Wednesday, February 21, 2018
1st Corinthians 1:18-19: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
It's been said, "The more you know..." NBC has used that catch phrase for years is trying to lead people to understand life and when you understand life you'll be able to make better choices. In other words, when you know what is right and what is wrong, you will choose the right because you know it. Does that really work?
Not as much as we want to. I think the reason that it doesn't work is, the will is captive to the self. And the self will do things that will, ultimately, please the self. For example, do you like crime dramas where the "good guys" always win? Or do you like that the "bad guys" win every once in a while? Do you watch reality shows or science fiction? My point is, we do things that gravitate toward what we like. And at times, a persons will and desire gravitates toward "the dark side." They know what is and isn't right. They ignore what they know.
Martin Luther once said, "My conscience is captive to the will of God." Luther not only knows what the will of God is. He is also saying that his will, or his self, his personhood, is captive to the will of God.
It's not about just knowing God and His will. It's about allowing Him to "take hold" of you in order to shape you to His will. The end result is living your life according to the desires and grace of God and not yours. And the more you and all who believe, by daily contrition and repentance and learning the will of God, allow God to take hold, of your will, lives change. You life changes because God is leading you. So know the will of God and live the will of God and let Him lead you and change you. God, thank You for Your will and live. Take me, mold me, and lead me, Amen.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Mark 10:26-27: And they were exceedingly astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God."
I have heard the same question asked for most of my lifetime after tragedies. Every time the "powers that be" have asked this same question. Whether it is Columbine, 9/11, Sandy Hook, or Parkland, just to name a few, people have been asking, "What can we do to fix this so that it will never happen again?" People have asked for tougher legislation on guns, illegal immigration, airport security, along with many other ways to attempt to fix the problems by means of passing laws or not passing laws. Has legislation worked to keep things from happening again? It has not.
To God, there is no way fix the problem of people by means of legislation. The cause of all "man's inhumanity to man" is SIN. That is why Jesus is saying as He replied to the question, "Who can be saved?" "With man it is impossible." We cannot fix ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. We need to get real with this. Without God, people cannot fix themselves. Without God, we cannot save ourselves.
If it is impossible with people to fix people, then what do we do? What can be done? There is also a second reality we need to wrap our brains around. With God, all things are possible. With God, and the salvation from sins given to us freely through Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension, we are turned around from the path that we are on. We are "dead to sin and alive to righteousness." We are new people. We have been changed to live a different life.
And what does the new person look like? When we believe in Jesus, the new person repents of his or her sins. The new person's life is marked by being forgiven and forgiving each other. The new person "walks humbly before his God" as well as people. The new person lives by means of the power of God the Holy Spirit who changed his/her life. When evil happens, and it will happen, the new person calls for repentance and for people to turn to God. The new person, also known as a Christian, seeks out to share and show love, to be compassionate and empathetic. The Christian shows the love of God that was manifested in Jesus and that lives out daily through the Christian. We don't show it by posting pictures and phrases on social media. We do face to face, hand to hand, heart to heart, with the real love that radiates from us.
So Christians, get ready. Call the world to repent of its' sin and turn to God. God is "slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." Then let the world see God's love through us. God, lead us to salvation and life, Amen.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Isaiah 35:3-4: Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, "Be strong; fear not! Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you."
I waited to weigh in on the shooting at the high school in Parkland. I thought it would be a good idea to wait for the emotional level to calm down. It hasn't. I think that it's intensified. There are some very angry and afraid students who are demanding answers and change.
I get it. They want answers. They want change. Why weren't the "warning signals" seen and addressed? What prompted this young man to want to shoot up his old school? Why didn't anyone see this in order to stop it? There is a lot of potential blame to cast. Yet casting blame doesn't solve the issue.
People want change. People want significant change. People want to feel safe. I want change, too. And I want real change. I want real life change. I want...
Stop. We need to "switch gears." We need to see that about what God has done already. It's about recognizing what He has done already and living our lives according to it.
So what has God done? God created the Church. God brought together people who believe in His Grace and love that creates the resurrected life. What is the "resurrected life?" It is the life of a believer who knows that he/she is a sinner, capable of many things that break God's commands, including shooting people for no apparent reason. AND the "resurrected life" is knowing and believing that those sins are forgiven and removed by Jesus' crucifixion and a "born again" life was given through Jesus' resurrection. We have this life in order to live it out for the sake of others.
So the Church is called out by God the Holy Spirit to hold the hands of those who are hurting and grieving. The Church was created to hold up the people who cannot stand because of grief and loss. The Church is the "touch of God" to bring sense out of chaos, the bring joy through sadness, and to bring hope to the hopelessness. We, the people of God in Christ Jesus, express, also through words, the salvation and grace that comes by believing in Jesus and what He did for us. God, lead Your Church to bring the joy of life from You to those who are hurting, Amen.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Ash Wednesday:
2nd Corinthians 6:1-2: Working together with Him, then we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have help you." Behold, now is the favorable time,; behold now is the day of salvation.
