puddle, scattering water and dirt all over the place and all over them. They are happy and having fun. Until...
Your child walks in the door, trailing mud and gunk into your house. You see it. You yell, "Stop right there! Do not take another step!" Your child is soaked in mud from head to toe, laughing and having a good time. You can't help but smile. "Take off you clothes right there and then go into the bathroom. You need a bath."
And we need a bath. Not a bath that takes mud and gunk off of the body. We need a bath that God gives that connects us to Jesus.
Holy Baptism is a bath that has eternal benefits. Let's put it this way. Jesus died on the cross. By means of that death, Jesus forgave our sins and washed away all of our sins. Through Holy Baptism, we are linked not only to the forgiveness of sins that Jesus gave through His death. We are also intimately joined to Jesus' resurrection and the new life that it gives both in this lifetime as well as the eternal lifetime. So Holy Baptism is an additional means that God gave to receive life and forgiveness from God.
So it's time to bathe for those of you who haven't been baptized yet. If you have questions, please send a reply to this post. Let's talk. Thank You God, for this wonderful bath.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Mark 1:9: In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
This time in the calendar for the Church is not called Winter. It's called, "Epiphany." For those who don't know the word, epiphany means that a "light" went on. For us, it is the time period that we focus on the life of Jesus starting with His public ministry. Or said another way, when the light of God began to shine in the light of people.
Starting with His baptism, Jesus showed the light of God that was Him. Jesus came to the Jordan River where His cousin, John the Baptizer was preparing the way. THE Prophet came to the last of the prophets so that Jesus' service to all people would begin. Jesus came so that all people, then as well as now, would have the opportunity to live in the light that is Jesus. Jesus came to bring forgiveness and life to the world. Jesus came so that people who believe in Him live in His radiance and light and life.
The Light of the World came. Thank You, Jesus, for coming to us and saving us and giving to us new life, 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.