Thursday, March 30, 2017
1st Timothy 6:11: But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that. Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness.
St. Paul's "instruction manual" to Timothy, his co-worker in the work of Jesus, includes God's wisdom regarding Timothy's quality of life.
Today, many people use coarse language, sarcasm, and gossip in the attempt to put someone down. Why? Some people think that it's "funny." Still others think, "If he appears not so goody two shoes, then I will look better." Yet again people are just mean to others. And in almost all cases, it is words that do the damage.
And if you are the recipient of these words of sarcasm, coarse language, and gossip, they are not funny. They don't make the person saying them better. It shows the worst side of the person saying it.
So that is why the words for Timothy are great words for us. Paul's encouragement to his "young apprentice" are to "pursue" those qualities and characteristics. God, through St. Paul, is telling us to get up to speed with the "fruit of the Spirit." (See also Galatians 6) Why would we? Our faith in Jesus and what He did is our motivation. Jesus endured the harshness of humanity and its' language. Jesus endured the cross, scorning its' shame, and the attempts to belittle Jesus while He was hanging on the cross. Jesus endured the pain, the shame, and the abuse from the world in order to give to you and me a new life that pursues the ways and life of Jesus. Let's pray.
Dearest God and Father, thank You for sending Jesus to endure it all for us. Thank You for sending Jesus to save us from sin, the devil, and ourselves. Thank You for sending the Holy Spirit who gave to us life and power to live the life with God. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Mark 6:30-32: The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
The Apostles, the Twelve, the Twelve Disciples, the guys who hung out with Jesus for three years, were sent out by Jesus to preach and teach. It was a little on the job training. After they returned from their mini mission trip, they shared with Jesus all that they had done. Then Jesus said to them what Mark recorded.
It wasn't a Sabbath day, the designated day of rest. Jesus wanted them to spend time with Him. Jesus wanted them to rest from their labors and work and spend some quiet time together.
And isn't that what our time of worship is all about? Jesus is inviting us into His presence and to refill our lives from His life. We go to worship to pray and praise, yes. AND we mostly come to worship to received the life giving Word, His Word, His body and blood. We are invited by Jesus Himself to come and rest and receive from Him.
Come and worship. Come and receive. Come and be refreshed and renewed for the late days and the long days. Come tonight at 6:30. You're invited by Jesus. Let's pray.
Dear God and Father, thank You for sending Jesus into our lives. Lead us by the Holy Spirit to respond to Jesus' invitation to rest with Him. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
You will hear me, when I preach, end my sermons with this sentence. Yet do you know what these words mean?
The key phrase for us is "the peace of God." It is not man's peace. Mankind's idea of peace is when no one is getting hurt by someone else. We talk about peace treaties, peace in our time, and the like. What phrases like this mean is, "As long as no one is bombing, shooting, and knifing anyone, things are good.
The problem is, all's not good because that peace never addresses the heart and the mind. We are still in turmoil on the inside. The surface may be calm, but underneath is not any where close. And that is where, and when, peace goes out the window.
Now I can't describe what the peace of God looks like. It is a condition of life that is. The peace of God, which continues to surpass all of our knowledge, does keep you centered, keeps you clear and focused on the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. It is a condition, an experience, based upon faith in what Jesus did for you. Let's pray.
Father God, through Your Holy Spirit pour Your peace into our hearts and minds so that, when the world around us is topsy turvy, we are calm and focused based upon Jesus and what did for us. Lead us to rely more and more upon You and Your peace for our lives. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Monday, March 27, 2017
Psalm 23:5-6: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
When I was in my twenties, single, and still going to school, my friends and I were not adverse to "staying out late" until 1:00 to 2:00 in the morning on Friday and Saturday nights. I look back at that behavior and I think to myself, "How did we make it through those days alive?" And the answer lies in our psalm for today. Even though we pushed the edge of the envelope, God was always with us.
Does that mean that we can do the things that we want to do, stay out late, maybe party a little too much? Read Romans 5:20 - 6:4 for the answer.
What this means is that God continues to protect us when we do sin. God continues to forgive sin to those who repent. God continues to guide us to die to sin and live with His righteousness that He gave through Jesus. Let's pray.
Father God, thank You for saving us from ourselves. Thank You for Jesus and His life in exchange for our lives. Guide us by the Holy Spirit to live our lives dead to sin and alive in You. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Romans 3:20-22a: For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
Think about it for a minute. Many think that they are "justified" in their posts on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest and the other social media sites to say whatever they want. After all, "I live in a society that is governed by my interpretation of 'free speech.' I can share my angst. I can share my joy. I can share what I feel is appropriate for me. If you don't like it, ignore it."
But, God says we cannot "self justify." We cannot post anything mean toward someone and say I have "free speech" to justify our words. There is a commandment against that. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Exodus 20:16). Luther's explanation of this in the "Small Catechism" is applicable today. He writes, "We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way." (p.13 "Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation" Concordia Publishing House 2006) We cannot justify being mean about people on Social media. God's Law is clear.
At the same we have Jesus who saves us from ourselves. We have Jesus who died as the one time sacrifice for all our sins. We have Jesus who rose to give us a NEW LIFE. And in that new life, we have peace with God and peace with people. We speak well of people. We speak the truth in love. We share that truth with grace and dignity. After all, we've been redeemed. Let's pray.
