Monday, January 28, 2019
Luke 4:34-36: "Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him [the unclean spirit possessing a man,] "Be silent and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him [the man possessed] down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, "What is this word? For with and authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."
Have you ever done anything wrong? And before you answer that, also consider this question. Who held you accountable for what you did?
Sin and its' Consequence:
We all have done something wrong. No one is perfect. Except for Jesus, who is both God (conceived by the Holy Spirit) and Man (born of the virgin Mary), no one born of a man and a woman is perfect. Some call the wrong things we do "mistakes" or "bad choices." Christians call them actions based upon a sinful nature, therefore what we do in sinful.
And sin has consequences. And the consequences of sin are more than "a time out." The consequences of sin are separation from God, both on earth AND forever.
The Man and the Unclean Spirit:
The unclean spirit, or demon, had possessed this man. Why, I don't know, he decided to challenge Jesus. Was it out of defiance? Or was it fear? What we do know is what Jesus did.
Jesus challenged sin in the man and the unclean spirit. Jesus, with authority and power, commanded the spirit to come out of the man. And when God speaks, even demons listen.
Sin possessed the man. The devil had a hold on him. It takes Jesus to unloose that hold and command the sin and demon to leave.
We Too, have the Authority and Power:
Jesus does the same to you and me as He did to the man possessed. Jesus commands the sin and the influence of Satan to leave us. How? Jesus lived the perfect life. He did not sin. He could not sin. Jesus is God and man. He is the perfect example. The command to get out was done by the forgiveness won through His death. Because Jesus allowed His body to be broken and His blood shed, Jesus spoke the words, "Come out of him. Come out of her." When Jesus rose, He gave to each of us who believe a life freed from sin. It no longer has the power to possess us. And now we have the authority and power.
The authority and power to say to sin and the devil, "Leave me alone." comes from Jesus. And we also have the authority and power to help others who are in the same trap of sin and possession. It is Jesus working through us.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Romans 6:3-5: 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. For if we have been united with in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.
Connected to Jesus:
To use a cliche, we are "joined at the hip" with Jesus. We are connected to Jesus because of what He did for us. Jesus died. Jesus rose. That is the simple truth.
So how are we connected to Jesus? Again, God shares the simple truth. It is through baptism. Baptism washes us clean because we are dead in sin and trespasses. Without the connection to Jesus, we will die in our sins and not have eternal life with Him.
But because of God's love and Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, we are forgiven and given a new life. Jesus died to forgive us. Baptism drowns and causes the death of our sinful nature. Jesus rose out of the grave. Baptism pours life into us so that we will live with Him.
Again, it is a simple truth. It's all about being united with Jesus. We have forgiveness because of Jesus. We have life because of Jesus. When we are baptized, when water is poured on us, or we are immersed AND the Word of God is spoken, we are connected to all the life that Jesus is and gave freely.
It is the connection between the death and life of Jesus to the death of sin and resurrection of new life in us.
Monday, January 7, 2018
Luke 3:16-17: John answered them all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but He who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."
"The set up man" is a term used in baseball to describe the pitcher who came into a game just before the closer, the pitcher who ended the game without the other team winning. The "set up man" was the one who prepared the game for the closer so that the closer would come in and finish the game.
John the Baptist:
John the Baptist was Jesus' "set up man." John "prepared the way" as the prophets long before foretold. John knew what his role was. John said later, "I must decrease. He must increase." After John, it was all about Jesus who John called, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
Yet here is the kicker. John is setting US up for Jesus, not the other way. John is prepare US for Jesus' arrival. John is making us aware of the great and awe full work of Jesus.
Set Up for Jesus:
John is making sure that we are ready for the work that is about to happen. John is preparing us for the judgment.
We will be judged. The judgment is simple. Either live according to the human nature that does not want to honor God and thereby burn in the unquenchable fire forever. OR, believe in the salvation of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension and live in Jesus' presence both now and forever.
We Have an Opportunity:
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Believe and live according to the grace and mercy of God. John the Baptist is setting us up for life, which is the life of Jesus.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Matthew 2:1-2: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him."
The Season of Christmas:
The Season of Christmas is the shortest season in the Church calendar. It is only 12 days long. After Christmas is the season of Epiphany, which is also called, "The Season of Light," specifically the light of Jesus. The thirteenth day after Christmas is this coming Sunday.
Why the calendar lesson? It ties to our reading today. It is the day that we celebrate the arrival of the "Wise Men," or "The "Magi," to the house of Joseph, Mary, and the toddler Jesus. The Wise Men didn't arrive on the day of Jesus' birth.
The Reason They Came:
The Wise Men wherever they lived, saw a brand new star appear in the western sky. It was never seen before. They knew the night sky well enough to know this was not ordinary. I am sure that it was, "a curiosity" at least. Whatever research they did to attempt to discover the meaning of its' appearance, they left their home and went in the direction it took them. They saw the light.
There was something about this star that lead them to conclude to follow it. I believe that it was in the answer they gave to Herod. "We have come to worship the new born King of the Jews." They saw Jesus' external light and they wanted to be in His internal light. The star was the guide to lead them to Jesus.
The Reason We Come:
We come to Jesus because we see the light of Him who saved us and gave us life. We believe in Him who is the light and life that shines in our dark lives.
Why are we in darkness? Sin and sinful acts keeps us in darkness. When we believe in Jesus and see His light, we are cleansed from all sin and God the Father declares us clean and righteous.
And how did God lead you to the light? Through what or whom did you see the light? For me, it was my parents. They raised me in the presence of God and God's people. Through them I came to faith and received the light of the Gospel of Jesus. God used them to bring me to where I saw the light.
We Lead Others:
Because of faith, we are light bearers. We are the star to people we know. We are the light bearers. We shine the light of Jesus day and night. We never do it perfectly. We still have sin lingering in our lives. Our light is sometimes fuzzy and not as bright as we think it should be. People see the light through frail and weak sinners.
So what is the light we shine? Simple. It's forgiveness. The light of Jesus is the forgiveness of sins that He freely gave through the sacrifice of His life. Jesus forgave us our sins because God loves us so much. Perfection is NOT the light. FORGIVENESS OF SINS IS. When we live as forgiven sinners, we show Jesus' light. When we live forgiveness, being forgiven and forgiving others, we shine Jesus.
Shine the light of forgiveness. Shine Jesus.
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.