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the day that begins the season of Lent. Lent is a season prior to Easter where our focus is on repentance, remembrance, and renewal. It is a time when we pay special attention to repenting of our sins and asking God to forgive us because of what Jesus did. It is a time to remember what Jesus went through in order to forgive our sins. We remember that Jesus was "stricken, smitten, and afflicted" along with His rising to life on Easter Sunday. And that is why this season is also a time of renewal. We have a new life because of Jesus.
And that is what St. Paul is saying to us along with the Corinthians. God promised us favor and life. Now is that time. It's hard to recognize that when we can't see it. Either the world is saying, "You don't need God's favor and help. You can create your own favor and happiness. You don't need a god for that." Or the world is tearing itself apart. All I see and hear on the news is bad news. Somebody died and the hands of someone else. Someone died of cancer. Where is "your god" in all of this?
I have to admit. The favor and help from God is tough to see. At the same time, it's here. It's here because the message of grace and the life of grace is seen in people who live it out day by day. They trust God to provide life and salvation. They trust God even though the world doesn't. And it is through Christians, who trust God and believe in His favor and salvation, that God's favor is seen and experienced. If you don't know about and haven't experienced God's love and forgiveness, reply to me, seek out Christians. They'll tell you. God, lead us all to see and experience Your favor and salvation, Amen.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Joel 2:12-14: "Yet even now," declares the LORD, return to me with all you heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. Who know whether He will not turn and relent, and lead a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?
I remember a time when I was in college and living at home. My friends and I were going out on a Friday night. Mom and Dad were playing cards with friends of theirs. I announced that I was leaving and my Dad says, "Be home by 11:30." "Really?" I shouted. I hadn't had a curfew that early since my high school days. I was furious. I stomped off in a huff. After a few hours of being with my friends, I said, "I have to get home. Dad put this curfew on me." My friends laughed at me. Yet they got me back home in time.
God is calling us to return to Him. He is expecting us to come back to Him. Why would we do that? Because He is gracious and merciful. When we return to God, it is because He is a forgiving God. He is the God who saves and redeems broken sinners like us. He is God who leads us to believe and understand that we have consequences for sin. He is reaching out to us to turn around from our sins, repent of them, and ask God to forgive. God is the ONE who loves us so much that He gave Jesus, His only Son, to us to bring life, salvation, and light into our lives. Why wouldn't we turn, confess, repent, and rely on Him. Dear God, lead us to turn from sin and turn to You, Amen.
Monday, February 12, 2018
Matthew 6:17-18: When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret will reward you.
The season of Lent is about to begin. It is a time of repentance, remembrance, and renewal. It is a time to focus our attention and devotion toward ourselves and what Jesus did for us. It is a time to fast. It is connected to the time when Jesus, after He was baptized, was in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights fasting.
So when we are fasting and focusing our attention on repentance, remembrance, and renewal, do we make a "big deal" about it? Do we draw attention to ourselves? Do we say, "Look at me! I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. It's all about me!" Absolutely not!
This time is about enriching the relationship we have with God the Father. It's a time that allows us to focus upon what separates us from the Father as well as who brings us into a new relationship with our Father. No one needs to know what is going on.
So what does the world see? The world sees is a person who doesn't brag or boast about or draw undo attention to the relationship he or she has with God. The world sees a person, while going through the fasting, remembering, renewing, and repenting, who shows a quiet and humble demeanor and who is confident in his or her relationship with God because of Jesus and what He did.
And when people see you, they see you living out your relationship with God your Father in a way that shows God's grace and love and mercy with humility and confidence knowing in your heart and mind you are forgiven and renewed by God's grace through Jesus. And people will see you and know something is different about you without you drawing undo attention to you. Dear God, lead us to live humbly and confidently in Your Grace so that people will see You in us, Amen.
Monday, February 5, 2018
Mark 9:7-8: Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came from the cloud, "this is my one dear Son. Listen to Him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more except Jesus.
"I am your father. You better listen to me." Joe said to his teenage son who informed Joe, "I don't have to listen to you any more. I'm eighteen. I can do what I want."
I picked eighteen because it's not as scary as fourteen or four. Now a days, children don't seem to listen to mom, dad, teachers, principals, and yes, even pastors. The threat, "Because I said so." doesn't seem to work any more. It seems there is little respect for authoritative people.
So even if God were to come down onto our "mountain" and say to us, "Here is Jesus, my beloved, Listen to Him." would people listen? It is doesn't seem so to me. Kids are being taught, it seems, to not listen to teachers, not listen to police officers, and the like. We are seeing that governing officials are not respected either. The reason is, I suppose, that some authorities do things that cause people to NOT respect them. Therefore ALL people in authority are bad.
Can this trend be reversed? I think it can. The first step is, trust God. Trust the source of all authority. Trust God and what He had written down that revealed Himself to us. Trust that God kept His Word error free from the time that it was written until now. Trust that God keeps His Word now as a source of light and life, that God reveals Jesus who died in order to forgive you of your sins by means of His death on the cross and gave you life by means of His resurrection. Why would you trust God? Because God did all that He said that He was going to for you. God earned your trust. It's time to believe Him. It's time to listen to Him! It's time to receive Jesus. Dear God, thank You for Jesus. I trust You and I trust Him. 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.