Father God, thank You for Your Law that sets us straight with ourselves. Thank You for Jesus who sets us straight with You. Lead us by the Holy Spirit to use Social Media with love, faith, grace, and dignity. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Psalm 101:6: I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
It was a tall order to work with King David. He wanted the team to be upright and blameless. When you read the rest of Psalm 101, you'll see that David held a very high standard for service. It's as if David is saying, "You will be perfect. And if you don't measure up to my standard, you are not serving with me. As a matter of fact, I will be against you."
At the same time, who is perfect? I'm not. King David wasn't by any stretch of the imagination. What David was, was forgiven and thereby perfected. God forgave David his sins and sinfulness. God forgave David and gave to David the upright life. David didn't have it on his own. The upright life was given to him through God's grace and forgiveness.
And when we live by means of forgiveness and grace that God gives to us through Jesus' body and blood, we have the life of the upright. We are forgiven because of what Jesus did. We are perfected by the grace and mercy of God.
So getting up to speed with God is to use our words in such a way as to show the world the life of the upright, the faith filled, and the forgiven sinner that God saved. Let's pray.
Father God, we know that we are not perfect, according to Your good and gracious standards. We rely on the forgiveness that You gave by means of Jesus' sacrifice of Himself to live the upright life. Empower us we pray by Your Holy Spirit to be the upright people that You made us to be. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Matthew 18:15 and 20
[Jesus is saying,] “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. ... For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”
Words, especially the way words are used, can tear down. Words can hurt. Words can be received in a way that makes people feel small and insignificant.
Words, at the same time, can be used to build up and to encourage. Words can heal. Words can be received in a way that makes people feel grand and important. It is the way words are spoken. It is the choice of words that makes the difference. It is the one in whose presence we are that makes all the difference in the world.
When we are in the presence of God, when we are connected to the reality that Jesus is with us, we will use words differently. We will use words, even when they are used with the intent of correction, when they are used knowing that Jesus is present, the words we use are always intended to build up.
God calls His children to use words to correct, rebuke, and reprove. (2nd Timothy 4:1) And use words wrapped in God's love and mercy. We, as Christians, especially with one another, need to speak the truth in love in order to, as Jesus says, "regain your brother." And remember, wherever two or more of us are gathered in Jesus' name, we are certain He is there guiding our words. Let's pray.
Father God, thank You for Jesus being with us. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who guides our words. Lead us to use our words, even when sin and correction need to happen, that we do it in love. In Jesus' name we pray. And all God's children say...
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Exodus 20:1-3: God spoke all these words: “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me."
For those of us who are considered, "Workaholics," this passage has a tendency to annoy us. Why? Because it's that we work so much. We are used to putting in the 12 - 14 hour days, sometimes six or seven days a week. "We have to." we say to ourselves. "In order to pay the bills, in order to keep the business operational, in order to stay ahead of the game." There are a lot of reasons why people are workaholics. These are just a couple.
What is all this work doing for you? What is it doing for your family? What is it doing for the people with whom you work? Is it necessary that you put in all those hours? Or is it something that you feel that you "have to do?"
That is one reason why these words from God cut to the core of the workaholic. Work, and what we do at work, is the god of our lives. And when the workaholic thinks about what it is doing to him, or her, the family, friends, and his, or her, relationship with God, he, or she, begins to think, "Maybe I can 'give up' this workaholism?"
And you can. When you are up to speed with the grace and mercy of God and that He is Your God, work becomes something different. Something, or someone, else replaces work as the number one thing in your life. God, once again, sits as the number one person in your life. God the Holy Spirit will turn that dedication to work into a dedication to Him. Let's pray.
Father God, thank You for Jesus who saved us from our sins and sinfulness. Lead us to turn away from the sin of making work into our god and turn again to You as our God by means of the Holy Spirit. Direct us to channel our work to You, our family, our friends, and our Church. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
It's interesting. Because nearly 2000 years ago, God through Paul was saying the same thing that many Christians are saying today. "The days are evil."
We look around our world and we see nothing but anger, hatred, rage, fear, sadness, gloom, and the like. And that's just the political environment. :-)
All joking aside, many Christians are wondering, "What has the world come to? Why are people so angry, despondent, despairing, and down right messed up?" It may sound as if I am over simplifying, yet I see the reason is, people need God. They aren't looking for Him to influence and direct their lives. As a general observation of the world through God's Word colored glasses, I see people think they are wise and they aren't. They don't know the wisdom of God. And what is the wisdom of God?
The Word says that people are sinful, inherently unable to see God nor to seek Him out. The Word also says that God came to us as Jesus, the Savior of the world. He sought us out. The Word also says because of Jesus, we are forgiven of all of our sins and given a new life to see the world with God's Word colored glasses. The Word tells us that God sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide, leader, and source of wisdom, you guessed it, through God's Word. That is from where our wisdom to walk in life and best make use of our time comes. Let's pray.
Holy Spirit, lead us to Your Wisdom that comes from Your Word. Open our minds and hearts to "read, make, learn, and inwardly digest" Your grace. We pray in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
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.